This morning Bicycle Sport Shop had their annual Resolution Ride, held on the first day of the new year for a fee of the new year’s value (in this case, $13). They offer 2 distances: 25 and 50 miles. Admittedly, my favorite part of the ride has been the delicious beer and tacos offered in the shop’s parking lot afterward. I’ve done it the last 2 years on my delightful deluxe mountain bike (Phoebe), outfitted with slicks, but also slowed down with rearview mirror and rack and kicky little bell and my own overall lack of fastness in any athletic endeavor. This year I aimed to do the 50-mile distance, as I now have a road bike (James), as of the day after Thanksgiving.
My training plans didn’t quite work out, and I was kind of bummed that I wasn’t up for the 50-mile distance. Then I decided to feel differently about it, and instead congratulated myself for getting out in the cold (45 and a vicious headwind for the ride out). Still, the first 12.5 miles were challenging and somewhat unpleasant, with my toes approaching a frightening level of cold in that wind. As often happens during these events, I found myself wondering what the hell I was even doing out there. I didn’t have to be there, at all. I could take up less demanding hobbies, like needlecrafts, ones that didn’t require facing physical challenges out in the elements while always confronting my substantial lack of natural talent in that area. (OK, forget needlecrafts, as I lack all such dexterity with crafts in equal measure to lacking athletic ability.) Why was I out there in the cold and wind, with the sky threatening more rain? I could see folks ahead of me, and knew more riders were behind me, but I wasn’t riding with anyone, missing the camaraderie that is the highlight of such rides for many people. Even with my fancy new road bike, I wasn’t feeling appreciably faster than when on my old mountain bike.
Then came the turnaround at 12.5 miles. The kindly volunteers (I love volunteers! They’re also out in the elements, and they REALLY don’t have to be. Thank the nearest volunteer, quickly!) at the support station gave me orange slices and half a pb&j, then I set off for the shop. And found the wind at my back and the fear of frozen toes allayed and my legs were good and warmed up. The first half I averaged 5.23 minutes per mile; the last half averaged 3:30 MPM. I was hauling ass and it felt amazing. And I remembered why I do these things–because when I do actually test myself and rise to a challenge, the endorphin rush of momentary competence is sweet indeed.
I felt good enough from that last 12.5 that the lack of good beer and tacos back at the shop didn’t dent my vastly improved mood. I mean, they HAD beer and tacos, but instead of a fresh and tasty keg of Fat Tire’s or Real Ale’s amber goodness, it was CANS (!) of Fireman’s 4 Blonde Ale (not a bad beer, but did I mention the CANNED part?). I took the cans home with me for beer-related emergencies, such as surprise guests. The tacos, from the One Taco food truck, were shockingly uninspired as well. The potato and egg contained what appeared to be hashbrowns from a grocery store’s freezer section, and the salsa looked suspiciously like Pace. I mean, Pace is fine, but a taco stand should be providing fresh and distinctive salsa. Otherwise, what’s the point, One Taco? WHAT IS THE POINT? So I stowed the cans in my fridge and had the last of my Trippel stock instead, which is amazing and fantastic and everyone should drink these all the time. Tomorrow starts 90 days of no sugar (and thus no booze) so I’m glad I went out with such a fine beverage.
And I’m glad I started out the year with even as little as 25 miles; 50-mile rides will come soon enough, and I and you and everyone have to start somewhere, even if we wanted to start somewhere else.