Tonight, I am fantasizing about installing railings beside my toilet.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself! Earlier today, I spent some time working on a very serious reflection which I originally intended to publish as my lone Thursday blog post. However, the evening’s activities and associated thoughts have caused me to reconsider. I’ve decided to post this letter as a “bonus” Thursday post. No worries if you don’t read them both at once – take your time!
Right now, I want to tell you that, in addition to installing railings beside my toilet, I am wishing for some kind of topical application which will ease the chafing I am experiencing…someplace it would not be polite to mention too specifically. While we’re at it, some medicinal whiskey to assist the Motrin IB in deadening the pain would also be welcome.
What, you may well ask, have I done to myself? Well, the entire thing began a couple of months ago when my friend and colleague, Sarah Botkin (that’s B-O-T-K-I-N) innocently asked my thoughts about sponsoring a university group to do a one-day ride on the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The day she was considering, July 29, the group rides from Grinell, Iowa to Coralville, Iowa – the closest stop to Cedar Rapids on this year’s trek. Mileage for the day: 75 miles.
I immediately fixated on the date. July 29, a Friday. Also, the day immediately after Thursday, July 28 – my 50th birthday. Bells began ringing in my head, and visions of ushering in my second half century with what, for me, would be a physical feat of spectacular proportions. I could also envision my own celebratory mood as, that weekend, I partied in celebration of both my birthday and my legendary ride. It was a compelling vision.
So, I’m signed up. I’ve received confirmation that my registration and payment have been received. I’ve ordered my MMU/Mustangs/RAGBRAI commemorative bike jersey. If you’ve never worn a bike jersey, let me just say that they are flattering on very fit men (think Lance Armstrong). Less so on 50-year-old formerly morbidly obese women with upper arm flab. I figured that ordering, and agreeing to wear, said jersey was at least half the journey toward successful completion of this goal.
Then, suddenly, it was June 1 and I had been on a bike exactly twice. So, its sad but true – I panicked. Tonight, I was finally free to take a long ride with B-O-T-K-I-N. We left at 5:20 p.m. from my house, and headed south on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, a multi-use trail that wends its way through downtown Cedar Rapids, the Czech Village, around Mt. Trashmore (the ginormous landfill), and out into the country – all the way to the small town of Ely. On my first bike ride of the spring, I had followed the trail in this same direction. About 7.5 miles, for a round-trip mileage of 15. It was a respectable first outing, and I was happy.
Tonight, I was determined to stretch. To push myself. My trainer at the gym recently told me that she had read somewhere that people almost never push themselves too hard physically. They probably had a fancy-schmancy psychological name for it, but I like to call it a “healthy fear of injury” – which I decided to set aside tonight in order to get busy training for RAGBRAI Day.
Three hours and 26 miles later, I pulled into my driveway, so slowly I almost wasn’t able to work my bike out of the wide tire groove worn in the asphalt. I dismounted. Well, I tried. But the muscles in both of my legs were shaking so badly that I needed assistance to keep the bike, and me, from toppling over. My entire body was shaking in such a strange fashion that I began to laugh. It resembled hysteria. In fact, Botkin asked, in all seriousness, “You’re not going to have an attack or anything are you?”
My knees are sore, so much so that getting up and down from the low toilet in my bathroom prompted the thought of railings to take the strain off them. But there’s a difference between being sore and being incapacitated. This thought, when it occurs to me, makes even the chafing less bothersome. In fact, I feel exhausted but keyed up suddenly. I pushed my physical limits – something I’ve been wary of my whole adult life. Ok, if I’m being truthful, its something I’ve always emphatically said, “Hell-to-the-NO” to. And I survived. In fact, I can see myself doing it again.
So, the purpose of this letter is to make the following intentions known:
- I will be riding RAGBRAI on July 29. 75 miles, baby!
- I will be celebrating my joy in life that entire weekend. Because the next 50 years are going to be amazing!