Monday, July 20, 2009

Riding with Mike

My brother-in-law, Mike, is visiting town for the week and I got the chance to ride with him on Saturday and again on Sunday. We only get to see each about twice a year and we can’t always count on cycling to be on the agenda. So besides being family, you might be wondering what is so special about riding with Mike. Quite simply, he was the catalyst for my passion for cycling.

In the fall of 2002, while drinking beer and wine at a family gathering, Mike asked if I wanted to compete in the half Vineman with him. Since I didn’t even know what that was he was kind enough to explain that it was a half Ironman distance triathlon where you swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and then finish with a 13.1 mile run. It seemed that he and Robert, my other brother-in-law, were both participating and suggested I join in the fun.

Now you need to understand something before I go on. I really, really dislike swimming. I did some running and a little, very little, mountain biking. As Mike was talking and going over the distances involved my mind was screaming “Hell no!” but my response came out “let’s do it”.

Over the next year I trained with Mike a lot (Robert bailed about 30 minutes after he said yes). Actually, that’s not really true in the technical sense. In reality, I followed Mike a lot because the dude is a frigging animal. While I was stomping out 8-minute miles, he’s popping in at 6:15. On our 50-mile rides, he could easily be home and showered before I finish. His time in his first half Ironman was just over 5 hours. However, that was fine with me though since he is 11 years younger.

The cool thing was I really got a chance to know Mike during this training. Chatting during rides, post-ride coffees, and while driving to race starts allowed us to forge a deeper relationship that we still have today. And that’s why I was so excited about Saturday’s ride.

Mike and head out and I am interested to see how it goes. I mean after all, I am a much stronger rider today then during our old training days right? As we head out I purposely pick routes that allow us to chat. And chat we did. In the end it we managed a delightful 35-mile ride that offered no real challenges.

Then came Sunday. Mike and his family live in Phoenix and our group decided to take him on the anti-Phoenix ride. That meant King Ridge. Just over 50 miles of monster climbs, redwoods, vineyards and the Pacific Ocean. Of course, Mike has a tri-bike. No triple, no compact crank, and no 27 on the back. So what happens when we hit the big climbs? He simply floats up close to 5000 feet of climbing likes he’s riding a beach cruiser to the local coffee shop on a lazy Sunday morning. (I, on the other hand, completely cracked but I’ll tell that story later in the week.)

Mike and the family head home on Friday. We are hoping for one more ride on Wednesday but we may have to settle for dinner instead. Still, the next time he heads into town, or I head to Phoenix, you can bet the bike will be in tow and we will pick up just where we left off.


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