As a result of my son’t recent affiliation with the Mighty Troop 890 of Lake Highlands (motto: “The Troop That Takes No Poop”), I am already being exposed to new and different Boy Scout experiences – like sleeping (not) in a tent with an ambient temperature of 137 degrees, 99 percent humidity and no breeze, except for the occasional snore exhaust from my next-door tent neighbor; and enjoying the digestive gymnastics provided by a trespassing microorganism acquired while drinking naturally delicious lake water and/or a mysterious Scout beverage tastefully described (and quite possibly effective) as “bug juice.”
But nothing can compare (at least, not yet) to the demonstration of physical endurance, the display of athletic effort, the exhibition of utter insanity in riding my bicycle 50 miles on a hot September day outside of Waco – home of Baylor University, Dr Pepper, and now many lost pounds formerly (and comfortably) associated with my body.
Of course, you don’t just show up for this kind of cruel and unusual punishment without previously subjecting yourself to several rounds of “practice torture.” At dawn each Saturday – a day previously known to parents for sleeping late – my sixth-grade Schwarzenegger and I stumbled our way to Moss Park to then pedal our way to and around White Rock Lake (a much larger lake than I had heretofore appreciated).
Our exercise regimen was to ride twice around the lake or until delirious. I learned to announce “passing on your left” as I approached slower traffic, which consisted primarily of old folks with walkers and parked cars. After two hours of riding, I found that “passing out on your left” was a more accurate warning for me.
I also learned that manufacturers of bicycle seats have a sadistic streak. First, even calling what I have a seat is being more than generous. Second, it feels like sitting on the wrong side of a two-by-four. Third, IT HURTS!
So, I got a new one. A big, cushy, foamy, gel-filled, delicious pillow of poofiness. And now, riding my bike is like sitting on a mountain of marshmallows. Unless you’re having to sit on it for 50 miles. And then it starts to feel like a two-by-four again, until you don’t even feel that any more.
Our 50-mile ordeal was reportedly designed by the same folks who produced the Trail of Tears and the March to Bataan. Life insurance salesmen mingled in the hotel lobby. The hot Texas sun beat down mercilessly and made the metal of our bikes hot to the touch, while buckets of perspiration streamed endlessly from beneath our helmets. And that was just at the starting line.
When we finally crawled across the finish line, I felt reinvigorated by a sense of accomplishment. I felt that all of the hard work on those many Saturdays had actually been worth it. I felt like my son and I would always be able to look back on this experience and be proud of what we had done.
But there was one thing I didn’t feel until days later – my rear end.