Today’s Adventure (Or why I love my Evil Coach)

29 Aug

From our friends at Dictionary.com, we learn that “adventure” can be defined 10(!) different ways. I draw your attention to #3:

Adventure [ad-ven-cher]
Noun:
  3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome

This precisely encapsulates my morning.

A couple weeks ago, Coach and I exchanged the following texts:

Me: Any thoughts about the idea of my trying the NPR on Tues?
   Coach: Sure! Thurs might be a better day to start. Tends to be a bit more mellow

Me: Did not know there was a Thurs options. What time/where does it start?
   Coach: Same. 6:30 @ MB Pier

Me: Good Christ, that’s early! Thought it was 7:30. Thanks for setting me straight.
   Coach: Was wondering….

Me: But, whatevs. It’s not like I have anything else to do these days! I can go back to bed when I get home 😉

We then chatted about what route the New Pier Ride (NPR) follows and the characters who do this thing at 6-friggin-30 in the morning and what I might expect when joining them.

Thinking back on those chats, I understand, now, that Coach probably attempted to provide even measures of encouragement and foreboding.

But I only heard his encouragement: You’ve got good pack-riding skills, CZ. Just stay in the middle and be efficient.

This was gonna be FUN! We were gonna go FAST! I would feel AWESOME!

I shoulda paid more attention to his forebodings…

You know how whenever you go to bed early ‘cuz you need to “get a good night’s sleep” before you have to get up REALLY CRAZY EARLY for something that you know is gonna be totally awesome, so of course you end up not sleeping very much at all because you’re just so damn jazzed and nervous and excited?

Yeah. That was me last night. Except multiply that by like x400 because my brain bashing means that I require a LOT more sleep than you (so-called) normal people.

The alarm was set for 4:36am. I went to bed at 9:45. Jay came home at 10:30, full of stories and enthusiasm. Yay.

I managed to get back to sleep(ish) somewhere around 12:15. The chili-cheese-stuffed-sweet potato that I ate for dinner woke me up around 1:00. The dog woke me up around 2:00. When I woke up to go to the bathroom at 3:20, I discovered that my very favorite [sarcasm] “unexpected visitor” (i.e., Aunt Flo) had come to call.

Of course. She has a funny habit of f-cking with my rides…

4:36. It’s go time, I feel like hell, and –holy crap– it’s FRIGGIN’ DARK outside. This was a variable I hadn’t thought about. Jay got no sleep while I noisily scrambled to find bike lights and take care of my normal input-output morning needs.

5:32. Out the door. Still dark. My front strobe light made me feel like vomiting (click HERE to delve into boat-loads of scientific research regarding how strobe lights can f*ck with brain-injured individuals). The swampy weather (heavy fog mixed with the evening’s leftover coolness + the day’s forthcoming heat) turned my lungs into jello and my legs into sludge.

Why am I doing this?, I thought, while asking the karma gods to protect me from throwing up, cramping up, or being run over in the dark by a garbage truck … Oh, yeah. It’s gonna be FUN!

And the first part WAS fun!

Until it wasn’t.

And then it stayed “wasn’t”…

When I got home, I sent the following text to Coach:

😦 We’ve got work to do

His response:

Told you it wasn’t as easy as it sounded…  Those guys are no joke.

How long did you last?

I didn’t answer him.

A couple hours later (while I was stuffing my face with a BLT Pizza at 800 Degrees — mmmm, Bacon marmalade pizza cures all kinds of heartbreak!), Coach left me a voicemail, transcribed, below, in its entirety:

CZ! OK … here’s how it went, is my hypothesis: You started with the group, cruised along, no worries, you’re thinking this is easy.

They took a right on Imperial, then a left on, I think it’s Pershing, and then it kinda veers to the right and then they went BALLISTIC up and over that bridge and you had a hard time going ballistic up and over that bridge.

And then it turned around at the airport — maybe you caught back on? Went down to Westchester. You probably waited for the group. I hope you waited for the group and didn’t just roll on your own? And then you were fine until they went crazy on the turnarounds and you were having a hard time there.

That’s my guess.

Give me a ring and let me know if I called it.

Coach’s first statement, right up to the “thinking this is easy” was 100% dead on. After that, things got a little more dire than he predicted.

First, Coach was wrong about the route. They *didn’t* take the right on Imperial (a street I know well, and was prepared for). They went further north along Highland before taking a right up a hill I’d never seen before, let alone ridden, and they hit the “Ballistic” button there. Damn. I was completely unprepared and I got popped like a perfectly toasted corn kernel.

Fuck!

I battled back and latched on as they stormed up Pershing, whose slope offers its own bit of challenge for the speed impaired. “No matter,” I thought to myself, “We’ll be turning on Westchester soon and I can hide and take refuge for a bit there.

Uh. Nope. There went Westchester….

Where the f*ck were we going? Coach hadn’t said anything about this route segment during any of our pre-ride chats. Where the f*ck were we? I’ve never ridden in this part of town; I had no idea where we were headed and I was barely hanging onto this 28mph crazy-train as it chugged up the grade and sliced through headwinds.

This was not fun.

And, then they REALLY went ballistic up that godforsaken bridge — the one Coach mentioned in his voicemail but that he completely FAILED to mention during any of our pre-ride chats <smh>.

Oh, F*ck that!

I dropped myself and headed back south. Or was it west? Or maybe north? I had no idea.

I just moped back the way we came. Disgraced and dejected.

As I approached Westchester, I thought: Oh, well, what the hell? I might as well just go do some Time Trial loops by myself. No sense in wasting a perfectly swampy ride day

I headed up the hill, aided by a nice tailwind, at ~24mph. The pack came storming down the other side, at what looked to be ~28mph. OK, then. *This* I could do! Sure, they’re facing a headwind, but they’re also going downhill. Downhill+headwind @ 28mph = Total “CZ Can Do” situation! Game on!

Of course, I couldn’t cross over to them due to traffic and the long median island, but I eased up and waited for them to catch me.

Hoo boy! It was fun to be caught and to tuck myself into their fast-moving vortex … 28, 30, 31 mph all good, good, good!

And then we hit the turnaround. And since this was their second lap, it meant that it was gonna be faster than their last lap. That’s the way the game is played.

CZ cannot come around a turnaround and do 31mph into a headwind. She can try. She can do her damnedest. She can thank all of her lucky stars and whatever saints and angels still believe in her (even though she doesn’t believe in them) for sending her a lovely potential savior who wore lime-and-black striped socks and who benevolently attempted to keep me latched on to the back.

But, no. There was no hope for CZ to hold that group today.

That was the worst feeling I’ve ever had on my bike.

I got dropped.

Dramatically.

… And I can’t wait to go back and try it again!

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