August 7, 2000
Around the Block
by Dayna Stern
Special to the Weekly
After a full month of serious carb, lard and sugar loading, I finally felt up to the task. My plan was to ride my purple Novarra bicycle completely around the block.
I realized that this was a serious challenge, especially given my advanced age, but with sufficient training and mental acuity I was confident in my abilities.
Carefully I packed a water bottle, checked my tires and loaded my cell phone into my panier. The sky was a deep crystal blue, with no rain was forecast.
I knew that my opportunity had arrived. My calves pulsated, my thunderous thighs begged for a chance to soar. The time had arrived. I left the house at 5:10 pm. By 5:15 I had arrived at the top of the driveway, full of middle-aged vigor. Yes, the scree was loose and I nearly lost my footing a few times, but the air was clear, the wind was in my helmet and I was more focused than I'd ever been in my life. I was exhilarated to finally be on the road!
Mounting my bike at the mailbox, I suddenly became aware of all that surrounded me. The BMWs and Suburbans whizzed by, the taste of salt and sweat, the rotting crow on the road prodded me to perform. I was overwhelmed with joy as I raced past the mailboxes, swing sets, barking dogs. I knew that today was the day to fulfill this mission, and this mission alone.
Endorphins quickly kicked in as I chuckled joyously down the road. It was nearly 5:22 by the time I reached the entrance to Tuscany.
Straining from the exertion, I downshifted and slowly began the assent. Past houses with new roofs, past "For Sale" signs I pumped frantically through a series of switchbacks. I began perspiring, looking forward to an opportunity to shed my "Cows" sweatshirt. The sweat was streaming down my forehead, soaking my pink jog-bra.
Up, up I climbed ‹ through Tuscany, through the Hedges, passing workers who stopped to gaze at me in my moment of triumph. The final pitch lay ahead: the tiny hill leading to Lake of the Woods. With the sun pounding on my back, I stopped for a sip of water, a piece of almond roca and a call to my broker to check on earnings' reports. Newly fortified, I down shifted again for the final assault.
Straight up for ninety seconds! My veins were pulsating. I panted, sweat, pounded my fists against rock-hard thighs and pedaled. Higher, higher I climbed until the clouds lifted around me, the air thinned itself of precious oxygen, the trees faded below in the distance.
There were no birds, no natural sounds up there, just the beating of my lonesome heart muscle. The beauty caused me to weep the salty tears of ecstasy!
The Summit! I finally made it to the south entrance of Lake of the Woods!
It was 5:37 p.m., plenty of time to relax, enjoy the majestic view, take pictures, sign the book and make it down before dark. Exhausted but elated, I sat down on the sidewalk to scarf down a few Milky Way bars before wearily remounting.
The experts always tell you that going down is more treacherous than the climb, but until then I couldn't believe it. I picked up speed past Maureen's house (no one home to chat with or to offer me a root beer float), down the hill past the lake and screeched to a stop. I had become careless and nearly missed my turn! I was rudely jolted back to reality.
Faster and faster I glided down the hill. Drunken with pride, I laughed out loud at the horses and children with their lemonade stand. I tempted death and won. What an aphrodisiac!
Racing as fast as I could, my weary body pushed forward. By 5:49 I was home. Time to grab a beer, hit the hammock and finish the crossword puzzle before cooking dinner.