Once upon a time, a girl named Cara found it in her best interest to hop on a bike and ride twenty miles.
Now, lest you think she cray cray, she believed she had good reason to hop on said bike: the HBH (Hot Black Husband) would be joining her, along with their friends Lizzy and Dennis. The weather gods predicted sun! And, this was a Wine Ride, so even if all hell broke loose, she knew her blood vessels would be pumped with at least a glass or two of wine along the route.
The four of them gathered early on Sunday morning, the boys back at Lizzy’s farm with a babysitter. In an effort to help the HBH’s compartmentalization of a brain, Cara even had him ride an additional 13.9 miles to the starting point. Then, when they started the actual ride, it wouldn’t be confusing for him to ride a bike and drink half a glass of wine at the same time.
That girl? She thinks ahead!
The start of the ride was rather uneventful, but they did pose for a picture before they got their pedal on:
The ride started off smoothly enough, with gleeful shouts of, “We’re doing it! We’re riding bikes! We are fantastic, bike-riding human beings!” I mean, what else do you shout when you’re riding over the rolling plains of Woodinville, Washington?
Soon enough, Cara’s hopes of a morning bike-riding date with her husband went out the window when he further proved how much faster his legs and his bike could go (and when Dennis further proved that his road bike and his man legs were a little faster than Cara’s were as well) . But still, she and Lizzy stuck together. And still, she looked good.
Because, it’s no joke: when you’re one of three cruiser bikes in a thousand person ride, you get compliments.
“What a good lookin’ bike!”
“I love your bike!”
(She soaked it up, but she also knew what they were really saying behind masked compliments: She’s crazy. Does she know you’re supposed to ride a road bike on a twenty mile road race, like this? She does realize we’re nowhere near the beach, right?)
So she huffed and she puffed and she even walked part of the way up the hills. She tried her hardest to make all seven gears on that shiny red bike look good, but that’s also why you don’t ride bikes that weigh approximately 57 pounds and have a limited amount of shifting capabilities on rides more than, say, eight hundred feet long.
But then, rest stop #1 arrived, just in time. Although Dennis and the HBH stopped for a spot of coffee, Lizzy and Cara pulled in soon after. They all drank their wine samples, and even scarfed down a banana and a donut or two. They talked bikes. They made friends. Cara even told her story of wanting to be a supermodel to another Public Bike owner (who happened to not only have twenty-one gears but an electric motor to boot. Cheater).
When the four of them set off for the final twelve miles, it was evident that Cara’s really, really good looking bike wasn’t going to be the fastest bike in America for the remainder of the ride. But, Steady Eddie, she kept on pedaling, as fast as her seven speeds and her I-don’t-train-for-races legs would carry her.
Soon, she lost sight of the other three – but, she had the lazy Sammamish River to her right, which slightly reminded her of riding her bike through a flamingo preserve in Provence. And occasionally, she even had other fellow riders, most of whom passed her by with the super chipper, “On your left!” greeting, and didn’t really want to stop for a chat. But this was her chance to meditate, to pray, to leisurely stroll through the fields of Northwest glory.
Until the fields weren’t so field-y anymore, and she found herself on a major four-lane road.
Suddenly, her bike wasn’t so shiny and good-looking anymore, and the ride wasn’t so South of France anymore, and her hopes and dreams of hanging out with the HBH and their buddies – dashed.
A huge semi-truck was going to accidentally bump her to the side of the road, and no one – not a single soul – would think her bike such a good idea anymore. Because the bike would be gone, just as she would be gone.
So much for a fun hang out time! So much for time together! So much for riding a cruiser bike twenty miles farther than it was ever intended to go!
In her anger, she pedaled harder. She didn’t look at a map, but she saw a fellow biker turn left here and there. She hoped they were wine-laden bike riders, too. At one point, back on two-lane roads, she saw a small sign that said, “REST STOP.” She wondered if it was for their ride, but it’s not like there had been an abundance of rest stops along the way. Besides, weren’t they nearing the end? If she knew anything about the HBH, Dennis and Lizzy, they wouldn’t have stopped. They would have kept going, full-steam ahead!
So she kept going, too.
She kept pedaling, humming Dory’s song to herself along the way, (because, you have to admit: “just keep spinning,” when it comes to singing about bike pedals is a pretty close match). She successfully navigated roundabouts. She let go of all her anger and bike-riding abandonment issues. She smiled at fellow riders, especially upon shouting, “To your left!”
And when she reached the finish line, and found that her team wasn’t there to cheer her on, she let out a little yelp of glee anyway. She even picked up her cell phone and took a selfie:
Then she looked at her messages:
Where are you?
Are you okay?
Hello – Cara – hello. Are you there?
For her teammates, her buddies, her husband, hadn’t yet crossed the finish line – in fact, they were all waiting at the rest stop for her to get there. They wondered if she was okay (no: the semi-truck of her imagination ran her over). They wondered if she’d taken Uber back to the finish line (no: she just kept spinning, just kept spinning – but really, who did they take her for anyway?) They didn’t think that she might zoom past them.
And beat them to the finish line.
And be able to hold over their heads that she clearly won the race that wasn’t really a race.
(This would also be particularly helpful when her sons would later ask her who won the bike ride, and laughing, Mama would say with all confidence and honesty that it was her! “Wait, you beat Dada?” “Yup.” And Dada would shake his head in disbelief, and Mama would poke her fingers at him and say, “Serves you right,” or something really kind and encouraging like that).
And when the other three finally rolled through the finish line, they’d give each other sweaty hugs. They’d lavish their forgotten soldier with praise, and promise never, ever again to leave her behind, and she’d even promise to maybe pick up a recycled road bike for their next event.
Then they’d stand in line for one more glass of wine and a couple slices of pizza.
And Cara the Underdog would gloat merrily, all the way home.
So, let’s talk about underdogs. Actually, let’s first talk about the fact that I dominated this incredible Wine Ride on a cruiser bike. You’re welcome. But now, let’s talk about your favorite underdog story, for the underdog always wins. Eventually. Where in fable or in ancient text, in the Bible or in a favorite memoir does your underdog come out on top?0