Life is always easier if you're in the right gear.

Even A Bad Day on the Bike…

Lately, I’ve been struck with the realization that life changes on a dime. Okay, so, it isn’t really lately that I’ve become aware of this. I’ve been noticing this for quite a few years now. I think it is something like twenty.

Ernest Hemingway in, The Sun Also Rises, penned these words:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

I could say this about every major event in my life. How did your marriages end? Two ways, gradually, then suddenly. How did you decide to move? Two ways, gradually, then suddenly. How did your last relationship end? Two ways, gradually, then suddenly.

The truth is, I saw the end of the relationship coming for quite some time. I ignored the warning signs, thinking, “This is just normal stress all couples deal with.” Yeah, well, not so much. The Significant Other, mentioned in previous posts, left me in two ways, gradually, then suddenly. Had I been paying attention, I would have seen the gradual signals that led up to the sudden ending. And sudden it was. Imagine riding along nicely in your speedboat, enjoying the warm weather and wind in your hair and, too late, you see the boulder just under the surface of the water. That’s a bit like how it was. As far as I was concerned, things were moving forward. Suddenly, the boulder became visible, and within three days, it was, completely and irrevocably, over. Further, he had moved out and was on his way to a land far, far away.

That was my August.

As if 2012 hasn’t been a tremendously wonderful year already.

After tonight’s ride, in the soft, muted hues that are late September in Southern Oregon, with the cool, clear air swirling around me, energizing me with each down-stroke of my pedals, I know I am going to be okay. My future might not be the future that I envisioned over the last two years with the SO playing a leading role. In fact, much of my future, right now, is painted in hues of gray or deep black. I can’t see past tomorrow, or the next week. If I’m especially creative, I can see that this school year will be easier than last, I am spending far more memorable moments with my children than I ever have, and I am exhausted, but joyfully so. As far as what the future holds or how things will end up for me, I cannot see very far into the future. Maybe that’s a good thing right now. This week things turned once again on the proverbial dime and not in the good direction. Fortunately, right now, my career is a place of inspiration and blessing. If I can ride, then I know I can survive whatever the evil spirits of this world want to dish out, and this week they dumped a bunch.

In Southern Oregon we are enjoying a deliciously long and languid Indian summer. The weather has been hot, the trees look weary, as though they are more than ready for their winter sleep. And yet, their leaves, instead of changing to the multicolored hues we usually enjoy, remain a wilting green. Sure, some leaves have dropped and scatter the greenway, coloring my ride even further with my favorite hues of red and gold, but for the most part, the trees along the greenway look tired. It’s as if they are ready for summer, with its sweltering heat and lack of rain, to be over. If this be the case, then I think I must cast my vote with the trees. I hope we have autumn here. As late as it is in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising for temperatures to go from the high 90’s every day to a very chilly early winter. This would wreak havoc on Halloween, and my aging bones.

Today’s ride was more difficult than most, of late. My bike is in desperate need of servicing. My front wheel needs truing. The brakes are rubbing, and it just feels unstable. Annoying noises erupt from my chain, derailleur, and pedals with every down-stroke. I love a silent bike. To hear squeaks and squeaks and things rubbing against others is just disturbing to me. It also slowed my ride down. I logged a 10 mph. ride today. Significantly slower than usual. I was completely annoyed and, after being passed up for the thousandth time by a cool kid on a road bike, I was tired of riding a hybrid. I actually began to think, “This isn’t fun anymore.” I don’t think the bike noises and the cool kids were entirely to blame.

Sometimes change happens far too suddenly. Accidents, loss of employment, economic loss, an affair, death. We don’t have time to process the pain and move forward. Instead, we move forward, then process the pain. On August 3 of this year, my life was disrupted again. It was unexpected and sudden, but this is not to say it was entirely a bad thing. It was, even so, painful…at the time. I didn’t have time or emotional fortitude to process that pain.

Two months later, on a golden, but tired, Indian Summer afternoon, some of it surfaced. On a slow, two-hour bike ride, there’s a lot of time to think. And think I did. I recognized the rejection. I felt the failure. I acknowledged the sadness and the loss. I hated every moment of it. I didn’t stay there, in that sad, grief-filled place. I thought about the future, about how I hope to do life moving forward. I set some goals. Thought about some dreams. Made some plans. Solved some problems. Thought about funny things that happened this week. In short, I was able to work some things out in my 20-mile bike ride at 10 mph.

It really wasn’t my best day on bike.

It was still a gloriously golden day.



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Hi, I'm Cat A.Olson, @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. I had five weeks of radiation treatment and I rode my bike to nearly every treatment. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm finally getting serious about losing weight, and riding really fast with the cool kids.

I ride every chance I get, as fast as I can, for as long as my body will allow. I'm learning how to embrace challenges like helmet hair, padded pants, clipless shoes, flat tires, bugs in my teeth, and...ugh...hills. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier and a lot more fun when you're in the right gear.

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