Rain drops trickled from the sky last Friday midday.
Sitting outside on the porch with a tomato sandwich and book, a voice called to my right. Or it might have been a voice, I wasn’t sure. In the middle of two of my favorite pastimes, I figured if someone wanted my attention, they’d make it clear.
Hearing the voice again, I looked up to see a woman on a bike.
The rider stood stride a mountain-type bike outfitted with two large red all-weather storage satchels off her seat on either side of her rear tire.
Standing face-to-face in the light rain, I thought she wanted to know where Dixie Highway was. That was an easy fix.
But the more we talked, she had just come from Dixie Highway and needed help getting to . . .
Suddenly, this became quite interesting.
She was the sweeper for a cycling group headed to the South Carolina coast. They started their journey on the west side of Atlanta. After spending last night at Hard Labor Creek (a park 10 miles from me), this leg of their journey took them to Hamburg Park in Mitchell, Georgia.
Taking out a sheet with her directions, the paper so damp it disintegrated in her hands. The extended downpour had separated her from the group but she had communicated with them by text.
Oh. And her phone was now dead.
I offered a portable charger from some conference SWAG bag. She laughed that it wouldn’t help, saying that she calls herself analog her phone is so old.
With no GPS, a disintegrating directional sheet, no phone, no idea where to go, I offered to get my bike and show her another way to Bethany Road through town.
* * *
I dashed back home through the raindrops filled with a since of urgency. I had a mission! A purpose!
Grabbing my bike, shoes, helmet, I trotted back up to the corner relieved to see my friend still waiting.
“Oh wow, you got a bike,” she said after seeing my road bike.
“Yes. She’s 10 years old. My midlife crisis.”
She laughed saying that she will be 40 in a few months, “Maybe that’s what this is?”
How was this woman going to get to Mitchell, Georgia in the rain by herself?
Riding along in the rain, I started a little small talk.
“What do you do?” I ventured.
“I’m in the energy conservation field. I work in San Fransisco with the . . ”
“YOU LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO?”
My new friend riding a bike in the rain through the Georgia country side, lagging far behind a group heading to Mitchell, Georgia was not from Atlanta but from California. She worked installing energy effiencent lighting. She had gone to graduate school to study carpentry. Bad timing on that, she laughed with a little sigh.?
I learned that she was born in Memphis and lived all over the south and had been in San Francisco 10 years. And her 40th birthday in a few months would be spent climbing Machu Picchu.
When we got up to the highway she was to cross to get on Bethany, we dismounted.
Remembering she had no phone and disintegrating directions I said, “You need my phone number. Please call if you need anything.”
She began sorting through her packs for a paper and pen.
And pulled out a turtle.
“A turtle, NO WAY. I love turtles!” I told about me being the turtle wrangler and pulled up my twitter background.
“This is magical!” Rashida exclaimed.
Yes. Somewhere in the searching for paper, the writing of my number, squealing over shared love of turtles, we exchanged names.
So after I googled Mitchell, Georgia and found out it was an hour by car (three or four by bike she thought), Rashida packed up her turtle and road away.
* * *
Saturday I received a text from Rashida that she had met up with her group and was headed to their next stop Magnolia Springs State Park.
I hope Rashida uses that email address I gave her.
I want to find out how the journey ended. I want to ask her thoughts about the whole adventure. I want to follow her to Machu Picchu.
No phone. No twitter. No blog. I asked because she could have a killer blog.
My new hero Rashida living life. Unplugged but so very plugged in.
If I was the jealous type, I might be. Just a little.
The other afternoon with a sky as clear and blue as an aqua cat’s eye marble, I pulled my bike outside. As the heavens arced overhead and the pavement rushed underneath, even the trees stood still. No wind except the rush of air created by speed.
Even though I only had an hour, a little voice nudged me to Doster.
For those not familiar with the roads crisscrossing Morgan County, Doster Road rolls through some of the most scenic pastureland in the county.
There are a few steep hills. Riding out from town, you get to go down.
Coming back toward town you climb up – but climbing the mountain clipped into a bike is another post entirely.
About five miles out of town, I approached the hill. After cresting the top, bike and I hurled downward. Still operating as a team.
Now my bike computer has decided not to work. Hate it when that happens. I can’t track of my speed but I’ve been down this hill enough to know — without braking — I’ll hit about 35 mph.
Here’s the headcase part. I haven’t done Doster much this year. Maybe twice?
And rushing downward that day, my hands twitched to squeeze the brake. A slight quicken in my pulse. You better slow down heading into the turn toward the bridge.
I can ride this hill without braking. I’ve done it lots. What was my hesitation?
And just like that, therapy happened.
Relax. Trust yourself. Put your head down and ride.
I exhaled. Bent over the handlebars all the while my hands hovered over the brakes. Well you never know if a heat crazed doe is going to dart out.
I was down the hill and over the bridge, pedaling back up the next incline.
Why was the urge so strong to brake going into the turn?
