Monday, September 13, 2010

tactile experiences

not only did we not earn hangers this year, we earned an even-better cog/gear/ring than those we've earned in the past: this year's cog/gear/ring has bike chain around its edge, which is not only cool but three-dimensional, adding another tactile experience to the ride.

like I needed another tactile experience.

let's see, it was 36 degrees at the start with a relative humidity of 93 percent. I could almost feel the air, it was so thick with moisture.

along with the cold comes, guess what, Susan's Gigantic Goosebumps. fortunately this year's pelaton from logan to preston was so mellow that no one was sitting on my wheel consistently enough to comment on the prevalence and size of the goosebumps on my calves. this was the most leisurely ride to preston I've had in my four years of doing this.

next would come the numbness in my right hand and the blister/callous/owie that developed on the base of my right palm.

then the leg cramps. I don't get leg cramps. (this is a statement of fact like I do not have allergies, I don't get sick, I am healthy, and no, I don't know why my eyes and nose run when I'm outside . . . ). riding up to the geneva summit this incredible pain went shooting through both of my quads, like little bolts of lightning flashing up and down and across and I was stunned. this doesn't happen to me. bill told me to gear down and spin it up, so I did, then I chugged my gatorade and chewed a couple shot blocks (just how quickly do those electrolytes jump into your muscles??) and within a few minutes the lightning bolts backed off, and a mile or so later I was back to "normal," whatever "normal" is after one has ridden 90 or so miles.

next, let's see, that would be the tailwind. oh, the tailwind. what a gift, what a treat, what a kiss sent across wyoming. it tickled the back of my arms and pushed my bike ever northward as I tried to control my giddiness. if you don't ride, I don't know how I can explain this other than to say it is better than the loft that takes your golf ball directly to the green, the still water that welcomes the cut of your paddle or arm, and a gentle decline in grade no matter what you're doing, all rolled up in one.

sometime in here comes the "saddle interface." this is an extremely tactile experience, one that is capable of contributing significant misery to one's ride. I'd like to just leave it at this: ow.

then the feet. no matter how terrific your shoes, how smart your wool socks, how lovely your pedicure, after ten or so hours your feet just hurt. hot, fuzzy, numb, throbbing, pulsing, tingling . . . pain.

next came the return of the cold. up near the top of the canyon above alpine junction we rode in the shade of the pine-covered hillside, and goosebumps revisited every inch of skin. twenty-five or so miles left to go . . . I was grateful to round one last hill and return to the land of the sun.

all this time I could have been mentioning the tactile experiences of eating fig newtons that have been air-dried in my jersey pocket (yes, the fig part stays moist but the rest certainly doesn't), chewing shot blocks, slurping Gu's, swishing and swallowing warm gatorade/powerade/goodness knows what concoctions, squeezing well-ripened bananas past my taste buds (if only), and ~ finally something positive ~ savoring, and I truly mean savoring, the half a turkey-lettuce-and- sweet-mustard-on-wheat-bread sandwich that I had in Afton that I'd been dreaming about since shortly after Montpelier.

but the best tactile experience of all was probably this: slowly swinging my leg around and off the bike, and clomping along in my bike shoes, crunching and relishing the feel of terra firma underneath my feet, after sitting atop my buddy ruby and letting two skinny rubber tubes count off the 206 miles of extremely firma terra that I'd just traveled.

it is always, always, good to be done.

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