I had even forgotten how to shift!

Due to renovating, moving and last but not least, my daughter, if my training calendar is not lying, as of last saturday’s morning, I had not ridden a bike for almost three months. It’s not been that long for the last four and a half years and every day it became more and more obvious: I need to get out and ride …

During the last week, I noticed my mindset took a steep dive towards negativity. Instead of my usual nature, I noticed I became more and more impatient when it came to things like telling my daughter not to do stuff or continuing the renovation (there are still things like getting shelves and pictures up and unpacking boxes to do). One evening, I was so angry, I actually screamed into a pillow after spending more than an hour trying to put my daughter to sleep. I just couldn’t take it anymore, wanted to hit things, wanted to destroy something. I was mad.

When I realised that I was soooo angry, I sat down and asked myself what the reason for this was (I’m still rather proud of myself doing this rather than actually destroying something). Amongst other things (having gained weight (once again …), not making as much progress as needed in getting the condo renovation done, …), I found that it had been a really, really long time since I had last ridden my bike. Since that had always been a perfect way for me to free my mind and forget about stuff for a moment, I figured this might well be one of the big reasons for my unhappiness. Other than commuting to the train station and back, the last ride was back in sunny September. Friggin September! Now it’s almost Christmas!

So actually, I wanted to ride on Saturday, but there were so many other things to do that I found myself an excuse not to go out and ride. Funny as it may sound, the vicious circle was being angry because of having so much to do and because of not riding bikes and not riding bikes because of being too angry. At least that day. Sunday morning, it was literally raining cats and dogs. Haven’t found the saying I learned in english class like 18 years or so ago to be more true than that morning. At breakfast, my daughter was trying to play her usual mealtime games (like throwing food off the table, squash food into her highchair) and even though it was hardly 8 o’clock in the morning, I was already fed up to the back teeth. So I packed my bag, put on the bike clothes, grabbed the hardtail out of the garage and went for a ride. The moment I sat down on the saddle I noticed I wasn’t as familiar with the bike as I used to be. Three months without riding that particular bike had made me forget how it felt.

The old bike I ride to work is waaay longer than my Sovereign, the bars are so much narrower, not to mention the badly worn down drivetrain and V-brakes vs. disc-brakes. Since I only sat on that old slogger, I got used to it. When first having to shift to a higher gear, I even used the wrong finger to do that! The old bike has end-90’s Shimano rapidfire shifters, where shifting to a higher gear is done with the index finger, whereas all my mountainbikes have SRAM shifters, where shifting is only done with the thumb. So anyway … There was road salt everywhere on my way to the woods and it was pissing down like whatnot – but you know what: I had a big smile on my face. Noticing all these differences, giving a shit about the rain and eagerly looking forward to lowering the saddle and riding the first trail for months – awesome!

By the time I returned home, like two and a half hours later, me and my bike were covered in mud, the backpack was soaked with water and dirt and weighted like 10 times its usual weight. My shoes also at least tripled their weight due to the soakage. Many (usually) moving parts on the bike refused to move due to the frozen mud layer, ghost shifting occured and the noise of the disc brakes was terrible. But I got what I came for. Complete physical exhaustion, a mind free of thoughts about work, duties and money. In one word: satisfaction.

And you know what? It worked. When we sat down for dinner that night and my daughter was once again doing the exact opposite of what I wanted her to, instead of wanting to scream at her (I never actually did that, but it even coming to mind is scary enough), I calmly took the time to try to teach her.

Since bike riding is my perfect valve to blow off some steam, to free my mind from real world problems, it will surely be on my schedule more often again from now on.

Thank you mountainbike.



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