May 25, 2002
The Big Four-Oh

"Tell me I've got my forty miles," I plead breathlessly, as we coast into the Iron Horse Trail parking lot and brake to a stop in front of the Subaru.

David looks at the odometer and winces. "Thirty-nine point seven," he says ... this is what forty miles looks like clearly the unwilling bearer of bad tidings.

Thirty-nine point seven. 

I am crestfallen.  We've been riding since 8:30 a.m., almost five hours ago, most of it in brutal Contra Costa County heat. I've taken not one but TWO spectacularly ridiculous falls, effectively wiping out my right knee. Plus my right arm has been asleep for about forty minutes now, both of my hands are permanently twisted into claws, my shoulders and the tip of my nose are fried to a crisp, and I've got to pee like a three-year-old full of Hawaiian Punch.  And now you're telling me that I'm .3 miles short of my forty miles??

"Another two minutes is all it would take," David says encouragingly. "One minute up the trail, then we turn around and it's one minute back."

I gaze with frank and unadorned longing at the Subaru. The car is so close, I could literally reach out and write "S.O.S." in the dusty rear window. I desperately want to load the bikes into the trunk, slide my battered and sweaty body into the passenger seat and head straight for the nearest air-conditioned restaurant for a nice long tinky-winkle, a jumbo glass of ice water and a fistful of Aleve ... more or less in that order. (You know, whispers The Bad Angel sitting on my left shoulder, You could just lie and SAY you rode the whole forty miles. Who the hell is gonna know the difference?)

"Then we're just going to have to ride for another two minutes, aren't we?" I reply matter-of-factly.  And I blot the blood off my knee with my bike glove, painfully reposition my claws on the handlebars ... and wobble back up the trail, ahead of David.

What can I tell you? I may want this particular bike ride to be over, more than I've wanted any other bike ride to be over, ever, in the entire history of bike-riding.

But I want my forty miles even more.

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