You ever have one of those Mondays where you need that bike ride to bring you back up from the depths of despair that was your workday? Chuck and I were both living that Monday… and on top of that, Chuck’s brand new light mount wasn’t cooperating (noisy, kinda squeaky over even the smallest bump, so you can imagine what it was like on the dirt). On the other hand, we’re in a warm trend the likes of which I can’t remember seeing in November (fear not, it’s over tomorrow)
I’d left early to get to Chuck’s, simply because I could. In shorts and short-sleeves… and I went the looooong way. Then, I tinkered with my front derailleur for a minute once I got to his house until Chuck came out (it’s a complex obsession, my front derailleur on the gravel bike, I’ll get into it in another post – I actually, FINALLY, got it last night). I dropped my average from 18.2 down to 16 in the process. I’d hoofed it over to make sure I wasn’t late.
Chuck had gotten a new light mount – he’s got one of those headlights that they can see from the space station in orbit. He had an issue just snapping it in, where he darn-near lost his temper. I could tell he’d had a rough day at the office, so I just let him go until he got it and we rolled out. Less than a mile in, he was incensed that the mount was a little squeaky (okay, it was a lot squeaky), so we stopped at a fella’s house and asked to use a screwdriver. He tightened his mount down and we rolled again. It didn’t help the squeak.
As we rode together, I could feel my tension lift. It’s almost magical how a rough day can be brought around simply by getting the blood flowing. It also didn’t hurt that we were only in summer gear. We headed south into the wind, the sun long below the horizon. It got dark in a hurry.
We turned and headed west. About a half-mile up, maybe, we had a mini-van pass us. I was over as far as I could comfortably get and Chuck was right behind me. The driver crowded us but not bad enough I was nervous. We couldn’t have gone further right, though. The grater had been through and the crown on the road made the far right of the road slick as snot on a door knob. We’d have risked sliding off the road, down into a rather large, swampy ditch. The vehicle made it by and we rolled on.
The driver looked to be making a left into a driveway but stopped kitty-corner in the road. As we rolled up I could hear someone operating a leaf blower in the driveway, so I figured the motorist was waiting on the blower… and that’s when the driver-side door flung open and an old, disheveled looking fella got out and started yelling about getting over to the side of the road. Lovely, I thought. We’d drawn an idiot who doesn’t know how traffic works (keep in mind here, we were unquestionably over as far right as we could safely be – just to the ditch side of where the passenger wheel tracks on the road, a little less than a few feet (a meter) from the drop into the ditch – this knucklehead had the whole rest of the road).
I told him to shut up and get back in his car and, looking at the size of Chuck and I, he did. But he continued to holler about getting over to the side of the road, so Chuck kept it simple and said, F*** you. We kept rolling, and that was that.
The rest of the ride was quiet as you’d expect at dinnertime on dirt roads in rural America. I don’t think we were passed again the rest of the ride and I completely let the altercation with that old fart go. The farther we went, the better I felt.
We hit our farthest point north and turned around to head home… the tailwind was our friend and the remainder of the ride was glorious.
There’s something about the smell and feel of dirt roads that’s just… I don’t know… I took a big gulp of water, my first of the evening to wash the dust out of my mouth. I made mud. I coasted for a second to let Chuck catch up and told him what had happened. We had a laugh and I put my head down and took it to the barn.
When I pulled into the driveway, I shut my computer and headlight down and went into the house. My daughters already had a chicken dinner ready and hot. I sat down to a feast – I didn’t even bother showering first. After, the girls went upstairs and I cleared the table and did the dishes. I took my shower and sat down on the couch to watch some Monday Night Football… I was asleep just after the Jets kicked a field goal.
It was as good as it gets. For a Monday.