Sunday, October 7, 2012

Road to Happiness

Over the past three weeks, I have done five cyclo-cross races and had a super-charged start to my cross race season. As much as I wanted to keep that positive race momentum rolling, I knew a weekend not traveling and racing would be beneficial for my mental health, and give Art and me a chance to catch up with other things. When Art requested the weekend off as well, I quickly agreed. If he was feeling the race bug calling, it would not have taken any arm-twisting to get me out there racing, but that was not the case. We took a weekend at home.

Last week was a bit rainy, which is good now and then, because I can actually let myself not ride a bike, and do something else. I was able to spend fours hours, with camera and clinometer in hand, scouting possible future trail re-routes. This may not seem like an exciting job, but I thoroughly enjoy it. Sure many plans and even dreams do not pan out, but finding another equation is even more satisfying and usually a better one in the long run. When you take the time (years in some cases) to find this perfect route, get all parties involved to approve it, actually watch volunteers build it and then ride it while hundreds of smiling mountain bikers travel along the trail, it is very rewarding.

As the rainy days moved out, I did something that was not in any of my already minimal training plans, but something I just felt like doing: I went for a long hilly road ride. It was probably the last real warm day of the season and the sky was blue, and the woods were wet. I felt the roads of Harriman calling me, so with no heart rate monitor or drills in my head, I left with just a bike, a camera and a sense of exploration. It felt somehow right for me.

Normally, I visit the top of Perkins at Bear Mountain in winter or spring when the road is closed to cars. The only people on the top then are extreme cyclist and hikers, like myself that make the effort to get up there by their own power. That alone is an empowering feeling after making the effort up such a climb. This time, the road was open, and I was just another tourist mingling around the top. Although I shared the view with many, it was just as special as on my winter rides. Once again, I am reminded of the beautiful landscape and roads, so close to my home in the Hudson Valley.

I took some pictures and set my own pace for the day. Although it directly had little to do with racing, it felt good to be out in the sun doing what made me happy. Any day riding a bike is good.

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