Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Every Boy Needs a Hobby and a Better Raincoat

On Passions
Today, BSNYC reminded me how lucky I am to have cycling. I look forward to every weekend ride the same way people live for their vacations. By Wednesday evening, I'm plotting the route, tweaking the bike, exchanging plans with JK, and generally getting excited. Come Thursday I might tone down the workout to leave me fresh. On Friday night I love the ritual of packing my bag, laying the bottles, bar, and gel on the counter, and setting up the steel cut oats in the slow cooker. Then, on Saturday morning, I like to get up early and have a hot breakfast with tea, while brewing a mug of coffee for the road. In fact, I love this routine so much that I can go for long stretches without a proper vacation only because it means I get to ride more. (Obviously, though, vacation + La Roleurette + bike is the best, so I had a great time in Portland this summer.)

This is why when my feet were troubling me a year ago, I dove into a mini spiral of despair. Riding was a fulcrum to leverage so many other good things in life. One little arthritic joint took away my entertainment, exercise, therapy, connection to the seasons, chance to be outside, opportunity to eat a lot, confidence, and, frankly, identity. For a while, I was no longer a cyclist, and wondered if I would ever be one again. I grudgingly attempted to swim. I put my bike magazines into an old suitcase, stopped wearing my bike t-shirts, and generally avoided looking at anything bike-related. I went to the gym on Saturday mornings. I had brunch. Brunch! (La Roleurette did like the brunch part.) The fact that I had a brand new unbuilt Indy Fab frame only added insult to injury. I wrapped it in a blanket and stuck it behind the couch - out of sight, out of mind.

Thankfully, new orthotics (and quitting all ultimate) put me back in the saddle this year with an even greater appreciation for riding.

So what of the people without cycling, knitting, running, cooking, or Something You Love to Do? Are their lives a soulless vacuum? Everyone needs a passion they can point to. Otherwise, what do you read about on the internet?

On Being a Piss Poor Mechanic
Speaking of hobbies, I generally like to do my own wrenching, particularly with the Mancave fully operational. But, god, I suck at it. On Sunday night, I cleaned the bike and disassembled the crank to clear up a persistent creaking. In the process, I managed to strip the crank arm bolts and screw up the new chain. Yesterday, after running around to get replacement bolts and asking dumb questions at the shop (Performance Bikes!!! I'm so humiliated.), I fixed it all up, then almost overtightened my seatpost clamp. Sometimes I'm just not in synch with my torque wrench. Was that the click? Was that it? Shouldn't it have clicked by now? Better start again. Um, hello? Click? What's going on in there? Not clicking, that's what.

In Cycling News
Last night saw the usual Monday Tempo Ride of Terror with Mistress Wendy. Despite some unusually friendly pre-class banter - perhaps to make the newbies feel welcome - she ended the class by yelling at us NOT TO TAKE OUR HANDS OFF THE BARS while cooling down. In retrospect, that may have been to save the newbies from being bucked off by their wildly spinning pedals. Still, classic Wendy.

Truth be told, I'm really feeling spin class. I find myself consistently entering a blissed out endorphin state at some point during the hour - usually right after my heart rate reaches AT1, and before the extended forays into AT2. In that brief window, the legs feel strong, the circles are smooth, my breathing is controlled, and the music has me psyched.

For extra entertainment, spin class also offers up wacky hijinks. Last night, Courtney (Triathlete? I'm thinking yes. You can just tell sometimes.) dismounted mid-class, pulled a Clif bar out of her bag, stuck it IN her shoe, remounted, and resumed pedaling. Edible orthotic? Warming up dinner? I asked no questions.

After class, I showered, walked out of the gym, and felt a wonderful sense of well-being, enjoying the smell of rain on the pavement, and the breeze announcing the arrival of the season's first storm.

Speaking of which, I got soaked this morning. The old Marmot Precip just isn't shedding water like it used to, despite retreatments. The plastic bags over the socks also did little to stop the water running down my ankles. On the plus side, I felt nice and cozy when I changed at work and settled into a cup of tea and a spreadsheet. On the minus side, putting on wet socks for the ride home sucks.

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