Monday, March 29, 2010


I had a dream---the martin luther king jr. kind, not the nocturnal kind---that I could somehow, someday, take my son jake with me on a bike ride. mainly so that he could swoop with me down the descents, feeling the rush of air and the exhaltation of being on top of the world, joyful and free.

I never got to do that. I never really worked hard enough at making it happen, knowing that it would involve asking other people for help, that it would be challenging, and not being certain that jake would really even enjoy the experience. I let it be a one-day-maybe thing in my mind, and although I could visualize it in some ways, in others it just seemed completely unrealistic.

then he left us (oh, I still struggle here, and cannot bring myself to type the word that begins with D), and I had to accept that my dream was not going to happen.
not in that version, anyway.
but jake's dad made a suggestion, and I liked it.
he suggested that I take some of jake's ashes with me when I rode.

now for those of you who've never lost someone you love, this may sound a little creepy. but I suggest you allow those of us who have a little latitude. many things change when you experience life-altering events, and my understanding of ashes and the emotions, connections, and reverence that attach themselves to those simple remains has completely reformulated itself.

so two weeks ago I took a small, metal container I have that has a key-chain type ring attached to it, and carefully placed some of jake's ashes into it. the ring I then attached to the brake cables running down from my handlebars and across my front wheel. it hangs there, this little container, and now, jake is with me when I ride.
not that he wasn't before I did that, but now I have a more literal, physical, touchable presentation of his companionship.

we've swooped, we've soared and gloried in it all, and last saturday we explored just how far you can cycle up toward east canyon, after the No Winter Maintenance gate, before the road is too heavy with snow to allow a skinny-tired bike to safely continue.
and the answer was 1.1 miles.

I documented our visit, grinning to myself, then pulled out my phone to snap a quick picture to share with you.

I know he's with me always, but for some quirky reason my heart and soul are terribly pleased that this little bit of him gets to travel with me when I spend time on my life-sustaining, joy-producing, swoop-providing beautiful black bike.
I think he enjoys it as much as I do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

steering between the rocks

remember that keep your eye on the ball advice that everyone swears by?
how about that look where you want to go advice?
although they seem to be quite different, I believe they converge somewhere in the area of focus. focus, as in, avoid/eliminate/resist distractions: focus on whatever you are doing, whether it's hitting the ball dead on, or landing your jump in a specific spot.
or guiding your tire to a smooth, clean, obstacle-free stretch of asphalt.

I'm certain this has happened to absolutely everyone: you are running/walking/biking/catching a ball/whatever and then someone says to you, watch out for that rock/pebble/hole/divot/thingee and sure enough, you step right on/in it. your attention was diverted away from where you were headed and directly into whatever it is you should avoid.

when biking with a group, it is common courtesy for the cyclist out front to point and or call out hazards to those behind, who then, hopefully, do the same for those behind them. however, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "hole!" and then plowed right into (and luckily through) it. the person in front of me points out a rock and my wheel aims right for it.
the first time I ever got a flat tire on my road bike was because I was absolutely mesmerized by the one thing that was in the middle of the almost-perfectly-clear bike lane: gosh, what's that up there, some brown thing, what could it be, a curled up leaf, hmm, gee, wonder what it--- thump, pop, hiss . . .

I've been practicing, these past few years, how to look for the clear spots. how to focus on the uncluttered section of road, not upon the rocks and debris scattered around. instead of looking at what I need to avoid, I'm teaching myself to look at what lies between the obstacles.

bike lanes are gritty these days. winter's remnants lie thick and bumpy in places, cinders and pebbles and the broken up remains of asphalt chunks dislodged by snowplows. early spring runoff leaves gently curving designs of small rocks and gravel that have moved across the bike lanes with the water then remained as the meltage slows and deposits its hangers-on. our bike lanes are like the deltas we learned about in grade school, collecting flotsam and jetsam at the mouths of rivers.

so I steer, these days, carefully around all the sediment that lies there. and I focus, both on and off my bike, on what's smooth and perfect, not upon what's bumpy and unwanted and potentially dangerous.
something is tugging the corner of my mouth upward: must be the universe out there, nodding its collective head and murmuring, you go girl.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


one of our power camp intructors' favorite new songs is called ali in the jungle. apparently this song has jumped into the mainstream via a nike commercial that aired during these past winter olympics.
it's basically a song about not giving up, not giving in to what may appear to be insurmountable odds, about the fact that all of us get knocked from our comfort zones at some point.
or even completely knocked out.
and what matters is not how you started, where you came from, how great you once had it . . . but how you get up. how you finish. how you keep going.

