It's Just Like Riding A Bike

This morning I woke up to a very quiet and empty house. For the first time in a very long time, it was only me and the cats and dog. Jon is with his band students in Boone, NC for All-District Band and the kids are enjoying a sleepover at Nana and Grandpa's house. The house was strangely quiet. I found myself talking to my pets a lot more this morning. I'm used to a bustling house full of noise so the complete silence took a little getting used to. After feeding the animals, taking a shower, and watching a few episodes of "Empty Nest" (Hallmark is having a marathon today!), I was bored of relaxing.

Let me take you back a few days before I tell you what I did with the rest of my morning off....

Lately I have felt the urge to exercise. This is a pretty weird urge for me to have. You'd be surprised by how long I can be completely happy while sitting on the couch with the remote, my knitting, and carbs. Lately, though, I've felt like getting my rear off the couch and doing something active. I want to exercise for fun, not because I have to. (This is a very strange sensation for me) I've been maintaining my goal weight for 2 1/2 years (thanks to some great therapy that helped with my emotional eating) so weight loss isn't my goal for exercise. My goal is to have fun, get my heart rate up, and feel more energetic. This will also be a great way to get back in shape in time for gardening.

Thursday morning was my first day of exercise. I went for a walk around our neighborhood at 5:30am. I usually wake up at 6am but in order to fit in a walk before my day begins I have to begin it a bit earlier. It was 34* outside so I bundled up but by the end of my 1.6 mile brisk walk, I was plenty warm. Our neighborhood is so quiet at that time of morning. The only sounds I heard were a few heat pumps and the sound of the interstate in the distance. It was very peaceful and a great way to think about the day ahead. I found I had so much more energy after that walk and the energy lasted throughout the day.

Yesterday morning was raining so Jon and I did an AM yoga video tape to start the day. It was mostly stretching and relaxation but it was a nice way to wake up. Later I looked through our VHS collection looking for old workout tapes we could use on rainy mornings. I found a beginner kick-boxing tape from the 90's and a Pilates tape. I put in the kick-boxing video yesterday before dinner. It was fun and I like bouncing around on the balls of my feet. That's a strange thing to like about kick-boxing, isn't it?

So that brings us to this morning. It was going to be a beautiful day... sunny and mid-50's. I decided to get my bike out of the shed and cross my fingers that the tires were in good shape. I haven't been on this bike in over 5 years. Before that I'd only ridden it a handful of times. I was so glad to see that it was still in good shape and after I put a little more air in the tires it was ready to go.
I love this bike. I bought it shortly after buying my first house when I was 23. It was sitting outside of Kmart in line with all the other bikes. I loved everything about it. I loved the color, the super wide seat(it's much wider then the picture shows), the white walled tires... I just had to have it.

So, 9 years later, I pulled the bike out of the shed, dusted it off and put it in the van.

I am so lucky to live only 5 minutes away from Salem Lake. We went as a family last year in May. (I'm promising myself right now that we're going to spend a lot more time at the lake this year.) The lake has a wide, dirt "road" going all the way around it. I say road but it's really just a very wide path.

The road is very close to the water. The road follows the lake around curves and little tucked away places. The lake has so many little "corners" that it feels like many bodies of water instead of one lake. It looks different around every turn.

The path around the lake is 7 miles long. Yes, I've hoped on my bike for the first time in 5 years and I'm going on a 7 mile ride. Sound crazy? Well, I may not be able to walk without pain tomorrow but it was absolutely worth it. I had forgotten how good it feels to ride a bike. I love going down a hill... gliding down with the wind in my hair. It feels so free.

About a mile down the path is my favorite spot at the lake. This little bridge with it's fast flowing creek almost takes my breath away.

There were times this morning that I could have cried because I was so overwhelmed by it all. The sun shining through the trees, the sounds of a few birds calling, and the sound of this creek.... it was just so perfect. It sounds silly when I say it outloud. I don't usually consider myself an overly emotional person but there was just something about this ride at the lake this morning.

I watched people jog by with their Ipod's on and wanted to tell them that they were missing the best part. The sounds of this lake and the time to be "disconnected" from the world made those two hours I spent at the lake worth every muscle ache I'll be feeling in the next few days.

I took my time riding my bike. I stopped often to take pictures or to take a little rest. There were a few times when I rode up a hill that my legs burned like mad but then the fun of riding down that hill made it worth it.

So much of my thought usually goes to what needs to be done during the day... "When do I need to start dinner to have it ready in time?" "What day does Charlotte need to wear red to school?" "What day did Jon say he had that band thing after school?"

Not this morning. This morning I had no where that I had to be. There was no one waiting for me to hurry up and get home. My children were having a blast at Nana and Grandpa's and Jon was listening to music in mountains of North Carolina. It was just me, my bike, and the lake.

These two geese were about 10 feet away from me. They looked at each other, probably wondering why I was taking their picture.

I can't wait to go back to the lake. I would love to get a pretty basket with a lid for the front of my bike. When it gets warmer I could pack up some knitting in my basket and sit by the creek and knit for a while. It would be nice if we could get a babysitter and Jon could go on bike rides with me sometimes too. We could pack a picnic lunch and sit by the creek while we eat. I think I'm ready for Spring and longer days.

So, a 2 hour February bike ride around the lake... definitely a great way to spend a morning to yourself.