Wheeling at what feels like the speed of light, feet pumping, leg muscles straining against the torque of the pedals, as I silently flash past golden foliage and fields, it’s quiet on the bike.
A guilty feeling after startling happy clouds of chirping birds feasting on roadside berries subsides as I move away, my silent speeding form caused them to burst out of the bushes and settle back in shock.
It’s a rush
Another jolt from the wheel hitting a pavement crack travels wickedly up arms and spine tingling into my aching neck, that makes me peddle faster as the air rushes into my lungs, expelled as quickly as the wind that rushes through the ventilation holes in the helmet.
Gasping at times, trying to hide huge gulps of air in case a curious car drives by.
Fanning my flushed face and pulling open the multiple layers I’d donned to keep warm, the circulation in my fingers is returning and I’m grateful for the flexibility in my digits. Riding is colder than I thought it would be this early morning.
I’ve had vehicles slow when they pass by, curious about my welfare while seeing me occasionally walking the bike to ease the muscles in my back, how do you tell a stranger that you’re fine, just winded after a summer of too hot to bike weather.
That all the time on the treadmill, pounding the pavement with your booted feet doesn’t prepare you for this wheeled adventure. And it doesn’t give you that uplifting sense of euphoria that extreme exertion creates.
Sleek riders in their trendy, bright ad covered spandex suits and expensive light thin wheeled many geared bikes in better condition ride by. Thankfully I only encounter them on occasional trips when I know that they are holding back from reminding me to drive on the opposite side of the road, but I am too cautious to have a careless vehicle behind me.
Mine is a joyride-wheeling fun-stop-when-you-feel-like-it-picnic compared to their determined speeds and head down mentality of miles to go.
Ear splitting squeals of outrage feather round the curve of the road, drifting through the dense trees screening a decrepit barn with it’s dark glassless windows. I keep pushing the bike forward, unconcerned after finding out it’s only the free range farm pigs rooting behind the barns having altercations over a snack.
The pheasants are missing from the ditch separating the wide open field from the road, their desperately fluttering wings and startled cries not fading as they try to escape from my presence when my soundless bike was a threat.
I’m so used to seeing them there that I’d slow down making noise to let them know I was coming by. Pea size brains no match for speeding vehicles and ravenous coyotes…maybe they’ve moved on. A short prayer that a move to new territory is what displaced them the population is dwindling too fast.
A quick shot
Breathing levels slow to normal as air is taken in, the shaking hand holding the cell phone for a quick shot is steadier now.
Level ground with slight swells and dips, the hill far behind after walking part ways, my goal to increase endurance before dismounting to finish the race to the top.
Rolling my stiff shoulders and craning my neck from side to side I take in the colorful Autumn beauty around me. Stopping to click the cell phone carried for it’s light weight and ability to not only to take photos as I roll by stunning fields of gold, but to record a voice that’s full of inspiration today.
It’s more than a ride, it’s writing and photographing a blog post live.
The tall hay in the fields has metamorphized like butterflies do into giant marshmallows dressed in bright turquoise tights. Plump ballerinas waiting to be picked for the barn dance.
The harvest is lighter this time the summer heat kind enough to allow for a second round, and the farmers are pleased with the choreography of tractors.
A dog bays in the distance warning me to stay away, while a coyote answers by the side of the road, nocturnal habit’s broken by the beautiful weather.
You’re not just soundless on a bike but also invisible to drivers when a large dusty red truck lumbers by me air swooshing too close. I teeter on the rough edge of the road managing to keep my concentration by counting the string of empty crumpled blue beer cans that didn’t make it to the ditch. .
Getting upset does no good, backroads are for pressing the gas pedal, chatting on cell phones, and emptying beer cans down throats. Habits that won’t be easily broken when the traffic amounts to the occasional crow landing on the rough road or a deer munching leaves.
Bears parade the road at night, leaving their distinctive calling cards of large dark fruit-studded plops of poop for me to maneuver around…better than the dogs that careless owners won’t pick up after.
What is it about the country side that makes people forget their manners?
I’ve gone further than ever before with the bike, a route normally reserved for the truck and the big camera…seeing it in person, clicking away as birds circle a barn on the hill makes me realize it’s worth the effort.
The view can be startling when you take the bike instead of a vehicle. I jump as high as an herd of tiny dark-skinned pigs scattering like a school of minnows, we’re turning in unison as they spy my silent machine. I marvel at how the low electric fence reaching only to my knees contains them under the fruit trees. Skittish and shy they back away from the nearby edge of the road huddling in the back of their pen. They’re new and neither of us was expecting the other to show up.
The lurking old farm house that sits on the rise above the pen is quiet and somber as it watches me wheel down the road, coated in leaves of trees foolishly planted too close decades ago for shelter, now smothering the windows. I ache to take a photo of the winding drive that leads to the house, but somehow the presence of the pigs makes me feel like it might not be allowed.
Time to circle the bike tightly in the narrow road, staring over the field towards the Black Angus cattle who are studiously ignoring my pleas to look up for the camera. The whirling wings of the flock of disturbed pigeons continuously circling the shredded barn roof behind me refusing to settle until I leave.
Rules of the road
It’s time to go back down the hills making my way home.
Remembering to keep my mouth shut, hands ready on the brake, eyes on the road, ears tuned to what’s behind the black plastic foam filled helmet fitted snuggly to my head. I don’t want to eat bugs for breakfast, go head over heels after pulling one brake tighter, nor do I want to be surprised by a speeding pickup coming too close.
Cell phone tight in a pocket to avoid any jarring, jacket adjusted against the wind, blood pounding in my ears I push off towards home.
Jen @ The Light Laughed
I’m deep in an exciting new project, creating a online magazine called Rural. It’s not about location as much as a sensibility, living a lifestyle that’s part of your evolving creative spirit.
Connecting and working with amazing contributors from all over the world, ranging from the Canadian prairies, and Eastern Canada, to a small town in Ireland. It’s starting to take shape in such a way that it makes my heart sing.
It’s all about connecting with creativity, immersing ourselves in beautiful images, and evocative writing by delving into it’s online pages. I’m so looking forward to sharing it with you soon.
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