9th on the waiting list for a Saturday morning cycling class is not a promising place to be. Not when it’s at 8am (the sun is up) and taught by a rock star instructor.

Which poses a dilemma: Take the road bike to class, swallow the bitter pill of not firing off my reservation e-mail at precisely 5pm last Sunday (yes, the classes sell out as fast as Green Day at the Fox Theater in Pomona), and head out for a real ride, but have to lug my lock and chain and towel along? Or plod over on the pretty girly bike, face the fact that I’m not getting in, plod back, swap out bikes, go for a real ride, having wasted an hour or so on this errand, thereby limiting my road ride options?

I opt for the pretty girly bike, slog up Highland (MISTAKE! Should have ridden half a mile out of the way to go up Vine, which at least has sharrows) and park – for free – in the expensive parking structure, in clear view of the attendant. The added layer of supervision makes me feel better about leaving a flowery, delicate thing among some thrashed and thrasher bikes.

I arrive 20 minutes before class, and it seems I’m the only person on the wait list who had any faith in the power of a Saturday morning hangover to overcome the fear of being a no-show. As 8am nears, I find the shoes I always wear. I wait. The music starts. I am summoned. Lucky number nine!

As class starts, my fellow cyclists are mowed down by mechanicals: loose pedals, rickety seats… The instructor gives up her bike to another rider. I feel like a thief.

I’m riding like I stole something, that’s for sure. A good playlist and an inspiring leader have a way of doing that.

A Beastie Boys remix puts me squarely back on the BQE on last year’s Five Boro Bike Tour.

Pretty Fly for a White Guy is distracting in a way that would be dangerous if I were on the road.

By the time Mr. Brightside comes on for the sprint finish, I’m under the delusion that I’m pulling away from Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, and Thor Hushovd. That is, until my left foot comes in clipped from the pedal at a gazillion RPMs. Somehow, I pull my leg away without getting smacked in the shin, and reclip. I’ve just mustered enough momentum when it happens again! No green jersey for me today, but I do manage to finish, unbowed and unbruised.

I take the safe way home and arrive in time to smooch the domestic partner on his way out the door.

Sometimes “luck” is all about being in the right place at the right time. That said, fortune favors the prepared: it’s proper preparation that puts you in the right place at the right time. Logistics, training, counting down to a year of luck…

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