Some people would say it's too early in the "season." Well, I don't truck with recreational seasons. I'm out of shape solely because Winterpocalypse 2014 has kept me off the bike. Trainer? Rollers? I got little use for them either. I like outdoor activities.
But I'm ready to throw up my hands and start cranking the trainer while watching the damnable television. It hurts that I'm at my heftiest. It hurts that I'm slow. It hurts that I mentally bonked only eight miles from home. It hurts that I have all the tools to pull it off and yet I don’t do night rides, or early morning rides, or cold weather rides. My wussification nears completeness.
Not to tell tales on anyone else, but darn it all if the very next day my lovely wife didn't SAG out on her first long ride of the year as well. In her defense the sun disappeared while she was out and the evil headwind that lurked all day when I rode snarled and growled in her face all day.
By the time I pulled alongside her about eight miles from home her scicles had popped. Another 45 minutes in it and she'd have been on the wrong side of borderline hypothermic.
In response to Jeff's text that he'd meet me at the end of Cat Creek at 8:15 I sent back:
I'll be the fat one in the tight jersey.
I'll be the one wheezing and gulping said he.
Jeff and I met early on Saturday east of Stanton. I was looking for an easy distance to ease back into road riding. For Jeff any distance is an easy distance. He recommended BigAndy Ridge in Wolfe and Lee Counties, and since I'm easily influenced when it comes to riding farther than is prudent—and had never ridden Big Andy—I agreed.
|Turning off KY 715 onto Big Andy Ridge|
My weather app had shown it was 44°F when I left home, but I knew that was malarkey when I rode past a car with thick frost obscuring most of its windshield. I was dressed for 44°F.
Jeff was dressed for about 4°F. He stood slack-jawed with awe that I was so scantily clad with just my bib shorts, a short-sleeved jersey, and arm-warmers. Well, I assume it was slack-jawed awe because I couldn't see his face under the thick balaclava and his body language was hard to read under the parka he was wearing.
The tables would turn later in the day when it warmed up to almost 60°F and Jeff was trying to hire a Sherpa in rural Lee County to carry his expedition gear. The closest he came to getting help was riding past Hershey's house. That's his real name and he used to work for my father-in-law. I almost called out his name as we rode past, but he wouldn't have recognized me, and it may have caused extreme psychological damage.
|It's NOT a Sherpa den, Jeff!|
Before the inferno ramped up we rode Big Andy though. It's my new favorite road to ride. For 12 miles it provides nice smooth pavement, low traffic, and rural vistas. It ends with a bomb run down to the Kentucky River followed immediately by a stout climb out over another small ridge.
|It's NOT a Strava segment (yet), Jeff!|
Later in the ride Jeff joked about riding Cobhill. I was not amused. I'd dressed for 40°F weather and had taken food for a 40 mile ride. Jeff had to keep buying me food to keep me moving down the road. Eventually I had just exceeded my mental and nutritional limits. I wasn’t in bonkville, but I knew I’d pass through it somewhere between the bottom of Cobhill and home. So instead of gaining the 700 feet of elevation over ¾ of a mile on Cobhill we stretched it out over the 2 mile climb of Tipton Ridge. I’m not sure that was the best decision either, because by the time I turned toward home on KY 213 I was done. Finito. Cooked. De-feated.
|(Ineffectively) Refueling in Beattyville|
I tapped my wife’s name on the screen of my smarty-smart phone.
“You need me to come get you? Where do you want me to meet you?”
She. Is. The. Best.
“Three way at Furnace,” was my reply.
“I’ll be right there,” and she hung up. My salvation was coming.
I caught up with Jeff a little ways further down the road.
“I made the SAG call,” I confessed.
“Yep. I’m done.”
“You gonna ride ‘til you meet her?”
“Yeah,” which was a lie. Jeff made as if to pedal on at Furnace proper and I said I was going to wait.
“I’ll give you a push!” he called, whipping a u-ie in the middle of the road. I made a deft u-turn myself and we both laughed as I added:
“I will NOT be seen being pushed by you!”
And so I planted myself at the stop sign and waited as Jeff rode off toward Stanton. While I waited a foreigner (probably from Indiana or Ohio) pulled up in a side-by-side quad.
“Where you headed?” he said with a big grin.
“Stanton,” I replied tiredly.
“Where you coming from?”
“Stanton,” I repeated. “By way of Beattyville,” I added but he cut me off as he pointed north on 213:
“The Clay City food court is down that road.”
I corrected him: “The Stantonfood court.”
“Yeah, the Clay City food court,” he replied with a glance away, telling me he didn’t care much for me trying to play know-it-all.
Then he noticed he’d lost the yin to his yang. There was a second quad stopped in the road a few hundred yards behind him.
“Must’ve run out of gas.” He mumbled, and then completely failed to make a three-point turn around in the 50 foot wide intersection. His wife/girlfriend gave me an apologetic grin as they sped away to escape my awkward presence.
While I sat waiting for Mandy two cars passed; both with Ohio plates.
So when she called me yesterday at 5:30 I couldn’t hesitate to make a SAG run for her. She actually made quite a bit of distance after she called me as I sped east to her. She and Casey had ridden their go-to Gorge loop but as the day moved on the skies became heavy with iron gray clouds and rain threatened. A front was moving in, and pushing the itinerant cyclist out of its way as it came.
As I said earlier: her scicle had popped. She was shivering and her toes were numb. As the blast of hot air from the floor vents hit them and blood returned she exhibited some vocalized pain.
It was a good weekend to ride though. So we’re all out of practice a little bit. One uncomfortable long ride always seems to bring it all back into focus and its much easier to go forth with better clothes, more food, and a keener mental resolve to finish.
And there’s always that SAG call if not.