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bugs and biking

Yesterday at work, on my lunch break, I found a GIGANTIC cicada sitting on the sidewalk, just chillin’ in its honkin’-big-bug fashion. Well, I had concerns that the chitinous fellow might get squashed there, so I stooped down to pick him up and move him. One of my co-workers was across the street, waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up, and she saw me and shouted out, “Michelle! You put that bug down!” I startled and set the katydid back down and shouted back across the street, “How did you know there was a bug there?” and she replied that she just knew me too well.

So I stooped back down, picked the cicada back up, and examined it. They’re really fascinating looking critters, with their kind of tiger-striped rear-ends, their long, stiff, clear, lacey, wings, and their enormous, blunt heads with goggly eyes out at the far corners. His grabby, stickery feet churned slowly in the air as I carried him off the sidewalk and to the safety of the park across the way.

The same park is where I delivered a hearty grasshopper last summer. One of the guys at work, whose parents live out of town on a farm, brought in two 5-gallon buckets full of sweetcorn, still in the husks, for anyone in the office who wanted some. We were all in there claiming our shares when a large and sprightly grasshopper sproinged out of there. The other office ladies scattered shrieking. I was like, “good grief, it’s just a grasshopper; they don’t even sting.” So, I went and caught the grasshopper, which to be fair, was one of the really big, kind of gross ones–the size of an index finger, with strong, kicking legs and greedy, munching mandibles. I picked it up just ahead of those forceful rear legs and hauled it outside, abandoning it to the green and juicy bounties of the park. Surely he wouldn’t have lasted long in the office. One of the White Knight dudes would certainly have squashed it to appease the disgusted phone crew. It turns out a couple of ladies put their share of the corn back, not wanting foodstuffs that had been in intimate association with a Very Large Grasshopper.

I went to a different group ride last night than any of the ones I’ve been to as yet. I’m…undecided. There are two groups, the fast group and the slow group. I wasn’t feeling that great last night, so I figured as to go with the slow group, and they weren’t a-kiddin’ about the slow part. My natural pace seems to take me up to a steady 15mph without much effort–no heavy breathing, not excessive sweat, unless I’m carrying a lot of cargo or it is over 95F out there. This group seemed to be holding steady at around 13mph, and I kept having to brake, brake, coast, coast. I don’t think I’m fast enough to hang with the Fast Group, however. They advertise themselves at 16-18mph, which I know I can do handily–the guy I used to ride with had a cyclometer and it seems we usually averaged 17.5mph, which for me is fast enough to be fun, but not so fast as to be impossible for me to hold, or render me too wiped out to get back home afterwards. However, the group I was with had several points where we’d stop and re-group (there were about 35 people, and many of them were going significantly slower than the front-end of the pack) and while we were waiting at one point, the Fast Group went through, and mah gawd, they were hauling ballz! Sure, it was on a downhill, and who could otherwise pass up the opportunity for a good sprint, but man…I don’t know if I would be able to successfully hang with them at all, and especially not if they get all testosterone-charged and throw a hammer-fest to initiate the newbie. Last thing I want to do is get dropped off somewhere in godforsaken genteel Johnson County and have to make my way back to the city proper solo. So I don’t know. I guess I’ll go with the Slow Group again next week, on my old mountain bike, and maybe try the Fast Group a week later. At least I will get a better idea of the loop, and if I get dropped by the Fast Group the next week on, I’ll at least know how to get back in to town.

It’s really pretty hard to find a riding partner or riding group, it seems. The guy who used to run the group I used to ride with was a great match for me, speed and endurance-wise, as was the guy I randomly rode with about a month ago. I find that I tend to ride faster than the average recreational rider, but slower than the average racer-boy. It’s a weird place to be in.

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