Inspiration is a funny thing. You never know when it is going to hit you or from where it will come or who. It seems like inspiration, like attachments, form mostly without rhyme or reasons.
My love of biking goes all the way back to my childhood. I was about eight when I was racing up and down the street and around the block. It was the late seventies when kids could be kids and parents didn’t micromanage your every movement.
I declared one day, as I was timing an imaginary race (like Greg LeMond) around the block that I would be the first woman bike racer. The dream was quickly quashed by a scoffing adult and it took a while, but my love of biking and going fast never died, even though the hopes of being a bike racer did. No matter where I went, no matter what I did, no matter who was in my life, biking was a part of me. It was a way to relax, to summon my inner muse and creative stories to write about. It was me.
Greg LeMond inspired me to ride and and Jimmy! kept me consistent. He was a neighbor, like seven feet tall. No, really he was. I stood just over 3 feet – well ok maybe a little more than that.
Anyway, whenever I talked myself out of riding for the day he would come along and poke and prod until without knowing it we were soaring up and down the hills of Ohio. Don’t get me wrong this was not a one way street. I was equally responsible for prodding him onto a bike when he was less than motivated. We made the perfect team, Jimmy! easily out pedaling me 3 to 1 and me racing to catch him. We did manage to keep fairly consistent.
As time and things have a habit of doing, I moved away and lost my biking buddy. I managed to keep consistent for a few years, but ultimately without a biking buddy my consistency slipped. Before I knew it I found myself not biking. I have lots of “reasons”. I was too busy, I had no one to ride with, I didn’t have a safe place to ride. Truth is, I lost my love of biking. It did not bring me the joy I remember. I stopped riding for a long long time. Sometimes your love of something is not enough.
One day, this changed. Someone inspired me to ride. It wasn’t intentional. I’m sure, even to this day, she has no idea that she inspired me to get on my bike and ride again. It happened in such a benign odd way that it took me a while to realize that she had inspired me, had lit a fire of my love for biking.
It started with her signing off from work that she was going for a ride. I remember wishing that I could join her. She sounded ecstatic (like I used to) by getting outside and flying as fast as you could.
Due to our locations (a few thousand miles separated us) we could not ride together. She would post about the route, distance and speed. It was that last bit that got me to thinking, is that good? Could I go ten miles in under forty minutes? That sounded fast. Was it fast?
The chatting of biking and techniques and the posts started to ignite the cooling embers of my long dormant passion.
It was the post of going ten miles in thirty five minutes that did it. I walked out to the garage, dusted off my bike, filled the tires and set off to see. Was I as fast as I remember? I bet anything I could beat that, even after not riding for the last couple three years.
There is nothing like the wind rushing over you, the sun on your face and arms, the blur of trees and concrete that fuel one’s desire to push harder, to breath more efficiently, to be better, to let go.
I found myself competing with the miles and times she was posting. It gave me a goal, an obtainable goal. It took me a few rides, but not only did I match the initial goal as she got better, but I exceed it. Each ride made me stronger and more determined.
While I have not had the luck to find another riding buddy, I have managed to keep my love of biking alive and fairly consistent. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for her. While we have drifted apart over the last couple of years, I was saddened to learn that it had been months since she had rode. Injuries aside, the person who inspired me to ride again has lost her passion for the sport. We talked about riding briefly, but like a smile that doesn’t reflect in your eyes, the enthusiasm and joy that motivated me was missing . I wish I could return the favor. I hope that she will be inspired by someone or something that will make her remember the joy of riding. The feeling of the sun the rush of the air the friendly solitude of it all.
I will forever be grateful for the inspirations that brought biking to me time and again.
May the wind be at your back and all the hills be down.