Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rides Like This

It was one of those mornings. I felt like I didn’t have much in the tank but I got on my bike anyway. When we all met up I reminded Rod that he said it would be an easy ride. Everyone laughed because, well, we know Rod. Someone made a joke about Rod’s inability to go easy because, well, joking is what we do when the subjects “easy” and “Rod” come up at the same time. For his part, Rod insisted he meant it this time; it would be an easy ride.

I don’t remember if Rod was at the front or not when we took off, but eventually he got there. Apparently, Rod was serious this time. The easy to moderate pace continued for some time. When KOM had to stop to relieve himself, I made a comment to the others about Rod’s new found discipline. Rod gave us the ol’ “I told you so,” in response and added, “I meant it this time.” We continued on, keeping that moderate pace for the most part, eventually arriving at Hillside.

I was at the front and I heard the guys call for a right turn to head up the hill. I stayed at the front and decided to go a little hard since my “a little hard” on the hill approximates the group’s “easy on the hill.” At one point I looked over my shoulder to discover no one behind me. I slowed and waited. Still nothing.  Finally, figuring someone had a mechanical, I turned back and headed down the hill.

When I arrived at the bottom having found no one I was truly chagrined. “What the heck happened?” I wondered. I pulled my phone out and sure enough, I had a message from KOM. “Brian, I hope you get this message. We turned off Hillside.” I called him back as I headed back up the hill. As it turned out, Rod was showing them some work he had done on a side road off Hillside. When we finally reunited halfway up the hill, the guys gave me all kinds of crap about “dropping” them.  We turned off Hillside and continued on several “back roads” at a nice easy pace.

I’m not sure how we got there, but at one point I looked up and we were at Rocky Hill. After debating the merits of turning right or left, we turned left. It was here, somewhere on Rocky Hill, that the pace picked up. When we hit Homestead, KOM really turned it up. All thoughts of going easy flew out the window. We were hitting 28-30 mph on the flats. It was exhilarating. After a time and for no apparent reason, the pace eased up again. This respite was short lived as someone took off and we did it again. We took a right hand turn onto a freshly paved road that dropped down then eased back up a gentle incline and leveled off again, our legs churning furiously. We hammered away until we neared the stop sign. We eased through the stop sign and settled back into to a conversational pace.

I found myself next to Miz who turned to me and said with a smile, “I love rides like this.”

I knew what he meant as soon as he said it. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the explanation that followed. He was so right on.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Portentous (and Weird) Dream

Rolling out of Rod's driveway we turned left and saw Stoney heading our way. Rod and I turned left again as Stoney turned right, greeting us with a "Hey guys," or something like that. When we hooked up with King of the Mountain a little while later, Stoney and I found ourselves riding side by side behind Rod and KOM.

"I had the weirdest dream last night," I said, looking over at Stoney. "I was riding in my dream and I hit a ginormous pothole. It tacoed my wheel but somehow I managed to stay upright. So I tried calling the bike shop about my wheel but I couldn't find the number. I googled it, but all I got for results were bike shops in Pasadena. So I called out, 'Someone find me a phone is broken!' And then I woke up. How crazy is that? Who even uses a phone book anymore?"

Stoney chuckled and said, "Uh, yeah, that is a pretty bizarre dream."

Eventually we arrived at the meeting spot. Fro, Paul, and Miz arrived shortly after. We rolled out onto New Meadow, Rod leading the way. I'm not sure when, but at what turned out to be the right time (well, sort of) I began looking. I was thinking, "It's gotta be coming up soon." I may have taken my eyes off the road as Rod drifted back having finished his pull, I don't know. I never did find it, but I knew I was upon it. Instead I saw Stoney's hand in the air, moving quickly and pointing down. His movement was fast, almost as if he knew he wasn't giving enough warning.

I felt my bike hit the hole and hit it hard. I let out a loud "Whoa" and, as if in slow motion, I could see the bottle on my seat tube jump and escape the clutches of its cage. I yelled "Bottle!" instinctively and out of the corner of my eye I saw Rod drifting to his left, the bottle seeming to follow him as it skidded across the street. Rod managed to avoid the bottle and the group slowed down as I turned to retrieve my stray drink.

As I rolled back the group I felt my bike wobble. Sure enough, my rear tire was flat.

"Is it a pinch flat?" Paul asked.

"Yeah, for sure it's a pinch flat, he hit that hole hard," Rod answered.

Stoney apologized saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't see the hole until the last second. I should've warned you sooner."

"No worries, dude. I knew it was coming up and I was looking for it but..."

Somewhat suddenly I remembered the dream I had the night before and had told Stoney about minutes before. I mentioned it to the group and everyone kinda laughed and someone acknowledged how strange it was.

