When quarantining and lockdown began, anytime I left the house I experienced crazy anxiety. There was misinformation floating around and a lot of mystery about how you might be exposed to SARS-CoV-2. I remember walking my 2 dogs and I noticed these 3 older ladies approaching from the opposite direction were not social distancing. They commented how adorable the girls (my dogs) were and asked if they were friendly. While I did not want to be rude all i could think about was staying 6 feet or more away from these possible disease vectors. In the time it took for our short conversation to take place, Honey (the attention hound) had made herself available to one of the ladies who stooped down and began petting her. In shock, I tugged at Honey and Alba’s leashes and bid the Golden Girls an awkward “good-day”. I could not get home fast enough to wash her collar and give both of them a bath.
I no longer wear long pants and hoodies to cover every part of my body even my hair. Nowadays, I walk the girls in pants or shorts and a tank top with my hair exposed to the elements. I still cover my hair if I am making the rare journey to the store or elsewhere. There is something about the description of the coronavirus spikes that reminds me of Velcro. Since Velcro has attached itself to my hair on many occasions, I cannot help but imagine all the microscopic particles of coronavirus that I might be exposed to latching onto my inviting locks and me bringing them into our living space.
Our living space is sorta sacred. We have outside clothes and inside clothes and a garage that serves as our changing room and disinfectant chamber. Shoes stay out, clothes go in a garage hamper and hands, keys and phones get sanitized before entering the house where we immediately wash our hands before doing anything else. I don’t even want to go into the protocol for bringing groceries and mail into the house even if experts have suggested it’s not necessary to disinfect everything.
I know we may be going overboard but even if it gives us a false sense of security, we do our best to maintain this system of keeping our living space virus free.
With everything going on in the world, I take pleasure in the small things. I’ve come a long way in dealing with the anxiety since mid March and one of the most exciting parts of my day is my bike ride. I still get quite anxious when preparing for a trip to the grocery store or anywhere else but riding my bike is freedom from all that. I don't have a destination when I ride my bike. No need to be prepared with hand sanitizer and gloves. No concern about being on guard for the too close to me people in narrow store aisles or the person behind me in line ignoring the 6 ft rule.
There is a sense of taking flight as I pedal down the driveway, out the gate and into the street. The wind hitting every part of my shirtless body. I generally have a loosely formed idea of what direction I'm going to go in but after I get started it's a mostly spontaneous adventure.
The neighborhood I live in has always been a popular walking/riding location and is now even more crowded. This is not a big deal because everyone accommodates each other with social distancing and only rarely will another bike rider pass me and leave me wondering if the airstream I am riding through is laced with coronavirus particles they have breathed out ahead of me.
Most mornings I am able to get out while it is still relatively cool and even with rising summer temperatures, as I sweat, I am cooled by the oncoming air all around me. This makes the ride even more refreshing.
I have explored neighborhoods that I’ve never been through before. Discovered challenging hills around town that I’ve turned into workout stations to get that extra burn. I’ve turned one of the Fresno City College parking lots into my own personal velodrome. While it does not have sloped bike lanes it is big enough and empty enough that my 10 -15 laps allow me to zone out and sort through what big issues of the day I am dealing with and often resolve them.
Some days the ride is more of a workout than anything else. I force myself to pedal freehanded in the highest gear for 90% or more of the ride. With my hands off the handle bars, I am low-key training my core as I maintain balance and my legs are getting the full brunt of the challenge. Pedaling in high gear while freehanded almost requires that I don’t coast or I will slow down and riding slow without touching the handle bars makes balancing almost impossible so I pretty much pedal the entire ride.
I mostly ride on neighborhood streets, not main thoroughfares and with hardly any car traffic I can navigate in ways that in a car would be problematic. I can take in views that in a car would be dangerous. I can slow down, speed up, swerve from left to right and be free in ways that in a car would get me pulled over.
Wearing helmet, goggles, face covering and shorts with the pedals only inches off the ground, I really do feel like I’m on a low altitude drone, zipping through the air. Unlike running, I sit higher in the air without the turbulence of my weight shifting from one foot to the other. I look forward to my bike ride and some days it is the best part of my day. At a time when local coronavirus cases are on the rise and I am still restricting myself from so much, getting a chance to fly around town is as close to being free to roam about the cabin as I’m going to get any time soon.