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Maximum Effort…


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.


  1. So glad things are turning around for you 🙌🏼

  2. Sue Slaght says:

    I enjoyed reading that very much Jim. I could feel you take charge of the day and turn it around completely. We have so much control over our mood. We just need to recognize that and do something about it.

  3. Dorothea says:

    That sounds like an epic ride! And a great end to a turned around day

  4. andy nagelin says:

    When I’m out for a run i enjoy the smell of sweet grass or the forest. So much better than sewer gas or exhaust!
    I’ve changed my battery once in 16 years and AAA was awesome. They came to my house, ran diagnostics on my electrical system and charged a fair price.
    Ride well my friend,

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