Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looooong Ride

With a brief respite form the inordinate amounts of rain we’ve been experiencing in California, I was greatly looking forward to my long Saturday morning ride. Of course, 7.5 hours in the saddle was a little more than I had bargained for.

My training schedule called for a 6-hour ride and a 30-minute T-run. The longest ride I know in the Berkeley area (shameful to admit, after living here a year and a half) takes a mere 4 hours. Not wanting to do multi-loop repeats, I enlisted the help of a cycle-savvy co-worker, who mapped out impeccable directions for an adventurous new road trip. The only trouble was that the start and finish point of my home added more distance than she had expected, so the entire loop was longer than we both estimated – by about 25-30 miles.

When I reached a familiar landmark and realized I was still an hour from home, I have to admit I got a tad bit cranky. In fact, I was SO totally whining to anyone who would listen - which of course was only me. Then it hit me that if I want to be tough come race day, I’d better suck it up big time in training. So I kicked myself back into gear and kept pedaling.

The final few miles of the ride approached my home from a different direction than my usual route. I was armed with explicit instructions, but somehow I missed one critical turn. I ended up lost in inner Richmond, which, as my mother often reminds me, is ranked as one of the ten most dangerous cities in the US (and Mom, you may want to stop reading right here!).

My physical address is actually in Richmond, though I live in a pseudo-secure gated community on the brink of the badness. It’s far enough that I’m greeted outside my door by a bike path filled with non-threatening friendly folks and a view stretching across to the San Francisco skyline. It’s close enough that a stray bullet recently traveled over a mile, from the worst part of Richmond, straight through one of my neighbor’s upstairs windows, lodging in their bedroom wall. There’s a certain area known as the “iron triangle” where shootings in broad daylight and FBI drug raids are normal fare.

Now imagine me, on my bright shiny tri bike, clad in skintight lycra, cycling through the grid of oh-so-lovely Richmond, desperately seeking a familiar street name and a pathway to home. I was ogled and hooted at and glared at by spooky looking dudes and dudettes, who I couldn’t help but imagine might have concealed weapons under their clothes. I was a moving target for a handful of cars which came uncomfortably close to my gaudy two-wheeler. In my mind I repeated the mantra, "Please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me." I’ll admit, I even teared up a bit under my sunglasses, a combination of fear and exhaustion. I wanted to stop and ask for directions, but that seemed a poor choice, so I just kept pedaling until finally I found my way to a main road that I recognized.

I have never been so relieved to see my front door. And for the record, I promptly strapped on my run shoes and cranked out 30 minutes, penance for my moments of weak whimpering.

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