I was safe inside, and comfortable. Leaning back in the chair at my desk, I logged in to find an email from one of my summer school sutudents telling me the exciting news that she had passed the CRCT retest that we gave them at the end of the summer session. I was so happy to know. That knowledge, and the row of mason jars full of fresh lime pickles standing on my countertop from my first canning session with my friend and neighbor, Diane over the past two days, worked together to ease the agony and shame of my failed Saturday morning ride the day before.
I say failed because I got dropped half way through, not because I didn't finish. I finished. I could pedal my way out of hell, and still be sitting in the saddle, not because of strength, nor speed, but simply because of my one strength of endurance. I call endurance a strength because not everybody can continue fighting a losing battle. Remember the old man in the book, The Old Man and the Sea? The sharks may have eaten his marlin to the bone, but he brought the marlin skeleton home tied to his boat.
"Dropped? What's 'at mean?" my neighbor, a kind elderly gentleman, had asked as he loaded me up with about some fresh cucumbers from his garden the evening before. Looking at his wrinkled brow, I pondered silently the reality that dropped meant my butt felt to fat to make those hills on this particular ride. I answered aloud that it meant I got to enjoy the scenery alone the last half because I couldn't keep up...I got behind... left behind.
I had joined the Coosa Valley Cycling Club and took off on one of the weekly rides, at the last moment, without taking the time to change my thick mountain terrain tires to my thin road tires. I had enjoyed the state rides so much, that I had decided to try the local club rides, instead of riding around town alone. The first half of the ride had been wonderful, talking and enjoying the scenery, even though I was struggling.
My knees were aching most of the ride. I had not only overworked them lifting furniture in my recent house move, but I had gotten out of practice riding. I realized after that half way point where I began to drag on the hills and got dropped that it had been weeks since I had done any serious riding. After summer school ended, I had done the 5K, and then spent a few weeks packing, moving, and unpacking. I had done a single, measly 6 mile ride Thursday afternoon. I was not ready for a 30 mile ride.
A fine pickle I was in, realizing that too late. I had been too eager to ride. And, I frequently found myself doing whatever those around me were doing, even if I wasn't used to their milage yet. Like with that first 50 mile Silver Comet Ride from Cedartown to Piedmont. My previous rides around town had only been 10 mile rides. I went from 10 miles to 50 miles all at once, because I just don't know how to stop when I get started, if everybody else is still rolling.
These were my excuses laid out in my mind as I slogged through the beautiful countryside alone, trying to resist the urge to kick myself, and giving myself that "attitude" pep talk I wanted and needed to hear. The physical pain was bad enough, but the shame of being dropped was enough to make you have visions of hanging yourself with your bicycle chain. Luckily, I was able to find my way back to Hwy 27, not knowing the route ahead of time, but being familar with Rome somewhat from College days. By the time I got back to my car, I hadn't realized how exhausted I was.
I hadn't taken a break, because I still had entertained hopes of "catching up" until this point. I knew I couldn't be much further from the mall where we had parked. But, the road just kept stretching before me. When I finally pulled into the mall parking lot, there were still cars from our pack... the big dogs who were still out riding the 60 mile loop. I had been with the group doing the 30 mile loop. I was relieved to still be able to hoist my bike onto the rack on my car. Riding home, I popped in my audio cd of the book of Mark.
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God..."
Those first words caught my attention for some reason. This was the beginning, I reminded myself. Mark was the first gospel writer afterall. The others later expanded on his recollections. I thought ahead to John the Revelator and his expositions on the end of the gospel... the good news.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last. Revelation 22:13
Jesus Christ... the beginning...and the end... the good news of Jesus. I remembered the angel a few chapters before who will preach the gospel in the end times, when men still will not listen.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having
the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every
nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Revelation 14:6
Such a comforting thought... the Gospel has begun, is everlasting, and will have its fulfillment in the return of Jesus Christ Himself. In light of that fact, getting dropped was just a speck of dust on the shores of eternity.