Sound like breakfast when I am pregnant? Yep. But Saturday pregnancy was not the reason that down things came up. [NOTE: Let’s make it very clear here. I am NOT pregnant.] What is the reason that down things came up? I am not sure that reason had a lot to do with down things coming up Saturday…… Is there anything reasonable about voluntarily riding bikes for 65 miles under a blazing sun (temperatures reached the 90’s) through a barren desert wasteland? And paying for the privilege to do so? What could be the reasoning for that?
Actually there are multiple reasons for doing so, most of which are variations of the theme “Life is the stories you can tell.” Saturday my sister Marjorie, her son James, my brother-in-law Chris, and I participated in the Metric Century portion (100K, 65 miles) of the Mesquite Madness bike event and we have a story (or two) to tell. [Note: Due to illness (and the option of hanging out with Miles after the race) James did the 35 mile ride instead of the 65 mile event.]
The course had a 3,354 ft. elevation gain spread across two out-and-back segments. We learned quickly that downhills are great going one way but, when one turns around and comes back, what went down going must come up returning; “what goes down must come up”. Our course had five category 5 hills and a category 4 hill, which may sound impressive until you learn that category 5 hills are the easiest; any incline under a category 5 is not rated. Nonetheless, it was not a flat course and we were not unaware of the inclines.
Chris was out of sight at the start—we saw him only when he passed us coming back from the out-and-backs while we were still going out—and James left us soon after the start so, for the vast majority of the ride, Marjorie and I were alone together. Glorious. There is a line from “Hamilton” (the musical) that says “If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.” On a similar note (pun intended), if it takes riding 65 miles in blistering desert heat to spend six hours with my sister, it will have been worth it. It was, in fact, worth it. The time with my sister was precious and the heat really wasn’t that bad.
In fact, the whole ride wasn’t that bad. Truth be known, it was awesome. As anyone who has spent time in the desert in the spring knows, it is not barren; it is, in fact, beautiful. Little purple and yellow flowers occasionally decorated the roadside, the endless sagebrush had a twinge of green, and the vast sky was a hazy purplish-blue. Beautiful.
Being part of the event was a treat too....literally and figuratively. We were literally inundated with treats. Hot chocolate and muffins at the start line and bananas, strawberries, oranges, peanut butter filled pretzels, Red Vine licorice, Swedish fish, peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, trail mix, potato chips of various varieties, chocolate bars, ice water, drink mix, baked potato wedges, and dill pickles at miles 22, 45 and 55. AND, as if that were not enough, we had all-you-want-to-eat, fresh, made-to-order Mexican tacos for lunch at the finish line. The literal treats were liberal.
The figurative treats were also liberal. It was a “treat” to be a part of such a great event. As is usually the case with such things, the people involved were generous, kind and encouraging. In an odd (masochistic?) sort of way, the burn in my muscles felt good as I powered up the hills. Because knee pain stops me long before I reach muscle burn when I run and apathy prevents me from reaching muscle burn in any other sort of exercise, it has been a long, long time since I felt it. Good stuff. And the thrill of riding down that category 4 hill—HOLY COW! I have not experienced that kind of in-your-face speed since I was a missionary riding my trusty Dominican bike pell-mell down a graveled road in San Francisco of Marquoris. [Angel do watch over missionaries.]
Angels watched over us on the ride too; angels in the form of our husbands and parents. Jason drove the Sequoia, Lance manned the camera, Mom and Dad hugged and they all cheered….lots! [“Bronze, silver, and the gold medal; Come on girls, pedal, pedal, pedal” was my favorite.] It was darling. They met us at the top of hills, took photos of us as we labored up hills, and stuck with us when we were over the hill. They filled our bottles with Gatorade and our ears with love. Clearly supporting your children’s athletic endeavors does not end with school sports. I am over the hill (52) and Marjorie is approaching it (40) but Mom and Dad (and Lance and Jason) were totally there for us.
We were especially grateful for their support when Marjorie’s back tire went flat. Jason and Dad sprang into action. A broken tool did not stop them—they resorted to brute force to separate tube from tire—but they were stymied by the bolts connecting wheel to frame. We did not have a wretch, they could not loosen the nuts with their fingers, and using their teeth did not seem practical. Lance came to the rescue, bringing James’ bike (which was cached in the back of the Sequoia because he did the 35 mile ride and had finished much earlier) to Marjorie’s side. Let the good times continue to roll!
And roll they did. My toes were happy (I was probably the only rider wearing Chacos), my thighs were burning (it felt great), and my sister-sack, though not saturated, was at least temporarily satiated. Marjorie must have enjoyed the experience as well. Within two hours of finishing the Mesquite Madness ride she signed both of us up to ride in the “Salt to Saint” event, a Ragnar-type bike relay that takes teams of bikers from Salt Lake City to St. George. Look for that story in September.