This morning I went on a fun dirt ride with some friends. These are my riding friends, not my running friends, even though both these friends do run. It’s so fun to ride with riding friends, especially when they’ve been riding a lot more than you have.
It was 28F this morning, April 2nd, with a breeze. Ha! A cold start, but the sun was shining, so the fun was all right there in front of us, just add pedaling.
My riding friends got to the base of the first hill and rode steadily away from me. “Where are they going?” I thought. “Am I this tired already? This out of riding shape?” Could be. I didn’t bury myself to catch them though. I’ve seen that movie before. It has zombies in it, and one of them is me.
I have to confess that I briefly considered turning around and going home at that point. I’m not proud of that thought, but you should know it arose. My legs felt had turned to stone, and my will would not overcome gravity’s capricious cruelty, but it was WAY too early in the ride to fold. I stuffed that thought down deep where I keep my nighttime guilts and perverse fantasies and kept pedaling. At least my riding friends, had the decency to be hunched over their bars at the top of the hill trying to catch their breath.
From that point, I more or less hung tight. We got into long twisty stretches of trail that I’m not bad at, the punchy climbs not quite crushing my spirit. At one point, we were careening downhill at speed, feeling the flow, and I thought, “I’m good at this.” Then I nearly clipped a tree with my left shoulder, and my ego deflated in the time it took to apply the brakes and yank my bars around the next corner.
As with any fun ride with friends who are more bike fit than you are, we eventually arrived at a decision point where we could turn one way and ride more or the other, and ride less. My riding friends chose more, and I, not wanting to be the weak-legged, spoil sport, swallowed my lame excuses and followed them into the more-ness.
It is/was the right thing to do. This is how you get fitter. Ride with people better than you. Stick with them as best you can. Let them drag you toward your eventual salvation. And the riding was all fun. Did I mention that?
Around this time, I did something I’m not proud of. I mentioned (not very) casually that I had run yesterday, twice, and that I was tired as a result. This is sandbagging, and it’s not the coolest move. I regretted it immediately.
The thing is we, all of us, live at the top of a long, steep hill. Most rides have to end on that hill, and I anticipated being dropped. It’s ok to be dropped. It doesn’t mean anything. Or, it means exactly what it’s supposed to mean. You have work to do. Still, better just to take your whupping quietly, without the lame excuse making.
The hill went according to script. There was a brief moment halfway up when I thought I could hold the wheel in front of me, but I was wrong, and that was ok. We all eventually crested the rise and stopped there to admire the view and say how fun the ride had been.
It was a fun ride with friends, despite me being one of the friends.