What a great day!
I awake feeling refreshed. The morning sun hits the red mountains of Ivins, Utah, creating a magic that I can feel. I do my stretching, dress in my “Road Runner” cycling jersey and prep my bike. Hitting the start button on my Garmin, I begin another vigorous, muscle and confidence building workout.
Seven miles in, I’m warmed up, feeling energetic and powerful. Turn the stallion loose!
Rounding the corner from Center street I’m pedaling strong as I head north on 400 West. The next mile is a gentle, steady, three percent incline; a great place to work on strength and speed. Now, if I only had a ‘rabbit’ to chase. Suddenly, my eyes catch a glimpse of her.
Looking up, Boom! There is my prey. My target. My motivator.
I know, I know. Southern Utah is filled with retirees and those pasty white legs certainly belong to a grandmother. But when riding solo, you use what’s available to motivate yourself. She’s about a hundred yards ahead of me. I lower into aero position and turn on the jets. I’m going to blow past this granny in a quarter mile and she’ll think, There goes one of those super fit cyclists.
Shifting up for more speed, I scoot back on the saddle for more torque, thinking, This is probably how a professional would do it. Looking up from my front wheel, she’s now about 75 yards ahead. I’m gaining, but not as much as I’d have thought. C’mon, push it mister! This is a grandma. Focus on pedaling!
Sweat drips from my brow and rolls down the inside of my glasses. A quick side to side shake of my head clears it away.
Once again, I check on grandma. Dang!! I’ve closed to about 50 yards, but we’re three-eighths of a mile in! My ego is now aggravated. Adding another gear, I clench the handlebars and find a way to get a faster cadence, thinking, What’s your problem?! She’s got to be at least 70!
Looking up again, and, What?! I realize that she’s spotting me! Worse yet, she’s still 50 yards ahead and we’re a half-mile into this.
Now, a lot of sweat is dripping onto my glasses, the bento bag and my legs. No matter, I’m focused. Analyzing and analyzing with each pedal stroke: I must go faster! Was my nutrition right yesterday? Did I double check the tire pressure? Should I take a quick shot of caffeine?
At three fourths mile, my heart rate is 170-plus. My bike is geared for power, but my legs are screaming. My breathing is even more labored due to a tightening chest. Spotting her again, about 30 yards away, she spots me and delivers a nail to my ego’s coffin. Some how, some way, she has more to give, and she pushes it a little more, widening the gap between us back up to 40 yards.
Reaching deeper, I summon everything, but the well is dry. Frustrated and only an eighth of a mile from the top, I shake my head at my defeat, thinking, Either this is some kind of Elderly Amazon or I’m nowhere near what I thought I was, or both. Shame on me for my paradigms about senior citizens.
In her honor, I slow enough to pull out my phone and take her photo, thinking, She is one of those super fit cyclists!
Resuming my cadence, we crest the top about 20 yards apart. Then, she slows even more and I keep pushing. Catching up with her as she begins to turn into a driveway, the 70 year old looks toward me. As our eyes connect, the superior athlete gives me a broad Cheshire-cat grin and looks down at her bike.