The time opulence of riding my bike

I haven’t ridden my bike as much the last few weeks as is normal for me. Some of that has been because of travel; some because I’ve been running and climbing more again now that my foot is basically better (finally!!); some has been because I was sick for a while, not COVID but a gnarly cold–I’d kind of forgotten how hideous colds can be!; some is because I’ve been feeling fully overwhelmed this term with work and school.

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(though I did finally make it to Hoyt Arboretum to se the larches before they lost all their needles:)

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But this evening, despite a work thing that ended late, despite a bunch more homework I need to do before 11am tomorrow, I took the long way home. I left the work truck at my office even though it would have been faster to drive it home (quite frankly, I hate having that behemoth of a truck in front of my house, and I don’t like having to drive it through Portland) — so I left it in Vancouver where it belongs, met a friend about 20 minutes away, and we rode and rode. The moon was full, the night was clear, and it felt so damn good to ride with no rush, to say fuck it, my homework will still be there later but right now I am going to ride my bike. And I will ride it for the sheer joy of riding it, and I will only tangentially aim for my house, and I will do my homework later, and it will be fine.

I have missed aimless riding.

Really, writ large, what I have missed is the feeling of time opulence that aimless riding brings. I have missed the feeling that I don’t need to rush or take the pragmatic route, that I can explore or take a random turn just because it looks fun, that there is enough time.

What’s the proverbial chicken and what’s the proverbial egg here, I found myself thinking after my friend finally turned around and left me to the rest of my ride alone. Do I feel more time-poor because I’m actually busier, or do I feel more time-poor because I stopped riding as much, and it’s riding that gives me the feeling of time opulence? I suspect it’s more the latter. Not entirely, but more than you might think. Once I’m on my bike, that’s my full present, and it feels possible to extend it, just a bit, just an extra mile, an extra turn. And that always turns out to be fine. Despite a longer ride, I always manage to do what I need. But when I’m not on my bike, when I’m at home surrounded by textbooks and chemistry problems and work emails, I forget that I can do anything else. That there is time for anything else.

So, this is a reminder to myself. I DO have time to ride my bike. And, magically, riding my bike will make more time–at least the feeling of having more time, which is really what matters.

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