Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Relaxed Pace

Two events are looming on my horizon: sitting for the AICP exam, and the Mohican 100(k).  Not that I won’t have other things to do after those paramount events pass, but a lot of stress will evaporate after the Mohican retreats.

I’ve seriously considered trading the sporty-sport bike for something more my style.  In a day or so I have a little bit of good news to announce, and that news relates to the “need” for a more suitable commuter/touring bike.  I’ve had my eye on Mark’s Disc Trucker for some time, and maybe now is the time to begin staging a hostile takeover. 
You’re probably asking yourself why I would steal a bike from a friend and librarian.  I’m asking why you don’t just send me money to help me buy a fleet of Surly-themed bikes.  Disc Trucker, Krampus, ECR, Ogre.  Why would I need three mountaining type cycles?  It’s secret.
The thing is…the sporty-sport bike makes me feel nimble and quick.  It feeds my speed-obsessive nature.  It makes me feel like I could be a contender.  We all know otherwise, but still…
Anyway, I went for a ride with Mandy and Casey the other day.  We did the obligatory Gorge Loop.  Since I had previously broken three hours I had nothing to prove, and I opted to ride the Cannonball.  Limiting myself on the heavier bike was actually relaxing.  I had my camera.  I wore real clothes.  It was just a nice ride.
The weather was perfect.  It wasn’t too hot, and I wasn’t freezing like I had been Friday night at Bean's softball game.  The cooler weather is nice, but I was almost ready to pack up all the winter clothes.  Glad I didn’t.
For the most part I rode to myself as Mandy and Casey chatted.  I enjoyed the scenery and took a few photos as we surfed the dapples on the pavements under the green canopy of trees.  Mostly I just rode along with my thoughts and lived for a time in memory, thinking back on days of my younger years when I enjoyed true unabashed freedom in the days before school loans and the responsibilities of being a husband and father.
But I didn’t feel free then.  At that time in my life—when I roamed at will through the Red River Gorge and sometimes hiked or climbed eight days a week—I felt enslaved to my youth and inexperience.  I didn’t have money or the means to make money.  I was enslaved to low paying jobs, no local opportunity, and no examples of success to pattern my life after.  I felt enslaved to destiny and so I set out to find my way out of the dark valley of my life.
There was a lot of traffic on Sunday
I was successful.  I found a family.  I worked ridiculously hard to finish college, get a degree, and start down a career path…even if it was a bit late in life.  I was free to determine my own path, and the course of my days when I was younger, but I wasn’t empowered like I am now.  I didn’t have the amazing support of an incredible wife and the love of two truly amazing children.
Saturday night I swapped out Mandy’s drivetrain.  I gave her a new chain and cassette on her bike.  She’s been riding enough that she really had worn them out.  My own drivetrain needs some love as well, but since she primarily rides one bike and I spread out my travels on three, I had to prioritize hers.  And I’m glad I did.  She has a couple extra teeth to climb with.

And climb she did!  Despite the crazy motorists who insisted on passing three cyclists in a steep curve Mandy killed it.  We stuck together and in about 12 minutes we cranked up the stout hill.  It wasn't easy, but even after expending all that force to climb up on the ridge we all still had plenty left to carry us home feeling good.
We had a good ride.  We made great time despite it being a social ride.  After a long pause at Sky Bridge Station for Ale-8s and some tech cord (oh, we be climbin’!) we pushed for home.  And we pushed hard.
Casey peeled off at South Fork and Mandy and I set into a solid pace on home.  When it was all said and done our overall average was a full mile an hour faster than their usual pace for the Gorge Loop.  And it wasn’t because I was pulling draft duty.  They stayed out front most of the time and set the pace.  I was truly along for the ride.
Saturday I had started a descent.  The big picture was dragging me back into the mire.  I was wrestling again with demons and dragons.  I was mortally afraid of where my week was headed.  But the ride, and subsequent garden work (we have quite a bit of greenery in the ground to take care of) seemed to boost my spirits out of the muck.
I’d had some trouble with the mountain bike.  Broke that spoke, Jeff fixed it and five others and trued the wheel, and then when I put the tire back on the valve stem leaked and I couldn’t stem the flow.  After digging in the dirt for a bit I retreated to the Bike Cave and fiddled with the wheel for a while and sorted it all out.  Monday morning I subjected The One (my trusty mountain bike) to the indignity of being hauled on the back of my car to work so I could ride at Veteran’s Park at lunch.
There is no relaxing at VP.  I go full out.  When I go to there I go to fight.  And I don’t expect to come back without feeling like it.  It’s a different kind of relaxation though.  It’s a full on mind flush-out.  I can’t do much thinking or pondering when I’m slamming down on the pedals and my chest is heaving to the point of bursting.  VP is about maximum effort for me.  That’s why I go at 11:00am through the week.  Nine times out of ten there’s no one else on the trails.  And then on the tenth time I almost run over babies walking by strollers pushed my mothers who don’t realize it’s a mountain bike trail, or trailrunners who have to have their dogs and tunes while the mosey along the bike trail, or nature lovers oblivious to the sub-Clyde mass barreling at them at a high rate of speed.
Yesterday I felt like I was giving it 200%, but Strava tells a different story.  I was going all out, standing up on the pedals to climb hills I normally cranked from a seated position, tucking deep into myself to keep from clipping small (and large) trees with my shoulder and head, and I finally figured out the berms and rode them as fast and as hard as I could.  No dice.
I must have been calorie deficient.  While I was putting forth the maximum physical effort, I must have been running low on fuel.  On the very last turn before exiting the woods my front tire skidded and I ended up splayed out in the trail with some nice mudrash to take back to work.  Stung a little.

Man, I was sure I was sparking a whole slew of PRs though.  It felt like I was back on the moon of Endor chasing Jedi.  I mean, that’s why we mountain bike, right?
Oh well, there’s always lunch today.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to hear the forthcoming big announcement. Glad you got out and had an enjoyable time on the bike over the weekend. Too bad about the mud rash, but its just a mark of honor, a badge of effort.