Saturday, June 09, 2007

On the bike again

I got up early this morning and did a 34-mile bike ride.

There are a lot of things wrong with that sentence. Namely EARLY.

Today was the first ride I've done since my last attempt at a century ride two years ago. That's the one that went down in flames when my cleats fell off of my shoes, the wind, the horror.....

I've been contemplating getting back into cycling for a few months, then talking myself out of it, then catching my tiny gut in the mirror and recommiting my life to bikes yet again. So, I signed up to do the Collin Classic this morning as a test run.

See, "signing up" was the key moment. I finally made the commitment and sent in my registration check a few weeks ago. I can't let myself out of something I've paid for. That's a rule.

I had every intention of getting in some sort of shape before today, but I only managed to get out on the bike twice in the past few weeks. Dang.

So, last night I was not very happy. I really didn't want to get up early this morning. I really just didn't want to do the ride. One thing that I look forward to every week is my weekend mornings, sitting in my chair by the window, enjoying my cup of coffee. I would have to miss that this morning. I had a long week. I was tired. I'm not in good shape. And I had quite a bit of anxiety coming back from my last terrible biking experience.

I'm just at the age where I really value sleeping in to a decent hour on the weekends and sitting with a good cup of coffee. These are the important things in life.

Anyway, I got up at something like 6am this morning, threw all of my stuff in the car (including my bike... good thinking, right?), and I headed off to the ride.

I have to admit, it's pretty cool arriving at these events, the long lines of cars with bikes in the back of trucks, on racks, stuffed in trunks. Brightly colored jerseys and the sea of spandex-clad men, women, and children....

(NOTE: There will be no photos of the Tyrant in her spandex bike gear for this post because no one needs to see that.... it's just TOO sexy for this PG-13 blog)

I gathered myself and joined the other 3,000 bikers at the start line, and then we were off. As the race began, my anxiety was at an all-time high. Every ride I've done before was to push myself. Intense training before the ride, watching my diet, checking my time, working to increase speed and endurance, checking distance. If I was going to pay attention to any of that stuff today, I would be seriously disappointed. I'm just not in shape to be close to any of my past performance when I was at the top of my game.

Basically, I don't know how to ride just for fun.

So, for the first 10 miles or so, I came up with a list of stuff to do (or not do) to make this a pleasant ride for myself:

1. Never look at my speedometer.
I need to not care how slow I am today.

2. Since I'm not looking at my speedometer, I should look around.
One thing I love about these rides is that they cover rolling hills (yes, North Texas has some rolling hills) over backroads. And it's actually really pretty. Today was a beautiful, sunny day. Stuff is green and blooming from all the rain over the past monthl. I tried to take in everything that was around me.

3. Enjoy my tunes.
I've developed an ingenious way to bike with my ipod. I only listen through one earphone so that the ear that's on the road side of my head is still free to listen to other bikers and traffic. I developed a road trip mix for my upcoming roadtrips, and I figured today would be a good day to test that out.

I make no claims to know good music when I see it. But I do have somewhat of a talent for making sweet mixes that are appropriate for a variety of occasions. The roadtrip mix includes:

Maroon 5
Britney Spears
Bobby Brown
Alanis Morissette
Corinne Bailey Rae
En Vogue
The Fray
Black Eyed Peas
Justin Timberlake
Kelly Clarkson
KT Tunstall.... and many, many more.

Today's road test was a success. It's a genius mix.

4. Stop at EVERY rest stop.
My general rule is to skip at least the first rest stop, and only to stop if I really need to. Today, the rule was to stop at every stop, and take plenty of time.

5. Only do 34 miles.
Originally, I planned to do the 47 mile route. But the more I thought about it last night, I decided that was too lofty of an ambition for my first time back out on the bike. I don't like to go to these events for anything less than 30 miles or so, so I decided that I'd do 34 miles and make myself be happy with that.

