So this past week, I went out for a ride with FreshBikes, did my two "easy" runs off my training plan, and have been in the middle of planning a joint liturgy, when two churches will share space at Shrine Mont for Pentecost.
The bike ride was interesting. I can be very shy with new groups, so I was having all sorts of pre-emptive anxiety before the ride, trying very hard to talk myself out of it. I was so sure it would go so wrong, and since I was having to go solo, of course it would be awful, right? I had to fight my way through so much traffic that I was totally sure I was going to actually MISS the ride!
But no. I started putting on my gear and helmet in the car as I drove. I even miraculously discovered that my sunglasses had survived the top-of-the-car drive there in my water bottle cage (lucky me!). I was still freaking out, though. My heart rate monitor showed my heart clipping along at a merry pace of 156 as I parked and pulled my bike off to put my wheels on. My bike pump is broken, too, so every pump let air out! That explains why I started pumping incredibly fast, hoping to get more air in than could leak out. (M got us a new pump the next day.)
The ride started off perfectly fine as we headed out escorted by Arlington's finest. Remember that back in the day, I was their chaplain? Yeah, I love Arlington. They're my favorite! It was lots of fun to be escorted. I even got to chat with a few other riders, like the guy wearing the Deschutes Brewery shirt. (I need a Ninkasi one!) The ride started off pretty fast, but not too fast.
But I am really weak on the hills right now, so the main pack moved past me and I was working my way up the hills very slowly. After a little while, I saw blue lights as the chase car moved into my periphery. Finally, the car pulled along side me, and the officer shouted that I needed to stay to the right now. "Do you mean I'm the sweep now?" I shouted. "Yes!" he yelled.
This was a mistake. The sweep is the LAST person, folks. So I thought I was the VERY LAST PERSON on the ride.
This. Means. Panic. I chased. I caught. I worked my way up. I got dropped on the next hill because I had blown up on that chase. I chased. I got dropped. Finally, I was dropped pretty far behind and I just couldn't chase anymore... when I saw the lead motor coming down the hill!
"Oh," thought I. "If I am the very last person, if I jump in with this lead group, I will be caught by the end again soon!"
This was also a mistake. As I turned, I saw many more riders behind me. There were probably a good 75 people toiling away after me, so I was not as alone as I had thought. It also turns out that the lead group were PROS who dropped me like a hot rock. I caught one last open intersection, but rapidly came to a section where we needed to turn. I did not know which way to turn. I chased one other person.
He was a normal rider, but he'd had to drop off with a mechanical. He was all fixed now, and suggested we wait for the main group. When they didn't show up, we decided to go in search of them, so we rode a bit, found the group, and rode along.
It was GREAT until I learned they were not with the Fresh Bikes group and we were well on our way to Falls Church.
That was also a mistake. It was also a problem since they were all splitting up to head home and we came to a section where I was once again the slowest person on the hills and they all beat me to the Y intersection where you had a 50/50 chance of turning the correct way to go back to Arlington.
I chose the wrong way. Now I was totally solo and entirely lost. So I kept working my way up and down hills (note to self, consider stopping for a drink and a snack next time to keep those legs happy and fueled. I didn't eat a single thing and only drank about 4 oz of water on this humid ride).
Soon, I found my way into Rosslyn. Also a nice place. Also, not Arlington.
I kept riding until I found my way to an apartment complex where I asked a person walking their dog how to get to Wilson Boulevard. I rode past all the people having their dinner, and soon started seeing riders who were waving at me. A block later, I found the FreshBikes shop... having come from the OPPOSITE direction.
I think I rode a giant figure 8. Kinda makes me wish I'd had my phone so I could have tracked my route! I had not kept my phone with me, but I think that the practice of having my old iPhone handy for these things is a practice to keep alive. If nothing else, I could have looked up where I was so I could have gotten un-lost sooner!
Other riders said I was only a few minutes behind the rest of the group, and the line was still really long. Oh, yes, they give you free food on the first Tuesday of the month. So I might have gotten totally lost and abandoned and lonely, but they gave me a free burrito! And a soda.
I've switched back to regular sodas after reading too many scary things about what diet sodas can do to you. So one regular soda and then water. Tortilla, rice, lots of veggies and a little chicken. Good dinner, right? I skipped the post ride beer because I was a little wary of my tummy- all a flutter with "no one will talk to me" nerves. It's an intimidating group to break into!
So that was my story of the First Tuesday Ride with FreshBikes. It will be unlikely that I will make any more this summer as I have a regular 1st Tuesday meeting, but this will be something to look forward into following years!
And it gives me a while to work on my hills legs!