Ain't Nothing But a Thang ...
Jul 16 8:09 PM

Ain't Nothing But a Thang ...

Jul 16 8:09 PM
Jul 16 8:09 PM

A day full of things

When I was a kid my Dad would always say "ain't nothing but a thang", I think I finally know what he meant. I thought I did, I even talked about it at his funeral but if I did then, I had forgot until my ride yesterday. It was the end of his favorite verse, slightly modified, by him, to fit just about any situation, "In all things give thanks ... and this is a thing ... ain't nothing but a thang." I don't know why it would change from a thing to a thang but it did and my ride yesterday was a thing, maybe a thang, maybe it was three thangs but there is one thing for sure, I was not in charge, I couldn't have planned that. In fact had I stuck to my plan, it would have been a disaster.

When I set out to do this Canada to Mexico thing I thought I would cut over from Highway 1 to the wine country and have an off day with Linda, she would have a good time and get to relax. I don't drink but we could hang out, maybe do the spa thing, after all, how tough could an extra climb be? I planned to cut over on Highway 128, make a pretty gradual climb southeast and then drop into the wine country, piece of cake. I have become a lot better at these climbs with all the practice I have had out here, so I planned on attacking this one, it was gradual but I wanted to see if I could pick up the average on a ride with a lot of up.

When I turned southeast off Highway 1 the temperature was in the 60s but as I turned the crank I could feel the temperature rise, almost with every spin of the wheel, I entered one of the southern most portions of the Redwood Forest along the Navarro River and enjoyed a pleasant and shaded ride under the canopy. Pleasant because I was really flying along and it was nice to finally be warm and get to break a real sweat. It was very isolated and I had been looking for a place for a while to fill my water bottles and get something for lunch and decided to just pull over, park my bike sideways under a sign right by the road so Linda would see it when she passed. She was taking the same route and we were going to eat lunch or something but there wasn't any cell coverage so we hadn't determined where. I was hoping she would see my bike if she passed by while I dined on yet another Granola Bar and checked out the creek in the forest.

As I was checking things out a car stopped with another rider in it wanting to make sure I was okay. I said sure, just taking a break and she warned me about the logging trucks that ran up and down this stretch of road, I had seen a few of them earlier in the week and they do run pretty fast, mainly to build up momentum for the next hill. She told me the next town was only a mile up the road. I thanked her and just after she pulled away Linda pulled up and while we talked a truck blew past us, it was the second one on this portion of the ride but the first one with a head of steam, we both commented that we wished they would slow down. We talked some more and determined that we would stop in the next town and I could grab a sandwich and continue on the ride.

Due to some unusual circumstances though, we ended up at a fruit stand and I was going to have to fill my water bottles from a hose. It wasn't exactly what I wanted so I reached into the cooler and grabbed the water bottles we had in there and filled my bottles with them. There wasn't any ice so they weren't cold and that really made me mad, I meant to put ice in the cooler before we left and I didn't. For some reason that made me think since the water wasn't really cold I should grab an extra water bottle and put it in the back pouch of my jersey. There isn't any logic to that at all, why I should carry more lukewarm water than I would ice cold water especially because I don't like the bottles bouncing around on my back but I thought it made sense so I headed out with three full bottles of water.

Shortly after Linda and I separated I got into the climbs and the temperatures really started to rise with the elevation. There was a fresh coat of asphalt laid down and my Garmin started to report the temperature to be over 100 degrees, I knew it was getting hot and heard temperatures might get into the 90s but over 100 caught me off guard, as I broke the 700 foot altitude barrier the temperature was 107, at 1,000 feet the temperature reported on my Garmin was almost 115 degrees on the black top and I was really beginning to feel it. I looked at my Garmin to see how far Yorkville was, the little town with all the signs talking about the Yorkville General Store. It was under an hour away, I had almost two full water bottles, I would be fine.

