Monday, November 11, 2013

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

The peleton climbs the Rise Rich Will Not Cross

This week the weather prevented me from riding on the levee on Tuesday and Thursday. Well I guess it would be more accurate to say I was too much of a wimp to ride in the wind  on Tuesday and Thursday. The weather is merely a description of the state of the earth's atmosphere at a particular place and time. Strictly speaking, it doesn't really prevent anything.  Anyway, because I hadn't ridden, I was looking forward to Sunday's Giro. The forecast was a promising 63 degrees with NE winds at 13. My normal routine for the Giro is to put on my kit at home beneath shorts and a tee shirt and throw a towel, helmet, shoes, gloves, arm warmers, and a banana into a small bag. Then I drive to Killdeer St. (George's house) on the Lakefront, finish dressing, and mount my bike. Today, at George's, when opening my bag, I was overcome with a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach as I stared at my shoes -- one silver, one black. The mind, or my mind at least, is a funny thing because I instantly assumed they would be two right shoes or two left shoes. I began rehearsing acceptable (or less unacceptable) explanations for why I had to miss the ride. (Rich had seen me as I drove by him on Carrollton Avenue.) Simultaneously I tried to calculate how long it would take to race home and where I might meet the Giro in New Orleans East. I actually had to pick up the shoes and hold them next to each other, confirming there was a left and a right, before my mind quit the previously described exercises and I began thinking about how to explain wearing one black and one silver shoe. Amazingly, no one said a word about it all morning.

Before the Giro at Big Rich's Gazebo

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-- Mary Oliver, from The Summer Day

I arrived at Big Rich's Gazebo about the same time as Rich. He seemed unusually quiet and contemplative. After all, it was the eve of the 54th anniversary of his birth, and I know, having recently celebrated my survival of another year, such times can stimulate self-reflection, a consideration of the big questions. He may have been recalling the previous evening's event, a small dinner hosted by his wife in honor of his birthday at Apolline Restaurant, where the proprietor, Keith Andrews, had asked, "So what is this, Rich, the big six-o?" Ouch.

Or maybe he was just resting his aching dogs and quietly enjoying the beautiful morning.

As we joined the peleton by the Swim Hole, I counted 34 riders, including, somewhat rare for a Sunday, Carey H. The first part of ride went pretty much as expected until the breakneck charge off I-510 onto the service road. I had moved sufficiently forward in the group to make it onto the service road in relative comfort, but as we neared the Chef a few riders had gotten about 20 meters off the front. Without warning, The One With No Handlebars (who, by the way, was this day on a normally equipped road bike) came charging up the side of the line of riders screaming, "Come on, Seabiscuit!" He was rocking wildly up and down evoking the movement of a horseman on a galloping steed. I wasn't sure what I was witnessing. "What did he say?" I asked Rich. But Rich confirmed it: "I think he said Come on Seabiscuit." Apparently Seabiscuit wasn't up to bridging the gap, but no matter as it all came back together in the last curve before the Chef.

Rare bird sighted in Bayou Sauvage NWR
About halfway out  along the Chef, Vega moved up from somewhere near the very back and said, "I'm still here so make sure you take my picture."

As the pack rounded the last curve before Venetian Isles there was a big surge and the group split into several pieces. After we sat up Keith McD. asked, "Who ramped it up?" The response, dripping with indignation, came immediately from HL, "Who do you think ramped it up?" Of course, HL was with Keith McD. and me, a couple of hundred meters behind the riders contesting the sprint.

After the turn, the tailwind-assisted pace was quick with the sprint at the Chevron station contested by Reagan and Rinard. From my vantage, I couldn't tell who prevailed and, in any event, I was too busy trying to move up to prepare for the inevitable race up the service road and past the automobile dealerships along I-10.

The pace was thankfully somewhat mellow on Hayne, and, not having seen Vega since the Chef, I asked Rich if he knew what happened to him. Rich said he had looked back as we went by the IHOP and didn't see Vega. A mile or so later, Vega showed up at my side. "What happened to you?" I asked. "What do you mean, I've been here all along," he responded. Vega's comment puzzled Rich. A reconciliation of Vega's assertions with Rich's recollection may remain impossible, one of the many small mysteries which populate our lives.

In the end, the ride was thoroughly enjoyable. We were treated throughout with satellite time provided via Rich's brand new Garmin. With his new toy, Rich has begun to upload his ride data to Garmin Connect, which generates much useful info, including a nice ride profile. I annotated the Garmin-generated profile, below:

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