Saturday, July 17, 2010

Long Ride Wishes

It is 8:30 am, I have been up for about three hours. I dropped off my son two hours ago and he should now be about two hours into the first leg of a 205 mile bike ride. Today is the annual STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride. 10,000 riders from all around the world, show up each year to take part in this event. Most riders will make the ride in two days but there are those few who will do the ride in one day.
Two years ago I also made the drive to the starting line but then it was my son and I heading out. This was not an event that I would have undertaken on my own without encouragement. The motivating factor came on Father’s Day when my son presented me with a ticket to make this ride with him.
Yikes! Fear? Yes! Excitement? Yes!
I quickly started counting on my fingers. Six, four, seven, three, two, five…’Swear words!!!!’ I only had 27 days before the event. My mind told me in a minute there was no way. My heart said, ‘You have to.’ My son informed me, that even though traditional wisdom recommended a seven month preparation period for this ride, he was confident 27 days would be sufficient for me. Now that is serious manipulation.
I had not been on my bike in almost a year and besides I didn’t even have a road bike. My bike was a commuter bike with wide friction laden tires and a heavy metal frame. Even though it was comfortable to ride it was not suited to take a 55 year old, out of shape, 30-40 pound overweight guy 200 miles.
That afternoon, my old commuter bike and I went for a 10 mile ride. My legs felt like rubber by the time I finished. The next day I rode to work, 11 miles each way. I skipped the next day. By the next Saturday I had four rides behind me, all about 10 miles in length. I had decided my next ride would be a minimum of 25 miles. My chosen route was all very flat, an exceptional easy ride. Getting a 25 mile ride the first week of training was an important psychological hurdle. That day I made it 30 miles and I felt exhausted and dizzy when I finished.
By day 25 I had found a used road bike. It was an older bike, from the late eighties or early nineties. The aluminum frame was sturdy and even though the bike was under geared, with only 12 speeds, it was a huge improvement over my commuter bike. I had taken it on one 50 plus mile ride which at the end I felt surprisingly confident with the knowledge I could have gone further.
The last two days before the event I did not touch the bike except to lube it. On day 28 I finished the 200 mile trek, 10 hours the first day and 12 hours the second day. The only hard part was the last 20 miles the first day and the last 50 miles the second day. My son a fully trained fireman stayed right with me the last day allowing me many rests during the 95 degree afternoon heat. We crossed the finish line fifteen minutes after the deadline. But, by the insistence from my wife, a kind official gave me and my son our completion packets. My son was proud of me but I was just glad to be finished.
As I sit here writing this I have a few slight feelings of sadness. I wish I was once again, headed down the road with that cool morning breeze hitting my face along with hundreds of other riders all headed toward a common goal. But, the memory I am missing most is riding side by side next to my son heading south and not feeling almost old.


Sylvia K said...

Beautiful and very moving post, G. And good for you! I'm sure it was hard, but what a great thing to do with and for your son! I understand what you are missing this time. I do treasure those few and far between times when I don't feel OLD! Have a great weekend!


AngelMc said...


Anonymous said...

Next year will be an opportunity to initiate a gift to your son for his birthday - isn't that a cool idea? Moms and wives have the best ideas!!!

Anita Jeyan said...

Thats a very heart warming one. Touching.

Debra said...

This is a very inspiring post! 200 miles! That is so impressive GQ. There's always next year, who knows...

Unknown said...

Once a long time ago, I walked so far with a friend..... nobody believes we did it.

Moving story GQ :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Holy Moly GQ. I am soooo impressed. I would have to hydrate and carb load just to DRIVE 205 miles.
You really can be proud of that and what a neat thing for father and son to do.
Loved your last sentence big time.

S. Susan Deborah said...

GQ: You did that? Really? Maybe it was a dream or something. Sure? Like everyone, even I am impressed. It must be wonderful to do it with your son. Bravo. Bravo!

These days the posts are overflowing with fondness and warmth. What's happening?

Joy always,

Grayquill said...

Sylivia: I hope your weekend is good to or what’s left of it anyway. Where is the promised sun? Thank for the kind words and I am glad you enjoyed my post.

AngelMC: Thanks – I think.

Annonymous: Good idea! Or are you just calling my bluff? :)

Anita: Thank you - that is one nice compliment.

Debra: There is always next year.

Shadowthorne: How far was it? I will believe you – promise.

Arkansas Patti: Thanks, it was a fun and memorable ride.

Susan Deborah: YES Deborah I really did it… and yes I am prone to exaggeration and full blown lying, so I can see how you might have doubts but this is not one of those times – I think.
Thanks for the nice comment.

Amrita said...

That was a great acomplishment GQ and you did it for yourself and your son. This is a lasting memory. All success to your son this year

Hilary said...

Oh good for you. What a fine accomplishment.. you young puppy!

Pat said...

Hey....stop making me tear up. I'm a sucker for this family stuff.
What a man, what a mighty fine man...and father. I'm also impressed with your completion of the ride, I can barely turn my bike around in the drive way without calling it quits. In fact I did call it quits and gave the bike to my daughter, it hurts my back to much to ride.
Yes, I too cherish those fleeting moments...actually seconds when I don't feel old.
Great post G.

Lynda G. said...

Hi Grayquill! What a sweet post! It's nice to see your fatherly side! :D

Lynda G. said...

PS I am impressed too!

Debra said...

Thank you GQ for your kind comments left on my earlier blog post. I thought I was the only one that check everyone's earliest blog post! Hope you have a great Monday!


Asif said...

That was a real touching post.
How good it would have been if everyone remained young through out their lives. I have seen a lot of people going through difficult times in their olden days.

Huh you know i just finished reading some 10-12 posts at a stretch. I really missed a lot :)

Blunt Edges said...

a real sweet post :)

Grayquill said...

Amrita: Thanks he made it quite a bit faster when he didn’t have me slowing him down :)

Hilary: You are way to kind – Thanks :)

Pat: Very kind!!!

Lynda: Thanks and Thanks for stopping by.

Debra: Quirky, is that what we are?

Asif: Thanks! I am always surprised when someone reads my posts – especially when they read more than one.

Blunt Edges – Are you sick? You are being awful nice lately!

Frank Baron said...

Great post GQ. And congrats on quite an achievement. I'll bet your son was mightily proud of his old man.

Shanu said...

An inspiring post..loved it!

Holly Kay said...

Goodness. This one got me! Need a tissue.