Today, the miles don’t count.

It would be a complete misrepresentation to claim I’ve been “really hammering it” this month past, but I have spent the majority of my cycling miles astride speed-built, lightweight steel racing bikes. The start of school is always a hectic time for me as I fumble my way toward a semblance of balance between work and home. The many hours I’d grown accustomed to luxuriously riding at my whim and leisure over the summer have all but evaporated and I’m now snagging whatever moments I can whenever I am able. The days, even, are already noticeably shorter; night approaches with alarming haste. And I’m often tired and craving a short nap as I yank off my neck tie and walk toward the front door at the end of the work day. To get in an hour ride, I’m often frantically rearranging “to do’s” on my mental calendar – sometimes reaching the frustrating conclusion that it ain’t gonna happen unless something else gives.

Which, often enough, something else does not.

I find real pleasure when those goddesses of Circumstance look down and smile on me with favor, as happened yesterday eve. The mercury refused to rise to those levels they are wont to do this time of year, the breeze was slight, the day was yet young, and all was right in my world.

I had, as it turned out, little enough energy for speed of any sort whatsoever. This discovery became apparent mere yards down the road. But if I felt no desire to race, neither did I feel like abandoning the ride. My mind, if not my legs, longed for miles and I pushed forward, relishing a naturally measured and unhurried pace that rapidly fell upon me.

Intentionally, the gears remained low and my cadence even. Hills were not frantically crested; rather, they were approached with a relaxed ease I seldom experience, and the downward slope was coasted rather than forced. A band of perspiration began to soak through the headband of my cycling cap, but beyond that: zilch! There was not enough hard effort to squeeze out more than those few droplets of sweat.

This is the kind of excursion that entirely defines a JRA outing to me: when I wish there were even more intriguingly unfamiliar roads, down which I might pedal with aimless abandon, wholly unconcerned with miles per hour or blood glucose levels or calories burned.

I stop to enjoy a pleasant view, sip from my water bottle, and then amble on. There are more miles ahead, but I’m not counting them this evening.

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