I will not pretend that I didn't have some serious doubts during yesterday's 35 miles, or that I didn't think more than once Ugh, I don't like this, I don't want to do it anymore. However, I will say that these thoughts did not stop me, and that (best of all) 35 miles felt better than even 30 miles did.
Which is AWESOME.
The worst moment of the ride was what Coach Tom called the Infamous Red Barn. (Tom rode with me this week - poor coaches must draw lots each week to see who has to ride with me. I am the slowest still, and I have the feeling I'll always be the slowest. It doesn't bother me at all, since I only care about doing it, and not how FAST I'm doing it. But I do feel bad for the coaches who have to hang behind with me, even though that's their job and they seem happy to do it, and some seem to enjoy a nice leisurely pace at times. They do and say absolutely nothing to make me feel guilty, of course. It's just my native Catholic guilt, I suppose, and I have to constantly stop myself apologizing for holding them back. But anyway, back to the hardest part of the ride.) It's this long slow incline with a picturesque red barn at the top of the hill. It just looks like a little steep hill, but long before you even get to the part that seems steep, your legs are already getting tired and you realize you've downshifted a hell of a lot. Because it's this hidden hill-before-a-hill.
I'm just saying that I hate the red barn hill, okay. But I made it up. Wait, let me re-phrase that: I made it up that stupid hill!!!!
The other bad part was The Worms. Oh god -- THE WORMS. They were everywhere, as we'd just had rain (it didn't rain on us, yay!) I thought there was just some sort of weird sticky mud on my brakes, but when we got to the rest stop, someone figured out that we and our bikes were spattered with smooshy worm bits.
I almost puked. For serious. That was so, so, so, so, SO GROSS.
The best part of the ride was this wonderful, long steep downhill (which I believe was right before the exercise in red barn masochism). People often compare riding a bike to flying, but here in the flat land of Chicago, it feels more like steady, mostly low-level and often fun work, to me. The real pay-off, the joy comes from a downhill like that. And it's not like flying. It's not like anything else. It's like riding a bike down a hill. You feel free, and the world is beautiful and nothing is impossible and you're not scared of anything. There's no such thing as an office, or bills, or wrinkles and gray hair, or aches and pains and worries and cares. There's nothing but you, feeling absolutely completely and 100% alive. Flying doesn't feel like that. Only riding a bike down a long hill does.
Life should work that way - every time you climb a hill and reach the top, gasping, with your legs screaming and all of you just ready to give up, you get a glorious downhill ride. Hard work rewarded with nothing but absolute joy. Wouldn't that be wonderful, if it were always that way?