Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Saturday 'Century'

Disclaimer: We did not do a complete 100 miles for reasons explained below. I will continue to refer to it as a century, per Oil is for Sissies definition.

That said, Equipoise, my marathon-running, Ironman triathlete, super-fit brother, BAILED on doing the ride. BAILED, even though I procured a nice road bike to borrow, BAILED even though he brought along his own seat, BAILED even though the ride was originally going to be only for women, but was opened up to men purely because of his presence. bailed, Bailed, BAILED.

Anyway, I got up early to create the route map and meet people at the starting point. This was a century ride that I organized and was very nervous about leading, because there were points along the way that were tricky--and I am Horrible with directions.

The first person that showed up was...odd. It looked like a He, but was wearing a new, pink Cycling Sisters' t-shirt and a skirt. It had on earrings and I thought it might have eye make-up on, too. He introduced himself as James, and I realized that he was one of the heirs of the Pritzer family fortune, and I later learned he is undergoing male-to-female transformation. Anyway, he is 55 years old and overweight in the beer-gut style. He was riding more of a hybrid and had lots of gear with him.

Then Tom, 40+ years old, another attorney who I've met before arrived. At least he had a road bike. Next to arrive, expected but still annoying, was Kathy--the dog-obsessed woman who I don't like for reasons including freezing me not only Once, but Twice in January, generally being super-fucking-annoying and abbrasive and recently showing pictures of me at the World Naked Bike Ride to friends & strangers.

Dear God. With this crew, the ride ahead was not looking fun. Luckily, Hui Hwa, came too. The group dawdled around too much. Kathy rudely bleeted to passerbys demanding that someone take our photo. Finally we got rolling.

A few things were apparent immediately: First, no one else had even glanced at a map to get a general understanding of where we were going. Second, Tom was going to bully his way into leader of the group. Third, it was hot and sunny outside--sweating while doing nothing hot. Most importantly, though--we were not riding nearly as fast as I prefer.

Assuming we departed a little before 10:00 (only one person showed up on time, and then there was sunscreen to apply, bathroom breaks, water-bottle filling.......) we were making horrible time. Tom, Hui Hwa, and I were much stronger riders than James and Kathy. Those two not only rode slower, but they wanted to stop more often and stay rested for longer when we did stop. Grrrrrrr. Everytime anyone stopped, for even a second, Kathy, James or both of them were off of their bikes, and it always took too long for them to get rolling. I don't know what exactly they did when we stopped, but they always had to fiddle around with their bags and gear and were often the last people to get riding again.

Because women had expressed interest, I organized this ride for beginners to try out distance-riding at about 15mph. Everyone on this ride had done several centuries in their lifetimes. When I picked the date, I didn't know that my brother would be visiting that weekend, nor did I know it was going to be as hot as it was. These two things made me want to just knock it out and get back as soon as possible. While I was disappointed that there were no newbies, I was grateful that I wouldn't have to babysit any rider.

Except I was wrong. My average speed was about 12mph--and this includes long periods of coasting/stopping/barely peddaling to wait for the back to catch up. Kathy at one point informed me that her heart rate was about 140 and that her cardiologist had told her not to go above that for a long period of time. I wonder whether her doctor would have approved of a 60+ year-old woman going for a century ride in 90 degree weather. Anyway, I got pissed upon hearing this. Why the Fuck does the woman keep going on (my) rides when she Knows, or damn-well Should Know that she will hold everybody up? I think this is incredibly selfish.

At one point we saw a bicycle festival along the trail and stopped. There was free water, sandwiches, snacks and frozen water-pops. WooHoo! Plus CBF had a booth there, so we stopped and chatted Pamela and Brian up. Then we hit the road again. Kathy and James kept dragging behind and I was shocked at how little we had ridden in such a long time. I was mentally chopping miles off of our route to try to get back to Chicago before dark.

Kathy looked really bad, and we hadn't hit the half-way point yet. My concern about her switched from annoyance to actual worry. She was adamant that she wanted to finish the ride because if we (Hui Hwa and I) could do it, so could she. Bullshit. Hui Hwa is 33, I'm 28 and we both have done several centuries this year already. I don't know about Hui Hwa, but I think twice I breathed heavily going up hills. Physically, this simply wasn't a challenge at all at the pace we rode. Anyway, I also learned that kathy hadn't eaten anything at the bike festival. What. The. Fuck? How unbelievably stupid is she? You have to eat and hydrate when you ride. She has been riding for more years than I have been breathing--why is she so stupid to ignore this basic concept?

Tom and I discussed what to do. He wanted to either leave James and Kathy behind, or force them to take a train in Geneva. I thought this was a good idea, but decided to wait. We stopped for lunch and I showed them what I planned for our new, shortened ride. Lunch seemed to perk everyone up and Kathy was determined to finish the ride, so I mentally gave her one last chance.

From the beginning, James knew he might not finish, and was prepared to 1.) get dropped, 2.) take a shorter route, or 3.) catch a train back to Chicago. He didn't bother me, especially since he expressed concern about holding the group up, and told us not to wait for him. True, he was slower than Kathy, but he at least understood that without him we would have ridden much faster. Kathy was oblivious to anyone else's desires and only viewed this ride as a personal challenge.

Anyway, we navigated the trails back to familiar territory and our time was slightly better, and had fewer stops. James decided to take the CTA back to Downtown when we eventually encountered it. There are some rougher areas to bike through and he wanted to break off towards the most direct route. I changed our route to pass by the CTA station in Forest Park, and insisted that he ride with us. James didn't want to hear this, but I finally had to lay down the law: I will NOT allow an older, exhausted white guy wearing a pink shirt and matching skirt to ride through the 'hoods alone. He relented and we rode him to the train station en route to Chicago. James believes he rode 90+ miles total that day. Good for Him.

In Chicago we decided to drop Kathy off at her home to increase our mileage. Then we backtracked to the Hbar and got some food and drinks. Weirdly we weren't even that hungry. I ate far less on this ride than I did on other long rides. I don't know if it was the heat, or just the slow pace. The pace was so slow that there were only about two points (hills) when I found myself even beginning to breathe harder--and I was sort of sick, too. Ridiculous.

I ended up riding about 95 miles that day. I'm sort of embarrased about not knocking out the rest of miles to equal 100--but I was sleepy-tired and had some chafing issues. I managed to complete this ride without spandex, but not as easily as other rides. First, (my bad) when I adjusted my seat before the ride, I made it sort of crooked. The nose of the saddle veered to the left, and created friction on my left inner thigh, which turned into some sort of heat/friction rash by the end. Plus, my underpant elastic band did the same thing on my sitbones. So I have these ugly, not particularly pleasant, red blotches on my ass and thighs. After being out in the sun for 12 hours, I feel mostly justified for not finishing 100 miles.

My first attempt to lead a Century was mostly successful--we all got home fine and we had 0 flats. Now I just need to figure out how to deal with this super-annoying, oblivious woman in the future. Any reasonably observant person would have picked up on my behavior that I don't like her and would avoid my events, but she is either to clueless, or too inconsiderate to care.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger George said...

I got to your blog from your brothers blog. I live in South Central PA and lead a lot of beginner rides for our club.

A couple of my buddies do the intermediate and advanced rides and they have the same problem as you.

They have found one way around the problem, it is always clearly stated when the post a ride on the clubs website as to what kind of ride it is, how fast they are going to go, how many miles and whether or not they wait for dropped riders.

They also re-state all of this before the ride starts so they are no hurt feelings or misunderstandings during the ride.

Know what? Even with all of that-they still get folks wearing jeans showing up for advanced rides on 15 year old hybrid bikes:-)


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