Dude.

It's been almost a month since I went down in the Tour of Fairbanks prologue. The road rash has all healed, and the healthy pink skin that replaced it is already fading to a semi-normal tone. The deeper impacts, gouges, and scrapes are in various stages of healing, but are all well on their way to healing. The left knee is no longer bruised and cratered, and the red has faded to a nickel-sized spot around the deepest part of the hole the curb created. I think I'm ready to start putting a little pressure on it.
 
After my lightning-induced rest day, I woke up bright and early to partially cloudy skies. I'll take it. I hit the climbs harder than I have so far, and everything was clicking along really well until the faucet that resides in my helmet's sweat band opened up and I realized I hadn't taken a sip in the last 90 minutes. Not one. As the deluge hit my top tube, I frantically reached for a bottle and started guzzling. Probably not the most effective hydration strategy, but it's the one I used.

When I reached my turnaround point on the top of Rocky Knob, I soaked my helmet under the water spigot and rinsed most of the sweat out of my hair. Instantly revived by the cold water, I felt pretty darn good considering the heat and humidity that was blanketing the Parkway like a southern reality TV star's armpit fat.

The descent off of Rocky Knob fooled me into thinking I had actual talent, just like it always does, but soon enough I was reduced to a crawl by the rolling hills and false flats. I made a game of charging as hard as I could to maximize the speed off the descents until I blew up on the next climb. Then it was back to the crawl. I crawled a lot.

A few miles from the end my left knee popped, as if to say, "Perhaps you should take it easier".

I ignored this friendly but of advice, but then the knee popped twice.

"Dude, cut it out."

Once again, I disregarded the signs. I surged out of the saddle and after ten pedal strokes a sharp pain blew my kneecap apart.

"Dude!"

I sat down and pedaled easier for the remainder of the ride. Don't have to tell me a 20th time.

When I got back to the car, the whole kneecap was purple, but the pain had subsided. A few hours later the color returned to normal-ish.

Perhaps I overdid it.

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