The Things You Learn on Saturdays

On Saturday, you learn that a five-year-old can chew the nozzle-end off your best water bottle while watching morning cartoons and pulling the heads off every action figure in the house. Further, you relearn that mother nature does NOT care that you have to be at the meet up in ten minutes, nor that you’ve already put your jersey on over your bibs, zipped it up and added a vest.

On Saturday you learn you were less than attentive with you application of chamois cream, that you actually missed a spot and that it was an important spot, and that every bad thing you ever said about anyone has created a huge karmic debt your chamois is anxious to collect from the underside of your most sensitive parts.

The guy at work you’ve never ridden with, who doesn’t look like much, is a hammer, but not one of those cute little hammers people keep in their kitchen drawers for hanging pictures with. No. He’s a roofing hammer. Long wooden handle. A head like an anvil.

You learn that, despite agreeing to keep it cool, your buddies are going to pound away from you at every town line and at the base of every climb. You learn that their words mean nothing, and that you’re not mature enough to ride within yourself and just catch them on the descent. Also, that if you’re honest with yourself, you would have attacked them first if you’d thought of it.

You learn that, contrary to your inflated concept of your hidden talents, you are not a natural climber.

On Saturday, you learn that all those people in their cars who make your weekly commute into a bizarre gladiatorial contest have somewhere they absolutely have to be on the weekend too. And that they still hate you.

You also learn that, no matter how far you’ve agreed to ride with your companions, it is one mile too far. You learn yet again that you have to start drinking water much earlier in the ride and that toast isn’t really performance enhancing in any way.

HA! Toast! Good one!

The embrocation (it seemed like a good idea at the time) you slathered on in the morning, when it was cold, will come back to life in the shower, and you will, in your calorie-poor fog brain, forget not to wash upward. See previous passage regarding chamois cream and karmic debt.

On Saturday you learn that your wife/husband doesn’t care how many miles/kilometers/climbing feet/watts you did. You still have to walk the dog, wash the car and do the laundry. Your kids don’t care either. They still want to play basketball, wrestle and then go to the park to hit baseballs. Cold pizza isn’t recovery food, and there is a pretty hard limit to the miracles even massive doses of caffeine can perform.

Despite all the flowery prose we generate to try to convince each other of the contrary, that long Saturday morning ride doesn’t really make us better people, at least not in the short term. It makes us tired and grouchy on Saturday afternoons. We’ll probably snap at the kids for being kids, and we probably won’t make it through the movie our spouse has selected for Saturday night entertainment.

By this time, Saturday will have taught us that we should NEVER plan Sunday’s ride before we’ve ridden Saturday’s ride, and above all the words, “Yeah, I’ll do hill repeats with you,” should never exit our lips again.





  1. Ransom

    Turns out pizza isn’t that great beforehand, either. Or at least I’m trying to pin yesterday’s disintegration on the fact that the three meals leading up to it were all pizza. (fresh, leftover, and leftover, respectively)

  2. michael

    brilliant. i would add –

    On your first outdoor ride of the year, it probably would have been a good idea to check your tires for wear, abrasions or debris lodged deeop within instead of letting yourself wax romantic about getting the chance to get outside.

    In this state of flux known as chomping at the bit, it is easy to forget to do this, and just as easy to only bring along one tube and one patch as you tell yourself you are only going for a 45 minute spin. Cue 3rd flat at 1h15min mark, 35 km from home. -5 degrees celcius. Stuck on the side of a remote highway with no traffic density.

    Despite all these challenges, brain cramps, a 7km walk back to a main road and you being moderatley underdressed, you think to yourself – You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a bike, and that it pretty darn close.

  3. RUV

    Great post.

    On Saturday, bonk is a four letter word.

    On Saturday, you learn that mosquitos that can be fended off by bug spray, candles and the works, will go to town on you when you flat on the road and don’t have the aforementioned accouterments… and that you can sometimes fix a flat pretty f’ing fast when you need to.

  4. PeterLeach

    @michael says: “…You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a bike, and that it pretty darn close …” = damn straight!

    On Saturday,you understand that you can be happy when you’re ‘just riding around’ and just as happy when you’re hurting on hill repeats.

  5. sophrosune

    Great piece, Robot. Some of this really hits the nail on the head of why I quit my local cycling club. For me I want cycling to be a gift to myself not an opportunity to invite grief from others. I’m going back to just me and my bike and the open road.

  6. sam findley

    And on Wednesday, one learns that one got up too early for work, and has time to kill, and RKP is awesome.

  7. scaredskinnydog

    Good stuff! Thanks for the laugh. Of course toast isn’t performance enhancing, but oatmeal on the other hand- va va voom!

  8. S M

    Boy do I feel what you are saying. I think we’ve all been there in some form or another. My 5 mile loop pulling the kids to their respective schools has been a poor substitute for training for a bit. Poor enough that last Thursday’s ride garnered the hard cold fact that I’m further out of bike shape than I’d like to admit and my judgement has diminished enough that I can’t judge that gap very well. A lesson I learned as the bike stopped upon contact with the construction fencing and I did not until my shoulder touched down on a shattered collar bone. Surgery Friday has left me ample time to read RKP, watch Milan-San Remo, the beginning of what appears to be a great Volta and contemplate your words while deciding if I’ll rebuild my rear wheel or not. Ah, the spring season has many lessons.

  9. Al

    Yes, a great description of Saturday…. Except you forgot to mention the wind that always has a way of getting in the face just when the legs are aching.

  10. Ron

    Last Saturday I learned that pick-up soccer can sometimes not be any fun at all, but that returning from a Saturday ride is always rewarding.

    But yes, many of these sentiments within the write-up and in the comments are those I too have experienced.

  11. Ron

    I’m also getting married in three months…I’ve been living a cyclist’s nirvana for a few years – graduate school so an open schedule, a GF, a dog and two cats, but otherwise a lot of freedom to ride.

    I have no idea what will happen once wife, kids, house, yardwork, etc. come along. Oh well, it’s been fun. I’ve gone from thinking 15 miles was far to thinking 300km is doable, with non-pizza based training!

  12. Pingback: TWW Daily Feed for March 30th, 2012: training tips, bear attacks and the poetic turmoil of Saturdays « This Way West

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