Anatomy of a Bike Ride

Recently I was riding my bike before work—a morning far too beautiful to spend in the gym. Suddenly, I realized I was aware of only my music, my heartbeat, and my hard but steady breathing. It was as if I was riding with blinders on, totally unaware of the landscape, houses, or traffic on either side of me. I was literally going through the motions, just trying to complete my ride.

I was riding like a machine, but this workout was only accomplishing the caloric burn-off goal. No joy. Stress, supposedly released through the pedals. But shoulders to my ears said otherwise.

Breathe out. Phewwww. I slowed up slightly, came back to the reality of what I was doing, then continued moving forward.

I thought about how our weekend rides with friends are much more relaxing, longer, and fun. We ride but can talk, laugh, stop for a few photos. Yes, this ride was shorter in distance, time, and purpose…. but it should be enjoyed too.

Becoming AWARE of my thoughts, my ride, my motions, my morning, my job, my conversations, my night, it makes them all much more real. So busy, it is easy to forget to live the minutes, the details. Sometimes it takes a moment like on my bike to remember that.

Some times we all want to pass fast. Now, without thinking. But when we continually move too quickly we can miss the subtle moments, the quiet ones, some critical ones. We become sloppy, often unaware of the larger picture, thinking only of the task or situation right in front of us.

We should remember that it’s the single moments that make up our life, not just the motions. The Blur.

The journey continues.

C

As Seen on a Bike Ride

These are photos from yesterday’s bike ride along the Des Plaines River Trail in the Lake County Forest Preserves.  Our path took us through some happy memories of places we took our kids when they were younger and a few unknown miles. We traversed through woods, fields, a hotel, abreast a subdivision,  and along the Des Plaines River on a glorious Chicagoland morning.  All pics taken on my iPhone, since it was the only camera I had.

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Field of golden joy. (Half-Day Preserve)
Same spot as above, opposite side of path. Fall colors starting to arrive.


Captain Daniel Wright Woods. Buckthorn cleared out here–amazing.


Double-crested cormorants (I think).  So cool–wish I had the DSLR. 

  

Along the Des Plaines River Trail

Goal: Increasing the Fun Level

This past weekend my goal was to do at least one fun, unexpected thing each day. Mission accomplished. It is too easy to fill free hours with errands, busywork, chores.   Recent life events made me realize that I need to grab a hold of my time when I can, not let my life slip away.  Some weekends are scheduled from start to finish, some productive, but hopefully there is some time to explore, enjoy.

I spent an evening socializing with friends, saw Bad Moms with a neighbor (very funny, from someone who endured the PTO Primadonnas), gardened, walked my dogs, went out to eat.

One of the highlights was biking in the Lake County Forest Preserve. It was a gorgeous morning and so reminded me of my childhood. Eight friends on bikes, riding for miles while laughing, reminiscing, planning, joking, only one getting lost for a brief few minutes. No real schedule, no set plans, other than to enjoy our morning, leaving all responsibilities behind.

 

 

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Can you spot the 3 sandhill cranes?   

And the weekend is upon us again. So I shall set the same goal—do one spontaneous thing each day. Try it.  And let me know what new experiences you have!

C

Some Trips are Worth Repeating

Sometimes a brief getaway with friends is exactly what you need to restore your center, step outside your routine, push your worries to the recesses of your mind, free your spirit.  We recently spent the weekend with a group of friends in MI–two years in a row of glorious weather, biking, fire pits, cooking, laughing over morning coffee, sharing wine, lunch at a local and super-friendly bar, strolling the beach, picking berries, talking, laughing, reading, spending a moment alone.  And a surprise boat ride with new friends at sunset, along the shoreline.

Different experiences from last year, but the same warm memories.

driftwood

 

walking and talking
A lunch destination. Cheap, local, welcoming, fun.

