What happens in the first mile: my various middle-aged pains sort themselves out and I start to feel pretty fantastic. I'm free. I feel fast and agile.
What happens in the next few miles: I see that the sky is exceptionally beautiful. There are huge pillows of cloud in all shades of grey and silver piled onto each other. I watch for cars and bicycles and pedestrians but I also watch the shifting clouds as they move across the wide sky above.
And in the next mile or so: There are leafy trees on either side of the road, tall with branches that arch over the road. It's autumn in California which means it is really spring in California. The air is cooler and there is rain and the plants and trees are ecstatically getting their moisture fix whenever they can and replying back with an exultation of new leaves and flowers. Some of the leaves are tugged loose by the wind, they filter down, spots of pale green light against a darkening sky.
In the next mile the clouds darken subtly: Mixed in with the occasional drifting leaf is a silver thread of rainwater. I shift my focus out and back and can see the drops as they fall. Within a minute I smell the change in the non-paved areas around me, the air is suddenly a thousand times more complicated with scents of leaves and dirt and water.
I pedal faster. The cool air brushing over me makes me feel alert and ready. Pedaling seems effortless. The pavement gets wet and I go even faster. I ride fast in the bicycle lane and faster and then the bike lane disappears and I fall in with the cars and ride with them. We stop at a red light and head forward when the light changes to green and I'm amazed that I can accelerate as they accelerate and I ride with them easily, peeling off only when the bicycle lane re-materializes.
And then I am at work, putting my bike away and going to my desk.
All of this (and more) can be yours for the price of a bicycle. It is otherworldly but it is also not otherworldly because all of this
incredible color and life is entirely real and entirely of this our