A Metric Half-Century and An Obsession With Broadway

A month ago, I tried to tackle a metric half-century (50k) but I miscalculated the imperial distance needed and I actually went 49K which is close but not enough. So today was the day for redemption.

The temperature was pretty pleasant and the wind was 5-10mph coming out of the North so I’d only have to deal with a headwind for half the ride. I’d take a headwind versus a crosswind any day.

I planned ahead and packed a drawstring backpack with my camelback filled with zero sugar Gatorade, a 24oz bottle of water, a cliffbar (250cal), and a bag filled with six Twizlers (2 servings) (260cal). Normally I’d pack less calorie dense food but I learned from my last attempt at a half-century that carrying fruit around attracts bees — even if the fruit is in a plastic bag. I know energy gel like Gu is popular among the cycling crowd but I tried one when I was volunteering for the Fat Tire Bike Race in Cable and it tasted awful. So I’m still on the lookout for better biking snacks (if my wonderful readers have any ideas).

I also pre-planned my stops. There’s a transit station 5.5 miles in which marked my first stop because when you slam the water like I do, you have to pee every dang hour. My second stop wasn’t until after I got through Forest Lake. My third stop was in Stacy, MN where I actually got off my bike, ate a cliff bar, and stretched in the park. I was 17 miles in at this point and I was starting to feel the fatigue from my three week biking hiatus.

On my way back, I stopped once more outside of Forest Lake, then again at the transit station for a second bathroom break and water refill (I went through 4 liters of water!) The journey home was pleasant because I had a tailwind the entire way. Once I left the transit station, I started feeling the heaviness in my legs and I really had to push through the suck. My new bike seat is far more comfortable than my old one but it has less padding so my sit bones were starting to cry out towards the end.

Two miles away from my car, I passed the spot where I broke down due to my bike seat catastrophe and I thought about how this adventure wasn’t just a redemption for my half century, it was also a redemption from the last time that I biked. Nevertheless, I made it back to my car with my bike fully intact, feeling exhausted but proud, and feeling a bit contemplative thanks to the musical Hadestown.

I listened to nothing but Broadway showtunes during this ride. I finished Hamilton and Rent, but with 2 miles left to go, I looked at my Broadway mix playlist that Spotify created and I found “Road to Hell” which is the introductory song to the show Hadestown.

Y’all it’s so damn good!

The musical retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice where Orpheus goes to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice from Hades. The musical is set in a Great Depression-era post-apocalypse and features the best from 1920s jazz and blues.

I’m an English major and I teach Greek and Roman mythology as part of my Literature through Film class. I’m familiar with the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. I’m also familiar with the ending. No spoilers but it’s a Greek tragedy. So there’s a bittersweet element of dramatic irony throughout the entire show. At the beginning and the end, the narrator Hermes says that this story isn’t happy, but it’s a song that needs to be sung anyway. That hit me right in the heart because not all stories are happy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be told.

People want happy endings, especially now. But that’s what I love about musical theater and theater in general: not everything needs to end happily. The two novels that I teach, The Crucible by Arthur Miller and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are both examples of American tragedies. Neither story ends happily but both stories are worthy to be told.

So if you are looking for a musical to fill the void while we wait for July 3rd when Hamilton comes to Disney+, I encourage that you check out Hadestown. Just listening to the soundtrack is enough to give you context. Of course, their performance of “Wait For Me” at the 2019 Tony Awards is also worth a watch — it’s mesmerizing from a lighting and technical standpoint.

All in all, today was a good day. A good day of training, and a good day for musical theater.

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