October 1, 2009

Lessons of the Century or "What I learned on last weekend’s really, really, long bike ride."

Last Saturday, I completed my third century ride in three years. I now have bike riding friends who try and ride a century a month during the summer (which sounds both cool and crazy). Three centuries, I think, is the minimum number from which one can wax (wane? whine?) eloquently about what one learns while on a crazily long bike ride. Now the trick is to remember these lessons in “real life”…

1. It is much more enjoyable to ride together than alone. Riding alone may be good for the soul, but riding together makes the journey possible. I am convinced that bike riding is intended to be a social exercise, not a solo exercise. There were times that I rode with small groups and was able to sustain 22-24 mph for many miles. I am not capable of doing that on my own. Riding with others brings out the best in me, and makes the journey more fun in general.

2. Balance is imperative. At one stop, I lost my balance and bruised my left kneecap. It only happened once, but it was embarrassing and painful.

3. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are miracles of God. Enough said.

4. Enjoy the sights and smells. Even though the slaughter-houses and road kill turned me slightly queasy, there were many simple sights and smells of the wandering and rolling countryside that this city-boy just doesn’t appreciate as often as he should. The blazing sun breaking through the clouds on a crisp fall morning, lighting the way. Simple fields and small forests with meandering streams.

5. “Riding hills makes me stronger.” It’s the mantra I’ve quoted to myself for the last three years, and, in general, I do like riding hills and think that I am a decent hill rider. In my head I know that I only grow stronger through struggles, and there were some impressive hills last weekend. However, riding hills after eating lunch makes me sick.

6. Numbers can suck the fun out of anything. When we were just getting started, we got into a rhythm quickly, and I felt like we were going pretty fast. I leaned over to Grant and asked, “How far have we ridden?” He replied, “Four and a half miles.” I settled in the saddle for a long day. (Side note: Out of 2,000 riders, the lowest number I saw was “2” and the highest I saw was “1836.” I was “1777.” Grant was “203.”

7. Sometimes you pull, sometimes you are pulled. Except for the arrogant team that won’t let anyone new ride with them.

8. Cross the finish line together. I couldn’t have made it to the finish line without borrowing strength from Grant and Eli. When we crossed the finish line, there were those who had gone on before us cheering us on. And we got the privilege of cheering on others too.

9. Remember the mission. The night before the ride, the team (Tour de Ray) went to visit the team’s namesake at an assisted-living facility. We visited for a while and took pictures. Just before we left, he said, “You guys really don’t know how much this means that you are riding for me.” During some of those tough stretches, simply thinking of Ray put everything into proper perspective.

10. Dr Pepper tastes really good after 105 miles.


Sally Rymer said...

Congrats on the ride. I can't imagine riding a bike for that many miles!

kekekelo said...

IWC Aquatimer Buys JFK Omega Watch
The gorgeous albeit rather beaten-up Replica CARTIER Watch worn by President John F. Kennedy when he was inaugurated was auctioned for $340,000.TAG HEUER ending up being the top bidder in the Guernsey’s Dec. 15 of the White collection of Kennedy memorabilia. The replica ROLEX will be in the
IWC Aquatimer Museum in Switzerland next to the first BREITLING watch worn on the moon. After some time in the museum the iwc big pilot will be shown on tour around the United States.