On Aging: Going Where One Has Not Gone Before. Or: Do It Before You Can't

Hmmm. Does this fit in the "On Aging" category? On in the "Goddamnit, I'm gonna have fun while I can" category? Or . . . are those one and the same?

Doesn't matter. Yesterday, for reasons not worth detailing, I was in Des Moines (aka The Big City) for the entire day, awaiting the arrival of The Husband, who was returning from a major trip to Asia. 

Union Park. Des Moines. November 2014.

Union Park. Des Moines. November 2014.

A full day, eh? What to do? What to do? A few years ago, I would have parked myself at one library or another and worked. But these days I'm working to control my workaholism (and, yes, it's an addiction and I'm an addict and I admit it and, yes, ironically I must work to control my workaholism), so I wanted to make it a day of fun. And I wanted to be outside. 

A bike ride, I thought. I'll ride a bike.

Central Iowa boasts an extensive network of bike trails (I'm told it's one of the best in the US). I'd never ridden the trails because . . . no bicycle. But I had heard there was a bike rental program in Des Moines. Somewhere.

A web search yielded inconclusive information on bike rentals, but I found a site for the Des Moines Bike Collective, whose members refurbish and sell used bikes, and provide free bikes to new immigrants (of which central Iowa has many. WAY more than you might expect.)

Union Park. Des Moines. November 2014.

Union Park. Des Moines. November 2014.

For years, literally, I'd thought about buying a bike so I could use it to run errands here in Ames, which also has an extensive system of pedestrian/bike trails. So I decided to visit the Collective and if there was a bike available at a price I could afford, I'd buy one.

And by cracky, I did! A blue used bicycle and a new, grey helmet. The amazingly pleasant (and, cough, patient) guy at the counter showed me how to remove the front wheel so I could stash the bike in the car (along with two sets of golf clubs and two carts . . . .)

I took myself to a trailhead . . . and wondered how the afternoon would go. I'd not been on a bike for at least twenty years. Could I do this?

People: IT WAS FANTASTIC! I spent four hours riding a section of trail along the Des Moines River. To say that I enjoyed myself, to say that riding that riverside trail, mostly by myself (it was a cold, windy, November afternoon, and a workday to boot), to say that flying along on two wheels is joy incarnate . . . well, that wouldn't be quite enough to describe my day.

So. I'm sixty-one. I own a bicycle. I LOVE FLYING ALONG ON TWO WHEELS. I could now beat myself up for waiting so long (truly, I've been pondering a bicycle purchase for over a decade). Instead, well, I'm gonna remember that afternoon for a long time, perhaps even the rest of what's left of my life. 

And I'm gonna remember that it's not too late to fly with the wind.