French Linen

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Training Follies

Destination:  Aquinnah
Mike and I celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary this week!  We re-watched our wedding video, laughed at hair styles and big glasses, and recalled our minister’s message to us – sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

This week’s follies began on Wednesday, the actual day of our anniversary.  We both decided to do our Blackberry 5K loop (a perfect 5K loop run on Blackberry Drive in North Stamford), but since our schedules didn’t align, we left the house at different times.  I returned home first, mindlessly locked the front door upon my return and had to jump out the shower when I heard loud knocks on the door.  I suppose locking your husband out of the house on your 20th anniversary doesn’t get you the nomination for wife of the year!

Mike has been diligently training for his first half Ironman in September, so our training schedules have been somewhat misaligned recently (let’s just say I opted not to spend 6 hours training in jellyfish infested waters and pouring down rain last Saturday and instead recorded the times of all of our races into a perfected, filtering spreadsheet).  Net-net, I haven’t been getting a lot of bike time in lately so on Saturday I pleaded with him to go with me for our 40 mile ride across Martha’s Vineyard and back, which he agreed to do as long as we took it easy and took a beach rest since this is a rest week for him before his peak training week.  We wanted to time our ride such that the Chilmark Road Race on our favorite biking route was done (around 11:30) but before President Obama arrived at the airport (around 12:45) as the Secret Service don’t exactly care about proclamations like, “but your ruining my pace”.

We should have known we were doomed when we hadn’t even gone 3 miles and Mike got a flat tire.  Two cyclists inquired if we needed help, but we were well prepared.  “Well, every training session has a purpose,” I optimistically declared as I proceeded to insist he let me change it for practice in the event I ever need to do it in a race (a task I didn’t quite successfully achieve as the tire was really hard to get off and on and I eventually acquiesced to his man hands).

After 20 minutes, we were off, wondering if we would now be delayed as President Obama was arriving to the Island soon and the state police had whizzed by us but we made it past the airport and were well underway as we saw a helicopter above.

We continued on and were rewarded with a beautiful day’s ride and the spectacular up-Island ocean views that are well worth the hills that go along with it.  By the time we got to Aquinnah beach, we were famished and gobbled down our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cooled off in the ocean and went for our favorite walk under the cliffs, trying out the photo capabilities of Mike’s new Samsung phone.  We forced ourselves to end our rest break at 4pm to make our 20 mile trek back.

“Where’s the bike key????”, Mike asked as we went to unlock the bikes.

“I know I put it in the outer pocket – it MUST be in there,” I declared.

We looked multiple times and expanded the search to all pockets in the backpack.  We then returned to the rock we had used as our “chair”, only to discover the tide had come in so that if the key had been there, it was surely washed away by now.  The only other possibility is that it had fallen out during our beach walk, but the chances of finding it we knew were slim to none.

Being we were Up-Island, we were on Wampanog Indian ground and the tourist gift shops were probably not going to include lock cutters in their retail inventory.  We knew our only option was to try and get the bikes on the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus (at least we didn’t lock the bikes to the rack – just to each other but we weren’t sure if the lock would prevent us from fitting them on the VTA front bike rack).  The next challenge was the bus stop was about 1 mile uphill from the beach and so began a new form of the “three legged race” as we walked them up the hill in our bike shoes (for a split second we wondered if we could ride them side by side but we nixed that idea!).  I knew the bus only ran once an hour so with one in view, we tried to pick up our pace and flagged him just as he was pulling out.

Since there was only 1 bike on the 3 bike rack, we thought we were golden….until he said, “I can’t wait – these people have to catch a ferry,” as he pulled away.  Thirty seconds later, he stopped, honked and came chasing us down.  He had radioed the other bus to take his route so that he could make his an express bus to Vineyard Haven.  The bikes racked just fine and we were off.

After past lessons learned of not carry emergency money – or enough emergency money – we had $40 with us, plenty for the $8 fare for both of us, but with a $20 bill and a requirement for “exact change” this was going to be one overpaid ride.  The nice gent beside us yelled to the entire bus, “does anyone have change for a $20”.  Some passengers looked to no avail, but one kind woman managed to come through with ten ones and a ten.  Enroute, we strategized where the bike shops or hardware stores are.  The clock was ticking close to 6pm so we weren’t sure if we would find one or just have to get another bus back to Edgartown and deal with the lock later.

“Stop!” we declared as we saw a bike shop open at 5:55pm.  I ran across the street while Mike unloaded the bikes.  As he struggled, the nice gent got off and helped him.  After waiting 5 minutes as the bike shop owner talked the ear off of the customer ahead of us, and another 5 minutes of chitchat with us, we finally came to the conclusion he did have a lock cutter.  Just before cutting the lock, he said he’ll have to charge us $5.  “Whatever…..”  (most bike shop owners I know would not charge for something so minor…..and we always tip them anyway and vow to return for a real purchase).

Bad Martha's is a great way to end a forlorn training day!
After another 10 minutes of “Island time” chitchat, we were on our way - until I realized I was holding Mike's sunglasses but missing mine. We searched the store to no avail.  As we checked the backpack, the owner suggested perhaps I was already wearing them....and I was - on top of my head under my helmet.  "We're full service," quipped the owner.

Ending our ordeal at Bad Martha’s, the new, local brewery around the corner from our house seemed like the optimal conclusion this story (and we had $27 of emergency money left over).  And, there we found “the nice gent” (an off Island police officer we learned) and his two friends – all runners and one Ironman so we exchanged stories over beers and told them they should join us for the Vineyard Triathlon. 

Yes, things don’t always go according to plan.  But when they don’t, it’s fodder for a good story and new friends.

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