There’s something edgy about riding a bike in the dark: You can’t quite see what’s in front of you, but it just keeps on coming. Shadows disappear with the light, erasing dips and ridges on the bike path. To compensate for lost vision, my other senses crank up the volume. I feel the trail, rather than see it, and ride in ready-set-go mode, my body raised slightly off the bike seat, just enough above it so the bike seems to take on a life of its own, moving under me with the slightest of guidance. I clip along fast, exhilarated by each curve and bump, pavement speeding beneath my tires.
And then a hiccup in the trail sends me flying.
It’s my loose grip on the handlebars that saves me: there’s enough give so the bike jostles underneath me without taking me with it, enough control so the bike is still there for me when I regain my balance. I keep my momentum, stay upright – and land hard back on the seat. Ouch. But also, wow. And wheeeee! It’s like surviving my own personal (and very small) roller coaster. I keep pedaling down the trail, laughing at the surprise.
And I think about hanging loose, being flexible, rolling with the punches. If I’d been more rigid, followed the “hold on tight!” advice I’d probably have given my kids, I’d have jammed my wrists and very likely toppled over, scraping my knees, cranking my 51-year-old bones around, maybe worse.
Eventually I turn around to head back home, still congratulating myself on my flexibility, considering how a balance of control and quick response and adaptability is relevant not just on the trail but at work, in the family, at home. Then, wham! I go flying off the seat. Again. Same exact bump in the trail, same flight, same hard landing. Same recovery.
Next time I'd like to land more softly. I guess I have something more to learn.