I love this kind of day: cool bordering on cold in the early morning, sunshiney, not a lot planned.
James and I did the Wurst Ride yesterday. We fell in love with this ride when we did the 100K for the first time back when we were starting to bike alot, when I was ramping up to Ironman Coeur d’Alene training. The whole “clique” did it (we referred to ourselves that way — a group of buddies who bonded over Pikes Peak training and were all infected with the same demented idea to go do an IM). It was a blast…and I had too much beer at the end and quite a bit of yummy Wurstfest food. Total heaven. James and I swore we’d always do it.
The next year, I was signed up; the ride was the weekend after NYC marathon. On paper, it was a fantastic idea; I’d certainly be fit enough. In reality, I’d wound up running the marathon sick and was almost completely bedridden the week after. I nose dived into a horrible spiral of being unwell. It took a month to figure out what was wrong and even longer to recover.
Last year, I hadn’t been on my bike much at all. The idea of the ride just wasn’t really appealing, but James wanted me to go. We found a compromise; I did the “mini” with James’ friend, Mike, and we joined him to all finish together. It was wonderful. We had tons of fun and it was amazing to me how easy the short ride was. I was surprised at how much my cycling had improved since the first time.
This year, we signed up to do the 100K again. I rode my bike in July for the Baltic Run and then did a few scattered bike rides in the months after. I think my longest bike ride since July was 27 miles. The whole foot thing had cropped up and I was a bit worried about how it would fare. I had my prerecquisit cycling nightmare two days before (it’s always the same; I’m hurtling down a hugely ginormous hill with no way to stop and something — a car, a cliff, group of cyclists, you name any dangerous thing — is looming ahead. I always wake up before I crash, die, fly off the cliff, but it scares the crap out of me).
The night before was the memorial for my friend, Dano. I stayed longer than I’d planned, drank a bit more than I should’ve, and felt at the end of the evening like I’d been through a gauntlet, both mentally and physically. Getting up early in the morning was hard, and I found myself dreading the start and the crush of people.
It turned out to be an absolutely wonderful ride. James and I stayed together the whole way, along with his friends Mike and Bert: “the peloton.” I had learned in Germany that one can ride forever if there are enough stops and the pace is leisurely. We stopped at every rest stop; the guys ate, I stretched, everybody made a port-a-potty stop at some point, and we ambled into the finish. I don’t think I’ve ever been on an easier, more pleasurable ride (outside of Germany, that is). Our ride time was something like 4:30, while our overall time was between 5 and 5:30. And man, were the brauts tasty and the beer yummy!
This morning I got up and ran at Walnut Creek. It was supposed to be a Tri a Trail run (I do these for Tri Zones athletes; they are runs designed for anybody who wants to “learn” a trail and they last about an hour) but noone showed, which turned out to be a blessing. I wandered, choosing the paths that said “run me!” and not particularly caring where I went. It was joyous and restful…and you know it’s a good run when you finish up feeling better than when you started.
Friday’s memorial put a lot of things in perspective. Simply being there with people who shared like memories and experiences meant a lot. The power of a touch is amazing and incredible — lots of empty words get said when people die, but a hug, a squeeze, a shared tear…these things mean the world. I had two encounters with people who needed to feel that love, and they reminded me that the lesson I’d learned over the last year is that contact means everything. When words fail, a touch conveys.
Yesterday and today are the first days I’ve felt at peace with things. And that is good.