Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Keeping my mouth shut…the first lesson I should learn

How long have I lived in Louisville? Off and on for 32-years… this fact means I am accustom to our seasonal shifts. Normally, by Labor Day, the sun begins receding in the sky much earlier than any biker would like. The days of July nights with a near 9PM sunset fade all too quickly and soon I find myself looking at my watch at 8:25 wondering where the sun has disappeared to. It is a sad time for all bikers in the city. We come to accept that because of the constraints of our 9-5 jobs, our rides become shorter….or we are forced to become faster to finish some of our favorite routes. KNOWING ALL OF THIS….five women still could not resist the urge to ride a 35 mile loop Monday night insisting that we would finish before the sunset. Right? Wrong. From this wrong decision, some obvious mistakes were noted to be improved upon for our future rides.

Mistake One: Timing. Five women are NEVER on time to anything. So five women gather but some are running late…thus shaving off a few minutes of valuable daylight.

Mistake Two: Chatting. Five women cannot gather together and NOT feel the urge to chat and catch up with each other. From this chat session about love lives, vacations, new bike parts, clothing, hair and make-up discussions, we shaved off even MORE daylight.

Mistake Three: Ignoring mistakes #1 and #2. Ignoring that we had completely blown out 30-minutes of valuable solar energy, we proceeded on our decided route.

The End Result: Five women had to make “the call.” For those not familiar with cycling….let me explain “the call.” At any given point in a ride, you may need a rescue, some assistance, someone to come and retrieve you. There are many reasons for “the call”.

1. You could be lost—so lost that the only REAL option is to call and have someone find you on four wheels who also has access to Google maps or a Garmin. You can tell them you are by a corn field, a barn, and two brown cows.

2. You could be hurt—hopefully not hurt too bad but you may incur some road rash that with whipping wind causes a stingy pain worse than the ache you felt when you dropped all that money on your bike

3. Your bike could bonk—your bike is a machine and sometimes machines fail. You can only carry so many tools on a ride, so if your derailleur gives out….brake pads fly off….seat post snaps ….you are left to hike home in clips or make….”the call”

4. You could bonk—sometimes your body says, “enough is enough” and it gives out on you….in which case you hopefully can call someone to shovel your pathetic worn out self into their car and find carbohydrates as quickly as possible (or beer)

5. Then….there is the OTHER reason to make the call…you have made a mistake….a mistake that will cost you your pride and test the marriages of two of your friends (uh oh). You did not calculate the setting sun. Instead, you chatted, you waited and the next thing you know…it is too dark to ride safely.

Our End Result…

There on the side of a two lane road, some 8-10 miles from home, five women huddled together in the gathering darkness awaiting the arrival of two spouses. Spandex is not a heat conductor in an empty parking of a restaurant who boasts amazing fried chicken. We would not know about the chicken because they are also one of those family owned places that closes on Mondays. This left us outside in the elements under a orange street light, slowing feeling the temperature drop. Thirty minutes passed and we stood there, shivering, swaying our bodies for warmth while looking at each other as the night got darker realizing that we made the right choice to not navigate a narrow two-lane road. A mullet styled motorist insisted on directing himself through the parking lot engulfing us in diesel fumes from his 1986 Ford F-150. His bleary eyes and five o’clock shadow did not make him look like a friendly neighbor we would want to converse with. We were herded together like Giselle’s hoping he would not return. Thankfully, the spouses arrived with their trucks, heated seats, and well meaning words (as one spouse pointed to each of us saying, “dumb ass”).Thankful, we accepted the well deserved criticism and piled into our respectful vehicles, helmets still on our lowered heads, embarrassed that we had to make “the call.”

It was bound to happen in my cycling career. Of course, I am without a spouse, so generally, my rescue options are my parents and a few close friends. I was MORE than thankful for the well meaning husbands of my two friends. Ironically at the beginning of the ride, my friend asked, “any more adventures on rides?”…I made the mistake and said, “Actually the rides have been pretty tame lately.” What was I thinking?

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