I’ve added a ride to my training schedule, slotting it in among the “Easy Rides,” “Tempo Rides”, “Endurance Rides” and the like. I’m calling these “Gratitude Rides” and essentially you just ride around for an extended period of time, feeling thankful as hell.

Rather than try to explain what they’re about, maybe I’ll just describe one.

***

Last Wednesday had been a busy day at work, and I had told my coworkers I’d go to a post-work event for at least an hour to help set up, chat with some people in the industry, and generally bolster our presence there. I hadn’t gotten to ride during the day, so I set the lofty goal of hitting up the event, NOT drinking any of the free beer, not overeating the free pizza, and then heading down after an hour for a ride before the sun came down.

If you’ve spent anything more than an hour with me, you’ll know how hard it is for me to pass up free beer or pizza, so it was nothing short of a miracle that I pulled this little plan off. By 7 p.m. I found myself soft pedaling up to Flagstaff Rd., our local climb, which I haven’t done for a couple months since we moved offices further from South Boulder.

The clouds were rolling in for an evening thunderstorm, and a mild but steady headwind bore down on me as I climbed the small hill on Baseline. Some people hate the wind, but I am learning to appreciate it. I recently heard a good coach say, “If you only ride when conditions are perfect, you’ll never be prepared to adapt when they’re not.” Makes you tougher, in short. So, silently, I welcomed the wind that night. As I passed the Flatirons and Chautauqua Park which glowed green with the lush spring grass I thought of how much I loved living here. As I turned right past Gregory Canyon Rd and started grinding up the first steep grade, I heard cars drive by me, and they made me feel strong, as I powered my two wheels up the same hill on human power. I churned the pedals like I was making butter out of air. And my bike and I climbed higher and higher into the sky. A guy in blue was running up the steep trail that intersected with the road at every switchback, and we kept criss-crossing one another heading up this mountain, waving each time we passed each other.

Near the top, the trail finally diverged away from the road, and the trail runner crossed the road one last time. “I guess we’ll call it a tie,” I said to him, and we laughed, wished each other a nice evening, parted ways. Coming down, Boulder put on a particularly impressive sunset. My bike and I flew, twirled and danced down the winding grey and yellow ribbon of a road. I felt thankful for my body and my health and my circumstances. My heart was full to the brim with it.

And that’s a Gratitude Ride.

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