The cat resists the dog. The pedals resist my pushing. The sand resists the wheel.
Dogboy and I at large in the forest, let’s call it 30 miles. 4 on marked trail, 12 on surface roads, the rest in off-road no man’s land. I would consider it a long ride except I hear Bike Church went 87 miles on Sunday, bartered or begged for a ferry across the St. Mark’s river, chased bobcats, made the bonfire party at Ouzt’s Oyster Bar, and still got home before dark. I will just call our ride a ride.
We talked and slogged, coming again and again to the same conclusion, “Yes, a healthy tension is a good thing.” Someone must push for new trails, and someone must push for no trails. The tree stands stronger when the roots pull against the earth.
The next day
Running a lap around Munson by myself last night, contemplating the unhealthy tension of work and pounding, nay, crushing the pedals. I am the fastest man to ever wear a pair of Dockers. I am the King of the Pogues! I see the chilly October sunset off of my starboard bow and a radiant ascending moon at port-side stern. A rider appears in my path ahead and I tack to unleash the spinnaker and go booming around him. Wait though! It’s not a rider, but God, speaking through an old friend who once reminded me that my body was mine alone, and I had free will to do with it what I wished, including smoke cigarettes or revolve my triangle.
We stop. We sit. The moon rises, the sun sets, and there is that healthy tension again. He escorts me back to the trail-head, and as dictated by custom we sprint for the gate. I go way early, he comes around grinning. I lob another assault on his redoubt, and come up short-ricocheting off of the Canadian headwind. I find a pocket of strength in my right quad, the exact dimensions of a hotdog bun, and spend it on a final attempt. He coasts by me just at the line, knocking off my pogue king crown.
I hear its tin tinkle and skitter down the pavement and without looking back I relinquish that throne- I am just another proud pauper of the woods again, in that kingdom no one reigns.