Sunday, April 24, 2011

Florida Photo Essay, Of Sorts

It was an excellent vacation in Florida.

We stayed at a nice resort. Actually swanky by my humble standards. I had a great time with the girls,


they seemed content just watching the first season of Criminal Minds on DVD in our room. I found myself reminding them they were in Florida.

I missed watching the Paris-Roubaix since I was on vacation,


I got to ride on cobble stones, that are used in Florida often for reasons that aren't real clear to me, just like the Paris-Roubaix, except I was riding at tempo, and it was 92 and sunny.

Because it is perpetually summer in Florida there were many sports cars and motorcycles that left me with a pang of jealousy,


There are also F150s pelted by shotguns,
and people living out of cars
and horrible cars that came out of Detroit in the 80's that brutal salty winters mercifully killed off in Michigan; they cling on to life in Florida.

Somehow our stuff expanded while in Florida. I bought a Yakima Rocket Box in Orlando so the girls could lay in the back of the truck for the ride home,


The stuff expanded again so the girls still had to curl up in the fetal position as they slept.

We drove straight through from Florida. I had time this afternoon to ride the trails for the first time this year. Michigan changed a lot in the two weeks I was gone. The trees are budding and the trails are dry. It was 59 and sunny. Beautiful.

I timed myself like I do every year at the beginning of the season. 39:29, 5 minutes slower than last year. Oh crap. I hope this is because of sleep deprivation and tired legs from two weeks of solid riding, not the deflection point where my results will start to go down hill,


I'm 45. It is silly to get my chamois up in a bunch about my race results that have always been iffy at best. It was a great ride. I am as excited about riding this year as I have ever been. This is going to be a good summer even if (when) I get clobbered at Fort Custer next weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Parents Rock

My mom just bought me the new Foo Fighters CD. I feel like I am 15 again, back when my mom bought my friends and me tickets for a Nazareth concert. I told her Nazareth was a Christian rock band. She may have gotten the tickets regardless but I didn't want to take a chance.

I was looking at my dad's driver's license and see he has no restrictions, not even corrective lenses. He also still has his cycle endorsement. I am pretty sure he is the oldest person in Michigan who can still legally ride a motorcycle. That's not to say he would ride a motorcycle. I assume he keeps his endorsement because he isn't ready to acknowledge that stage of his life is over. I get it.

This ends our vacation with my parents. I'm not sure our Anglo-Saxon bodies can take any more beach time. We are off to spend the next week at Disney. I will ride when the girls are at the pool. It is difficult to ride around the Disney Resort but I make do: sprint from the Pluto section of the parking lot to the Goofy section, rest to Donald Duck then sprint to the Daisy Duck section then repeat.

I put the girls' toys back up on the shelves in my parent's garage, toys my parents have kept for 10 years. Inflatable rafts, butterfly nets, toy cell phones, bubbles, sidewalk chalk. I know this is the last time my girls will play with these toys but I put them back in storage because I am not ready to acknowledge that stage of my life is over.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Father of Mine

I broke a temple off my riding glasses. My dad was eager to repair it. A normal person would just have epoxied the broken pieces back together. Not my dad. He drilled a small hole in the center of the broken ends then inserted and glued a thin metal pin. He explained that the length of the pin needed to be twice the circumference of the temple. I think this rule applies more to repairing something like, say, the Hoover Dam but my dad is an Engineer's Engineer. I am a hack.

Everything my dad repairs is like that. He bolted a metal plate on the door to prevent someone from getting to the deadbolt, which is fine. But then he did something I think only he would do; he painted the section that covers the door to match the door, the section that covers the wall to match the wall, and he painted a line down the center to match the gap between the door and the wall. I wish I had his work ethic.

Anyway, another perfect day of riding. Warm and low humidity. There was a slight breeze that seemed to change so I always had a tail wind. My parents live a short bike ride from the Ocean. I rode along the cost for 5 hours today, occasionally stopping at a Starbucks for an Ice Latte and slice of pumpkin bread. A Navy pilot on a carbon fiber BMC caught up and asked to ride with me. We rode together for about 20 miles and talked about bicycles and bike racing and his time in the Middle East. I don't think I could have scripted a better vacation.

No, I take back what I said about wanting my dad's work ethic. That would be a heavy cross to bare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Florida and Absolute Truths

It took me 3 days to drive from Michigan to my parent's house in Florida. I took the scenic route and stopped to ride along the way; just a fantastic trip. I got a water bottle in Ohio; best souvenir ever. Friday I pick up the girls from the airport.

As I was getting ready to ride this morning, my mom reached under the sink for the sport sunblock I bought for riding during a previous vacation down here. She told me she called the company and was told it lasts for 10 years, even put the expiration date on the container, typical mom. I must have gotten it 11 years ago because it was expired, another reminder how little really changes. My mom was pretty lax when I was young but now she seems very concerned about my safety. She told me to ware my helmet and ride on the sidewalk when ever possible. She's my mom and I love her so I patiently listened as she explained how traffic circles work and other things I guess I need to know.

I like Florida but riding with the vehicular traffic down here is strange. The motorcycles have training wheels and I rode for six hours today during which time not a single person gave me the finger. Though friendly, the drivers in Florida are just a little random. They don't take stop signs or red lights seriously. Rules here aren't absolutes, merely suggestions. This is an ideology I can accept.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Florida 2011

I'm packed and ready for two weeks in Florida; two weeks of quality time with my family (and bicycle).

I have gone to Florida every year since I was a child. It looks like time laps photography in my mind's eye as I consider how the trips have evolved. I have vivid memories of driving down with my parents. My dad treated the drive more like a quest than a vacation; driving straight through and well above posted speed limits. Stopping to pee in between fuel stops was out of a question. He would rather me catheterize myself in the back seat than pull over.

My dad and I would go to Florida throughout the year to buy and flip mussel cars: leave Michigan on Friday, buy the car on Saturday, come back on Sunday, sell on Monday. He made a killing selling old cars, but I think he did it for the hunt.

In college I went to Daytona for Spring Break. My memory from these trips is a little blurry. That whole period of my life is a little blurry.

I went to training camps in Florida a few times when the kids were too young to miss me. Honestly I tried but god, in his infinite wisdom, decided not to give me the watts necessary to be successful at road racing. I couldn’t bring myself to shaving my legs anyway.

There was a sweet spot when the girls were at that perfect age to stay in constant amazement, amazement that was contagious; a very small window I didn't take for granted.

Emilie is taking her friend with her this year. Em is very sweet and would never say this out loud, but I know she is looking forward to the day she can go to Florida without me. I know this reality because where she is now I once was. Where I am now, she will be sooner than she could possibly realize. The trick is taking nothing for granted.