I’m guessing it’s a pretty safe bet that most everyone’s routines have been disturbed since the middle of March. Which is not a good thing, since we humans thrive on routine. And when our lives are disrupted and we can no longer do the things we’ve been accustomed to, it can be hard on one’s mental health.
For me, as I wrote about earlier, what I miss most is sharing meals and drinks with other people at restaurants and bars and each others’ homes. Yes, Robin and I do host small (4-6 people) gatherings in our back yard with everyone sitting a good six-plus feet apart from each other. But it’s not the same as rubbing elbows at a noisy bar, or passing the communal salad down a long dinner table.
There is one thing, however, that has not changed in my life over the past five months (has it really been that long?): I can still go on my twice-weekly bicycle rides. And thank goodness for that.
view of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk from West Cliff Drive
Much as I sometimes dread the steep climb I know awaits me—the burning calves and the gasping for breath, not to mention the icy fingers and feet when the temperature drops low—I also know I will return home invigorated and refreshed, ready for that steaming cup of coffee that is my reward for having once more vanquished the devil on my shoulder urging me to forget the ride and instead roll over and go back to sleep.
But there’s more to my cycling routine than that. There are the cottontails, deer, squirrels, red-tail hawks, and coyotes (and even an occasional bobcat) that I see along the way. (A list of all the fun critters I’ve seen on my rides can be found here.) It’s a bit like a Disney cartoon at times, and I half expect them all to break out together in song.
the UCSC bike path
And most of all, there’s the time to be with my own thoughts. I’ve had lots of fellow cyclists ask why I prefer to ride alone, and the main reason is that it’s during my bike rides when I get my best thinking done. It’s when I ponder my life, my relationships, my plans, my hopes and desires.
But perhaps more important for this mystery author, is that it’s during those rides that I accomplish a huge chunk of the plotting for my books. And I often talk to my self out loud as I do so. Good thing I tend to whiz by folks who are out walking, or they might worry about me.
And hey, there’s nothing like working out a pesky plot point or coming up with a clever title to take your mind off the pain searing through your thighs as you pump up an 8% grade.
No, I’m not in this group. (It’s a shot I took when the
Tour of California came through Santa Cruz some years back.)
Readers: When do you get your best thinking or planning done? In the bath, lying in bed, while you walk the dog?