Ah, long weekends, and this one was longer than most. I started in on Friday, Canada Day here, and got in the first half of my back-to-backs. Back-to-backs are a training benchmark on the Rally, at some point before (technically last weekend but I am running a little late) all riders have to ride 90km (that’s 56 miles) two days in a row. The fact that I hadn’t done them was weighing heavily on me, I’m usually pretty much a rule follower, and if there’s anything the few years I’ve been doing this has taught me, it’s that the benchmarks are there for a really great reason. I also have some strong feelings about leading by example, and I thought it would be pretty hard to start sending out “Hey, why haven’t you met this benchmark” emails to my team if I myself hadn’t done it. (Cameron did his two weeks ago while I was hacking up a lung and pulling off a wedding, so there was pressure there too.) Only problem was that there wasn’t a training ride scheduled for that day, so I invented my own. Blog, it was terrible. It was so windy, and I got a late start because I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to ride in the rain, but in the end I got it done, in a weak and limping sort of way. (Full disclosure, I didn’t do the full 90km, but wait for the rationale.)
Saturday morning I’d made a commitment to sweep a ride with Ken, since his team lead wasn’t able to be there. I got up and went to meet him and the 20+ riders who showed up for a Pride weekend ride, and we set out. Saturday rides start early. 7:30, to be clear, and our job for the day is to ride behind the slowest rider, making sure that nobody is left behind. We “sweep” up after the ride. (There’s also a “car sweep” and they drive up and down the cohort of riders, helping, re-directing people who get lost, handing out water to anyone who runs out, and giving a lift to anyone who’s unable to complete.) We had, it turns out, no trouble staying behind the last rider. While we were cruising along, our friend Amanda (not my daughter) noticed that my rear tire looked a little soft. “I know, I know” I told her, and said I’d pump it up at the lunch break. Unfortunately, right before the lunch break, I rode over a set of train tracks, and boom. That tire went flat. Instantly and completely… likely a pinch flat. We changed the tire, Ken and I there by the side of the road in the blazing heat, and I reflected (while I changed the flat- with Ken’s help) that this ride was sort of crappy. It was so hot, and the wind! Riding into it was like riding through pudding. Way more work that it should have been, by a lot. We made it into lunch a half kilometre later (maybe less) scarfed down and unreasonable amount of food, refilled our empty water bottles, and waited for the last rider to leave so we could be after them. No point in rushing.
That turns out to have been misguided, because a few metres after the lunch break, I had ANOTHER FLAT. (My rage was complete, but I directed it towards the effective use of tire levers – which felt sort of good, because a few years ago I didn’t even know what a tire lever was. There was a bike shop nearby so I ran over and bought two more tubes in case it happened AGAIN, and then we were underway again, but by now, we were sweeping ourselves. Any chance that we would have caught up with the riders was blown a few kilometres later when we were held up by the world’s longest and slowest moving train. We rode the second half after that, hustling at a great speed, and still came in 40 minutes after the last rider. On the subway on the way home, Ken said his legs were tired and it was all I could do not to kiss him on the mouth. There had been so many hills, and it was into the wind, and he’s such a good egg you’d never know he was suffering at all, and so I thought I was the only one having a hard time. When he said his thighs were sore I exclaimed “REALLY I’M SO GLAD” which in retrospect wasn’t the most empathetic thing to say, but I was just so happy that I wasn’t in such rough shape and he’d breezed through it while I suffered. 118km (73 miles) in the bag, done and dusted. (That’s why It was okay that I came in short the day before. My total for the two days was still 180km, and in my books, that’s a damn back-to-back.)
Sunday, Jen and I marched in the Pride Parade, holding the banner for the Bike Rally, as all the cyclists walked and rode behind us, and the Prime Minister walked somewhere in front of us, and then after that…there was some dancing and a very late bedtime after we all celebrated the fantastic diversity and acceptance that is Toronto. It was fabulous. Throw in a little sailing – a little more bike riding, and and then, somehow, magically, I found the time to spin* this roving,
Into these singles,
which were then chain-plied** into this pretty fabulous yarn.
All the kinds of spinning. Bikes, wheels… the lot. How was your weekend? American friends, did you have a Happy 4th?
* a few of you have asked if I’m doing the Tour de Fleece this year, and the answer is an official NO, and perhaps an unofficial yes. It’s a lower case yes because frankly, I’m struggling a little bit to keep up with all that I’ve got going on, but I do like this time of year when we think a bit more about spinning, and that’s what I’m going to do. Think a little more about it.
** Because one of you will ask what chain plying is, I put a video on Instagram.