Monday, May 16, 2005

Man Down!

A Tale of the Reluctant Athelete
Two stories in brief. Last week, while intending to take a short training ride of 10 miles, I noticed the pink arrows of the Bicycle Fun Club trail route spray painted into a turn away from my normal route. The city is covered with pink arrows if you only know to look for them, like a cool secret code. Turn here, go straight etc. Unfortunately, you can't make the assumptions that I made that this is part of the local weekly short city ride, and a short while later I was about 1/2 way to a park on the other side of town before I packed it and turned around (20 or so miles total round trip.)

This week was a Bike Shop sponsored ride out that same park I was half way to the week before. What was intended in my head as a 30 mile-ish ride turned into a 42 mile ride by the time I got home. We went up the much feared Hog Hollow Road. I made it though I was the last one up the hill. I don't mind being last. I'm the only one with the hybrid bike, and it's early in the season, so I'm putting more effort into my ride than those skinny tired roadbike pansies (JJ).

Much to my surprise, instead of turning back at Hog Hollow, we pushed on further west and pretty soon I was lagging behind even farther. However, because it was a shop sponsored ride, there were some hard core road racers riding sweep to hang out with the likes of me. 40 miles... just a warm up for those guys and gals.

So I peddled on with a husband and wife couple Stan and Suzanne, and when I was about 6 miles from my house, my first ever cramp-out hit, both thighs as I was nearly cresting the first a set of hills that all local riders are familiar with. Not hard, but just a pain in the ass to hit on the way home. I managed to hop off of my bike right before total cramp lock up, and fell on to a nice grassy hill next to the road (as opposed to the concrete driveways, curbs, and run-off drains that line the majority of the route). Stan, being a road racer and dietician, knew that I didn't take on enough water and GatoradeĀ®. So I finished off my second bottle, and ate a Cliff Barā„¢ while I waited for the pain to go away. I'm glad I ate that banana ate the top of Hog Hollow or who knows how far back the cramps would have hit. I'm also thankful for Stan and Suzanne hanging out with me. For while I am accustomed to riding, long distance alone, it was nice to have someone there when the shit happens.

It's been a long running joke with me and Alessandra that I ring my bike bell tell people I ride with that means "Man Down!" And I did it again yesterday with my friend Brian (who at this time was long gone with the pack). So as I lay there on the grass, I rang my little bell and declared to Stan and Suzanne, "Man Down!" I had a good laugh even though I was in pain, and eventually I limped home (having failed to adequately contact Alessandra for a pick up), where I pretty much crashed for the rest of the day.

41 miles. It's a benchmark I didn't think I'd do so early in the season, but there it is. Luckily I have a great metabolism, and pretty soon my muscles will be able to laugh at 40 miles. Ok, maybe not laugh, but not be too bothered by it.

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