Is there a such thing as a “Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” bike ride? Bet your @$$ there is.
This is my buddy, Jonathan’s description of yesterday’s Friday morning ride; a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bike ride. As of Thursday, I’d have said a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bike ride was, strictly speaking, impossible. I’d have been wrong. Thankfully, we’re all relatively okay and as of this writing, nobody is in the hospital. Yet.
Mrs. Bgddy, Jonathan, Mike and I rolled out at a little past 8am. Mike was running late because his wife had just gotten a knee replaced and he had to get her set up with her coffee before we rolled out.
The wind was strong from the southwest and rather than struggle against it, we treated it like a friendly, fun ride. Mike took the first two miles at, say, 17-1/2 to 18-1/2-mph. I was next, for three, and I kept it between 18 & 19. Nothing spectacular, just one of those “hands on the bar tops”, laugh-a-minute rides. My wife took a turn up front, as did Jonathan for a big turn. Mike took a mile, then we turned into the wind. Oh, goody.
Mike tapped off almost immediately and Jonathan was behind me, so that meant my wife was in her favorite third bike spot, followed by Mike. I figured I’d keep a decent tempo, easy enough to stay up there for miles, but challenging enough to keep it lively.
Hands on the hoods and elbows bent to get my chin as close to my stem as possible, I charged into the wind, taking it right in the face. I found a good cadence at 18-1/2 to 19 and kept it there.
Coming up on a hill, we had a car back so I didn’t pick up the pace, but I didn’t slow down, either. I wanted to get to the top so I could wave the car by. Over the wind I heard from the back, “Mike’s way off the back”, from Mrs. Bgddy so I sat up and took it easy so he could catch up.
When he caught back up, I kept the pace at a steady 18. I could have maintained that pace all day, so I stayed up front. Coming down the hill into Byron, I always go for the City Limits sign. It’s one of those I want.
Rolling into town, with a 15-20-mph (24-32 km/h) headwind, I shifted both hands to from the hoods to the drops in one swift move and picked up the pace. Maybe a quarter-mile to the sign I was at 23-mph. 24… 26… now I was on flat ground and full into the gas. 29… 30…31. I could feel Jonathan behind me, though. I had my chin a couple of inches from my stem, pushing for all I was worth. I maxed out at 31-1/2 (50 km/h) and Jonathan was coming around, but slowly. I gritted my teeth and gave one. Last. Push… and he pipped me right at the last second.
I made him work for it, though. I smiled as we climbed the hill into town and offered my fist to bump. We shared a chuckle and pressed up the hill.
We pulled into our favorite pit stop gas station and I went in to use the facilities. When I came out, my wife went in and Mike was eating his banana. I pulled mine out of my back pocket and started munchin’. I was hungry. Next I looked, Mike had both elbows on his handlebar, both feet on the ground. He said, “Woah”… you know that look you get when you’ve been bent over after a workout and you stand up too fast? Yep. But he didn’t come back right away. He almost went down, so my wife and I grabbed him and held him up. All of the color went out of his lips and his face went slack.
Jonathan called 911 while my wife and I tried to get him off his bike, a 168 pound wet noodle. I called a younger kid over to help, who was just going to walk by. Another lady put her child in the car and came over to help. We managed to get him off the bike and sitting down as Jonathan relayed the information to the dispatcher. I handed Mike his water bottle and pulled mine from its cage. I took a sip, and just like that, Mike was back.
He asked what all the fuss was about and said, “Let’s go”. I don’t know what the proper protocol is for a steep blood pressure drop, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “get on your bike and ride home”. On the other hand, it’s Mike, so I followed him and hollered to Jonathan that he should cancel that ambulance.
Mrs. Bgddy and Jonathan handled that and I chased after Mike. Once I caught him, he seemed to be his normal self (more or less). I looked back to see my awesome wife and Jonathan catching up to us.
Before long, there they were. Jonathan said he’d been stung on the knee by some kind of gnarly bee on the way out of the gas station parking lot.
Six miles later I ran over a squirrel. Wait, I have to be truthful here. The freakin’ squirrel ran under my freaking tire. Not a thing I could have done – he ran right for it. The poor sucker even dropped his acorn. I’ve ridden by and around maybe 2,000 of those little suckers and never hit one. I lined that poor sucker up and drilled him, dead center. Thankfully, I didn’t get him with the back tire too – he scurried into the brush on the side of the road.
At this point, we were thinking about hiding under a rock. Unfortunately, the rock idea wasn’t an option because we had some ominous clouds chasing us down.
The rest of the trip to Mike’s house was actually uneventful. Right up until it started sprinkling. Seriously. Seriously?
My wife and I rolled for home. Better to be a little wet and home. The first mile was with a tailwind. The final mile, cross headwind. The sprinkling sputtered out before we got home.
Shower, lunch and a much needed meeting, Jonathan texted to say he was covered, head to toe, in hives from the bee sting.
To close this sordid story of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bike ride, my wife was the only one to escape unscathed… until she showered. She grabbed for the hand towel by the sink and a wolf spider the size of a small tarantula fell into the sink.
Biggest wolf spider I’ve ever seen by double. She almost put that monster on her shoulder.
I stayed away from windows, knives and anything moving and big enough to kill me the rest of the day. Are you f***ing kidding me? We haven’t had that much bad stuff happen in five years, let alone one bike ride… and Jonathan is a pastor of a huge church… getting stung by a super-bee that gave him hives over his whole body? And he’s not allergic?!
Technically, I know the why of the hives – it was the activity of riding his bike that pumped the bee sting poison through his whole system, that’s why his body went nuts… it makes for a dramatic conclusion, though.