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April 27, 2004: Wobbly

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My boss, in the last few months, has really gotten into the whole bike riding thing. I mentioned our goal of doing 1000 miles this year and he whipped up a spreadsheet and has been happily tracking his own miles. He gleefully reports to me at least once a week where he stands currently (I think if he doesnít do at least 2000 miles this year, at the rate heís going, something will have gone horribly wrong), whereas I have not exactly been racking up the miles in response. At this point in the year, in order to be on track to reach that lofty 1000 mile goal, we should have banked at least 320 miles. As of this afternoon I think I have just barely cracked 150. Not exactly an inspiring start.

Nevertheless I am determined to somehow make up all those miles I should have ridden by now, plus do all the rest by the end of the year. After all, two years ago weíd only done 50 miles by the end of March and still made it to about 1000 by the end of the year, and that was when we were brand new to the cycling habit, back when 10 miles seemed like a really long distance to ride. These days I can do more than 10 miles in an hour Ė 10 miles is just a little jaunt in the country. 20 miles isnít impossible, but it starts getting tiring. And 30 miles, now Ė thatís still a really long distance to ride.

Still, Iíve been staring at this glaring lack of accumulated miles for the year so far and trying to figure out where to fit in a few more to try to catch up. So this week I decided to give it a shot and try riding home from work, instead of having Richard pick me up at the beginning of the causeway. Actually, to be completely realistic, I figured I probably wouldnít make it all the way home, but since it just happened to be Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerryís, and there just happens to be a Ben & Jerryís Scoop Shop right on the ride home, I figured I could at least make it there, which would be about halfway home (and also about 15 miles), and then see how I was doing.

At least I didnít try to do this yesterday Ė the day that broke records for temperatures in April (94 degrees! In April! If this is a taste of what summer is going to be like, just shoot me now. Have I mentioned how much I hate the heat?). But today wasnít much better Ė low 90ís, and just enough of east-blowing breeze by the time we left the office to be inconvenient. I should note right about now, in case you hadnít figured that out yet, that we were heading west.

My boss rode his bike all the way *to* work Ė something I simply do not have the guts to even attempt yet Ė and the plan was for me to follow him at least to Davis, so I could see all the little bike paths and such that I would need to take in order to do this again. However we ended up separating in Old Sacramento and he didnít catch up with me again until I was nearly over the causeway.

And ah, the causeway. Itís about 3 miles of long, straight path right beside the freeway, with only a cement wall topped with chain link fence to keep the bikes separate from the cars. The wall does nothing, however, to protect the cyclist from the buffeting of wind as semi trucks barrel past, nor does it do squat to protect from the heat and the noise that emanates from all the cars.

I have done 11 miles before and have still been ready to keep on riding. But there was something about riding over that causeway that just sapped me completely. By the time we got to the end I was about ready to keel over. I tried my hardest to keep on going, but when I started to feel dizzy I finally gave up. I called Richard to come get me, waved my boss on his way, and then wearily pedaled my way down the pass under the freeway to wait for Richard on the other side.

The most frustrating thing about this whole situation was that it would have only been another 5 or so miles to the heart of Davis where the Ben & Jerryís ice cream shop waited. While I stood there and waited by the side of the road to be rescued by my husband I grumbled to myself about what a failure I was, that I couldnít even do a measly few more miles. But a little later, after a ride in a comfortingly air conditioned car, and then while eating a free scoop of Dublin Mudslide ice cream, I realized that I should at least be proud of having made it as far as I did. At least I tried.

I have a feeling itís going to be a while before Iím actually ready to ride all the way home from work like my boss. I think it will be even longer than that until Iím able to not only bike *to* work in the morning, but still have enough energy to be at least remotely productive while Iím there. But Iím not giving up. Thursday Iíll do the regular ride, since with choir practice in the evening I donít have the luxury of a few extra hours to battle the wind and the heat and the traffic. Next Tuesday, however, Richard says heís willing to wait for me at Borders, which is right next to that ice cream shop. My goal is to at least make it to the first Davis exit, which is only a few miles away from where I hit the wall today. Maybe in another few weeks Iíll be able to actually meet him at Borders instead of having to call him to come rescue me before I fall over in a whimpering heap. And maybe by this time next year Iíll be looking back at this and marveling about how I used to think 30 miles was a really long way to ride.

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