Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Rode with the Rabbits

And lived to tell about it, no bleeding eyeballs required.

At David's urging (or was it peer pressuring), I signed up to ride with the Rabbits, the (mostly) guys who tear around the rural roads and wear themselves down every Sunday. It would be good training, I told myself. I've done this sort of ride before...oh, about 10 or so years ago. David mentioned something about lactate threshold and bleeding eyeballs and I thought I might be in over my head.

After departing Red Hook, we passed by the other, more sensibly-paced group, the Laughers, and I felt a sense of dread, knowing that the group I was with wouldn't stop to tend to my needs of layering and may not even find a flushing toilet for me like the Laughers did. But at least our group was able to lure away another woman, Kristie, who is a powerhouse little engine-who-can on puppy uppers. Would she show alliance with me, the only other woman in the group, or would she go with her speed and endurance and hang with the guys?

Right away, I caught on that it's all about the wheel in front of you and hanging onto it for dear life. I found myself behind a guy, a massive guy. Not fat, just tall, big and with a draft behind him that could suffice for 4 skinny girls, at least. That must be Big Mark! I protected that wheel for all I was worth and was ready to defend myself to keep within its reach. Ralph Nussbaum was in the group, too, and despite the fact that he's a nice guy, leads great rides and is obviously strong, I found myself muttering threats to him and he readily gave up his position near Mark. He reminded me that my club, COGS, had treated him and his wife, Carol, to dinner at our Holiday Party and he felt indebted. No blood required here.

The discussion turned to avoiding potholes since there were a few choice ones on Riverview Road and I told them that if I screamed, don't follow my wheel because that means I just hit a hole but if I suddenly moved left or right, follow my wheel because I am acting on instinct to avoid a hole that comes up fast. Of course, I told them, I reserve the right to break the rules and scream any time I feel it's necessary.

With all discussion of potholes cleared up, I managed to miss the entrance to the trail through Blyth Park. The nice, flat trail through the park. I felt like I was caught on the wrong side of the turnstile in a NY subway, with an expired MetroCard. My penalty was to climb a hill fast enough on the road to keep up with the group that was motoring on the flats of the trail. I was able to meet up with the group, no bleeding from either eyeball required. Once we arrived in Bothell, I realized my fun might be over; the flat part was done and now there were some hills to take us up north and west to Edmonds. At about mile 9, I was off the back, with that old familiar feeling of riders moving past me while I was gasping for breath. Then I heard a little voice but this one wasn't coming from inside my head, it was too high-pitched. I looked over my shoulder and saw that Kristie was still with me and was staying with me, also gasping for breath. We bitched and moaned, like only two gals can do when dropped off the back of a pack of guys.

I told Kristie that we were only 10 or so miles from Edmonds and that sounded reasonable to her so we made an effort to get ourselves back into the group. Whether it was the little voice inside my head that said I could or the mercy regroups performed by the Rabbits, Kristie and I managed to get back into the pack and rolled into Edmonds en masse, flying down the Main Street hill.

Ah, Edmonds, a quaint little town on Puget Sound, with coffee shops and art galleries and, hey, where are you crazy rabbits going? They had already turned to go south and tackle the hills of Woodway and Innis Arden while I still had my mind on coffee in quaint little Edmonds. I yelled out "coffee" and managed to round up not just Kristie, but Doug as well and we all sauntered off to the official coffee stop where we waited dutifully for the Laughers.

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