I was in a rather negative place after my recent under-200/over-200 nightmare. I didn’t want to ride. I wanted to just sit and whine. And depression is always a great excuse to eat crap.
So, I used weather and “busy with family and work stuff” to not ride for a couple of days. And guess what? I missed it. I needed it. I wanted to get back on the bike. But what was interesting was – it wasn’t so much I wanted to get the new weight off… it was I simply I wanted to ride. To enjoy riding again.
I think I had gotten so consumed with numbers – Strava, weight, cadence, speed, blah, blah, blah, that riding had become more work than fun. I wanted it to be fun again.
Now let me pause here to say — I am in NO WAY saying we should not work hard. Especially us clydesdales who need to lose weight – we MUST work hard. But we must have the right attitude. And the right attitude is a positive attitude.
I knew I was going to punish myself on the bike for my weight gain – there must be consequences for our actions. But I also knew that before I did that, I wanted to find the joy in riding again. Remember those Rapha rides I’ve posted about? Where I just rode with no destination or distance in mind? I needed another one of those. So, after a couple of 30-mile jaunts with my boy, I set out yesterday on a Rapha ride.
And started riding directly into a headwind. A nasty headwind. I should have known when I saw these as I rolled out (by the way, this photo has some foreshadowing).
Checking WindAlert.com during the ride, I came to learn that I was riding in a headwind of 12-15mph. Nice touch there, Cycling Gods, for my “joy” ride. But I cranked on, eventually coming to the proverbial fork in the road, and I followed a prong I never had before.
I found new roads, new bike trails, and was really enjoying myself, really enjoying the bike again. At one point, I cruised by a sign for a small city park. The city I was in was St. Charles, Missouri.
St, Charles is to cyclists what Germany was to Jews in the 40’s.
Okay, perhaps I overstated. Scratch that.
But the city of St. Charles hates cyclists. How much? Well, the good citizens there recently tried to pass legislation to make it ILLEGAL for cyclists to ride on any two-lane roads in the city. I’m not kidding. And it nearly passed, despite the fact it would be counter to existing state laws.
Local cyclists swap stories of cars running riders off the road, throwing objects at them, dumping liquids on them, even hitting them on purpose. You simply do not want to ride in St. Charles.
And there I was, happily pedaling along right smack in the middle of it. But guess what? Everything was cool. I was passed by cars and none honked or crowded me, no one threw crap at me, and no one ran me over. And the roads were beautiful. I saw new sights and new places, and then I happened along this most awesome sight:
Yes, that is a real Patton tank behind the real cannons and cannonballs. I had happened upon a small VFW with one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen. Those that know me from this project know how much respect and appreciation I have for our veterans, like Steve. Those of us living free on this planet can never repay nor properly thank all service men and women who have unselfishly risk (and given) their own lives in order for us to live the way we live.
The memorial’s plaque read:
IN MEMORY OF ALL AMERICAN VETERANS. This memorial honors all American veterans who, although separated by generations, shared a common, undeniable goal — to valiantly protect our country’s freedom.
The memories of these American veterans will continue to live on whenever and wherever democracy exists.
The American veteran — forever a symbol of heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom.
To say I was moved is an understatement. But my emotions really got out of hand when I saw the gazebo part of the memorial.
This gazebo is named for Joseph “Doc” Keough. Who is Joe Keough, you ask? Joe Keough is one of the few American soldiers who not only STORMED THE BEACH at Normandy (and survived), but was also smack in the middle of the action at the Battle of the Bulge at Ardennes. After the war, he returned to St. Charles and lived there until his death at age 90.
That there, ladies and gentlemen, is a MAN. God bless Joe Keough and all like him.
I took photos, thought about what it takes to be a soldier, wiped my eyes, then remounted The Goat and continued my ride.
St. Charles was good to me. There were even cobbles!
As I made my way out of the city, I rolled up to a red light and was reminded never to take anything for granted — as a guy in a landscaping service truck rolled by me and yelled, “The streets are for cars, not bikes, a*#hole!”
Ah, St. Charles. Never change.
I ended up riding over 43 miles. And it was great. Headwinds and all.
Today, I punished myself. For my weakness, for my laziness, for my apathy and arrogance. As I set out on my ride it was 48 degrees and the wind was blowing. But I knew I had to ride and ride hard. I thought about Joe Keough.
Joe would’ve slapped my face like Patton did that one dude, and said, “Get your tubby ass on that bike, soldier, and ride until you puke!”
I rode. And rode. I climbed. And climbed. I suffered. But I also made it FUN. I rode places I’ve never been and again – God, I love this part of cycling – saw things I would have normally never seen. Beautiful lakes, railroad tracks, golf courses, and found some cool new bike trails.
In the end, I rode almost 63 miles, climb over 4,000 feet, and suffered. To the point that my right leg cramped up a quarter mile from the end. I rode that last part pedaling with one leg.
And I loved every minute of it.
Ride your bike.
Have fun, but be Joe Keough strong.
God bless all veterans, past, present and future. Thank you.