Friday, July 4, 2008
26 Miles Because I Could
Yesterday, we dusted off my old bike and drove to Providence to ride on the 14.5-mile East Bay bike path. My husband has started actively biking again, so I gamely agreed to accompany him on this scenic ride.
It was sunny and warm; I didn't spare the sunscreen. The route was flat and followed the curve of the Narragansett Bay which separates the large western chunk of Rhode Island from the narrow eastern slice that borders Massachusetts. The last time I've biked any distance was 3 years ago when Marty and I took a ferry to Martha's Vineyard and biked all over the island. That was before cancer.
We parked in a lot that was some 1.5 miles into the route, so it would be another 13 to arrive at the end of the path in Bristol. Of course, we could have stopped at any point, say 5 miles or 7, and made the return trip. But I knew that once I started, I would have to go to the end. I rarely do things half way, even if it's the wisest course.
The first 10 miles were very pleasant. Nice breezes, beautiful views, bird song. Much of the path cuts through small suburban towns along the way, so there's no danger of nature overload. I took many mental notes on the numerous ice cream stands sprinkled en route. It was fun to peek into back yards (and some front) and compare the wildly diverse housing stock, from stately mansions to shotgun shacks. Soon, it began to dawn on me that every pedal forward counted for double. With some 3 miles to the end, I'd be biking an additional 6 miles. We pressed on.
By the time we reached Bristol, it was pushing 90 degrees. I was more than ready for ice cream, so we chose a place that promised 26 varieties of soft serve. The young woman at the counter looked at me like I was an alien (I probably looked like one at this point) and said they weren't serving ice cream yet, only coffee, donuts and smoothies/milkshakes. So I settled for a java chip frozen something-or-other piled high with whipped cream. This would be my fuel for the 13-mile return trip.
We had to make a few rest stops, and by the time we got back to the car, I felt pretty unenthusiastic about biking, but we made it unscathed. My bike was in worse shape than I was, with a rapidly deflating tire and a cracked gear shift. I won't be able to ride again until it's fixed, which I'm not crying about. Those final 5 or 6 miles were challenging, but I kept plogging along, knowing I'd gotten through worse things.
I'm celebrating Independence Day by doing nothing. Save for the hot dog I'll hoist to my mouth later on, I'm just saying no to any and all physical actvities.