I’ve had an awesome run at life over the last twenty-five years of sobriety. There’s a chance of a few major potholes in my near future that will have to be navigated at high speed. It’s times like these that my daily bike ride becomes extra important. My ride is my decompression.
A bike ride (or a bike) is not my Higher Power, so please don’t bother, just for the sake of being obtuse.
We rolled out after an 8-3/4 mile warmup. My buddy Mike was up front with Doug, I was second, and we had another five or so behind each of us.
The start was a little slower than normal but we were into a bit of a headwind.
Fifteen wonderful miles later we were getting into the hills. There once was a time I would struggle in the hills but those days are in my past. I’m not the fastest in our gang, but I’m not near the slowest either.
At 20 miles we’d rolled up the last decent hill and we were on our way down into Vernon. The intermediate sprint at the City Limits sign. I took my turn up the hill so I could ride wheels into the sprint, and I timed everything just right. My main worry was Doug. He took his turn right after me and he was sitting right on my wheel.
The person up front in a sprint rarely wins.
I launched immediately after an oncoming motorcycle passed us. We’d been cruising at around 24 mph, maybe, and I put everything I had into the launch. I could see Doug’s shadow behind me and directly to my left so I broke right to disrupt his draft. With 100 meters to go I was maxed out and I could feel Doug right behind me. He was grunting against the effort. I’d beaten him the week before and I knew he was way too competitive to let that sit.
I turned over the pedals as fast as I could and even managed to accelerate a little bit. I was still barely ahead with 10 meters go go…. I had him. By a front wheel.
My legs, unfortunately, were jelly and I only had eight miles in which to recover for the final sprint. Rather than fade to the back, I like to take a turn up front after a sprint so I can control the pace and let the group form back up. Then I can head to the back for a decent recharge.
Five miles later I was sitting four bikes back with three to go. My legs had come around a bit but I still gave them a good shake to loosen up the cobwebs. I was either going to end with a perfect lead out from Phill or I was going to have to sprint from the front – and that almost never works.
Coming in to the last mile and it was Phill, then me, then the group, single-file behind us. Phill was laying down an excellent pace and with a quarter-mile to go he started accelerating. I knew then that Phill was going to bring it home.
I waited till the farmhouse to launch my sprint from 27 mph. I hammered just as hard and just before the City Limits I glanced at my computer. 35.1 mph. I could see a shadow behind me so I kept the power on and cruised over the line by maybe three-quarters of a bike length. I was cooked.
A family was waiting in the parking lot with water and Gatorade, ice cold and provided by their church. They handed the drinks to anyone who reached for one…. Never seen anything like it. I stopped, gratefully took a Gatorade, and took a minute to talk to them about cycling, our group, and what we do. Of course I helped the kids pick up my bike so they could feel how light they are, then moved along to pack up.
We each talked about our ride, in particular how grateful we are to have started the B Group, and how nice it is to be able to ride hard and fast, without it becoming a race – that we can keep the group together.
Then it was on to a raucous board meeting for our bicycle club, and dinner at the local diner.
All of my troubles are still there today, but I slept like a baby last night, and right up to the alarm. A bike ride goes a long way to putting a smile on my face, and sometimes that’s all I need to get fired up to suit up for another day in the trenches of life.