Friday, February 6, 2009

It’s COOOOOOOOLD outside.

I headed out for a walk, and that made me consider how cold it would be if I were riding. I would still rather have been riding, cold or no cold, but there is a certain pleasure in considering how cold you aren’t because you’re not riding.

I was recently asked if I ride when it is “really cold” out. I answered yes, and the questioner was amazed. Do you still wear those shorts? Well, no. That would be crazy. I may have ridden my bike up a mountain during Bridge to Bridge. I may have ridden my bike 200 miles in one day in the middle of a heat wave during the Summer Sizzling Mileage Marathon, I may have ridden my bike in 34 degree temperatures and in pouring rainstorms just for the fun of it, but I’m not crazy.

Of course, I have discovered that people who don’t ride have a different definition of crazy than the rest of us do.

As I write this, the temperature outside is a toasty 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t ask me what it is if you include the wind chill because I don’t know, but I think the answer is “really really cold”, which, as everyone knows, is markedly colder than “really cold”. I’m not sure how many degrees each “really” represents, but I’m sure it’s quite a lot.

I will admit that the cold is making me think of the hottest ride I ever had.

The Seyboros were riding to the beach one summer. The beach ride is a blast – roughly eight miles of riding (not counting the miles covered on a ferry at one point) followed by a great dinner and then we drive home with the bikes in the back of various vans and trucks and SUVs. This particular bike ride, however, was one that I couldn’t go on because I didn’t have all day to spend, unfortunately.

There were half a dozen of us who couldn’t make the whole trip, so we rode perhaps thirty-five miles out with the rest of the club and then turned around to head back home. It was a scorchingly hot day, with the temperature well up into the nineties. It was so hot that I was expecting my tires to melt and bend like some sort of Salvador Dali inspired bike painting.
At the turnaround, I had emptied my bottles and got them refilled. Unfortunately, I allowed them to be refilled with a “sports drink” that shall remain nameless instead of good old pure H2O. I don’t know why I did this. Perhaps my brains had started to melt and leak out my ears.

Now, I don’t have anything in particular against sports drinks, but, for my tastes, many of them are too sweet. In this case, the drink was so sweet that, without realizing it, I stopped drinking. I nearly emptied two bottles on the way out but barely drank a fifth of a bottle on the way back, and it certainly hadn’t gotten any cooler in that time.

I was going slower and slower and starting to weave a bit, and then we finally got back onto what I would consider home roads. We were twelve miles from home, and I was convinced I could ride those roads under any conditions. I’d ridden that road on a solo breakaway. I’d ridden it hanging in with the pack at a high rate of speed. I’d ridden it alone and toasted after having been dropped and watched the group disappearing over the horizon. I could ride it now. I was certain of it.

Feeling that I was slowing everyone else down, I tried to get them to go on, but they refused. The truck that was with us stopped to dish out drinks, and I was sucking on ice and dropping it down my jersey. My face was red (probably from a mixture of temperature and pure embarrassment) but I hung in there.
I was motorpaced by the truck at about twelve miles an hour for the last three miles, but I made it.

Ah, those were the days. That’s what I’ll think of when I’m out riding this weekend, and I will be out riding this weekend. It will have been four weeks since the appendectomy, and my bike is calling my name plaintively asking where I’ve been for the last month.
Cold or no cold, I’ll be there.

Will you?

See you on the road.

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