Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The thing I love about riding is that there is almost always something interesting that happens. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad. Many times it is just fun or amusing or in some may memorable. But, time and time again, I'm happy I chose a bike ride over time on my elliptical.

Today, as I rode off I was thinking about how my dad always says, "Welcome to the real world," to me. I was thinking about what the REAL world is. Certainly, it is many different things for many different people. For some people, it is constant suffering and hardship. For most westerners, even the hardship comes with some measure of support from our family, culture, government. You don't see a lot of people walking around with dead eyes like I read about the people in somewhere like Nepal looking.

For a lot of people, having kids is part of living in the real world. Kids aren't my thing and since good birth control is cheap and incredibly effective, my world hasn't included a baby. So, does that mean I'm somehow missing out on what real life is like? Maybe, but I also get to save my pennies for trips to Iceland while my friends are saving for piano lessons, braces and college.

Anyway, these were the kinds of thoughts I was having when I saw them in front of me. She was about 5 feet tall, with a scarf on her head. He was maybe a few inches taller, bowlegged, and wearing a smart Irish cap. They were moving along slowly, holding hands and taking up the entire path. They had to both be at least 80 years old. It just killed me. Elderly couples, walking slowly together, hands clasped completely ruin me. They send me into all these sentimental, gushy thoughts about life and my husband and living our lives together until we are old and creaky. I chastise myself for not taking a picture of them as I approached and slowly walk around them.

I stop as usual at Powell Butte for a banana. "Two bananas and an egg," I told my husband this weekend. I can get 3 hours worth of entertainment for 45 cents, plus burn lots of extra calories to be able to eat a fabulous dinner. Such a rewarding hobby.

A couple of Russian kids are playing on the trail. "Da, da, da, da, da!," the little girl says to her brother. I laugh that she keeps saying the only Russian word I know.

Back on my bike, I'm admiring the horses when I notice a long stick covering the right half of the path. Then the stick moves. Snake! Before I can think, Turn! Hard! Fast! I turn hard and fast and miss the snake's head by a centimeter or two. This is the first time in over a year I've seen a snake out here and now every stick is a snake. What's that? Oh, just a stick. What's that? Oh, another stick. I'm just starting to settle down and get back to enjoying my ride when Snake! Oh, geez, now I am officially freaked out. I do not want to hit a snake. At. All. I worry that they are out sunning themselves because it is colder.

At the end of the trail, I run out and take some pictures of the sunflowers for my friend, Lucy. Then head back. I'm still on snake alert and thinking about how this is just the kind of thing that stresses me out. Things I have absolutely no control over do not stress me out. Swine flu, nuclear holocaust, crashing when I'm in an airplane. I am not in the slightest way responsible for those things. When I'm on a plane, I'm utterly relaxed. It's the stuff that I do have some control over that gets me stressed. I think about trying to be the kind of person who would say, "Just relax. Enjoy your ride. If you kill a snake it is it's own stupid fault for being on a trail with so many humans on it." This works for all of exactly 6 seconds before I'm back to diligently scanning for moving sticks. When I turn onto the I-205 bike path I let out a sigh. I decide I need to climb a big hill and head for Mt. Tabor.

The hill climbing relaxes me and I go out of my way to get a nice shot of Mt. Hood. After 41 miles I pull into home, starving because I'm two hours late for lunch. I eat a giant bowl of pho and think about how glad I am that I made the herculean effort to miss that snake. When I rode past that spot, he had long since slithered away. It was a bit more stressful today because of him, but then, without him, it surely wouldn't have been so memorable.

1 comment:

  1. Do I always say, "Welcome to the real world"...hmmm...I guess I do.