I knew I only had time for a short ride last night. It’s getting darker a lot earlier, now, and work was a wreck. My car battery died overnight and I had to jump it with a plug in jumper before I left in the morning. Then it died again at the office… and just before I had to head out to a meeting. I’d been ready to leave early, but jumping it with another vehicle didn’t work so I had to take a company truck. I put a laborer to tracking a battery down for me but he called to let me know nobody had the right battery for my car within a hundred mile radius.
At that point I just chuckled. This has been a week, my friends. Let me tell you.
I arrived at my meeting a little late (I’d texted the superintendent that I wouldn’t be there quite on time), and the superintendent shook my hand and apologized for his boss having called me in – we weren’t on the list of companies that needed to be there. We had a fifteen second conversation and sent me on my way. Rather than waste the trip, I walked the job, talked to a couple of my guys, then headed back to the office. I determined, during the drive back, that my day was getting better. Now.
Before picking up a Subway Chicken Cesar wrap for lunch (oh, good God, that’s a nice way to start the turnaround), I decided to swing by a Murray’s auto parts store less than a mile from the office. Sure enough, they had exactly the right battery. I bought it, took it back, watched a YouTube video while I ate my wrap and had the thing changed and my car running 20 minutes later. Of course, it wasn’t a straight forward battery change. The computer sits atop the battery, a cowling has to be removed, and the bar that holds the battery and computer in place had to be moved. I wanted to make sure I got it right. The first time. My Equinox fired up without hesitation.
The rest of the work day was peachy. So, there I was at home, trying to figure out what I wanted to ride. I’d just put a new cockpit on the Trek 5200 (more on that piece of awesomeness later), but I wanted off the pavement. Gravel bike or mountain bike? Mountain bike.
I wanted a good excuse to take it easy.
I prepped and rolled out. A quarter-mile from my house and I was on dirt. Heading up the first hill, not a half-mile in, I could smell the distinct, wonderful, sweet smell of freshly turned earth. A farmer was tilling his field for the winter. I breathed deep, taking in the aroma… I was going out fairly easy but watched my average climb from 10-mph to 13, to 14… then I thought, well, maybe I should hold 15. The 15-mph average came and went. 15.5 then… well, maybe 16… I was starting to work at it. I was up around 18-mph to keep the average climbing and I thought, you know, you’ve only got ten miles, why not give it maximum effort to see if you can hold 16.5 for the ten.
And that’s roughly where I really got on it. I think I was five miles in, maybe four.
I was hunched over a little to try to keep from acting like a giant sail atop my Rockhopper 29’er, and hammering the pedals with all I had. That 16.5 average turned to 16.7 and that’s when I started thinking about 17. My grip on the handlebar tightened and I put the hammer down. I was gritting my teeth and slobbering just a little bit with the effort. 16.8… I was at 8.8 miles and I had a hill coming up that I normally take around 13-14-mph on the mountain bike. I knew if I didn’t hammer that hill, my average would suffer for it. I bared down and took it at 17, just dropping below as I crested the hill. I laid the power down again and used a slight downhill grade to catch my breath. I was at 20-ish mph when 16.9 flashed on the Garmin. 9.5 miles in and I had another hill coming up. 21-mph… and it was starting to get a little ugly. I hadn’t worked like that since February on a trainer – maybe not even then. I kept after it, north of 20-mph. 16.9 stayed on my Garmin for what felt like forever. I was sure that was it, but then at 9.8 miles, just two tenths to go, it ticked over to 17.0.
I hit the pause/stop button just after 10.0 miles. 17.0-mph average. Max effort.
I saved the ride and reset my Garmin for the mile-long cool down home. I wiped my face and sat up. I had a smile stretched across my face all the way home….
Life is good.