My first 50-miler…

April 10, 2008

So, I’m a cyclist. I smoke, but I’m a cyclist nonetheless. I know the two don’t really go well together, but somehow I make it work. This story happened in 2006, just after a hurricane.

So, I had made plans to ride the Bay Country Century Ride two weekends ago. It should be noted that they also had 27, 50, 62 mile options. Well, a girl that used to work here, was going, and talked me into doing the 50 with her, as all her other buddies were riding the 62 or full century. So, I thought,” what the hell?” There’ll be breaks, and it’s fully supported, and I’ll have someone slow to pace myself off of.”

Well, Ernesto (the hurricane) was coming through that week. The ride was scheduled for Saturday morning, while Ernesto was scheduled to come through late Friday evening. Needless to say, it rained all day Friday, and the wind picked up as it got dark. I had planned on going to bed early Friday, so as to be well rested for the next days’ ride, but a long awaited movie had arrived from Netflix, and I had some beers in the fridge, so I started watching the movie. I was pretty disciplined about initially only having two beers-you know, since I was going to ride further than I had ever ridden the next day.

At 9pm my phone rings, and the girl I was supposed to ride with informed me that she wouldn’t make it the next day, due to the fact that a tree had landed in her front yard. My initial thought,” I’m not riding 50 miles by myself, it’s going to be raining, and miserable. I’ll just stay home.” So, I proceeded to drink beer and watch movies. At 2 am, I made the decision, that since I had already paid for the event, I may as well go… I could always just ride the 27 mile option, right? No one could blame me, right? Except me.

That Saturday morning, I awoke. Hung over and tired, I hopped in the shower, and downed two large cups of joe and set out to Somewhere, Maryland. I had hoped that the hurricane from the previous day would have cleared out, thereby leaving me with near perfect weather for riding. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath waiting for that. It was still raining fairly heavily and showing no signs of letting up. I arrived at the event, and kept telling myself that no one would give me crap for not riding the 50… it’s miserable, I’m tired, I’m hung over, and alone. I walked up to the counter to register: “How far are you riding today?” “50” It was done. The ball had been set in motion, I was riding the 50. “What the hell was I doing”, I thought. I didn’t sign up for this… ok, I did, but I’d changed my mind. Too late now.

So, it started out not too bad, I was going slow; roughly the pace that would have allowed me to finish in just over 5 hours. Which, would have been a poor time. I was just snailing along, enjoying the scenery; then at mile 5, I got a flat. I hadn’t brought an extra tube, but did have a repair kit. Because it was raining so hard and everything was so wet, It didn’t work, and I remembered thinking I had to walk back. I began regretting my decision to ride that day. Great friggin’ start to a wonderful day, I thought. Just my luck. I knew I should have stayed home, I thought.

However, I must have done something right in my life, because just after those thoughts, the tube guy stopped by. Now, this may sound dirty, but he was indeed just one of the support guys who happened to be in charge of the tubes. The first thing he told me, was,” they didn’t deliver the spare tubes.” Insert all the expletives you can think of in 10 seconds, and multiply them by 100, and you’ll only have thought about half of the words that went through my mind at that point. Of course, and here comes the karma part, he did follow up with saying that he would give me his personal tube, from his bike. He even warned me that it was a racing tube, and that it might get a flat easier in these conditions. Part of me still thinks, that he regretted giving me his tube, and that was his polite way of asking me to refuse.

Well, I’m not that polite, I suppose. So, I graciously accepted, and continued to ride. I had to keep in mind that I had never ridden that far-24 miles had been my longest ride until that point-so, I had to force myself not to try to keep pace with too fast of riders. I’d cling to groups, then got sick of the slow pace, and would pass them. There’s only so slow I can ride. Then I had to remind myself that I’d never ridden that fare before, and would slow down again. This continued through the first 20 miles. Until I ended up following this guy who had a pretty good pace, so I kept him in my sights all the way until about mile 35, where he dropped me on a series of hills.

At mile 40, I began realizing that if I kept up the pace I was riding at, that I’d still have reserves at the end. My intention was to finish with nothing left. To return home and sink into my newly bought couch and bask in the glory of a good, hard ride. So, I cranked it up a notch… ok, a few notches. I was cruising… ok, I was more than cruising. Even saw the guy I was keeping pace with until mile 35; though only briefly in the distance. But I saw him, and that’s what mattered. At mile 45, I approached an intersection, and needed to make the right turn. There was a lady in a white SUV, waiting at the stop sign (the one where I needed to turn into). My guess was that she thought I was going to go straight, despite me having shown all the appropriate signals. Well, I’m glad she waited, because when I took the turn, I avoided all the street markings, but hit the oil slick. My bike slid out from underneath me, and we (the bike and me) slid under the ladies’ SUV. I was laughing when I came to a stop, but only because I was under a vehicle… I mean, how could you not laugh at that point, unless, of course, you were seriously hurt. Which, I was not. Oh, and the lady was freaking out. She was hysterical. I stood up as soon as possible, told her I was alright, and apologized for scaring her and continued to ride. Imagine that, I slid under her car and apologized for scaring her.

I finished the ride with a slightly bent hanger, few scrapes on my elbow, a hip bruise, some energy left in my tank, and a neat story for my first half-century. Did I mention there was a t-shirt also? It wasn’t that cool of a t-shirt, but it always reminds me of this story.

I’m drunk, what do I know

April 2, 2008

so… here i sit. downing the remains of a cheap bottle of wine. red. cheap, but good. no need to spend more if it’s good, right? wondering what to do with my life? questions that should have come up in my 20’s. but they’re coming up now. better late, than never, i suppose.

i like my job, but i don’t love it. i see people that do, and they seem to get so much more satisfaction out of life. “it’s not a job, if it’s fun.” well, that’s not me. i thought this was what i wanted to do. i convinced others that this is what i wanted to do. i may have even convinced myself. a true liar can convince himself that the lie is true. what does that make me?

i’ve always been told, i could be great if i just applied myself. i’ve become a master in the art of getting by. seeing the apparent bliss that comes with satisfaction with what one does leaves me jealous. longing for more.

J