When I first started riding, it was simply to become a cyclist. I had no idea how much more of my life would be affected by the simple action of getting on my bike and pedaling. This spring is the third spring of my short cycling journey. While I am able to ride year round for the most part, spring and autumn are my favorite riding seasons. The reasons for this are many, but include the mild temperatures and great scenery, just to name a couple of them.
I shared in a previous post called “Simple Pleasures” some thoughts on spring riding. In that post, I focused primarily on the sights of spring and the gift of witnessing nature’s rebirth from the moving perspective of a bicycle. In this post, I want to share with you a connection with the outdoors that tends to get noticed a bit less.
As a cyclist on the road, I constantly call upon my eyes and ears to help navigate through traffic safely. If I’m out riding my mountain bike, I’m constantly scanning the rapidly passing single track for rocks, tree roots, sand, and other obstacles that require reaction. The sense of touch also comes into play when making clothing choices for a ride, feathering brakes before rounding a corner, or feeling for sharp objects inside a tire.
But smell?? I’ve learned over the years that my nose has the ability to pick up scents that go unnoticed by many of the people around me. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Because of my sensitive nose, smell is a component of each of my rides. Some smells are obnoxiously pungent… like the dead animal along side the road. Others are subtler… like the
smell of lilacs that linger in the air for a couple of weeks in late spring. I often wonder as I pedal along whether I will encounter the same smell in the same place as I last experienced it on any given route.
For the last two years in a row, I’ve encountered a sweet fragrance that lasts only about four days before it dissipates. The first time I noticed it, I wondered what it was and before I knew it, it was gone. Last year when I smelled it, I remembered it from the previous year and knew that I needed to get out and ride while it was there or it would soon be gone. I’m anticipating that fragrance this year. I hope to be able to identify which plant is giving off that scent. It will likely be difficult to pinpoint because it thoroughly permeates the air.
I like to think that all the time I spend riding my bikes has made me a wiser person as I pedal along and ponder life. Here’s the correlation I have made between that fleeting scent and life as I have experienced it: We may or may not have the opportunity to re-encounter an experience, let alone realize the significance of any experience until it has passed. Engage your senses ~ all of them. Thoroughly experience what life offers you, even if it’s just for a fleeting moment in time. Take in the experience, and take it with you when you go.