A colleague saw the pictures of my duathlon on Instagram, and congratulated me. I demurred and told her about the bike, and was overheard by another colleague. It turns out this colleague’s wife is a cyclist, and had an old road bike she wasn’t using any longer. Long story short, I was able to purchase a great Cannondale for an absolute song. It’s 18 years old, but it’s been completely rebuilt, and looks beautiful.
Last week, during a minor break in the killing heat, Jax got out his road bike and we went for a spin together. Jax has done several triathlons, and in general, is a superior athlete. He picked a 14 mile out-and-back paved bike trail, which was blessedly quite flat and smooth, and he proceeded to push me pretty hard to keep up with him.
My duathlon mph was pretty shoddy, so Jax set a pace that was more aggressive than that. We determined that I could have taken about 10 minutes off my time if I’d been able to keep that pace. At this point, we were clipping along between 15 & 16 mph and I could barely hear him when he spoke to me. I kept abreast of him until we came up on others on the trail, at which point he would move in front so I could draft and catch my breath.
We reached our turnaround point, where the path ran between two small lakes. It was lovely, rather isolated, with the sun setting over the trees, and Jax apparently called back over his shoulder that he was stopping at the next bench. Unfortunately, drafting behind him as I was, I didn’t hear him. And, accustomed to my mountain bike, where the brakes are in a different position on the handlebars, when he slowed to a stop in front of me, my reaction time just wasn’t there.
I shifted to the left to avoid hitting him and lost control. I went down more or less on my right side, with my hand out in front of me. I felt the impact on the outside of my knee, hip, shoulder, and hand, but the crack of my helmeted head hitting the pavement was the stunner.
I lay there for awhile looking up into the sky, turning rose gold with sunset, and evaluating. Jax extricated me from my bike and I came to the conclusion that although my head hurt, and I was bleeding from several scrapes, nothing was broken. There was a rough moment when I thought I might throw up, but after a few moments I recovered enough to turn around and head back.
Seven miles with a bruised hand and blood running from various skin rips and tears isn’t fun, and I felt slow and sorry for myself for the first few minutes. Then, anxious at the impending dusk and the lack of streetlights along the path, Jax said, “You’re going SIX MILES AN HOUR. It’s going to be dark by the time we get back!” and I got mad and upped my pace. Although he raced ahead at 22-23 mph for a mile or two, I held steady at around 19 for the last few miles, and by the time we got back to the car, I was feeling the endorphin rush and more than a little impressed at my wounds, as well as the fact that I hadn’t cried.
We stopped at the local gas station for celebratory Slurpees and it was the best thing I’d ever tasted.