Cycling – Ups and Downs

I write this post having ridden close to 650 miles on my bike so far this year. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder I’ve had a whole range of experiences while perched on that little saddle. Ups and downs, literally. Riding in temperatures from near freezing to scorching, climbing hills at a 15, 16, 17% grade, seeing amazing historical landmarks, houses, and animals I would never have seen from the car, and spending time with people who enjoy the same torture/pleasure. This week, Team In Training chapters from across the country will send a total of perhaps 4,000 cyclists to Lake Tahoe for America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, a 100-mile ride around the lake. They will all have raised over $4,000 to help fight blood cancer. I went last year and it truly was gorgeous. I won’t be going this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t slave up the hills with the team this training season. Last weekend was the penultimate ride to the century, supported by alumni and family and friends, and we made it to mile 74 before the cold rain stopped us. I wish them speed and safety this weekend!!

And, in addition to experiences IN the saddle, there are those where I’m… no longer perched on the little saddle, if you will. Sherpa and I did our longest ride together on Saturday, along with my brother and another friend, and it was a hot, hilly ride, but fun. We saw some old cars that caught my brother’s attention. I reveled in being stronger on the hills than both my brother and my boyfriend, because as they get their miles in I’m sure they’ll eventually surpass me this year. Although I couldn’t help a little friendly ribbing:

Friend: “Hey [Sherpa], did you eat enough this morning?”
Sherpa: “No, but I had more than she did.”
Me: “I thought I’d give myself a handicap so you could all keep up with me.”

All: Incredulous/amused laughing.

We all made it safely back to the parking lot, and even stopped off at my Chicken’s house so that my brother could meet her baby.

After we finished, we decided to go back out for a couple of miles on the bike path to “cool down.” I was riding with my friend to my left, Sherpa in front (nice view, you know). I swerved a bit to avoid a branch, and hit a deceptively slippery patch of mud. I tried oh so hard to recover, and almost did, but then the “Oh shit!” moment came, and I went down. My left side hit the path, bare shoulder first. I skidded a bit and then laid on my back cursing the mud while the guys came back to help. I left some shoulder and arm on the path, my hip is screaming, and I have some whiplash from my head hitting the ground, but I am lucky that I wasn’t more seriously injured and that both Sherpa and his friend are mechanically savvy, because they fixed Andie up so that we could ride back to the car.

Crashes are inevitable, and with the amount of riding I’ve been doing, one was due. And I don’t know that this one was avoidable, because I had three choices: hit the branch, hit the mud, or hit the friend. I didn’t think the mud was as deep as it was. Now maybe I’ll be more careful and just hit the friend instead. Check out the slideshow for photos from our long team training ride and my ride/fall this past weekend. Sherpa took the one of my road rash and said, “When you post this, can you call it ‘Why I won’t make fun of Sherpa’s riding anymore’?” So, yeah.

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