Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spring Suffering

The weather is beautiful. The mountains are still snow capped, but the valleys have the unmistakable scent of spring. A perfect time to put on a light wool shirt, toss jacket and snacks in the basket, and amble around on two wheels. At least, that's the idea spring gives me, and I put it into practice with another 25 mile "grocery run" around the valley.

The weather is beautiful. The mountains are still snow capped, but the valleys have the unmistakable scent of spring. A perfect time to slip on a black skin suit, toss some GU and a CO2 cartridge in the jersey pocket, and suffer while staring at the pavement. At least, that's the idea spring gives cyclists in this valley, and they put it into gut wrenching practice today in record numbers.

I saw a record number of bicycle riders for the season, and only one would have looked out of place having a root canal. Expressions ranged from exhaustion to hostility. No gazes ranged to the mountains. Why is it that the second scenario above wins out 99 times out of 100 with cyclists these days?

The one exception was local triathlete Jeanie. Strecthed out on her aerobars, she flew along smiling at a speed my cycle computer probably doesn't understand. She gave a big "Hi, Joe!" as she whizzed past. Riding hard is Jeanie's thing. I'm pretty sure it isn't the thing for most of us, any more than climbing Everest is the thing for most hikers.

It's my opinion that there will always be a few who are incredible, inspiring, superhuman at any given activity. But, wouldn't the rest of us be better off just enjoying the ride?

Why do I care? Because a humble cycler can get lonely out there. Because I'd love to fall in with someone who's enjoying the day on his or her bike, exchange greetings, and agree that it's a nice day to be enjoying a bike ride.


Anonymous Michael Rasmussen said...

I might have been one of those grimacing people you saw out there. If you were riding on the French Prairie just north of Salem, Oregon yesterday. Maybe not, I'm not sure what I looked like.

It wasn't the first ride of the year. It wasn't a particularly long ride. It was a blustery ride with winds buffeting the area. Maybe that's why in a ride of over 30 miles I saw only one other rider. Maybe they were kept away from the roads by the hard driving rain that preceeded and followed my ride. Maybe they weren't up for riding in the wind.

It was a great day, so I don't think you'd have found me grimacing. But maybe you would have.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Went on a modest-pace group ride today on some of the local bike paths. We ambled along at about 10 mph, chatting and generally enjoying ourselves. What amazed me was the number of people out dressed head to toe to match their expensive racing bikes, trying to be heroes of the Tour de Bike Path. This creates some dangerous situations, as the path is crowded and not very wide, and hot-rodding is technically illegal with the 10 mph speed limit. The road next to the path is far more appropriate for fast riding, so it seemed kind of funny that these riders wanted to ride on the bike path. Spend thousands of dollars on a 16 pound racing bike and a costume to match, then ride with the balloon tire cruisers and little kids on the city bike paths?! Hilarious!

3:00 PM  

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