June 25, 2001


I spent half the weekend attempting the longest and most ambitious ride of my bike-riding *career* ...

... and the other half of the weekend RECOVERING from the longest and most ambitious ride of my bike-riding *career.*

Along the way I also managed to sink to new lows in premenstrual dysfunction: I told David to "shut up," for the first time ever  ... I deliberately tried to run over a couple of innocent dogs ... AND I wanted to kick an old man's ass in public. 

It was a hell of a weekend.

On Saturday morning, David and I rode all the way from Moraga to his parents' house in Walnut Creek: a twenty-three mile ride altogether, including scenic detours and occasional stops for water and kissing and wildlife-appreciation. While this will mean nothing to the non-Californians in the audience  --  and even less, probably, to the Spandex-wearers  --  this was a pretty huge accomplishment for someone of my modest athletic ability. Interestingly, this is the same Moraga Trail that caused me so much physical and emotional anguish a month ago. The difference between this weekend and that last disastrous attempt, though, is that we started out much earlier this time around. We were out of bed at 5:30 a.m., and in Moraga by 7 a.m. Not only was it twenty degrees cooler on the trail this time, it was also virtually deserted at that hour of the morning. No joggers or dog-walkers or baby strollers to maneuver around. Plus the ride  --  once we got over that initial, painful ascent  --  was downhill nearly all the way.

By the time we got to Mr. and Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡'s house in Walnut Creek, somewhere around 10:30 in the morning, I was exhausted, sunburned, sweaty ... but jubilant. As Mr. Ю僱êrvØ¡ drove us back to our starting point, I proclaimed that I "could have ridden ANOTHER ten miles!"  David and his dad just sort of looked at each other and didn't say anything.

It was Saturday night when the weirdness started. 

We were laying in bed watching "12 Monkeys" when I suddenly reached over and grabbed David's hand. "Feel this," I said, laying the palm of his hand on my right thigh. "The baby's kicking." 

The muscles just beneath my skin were jerking wildly and uncontrollably. It felt like I had nine months' worth of aerobicizing fetus, lodged in my upper thigh. This continued, on and off, for the rest of the night. It wasn't painful ... but it WAS creepy. I also noticed that I'd lost some mobility in my right arm  --  it was an effort to raise it above my head  --  and my calves and my lower back were even more tender than usual.

"I think I may have overdone it just a hair," I said to David.

Sunday morning, I knew I was operating under less than maximum power but I strapped into the bicycle helmet anyway. Our plan: to ride from Crab Cove to Bay Farm Island and back ... our "usual" Sunday morning ride. 

Halfway through Crab Cove, I was in tears. 

I hate it when I cry while we're riding. All of a sudden I'm in sixth grade P.E. class again ... sitting on the bleachers, listening to Mr. Mortenson telling me I'm not "trying hard enough."  But I couldn't help it. I had grossly under-estimated how sore I was ... and grossly OVER-estimated my ability to ride through it. David took one look at my pain-twisted expression and said "That's it. We're turning around."

We were almost home when it happened.

David was already coasting to a stop in front of our apartment building, a hundred feet or so ahead of me on the sidewalk. I was still straggling along behind him  --  I had just begun to put on the brakes  --  when suddenly a white picket fence next to me swung wide open, and two scraggly little dogs came charging out of the yard, barking like hellzonfire, heading directly for my ankles. Even on my kindest, gentlest days, I am barely tolerant of dogs in general, and of barking dogs in particular. My first instinct was to kick them right in their slobbering, yapping little heads, before they could take a chunk out of me (or my Reeboks). But of course I didn't ... not only because I'm not a dog-kicker by nature (a dog-disliker, yes: a dog-kicker, no) ... but also because their owner, a snowy-haired gentleman carrying a cane, was exiting the gate right behind them. So instead, I wound up swerving to avoid them  --  dogs and owner  --  nearly running myself into a telephone pole in the process.

"Geez!" I said breathlessly. "You scared me!"  And as I fought to regain my balance (and my dignity), I smiled at the snowy-haired gentleman in what I hoped was an engaging, semi-apologetic way.

See? No harm done.

"You should be riding that GODDAMN BICYCLE in the STREET!" the man hissed in response, as I wobbled past him on the sidewalk.

Whoa. Hold the phone, Jasper.

Here I'd just endured this massively painful, horrible, difficult ride. I was less than a hundred feet away from my apartment building (and my ice pack). I was on a section of the sidewalk where bike-riding is not only tolerated, it's legal. Plus I'd just risked life and limb, swerving to avoid running over his stoopid obnoxious little dogs. He was the one with the unleashed animals. *I* was just an innocent bike-rider  --  a cute, law-abiding bike-rider, at that  --  out for a little Sunday morning exercise with her fiance.

And now this cranky old fudk was telling me where to ride?

That's it, growled the Bad Angel riding on my left handlebar. It's time to kick some geriatric butt. I slowed down, swivelled around on my bike seat, looked the cantankerous old bastard directly in the eyes, and said ...

... "I'm sorry."

And then I went home and went to bed for the rest of the day. (But not before a good long cry, a ten-minute thigh massage and a fistful of Midol Extra-Homicide-Preventive-Strength.) David went back out and rode another twenty miles, once I was safely tucked into bed, but I effectively shut down for the remainder of Sunday. I got up a couple of times  --  to check my e-mail, to go to the bathroom, to check my e-mail some more  --  but otherwise I remained horizontal, and asleep, mostly, until late in the afternoon.

Today I'm more or less back to normal ... but it's been slow-going. Have I learned a lesson here? Sure I have. In fact, I've learned a bunch of lessons this weekend. Among the more important:

  • I've learned that I can't *do* two big rides on the weekend, back-to-back. At least not yet. I need to either do one Big Ride on Saturday and then take Sunday off ... or take Saturday off and save The Big Ride for Sunday ... or split The Big Ride into two Medium-Sized Rides, one each on Saturday and Sunday ... or go for two Small Rides and one Medium-Sized Ride on Saturday, and one Medium-Sized Ride, one Small Ride and two Micro-Rides on Sunday.

    (Or just say "screw it" and spend the weekend writing about hamburgers and Spandex on the new forum.)

  • I've learned that aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophin and naproxen sodium PUT TOGETHER aren't as good as forty minutes with the new Whirlpool Bath Spa thingamabob. [i love you, karen.]

  • I've learned that I need to communicate more directly with my Biking Partner about my needs, my expectations and my comfort/discomfort levels ... preferably without telling him to "shut up and quit telling me which gear to ride in."

  • I've learned that there are some people who just plain dislike bicyclists: unreasonably, unfairly, irrationally. Sort of like the way I unreasonably, unfairly, irrationally dislike dogs. That's just the way of the world.

But most of all I've learned that something that seemed impossible one month ago --  in this case, riding twenty-three miles without collapsing or exploding or dropping dead, right there in the middle of the Moraga Trail  --  eventually becomes achievable.

It makes me wonder: what is it that I "can't" do today that I'll be able to do a month from now?

  • Will I know how to change a flat tire?
  • Will I be able to ride over the Alameda Bike Bridge in fourth gear?
  • Will I understand the difference between a Schrader valve and a Presta valve?
  • Will I be wearing Spandex finally?
  • Will I speak fluent Japanese and have my own cable-access television show on Sunday nights?

Or will I simply be able to ride my bike on both Saturday and Sunday without rendering myself bedridden for the 24 hours immediately following?

I guess we'll just have to wait a month to find out.

Congratulations, Brucie & Rachael!
May you enjoy a lifetime of happiness together!

throw a rock