Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tour De Lopez pt. 2: The Day of the Ride

Steve-O on the day of the ride

By Saturday morning, the only remnants of my asthma episode were a few chronic wheezes and a whole lot of personal frustration. When an asthma attack happens and you could have avoided it, it’s best to deal with it head on. See it for what it was and learn from it: Severe chest pains--that’s bad. Paramedics were called--that’s bad. Not cardiac related--that’s good. Avoidable--that’s the key. I didn’t respect my limits and I paid the price. So I looked at the Saturday ride as the perfect opportunity to get it right. I felt good enough to ride, but not good enough to push myself to an edge. I would need to keep from exerting myself too much, because that’s an absolute trigger. Stay loose on the downhills, take it e-a-s-y on the climbs.

As our ferry approached Lopez Island, we saw the telltale colors of a cycling event. Jackets, jerseys, and spandex strutted colors that would make a peacock blush. The Tour De Lopez ride itself was spectacular--a cool, dry day with lots of smiling people everywhere. Lopez Island is the most hospitable place you will find. People there really do wave at you as you pass them on the road. They smile and make eye contact in the stores. It’s remarkable! On this typically quiet island, the residents treated their cycling guests like kings all day long. Ride support was unsurpassed. While most supported rides might have some fig bars and Oreos, here they handed out fresh shortbread and brownies from Holly B’s Bakery. Lavish.

My lowest gear was sufficient to keep the bike upright on the inclines, even though I wasn’t setting any land speed records. Every hill took a long time, and I realized I was nowhere close to full energy. Steve-O was very patient; I know he thoroughly enjoyed his first visit to Lopez Island, but he didn’t get to ride it like he could have. Cyclists love to attack hills strategically. The more riding you do, the more you begin to think in a certain way. In just the matter of a split second, you assess the contour of a hill and automatically decide your optimum gear and pedal cadence. You’ve already identified the point at which you’ll lift up from the saddle if necessary. You execute the plan exactly the way you thought. Your speed at the crest of the hill is your reward, and the last thing you’d ever want to do is stop or slow down. Steve-O sacrificed that and rode with me, at asthma speed. Welcome to full-fledged friendship, Kelly.

Continue here for the final part of this story.

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