Sunday, February 27, 2011

56 Days Later

Finally! Fixty-six days since I parked the BV under the deck I was able to take it out today. For as long as it had been since I had last ridden, it almost felt like I'd scored some kind of victory in being able to ride this afternoon. I do believe that this break of nearly two months had been my longest riding hiatus since I became a scooter rider nearly four years ago.

I've always been a chicken when it comes to ice and snow. I don't like walking on it. I don't like driving with even four wheels on it. Although we didn't have any storms of monstrous proportion (yet) this winter, since shortly after Christmas we've been nailed with snow often enough to keep questionable patches of frozen junk on the roads with bad plowing and then melting and refreezing. Even today I wasn't certain that I'd not encounter something that might make the front tire skate across it, but I took the calculated risk because I was just about stir crazy from not riding.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go even before I left the house, and if we were to look back in this journal to a year or two ago from right around this time of year, I wouldn't be surprised if I were to find that I'd written an entry similar to this one from the very same place. I went to the county park that closes in late fall, complete with big gates that block the roadway so well that even a scooter can't get around them or the posts that support them. Somehow that spot is like the official portal to spring to me, and until those gates open, regardless of what the calendar or thermometer might suggest, riding season isn't quite here. And, somewhat pathetically, until those gates are moved back, I'll return to that very spot time and time again and mutter to myself a big, ol', "Aw, shucks!" through a disappointed grin each time I discover that they haven't been.

I don't know that I've ever quite measured the passage of my life before in rituals of sorts as I do with the scooter and its "seasons." Ecclesiastes, the third chapter, comes to mind. "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven." And, although I'm no great fan of the tune by The Byrds set to that set of the Lord's lyrics, the front tire certainly does "turn, turn, turn" as the somewhat distinct seasons of scootering come and go again each year and carry me to many familiar places and now and then to some new ones when I'm feeling particularly daring.

I was out this afternoon for, perhaps, only an hour or so. It was still cold as the wind whisked under the helmet, even with the visor down, and up the legs of my pants that my mom hemmed just a little too short at the beginning of the school year. But, it was a good kind of cold. The kind that invigorates and reminds one at the same time that its proper season isn't here to stay forever.

It was an odd feeling to be back in the saddle. For just the littlest while it almost felt like I'd never ridden a bike before. There was the slightest wobble to my grip. A trace of hesitation in my leans and turns. It all came back to me before I rode the mile or so to the downtown, but there was enough of a cautious reminder in there to keep me on my toes with the realization that riding, like anything else worth doing, takes some degree of practice and that the associated skills can get rusty from disuse.

Signs of spring are there if you know where to look for them. For me, it isn't usually farther than the garden along the walkway that leads from the backyard to the front sidewalk. Soon enough some tiny crocus heads will emerge from these greens and when I spy them for the first time I'll likely look like the Grinch in that famous scene where his heart grows a number of sizes larger than it had been and his face lights up with a beatific smile.

The best parts of life are simple and don't cost a thing. Having a scooter is a blessed bonus.


SonjaM said...

Welcome back on the road. I remember that feeling of having to regain trust in one's riding capabilities. While living in Alberta my bike was more or less parked from October til May. The first ride was awkward, and nothing I would ever want to repeat (hence, the move to British Columbia, where you can almost ride year round). Ride carefully, the roads can be treacherous...

Doug said...

Glad you're on the road again, Joe. I'll be looking forward to another season of your thoughts and photos.