It was 7:45 a.m.
A heavy muggy haze had settled in on the flat Indiana landscape on this particular September morning. I slid my backpack (which contained my laptop computer, a towel and washcloth, shampoo and conditioner, a hairbrush and makeup) on to my shoulders and walked my bike to the end of the driveway. I turned on my ear music, volume low so as not to impede my hearing. A foot in the peddle shoe strap, a push off and a leg over the frame — and I was off on my morning ride to my place of work.
I live in Elwood.
I work in Anderson.
In approximately six weeks my husband Seth and I will be riding in the annual Hilly Hundred — a two-day bicycle tour that winds through the hills of southern Indiana. At about 50 grueling miles each day, my gut instinct tells me it would be a good idea to prepare for the ride. In my mind that means riding the bike, a lot. Seth is approaching it from a dietary standpoint. He is implementing the Klondike Bar dinner program, a performance-enhancing diet — avoiding all meat, vegetables and fruit so as to avoid weight gain. I am not sure how that is working out for him.
The first two miles of a bike ride, the body rebels, like a kid faking sick to avoid school. Stuff hurts. You feel tired. You consider going home and getting the car before you get too far into the ride.
But I stuck it out, and settled in. There is something empowering about moving on your own steam. At about 3 1/2 miles I stopped to pull up my spandex bike shorts which had rolled neatly off my waist and into a wad several inches lower, exposing my Buddha-like gut. I also needed a drink of the icy protein smoothie tucked into the water bottle rack. I should've left the concoction another minute in my handy Ninja concrete-blender, since I nearly choked on a large unmolested leaf of spinach.
The down side of choosing to ride on obscure county roads with light traffic is the condition of the roads. My teeth chattered as my skinny bike tires transferred every single aberration in the asphalt to my head. My left hand fell asleep first, which was only a problem if I needed to brake. I was also rethinking the backpack/laptop idea, which was beginning to feel like a small child hanging off my shoulders.
It occurred to me that I apparently ride with my mouth wide open and my tongue hanging out. Besides probably looking weird, it also dries out the tongue, which turns into a flap of fleshy fly paper and catches all sorts of airborne insects. My smoothie was really unnecessary since I consumed a high protein grasshopper and four other small bugs.
I was getting a little winded, since I couldn't quite sing the breathy part of "I Will Always Love You" along with Whitney Houston. This is when gearing on a bike is important. My legs needed a little rest so I shifted to an easier gear by beating my now dead floppy right hand against the shifter. You do have to pedal faster to maintain the same speed in an easy gear. So my legs were temporarily a blur, like the Road Runner. It was such a nice rest.
I kept pedaling and sucking in that good ol' Indiana oxygen. My mind was so clear. I felt like I could probably do math. I thought about important things. I decided the wheel tax should be doubled, and possibly cans placed in convenience stores for road work donations. I almost successfully yodeled with Leanne Rimes and Eddie Arnold during the "Cattle Call" song in my ear.
And I decided next time I would purchase a lighter laptop.
As for the giant brown pony-dog who attacked me on the right — I am not scared of dogs. He just surprised me because he didn't bark before he lunged. But I heard the gravel flying. And my message to that yappy little black dog who seriously threatened my shoe...sorry about your jaw, dude. It was reflex.
Fourteen miles under my tires. I rolled into the parking lot at work. A fitter, sweatier person.
How was I gonna get home?
Theresa Timmons' column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.