Life, Like Coffee…and Bikes

00399231I used to take it black; pure, untainted, full strength, undiluted.  I began this habit back in college; back in those days of choosing and learning to choose. Back then I chose my daily schedule, I chose my purchases, I chose my food, my friends, my fun.  Like my coffee, I chose life pure, untainted, full strength, undiluted.

Of course, it was easy to be that way then.  I had only myself to be concerned about.  If I made a bad purchase, I learned from it and since I had a good job and no expenses, really, I knew there would be more money so I didn’t worry. If I had a job and didn’t like it, I knew I could find a different or better one.  If I didn’t like where I was living, I could, at any moment choose to relocate.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, life was easier back then.  I did have worries, but beyond any of the concerns, I knew that, barring any unfortunate and unexpected events, I had time on my side.  That’s how I viewed life back then.  I had years to make up any mistakes I made back then. 

A Parent’s Life

j0309384Fast forward 20-something years and the view of life, with half of it behind me, is very different.  I don’t have the last 20 years to make up the mistakes I made in the last ten.  I worry more, I don’t choose freely and impulsively, and I rarely choose for myself anymore.  Like most, I’ve grown up.  I have obligations and people I am responsible to and for which I am responsible.  Yes, they are my choice, but they also determine for me, most of my choosing these days.  I don’t always like that.  One of the children needs a new pair of pants, so I go without a new pair of shoes.  The plumbing backs up and there goes another hundred and fifty from the Christmas fund.  A child gets invited to a birthday party and I stay home on Friday night.  As so many other parents, single or otherwise, I choose my children and deny me. 

Interests and Activities

One area I always seemed to abdicate choosing was the area of my life that falls under the category of “Interests and Activities”.  Oh, sure, I always loved reading and drawing and swimming as a kid, but most of the other interests I’ve developed over time came about because there was someone, usually someone I was dating, who introduced me to the sport or activity.  Water-skiing, snow skiing, and definitely cycling. Most of the things I pursued, in those early days I pursued as part of a relationship.  I didn’t pick them up on my own and for the most part, I didn’t continue them when the relationships ended.  I don’t know why this is.  Maybe it is because I really do enjoy many things and I’m not, or wasn’t back then, that picky about activities.  I could and still do have fun doing just about anything.  

Something happened this summer that changed some of that for me. I developed a little dream all my own independent of any relationship in my life. It’s a big part of the chain of events that led up to me purchasing my bike.  After all, spending so much on a bike a few months before Christmas isn’t exactly something most moms in my place would do. I admit, I still wonder if I should have. My children are growing up, however, and they have time when they are off doing their activities or are at their dad’s.  This leaves me with ample time to develop some of my own interests.  A woman can only clean house and do so much home improvement. Sure, I could actually learn to cook something edible, but what fun is that if I’m the only one eating it? I definitely needed a fun outlet for myself.

Breaking Up

Part of the difficulty and the pain, when a serious relationship ends, is the vision of the future with the two of you in it changes, to being a vision of the future with only one of you.  Yourself.  For me, this summer, another relationship ended for me.  It was especially disappointing, because there were some visions of how a future together might look forming.  That all comes crashing to bits when you get that bizarre good-bye email.  The fact that it was seemingly such a significant relationship ending via email made it both easier to get over and more difficult, if such a thing is possible.  In the end, I was very sad about it, but I determined that the true character of the individual I’d been spending time with had just been revealed, and I decided to simply not waste any more emotional energy thinking about it.  I forced all the dreamy ideas of a future with him in it out of my mind and began the hard work of thinking about a future going solo.  A future that I could enjoy independent of a man in my life. A future I would have to create and build on my own. For reasons, I might share later, facing this reality was especially difficult for me, I did it anyway. That’s where the bike comes in.

Making My Own Dreams Come True

Portland_Oregon_RiverplaceThis summer, after spending some time walking around Portland, Oregon, (this was before the relationship ended or, quite possibly, as it was ending but I wasn’t yet aware of it) I thought it would be great fun to be cycling around this lovely little city instead of walking.  I shared this idea with no one.  Afterward, meaning after that particular relationship was officially over, I spent some time thinking about me and my goals and my future, or what I can see of it from here. One thought led to another.  “Wouldn’t it be fun,” I thought to myself, “to have a nice bike that I could hook onto a rack on my car and travel around exploring the paths and trails in the city…or along the coast…or around the state?”  I continued with my reverie, “Wouldn’t it be even more fun to purchase a really decent camera with some decent lenses and take pictures of my journeys?”  As usual, the dream kept growing and growing, eventually ending with the idea that I also purchase quality bike for my youngest, so she could join me on some of these trips next summer.  It’s not a huge dream, as dreams go, but it was mine and it was achievable.  It pleased me to think about it.

Any dream can be dreamt, but not many become reality unless some action is taken. My dream would have stayed in the dream stage forever if it weren’t for a friend who happened to also be an avid cyclist and who worked at my local bike shop.  Together with his urging, the willingness of the shop owners to work with me on the purchase of a bike, and some extra earnings I made this summer, I was able to purchase my bike in two payments after two months.  Step One: Buy a bike.  Completed.

I haven’t regretted it. 

00387210I’ve been on my bike a whopping three times since I purchased it at the beginning of this month.  I blew a flat the third time out and ended up adding thorn resistant tubes and tire liners to my bike.  Had I not come down with the wicked cold/flu that is going around I would be out on the bike every afternoon after school.  An hour of hard riding on my bike goes by in a flash and it feels great.  I can’t have that much fun at the gym nor do I work as hard. There’s something about not wanting to fall off the thing that keeps me pedaling, I guess. There’s something that makes me feel alive that keeps me pedaling hard the entire hour. Minimum distance?  20 miles.

Those times out on my bike with the wind whipping past, the fall colors streaming by and the soft hum of the tires on the path as I push to finish the next mile and the next…pedaling the entire way…learning the gearing…exploring the path…those times feel like a dream.  Miraculously, instead of feeling old and out of shape, I feel young and strong again.  It almost feels a bit like my days so long ago. 

It feels pure…untainted. 

Definitely full strength and undiluted.  

About according2cat

Hi, I'm Cat A. Brasseur, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm a teacher by day, a cyclist and blogger by night, a single mommy by life. I ride every chance I get. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier when you're in the right gear.

Posted on October 24, 2010, in Cycling, Fitness, Goals, Life, Memoirs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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