Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Riding Lessons

with 4 comments

It’s supposed to be like riding a bike. Once you know how, simply climbing aboard and spinning the pedals is all it takes to get going again, right? Not always.

First off, there is a wide disparity between physical reality and imagined accomplishment. I envision myself gliding along almost effortlessly along the road for hours on end. Having not been on my bike for almost a year, my experience now is far short of where my abilities have been in the past.

I’m not built with the sleek body type of competitive cyclists. I ride a heavy old bike that is decades old. The unconscious reactions of shifting aren’t there, causing inadvertent pushing on a lever that should have been pulled. Being uncomfortable on the saddle influences the deviation from my ideal pedal cadence. I’m forgetting to hydrate enough while riding.

My brain is visualizing ideal performance, my body is struggling to cope against gravity.

After five consecutive days of riding, I have progressed to a level where glimpses of my old self are showing up, which is encouraging. I’m already sitting more comfortably and this helps to bring my cadence up to improve performance.

It’s just like riding a bike.

In my desire to dodge the exhausting climb of the many hills around here in my quest for time on the bike, I selected a flat route a couple of days ago that offered a life lesson. It was easier, but it was a lot more boring.

Empty farm fields and dreary ditches. Instead of wild flowers, there were empty beer cans, likely jettisoned by kids seeking to get rid of evidence.

On one side of the road there were rows of sprouting shoots of corn plants.

On the other side, a whole lot of nothing.

Seeking a return of adventure, the next day I girded myself for some climbing and got back into the more interesting terrain that offered views of trillium and livestock.

As I ever so slowly climbed one hill, I looked up to find three horses, side by side, staring directly at me. It felt like they were enjoying the spectacle of my slog up. It was a fabulous picture, but before I could pull the camera out of my jersey pocket, two of the horses lost interest and went back to grazing.

This brought me to the field where I had seen bison a few days earlier. Ian had challenged me to present a photo.

This is what I found:

Nobody home! Where’d they go? I’m not sure. Maybe there is more grazing pasture beyond the horizon that I can’t see from the road. It’s off the beaten path enough, with the road turning to gravel, that it’s not a farm I regularly pass, so I am unfamiliar with their routine.

Bolstered with a renewed sense of adventure, I overcame my aversion for rolling my skinny tires over the hazardous surface and forged ahead on the rough road.

In a lesson that translates easily to life, I was richly rewarded with an amazing exposure to a rich variety of landscape, life, and activity that exists, mostly unknown to us, in surprising proximity to our home.

The road less traveled, you know?



Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2018 at 10:33 am

4 Responses

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  1. Great post! Those horses probably talked about you the rest of the day while chomping the grass.


    May 20, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    • You know horses! Yes, I’d say the look they were all giving me made their day.


      May 20, 2018 at 10:17 pm

  2. Hi John;

    The pic of the tall, strong fences remind me of the ones down around Pipestone State Park. They have buffalo there and sometimes you really have to go “off road” to find them when they are in the remote pastures. They round them up (Spring and Fall) to cull the herd: quite the sight (and site). Back in the day, I used my mountain bike with the heavy tires to move around — so gravel didn’t bother me much.

    Not so true when I tried the same bike in the Black Hills. There I found a particularly “bike tire unfriendly” species of thorn that was configured like the metal “jacks” kids play with. When you hit those, you were going to have a puncture.

    I eventually found a product that might be appropriate for your skinny tires: Kevlar tire liners. Same material as use with bullet-proof vests. Worked slick! I don’t ride much anymore but I still have my two, 30-year old bikes. Thinking about restoring them — particularly if I am able to ride more this summer.


    May 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    • I use liners on my mountain bike tires! I’ve heard tales of those wicked thorns, but never ridden where they are a hazard.

      I have no idea how much pasture this farm has, but I’m guessing it’s more than I can see from the road. Maybe I’ll check out a satellite view. It’s possible they shipped them off for some reason, but I wouldn’t expect the entire herd, and if sold for butchering, springtime seems out of sync to me.


      May 20, 2018 at 10:16 pm

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