Saturday, November 27, 2010

Relative and Peer Pressure

Cindy and I both love our families but neither of us wanted to deal with them this Thanksgiving.  We spent the holiday with Renee and her friends and family.  Renee makes a warm, nonjudgmental surrogate family, like the Island of Misfit Toys.  After Thanksgiving dinner, Renee, Randy, Bob, and I agreed to do the Second Annual Black Friday Ride at Rolling Hills.

This seemed a better idea when we were sharing a bottle of wine around the warm glow of the fire than when I was loading up my bike in the damp, grey, subfreezing, windy morning.  But the thing is, Randy and Renee are so hard core, I couldn't back out.  As I was leaving I text'd Randy: "Are you riding?"  He responded something like: "It's pretty cold, think I will spend the morning in bed."

I don't like doing group rides where I don't know anyone.  The ride was in Ypsilanti so I figured I might be on my own.  As I was unloading my bike I hear: "Hey Neil."  It was Cyclo Dan, the rolling encyclopedia of bicycle stuff.  He can spend an entire ride talking about the art and science of wheel building.  He was on a beautiful titanium Quiring 69er (29" wheel in front, 26 in back), so beautiful it actually made the hair stand up on my neck.  The last I knew, he had a Trek 69er, a bike he adored.  We rode together and he talked about geometry and how the 26/29 is the best design ever.  He has so much bicycling knowledge that it is hard to argue with him, but I suspect he just likes saying "69er".  

It was a no drop ride, which normally would be cool because I am typically the one getting dropped; however, this was a very slow bunch.  I almost toppled over we were going so slow.  I am not arrogant, it's just blocking a whole morning off to ride is a huge deal for me.  People don't have to be fast, I get it.  But if you are going so slow that your 29" wheels cannot generate any gyroscopic affect, then those wheels better not have Chris King Disc hubs because that is just disrespectful to Chris King.  Despite creeping along at 5 mph, we dropped someone.  I don't know how this was even possible.  They wanted to go look for him.  I suggested the deer hunters would find him, if not this season then next.  We went back after him.  It was a good ride.  When will I realize every ride is a good ride.  Getting out of the house is always the trick. 

Em ran a 5 K race Friday night.  I am so proud.  She was spending the weekend with friends and they all decided to do this race.  It is amazing what peer pressure can do.  The race was right before a light parade in down town Howell so there were lots of people lining the street.  It was cold.  Allie and I drank hot chocolate trying to stave off hypothermia.  Allie insisted on waiting until we saw Emilie.    

I didn't know how Emilie would respond when she ran by with her friends.  She will be 13 in January so I'm not cool anymore.  She stopped when she saw me, walked over and gave me a hug, like when  a racer in the Tour de France passes through his home town.  It made standing in the cold and the last 12 years so worth it. 

Denny called earlier in the week and asked me to go riding with him at Pontiac this morning.  It seemed a better idea when I was talking to him on the phone than when I was loading up my bike in the damp, grey, subfreezing, windy morning.  Another perfect ride.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Off Season

I rode at Maybury today.  It is one of the few trails near me that doesn't allow deer hunting.  I am not a hunter but I don't want to mess things up for those who are.  I understand others have rights to state land even if how we choose to use that land doesn't always fit together well.  It is a slippery slope when you pick and choose who's sovereignty to infringe on.  That and I don't want to get shot.  

Now that my race season (I'm rolling my eyes) is over, I'm starting to follow some type of actual training plan.  When the weather is perfect and it stays light past 4:30, I just kind of meander along, riding with no focus at all.  This shit makes no sense.  I suppose right now I can look down the road to April and, in my little yet optimistic mind, comprehend doing well and wrap said little and optimistic mind around the tasks I need to do to get there.  I'm always optimistic in November; carrying that over to Spring is the trick.  I have a good feeling about next year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Special Edition

I rode before work today.  And I have been dragging my tired old soul to the gym.  Yes, I am a racerwannabe. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear Hunter Sonnet

That shadowless time of year where cold winds dost blow,
When weekday riding outside is nye,
Early night hides me inside, stationary and slow,
Ushered in by the Energy Act of '05.
The trail, its sultry sweet voice like a Siren's call
Whereon hunters fall upon like Autumn's cold rains,
As they have done, like I once did, early every Fall,
Descending from Taylor and Drayton Plains.
I could ride on roads or write a bitter sonnet instead,
Maybe ride dark trails woken up by lights,
Since a bad ride is better than a good ride shot dead,
And worse than dieing is infringing on rights.
Rights and sovereignty left scattered in the sand
Takes the shape of discarded Budweiser cans.

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 Iceman

That child who refused to smile, first row 6 columns across, is me.   Third row down third column across is Denny.  A couple years later Denny would crash in front of my house and lose his two front teeth.  I kept thinking about that as I raced on the back of his tandem Sunday at the Iceman.  We finished 14th out of 30 in the tandem class, 2:46.  I'm satisfied.  I averaged 164 BPM, which I believe is what I averaged at the Yankee Springs TT.  I think that's all I'm capable of anymore.

I felt completely out of control, probably because I was.  I just pedaled and didn't worry about things that were out of my hands.  There is probably a metaphor that hints at some larger truth somewhere in all this.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Trick Pony

I had today off work.  Voting day I guess.  I don't understand it but thank you to my brothers and sisters of the UAW.  I spent the day reading email, making sure the kids played nice together, and raking leafs. It was nice having Tuesday off from my normal routine of reading email, making sure the technicians work well together, and cleaning up messes that then leaves a vacuum which is filled with almost identical messes.

It was a perfect Fall day. I got a ride in.  An easy ride.  A ride that concludes my taper for the Iceman; a taper that started, hell I don't know, about halfway through the Yankee Springs Time Trial in April. I am going into the Iceman well rested and with no overuse injuries what so ever.

As I was leaving to ride, Emilie looked up from the TV and said: "You got a new jersey?"

I said: "Yes I did, it's from Marshall's," and strutted down the hallway as if it were a catwalk, turn, hip out, and over my shoulder I continued: "And it was 80% off."

Em looks back at the TV and says to herself in her typical early-adolescent sarcastic tone: "Hum, I wonder why."

Somethings don't change.  Actually very little really changes.  Kids get older, people walk in and out of my life, I replace my bike every couple years, my time fluctuates a minute or two either way at the Iceman but life is amazingly the same.  I'm not saying this as if it were a bad thing.