Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Revolution of a cyclist: My Pavlovian response to the sun or just warm weather

I started this post way before New Year's and here it is the ninth of January and I haven't finished it yet. Mostly because this was going to be a little recap of the few rides that would happen while the sun shines. Damn if the sun doesn't continue to shine, for the most part. Even when it doesn't shine, the temperatures have been so warm that it has been a pleasure to ride even under a gray and dreary sky.

I'm from a northern place, where there sun disappears for weeks at a time, and even when it does shine it has no more power to warm than the sunshine you see on television. Not to mention the shock of walking out into a sunshiny day and being instantly frozen by sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures. So naturally, when the sun shines and it's not freezing outside my Minnesota brain screams at wasting the day inside, when it knows (in Minnesota at least) that the dark and colder days are right around the corner. So we go out  and enjoy the sun to it's fullest and I continue to do that here.

Except that those beautiful warm and/or sun filled days just keep coming. And quite frankly my body is  getting a little tired. Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger and I started this whole cycling thing several decades later than I probably should have. In the last two weeks I've ridden a lot.

I've taken all of three days off from riding in the last two weeks. I've rung out the old year and brought in the new year with rides....I've ridden with Leif and with Barbara and (gasp) with complete strangers. All in my quest to chase the sun before it disappears. I've eaten some wonderful pastry. I've climbed hills. I've started riding clipped in. Learning to ride has accomplished everything I hoped it would. I'm getting to see more of Tuscany than I ever did before. I see my friends more often and hopefully with time I'll make more friends.

Riding has other benefits that I hadn't really considered but probably should have. It's really more than just my body getting into a different shape, although even that has surprised me a bit. I'm physically stronger and able to do things that even two weeks ago were hard for me. It's also that I'm out in the world more, not just in the same places I always go and am comfortable with. I have to talk to strangers and find my way around an unfamiliar landscape and try not to let my mind stop me from doing the things I want to do, like climb the big hills. I'm stronger inside and outside.

Yesterday I started to wonder just how much I've ridden so Leif helped me add up the numbers. I probably shouldn't have done that. Starting December 29th and ending with today's ride I've put over 500 kilometers (over 300 miles) on my bike and body. It just sounds like a lot a lot of miles for one middle aged woman to be riding.

I'm torn between wishing the sun and warm weather would go away so winter could start in earnest (thereby taking the decision of whether or not to ride out of my hands) or hoping for the sun because it's just so wonderful to be out in it, flying across the hills of Tuscany in body and spirit.

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