Saturday, February 4
Today I made plans with my Romanian life coach Mihael (his coaching methods are based on dismissiveness, shaming and taking pictures of me when I change into cycling gear) to meet at the George Washington Bridge and ride together on the route known as the 9 of the W. As I do not live in New York City, I have yet to tire of this particular ribbon of road as many city riders have, so I agreed to meet Mihael and at the Bridge. I did not need to pile on a lot of extra miles, so I chose to drive to the Bridge with my bike atop my car, not the way I normally prefer to start a bike ride, but this was not a morning for ambitious feelings.
I have known Mihael for the better part of ten years, and during that time he has gone from fearsome sprinter to sometimes fat (his description) regular racer guy. He is a very experienced racer and has a keen eye for detail. He also lacks the filter that goes from his eyes to his mouth that prevents him from telling you exactly what he observes. Mihael will accurately describe whether those jeans make your butt look big, but somehow is able to counterbalance this verbal sniping with an air of sweetness that has kept him from being stabbed in the eye with a high heel until the present day.
He also has a predilection for affordable tires and tubes, which made him late in arriving at our rendezvous point at the correct time. It's a well known fact that if you stand at the exit of the George Washington Bridge walkway on the New Jersey side, you will eventually be passed by everyone who has ever ridden a bike. And while I was waiting for Mihael, I ran into Jim M, who lives close to me, but was more hearty than I and actually rode his bike to the bridge. We stood by the walkway and caught up as we both waited for our bike dates to arrive. We were soon joined by Jim's cohort CJ, and our duo became a trio while we waited for my wayward Romanian.
Mihael finally arrived, and informed us of his difficulty keeping air in his tire. He asked whether any of us had a pump to fully inflate his newly changed rear tire. I am of the belt and suspenders attitude when it comes to inflation—I carry both a mini pump and CO2 cartridges—not because I am a glutton for preparation, but because I find both of those methods of inflation to be woefully inadequate. I offered my recently purchased mini pump to Mihael, we both lamented the disappearance of large frame pumps, and the four of us, with four college degrees (one in mechanical engineering) among us, set about spending the next 20 minutes not properly inflating Mihael's tire. Actually, that's a lie, Jim and Mihael did the bulk of the attempted inflating, I chatted with CJ and occasionally cracked wise at Mihael's expense.
Eventually teammate Aaron and members of our BH/Comedy Central ladies' team arrived just as Mihael and Jim were finishing their inflation adventure. We imposed ourselves onto their plans and set off into deepest New Jersey. We rode about amicably until the ladies' team broke off to do their own pre-planned route, leaving the rest of us to make our way alone. We rode a pace line, and did all the normal 9W-y things like waving to racing acquaintances from across the road, pointing to the holes in the road that everyone has memorized and of course sprinting at the state line. I wasn't sure if we were going to sprint at the state line, but Mihael went to the front under the bridge and increased the pace, so naturally I assumed it was "game on"—as people who have no imagination say. I sprinted like a bull trying to seduce a sirloin, and CJ took the win across the state line. We descended into New York and regrouped.
This is where Mihael's day went sour. As I do not have Mihael's eye for detail, I have neglected to mention that Mihael was accompanying a friend who has recently caught the cycling bug. She was holding her own quite well with our little group, and would occasionally fall back to receive advice from Mihael. They would then make their way back to the group and rejoin our paceline. As the rest of us regrouped after the sprint, I looked back to see Mihael falling off the pace and telling us to go on without him. I assumed that he was going to ride along at a rate that was more agreeable to his fledgling charge. I shrugged and the rest of us pushed on—any ride where you can drop Mihael is a fine ride in my mind.
Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Mihael was experiencing emergency distress of the stomach. The type of distress that makes you chew in reverse, which is exactly what Mihael did. He regurgitated his recent meals onto the tarmac of 9W, creating a road hazard that I am sure was pointed out as a road hazard by no less than fifty groups of riders as they passed on their way to Bear Mountain. Mihael would eventually need to be picked up at the side of the road, and would spend the rest of the weekend doing the (mostly bathroom related) things that people with the stomach flu do. Aaron, Jim, CJ and myself made our way to muffin country, where I ordered a coffee and refused any baked goods in order to show my dietary diligence, dedication to bikes and to totally get into their heads. (It's a long winter, and I need to keep myself amused.)
We eventually left the muffin shop, remounted our bikes and returned to the Bridge from whence we started, down one vomiting Romanian but satisfied nonetheless.
On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.
The fall is here and winter will soon be upon us.