It took a little mental arm-twisting, but it happened. My first outdoor ride of 2013. It took a while [a whole six days!], but colder temperatures and shorter days tend to reinforce my conviction that sometimes, it’s okay to never want to spend too much time outside the dimensions that enclose your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and whatever room your bike and trainer might be parked in. Because it’s cold out, and that means layers. And layers make me look fat, and this time – or at least these past few weeks – that just hasn’t been okay.
My addiction to air popped popcorn and the resulting inordinate amount of time I spend in front of the microwave is most likely a contributing factor to my voluntarily letting go of reality/responsibilities/sanity. I do like spending time outside. Love it, in fact. Just not when sucking in exhaust fumes for hours has me coming back from rides sounding like Lauren Bacall after chain-smoking 40 cigarettes [“anybody have a match?”]. Compromising my lungs for the entirety of my winter vacation didn’t seem like it would be worth it. So I just moved all that shit inside.
I was also running away from the sometimes distracting nature of rides, where I’ll think up reams of ideas to write about, but also chide myself for all the things I’m supposed to do that day, what errands I have to run, how many hours are left before the inevitable resumption of office life. Spinning inside to Jeremy Renner’s lickable face in “The Hurt Locker” means there’s no room for muddled and unnecessary anxieties. It’s like Warren Buffet worrying about money: it’s just not possible.
As frustrating as it is to have my cardiovascular system spontaneously shut down at the mere sight of a 5% grade while my brain will mostly refuse to chill out, hitting the “less than 24 hours to go until I’m back in my cubicle” deadline kind of freaked me out. I put on a baselayer for the first time since early November, plus my first ever long-sleeve jersey.
It was everything I’d hoped and predicted. My legs were alright, I was cold until I started sweating, and there was a lot of stopping, then starting, then stopping, then slowing, then spinning back up to speed again. I didn’t feel like I was breathing in a lot of exhaust, but when I got home and called out to my dog, I sounded like Humphrey Bogart. There was the distraction, too. The seed of this blog post, and a few other ideas, some guilt trips for being so lazy the past ten days, and that anxiety about going back to work.
But there was also sunlight and a view that was familiar but far more engaging than the front of my microwave. It even made up for the last thing I wanted to see 20 minutes into a three hour spin:
…If only I’d stayed inside.