Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting Chased and Getting Ready For the First Race of the Season

Tomorrow I'm hopping in the car to drive to Galveston from Birmingham.  Now, when I planned this whole thing I may not have realized that the two are separated by seven hundred miles.  Ouch.  I did at least base it on some knowledge given that less than a year ago I drove across the country and in one day I drove from just west of Houston, very close to Galveston, to Clermont, FL which is well beyond Alabama.  I guess I failed to notice how much further north Birmingham is from Mobile, where I drove through.  These stupid states outside of New England are way too big!  Anyway, it will necessitate at least ten hours in the car.  And then it will require I drive it all again on Monday in the other direction.  Not really looking forward to it but at least there's no bike box fee.

The rest of the training has been going decently.  I've been pretty tired this week and not been allowed to taper so I am very much looking forward to resting a bit next week.  Saturday was a fairly eventful ride.  It started simply enough, and I went out alone now that I know my way around.  The weather was nice and things were going well.  I came upon the really fun road I remembered being chased by several dogs on, and this week instead of just three I somehow found another admirer and set a new record with dog chases in a single ride at four.  At least none of them caught me on uphills and I was always able to get away.  I considered next time going out with some pepperoni in my pocket to throw for them to go after instead of me, but then it probably wouldn't take long before they start waiting for me just because they know I'll have treats.  I could wind up being chased by an entire mob of dogs.  I'll just keep outsprinting them, I guess.

The dogs were not the only issue on the ride.  Anyone who rides a bike has stories about passing motorists that for some strange reason seem to hate cyclists.  You'd think a cyclist murdered their family or something and now they hold a grudge.  I have no idea why these people go out of their way to do obnoxious things or how, exactly it makes them feel better about themselves.  One constant seems to be that these drivers are always in pickup trucks.  It never fails.  I don't know what it is, but I have never been harassed by anything but a pickup truck. 

So Saturday I had been riding for about three hours and had zero trouble aside from the dogs on some nice, quiet roads, occasionally being passed by cars and trucks who wouldn't even have to slow down to get around me because there was never any traffic.  Well, I was coming up on a house on the side of the road I was riding on and a truck pulled out in front of me towing a dune buggy or something like that.  Okay, fine, he didn't cut me off or anything, just got out in front of me and was on his way.  Well, two of his buddies were behind him in the driveway towing their own four-wheelers or whatever super-duper important thing they had to do that morning.  They didn't get out before I passed.

It didn't take long before I heard a car horn.  I'm no stranger to the occasional horn maybe to warn me that they're coming or timed just right to blow in my ear as they pass by (again, how does this make them feel better) but this was a new one because he just sat on the horn.... and sat on it, and it kept going and going and going...  It must've been at least a minute straight.  There were no other cars.  This was one of those roads where the white line on the side basically is the side of the road so there was no shoulder to ride on.  After plenty of obnoxious honking I finally waved them on, wondering why in the world they hadn't gone by already if they were apparently in such a hurry. 

So then they pulled up next to me and of course they can't just go by and be on their way, so the guy in the passenger seat yelled something about staying off the road and I yelled something about wondering where the heck I was supposed to go given there was no shoulder even though of course I wanted to point out that it was amazing to me that after dozens of cars had passed me for hours without incident suddenly they were incapable of moving over the yellow line a little to go around me, especially since they were obviously in such a hurry.  Eventually they finally pulled away, and then yet another friend in his pickup behind them pulled around me and hit the brakes a bit I'm sure to make me nervous before speeding off with his friends. 

Seriously, just, why?  What is with some of these people?  Oh, but then I kept on riding and only about two miles down the road there was a gas station.  Guess who was there?  Yep, filling up their toys for the day.  I turned around to head back the other way for a couple of minutes, hoping by the time I turned back they'd be gone.  Except they headed back down the same road in the other direction.  I was more than a little concerned something would get thrown at me simply for being on two wheels but all I got was a quick honk and a wave.  I'll take a dozen more dogs chasing me over that.  The crazy thing is I know where at least one or a few of them live since I saw them pull out of the driveway.  Maybe on my last long ride in Alabama I'll leave a surprise in their mailbox.  That incident really ruined at least the next hour of my ride, but I finished up okay.

The rest of the week has been spent getting the final training in for my first race of the season.  I feel like I haven't raced in about five years.  Seriously.  It's very strange.  I will say that I feel a bit better about things than I have in a while.  Not so much that the race is going to be great, but that at least things are headed in the right direction and there might be some hope for me.  My bike is all tuned up thanks to Bike Link in Hoover, most of my stuff is packed, directions are ready to go and I just have to get up insanely early tomorrow to get my workouts in before spending the entirety of the rest of the day in the car.  That is gonna be rough.  But at least I get to see some of my friends and maybe, just maybe, have some fun racing.  If nothing else I get to race the same course as Lance Armstrong.  My dad especially would probably think that was the coolest thing ever.  Speaking of whom, tomorrow would've been Dad's 66th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad.

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