I Love Fall

me in key west 2015Falls arrival is not a moment too soon for this guy. I’m tired and sore. Lot’s of tough summer time South West Florida miles drenched with sweat within 10 minutes and riding in wet spandex for the next 40 miles sometimes being rubbed raw in the saddle area, diaper rash, caused by that belligerent  scourge…..  swamp ass. No amount of lotion or powders will prevent this here  in Margarettaville. Another reason for shorter rides early during the summer. Me bum wants a break. Late summer time mornings the temperature stands in the nineties rivaled only by the humidity. I can smell myself. Imagine wet sneakers left in a gym locker. Northern friends are commenting already about the much appreciated cooler weather. It’s 9 AM today 9/23/15 and yet to break the eighty degree mark. In other words cool. I’m a big fan.

Fall Colors
Fall Colors

I complain but I’m happy to suffer. There are simple pleasures that come from all of this, actual joy. The early morning clouds and distant lightning remind me of a greater power. Simple things. Energy rising as the blood vessels begin to expand increasing the blood flow. The heart beating faster setting the pace, warmer stronger now. Mind alert, paying attention, aware. There’s another rider just ahead approaching the bridge.The sound of the chain falling onto a higher gear. A rye smile.

Not to dwell on the negative, but I’m a sensitive man as you know. Unwanted bike noises and a dirty bike keep me awake at night. Often I’m out in the garage just wiping things down just before bed time, it’s cooler then. I’ve gotten much better at not over reacting to the redneck motorist with too much pickup truck that just can’t wait to  safely pass. “Yet to be touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”(A. Lincoln). I live in Florida after all and the natives are true southerners, Florida second only to South Carolina when it came to secession and the indigenous seem to want to carry it on. My neighbor across the canal flies the Stars and Bars. Florida is known for pill mills as well and driving while impaired complicates things for sure.  And then there’s the snow birds.The annual migration just adding to the traffic. Some of these winter people are just not used to seeing so many bicyclist. It’s one of the few set backs to the fall season. No matter how I look at it I’m out numbered about ten to one. All these things get me out early heading towards the roads less traveled even when I’m driving. I know to take the lane when riding  and if I didn’t ten times a week someone will post this info. on FB. That’s great but it’s directed at fellow cyclist who practice these things and not at the motorist who doesn’t know or care. But……………….

tour de cureWe do put ourselves in harms way, we cyclist. We choose to ride the roads and highways and prepare ourselves by selecting the path of least resistance and dressing to be seen wearing high viability colors. Blinkers of course as needed and riding in groups add to us being seen. None of this is enough. Even the path of least resistance is not without peril and heaven help us on the highways and city streets we need to use to connect the dots on our route. Hard to feel the joy sometimes.

But the joy is there for those who are looking. Loading up on calories for the Saturday ride. The hardy breakfast and all the pre ride prep. The slow roll to the meetup listening to the sound track of the mind. Joining others along the way sitting up just spinning. Arriving early enough to catch up on what’s been happening and trying to get a feel for who’s going out strong today by listening to all the trash talk. Things as simple as new tarmac and bridges being kept clean getting rave reviews from all. Everyone has worked hard and suffered during the week building towards the Saturday morning old fashion beat down and while I’m not going to win any sprints, just staying in contact and riding with the pursuit group is joyful. Afterwards heading to the pub for a pint or just heading home for a protein smoothie is shear bliss even if the frozen mangoes are gone. I’ve earned both.

Suffer: (verb) To exceed an uncomfortable state. To prolong an activity well past the point of pain. To push it as hard as you can for as long as you can and then do it again. To endure self inflicted hardships no matter how much it hurts, for as long as it takes regardless of how hot, humid, windy, steep, long, cold, or wet it is or becomes. Not easily vanquished. TO FEEL ALL THESE THINGS AND  SMILE.
Example: “To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune……….”(Hamlet)

Of course Hamlet’s being a drama queen trying to decide if it’s better to live or to die. Suffering only feels like death for a brief moment. HEY! Nobody gets out alive anyway!

don't guitIt’s not important that I ride as hard as the next guy, just that I ride hard, set goals and accomplish them. Improving cadence, higher average speed, elevation climbed or a combination of all 3. Some times it’s as simple as getting out of bed and getting out there. Work the cardio. VO2 max, working hard when you’re already gasping for air, suffering.  We’re all different and will suffer and struggle accordingly. Winning some battles and loosing others. “The sun don’t shine on the same dog all the time.” (Catfish Hunter) Holding the sprint for just ten more seconds, making it hurt. Realizing that it already hurts and you may as well be rewarded for it. Little victory’s, stronger longer, a longer pull holding the pace and helping out up front.

Verily ………. all these things mentioned have put me in my present state, weary, sore, drained, bone tired. While the brain doth protest there’s no arguing with me bum. The butt affirms what the brain denies, a mile too far, the rapid pace taking its tole and nothing to be done about it but rest up for a few days. Let the muscle relax and grow, the saddle sores heal. Catch up on other things, reading, Valerie’s new kitchen. There’s plenty to do. Sleep in, something I’ve almost forgotten about. Just sitting on the porch watching the world awake while having another cup of coffee. Oh the joy.

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