It’s a good day, well, probably a great one, when you can meet your friends at 6:30am for a dirt ride, when your legs don’t scream and your lungs don’t hurt as the group sorts out its enthusiasm with a pace too hot to maintain. It’s a great day when you shed your top layer, stow it in a pocket, and settle into that perfect balance of hard work and sweat.
It’s pretty great to know the way, which trails the crew is going to choose, where all the rocks are on those trails, subconsciously bobbing and weaving through the trees, the dirt so soft and tractable. Every time we pause to pool at the bottom of a long descent or just get the group back together, there are jokes.
It’s good that I had run through all the little mechanical things that weren’t quite right yesterday, so that the bike was there and not there, its freewheel buzzing, the tire pressure perfect, my eyes on the trail ahead, not a worry in the world.
It’s cool that Lee, the roadie, showed up on a borrowed bike two sizes too small and hung around at the back, struggling with the terrain, but still cheerfully pedaling.
It was excellent that I remembered all the little side obstacles on this route and ticked them off one-at-a-time, like I was twelve-years-old and had something to prove. It was nice that the guys watched me do a hard thing and that I didn’t crash on my face.
It was bittersweet that I could only spin the first two hours, because there was a needle and second vaccine waiting for me. I hated to tear myself away from the surging mess of the ride, but I was happy to be exiting the pandemic danger zone.
Lee wanted out, too, so it was good that I could soft pedal home with him, show him two trails he’d never seen, and say thank you for showing up.
What a remarkable bit of luck (and not planning) that I got home with exactly the amount of time I needed to shower and make coffee, that there was some leftover fried chicken in the refrigerator, and that my wife had an appointment the same time as mine.
It doesn’t always go like this.