I finished off my summer with a 50-mile ride yesterday, my longest since I got sick. I’m training for distance right now, but also trying to get some of my hill-climbing ability back — not that I ever had all that much — so I headed for a hilly course (the Housatonic Hills course, for those of you who know the area — it’s about 12-13 miles from my house).
Things started off fine, although I ran into the beginnings of a parade as I rode through one town (side note: Emily, it was your town — were you there??); people were milling about on the edge of the road, cars were swerving all over the place, vendors were out with their big carts, so I did my best to dodge everybody and got out of there.
I had some nice moments. I passed Hobgoblin, who was riding in the other direction, and we stopped for a brief chat. I soaked up as much of the beautiful view as I could, the green and the warmth. Those things will soon be gone, but I’ll still be riding out there. I need to appreciate them while I can.
I had an embarrassing moment when I stopped in a little market/convenience store and handed the guy at the register $2, when he wanted $2.50. I didn’t know why he was looking at me funny. He laughed and said I’ve been working so hard riding I can’t think straight, which was pretty much true; I do get absent-minded when I’ve been exercising for a while.
It was shortly after this, though, that things got much worse. I was riding along, and all the sudden I heard a scraping noise and my butt dropped about two inches. The bike all the sudden felt very wrong. I stopped to see what had happened and saw that my saddle was at an odd angle; it was pointed up — the saddle had slipped. I didn’t have any bike repair tools on me, although even if I had, I’m not entirely certain I could have made the repair; I still suck at bike mechanics. I thought about heading back to the store and asking to use their phone (no, I have no cell phone) to call Hobgoblin and have him come get me, but I thought better of it. The bike was rideable after all, if a bit uncomfortable.
I was 14 miles from home at that point, kind of tired and annoyed, but I figured I could make it the rest of the way if I took it easy so as not to let the awkwardly-angled saddle cause me any muscle problems. I stood up as much as possible, and hoped that when other cyclists passed me (which they did, of course, in droves), that they wouldn’t notice the saddle and think I was an idiot who didn’t know what a bike should look like.
Everything was okay until I returned to the town having the parade. By now, they were in the middle of it. I thought I’d ride around it by taking a back road; I asked a police officer if I could ride through a road block they had set up, thinking I’d head in a different direction from the parade. He said sure, no problem, so I went ahead, and next thing I knew I was in the middle of the parade. The back road was no escape — it was the parade route itself.
If I were thinking straight, I probably would have turned around and gotten out of there, but I wasn’t, so I just kept riding. The parade was on my left and the spectators on my right, and if I thought the road was crowded the first time I went through, I realized it was really crowded this time. Little kids kept bouncing around dangerously close to my bike, and the vendors were even more in the way. People were throwing candy for the kids to pick up, and I kept accidentally riding over the pieces. I had to work to keep a line between the people parading and the people watching. A few people cheered for me. One kid yelled out “Go, Lance!”
And I just wanted to ride quietly home; the last thing I wanted was to make a spectacle of myself, with my ridiculous saddle and all! The spectators probably thought I was obnoxious for refusing to keep out of their way; I would have thought so, if I saw someone riding through a parade like that.
Sometimes it just all goes wrong, you know?