Went on my second training ride yesterday, at 8:30 a.m. in Danville. I think I have now reached critical mass in biking accoutrements: I was wearing my bike jersey, padded bike shorts (with baggy non-bike shorts over them, to maintain my street cred and preserve a certain mystery regarding my genitals), riding gloves, elbow and knee-warmers, a brightly colored windbreaker (which I kept stuffed into my jersey), and of course a helmet (to protect my memories of lying in bed on Saturday mornings). I have, however, drawn the line — for the moment, at least — at the special shoes with clips in the bottoms that attach you to your pedals: for one thing, I’m afraid I’d keep falling over; for another thing, they’re effing expensive.
Before we started rolling, we were introduced to a guest rider — a man who spoke movingly of having recently lost his wife to cancer. He’s a police officer — and as he spoke (and I cried some), my mind, strangely, leapt to the cop who infamously pepper-sprayed a group of peacefully protesting students at UC-Davis last week. And the empathy that I’ve been feeling for those students, and for their families and friends, somehow also extended to that cop. Because here before me, speaking with great emotion, was someone else in his line of work; and because I cared about the man who was speaking to us, I also, somehow, cared about another man, whom I’ve loathed from afar. I saw us all as fragile organisms, whose lives can be made meaningful only by love. And I wanted to do my tiny part to fight cancer, so that people may love and be loved for as long as possible, as well as my tiny part to try to repair the delicate political organism that — improbably, in this beautiful but mostly uncaring universe — has somehow joined so many of us together in relative peace.
During our 20-mile ride, another cop (a close friend of the man who had spoken to us earlier) took it upon himself to tutor me in the art of reaching for one’s water bottle while riding one’s bike. He’d noticed that I hadn’t been hydrating while riding, and pulled up alongside me to explain how important it is, on long rides, to drink water steadily; otherwise, he said, you start cramping. I, in turn, explained my fear — that if I took one hand off the handlebars to reach for a water bottle, disaster would ensue. But he kept at it, encouraging me to go through the process repeatedly, step by step. And it worked! (I didn’t die.)
You (or, at least, I) feel pretty vulnerable zipping along on a bike over a hard road. But riding in a team, you start to feel that success might be possible. People warn you about road hazards (gravel, glass, potholes) with hand-signals and shouts. They show you how to drink water between stops. They keep alive the memories of their loved ones, and so help you keep alive the memories of yours (on both rides I’ve done so far, my thoughts have often drifted to such recollections — maybe, in part, because bike-riding brings back sense-memories of earlier days).
Yesterday was 20 miles or so. On March 10 it will be 100 miles! Who knows what thoughts I’ll have? I have little idea — but I’m pretty sure that I won’t cramp up. Thanks, fellow human!
If you’d like to make a donation to support finding a cure for blood cancers, you can go to my TNT fundraising page.
Below is (are?) the data from yesterday’s training ride in Danville.