It’s another Monday evening after a typical Monday at work.
If you felt just a little dread after reading that sentence, you know Mondays like I know Mondays. They’re not all bad, but they’re rarely good at the same time… it’s almost as if… everyone takes the weekend to lose their mind for a minute – or they realize over the weekend they’re nuts and have to spread the joy come Monday morning. Whatever it is, it’s interesting.
So I pull in the driveway and park my SUV in front of the camper, which reminds me of my last cycling/camping trip just a couple of weekends before. That immediately puts a smile on my face. I head into the house and get my gravel bike ready, thinking about how cold it is outside. I’m trying to figure out what I want to wear to hit that magic balance of not too cold, but not too warm.
I decide on my kit, put it on (over the next ten minutes… ahem) and roll over to my buddy’s house. On the way over, I not the tailwind both ways – the first half of the ride after I pick Chuck up is going to be chilly with the cross-headwind. And I missed on my kit. I’m definitely on the uncomfortably cold side of things. It’s funny, how 49° on a summer morning can be just enough to leave the arm warmers and knee warmers at home – after all, it’ll be 80 in an hour. That same 49 on an autumn afternoon, leg warmers, arm warmers, wool socks and a light vest aren’t enough.
Once we get going and find a rhythm, though, everything fades into the background. All of a sudden, I realize how nice the dirt roads are – they’re almost perfect, like paved roads. We’re hauling pretty decently into the wind on what’s supposed to be a fairly easy day, and rather than dial it back a notch, I decide I’ve got the legs for the pace and keep it rolling.
Then we hit the cross-tailwind and things really pick up. I’m on an entry-level gravel bike that’s comically heavy next to my road rigs that cost roughly four and six times more. Still, the 32mm tires have just the right grip and roll and the low pressure eats up minor potholes. We’re cruising along at 20-mph, holding a conversation about stuff in general and cranking out the miles. We’re 17 miles in when I realize we’ve only been passed by one car so far. That puts a smile on my face – I always enjoy gravel season after road season for just that reason – it’s not that I dislike traffic, I don’t mind it (and it’s a necessary evil if you want the speed associated with road cycling), it’s just wonderful to get out of it at the end of the season.
With just a few miles to go, I realize that I’m chilly but it hasn’t bothered me. I was too busy thinking about how much fun I was having. I’m looking forward to the nice, warm shower that awaits – just nine more minutes…
Daylight is fading as we pull up to my driveway. Chuck and I exchange fist bumps and thank you’s and he heads off down the road, two more miles for him. I charge through the ditch in the front yard to clean my tires off in the grass so I don’t track dirt into the house. I hit the brakes at the front porch and hit the “stop” button on my Garmin.
And that’s not the good part.
In the shower, I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be me. Life isn’t really special or all that much better for me than anyone else, I simply love what I’ve got – and that is special.
Dinner was spectacular. Chicken-noodle soup and grilled cheese sammiches – but not your standard American cheese on white bread grilled cheese. Mrs. Bgddy cooked up gruyere and gouda on brioche bread grilled cheese sammiches. Mmmmm… butter. On top of butter. On top of butter, with a side of butter. They’re heavenly, and the soup to go along and warm up the insides…
I fell asleep thinking about how good it is to be me.
Then I woke up and thought about how much fun yesterday’s ride was. I smiled on the way out the door to the office, struck with the “man, it’s good to be me” vibe all over again. Driving into the office I just set my cruise control and drove, a smile stretched across my face. Just twelve hours and I’ll be doing the same thing all over again – and I smile bigger. My God, it’s good to be me.
And that’s what a proper bike ride does for the spirit.