I've been on blog hiatus for so long, I've forgotten what to write about......! Oh that's right, bikes. Actually, my new cross training (eh-em, surfing) has taken up so much of my attention it's hard to think about writing stories of road biking. Winter training is so vital, but can be pretty mundane too.
On Thursday, in honor of another day to be grateful for everything I'm already really grateful for, I and two others set out what was supposed to be a 120 mile bike party up the coast of Southern Cali and back down again in time to eat and be with family. My knee had been bugging me for two days prior so you can see where this story is headed....
The morning was gorgeous as we set out. I was equipped with knee warmers, bibs, and a nice, thin jersey....plenty of clothing for a long ride in November, no? Actually, for the first 1o minutes it was freezing and I was fully regretting my decision to leave my arm warmers. Soon the California sun came up and it was another beautiful day on the coast. I then realized how spoiled I've become....the fact is, I was deciding between bringing or leaving behind my arm warmers....jeez that so doesn't suck! I remember riding in Boone in 17 degrees and having to peel my fingers from the brake levers....because they were stuck in a claw shape. Did I mention I was feeling grateful??
Less than 30 miles into the ride, however, I started feeling the nagging twinge in my right knee that had been bugging me 2 days earlier, and realized that it had also been there the entire morning. I'd been taking all the weight of my right leg with my left, and had been spinning like mad up hills to keep from putting pressure on the knee. Suddenly my left leg was fatiguing and I couldn't ignore my right side anymore. The pain was overpowering and impossible to ignore. I pulled over and, embarrassed, began massaging the knee and trying to stretch it out.
I really hate disrupting other people's rides because I fail to properly plan, or fail at listening to my body, or in any way fail to be a responsible rider. I felt pretty bad about having to stop and try to work out my silly knee problems and as soon as I could, got back on the bike and continued the ride. I knew it would be short lived, however, as my knee was reminding me of it's presence with almost every spin of the pedals. I was thinking of alternative ways to get my broken little self back home- call in for back-up?? Ahhh, traffic and contribution to gas use..... soft pedal home?? I don't think my knee would take it...... taking the train was suggested.....hmmm that might work! About 10 miles later we rolled into (well, I drafted into) San Clemente and without passing go or collecting money of any kind, went straight to the Amtrak station. After a little jumble and jingle, I figured out which train, what time, what platform, etc. and said a grateful (theme of the day?? :) goodbye to my angelic ride partners, bidding them a fun and safe ride back.
I coasted down the beach to where the train would be stopping, and as I pulled up to the platform, the smell of warm cream and something wonderful cooking forced me from my pain cave. Across the street I saw the source of my sudden distraction- a quaint little crepery beckoning me through wide doors and filled with full-looking people. With 8 minutes til the scheduled train stop, I abandoned my bike (yes, I did it!) and hobbled quickly across the street toward my new inspiration. The dude behind the counter had brilliant blue eyes, a dusty blond mop of hair, and a youthful expression that appeared taken aback by my barging through the door and requesting to know how quickly a crepe could be manifested into my bare hands......please. As if on cue, a Nutella and powdered sugar crepe appeared within 3 minutes, and I was grinning ear to ear as I thanked the chef, the blue-eyed boy, and hobbled back across the street with my precious snack in hand.
My bike was waiting patiently for me, and as we sat anticipating the late-arriving train, I smacked down the delicious crepe. A grateful smile spread across my lips. The morning was starting to shape up into a not-so-terrible-start-to-the-day after all. I tried to make friends with some fellow trainmates, who were perhaps turned off by my silly bike costume, or uninterested in my perspectives on life and the afternoon.
When the train arrived, I hobbled on, strapped down my bike, and stumbled up the stairs. The conductor saw me playing the cripple and, when she realized my ticket was going to be more complicated than she had time for, gave me a free ride. I smiled gratefully when she said "Honey, don't even worry about it," and gave her a big thank you.
My seatmate was a woman who could have known me for years, except that we just met, and she and I gabbed on and on about life and family, people getting old, people staying young and being alive in general while the train zipped along the shoreline. I spied cluster after cluster of surfers waiting for their turkey day waves while basking in the beautiful morning sun. I was reminded that taking the train is not only fun, but exhilarating and sometimes downright magical. While I was frustrated for not completing the ride, for making my friends wait, and by knowing that I was probably going to have to take a few days off my bike to recover, I was keenly aware of all the amazing things going on around me and was very grateful to be in such a wonderful relationship with my life.
I continue to think how sometimes the not-plan is almost better than the real plan, and to be grateful for the flat tires, bad weather, and bunk knee days. I'm constantly pleased at what secrets and adventures are in store when I pay attention.