For the record, the longest ride I have done outdoors this year was something around 17 miles.
The longest bike ride I have ever done was something in the 65-mile range.
Ah, but Sunday, was big jump day -- 74 miles from Rochester's Mendon Ponds Park to Naples, N.Y. and back. The turnaround point was a coffee shop. Hence the ride became what's known as a "coffee ride."
Or in my case, it became the "coffee followed by a duct tape bandage" ride.
The ride was with my coach, Mary, and a bunch of other Train-This! athletes. It was an easy route and, as always, a mandate to ride your own pace.
That I did, and since I'm still getting my road legs back and remember how best for me to shift up and down hills, that meant riding in the back of the pack. A bit solo for most of those 37 miles into Naples. But that was OK. Because it was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect. The sky was clear. Heck I could still see the setting moon on stretches of Route 64.
My goals were pretty simple for the day. I wanted to enjoy being out on my bike. I wanted to get used to my gearing again and refresh my memory on how to climb hills and descend them. And I wanted to experiment with my nutrition on the bike -- what to drink, how much to drink and what to eat to keep my hydrated and from bonking.
Once in Naples I rejoined my team at the coffee shop. After a nice cup of coffee and a blueberry bagel lit was time to head back up Route 64 and return home (or, more accurately, to the car).
In need of filling up my water bottle with some Gatorade, my teammate Pete and I decided to leave early to hit the gas station that was on the way out of town.
That's when I took the curb wrong heading into the parking lot and ... CRASH.
My right forearm was bleeding. My right knee was scrapped up.
Thankfully my bike was just fine.
Inside the gas station mini-mart we only found small bandages. Content to wash off the wound and use napkins to mute the bleeding until I got home we went to check out with our Gatorade and water. But alas, the attendant had a first aid kit behind the counter. I went to the bathroom and washed my cut. The woman at the counter had Neosporin (which really, they should sell in an economy size for people like me). She then went through the sparse kit to find only small bandaids.
I noticed a roll of gauze.
"What about that?" I asked.
Aha! She unrolled some gauze over my wound and the went to pick up the medical tape dispenser in the first aid kit.
So, she secured my gauze bandage with ... duct tape.
I winced every time I went to my aerobar position. But the sight of the duct tape. Well, that was just too funny.
The climb out of Naples is long and a bit steep and I promptly went into my granny gear and gently spun up the hill. It's June and my first long ride. I felt no need to try and pound up the hill.
Pete kindly stayed back and rode back with me since group rides are better if you actually have someone else to chat with and share war stories with. (Although his involved actual bike accidents while mine involved getting a concussion in my own shower.)
When things go wrong on rides it can almost be a blessing. That's when you develop a memory bank of tricks to use in the future. To be honest, the duct tape bandage worked fine, but the cut and accompanying skin loss still stung. And yet, I made it through the rest of the ride.
It's never about the fall -- regardless of how big, small or ungraceful it may be.
It's about the ability to get back up and keep going.
And remembering why it is you're out there in the first place.