After thinking that I was not going to have my new bicycle for Hell Week, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call on Tuesday that it was completed. I arranged to take off work on Friday so my husband and I could make the trip to Tennessee. I am excited as we head out. My husband is excited for me as well. The sun is shining for the first time in weeks, and I do have some regret that I am spending the day in an automobile rather than on a bicycle, but it will be worth the sacrifice. During one of his many hospitalizations when they told me he would probably not recover and the sadness drowned me as if I were covered by an ocean and would never surface to breath or see the sun again, one wish he expressed to me was that I get a custom bike just for me. I still don't exactly know why he had this wish except he knows that one day, when I am free of work and other responsibilities, I hope to take off on my bicycle and tour the country. I also know that he likes to see me happy and I am rarely happier than when I am on the road on my bike. On the way down we pass a Christian billboard that lists some of the commandments. I grin and tell him that I guess I am going to cause some people to break one of those commandments. He looks puzzled and asks what I mean. I grin and tell him that the commandment says "Thou shalt not covet," but there will be people coveting my brand new Lynskey bicycle. He finds this amusing and laughs. It is good to hear his laughter and see the man I married before the pain and illness began their onslaught on our lives. One of my favorite movie scenes if from "Hook" where the little boy looks into Peter's eyes and says, "There you are."
We get to the bike store a bit early because I have forgotten about the hour time difference, but my bike is ready. It is beautiful. Lynn tells me it is unique, that the frame was made this way to meet all the things I said I want in a bike. It will even hold three water bottles. Steve told me one thing he learned from one of his bikes is what he doesn't like in a bike, but I already know that I love this bike. With any luck, this bike will take me to Paris in a year. With any luck, this bike will know laughter, adventure, and friendship. When I take it out, there is some noise in the front as the spokes settle in, but it goes away. I have never had hand built wheels before. I wonder how it will climb as there are no hills here to try. Unlike the last time, the store is very busy. Two other people are picking up their bikes, beautiful Pegoretti bicycles. They have waited much longer for their bicycles than I have for mine. Joking, I ask one of them if they had to be bitten by a pit bull to get his bike. He grins and tells me that he didn't. I see the pride of ownership in his eyes and I understand. While I must admit I did feel selfish when I thought of all the money I was spending on a bike when there was such tragedy in Haiti and other lands, I also felt the pride of ownership. I will never attain being what I would like to be, but then I am human.
On the way home, my husband encourages me to ride the brevet tomorrow on my new bike. Common sense prevails and I resist temptation. I would like for my friends to see my new bike. I know that he doesn't understand the struggles, internal and external, that can confront you in a brevet. You really don't know a bike until you have ridden quite a few miles on it. Brevets are long and hard enough without the unknown. It turns out that I am quite lucky that I use common sense and the saddle on my new bike will cause me pain on my short Sunday 40 miler.
Friday night I don't sleep well as I fret about whether or not I should have switched lights and equipment so I could ride my new bike on the brevet. I fret about what I should wear as the temperature range is supposed to be huge and I don't want to freeze but I don't want to carry a lot of extra gear. Morning seems to roll around before I ever resolve any of these issues. When I arrive, the parking lot is crowded. I am always amazed at the number of people who ride brevets. I am surprised but delighted to see Susan. She had told me she intended to ride the brevets, but I knew she had not been riding and doesn't like cold weather.
It is light enough that we should be able to complete the course without lights, but I have them just in case. After asking everyone I know how many layers they are wearing, I decide on a light wool base layer covered by a short sleeved wool jersey, a wind vest, and a light jacket. I am chilled in the morning, but not terribly uncomfortable, and despite the forecast the weather never changes enough where I had to shed a layer. It was nice to ride in the sunshine at an easy pace even though it was a tad on the chilly side. Susan amazes me with how strongly she rides despite having not ridden a century for months. We are joined for awhile by one man from Michigan. His computer has broken and he has lost his cue sheet. Susan gives him hers. I am glad that Susan said we should wait for him earlier in the day or he would probably have gotten lost. Steve normally marks this course, but weather did not permit it this go round.
I worry that the guys rode the course so much faster than we did and I know they are going to hurt me badly in Texas, but I convince myself that we will adapt as we have in previous years. One of my greatest fears is the day when I can truly no longer keep up with these friends that I cherish. I tell myself I should have used the trainer more and eaten less, but it is too late for this year. Maybe next year I will be more disciplined.
Susan and I pull in a tad before dark and I head home. When I get here, I take a few moments to stare at my new bike and contemplate tomorrow. I have promised my husband to take him to the Maple Syrup festival in the morning for pancakes and freshly processed maple syrup, but I know there will be time afterward. As it turns out, he doesn't want to go as he needs to do some bee work while the weather is warm. This frees me to get out early, and I am relishing the coming ride.
I grab the green beans from last years garden out of the freezer and put them on prior to heading out the door. The first ten miles are like a dream. The bike descends like a dream, handles well, and climbs well. Then the saddle issues start. I had thought this saddle would work for me, and I suppose I can give it another shot, but I am really glad I did not take the new bike on the brevet. I will get the saddle issue resolved and there will be other, longer brevets to challenge me in the near future.