With these things in mind, my anxiety finally started to go away and I started having some fun. The next problem, though, was that I got bored somewhere around mile 17. I just wanted to be back home, taking a nap. Not because I was too tired, or hot, or having a bad time. I was just over being on the bike.

But the thing about being at mile 17 was that it's the halfway point for me today, which means that I have to keep going in order to get back to my car and be done with the whole thing. Like, when I play tennis, at the point I decide I'm tired and bored, I just stop and go home. On the bike, halfway out means you still have halfway to go to get back. So, I kept going.

Overall, it was a good ride. My legs felt pretty good, except on the hills. I made sure to take everything in as I rode (see Rule #2), taking the time away from phone, email, work, etc. to just release and enjoy the peace of the cornfields. (seriously, what's with all the corn??? It was like Field of Dreams the whole way).

If anyone is wondering, I found where mulch is born. While taking everything in (again, Rule 2), I was taking in deep breaths that suddenly smelled like cedar mulch. To my right was giant piles of mulch-esque tree bark as far as the eye could see.

"That's, nice. It must be where mulch is born," I thought.

Then a little further on as the mulch smell drifted away and I continued to take in deep breaths, things suddenly started smelling really, really terrible. And folks, I'm here to tell you that Stoney Point, Texas is where poo goes to die. The ride took us right past a giant Texas Pure mill (or whatever they call those places where manure is, um, percolated). For about a mile, all we could smell was hot, rotting poo. Mounds, and mounds, and mounds as far as the eye could see.


Anyway, long past the poo I was nearing the end of what was looking like an incident-free ride, when catastrophe struck. I was bumping back over the railroad tracks from the beginning of the ride (this meant the end was near), and I had almost cleared the tracks when I lost focus for a mere second and my hand came down hard on my handlebars, thumb first.

Pain SEERED through my thumb. Was it broken? Sprained? No longer attahed to my hand??? I hated to look. But I did.

I broke a nail.

But it was a DEEP break and blood was quickly filling underneath the nail and dripping off of my thumb.

Oh no. I'm losing blood. I still have about 4 miles to go.... CAN I MAKE IT???? What if I bleed to death? Or at least to unconsciousness?? Or I get blood on my pretty jersey????

Should I call the SAG Wagon to take me back in? "Help me! I broke a nail! I don't.... think... I can... finish....."

No, I'd get laughed at.

Should I stop and check on my thumb? I kept glancing at it, each time seeing more blood. Would I be able to carry on if I stopped?

NO. Just.... keep... going.

Fortunately I carry a First Aid Kit in the car (safety first, y'all). So if I could just make it back, I could save my thumb and stop the bleeding.

And, I did. I made it back to the car and I felt pretty good (except for my TRASHED thumb). So, we'll call it a success.

But I'm not entirely convinced I'm back into biking again. It's nice to know I can still do it, and without any training I can make 34 miles. But it was almost too exhausting just making myself not compete with myself.

Bug Count:
3 bugs inhaled by mouth
1 bug inhaled up my nose
1 butterfly to the shoulder

I totally rewarded myself with a two-hour nap, followed by Whataburger.

And I'll just take it one day at a time with my thumb recovery.



Ken said...

Glad to you see you've gotten back on the bike again. IHMO, It does give us a freedom that we may have not felt since we were kids.

Besides, its all about the suffering.

Keep at it and soon, you'll be able to stop of at Whataburger during the ride! The fries taste so much better than the bananas they always feed us. Heh..

Gmama said...

Was this the Collin County Classic? If so, were you very sad not to do it with your out of shape Ninja Friend? I'm getting back on my bike soon too - let's do a ride together sometime.

Gmama said...

Was this the Collin County Classic? If so, were you very sad not to do it with your out of shape Ninja Friend? I'm getting back on my bike soon too - let's do a ride together sometime.

The Cynical Tyrant said...

yeah, dude. collin county classic. and it was simply MISERABLE without you.

holla when you're ready for a ride. we'll take a leisurely stroll on the bikes.

(i'm out of shape, too)