Friday, September 26, 2014

The Ride

This post has been a long time coming. It’s my own fault. I let my brain go on vacation for a few months while I tried to get back into the work groove and have had a hard time getting it to re-fire. Some days it’s as uncooperative as my bod. Some days one works while the other isn’t interested, and some days both are firing on all cylinders. The latter are not as common as I’d like at this point, but recovery isn’t always a linear process. It’s a bumpy, frustrating, rewarding pain in the ass. The rewarding part is what I want to focus on today.

Overall, I’ve had a pretty smooth, complication-free recovery. The surgeon cleared me to resume normal activities at my six-week checkup after surgery, so we decided to celebrate that weekend with a bike ride to see how it felt. We went a little over seven miles up some gnarly hills. While it wore me out, being able to push myself that far felt rather awesome. Given that performance, we figured I could probably handle the 10-mile route of The Dehydrator, the annual ride to support the Duncan Band Boosters, which was scheduled a little less than a month away. We had been planning to join this ride since last year and were excited that we wouldn’t have to skip it after all.

Training began immediately. We started riding several times a week, going a little farther each time while working on cadence and speed. Having a goal to meet and something to look forward to were good for my brain and, along with the exercise, helped me heal. I was having a difficult time keeping up with Brian on our training runs, though. When we first started to ride a few years ago, we bought a couple of “comfort” bikes from Walmart, and they were great to get us going. Then last year I bought Brian a Giant Roam commuter hybrid for his birthday and haven’t been able to catch him since. My old Schwinn was definitely comfortable, but it was not built for anything resembling speed.

So, as an extra bonus and birthday gift two weeks before my birthday, Brian bought me my own Giant commuter bike (a Rove) for the big ride. He had been saving up all year to take me to the bike shop and the surprise blew me away. This bike is sleek, light, and fast. I love it. Remember when you were a kid and your best friend let you ride his new bike while his mom wasn’t looking? Riding my Rove feels like that. The stupid grin on my face every time I get on it should be sufficient proof. Our training rides for the week and a half before the Dehydrator were made of pure wheeeeeee. I felt like I’d been fired out of a slingshot.
Me and the Rove out gallivanting with hubs this past Wednesday.


We were both excited when the day finally came, even picking up our rider packets the night before because I was paranoid about being late. We got up at 5:00 a.m. to make sure we were fueled and ready to go for the 7:00 a.m. start. The morning was unusually gorgeous for late July as we pulled into a half-filled parking lot just after 6:00. The sun rose over a fairly large herd of enthusiastic cyclists preparing for the different routes ranging from 10 miles to 82. The array of bikes and fancy road gear kept us entertained until it was time to line up for the start. We listened to the mayor welcome everyone, the band director thank us for our support, and a few other announcements (sadly no one said “gentlemen start your engines”), and then we were off!

I had been nervous about riding in a group with hundreds of other cyclists, but that actually turned out to be the best part. Everyone gave each other plenty of space, so being in that huge pack at the beginning fostered a feeling of good-natured solidarity. Nobody was in a hurry. And, to be honest, it gave me a brief little thrill to pretend I was in a race as all the long-distance riders went whizzing past me on their road bikes. Brian and I didn’t see many other people on the short route, but it was a beautiful morning for a ride and the ladies at the way-station cheered us on as we rolled past the halfway point.

We hung around after finishing our route and found out when we went in for the luncheon that I had even won a door prize (free bike maintenance, woo)! So, in addition to giving me free stuff, the Dehydrator got me out of the house, out of my head, and back into the world after a pretty crappy few months. Talk about doubly rewarding. And neither of us are super social people, but we really enjoyed feeling like a part of something positive at that ride. The experience is worth repeating, so next year will see us going for one of the longer routes!
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