On Saturday, about 50 of us gathered at the Del Mar Starbucks for Dean's Memorial Ride. He loved riding his bike so I decided to re-ride the first ride we ever rode together. It was a rainy day last December. He was the only other rider that showed up. The two of us set out on what turned out to be a very long and exciting adventure in what could have been quite miserable conditions in the presence of anyone else's company. Despite cold, wet weather, slippery roads, and 3 flats, Dean and I laughed through the entire ride on roads we had never been on before. It was the longest 50-mile ride I had ever been on. It was also one of the most fun.
Saturday, we re-rode the route in perfect, sunny, 77-degree weather. I couldn't believe how many people showed (including a David Goggins sighting). We all took off and quickly separated into groups of different abilities. I, as usual, found myself riding in the back of the pack, surrounded by a great group of beginners and riders just starting to get back into shape. The negativity devil started riding my on my shoulder but I tried to brush him off. Afterall, most of the riders were going 30 or 50 miles. I had planned on riding 80.
The insidious rolling hills began, seemingly innocuous. Up, down, up, down. I rode conservatively to save energy, careful to eat and drink plenty of calories and fluids, especially in the hot weather. I drooled over the well-muscled, glossy horses in Rancho Santa Fe, grazing in green pastures (there is no green anywhere else in San Diego). The smell of jasmine was rich in the air; I could almost drink the rich scent and imagine I was sipping on tea. A great snowy egret froze magnificently by the San Dieguito Reservoir, trying to decide whether we were a threat. I chatted with a great group of riders alongside of me; we were having fun.
Brent met up with me at a pre-designated re-group. I could tell he had been waiting a bit; it must have been hard for him to let the fast group go, especially since he had been pulling them. I tried to swallow my guilt. Brad and Brent quickly dropped me and the rest of the "slow" group. No worries. I knew I would see him again at the next regroup. We plodded onwards at our tortoise-like pace: slow and steady.
17-miles down the road, Brent was not present at the re-group. He texted me and said he was lost and was going to make up his own route to find his way back to the coast and meet me at the Oceanside Harbor. This was disconcerting; we were supposed to ride together up to the San Luis River Rey bike path, newly chartered territory for us. I tried, to no avail, to suppress the anger rising in my chest. This was also the break-off point; all the other riders going 50-miles headed back. I turned right to begin adding mileage.
Luckily, as fate would have it, I didn't have to ride alone. I met a new girl, Lisa, who was about my same speed, pace, and ability. We both expressed a desire to ride long and slow. She eagerly accepted my invitation to ride longer. Neither one of us had forged this route before but we were confident we could find our way. Brent and Brad did not fare so well, however, both being considerably directionally challenged and unable (or unwilling) to read maps. (Personally, I think they get tunnel vision and just hammer on the bike without thinking about where they're going). Lisa was fantastic. We duked it out the next 5 miles uphill to the bike path, successfully discovering it to both of our delight. We chatted easily the whole time. I waited for her at the bottom of the downhills; she waited for me at the top of the uphills. That's what riding buddies do (hint, hint). She also assuaged my anger. Afterall, men are men; they don't know how to ask for directions or turn back and retrace their steps. Women, like Lisa and me know how to read a map and follow directions. She cracked me up.
After dueling a headwind for 5 miles on the bike path, we finally reached the Harbor, where Brent and Brad were waiting. I was no longer angry. I had made a new friend and had enjoyed my ride and adventure. And afterall, sometimes people get lost. Those things happen. I was overjoyed that Brent had waited for me at the Harbor. That made up for everything. Now, we could finally ride back together, the last 20 miles. My legs were a little tired but not wasted. I felt okay.
We headed back on the coast, and Brent and Brad promptly dropped us. WTF? What was the point of waiting 30 minutes for us at the Harbor, if we weren't going to ride together? That didn't make any sense to me. Why hadn't Brent communicated with me and told me he was going to ride off the rest of the way? I had said if we didn't ride to the bike path together, then we would ride together on the coast, to which I thought he had agreed. What had changed? I called him and asked if we were going to ride together but he refused to circle back or change his plans. I was deeply hurt. I choked down my tears as I headed down the coast. At that point, exhaustion began to set in.
I was able to finish the ride in pretty good spirits (afterall, it was flat and we had a tailwind) since, thankfully, Lisa was there to bolster my spirits. But I have to say, I would have enjoyed it much more if Brent hadn't been there at all so I didn't have to worry about him and riding together. We had gone over our plan the night before but he hadn't followed through with what we had talked about. I'm beginning to doubt we can ride together at all anymore because I just end up frustrated, hurt, and angry at the end. It makes me really sad because we met on these bike rides. In addition, it's totally out of my control. He is the one with all the power, and his actions state that he doesn't want to ride with me. I've been working so hard to try and come up with a compromise but I feel like he refuses to meet me halfway. I don't know why men have to be so godammn stubborn and aggressive sometimes.
In addition, I had intended on riding 80 miles in preparation for the Solvang Century in 2 weeks. I made it back to the start after going only 63-miles of hills and knew my body well enough to stop. I could have pressed on and down 80 but I would have been miserable. I have only been riding 50 lately so a hilly 63 was a good jump. 80 would not be prudent. Lisa talked some sense into me, saying she was going to do the Solvang 50. I swallowed my pride and realized I wanted to do the same. Why force myself to do 100 and be miserable? My Ironman is not until late August. I don't need to be riding 100-miles yet. This ride was a great litmus test of my fitness level. I'm just not ready to do a century in 2 weeks. I'm going to do the 50. My body will thank me for it.
Okay, now that I got that out of my system, onto the good parts. I really enjoyed making a new friend, who I can ride with in the future. We had a really good time together. I hope we can have many more in the future. Plus, I felt like Dean's spirit was with us the entire time. I had written a sympathy card to his wife the day before. I had said that I pictured Dean up in heaven riding his bike next to a glittering ocean with a gentle tailwind. I realized with a chill that our ride had ended on a blindingly sunny day, next to a glittering ocean, with a gentle tailwind. I know Dean is up there enjoying the awesome bike routes in heaven.
When I got home, I was practically comatose. I slept, ate, slept, ate, and slept some more the rest of the day, almost unable to get out of bed to eat. When I was awake, I was so exhausted, I burst into tears at every little thing. Clearly, I have overestimated my fitness, yet again. I'm not in the shape I was a year ago...and I shouldn't be. It will come...It will come. Oh, and I've earned a recovery week this week.