What I think about when I am riding

When I was more tightly scheduled, I felt like I needed to make my Sunday morning bike rides really count, and would go for as long as I could comfortably manage. Now that I am in transition and still building up a work schedule for myself, I can fit in a ride on other mornings, and so I did on Tuesday; since I am still finding my legs again, I did a shorter route, just to see how that felt.
I was down in Santa Cruz after the one-day sitting on Saturday, to help a friend lead a small retreat for some of her students. We had what felt like the first of the winter rain (though it has rained once or twice since the summer already), both on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, with dark skies and a chilly dreariness. By Tuesday morning the clouds had all gone, but it was quite cold by San Francisco standards, and I had various winter accoutrements on, which just about did the job. On my way out of the city I noticed how many people were out in the park running, and how many riders were already returning from early morning rides, which they seemed to be doing at a much harder tempo than I was attempting. Most of all I was astonished, not having been down that way on a school morning in many years, just how many middle schoolers were taking the bike path along Richardson Bay, which felt very encouraging, and which also really helped me to relax rather than rush through that lovely stretch.
It is a truism that the English always talk about the weather, but I think that is largely because it is a fairly unpredictable force in people’s lives there. Though there are none of the extremes of other parts of the world, often the weather is something to set yourself against – the ever-present possibility of rain, the cold, the damp, the wind. Having gone out in that frame of mind, I noticed myself paying very close attention to the effects of the weather – how it was coldest in the valleys, and on Richardson Bay crossing the wetlands, warmer as I climbed up to the Panoramic Highway where I enjoyed the views over the clear ocean, even warmer in places where the low sun was hitting and as the morning wore on – and was reminded that, like the breath, the weather is always available to us as something we can pay attention to.

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