Sunday, October 29, 2006

Simple pleasures

Sunday, 29 October

An extra hour of sleep and a ride on a tandem. What more do you need?

Thanks to new teammate and long-time friend Brian (with permission from his wife), I had a sweet ride today on a steel Erickson tandem. Nice bike, experienced captain. Life was all very good. Who cares that it was cold, that it poured rain from Renton to Mercer Island, that there were leaves everywhere, or that we couldn't just let the bike rip through some of the turns on MI (because of the wet pavement under the wet leaves)?

We had to test the waters (aka "show off") and punched it after the little riser on Rainier Avenue; we managed to drop everyone but Jonah. After about half a mile, though, we faded big time (aka "blew up"). They got their revenge by ramping it up on Mercer Island, which is mostly uphill when you ride clockwise. It was all a ton of fun, though.

Brian's 3-year-old daughter interrogated me before we left: "Why do you want to ride the tandem?" "Because it's so much fun." "Why?" It's just fun, trust me!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cross...sort of

Thursday, 26 October

Yes, I made it to the cyclocross practice at Marymoor last night. Yes, I learned a lot, thanks to Kristi and Craig. Yes, it was even mostly fun. Yes, I got back on the bike today to practice. wasn't all perfect.

My drive to Marymoor got short-circuited because SR 522 was completely shut down, so I had to park at Log Boom and ride to Marymoor. And back. 13 miles each way. On knobby tires. At least they were wrong about the weather and it was dry. It is kind of cool to ride up the Sammamish Trail in the dark.

I rode maybe a sum total of two miles during practice. For that I went through the hoops to borrow a bike (thanks PruDog), swap out the saddle, take off the rack, go buy tires and put them on (I think they even rotate in the right direction--my mechanic skills are less than legendary), etc. etc.

It hurt like hell after about 30 minutes. All that riding around on my left foot on the left side of the bike with so much weight on my left side, and those sore ribs (on the left side, of course) were sorer and telling me about it. I had to quit after about an hour, and the pain was enough for some waves of nausea on the way back to Log Boom.

However....I shouldn't be such a whiner.

I like riding the cross bike. Except for the tedium of knobby tires on smooth pavement, it handles nicely and feels really stable. I've now ridden most of K2's bike product line: cross, road, TT, and mountain bikes. I am happy and comfortable on them all.

I won't admit to liking the triple chainring. But the Campy shifters are great. Mrs. P has a nice bike!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

When I can't ride

Saturday, 21 October

After my too-close encounter with wet pavement last Sunday, I spent today doing everything but riding my bike.

First, I got to track Leslie and Jamie and their WINS at the Head of the Charles. You guys are awesome! I hope you're celebrating in style!

(Well, truly first, I got to SLEEP IN!)

I got to attend the annual WSBA calendar meeting. Highlights for 2007 are a bunch of time trials, somebody's theory that we need a state circuit race championship race, and a new state stage race/omnium championship in Bellingham and environs. Also found out that masters nationals are scheduled to begin next year on the 5th of July, again in Seven Springs.

I pursued alternative healing techniques. One I've known about for a while is pineapple, which is good for reducing bruising. A new one for me is getting my feline to purr, which is supposed to help bones heal faster. My cat doesn't seem to mind being used in this way.

I went to the gym to burn some calories. The recumbent stationary bike does a pretty good job of making me work up a sweat and also supporting my sore ribs, but 40 minutes was all I could take of that seat (I'm sorry, but it's not a "saddle"). I almost fell asleep in the sauna!

And I had the energy to cook something that took more than 20 minutes! Tonight's repast was pumpkin/spinach/ricotta ravioli with sage cream sauce (which used nonfat milk, not cream). Yummmmmmy. There was plenty of pumpkin left for pumpkin cranberry bread, too. I was reminded that recipe yields do not apply to cyclists and that food photography is very difficult. Quite frankly, the very best part of the whole meal was the late tomato out of the garden that I used for garnish. "Bursting with flavor" would be an understatement.