I have a lot of love for the people I've met through power camp. they all have stories. they've all failed at one time or another. the best award given at our "awards ceremony" last week, in my opinion, was the award given for Best Fitness Improvement: I don't know the recipient's story, but she was introduced as having increased her fitness to the point that she was able to be taken off her medications.
what I see in this group of people is a collective belief in trying again, putting one foot in front of the other over and over, overcoming whatever confronts you.

when I was little we had a collection of toys in our basement playroom. one of my favorites was Bozo the Clown: the inflatable plastic smiling, pine-tree shaped clown with a weight in his bottom. you'd punch him and his top half would fly backward, his base lifting slightly from the ground, then he'd roar right back at you, and keep rocking back and forth a few more times as the giggles settled.

these people are the same way. cancers, heart attacks, broken bones and surgically repaired joints, divorces and family deaths, burglaries and job losses and bike crashes. great race finishes and times where the finish line was barely hobbled across.
these people keep going.
they overcome, they find the desire to slog on through, and they attack life through fitness instead of by whitewashing everything with a layer of artificial substances or finding some other way to hide from the world.

the lyrics of this song mention helen keller, joe simpson, nelson mandela. people who refused to give in, who were challenged and found lacking and then kept at it anyway. a line from this song keeps running through my head today,
. . . like Ludwig Van, how I loved that man, well the guy went deaf and didn't give a ---- . . .
I want to be this way. I want to get back up every time I get knocked down. I want to be tougher than my circumstances.
and yes, I'm talking to all of you who know me:
I love the fact that I'm surrounded by similar company.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

why we do this, revisited

I still don't really know why we do intense, demanding, exhausting rides.
let me be more precise: I am unclear as to my own motivations to do things like that.
some possible reasons:

because it's there.
because it's good for me.
because I feel like I should.
because if others are doing it, I can do it.
because I'll feel better for having done it.
because it will distract me.
because it will hurt and sometimes hurt feels good.

these are sounding a little sick, aren't they?

I don't know that we can really understand our motivations behind much of what we do. yes, I vacuum and dust my house because I enjoy being in clean environments. but why? what lies behind that?
like the clean desk theory: we've all heard that a cluttered desk indicates a cluttered mind.
and that a clean desk implies an obsession with neatness. but what if one just functions best when they know where things are? how deeply do we need to look into our behaviors?
anyone who has read more than a handful of my posts could probably assess me as having the following traits:
determined, focused, committed, rigid, tenacious, dependable, purposeful, unswerving, stubborn . . .
I'm certain you could probably find a few more.
I accept all of these things about myself, yet there are times when I am truthfully a little uncertain of my motivations. the surface layer, yes. but down deeper, hmm.

then again, although the unexamined life may not be worth living, the overly-examined life can be exhausting, draining, and circular.

this morning I visited with some good friends whose dad (father-in-law, grandpa) had just died. he had been diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma years ago, and after three years of chemo and eight years of remission, his body finally gave in to it. the last days of his life were spent at home, with hospice support, and this touches just a little too closely all of my sensitive, achy places.
in talking with this gentleman's son-in-law this morning, I shared that I had, quite predictably, been thinking a lot about the whole life-transition-death process, and I still don't really understand it. my friend replied, I don't think we every truly do.
I think he's right.
I think what we do is to work through as much as we can, come to agreements with our higher powers and our inner selves, make peace with where we are, and let it settle into the backgrounds of our lives.
I thought I had it figured out years ago, and now I find that I really don't.

so we examine as much as we can, digging as deep as the ground and tools we own will let us, and then we have to patch things back up and move on. sprinkle a little water, hope that through our digging we planted something hopeful, rich and positive, and find the faith to keep moving forward. faith that what we don't understand will someday be shown to us, faith that we operate in our own best interests, and faith that the universal goodness within us all is somehow working together to move us each toward our own best self in our own best future.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

39 miles with blue card people

I made good friends with zone 5 today.
I didn't particularly want to do so, but it's terribly difficult to be the caboose who holds up the train again and again, and again.

