PUMPING IRONY: There and Back and Back Again

So, I skipped the gym on Friday but made up for it on Saturday. Not on the lifting front — unless you count flipping burgers on the grill (yum!) — but I got plenty of cardio.

Weekend mornings around here tend toward leisure: tea and the newspaper, speculation on whether The Boy (AKA Martin, 18) will rise in time for dinner, and perhaps a trip to the co-op to restock the pantry. But Saturday, My Lovely Wife had other ideas. So, we climbed on our bicycles and headed (into a fierce northwestern wind) for the downtown library, some 6 miles north — with a breakfast stop at the Citizen Cafe (“Food for the People”) on 38th Street, about a fourth of the way to our ultimate destination.

Properly fueled (try the Organic Scramble), we resumed our journey into the intermittently gale-force winds, and a half-hour or so later found ourselves rolling past the Metrodome, when my cell phone rang. It was my older brother, The Siding Mogul, inviting me to join him at the Dome later that evening for a Twins game. He always has great seats (who knew vinyl siding could be so lucrative?), so I happily agreed to meet him later — just a few blocks from where I was standing at the time.

We resumed our trek into the wind tunnel that was 3rd Street and eventually coasted to a stop at our new, cantilevered downtown library, where we intended to rest our weary knees and dive into a little local history research for MOQ, the quarterly zine we publish. I was happy to use the elevator to get to the Special Collections section on the fourth floor.

An hour or so later, we were back on our bikes heading south, past the Metrodome, wind at our backs, knees happily pumping away as we zipped over the Sabo Bicycle Bridge (just for fun), under the Lake Street light rail station, and along the Hiawatha Avenue Bike Freeway toward home.

All along the way, I’m thinking:

Am I going ride all the way back to the Metrodome in a couple of hours? There’s always the train, of course. And the forecast spoke of rain. But the train is so packed at the Metrodome station that I’m always forced to walk to the next station up the line to avoid the chaos. Wouldn’t it be nice to just jump on the bike and pedal home? But, then I’d have to buck that wind going in, though it would be at my back going home. You get the idea.

We fired up the grill and enjoyed the aforementioned burgers, MLW departed for her daily bike ride to the coffee shop, and I was left to ponder the imponderable (see above). I was supposed to meet The Siding Mogul “around 5:30” and it was already closing in on 5. I could walk the four blocks to the train station and be there in plenty of time, but I grabbed my rain jacket, stuffed it into my basket and started pedaling instead.

The wind was still an affront to all bicycling humanity (at least those of us heading north) and I could feel my hammies burning after just a few blocks. Though I’ve made the trip downtown hundreds of  times over the years, I really had no idea how long it might take me to cut through the gale, so I was checking the time at every opportunity. Around 38th Street, my phone rang. It was The Siding Mogul letting me know that he was running late.

I caught my breath, downshifted into a more comfortable gear, and pedaled slowly on. It was barely 5:15. I rolled up to the Dome a mere 15 minutes later, slightly stunned by how quickly I’d covered my third 6-mile leg of the day. The Siding Mogul was nowhere to be seen, of course, so I locked up my bike and spent the next half-hour smugly congratulating myself on my athletic prowess and the brilliance of my transportation choice.

The Siding Mogul did have great seats. The Twins pounded on the Angels. And three hours later I was back out on the sidewalk unhitching my steed for the gallop home. Bonus: It was not raining.

In fact, it was a gorgeous evening, and I flew down the Bicycle Freeway with much more joy than effort, covering the fourth of my four 6-mile trips that day in what felt like record time. Only when I closed the garage door and strode toward the house, however, did I begin to feel the creakiness in my left knee.

The next day, the back of my knee was swollen and tender, and I confined myself to my desk chair for most of the day. And it was raining today, so I left the bicycle in the garage. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow. But I’m thinking 5 miles, OK? And I think I’ll skip the stationary bike at the gym, if you don’t mind.

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