The promise I made to myself to get back into the routine of riding and writing was short-lived. The riding part held up, but I fell short with the writing. I got caught up in processing photos from last Thursday night’s Alma MTB Time Trial, riding, taking and processing my own photos from rides and a rainy Saturday hike. There was also some bitterness and depression, too many beers, and bidding farewell to my friend Mike at his memorial service on Sunday.
The theme of most of last week was heat, it was ball blistering hot. Well, at least to me and my ever thickening fat boy Michigan blood. Nearly every ride had me returning covered in dust and coated in self-produced margarita salt. Even Thursday night just standing in the woods taking photos of other people racing their bikes had me drenched in sweat. I was pretty disgusting. I did get some OK photos though in some difficult lighting conditions in the woods.
Friday was a 26+ mile ride north of town starting from home. I tried to get out before it got too hot, but that it was all in vain, and before I knew it the sun was crisping me up and I was once again soaked in sweat that reeked of beer, salsa, and beef grease. Strava™ says the average temp was 84˚, but living in a place with an average annual temperature of 46.2˚ makes it feel worse. Still, I’d rather be a salty sweaty mess than riding in layers likes I have to do 9 months of the year.
The wheat is now prime for harvesting and the fields were alive with combines and trucks. I’m always amazed watching the annual process of planting, maintaining, and harvesting that the farmers do, all so I can get a bowl of Wheaties™.
I rode the Boone on Friday and for 85% of the ride it was the right choice, but that other 15% had me longing for some added girth in the tire department. At one point I lost my line in some soft, sandy dirt and got too far over to the even softer shoulder. The next thing I knew I was ground to a halt. Thankfully I only had to do that oddball bike straddle, shat myself, duck walk thing a few feet before I got it going again.
Things finally cooled off a bit on Saturday but it also brought rain. Was no matter anyway because I was up at 6 AM and on the road at 7 taking B-Man to Midland to help out with some coaching classes the club was hosting. The instructors needed players to demonstrate the lessons, so he got 4 hours of rainy “practice” in.
With four hours to kill I drove down the road to the Chippewa Nature Center to hike around in the rain with my camera. The temperatures were nice and I got a few miles of
hiking walking in before the rain got too steady. The cooler temps and rain felt great, but it also made the mosquitos unbearable. I was covered from head to toe in layers of bug spray and still got a shit ton of bites.
The funny thing about my time with the camera that morning was as I was heading back towards my car, I passed a couple walking. They asked me if I got any good shots and I said “no, nothing too good today.” Then later that day as I processed the photos I found myself thinking that I got some pretty good shots in just a couple of hours of in some less than ideal conditions.
On Sunday morning I headed south of town with the PrOcal. It was cloudy and a bit damp from some light rain overnight, and for the first half of the 30 mile ride the cooler and cloudy conditions felt amazing. The sun gradually came out, and the temperatures started to rise, but compared to the heat earlier in the week it was all good.
Many of the roads were nice and hard packed, yet others remain sandy, rutted messes. Using the PrOcal instilled some confidence, bombing down a few hills well over 30 MPH.
Later in the day my family and I attended the memorial for my friend Mike that was killed by a motorist while he rode a few weeks ago. Admittedly I had no idea what to expect, having never really attended a service like this. In the end it was a laid back and heartfelt and the perfect send off for Mike as hundreds of friends and family gathered to remember him along the river. To hear his girlfriend, long time friends, and his father speak of him was extremely moving. The event culminated with Mike’s father and girlfriend spreading his ashes into the river that he canoed on many times over his life. While many people do the traditional funeral and burial stuff, that wasn’t who Mike was. I am much happier to ride, drive, and walk passed the river everyday knowing that Mike is a part of it, rather than visiting some piece of rock with his name on it.
It’s been nearly a month since Mike was killed and in that time I have been on an emotional rollercoaster of processing my grief. Between his travels and racing there were many times that I didn’t see him. But it in the end he always came home, and I would be eager to hear tales of whatever race or adventure he had been doing. 3.5 weeks is not enough time, I still expect to meet up with him at the Tap Room some Thursday night in the near future as we so often did. I am hopeful that the yesterday will help with some closure. It won’t help the grief, that will take time, but I’m hopeful that it will help with accepting the finality.
With all that stuff said, I need to get back to me again. All the hard work I did in the spring working towards weight loss and fitness came undone earlier in the summer and I found myself in a bad place again. Riding less, drinking too much beer, and eating poorly trying to escape myself. Then Mike died and it got even worse. I have no doubt that I have gained all the weight I lost back. I’m hoping that some closure to this will allow me to start focusing on my health and wellbeing again. Not to mention there are some jeans I want to fit into by fall.