I wish I could wrap this up but I'm afraid I'm not sure how to think about it. Was the dream a warning? Or did it set me up to hit a hole I otherwise would have avoided? Maybe it's totally unrelated- just a freak occurrence. I don't know, but it was weird.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An Ordinary Ride

My handlebars pointed south as the road dipped.
A bird high above suddenly descended in front of me and
arced back up in a U, flying between my bike and the car headed north.
I've seen this many times- ordinary- and yet, extraordinary.
The road rose up and I eased off the pedals ever so slightly.
An overflowing dumpster across the street failed to dampen my mood.
The temperature was perfect.
I accelerated on.

The sign ahead indicated that Swansea was to the left.
A right turn would take me on the most direct route home.
A left turn would prolong the ride.

I turned left. This is just too good.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


“I’m going to ride in the morning.”

The morning came and I checked my weather app. Current temp was 27 with a predicted high of 34. I looked outside. It looked windy. Somewhat suddenly I felt tired. 27 is not bad when you’re meeting some friends, but by yourself? It didn't take me long to decide I wasn't getting on my bike.

The irony wasn't lost on me later that day as I sat in the coffee shop. Here I was, on my day off, sitting in a coffee shop reading The Time Crunched Cyclist. Where was the crunch? Why am I reading this instead of riding? “It’s cold...beside, I’m a little tired. It was a long week.”

I turned back to the book reading when my phone rang. It was Jim.

“Hey Jim.”
“Hey man…did you get my email?”
“No.” (I rarely check my email on my day off.)
“You wanna go for a ride around 4?”

How could I say no?

“Yeah, I’ll meet you at your house at 4.”

It was really that easy. I wasn't any less tired and the weather hadn't changed much either.

Around 3:30 I checked my tire pressure. I knew that the next day marked the one year anniversary of my new bike purchase. I glanced at my odometer which read 2162; 38 miles away from 2,200 for the year. For some cyclists 2,200 is barely half a season, but for me it’s a significant number, even as I hope to top it this year.

I flung my leg over the top tube and took a long route to Jim’s house.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


The water sprayed up from Rod's wheel, forming tears on my sunglasses.

I was too tired for the ride but I knew I had to ride.
I rode until it hurt and then I rode some more, stroke after stroke, my mind wandering at times.
Not knowing where I was and hurting as well, I clung to the wheel in front of me, trusting its operator knew the way.

The line from the Psalm ran through my mind: "I cling to you; your right hand upholds me."

When I got home I stopped in the driveway staring at the snow.
I noticed the snow, which hours earlier had been solid white, was now giving way to patches of green grass.
I admitted that morning- begrudgingly- that the snow was beautiful and now it was slipping away.

I stood there praying the line from the Psalm.

Life is beautiful and mysterious.

Someday all the roads will be known. In the meantime, I'm clinging to the wheel of the One who is the Way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Long Break

A few days before Christmas I decided I'd take a week off the bike. I had been riding regularly and was very happy with the miles I was getting in. After my injury (which, again, I may write about here eventually) I was determined to take it slow as I got back into riding. As I reflected on the amount of riding I'd done since buying my new bike, I was pleased. Beyond pleased, really. I was slightly concerned that I was starting to take on too many miles too soon, but my knee was feeling good overall so I wasn't too concerned. Still, I've read and known the benefits of taking some time off and figured it was a good time to take some time off.

Everything went according to plan. I took a week off. And then...well...everything seemed to fall apart. Granted, I'm talking about riding a bike, so "fall apart" is a little extreme, but still... . The easiest way to describe it is this: whether it was my work schedule, family schedule, sickness or (the biggest culprit) the weather, I've been on my bike 3 or 4 times since Christmas. So, yeah, my blog posting is relatively in line with my riding.

The good news? During my last ride (a week or so ago) I noticed that I was about 10 miles short of 2000 miles for the last 10 months. 2000 miles might not seem like much to many cyclists, but I'm thrilled. It means I'm riding more this year than I have in a long time, if not ever.

I was in San Diego recently and enjoyed seeing so many cyclists out. I read my new issue of Bicycling Magazine on the plane. I can't wait to get out again, but I'm okay with the extended break. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Seen on My Ride, Part 2

The first time I ever noticed this sign I thought it was simply declaring the obvious: it's windy! I learned that this is a "whistle" sign for trains. (The bike path used to be a train track.)

How often do you notice town line signs when driving a vehicle?

I love the cafe ride. We usually stop here.

An early morning ride with a beautiful view.

Parked outside the cafe.

It's all his fault. He got me into cycling a few years back. (Well, Kevin shares in the blame, too.)