We’re all just about one or two miles an hour away from bliss….
I was talking with the internet man the other day. I mentioned how this year feels like the year the old timers have been telling me about for a couple decades, the year where you just don’t bounce back to last year’s form. It’s really weird. Look, I get it, my hair is turning grey, my eyes don’t like looking at small print anymore, occasionally water gets trapped in my belly button, I go to bed before 10:00 like a lot, etc…As Biggie said “things done changed on this side.”
I had a near blackout on physical activity from October to March, so this year’s bounce back would require a little more consistency to get back up and rolling. I put in the time. I put in the miles. Slowly. Patiently. Eventually, my legs got back under me and I was riding again. I was definitely getting there and I was having a new-found appreciative fun on my bike
I finally showed up for my Saturday group ride that I have been part of for a bunch of years now.
I always had my return to this Saturday group ride in mind as I was pedaling through the early spring. First couple weeks back I took my licks as expected. Most of the guys in this group ride year round so their spring is just a climatological transition. So, falling off here and there was well within my expectations. There would be red lights to jump back on. I knew within a month I’d be dialed in again and back in my usual mid-pack form.
I never emerged from the back of the pack. I could not put in any serious pulls without the extreme danger of immediately falling off the back once I was done. Honestly, it sucked. The group was just operating at like one or two clicks stronger than where I was. I was there. I was in the group. But my ride experience was feeling way different than the other guys. I was in an absolute battle just to hang on every ride for the entire ride. My heart did not understand what I was asking it to do every Saturday morning. The other guys remained playful at their pace. I did get faster every week, but so did everybody else. When was my form going to come back?!?!
If they just pulled back one or two miles an hour I’d be fine…..
I was a mid-pack guy in this group last year and now I’m hanging out a little off the back with one of the big belly guys. This was not supposed to feel like a contest in any way. For months I anticipated returning to the fun of my group ride. It wasn’t fun for me this year. I decided to take some time away from this group ride feeling a bit like I lost my spot somehow. And, for certain, I didn’t want the group to feel the need to compromise their ride for my slow ass. So I self-selected away.
All the while, Ken and I enjoyed our early morning weekday rides out to the beach or into the farms. Always fun, always playful. Chats when the spirit moved us, hammers dropped when the spirit went the other way. I never finished one of those rides feeling anything other than happy and stoked for the day. Here and there either Ken or I would have an “outside” rider join our duo. The outsiders always wound up comparable in strength, so the parity in these rides was pretty on point. Sometimes the outsider was a tad stronger, sometimes the same and sometimes just a little less fit. All rides ended with smiles.
Then, last week Ken invited a new friend of his to one of our weekday morning rides. Super nice guy. However, it became obvious pretty quick his brand of cycling was a bit more mellow than even ours. Lots of dawdling. Apparently, he did not enjoy his heart rate breaking the glass on his monitor. We all rode and adjusted. After all, the sun was rising over the ocean and most normals weren’t even wake yet to honk their car horns at us and make fun of our alleged homo-erotic clothing. It was all good.
However, even with that vibe the new guy kept gently falling off the back. He was not having fun. We slowed and got him back on. We pedaled more trying to find the spot for everybody to stay together. He fell off again. We slowed. Got him back on….etc….
If we just slowed down one or two miles per hour the new guy would be fine…..We’re all just a mile or two per hour away from bliss.