some kind of cosmic shift occurred during my bike ride today, I'm fairly certain.
I left my home one version of susan, and returned home somewhat different.
I can't pinpoint the exact changes, but I know I am different. and I'm thinking perhaps this happened to everyone in the world today, not just me . . .
after that 66-mile ride yesterday kicked my butt, my intention today was to ride to little dell and back, my standard 23 mile, ninety minute route. that would be plenty. but if you know me, you know that there was a secret plan plotting away inside my brain that eventually took over: if I could ride 34 miles today, that would make 100 for the weekend, and wouldn't that be a nice, round number to add to my odometer? I'm rolling my own eyes, so I can imagine you are, too.
I rode 34 miles.
little dell is this magical spot for me, and today I did something completely atypical for me: I stopped, got off my bike, reclined on a couple big rocks, and soaked in the sun and the setting for a while. there are a few huge rocks by the gate that closes off the road to big mountain during the winter. they are pale gray and flaky, and today they formed a perfect resting spot. I sat there, alternating between closing my eyes and savoring the peace and the sun on my eyelids, and looking out over the east end of the reservoir, trying to memorize the sight. when human sounds were absent, I could feel the stillness and hear the lapping of the water against the eastern shore, pushed by the wind that rippled the surface.
I was feeling small and insignificant, as though the world didn't need me: a rather unpleasant feeling to sit with. the name "lonely planet" had earlier jumped into my brain: that was how I was feeling this morning. as if I were this solitary entity, functioning completely on my own, spinning away in a galaxy full of other lonely planets doing the same thing. I started up emigration canyon with this thought, and along with it came a desire to ride and ride and ride and never return home.
no psychoanalysis, please, I already know myself.
when I climbed down from my rocks and said goodbye to the wickedly branched, barren scrub oaks and the field grasses already battened down by the season's early snow, I was somber but settled into myself, accepting of the "I am where I am" condition I seemed to be in.
and then, halfway down emigration, I passed a lemonade stand.
okay, really it was a table, and the sign said "gatorade" and as I passed by I could see a big plate of cookies. and three cute blond girls sitting behind it, one of them calling out "gatorade!" in a hopeful voice.
I slowed, my mind played a quick game of yes-no-yes-no and about 50 yards down the road the "yes" had won and I turned around and rode back up to the table.
I've been carrying a 5 dollar bill in my pack for at least a month without having had to use it, so I excitedly dug it out. 50 cents for a cup of gatorade or a dollar to fill my whole water bottle, and 50 cents for a cookie. and the girls were writing down their sales in a notebook and donating all of the money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
they had just set up less than 10 minutes before, and I was their first customer. had I not sat on those rocks for 10 minutes, I would have missed the opportunity to give these girls my five dollars. thank you, rocks, for calling me. thank you, lonely planet, for putting me in that contemplative mood. just plain old thank you universe.
I set off down the road again, tummy appreciating the half cookie I'd eaten. the wind had decided to push its way up the canyon, so I was working hard to keep a good downhill pace, but I had fortification now, and sipped from my gatorade-filled bottle. I had just about made it to Ruth's when something started to not feel quite right. something on my bike, something in the back, okay, truly, this couldn't be happening . . . I pulled over to the edge of the bike lane, right across from Ruth's, and stopped. turned around, and saw my back tire completely deflated, it's saggy walls resting on the asphalt.
remember last week when I typed really lightly about not having had a flat tire in months?
it was my time.
I dug out my spare tube, and my cartridges, and then my . . . where were my tire levers? I dug deeper, felt all around, no tire levers. geez.
the first cyclist who slowed to ask me if I needed help said "sure" when I asked if she had tire levers. she dug in her pack, pulled out a tube, pulled out a cartridge, dug deeper, felt all around, and guess what? no tire levers. geez.
cyclist number two said "sure" when I asked if he had tire levers, and luckily he knew his pack better than either of us females did (and how embarrassing is that to admit? answer: extremely).
cyclist one left, and cyclist two helped me change the tube in my tire. we chatted about how great it was to be out riding this time of year, how crappy tire levers are, and how many rocks there seem to be in the bike lanes right now. he left, and eventually I figured out how the wheel goes back on the bike (I always struggle with how it fits in with the chain and the derailleur and it never looks quite right until I get it on and then it's so obvious I feel like an idiot).
and I returned home different from when I started out. I still can't put words to it, but something happened between the rocks and the sun, the gatorade and cookie girls, and the flat tire experience. either the whole world shifted just the tiniest bit, or I did.