Sunday was a nice day. Mid 70’s, mix of clouds and sun, and no rain forecasted until late afternoon. We decided to take the bikes to the NCR (Northern Central Railroad) trail and ride for a while. Specifically, my son had been riding his bike everyday for exercise and was interested in riding the trail. Heck, we’ve only been living in Maryland since 1999 and had talked about driving out to the trail many times in the past (I bought a bike rack for the car maybe – oh, 7 or 8 years ago and first used it a couple of weeks ago), so it was high time to hit the trail.
He did enjoy it, as a matter of fact. He rode 21 miles roundtrip. Me? Did I make the 10 miles I did when my boyfriend and I took our bikes up there a couple of weeks prior? Nope. Barely made 7 miles this time. I made the mistake of going to the gym (the place I haven’t been in months) and having a “free” personal training session Saturday morning. I didn’t really think anything of it until I got on the bike and rode a mile or so. Then my thighs started screaming (literally, as in ‘what are you doing … What Are You Doing … WHAT ARE YOU DOING … WHAT THE %?*!?& ARE YOU DOING???’). I might have walked more than I rode (in miles) and probably sat more than rode or walked (in time).
But something nice came out of it. There are spots along the trail with picnic tables or benches. I picked a bench on the river side of the trail. I got off the bike and sat there, rubbing my thighs, and thinking “you are a sorry excuse for a person who is trying to get in shape.” As I sat there I realized a couple of things.
First, a high percentage of the population that either bikes, jogs, runs, or walks the trail do so in their own little world. Some, not many, acknowledge my existence when I smile and say “hello”, “hi”, or “good morning.” Most people turn their heads as soon as eye contact is made or just look at you with that “you talkin’ to me?” expression. Those who walk/run/jog with their dogs probably are the friendliest. Families (mom and/or dad with one or more children) are hit or miss. Some respond; others do not. I’m not crazy, I want them to know – I am not going to kidnap your child and I am not thinking indecent thoughts. I am merely trying to be friendly.
But second, and better than everything I wrote in the previous paragraph, is that I connected with nature. I sat on the bench and listened to what was going on around me. When I first got there I thought I was near a waterfall. And then it hit me that the sound was the wind rustling the leaves in the tops of the tall trees on the other side of the trail. I watched as the trees swayed gently and listened as the wind skipped across the new leaves. I listened to the river flowing, to the woodpecker that was having a field day on some unsuspecting bark, to small rocks and pebbles as they were displaced by bike tires or gym shoes.
Do you know how you take a spice jar from your kitchen cabinet, open it, dip your thumb and fingers inside, take some of the spice, and then sprinkle in it your sauce or on your steak? You rub the spice softly between your fingers as you move your hand back and forth over the top of whatever you’re spicing up. That’s what the sun did to my face as I sat on the bench. The sun sprinkled its rays over me – and that made me smile. It felt really good just sitting there, recovering from the last several minutes of bike riding, and taking in everything that was around me.
The NCR trail is a calming place. Even when I’m riding my bike I feel peaceful (no matter if I’m sweating, sneezing (did I mention I have allergies?), panting, or in pain). I feel like Baby (the baby dinosaur in “Dinosaurs” – the TV shows from years ago) because when I think of my bike, all I can say is, “Again! Again!”