Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Skin I Was In 

The pool of Picton that saved my soul after over a 100 km of hot weather riding.

I lay in the warmth of my room reading a magazine with the hum of the air conditioning buzzing on. Idly I scratched my legs while I read. When the swoon of sleep began its descent I tossed the magazine aside then noticed the detritus of my scratching. The navy blue sheets were covered with tiny white flakes almost as if someone had dusted them with flour. In the din of the dark room it was almost like a constellation of northern Ontario stars. Also it was sort of gross and not a little sad. In less than two weeks I was already shedding the sun-browned skin that was my proof of an early summer adventure. I was shedding the version of myself that had known the sun sitting on my right shoulder as I rode east. I was losing that part of myself that recognized the croak of a bullfrog in a roadside creek, catalogued the dead (turtles, snakes, squirrels and baby birds), knew the distances between towns, knew the time to get there but didn’t care, knew the smell of mockorange and lilac blossoms so sweet they were like candy, and knew that fresh cold tap water was better than any Chardonnay or local beer money could buy.

I wasn’t entirely ready for a 450+ Km ride but I went anyway. I hadn’t ridden anything longer than 50-60 Km in the weeks leading up to the break but I figured I could take my time and breaking the trip into five days instead of four would make all the difference. My plans to camp along the way were also probably more ambitious than my body could withstand and along with a friend joining me from Toronto, we booked Airbnb locations along the way. There was a time not long ago this would have been a very expensive and difficult as hotels and B and B’s along the route are either non-existent or booked solid. I was surprised to find anything available though part of the plan was to be on the road from Wednesday to Friday was to avoid weekend travellers.

It was a very “successful" holiday. There were challenging rides, easy rides, beautiful rolling rural landscapes, swims, naps on grassy slopes, roadside ice cream and local berries, good meals with friends, fire works, paddling on a river and plenty of downtime. You know you’ve had a good break when the two weeks you took off felt like a month and you spend the following two weeks back at work dreaming about the trip you just came back from. There is something the brain does that wants to extend good memories and compress bad ones. It’s as though your mind immediately becomes nostalgic for something you just did. It was also on my mind that I was taking a full two weeks away from work. Something I hadn’t done in over three years. By the time I had returned it felt like I had been away for a month. Now I’m starting another similar two week break before starting a new position. Like last time it begins with a long weekend in Toronto to putter around home, then a trip away, this time to Newfoundland and once back I’ll have another long weekend in the city to do the city stuff you always plan to do.

This is unprecedented. I can’t remember the last time I had a month off in the summer. I think it was when I left my job at Indigo and later started at ExtendMedia, which was a decade ago. One thing is certain. I won’t wait a decade to do this again.



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