*Oh, this shouldn't be happening...*
At mile 10, my legs were on fire.
And just past mile 16, at the furthest point from home of the entire route, I was totally spun out. Spent. Agotado. I stopped even trying to keep up. I'd been dropped.
And not dropped like I'll see everyone at the rally point in a couple of miles. Well and truly, lose control and smash all your friend's stuff dropped.
Getting dropped on a group ride is a weird and lonely experience, especially the first time it happens. And if you ride bikes in groups, it's not a question of if, but when. If only that knowledge made it any easier.
I mean sure, it was like 85 degrees out and 1000% humidity. And I'd done 55 solo miles in the heat the day before, which was the most training I'd done since June. The majority of the group, meanwhile were weekly regulars who either race or do frequent long rides elsewhere.
At the moment though, none of that was helping. I should have been able to hack it for 32 miles. It was the last of those rides being held this season, after all. Was I really going to put on this poor of a show?
It wasn't a competition of any kind, and there were no stakes whatsoever. Still, my ego was very bruised. Really, it felt a lot like how people describe the five stages of grief:
Denial: Pssh, I got this. I'll surge ahead in a minute and be back to the middle of the pack.
Anger: What the F*CK! WHY is it so hot out here? WHY do I feel like this when everyone else is doing fine. It's not FAIR!
Bargaining: OK legs, just one more fast mile. I'll spin REALLY hard for 60 seconds if that'll get me back with the group. I'm a really nice guy, maybe they could slow up just a bit cause I'm nice???
(To be fair, one woman did offer me her wheel if I "wanted to hop on," but want and ability were two very different things by then. My failing, not hers.)
Depression: Dude, what am I even DOING on a bike? I obviously suck at this sport-hobby, I should just call a cab home, put my bike in the basement and never look at it again. Maybe I'll go back to doing musicals or a cappella. Oh wait, I wasn't especially good at those either.
Acceptance: OK, they're gone. Well. Nothing to do but keep pedaling til I'm home, I guess. This was bound to happen sooner or later.
Of course, the REAL stages of grief are much more serious, I was just being a sissy. But there was a strange similarity to the progression. It did not feel good. I regret to say I missed out on the pizza party that capped off the ride, and thus the season. Half out of not knowing where to go, and half out of not feeling like I deserved it. But I'm glad to say that by the time I limped home, the dark thoughts had faded.
*Well, that wasn't very much fun, was it? Now get over it, some people have real problems.* I didn't need to quit or find a new hobby. And it really wasn't a big deal, all I needed was a shower, a meal, and some sleep. And to try harder next time, which I resolved to do. Then I made some quinoa salad with veggies and avocado.
And it was the best thing I had ever tasted.
I was born with blood on my hands, and have all the signs of a bleeding heart.