Sunday, September 24, 2006

Time Machine: Timeless Machine


I was born at a very early age in 1936 and have kept my youthfulness ever since. I was nine years old when WWII ended and so I remember it well. Those of you not old enough to remember, it was a pretty big deal at the time, it was in all the papers.

People always tell me that I don’t look my age and I can tell you when I am riding my bike I don’t feel it. I feel no different than when I rode a bike at age forty something.

Greg Lemond was once asked, “At what point does climbing hills become easy?” His reply was, “It never gets easier; you just go faster.”

So I guess the reverse is true in my case. I know by my time for a given distance that I am not yet riding as fast as I did some thirty years ago; but it feels the same in my legs and the rest of my body.

Only another bike rider could know the feeling of getting out of the saddle and stomping hard on the pedals. The immediate response from the machine as the rubber bites into the asphalt and the bike rockets forward. The bicycle becomes an extension of the rider; man and machine become one. There is no other feeling quite like it.

Riding a road bike is, in a way, a spiritual experience. My mind is totally in the moment; concentrating solely on the job in hand. My thoughts are only on the physical effort of propelling the bike forward, and on steering a course on the road ahead.

Other times of the day, if I am not careful, I may slip out of the moment and find my thoughts in the past or in the future. An often futile exercise, as both past and future are only in my mind; only the present or the moment is real.

Negative thoughts are always in the past or future; remembered or imagined. If I am in the moment there cannot be negative thoughts. A three hour bike ride means three hours of mental refreshment; it would take extreme concentration to achieve that by meditation or some like method.

So my bike is a time machine in that it takes me back to a feeling I experienced 30 years ago and before. And it is a timeless machine in that it keeps me focused in the moment. All that and I’m getting the best possible physical exercise at the same time.

3 comments:

Vera said...

My knitting and crochet does that for me sometimes.

Keep riding on.

littleginseng said...

I know exactly what you are saying, Dave. Every time I ride I am travelling into the past. Memories of past rides and special moments. The body remembers too, especially when turning into a headwind or leaning into a turn at speed. Then there is the moment, of being in the zone, of not thinking about anything, of just being. Then there is the future, wondering when the next great ride will be, will I still be riding at 70?(hopefully so!) and knowing that after every ride, I am the same yet different. Keep on riding, Dave.

VintageSpin said...

Greg's words are a key to why a lot of us ride a bike. To me climbing is a reflection of life: you get better if you want to make the effort. When does it get easier? When you stop climbing.
Sure your improved form and being more efficient make you faster, but you’re driving yourself just as hard as you did when carrying newspapers on your Huffy along an undulating road on Sunday morning.
You are because it is a passion within you.
I notice that the biggest improvement is your recovery; you can keep climbing longer when you’re on form. At what point are you in the best shape of your life? That to me is for reminiscing when you can no longer ride. In the meantime I’m still working on it.
Thanks for the memories Dave.
Steve