Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Cold and Wet Sunday and A Good Deal of Thinking

Wow! What a day for riding. I started out (not as early as I would have liked) at around 9:30 this morning. It's Sunday, so I decided to sleep in. After having a breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and coffee I got dressed and hit the road. I knew it was going to rain, but couldn't tell exactly when that would happen. Well, I found out about 10 miles into the ride. It started slow, but after about 4 miles it turned into a rather heavy cold rain. Very cold! By the time I rode into Maple Plain it was pouring. I called Patti to let her know where I was. She asked if I wanted her to come and pick me up and I immediately declined the offer. My response was, "I chose to ride so I'll finish it." I rode my favorite roads in the Medina area. Did all the hills around Baker Park (some of them several times) and Lake Independence.

Today I found myself riding my old black Specialized Allez. It is not what you would call a high end ride. It's very much entry level, if that. Actually though, I love this bike. The components are cheap Shimano, but the frame is tight, rigid, and very responsive. I could not believe how smooth it felt this morning. I love this bike and plan on keeping it for some time. It's a good candidate for a rebuild next winter.

About 8 miles into the ride I found myself in somewhat of a zone. For some reason I decided to take my iPod along to listen to some good music. Generally, I frown on listening to an iPod while out on the road and will usually only use it on my mountain bike, but today the rules were changed. The music was phenomenal and kept me motivated throughout the ride. I stronger as the ride went on.

By the time my ride was complete I was close to being hypothermic. My hands were so cold I could hardly grip the handle bars and my feet were feeling pretty numb. I rode the last 15 miles entirely on the large chain ring. I don't know where the energy or strength came from, but I'm sure it was just the adrenaline of wanting to finish the ride and get out of the rain and cold.

When the ride was complete I felt like I had really accomplished something. I didn't ride hard or fast, I just rode and it felt good. There is something special about being out on the road riding and pushing myself through the rain. The miles, time, average speed, meant absolutely nothing. The fact that I was out on the road, despite the weather, is all that mattered.

Well, I got my 98 miles in this weekend. Eric and I rode around the neighborhood yesterday to make it an even 50. Today, I rode straight into the garage and didn't even check my mileage until after getting out of a very hot shower.

Twenty years now, where did they go? Twenty years now, I don't know. I sit and I wonder sometimes where they've gone. Sometimes late night when I'm bathed by the firelight the moon comes calling ghostly white and I recall, I recall. Like a rock, standing arrow straight. Like a rock, charging from the gate. Like a rock, carrying the weight, like a rock. Like a rock, the sun upon my skin. Like a rock, hard against the wind. Like a rock, I see myself myself again, like a rock. Like a rock... - Bob Segar

It's my life, it's now or never, I ain't gonna live forever. I just wanna live while I'm alive. My heart is like an open highway. It's my life.... -Bon Jovi

These songs rang through my head for the entire ride as they have on previous rides in the past month or so. I've really started to think about this turning 50 business and I'm amazed at how much it is starting to affect me. I generally have never even thought twice about birthdays, even the big ones. I always planned something special, but never really worried about the whole "I'm getting old" thing. Suddenly, I feel that changing. I'm starting to have regrets which really pisses me off, because I always said that wouldn't allow myself to get caught up in that type of thinking. Yet, here I am doing just that. I've had a great life thus far and have accomplished and done many different things from competing in collegiate track and cross-country, running marathons, to climbing mountains and doing multi-day (weeks) solo backpacking and winter camping trips. Professionally, I've been a teacher for the past twenty years. (I got a late start) I spent several years as a vagabond trying to find myself before deciding on going to college and getting a real job. I could not have asked to do anything else more fulfilling and honorable. I'll never be rich, but who really gives a shit. I have everything I could possibly want and more.

I'm looking forward to another trip up to Grand Marais next weekend. Patti planned this for my birthday, so it will be special. There is a winter storm warning right now and Bemidji has received 23 inches of snow. It looks like mostly rain on the North Shore, but you never know. I may be snow biking again.

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