Riding for the Soul

For the last two days, I’ve rushed out my door after I finished work and rode hard for an hour. Both times I made it back just a few minutes before sundown. Days are getting shorter – Autumn has arrived. At this time of year I’m feeling good, the temperature and humidity have dropped, and the riding feels easy. Sadly, the days are getting shorter and there is less time before sundown to get a ride in. Now is the time for end of season events, enjoying the good weather and good company before shorter days and colder weather start driving me inside. At this writing I have less than 3 weeks before I finish all my events for 2022. When that happens, I ride for the soul. By that I mean that my riding is done for the feeling of freedom, the enjoyment I get from the beauty of my surroundings and the company of those I ride with.

A fall ride from a few years ago with my friend Eric. Rides at this time of year feed the soul.

In years past I had events to ride nearly every weekend in September, but in these post-pandemic days some of those events have not come back, and rides like the Indian Head 100 aren’t on the calendar any more. Some of the people I would have ridden with in past years have moved on too. I recently took a week off to go to Portland Maine for the Lighthouse Ride. As always it was a fabulous event. The weather was perfect and the event was beautiful. I have more lasting memories of Maine to take with me now. I have 2 more rides on my calendar, the Taneytown Twister for my cycling club, and the Seagull Century. I don’t feel the same urgency for events that I once did. I have ridden so many events that I know what to expect and how to adjust to conditions. Finally, I just don’t worry about them as much; I’m less concerned about my performance when I’m riding them now.

My first events were tests; I was concerned about just finishing them. Soon they became routine. I started riding events with friends and events became social. Without the group I once rode with, I have to change the way I ride events again. I still enjoy riding them, but maybe now I’ll be riding events for the soul. After all, I have the experience of having ridden over 100 century rides. It isn’t a matter of finishing, it’s a matter of knowing how to adjust as I ride, and feeling the joy of riding.

With so little time before my events arrive, last minute intense training won’t do anything other than wear me out, so I may do the occasional hard ride, but I build in rest to be sure I’m fresh when the time comes to ride my events. I enjoy riding in the cooler days of September and October. The rides that I’ve done all year have steadily built up my fitness. When the days cool off, somehow my rides feel easier. When I’m done riding events, it’s all for the soul. Every pedal stroke is for the enjoyment of the season. It’s about good times and good company. I can see it coming as the days grow shorter. I’m looking forward to cool days and soulful rides.

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