"Behind every beautiful thing,
there is some kind of pain."
It is one of those rare, winter days that is a gift from the cycling gods: blustery, but blessedly warm after a cold start. Of course that always means that there is gear to take off and carry as the day progresses, but I can't complain about that. I am thankful that I have friends to ride with, that I have a bicycle to carry me, and that I can get another January century in. It is not every year that weather allows three January century rides. And it is nearing brevet season. These miles and these leg hardening hills will make the brevets much less painful.
Oh, I don't delude myself, I know that the brevets will hurt. Kentucky courses are always challenging, and due to the rides being early in the year, weather is inevitably an issue. But brevets, at least longer brevets, inevitably hurt at some point. I suppose that is one of the delights of brevet riding, as strange as it may sound, the challenging yourself to tough things out, to work through the pain, mental and physical, to prevail. If you do, you have the thrill of the victory, knowing that you finished what you started. If you don't, even if this was the wisest course, and it often is, you deal with the questioning of yourself, your decision, and your ability. I suppose if it were easy, it would not be so satisfying.
I meet Steve and Bill at McDonald's and we head out on the Lawrenceburg Loop. As we ride, it is like old times: I have ridden so many miles with these men. Things have changed, we have changed, but some things remain the same, and despite the time that has elapsed when we rode regularly together, I have memories with them, ties to them that cannot be denied. I remind them of the caterpillar who did not make it across the road while we waited for a flat tire to be changed, of Bill's comment to Larry about his camera. Past moments along this course flood my brain. And more memories will be made today, like the store clerk grabbing Bill's arm and saying that while he is old, he is sooo strong;-) As always, Bill takes our teasing with good grace and humor.
Coming out of the first store stop, layers begin to be shed and it is a treat not to have a cold, wintry blast slap your face making you want to retreat back into the warmth of the store. The miles pass and I realize how much I have healed since the last time I rode this course. Time undoubtedly is a balm to all wounds. And bicycling has played its role. Thank you, love, wherever you are for buying me my first bicycle.
The day ends too quickly for my mind, but not for my legs which are begging for surcease, for rest to heal and strengthen. Now if only February will cooperate. Brevets are coming, and despite my moaning, cursing, and complaining, brevets can be beautiful things.