Friday, February 22, 2013
Slow and Steady
Last Saturday I went on a 55 mile bike ride. I am training for ALC (AIDS Lifecycle) 2013, a 7-day, 555 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles the first week of June. In order to do this ride, I have to train.
I have done this ride before. I did not train. Consequently, I was always in the last few riders each day. I had a hybrid, which is about 20 pounds heavier than my current bike. I only did six training rides, which is nowhere near enough. I'm proud of myself for having done it, but it was not an optimal experience by any stretch of the imagination.
So this year, swept up in the excitement of the closing ceremonies I attended to support friends, I decided to sign up again. I got a lighter bike. I'm completely prepared.
Saturday, though, I found myself somewhat near the back again. I was distressed somewhat; I figured with my new bike I could be out in front with the other riders. I didn't figure myself into this equation, though. Turns out, I'm not really a racer.
I'm a fast person. I think fast, I move quickly, I drive quickly. There are few activities I do slowly. Biking, apparently, is one of them. I stopped and got off my bike 3 times to take pictures. I waved to the cows and horses. I really took my time. I thought about what fantasies engender these crazy place in LA. I finished, albeit at a much slower pace. I wasn't the last rider, so that's a step.
During the last leg I was thinking about what I would write about if I wrote about the experience. It's odd, I suppose, but composing prose in your head is a good way to pass the time. I don't know what I wrote, and I'm sure it was brilliant. But what I think I was wanting to express is that I may not finish first. I may be behind again - one of the last riders of the day, rolling in after everyone has been in camp quite a while. On this ride, I figured out that was fine; I may miss what's going on immediately, but I can see what's truly important - that we get to experience it. That we're doing this to raise money for support for AIDS services. It's easy to forget that while griping about things, or even when it's beautiful and the scenery is stunning, which it is most of the time. There is a purpose, and none of that purpose is about racing through.
I will probably always talk and think fast, but I hope I have the presence of mind to stay slow when I need to on this ride. I'd like to experience what I can - there's no finish line, the whole experience is there to be there for everyone, and make it happen. To raise money for a good cause. I need to go at my own pace. I need to remember what a joy it is to see what I'm seeing at the pace I'm traveling. That stopping and taking pictures is okay and should be encouraged. That I don't need to be at the front of the pack - in the middle and enjoying the ride is just fine, too.