Change is in the air. As it does every autumn, each day gets progressively shorter than the one before, and the temperatures begin to drop. The sun is preparing for hibernation, slumbering through each day behind a gray ceiling of gauze. Squadrons of geese arrow their way south, while Starlings of similar mind are gathering in huge flocks of tens of thousands, winging their way in shillyshallying columns so long as to appear endless, eventually disappearing at horizon’s end. Enormous groups of these birds blacken the limbs of the great Cottonwoods in my yard, resting for an afternoon, their mindless chatter almost deafening, and then moving on again.
Change is taking place at school also, as we embrace new modes of thinking and teaching. New ideas about learning. It’s not easy for all of my teachers to absorb, so quickly and dramatically. As for me, my specific and universal role has always seemed to be the agent of change, in environments that recognize change takes time and acceptance and ownership … but usually demands immediacy.
My rides are changing too. As the trees begin to shed their leaves I find myself riding in a much less purposeful manner. Speed is seldom my objective, but this is particularly the case now; windy and blustery – or simply cold, overcast, and with damp leaves of amber and gold and crunchy brown littering the ground – my rides are of a mostly contemplative nature. Fall brings out a certain melancholy in me, a sense of nostalgia. I think about the things I still need to accomplish this year along with all the stuff I never got around to the past several months. There’s a special urgency to get out and ride: I’m all to aware of February’s promise to keep me indoors and riding the hated trainer.
Outside on my bike, no matter how sedate the pace, I’m going someplace. The trainer, of course, doesn’t move and I simply spin the cranks for exercise. When my road time goes AWOL, I will definitely crave the lost daily workouts. But I’ll also miss going somewhere, especially when days turn into weeks and months of being cooped up indoors. The damn trainer sits there all winter, mocking me, knowing that the best I can hope for might be to daydream my exercise routine into a few minutes more stationary cycling. (And by the way, wouldn’t “stationary cycling” be an oxymoron?)
I rode today, easing along at a fairly sedate pace and intensely aware of the nice contrast between the robin’s eggshell blue of my Boulder Brevet and all the rest of the colors of fall. Spinning in a low gear, the resentment I felt about job and family and life and responsibilities getting in the way of my cycling time this past week – well, it all evaporated immediately.
Poof! Gone, just like that.
And I happily – and most enthusiastically – embraced that particular change.