It was a “what were you thinking” lunch hour today. I inflated a flat tire and hauled my bicycle to work for a scheduled group ride. How fun, right?
Well, maybe so…kind of, sort of.
I haven’t took to the pedals in about 4, maybe 5 months. I thought “sure, I’ll go. I need the exercise for sure”.
Now I don’t ride much these days (in college, it was my daily choice of transportation all over campus and town…through fair weather and not). Some of the reason I don’t mount up as much these days is time, but most is motivation and the lack thereof.
But I do remember back to those college days. The good and smart bicyclist always plans his ride. You’ve got weather, timing, routes, errands, and cargo to consider in your trip planning. Most of all, a smart bicyclist knows you always try to finish the ride with a downhill run.
So here I was, motivated (for a change) to cycle. Glenda and Sue were along for the ride – I like them. But Jason – that would be insanely in shape young Jason – volunteered to lead the ride. Jason the 20-somethin’ suggested a ride to the river…it was going to be about a 15 mile roundtrip. This did raise an eyebrow with me (OK, it was both eyebrows).
Did I mention I hadn’t bicycled in 5 months, and then the last time riding was only for 20 minutes and two miles (my 10 minute mile average was because I had to stop and take pictures don’t you know).
We leave the office at 11:20. Jason heads us toward the Trinity River and the excellent trail system the city of Fort Worth has along water’s edge. Within the first 1/2 block I began to have cycling doubts.
At my age (and size), I pride myself in knowing my physical limits. Even though my rotundness is pronounced these days, I still have this false sense of “athlete” lingering in subconscious mindset from a more youthful period of my life. I also know I’m really pretty good at understanding topography and weather and street layouts. After all, I’ve dealt with those things on a daily basis for nearly all of my professional career.
Right out the gate I realize if we’re headed to the River Trails…well Timbo Einstein, that’s all downhill from our office and we’re just starting the ride! That means: I’VE GOT TO CLIMB BACK UP THE HILL AT THE END OF THE RIDE…UGGGGHHHH. I knew then I would probably be walking my bike up the hill and back to the office.
We get to the River and onto the trail. It’s a wide trail – 8′. I have a 25 mph wind in my face. Did I mention I hadn’t rode in 5 months? Or that my current physical dimension, when measured east and west on my body, is nearly half the width of the trail I’m riding on? Yeah! Other trail users had to literally step off the trail with the likes of this wide load coming at them.
Wind in my face. Chest acting like a sailboat sail trying to tack my way down the path. I started to lag behind. Maybe it was the wind, perhaps it was being out-of-shape, surely it was the cargo shorts and T-shirt worn that was catching the wind and causing drag (everyone else in the group is rather “narrow” and wore those body-hugging garments bikers wear – could you imagine if I were to sport that kind of wardrobe…in public? Oh my!). But I’m convinced my lag was only because I was looking for picture-taking opps….
We get 4 miles from the office and we take a break. Glenda must have taken one look at me and said aloud “I think ‘I’ need to head back”, knowing of course I wouldn’t want her to travel back unescorted through downtown, I said “I’ll go with her”! Bless that Glenda – she truly is my friend…protecting my physical health like she did!
Sure enough, the uphill climb back to the office was brutal. I figured the grade change from the river bottom to the office was at least 75′. I let Glenda lead the way and so she did. I once again started to lag behind. This big boy is so out-of-shape!
The uphill ride was done in what I call my bicycle’s “powder puff” gear. That’s the gear that has your legs pumping 50 mph but your bike moving at about 2 mph. I had pedestrians passing me! Oh the shame, oh the agony.
Did I mention I’m riding again next week with the group? I’ll do a couple other trips on my own this weekend for sure…to get into “instant” shape for our next ride!