I, for better or worse, richer or poorer, pledged my undying love, honor and cherished adulation for a living, breathing goddess when I vowed, for better or worse, to cleave solely unto her until death do we part. It was a good bargain, at least for me, but maybe not so much for the goddess PTK, aka Durga. In any case, when I make a commitment I keep it and when, on the morning of Saturday, May 25th I committed with Durga to cycle twenty-five miles that was exactly what I intended to do.
“We can ride that far if you’d like,” said she, “but that means we’re going to go slow. Lee,” she added, knowing my didactic grammar obsession.
“These days I only ride slowly,” said I. “For, as with EAP’s Raven, my days of fit and fast are, ‘Nevermore.'”
“Didn’t work,” Durga declares of my Raven reference, shaking her head. “ETA?”
Durga lets forth a heavy sigh. (See, this is why I know who got the better end of this marriage, I get her while she’s stuck with me.) “Eleven?” she asks.
“Yes,” I confirm. “We can depart the gate at eleven a.m. Twenty-five miles?”
“I guess,” Durga agrees.
In my mind we now have a commitment, a contract, to cycle 25 miles: A long way for us. Durga fills four water bottles (hey it’s hot out at high noon in Raleigh at the end of May) as I slip into something a little more cycleable.
If PTK is the goddess Durga then I, KAK, am the PDB, or Pillsbury Doughboy. My shape is best described as cylindrical aka Dad Bod basic, with my equal circumference, chest, waste and hip measurements. (No, “waste” is not a typo.) We’re kitted, as the kids say, and our speedy, sleek and svelte Trek racing bikes are pumped, primed and ready to progress.
Garishly clothed, sunglassed and helmeted I will lead the way through the maze of residential streets for our twenty-five mile bike ride. Our route will simply be a variation on my bike commute, something I have now done half-a-thousand times in the 18 months we have lived in Raleigh.
Before snapping our cleated shoes firmly into our pedals Durga asks, “How far again?”
“At least twenty-four, planning on twenty-five?”
“Okay,” says she, coasting down our driveway and then struggling up the hill in too high a gear.
Durga does not like to “spin,” to put her bike in lowest gear and struggle up the inclines at a high eighties RPM rate that relies more on technique than brute strength. Nope. She’s a masher. Though her power-to-weight ratio and fitness levels are vastly superior to mine this allows me to pass her on the inclines.
Hey, you ever try telling a goddess what to do? One that you’re married to? Good luck! I spin, she mashes.
We have a quasi-regular out and back route that we do that allows us to ride up to 22 miles but to reach 25 we’ll wind our way a bit differently. I lead, Durga follows, and we proceed at our typical hard-working but snail-paced rate of 14 mph average. Even though the course is slightly different Durga knows when we have reached our far point and have begun our return. She asks, “How far are we going?”
“Twenty-five miles,” I reply. “As I said.” (See, grammar. It’s not like, it’s ‘as.’)
“I thought you said 23?”
“Nope. I said 24, 25. You’re the one who tells me I need to lose weight.”
“But you said 23.”
“Do you want to do 23?” I reply, pausing to wait for a gap in car traffic as we prepare to cross High House Road. “Because I said 25.”
“Whatever,” my goddess responds in her New York state of voice. I lead on, smug and self-satisfied that I can do something fitness related better than my goddess. (I cycle ten times more than she and she can both literally and figuratively kick my ass in any other physical endeavor.)
“At least I’ll always have cycling,” I declare in a poor Hump Bogart as we cross over High House. Durga does not get the reference, primarily because I uttered it under my breath. Hey, I don’t want her to literally kick my booty. Not that she would. I think.
As a bike commuter I typically ride eight to ten miles twice a day. Getting out of the teens for a continuous hour and forty-five minute ride is a big deal for me. Since spring arrived I’ve gone twenty plus continuous miles a handful of times. Today’s 25 miles will be a stretch but I’m committed. (Or at least should be.) We cycle on and start another climb.
Even spinning my legs protest. “Ruh-roh!” I think, quoting the Twentieth Century’s greatest philosopher, Scooby-Doo. We continue to continue and my beloved’s shape shrinks in my rearview. (Yes I cycle with a mirror. Brightly flashing, daytime visible, head and taillights too. Safety first!)
I get to an intersection where we need to turn if we are going to cycle 25 miles and pause, waiting for my beloved. “What?!” she demands, her normally gruff self on NYC DEFCON One alert.
“Go straight if you want to cut the ride short, turn right if you want to cycle the twenty-five we agreed to.” (Poke, poke, bear, bear.)
Durga goes straight. I am not displeased. We catch a red light at Cary Parkway and I pull next to her and smile. “Four miles from here,” I say. “Should hit right around 22.”
“Great,” she says, sounding anything but. “It’s green!” she declares, nodding at the traffic light. “Go!” she commands.
I go. I lead us back to Beulah, to Eden, to our promised land. We arrive and I say, “Twenty-two and a half. Glad we cut the ride short. My calves were cramping. Do you intend to do long rides during the summer?”
“Of course,” says she, giving me a dirty look. “Why would you even have to ask?”
Why indeed? I am married to a goddess.
What do goddesses require? Sacrifice.