like ticker tape from my head. What scares me is that I'm 252 pages into the story about Why I Ride, and I'm nowhere near finished with it. The story keeps changing. I come up with new reasons every week.
And that's why I ride.
Riding is more than just exercise, more than just fun, more than just a way to hang out with old friends, more than making new friends, more than getting myself a great ass. Riding is self-improvement. It makes me feel like the best version of myself.
When I ride I am taller. I am shinier. I have faster thoughts, thoughts that skitter like marbles, the best ideas I've had in my entire life. Of course, I never remember any of them once I get off my bike, but I'd like to think that they could make me billions of dollars some day, should I ever figure out a way to write while pedaling. I doubt that will ever happen, since I can't even take a sip of water while pedaling without veering headlong into traffic and seeing scenes from my life slide before my eyes. But still, you never know. And a cyclist can dream, can't she?
When I ride I become a ribbon that streams straight and long through the wind, a blur of light, the most graceful person I have ever been - an extreme feat, as anyone who has ever seen me attempt to dance or even walk a straight line can attest.
When I ride I have no anger, no sadness, no confusion or fright. Just two arms holding the handlebars, two legs spinning in tiny infinite circles and sunburn spreading across my face and back.
When I ride I forget about taxes, and bills, and whether or not I left the oven on. When I ride I play a CD in my head, my own personal mental MP3 player that will never need its batteries replaced-- the old ones can be constantly recharged with a few swigs of Cytomax.
When I ride I am benevolent. I am sweet and nice. Laughter comes so much more easily. I sing at the top of my lungs until the other bikers in my group ask me to please shut up or pick a musical key and stick with it. I don't have a bad hair day.
When I ride I can wear shiny, luridly bright, extremely tight clothing that unzips down to my navel and not look like the World's Tackiest Thing Ever to Come Out of New Jersey. I can wear Velcro shoes. I can walk like a duck. I can drink enough liquid to make me have to pee every three miles. I can cheerfully spend two hours debating the merits of Gatorade versus Cytomax, SPD's versus Look pedals, 8 panels versus 10.
When I ride I become intimately acquainted with my sit bones, and I hate them. When I ride I carry on a torrid love affair with my knee joints, one that always ends with one of us screaming at the other and stomping off in a huff. When I ride I want to file a restraining order against my hamstring and quad muscles, because they abuse and torture me. Learning to ride a bike has allowed me to purchase a majority stockholder share in Aleve and Advil.
When I ride, I remember who I am. I remember who I've been. And I learn who I want to become. And when I am on my bike, for the briefest, most glimmering of moments, I actually am that person.