Last week I turned 54 years old, so took the day off from the computer and headed out on a day-long bike ride. Each year on my birthday I try to take a long ride to persuade myself that the passage of time does not directly affect my physical condition. At least, that’s what I tried to tell myself, but my body had an opinion of its own.
So I headed out at 7:15am, a bit later than planned for what I knew would be a hot July day, to ride one of my favorite triangle trails:
- West Hartford to Willimantic on the East Coast Greenway and Hop River Trail (38 miles)
- Willimantic to East Hampton on the Air Line Trail (21 miles)
- East Hampton to West Hartford (about 27 miles on state and local roads, including the Glastonbury-Rocky Hill ferry crossing)
- Total miles: 87 miles
The first and second legs of the triangle went smoothly, with new ECG bike path in Bolton, and plenty of shade through the woods along the Hop River and Air Line trails. But my body was dragging when I rolled my bike onto the ferry at Glastonbury around 2pm, near the 70 mile mark for my trip. So I laid down in a park in Rocky Hill and set my alarm to take a quick 10-minute nap. Feeling somewhat refreshed, I climbed back on board the bike and pushed my way west of the river and up the hill.
That’s when the disagreement between my body parts began:
Legs: Um, sorry to bother you up there, but we’re not sure if we can handle another hill…
Brain: Sure you can! Just a couple months ago on that trip in eastern Washington State, we rode 89 miles one day, and that was a hot one, too!
Legs: Yeah, but we didn’t have any choice…. it was kind of like a desert with no place to stop, so we had to keep going.
Brain: Well what about that time a few years ago on my 49th birthday, when we biked 98 miles to Providence Rhode Island?
Stomach (snidely): Don’t forget that you were several pounds lighter back then…
Legs: Do you think there might be a bus stop around here? You could put the bike on the front of the bus and ride the rest of the way…
Brain: Hmmm, I do like the bus… and air conditioning…
Legs: And your bus pass is right here in your front pants pocket…
Brain: But wait. It’s a point of pride to finish the long-distance bike ride on our birthday. We’re all in this together. Let’s show everyone what this body can do!
Stomach: You wanna see what I can do? Watch this! (Hurls contents onto a telephone pole in someone’s front yard.)
That’s the lesson I learned on my birthday bike ride. When your body parts disagree, you might fool the legs into going a bit farther. But the stomach always wins the argument. So I swallowed my pride, texted my daughter and asked her to pick me up after she got out of work, and waited under a shady tree in Wethersfield, about six miles short of my goal. Maybe next year.