As the years pass I've come to realize a few things, a core of those lessons is that almost nothing is static. Virtually everything is bound to change at some point or another. Even those things that do remain constant, evolve in some way or another.
For me, one of the core constants that I have had in my adult life is cycling. That constant anchor has, however, changed and evolved over time. What started as a purely social and recreational activity has grown to, in many ways, be a true cornerstone of my existence. Much of my life is built around the bike, be that social, training or racing. As one could expect, we gravitate toward those with like passions and values. Being health concision and devoted to cycling and athletics is it really any wonder that the circle of friend shares those core values?
My whole point here is that as we move through life, discovering, or re-discovering who we are or who we have become, the people that we know and the groups that we associate with also change. I've had the same core group of ride partners for some time but in recent years that has begun to change. People's lives and priorities take different courses, leading them toward differing destinations.This divergence ends up drawing us apart and unfortunately, the ties that once drew people together may force them apart. It's sad in many ways but I think that after inception, most friendships really are fleeting.
Last week I connected with my old college roommate via Linked-In. I really hadn't heard from him since I went through an ugly divorce many years ago. He was good friends with both of us and although disappointed, I completely understood him wanting to not be involved. I also realize that I was a dick in terms of the circumstances around that separation and divorce, fore which I still feel badly. That said, I look at where I've ended up because of my actions and wouldn't risk changing a thing. Hard choices reap pain but not regret. This is one of those past friendships that I would really like to see reconnect on some level. Hopefully social networking and the Internets will further help that.
Drawing upon this new groups theme, you know, the one in the title, I hooked up with a new ride group this past weekend. I'd traveled and raced in common circles with local tough guy Skip for years but we had never actually ridden together. Last week he added me to his list and this past Saturday I was able to attend one of his group rides. I wasn't feeling stellar and knew I'd be in for some suffering at the hands of this particular ride group. The plan was to head out to Wachussett Mountain and back via a fairly direct route. I'd ridden out there maybe a half dozen times in the past but we always did a more circuitous loop rather than an out and back.
Saturday AM I rode over to West Concord for the start and found a large group amassing. Among the group were some local powerhouses as well as a good number of climbing and general ass hauling specialists. It was good to meet some new people and great to get a hearty helping of whup-ass served to me. I suffered on the steep and longer climbs but made it home in one piece for the most past. However, my already a little bit tired legs took a beating from the day's climbing. They were screaming at me for sure and I was pretty beat.
Sunday started with Cathy and I doing a short trail run. We then discussed various ride plans between ourselves and on the internet, finally deciding that we would do our own thing that day and plan a bigger ride for President's Day. After much deliberation we decided to do a road ride. Cathy rode her geared bike and I my single-speed cross bike. That was a very bad plan. Riding the road on the SSCX is never what you hope it to be; a nice easy spin. It translated to furiously spinning to do 20mph on the flats with big fat cross semi-slicks or slogging up the hills way over geared. We did a little over 40miles and it had nothing to do with recovery. Not what I needed.
Monday had me worried, literally. Sunday night I drank far too many beers and margaritas celebrating the kittens 2nd birthday. Yes, we had a party, with a cake and yes, they had cake, but no tequilla or beer. Two is far too young to be drinking tequilla. I woke up slightly hung-over and was faced with the reality that I'd have to suffer the consequences of my actions. Not only the actions the previous night but the fact that I'd offered to lead a ride that day for Skip's crew. I also put together a ride loop that was, lets say, a little on the optimistic side. When I dressed and headed out the temperature was still in the mid twenties and the wind was brisk. It warmed a bit on the ride to the Concord start but was still cool. I was suffering and that would be the theme of the day. Despite that, the few of us that rode, Skip, Jerry and I, managed to have a good solid ride. I was junk on the hills and literally flew backwards but was able to maintain OK on the flats. It didn't kill me but it really did hurt.
This ended up a solid three day weekend with just over 200 miles. Not bad for February. Of course, now I'm coming down with a cold and feel like crud today. My knee is also sore as sin. Time for some rest and recovery I suspect.