so I spent a lot of time in zone 5, struggling to stay within the same general neighborhood as my blue card riding buddies.
I knew I was in for it when I met up with the group and learned it was only three of them, and that none of my white card friends had made it.
bad sign.
I quickly planned my escape: we were riding out south, and I could get just so far and then tell them I needed to turn back and head home by myself. I really didn't have it in me today to do a 50 mile ride, and I wasn't sure just how energetic they were planning to be, so I just kept my little escape hatch brewing in the back of my mind as we rode toward the cottonwoods.
and then we paused at the bottom of big cottonwood, chatted about maybe just riding to the top of the next hill, and darn it, something happened during that pause that convinced me I could keep going just a little further.
well, of course we finally reached the top of the hill and, oh, let's just go a little further . . .
so at little cottonwood road we finally paused again to study geological features (the bumps and disgruntled surface of the wasatch fault), and plan our route back north.
in other words, I had to ride back with them as well, and darn it all, I am just not a blue card person.

but it's good to push yourself, right?

not a problem for this girl.

however, I do think that next weekend, given a good sunny riding day, I will work harder to recruit some plain-old white card people to hang with me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

boys in knee socks

I rode up the canyon the other day when the temperature was hovering in the upper 50's.
I wore capri length tights, a long-sleeved jersey, a headband, fingerless gloves. I brought a thin jacket for the way down.
it was a glorious ride: fresh air, rested legs, plenty of lung capacity, blue sky barely covered with near-translucent white clouds, and just enough snow hanging on the southern hillsides and dales to remind me that I am incredibly lucky to be out riding while it's still winter.
I was passed by four fast boys heading up, two on tri-bikes, all friendly enough, and three of whom were wearing knee socks.
okay, I know they weren't really knee socks.
but here are these slender, muscular, athletic manly men out there wearing cycling shorts with socks that come to their knees.
I can't help but smile.

john suggested that they might be compression socks, so I've just spent the last little while googling every combination of cycling-compression-knee socks-athletic I could come up with, and I haven't been terribly successful. nothing I've found showed me a picture that looked like the cute little socks these guys had on.

but I did find a reference to compression knee socks in Joe Friel's blog, where he shared his attempts to research the benefit of such things, having noticed their prevalence in the Hawaii Ironman back in 2007. (said research showed that they might have some benefit for exercising users with issues such as varicose veins and thrombosis, and that they may be of some help in reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness, but that was about it.)

and I did find a pair of compression recovery socks, that the manufacturer suggests wearing while traveling on airplane flights or after exercising, for just $50.

so maybe these guys were just cold. or perhaps they didn't have time to shave their legs that morning. maybe they raided their teen-age daughters sock drawers, just for the fun of it.
or maybe they just know things the rest of us don't know.
it's most likely the latter, because these were triathletes, you know. (that's that group of nutty people who swim a couple miles, then hop on their bikes for 112 miles, then run a marathon. see, I'm not far out there at all now, am I?)

whatever the truth may be, it was sure fun for me, and as these boys sped off up the hill I watched their muscular calves and pictured them in kilts, absolutely making my day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


today I call the experts.
because as much as I've learned, as far as I've stretched and grown, as capable as I now am, there are still some things I just can't fix by myself.
here's the list of what in my house is currently in need of expert help:

  • my reverse osmosis water filtration system. overflow valve flows all the time. also needs a new filter. number two I can solve, number one I cannot.
  • my bathroom sink drain. I have two sinks, and they drain at the rate of one-half teaspoon per second. try it, you'll see, this is not good. I've taken every connection I can reach apart and pulled out all the goop I can find. I give.
  • my icemaker. this hasn't worked for months and months, and I'm finally giving in.
  • my dishwasher. it's never worked like one would hope a dishwasher should, but it's been tolerable until a week or two ago when everything plastic started coming out with a dry, white film on it. I've googled until I can't take it anymore and tried just about everything suggested, and guess what? white film remains. I give.
  • my computer B. sunday evening it stopped conversing with the internet. monday I switched computer A with computer B and now A is speaking with the internet, but the wireless router won't play along. I have been through this before, and can barely stand it. last time (a mere 9 months ago) it cost me $300 and computer B's month-long absence. you know, there's really nothing that great about conversing with the internet anyway. I know, sarcasm doesn't get you anywhere. I give.

two interesting observations: first, most of my issues have something to do with water (hmmm), and second, everything is crashing around here right when power camp came to a close. it's like everything---all of us---held on, by the fingernails if necessary, to get me through the end of the the too-short-of-nights and weary-days experience.
and now all hell has broken loose.
so, I'm beginning today with the icemaker and the dishwasher. I'm calling in an expert.
and then I'm calling the orthodontist to make the appointment to get my daughter a new retainer to replace the one she lost sometime in the last few weeks.
then, perhaps, I might get on my bike and ride away to a land where there are no computers, dishwashers, water filtration systems, drains, icemakers, or orthodontists.

and that might just be enough for today.

