Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate
We did it! We rode our bikes 100 miles on Saturday for Susan G. Komen’s Aspen Ride for the Cure. So what if we came in dead last? At least we finished.
“If we’re at the bottom of the hard-core group, I think that’s still pretty good,” I told Ryan.
When we crossed the finish line at 6 p.m., the parking lot was empty save the crickets and the four volunteers who half-heartedly rang their little cowbells and yelled “Good job!” even though they were slouched over and droopy-eyed and you could just tell they were dying to go home.
Before we had a chance to click our feet out of the pedals this lady goes, “You guys have 10 minutes to get to the party. The DJ is about to leave.”
I kind of knew we were out of our league as soon as we arrived at the Snowmass Rec Center parking lot at 7:15 that morning. It was like a sea of women who looked like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, all tan and legs and sinewy muscles and zero body fat with chiseled features and thick, long hair neatly tied back in ponytails that draped down their backs like some exotic fabric. The guys looked like action-figure dolls with their super-cool shades and little matchy-matchy bike outfits that looked painted on, their clean-shaven legs all smooth and honey brown like wax.
One thing was clear: This was not amateur hour.
We found ourselves saying, “It’s a ride not a race,” over and over with the same amount of conviction someone might get from “it’ll grow out” after a bad haircut.
We get to the first rest stop at the Maroon Bells and my mom goes, “I’m not used to stopping, so I’m gonna go,” and sort of flaps her thumb at me, as if I need more than just a verbal explanation of how she’s feeling
“OK, fine. If you want to ride by yourself, that’s your decision,” I said in a tone my mom would probably describe as snotty.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you guys at the next rest stop,” she said, hopping on her bike like she was trying to escape a pool filled with alligators.
I’ll admit that at a certain point, I definitely started to feel like maybe we had fallen a little too far behind. Soon Ryan and I were all by ourselves, watching dozens of people pass us going in the other direction, flying downhill as we were crawling up. Even though they were going like 75 miles an hour, they’d smile at us and give us a little what’s-up-head-nod but you could see their thoughts as they flew by like those little cartoon bubbles that said, “It’s gonna be a long-ass day for you losers.”
Whenever we’d pull up to a rest stop they’d yell, “What number are you please!” At first it made us feel really important, like we were race-car drivers with a pit crew or Team Radio Shack on the Tour de France. But then they’d get on the radio and go, “Come in, Ground Control. This is Satellite Five. We’ve got the stragglers here. They’ve finally come in, so call off the ambulance crew. Yep, that’s right. The turkeys have landed. It’s a wrap!”
Their enthusiasm for our departure was clearly even greater than our arrival.
The best was when we ran into my Dad on Lower River Road as he was pedaling back up to Snowmass. We were going in the opposite direction downvalley with an especially challenging 30-mile section of the course still ahead of us.
He stops and goes, “Jeeze, you guys better get on it if you want to finish before nightfall – no offense.”
“I don’t care what you say,” I replied, though I’ll admit the thought had occurred to me.
Clearly we were having way too much fun. Toward the end of the day, we had linked up with our friends Joy and her husband Art and formed our own little posse. Joy is a personal trainer who was taking it slow on account of a broken leg or something and Art is a nutritionist for the NFL who had just come from sea level and had only done five rides all summer blindfolded with two hands tied behind his back.
Art weighs in at 240 and bubbles over with personality like a bottle of pop after you shake it up. “We’re doing it the healthy way, baby,” he kept saying. “These folks are all gonna be dead on the couch tonight but not us, baby. We’re gonna be feeling great. We’re gonna be out dancing, cutting up a rug, baby.”
If it weren’t for Art and Joy, who both score pretty high on the good-looking and cool meter, I might have felt pretty bad about myself.
Art decided we should finish as a group. We did just that, sharing stories and banter and laughs, pedaling at a pace where talking was easy and the distraction of each other’s company was welcome.
So maybe we’d spent a little too much time taking naps in the sun and chatting it up with the monks at St. Benedict’s and eating more chocolate-chip cookies and PB n’ J’s than most people eat in a year, but I felt great. All I needed was a nice cold beer.
When we finally arrived at the hyped-up Viceroy Pool After Party, a guy was standing at the top of the stairs popping all the pink balloons, the kegs were being carted away on dollies, the food was gone, and all the people who had been eating and drinking for the last three hours were walking to their cars.
The party was so over.
I’m thinking we’ll get that well-deserved beer at another bike ride (not race) next weekend in Fort Collins. I’m thinking the Tour de Fat is probably more our speed.
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