yesterday I got on my bike for an easy ride.
the first few minutes were uncomfortable. then the first few kilometers were a bit challenging. before long, I decided that maybe eight minutes would be long enough, really, for a recovery ride. okay, maybe ten minutes. and finally, I started to feel like I would be able to ride longer than twelve minutes, that I might possibly even make it to my goal of an entire hour.
I rode to sugarhouse park to do laps, as I couldn't bear the thought of riding through town and dealing with stop signs, stop lights, and traffic. (riding up a canyon was definitely out, as that would be way more work than my little heart and muscles needed.)
for weeks I have been meaning to mention this, and it always slips my mind when I actually sit down to write: it is a glorious year for hibiscus around here! I have never seen so many looking so happy, and sugarhouse park has a beautiful display of them near the entrance. each time I drive past I grin, and slip momentarily to a beach on hawaii's shoreline.
so the hibiscus are tall and regal, the sun is shining over the entire valley, and the air is fall-morning crisp as I turn into the bike lane to start looping the park. I feel good. and directly in front of me are three very nice looking men (from the back, anyway, which is all I can see of them) on roller blades, skating together in perfect rhythm. I am spellbound, watching them, as they embody strength and grace in motion. they are moving quickly, and I am perhaps ten or twelve feet behind them, wondering if I will pass them or not. soon we start down a hill, and the gap between us increases, the three of them tightly packed together, drafting off the lead man. then comes the incline, and they separate slightly as their arms and legs swing from side to side and their muscles pump them up the hill. it is beautiful and I am enthralled: I am almost close enough to touch these athletes, and I see every aspect of their process. when they draft their skates are within inches of each others; when they climb they alternate direction of their swings and miraculously do not touch the others' skates or arms.
I, of course, am caught up in the thrill of watching them, which means keeping up with them, and my recovery ride is getting tossed out the window as my heartrate climbs. but I'll be damned if they're going to get too far in front of me.
one takes a lap off, they trade leaders, they hook up with a fourth skater. I have no idea if they came to do this together, or if they connected with each other by chance.
I ride my laps, and after the fifth lap I do pass them, and somehow manage to stay ahead of three of them, but the fourth has accepted my unspoken challenge and pulls back in front of me, beating me to the top of the next rise.
soon he drops back to reconnect with the others, they are behind me, and I am riding on my own.
I don't know if these men use the skating as cross training for cycling or some other sport, or if they do this for its own sake. but they were so graceful, so confident and lithe, so very powerful. it was pure joy to watch them, to admire their athleticism.
it was just one more form of fuel for my own path.