Saturday, August 25, 2012

Your short term goal will soon be realized.

Some days you can just tell that the ride is going to be great.   Other days you can’t really be sure.  Today began with a question mark. 

I had a ferocious cramp in my right calf during the night.  This is always disconcerting;  I am invariably launched from a deep sleep and slammed up against the wall of pain.  I’m hopping around, shouting, moaning, and cussing. Of course  the cat  rushes in all puffed up to help defend against any marauding  meadow voles which may have breached the fortifications (underfoot) and my poor wife , well it might be comical if it were not so painful, and such a shock.

So when it was time to rise I was limping around as if I had been tattooed with a 32oz. Roger Maris, autographed model, Louisville Slugger.  I look down half expecting to see black and blue and purple, but I guess all of that is on the inside.  After a brief consultation with the pain avoidance and excuse making committee it is decided:  off to Olympia for the start.  The day looks too good to pass up. 

Sylvester Park is right across the street from the downtown Starbucks in Oly.
At 7:30am in late August the city streets are quiet.  It is so peaceful and this little sidewalk bench is so comfortable I think I could easily have another cup of coffee, maybe two.  But the bike beckons 
and I know that putting on the miles in the in the cool of the morning will mean less time under a hot August sun.  
The first 30 miles are a breeze, literally.  The wind is up earlier than I expected and I am getting an enjoyable push.  This home scale wind turbine was a blur, 
but the camera stopped it.  The flag on the porch of the house gives you a better idea of what’s going on. 
I made good time to Rochester, but I didn’t languish, because it is here that the course turns.  As you can see the flags have a slightly different orientation.
I will be heading upwind for the next 15 miles and I begin thinking that I may have to stretch that sore calf a little extra to avoid a DNQ. 

When you ride long distances you have plenty of time to think, me more than most because I ride long in terms of distance and time (another way of saying I am slow).  Normally I am looking and thinking ahead, but into a wind, the horizon shortens up.  Instead of thinking weeks ahead, or contemplating the end of the ride, I start thinking minute to minute.  In wind like this my head goes down and I just look ahead of the front wheel, stealing a glance up the road every so often to determine if I am making any progress at all.

Into Tenino, things start looking up.  I stop at a little road side espresso stand and get an iced triple shot.  The next ten miles is on a paved MUP where the tree canopy blocks the sun and breaks up the wind a bit.  A few miles up the trail the caffeine kicks in and I rise from the saddle to try to recoup some of that lost time but immediately my quads let me know that they are siding with my sore calf and if I want to avoid sprawling on the ground and crying like a baby I better just sit myself right back down, shift to an easier gear and spin.   A few miles later I try standing again, ‘just to make sure’.  Nope, there will be no hard pushing this day.  I start drinking water and downing endurolites, and quinine tablets, my secret cramp avoidance formula.  

Into the little mini-mart in Rainier I see that I actually have time in the bank and so elect to stop for a cup of fried rice and lots of salty soy sauce.  They treat me well here.  I come away with a V8, a small coke, and my cup of salty carb, oh and a fortune cookie:  “Your short term goal will soon be realized. What is it?”  This last part makes me laugh;  I thought a fortune cookie was supposed to tell me, not ask me.

Back on the bike, there are only 18 miles to go and three hours to do it in. I’m pleased and slightly surprised to be feeling this good and making such good time.  This last leg goes through a pretty forest which is part of Ft Lewis, and then hooks up to another paved MUP back into town. 

Back at Sylvester Park, a young couple is getting married.
I wonder if he is going to regret those wedding pics in 20 years time?

Days like this remind me what a blessing it is to be alive.  Sure it would be nice to be able to hammer these things out at 20miles per, to be 30 pounds lighter, to have fewer wrinkles, world peace, all that. But to be able to get on my bike and spin myself around the countryside, stopping here and there as I wish, smelling the blackberries ripening, dodging the rabbits on the trails, and cheering on the little kids riding with their parents is sublime.  I will always remember these times.

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