The scars of my last cycling adventure are starting to fade, so I’m thinking of venturing out again today — but I still fear the mark of the moron.
I rode to Jamestown on Friday. It’s a popular ride in Boulder County, and even on a weekday dozens of cyclists hammer up the canyon and fly back down. Pre-graduate school (pre-fat), I used to ride up from our home in Gunbarrel once a week. Post-graduate school, well… I haven’t been up to Jamestown in a while.
Friday was a gorgeous Colorado day, warm and sunny, not too much wind. I was inspired. I was ecstatic. Sure, I’m out of shape, I thought, but the best way to get faster on a bike is to ride. So I slathered my face in sunscreen (had an unfortunate incident recently involving a sunny day, a snowfield and sunburned nostrils), filled some water bottles and set out for Jamestown on my sleek carbon steed.
It was one of those rides where it’s so gorgeous out there that you can’t wipe the dumb, giddy grin off your face. But it was also a ride where the insects are out, and they’re quite alive and smacking your bare arms and face and helmet, so do yourself a favor and grin with your mouth closed if you go out on one of these rides, okay?
When I arrived at Jamestown (after being passed on the way up by a very old dude wearing a very old Italian cycling team’s jersey and cap, no helmet, no panting) I crashed in a lawn chair, took my shoes off and sucked down water like a fish. Another cyclist came over to chat while others headed back down the hill or kept heading up. A woman who’d just finished her first year of law school at CU rolled up, and she was more ecstatic to be out riding than me. We talked a while, too, and eventually I decided it was time to coast down the hill and find my way home.
The last few miles home were rough, but I told myself it was worth it to suffer a bit. Cycling has always been about alternating suffering and joy for me. For the pros, I’m sure the extremes of emotion are far worse; then again, they’re mentally and physically so much tougher. So little old me, out of shape, exhausted on my afternoon ride — please. I need it, and besides, I’ll be eating cookies at home in 10 minutes, I told myself.
And I was. God it feels good to lay on the floor after a good ride! I ate, I sat, I ate, I sat. Eventually I got in the shower.
Cyclists typically look ridiculous naked. They have hard tan lines on their thighs and shoulders and ankles. My olive-skinned husband gets so dark he keeps his year round. I don’t. I’m fair. I burn.
I was burned.
My deltoids were throbbing orbs of red. On my wrists were little pink glove lines. My legs rarely burn, but a hot red stripe crossed my quads. My face, carefully sun-screened, flushed with anger. This was the mark of the moron — a nasty sunburn on a dumb girl who knows better. I could forgive myself for the legs, because this was an oddity. But my magenta shoulders staring back at me in the mirror? Never.
So aside from a class we took with the Colorado Mountain Club up on St. Mary’s Glacier (nowadays more of a snowfield) the next day, I’ve been cowering indoors ever since, hiding the mark of the moron.
But what a lovely ride. I’d do it all over again — just with more sunscreen. Maybe tomorrow.