I am sitting at my desk wearing spandex. I woke up about three minutes before my 5:30am alarm because I got a text. Only Jen texts me at 5:30 in the morning, and only on riding days. This is best for everyone because saying I am not a morning person is and understatement as significant as "Sometimes teenagers aren’t thinking ahead." The only reason I’m riding at that ungodly hour is because Jen and I both have jobs, and while I have the option of moving my ride to another time of day, Jen likes to be home for bedtime, and we’re on the buddy system, so… mornings it is. Every time I realize what it is that I’m doing, that it’s me – someone who is not even a little bit sporty (except for knitting – I totally do that like it’s a sport) and doesn’t like to get sweaty, and is so uncoordinated that she can’t count the number of times that a ball has hit her in the face (and one terrible time, a Frisbee) that I am going outside to ride a really long distance, clipped into a road bike, several times a week – wearing spandex in my mid forties, I can hardly recognise myself. When I add in that the whole thing has required me to get up at 5:30am? It’s like I don’t even know who this woman is. It is only because coffee and I have a special and deep relationship that it’s possible at all. So, all that is to say that I know the text is probably from Jen, and so I reached out and grabbed my phone. All it said was "Too rainy, Sister. I’m ejecting."
A wave of relief passed over me. I loathe riding in the rain, but I’ve also made a really serious commitment to training, so Jen pulling the rip cord on the ride before I have to is really satisfying. I can pretend to myself that it was her. My alarm went off displaying the message "Go ride your bike!" and I shut it off with a satisfied smirk, and padded to the bathroom. On my way back I could see out the window of the stash room, and on an impulse, I went over and drew the curtain aside to look out. It was not raining. It was not raining at all, and the road wasn’t even wet. I cursed, and took a deep breath. I’ve sworn that I’m not going to avoid riding, that even if I am tired and sore I am going to do these training rides, and it’s a promise I made myself. Five days a week I will ride at least 40 kilometres, unless it rains, and it wasn’t raining, and so I went into the bedroom and put on my spandex, sports bra and jersey. (See the way I made it sound like I just put on a sports bra like it was easy and like I didn’t have to make an effort to remain calm during the part where you think you’re trapped with your arms stuck uselessly to your head and torso and you’re going to have to have someone cut you out of it. Don’t be fooled.)
I came downstairs, made coffee, and ate a bagel standing over the sink – looking outside. I was at it for about five minutes before I realized that I was actively hoping it would start to rain. It didn’t. I decided I would go ride after my coffee – if it wasn’t raining. I drank my coffee and had a little knit, and then I decided that I would go ride after two coffees. You know, if it hadn’t started to rain. Right when I was about to run out of coffee (and excuses) the rain started. I just about wept, I was so happy disappointed.
It’s not that I don’t like the riding. I think I might, but it’s so hard to tell. I’ve been waiting for it to get easy, and I think it’s not going to, and I think that’s okay too – I mean, being fit and healthy isn’t easy and does take a commitment, and raising money for a cause and trying to be worthy of that isn’t supposed to be easy either. It’s not like I would really expect anybody to sponsor me if I wasn’t willing to do something extraordinary to do deserve it. I just don’t know how much longer I can deserve it at 5:30 in the morning or five days a week. This weekend there are two training rides, and they are both over 100 kilometres and you know what? I can take it. I really can. It is physically easier than what the people I’m raising money for have to go through, and I can take the heat. Hell, I probably need the heat. The heat is good for me. It’s more that I’m trying to finish this book and did I mention that with travel and stretching and lunch and signing in and all that, a 100 kilometre ride takes about eight hours out of a Saturday and a Sunday? These weekday ones only take 2.5 hours, but still, all this riding adds up to a lot of time, and I’m getting a little tired. I remember this from last year. I’m just at that point where training has stopped being about 12 hours a week and now takes about 22 hours a week, and when you’ve already got a family and a full time job, that’s a big deal. This part only lasts a little longer. I know that. The rally departs Toronto on the 28th of July – and you’re really supposed to scale back the riding the week before, so this intensity is only for a little bit longer and I can do it, and I will do it, and I am happy to do it because I know it is worth it. For me, for Jen, and for PWA.
I’m just really glad it was raining this morning, that’s all.
I’m sitting here in my spandex, because if it’s not raining when I’m done work then I’m going to keep my promise to myself and go out there and get it done, and nothing says commitment like padded shorts and a sports bra (and I am not trying to get that thing on and off anymore times than I have to. I feel the risk.) Two people today have already asked me why I’m dressed like this, and explaining it strengthens my resolve. I am going for a training ride.
As long as it doesn’t rain.
Karmic Balancing gifts tomorrow everybody. If you’ve already donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and please check your email for a thank you note explaining what to do to qualify, and if you can’t find it, just send me an email (StephanieATyarnharlotDOTca) and I’ll add you. No worries. If you’d like to qualify, then donate to any one of the people I love riding this ride, for any amount at all – even a dollar, and watch for the note. We will all make sure to send it to you before tomorrow morning. We are:
(PS: I want to give a special shout out to Ken here. He’s a super fast and competent rider, and he’s chosen to slow down and support either Jen or me when we can’t be each other’s buddy. It means the training rides take him a lot longer than they have to, but Jen and I haven’t had to face doing a really long weekend ride alone, and I’m really grateful.)
(PPS. It just started to rain again.)
(PPPS. Happy 4th of July to my American friends. I hope it’s lovely.)