I’m square dancing on a bike. I swear I crossed route 125 and 132…twice. Allemande left and dosado. I remember the Marathon gas station a few miles from East Fork State Park on 125 having more trees around it and it being sort of a Pony Keg. I’m officially lost and according to the GPS in my head, at least an hour and a half from home. That’s an hour and half if I rode straight back on the shoulder-less 45mph posted speed limit Route 125 without getting hit by a speeding Amelia pickup truck driven by a texting hillbilly. The only thing that really saved me was my internal compass telling me if I kept riding basically southwest, I’d eventually hit route 52 along the Ohio River. Whether I’d be 18 miles from home at that point, or 10, was the question. The other question was, "How do I get from this unmarked intersection to something recognizable?"
I didn’t bonk. I lost contact, (which what bike racers say instead of I was too weak or not in shape enough to hang with the faster guys on the climb.) At the point of detachment, as Andrew from Zephyr Wheel Sports rode past me, I could’ve just turned around. I was only 3-4 miles from Batavia, the sprint point for Cincinnati’s traditional Sunday morning Hyde Park Ride. From Batavia, home was less than an hour away. Had I hung on the climb, home still would’ve been 2 hours away riding with the big boys. Eh. I can figure it out. I wanted to get at least 3 hours in anyway. Who cares if I’m riding solo? I have an IPod, a granola bar, tube/air, a full water bottle and a clue. I put my head down and pressed on, hoping that I’d make contact at a busy intersection or they’d wait for me.
There is no waiting on the Hyde Park Ride. That’s what makes it a great ride. You hang, or you don’t. Even though I’ve known every butt that was riding away from me for at least 10 years, and the racey part of the ride was over, I didn’t expect them to wait. Friends or not, the minute you roll out off Awakening’s coffee shop in Hyde Park Square at 10am you better be prepared to hang with the bunch and find your own way back if you don’t. I’ve been here before. At least this time there was no terrible headwind, it was warmer than 34 degrees, I recognized a few street signs and I could still feel my fingers and toes.
7-8 years ago, on a similar Wednesday night ride, I got dropped. A buddy noticed and fell back to help me get back on. It was Dave Stewart, not long ago he had won the 2002 24 Hours of Snowshoe Solo, just two years after Stamsted was our local hero. I had only known Dave maybe 2 years; our friendship at the time was mostly on the bike. Dave told me to dial back the heart rate, keep it steady and hopefully if there was a lull in the bunch, we’d latch back on. A few miles down the road, contact.
Dave is also the same guy that once said, "You only get faster by riding with faster people." In a way he meant to seek out getting dropped. Seek out getting dropped and lost. Seek out getting dropped, lost and wondering if you might bonk before you find a convenience store. Seek out riding so far over your head that you contemplate calling your spouse to come out and pick you up at the intersection of Podunk Place and Boondock Blvd. One day you will hang and every bout of self depreciation will disappear.