Friday, June 08, 2007

Dumped by Thumper

By Susan Helene Gottfried

Ever since the flyer came to my mailbox, I've wanted to do this: Ride one hundred miles around Lake Tahoe. On a bicycle. In one day.

They're called Century rides, and they happen all over the country (perhaps the world, but let's feed one ambition at a time, shall we?), usually but not exclusively in conjunction with a foundation that's raising money to fight a disease. The Tahoe ride was brought to my notice by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.

The idea chewed at me even though I'm a walking orthopedic disaster. My sports medicine doctor says it'll take an Olympian feat for me to be able to pull off Centuries.

Still, I dream.

Every Wednesday morning, I jump on a spin bike at my gym and fantasize I'm doing that Century. I push myself with promises of seeing my children and husband cheering for me at the finish line.

I dream of putting together teams decked out in West of Mars jerseys. Of constantly hitting up friends, acquaintances, and blog visitors for donations for this month's ride. Of learning how to pack and unpack my bike, how to use chamois cream and how to take a drink from my water bottle even though I'm flying.

Thankfully, the Tour Manager's as supportive of this as he is of my writing. One thing we've discovered with my weird body is that biking is one of the few things that doesn't induce pain. And as much as I love my mountain bike, hauling it up the hills around here isn't the easiest thing in the world. Thus, I am now the proud owner of a Trek Pilot bicycle -- a real road bike.

We're just getting to know each other, me and my Pilot. As I write this, I've only had her for two weeks. She's effortless to pedal; I described the experience as riding a Thoroughbred after years on a Clydesdale.

Of course, though, Thoroughbreds are known for being skittish animals and while my new skinny tires may zoom, I'm finding that they aren't as forgiving when I move suddenly.

Like tonight, for instance. I was headed home after a short ride that took longer on my mountain bike, envisioning the lake. I was pulled back to reality by a rustling in the brush beside me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement and swerved, almost falling off from the jerk I'd just given my handlebars.

Two brown bundles rolled over as they tried to stop themselves from falling off the curb and taking me down to the street with them. I saw white ears, white underbellies, maybe a white cotton tail, and then I was past and straightening out, still on the bike, still pedaling. I hadn't even reached for the brakes.

I biked the final quarter mile with a shiver teasing my spine. Instead of Lake Tahoe, all I could think about was what it would have felt like if I'd been dumped by Thumper.


Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to make it to Lake Tahoe (not necessarily to bike.) It looks so gorgeous in all the pictures!

Do you know anything about those bikes that it looks like you're lying down as you pedal? I've seen them on bike trails, and wonder what they're actually like to ride.

Tilly Greene said...

HA! Poor Thumper and friend, now they'll become axe murders to get over the horrorific experience of almost dying by a bike!

Just kidding darlin' :-)

Can you do the Tahoe ride in stages? Like you do the first couple of miles and the last couple, and then you have a team who does the rest? I bet the Tour Manager would be up for that and this way you get to live your dream!

Annette said...

Last Christmas, my hubby and I bought each other Trek comfort bikes for gifts. Ray's always looking for trails that run downhill both ways. With tail winds. Short of that, we mostly stick to the old railways that have been converted to trails.

You're not kidding about the Thoroughbred/Clydesdale comparison. I always thought I liked my old bike. Never realized what a dinosaur it was until I rode my Trek. You can go farther, faster, with less effort. Great bikes.

And, Tory, I'm curious about those bikes, too. I've seen them in bike shops, but never tried one out.

Anonymous said...

It's good to have goals. Most of mine involve getting to Canyon Ranch for the spa. As for exercise, I hope to stroll around the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg some day. But I respect your century aspiration, Susan. Go for it!

karen! said...

I've been around Lake Tahoe (my mom and I call it Lake Taco... lol) just not on a bike. Well, I've been biking on Lake Tahoe, but not *all* the way around.

R and I are thinking about doing the Highlander Cycle Tour in September provided we get motivated to do hill training after the Ride for Roswell (anyone who feels like donating can find me under "Karen Morse").

Anyway, great post.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Tory, there's a whole recumbent culture out there! It's apparently a whole different riding experience; if you really want to try, I'd suggest getting a hold of the Bike Pittsburgh people and seeing if they can point you in the right direction.

No, Tilly, can't do the Tahoe century in stages. And I don't want to, either, to be honest. Whole thing or nothing.

I'm just sad I won't have my hands free to take pictures! (assuming I can pull it off in the first place)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

I'd never heard of doing Centuries. Sounds very taxing, yet exhilarating. Hope you can find a way to do it!

Anonymous said...

What was Thumper and his little bunny friend doing?
Are you sure it wasn't Thumper and Humper?

cheesygiraffe said...

Aww Susan. Sorry the cute, little bunnies almost made you wreck. :(