Friday, January 29, 2010


I've all my wisdom teeth
Two up top, two beneath
And yet I'll recognise
My mouth says things that aren't so wise
--Brad Roberts

So today I was unwise. (This will not surprise anyone who knows me.) Anyone who has read my recent posts and committed them to memory (a proceeding which is not recommended by any certified mental health professionals, by the way) knows that I haven’t been able to ride very much in 2010. Well aware of this myself, when I finally made some time to ride, I decided I would do about twenty-five miles. Not a long distance, but better than nothing, right?

When I hit the road, it was very windy and my legs felt like useless blocks of wood. With my twenty-five miles firmly in mind, I turned onto a route that I know is about forty miles long. Why did I do this? I don’t know.

The first ten miles of this route are up and down. The second ten miles are quite flat, but the road is surrounded mostly by fields, so there’s nothing to block the wind. The third ten miles are mostly up without a lot of downs. (I always think it’s somehow unfair when you climb a hill and then, at the top, it simply levels off instead of going down again.) The last ten miles are the hilliest of the route. This means that you hit the hardest stretch of road when you’re the tiredest. (My spellchecker does not like the word tiredest by the way, but I don’t care.)

The first ten miles went by pretty well. There were places where it was a tough pull, but that’s okay. I remember hearing Keith’s voice in my ear: “Pedal up and pedal down.” Well, I certainly have to pedal up the hills, but I didn’t feel like pedaling down the hills. Keith was insistent, though. (This insistence is all the more difficult to understand since he wasn’t actually on the ride and I was simply remembering his words from previous rides together.)

The second ten miles went by pretty well. They were harder than the first ten miles. If all you’re contending with are hills, the road will eventually level out, but, if it’s the wind, you don’t get away from it.

The third ten miles, oddly enough, were the best of the bunch. I don’t know why.

It was during this stretch of the route that I played hopscotch with a Highway Patrol officer. I was riding along the shoulder of a two-lane highway, and I noticed his pass me. Several minutes later, I saw blue lights ahead of me, though on the opposite side of the road. When I arrived at that point, I discovered that he had pulled someone over who was heading in the opposite direction.

I went on past and continued on my way. A bit later, the Patrolman went past me again. Several minutes later, I saw the blue lights blossoming in front of me, and he had pulled over someone else, this time heading in the same direction as I was. This was annoying because traffic prevented me from getting around him for a few minutes, and I had to stop.

Do you know what it’s like when you’re going hard and you suddenly have to stop? Then, a few minutes later, while halfway up a hill, you have to get going again? My legs had things to say to me. They were not nice things.

In fact, my legs had suggested on my last ride that, if they had known I was going to let them in for that sort of thing with no warning, they would have stayed home. They let me know that they’d be happy to pedal around for me, just not right now. Not today at all in fact. They suggested we talk about it next week sometime.

A mile or two later I turned and hit the last ten mile stretch. The wind was right in my face, and the hills were all in front of me.

I was tired. I am not ashamed to confess it. I could feel my thighs swimming in lactic acid, my legs were shouting at me, but I was still ten miles from home, and the only way I was going to get there was to stay in the saddle and pedal.

I’m not sure whether the harder part was the pedaling or the staying in the saddle. I had been out of the saddle for too long, and my sit bones had begun to protest shortly after the ride started, and they were still complaining now.

It was at this point, with my body sore and all of me tired that I began to wonder how I could explain to someone else that I do all of this to myself because I enjoy riding a bike.

All I can say is that you have to try it for yourself.

See you on the road.

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