Click, click, click, click. The heavy flywheel on my exercise bike kept turning ‘round and ‘round making a tiny click at each revolution and boosting the odometer with every turn. It was still early this morning, and perhaps I was not fully awake, when I stripped off my cozy polar fleece jammies, slid into shorts and a tee-shirt and stole down to the basement to hop on my exercise bike in an effort to fulfill my New Year’s resolution of a daily bike-riding session. The steady clicking soon had me mesmerized, and I found myself transcending into another persona and slipping away to a faraway place, thus leaving the dimly lit and cluttered basement behind.
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Soon I was tooling around on my trusty old Schwinn two-wheeler with the wider-than-average saddle seat. It was a beautiful morning and I slung a lightweight cardigan around my shoulders and packed myself a little snack which I placed in my wicker bike basket. I pedaled around the sleepy New England town waving gaily to neighbors who were just retrieving the morning edition of the newspaper from their respective porches, robes agape and pet dog in tow. Well, whom do I want to be today? How about the lovely Kate Hepburn, with her dark hair in a messy plait and tightly coiled behind her head, tiny wisps of hair springing out as the sweat beads increased once the road got hilly and the pedaling got more difficult. A simple white broadcloth shirt and heavily pleated trousers clipped back from the greasy bicycle chain would complete my look. Perhaps my wicker basket would contain a generous bunch of sunflowers plucked from a Connecticut wild flower garden along the way. Wait … no, I think I would like to be master sleuth and author J.B. Fletcher, who goes by the moniker of “Jessica”, so that I could go tooling around the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine. I’d run errands on my bike until my wicker basket was filled, and along the way, I’d stop to gab with all the locals. Reluctantly, I’d head on home to peck away for a few hours on my old Royal typewriter, a relic to be sure, but it helps churn out those mystery novels everyone loves so much.
Well, either persona suited me fine quite frankly. I kept pedaling and gazing about and soon realized I was warm, so it was time to stop and take a break. I hopped off the bike, hooked my foot on the kickstand and plopped down on a tree stump. I rifled through my brown bag to take out one perfectly pared apple and a wedge of cheddar cheese, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bottle of Snapple “Mango Madness”. Ahhh … that hit the spot. I jumped up, brief respite over, and soon I was back to my journey along the sparkling water’s edge. There were seagulls swooping and circling across the sky. I steered the bike toward an inlet, seeking a little shade. I cocked my head and listened appreciatively to the babbling brook as it slid over the polished stones, and then, though I hated to leave, I turned toward the unpaved road to head home. The rocks and uneven trail jounced me about, jolting my neck, jarring my teeth and causing my bun to become askew. For a brief moment I felt sorry for those poor Michiganders and their pothole miseries they must endure, and constantly yammer about all Winter. After that rocky ride, I found myself getting warmish and peeled off my cardigan, and placed it into my bike basket. By now, the sun was climbing high in the sky and baking down on me. Whew! I wish I had a paper fan as I nearly felt faint. My blissful bike ride must end soon and it was time to head home, get cleaned up and begin the next phase of my day.
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Albert Einstein said “imagination is more important than knowledge”… yes, it is fun to use your imagination sometimes. Sitting on the hard seat of my exercise bike, I was merely present and accounted for. But, by stretching the imagination just a tad, the ride soon became an adventure, just like flying along on my trike or bike when I was a kid, i.e. have wheels, will travel. Forget about rolling out of the warm bed and trotting to the ice cold basement at 5:30 a.m. to turn on the washing machine before hopping on the exercise bike. I don’t generate all that much laundry, so throughout the Winter every time we’ve had frigid weather, I’ve washed the same two polyester-cotton shorts and blouse over, no soap, small load, hot-hot water, 2-minute cycle every day, sometimes twice a day like today. Chug, chug goes the washer, changing rhythm every so often as it is spitting out hot water or cycling through its routine. Sure, it increases my water bill, but protects the pipes. Likewise, the constant drip in all four faucets 24/7 through each of the Polar Vortex events and similarly cold outside temps, I hope will preserve my pipes. So, it seems that the washing machine was the water I heard, not a babbling brook. The searing heat that warmed me up so much was the furnace blasting non-stop at 76 degrees and hot air pouring out of the registers, not the result of warmish Spring or Summer day. The wicker basket is a canvas bag which hangs from the exercise bike’s handlebars and holds my cassette player or my radio headphones when I get too warm and have to cast them off. This bike, this basement – now that is the reality show, whereas the make-believe I conjured in my mind was me just wandering off for a spell and a heap of wishful thinking. Spring: do please hurry!