Monday, March 15, 2010


power camp is over.
I rode my real bike out in the real world today under a real, blue, sky, while staring at snow-covered white mountains and being pushed, gently, by a genuine wind.
it felt good.

soon will come not necessarily a moment of truth, but an assessment that will tell me the truth: as I transition to outside riding, I will learn whether or not all of the pain and exhaustion was worth it. given, the laughter and joking and kinship with similar twisted souls is a plus, no matter the physical outcome.
but it would sure nice to be just a little bit faster-better-stronger out there.

today was not a test.
today was a recovery ride, as I am in recovery week before the (I'm so embarrassed to admit this) power camp extension month begins. because even though camp is over, so darn many of us couldn't bear the thought of giving it up, the powers that be decided to offer a four-week reduced class schedule to keep us going.
beginning next monday, class will be held on mondays, wednesdays and fridays, at the beautiful hour of 5:15 am. so we'll be able to transition back into the real world instead of being shocked by sleeping too much each night.

but this week is recovery. being gentle to oneself. allowing the body to build strength after we whipped it thoroughly last saturday, giving us all a chance to back off after weeks of pushing forward, gung-ho.

so tomorrow morning is yoga, and quite possibly thursday morning as well. if the weather holds, I'll have another outside ride or two. I'll think about visiting the weight room, and I will only consider attending a spin class if the weather turns to rainy, gloomy yucch.

today was sweet, authentic, real.
I like that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


there is something incomparable about the experience found post-event.
whether your event is a tough workout, a 100 mile bike ride, a marathon, a race, a hill climb, or whatever might be a stretch for you, the afterward is a beautiful place to be.

I sit here, having completed my three-hour ride, feeling worn and muscle-weary and happier than I've been all day. I've showered, I'm just about ready to eat dinner, and I know I have the rest of the evening to curl on my chaise and read a good book in front of the fire. I've earned this spot of rest, and will luxuriate in the afterglow from today's work.

I don't think it's all about endorphins. it's more than that. it's knowing I've pushed myself and survived, it's the camaraderie I've shared with those that did the very same thing today. it's the physical exhaustion and the mental pleasure that blend to create an aura of wellness. it's knowing I can fill my belly and feel good about it, I can rest my body and know it was earned, I can dig into a book and have a quiet, peaceful evening as I love to do.

there are other ways to reach this place, but they all involve pushing your body toward its limits so that you can appreciate the easing of effort. just as sorrow and grief give us greater appreciate of joy and peace, and difficult times teach us to give greater value to times of relative ease.

anyway, I am pleased and grateful to have survived today's effort, and just about ready to dig into my healthy-for-you frozen (now microwaved and warm) lasagna, my glass of wine, and my book.
and then, perhaps, a cookie or two.

or possibly, a few more than two.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

winding down

power camp is down to its final three days: the official end is this coming sunday, march 14th.
tomorrow morning will be a fast, low heart rate spin.
saturday is a 3-hour ride.
sunday is a hard 1-hour class for those who can't make saturday's class.

let's back up to saturday's class. yes, it is three hours long. yes, three. on a spin bike.
here's the thing: there will be three different instructors, one for each hour.
that hardly seems fair.
they say it's so that we, the class participants, don't get bored.

and after the weekend is over and camp officially ends, I have a week of sleeping-in. a week of "recovery" rides which may keep my heart rate low, but never seem to really feel like recovery. this has been on my mind lately: the fact that "recovery" days seem almost as hard as regular "work" days. of course this could just be due to the cumulative effect of too many early morning classes and too many short nights and too many other life stressors . . .
this is my latest observation in class: I have to work harder than I used to have to to keep my heart rate in zone 2.
zone 1 is everything less than the beginning of zone 2, which for me is 129 beats per minute.
zone 1 is a lovely place to hang out: I don't sweat, my hair looks great, my skin stays even-toned and doesn't flush, and I can chat it up with the best of them.
zone 2 didn't used to be so hard to get to and stay in: these days I have to turn up the resistance knob, focus on working a little harder than I want to, and sweat while I hang out there.
this is because I'm more fit, I'm told.

thus my question: why doesn't it ever get easier??

it just doesn't seem fair. you work hard, you increase your fitness, you sweat and grind like crazy getting there, and all that really happens is that you move to a place where you now have to work harder to increase your heart rate.

makes me want to become a couch potato for a while.
okay, not truly.

