Isn’t summer the greatest? Like, specifically summer evenings after work when the sun bathes the streets in a goldeny orange-yellow an hour or so before it gets ready to set. Like when a cool breeze rolls in but short sleeves will do just fine.
I’m feeling very lucky lately for a flexible work schedule that allows me to leave a little early, beat traffic on my 45-minute commute home and still have time to meet my buddies for evening bike rides. (Or hikes with Courtney.) I worried that when I took this new job so far from Boulder I’d lose touch with my community and the relationships I’d worked so hard to build while working at Rapha. So, yeah, I’m grateful for a cool manager and work team that gets that.
Around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a friend texted me about going for an easy ride later that evening, at 7 p.m. It sounded late, because around 7 p.m. I’m usually showering, then getting in bed to watch Stranger Things. But this time of year, the sun is still high in the sky and it feels like I’m missing the best, most beautiful hours of summer! So at 4 p.m.ish, I made my way home, threw a load of laundry in the washer, then squeezed into my new Black Star Cycling kit. My friends in Tampa started a company a couple years ago and I ordered their newest custom Ale kit. If I wasn’t so Rapha-loyal living here in Boulder, I’d buy exclusively from Ale like I did in Tampa. It’s some of the best around—and I haven’t found a brand that makes a more perfect chamois.
I think another one of my favorite things about riding with this friend is that even while he is training and racing throughout the year, he works easy days into his schedule and he often invites me along. He’s patient and doesn’t push too hard because he knows I can’t. He’s funny, he knows a ton about bikes, and when I talk about fEeEeeElLings, he listens.
I got on the bike earlier than our meeting time; I figured if I sat down too long, I might not get back up. Temps were in the high 70s/low 80s, a strong wind blew but not hard enough to ruin a ride. The sun warmed up my arms and face. The streets and trails were packed with people out enjoying the weather; it almost felt like a Friday afternoon, and my stomach fluttered a little like it would going into a weekend with no plans.
^^^ Excuse the grainy screen shot of an Insta story.
After traveling last week for the Fourth of July, I hadn’t ridden in a week and even just a few days at sea level was hitting me. My legs and lungs burned. I also went for a run Tuesday morning, so my only plan was to enjoy the weather and put in some good miles before the big Rapha Women’s Prestige ride on Sunday. I was on my gravel bike, so I decided to head to my favorite dirt roads that connect Boulder to Superior and the western edge of Broomfield.
While I was in New Jersey last week for the holiday, I was talking to my uncle about riding bikes in Colorado, about all the people I meet on and off the bike, about the adventures I’ve taken and the races I’m gearing up for in the fall. He asked if I’d met any “cute boys yet.”
I rolled my eyes. Of course I had,“but they’re all very taken by their cute girlfriends and wives,” I told him.
He and my mom are positive I’m going to meet the one out here. But years and years ago, I met the one. And then I let him go and my whole world shattered.
“One day you’re going to be riding along and all of sudden he’s just going to ride up in front of you.” That’s my uncle’s theory. My mom is a bit more practical, but she hasn’t made quite as specific predictions.
Last night as I hopped onto the trail, two mountain bikers zoomed in front of me…and I thought about what he said. So in a moment of haste and perhaps complete insanity, I pedaled my heart out to keep up with them. What if my uncle is right and one of them is HIM? My heart raced. What if that scrappy mountain biker with long hair and knee pads and a backpack that are so not appropriate for this trail is my soulmate?! So I pedaled. Hard. I cornered turns faster than ever before, threw a foot out a few times to keep from sliding out, and eventually I caught them at a trail gate.
^^^ There goes Knee Pads in the back.
And then…AND THEN…nothing. I passed with not a word from either rider. I hung my head and laughed out loud at myself. Knee Pads probably has a girlfriend (or boyfriend, who am I to judge) anyway.
The trail widened, flattened, and stretched out along a vista. The sun was beating down from a cloudless sky and the mountains stood tall, proud, and pronounced as the world entered its golden hour. The best hour. I looked down at my watch and realized it had taken me more time to loop this trail than I expected, so I texted my friend that I wouldn’t make it back in time and we’d have to reschedule for another day. There are plenty more where this came from, I thought.
A mile or so later, the trail really got rocky—my least favorite section of singletrack to ride on a bike without suspension. It’s hard on my wrists and back, and I always get visions of epic flats when I’m out there. I also slow down quite a bit to make the ride as comfortable as possible and so I don’t risk whacking my bottom bracket on a huge rock. A minute or so later I heard a couple bikes coasting behind me, probably wishing I would get the hell off the trail where my bike was on the verge of not belonging.
I lugged my bike off to the side of the trail and looked behind me—it was Knee Pads! His long hair stuck to his sweaty forehead and neck. With a big toothy smile—complete with an absolutely charming and boyish gap between his front teeth—he said, “Hey, thanks! Good job!”
“No worries! Thank you! Enjoy your ride,” I returned the smile and pushed my sunglasses back up on my nose.
Good job. Good job? They were obviously behind me for a bit, watching me bump painfully slow over the rocky minefield behind us. Good job means you’re slow and please get the hell out of the way. I watched as Knee Pads and Silent Bob cycled off onto another trail towards the mountains. Eh, probably not the one.
A few miles later I hit pavement again for the first time in 20 miles and it felt really good. I turned up my current favorite song (Love It If We Made It by The 1975) and cruised home where I literally had nothing in my kitchen but Cajun-flavored trail mix, which I shoveled into my mouth on the way up the stairs to a shower.
So. I didn’t meet the love of my life on this particular trail ride, but it was a beautiful ride…and I’ll keep you posted.