24 And There’s So Much More

I did the first training ride of my life this weekend. I biked from Longmont, Colorado, to Denver. It was a success, in that I’m still alive, but a learning opportunity, as well. Which mostly means that technicality it was a fail, but that seems too pessimistic.

I learned a lot, to say the least. I need to be in much better shape than I am currently in. I am hoping to buy my panniers soon and start riding with them, because with no gear I still cursed any hill I enc ountered. At one point I had come to the top of a second mesa in a row, looked north at the road I was supposed to turn onto, saw the insane hill it involved, and decided not worth it. This leads me to the second thing I learned. I am horrible at following directions. Instead of looking at a map or having an understanding of where I needed to go, I turned on my phone’s GPS and blindly followed it. Which worked out well, until I stopped and took a 10-mile detour to Boulder. Even that wasn’t too bad, it was when my phone started to die leaving Boulder that I encountered trouble. I got so lost. My 40-mile ride ended up being something between 60 and 70 miles, an educated guess I’m making because the amount I got lost, I couldn’t retrace my route if I tried.

I told my roommates all this once I was finally home, and they all had the same reaction: Duh. Apparently it was obvious to them that I would get lost. In my mind, however, it could not have been avoided and none of it was my fault.

I got about ten miles out of Boulder and turned off my GPS to save phone battery. I then ended up on a dirt road that turned out to be a mountain bike trail, which I found out when asking a man for directions.

“You should catch a bus to Denver from here, it’s far,” he said.

“It’s like a thing, I’m biking to Denver,” I said.

He helped me figure out how to get off the dirt road, and I ended up at a Whole Foods, where my exhaustion led me to a horrible conversation with a delightful woman. After she told me where she used to live in Denver, I said, “Oh, there is a Trader Joes there now… which you probably don’t want to hear, seeing how they are your rival and all… I don’t even like Trader Joes. Everyone loves it, I don’t get the hype…” I spat out. I was delirious.

She helped me figure out how to get closer to Denver, and after a few more miles I could see the skyline in the distance. I ebbed and flowed from one road to the next for an hour or so before I came across a movie theater.

Maybe I’ll go see a movie, I said to myself. I walked in, then realized that the only money I brought was two dollars, and after finding a quarter I was still eight dollars short because it was no longer matinee time. I tried to sneak in, but my bike is not conspicuous at all. Not even close.

I sulked out and sat at a bus stop and called my mom. My phone was at 8% battery at this point. She was shockingly cool with me biking alone. This is surprising because the woman didn’t let me drive at night until, well… I’m still not allowed to drive at night while visiting.

I hung up with my mom, 5% battery. I called my roommate, Nicole.

“I want to make it to Denver, at least,” I said.

“Just name a place, and I’ll be there,” she said. She is a saint.

I told her to meet me at 72d and Federal, which is about 10 miles from my house. Relatively, I should have just biked home. Especially because once I got to the intersection, I knew where I was. But I couldn’t do it. I biked for twenty minutes thinking I was getting close, only to end up back at the movie theater. The last seven miles were actually at least ten.

Nicole picked me up at a gas station, to which point I just started laughing.

“I’m so unprepared,” I said, relative to where I should be a month before the trip.

“How do you feel?” she said.

“Like I want to cry, or drink, or cry and drink,” I said.

I got home with 3% battery left on my phone, and did not move for a long time. I played Neil Young’s Old Man on repeat. I have wanted to be 24 years old my entire life because of this song, and on my birthday all I wanted to do was go for a bike ride and listen to it, so that I did.


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