The rib is starting to heal and the ice is finally melting. Many of my friends who enjoy biking but did not make a deal to only bike during one of the worst winters on record, are starting to get back on the road. It’s great to see other bikers out again.
I’m starting to adventure out again to friends’ homes and to run errands I’ve been putting off until the roads improve. What I’ve noticed is that my legs are not used to riding far or fast anymore and it’s taking a bit of time to get them back to where they were before Boise’s Snow-pocalypse. This was brought clearly into view a week ago at the One Event.
The non-profit school I’m working at holds its annual fund-raising event in February every year. This is my first year with them and my first time seeing the event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As details trickled in, I started wondering if biking to the event was the best idea or if I should look at other options (car-pooling or ???). It turns out that they hold the event at the Idaho Fair Grounds. This is a little over five miles away and during the summer, a pleasant ride along the Greenbelt. At the time of the event, the river-side Greenbelt was covered in a 1-2″ thick sheet of ice. The only other route I new required a lot of biking on busy roads. I was not looking forward to it.
As the event approached, I was asked if I could help with set up the day before the event. I started looking at different routes and a co-worker offered to pick me up on his way out since he was driving right past my house. I thanked him for the offer and said I’d let him know. The night before setup, I found an alternate route (it should have been obvious, but I was looking for a route on the other side of the river). The next morning, I was ready early and he was running late, so I opted to ride out to the fair grounds. It was cold but sunny. It turned out to be longer than I was used to at this point and one of the best rides I’d had in two months. It felt great.
As we continued hanging banners and tucking extension cords out of sight in the rafters, I kept looking at my watch. This was a school day and despite helping with a school event, I still had to teach coding in the afternoon. Assuming it would take 30 minutes to get back, I tried to finish my task with enough time to not be late. That never happens and I got away from the fair grounds with only 24 minutes until the start of my class. I haven’t peddled so hard since November. My legs burned. I hit every light just as it was turning yellow pushing me a little faster. I made it back to school in 23 minutes… and found that the school day was running behind schedule. I sat down, caught my breath and marveled at the fun of biking fast.
After coding, I planned to work with students at school then go home. Another staffer asked if I could attend a meeting with her and some of the VIPs in town for the event. It would be two hours after school so I decided to stay there rather than go home and come back… Then I got a text asking me to get back out at the event setup to help with one more thing, so I jumped back on the bike and rode. This time slower than the last ride but still with an eye on the time. I didn’t want to be late for the other meeting.
Like before, setup took longer than expected and I had to race back. Again I pushed myself much harder than my legs wanted to go and again I made it back in about 23 minutes… and again, the other people were late. I should have assumed that a group of VIPs getting a tour of Boise would be late for a meeting. I’d much rather be outside in Boise than in a meeting and I think most of them felt the same way.
Once the meeting wrapped up, I took my tired legs and slowly peddled home. My longest ride in the previous two months had been four or five miles of slow, steady riding. On this day, I’d done almost 25 and about half of it was as fast as I could go.
The next morning, I woke up a little sore. Still excited to be able to do more biking again, I got ready for the One Event and jumped back on the bike. The ride to the fair grounds was the slowest so far, but it still felt great to be riding longer distances.
The event was amazing. The students presented the whole thing. There wasn’t a single adult who stood up on stage the entire night. Their speeches were inspiring and their dedication shined.
As the guests left, we started cleaning up and celebrating a successful event. By the time we were all done, it was nearly midnight and I still had the five mile ride home. I was exhausted. I got on the bike, tuned out everything except what was ahead of me and started to ride.
A block and a half from home, I saw one of the few cars still on the road. I had a stop sign but as I slowed, so did they. I put my foot down to show they had the right of way and I wasn’t going to take that. They completely stopped and flashed their high beams. “It’s the middle of the night. Don’t be nice, just follow the rules of the road!” I muttered under my breath. They weren’t going anywhere so I started into the intersection. Then I heard, “IT’S WOODY!!!” I turned to see the car was full of One Stone students. As they approached the intersection, the driver thought, “What sort of crazy person would be out biking at this hour of the night. They’d have to be as weird as Woody… oh wait…” They were all still very excited from the event and were headed for celebratory waffles. I wished them well and went home to collapse.
One of my hopes about this year of biking is that these student, who I work with every day, see that even when you have places to be in a hurry or need to get somewhere in the middle of the night, you don’t have to drive. A bike is still a great option. This event reminded me of that and I hope it convinced some of them as well.