Drafting 101

He’s behind me singing “You give love a bad name.” Not winded, not even trying, just biking and belting out a butt-rocker tune with his great singing voice. Shoulda been the first clue how this ride would go…

He’s tricky, lulling me into complacency. Like the fool that I am, I buy it every time. For now I find myself out in front. Not much changes for the first three miles of a twenty–five-ish–mile bike ride with my husband (and kids).

I can’t tell if it’s him or me but all things seem to become a competition of sorts at some point, and I’m currently enjoying my lead. 🙂 I’m respectful though, don’t ditch him, just thirty or forty yards out in front, space to coast.

He’s got the come-a-long attached to his bike and our six year old in-tow. Slave. (We tried the six year old behind me at the start– I wanted the slave legs–but my bike frame has too small of a diameter and it won’t work, so my husband lucks out with the extra set of legs.) I ended up with our three year old perched on the back of my bike in a seat, not unlike a chariot-throne (I made that up not sure there is such a thing…hoping it helps you imagine my predicament.) At first this isn’t an issue–because I’m bad at math…

Periodically my husband and six year old start riding out in front after a few miles, eventually getting further and further ahead. When they reach a few hundred yards out front they ride circles in wide driveways or turnabouts letting me and my prince catch up. I try not to care teasing occasionally that they are “cheating” and just trying to wrack up more mileage on the “map my ride” app. On the inside I’m annoyed that it’s not harder for them, that they are having so much more fun and if I’m honest, I’m annoyed that I’m not better at this…

It’s now that I start to piece together the issues within our endeavors to “play” together. It’s not me who’s so competitive, though I do like to win–I usually go for bust–not afraid to fail [trying to win]. If I tell the truth a lot of things are easy for me, remember this for later. I like playing in “big games” because I like to know that when I win, I am picking on somebody “bigger than me”, (I’d rather be the underdog then have a win handed to me.) It’s him, my hubs, who’s worried more about proving himself. To himself or to me I’m not sure.

As a side note, we pass other riders occasionally, astonishingly they are chatting and riding and smiling–together. Smiling, strange, we should try that–riding together–I make a mental note.

Now about 10 miles into our ride, I’m tired. At least my legs are fatigued, it takes everything in me to keep my back tire under that baby’s butt, I think he’s gotten fatter since we left home! My math skills seem to be slowly improving…

Coming into Healdsburg–someplace around 10.5 miles from our home–I almost get sideswiped by a lady in her SUV who misunderstands the sign we are passing; “share the road”. Just to prevent our headings from colliding, I have to put out my arm and push off of her shiny black SUV as she speeds past. Of course she tells me I’m #1 with the universal signal…using her middle finger…ahem. I guess she doesn’t like bikers…or maybe she doesn’t like babies, no matter, I’ve already forgiven her, bikes suck. I get it. They are bad enough when they get in your way while driving on beautiful scenic by-ways, it’s even worse when you actually get stuck riding on one…

My husband, finding himself a football field out in front of us missed the encounter. He’s already planning lunch at The Wurst. While it could be said he does not like me adventuring out on my own, (he worries nonstop,) he’s close enough in proximity that this isn’t the same thing to him. He is with me (in his mind,) so he worries little about if I’m doing okay holding up the rear of our little caravan.

I, on the other hand, have gotten exponentially better at math and have figured out that ‘his majesty’–perched in his thrown–sitting slightly higher than my bike seat, weighs just over a third of my body weight, without any fancy math. It’s no wonder every little bump or change in grade makes my back-tire slip sideways, threaten to slide out from under me. It’s good though it gives me something to concentrate on instead of being tired and wishing I could keep up with my people. (Read: instead of feeling sorry for myself and getting mad at the hubs.)

We grab a light lunch [what an oxymoron, it’s a fancy wurst and burger joint, the only ‘light’ thing they have is beer…] at The Wurst where my big kid is working and after I hug him enough times that I’m endanger of getting major eye roll, we put our helmets back on and head home a difference and more painful way then we came into town. Except lunch has done me a world of good and the endorphins are kicking in from the first half of riding.

Remember when I said a lot of things are easy for me? Its true. Many times I accomplish physical things on my first try, water-skiing, wake boarding, kneeboarding, down hill and x-country snow skiing, even riding dirt bikes and rock climbing, skydiving, and a bunch more that would put you to sleep, all things I did well from my first attempt. I see how these things set the stage for my expectations, my desires and my disappointments. I also recognize that if something is hard for me, [line-dancing, ugh!!!] I have to fight the urge to just give Up. (One of my friends calls it “skull-fucking-yourself”. I’m used to being able to “get it” so when I don’t I fail in my head before I’ve even put out 110% effort.) No matter your typical advantage or typical disadvantage be mindful and aware of stealing from yourself…

Suddenly it has occurred to me that most of us have rides like this when the load isn’t fair and the people you are with can’t relate, don’t care or just can’t see past their own agendas…twice my chain slipped off the gears to slide wildly and force me to jump off my bike, then fiddle with it mid-hill with the baby asleep in his throne. Both times the rest of my team had no idea I almost dropped my baby on his head trying to catch myself…there’s nothing I could do in those moments except try my hardest (good thing baby had on his helmet, he’d have been MAD, but not too damaged)–like most of life–no one else was going to save me but me. I learned something else too, I’m not going to be able to grab first place every time, but when I can’t pass…I can draft. Drafting off my son and husband got me home with sore legs and a smile on my face.

Honestly I couldn’t draft off of them the whole way because they had four working legs…but when I did catch them, and I did, towards the end when the six year old was getting useless, I took full advantage and the last three hundred yards I did manage to pass those turkeys and get to the driveway first! Who-Hoo…I didn’t even feel the least bit bad when my six year old was pitching a big stink because he wanted to “win.”

When the going gets tough, draft. If you can’t do that just keep going, you’ll be glad you did it, stronger too, not just in your body…

~M

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