Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Daddy's Girl

I love being a dad but I had no idea it would be this hard; the hours spent playing Pretty Pretty Princess and how my heart breaks as I offer muddled advice to help my girls navigate through the atrocities of middle school. I was naïve before children. Part of this is because I lack dazzling perception, but I think a better explanation for my complete lack of understanding is an ignorant bliss concerning parenting wired into our DNA. If it wasn’t, Adam and Eve never would have had children thus avoiding the whole Cain and Abel debacle and robbing everyone thereafter the wonderful experience of parenthood. All fairytales have universal truths.

Emilie is a sweetheart but I have lost her to friends; I eagerly wait for any time she has left for me like a dog waits for table scraps. I’m not so naïve that I didn’t see this coming 13 years ago. I have had time to prepare. Allie still digs me and I know the clock is ticking.

Yesterday after work I got ready to ride as I do every time I get a little rattled. Riding is a drug and I have no qualms about that. Allie walked into the garage and asked to go with me. This is the first time she has shown any interest in riding single track. That right there made the hours of playing Polly Pockets all worth it.

Allie did great. I never noticed how technical the Brighton trail was until I looked at it from the point of view of a 10 year old. She attempted everything and didn’t complain once. We cut through the woods to lop off a few miles. It happened to be at a spot where I crashed hard during a race two years ago, knocking the visor off my Giro helmet as I bounced off a tree. I went back to look for my visor after the race but couldn’t find it. I would briefly look for the visor as I passed that spot for a few weeks afterwards but eventually bought a new helmet and gave the Giro to Allie, figuring she wouldn’t notice it was missing a visor, and had a dent in the shape of a tree.

While Allie and I trekked through woods last night I found my long lost visor. I assume it was mine; it’s a Giro visor that fits my helmet, 15 yards from the tree I hit. It’s the little things in life that delight me. It doesn’t take much. I quietly thanked Adam for his naïvety.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Log Splitter Race Report

I really don’t do race reports, unless I don’t mean the report literally but rather use it to hint at something else just to amuse myself. And I’m not even sure the Log Splitter Challenge was a race. It was a clever 28 mile point to point course that went from North Higgins Lake to Hanson Hills, well marked, and someone even took the time to rake leaves off the wooded sections of single track. It looked like a race, I mean, there were number plates and it was timed. The problem is it had a fun, relaxed atmosphere, only one category, and free beer at the finish line. It was more like a very well organized group ride. I had fun but did poorly.

There was no official starting grid but rather three signs in the starting area that said “Fast”, “Medium”, and “Slow”. Everyone knew where they fell in the pecking order and apparently lined up accordingly because I was neither passed nor passed others more often than when the race is categorized by age and ability.

Looking at the riders and making a conscious decision where to line up at the start made me really consider what kind of racer I was. I down loaded my HRM data Friday and, just like my previous data dump, saw I only averaged 4 hours a week on the bike. I know I must ride at least 8 hours a week to be competitive. I haven’t taken training seriously for the last few years. I was embarrassed as I took my humble place in the group and quietly committed myself to kind of train.

But training takes time and motivation. My motivation comes and goes. And I have serious time management issues. I took Em to see the new Harry Potter movie Friday morning at 3:30 AM, dropped her off at home afterwards, and went straight to work. Friday night I drove up to Grayling after the kids were situated and only got a few hours of sleep before the race Saturday morning.

When I am hyper tired, things have a way of seeming more profound. In between Higgins Lake and Hanson Hills was a straight, flat stretch of paved road. I looked at the long line of riders in front of me and tried to quantify where I would be if I were more dedicated. If I lost those last 5 stubborn pounds, I might be up the road another 100 yards. If I rode 8 hours a week, maybe I would be up a quarter mile. If I lost weight, rode more, made an effort to do hard group rides, and followed some type of training plan, perhaps I would be up a mile. No matter how far up I envisioned myself, there would still be a long line of riders in front of me. Fast is so relative.

I am going to put my guilt on hold tonight and ride at Brighton just for fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not Quite Home

Back to work this week and back to reality. Em and Allie are back in Dance. They are dancing on the same nights so yesterday I had 3 hours to myself while I waited, not enough time to go back to my house in Brighton but enough time to ride in Canton.

Maybury is the only trail in the area so it made my choice easy, which was nice since I tend to be a little indecisive. By the time the girls start school in September, Maybury will be my local trail. And I am resolute to make the best of it.

Maybury is a cute trail, like a Girl Scout nature trail, without the nature. It’s a short trail which is convenient if you only want to ride for 30 minutes. And if you want a longer ride, you can do it several times. It doesn’t have any outdoorsy smells, maybe it does but it is buried under the scent of Ambercombie Fierce from pretty body builder Northville boys in matching Specialized kits.

The trail looks almost magical as the late afternoon sun sparkles off the broken reflectors lining the single track. The hills are small, indistinguishable as hills if not for the horde of pretty body builder Northville boys in matching Specialized kits on shinny new Specialized bikes still with pie pans, some with reflectors, who wait at the top to catch their breath. There are no sections of Maybury where you can crack the throttle to blow out the carbon yet the trail isn’t technical, just twisty and hard packed, like an impacted colon.

It was a nice ride. I finished with plenty of time to make it to the dance studio, even with the crazy congested Canton traffic. I loaded my bike on top of my truck, surrounded by new cars probably owned by pretty body builder Northville boys in freshly dry cleaned matching Specialized kits, right down to the socks; the sweet sweet smell of Ambercombie Fierce hanging gently in the air.

As I drove the girls home we passed a nursery lined with palm trees. Charming but they looked out of place. They don’t belong in Canton. It’s just not natural.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Backroads to Hell and Back

I'm off work all week; a near perfect staycation. Lots of riding. I use to do a weekly road ride to Hell Michigan but the roads between here and there are horrible. This year I got a cross bike so I could substitute dirt backroads for broken up paved roads. It works out well, nice roads and no truck outside rear view mirrors whipping past my head.

Crisscrossing the backroads are freeride trails made by young hoodlums, hoodlums I can relate with. Making trails on public property is technically illegal but admirable, much more admirable than playing video games.

I noticed one of these trails right behind the Hamburg Police department. This must put the police in a conundrum. The thought of an overweight police officer on his department issued Trek chasing a group of trespassing 12 year old boys is a wonderful image. Apparently some lack luster detective came up with a different plan: trap the kids by posting a sign asking for their help to build a freeride course in a parking lot. Seriously? That's the best the Hamburg Police could come up with? I can't imagine any 12 year old boy would fall for such nonsense. The whole scenario cracked me up. My driver's license says I'm 45 but my heart thinks I'm still a teenager.
Bill, not 40-dollar Bill but someone I work with, took my Yamaha RD350LC this morning. Apparently Cyclo-Dan reads my blog because Bill burst into my office after going to Dan's bike shop last week and asked if it were true I own a Canadian RD350, and if I would sell it. Ah no. I explained how it was more than just a motorcycle, it is the last little flicker of my youth. Bill is one of the few people who understands such things, and he also understands the art and science of tuning 2-stroke motors. He called me earlier this week and suggested I give him the motorcycle for free. He would tune, ride, and store it until I wanted it back. I agreed to this scheme but as the truck left I felt like one of my children was leaving me for prep school. Anyway, now I can fit everything left at my house in the back of my truck. A big step along the path of simplifying my life.