In addition to the water situation, I was also dealing with those trucks I mentioned before but the strangest thing would happen, I would ride on long stretches of road with absolutely no shoulder, sometimes nothing but a drop off into a ditch, a barbed wire fence or the Navarro River but during all those parts of the ride, no trucks would pass. In fact, a couple of times before I realized what was going on with the heat, I would ride past a passing lane or a portion of the road with a wide shoulder and I just felt an overriding sense that I should pull in and wait a second, drink some water and take a break, I wasn't tired, I just had two breaks together, but I did and while I stood in that spot with a shoulder, a truck loaded with giant trees blew by. When I got out on the road behind him I thought wow, if I had gone on I would have been around this blind corner with no shoulder when he got on me, I would have nowhere to go and he wouldn't have time to react. A short while later I came on a passing lane and pulled to the right and rode through it, no trucks came, so I started to pull out, I checked my mirror, nothing there and then I felt something say "wait" so I stopped completely, a few seconds later I looked over my shoulder and two giant trucks were there, they weren't the timber trucks, just 18 wheelers loaded down and building momentum for their climb, again had I pulled out and rode on I would have had no shoulder, the first truck would have seen me but the one on his heels, not a chance, I would have just appeared off the side of the truck in front of him and that might have been it. I started to look for every spot I could pull in, it would make the ride slower but it just made sense to be safe. I began to curse the trucks for driving so fast, there were signs up that said share the road with the bikes and it was a popular route to ride by what I could tell, this was going to kill my average.

The ride continued exactly like that, I was very aware of my water level, of the heat and of the sounds trucks made from very far off, I made sure I got in a place where there was a shoulder and that I hustled through every spot that didn't. As Yorkville got closer I thought I was going to finish off the water in my bottles before the water got any hotter because I was about to fill them anyway but I thought I would be better off conserving, just in case the General Store in Yorkville was closed ... which it was. Due to renovations, the only thing open was the giant dumpster backed up to the front door, there wasn't even a crew there working on it for me to get some water from. So now I had to finish the climb with a limited amount of hot water and energy that needed to be managed through the rest of the climb.

Oddly enough, I had just been prepared for that kind of ride, by those trucks of all things. Those trucks that taught me to ride in spurts and look for shelter had just prepared me for finishing a climb with very little water in lots of heat, in spurts, looking for shelter, conserving energy, never taxing my heart rate, keeping safe. Every time I got 100 feet of up behind me I would pull in somewhere, a truck would pass, I would sip on my water, and then I would start to climb again. I didn't expend too much energy trying to climb it all at once like I had trained to do, I needed to conserve that energy and that water as long as I could in the heat. Be safe, look for a pullout, find some shade and keep on working up to that summit. The summit was at 1400 feet but it was a tricky one, with lots of peeks and then drops so I ended up climbing about 2200 feet to get to that final summit and then it was a 7% grade all the way back to sea level.

As I came over that summit, I showed up on Linda's iPhone, the app we use to track my location relies on cell coverage and she has to wait until I come into a place with coverage to see where I am. She drove to where she thought our paths would cross which happened to be exactly where I pulled over to call her, the parking lot of the only Baptist church I have ever seen in California. She was there, literally, within 30 seconds of my call.

And this is a thing ...

As I think back on that ride, I could see someone's hand just watching over me and preparing me for the rest of the ride, those trucks I cursed when they blew past, they were a thing, and in all things give thanks because that thing might totally change my mindset from a ride I was making good time on (and using a lot of energy and water on) to a ride I was managing and conserving energy (and water) on. I might not have wanted to, but I had to and those are the kind of things I find it hard to be thankful for when I am in them.

The fact that there was no ice in the cooler, that's also a thing and therefore I should give thanks for it because for some reason it made me grab an extra bottle of water that wasn't cold so I wouldn't drink it as fast. When the ride was over, I had just under half a bottle of very hot water left. Had the water been cold because it was on ice, I would have run out completely on the top of the mountain.

There was also a construction delay in there that set the tone for pulling over because it released traffic behind me in bunches, but I complained when I got stuck behind that thing. And a deli that we spent $15 for lunch in that next town that wouldn't let Linda use their bathroom, forcing us to go the fruit stand and fill my bottle from the cooler, that was a thing and I was irritated. I bet there are more but that was one day, one ride and I can list 4 things that I thought just ruined my ride that might have actually saved my life.

It really makes me wonder what other things do I bitch about (sorry, it's the only word that adequately describes how I complain) that are just preparing me for another thing that might not go exactly as I planned. When I look at this story now, it makes me think of how I was taught that if God cares for the little birds in the field, how much more does he care about me? I would guess just enough to stop me in traffic for construction or to send a bunch of trucks down the road at the exact right time or enough to let me forget to fill the ice chest or run into a deli that wouldn't let let Linda use their restroom or maybe all of the above ... and that's a lot.

Is there anything you are thankful for now?


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