Friday, November 27, 2009
Aunt Margret: “So…you’re still riding your bicycle?” The tone of her voice wasn’t mild curiosity but restrained concern. Apparently she has been talking to mom and I imagine the last childhood memory my aunt has of me was during my obsessive BMX stage, no less mediocre or obsessive than my current mountain bike stage.
Me: “Yes; in fact, I just did a race with Denny in Traverse City.” Dragging Denny into the conversations did two things. First, I just wanted to make it clear I am not the only grown man still riding a bicycle. Second, Aunt Margret knows Denny since we all lived in the same neighborhood growing up, maybe this will change the conversation.
Aunt Margret: “How is Denny?” (I am brilliant.)
My brother Dave is highly motivated and has this ability to make girls swoon. He retired early from the Ford Motor Company and now has a very successful business restoring vintage AC Cobra sports cars. My brother Glen is charming and an amazing storyteller; he can even make his account of a trip to the Home Depot riveting. Glen is currently building an experimental airplane in his garage. I ride bicycles.
I imagine my parents try to frame me in a favorable light when talking to friends and family, like you would do with any child whom you are quietly embarrassed with, as in: “oh, my son [so and so] is doing fine, he moved to New York and is dancing in an off Broadway musical [awkward pause] and is a successful hair dresser [another awkward pause]. He always was the artistic one [insert slightly embarrassed, forced, reminiscent sigh]".
Mike emailed me earlier this week and said he read my blog. I pointed out to him that every childhood picture of me in the blog was from Espanola, a small town in Northern Ontario where Mike still lives. My older sister lived in Espanola and I would often visit when I was younger. That, of course, is how I met Mike. I thought about how most of my childhood pictures were from Espanola. I pulled out my old photo albums to verify this.
What I found interesting is that almost every picture I have of me that wasn’t taken in Espanola somehow involves a bicycle.
Kids ride bicycles, that’s a fact, but the pictures reveal more than a passing fancy, they reveal some type of obsession with bikes I hadn't really noticed before.
I suppose, as a child, my bicycle expanded my universe from just my block to the Levagood Park a mile north of my house to the woods along the Rouge River, a mile south. Maybe bicycling still expands my universe. Maybe I should grow up.
Maybe the fact that I still ride a bicycle could give my graceful aunt reason to be concerned. Maybe that shouldn't concern me.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Allison drew a picture thanking me for working on the bathroom. It was untypically sweet of her. I had to look at the picture for a minute before I realized it was a picture of our tandem I sold exactly a year ago. Allie hasn’t forgiven me yet. I told her I would buy a new tandem but there always seems to be a better use of money. I thought about how the money I got for our tandem was about what the bathroom cost to remodel, and how buying a new tandem may have been a better use of that money. I lay awake at night thinking about all my stupid decisions; much more worrisome than sewage falling like rain.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday morning I took the kids to the dentist. The hygienist accused me of doing a lousy job helping the kids floss. Thursday was parent teacher conferences. Allie's teacher was disgusted I didn't know the name of Allie's book for independent reading. Both kids were disappointed I don't warm up the car before school like mom does. Sally the dog was mad I didn't take her to school to drop off the kids. It occurred to me that maybe I am not the stellar mom I thought I was.
I thought as a mother I would have time to ride outside. Apparently not. I did go to a spinning class at the fitness center last night, with the other moms, while I was waiting for the paint to dry in the bathroom. The first song that played was that "Let's Go Girls" song, I think by Shania Twain but that is a genre I know little about. The spinning area is surrounded by mirrors just like the work out area. I noticed how my Pearl Izumi shorts made my butt look big.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I think I have a very good sense of smell. I can often smell people (especially the perfumy smell of girls) before I see or hear them on the trail. I like the smells of riding. Autumn has that crushed leaf smell. Winter has the crisp, dry smell. Spring smells earthy and summer is floral. The main change to my training plan is adding weight training. The fitness center has the horrible smell of sweaty men.
And the wet goat stench isn’t the worse part of lifting. Lifting is boring and the vanity is crazy in the workout area. There are mirrors covering the walls and pillars because everyone there seems to enjoy looking at themselves. Hell, maybe the problem is just me. I weight 145 lbs, and only about 45 of those pounds are above my waist. I don’t question the importance of weight training. Research has found that weight training can enhance cycle endurance performance independently of increases in VO2max. And presumably independent of decreases in VO2max. I’ll see.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Iceman is always the official end of my racing season. I just re-read my second blog entry from back in January:
Maybe my problem last season was just motivation. What if I am a little more careful this year to push myself when I need to and find clever new ways to fit cycling into my schedule? Is it possible to have your breakthrough season at 43?
I am so optimistic sometimes that I just crack myself up. I try to be optimistic even if it flies in the face of reality. Okay, this wasn’t my breakthrough season; however, I was faster than I was last season so I will count it as a win. I joined a fitness center by my house yesterday. I have really neglected core strength training these last couple years. And I chucked my way too complicated training schedule based on Joe Friel’s brilliant but too complicated book The Cyclist Training Bible. I have a solid plan now where I will dedicate specific time to active recovery, easy distance, endurance, intervals, and max sprinting efforts. I am going to make a real effort to separate bicycling from any other disappointments that I can’t seem to get over. I think 2010 will be my breakthrough season.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Cin and Laura were the only two in our group who didn't race. They were our enthusiastic cheer section and shuttle drivers.
Friday, November 6, 2009
What started as just replacing my cables morphed into a derailleur hanger, rear derailleur, cassette, chain, chain-rings, rear wheel, and bottom bracket. That's OK, the ghetto bike was working as good as new. And the sleet stopped and the sun came out, nothing but blue skies ahead. 15 miles into the pre-ride with Kevin and Brad yesterday, a stick got caught in my rear derailleur and bent everything like a pretzel, again.
It's one thing to sort out this kind of problem at home with a week to spare, it is entirely different when you are in a cabin in Traverse City and racing in 2 days.
I bent everything back as best I can. It sort of shifts. I am still optimistic, sort of.
On the way to get my race packet this morning I considered getting a new bike from one of the vendors that I knew would be there. I drove past the town of Acme. I considered getting one of those ACME rocket packs that Wile E. Coyote uses to catch the roadrunner. Both choices seem reasonable.