I got my bicycle back from the mechanic following my misguided attempt to adjust my front and rear derailleurs. The thing is, I’ve successfully adjusted my derailleurs before, but this time was different. They were both badly out of tune, and by the time I got done with them last Friday, they were both worse. Adjusting my derailleurs was first on a list of things I wanted to do to my bike prior to riding my first century, the Hope Ride in Hope, Indiana on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Turns out the second thing on my list was to take my bike to Buckskin Bikes for a complete tuneup.
Oh well, I can always depend on the guys at Buckskin to fix my screwups. Plus, it’s probably best that I had a professional look things over prior to riding a hundred miles in one day.
The past several days have been filled with nervous energy, trepidation, and more than a little self-doubt. I usually deal with these kinds of emotions by hopping my bike for a ride. So that’s what I did. I headed south and then east, out of town, toward the cornfield-lined roads of east-central Indiana. There’s only on three-mile stretch of road on this twenty-four mile route that I don’t like – a bumpy, poorly-maintained stretch of CR 300 East, heading south into Markleville, immediately following the only real hill on the ride, one that never fails to get me breathing hard. Let’s be honest – it usually kicks my ass!
Today as I rode, listening to a mix of progressive rock and metal, I didn’t think about much but the century ride in four days. I would occasionally glance at Endomondo on my Samsung, noting the number of miles I had ridden, taking an inventory of my legs and back, thinking to myself, “Well, Saturday, you’ll be [insert number here] percent done with your first century.”
I also thought about the weather, which doesn’t look good: windy and rainy. Blech. I haven’t yet looked at the hourly forecast because it isn’t yet posted, but all I can think is that I will be riding into a 20mph headwind in a downpour for one hundred miles. I’m a worst case scenario kind of guy. Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes it doesn’t.
Do I call my friend and riding partner and beg off, making some lame excuse about my knees? The thought crossed my mind. Several times. During today’s ride. Then I thought about my kids. Would I tell them that I decided to quit because it was going to tough? Not a chance. I always encourage my kids to do their best, and to give their all in everything they do. If I quit before I even start, how can I expect them to do their best?
I have resolved to give Saturday’s ride everything I have. If I manage to make it a hundred miles, I’ll have something to mark off of my bucket list. If not, it will be because either my body or my bike broke down. Either way, I will have given it everything I have. And there’s no shame in that.