Ride it Out
Weather permitting, I push myself to take long bicycle rides on the weekends. Given our brutal weather in the Midwest, I was pretty elated to be able to ride 40 miles this past Sunday. There is nothing like a ride offering decompression that lasts for half a day.
From a cardio point of view, I wasn’t fatigued at all. In fact, when I got to my half-way point at 20 miles in, a part of me wanted to bike all the way to Wisconsin. My brother did that once.
He would pedal on his bike until the sun went down. He didn’t concern himself with how he would get home. However, it did hit him that he could not ride in the dark on a major highway – without a light.
In an age that offered no cell phones, he promptly found a pay phone at McDonald’s and called our father hoping that he would be home. Moments later, our dad said, “Found your brother! Come on, we’re going to Kenosha to pick him up – he rode his bike there this afternoon.” I was so impressed that he had gone 50 miles on a bike at one time!
Some people are baffled as to why I would choose to spend four or five hours of my precious weekend time on a bike. It’s a gift and as long as I can keep pedaling, I will do it. It’s time away to reflect and re-group. Granted, I have climbed 2,109 stairs of the Willis Tower, twice. But, I digress.
When I turned around, I realized the wind was going to fight me the whole way home! That made that leg of the journey much more challenging. At times I had to slow down to seven miles per hour so I wouldn’t wipe out in the slippery slush or icy mud. My bike was caked in mud as was I! I saw mounds of dirty snow, reminding me that spring was still trying to break through.
The last two miles, I thought I was going to cry. It wasn’t my inability to breath or lacking energy to pump the pedals. My legs felt like rubber. At that point I just jumped off the bike and stretched for a while and recovered enough to get home. Oh crumb, it just hit me that one of my honorary coaches told me to put the bike in a lower gear and spin when that happens. Curses! Sorry, Coach…I remember now!
Once I was home, I had to lift my bike through a door and down some stairs to get it into my storage locker. Many times after a ride, I just stare at the door leading to my building and ask myself why do I do this to myself?? Then I had to climb three flights of stairs to get to my place and that was probably the hardest part of the whole experience.
The good news is that I wasn’t even sore. I carefully stretched during the ride and afterwards, I soaked in eucalyptus and spearmint bath salts when I got home. That time was just for me and I tuned out the rest of the world. Given the challenging week I had, it was just what I needed.