It’s Friday morning. I slip out of bed and tiptoe past my sleeping husband to grab my riding clothes. Coffee, Oatmeal. It’s quiet in the house. The world is still sleeping. Shoes, helmet, gloves, camelbak. I grab a thermal shirt from the laundry to ward off the early morning chill. I step outside and quietly shut the door. Birds are waking, the air smells of orange blossoms. I grab my bike. I leave the heartrate monitor on the shelf, I leave my Garmin on the table. This morning it’s about me, only me, no waiting, no expectations, no gadgets. Just me and my bike. As I start to pedal, I feel the energy beginning to pulse through my veins. I fill my lungs with that orange blossom air, and pedal a little harder. Pavement turns to dirt beneath my tires. Singletrack. Tall grass licks at my ankles. I climb. The stress from the week rolls off my body with my sweat. My emotions and my mind find focus and the only thing that matters right now is putting pressure on the pedals. I reach the top as the sun is cresting the horizon. The grass glows gold. Exhale. Inhale. I feel satisfied. I’ve earned the descent I’m about to savor. Calm changes to excitement, a determined stare turns to a broad smile. This morning I’m not going to set any records. This morning it’s a ride for my soul, not my watch. I’ve ridden the trail countless times. I know each corner by heart, and each jump and each bump. There’s comfort in the repetition. I glide around the turns and pump over the terrain. I indulge in the slipperiness of the dirt. I giggle as I flick my wheel sideways even though nobody is there to see it. Dust flies. I fly. I reach the bottom out of breath and feeling alive.
Sometimes riding is just about riding. Not about winning, not about socializing, not about getting fit. It’s about feeling the dirt under your tires, it’s about filling your lungs and pushing your legs, it’s about resurrecting those same feelings that you got the first time you rode your banana seat bike around the block. It’s about freedom. It’s about you, and your bike, and the trail, and happiness.