Sunday, July 31

A return of sorts...

I've missed this space and the people who used to regularly visit. I won't bore readers with all the details but I'm riding--not as much as I'd like, but I'm riding and it feels almost like having a piece of my late grandmother's homemade carrot cake with the cream cheese icing--a full body pleasure sensation that I've never been able to fully reproduce anywhere else. Riding again has come close. I've had more than my share of health issues and having never been a person with health problems this has been humbling to say the least.

Permit me to send major thanks all of those who have sent me emails or visited my flickr site to make comments and inquire. I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind words. Thanks too all those who used to visit this space and simply wondered about my absence. I'm touched by it all. I apologize for not visiting your sites. I just couldn't bear all the motorcycle chatter and photos of trips. It felt like slow torture. Hearing the roar of a motorcycle on the street was more than enough reminder of my clipped wings. Turning off and tuning out was difficult but necessary. It allowed me to avoid dwelling on the negative--what I couldn't do and concentrate on getting well. Please accept my apologies for being MIA. I did think of you all.

July 7th marked one year since I resigned from a job that was killing me. Literally. And, things have improved considerably since then. I've joined the ranks of those with an auto immune disease, which I'm convince may have been 1) triggered after my brother was killed (written about on previous blog entries); and, 2) exacerbated by a stressful job, which I don't miss at all. OK, well, I miss the income--it was a well paying position. Still, zero regrets about leaving. Mysterious aches have disappeared, once persistent hives now rarely surface, and a debilitating fatigue that often left me bedridden for most of the day, all gone. Mostly. I can walk for miles now when before I needed a nap after walking to the bathroom.

Since spring, I've been riding on and off with saddle time improving all the time. The itch--and thank goodness it's not from hives--to ride and renewed energy to do so, has returned.

It's amazing that I used to go to Indianapolis for lunch and turn around and head home, or zip down to the St. Louis, MO area and back the same day. A 600 miles day ride was nothing and a 1500 miles weekend was more typical than not. It's all relative, isn't it? Now, a 20 miles ride feels just as sweet as those iron-buttish rides of yore! Now, I ride by feel. If I feel like going longer or shorter, that's what I do. This disposition seems to have helped build the ride muscle gradually--sort of like experiencing my own break-in period. I remember early spring throwing my leg over the bike and having to sit there to rest before turning the key. That ride was all of about two miles. Two glorious miles!

Riding now, however, is almost mindless. That is, I'm comfortable on the bike and I ride as often as I can. And, when I do, I more often feel "one" with the bike--you know what I mean?

Chippewa Falls, WI. I took my first multi-day trip recently; actually, it was a last minute trip to Chippewa Falls, WI., to catch the last day of the BMW RA rally. The rally was a bust, but it was fun to be on the road. I left with no plans. After talking to my pal, Chris, at Everyday Riding, I decided to chuck my tentative plans to go to Prairie du Chien, WI and headed to Chippewa Falls. I'm learning that when I feel like my old self, it's time to take to the road. One possible perk of going Chippewa Falls was meeting up with Chris given that Chippewa Falls is only about 100 miles east of Minneapolis. It didn't happen but not for lack of trying. And, I would have enjoyed the company.

I've enjoyed many day-rides of varying lengths. I've had a few short jaunts with Dave (spouse). A recent trip to the Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove, IL was nice. I selected the destination and had every intention of going alone but having company wasn't too bad. It's the negotiating around riding that always hangs me. It takes time to figure out where to eat, when to stop for a nature call, how long and what route. Exhausting to put it mildly. You know, so much of life--at least mine--holds enough mandatory negotiating to last a lifetime. Even before getting ill, I rode solo. You all know that. It was my way to reconnect with self, nature and just be on my own. That has not changed. In fact, I need to be out there on my own more than ever. Because my ability and time to go often and far has changed. Thus, when all systems are ready to go, I'm going.

I now know like never before that riding is a fun-filled stress-buster for me. Every concern, big or small, personal or political melt away when the wheels start rolling. My mind is as close to being blank as possible. My focus is on riding; my energies go there and after a while when I reach an open space, I can feel myself shift into automatic pilot and feel as if I'm floating, sailing, flying effortlessly and all worries are left behind, put somewhere high on a hard to reach shelf. This state that I sometimes reach when I'm easy-riding has resulted in nearly running out of gas more than once. That old feeling of getting on the bike and just riding, riding for long stretches is reactivating the dormant, exercise-deficient muscle memory needed to ride well.

Accepting that tomorrow I may not feel up to riding has been humbling indeed. I have a few trips plan but they are written in pencil. I ride when I can ride and lately I've been feeling it more and more. For now. I'm glad to be (sort of) back.