If I Can Make It There

I’ll make it anywhere. That’s how the song goes, right?

I think I shall begin logging bicycle rides not by the number of miles I turn, but by the number of times I nearly get killed by a distracted driver. Today’s count is two. I originally wrote only two, but then edited because really one is all ya need. OK, one is too many. It would take just one to wreck me for good, so the target is zero. Nada. Zip. I should consider myself lucky to have survived another urban cycling adventure.

And it was an adventure. For four whole miles, I pedaled south along the shores of Lake Michigan. For four whole miles I passed no one, I heard no motorized anything. My goal was to ride south to College Avenue, about six miles south of home. I made it. Here’s the tricky thing though: it is not enough, not enough by half, to merely arrive at your destination to meet your goal. You also have to make your way back home. Which I did, triumphantly for me, to the notice of no one else on the planet. 14.7 miles, coupla airhead motorists, lots of ups and downs, achy quads and triceps later. Boom. Just like the old days. OK, not at all like the old days. But strong. Fine! Strong-ish.

Waaaay over there? Looking even smaller than an ant community? That’s downtown.

The Actual big news is that I am headed to New York City tomorrow. No, there is no Barenaked Ladies concert to attend, it’s a reunion of my college friends. The four girls I spent 4+ years cramming for exams with at Marquette in the late 80s are meeting in New York City. We are now scattered throughout the Midwest and East coast, and we’ve all reached this magical, stupid age, so why not?

I’m not gonna lie, up until this morning towards the end of my bike ride, I was pretty scared. I’ve flown before by myself, so it’s not that. It’s, well I don’t know what it is, but I know that my anxiety meter was pinging into the red.

The other four girls have all been there before, so I have nothing to do but follow them around. I was not responsible for making even one of the travel arrangements; in fact, the girls were good enough even to scout out flights for me. Still though, nervous. And a little guilty. Mom guilt is a bee-otch, you guys. My son, he of MD fame/infamy/neither of those, just the kid who is DYING to visit NYC, laid it on pretty thick for a brief period. Then I reminded him how old I am, and it’s just now my first time taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

Anyway, for the first time since downloading the Southwest Airlines app, I felt not apprehension but anticipation. They promised me they wouldn’t leave the airport without me, and I’m holding them to it. So technically I can make it there. . . I do have my boarding pass, and now all I have to do is pack.

Sue, Bridget, Beth, and Julie–Monitor Hall (the ugliest building on campus) Takes Manhattan–let’s go!

schwinngirl20 Rides Again

Before I blogged, before my love for Barenaked Ladies eclipsed reason, before I became a mother, I was a biker. Not a biker-biker, a bicyclist. Before the advent of smartphones, I passed time on two wheels. My legs and my ass were steel as was my resting heart rate. I was in my 30s; I had yet to begin sliding down the slope of “What body parts hurt today?” Nothing hurt, except after crashes–and I crashed a lot. I was in my physical prime is the point here.

More–most?– importantly, I was grounded. My brain feeling not insane grounded, that is. There wasn’t a single problem that fifteen-twenty miles in the saddle couldn’t solve. I planned the exit strategy and end scene of my first marriage on my Black & Blue-ty. This old Schwinn literally saved my life. And while I embrace hyperbole with reckless abandon, that is not an overstatement. You can’t physically multitask while riding: you pedal and you think. You save yourself.

I tried getting back in the saddle repeatedly when the kids were small. We purchased the double Burley ride-along, we purchased our then-babies helmets, I stacked the Burley with juice boxes, books, snacks, even art supplies! Neither of the boys enjoyed the ride, hence neither could their mother.

Somewhere along the way I lost my nerve. Later I simply lost track of time.

I live about a mile and a half west of Lake Michigan. The lakefront has a lacy pattern of north-south trails designed for runners and cyclists, but I lost my brave. Getting to the lakefront felt like an Everest summit. Traffic! Motorists! Distracted now by their ubiquitous screens, motorists scared the living crap out of me, still do. Any contest of bike vs. car ends badly for the one cranking pedals. So I found other things to occupy time.

Most of every to-do list since then has had Boy Children #1 and #2 at its heart and soul. Top. Middle. Bottom. Being a parent has meant deprioritizing my recreation calendar to satisfy theirs. It’s the way it’s supposed to be, I understand, so this isn’t me complaining. It’s rationale. Sorta.

Today though, today is perfect. Mother Nature couldn’t have scripted a more quintessentially-summer summer day. Not a cloud to be found, the sky’s blue is dreamy. A breeze flutters my hair, keeping me just summer-warm enough as I sit and write. A legion of birds sing their varied songs while I admire our day lilies whose particular shade of gold could only be found in nature. Today is a gift.

Today felt like the day to resurrect schwinngirl20. My first and still in use email address is schwinngirl20@hotmail.com. You know I get the looks–the SO EMBARRASSED FOR YOU, old woman who still uses hotmail *snicker-snicker, eye roll-eye roll* look. And PS–Schwinn bikes are now sold at department stores, grandma. . .

I know. I don’t care.

After hanging idly in our garage for too many seasons, I dusted off ol’ Black & Blue, greased her chain, adjusted a brake pad or two, and hit the road this afternoon. I couldn’t trust the integrity of her tires and tubes, so I didn’t go far, only just over seven miles today. But I went. I even hopped a couple curbs.

It really is like riding a bike. MY bike.

My twenty-something-year-old, heavy as hell cro-moly frame Schwinn Mesa GS. She may be the only bike I’ll ever need–she’s a tank, stronger, more durable, and in better shape than I’ll be ever again. My day lily-yellow/gold Trek road bike may be too far gone to rehab, but so may be my nerve to sprint on a road bike again. My Schwinn has seen me through good times and bad, she pulled my babies with me, she kept my head square and screwed on tightly.

I’m borderline terrified to wake tomorrow, anticipating ache in every joint and muscle in my body, and that special pain reserved to bicyclists returning to the saddle if ya know what I mean. . . Oy. For right now though, this old lady isn’t an MDA mom or a baseball mom or even a speech-language pathologist–I’m schwinngirl20. Let’s ride.