ARE YOU CRAZY OR JUST PLAIN STUPID?
Those are the questions I ask myself every time I ride with the biking group. Time and again, I get my a@##ss handed back to me as I struggle to bring up the rear on our rides. And you'd better believe I am cranking as hard as my legs and heart will allow me to work! I can't help wonder if I'm doing something wrong, if something's wrong with my bike, or just what I can do to keep up with them. I just don't get it!
And such a motley crew we are too! Today's group ride consisted of mainly the regulars and a couple of new people. I know I've described some of these people before, but a better description is warranted here for clarification and understanding of what an unusual group this is.
First, there's Ron and Sue, the unofficial group ride organizers. Ron is a retired firefighter and longtime experienced runner. He Sue is nearing 60, and as she describes herself, is a big boned Dutch woman. While she started running a few years ago, she still favors the back of the pack, but put her on a bike and she can put the hammer down. She earned my respect the first time I biked with her 3 years ago. Then there's Ultra Sue, or Energizer Bunny Sue, who keeps going and going and going. Looking at Sue, you would never know she was strong as a horse on the bike, doing the ride across Iowa each year for the last 15 years, and either wins outright or is an age group winner at many of the ultras she runs each year, with Texas Trails, Huff, JFK 50, and Ice Age among a few. Then there's Ken, a wiry, 120 pound "weakling," with legs so skinny they aren't any bigger around than my upper arm/bicep area! He wears a big billowing t-shirt and shorts and has a bucket of a helmet and no toe clips, yet this guy is so strong and fast, I can hardly believe it. The same with Steve, with his $10 garage sale Trek bike. These two guys usually end up battling it out together on the return ride every time. Once they start, you don't see them again until the end they are so far ahead.
Today we had a couple of extras join in, Todd, also a runner, wearing the baggy shorts and tennis shoes (not running shoes) of all things! He could motor along like anybody's business too. Hardly ever rides he said. Had me fooled. And Russ, who probably rides once or twice a year at most, wearing an old, taped up helmet, docker shorts and shoes-- looking more like he was going to a picnic than a bike ride--riding a 25 year old, steel-framed Schwinn LaTour.
And then there's me, the triathlete wannabe, the poser, sucking wind behind all of them. Its laughable, really. If any of them had any doubts about their abilities to do a tri, or even a du, I could easily put their fears to rest.
Since I was still tired from the race on Sunday, riding 40 miles of hills seemed a good alternative to running. Without detailing every agonizing mile of the ride, believe me when I say it was hard. While rain had been a threat, that had passed and left the day cool, overcast, and horribly humid. We rode to a small farming town 20 miles away, with a McDonalds along the interstate for breakfast, since there was nothing else open in the rural area we were in. It was so humid that we were all soaked by the time we got there, looking as if it had rained. The hills were constant and unrelenting. I fell back almost immediately, and never was able to keep up the whole way. The group does stop and wait for everyone (mainly me) to catch up from time to time. I remain grateful they continue to invite me on these rides, but I'm sure they are happy with all the rest I provide them with too! I, however, do not get a rest. Once I catch up, we take off again.
And what is so amazing to me is that while I know I have improved somewhat steadily, since they also improve right along with me, I never catch up to their ability.
So I had the choice today to ride or I could have stayed home. What? And miss out on all that fun?