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lucid thoughts

December 31, 2002 Tuesday

The New Year Ride

One of my self-imposed mandates is to make a tradition of the 35-km. New Year bike ride from my Yonge address to Pickering at night in sub-zero temperature last year in time for the turning of the year. I initially regarded it as simply pushing boundaries. However, how it affected my headspace was an unexpected and empowering bonus. It was a head-adventure as much as it was a physical run. It had to be an annual ride...through the cold, snow, ice and the dark.

9:40 PM. The time has finally come for that much-anticipated ride to Pickering again. After a few final checks on my Specialized FSR, I was ready and pumped to start the journey into the New Year. My dual halogen NiteRider lights were on full beam. Unfortunately, because I wasn't able to shut down my helmet light before the battery was fully drained, it simply refused to recharge. I had to make do with only my handlebar lights. The weather was just a few notches below zero, which was very forgiving compared to last year's double-digit sub-zero temperature with harsh through-your-outer-shell wind.

Within a few minutes into the ride, I was already in the zone, my strokes firing like well-timed precision pistons in a combustion engine. My neoprene booties and 4-fingered Canondale winter gloves were enough to keep my fingers and toes from getting numb.

Go Where You Wanna Go

Like so many times in the past, there would be something I would really want to do but would forfeit for some unsound excuse...not enough time, being tired, there's always a next time, etc. - potential moments lost in procrastination or self-doubt. When I came upon Markham Road, I knew what I wanted: make a 7-km detour to greet and hug my dear friend Emily before the year goes by. The old habit telling me to just ride straight to my Pickering destination was compelling. I was beginning to hear the same lame excuses again (I'll be late, I'm already too tired and cold, too hungry, etc.). I was on a crossroad (literally and figuratively): give in to my old weakness and ride straight to Pickering or break new ground and make the turn. While it seemed trivial, I realized there was a bigger issue at stake here. My decision will inevitably affect the way I'll live life the coming year. Three words: What the hell!

I did my detour, knocked on Emily's house and partially disrupted a family gathering. I finally met Bob (Emily's father who to me is the quintessence of the eco-warrior on a collective crusade with Greenpeace to save the planet) and Emily's best friend May. Still drenched, I also hugged Emily's Mom who seemed to take delight in my unexpected presence. They were good people whose warmth was permeating. I wish there was time for me to just chill (no pun intended <LOL>) and bond but I had to go.

Do What You Wanna Do

Being back on the road and heading east on Sheppard, I came upon another crossroad at Twyn Rivers Rd. Do I play it safe and go straight along the flat and brightly lit Sheppard or do I take Twyn Rivers? Twyn Rivers is scary to be driving through in a car during the bright summer days, let alone the cold pitch-black of winter on a mountain bike. This road cuts through the Rouge Valley wilderness and as such, especially during this time, is forebodingly dark, isolated and outright creepy. The first hurdle is a near-vertical plunge where road visibility is cut-off in the ultra-steep descent. The screaming downhill ride on this part is pure white-knuckle because the road just disappears in front of you and turns sharply where it drops-off. There's no telling if there's an oncoming vehicle. This is followed by blind winding turns that lead to an almost equally steep and longer ascent that's guaranteed to VO2-max the fittest rider. Last year, I copped-out and took the safer Sheppard road. I had to do Twyn Rivers this time (no matter what) but I was scared shitless. Three words: What the hell!

The windchill on my face as I raced down that plunge was unadulterated adrenaline. Banking on the winding turns as I pumped my strokes put me into a fluid flow...not unlike the bamboo swaying itself with the wind. The ensuing climb was quads-punishment in the sadistical sense of the word. But finally, the wilderness was behind me and I was still in one piece, basking with the newfound exhilaration of breaking boundaries - both mind and body. It was a new lease on a phoenix rising out of my own ashes.

Countdown at the Pinedas

My final destination: the Pineda residence. The Pinedas, a longtime family friend, have annually hosted the New Year countdown amongst friends and relatives. It was good seeing acquaintances and close friends again whom I increasingly get to see less frequent of...some of them only once a year. Like the Cuyegkeng Xmas party, ties amongst friends are renewed and bonds reinforced. The once "little kids" didn't look little anymore. A few new faces were there and some regular faces were nowhere... sign of the ongoing micro-social evolution. Despite the abundance of good food and the overflowing wine, it was the awesome company that took the cake. To the Pinedas, I'm thankful for extending to me the warmth of their home to "hang my hat" in welcoming the coming year.

The New Year indeed looks promising.


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