A not so good day on the bike…
There were a couple of firsts today. I had a verbal altercation with a motorist and I barfed on my ride. Unrelated.
This was not an easy day. This was 67 miles with over 6700 feet of climbing. This was an ass-kicking, we are not fooling around, if you can’t make it through today, then you better start questioning whether you can do the Fondo kind of ride. This was not spoken to me by anyone other than myself.
I’m a pretty good climber. Not fast, by any means, but I actually enjoy going uphill. I like to go into my own head and zone out. Early on, on a big climb, I don’t mind being distracted with conversation, but I hit a point where I’m done. Go away and leave me be. Don’t talk to me.
Our biggest climb came early on the ride. Ten miles uphill, and I was feeling strong. We started from Half Moon Bay and headed away from the coast, but it was still cool outside. We stopped at our first aid station to eat and drink and then we were on our way…straight into the path of a jackass in a red car on Highway 84.
There were eight in my ride group today and as we began our descent, the traffic was heavy. This was a two-lane winding road with no shoulder. We had not begun to take the whole lane yet (safer on a descent where your speed is equal to a car’s). We had just started out and there were cars going around us, so we were riding single file and over to the right. There were five riders ahead of me and two behind me, Chris and Carlos; two big guys.
The pack in front of me were a few car lengths ahead as cars had gone around the three of us and we became separated. And then I heard a horn. Not just a honk, but someone was laying on the horn and would not let up. At first I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Below me? On the other side of the road? Then it got louder and I realized it was a car approaching from behind. “What the hell?” I thought. “What does he want us to do?” When he passed me with his horn still blaring, I yelled, “Fuck you, asshole.”
And with those words, the guy moved around me, went diagonal in the road and slammed on his breaks. Holy shit. He cut me off and I was trapped. I skidded to a stop. I didn’t have much time for thought, but I do remember thinking that Chris and Carlos were right behind me and for that I was very thankful. He jumped out of his car.
“Until you have a license plate and pay taxes, you have no right to be on the road!” he screamed.
“Bullshit!” I yelled (because I speak so eloquently under such conditions).
“Go ride in your lane and get off this goddamned road,” he screamed.
“We have just as much right to be on this fucking road as you do!” I yelled back.
Not sure what he was trying to accomplish. I assume he lives in the area and hates having to deal with all the cyclists because this whole area is heavily populated with guys and girls on bikes. He got back in his car and took off. It all happened so fast, but it left me a little shaken. There were a long line of cars held up behind us, so after a moment of the guys making sure I was okay, we saddled up and made our descent.
This was not the first time I have yelled at cyclist-hating automobiles, but I’m hoping it will be my last. From now on, I will just think it, or whisper it under my breath. I guess I assumed he couldn’t hear me. Not the case apparently. And once the guy got out of his car and I could see what a weasel he was, my feisty (or maybe stupid) side took over. I should have kept quiet. Maybe. Yes, I should have quiet. I shuffled up to my head coach after the ride and sheepishly confessed. I knew it would get back to him. He reminded me that I was wearing a TNT jersey and therefore, I should not be swearing at cars, but he was more concerned as to why I barfed on the ride. I love that guy.
Our second big climb was unplanned because that verbal altercation occurred on a wrong turn. Yep, we left the SAG stop and headed in the wrong direction. We then had to climb the brutally steep Old La Honda Road to get back on course. By now, it was hot and at the end of this climb my stomach was upset. My ride coach, Rachelle, who is an ER physician told me I needed to eat. I told her I wasn’t hungry. She said, “you are on the verge of bonking because you are crabby and you are never crabby. We aren’t leaving until you eat something.” She knows me pretty well as this is our second season of riding together. And no, she wasn’t speaking of my verbal altercation with the asshole as being crabby. It was my demeanor on the climb we just finished. So I forced myself to eat half of a smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was in my pocket.
I just wasn’t feeling quite right. Later in the day, on another climb was when I got sick. I was guzzling water and it came right back up. I didn’t let it stop me. I was offered a ride back to my car by the SAG wagon, but I declined and finished the ride.
During long rides and long climbs, there are times that you become completely separated from everyone. There may be a few ahead and a few behind, but you have lost sight of everyone. There are curves in the road. You think you will see someone when you round the bend, but you don’t. This happened to me today. We had headed back toward the coast and were climbing on an isolated stretch. There were no cars and no people. I was in a dark wooded area and was physically struggling. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness came over me. I thought, “What the hell am I doing out here?” Tears stung my eyes, but I kept pedaling. I pulled my phone from my pocket and snapped a picture of the moment. And then a vision popped into my head. It was of Jarrod asleep in a recliner, a gray beanie covering his bald head, with an IV of chemotherapy drugs coursing through his veins. That vision answered the question of what the hell I was doing out there.