About 80 miles into our Sunday morning, the difficulties of riding with the Drs. Killeen were starting to pile high.
Some things were looking up.
* We’d already cleared those relentless rollers that make riding Church Road something of a religious experience. (I need a ruling. Is it OK to miss church to ride Church?)
* The gravel stretches had been dry and fast.
* Our early departure gave us a gorgeous dawn on the Platte at Louisville.
* And now we were headed back home on the mercifully flat MoPac Trail. The woods on either side knocked the edge off the crosswind, and we were making good time.
Still, the bills were coming due on my big, early efforts. Even with Marty on his heavy mountain bike, I was having a hard time keeping hold of his wheel. And whippet-thin Addison seemed born for this stretch of a ride, when physics catches up to normal men.
I felt physics pushing in at me from all sides. Sure, my declining legs hated my mass. But I’d also had it with angles of reflection. The sun just then found the sideways gap between my brow and my sunglasses. It banked off the inside of my lens and through my eyeball. And the irregular shade of the trees to my south put that light on a sadistic strobe. It felt as if an old-time telegraph operator, hepped up on sarsaparilla, were tapping out a novel on my left retina.
My head hurt. And I thought that thought I rarely think on a bicycle. I thought, “I wish I wasn’t doing this right now.”
I tried to think of something else. I closed my left eye and watched Marty in front of me. The same sunlight, so ugly in my left eye socket, was playing prettier tricks on the leaves kicking up from his wheel. The breeze just then cost the locusts above us a thousand teardrop leaves. They fell in gold flickers around our helmets. And I thought that thought I often think on a bicycle. I thought, “Where else would you rather be?”
Addison, who somehow takes better photos with his phone while riding at 20 mph than I could with a tripod and detailed instructions, saw what I saw. He coasted behind, pulled out that phone, and took this.
And I think again: Where else would you rather be?