Weekend Predictions

In two days (that’s 48 hours for those of you who use the metric system), I’ll be riding in Kenny’s 2008 RAWROD — Ride Around White Rim in One Day.

I can hardly wait.

This will be the first time I’ve tried doing the ride on a single speed. And it’s the first time I will attempt a 100-mile mountain bike ride as my first century of the year.

I predict that I will suffer. But that’s not my only prediction. Nosirree. The fact is, I have been doing this kind of ride for so long that I already have a good idea of how the day’s going to turn out, to the extent that I can confidently make the following predictions about the ride:

I predict the wind will be a problem. The weather forecast has Saturday as mild, slightly overcast, and a high in the low 70s (not metric). That’s excellent, but the forecast also predicts 15mph wind. Luckily, this wind will be at our backs at the beginning of the day. Unluckily, it will be in our faces the second half of the day…as we ride through the sandiest part of the ride. I’m sure, however, that the wind won’t blow sand into our faces.

I predict the sand will be a problem, but moreso for some than for others. The way we’re riding this loop, we’ll be in the sandy part of the ride the second half of the day. And the sand can be troublesome, especially when your legs are cooked. It will be interesting to see how many people riding 26″ bikes have to walk through sandy sections, vs. those of us on 29″ bikes. And by “it will be interesting,” I of course mean, “it will be fun to gloat.”

I predict that I will be kind of jumpy, giddy, chatty and goofy for the first 25 miles. It never fails. I get a massive adrenaline surge at the beginning of long rides and I get this big grin and am just so darned enthusiastic that people who haven’t had their morning caffeine tend to find me irritating.

I predict I will take it out too hot. I always know I shouldn’t go out at top speed, but then I can’t help myself and I just fly, entirely convinced that my legs are going to feel this good the whole day. Oddly, they never do.

I predict that I will be entirely non-jumpy, non-giddy, non-chatty, but still goofy (but in a different way) for the final 25 miles. Once the initial rush has worn off, I settle down and am actually a pretty good riding companion for 50 miles or so. I’m talkative, but don’t demand (nor require) conversation. I’m just happy to be there, and feeling good about the ride. Then, for the final 25 miles, I become a sullen, hateful being, full of spite and bile. Do not talk to me, because I will not have pleasant things to say. I have said 99% of the swear words I have ever uttered during the final 25 miles of big rides.

I predict that I will ride alone for at least part of the day. This weekend, Dug, Brad, Kenny and I have vowed to ride the whole RAWROD together. I love to think that this will actually be the case, but I have a hard time imagining it. At some point I’m going to bonk and will actually get angry if people try to stay with me at my bonked-out pace. And I’m not the only guy who prefers to suffer alone. At various moments, others in the group are going to suffer, and will want to suffer alone. I’ve learned that when someone wants to suffer alone, it’s best to let them. Because that way if they die, you get their stuff.

I predict that I will wish I had brought an iPod. I understand that many women are able to talk continuously for ten hours. I don’t know any guys who can (not saying they’re not out there, just that I haven’t met them…and also, that I don’t want to meet them). At that point, I”m going to wish I had brought an iPod.

I predict that I will be angry at my past-self for having such poor self-discipline. During the big climbs, as I have to push my bike up the hill, I am going to mentally — and possibly literally — flog myself for not having dieted properly before this ride. “If you would have exercised some self-control,” I will say, accusingly, to my past-self, “You would be riding your bike up this pitch, instead of hiking it.” Sadly, my past-self was too busy eating carne asada burritos to hear what his future-self was saying. Too bad, because my future-self has a good point.

I predict I will wish I had ridden my SuperFly. Not only because of the gears, but because of the suspension. My left wrist feels OK right now, but not great. After ten hours of riding a rigid singlespeed over incredibly choppy terrain, I suspect I’m going to be a little sore in a few key places. And by “a few key places,” I of course mean “everywhere.”

I predict I will resent people who pass me. Even though this is not a race, I still tend to take it personally when someone passes me. I especially hate it when they say something friendly as they go by. On the other hand, I hate it just as much when they don’t say anything at all. My recommendation to my fellow riders? Don’t pass me. Wait your turn, and we’ll all get around the Rim together. Oh, and don’t crowd me, either. Stay 20 feet back at all times.

I predict I will resent people who are pulling me but going too fast. Especially during the headwindish part of the ride, I intend to tuck in behind people, and never take a turn pulling. I’m not sure right now how I’ll rationalize that as an OK thing to do, but I figure I’ll come up with something. When these people start pulling away, I presume I will come up with a sarcastic remark, which I would utter…if only I had the wind.

I predict I will take a lot of pictures at the beginning of the ride. At the beginning of the ride, everything looks like a photo-op.

I predict I will take no photos whatsoever during the final 25 miles of the ride. By the end of the ride, everything looks like just another cliff, just another bike, just another sandstone arch. Whatever. Let’s just get this over with, OK?

I predict I will get sunburned. I’m pretty good about getting sunscreen on me. But I always miss a spot. Usually the tip of one of my ears. That will look awesome.

I predict I will vow to never do this kind of ride ever again. I am willing to go out on a limb for this prediction. As I climb Horsethief road, the giant switchbacking climb that never ends right at the final five miles of the ride, it will become astonishingly clear what a stupid idea bicycles in general are, and what an even stupider idea this ride in particular was. This certainty will come with the clarity of an epiphany that cannot be denied. Which makes me wonder how I manage to come out and do the ride again every year.

I predict that even when things get really bad, a small part of me will be happy, because good stories need conflict. Even as I’m bonked out of my brain, I’ll be composing the paragraph that makes it sound like I’m suffering nobly, somehow. However, if it’s someone else who bonks, it will be the occasion for great comedy.

I predict I will be grateful it’s over. It’s amazing how quickly the pain subsides when you finish a ride. There have been times when I actually have started giggling with relief as I realize I have finished. I know, middle-aged men shouldn’t giggle. I’m not saying I’m proud of the giggling, just that it happens.

I predict that by the time 3 days (72 hours, for those of you who use the metric system) has elapsed, I will be excited about going again next year. Which just goes to prove that I’m stupid.

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