but it would be nice to sit in zone 2 without sweating, to hang out in zone 3 easily, for zone 4 to feel great, and zone 5 to just be a little stretch.

perhaps in heaven it's that way. fitness heaven, where your muscles are lean and all activities are almost effortless, where you reach the top of each peak with labored breath but happy heart, and you swoop and swoop and swoop and always, always, have the energy and desire to go climb the next mountain.

one day, when we wind down not only our power camp days, but all of our actual days, when life slows and moves gently to a place called the end, perhaps then, I will meet you all there and we can enjoy a swoop or two together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I've stayed away from sensitive (to me) subject matter lately, most likely as much in self-protection as with the understanding that the world wide web doesn't need to hear me whine.

a hundred little things stab at me, open up that bubble of grief and sorrow that lives inside. simple things, like kindnesses and hugs. pictures. stuffed animals he held, blankets that covered him. his pillow is still here; I cannot yet deal with it. I cannot even imagine the day when I will be able to take that pillowcase off and wash it.
every time I see a paratransit bus I feel a stab, as this is the system jake used when he came to visit me.
almost every time I drive past primary children's hospital, stab.
whenever I slow down enough and the distractions creep away and leave an opening, stab.

at times I sit and try to let it all sink in.
but most of the time I try to occupy myself with something that doesn't allow for thought, or at least not that kind of thought.

then there's biking.
most of the time while I'm spinning away either in class or on my real bike I can hold it at bay. I am occupied with something either so challenging that there's not oxygen enough to think, or I am absorbed in the pleasure so that sadness drifts aside and fades into the periphery.

at times, I can outrun it if I pedal hard enough.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


six. that's my new biking number.
it's not about categories (though that might be where I belong) or bib numbers or even the number of treats I carry with me on an event ride.
nope. it's about states:
thanks to yesterday's excursion I have now ridden my bike in six of our fifty glorious states. if I had a goal of someday riding my bike in every state within our nation (hmm....) I'd be twelve percent of the way to reaching that mark.

but I'm not going there.

I'm happy to have just added nevada to my list of States I've Ridden My Bike In. I'm also happy to have discovered a beautiful ride a short drive away from the las vegas strip: not everything that happens in vegas needs to stay there.
john, before we left salt lake, had researched rides near the lacrosse fields where my son was playing, visiting Map My Ride to do so. he found a 37 mile ride for us that took us out of the suburbs and up into a different world.
we rode to red rock canyon, which has a 13-mile scenic loop up to a lookout where we stared at snow-frosted sharp-edged cliffs and felt the cold breeze brush against our skin. cacti and sandy soil prevailed, but beautiful red rocks and sweeping vistas were there as well.
as with all of our salt lake canyons, I suppose, beauty and splendor exist ~ we just have to learn to discover it.
flat, barren, desolate nevada is available to all.
stunning, refreshing, varied and breathtaking nevada is available to all who are willing to seek it out.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

the event horizon

(yes, I am a day late: I started this yesterday and then hopped in a car and drove to vegas for my son's lacrosse tournament. somehow---can you imagine?---I was distracted and neglected to finish and post this last night. so here I am, up bright and early, typing. have yet to drink myself into oblivion or lose any money at the tables. even planning to hop on my bike later between lacrosse games . . . )

the cycling-event-pre-season-sign-up phase is upon us.
you can sign up for this event, that event, oops, not this one because it's full, and you can start counting the days until you'll be able to throw your name in the ring for this other event, or that one.
some fill up quickly,
some never fill.
here's one that I really wonder about:
a relay race, two-to-four-person teams, riding from salt lake city to st. george.
lifted directly from their facebook page, here's the info:

385 miles, 13,500 feet, 30 towns, 1 Question . . . You in?

Salt to Saint Bike Relay: Ride from Salt Lake City over Suncrest and Nebo Loop to highway 89. Ride through the night and enjoy the sunrise as you go through Zions National Park. Then Cruise the last 50 miles downhill into St. George. The best, longest, fastest race of the year with your best friends.

uh-huh. right. I'm all over this one . . .

now here's the thing: there are people out there who are going to do this. I constantly speak of my biking-life as a bit sick and twisted, but I can only imagine the people who will participate in this event. first, they will be fit. second, they will be driven. third, they will be predominantly male. fourth, they will have already chewed up every other challenge out there, and be in need of new ways to suffer.

