Catching the Cycling Bug…

Today’s blog is kind of a ramble, but stick with it. The title will make sense in a bit.

For 20 years, I did 1 to 4 Stockton Bike Club rides every week that I wasn’t travelling. I would see perhaps 20 different people on those rides each week, sometimes more. I would chase some of them and let others go up the road, knowing that resistance was futile. I dropped some of them, some of them dropped me. I would pull for some of them, taking care not to go too fast and letting them enjoy the draft. Others pulled for me. I would regroup and wait for everybody, and most others (not all) did too.

Some of the people I ride with are close friends, others are friendly acquaintances. I like most of them and respect all of them; anyone who can ride a bike up Mount Diablo or up Stoney Creek Road has something in common with me that no political or social differences can overwhelm.

For the last 3 months, there have been no scheduled club rides, so my social network is severely diminished. And of course there is no travelling. Six weeks in France was replaced with dog walks and yard work and flat solo rides from home. I’m going a little crazy, and I’m not alone.

Too Much, Too Soon, Too Hot

I’ve started to do rides in the hills, usually with one or two friends. Yesterday Bennie and I drove to Ione for that old favorite ride up to Sutter Creek and Volcano. 50 miles and 4,300 feet, in pretty warm conditions. I’m really not in shape for that kind of thing, and especially not ready for the heat. So at the top of Ram’s Horn, while I was waiting for Bennie who very sensibly took it easy on the climb, I started to have the symptoms of heat exhaustion/dehydration/blood pressure drop that I have written about before. My vision started to narrow and shimmer. I sat down and drank some more and crossed my fingers that I would be able to finish the ride safely, if not quickly.

We had planned to go back to Sutter Creek on Shake Ridge Road, but cyclists know there are a couple of steep climbs on that route, and I told Bennie I needed to go back the easy way, and not ride hard. When we got back to Sutter Creek we stopped at the gas station and I bought a large Gatorade with plenty of ice, and we took a 20 minute break while I drank the whole thing. When we started up that very steep hill by the high school (11%! In town! What kind of urban planning is that?) I actually felt much better, so I was looking forward to doing Ione Sutter Road, which is mostly downhill in this direction and is a fun descent.

There are a couple hidden by the shorts. Way too close for comfort…

I was sailing through some of the gently sweeping turns when I felt a sharp sting on my right side, followed by another and another. Some bug had gotten under my jersey (I had it partly unzipped) and was not happy and was showing it. I was going about 30 miles an hour so I couldn’t stop right away, and the critter was really getting its licks in. Finally I stopped and practically tore off my jersey, but the stinging continued and was headed south, so to speak, toward some really sensitive areas. I reached under my bib shorts and found the bug and got it out and onto the ground before any serious damage was done. This morning I have several very red welts to remind me that the Cycling Bug is sometimes literally a bug.

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