I started cycling several years ago as a way to lose weight. As I saw the changes in my appearance, my desire to ride increased. I bought a used bicycle, and I started riding consistently. I took a while off from riding only to pick it back up last year. This time, it wasn’t because of weight; it was because of diabetes. A friend rode in the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Tucson, and after hearing him talk about the experience, I knew I wanted to accomplish something similar. That’s when the insanity began. I started riding more than a simple 6-7 miles around my apartment. I took off for entire days and pedaled along the marathon running route in my town. I signed up for the Death Valley JDRF Ride, and now I have a training schedule. I began to look at everything a little differently. Riding was scheduled and the food I ate became fuel. My diet changed, as did the routes I rode.
I quickly learned how much time riding actually requires. To do a 35+ mile ride, I need at least half a day. In the coming weeks, I’ll complete my longest ride of 80ish miles, and I’m planning an entire day for the journey. This fall, it seems the more I ride, the busier I become. Meetings, work retreats, business trips, church commitments, birthdays, weddings, mission trips. Whatever you can imagine, it’s in my schedule for this fall. And while I love cycling for many reasons, it’s important to me that I still look at it as a joy. I don’t want it to become a burden or a task. I don’t want to lose the pleasure and simplicity of riding.
Lately though, riding has become more than an enjoyable sport. It’s become my release. In a hectic schedule full of commitments, riding has been my solace. When I’m on the road, it’s just me. There are no meetings. There is no email. No Facebook or Twitter. It’s just me, the road and my music. Riding has become a different kind of joy in these recent weeks. It’s the one piece in my day when I am free from all things. I’m responsible for no one and no thing. There are no press releases to write on the road. There are no meals to cook and no emails to send. On my bike, I can clear my head. I can leave all my troubles, my worries and my anxieties on the road. I can leave my fears and my complaints on the pavement. I can talk to God without any interruptions, and I can hand everything to Him as His beauty surrounds me.
When I schedule rides, I recognize it as training. I’m conditioning myself for the 105 miles in October. But when I’m on the open road, it’s my release. It’s not about training, and it’s not about conditioning. It’s about finding Jesus in my happy place and letting myself release the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. I am blessed with this life, and I am happy to be involved with each endeavor I give my time to, but I’m quickly realizing how much riding gives me balance. Ride days are my absolute favorite days, and I find myself looking forward to them more than any other days.
Today is a ride day.