It’s good to be alive
The fine line between dedicated and crazy
Fortunately for cyclists, a bike has a short-term memory. Misery one moment, pleasure the next, everything evened out in the end. Bikes are kind of like big, joyous dogs bounding around outside with little regard to the location or weather. They just want to run free.
Sunday morning I went out to ride with a group of women I met the day before at Trek’s Breast Cancer Awareness Ride. They aren’t an official club, just a bunch of friends with a love of life on the bike. As we gathered, the day showed no signs of abiding by the forecast and dawned wet, cold and windy. No one had thought to bring their rain jacket, but we pushed off anyway, hoping the rising sun would bring better weather.
I spent much of the north-bound portion of the loop with my head down to keep the wind-blown rain from stinging my face. After a long summer with many weeks of continuous 100-degree days, the 50-degree air was mercilessly cold. About an hour in, our clothing began to soak through and all conversation died away. Riders sunk into their own little worlds, seeking some inner motivation to press on through the rain. Trails of muddy water crept up the backs of my companions. Cars passing us honked.
I tried to conjure up memories of the Tour of California to channel the grit of the pros in the face of crappy weather. But I’d forgotten to refuel en route and as soon as we hit the 60-minute mark, I started to bonk on the hills. I was simply miserable: cold, wet, muddy and devoid of energy. Slowly, my brain stopped cranking out new thoughts.
The only sign of commercial life on the route was a gas station where we regrouped and decided to cut the 40-mile ride to around 26 miles. I scarfed down a Snickers bar and watched as life crept back into the faces of my thawing companions.
The second part of the morning was a completely different ride. Refueled, pushed by the wind at our backs and inspired by thoughts of hot showers and hot chocolate, we raced home with renewed optimism. Even though I still couldn’t enjoy the scenery lest my contacts get flusehd out of my eyes, I soon forgot how much the wet, cold, headwind climbing had sapped my mental and physical energy only an hour prior.
I arrived home frozen but energetic. The pleasure of the last few miles was enough to erase the misery of the first several and I could already look back on the morning as a success.
The bike has a short-term memory. It does not keep record of the most miserable hours on the road. All it remembers is that it got to play. If you listen, you, too, can remember nothing but that you got to ride.
Meanwhile, progress on the cross bike has stalled. All I have so far are brakes, pedals, tires and the original stem from the Felt. The Cannondale still hasn’t made it home for the parts transplant and I’m worried that I won’t be able to build up Scrat in time for San Antonio’s only cross race.