You have to get up early if you want to ride with b|f and crew. I didn’t wake up early enough, telling myself that the gap between my 5:45 alarm and my 6:15 meet up with b|f was big enough for me to continue to lay in bed until five after six. I put down a banana after getting dressed, checked the weather one more time, and aired up my tires before rolling out of the gate. Ten minutes later we were zooming down the Burke to find Nathaniel and Austin at a pace that made talking a difficult. Too damn stubborn, with too much belief in my “well of miles” to ask for an easing of the pace I pushed out words about my upcoming fatherhood only a few weeks into the future.
We continued the fast pace after adding Austin and Nathaniel, b|f and I chatting away as we made headway back north. They’d agreed on riding the north end of the lake which is more than I bargained for, but didn’t protest against. These guys are busy, and they ride at 6:30 in morning, not because they like it, but because their lives require it. They are busy, have what I call “real jobs” and families to spend their free time with. Me? I’m talking myself out of bed so I can pull on a pair of sweat pants and make coffee to have leisurely morning. By the time they’re at work I’m writing, or playing guitar, trying to talk myself into my day. I haven’t ridden my bike in two weeks.
“It’s amazing that your conversation pace is twenty miles per hour” Austin said as he and Nathaniel pulled through.
Thing is, I can’t hold down a conversation at twenty miles per hour. Furthermore, my shape has become round and loose enough that I have no business riding at that pace for any amount of time, but specifically at forty minutes in to what is going to be a three-and-a-half hour day.
So I cracked.
My friends are damn near a spot on the crest of the hill as we ride back toward the I-90 Bridge. Austin had to bolt, and so he took off while b|f and Nathaniel waited. It occurs to me that the first thing to go is my ability to fight gravity up hill. I was never the best climber, but I have never been in the position of needing the group to wait for me. The second bit of wisdom to come my way is that the second thing to go is my ability to suffer through my inability to ride up hill.
I’ve been suffering enough, without the bike I think to myself near the top.
I don’t stop when I find my friends waiting for me. I just keep rolling. The rain will come in force as we start across the bridge, where I get dropped again. b|f will drop me three or four more times after Nathaniel splits off for home. I keep trying to talk, when I should just shut up and ride. b|f vanishes with every rise in the road. I am soaked, but warm. He is in shorts, a short sleeve jersey and a vest; there’s no way he’s not cold, still he waits.
“You have two choices” my wife tells me hours later in the car. “You can get out and ride more, or stop complaining about it.” She’s not wrong and she could have just said “Maybe you don’t want it bad enough.” Which also wouldn’t be too far off base, but it ignores the symptoms. I ignore them too. Things are hard enough right now that I don’t need to make them harder. I’ll admit that I no longer put much meaning in suffering through it.