Saturday, August 9, 2014

I Ride Bikes

Let me tell you about my Grandmother.  See, my Dad's Mom grew up in a poor farm family.  She left home at 14 to work as a cook for a wealthy family.  Man she could cook!  She married my Grandfather and started making babies at an age that, nowadays, the biggest concern would be whether to live off campus or in a dorm.  Together, they ran their own farm, from kittens to pigs to corn and raised a passel of strong kids at the same time.

My Grandmother, who didn't have much education, had wisdom and common sense in spades.  The kind of common sense that comes from living a simple life composed mainly of hard work.

I'm telling you all of this by way of explanation.  See, my Grandmother had a wry sense of humor, informed by her life experiences.  When someone engaged in braggery, or got too big for their britches, or had their head in the clouds, she would bring them back to earth real quick.  She always had a funny remark that would remind you what size your britches really are.  And I love her for that.

She passed away a while ago, but she's still with me.  She's like my internal reality check.  Whenever I start forgetting who I really am, and what I am (and am not) capable of, I picture her, looking at me in her kitchen, with a twinkle in her eye and a wry smile, ready to deliver the reality to me.  Funny thing is, my best friends do that too - I'm looking at you, Peter. 

I wonder what my Grandmother would make of my generation.  Her generation was defined by by work and church.  There was time for little else.  For my friends, however, work is often just a means to do the things you really enjoy.  Work no longer defines us.  Look at facebook; you'll see bankers who define themselves as marathon-runners, insurance analysts who are really mountain bikers, and doctors who are masterful cooks.  In their private lives, their social media, they are telling you who they really are.  I'm cool with that.  It makes me happy that we have the luxury to define ourselves in ways my Grandmother couldn't.

Still, a bit of my Grandmother creeps in sometimes.  When we carefully curate our online selves, it's easy.  We start with a blank canvas.  We can be whoever we want, and define ourselves without any tether to reality. 

Via funnyjunk.com
Full circle: I ride bikes.  I am obsessed with bikes.  My social media presence reflects that.  Wonder what my Grandmother would say?

When I thought about writing a post today about a bike race I did last weekend, I thought about my Grandmother.  I know for sure that she'd laugh at me if I called myself a bike racer.  Truth is, I am an amateur, who pays to ride in the woods.  And I have only done it a couple times.  But I enjoy it and will continue to do it.


Reality
Facebook
With that bit of disclosure behind us, can I tell you about the race anyway?  Thanks! 

First off, if you want to read a writeup by someone who is qualified to call himself a racer, go over to Quickdirt.  James has a great writeup there.  He has also been encouraging me to race.  Thanks, James!

The race was at Lake Hope and run by OMBC.  My race started at registration.  They didn't have a "fat, old, and slow" category, so I chose "novice."  This is a nine-mile loop.  And, my age group (40-49) is called "Masters".  Cute. 

When I walked up to get my numberplate, they were at number 664.  I asked them to skip ahead a few for me.  Wouldn't you?

In honor of Stevil Kinevil at AHTBM
There was a $5 deposit on this plate.  A bargain, if you ask me.  Thusly blessed, I felt properly suited to head out into the woods. 

Lots of people showed up.  Everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  The atmosphere was festive.


We started in waves by race length and age group.

The wave ahead of me

The race started on a gravel road uphill.  I wanted to see what happened, so I started at the back of the pack.  But I'm a pretty good climber, so by the time we reached the top of the gravel road and entered the woods, I was in fourth position.  I held on to that position for a a mile or two, racing my legs off.  I could still see the leaders' jerseys ahead of me.

Then I went down in a turn.  Hard. 


I'm still limping from that. 

Anyhow, while I was picking myself up and putting my bike and body back in order, several riders passed me.  It took me a while to get my head right again.  There's this weird post-crash adrenaline thing that completely knocks you out of your zone.  But another 10 minutes later, I was back to normal.

There was a good uphill somewhere in the middle of the course.  Again, I'm a good climber, so I caught a couple people there.  One guy remarked as I passed "Didn't I already pass you?  You're not allowed to pass me."  He was smiling as he said this.  I shouted that he would catch me on the downhills, where I'm weak.  He laughed.  Then, on the next downhill, he caught me.  We laughed some more, but it was on.  We were now only racing each other.

We traded positions at least four more times, me catching him on the climbs, and him passing me on the downhill. 

The last climb out of the woods was a steep rooty staircase.  I saw him ahead of me and I turned myself inside out to pass him.  I did it, but I was spent, anaerobic, fried.  Then I saw that the climb wasn't over,  Shit.  We had another quarter mile to go, uphill on the road to the finish. 

But I was done.  It was all I could do to shift to the lowest gear and keep the legs spinning.  My competitor recovered faster and passed me again.  Damn!  He finished 7 seconds ahead of me.  At the finish, we laughed, bumped fists, and rode our separate ways.

I hung out with the COMBO race team after that  and cheered on the people finishing after me.  Great bunch of people.  Thanks for letting me crash your party!

Paul is my homie!


Anyhow, great day, great fun!  Am I a bike racer?  I don't know.  What do you think?

Be brave.  And do it as fast as possible!

Facebook worthy.



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