Listen to the Ali on the Run Show!
- June 1, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 243: On the Job with Amy Diallo, Covid-19 Researcher
- May 27, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 242: Shalane Flanagan
- May 25, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 241: On the Job with JoMarie Flores, Funeral Director
- May 21, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 240: Lee Glandorf, Tracksmith Head of Communications
- May 20, 2020 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 239: Dinée Dorame, Citizen of the Navajo Nation
A Letter To My Lexa
We had a rough go together on Sunday, huh?
And yesterday I lashed out on you a bit. I found my harshest words, my cruelest thoughts, and I swore never to spend time with you again.
I shouldn’t have jumped to such a drastic conclusion regarding my cycling career and our relationship.
I think I owe you an explanation.
I’ll never forget the day I went and picked you up at Brickwell Cycles in Long Island. You were sitting there with all the other bikes, but you had been pre-selected for me by Coach Cane. I didn’t look at any other rides. You were the one for me.
They put you up on the bike trainer for me and I clipped into your pedals for the first time.
It was a mostly-perfect fit.
The seat needed to be adjusted, but we were a match, you and me, and I couldn’t wait to take you home.
Brian and I got you home and I wasted no time. I wanted to take you to my happy place. I wanted to show you Central Park and I wanted to see what we could do together.
I clipped in and out perfectly that night. We only rode a few miles in the park, but they were so much fun. I loved taking you on the downhills in Harlem, and I learned to hug the corners of the road with moderate comfortability.
I was so sick the day I went and picked you up. I had been sick for months and the end of my illness wasn’t even in sight.
You immediately brought me the joy I had been missing in my life. I missed running terribly, but you filled that need-to-sweat void for me.
So that next day, I took you out for a long ride: 75 miles. I was supposed to do a long run that weekend because I was training for the New York City Marathon. But I also had the North Fork Century coming up. I wasn’t able to do my long run, but I was determined to still do my long ride.
And you were up for it.
I filled my new water bottles and off we went with Brian, ready to tackle 75 miles of climbing, heading upstate to Nyack, NY.
I fell right away.
I clipped my right foot in right outside my apartment and seemingly forgot we were attached. I toppled over, scraping my knee as I hit the ground.
But then we rode. We headed up toward the George Washington Bridge and even though my stomach wasn’t as calm as I would have liked, I was enjoying pedaling with you.
Then I fell again. We were in a busy 4-way intersection and I couldn’t clip out in time to stop. So I fell. Hard. I scraped my elbow, got nice and bloodied, whimpered for a second, let a few tears slip and then got right back up.
That long ride was brutal. After 45 miles of riding — which meant being more than 35 miles from home — my stomach kicked into high gear. It was my least graceful moment of all-time, and I felt disgusting and embarrassed.
We made it back home together, though, and despite my personal trauma, I loved riding with you. I was a bit beat up, but I was happier than I’d been in weeks.
You did that for me.
Then, at the end of August, we teamed up to ride the North Fork Century. We had the best day!
We rode 101.3 miles, and we did them at a pretty respectable pace. I took you down with me once, but it was a non-dramatic fall and we got right back up and kept riding. I smiled the entire time, remember?
But then I went to the hospital, and after I came out I started feeling significantly better.
And then I neglected you, Lexa.
I (Brian) hung you up on the bike hanger wall thing, and you stayed there for weeks at a time. I never took you down. I never took you out for a spin. I was back to running, my first love, and you just sat up there, alone.
It wasn’t until this past weekend that I decided we should reunite. And it wasn’t for a “little spin around the park.” We were back together for an attempted 100-mile ride.
It wasn’t a great day for riding. It was cold and windy, but we powered through for a while. We were being safe and smart, staying mainly off the busy roads and opting for side streets, instead. We planned to be done riding by the time it got dark and I had lights on the front and back of you, in addition to being decked out in reflective clothing.
And then it happened.
We were riding downhill going 21 MPH. We were 87 miles into our ride and we were almost done! I could practically taste dinner.
But your back wheel caught in that grate. I must have tried to straighten you out, but I failed. And then, together, we went down. You came down on top of me, I hit my head, I ripped my clothes and we skidded out into that busy street. It really is a miracle we didn’t get hit by the passing cars, Lexa. We could have become a speed bump, and somehow we didn’t.
As soon as I fell and scrambled to the sidewalk, I hated you.
Brian rescued you from the oncoming traffic — I had left you in the road for dead — and you joined me on the sidewalk. I was so, so angry with you.
How had you let me down? We’d gotten along so well up until this point, and then you had to go get me in a crash — the scariest moment of my life.
I swore I would never ride you again. I was done with you. I told Brian to leave you in the car or sell you. I didn’t care. (I can be a bitch when I’m bruised and bleeding.)
As we rode back to the hotel Sunday night in our big taxi, I couldn’t even look at you.
With one fall, I decided my short-lived cycling career was over.
But I take it back now, Lexa, if that’s OK with you.
Everyone says I need to ride you again soon or fear will take over and I’ll never get back on your pretty little frame.
See, I blamed you for the fall. Your wheel got caught. You got us into trouble. You’re the reason I’m mangled and limping.
But it wasn’t your fault. We’re a team, right?
So I’m not done with you. I’m going to get back on. It won’t be today or tomorrow. It won’t be for a little while. I still need some time, both to recover physically and to get over my paralyzing fear of this happening again. But, when I’m ready, I will come back for you.
And I promise I’ll be gentle. I won’t take you out of retirement for a massively long ride. We’ll take it easy. And, in the future, I’ll break you in a bit before going on these long rides. It’s not fair that I let you sit idly while I had fun running, and then I expected you to power through for 100 miles of “fun.”
Forgive me, Lexa, for I’m a bitch. I overreacted. I hope you’ll take me back. There’s so much ground for us to cover. We need to find redemption.
And, Lexa, did you read all the nice things people said to us? They’re glad we’re OK! (Thank you, friends, for being so great.) And we are OK. I’ve got some battle wounds, but truthfully they make me feel a little badass. And those ripped clothes can be stitched right back up. No worries.
I’ll see you soon, Lexa. Get some rest and I’ll do the same.
I love you.
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