“Rule #29. The stronger rider.
If you come across one of those, be humble. Excuse yourself and ride at your pace. There is no point trying to be something you are not. Let them go and let go of your ego.”-Shona Living
Six miles. Six stinkin miles. I was finally out the door. Two wheels. Turning pedals... Slowly. Where I ride, there is rarely a stronger rider to worry about-not one seen or spinning up dust in my face anyway. But they are still there, somewhere, riding a trail. I only see them as a memory of my racing days. I let them go years ago-there was no point. Now I just try to enjoy the ride.
This was my first outing on a bike this winter after surgery. To be safe, it was decided to get this pedal out of the way on safe ice and snow covered gravel township roads . For the fatbike beneath me, there were really only two options. I never could force myself to do an out and back ride-just can't do it, I've seen that country already. Sucked it in and spit it out and need new terrain. No, I have to do a loop, a start and finish ride with everything de novo in the middle.
Donned up in what I thought would be warm enough gear, and turning down the road, wind at my back, “it” was all behind me. “Rode” to recovery. The shorter of the two routes was just 4 miles, my usual hiking course with the lab, but that wouldn't do. Ride just 4 miles? Turning the first country corner on an up hill I wondered...maybe? Option two was six miles-that would have to work, for the only other course for a loop was 15 miles and this body would have none of that. The big tires rumbled down the frozen grader tracks, resonating the road through my waking legs. It felt good to pedal again. Just pedal, not chasing some stronger rider-that might creep back in another time, later in the year.
The four mile route was behind now-no choice but to go forward. The slight incline ahead was like a L'Alpe d'Huez in the cold biting wind. “Spin to win” it's said, and all I could really do, but I'm pedaling. Slowly. In the country, it's all about one mile sections and corners-easy for the snotty biker to check off the distance. “Rule 39. Coasting = coffin. You can rest when you are dead. Peddle in the downhills.”-S.L. Maybe, but the corner lead to a headwind and the legs cried to break the rule, but to move forward, the cranks had to turn.
Another corner, another climb. My friend Scott would say this was a “Three Sweater Ride” -sort of like a Three dog night, but moving and awake. Too few layers and the home stretch put the big bike in the big ring-time to chase the stronger rider or just survive to get home and thaw. One last corner and the mailbox is the finish line-wind at my back again and the legs forget how weak they really are. The driveway is long and the fatbike is glad to be tucked away in the shop again. I guess aluminum gets cold as well. If I'd learned anything from the skis the day before, it was to just get out there, enjoy the ride, the soreness and ache, the cold air-Excuse yourself and ride at your pace. There is no point trying to be something you are not. I'm not the stronger rider, but I am getting stronger. Ride #1, check.