“Calling all nations. Calling all nations. This is Rufus T. Firefly coming to you through the courtesy of the enemy. We’re in a mess folks, we’re in a mess. Rush to Freedonia! Three men and one woman are trapped in a building! Send help at once! If you can’t send help, send two more women!”
– Groucho Marx
Ryde ‘Til You Dye: 28 miles.
My best friend would map the ride from his college town of Fredonia, NY, to our hometown of Kennedy, NY, in his head over and over again every time he drove the very familiar route home. He became obsessed with it and so did my friend G and I.
To this day, I do not know what motivated D so much to plan this trip, to get it done. I can make a guess that the amount of flak we got when talking about it definitely factored in. It seems that we were always doing ridiculous things in our childhood that normal people do not usually do and would only be driven to do it more so by people telling us that very thing. Regardless, the desire within him to complete this trip was contagious.
I do not remember how long it took us, but I would guess over two and a half hours.
The details are unfortunately blurry and the only distinct memory I have is of coasting down Gerry Levant road and then sitting on D’s couch after the ride was complete, completely drenched, exhausted, and proud.
We would do that ride again the following year, but a mix-up with bikes resulted in me riding a borrowed bike that was too small for me with too little air in the tires, making pedaling feel like swimming in a vat of mashed grapes.
That first trip, though, was really the first time we ever challenged ourselves in such a dramatic way on a bicycle. Looking back on it now is fascinating because the majority of my training rides tend to be of the 30 mile variety. Such distances have become commonplace. To look back on this particular trip as the momentous milestone that it was reminds me what we are capable of. In fact, on super long rides, I often break them up into either Supper’s Ready distances (the distance it takes to pedal for 23 minutes during the duration of Supper’s Ready by Genesis) or by Fredonia Ride Distances (FDRs).
It turns out, using that FDR measure is much shorter than using say FDRs presidential term as your unit of measure.
The point is, breaking up a century ride into 3.4 FDRs helps with the mental process, especially once you hit that 50 to 70 mile mark.
This ride would help me to reach lore status through my weekly commutes to Grandma’s house and back for work through the summers of 2010 and 2011. The rides all consisted of the same process: Strap on a duffel bag full of enough clothes to get me through a full weekend of shifts at the restaurant, gear up in my non-bike clothes, and set out in the summer heat with just a water bottle and a crappy odometer strapped to the handlebars and an audio book droning in my headphones. I can’t remember how many times I did this trip, but it would be safe to guess somewhere close to 30 times.
I remember one trip where D biked out to meet me so we could bike back together. We took Airport hill that time.
I remember another trip we took together where we decided to go there and back again in the same day. We sat at Bob Evans for 3 hours or so in between shifts before setting out again.
A third and final memory is perhaps one of the best. D and G both came out with me as I was leaving for my weekly commute. That trip consists of 4 parts in my mind: First, when we got to Gerry, we had to stop because G’s seat was so loose it was nearly falling off. We had to wait for his mom to come by with an Allen wrench so we could tighten it up.
Second, when we got past Cassadaga, we got smashed with rain. Pummeled really. Oranges destined for orange juice get off easy compared to the rain we were stuck in. Rain on a ride can sometimes be an epic experience, however, because you lose yourself in the rhythm of the pedaling. It felt like we flew through the last 8 or so miles of that trip.
Third, walking into my Grandmother’s house, we greeted her unknown-to-us house guest with the line, “We got destroyed.”
Fourth, Pizza Hut Pepsi following the ride.
One other memory I have of the Fredonia ride: I came home from Kent for some reason and wanted to bike out to Fredonia to meet D who was working at a hospital out there. He biked in to work and we would bike back together. Just as I was about to leave on my bike, he called to say I needed to pick him up with my car because an ambulance backed into his bike, crushing the back wheel. His bike was locked to a bike stand, NOT ON THE ROAD, by the way.
The Fredonia Ride, the FDR unit of measure, the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup, which is about Freedonia, will always remain special and relatively sacred to me. I use it as motivation to this day.