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Monday
Apr052010

Time machine, timeless machine

It is no secret that I am up in years; this year marks sixty years  since I got my first lightweight racing bike.

There have been periods when I did not ride on a regular basis, but I always came back.

Cycling is one of my many passions in life, and it is passions that keep one truly alive.

I do not feel my age; especially when I am riding my bike (Whatever my age is supposed to feel like.) I feel no different than when I rode a bike at age forty something.

The weather is turning nice here in South Carolina; recently it has been warm, sunny, with temperatures in the low 80s F. (26.6 C,) This last week I got in four rides, for a total of 155 miles.

Greg LeMond was once asked,

“At what point does climbing hills become easy?” His reply was, “It never gets easier; you just go faster.”

So I guess the reverse is true in my case. I know by my time for a given distance that I am not riding as fast as I did some thirty years ago; but it feels the same in my legs and the rest of my body.

Only another bike rider could know the feeling of getting out of the saddle and stomping hard on the pedals. The immediate response from the machine as the rubber bites into the asphalt and the bike rockets forward. The bicycle becomes an extension of the rider; man and machine become one. There is no other feeling quite like it.

Riding a road bike is, in a way, is a spiritual experience. My mind is totally in the moment; concentrating solely on the job in hand. My thoughts are only on the physical effort of propelling the bike forward, and on steering a course on the road ahead.

Other times of the day, if I am not careful, I may slip out of the moment and find my thoughts in the past or in the future. An often futile exercise, as both past and future are only in my mind; only the present or the moment is real.

Negative thoughts are always in the past or future; remembered or imagined. If I am in the moment there cannot be negative thoughts. A three hour bike ride means three hours of mental refreshment; it would take extreme concentration to achieve that by meditation or some like method.

So my bike is a time machine in that it takes me back to a feeling I experienced 30 years ago and before. And it is a timeless machine in that it keeps me focused in the moment. All that and I’m getting the best possible physical exercise at the same time.

 

                   

Reader Comments (15)

Quite inspiring! Thanks.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Dave I really enjoy your blog for the many wonderful things shared and the beautiful way you write. You have put into words why I find riding so compelling, thank you and have fun on your rides this week.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFraser

Interesting post Dave. If only the weather here was as clement as it is where you are...

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstephen_mc

60 yrs ago I got my FIRST racing bike, a OLD Raleigh that belonged to my Uncle, he worked at Cyclo in Aston after the war and converted it to a Cyclo 3speed for me to race on, Never could get it to shift, Talked my Dad God bless him to having Claud Butler build to my specs a new frame that I built up with the latetest kit, No one BUT the rider him or her self, can appreciate the mental high that you get from doing the one thing that only YOU can do on a bike, The mental picture that you paint, DREAMS of glory "Match this Fausto!" Lance WHO? BUT as with all dreams you DO wake up, Some young buck on his Carbon 90 speed do dad goes past, "Have a NICE Day" Oldchap. you say! Oh IF he knew who he just passed! Cycling for the most part is a one person YOU sport, My mentor Jack Simpson Midland C& AC said. " Always do your best someone out there IS having a better day than you, BUT satisfy ONLY yourself" 76 years I have been in good physical AND MENTAL health due in great part to my love of cycling, BUT the bad times have to taken with the good, Last sunday I hit a patch of ice and broke my pelvic bone,So for the next 6-8 weeks I intend to reflect on almost 77yrs on this earth, I WILL BE BACK the the young bucks can try hold MY wheel, DREAMS AGAIN? who knows, Cheers Mate John Crump

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Excellent post.

My local big climb offers 10%+ for 3km or so and is an excellent way of demonstrating what you are saying here about living in the moment - I know nothing quite like it.

I hope to experience this (and have the odd person like yourself write about it) for many years to come.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteressarrkay

This is weirdly topical for me. Just this weekend I used LeMond's quote as a metaphor for my life. (This was part of a larger effort to entice a friend to bike commute, see link in my comment byline) The grand realization for me was that the tough aspects of cycling enrich the fun aspects. I am actually capable of having fun riding in the freezing rain, whodathunkit?

Think how easy (and cheap) self-entertainment becomes when you proactively enjoy situations/activities most others find unpleasant? There are broad vistas of fun that most people turn off intentionally. It's like choosing to hate chocolate.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Souders

Living the moment! 7am Cold, Rainy. You get the starters push off, 25miles to go, under an hour you hope, settle into a rhythm on a 83" single fixed gear, Dunlop #3 tubs pumped to a ping, SILENCE, ONLY the PURR of the tyres on the wet road, Your minuite man in site, you pass him, complete silence, A MOMENT ONLY YOU can experience, What a feeling! This is what life is all about," A piece of cake!" John Crump

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Crump

Brilliant, Dave. About a month ago I was inspired to write about how bicycling is magic, as evidenced by how it allowed me to get around even when I couldn't walk. And just this last week I read how a man with Parkinson's Disease couldn't walk without aid but he could ride.

April 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamia Nelson

Excellent post Dave

You've put into words what I've been struggling to explain to others. Bicycling especially when putting out an effort on a hill has been the only way for me to create a space in my life where I am in the present and escape the past. It's been the best way to cope with the loss of my spouse.

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Malm

Lovely post, Dave. The article Tamia refers to can be found here: www.nytimes.com/parkinsons

The video is an inspiration!

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Pounding around the mountains up here releases my peaceful warrior. I may be grimacing on the outside, but I am very much laughing on the inside.

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Thanks for that link, Tim. I thought I'd bookmarked it but apparently had not. You're right that it's an inspiration, and is surely worth watching.

April 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamia Nelson

Ok..totally out of context, but that is me..soooo..on the picture of your bike, it looks as though the right hand brake cable is assigned to your front brake. Is this so? I only ask because when I started riding about 10 years ago, I wanted to switch the brake cables on my first bike so that the left hand side was for the rear brake and right side for the front brake. Everyone looked at me as though I were nuts. I eventually got used to the regular set up when I sold that bike (had to change everything around again for the buyer), but haven't seen that set up since.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaltese Falcon

Maltese Falcon,
I wondered If I might get asked about that again. I answered that question here in "Why is my front brake lever on the right?"
Dave

April 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I just reread this post: 60 years since you got your first lightweight?! What were you, a year old?

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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