I headed out after work last night for a nice flat spin on the road bike. It’s always great to get out and spin your troubles away on your bike for a few hours, especially on a solo ride where you can shut up the internal dialogue and concentrate on running through all the critical permutations necessary for a contented life in bike terms: eat, spin, drink, turn, breathe. Or is it spin, drink, breathe, turn, eat? I forget. Regardless of the order, it’s all so simple when you stop and think about it – just need to get the mix correct.
Bored with the factorial calculations necessary to determine all of the possible combinations, by the end of the ride my brain had emptied enough useless information to allow some fresh thoughts back in. I began running down a mental checklist of where I’ve been the past few years versus where I’d like to be. Connecting those dots revealed the convoluted path that I’ve been on, not that this is necessarily a bad thing. A few years ago I came to terms with this idea on the arrow straight roads of the Dempster Highway in the Northwest Territories.
Following that trip I wrote this:
Jack Kerouac once wrote “the experience of life is a regular series of deflections” from one’s goals. According to Kerouac, as one is deflected from a goal he or she establishes a new goal from which he or she is also inevitably deflected until one makes a complete circle that circumscribes one unknowable thing central to existence. Kerouac termed it “the circle of despair”. Long distance cyclists know it as their pedal stroke. As he put it, any attempt to avoid this circle will end in failure for, “the straight line will take you only to death.”
The road rolled before me. I spun my pedals through their circles of despair but a smile was on my windburnt lips. In the distance I saw death along the straight sections of road and laughed in its direction. This is what it’s like to be healthy and alive. I ride a pale green horse and his name is Fargo. Jack may have spent a lot of time on the road, but he should’ve ridden a bike instead of driving a car. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so damn miserable.
It’s all so simple, isn’t it?