Here's the Scoop: August 19, 2009

Follow the granola crumbs
A few weeks back I wrote about how my wife and I have turned leisurely bicycle riding into a spectator sport. This was not meant in a mean-spirited way. Basically, having a “rating” system for other riders, helps one keep their mind off the idea the tiny size of the bike seat you’re perched upon.
Plus, I’m certain that, just as we classify oncoming (or worse yet, those riders who pass us!), we are lumped into unflattering categories by other cyclists. Honestly, if anyone checks out my riding shoes, I would be demoted to the Bike Rider Hall of Shame.
And then there’s the fact that I refuse to wear those skintight, black riding shorts that someone thought should be a standard riding uniform. I tried them once and was banned from wearing them in 34 states during a cross-country trek. The other states I never rode through.

Turn up the mileage
Anyhow, it’s been a number of years since I did many bike trips of more than 30 miles or so. This year, we set a goal of a 50-mile trip. For some riders (see recent column), this ride would be as easy as strolling to the mailbox to get the morning paper. Not for us. It was a commitment.
We planned the trip for awhile and even rode more than three-quarters of the trip to test the course. Then we waited for a cool day. Then we waited much longer for a cool, dry day.
The weekend before last was perfect. We did some “carb-loading” for energy the night before. On Saturday morning we set out fairly early and wasted little time on the road. Everything was going according to plan. Until we ran into the parade.
The parade in question was part of the Andes Community Day celebration. Actually, we didn’t have to stop and wait for the parade. Or, worse yet, pretend that we were participants (my bad shoes and all). No, the parade was finished and we encountered many of the marchers and fire trucks as they departed the hamlet heading toward the vehicles in which they arrived.
Watching the “reverse parade,” (we do more on our trips than label bike riders) was kind of cool. But it cost us some momentum.
But we were soon back on the saddle. In a short time, we arrived at our designated lunch spot — about halfway through our trip. We took some time out to enjoy a meal and ponder the rest of the excursion. I suggested a nap, but was overruled.
I had ridden more than 50 miles on several occasions and had no doubt we could hit this milestone. Hampered by bad weather all year, my wife questioned our conditioning. I wasn’t worried.

A thirst for riding
The only part of our planning that wasn’t well done was water. Somehow, we were down to two water bottles and a seltzer bottle as a refill. That was OK, because I had left extra water in the car, which we’d be stopping at before heading into our final 12 miles.
“That lunch was good, but I’m looking forward to hitting the car for water refills and a few granola bars,” I chattered, as we kept up a nice pace.
Because I am frequently motivated by food while riding, the thought of a granola bar had me riding harder as we neared the car. Now I knew how horses felt about carrots.
I sped up, but my wife maintained her pace. I arrived at the car before she did. Being fairly polite, I decided to wait for her until I ripped into a granola bar or two. Riding is hungry work.
So, I waited. And then waited some more. Finally, a minor amount of annoyance kicked in. Then worry. I got on my bike and retraced our path. Nothing. I rode back to the car. Then I got in the car and drove the route again. Nothing.
The annoyance turned to worry. A number of weird scenarios played in my head. I absolutely could not understand where she could be. I then decided to drive the rest of the route before starting a real search. I drove for miles and was about to start Plan B when I spotted a biker ahead. I pulled in front of my wife and asked, not so pleasantly, why she hadn’t stopped at the car?
“I rode right past and waved. Didn’t you see me?” “No!” was my sharp response.
I’m not sure which was more irritated — my head or my butt. Still, I didn’t want to tarnish this milestone trip. We quickly refigured our route and when my wife finished, she picked me up in the car after I had ridden the extra mileage that I missed.
We ended the day with a triumphant coffee and cookie. No one had to know we got lost so close to home. Unless it hits the newspaper.