Heck with that...Ride angry. It brings out the intestinal fortitude.
Over the winter, some club members decided to keep in touch by meeting for an occasional drinky-poo. Sometimes we feel the need during the riding season too. In some cases, it's the only time we use our cars. So, a Friday or two ago a handful of us wander off to the Joynt for 40-cent Premium Grain Belt taps. Undoubtedly, the only pride of New Ulm, Minnesota. Horrid everyman beer, cheap yet surprisingly, minimal hangover. Must be all the water in it.
To summarize the evening: Kuj drinks too much, is nagged for a lifelong bad habit to the point of absolute irritation, and, with hurt feelings and a "repression-in-progress" attraction issue rearing its frustrating head, walks the mile (uphill) home in the pouring rain after dark. Kuj empties drunken, pained soul on to Best Friend Trish via phone call. BFT offers comfort, compassion, advice as best she can to a rambling, sauced dope. Kuj wonders after talking to BFT if Kuj might be too old to be behaving in this manner. Then sleep takes Kuj. Sweet, sweet sleep.
Saturday passed with a weight in my chest and silence. Angry, hurt, need for solitude.
Sunday morning finds me amped up for the club ride. No more than usual. At the meeting spot near a gas station, I wander into the BP and grab a bottle of V8 and a package of little chocolate donuts, The Donuts of Champions (RIP John. RIP SNL).
Our Secretary, Mileageguy (forum names are used to protect the populace), was the ride leader that day. The route he picked was a great combination of new and old to me. Most of it was clean, open, higher-speed sweeping turns, and roads you could see all the way through. I've learned this is to my liking. VERY MUCH to my liking.
I can never explain how these little epiphanies arise in me. It always seems to be a combination of events or things that one can never really replicate. But they are almost always memorable. This combination? V8, little chocolate donuts, the copper wolf and crescent moon pendant my brother gave me that I decided to wear that day, the drunken, Friday night dip in spirit, greasing up the butt of my leather suit with armor-all (I stick to the seat otherwise), the roads, the suit, my first attempt at getting off the seat in turns to be able to go faster and confidently execute smooth turns.
When we stop at intersections to wait for everyone (me) to catch up, it's also an opportunity to move around in the lineup. About halfway through the first part of the ride, I just had this moment. Or something. We were zooming along some great roads and I realized how good I felt. I was actually following right along with the mid-pack guys. At a gas-up stop, Mostly Naked and Turd Furgesson were standing nearby and M.N. said, "Have your Wheaties today? Good job!" I said, "I think I gradu-ma-tated!" The gang stopped at an intersection just before this wild, uphill section on 95, and I jumped in front of the faster guys...M.N. and Turd. Mostly Naked passed me again, but Turd stayed back. Holy hell, that was fun. Off the seat, knee down, the pavement visible up close in the corner of my eye. It was the first time I can remember ever feeling the adrenaline pumping, heart racing, feeling out of breath. But without fear. Not even on track day did I feel like this.
The first stop after that section, we paused for the group and I was caught up in a big, one-armed hug, and I hear Turd holler through his helmet, "I think you DID gradu-ma-tate!" Later on, I told him how nice it was...that it felt like a proud daddy moment. He said, "I did feel a little like a proud daddy...I can't get that kind of moment for myself anymore. I have to look elsewhere."
Let this guy hug you. It's nice.
Somewhere around the halfway point in the afternoon, I took a couple of turns a little wider than I was comfortable and realized my time for personal glory was subsiding...and I dropped back to my Hind Tit status. After that, it was just a calm Sunday drive. Brother was on the ride too. He hung out behind me for a little bit early on, gave me a thumbs up as he passed me and then told me later that he couldn't ride behind me anymore. He wasn't sure what was going on in my head and said he couldn't watch. M.N. said something similar...something about watching me ride, leaned over, on the double yellow stripe (which is sometimes slippery), and cringing a little.
Best. Day. Ever.
Lesson learned? Get drunk once in a while. Cry. Walk home in the rain. Swear and writhe at the air. Take a break in a park. Feel pain. Swim in it a little. It truly does make you stronger. And most of all...do something that scares you once in a while. Because the feeling you get from accomplishing something that up until that moment terrified you, is fantastic. And the memory of your own moment of glory lasts a long time. Longer, if you put it down in a blog. :-)