Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chainrings and Spittoons

I got spit on in the group ride today. I don't mean a little side sneeze wetness, I mean a hawk it up from your toes, suck it together in a nice ball and let it fly spit on.  I wish I could say it was my first time to get slimed by a mentally competent adult but, alas, it was not.  The reality is that if you run or ride with people on a group eventually someone is going to let a snot rocket fly and you'll be hit by friendly fire.
I remember the first time it happened.  The rider in front of me launched one.  As the mucous ball landed on my knee, my mind instantly grasped that I could not let go of the handlebars and frantically brush it off-that I probably shouldn't touch it at all.   I ignored it until the pace slowed to a point I could wash the glob off of my poor appendage with my water bottle.  The accidentally offending cyclist was an experienced rider that I admired.  It was sort of crushing and sort of great.  Let me back up and say that while it is NEVER great to get snot jockeyed, it's also reality that at some point in life you are bound to experience it so you may as well get it over with.

Years passed and I successfully dodged congested cyclists, questionably frothy people in the pool and phlegmy runners.  And then it happened.  This time I was third in a small pace line and directly in the line of fire.  I felt it hit my face.  Worse, I felt it hit the skin around my mouth.  I've been grounded from cycling and running since July with a sort of mystery hip problem.  I wasn't cycling much before that.  This was my second ride back.  I didn't recognize the the cyclist behind me nor the Super Spitter ahead of me but it was immediately apparent that he was horrified.  He was so horrified I couldn't even revel in a moment of self-pity.  Things happen fast on the bike.  You're either in or you are out.  I did my best to assure him that I understood it was an accident.  He disappeared to the back and the pace never dropped.  Keep pedaling.   He probably doesn't have The Ebola.  It's not going to kill you.  Just a few more miles and you can douse yourself with your water bottle.  Show no signs of weakness.  Do not lick your lips!

It's not like I've lived life so perfectly as to never gross someone out or offend.  It was more than that;  he was so sincerely apologetic in the split second after that everything in me wanted him to be okay.  We're sort of a family on the road.  We work together.  We struggle together.  We try to protect each other from cars and potholes.  We sweat on each other, occasionally accidentally rooster tail each other with roadkill-things just happen.  It was the most sincere of adventitious phlegmings and this stranger was my fellow cyclist.

As we neared the turn off road to get back to where we all park, I looked back for him but couldn't see him.  I turned toward the parking lot as the small group rode on a few more miles. I pulled into the parking lot and immediately decided to write this blog.  It's gross and funny and honest.  It's life as a mediocre athlete and that's what this blog is all about. I got a few sentences in before another cyclist showed up.

"Hey, remember my first time in the group when it was 100 degrees and you sweated all over me?" he recalled.  I barely remembered the incident but he did.  "Yeah, I moved here from Tennessee, found the group and you were slinging sweat all over me."  I tried to deny it.  I declared that I barely sweat but everyone sweats in Texas summers, when the temperatures near a 100 degree with 100% humidity.  Two words-heat index.  If you don't know what those mean you are living wrong.   Fish sweat in the summer in Texas!  Really you should move here.  It's God's country.  I asked, "Are you sure that was me?" as if you forget the complete stranger perspiring all over you and your beloved bike.  It was me and it sort of made the moment even better.

Then I saw him, my sweet little drooler.  He pulled into the parking lot with a bouquet of yellow wildflowers in his hand. He had stopped to pick apology flowers.  A complete gentleman, a rare breed, not at all afraid to own up to his completely unintended offense.  While I stick to my preferences about not getting spit upon, it was almost worth it.  I saw a real hero in his eyes.  I saw a man.  I saw a great human being.  I saw grace and kindness.  I saw the kind of person that made me love the athletic community in the first place.

Maybe I'll invent the world's first bike spittoon but then again maybe I won't. Maybe every once in a while the world needs to get spit on so it can remember the grace of an accident.


  1. Such a good writer...even about snot...I was captivated

  2. Amie you are a wonderful writer couldn't stop reading