January 28, 2006

Five Seconds Of Anxiety

Morning-Early Afternoon Workout
65 miles
Heart Rate Zone: Aerobic (Zone 1) / Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

22 minutes (2.8 miles)
Heart Rate Zone: Lactate Threshold (Zone 2)

1 hour

Random Comments: You wake up at 6am, fiddle about on the bike, on the road, in the gym and next thing you know - whaa-PAMMM! - it's 3:30 in the afternoon. Where'd the day go? Wha' happen?

I kept my cool today. I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I didn't throw my bike to the ground in childish abandon. Believe it or not, I didn't even let out one big sigh.

It started with six of us on the ride. It was a pretty morning, great day to be taking a spin up the beautiful coast of Southern California. Will and Brooklin were in the lead, Rich and I were tucked in right behind them. Very comfortable pace, everybody just rolling along talking amongst themselves. The road was a bit rough, but nothing unusual. Some rubble on the side - we rolled through that. Ain't nothin but a thang. All was good.

Then somewhere out of nowhere, this tomato size rock pops up in the middle of the road. I don't even know if Brooklin saw it, but he missed it. I know I didn't see it, but I felt it. Ka-THUMP! Ka-THUMP! I ran over it point blank with both of my tires. "SHIT!" Brooklin and Will looked back at me. We pedaled on slowly.

There are five seconds of anxiety that take place after such an incident. Five seconds in which tension fuels the air. Within that five second period after hitting a rock, a pothole or a large smattering of glass, you are left in wonder. Wondering if something is about to go drastically wrong. You feel every miniscule movement of your bike, every single cell throughout your body is listening, trying to sense anything that may have bent, punctured or slipped a millimeter out of place. You're helplessly awaiting your fate. A flat tire, a bent rim, a broken spoke. Anything. Those five seconds are dreadful.

So we pedaled slowly as Rich, Brooklin and Will looked on at me in tense desperation. Five seconds. I took a deep breath. All's good, I said.

Disaster avoided. The talking continued and we pedaled on.

About a mile later is when it hit. I'd never really heard of a time-release flat tire, but apparently I had one. THUMP-thump. THUMP-thump. My rear tire went flat. DAMN! Four of us stop by the side of the road as I begin to fix it. My tires are incredibly tough to remove from my rim. It's aggravating. It takes far too much time to pry them off, at which point I tear apart far too many knuckles. Only for it to take two of us to pry it back on. As I said, aggravating. I need to get new tires. After a bit of struggle though, we finally get it together. New tube. I'm ready. We jump on our bikes and roll again.

For about twenty yards.

THUMP-thump. THUMP-thump. Good Lord, this can't be happening. I look at Rich. He looks at me. You're joking, he leers. We pull to the side of the road again. Yep, flat tire. This time it is the front one. Double flat. It had to be from that damn rock. Arrrgh! Fortunately, the front tire is a bit easier to change so after another five or ten minutes, and another two or three frayed knuckles, I'm up and running again. So we roll.

At this point, most of the crew had to head back so it's just Cat, Rich and I rolling along. With both flats all fixed, we're rolling along knowing that the worst is behind us already. We get about a half mile up the road when I hear a rattling coming from somewhere on my bike. THWAK-um THWAK-um THWAK-um. With every turn of the tire, THWAK-um THWAK-um. What the...?! Cat and Rich look at me. What the hell is that? they say. I stop. They stop. I look. And I find a very large industrial staple sticking straight out of my rear tire. You've GOT to be kidding me. Check this out, I say as I turn my bike around for them to see. You've GOT to be kidding me, Rich says. I pull out the staple. Hisssssssssssssssssss. The air quickly deflates from my tire. Third flat in under a mile. This is a record for me.

I keep my cool, though. I don't yell. I don't scream. I don't throw my bike in anger. I don't even let out a big sigh. Somedays the five seconds doesn't roll in your favor.