Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!

Thought I’d take a moment to write about the Twin LightsRide, the 30-mile bike ride I did on Sunday. It was in three 10-mile stretches, broken up by two rest stops. (There’s also a 55- and a 100-mile ride; Kathy – Superwoman – did the 55-mile trip, splitting off from my route after the first rest stop and rejoining it before the second (or fifth, from her point of view), about an hour and change after me.

It was a great, exhilarating feeling. I’d done some riding around town – usually 2.5-mile jaunts to the coffee shop, followed by a similar ride back to the house, but I’d lately been doing a 10-mile loop. Which is great – it gave me the confidence to know I could do each individual leg of the ride. Plus, I went to Montreal with Kathy and rode in the Tour du Nuit, a 20-km night ride around the city. It’s approximately 13 miles, but with the ride to and from our hotel, it was closer to 18.

Kathy told me to ride at my own pace, or a little slower than my own pace. But to be honest, I don’t do this enough to know what my own comfortable pace is. I know that I’m more comfortable with someone either far in front of me or no one in front of me at all… but that’s about it. I don’t want to have to brake for people, so I’ll pass them if I can. But I’m not very fast, and there aren’t a whole lot of people I need to pass. I mostly want to do it at the beginning of the uphills. I’m a big guy, and momentum is all I’ve got going for me, so I hate to slow down more than gravity makes me when I’m climbing.

On the second leg, I passed what seemed to be a squirrel-car-bike collision. A cyclist was lying down, catching his breath in the road, in front of a stopped car. A crowd was already gathered around him, so there wasn’t anything I could do to help. But as I rode past, I noticed a (newly?) dead squirrel right in my path. I wonder if the cyclist tried to avoid it, or collided with it, and swerved into the road. I hope the rider is okay.

There was also a woman in green I thought might be gaslighting me. The first time I passed her by the side of the road, she just nodded and said, “Good job.” But then I saw her – or her twin sister – cheering riders on later on along the route. I thought, “I’m going crazy,” and then I thought: “No… she wants me to think I’m going crazy.” Then I saw her again at the second rest stop, and then she walked up again and stood under a tree I’d decided to rest under after (well, almost after) a long climb. She mentioned the she had a car, which gave her an unfair advantage in the mobility department.

One other notable & surprising experience: I think I’m my own worst wingman. At the second rest stop, I wound up chatting with a woman about my age, maybe a couple years younger. She mentions that she’s planning to tack another 7 miles to her ride and head up to Sandy Hook, where the nude beach is, and maybe go for a swim. She brings this up several times. I bring my wife up a couple times, too, but the beach conversation continues. (We talked about other things, too, though, and enjoyed dipping marshmallows & bananas into the chocolate fountain at the rest stop. Word has it that the fountain was purchased by a local guy for his son’s bar mitzvah, and since he has it, he trots it out for every occasion he can.)

Anyway, nude beach. (It’s perfectly acceptable etiquette to picture someone nude once they start mentioning going to a nude beach that afternoon, by the way. It’s also perfectly acceptable not to, if you’d really rather not. But I was happy to.) I have mentioned Kathy a couple of times, and I’m wearing my ring, but at one point I mention that she’s actually doing the ride, but the 55-mile version. And suddenly, we’re a lot less chummy. There’s apparently a difference between a wife at home somewhere and a wife elsewhere on the ride. Oh, well.

Regardless of the lack of nude beach activity, it was a great day. The weather held out (weather reports the night before called for a 60% chance of rain). There were two, maybe three, big uphills on the final leg, and one exhilarating downhill where I rode faster than I ever have before. On the last uphill, I found myself musing on the importance of punctuation. For a while, I was panting to myself, “Climb this fucker,” over and over again… until it slowly transformed into more explicit personal instructions: “Climb this, fucker.” Commas are powerful things. In the end, though, I climbed every hill on the bike. Didn’t walk an inch.

I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Okay, now I'm really nervous.

Here's a fly-over video of last year's 30-mile Twin Lights ride. I'll be pedaling this route (or something similar) on Sunday.



P.S. Kathy, incidentally, will be doing a route almost twice as long. Because she's Superwoman, is why.

Edited to add: Holy crap, I did it!