Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Final Ride (as in Final Exams)

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to Lexington, KY this weekend to help lead a ride with Patrick Sims at the University of Kentucky. The first significant snow fell gently from the sky as I emerged from my slumber. The gentle type of snow that covers the brown grass and sits lightly wherever it lands. Being a North Coast native, I'm used to the stuff, but here it provided interesting reactions from the locals.

The last few years I have had significant life events occur when the snow descends from the heavens. As if God's way of telling me that today was going to be special. And believe me it was. I knew that today was going to create a lasting impression on me.

Patrick sent me a note about a month ago asking if I could come down for a weekend to help him lead a ride. We decided that December 6 would be the ideal time. The ride would occur the Saturday before finals week at UK. It just so happens to be my finals week next week as well, so I could relate to the anxiety felt by the majority of the riders in the room.

My anxiety was a touch higher. I finished my profile just hours before the ride and must have revised my music selections 30 times. I finally found the sound I needed and laid down the tracks. But my profile seemed too regimented. I revised my profile and left it open in the sense, that if I couldn't get a read on the audience to alter the profile, I would do what I had scheduled.

Patrick and I spent the better part of the evening working on our profiles. The dueling computers, both with MixMeister cranking the tunes so we could each fill the gaps in our play lists. We were in such synchronicity that several times we both clicked and played the same song at the same time. I knew that this ride was going to be special.

The Final Ride, as this two-hour special event ride was called, was sold out. Thirty-three riders filled the room. We even brought in an upright exercise bike for one student recovering from an injury suffered when someone ran a red light and hit her while she was training on her outdoor bike. The energy was high, there was almost a buzz in the room.

Patrick kicked off the ride with a 10 minute warm-up and turned the microphone over to me. The room anxiously awaited as I began my profile. All eyes were upon me and you could see they were literally on the edge of their seats as I spoke and asked them to commit themselves to the ride, keep an open mind, be honest with what their bodies told them to do, and finally take the initiative to make this ride special for themselves and no one else.

We started to pick up the pace and get into the grove. I was still skeptical as to how they were going to react to this "stranger" from up North. After the first song, I could see they began to relax and settle into their zones. Their eyes no longer focused on me as they all got into their own zone.

The music flowed and I got lost in the emotion of the ride several times. I don't think I've ever had to coach a class with such little effort. Patrick had done a masterful job coaching his students on form. Almost all were perfect and only needed an occasional reminder to relax shoulders and let the energy flow through themselves.

Here is the play list I used during the ride.

Reel Around the Sun - Bill Whalen (flat/standing flat)
Keep Hope Alive - The Crystal Method (flat/standing flats - getting ready for the hills)
Kalendero - Cirqu Du Soleil (seated climb)
He's A Pirate [Chris Joss Ship Ahoy Tribal Mix] - Hans Zimmer (standing climb)
Snapshot - Fluke (fast flat pace lines)
High Roller - The Crystal Method (flat with some out of the saddle work)
Vicarious - Tool (climb)
Rods and Cones - Blue Man Group (flats and jumps)
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 - Class of '99 (climb)
Out of Control - The Chemical Brothers (flat with cadence building)
Conga Fury - Juno Reactor (riders choice)

After my hour, Patrick took us home. I was moved to tears on two occasions and really got caught up in the ride. I had a chance to ride with an excellent instructor whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

When Patrick finished his segment, I couldn't believe we had been on the bike for more than two hours. Time stood still, flew by, and seemed to transport me to another place and time. I was definitely experiencing flow at this special ride.

I may have coached a segment of the ride and given the class a taste of something else. But Patrick and his students gave me the greatest gift of all. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to be there and ride with those 30 other people. The energy was unbelievable and it touched me deeply. I don't know when I'll feel like that again during a ride, but to all of you that took part in The Final Ride, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Keep on pedalling!!!!

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