Oh, and for those skeptics out there, I even had a few live, face-to-face conversations with Old as Dirt. Since I heard last weekend that it was bad form for me to miss his cyclocross debut, I will head down to Donida Farms tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jamie update

Thursday, 19 October

Jamie races in event #13 (auspicious, eh?) at 12:08 (EDT, I assume) on Saturday in the Head of the Charles Regatta (in Boston):

Since he's not allowed to race in the division with national teams, and since he's no longer collegiate, he has to sandbag in some has-been category with some old college rowing friends (in a borrowed boat). And they totally smoke the competition (can you imagine the wattage of Jamie and 3 guys like him?). Which makes them ineligible from competing the following year. Jamie was pretty excited about this event way back in August when he was describing it to me at Pacific Raceways, so I'm sure it's a highlight of his year.

Jamie's Wines teammate and one-time tandem partner, Leslie, races in event #6 at 10:19. What a pair of all-around awesome athletes!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thanks, Jonny & PDog!

Tuesday, 17 October

Thanks to Jonny from Recycled for picking up the pieces of me and my bike that I managed to spread all over the street at Denny Blaine Park north of Leschi on Sunday. I never imagined that plastic rain jackets were like so much teflon when launched at 20 mph over a wet road. I needed some kevlar around my rib cage, though.

And thanks to PDog for being the gallant gentleman and offering to loan me the cyclocross bike of his wife, the "very pregnant, very hot Mrs. PDog" (his words, not mine), for my little trial in that cycling discipline. Hopefully the wounds will moderate by next Wednesday so that I can do a few laps around Marymoor.

Thanks again, guys!! Jonny, I hope I never have to return that favor, and PDog, if I go on one of your rides right now, even Craig will be complaining that he didn't know anyone could ride THAT slow!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Want to borrow

Wednesday, 11 October

I made it to Marymoor tonight to try out the cyclocross practice. Kenny had very kindly put together a bike for me to ride and all I needed was pedals. Sadly, the bike was too big for me and the bottom of the pedal stroke was just a little too far down. I probably looked like I was trying out the Superman position on a cross bike too. So.....

WANT TO BORROW: small cyclocross bike. Smaller than 53 cm? Complete bike. Just for a few Wednesday night practices this autumn. I have no plans to race...but you never know what might happen.

My new team has a fancy schmancy team message board where I am supposed to be able to post things like this to reach my 200 new teammates, but it don't work. So we'll try this. I suspect that fewer than 200 people read this, but maybe the 2 who do know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who has a spiffy little cross bike just collecting dust. Leave me a comment or contact me by email if you do. Please?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Where art thou, James?

Monday, 9 October

I try to be patient with my friends. Really, I do (they may not have noticed). For nearly four months now, I've been reading these words: "Saturday was the Ballard crit." But the Ballard crit has come and gone and been forgotten by all but Tricia (who should savor it sweetly all winter). One blog entry only lasts so long. Maybe "stupid-cyclist" realizes he's no longer a stupid cyclist and is blogging under a different nom d'ethernet? Maybe he just relishes the fact that he was doing it first and puts blogging in the "been there, done that" column. But I miss his sweet musings.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

365 days

8 October

365 days. That's how long it's been since everything in my mouth had DNA. That's how long it's been since I could sing without my voice cracking or whistle when I call my cat. That's how long it's been since I could say I'd never broken any bones. That's how long it's been since I could eat an apple without a knife. That's how many days the hospital bills have been trickling into my mailbox. And that's how long it's been since I was forever broken of the childhood habit of biting my fingernails.

One year ago today, a lot happened to me in a few seconds I still cannot remember. But better and funner and more important things have happened to me since. In the process of making myself relearn some old things, I learned to do them better. I try to gauge progress not by how far I have yet to go, but (most of the time) by how far I have come. I've learned to be thankful for what I can do instead of upset about what I can't do. Healing is a complicated process that's a little bit about the health-care profession and a lot about the attitude that family and friends and you yourself build to conquer the new challenges you face.

On every one of those 365 days, I've been grateful for how lucky I am. Not just in terms of getting past the crash, either. Truly stoked I am to be able to ride and race my bike (and others' tandems on my luckiest days), to learn continually from doing so, and to ride with good people who make the challenge exciting and rewarding. The fun I had in my two favorite races this year was simply off the charts; you do not get that kind of thrill or excitement or reward by sitting on the couch waiting to be 100% healed.

There are some funny things in English about healing. I cannot say "I'm good as new." But I can confidently say that, at least in some ways, "I'm better."