It is officially summertime. Covid is at least partially on the run. Time for a road trip.
We have a busy race calendar in this household this summer. My wife has a race in Des Moines in a weekend or two, and there are others lined up as well. I’ve yet to plug in an Olympic race or a targeted Half-ironman for the early or mid-fall.
With local and regional races, we typically drive to races. The first time I saw Sue race was at the Racine Half-Ironman a few weeks after we’d met. She stayed the night with her sister Julie on Saturday, and I drove up Sunday morning. I left at 4:30 in the morning but missed seeing the swim start by three or four minutes.
She had a great race despite the hot weather conditions. After the event, we stopped at a service station on the way out of Racine where she washed up and changed into fresh clothes. I admired her ability to make that change on the fly. Athletes get that.
On the way home there was plenty of time to talk, and we did. Road trips are opportunities to let the conversation range far even though you’re sitting near to each other. About an hour from home, she finally got tired from the six-hour swim-ride-run and dozed off quietly with her head against the back of the seat and her legs curled up in front of her.
That was certainly no insult in my mind. It was the opposite. Trusting a person to know that you need a nap after a hard effort is a core tenet of a good relationship.
We’ve made many such driving road trips since that day, traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, Muncie, Indiana, Benton Harbor, Michigan, Louisville, Kentucky and other more local races within and hour’s drive or two.
Passing the time
One of our favorite ways to pass the time is listening to podcasts, especially The Move with Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie. Some people write Lance off as a cheater for all time. But he’s mellowed with age, and is clearly contrite about many aspects of his former career. I say “former” because there really was a dividing line between his competitive cycling days and how he approaches and views life these days. He’s still one of the reasons why I chose to get into cycling, and even if he used performance-enhancing drugs, the entire cycling world was doing the same thing.
So we listen to Lance and George with knowledge that their careers, while marked by ostensibly illegal activity, still offer tremendous insights on the nature of competition and what it’s like to lay it all on the line.
That’s inspiring, often funny stuff to absorb on a triathlon road trip. The two of them analyze races like the Tour de France and the Giro and Vuelta, often with a sort of admiration at what athletes today can and do achieve.
There are also trips where we don’t turn the radio or a podcast on at all. We’ve solved some genuine life challenges along the way. Coming to terms with subtle differences in outlook is an important part of any relationship.
And sometimes, she still nods off when I’m driving and the sun shines through the car window and strikes her legs at an angle showing both strength and a trace of tan line where the cycling shorts end and I think, “We’ve come a long way together.”
Image above: Summer Road Trip, Pastel by Christopher Cudworth. Framed in antique window. 39″ H X 23″ . $600. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org