Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joe #3


This time of year is tough for me. At work it's crunch time. Kids are all hanging from the ceiling now that weather has turned. I LIVE for the end of the day so I can just git, but when the end of the day comes I realize tomorrow's meeting hasn't yet been organized and the report on that kid hasn't yet been finished and the parent phone call hasn't been made. Oh, and I've also got to structure some learning....

It's like nailing Jell-o to the wall.

So when I finally git from all that Jell-o-nailing I'm exhausted. But on the weekends I'm up at the crack of dawn ready to roll the two wheels.

I think I am. But in reality, I'm not thinkin' straight.

I played too hard at the beginning of Saturday's ride. We were out for 74 hilly, windy Wisconsin miles...18% grade was the worst, winds in the high teens with gusts hitting 30. But it wasn't the hills or the wind that had me toasted. I can do hills. I like hills. I can even tolerate wind in a group.

I was riding with a group that surged. Slowed. Surged. I didn't have the presence of mind to think. I just rode. I followed a wheel. When the wheel sped, I did too. When it slowed, I did. Just when I was ready to ease out my legs from the hill, the tandem would feel a burst of energy and go for it. A Joe would follow and I would go along, not wanting to face the wind on my own. My legs were toasted.

What am I doing? I could tell Joe #1 wasn't in the group where is he?! When the first rest stop came I had a chance to make it right, but didn't. I let the surging group leave without me, but I didn't have enough brain to hang out for a few more minutes and wait on Joe #1 who'd just arrived. A couple of us thought we'd take a short spin and either join the group ahead or slow to join the one coming from behind.

We found ourselves in no-man's land. Two of us. The group ahead lengthened the gap. The group behind was nowhere to be seen.

I stopped.

Enough.

My legs had had enough of the wind.

There was a southern loop and we were turning into the wind, again. I looked at the map.

Joe, you don't have to go with me, but I'm looking for a short cut. I've had it with the wind. I'm tired. I'm crabby. My legs are shot. You can go ahead.

I'm fine with you drafting me, I'm happy to pull. You rest up. I'll pull. Whatever direction you want to head is fine with me. I'd rather have the company -- I hate riding alone this year. Last year I wanted to ride alone, but this year I don't want to ride on my own. I need the conversation.

Joe's wife had been terminally ill for several years. She died in January.

I looked at the map. We had nine miles until a tail wind.

.

Joe #3 grew up north of the Cities in a small town that's now a suburb. He's got a house close by, one that's built from the bricks of the same amusement park that once was the area's attraction...he actually met the guy who built the house -- was out doing yard work when an old gent drove up and got out to talk...ran the half-mile in high school and still holds a record since the year later the race changed to the 800 meters...two kids, 13 and 17, good kids...has been able to be home with them for years...deciding what direction to take next with his life...good days and not so good days......

- TOB sometimes it's not just a ride

6 comments:

C. P. said...

Beautiful.

budda43 said...

Do ya ever wonder why you end up in the places and situations that you are in?

You were crabby, tired, you'd had enough - but you were more than enough to bring comfort to a lonely rider.

God (or to some, fate) has a wonderful way of working.

Ptelea said...

No matter what you are doing or where you are going, these are the kinds of encounters that make life worthwhile.

the old bag said...

CP -- thanks.

Budda -- guess there is no coincidence.

Ptelea -- they do.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

now i am happy.

the old bag said...

yeah