Friday, December 12, 2014

Recollections of a Dirty, Miserable Winter Ride

Dark--too dark to look up and wonder if it will snow--and in my hallway I already am straining for silence and darkness enough not to anger my sleeping but ever-so-listening, ever-so-photosensitive mate.  I set the psi (front: 100, rear: 105) outside where the disengaging valve won't PPPPPTTTTT! upon release.  Full leg bibs, wool, base layers, lobster claws, neck protection and my cold buttered crotch onto the saddle and the always different feel of foot on pedal, hand on hoods, body.

The knee aches.  It could be a problem.  A year of aching, then easing, every cold day; a pattern never reassuring.

So cold, damnit!, and always there is hatred for the part of me that does this to me and this place until I pip into Starbucks on MacArthur Boulevard.  If I am late to meet the ride, espresso; if I have time, Americano.  With food (a fake pumpkin sco-bag-muff-croiss-nut). Corporate-issued paper walls host, sparsely, two extremes of humanity up at this time of day on a Saturday--the eager day-beginners and the miserable last-night enders.

A dirty double day, January 2013.  Some men and a woman at 7am.  39 miles, then coffee and a bagel.  Some men and that same woman at 10am for another forty or so miles.

Sangamore Road, 7:35am, Saturday, January.  A random citizen of the world put there and given a million guesses--what will come up the road next?--would not guess what appeared between the snowbanks:   a peleton, full bore at 30mph with Bax off the front and a line of DC Velo gray haired maestros lined out, red flashers on the rear of some, mostly middle aged men like me, but two women as well.  On bicycles.

We skirt the Potomac without a glimpse of it.  Into Great Falls barely 100 yards and a literal U-turn back out of it with no glimpse of the Falls.  Into Potomac and Bethesda, the 'hoods of the rich, but no glimpse of them.

Past Democracy (post-democracy?) and the ride slows and scatters, and I ride alone to Connecticut Avenue Einstein's and sit against the window on the singles bar with my lobster claws off and stinking of hand sweat, my crotch spread and probably scandalizing, my bony and middle aged ass on full, shameless display.

I drink two paper cups of coffee, pushing on the Hazelnut flavored swill for the masses brew pot, and eat a bagel with cream cheese, among high school swimmers and their parents on their way to meets and old people of the near suburbs and a wholly different middle-level of American.

There are children, for instance, of school age that are not black or Mexican.  That is something you had to ride ten miles to see at any reportable level: white school-aged children.  Well, swimmers, too.  Not many in the city.  Old white people, too, come to think of it, anywhere but at the Smithsonian.

My favorite part of the 10am ride--for which I depart from Einstein's--is meeting the sleepers-in as they emerge from the mass of the peleton up Beech Drive as I am coming toward them, and no one is in a hurry.  We lounge and loaf our way through the bright sun, thankfully, and talk.

An abrupt downhill, we hit a hill, and the gas goes down and start killing our own, and the killers begin to kill themselves, and then we are on Tuckerman where the last throes of the day throe.  Bax has gone.  I am tired, and I have fifteen miles of easy riding left, but I am already home.