Tuesday, August 17, 2004

A Centurion, I Am

To recreational cyclists, the century is a worthwhile training goal as the season progresses. Depending on how you look at it, a century can be either 100 km, or 162 km (100 miles). The former is known as a metric century, and is usually all I can coax out of my wife before she tells me I need to get back home (I'll duck now...)

So I hit the road well before 7 a.m. with the intention of hitting triple-digits and returning home within four hours. Granted, 25 km/h isn't going to set any land speed records. But I was on my beater bike with the big, fat, knobby tires, and I was loaded down with enough food and water to get me across a medium-sized desert. I also had the lovely gel cover on my seat - for a cushy tushy. So ultimate speed wasn't my goal: enjoying the ride was.

I headed west toward a neat little burg called Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. I took the requisite gnome-picture of my bike before stuffing my face with breakfast bars and a purloined bag of M&Ms (shh, don't tell my wife). After topping off my water bottles, I turned for home, cruising beside the shore of Lac St. Lous. The water sparkled in the mid-morning sun, but I think it's just as polluted as it's ever been. So no swimming in it for me.

A little while later, I stopped at the end of the airport runway to watch the planes take off. In this post-9/11 world, I was highly conscious of the fact that at any minute, cops might pull up and ask me what the hell I was doing there. So I got back on my wheels and continued my journey.

With 12 minutes to spare, I turned the corner and parked the bike at home. Was I a little nuts for pursuing my season's first century with such zeal? Probably. But it's the kind of small personal victory that sticks with you every time you're on the verge of quitting. If you push just a little bit more, you'll hit your goal and then revel in the achievement. Not a bad way to ride. Or to live.

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