Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hey Buddy, You're OKAY?

Two weeks ago, I went on a bike ride trying to get myself back to form. Originally, I was kinda training for a Muscular Dystrophy fund raiser, where you spend two days completing a seventy-five mile per day route for sponsors, complete with an overnight stay, free food and medics just in case you have any problems. My best distance, never mind the time it takes, was forty-five miles. I felt pretty good about my chances of participating... two months ago!

Well, on that day, I completed a thirty-four mile ride but not without some problems. Besides the normal dogs chasing me until I zap 'em with my trusty, never fails, sonic Dazor zapper, I ran into a pretty stiff north wind that brought a welcome cold front to the region. It gave the countryside a beautiful morning, but made my biking harder since, at least, half of this adjusted route ran north/south. Two and a half hours into the ride, my shoulders started to really ache and I could not sit up straight on the bike to relieve the pain because the wind was forcing me to continually pedal... or stop. So, I stopped for a five minute break, not once, not twice, but three times. Somewhere between stop two and three, my left quad cramped up. I had plenty of water, so I knew I was well hydrated, but nevertheless, the next two or three miles were no fun at all and I started to cuss myself and everything else I could damn praying it was only a cramp and not a pulled muscle.

Ben, it seems, no matter what you do, you always turn it into a job. This is supposed to be fun, I thought to myself. It didn't take too much longer before I was actually vocalizing my frustration to myself and anyone within hearing range as I continued to peddle. I also noticed my heart monitor registering a constant 148 bpm, but I only now had about eight or ten miles left to go. "What an ass!" Once again, you are turning this into another famous Ben Bensen slog!"

Slogging through this bike ride seemed a complete metaphor for my life. Slogging is what I define as doing something, anything with a negative attitude. You know, doing things that need to be done, but you just do it 'cuz you have to. You could put on a happy face and maybe it would make it better, but instead, you bitch, you moan, you acquiesce, you reluctantly get the job done. That's slogging!

As I continue peddling closer to the finish, I am now verbally abusing myself. " You shouldn't have taken such a long route... What made you think this was a good idea? Why do you continue to set such stupid, unrealistic goals? A true Capricorn. Butting my head up against anything just because it is there. It is not necessarily in the way. It is just there, so why do I feel he need to bust through it. What's on the other side making it all worth while? You're an idiot. No one cares whether you win or lose. Why do you turn everything into a competition... especially with yourself. "What a maroon, just get your cell phone, make the call and have Therese come pick you up," I said to no one, but me.

Slogging through a few more miles I finally make a decision."Okay, okay, I give up. I can't go on. But I am not calling for a ride home. I need to stop for a while... just a while. As I parked the bike along the side of the road, I started to feel nauseated. "Great, just what I now need... Upchuck City...Great!"

I found a shady area next the culvert, sat down and took the last couple of gulps from my second water bottle hoping it would help me not lose my breakfast. I then worked on my gimpy quad trying to unknot the damn thing and in the process ended up laying down on a bed of pine needles and pine cones. Once I dislodged the prickly cones from my back, I looked up to the beautiful fall sky and heard that breeze ( it was now not a wind but a beautiful breeze, at least, in my mind ) wafting through the pines. I laid there for about a minute watching a red-tailed hawk couple dancing high above me in the breeze and realized how strange it was that they were flying above me on a street named Hawk Road.

After five minutes or so, I remembered how once I hit the wall twenty-four and half miles out during my first marathon in Scottsdale, Arizona. I remembered how my gait turned into a walk, then a stop and start for another few hundred feet and then, I sat down resolving to return back on track to finish the last mile and a half to finish the race.

A car passed by and I waved him on by, and then another and then another. "Hey man, ready to give it up, you look spent!" " No, I replied, I'll be fine, thanks!" But, I wasn't fine. I literally hit the wall... Big Time! I remembered that try as I may, I could not get up. My entire body just seized up into one big knot and I wasn't gonna finish this race...

Just then, an old Chevy pickup circa 1970's drives by and stops at the stop sign.   A man with a red cap, brim turn up and a cheek full of possibly chaw says, "Hey Buddy, you okay?" Everything's all right?" I quickly sit up and tell him that I was fine and that I just needed to take a break. As he drove by, I laid back down because it made me feel less nauseous, but a minute later a woman in a blue compact stopped at the stop sign, turned left, and then, backed up to inquire about my condition. After the third car, not wanting to concern any more drivers stopping at that corner and fearing that, once again, as it did in my first failed marathon, my body would seize up, I decided to sit up.

A black lady in an Explorer inquired, a man in a pork pie hat driving a Jag, stopped to ask. Some mexicans ( or hispanics, from one country or another, ) stopped with a truck bed full of compadres to ask if I was okay. All in all, within twenty minutes, eight cars of completely different ages, styles and makes, with people from all walks of life, showed their concern for a total stranger's well being at the side of the road.

Rejuvenated by the rest and not wanting anyone else to show concern for my welfare, I got back in the saddle and slowly peddled off. With less than a half mile or so to return to Gus's in Folsom, where my car was parked, I thought, "Is this still a great country or what!


  1. Nice story but I can't help but wonder if they thought you were roadkill and were hoping to scoop you up & drop you into a nice gumbo. Those meaty calves and quads would make a nice meaty dish! Hee, hee...
    It is always reassuring to see the best of humanity when it comes out.

  2. Can always count on little sister to read big brother's long winded blogs. And well, it would have to be a very big gumbo pot!

  3. I can't help myself - I've been one of your biggest fans ever since I saw you playing guitar in the backyard garage! :)

  4. That long ago? Whoa, I guess I'm doing something right!