I slam a small smoothie, and instead of lunch, sneak out for a quick 20-miles. Afterall, I'm sick of hour after hour on the trainer in the long winter months when the nights are long and the days are short (even in San Diego). After dropping the truck off for a tune-up (hey, multitasking--even better), I head down Genessee, a busy, dirty street. I focus on holding a straight line as semi after semi nearly clips me from the slow lane, shooting up a cloud of smoke in its wake.
By the Torrey Pines golf course, I tense up and ride extra defensively, avoiding swerving Jaguars and Cadillacs. Slouched in the front seat, I can barely spot a slumped gray head. I wave and yell but my shouts and gesticulations fall on deaf ears and near-sighted eyes, clouded by thick glasses with old prescriptions. I zip by some guy on his bike, feeling my ego swell, until I hear the creaking of his cleats and spot his unkempt, hairy legs. My ego deflates. I stop by my favorite bike shop in Solana Beach (B&L), and they assure me Torch is good to go for the Stagecoach Century on Saturday. I leave, having exchanged only pleasantries and no currency. Am I dreaming? Has hell frozen over?
As I return south, a cacophony of pungent stenches of cigarettes, hamburgers drenched in catsup, enchiladas, pizza, and sushi intertwine. Some of these aromas alone make my mouth water (afterall, I only had a small smoothie for lunch) but as the smells swirl and percolate together, each contaminates the next, until it resembles fresh garbage, the odoriferous equivalent of mixing bright colors until you have a muddy gray, overpowering my delicate sense of smell. An older Italian guy screams, "Left," and zips by going uphill. I let him go wondering, Where's the fire?" After passing me with overzealous exuberance, he slows. Now I'm drafting. After being overtaken, I'm very careful before passing again. I figure, if he passed me, he must be an overall stronger rider. And since most people are (especially men with their bigger muscles, hearts, lung capacity and testosterone--unfair advantage; bah!), I just assume they should be in front. We ride through Del Mar together, my strategy being that 2 cyclists are less invisible than 1.
Now, I'm dodging mini-van after mini-van with soccer moms hurrying in and out of parking spaces, weaving this way and that with their perfectly coiffed hairstyles, Gucci sunglasses, and expressionless faces, skin pulled tight from their last appointment with Dr. Botox as they rush off to pick up little Timmy or Samantha. The road clears, and I sprint past Mr. Italian guy, trying to make the yellow light...and miss. If only I had made my move sooner! He pulls up next to me at the light and gives Torch a long, dark look. I don't nod, I don't say hi, I don't even look at him. Very unlike me but he seems cold and hard. I don't even feel guilty about not trying to be nice. The light turns green, and I draft behind him. Surely he's going to take off on the downhill? No. I can't take it anymore. I make my move and blow by him for the final time. Phew!
Now I'm by the beach at the bottom of Torrey Pines avoiding the tourists and surfers, zipping in and out of parking spaces. Each parked car is a potential weapon, cocked and ready to spring its loaded door open into my path. I reach the bottom of the inside of Torrey Pines hill. It feels so good to get up out of the saddle and climb! My lungs are heaving so hard, I taste blood in my throat by the time I reach the creast. I had figured the roads would be mostly empty during mid-day hours but you hadn't counted on who would dominate the roads: the geriatrics, delivery truck drivers, and soccer moms. Back at work, I breathe a sigh of relief. Another bike workout done, and I survived.