Health by Heidi
|Posted on August 9, 2015 at 3:45 PM|
Yesterday marked the last group ride of the season for me. I have a conflict next weekend and then Fast Guy, the group organizer, is leaving for a while. I will still ride on my own, and may even hop in a few group rides with the New Fast Guys. However, any of you with gardens knows that this time of year is getting into peak harvesting, and therefore peak canning, season. For the next several weeks I just won't have time to spend three or five or seven hours on a bike on any given day. So, as I said, yesterday was my last group ride of the season.
We started at 7:30 yesterday morning, with a balmy 50 degrees and clouds. A good group showed up to the start: me, Fast Guy, New Fast Guys 1 and 2 from last week, New Fast Guy 3, Other Guy, and New Couple, so eight people total. The New Fast Guys planned to ride up and over Skalkaho a little ways and then back to town, so arrived on cross bikes. The rest of us planned to ride up Skalkaho to the end of the pavement, turn around, and then add on more miles as we deemed necessary. We all set off together up Skalkaho and quickly formed into a double paceline, chatting with those around us as we moved through the rotations. New Couple quickly fell off the back, but we forged ahead at a comfortable pace, rotating leaders every few minutes and enjoying the comeraderie and cool morning air. Up Skalkaho we went, farther and farther. As the road narrowed, New Fast Guy 1 quickly took his place at the front of the paceline alongside New Fast Guy 3, with the rest of us behind them. The grade steepened and Other Guy lost contact with the group. New Fast Guy 1 kept a grueling pace, despite having a semi-deflated rear tire. Soon New Fast Guy 3 dropped off. We continued on, our group of eight now down to four. Fast Guy and New Fast Guy 1 traded turns at the front, and New Fast Guy 2 eventually crumbled and dropped back. And then there were three. Up and up we went over those last few miles of pavement, the Fast Guys taking turns pulling, me hanging on and focused on not losing contact. When we finally reached the end of the pavement, I was huffing and puffing, legs burning, but still feeling pretty good. I actually could have kept climbing with these guys. Yes, New Fast Guy 1 was on a cross bike AND had a partially deflated rear tire, BUT STILL!! I kept up with him and Fast Guy all the way to the top, something no one else in the group was able to do. I reveled in my small victory as they set about changing the now more-deflated rear tire.
Eventually everyone made it to the end of the pavement. The New Fast Guys and New Couple Husband continued on up the dirt and the rest of us turned around as a group. Eventually Fast Guy and I were all that remained. As we did a quick loop on Blodgett Camp Rd before heading back to town, I thought it fitting that I finish my last group ride of the season with Fast Guy. He has pushed me all summer long. He helped me train for the duathlon, rode Corvallis Hills with me repeatedly, constantly challenged me on every climb, and pushed me to take the front of the paceline. Because of that, I feel stronger on my bike than I ever remember feeling, and I truly could not have achieved it on my own.
And now it all comes to a close. Fast Guy rides year round (which is partly why he is Fast Guy), and he loves it, but I need a change. I have loved every torturous, leg-ripping, lung-searing, awe-inspiring, motivating, beautiful, awful, and spectacular second of this cycling season. I am admittedly a bit sad that it is coming to an end, but I am excited about the change. I am looking forward to more running, hiking, gardening. I am excited about canning tomatoes on Sundays while watching NFL, and feeling the cool nip in the air as Autumn approaches. I have some weeks of great cycling still to come, but it will be different. My rides, like the days, will get shorter.
I feel an overwhelming sense of peace, satisfaction, and gratitude for a phenomenal summer of cycling. As they say, all good things must come to an end...until next spring.