The Herd

ironmantra by Shannon Thompson

bike pack

We were rolling by 5 this morning, the light coming up just enough to brush the world with color, the air crisp and full of birdsong. There was little traffic on the roads, only a handful of builders in their pickups headed to early jobs, offering us a rare chance to talk a bit while we rode.

I like to be alone, and I train solo a lot of the time, but when the right group comes together, the energy, enthusiasm, and friendly competition are powerful motivators. When the four of us met on 105 between Camden and Hope this morning, my routine Wednesday ride became an event. These friends are perfect training pals: 1) happy to be riding before dawn; 2) funny, smart, and kind; 3) faster than me but willing to wait.

I struggled to keep up with them on the hills, but the extra push and the company did me a world of good, and I will be a faster, happier cyclist very soon if I keep this up. As I flew down the sweet long hill that curves through the dairy farm on Barnestown Road, tucked low at 36 miles an hour, I thought: There is nowhere on this earth I want to be more than right here, right now. And also, if I crash and die, I hope these people will tell my family that I was mooing at cows at the top of my lungs, head over heels in love with this world, when it happened.

james scenery

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What I did: Rode 1:37 , 22 miles. Ran 0:61, my longest and most painful run to date. My head worries about how much sciatic pain I’m having, but my heart says this thing is going to come together.

What I ate: Pre-workout and breakfast: Pineapple smoothie, Vega recovery accelerator. Lunch: kickass salad. Snack: Dal and crackers, Vega protein bar. Dinner: Dal with sauteed kale/sweet potato/potato. More dinner (not dessert): millet/flax chips with almond butter and maple syrup.

Oh shit, I also had a piece of Stollen someone offered me at an open house at lunchtime, which caused me to then go buy a raspberry lemon teacake at Rock City.