I wasn’t planning that much bicycling. Yet there were places to go, things to do. I had no car to use, and a dislike of the bus. It was yet another in a string of 100-degree plus day. However, I knew I could stop in air conditioned places. Most importantly, I felt I had good legs. With that confidence, I headed out into the swamp that is Austin, Texas in August.
I awoke early, but due to a long day the day before and ongoing ailments, I was not full of vim and vigor. By the time I stepped outside to the sauna, I was running late. The legs said, “Shut up, brain!” I suspected a slow leak in my front tire and headed north anyway.
The reason for my outing has a backstory. At the South by Southwest festival in March, I met a fellow volunteer at the lunch trucks. She was a kindly, quirky older woman who said she did a lot of different gigs. One of them was market research. With a promise extracted from me to mention that she referred me so she would get credit, I finally got around to signing up. Time passed and eventually an e-mail landed in my in-box inviting me to a session for which I would be compensated just for answering some questions about a product or service. Sweet!
But then I ran into construction, and decided to stop and call my appointment. They were happy to reschedule for later in the day, so I bailed on that ride. Sometimes giving up is the correct and wise decision to preserve one’s energy. Shifting gears (yes, that’s a bike pun!), I got a bag of batteries tested and the bad ones recycled. I had only eaten my standard banana and dark chocolate first breakfast, so I was famished. I stopped for an okay second breakfast at a fast food joint then headed to Sun & Ski Sports.
Greeted by the friendly Trent and recent addition Michelle, I headed to see Mike in the Bike Shop. I had stopped by a store and procured two ice cream bars, one of which I proffered to my mechanic, who gladly accepted. He said he doesn’t always have to have tip beer. I pulled up a stool with bike pedals for foot rests, one of which I crashed into once and from still have a scar and we chatted for a bit while he got to a stopping point on another bike. One might dismiss these moments and relationships as strictly commercial (a Frank Zappa lyric that leaps to mind from “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”). I’ve found the opposite to be true. After some time, they’re actually pretty meaningful and I don’t take them for granted.
Mike expertly diagnosed my slow leak as being caused by a tiny wire that was embedded in my tire, but he also found shards of glass. There are plenty of glassholes in Austin, including the City itself, when its recycling trucks spill bottles that break in the bike lanes. It’s always a point of pride to hear the words “because you bike so much…” We worked out a temporary solution and I was back on my way.
Calling an audible because I realized I was nearby the doctor’s office, I moved up a medical visit. I didn’t have to wait long and got my issue addressed with yet another test. The staff was friendly, but I didn’t leave healed from my woes. After that, I headed downtown for an urgent piece of mail. It was a gamble because though the legs felt good, the heat was getting to me, and I had to get to acupuncture in time or risk being banned due to previous tardiness of forgetting to cancel.
I crankef out the requisite miles uphill, arriving just a few minutes late, I learned they weren’t ready for me anyway. I had done exactly 14 miles. Justin gave me a lot more in-depth attention and quality time than the physician assistant (because they’re not under the vise grip of the insurance companies like Western practitioners are). I also got a nice power nap and — unlike the doctor’s office — some actual relief, even if fleeting. I forgot to log the mile home, but in that blissful, relaxed state, I simply did not care. In fact, I’d forgotten about it until writing about it just now. I was still not 100% from needles being stuck in my body either. I would need both modalities to get better.
Usually I come up with clever or at least more descriptive titles and take some photographs. But not today. After 21 miles already in the heat and the sun, I took some time to shower, refuel and relax. Soon it was time to head to the market research study. Traveling on a more familiar route with bike lanes and a few obstacles, I made sure to evade rush hour traffic. A highway service road sidewalk was useful, if a little dicey.
Soon the route brought me to a cute, tree-lined neighborhood I had not been to. On the other side of the highway now, I had to circle back on the non-existent shoulder and sidewalk. I made it to the study in time to towel off the sweat and change shirts. The questions were all online and not difficult. I collected my bonus pay and reversed course.
It is interesting to me that my speed in the previous two rides was 10.9 miles per hour. For the last one of the day, it was only down to 10.1. But it was downtown, so should have been faster, except it was still too darn hot. I was definitely bonking a bit by this point and had to stop for refreshment. Wheatsville Co-op, of which I’m a long time member, has a Thursday evening meal for $5, so I took advantage of that. Vegan potato salad, baked beans, and barbecue chicken topped off with some strawberry lemonade — especially inside in the air conditioning — hit the spot. It’s funny to think I need to sit down after riding my bike — which has a seat. But it’s true, sometimes I do.
I had to be somewhere early the next day and didn’t want to arrive all sweaty, tired and maybe still have tire troubles, so I had arranged to borrow a vehicle. That meant riding back downtown, which I could have done later and combined errands, but I’m crazy like a fox that way. “More miles” is my mantra. So off I rode, slowly until I got some energy back. I knew I’d be extra tired the next day or two, but for now, I was still cruising along. Not racing by any means, just getting from point A to point B in the heat without passing out or any crashes.
Arriving at my friends’ place, I took a load off and talked with them a while. A mineral water was offered and accepted. As was egg salad a yogurt. While there, I loaded my last ride from my Garmin vivoactiv hr watch and realized I had biked 40 miles. That brought a smile to my face. I was right about my feeling that I had good legs. I said goodbye and got in the car. When I borrow a car, that is always a weird sensation. So is arriving somewhere in a fraction of the time it takes to travel by bike,. It feels as if I’m cheating, although I’m not.
Looking back on the day, I recognized that I had listened to my inner voice, not that of others, and it turned out to be right. I also took care of myself by going to appointments and while on the bike by pacing myself and stopping for air conditioning, food and water. Also, I challenged myself with the timing and distance, and took care of some things I needed to do. I made a little money, too, and didn’t crash. All in all, not a bad day for A Dude Abikes, if I may say so.
With these 40 miles, I had most of the miles I needed this week for my goal, so I only did 5 miles the next day and none the day after. I earned it. That’s how I do it; I just keep chipping away at that 100 mile goal each week.
How about you? How are you surviving the summer (or winter as the case may be)? What do you do to make your goals when there are obstacles, internal, external or both?
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