Posted by: wheelywonka | October 9, 2011

A Voice From God Inspiring Me On the Open Road

…On Saturday morning I joined the Velo Valero cycling team for 50 miles of rolling farmland on the eastside of town.  This ride was important because it was the final tune-up before the Ride to the River next week.  I woke up at 5:30 am, went on the balcony and immediately saw that it was raining. The slacker voice in me whispered, “Good.  You don’t have to do the ride today…”   To which the uptight white guy in me quickly responded, “WRONG ANSWER PILGRIM!  YOU NEED TO GET OUT THERE AND RIDE REGARDLESS OF THE WEATHER.  I EXPECT TO SEE YOUR BUTT ON YOUR BIKE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THERE IS A MONSOON, TSUNAMI, OR HURRICANE!”  (Just to ensure I offend everyone with this blog, I like to think of Mr. Slacker as the Irish side of me, and Mr. Uptight as the German side, since I am one of those mutts who gets his lineage right down the middle from both of those fine drinking cultures…)

Then there was a third voice.  This was the voice of my wife D, who just wanted me to get out of bed and out of the house so she could sleep in peace a little longer.  She was in no mood for compromise so I geared up and hit the road for Judson High School.  I drove beneath dark clouds and through intermittent rain for 15 minutes, and Mr. Slacker once again began whispering, “Turn around.  Or, even better, stop and get a cream filled donut…”  I resisted this siren song, and made it to Judson.  There was a small but dedicated group there, led by (of course) the legendary John Tenison, aka “The Punisher”.  JT has led more Velo Valero training rides than anyone, and is a dedicated cyclist who fears no hill, no chip seal, and no stinkin’ intermittent rain.  Since this was one of the few team training rides I’ve participated in this season, there was the usual round of “Who are you?” and “What are you doing here?” and “Who’s the new guy?” and “You look just like a guy who used to ride with us named Peter…” and on and on in an endless wave of good-natured barbs.   Well, the ride starts and we separate into two groups.  The Punisher is leading a fast pod on a 70 miler, which I know I’m not ready for.  There is a second group that will be doing a slower 50, and I’m sure I can handle that, although my longest ride of the year so far has been liesurely 35 with frequent stops.    The first part of the ride is quite enjoyable, heading east by myself on Lower Seguin with the wind at my right, savoring the gently rolling farmland, and not encountering any dogs (yet).  I regroup with the 50 milers at one point, and we ride south to New Berlin together, where some of the riders partake in the legendary breakfast tacos at Brietzke Cafe.  While we are there, the staff puts a few of their even more legendary pies on the counter to let them cool, and I have to sit downwind from them, trying not to think about their confectionary goodness so I can focus on the rest of the ride.

Sinfully sweet and sumptuous pies at Brietzke Cafe

Yes, the ride.  We take off as a group south on 775 towards La Vernia into a fierce and unrelenting headwind.  I participate in a two person paceline with DK for a bit until at one point I look back and there’s no one there.  I’m on my own, 30 miles from the start, with the winds of Thor blasting into my grill, and on my longest ride of the year.  The odds are not good, my friends.   Well, fortunately, there was one more voice crooning to me over the earbuds encouraging me to continue, and more importantly, encouraging me to live large and be in the moment.  This was the voice of the English singer Adele, who has been at the center of my workout playlists all year.  I know saying that the girl can sing is to demonstrate a firm grasp of the obvious, but it’s more than that.  When I hear that deep and monumental voice of hers on songs like “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”, I experience something timeless and eternal, something so real and visceral and so completely human, that I cannot help but feel wide awake and truly alive.   With Adele wailing away on the buds, I make it to La Vernia, and then turn west and north for the remaining part of the ride.  The wind is at my back, and the Cannondale and I are just tearing up the incredibly smooth pavement and wide shoulders of  1346 and 1604.  I average 18 mph all the way back to  Judson and get into the car right before the rain starts in earnest.   Felt real strong at the end, and truly enjoyed being back in the saddle with the team.

The Ride to the River is next weekend.   Will spend the week working out lightly (if at all), hydrating, and carb loading (the right kind of carbs, of course).  See you on the road!!

Owner of a voice that moves mountains

P.S. Thanks Adele, for inspiring me once again.  I hope your throat heals soon and you continue to make such raw and uncompromising music.  When you resume your tour, I’ll be in the audience somewhere, waving the flashlight app on my iPhone and drowning in your sweet voice.

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