 

Sunset on Lake Michigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some pictures from last year’s adventure, visit this post.  C

A Morning Bike Ride

Our forest preserves, my tax dollars hard at work, are gorgeous.  We take advantage of them all year round–hiking, biking, sledding, dog park, cross country skiing, playgrounds when the kids were younger.  When I realized last night that we would have no kids this morning, the only thing I wanted to do on such a glorious summer day was take the bikes for a long ride on a new trail (for us) with no whining allowed, some exercise after what feels like three days of gluttony.  Speed, peace and beauty only.

The Milenium Path we took bordered on neighborhoods along the way, but it felt separate, not encroached on. Crossing our paths were a rainbow of butterflies, grasshoppers shocked at our spokes, goldfinch bobbing in the currents, hawks circling, crows seeking attention, the snowy egret shocking contrast to the pond, gnarled oaks cooling us from the sun.  It was a incredible day for a ride–to be anywhere outside–on nearly empty paths, gentle hills, flat plains, a spot for lunch along the way.

With three kids and full-time work, it is rare that we get an entire morning to do what we actually choose, and I miss the long bike rides, the hikes with no one complaining. I even miss the shorter family rides, but they take about three weeks to plan, it seems.  I will savor the peace this morning, and the whopping ten minutes I felt I had the house to myself. C

Chicago Morn

A fabulous Sunday morning with stellar blue skies, Lake Michigan sparkling in the sun, flowering trees lining Millenium Park, Chicago is THE best city to be in.  Bob and I enjoyed a 1 1/2 hour bike ride yesterday–no kids, no schedule, no plans.  A rarity.  Boy, it brought back memories of riding my bike to work down Lake Shore Drive and taking Maxx to the lake. 

We certainly were not lonely on the lakefront.  Everyone had shed their parkas and boots and a few most of their clothes to enjoy a summerlike warmth.  People were biking, running, skating, strollering, walking their dogs, playing soccer/volleyball/baseball/frisbee, a brave couple swimming, building sandcastles, photographing, phoning, dining, snoring, sunning, watching, laughing, talking, kiting, biting, boating, singing, sunning, dancing, fishing, smoking, enjoying. Living. Loving. Being.

What a perfect morning. C

A Family Bike Ride

The Des Plaines River trail in the Lake County Forest Preserves was bustling on a stellar Sunday afternoon as we biked along the trail.  I believe that people are doing “staycations” (what a horrid word, linguistically!); I have never seen the trail so crowded.  It was wonderful to see so many shapes, sizes and contingents of groups along the way-babies in bike seats, the tag-along toddler seat, families, serious bikers-in-training, individuals, friends, hikers, dogs and their owners. 

 We were a group of 9, not one complaint during the 10 mile ride, the 8 and 9 year-old boys keeping up with the adults with no problem. I enjoy the combination of riding along the shaded river bank, clack-clack up-and-over on the bridges, then swooping under the busy roads, finally a long, lovely stretch bordered with river on one side and acres of wildflowers on the other. 

We reached our destination of Independence Grove, curving around the path to view the two man-made lakes from above.  I think it is the gem of the forest preserve, inviting and encouraging young and old to try something new.  While too busy on a weekend for the serious trainer, it is a beautifully laid out space where people can bike-walk-skate-skateboard around the lakes, rent boats, play on the newly constructed playground, swim, fish, take photos, play volleyball-baseball-soccer, fly a kite, have a picnic, take a nap, watch the bubbly clouds float across the sky.   

As my friend Kerry said, “Maybe there is hope for world peace.  Look at all the different people smiling and having fun.”  I think it would take many hours there before the kids give their “I’m bored” lament, and if you cannot find something you like to do here….there must be something wrong with your psyche.

Our kids ran on the playground after we ate our lunch, while we relaxed and chatted.  They then fed the seemingly 50-lb carp before we rode around the lakes to start our ride home. The girls decided we HAD to stop at Dairy Queen on our ride home, a remnant memory for the many times we did that when they were younger.  It was a welcome treat, after a gorgeous day spent outside, bickering and electronics absent.

What a relaxing way to spend one of the final summer Sundays before school and soccer games kick into gear.  I am already planning where we bike next weekend, should this amazing weather prevail. Slowing down and letting the trail lead us where it may, a welcome respite for all. C