My friends and I rolled at 10am yesterday, in some of the best sunshine we’ve had in months. Sadly, in March, in Michigan, sunshine usually means cool temperatures. Yesterday was no exception. It was, shall we say politely, brisk for a bike ride.
Just before we rolled I texted in an order for a new pair of shoes for Mrs. Bgddy that will match her bike (and the rest of her kit) perfectly… after I picked up a new helmet for her birthday that matches as well. Black with pink pinstripes for the helmet, white with silver accents for the shoes. It’ll be impressive when she’s all duded up:
This post could have easily been titled: Six signs you’ve graduated from cyclist to enthusiast. Coming in at number one: You don’t have to wait for the bike shop to open to order a new piece of exquisitely matching kit. You’ve got the owner of the local shop’s cell phone number (because he’s one of your best riding buds) and can just text him what you need*. Anyway, I passed “digress” a while ago…
We put in a nice 35 miles with five of our friends in some tough, breezy conditions – it was one of those days that there seems to be no place to hide. Even when there was a draft, the best place to be was second or third bike because the last couple in the pace line were always in the ditch**.
My buddy, Mike got caught in the ditch and was quickly spit off the back. I’d gotten the City Limits signs I wanted so I went back to bring him back to the group with seven miles to go. Once we got back, I spent the next four miles in the ditch, hating life.
With just three miles left, Winston dropped off the front and Phill left a gap between him and the tandem who was taking the lead. I shot the gap and took up position behind the tandem, second bike, so I could finally get a break. I was smoked. Over the next two miles I recharged and finished with a smile on my face.
My head can go to some pretty dark places when I’m riding in the ditch to help a friend. At first it’s not that big a deal. I’m strong and I can hammer pretty well. I obviously don’t have a confidence problem, and I love helping a friend. Four miles in the ditch’ll challenge that perspective massively. Two miles drafting behind a tandem and I’m all better, cruising along, smile on my face again.
Later, on the way to watch my eldest perform at a band competition, I stopped by the shop to say hey and make sure the shoe order went in without trouble. Matt showed me a bike he was working on for a customer that came with photographs, printed on second-use printer paper. The first use had photos of a stent in an artery. Matt said, “Let’s hope we never have to experience that.”
I replied, “And that’s why we ride a bike”.
Part 2,974. Because my body works better on a bike.
*This is a most important point… I know to never abuse the privilege of having the cell number of the local shop owner. I am not selfish enough to use that number in an untoward fashion.
** The Ditch: In a cross-wind, the ditch is the side of the road (or lane) where there’s no room left to get in the echelon for a draft, you’re stuck riding directly behind the cyclist in front of you. You have to work just as hard as the person pulling the group. The ditch is where cyclists go to get dropped.