I woke up with a raging fever and spent the day on the couch. Several times that day I thought Good thing I’m sick today. It’ll surely pass by Sunday. I’d hate to be sick on the day of the big ride. That night I had feverish nightmares about being late for the ride start. My dreams were so real that at 3:30am, I shook Terry awake insisting that he get up because we were LATE AND HAD TO GET TO THE STARTING LINE RIGHT NOW!!! Ever so patiently, he ushered my head back to my pillow and told me it wasn’t Sunday. My fever broke sometime that night after I’d woken Terry up several more times with things of utmost importance, I’m sure. Poor guy.
While waiting for the laundry to dry and cursing my stuffy head, I found myself poking around the Internets, catching up on the latest over on Fat Cyclist. I scrolled down to the comments, wherein one of my teammates posted a notification about a course change for Sunday.
Ooh, a course change. I prayed fervently that a meteor had struck the course and it had to be shortened to, say, an easy 25 miles.
With a tailwind.
No such luck. No meteor at all. In fact the course had been changed to include an out and back. Out and backs are my least favorite type of riding because I’ve already seen everything once. And there always seems to be a headwind one way, sometimes both. But hey, maybe this out and back would be on a nice smooth, wind-protected flat.
Or maybe it would be on the really hard climbing part so that once I made it to the top of the climb and wanted to die, I would have to hold all thoughts of death until I went downhill, turned back around and climbed back up. I bet you can guess what kind of out and back it is. I love it when they tack on more climbing just for funsies.
Thursday night I went to sleep with a knot in my stomach. I sleep-pedaled my sheets into a tangled mess, dreaming of all that climbing.
I untangled myself from my sheets and slipped into the shower, letting the steam clear the gunk that had settled into my nose and lungs. Surely this cold will be gone by Sunday. I hopped onto The Rocket for an early morning ride on the river trail with a friend. My goal was to listen to The Rocket, to feel for any bumps in her gears and to make sure she was all set for Sunday. Riding cleared my head and made me feel sorta human for the first time in days. The river was lovely, as usual, but riding back uphill to my house, The Rocket and I felt our nerves rise up again. More climbing. More climbing. More climbing. This was the marching drill all the way home. With each pedalstroke I pictured the revised elevation profile. Up, down, up, down, up, down. 20 miles of up, down, up, down, up, down.
As I was rounding the corner into my neighborhood, I spotted a friend out for a walk. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I offered to put on my walking shoes and meet up with her on my street. We had a great time catching up. Toward the end of the walk we stopped at the corner where our two neighborhoods meet, I asked if she had any summer trips planned.
She has just one. A trip to her mom’s house because her mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer and my friend wants to be there for her mom’s lumpectomy. Her mom is a young, vibrant woman. In fact, she’s always one of the first people to donate to LiveStrong on my behalf. My friend and I stood there talking on the corner, she fighting the lump in her throat, me giving her a hug and paltry words of sympathy that never seem strong enough in these circumstances. My friend has lots of questions and at least I could direct her to LiveStrong to find some answers.
We parted ways and as I walked home, I didn’t think about my stuffy head. Or the hilly out and back added onto the course. I thought about my friend’s mother. And my grandmother. And all the others who I’m riding for on Sunday. A pesky cold and a little more climbing don’t feel so daunting anymore.
It’s funny what a little perspective can do.