I like my solitude. While I enjoy spending time with my family, I also like being alone. Working on a project or out in the woods or on a river or lake. I like getting into that zone where my thoughts can just wander where they will and I lose myself in the miasma of memory and the here and now.
There have been times when I kind of come to and have to ask myself just how I got to where I am. Which is a bit scary when you've just ridden a challenging section of single track, like that climb up out of Long Lake on the north side, where there's the rooty, techy section, and have no recollection of actually doing the riding.
This happens to me much more when riding road or paved trails, places where the mind can truly turn off. And it's always been this way for me. When I was young, 12 or 13 I had a Huffy 10 speed. It was my first geared bike, an adult bike. I rode that thing all over town - any bike being my key to freedom. The road bike gave me even more freedom because I could ride it longer and faster than I could a BMX, which is what I had prior and after.
I would often ride for hours on that bike with its blue plastic seat embossed with a grid pattern as if it were quilted leather or something. I would literally ride laps around the town - for hours on end. By myself. Just pedaling. It was good times.
I'd get into a trance where I would just pedal and that was all there was in the world - the movement of my legs up and down.
I'd often get home and not know exactly where I'd been or how long I'd been gone. One day, though, this disembodiment led to a new experience. I'd been riding for an hour, probably. It was a cool day out, a bit damp, so I must have been heading back home. Anyway, I'm riding along and the next thing I know, I'm on the ground looking at the sky and wondering just how I got there. The bike was nowhere to be seen, but I knew I had been riding.
My head hurt and there was grit in my mouth - I later found out it was the remains of a couple of chipped teeth. My knees were bleeding, as were my palms. My head hurt. I slowly stood and noticed a parked car directly in front of me. I also noticed my bike tire poking out from the rear of the car. I walked around to behind the car and noticed that my front wheel was a bit bent and there was a blue mark in the center of the bumper from where the tire had hit it.
I concluded that I must have hit and flown over the car. I had no recollection of it at all. I suppose I could say that hitting my head on the pavement is what caused me to blot out the moments prior to hitting the parked car. That makes sense. If it weren't for my tendency of going blank while on the bike prior to this event, I would agree 100%.
There have been other incidences where I've wrecked in some way due to being 'in the zone' while on the bike, though they are further and further apart. The iPod helps with keeping me at least somewhat present most of the time. And I suppose grown up worries also keep me from completely disconnecting. And the memory of waking up lying on the road also helps to keep me a bit more focused on staying present.
But one of the big appeals of riding is that it allows me to get away from the cares and worries of the day. I can worry on the big questions in an indirect manner. It's a good thing to get some distance, right? There is always a balancing act to my riding (ha!). I have to be present enough to not get myself killed while also having enough distance from the voices in my head to actually mull over the things that are gnawing at me at any particular time.
Is there some greater metaphor there that I'm missing?