Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Hello Bike, Do you remember me?

  I am sitting in Russian lecture the other day, I should be paying attention. However, as my tutor will tell you that doesn't often happen. I'm looking out the window and thinking what a great day it would be to go for a ride, if only I rode my bike. I get my attention snapped back by a word. Cmeptb (pronounced smert) which means death. Immediately a song lyric flashes in my head. "Leave tonight, or stay and die this way." So I have two options; keep pushing my life back by not riding and keep come up with a reason not to ride or stop being a wimp and just go do it. The teacher wasn't even able to finish  до свидания before I was out the door. I didn't really have time to think about what I really needed or wanted; shoes, helmet, water, and bike, that seemed sufficient. I guess I didn't learn my lesson from 127 hours because I left without telling anyone where I was going, but I did grab a swiss army knife so I thought it canceled the other out. I knew that this ride was going to go one of two ways: A.) I would be so timid that I would probably wobble back and forth and fall over before making it 5 feet in total or B.) I would take the mentality that not even a car can take mt out so why would anything in the forest be able to do the deed. 

Much to my mother's dismay I went with the latter, I took drops and descents that I probably would have thought twice about before. As a result it was one of the most pure rides I think I've ever had, I wasn't even really thinking I was just riding. In hind sight I should have realized that taking 7 months off doesn't mean I'll be able to do amazing trick that I couldn't do before, but I still tried. I'm just glad that when I fell off a log I went right and not left into the electrical box (win!)

If I go missing, I'm in here ^
I've actually been out a couple of times since then. It's funny because I start in the same place thinking I'm going to be following the same path I've taken the last time. But riding is much like life, you look and see something you didn't before and it turns out to be a sick trail with all the fixings, and you missed it before because you were so focused on getting to where you thought you needed to be. I did notice, however, that in an Easter dress my legs looked quiet mangled from all the bumps/bruises and turns along the way but it's minor factor in the overall picture. At least my parents will be happy I took off the spider man band-aid.  

If there is one thing I've learned from my history with my bum leg is that you have to be proactive. Nobody really cares if you never run again, just like nobody is going to make me get back on the bike. Today I actually went to the bike shop to test ride a few bikes. It was actually the first time I've been on a road bike since the crash and I went full force, riding on streets, taking turns, and dealing with cars. I didn't even think about getting hit, I mean I did, but it wasn't controlling me like I thought it would. There was one time where my heart started racing when a car was awkwardly driving in the middle of the road, much like the one that hit me did. Maybe my subconscious set it off, or maybe it was the hill I was attacking. Anyways I found a bike, this is where my dad is going to roll his eyes. Because I know all the components and I know what the bike is capable of, but honestly I picked it because of the color. It's gorgeous and will do everything I need to to exceptionally well, but really it was just too beautiful not to get. I guess I really am my mother's daughter. And I made fun of her because she bought her car because it had a CD player and was white. . . .

As far as Heft went he did live, but he realized that he didn't have to be the best at cycling to be a good person, which I think gets lost in our society sometimes. He scaled back his training and didn't try to kill his body so much but he spent more time with his children and less time worrying about his power output. Not to say he stopped riding or taking it seriously he just scaled it back and wasn't quiet so obsessed. Maybe incidents like that are need to make someone take a break and to actually re-evaluate just what they are running from.  

As for the rest of the reading with DF I poked around Michael Phelps book, and Kelly Slater's but I'm mainly on the writing portion of the class. I'm trying to answer the question what makes the different between peak performance and champion performance. Let me tell you every champion you asks tells you a different answer so needless to say it seems to be never ending at this point.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tour de Harry Potter!

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the EXACT same day. Two men both altering the course of history, both so well known that all is needed is a last name to know exactly who is implied, on the same day. I mean, really, what are the odds? Well, wikipedia doesn't have those statistics posted, and much to my biostats professor's dismay I don't even know where to start to calculate that, I mean I know that it only takes 22 people for 2 of them to share the same birthday so that's not very high, but two people that famous, well that's pretty unlikely. I can tell you that statistically a cyclist can expect a minor accident/injury every 3 years and a more serious one every 15. So I figure I'm good to go for a while now, I told this to DF and he told me I can't live my life on statistics. Which is true but at the same time statistics are like stereotypes they're not always true, but some of them are and are based on something. So while statistically I should be good at least until 2025, I'm not going to be tempting fate either and ride in the middle of the street, or dash through red lights, or spit on car windows (even if the driver deserves it), at least not for a while. 

Yesterday was another day of firsts, it was the first day that I felt antsy to get out and ride, not antsy anxious, but antsy so much that I'm starting to look at mountain trails and see what openings I have in my schedule this week. I'm even starting to take the first step of buying a new bike and going into the shop that I work at for a proper bike fit, instead of just saying "oh maybe next week I'll get to it." I'm even going to bring my road bike in to see if there is anyway it can be salvaged to be at least somewhat functional, not race functional but let me go to the store at a slow pace functional. 

