It may be winter, but it’s definitely not the most intense winter here in Michigan. In fact, recently, it’s been warm enough for some long bike rides. The first one came several weeks ago. Josh and I hopped on our bikes and rode all around town, heading over to Woldumar Nature Center and then biking to one of our favorite spots to relax, chat, and drink a local brew: EagleMonk Pub and Brewery. 20 miles later, we arrived back home, my legs were practically screaming at me, and yet I felt completely happy and content. It was a good reminder that life is better on a bike.
I’ve written a fair bit about biking: here, here, and here to name a few. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. However, I’m not what you’d call a hardcore cyclist. In the colder months, biking sounds the opposite of fun to me. Also, I don’t have a bike that could navigate in the snow. My husband, on the other hand, bikes nearly ever day in any kind of weather. He’s hardcore. So, when Old Man Winter gives us glimpses of spring, I know I need to take advantage of it! Toward the end of last week, I looked ahead at the weather forecast and saw it was going to be in the 50s and sunny on Saturday. Josh and I knew that meant bike ride.
We celebrated Friday with a few friends at Ellison Brewery and, after a few beers, I exuberantly agreed to bike from our home to downtown St. Johns and back the next day. Altogether, that makes 40 miles of biking. Two beers in this seemed not only doable, but easy. Fast forward to Saturday morning, and I was doing all I could to get out of it. I said, “I want to do a big ride… maybe just something around town, though…20 or 25 miles or so.” I also pulled this gem out, “My legs were in so much pain after our little 20 mile ride a few weeks ago… how am I supposed to do 40?!” And who could forget this excuse, “But Josh… the longest ride I’ve ever done in a day is 35 miles and I did that over an ENTIRE day from morning to evening. With lots of stops on the way! I can’t do 40 at one time!” Josh was hearing none of it. Around 1:15, I begrudgingly set off with him to the land of St. Johns. It wasn’t an easy ride by any means. The wind was wicked. I’d never biked in wind like that before, and it was scary. There were times I felt like an out of control kite, flying off with no anchor to the earth. I contemplated turning around several times it was so bad. But we pressed on.
Once there, we each inhaled a giant burger, some french fries, and drank Bells Two Hearted Ale. Maybe not the smartest late lunch/early dinner decision…but downtown St. Johns doesn’t offer a ton, so it was either a burger from a dive bar called Swamy’s or pizza.
We were tired and battered from our windy ride, and neither of us particularly looked forward to the ride. home. But there was no other way to do it. We had to get back on our bikes and ride. The ride home was… interesting. It took my legs a good 5 miles to warm back up. Early on in the ride my legs were in a lot of pain and it was all I could do to ignore it. Thankfully, the pain eased up after a while, but then my neck and shoulders started hurting quite badly from hunching over my handle bars. That’s when I started wishing I’d brought some ibuprofen with me. I was feeling grumpy, tired, and sore… but I was doing okay.
Then, about 8 miles from home, we stopped so Josh could take a picture of a river we were biking over. From that point on, things got incrementally more challenging for me. As long as the road was flat, I felt alright(ish). When I had to exert more energy to go up hills, intense nausea set in. I kept eyeing the side of the road up ahead wondering Am I going to need to barf up there? What about up by that tree? After awhile I croaked/yelled up to Josh, who slowed down and stayed with me the rest of the ride. And, sure enough, I made it home! And I did it without barfing.
I don’t have anything to document this adventure, except for a picture of the number of pants I wore on this journey. It’s too bad, too, because it was truly a beautiful day.
I said it earlier — I’m not “hardcore” like my husband. Where he throws himself passionately into things that stretch him mentally and physically, I’m a bit softer. I tend to favor the side of my brain that says, “Woooaah there. Let’s think about this. Let’s really ponder this. Is this good for you? This might hurt you. Maybe you should come up with a less stressful option.” There are certainly pros and cons to each side. Thankfully, we typically tend to balance each other out. Also, thankfully, Josh gets me to step outside my safe zone to ensure I push myself a littler harder than I normally would. Again I’m reminded that life is better on a bike.