Fear of course, but fear of what?
How many times throughout my day, my week, the years, my entire life – have I put on the brakes mi-experience rather than exhaling and
And enjoying the hell out of it?
Sometimes a gal’s just got to get on her bike and ride.
Roger Taylor’s relentless drumbeat guides my down pedal many a ride.
What can I say? I shall always be a child imprinted with AM radio and 70s music.
I’ve got this bitty triathlon tomorrow. So yesterday, late afternoon I took off on my bike.
As I headed out of town, an object in the middle of Dixie Highway caught my eye. It wasn’t a squished Amarillo, Nor a squished snake. Nor the yellow tassel that’s been on the road since graduation last month.
It was a pack of Winstons.
Even at my blistering 12 mph pace, I could see it was perfect. Not opened. Nary a scratch.
IT WAS MINE.
That’s what I thought when I saw it.
Smoking is bad. Smoking is evil. Smoking makes the inside of your lungs look like an ashtray at the Clermont Lounge circa 1975.
But every now and then I like a smoke. Cigars preferably. But a free Winston will do in a pinch.
My mouth salivated like Pavlov’s pup.
So I decided to turn around and get my pack.
As I turned I thought — I can make it without clipping out.
Turn, sharper turn. Oh darn. I should have unclipped.
You see, Dixie is a narrow road and three-quarters through my turn back I realized I was going down.
And down I went.
Luckily, my handlebars weren’t bent. And only my knee was torn up a bit.
My chain was knocked off though.
So as I flipped my bike over to fix the chain, what did appear?
A MIA plug.
Taken this morning as a visual aid.
It’s against all triathlon law — from the Supreme USAT Court to the refs for this bitty sprint I’m doing tomorrow — no plugs, no race.
And of course, when I pulled along side that pristine Wintson package with bloody left knee and grease all over my fingers, it was EMPTY.
But that disappointment was minor compared to the crushing disappointment I would have felt tomorrow morning after driving an hour and a half only to be told I couldn’t race.
Once again in my life, the Lord works through a pack of Wintsons.
“Where’s my bike pump?” I asked my husband after noticing both bike tires where flat.
“Oh. I took that to the office to pump up the cart tires.”
He took my bike pump to his office to pump up a dolley’s tires. Granted I hadn’t cycled in a year, but when I want to ride. I want to ride NOW.
“Call Joe,” my husband suggested.
After a few texts, I rode up and brought the pump back to mi casa rather than pump my tires up at Joe’s casa.
This turned out fortuitous because after I inflated both flat tires I came back outside to find . . .
Since the tire was fully inflated about 5 minutes ago, this can only mean one thing. A bad inner tube. Which can only mean one thing.
I need a new tube. And if I should find one in the house somewhere, I have to put it on my bike.
Now I have struggled through this before with the help of a cyclist on Twitter. A Good Samaritan biker tweeted me through replacing my tube — in less than 140 characters.
Take note of the chain grease all over my legs and all I had done was flip my bike to take off the tire.
All you pro-cyclists out there just remember — sticks and stones will mess the heck out of your spokes. And names will never hurt me.
With my tire fixed, I set off on a 25-miler.
On such a glorious day in such a glorious spot, I wondered why I pitch-a-b*tch about riding.
After taking this shot I rode up the hill to spy this.
And remembered why I pitch-a-b*tch about riding.
I’m a cyclist. A recovering triathlete.
Crocodiles on the swim. Rabid hounds on the run. Bridge out on the bike. No sweat.
Actually I took the detour and prayed that there wouldn’t be any crazy hound lurking. Nothing will break your spokes like legs that become entangled as you fall after being drug from your bike by a pack of coyotes.
When I finally got home I’d been gone a little under two hours.
A truly awesome two hours. I’m willing to bet it will be less than a year before I take my bike out again.
Sally had a dream. One God placed in her heart. (Well, it would be in her heart, if oysters had hearts.)
“I have a heart, silly.”
Sorry Sal. Yes, oysters have a three-chambered heart which pumps colorless blood to all the body.
Not making that up.
Colorless blood? Can that really do the job? Like if Sally had to run a marathon or something.
Yes, sorry Sally, you do have a heart and a soul and you pray like mad all day long to Jesus.
There’s one thing I respect about you Sally. You seem an humble little bivalve. I know that only pearl oysters produce pearls. The oysters I love to eat with wild abandon swimming in cocktail sauce are not pearl oysters.
You are special.
There is the power in you to create a jewel.
Some of Mathison’s questions for Day 14.
How much water have you had this week?
Okay. Is that like literally how much water or spiritually? If you count all the glasses I made myself ingest and the tons I swallowed swimming at the pool, I’d say about 32 oz.
What is God waiting for me to partner with him to do?
Ride a tandem?
What’s in my mind’s eye?
Dreams. Again that’s personal. But Sally just put 500 down on a Cannondale. One thing about Sally, the girl knows what she wants.
All Sally would need is a little help reaching the pedals.