The other day I was out for a ride with my bicycle mentor Pat. He hadn't spent much time on the Cultural Trail, and after he showed me the sights on the Monon, I was eager to return the favor. I'd been riding the cultural trail exclusively for the past couple of weeks. And every trip I make around downtown reveals something new.
Pat and I met up on the East end of Mass Ave. He followed me as I twisted my way through the trail, winding through the inner city. The Cultural Trail can be tricky to follow in some spots if you aren't familiar, and the last time Pat saw me ride I was a bit of a mess. So, I was eager this time to show him my new found cycling confidence. My posture and control of movement were at least a little less awkward.
But something about the ride felt weird. Unlike myself, a self-described joy-rider, Pat rides for speed. While I roam randomly on trails hoping to discover a new part of the city, he races up and down the Monon focused on time, distance and aerobic expansion. Simply put, Pat is in much better shape than me, and I couldn't help but feel like I was holding him back.
"How far has your furthest ride been?" he queried as we paused at a cross walk.
"Wow," He exclaimed. "That's probably like 20 miles."
Had I really just impressed Pat? I gleamed at the thought, but chided myself thinking he's only being kind.
"Huh, that's funny. I never count mileage, just how long I am on the bike seat," I replied, countering: "What's the longest ride you've ever done?"
"I like to head up to Westfield on longer rides," Pat tactfully did not mention a number. "I generally take the Monon up to Westfield and back again. There's a grocery store right at 146th Street, where I'll stop to fill up my water bottles and maybe get an energy drink. Then I do some riding around Westfield and stop again at the store before I head back."
I just couldn't shake the thought that I was holding him back. I'm sure he enjoyed the trail, but we certainly did not reach the his preferred level of exercise. Just as I was starting to think that Pat and I might not be the most compatible biking team I heard:
"Would you be interested in doing a half-century with me?"
"What's a half-century?"
"50 miles," he replied. "I don't mean like tomorrow."
"Sure," I replied and I know I glowed when he asked me. He followed my route, and now I would follow his. I guess that's how the best partnerships work.
Thus begins my Summer training for a half-century ride. Every week this blog has me asking, "What have I signed up for?"
I guess all I can do is hope that when the time comes, Pat doesn't regret the offer. Well, that and to ride my bottom off until the big day . By the way, has anyone got any tips for how to start training?