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.
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
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.