Having a whole month to train for the next century felt luxurious when we got home from picking up the trailer Monday evening, and I jumped into the old commute routine on Tuesday ready to ride a few days a week, knowing it would whip me back to my regular form.
A few weeks ago I had started to take a different route the last few miles from home which adds about four miles to the ride. Just for mind-game’s sake, I had begun to call it route my “regular” route. Actually I prefer it because it takes me away from the traffic in our small city and adds a few small rollers. After riding along the highway so many miles, the quiet road is welcomed. I was looking forward to this stretch my first afternoon back until the reality of summer set in.
Each day I leave work I text my WBF to let him know I’m leaving for two reasons: one is for safety, and the other is he’ll know what time to leave the house if he can ride the eight miles south to meet me. The first time he did this it was such a sweet surprise. Some boyfriends hold roses behind their backs at the front door. Mine shows up on his bike to escort me home into a headwind. He’s the best boyfriend ever.
Fairly sure he wasn’t going to be able to ride that day I reached into my jersey pocket like reaching for a gel, held down the home button by feel and said, “Text WBF.” Siri said in her robot voice, “What do you want to say to WBF?”
With both hands on my bars I said, “Already 98.6 at the bottom of the grade on the south side.”
At the top I stopped, put my foot down at the elevation sign, and sent, “This is crazy! Taking the shortest way home. Top is 110+.”
Five miles further, off the highway and heading the last few miles home, I started chanting out loud to myself, “Pick me up, come on WBF, come get me.” I kid you not, within the next minute I looked up and saw him driving towards me, making a u-turn, pulling over, and opening the rear door for my bike. Okay, okay, I know it might have sounded like a wee hint when I texted more than once, but I really was prepared to make it home knowing I’d gotten that much stronger because of it.
I didn’t ride the rest of the week and spiraled into a funk. Some ride indoor trainers because of snow and ice. In our part of the world heat is a more valid reason, but it didn’t even occur to me. Instead I wallowed knowing with every ounce of my being that I was fat, out of shape, and I’d never be ready for another ride in my entire life. Even an evening out with three of my favorite girlfriends Thursday, avid riders themselves, left me feeling out of place and couldn’t pull me out of it.
And then it was Saturday.
With the temperature forecast for one-hundred degrees the ride was starting a half-hour early, and to tack on a few extra miles (fourteen round-trip) instead of driving, we rode up to the park in the cool air of the morning to meet twenty of our riding friends for our group ride. That alone should have done the trick. Week-in and week-out the same core of us show up and spend roughly four hours together, and often socialize at evening get-togethers. I’ve often said there’s something very special about the kind of commitment we share.
I stayed in that funk for the first hour of the ride and I think some could tell. I definitely wasn’t my usual, talkative, outgoing self. Joe rode up and asked how I was doing. “Blech,” I said. He told me I was strong and had good form and I know he meant it; and then rode on up to catch the group as I trudged forward. A few minutes later Danny lagged a bit looking over his shoulder so I could jump on his wheel and he hammered ahead so we could catch the lead group until I couldn’t hang on anymore. A few miles after that Dane rode up behind me and gave me a thankful shove as I trudged up my nemesis grade of four percent. Give me anything below or above, but thanks to my Garmin I know that’s the rise that gets me.
It took a few more miles but something began to change and without even thinking about it I was out of my shell and by the time my WBF and I were riding alone together the last few miles of the official ride, and those last seven miles of our fifty-one on our own, I remembered something I’d read online:
You’re only one bike ride away from a good mood.
Welllll, I loved that quote when I read it but after the last few weeks I think it needs to be qualified. If the statement needed quantification I believe it would only require something like, “You’re only fifty-one miles away from a good mood.” And to push this out a little further, I’m now stuck on the fact that is reads, “…a good mood,” not “…the good mood.” But “the” good mood would imply that there is only one type of good mood, and ummm also, WHICH ONE of the “one” bike rides are they talking about and who the hey are “they?”
If it were true, this blog post wouldn’t exist because as you now understand, that hot, miserable ride home two weeks after our truck’s own death ride would have done the trick. So maybe I do, indeed need to quantify it and say this:
You’re only TWO bike rides away from a good mood.
And then qualify it with, “Yeah, and starting in the cool of the morning, not the 3:00 pm heat of the day, away from highway traffic on some of the most beautiful roads a rider could ask for with a few of the most terrific people ever.
Many years ago I heard a comedian (Steve Martin?) say, “There is not going to be any weather today and I’m not going to have a mood.” What, I ask, would we have to write about then?