Thursday, June 10, 2010

Of Bikes and Blogs


Next week I will spend three days pedaling my bike more than 180 miles in the Trek Across Maine, an annual fundraising event for the American Lung Association. It's my third year participating, and before you say, "Wow, sounds like fun! Sign me up!" let me remind you that Maine is very hilly (mountainous, actually) and that last year's ride can be summed up in one adjective: miserable.


Without a doubt the first day was the worst. We woke to soaking rains, temperatures in the forties, and a forecast that promised only more of the same. Normally about two thousand cyclists ride, but the extreme weather whittled down our numbers to less than half of that. Those of us still hardy (or foolish) enough to wrap ourselves in Gore-Tex and brave the downpour shivered at the summit of Bethel's Sunday River Ski Resort, waiting for the start gun and wondering what the heck we were doing.


The deluge never stopped. Sixty miles up and down Maine's twisty roads and around her scenic lakes, with every single part of every biker's body soaking wet and cold. The rest stops, where hundreds of volunteers hand out granola bars and Gatorade, became La Brea-like mud pits. The port-o-potties, those odiferous (and yet roofed) structures, seemed like sacred places of refuge from the tempest. (Imagine wanting to go into a port-o-potty and you get a sense of how bizarre the day really was.)



Days two and three were only marginally better, and yet I found myself signing up again this year. What gives? Am I a masochist or do I just love soggy granola?


I do the Trek because I believe in healthy lungs and clean air, and am willing to fundraise and ride to support these goals. I do it because I enjoy the camraderie of the other cyclists, as well as a break from my everyday routine. I find it satisfying and oddly relaxing to spend a few days doing nothing more than getting from point A to B, even if I have to climb some hills to do it.




Another reason: I enjoy training for the ride. Logging one hundred miles or so a week in preparation for the Trek means I get in some nice long rides whenever I can. And those rides are not just good exercise -- they are periods of creativity. There's something about the repetitive motion of pedaling that generates a calming effect in my head which in turn leads to insight. I've brainstormed titles; composed poems; and worked out character issues. Some call it a form of meditation; others liken it to runner's high. I call it an unexpected gift.


I'm curious as to what activities fuel your creative fires. Are they solitary pursuits or group events? Do they involve nature, or technology? I'll watch for your responses and think of you next week as I pedal under (hopefully) sunny skies.

13 comments:

Lisa Bork said...

Wow, Vicki, no wonder you're so fit! I have my most creative moments walking the dog or when I'm doing mundane things like driving, laundry or showering. I hope your upcoming ride is dry this time!!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Having lived in Maine for a few years, I can attest to the mountains. But never in my life have I ever WANTED to go into a port-a-pottie.

I also do a lot of creative thinking while doing physical things, whether it be walking or running the vacuum. Moving seems to unstick the brain cells.

Have a FABULOUS ride, Vicki!

Darrell James said...

Running seems to do it for me. Same concept. The repetitious, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing tends to inspire the mind to go off and create. But biking or running, I still prefer to do it in the flat lands. Hills can be killers!

Have a great ride, Vicki. Come back with another book in your head.

Terri Bischoff said...

Vicki - you totally rock. Have fun, be safe, and plot a great murder :)

Carol Grace said...

Vicki, what an all-purpose ride, you plot, you exercise and you do good! I swim laps most days (when the California fog lifts) and walk the trail under the redwoods while I try to come up with ways to conceal the murderer's ID from being SO obvious.

Vicki Doudera said...

Thank you all for your responses and sorry I'm late in getting back to you. I was in Portland taping a little TV segment about A HOUSE TO DIE FOR. Seemed to go well. I'm so impressed with all the good news so many Midnight Inkers are sharing lately -- it's very inspiring for a newbie like me!

PS any one of you could do the biking wiyh the right bike...

Vicki Doudera said...

oops that was "with" the right bike...

Alice Loweecey said...

I love biking! Never done that much in one stretch, though. I seem to get ideas when I'm doing other things, like dishes or gardening or laundry. They free up my creative side.

Enjoy the ride!

Jess Lourey said...

That sounds like q great time, for all the reasons you list and despite the rain. Good for for making that commitment. I get the same zen from gardening. Which is like stationary biking close to the ground without a bike. ;)

G.M. Malliet said...

My greatest ideas come when I'm without pen or paper - in the shower or dodging traffic, for example.

Your bike ride actually sounds like fun. Challenging things usually are.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Knitting has much the same effect for me. It's calming, meditative (as long as I keep to simple stuff) and allows the brain to go in another direction. In general, whenever I start feeling stuck, I know it's time to get up and do something else.

Way to go on the fundraising ride!

Keith Raffel said...

In the middle of a meeting, speech, conversation, drive, or whatever, an idea just springs up. Makes me a bad listener, conversationalist, and driver, but I stop whatever I'm doing to write the idea down.

Beth Groundwater said...

I hope this year's ride has drier weather for you than last year's! My favorite outdoor activities involve water of a different sort--snow for skiing and fast-moving water for whitewater rafting and tubing. On my vacation in the Texas Hill Country last week, my husband and I had a great time tubing on the Guadaloupe River. And, of course, my pursuits worm their way into my writing.