Thus spake Young William in the kitchen on our last morning at Sally’s (nothing gold can stay). I was intrigued (as well as sensitive to the plight of needing riding partners), so I invited him to join Kayla, RTK, and myself. I had a minimal breakfast to try and dig myself out of the leaden stomach I had burdened myself with over the weekend: just eggs and berries and burnt bacon.
Outside, Jack surmised that pocket pudding would be the worst ride snack: he didn’t like pudding anyway, and then to have it warmed up by the sun and your own sweat…
The ride started in fairly crowded traffic, with us even getting stuck in a morning traffic jam. Younbul dispensed some of the New York Times 36 questions to make anyone fall in love with you. If they could invite anyone to a dinner date, Kayla would have Obama; Younbul, Freddy Mercury; and RTK, Kayla.
The ride segued into a ritzy neighborhood that had painted bicycles on the roads and put up signs that said bike route. It reminded me of LA’s Hancock Park, but that’s probably only because I’m trying to distance myself from more obvious choices for fancy reference neighborhoods from earlier in my life.
We pulled over into an elementary school’s yard for Younbul’s fabled snacks. He took out a bag, handed us spoons, and pulled out… A four pack of pudding! I ate a vanilla. Later, we stopped for ice and bathrooms at Waffle House and split a chocolate chip waffle.
We passed through a cute town and lost RTK to the redhead crew, who were going out for lunch. “I just wanted fries,” she explained when pressured at first lunch as to how anyone could skip communal lunch on the day with Sally’s leftovers and parting food gifts. The three of us continued onto first lunch instead, where I combined spinach, cold brisket, pasta salad, and BBQ sauce in a bowl in a move Rob called much too refined, pointing to Jack’s hotdog bun of brisket and chips as the truer Bike & Build lunch.
Younbul set off alone, leaving Kayla and I to do some of the tougher miles I’ve biked. The road was flat but busy, and the heat and my paranoid nerves that maybe I was responsible for losing half my ride group and Kayla only stuck with me out of obligation all conspired to slow me down. I begged Kayla to take the lead. When she did I was relieved that it was easier to match a faster pace than to keep going when I set a slower one. Feeling watched had made me uncomfortable, which made me slow. Invisible in the back, pedaling was mentally easier.
The day got progressively hotter, and chip seal made a villainous return. Kayla was tired and quiet, and seemed to turn into a cycling robot, with no need for breaks. I asserted my strategy for staying alive and in the game: taking a lot of breaks to stand still and pant. I just wish it hadn’t only been me needing and asking for them.
Lunch 2 was a sad affair. Kayla and I were the only ones there and Rob and Hilary didn’t even come out from the van to greet us. Luckily some more people showed up so I discovered that a) we weren’t in the back, just a lonely middle and b) it wasn’t only my body that was struggling to push through 90 degrees. Also, I had scratched a bug bite and gotten a long, thin trickle of blood down my leg as a result, and was hoping to freak some people out at lunch with it for fun. I had been disappointed that this plan seemed doomed by our empty lunch, so getting to see people’s reactions after all was a sweet surprise. I would say perhaps I should get a hobby, but I’ve taken up cycling and it hasn’t seemed to make a difference.
I finished out the day with my butt in so much chafe pain that my face started to hurt as well from all my grimacing. I put on probably 4 applications of chamois butter throughout the day. We rolled into the church around 6:20. I surprised myself by really getting into a bowl of hot soup that was basically heated up cream, but I guess it’s a mental thing to get to choose heat rather than have heat thrust upon you.
Town hall meeting did its best to turn our lives into bootcamp, with a stricter, more regimented morning schedule being agreed to. You can timetable things all you want; I still don’t own a watch. I only got to shower the salt off after the meeting’s close, then put myself to sleep next to a basketball hoop in the inexplicably carpeted gym. Amazingly, my dried blood trickle had left a tan line, while my jersey farmer’s tan had been erased by one long day with rolled up sleeves.