The only problem is that I have this sudden desire to just grab my mountain bike and go to some random woods (no mom, not completely random, I will not be calling for directions . . . again) and find some single track or double track. Unfortunately my car, which I would be using to transport my bike away from the crazy Worcester roads is in the shop because some masshole decided it would be a good idea to run into the back of my car and take out my bike rack. I swear these people out here have something against bikes, and all things related.

So I'm going to try and go out tomorrow after I pick my car up, which is ironic because it would be my first ride on the east coast since the accident and it's also the first day of court proceedings. I'm not sure where the new found motivation to go out is coming from, maybe it's the nice weather, or the fact that I had a complete break down on Friday and my mind realizes it might be the only way to stay sane until graduation . . .I'm not sure, but I don't hate it.

As far as read goes I read "Cycling Philosophy for Everyone: A Tour de Force" which has seemed to jump on the band wagon of calling everything Tour de _______ (cleverly fill in the blank to replace France and BAM you have a cycling hit!) The book talks about the ways philosophy, culture, and existential experiences arise when human energy is propelling two wheels. It encompasses a lot though, Lennard Zinn, Greg LeMond, and Lance Armstrong (and if you only know 1 of those names you are propably in line with the majority of Americans, and by default I'm sure you can figure out what the other 2 do if you know Lance). It touches on kinesiology, literature, political aspects, issues woman face in the industry, so a nice introductory book into our next focus of the course, which is cycling. It also means that after this book I get to pick the reading for the remainder of the semester! Harry Potter?!?? I'm sure we can work that in! Ha

Actually I went to the book store the other day and scaled their stands for bicycling related books. There are plenty of training bibles and books that promise you the ability to "climb like Lance" but not a lot of books that talk about other aspects of riding than just training. Training is very important, but I can't exactly keep a training diary and have that count as class credit, that would be pushing the envelop a little much. . . whomp whomp.
Does this look like a professional sufer to you?
I scanned the sports related reading to see what else I could find. I ran across "Soul Surfer" which has nothing to do with bicycling, but it's about this girl who has hopes of becoming a professional surfer when (spoiler alert!) her arm gets bit off by a shark. I figure it was relevant becasue she also went through a random attack for no rhyme or reason and it has significantly altered her life and (momentarily) derailed her plans. It's a quick read, I read it all on one of my long rides in the gym. I can only imagine what other people at the gym think of me because the other day I was watching a stand up comedian and could not stop laughing, he was hilarious (in case you're wondering his name is Daniel Tosh, youtube him, you will not be disappointed). And then I bring this book in and in some places I'm moved to tears, literally pedaling with tears streaming down my cheeks. Maybe they thought I was so upset with how slow I was riding (in my defense it was a long recovery ride, HR below 130) but no, it was not because of the ride. It was really hard to read when she talks about her parents and how much they have supported her and how strong they were through it all, it reminded me of my parents and how many years I have taken off their lives because of the stress I have put on them. . .not great. . . It's a great read though and the movie is coming out soon so I'll put that on my syllabus! 

Does this look like a rider?
 The other book I got, just so DF wouldn't think I was slacking, was a random grab, and I only followed through with the purchase after seeing the cover because it was under 10 and figure it couldn't hurt. The name is "Heft on Wheels" and this guys wasn't kidding. When he first started biking he was close to 280 (and I complain about having to carry 145 pounds up a hill, I can only imagine), smoking a pack a day (sometimes 2) and a raging alcoholic (which once you're out of college that's what it's called when you drink to get drunk 3+ nights a week). But this guy has so much motivation to prove himself he can do it, and he does. He transforms his diet, stops smoking and drinking and starts biking. Simple, right? Not exactly he does have a relapse at Red Lobster one night. Those cheesy biscuits get me too, so that's understandable. But the more miles he does the more his body and soul get transformed. Even the way he treats people drastically changes for the better, he has a completely new outlook on everything. At first I just thought it would be a nice little read, something I could talk to DF about motivation, drive, transformation, maybe be able to bring in some psychology aspects, nothing much, then I read the first chapter. It starts with him a year after he gets on the bike, he's on a group ride, one that he used to get his ass kicked on and now he's the one leading it. He's about 50 feet in front of the next rider when a truck hits him, by a driver who wasn't able to get a license for the past 10 years due to driving issues. From there it goes back and starts at the beginning of his riding days and works its way back up to the accident. Now I can't tell you how he recovers from the accident as I haven't gotten to that but I will keep you informed. My guess is he lives, as he goes on to write the book, but life is full of surprises so I don't put all my eggs in one basket.