Monday, May 22, 2006

I Am the Lord of Bonk -or- Misery Loves Company

[In new large font]
Why do my best girl and I enjoy bicycling so much?

On Saturday, we rode 50 miles in four hours, and that included about an hour of breaks along the way for snacks, sightseeing, map consults, mote removal from eyes and contacts, toe soakings in cold mountain streams, and just taking rests. Think about that... an average of about 17 miles an hour for three hours.

On Sunday, the same -- three hours of riding, one hour of breaks, 45 miles travelled, snacks, sights, maps, motes, soaks, and rests.

On Saturday, we breezed through an intersection of county roads north of town, ignoring a stop sign to take a big left turn from east to north without wasting precious momentum. Twenty seconds later, we were treated to the putrified face of a middle-age hag screaming obcenities from the window of her 30-year-old wreck because she witnessed from half-a-mile away that we hadn't stopped and felt it was her duty to inflict her fear-of-the-lord upon us.

It's said that every hour of bicycling adds an hour to ones life, and I don't know how true that really is. But I couldn't help thinking that her gutteral outrage at our anarchist lifestyle-on-wheels must have cost her at least two hours of precious life somewhere down the line. And that, I confess, was a comforting thought.

We don't ride for those experiences, that's for sure. But they keep happening to us nevertheless.

The temps today were in the high 80's, and off in the distance to the north -- the direction we were headed -- was a small thunderstorm, the kind that churns out all manner of wind away from its center but produces little in the way of rainy usefulness. Thus, we pedalled into the wind of the pointless and futile beast for at least 10 miles. When the thunderstorm finally moved off to the east and the winds died down, our own will to continue also died down. So we found the only cottonwood tree for a mile in all directions, and parked under its shade, drank most of our remaining Gatorade, and shared a Clif Bar -- Peanut Toffee Buzz, my favorite flavor. Examining the tree, it seemed to be the home of a couple thousand bees, as they were busy as, well, bees exiting and re-entering a small crack in the trunk about six feet up from the roots. Not a bad home for bees, considering the options, as I scanned the landscape, seeing precious little else beside farmhouses and scattered trees in the distance.

Yes, we had ridden nearly 23 miles in the heat and wind, and our Gatorade was nearly gone. We had brought nearly a gallon of Fierce Grape with us in four different containers, and three of them were now empty. My best girl drinks like a fish, but you didn't hear that from me. We were now depending on the fourth bottle, the smallest, to get us back to civilization. There we could -- aided by three emergency dollars I keep hidden deep within my storage pack -- find a convenience store and buy liquid sustenance. Problem was, civilization and its surplus of convenience was more than a dozen miles away from our bee-infested cottonwood shade. Additional problem was, for the minutes we were resting, a thunderstorm had brewed over our city to the south, and the wind would once again roar into our faces for the ride back home. At least three times today I screamed "shit" into the wind, but it didn't help. Much.

And thus a long hard slog ensued.

At one point, I churned ahead of my best girl, decided to get through the windy miles as quickly as I could, leaving her behind, and after about five miles of overexertion, I stopped and waited for her to catch up with me. I was at the same intersection of county roads that sparked a red state/blue state incident the day before.

Whenever I've gotten ahead of my wife on past rides, I've never had to wait more than three minutes for her to catch up with me. But this time three minutes turned into five. And five into ten. And worst of all -- she had the last small bottle of Gatoraide to herself and I was standing in the lone shade of a stop sign. Seriously.

When I finally decided that something awful had happened and that I would have to go rescue her -- perhaps from the continued persecution of Saturday's uberbitch -- my wife appeared at the top of a rise a half-mile away, the same location where said uberbitch and her eagle/fascist eyes no doubt witnessed our stop sign sins. Turns out she had troubles with motes and contacts and she had to stop, clean, and reload. My wife I mean.

After she caught up, she took a short break herself in the shade of the stop sign. We finished the bottle of Gatorade -- I did tell you how small it was, didn't I? -- and then we continued on. I immediately noticed that due to 15 minutes of inactivity, my muscles were now cramped up.

I was cripplingly bonked, dehydrated, cramping, energy-free on a squeeky 40-pound bike, and feeling feeble and light-headed. God, it was awesome!

Three miles of blackouts due to pain later, we found our convenience store, bought another Gatorade and a liter of Mountain Dew, and then drank while we soaked our troubles and toes in a nearby river. Cold, very cold -- drinks and river. I, of course, drank the entire liter of Dew, which effectively lifted the bonk from my clouded dusky eyes.

We made the final 10 miles home safely and without incident. I also arrived home lighter than I've ever been since my early 20's, despite the liter of Mountain Dew in my gut.

So back to my original question: Why do we enjoy bicycling so much?

Isn't it obvious?

An adventurer from my hometown once said, before his untimely death at the hands [so to speak] of a bowhead whale, "
half the joy of a journey is planning it; the other half is coming home and bragging about it." His formulation leaves no joy in the doing. That feels right.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like those words of wisdom from your hometown adventurer... That feels right to me too...

-- I'm certainly in awe of your own + your best girl's physical fitness!


8:48 AM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it bicyclists incite such rage in some motorists ? And why are these people so often driving pickup trucks ? And sport, depending on gender, either big hair piled high (the women) or a nice greasy mullet and wife-beater shirt (the men). Not to forget the big overgrown bellies (both genders) or the Bud Lite cans in the truck bed.

11:11 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Cara Lietuva said...

Howard, I think you should have a section of your blog that's devoted to Q and A's your readers can ask you about architecture and cycling and maybe sustainable living, too. You could have a separate all-time header, say on the left side, and one could click and go there and ask you questions. Because I have a question, but it's really little and maybe silly too.
Just a thought.

10:40 AM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger HRlaughed said...

I would love to start up "Ask the Architect" with it's own header as you describe, but I really don't know how. I am forced to admit that I am an HTTP poseur. That's why my blog comes to you via Blogger. Any suggestions anyone?

5:18 PM, May 25, 2006  

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