Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You go 54 miles and what do you get...

... another day older and fucked up.

You're probably wondering how adding just four miles to my ride turned me into a whiny little bit... more of a whiny little bitch than I was before. Well, let me tell you, it wasn't easy.

It wasn't easy.

First, okay, my bad, I probably could have checked the weather forecast. Had I checked, I would have learned that the day was going to be cold and windy... right...

But just the day before, on Saturday, Vicky and I had taken a 14 mile ride that left her a spongy mass of jelly... yes, spongy jelly - she was hurting! But it had been a nice, little ride through a warn, sunny day. We'd taken the Santa Ana River southwards on some newly paved stretches, all the way down to the golf course, nearly into Santa Ana. I was proud of her, as I always am. I can't wait until she's ready for some longer rides! On the way out, she was making some great time, too! With a bit more motivation, I'm sure she'd enjoy longer rides... just not yet.

So, on Sunday, it was my turn to complain. I awoke at 6am, ready for some serious riding and stepped out into some serious cold. It had rained a bit and I was happy to go back inside and wait to see what 7am would bring.

An hour later, it wasn't much warmer but it was an hour later. I knew I couldn't keep waiting and figured it would get warmer, by and by. So, eschewing my cold weather gear, I went out in my cycling shorts, a thin, short-sleeved shirt, and fingerless gloves... Smart, huh? The Santa Ana River Trail has recently benefited from some repaving so that passed under my tires very quickly and, before I knew it, I turned off onto Chapman. I'm not a big fan of riding on surface streets - I've been hit by enough cars - but that's why I do out early, so I can avoid traffic. Sadly, though, I didn't avoid traffic lights! Every one I came to turned red, and it was laborious to be starting and stopping and starting and stopping. My back started to hurt, too, and I wondered what that could have been about.

To explain that, I'll need to back up to the previous night. Vicky had brought me to Burke Williams for a kind of late birthday gift. It started with a birthday bath. Now, I'm not fan of baths and I'm even less a fan of public baths. Vicky painted me a picture of a private room with attendants (hopefully hot and blonde and female) feeding grapes... um, no. The room was semi-private at best - no attendants - no grapes. Just this guy who asked me, when preparing the bath, "Do you want anything in it? We got, uh, milk and, uh, seaweed..." I really hoped it was his first day. But once I was in the bath, my mind was changed. I realized the last time I had a bath was when I was a kid! (All through my adult life, bathtubs have just represented another way to get women naked.) I'd never really enjoyed a bath as an adult, but here I was with hot water and jets and suds, with my head back on a rolled-up towel... it was pretty damned good. Next up came a 50 minute Swedish massage with Rosanne. I have to say this. If you go to Burke Williams at The Block, go to Rosanne. I can afford to say this without worrying about her being too busy for me to get in and see her because nobody reads this blog - she is the best. She has the perfect touch. And the best thing about her, as strange as this might sound, is that she will massage my shattered arm. Most people are so put off by the scars, they won't touch it. But having her touch my scars and massage my broken limb... I don't know if I should propose or offer her a few hundred for carnal services!

... sorry, where was I? Anyway, she told me later that I shouldn't do "anything crazy" the next day. I thought she meant jumping off of skyscrapers, thinking I was Spiderman. While she might have meant that, it turned out that probably included long bike rides, too.

Somewhere around Beach Boulevard or Knoff, I was getting pretty damned tired of all the stop lights. Little did I know that would be the last of them. From that point on, I got nothing but greens! Down Chapman, up Valley View, down Katella - all the way to the 605 freeway and the San Gabriel Valley River... non-stop. When it rains, it pours.

I'd forgotten how shitty the San Gabriel Valley River Trail is... it's pretty shitty. But far worse was the wind that had been beating against me the whole way there. All the way from Valley View and Chapman, the wind just wouldn't let up. It wasn't just difficult to navigate in; it was COLD! And the river trail, raised up as it is got more wind that I could ever care for! It blew my bike over, over, over, until I was riding at a tilt. Stranger still, though, was how riders around me were stopping, one by one, congesting the trail even more to watch the river fill with birds. The birds were taking to the land, far smarter than I, keeping out of the wind. Dicks.

By the time I hit PCH, I was beat. I took a short break to stretch and try and warm up but the wind just wouldn't allow any comfort. I kept going, this time it was south on PCH, through Seal Beach. After Seal Beach, there's a break between the cities for a wildlife refuge and Naval Weapons Center - I kid you not! As strangely justaposed as that may see, the wind had cleared out a wonderful view all the way up to the moutains. Heading down a bridge at 23-24mph, the experience was sublime. Dangerous, beautiful, everything I cycle for.

But the ride wasn't over. At Warner, I left the road and took to the beach's byways. The speed limit the whole way down to the Santa Ana River is 10mph for cycles and I found that I could keep that speed without hardly peddling. All around me, though, the wind was whipping everything into a frenzy, beating the few beachgoers I could see. After a while, it dawned on me: I was being pushed! The wind was helping me out - at least, for that stretch - but then, I passed the Santa Ana River, continued down PCH, and hit Superior.

Vicky had suggested I go a little farther on this trip by heading down to Superior. This would also be an opportunity to take a hill, something I haven't been able to do too much of thanks to my incredibly poor choices of hill. But ahead of me, Superior loomed and I thought, "Vicky sucks." Still, there I was. The light turned green and I started up, dropping down through my gears and pumping the pedals for all I was worth. Up, up, up, I climbed, until I realized... I was doing it! I was going up that hill at 7mph. That might sound slow but, believe me, I've done far worse! I got to the top, approached the light at the top, and it turned red. "Fuck you," I panted. I didn't stop. I coasted, hoping the light would turn green for me, and it did. On Placentia, I turned into the wind and, when I finally returned to the Santa Ana River, I knew the wind would be beating against me the rest of the way home.

By the time I reached my exit, I decided to go a bit further still. I traveled up one exit after the one I normally take and looped back around, thinking that I'd really added to my total. I pulled up, cold, winded, and beaten, in front of my house at 11:30... and I'd only done 54 miles - four miles more! The joke was on me.

But every little bit helps, right? Next stop: 60!

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