Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Old people and bicycling

Well, another leg of my bicycle trip along Lake Michigan and another lesson learned. A couple weeks ago I pushed myself a little too hard and had a little trouble with my legs for a few days. I swore I would never push myself that hard again. That oath lasted almost a week. Last Saturday, just as my legs showed signs of becoming useful once again for walking halfway normal I set off on another stage heading North from Pentwater towards Ludington and maybe, if I felt OK a little beyond. Everything went well, the weather was perfect, the wind was almost non-existent and I felt pretty good. All was good with the world and my camera was at the ready to record all the beautiful sights on my leisurely ride. Then it happened! I had ridden, perhaps a half mile when off from a side rode came two, young, svelt, slim, sun baked bike riding guys also enjoying the day. As they road alongside a few words of pleasantry were exchanged and they said they were headed up to Manistee to meet some (hopefully bikini clad) girls for a swim. I mentioned my hope of reaching Ludington and they sort of chucked together. " It's nice to see an older guy trying to ride and stay in reasonable shape" one of them said. "Except for your age we'd invite you to tag along" the other said with a smile on his face. "Oh, oh!" I thought. "They'd touched a cord regarding my male pride." I could feel the, "I'll show them" internal, competitive, stupid, get in trouble thing that rears it's ugly head at times like this. "I'll try to keep up for a little while just the same" I said. Dumb, dumb, dumb! In surveying the situation I had observed that they were both riding fat, knobby tired mountain, all terrain, single speed bikes. I, riding my skinny wheel, feather light touring bike just might be able to stay with them for a short distance which would feed my ego at least for the moment. They took the lead and off we went at a faster pace than I had originally intended and also leaving no time for the leisurely picture taking but I was committed and enjoyed the astonished look on their faces as I remained behind them feeling very much like the sneaky guy waiting his chance to pass in a NASCAR race. Up and down those pesky hills, rounding curves, retracing our paths as we mistakenly went down dead end streets. Past cottages and small stores and knick knack shops with narry a passing look. The chit chat was kept to a minimum due to the intensity of the ride. I believe they were bound and determined to see me drop back from "elderly" exhaustion. I didn't! On we went, not even stopping for most cross road stop signs and before I knew it we had passed through Ludington and headed toward Manistee and their feminine beach playmates. My physical ability seemed OK so I just kept going. Finally we ground up the hill going into Manistee from the South and turned onto Main street headed to the beach. I had called ahead and my support ride was waiting, surprised just West of downtown in a Motel parking lot. The young guys congratulated me on my ability to stay with them and off they went to the next part of their day with the ladies. I rode my bike in circles until they were out of sight and stopped my bike next to a post to hold onto. My legs were down there somewhere but I had absolutely no feeling in them. I had to watch where I stepped so I wouldn't fall down. It was arduous and, frankly painful to extract myself from that bike, place it in the back of the truck and finally sit down. It took quite some time to regain my composure and walk in a reasonably straight line. A small snack, another short rest and it was back to good old Wyoming for a long nap. Here it is three full days later and I continue to wobble like a drunken derelict. Did I learn my lesson yet? Yeah, I did. At least until the next young guy challenges me again. I'm riding about 10 miles a day right now to keep the cramps away but I think maybe this will take a while to get over. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I sure showed them though didn't I? Now I have to at least drive through there just to take a few pictures.
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