Monday, July 04, 2005

Fourth of July

My holiday started at 4:30 am so we could get our bikes and gear together, drive 50 miles to the ride start and be there with enough time to register and get ready to ride. I half-expected Dan to bail out on me, but he didn't and we were off to points north!

We found the ride start-- a small private school for mentally challenged children -- with only minor difficulties, hidden as it was in the woods and on the opposite side of the road from where my internet driving instructions had told me to look. No matter, we arrived in good time, parked under a tree and got our ride packets which included red, white and blue tie-dye looking t-shirts and a little artsy-craftsy pin of red white and blue stars. I didn't know what to do with the pin, so I attached it to my dashboard cover, along with the flourescent bicycle pin I got at a ride last year. If this keeps up, I'll have an entire collection!

We leisurely put our bikes together and selected the bottles, gels and supplements we wanted to take while listening to other riders talk about Lance Armstrong. Then I wandered off to find a restroom (running water-- hooray!) and annoy the cats that were slinking around watching all the activity. The school seemed nice, but obviously in need of more funding, which made me feel better about the rather steep $40 fee. It's one thing to do a charity ride, another thing entirely to actually see the operation your money is helping, especially when it's a small local place.

And how appropriate is it that a school for the mentally challenged was putting on a bike ride during a heat wave? Should they or we be signing up as clients?

After the head of the Woodlands cycling club gave a long-winded point-by-point description of the route map we all had in our pockets, we set off just a bit after 7:30. It was a very pleasant route with plenty of shade and smooth pavement. Constables cleared the intersections for us when we rode through the little town of Willis and again when we had to cross the freeway. Nice.

It was a 31 mile route, so if you wanted to do a metric, you had to ride it twice. That was my plan, as I set out. We started off with a tailwind and a lot of downhills, but soon had to settle in to the real work of some long inclines. A guy in a red jersey and I kept passing each other on the way up to the turnaround. He would get me on the technical things like railroad tracks and steep downhills with a tight turn at the bottom, then I would catch him on the uphills. I may not be fast, but I'm a steady hill climber and always have been. After we made our little turnaround and headed back toward the school, I passed him again. "I'll see you in a few!" he shouted.

"Sure!" I called back in a friendly way. But mentally I added, "Like hell you will." I hammered the next few hills with my hamstrings protesting that it was only our first run at hills this season, but it worked. I didn't see Mr. Redjersey again until the finish.

Heading back to the school, the wind was starting to pick up. I had been able to stay above 18 mph on the way out, but now the gusts of hot wind put me down to 15 and 16 on the flats, 12 and even 9 on the steeper hills. I'm embarrassed to say I had to use my small chainring, something that never happens when I'm in good hill form. I was less than a mile from finishing the 31 mile route when I saw a girl stopped on the side of the road. I slowed down and asked if she needed any help, but she said she was resting. Wow. She must've been pretty tired to need to rest with the finish just over the next hill!

And then I was done. I turned in on the gravel driveway, rested the bike against a fence and joined a few other riders around the water coolers. The water was so cold and so good! And now with no more self-generated breeze, I realized that it was pretty hot out. I was completely drenched, which I hadn't noticed before. Other riders came in and no one seemed interested in doing another loop. They were standing around talking about their plans for later in the day, laughing, discussing how they would enjoy the holiday.

Holiday? Hm. Yes, it was a holiday, wasn't it? I had thoroughly enjoyed this little bike ride, but would I enjoy doing it again as the temperature climbed and the wind increased? Would I enjoy working my hamstrings to exhaustion instead of leaving myself fresh for the week's training? Would I enjoy feeling like I had to push myself every mile of the way because Dan was waiting while I rode another 31 miles?

Somehow, I just didn't think doing a second loop would be nearly as much fun as the first, so I decided to call it a day. I felt like a total wimp, but as the cheerful voices all around me kept remindng me, it was a holiday and I was supposed to be having fun. A hard training ride could wait for another day.

Dan and I went for lunch at our Indian restaurant, then spent the afternoon napping, making up for the previous night's 1:30 am bedtime and 4:30 am wakeup call. Then we spent a lazy evening at home, periodically asking each other if we should go out to our usual fireworks-watching spot at Rice University. Somehow, we just didn't feel like we had to keep that nine year old tradition. And as it turns out, we were rewarded! We were able to watch the Galleria fireworks from our kitchen window and the downtown fireworks from the balcony outside our door. All these years of driving to see fireworks and there were two great shows right here at home!

I guess it's true what the say, that sometimes what you're looking for is right in your own back yard.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 3 mile run, 2 mile walk
Monday: 31 mile bike ride - hills

1 comment:

Wil said...

Hey! Way to hammer those hills! I had some uglies on my last long ride, too. Ugh, hills are evil!

Indian food is awesome, isn't it? We have several Indian restaurants around here, so it's nice to have a little variety even withing the variety!

I also wanted to say thanks for all of your awesome half advice, I'm feeling SO much better about everything :) Have a great week!