[For the next several months, I will be posting dispatches from my weekly training rides with Team In Training, as I prepare for the 100-mile “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” in Tahoe on June 1 — all to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you’d like to donate towards my ride, you can do so here.]
My second and third rides were both in Marin, and were both lovely and pretty relaxing, so they’re kind of mixing together in my mind. Here’s the first one, on March 1 (you can click on the map to get more details):
Last Saturday’s ride took us along the Paradise Loop, which left me feeling paradisiacal and loopy:
Neither ride was very challenging, so both gave me plenty of time to daydream about how incredibly hard the rides were soon going to get. After a few years of training on my hybrid bike, riding my new bike — my lovely Roubaix — feels like almost a different sport entirely: this bike wants to go forward. I think my new bike might secretly look down on me, as perhaps it was hoping to be ridden by a pro — or at least one of those road-biking bad-asses who un-secretly look down on me. (Last season, at a brief stop during a long training ride, I found myself walking directly towards a gentleman who was perhaps in his 60s. Clearly an excellent and seasoned biker, he wore his stretchy biking clothes like a second skin; and of course he had the wraparound shades. I was feeling proud and happy to have gotten to wherever we were in the mountains, and I gave him a big smile and wave and a “Hi!” — you know, as one road-cyclist to another. He didn’t even acknowledge me — didn’t smile or wave back or even pause. And I knew why: He was a cycling bad-ass; I wasn’t. Maybe one day, when I’ve gotten really good and have begun to wear wraparound shades and have zero-point-zero-one body fat, he will finally acknowledge me. Of course, by then he will be over 100 and the world will all be underwater.) But I think I can win over my new bike. When it sees how hard I work, how determined I am to improve, it will — at first begrudgingly — cut me some slack. Eventually, it may even come to admire me, the way Sherlock came to admire Dr. Watson.
But here’s the thing, no matter how many bad things my bike may think about me, it treats me royally! There were a few times, in the last two rides, when I had to stop at a red light and fell behind some of the other riders. On each occasion, I … well, what it felt like is that I just thought about going faster. I must have been pressing the pedals a bit harder as well, but it felt more natural, more organic and magical than that. It felt as though, once I’d had the thought that it would be really nice to catch up with the folks ahead of me, my bike just started zooming forward. This linkage — of intention, to power, to speed — was exhilarating.
Now, don’t get me wrong: climbing is still really hard. This isn’t an electric bike! And the climbing is only going to get harder on our upcoming rides. But it’s quite a feeling to be riding a machine that is so exquisitely designed for the task of zipping along roadways. As you may know, I don’t know how to drive a car (yet!), so this is my first inkling of what all you normal people are talking about when you rave about how it feels to drive a great car. My new bike makes me smile, and I can’t wait till 2097, when I will finally have paid it off!
P.S.: Apropos of nothing, here’s a bike-related secret thought that I can share with you: Every time a teammate calls out “Gravel!” as a warning to us fellow cyclists, I think “Gravel agent!” You know, like travel agent, only with gravel. This delights me. I don’t know why. … That is all.