I don't think I know any people like this, and that's okay with me.

but it is entry time, commitment time, pressure time. our instructor in class the other day said the event horizon is here. which brought a chuckle to andy, sitting next to me, who explained to me that an event horizon is a term associated with quantum physics and, specifically, black holes. I'll let you do your own research there, as I can only begin to grasp the concept and am completely unable to explain it in a layman's terms. it has to do with boundaries and affects (or more precisely, the lack thereof) on observers outside such boundaries.

I like this term.

so here I hover on the event horizon, knowing that each decision I make will impact my future. to enter event A changes my training, my schedule, my anxiety level. to choose not to enter event B might relax me in the immediate, but cause disappointment and regret as it approaches. each event surrounds itself with boundaries that I choose to cross, or not. and each such decision changes me, minutely or in greater ways.

march 5, poised for travel into the great beyond, where my minute knowledge of quantum physics and repercussions will guide me through another overfilled season of Cycling Events.

just know, you won't see me on the road from salt to saint.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

fit and fitter

in class this morning I overheard mimi telling another camper, it's a sign of improved fitness when you have to work harder to get your heart rate up, so good job! it's good that you're having to work so hard!
we were doing a zone 3 thing, one of those supposed recovery workouts. you know, the ones I always complain about being anything but recovery for me. spin fast, but keep your heart rate low enough to stay under your lactate threshold.
and I was sweating like crazy, my legs were upset with me, and my darn heart rate just kept wanting to drop.
and my legs wanted to slow down.
and I wanted to back off and just be in zone 1.

this is the terrible realization that comes along with all of this training: it is never going to get easier.
it is always going to be difficult.
I am always going to sweat and moan to myself and wish it were over.
because training, no matter what your fitness, is all about the next level. it will always be hard.

this is decidedly unfair.

so I'm thinking I have two options: keep going, or just give it up.
this crooked smile is spreading across my face: which do you think I will choose?

some days I want to choose the latter. but I know I won't. at least for now, I will keep going. I will be the swoosh girl and just do it.
I've acknowledged my mental progress, how very far I've come and the breakthroughs I've experienced. I've made physical progress as well, and I truly don't want to give that all up.
thus, I just get to keep going.
because somehow, someway, in some manner, this must be the right thing for me to do.

Monday, March 1, 2010

how it felt

108 miles is a long way to ride a bicycle during the month of february.

they (the infamous "they") say that to prepare for an event, you should ride approximately 2/3 of the distance you'll be riding during that event. rule of thumb, just in general, you know.
for lotoja, 2/3 would be 138 miles. in preparation for lotoja, I've usually ridden somewhere between 125-135 as my longest effort.
so it follows that for last saturday's event I should have had a training ride of about 72 miles.
as that didn't happen ~ I'd ridden once for only about 16 miles during the month of february ~ and my longest time on a spin bike in the past few months has been about 90 minutes, one could say that I wasn't prepared for this ride.

one could say that.
and I could respond that I did darn well in spite of it.

but oh did my legs ache.
it was bitterly cold when we started (cloudy and 39 degrees), and for the first mile or two I wanted to call the whole thing off. go back to the hotel, sit in the hot tub, sip coffee, watch a movie, be warm and lazy . . . I truly thought I was an idiot to be riding.
then it warmed up to a decent riding temperature (that would be mid-to-upper 40's) for the rest of the ride. well, until the rain started and then it seemed to drop a bit. or maybe it was just the air moving through my wet clothes that made it feel that way.
I avoided rain until the last 90 minutes or so of the ride, at which time I started thinking about garth stein.
because I so wanted to be finished, yet conditions (and my weary legs) screamed at me to slow my pace a bit.
so I thought like the race car driver in garth's book, and rode with cautious confidence through puddles and curves and turns, watching the water kick up off my front tire while feeling the water from my back tire spray up my backside.
raindrops hit my eyes and covered my glasses and cyclometer face. I sniffled, I wiped clean (hah) my glasses, I relaxed my shoulders and I just kept going.

the sight of our starting point made my heart leap with joy, and I slowly (and noisily) braked to a stop in front of john's big grin. (which was partly about my safe return and partly about his own awesome 65 mile ride), then I tried to swing my leg over the bike seat to dismount. the first time was not a success. but the second time was, and I let john hold the bike as I tried to straighten out my body, gingerly stretching each muscle back into that normal homo sapien upright position. I pealed off sopping gloves and hobbled over to the restrooms to change my clothes, laughing at my stiff movements and giddy with relief that the darn thing was over.

108 miles is a long way to ride a bicycle in the month of february.