The Buddha on the Bike

Yesterday I opted to ride my shiny new Panama Jack beach cruiser to the Gabber and back home, an eight-mile round trip. This led me to seriously consider whether or not the gym membership is doing its job. I like to think the free weights, yoga, and running help me stay in shape. I like to think a lot of things that are apparently incorrect. Yesterday afternoon, my pretty new bike made me its bitch.

About six miles into what I am not-so-affectionately referring to a “one-hundred-and-four-horseman-of-the-apocalypse-degree day,” I became consumed with the heat, the fact that I had managed to ride into the wind both coming and going, and my apparent inability to develop a better lung capacity than the drunks who have no choice BUT to ride their bikes everywhere.

I was, to put a positive spin on things, living very much in the moment.

That’s when a man on a bike pedaled up next to me.

“It’s almost too hot for this!” he said, almost cheerfully enough for me to reach over and stick a branch in his tire spokes. Fortunately for him, I lacked the energy.

“Almost?” I replied. I then made some vague complaint about the heat, followed by how I’d be regretting complaining in November.

“In November we’ll wish it was this hot again,” he said. I agreed.

“No use wishing it was different. Better just to accept it and move on,” he said. He turned off the street. “Bye.”

The whole interaction took all of 45 seconds, but it left me feeling pretty ashamed. I’d been so busy wishing it was cooler or less windy or easier that I wasn’t able to focus on what I had – a bike ride on a summer’s day. I hadn’t paid a scrap of attention to anything I saw as I pedaled past, engrossed in resentment that things weren’t easier.

“Suck it up” isn’t exactly the message I took away from that exchange, but that’s what I did. Look, the wind will change or it won’t, I told myself. I still have to ride into it now; why not focus on something else? I’m not going to get into better shape right now, but I still have to ride with the body I’ve got. The heat is abating (it was almost six o’clock by this point and it had cooled down to a respectable 95 or so), but, barring a thunderstorm, this is as cool as it’s getting right now. I forced myself to stop thinking about those things.

I caught a whiff of a gardenia bush as I rode past. I saw an egret soaring overhead as I approached the drawbridge. An egret looked at me looking at him and decided I posed no threat to his life or next meal.

It was still end-of-the-world hot, I was still not in shape to ride a beach cruiser eight miles, and the wind didn’t shift to my favor. When I got back to the drawbridge, it wasn’t any easier.

Somehow, I didn’t mind as much as long as I reminded myself I couldn’t change it.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.