Thursday, September 1, 2011

Riding with Mr Maplebar

Over the last couple weeks I have ridden several 100K permanents. Not that I am ramping up my mileage or anything, but it’s August (whoops it was August, where’d that go?) the weather has been exquisite, and I had scheduled these events in advance, so might as well ride em'.

Now it is September and on Sunday I’m riding another 100K perm. But this one is a little different for me and as I am going about this I realize I have become something of that crabby old “GET OFF MY LAWN!” grouch: I don’t want to drive for an hour and half to ride my bike; I certainly don’t want to drive that long to ride in a city; I don’t like courses with more than about 10 turns per 100Km; I’m not real excited about riding roads and routes I’m not familiar with; And I don’t like urban riding. (ask me how I really feel about all this) That’s right, I want my favorite flavor of ice cream, in my place, at my preferred pace, and I’m particular about who I eat that ice cream with.  (sheesh, what a PITA)

Deciding to drive to Seattle, to ride a 100K perm, including a loop through the industrial part of the city has given me a ‘nose to the window’ confrontation of my prejudices and I am not just thrilled with what I have discovered. I used to have that ”any time, any place, any distance” cycling enthusiasm accompanied by a certain disdain for bike snobs, bike wimps, and bike resistors who had to have it their way or they wouldn’t come out to ‘play’. That’s right, I‘ve looked through the window and I’m not at all pleased with the image reflected back in the glare of introspection. How many times have I said ‘Randonneuring is a big tent’ and what exactly did I mean by that? A big tent because it is filled with a lot of people all about the same? No sense dwelling on the “how did this become me” merry-go-round, better to undertake corrective measures.

Regardless how I arrived at small mindedness, It was a simple pathway to this ‘ah ha’ self awareness koan:

A month ago I put out a note on the SIR forum that I was authorized to do a “group ride” permanent of 100Km starting in Olympia. I made this announcement not because I lusted for company but because it was a requirement. I really didn’t think anyone would want to come along. Much to my surprise three other people elected to tag along, ALL OF THEM FROM SEATTLE (or thereabouts)!

Sheesh, they were willing to drive an hour and half to ride somewhat unfamiliar roads. Stranger still, we all rode together! What is so strange about that? It’s strange because for most of them it meant they would have to take considerably longer to finish this route than normal. I am seriously slow right now, and when Mr. Maple bar said “Hey guys, let’s stick together on this one” what it meant was that even if I went faster than normal (for me) they’d have to slooooow doooown. I’m not sure how satisfying it was for Don, Amy, and Alan, but for me it was like revisiting that old ice cream flavor I used to like as a kid and realizing it is still satisfying. It has been a long time since I’ve ridden a rando event with other people, a pleasant fluke.

Along comes the following weekend, and I advertised another 100K perm (same route even!) and wonder of wonders, four other riders elected to ride along.

Taking it one step beyond, we again rode together. It was Peg who said she and Kris were looking for a leisurely ride.  It was great to ride along with old friends catching up. I realized that for most folks this is pretty common fare, but for me it was something I had not done in a long time (not counting seven days earlier).

So, when Mr. Maple bar put out a notice that he and his lovely bride would be riding his favorite 100Km perm, in Seattle I had a brief moment of hesitation as opposed to my standard knee jerk ‘no way!’ reaction.

He had come down to ride with me not two weeks earlier, right? He’d even made the suggestion that we all ride together and stuck to it, and chatted me up along the route, just like old times. Who am I to stay stuck in my rut? Maybe, If I returned the favor it might buoy his spirits a bit, support his goals, and take his mind off the things that are currently bothering him.

Heck yeah! I’m all in, I’ll be there, with bells on! We’ll ride your gritty, Sunday morning 100Km Perm through the Seattle waterfront, I’ll take a ride that will cause me to actually have to read the cue sheet. I’ll mix it up with other riders, and I’ll push it a bit so as not to slow others down, never mind risking getting lost.

I’m there for you Mr. Maplebar, and I count on you to deliver me to the best possible pie eating opportunity available at the finish.  See you Sunday morning.


  1. Let's cut to the chase -- where do I get one of those Codfish t-shirts?

    Mike / Raleigh

  2. You know, I thought the saddle would get more ooh's and aaah's than a T-shirt. I have the design at Cafe Press. I could open a 'CafePress store' but thought folks might
    consider it a little cheesy, especially as Cafe Press T's are really expensive for what you get.

    Dr C