Daylight shreds through the clouds beyond the lagoon. For once, so rare, no rain. A clear cold morning, and today Geshe Yongdong is giving a teaching on Quadra Island. It is a perfect day for a ride, and yet my grumpy mind finds resistance. My lower back stiff, my bed still warm. It is Sunday.
But then I dress and drink my coffee, stuff some snacks in my bag. Heading out I am creaky and slow. The thought of my warm bed lingers. But then I break out of the woods, hit the sweep of pavement, opening sky. Mist hangs low on the fields, shards of sunshine on Gunflint Lake. Swing onto Gorge Harbour Road toward the ferry on the roller-coaster ride, not a car to be seen. My lungs squeeze in and out, mind and body clear as I jet snot from each nostril. The trees so tall on each side of the road, I sing out to the sky, oh let me remember please don’t let me forget! The absolute miracle of my working knees, my pumping heart. The fact that I can. My prayer, thank god, I can do this.
The drop down to the ferry lands me flushed, high with arrival. I wheel the bike onboard and greet my neighbours, then kick back for 45 minutes as the snowy peaks of the inlet glide by. On Quadra I pump steady uphill to the Community Hall and sink onto a cushion. GesheLa arrives beaming. When the teaching is over I bow, climb back on my bike, and coast back down to Heriot Bay. A stormy jumble of logs in the harbour. My sandwich tastes like heaven. I’m back on the sea.
It is the last leg of the journey and my body is weary. Twenty more kms to ride, up and down, up and down. I weave tiny switchbacks on the steepest hills, sucking momentum from the small figure-eights. Now, and again I just get off and push. Too wiped to pedal. Night falls. An owl gazes down from the wires. I round the final horseshoe onto the dirt of Lagoon Road, up down and around one last push, the lights of the farm come into view, and I’m home.
I am tired but not hurting. Muscles pulsing with blood. Hungry, thirsty, alive. Never take this for granted. May I do this, while I can.