WHAT’S IN A CLIMB’S NAME?
A lot of climbs have names that are overtly trying to humble you.
Then there’s one of our local climbs.
It has a seemingly-innocuous name.
It’s tame, but it usually comes at the end of a longer ride so it’s where you empty the tank. You leave whatever you’ve got left in you on that climb.
We’ve always called it 9-Minute Hill, for obvious reasons.
Turns out some other folks call it something else.
Do yourself a favor and Google “Strava 7 Minute Hill.”
Well, ain’t that an ego shrinker.
And look at those times. Could be 5-Minute Hill.
Maybe it’s the 30-Minute Martinis I had.
Or the 10-Minute Fried Mozzarella Sticks.
Whatever. I’ve got to face the facts.
It’ll never be 7-Minute Hill if I’ve got 9-Minute Legs and a 12-Minute Gut.
WHAT’S IN A CLIMB’S NAME?
IN PRAISE OF WINTER RIDING.
The long, hard, cold months of winter training are over. The concern whether I had enough clean base layers, arm and leg warmers, booties and all the other stuff up there in that photo…done for a while.
The warm weather is here.
So as I look back on those months of opening the front door of my house at 6am in my kit and having a blast of frigid, morning air hit me like a bucket of icy water, I ask myself why I did it.
There’s a brilliant Nike ad from years ago that pictured a runner slogging through waist-deep snow and the headline read: Somewhere there’s a nice, warm place where all the second-place guys train.
That used to be my mindset back then.
but now it’s different.
Now, the advantage I have by getting out there in the cold is not that I got more fitness, but that I got more riding. More time out on the trail and road.
It’s not me versus them.
It’s not me versus anything.
It’s me giving to me.
Kinda makes me miss those cold months.
THE UPSIDE OF SICKNESS
If it weren’t enough that I’m barely recovering from a major crash, I just got sick, too. And I assume that a few of you out there are going through the same mental process I am.
See, I just started a fitness regime when a virus changed that schedule.
I imagine that, while I’m coughing uncontrollably and achy, everyone else is out there hitting their stride, passing me up and hitting fitness goals effortlessly while I backslide. The virus is an anchor, holding me down. I’m talking of course about small, manageable colds and other such maladies that are more of a temporary inconvenience than a serious threat to one’s life.
I often find that, in the long run, getting sick did not hold me back. Or set me back. Quite the opposite. The fact that I got sick meant my immune system was weak - i was coming off of three weeks on post-surgery antibiotics. I was probably under rested. I wasn’t going to make any fitness strides in that state. The rest I have been forced into by sickness is the rest I need. To heal muscles. To strengthen my immune system. Soon I can get back to it. Sure, the first couple times out will be rusty. But even that is what I needed.
For about the thousandth time I get to experience that scary, stiff, unsure and exciting feeling.
A fresh start.
You know those superhero movies or TV shows where all it takes is a small mask to render someone completely unrecognizable. Superman or Batman take off that tiny mask and nobody has a clue.
I used to think that was really dumb.
It was a leap of faith I just could not take. Until recently.
See, I’ve been riding up the same trail almost daily for 9 years. Every single morning I would run into the same people and say “hello.” There’s Ed and his two big hounds. Tom and his black & white mutt “Oreo.” The gaggle of women of undetermined ethnicity who wore strong perfume, even while hiking, and would not budge from the trail. No matter, I greeted them all - most by name - and they greeted me back.
But I’m not cycling these days.
I’m very slowly trying out trail running.
So the helmet and lycra kit is off and it’s a t-shirt and running shorts.
And I’m a stranger to these people.
I will never scoff again at the concealing nature of the Lone Ranger’s thin strip of a mask.
And apparently there’s room for a new superhero who hides his identity behind the most effective disguise of all.
A Giro helmet.
“THE _____ GUY.”
When I tell people that, since my latest crash, I may not ride a bike anymore, they don’t believe me.
That’s very telling.
Shows that I’ve been through this before and come back.
Shows that it’s really obvious to all around me how much I’ve loved bikes.
It shows how much cycling was a part of my identity.
I’ve been “the bike guy” at every job I’ve held for the last 15 - 20 years.
I’m guessing a fair number of you hold the same title amongst your peers.
But I’ve been other stuff.
Before that I was “the triathlete guy.”
Before that, through high school and college I was “the swimmer / water polo guy.”
Before that I was the “surfer / skater / BMX rider” kid.
And I wore those titles proudly because I loved all those things.
Some of them I’d love to do again but lately I was focused on cycling.
Perhaps it’s time I got back in touch with them.
Perhaps it’s time for some new things.
Things that get me out into the outdoors (like cycling), that test my fitness and endurance (like cycling) but won’t make my wife and kids scared every time I leave the house (like cycling).
So who knows, I may be back on the bike again. For sure, to ride with the kids to school and back. And on Sundays to Blinkie’s Doughnuts. And maybe to a pub or three.
But I’m eager and excited to try other outdoorsy things. And I’m eager to share the same kinds of honest insights and wisdoms.
If you’ll have me.
Then maybe I’ll hold a new title.
“The outdoors guy.”
“The trail runner guy.”
Or maybe I can move beyond those titles.
Maybe just “Brian” is good enough.
HELLO E.R., OLD FRIEND
I went down again. Badly.
Enough that I’m considering leaving this sport.
I know that’s a bit dramatic, but when I’ve put my wife through that “phone call” from the hospital, seen my 11 year old son try to keep it together and my daughter cry as they brought me off the ambulance on a spinal board with my face in pieces and my brain function spotty, I have to question how fair it is to keep putting them through that.
Especially since it’s not the first time.
And this was not a race.
It was not a technical trail.
I was just riding along.
And then I wasn’t.
So at the very least I’m taking a long long time away from the bike.
My family needs a break.
And my broken face needs one, too.
I get back from one 24 hour race camping excursion, springtime weather starts to show itself and just like that, the 2013 edition of my annual short-term obsession with campers kicks off.
A peek at my browser history shows nothing seedy, but everything outdoorsy.
The name brand - Sportsmobile
The fantasy reaching a fever pitch now.
Then, feeling I’ve gone too far, I pull back. Maybe just an Urban Assault Vehicle will suffice.
In the end I’ll realize that I simply cannot justify anything more than a borrowed tent, sleeping pad and my 20 year old North Face Cat’s Meow bag.
Madness turns to sanity.
And good ol’ camping starts to look right again.
HAPPY FRIDAY: RIDE YOUR BIKE THIS WEEKEND.
Mr. Byrne up there is quite the bicycle advocate. Read for yourself.
My energy on the bike is waning these days – I need this song to Pull Me Up.
It’s lighter later. You know what that means. I can commute home and Remain In Light.
That’s it. My weekend should be pretty much as it always is.
Same as it ever was.
Same as it ever was.
(photo courtesy of purple.fr)
MOTIVATION, DECORATION OR SELF FLAGELLATION.
I’ve got my own little hall of fame going in the garage. This is the staging area for my (almost) daily rides.
Mementoes. Old, prized frames. Race numbers.
It’s very garage-y.
Some days it inspires me by reminding me of the challenges met and good times had.
Other days it reminds me that I’ve got to at least try to get back into that kind of shape.
Most days it’s just décor.
Do you do this? Paste up the race numbers?
Or do you toss them in the trash, saving only the memories?
I’m not that strong. I need to remind myself.
It’s that little extra motivation and flagellation.
And, let’s be honest, a bit of psychological masturbation.