Most days, I don't think about it at all. It's just my commute. In the morning, I'm still waking up, and by the time I'm on my bike and pedaling, the sun is coming up and I'm thinking about the day in front of me, not the ride itself. The same can be said for my trip home, when I often have my head down, reviewing the day's events, making plans for the day to come. Then there are days like I had yesterday.
The wind was blowing in my face as I made my way up the hill outside my school. It's always seemed a supreme irony that the way home is uphill, but the way to work is down. Today that uphill was enhanced by a strong headwind, and I watched every inch of pavement as I pushed myself to keep going. And here is what I thought: Maybe it's not the breeze at all.
Maybe what was slowing me down was that I was thinking about what I was doing. Earlier in the day, our attendance clerk asked me if I rode my bike to school every day. "I'm thinking about trying it myself. I don't live that far away."
Neither do I, I told her, and then went on to describe in very limited detail the trip I take twice a day: mostly side streets, trying to stay clear of the peak car commute hours to avoid four-wheeled traffic as much as possible. It was the four-wheeled traffic that I encountered outside my school later that afternoon that made me reflect once again on my two-wheeled commitment.
"Mister Caven!" The face that went with the voice came from behind the wheel of a shiny, white BMW with big ol' rims and a stereo that competed with this enthusiastic greeting. "Remember me?"
I recognized the smile, but I confessed that the years of seeing ten year olds who return to me as eighteen and twenty year olds had dulled my senses a little bit. Give me a hint, I asked.
"Daryl Stephens!" The grin grew wider. "You still riding that same bike?"
Yeah, I replied, trying very hard not to imagine what Daryl might have had to do in order to get that sweet ride of his in between the years I taught him and his graduation from high school. We exchanged a few more quick pleasantries and off we went. In different directions. I was headed uphill. Into the wind.