photo of cyclist riding Mesquite Madness

I Wanted to Ride Mesquite Madness, Happy I Didn’t!

Last Monday, I came oh-so-close to signing up for the Mesquite Madness bicycle road ride set for today. My finger hovered over the “Register” button as a wild array of thoughts whirled around in my brain. Among them:

“Oh man, you’re not ready to ride 20 miles, much less this 35-mile citizen ride.”

“No problem! I’ll skip the part of the course north of Interstate 15–”

“You can’t cut the course!”

“It looks like I can handle the State Route 170 course. Never been in that area–“

“You’d be cheating!”

“It’s a bike ride, not a race! Now, knock it off. I’ve always wanted to do this! I want to ride. I’m gonna ride. You’re not gonna stop me.”

Well, my naysayer didn’t stop me, but my little voice sure did! My intuition knew something was up, because I felt a niggly hesitation. This would make it my fourth straight year I would miss participating in Mesquite Madness!

Last year, I didn’t sign up because I was helping my mother in what were to be her final days. In 2019 the ride conflicted with my training schedule for the Mesquite Senior Games 5K time trial (up a really steep-to-me grade). Allergies sidelined me in the two prior years.

While I was “crying in my beer” to myself late yesterday, I learned that an important package was delivered to our house — much sooner than expected! To beat potential porch pirates to the package, we had to leave the St. George area for Vegas first thing this morning. I “cried in my coffee” early this morning because it seems all my plans go awry these days.

But I forget many of these changes are for the best!

Disappointment Transforms into Gratitude

As we approached the Virgin River Gorge on Interstate 5, I saw a number of RVs, travel trailers, and semis weaving within their travel lanes. I couldn’t feel any wind against our car or see any movement from the sagebrush alongside the freeway. Traffic soon slowed. A multi-car collision blocked the left lane, and a gray sedan lay upside down. Exiting the Gorge, our car got buffeted from strong gusty winds from seemingly every direction!

A few miles outside Mesquite, I spotted a small group of Mesquite Madness cyclists working their way northward on Arizona State Route 91 passing a golf course, and on their way to turnaround near Utah Mountain. A second group followed, and then a lone rider crested the hill. They seemed to be taking advantage of a tailwind, but they’d all face one heck of a headwind coming to back into Mesquite.

The wind gusts throughout the Virgin Valley must have been more than 35 miles per hour. At the Eagles Landing Travel Center, its U.S. flag made loud snapping sounds like those of cracking bullwhips.

If I had made the start line today, I probably would have abandoned my ride within the first 10 miles. Logically, I know that I’m weeks away from being able to confidently ride 15 miles or more, and months away from having the strength needed to deal with such strong winds. Emotionally, my expectations are as high as those winds are strong. Frustration seems inevitable.

Regaining fitness, strength and stamina is taking me more time, and requiring more patience!

But don’t worry — I’ve already penciled in Mesquite Madness for 2022!