Honest to golly, I pictured Fez’s face as I sat on the small couch we have in our kitchen, the coffee warm in my hand but not yet raising my spirits. I had been thinking about bagging since about 4:15am, when I woke up. My back was sore, my legs were tired, and I just didn’t wanna. But I’ve bagged on the Wednesday ride before, and there comes a point in your participation in any regular group when you’re actually no longer a regular. I don’t wanna be that guy.
I envisioned Fez because I encouraged him to start showing up for Wednesday mornings. What does it say, if I hype a weekly ride, but then don’t show up for it? Also, Fez has the enthusiasm of a person who has rediscovered cycling in adulthood, and that enthusiasm is like rocket fuel to a slightly older, partially jaded bike rider who likes coffee and couches slightly more than he ought.
It wasn’t just Fez though. The other guys are masters at the subtly barbed text, the one that suggests they know full well your excuses are garbage, the not-very-veiled implication that you’ve gone soft, and the outright insult. All of this I enjoy, but it’s much easier to just ride your bike than to respond to all those texts.
I hoisted myself off the couch at 6:43am, which gave me 17 minutes to get dressed, fill a water bottle, pump tires, and get my ass across to the meet up spot. Given that I’d need 8 minutes, roughly, of staring blankly at my drawer full of bike clothing, I’d be cutting it close. On the other hand, this group hasn’t rolled out on time once in the years we’ve been riding together.
I left my driveway at 7:02am and arrived 3 minutes later at the spot. No one was ready to go. In fact, I ought to have spent a few more minutes considering my clothing choices, because it was 32F, and I had on shorts, a thin wool jersey and a vest. If we’d left promptly, I’d have ridden myself warm in a few minutes. Instead, I stood there, with one foot clipped in, waiting. And waiting. We left at 7:15 or so, with emphasis on the ‘or so.’
The truth is, I WAS tired, my legs WERE sore, and if this had been a plan to ride by myself, I’d still have been in bed, the smell of fresh-brewed coffee notwithstanding.
But experience is a funny filter to apply to situations like this. I am now, mostly, able to move from questions like “how do I feel now?” to questions like “how am I going to feel after a ride with my friends?” I have ridden away from the house on wooden legs only to discover, an hour later, that I have been reborn, that what started as a begrudging willingness to show up has morphed into a full blown stoke.
And so it was this morning.
The gnawing guilt of potentially bailing was transmogrified, into two-and-a-half hours of single-track and laughs. At some point, Bruce had to split off to get to a meeting, and then Fez had to excuse himself, but the rest of us pressed on, at my stupid suggestion, and we stumbled on a secret pump track some kids have been digging, and I got my bike and my sorry body off the ground higher than it’s been in eons. Eventually, I crawled home, tired, hungry, and fully content with the morning’s activities.