In my continued effort to pretend I don’t need others, I found a ride that nobody I knew was doing. Then preceded to tell no one about it until I figured plans were already in place for rides. Sweet!
I woke up this morning at 4 am. The ride was supposed to leave at 7. I wanted to allow for an hour and a half to arrive by 6:30, but of course I 1) left a bit later than I wanted to, 2) my bike almost fell off the rack because my half-awake brain didn’t do it properly, and 3) I ended up having to stop to use the restroom before I arrived. This part of Florida, y’all – I am very much a city girl. This ain’t the city. When I ran into a Bob Evans to use the restroom, people looked at me like I could be famous! “Who is this athletic looking black woman?” You guys, I’m only that fast when I have to go REALLY badly. But I digress.
I finally arrive at 6:55, but everyone was still around! I learned that the ride start had been postponed to 7:30. I win! I had time to pick up my packet and put it in my car. Then I noticed everyone was gone. I went back inside and inquired, where I got a blank stare. They did tell me, however, that the course was well marked. I grabbed a map and off I went. The wrong way, of course. I never said I looked at the map. “Where are these markings?!”
I turned back to go to the start where I saw a few more people. This was when I learned that the turn signs were spray painted on the ground and not signs like in running races. “Oh! I can probs do this.” Off I went – by myself for about 5 miles. Then this adorable dude came from behind me. Totes. Adorbs. He smelled good, too. We rode together for maybe 5 miles and I was so bummed because I was admiring his ability to eat a banana while on the bike – and more – before he turned to do the shorter distance! *tears* I pressed on.
Rural Florida. Gorgeous. Smelly. Hot. Lonely. It’s one thing to ride with no one you know but quite another to ride with NO ONE. This is the part where people are like “told ya so!” I had my first near incident with a stupid truck that sat on the opposite side of the road and decided to cross the street just as I was passing. I had to swerve on to the other side to miss him. I was pleased that I was 1) not dead and 2) able to react that quickly. I will say that while I missed seeing humans much of the time, I did a lot more of the playing with my gears that Coachie had been talking about. It really forced me to dig deep and focus on what I was doing. I FINALLY feel like I am getting the hang of big girl pedaling and internalizing what it is supposed to feel like. I was able to focus on such things because my stupid ego wasn’t in the way. Not JUST that, but I have been known to talk to people and express genuine concern and empathy as I train along side them. However, i found myself gleeful when I saw other human cyclists in front of me. I worked to catch up to them – just to say hi! The chick was like “Nice to have someone to pass, eh?” I was too tired to reply but it really wasn’t! I was just excited they weren’t mailboxes like I had thought! People!
I stopped when I wanted. I took gel and water when I wanted – and needed. I walked/ran my bike over a super scary railroad track and a big ass intersection. Better to live to ride another day, yeah? There were rest stops with OMG INDOOR PLUMBING!!! These cyclists are really onto something – runners need to get it together. I stopped briefly when a lady looked lost. Turns out the person she was SUPPOSED to ride with decided to hammer and left her in the dust without a map! Seeeeeee what can happen when you ride with people? 😉
After mile 50, I started hearing angry voices. “Joan. This is silly. Wiser people are chillin’ with mimosas and frittatas. Your stupid ass is out here on a bike. You have a car. WHAT THE HELL.” Alas, continuing to ride my bike was the only way back to my car. I loved how the middle of the route was flat and as I became more fatigued, the organizers gave me the hills. Thanks for that. While I think I prefer the ebb and flow of hill riding, my legs were not having it. I’m not sure how, but I made another wrong turn. By this time, I knew I was close to the finish. I decided to grab my phone and put in the address and have the GPS guide me back. Of course, I passed both my hotel and a Dunkin Donuts. “Focus.” Sigh. Moreover, I had to stop at a few lights. On one restart, I almost didn’t make it back onto the saddle because my SHORTS got caught on it. You read that right. I almost got taken out by my shorts. Thankfully, I lived to blog about it. 🙂
Maybe Red Rocket isn’t so bad. 29 days.
NB – re: cute guy toward the beginning? He did the 31 mile route. Do I really need someone in my life who doesn’t go long? Sigh I miss him anyway.