Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Life Behind Bars: Solitude

The sound of the road fades into the rhythm of pedal strokes. It's been three hours on a November afternoon since I've said a word to anyone. Three group rides went by and today I am happy to not be among them. Not today.

People ride for speed, for competition, for companionship. People ride for endless reasons and it's easy to lose sight of what it means to each of us. It's racing, it's climbing insane hills, it's following the unwritten rule of matching a saddle to bar tape. To me, riding my bike is all about saving lives.

My friends and family have helped me raise over $5,000 for AIDS/Lifecycle so far, blowing right past target goals that I had set when I first decided to participate. This money along with the fundraising efforts of other cyclists will go directly to HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention. I ride for the comfort of habit, the fitness, the speed, the sense of belonging or a place I can go to alone depending on the day. But most importantly, the reason is ride is for every beautiful soul who has been infected by AIDS/HIV and for the millions of new infections that will occur if I chose to sit around and do nothing. 

This afternoon feels arctic compared to the warmer weather we had only a week ago. My son is in school and today I am out cycling. I stop when I want to. I talk when I want to. Turn around or keep going...it doesn't matter. A rider passes me in a full sprint on a straight away. The reflex is to gear up and pedal harder but I shut it down.

As much as I enjoy group rides, I enjoy the solitude of being alone just as much. I ride to be my own companion, my own friend, my own enemy. I break down the walls in my head and heart that I have spent years building. How come I am always a better person, in my head at least, when I'm riding?