Tue, 26 Aug 2003

Panic

Another ride on the Centennial Trial yesterday evening.

Jenny forgot her cell phone and her water bottles. So, I wasn't able to reach her by phone to tell her I would be 10 minutes late. And when I arrived, hoping for a short easy ride, she said, "We'll have to ride to Post Falls so I can get some Gatorade."

I gave her one of my water bottles, and we would have been okay to just refill them at the state line rest stop, but Jenny doesn't just drink water she needs her Gatorade.

So, we set off into a slight headwind. (Unusual we normally have a tail wind going and a head wind on the return trip.)

It was an uneventful but challenging ride to Post Falls and back. We each got a cold sports drink and I refilled the water bottles before we made the trip back. With the tail wind, we made good time coming home.

I had ridden 57 miles the day before. Not only had I made an evening ride to the state line rest stop and back with Jenny; earlier in the day, I made 3 loops up the hill in Highway 27, back down Dishman-Mica road, around the Painted Hills Golf Course and University High School. It took a lot of concentration to keep the effort up and a steady tempo.

We arrived back at the car with just enough time before sunset, it appeared, for me to make the ride up to the office to retrieve my pack, meet Jenny in the parking lot there to let her hall the pack home, and ride the 4 miles from there to home. So, as usual, I left Jenny to change her shoes and load her bike and I headed off to climb the short hill on Pines Road to the office.

Normally, I have enough time to get to the office and retrieve my pack before Jenny arrives. Invariably, she pulls up at the back door while I'm setting the alarm and locking up.

It was a quick ride to the office I managed to get short red lights and made good time on the road. But retrieving my pack took longer than usual. I dropped my keys in the pack by mistake and went back looking for them thinking I may have left them on my desk. And, I had to make a trip down stairs to retrieve the sweatshirt I had worn on the morning ride to work and would likely need the following morning.

So, I was surprised when Jenny was not at the back door when I was finally ready to go.

I put the pack on my back and decided to meet her at the intersection on Pines Road. She was no where in sight. I watched until there was no traffic either direction between Broadway and Mission and set out to find Jenny.

All sorts of scenarios went through my mind as I raced faster and faster back to where I had last seen her.

I checked each intersection for an accident my worst fear. I looked closely at each gas station perhaps she was critically low on fuel. I watched the side of the road perhaps she had car trouble.

When I was within sight of the last stop light, I knew she must still be at the trail head. Perhaps she locked her keys in the car, I thought. Maybe the car wouldn't start. That's what I hoped for something simple. But there was panic just under the surface. What if the car is gone? Or, what if the car is there, but Jenny isn't? I was pedalling as fast as I could go afraid of what I could find.

In the distance I could make out the car (a Honda station wagon). The back hatch was open, and I could see Jenny standing behind it. Car trouble, I thought. Good at least she's safe.

I nearly skidded to a stop and the sweat immediately began pouring down my face. Jenny was chatting away with another cyclist. He had seen her sitting in the back of the station wagon putting on her cycling shoes when he left on his ride. There she was when he returned, in the same place, doing, it appeared, the same thing. So he struck up a conversation to see why she'd seemingly been right there for the past two hours.

So, no need for panic. It was par usual. Jenny loves to chat and it was no different than 10 minute trips to the store that take an hour and a half, or when she's 40 minutes late for lunch because she stopped to talk to the neighbor across the street when she went out to get in the car.

I was just happy to discover she was safe and there was no problem to solve before heading home. It was, finally, getting too late to ride. Jenny followed me home, riding shot gun. And I got an incredible workout: 40 miles instead of the 20 I had expected, two climbs up from the river instead of one.

The reward was a new low weight , 185.5, this morning.

Perhaps I won't be so quick to panic next time.

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