Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Long Day’s Journey into a Long Day’s Journey

Previously on The Schprock Report:

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SCHPROCK: A Father’s Day gift for me, Pumpkin? Will I like it?

DAUGHTER NUMBER 2: Well . . . Depends.

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CLIENT 1: …and that’s the last of the edits. You can pack this catalog off to the printer now, Schprock.

SCHPROCK: Wow, it’s all done. It’s finally over. On to other things. What a relief!

(sinister music with the shaky violin bow-action in it)

CLIENT 1: Yes, Schprock. This job is completely put to rest. You won’t hear about it again. Absolutely.

(hangs up phone)

SHADOWY CLIENT 2: He doesn’t suspect the printer is incompetent and will ask him a million questions?

CLIENT 1: (gives Shadowy Client 2 a “knowing” look and starts laughing) Ha ha ha!

SHADOWY CLIENT 2: Ha ha ha!

CLIENT 1 AND SHADOWY CLIENT 2 TOGETHER: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

********

And now, The Schprock Report:


I belong to a cycling club that calls itself the Charles River Wheelmen — but don’t let the name fool you: there are Wheelwomen as well. An average tour usually lasts somewhere between 40 to 60 miles, and, on a nice day, as many as 100 hundred cyclists might show up at the starting point. The fitness levels among the participants vary, but generally everyone is in pretty good shape. For me, 45-50 miles is a pretty decent workout. When I go on those 60–65 mile jaunts, I feel like I’m pushing myself a bit. However, last Saturday, I did a very silly thing: I cycled the entire 130 miles from Boston to Provincetown, the town at the very tip of Cape Cod. Oy!

We met at the Gillette Company parking in South Boston at 4:45am. Besides myself there were probably only 20 other cyclists, an indication that this tour might not be for those only moderately in shape. I joined a group of six guys who decided to take the “scenic route” down, which added another 10 miles onto the 120 miles I was expecting. These guys seemed older than me, so I felt safe with them.

Well, it turned out that one of the semi-senior citizens I attached myself to was in reality a bike-pedaling robot. He never rode especially fast, but he never tired, he just kept going and going and going. The first 80 miles I thought were relatively easy, but after encountering a patch of hills some 15 or 20 miles past the Sagamore Bridge, Robocyclist and my usual riding buddy, Doc, kept going while I slowed way down. Way, way down. Waaaaay down.

Then began my grim battle with fatigue, unquenchable thirst, and leg cramps for 50 long miles. Every now and again I’d catch up with Doc and Robocyclist just as they were just finishing up a break and then the punishment began anew after a five minute respite. I carried two water bottles with me and typically drank both of them down within an hour. Our route took us through many residential streets and, as I passed houses with pickup trucks parked in front, I flirted with the idea of asking a truck owner how much he’d charge me for a ride into Provincetown. The worst were the leg cramps. I could feel them coming on and vainly tried to pedal my way through them, but inevitably my calves and thighs would seize up and pedaling became impossible. Have you ever had a major leg cramp? It feels like your whole leg is making a tight fist while being shocked with a thousand volts of electricity. Painful. My only answer was to get off and walk the bike for a while until I felt my muscles had settled down. And, of course, everybody passed me on their bikes while I did that. How humbling, especially when some 20-something young chick asks me if I’m all right as she shoots by on her bike.

I will say this for myself: I made all it the way down — and I know at least one person didn’t. Toward the end, I followed a strategy of coasting whenever possible. And I vowed to myself never, ever would I do this trip again. Never!

Of course, on the 4:00 ferry ride back to Boston (which I just barely made), I was already planning on training extra hard for next year’s Boston to Provincetown tour. They’ll call me the Schprocket Rocket then! Oh yeah!

20 Comments:

Blogger trinamick said...

That sounds horrific to me. I rode my bike to the office and back home last night - a distance of about three blocks. That was plenty for me. I'll have to rest a couple of days before trying something so crazy again. ;P

11:36 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Was it uphill? If it was uphill, I don't blame you. Let's not go pretending you're Lancina Armstrong tackling the Pyrenees.

11:58 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

I have nothing but admiration for ya. I recently got back on my bike after a many-years' absence, and am astounded at my lame-itude. 130 miles would be 129 too many for this flabby gal. A real shame.

Not much time to wander around P-town and pick up some army-navy surplus, then, huh?

12:13 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

No, but I did take the Provincetown Fairy home.


Ferry! I meant Provincetown Ferry!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Flood said...

My bike is built for luxury. It has a basket I fill with apples to throw at people who try to look up my skirt as I ride. (I would drive side-saddle but it's awkward.)

You're a real man, all right!

12:34 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Actually, what is the physical principle that keeps women's skirts from lifting up while riding a bicycle? They never seem to. Maybe Magnetbabe can explain that.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

WOW. And here I thought an hour in spinning class was hard work! You da' Man! :)

1:20 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

After a year of spinning, I expect you'll be joining me on next year's excursion to Provincetown, Michele.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

I admire the hell out of you...I haven't even THOUGHT of riding in so long.

Thank you, by the way, for your very kind words at my site today -- I certainly am not deserving of such praise.

7:32 PM  
Blogger LL said...

Well done my good and faithful Schprock... I'm not going to comment on your sanity, but your perseverence is definately something to be admired.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

"After a year of spinning, I expect you'll be joining me on next year's excursion to Provincetown, Michele."

Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)

3:43 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

You're a crazy man, Schprockie. I have had those leg cramps before and they make you want to cry, "Mama."

I used to ride 40 miles on my stationary bike, so I can appreciate the 40-60 mile rides, but 130? Had the gift of Depends gone to your head and you felt the need to prove you aren't old?

4:05 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Thank you, by the way, for your very kind words at my site today -- I certainly am not deserving of such praise."

Well, I'm pretty sure I'm right, Wordnerd. Your blog's an extremely good read.


"I'm not going to comment on your sanity, but your perseverence is definately something to be admired."

Never underestimate the power of stupidity.


"Thanks for the vote of confidence. :)"

Actually, I told John I hope to talk you into some CRW tours for next year. You can ease into them and, once you've gone on a few, you get hooked.


"Had the gift of Depends gone to your head and you felt the need to prove you aren't old?"

I was just ticked she didn't buy me TranQuility ATN Full Mat Brief-Diapers, my brand of choice.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

You are a much better man than me. I rode thirty miles once thinking it would be no problem. Three quarters of the way there I called someone I knew and made them come get me. I can't even imagine how you made it all the way there. I don't care how much in shape everyone else was, you should be very proud.

5:31 AM  
Blogger boo said...

rad mocket, lood guck!

5:46 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I don't care how much in shape everyone else was, you should be very proud."

Thanks, Scott. I actually am pretty proud of myself for sticking it out.


"rad mocket, lood guck!"

Yank thoo!

5:51 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I think it's cool that you made it to the end. At least you can say you did it.
I used to ride all over but after the back wheel got bent I never got a new one, and then I got a car so what was the point? I guess the point is the riding itself.

10:31 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I used to ride all over but after the back wheel got bent I never got a new one, and then I got a car so what was the point? I guess the point is the riding itself."

Otherwise known as Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance.

11:00 AM  
Blogger mcBlogger said...

I see your "robocyclist" and raise you one "roboskier" I know these ppls you speak of. They are older, retired, have nothing to do but train all day while the rest of us sit on our buts at desks all day, and come race day, they just keep going and going and going...

11:20 AM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

I haven't really worked out since Squeak was born, Herr Schprock. I'm very glad to see that some day there will come time for me to exercise again! I miss it. For now, though, I'll just live vicariously through you, if that's okay?

11:28 AM  

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