When I got kitted out I pulled on my replica of Paolo Bettini’s Italian National Champion jersey, presumably in the hope that someone would actually mistake me for Paolo Bettini. There are several reasons why this did not happen.
1. The odds are pretty good that no one I passed on the road today knows who Paolo Bettini is.
2. Unless someone is Italian, they probably wouldn’t recognize the Italian National Champion's cycling jersey.
(Oddly enough, shortly after leaving home I passed a guy who apparently was Italian. I base this not only on his appearance but on the fact that he was having a cell phone conversation in Italian. He didn’t give me a second glance.)
3. No one in their right mind would mistake me for a champion cyclist.
(The only person verifiably not in their right mind on the road today was me. After all, if I were in my right mind, would I have gone for a bike ride in a twenty mile per hour wind just for fun? I don’t think so.)
The wind was fierce today. Within a couple of miles after leaving home and right after turning into a screaming headwind I came across a mail car. I will confess that, for an instant, the thought of trying to draft crossed my mind, but drafting off of a strange car is, to the least, unwise. Don’t believe me? Read “Heft on Wheels” by Mike Magnusson. You’ll find out. (Actually, drafting off a car supposedly driven by someone who knows what they’re doing can also be dangerous. Just ask Jan Ullrich.
I wandered down some roads that I had never been on before, including one called Forehand Road. I don’t know if that’s someone’s last name or they just really liked tennis. I later wandered into someplace called Pleasant Grove, and I remember thinking that Pleasant Grove isn’t really all that pleasant, what with that wind blowing in my face and all.
Most of the cars were nice, until one of the guys from Deliverance passed me. He was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap done in camo colors. He had a toothpick hanging from his mouth and was driving a bright red pickup truck with a lot of ground clearance, and he laid on his horn and glared at me as he passed me. I have no idea why he did this, because we were on opposite sides of the road going in opposite directions, so I certainly wasn’t in his way at all. Apparently the fact that I was using his road vexed him rather more than a bit. Y'all.
I remember at one point thinks, “This is fun?” as I pushed my way into the wind as hard as I could go. Well, some parts of the ride were definitely fun, but even the hard parts were at least satisfying. I don’t know how to explain that. I guess you either get it or you don’t.
Steve says: You go out for a ride on a really cold winter morning – your face is numb and everything’s freezing, and you get passed by a guy driving a big car. He’s got his heater going and has a coat on and a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he looks at you like you’re the crazy one, and you know that you know something he never will and that you’re alive.
Steve gets it.
I have to stay late tonight, because I have a meeting that doesn’t even start until 5:30, but while I’m sitting there, I’ll be able to think back on today’s hard, windy ride and that’ll get me through the meeting.
Life is good when you ride a bike.
See you on the road.