If a tree gets winded in the woods…

Riding a bike can make one quite philosophical. Or maybe that’s just me. If you haven’t heard yet, I have a new bike. A Trek 7.2 FX, if that means anything to you. And I’m bound and determined to use it so much that it will pay for itself. It shouldn’t take long for it to save me money and conscience as it reduces my carbon footprint and reliance on any fuel except human-power.

So first off, I’ve noticed that the bike is like another being. It’s like a child or a partner who is amusing to spend time with, but who you have to get to know. I have to know, for instance, how she likes to turn, how fast she can stop and go, and how to lock her up so no one will sweep her off her feet and steal her away. And, when walking her through doorways and down hallways, she’s like a blind friend who needs to be considered and given a wide berth. (But unlike a blind friend, if I fail at these operations, the spiky pedals will take paint off the walls or the door jamb. Eep!)
Then there’s the phenomenon I noticed as I rode my bike to work for the first time. As I rode, I did as any rider would–earnestly forging ahead, stopping or speeding up according to the traffic lights or other bikers or cars making their way through rush hour with me. The surprising thing was that sometimes I would stop and realize my heart was pounding. Somehow, in the whoosh of traffic and the thoughts of making the lights before they turned red, I forgot to notice that I was exerting myself.

When I run, I hear my breath and think about my heart beating. I even like to pity that heart (and myself) for its sad little systolic murmur. But breathing on a bike commute is like a tree falling in the woods when nobody’s around. The waves of the lone tree’s descent, the tremors caused by its contact with the ground, do not reach an ear. So does it make a sound? And likewise, am I really tired and winded—or does it matter?—if I don’t realize I’m panting to beat the band?

Something to ponder, my friends.

***

On another note, and more related to food: I took my new hybrid baby (this is the bike) out to Rock Creek Park yesterday. I got on the trail at the National Zoo and meandered around until I hit Beach Drive, which was closed to cars for the holiday, and continued for another few miles. Along the way, I noticed an impressive number of picnic-ready nooks that I hope to utilize soon. Some have picnic tables, and one has a beautiful stone wall formed in a kind of U, which I think is supposed to be for barbecues. There were also come very adorable kids pedaling their hearts out on teeny tricycles. Cyclists and runners and old ladies pass them, but they don’t seem to notice. It’s astonishing how seeing a tot with itty bitty green Crocs and a steadfast determination to keep on truckin’ can make your day.

So… anyone up for a bike ride and a pic-a-nick this weekend?

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