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Fun ride on laborious Labor Day weekend

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POSTED September 9, 2009 1:59 a.m.
After 13 miles up and down Lake Tahoe hills on a relatively new ACL, my brother retired from distance running.

Not that he’s a quitter.

I guess he just felt his joints were due for a break after four years of tracking down speedy Atlantic-10 guards and taking charges from 7-foot Russians in college.

His new hobby when not on call at the hospital is pedaling.

After hearing stories of his 100-mile races, 50-mile treks and, “120 milers to get the legs warm in the morning”, I entered his realm by buying a used road bike from a friend but wasn’t convinced I wanted to adopt the road-bike persona.

Tight shorts, racing tops — all that seemed a little too formal. I liked casual riding, no worry of drag. But he was adamant we would get legit for our ride when I visited.

How could I tell a Lieutenant Commander, ‘No?’

I brought my Cannondale, complete with two airless tires from underuse, to Oceanside.

The bike had been mine for a year and change and hadn’t touched pavement under my ownership.

My brother knew this and took it easy on me.

We only went on a 30-mile coast through traffic to the Marine Base and back.

Before my toes could get numb, a very important guy on a very important call offended by my quest for exercise almost hit me.

He continued on, in his very import BMW, as Mark and I rolled north up the sand speckled street.

I stopped praying for green lights when I became comfortable with clicking out of the pedal, then clicking back in. This, of course, was after I did mean things to vital parts of my body by pushing down on mis-clicked pedals.

One of which happened as a Marine handed back my ID and I attempted to push myself forward and onto base. I didn’t turn to see how he responded to my yelp. My legs were already tenderized by the time we hit the big hill and I was completely sold on the importance of the padded stretch-wear and tight fitting, half-zip top.

The hill laughed as I slowly cycled upward. When we reached to the top, my lungs were being juiced by my rib cage, and my hamstrings felt like over-cooked bacon, ready to snap and crumble, leaving me in a heap of used-up-dude 14 miles from where we started.

I managed to stay in the saddle, then coasted down the gradual decline on the other side, further from the comfort of spicy BBQ chicken wings, college football and the couch.

A little over a mile later, we made the turn.

I was able to relax and cut loose on the downslope of Hamstring Hill. I hit 34 mph and, as I frequently do, went over the worst-case scenario.

If a lizard were to toss a pipe into my front spokes, my face would be the primary mode of bodily deceleration once I flipped, and my beard might grow back in weird patches. So I watched for shady, pipe or stick-wielding lizards.

When my brother caught up, I let him pass me, so I could draft, and wondered how long it would be until our entertainment-thirsty culture hung mini flat screen TVs from the back of racing jerseys for those drafting.

This thought left as early as it came, and my brother and I meandered back toward his place. I hadn’t fallen yet, but luckily I thought about this fact, jinxing myself and providing a way to finish this column.

At one of the last stoplights before we were home, my brother cut me off going 3 mph.

My brain sped ahead and foresaw my forehead knocking against the sidewalk cement that had probably hardened over the 15 or so years since its mixing.

Luckily, my incredible athleticism prevailed and I twisted my feet to click out from the pedals and flipped out my legs a la Nastia Liukin. The bike fell, and I stuck the landing.

Tens, maybe a 9.8.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.
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