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June 07, 2003: Thirty-two miles of fun

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This morning Richard and I got up, donned our spandex shorts and bright red t-shirts, filled the Camelbaks with water, loaded bikes and all associated paraphernalia into the car, and set off for Sacramento to take part in our second Ride Against Hunger.

The mantra of the day – at least for every one of the participants who had taken part last year – was "at least it’s not as bad as last year". Because last year, as my long-term readers may recall, the ride was hallmarked by 30-mile per hour winds, and what should have been a lovely ride was actually not so fun. Last year we spent most of the ride alternately blessing (when it was behind us) and cursing (when we rode into it) the wind.

As if to make up for last year, this morning the weather could not have been more perfect for a ride. It was just chilly enough when we started to encourage everyone to get riding so we would warm up, and what wind there was was only a slight breeze – just enough to cool off a sweaty cyclist at a rest stop, but not enough to act as a deterrent during the ride.

Perhaps last year’s wind scared them off, but it was a bit disappointing to see significantly fewer participants this year. Still, it was an enthusiastic crowd of us who pushed off from the starting line at 9am, and meandered through the streets of Sacramento until we climbed an overpass and took to the river road. And without the wind to keep us preoccupied, we could actually pay attention to the sights we were passing – adorable houses, and then out into vast fields of farmland and flowers.

Richard and I initially signed up for the shorter ride (16 miles) since we haven’t had much time (or motivation) to go riding in the past few months. But when we hit the first rest stop, we were feeling so good we decided to go the full distance. Especially since there was no wind!

I recognized Bev the moment I saw her, mainly because she tends to post pictures of herself on her journal. But I think I would have recognized her even without the pictures since she was the only one wandering around with a camera glued to her face (grin). We chatted a bit, and then all eventually got back on our bikes and got back to the all-important business of pedaling.

It wasn’t until the way back that the lack of cycling practice really started to hit Richard and me. It was more than a teeny bit obvious to both of us when we actually had to stop and walk our bikes up a short (but admittedly rather steep) hill. And I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it over the overpass coming back into town without having to stop because by the time we only had about 8 miles left, my legs were burning and all the nerves in my butt had long since given up and gone into hiding, waiting only until I shifted on my seat to remind me how sore I was. We got a little lost on the way back, since they hadn’t clearly marked the route (lucky for us I had grabbed a ride map at the starting point!), and from there it was just steady pedaling, one foot after another, head down, with only one goal – to reach the end.

The wind finally did kick in today, but not until we had already returned home. We both did crash for an hour or two for a short nap, but to my surprise, I am not nearly as sore as I expected to be. All that working out at Curves has, if nothing else, at least paid off in better cycling performance.

We made it back to the starting point in one piece, but Bev wasn’t nearly as lucky. Her karma apparently decided she was overdue for her first big cycling accident – ouch!.

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