Lesson one from this week: Never — never! — eat a big meal of Indian food the night before a training ride. Late on Friday evening I had a delicious chicken-curry dinner from a local Indian eatery. The next morning, about 10 minutes before our 8:30 a.m. “buddy ride” was to begin, I had a literally visceral understanding of my error. Fortunately, our ride was beginning at the parking lot of the Orinda BART station, so I was able to zip back and use the BART restroom. A short-ish time later I emerged, about 17 pounds lighter, and raced back to my teammates, who were already beginning to head out. By the time I got myself sunblocked and on my bike, I was at the back of the pack.
Why are “buddy rides” called “buddy rides”? I’ve never known. Early each season, the Saturday training rides tend to alternate between “team rides” (in which we’re broken out into smaller “speed groups,” each with its own coaches) and the free-form “buddy rides,” in which there are no sub-teams, just one big, blobby group. I guess maybe I had a vague sense that this made us all buddies — bicycling comrades, if you will.
But on Saturday I found out the real meaning of the “buddy ride” — because I had a buddy for almost the whole ride. One of the coaches, seeing me straggling near the back of the group, asked me to pair up with Emily. Emily and I have been on a bunch of these teams together, and we’ve often been in the same speed sub-group (though, sneakily, she’s gotten faster than me in recent seasons) — but this was the first time that we’d ridden together throughout a buddy ride. Initially, we made a bunch of wrong turns (mostly when I was leading), but Emily used the Google Map on her phone to find a way for us to get back on track. As the ride progressed, we encouraged and joked with each other — especially during the toughest part, a very, very long ascent up Redwood Road. I mean, it seemed infinitely long: you’d think, Just after the next turn, that’ll be the top — and then there would be more up. But eventually we did reach the top — at which point Emily warned me that another tough climb (up Pinehurst) was approaching.
As we finally closed in on the last chunk of this 52-mile ride, I suddenly got the “buddy” part: it wasn’t just an amorphous group of riders — we had buddies, so that (as much as possible) no one rode alone. Yeah, I know: Duh! But I’d never before been so conscious of the benefits of having a ride partner.
So again, lesson one: no Indian food the night before a ride. And now lesson two: biking buddies are cool.
If you’d like to donate toward my big ride this year (and thus help the fight against blood cancers), which will be a 188-mile route from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., on Aug. 15 & 16, just click here. To get juicy (well, maybe sweaty) details from my ride this week, just click on the map below.