Bicycling is a violent sport. I don’t mean falling off, crashing into trees or getting hit by cars. (That stuff also happens.) I mean in the sense that, depending on how you ride, you are punishing your body in some form or fashion. This is true of most physical activities and sports. But when you go that extra mile, and push yourself beyond your comfort level, you are into suffering, pain and yes, violence. The human body is quite resilient and can usually handle what an athlete (in my case, fathlete) throws at it, and it will eventually recover. Tonight was one of those times where I was challenged quite a lot, and on a bad road, I was eventually dropped. But the greater the challenge, the more one learns about oneself. Tonight’s unexpected group ride (my third in about as many weeks!) was a prime example. Come with me on this hairy, scary ride! Continue reading at: https://wp.me/p75hY4-1JT
Nowhere to Go but “The Way Up”
This is what I wrote in Strava:
Relive map video: https://www.relive.cc/view/1929269694
A Dude happened by Bicycle Sport Shop on Guadalupe and was invited by Rafael on his Friday at 5:45 group ride which he calls “The Way Up.” Because? Hills. Although truncated due to darkness, this was a challenging one for me. That’s because I was wholly unprepared. I had my heavy wheel 9-speed Fairdale bike Sophie, no kit (particularly the padded shorts), had not done any group rides for a month, not eaten or rested enough. I did have a backpack with me, one water bottle, and a few gels chews. But I was just not ready. Fortunately the group waited for me a number of times, at least til we got stuck on a bad road and got split up. Thanks, Rafael, Dave and Beth (on her first group ride in Austin – welcome! ). Good times, but pretty damn hard. #asskicking
The Mamma Jamma Ride to Beat Breast Cancer was also 40 miles. I’m still fundraising, so if you haven’t donated, or want to do so again, please give generously! *** Https://Fundraisers.MammaJammaRide.org/ADude-Abikes ***
The thing is, I DID know about this ride. Rafael had invited me, and store manager Katie mentioned it too. So subconsciously, did I show up at just the exact moment to be invited (ahem, cajoled) into joining in? Maybe. I was really just there to replace my faulty bell. A good one being double the costs, R. kindly covered that for me, being cash poor as I am. But after some discussion, I figured “What’s the worse that could happen?”. (Well, disfigurement or death, but I’m happy to report neither were the case.) I would either get dropped or drop myself. And with the handicaps above, both happened, so weren’t that surprising.
It’s All Smiles and Chit-Chat Until Ride Leader Puts the Hammer Down
The ride began innocently enough. We made our way single-file through city streets and the University of Texas area, arriving at Lance Armstrong‘s bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s. which was out of water like most of Austin due to a city-wide boil notice due to silt in the system from all the rain. But as we exited downtown and headed west (young man), to the hills, things picked up. Even on the smaller rolling hills that began in Rollingwood, I was losing steam and contact with the others. I got into my lowest of only 9 gears and gutted it out, finding my own rhythm. I’d catch sight of the taillights, and then they’d disappear from view. But rejoining at a traffic light, I had a brief respite.
But then we got onto some hillier road and then a major four-lane highway with a wide shoulder, and it was on. I saw no donkeys, but I almost hit a deer in the darkening day. We went up, down, all around, and so much of it was a blur, and only one picture was taken after we got cooking that I can’t even explain it. But at once point, we descended into a far West Austin neighborhood. A lot. And then we had to come back up it. I’d done that once before and managed, but man, in the dark was not fun.
As you can see from the Strava stats, we had over 1,800 feet of elevation. That’s not a world record or anything, but I felt every foot on the steel bike. I rode about another 12 miles than what was the actual group ride, so my average speed of 11 mph was not very representative. In one section, it was 16+. So while I managed, it was not the most amusing joy ride I’d ever done. It was work. After a rest break, and then getting dropped again on a sketchy road that was under construction because I got onto the sidewalk. I soon learned it was also undone, so I had stop and walk frequently. So the other three and I parted ways, exchanged a few texts. Consulting Mr. Google, I heard the marching band, which sure brought back some memories. So I found my way past the high school with its Friday night lights, and then the back roads. I took my foot off the gas and took it easy getting home.
Stayin’ Alive to Ride Again Another Day
This was my third accidental group ride in about as many weeks, so maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Get out there and mix it up, even if I sometimes suck. Today I both did well AND I sucked. But I was kind of down about it until I got this last text from Rafael: “Nice. Glad you made it. Proud of you on those hills today.” I don’t know about you, but that gave me a nice little tingle down my spine. I suppose another lesson is that, again quoting R: “I’m on the cusp of greatness.” I think, “Well, maybe 20 years and 20 pounds ago.”
But he says that if I try harder on a daily basis, I’ll do better. He’s right, but that isn’t always happening when I’m commuting five miles to the grocery store and back. But with a new bike, a coach, a team, working out, a better diet, and better sleep, who knows, maybe I can go farther and faster and higher. Speaking of sleep, it’s well past time for that. Maybe I’ll dream of this crazy hard ride. Hope you enjoyed it. Maybe you’ll dream a little dream of me, A Dude Abikes. Or not, whatever, just sayin’, it could happen. Anyway…
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