Sunday, March 10, 2013

Inquiring Cyclists Need to Know

While the book writing is in a bit of a lull right now my riding is going strong.  Yesterday, I put in my first big ride of the year at 67 miles.  I’m not sure I rode that far at all last year.  Since we were increasing the distance, Coach Tim and I decided to get a very early start.  We would leave from his house at 7:15, which meant I was rolling from home at 6:45.

As you can imagine the city streets are pretty quiet at 6:45 on a Saturday morning.  At least they are here in Santa Rosa.   In fact, for the first mile or so I didn’t see a single car.  However, what happened when I did eventually see that first car on the road generated a litany of questions in my mind as I rode to Tim’s.

Here’s what happened.  I was cruising along enjoying the quiet ride.  The traffic light ahead of me was green and since there were no cars around I expected to roll right on through.  However, before I got to the light, a car (the first of the day) came in from the left just in time to change my light to red and make me stop.  This happened two more times before I got to Tim’s.  After the third time I was thinking, “how in the hell do these cars always seem to time it perfectly so my light changes and I have to stop?”

As I finished the ride to meet Tim I couldn’t help but think of other questions that inquiring cycling minds need to know and I pose them to you here.  Feel free to comment if you think you know the answer.

Q – What is it about the smell of cinnamon buns coming from the bakery that makes your legs go weak?  (This same question applies to the morning aroma of chorizo and frijoles cooking at the little taqueria stands in Roseland.)

Q – How can 40 riders, who have their bikes pointed in 40 different directions, start the ride as a picture-perfect definition of grace, harmony and unison as we clip in and start to roll?

Q – How is that these same 40 riders, who are now going in the same direction, turn into the police from a Charlie Chaplin movie on the road when someone yells “Car Back!”?

Q – How come young stupid guys in pick up trucks only know how to shout one word (it always seems to be faggot) as they drive by?

Q – Why do so many century rides place the lunch stop at the base of a big climb?

Q – If I haven’t had a flat in over 4-months should I change the tubes as preventive maintenance or keep making daily sacrifices to Bibendum?

Q – Will Westside Road ever be repaved?

I’m sure there are more but that’s all I can think of for right now.  So while you sip your coffee and give these questions some very studious thought I’m going to get back to the book.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Time for Reflection

I’ve decided that I need to start blogging again even though I’m in the middle of writing a book.  There are just too many good things to talk about.  To be honest, it’s really this felt need I have to share my experiences and feelings with others.

The real catalyst for this revival happened a couple of weeks ago.  I had one of those weekends just makes you realize how great life was and how those occasional periods of chaos shouldn’t drown out the good stuff.

It actually started with working on the book, which will be about my adventures in cycling.  I was working on the first section where I talked about how I got into cycling in the first place and some of the great, great people I’ve met along the way.  This started my period of reflection.  It was so nice to sit back and remember the people I’ve met who have made such a positive impact on my life.  It was also fun to relive some of the great rides from my earlier days as a neo-cyclist and how much has changed since then.

After a great morning of writing, reflecting and drinking coffee, it was time to stop writing about cycling and go for a ride.  I’m feeling much stronger this year so I wanted to do a kind of pre-season test to see how the legs were really feeling.  This meant it was time to climb.

I was thinking about a climb called Sweetwater, which is a true bitch of a climb.  However, it’s in the middle of nowhere without cell coverage so Sherry would prefer I not tackle that alone.  So she says, “Why not climb Los Alamos?”  This is another brutal climb that’s a mere 5 miles from the house.  As I started to roll I couldn’t help but think about how great Sherry is and how when lucky I am to have her in my life.

As I start the climb up Los Alamos I am immediately reminded of why I don’t climb it all that often.  It is brutal with sustained pitches of 15% or more.  Still, on this day I was feeling stronger then ever as I climbed.  Part of this was due to my form but I think another part was something much larger.

You see, this was the first time I climbed Los Alamos since a young man of 23, who was adored by the local cycling community, died at the summit.  As I understand it this was his favorite climb.  I couldn’t help but think of Matt with each turn of the pedal.  The sadness of losing him at such a young age mixed with knowing that he died doing what he loved the most on his favorite ride was a very powerful moment for me.

I believe it was Matt’s spirit calling me to the summit (yes, I do believe in such things).  When I reached the summit I took a few minutes to pause next to the small memorial in his honor.  As I stood there looking out over the valleys and hills under a grey and cloudy sky, I couldn’t help but be reminded that I have a great life.

I truly hope that everyone finds these moments in life where you can take the time to stop and reflect on how great life can truly be.