Many years have passed since I’ve fretted about every line or age spot that has appeared on my face. But sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and wonder where the young woman I was has gone. I stretch my face with my hands trying to make myself look like I used to but it’s no use.
I could get depressed about it but why waste precious time? Instead, I have my own antidote. I go flying; no, not in a plane but on my bicycle. I suit myself in my spandex bike shorts, bright orange tailwind jersey and socks that say “Tough Girl”. The finishing touches are my orange and gray helmet, and red sports sunglasses. I look in the mirror and say, “Hot Biker Chick” instead of old, wrinkled 59-year-old. No one can tell I’m a longtime AARP member when I’m on my stealthy road bike. Hey, it’s the only way I can still get whistles but you take what you can get.
I grab my lightweight steel steed and head out to go “flying”. Once my legs are warmed up, I can crank my classic ice-blue Serotta up to 18 miles per hour, not exactly jet speed but it feels like flying to me. Give me a tailwind and watch me soar.
As I’m pedaling down the road, I feel young and invigorated. It’s as if someone has given me wings. My mind wanders as I travel down the road with the wind in my face. But never does my mind think of my age. Instead, I feel like a kid on an adventure.
Settle in, let those legs spin, and enjoy the ride, I tell myself. I tried my legs at racing back in my 40s but it really wasn’t my thing. I just enjoy cycling, exploring back roads and byways. Most days, I take a 20-25-mile jaunt but several times a week I boost my mileage to 30 or more miles.
Soon, I spy a pair of hawks catching the wind with their wings. They soar and dive like acrobatic pilots. I enjoy their show but all too soon, I lose sight of them. I keep on pedaling at a steady pace. If I could order the perfect weather for a ride this would be it: lots of sun, temps in the 70s and absolutely no wind. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. But no matter---wind, showers, cold temps--- it’s all good if you’re taking care of yourself mentally and physically on your bike.
One more mile and I should be pedaling past my favorite farmhouse with its “attack” turkeys. I call them “attack” turkeys because on one memorable ride they all chased me down the road. Six heavy-bodied turkeys bounding down the road to chase a bicyclist away is a humorous sight. The only other witness to this event was a UPS truck driver who stopped to watch. I’ve told my story of the turkey chase to friends and family but I’m not sure if they believe me. These overly protective turkeys have never pursued me again but they always gobble at me as I speed by on my bike.
I’ve traveled the same roads on my bike so many times that I feel like I know the people who live along my route. I wave at the organic produce stand lady; the man who is always puttering in his yard; and the preschooler tooling around in his driveway on his trike. They wave back and yell, “Nice day for a ride.” You can’t help but feel better when people you barely know are smiling and greeting you.
You expect to see people in cars out on the road but what about horses? Am I seeing things? No, that really is a bunch of horses out for a romp down the road. I spotted a frantic horse owner, with some friends, trying to drive the horses back where they belonged. But the horses would have none of it. They were enjoying their new-found freedom.
Getting a little creative out of desperation, the horse owner called out and asked me if I could ride ahead of the horses and turn them around. Sure, it would make me feel good to assist one of my bike-route acquaintances. I talked to the horses as I rode up alongside of them. They seemed to be okay with my presence. Maybe they thought I was a new-fangled member of their herd. I’m not sure what goes on inside of horses’ minds but once I got ahead of them, they must have realized I wasn’t one of them. Whatever I was, they didn’t want anything to do with. They slammed on their hooves and turned around and headed for home. In just a matter of minutes, the wayward horses were back in their pasture, safe and secure from the funny metal, two-wheeled “horse”.
You can’t beat a ride when you end up feeling like a “hero” to a desperate farmer. I pedaled on basking in my glory of having saved the day. Pretty soon, my journey was over. I returned my bike to the garage, went inside, removed the biking gear, looked in the mirror, and yes, there’s that 59-year-old again but she sure feels young.