Dear friends and family,
Another exciting month of cycling has come and gone in all it’s Spandex glory. That means it was time for me to get off the couch and do some actual training. By “actual training” I mean riding The Rocket and only falling over some of the time. In July I’ll be riding 100 miles in the LiveStrong Challenge as part of Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting for Susan. It’s good to be back in the saddle again and, as always, I’m so thankful for your company. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from January.
- 1 crash: I’m not entirely sure this can really be classified as a crash, but I blame my mountain bike, Frank the Tank and his typical trickery. Cyclocross season began in December. Cyclocross is a punishing combination of riding an all terrain course, carrying your bike over hurdles, and trying to win the race all at the same time. I am so stinking awful at cyclocross. Naturally I was thrilled to begin. Frank was what I would call not so thrilled. After discovering a flat in the morning, repairing the flat, and watching the repaired flat deflating almost immediately, Frank was on the DL for December cyclocross. I was able to ride in one January cyclocross race. It was SO MUCH FUN. Except for the part when I ate dirt. I can’t really explain how this happened except to say that Frank and I were riding along on a mostly straight, fairly easy part and then, just like that, Frank tossed me on the ground. Put simply, I was riding and then I wasn’t. I wound up with a few scratches, but mostly just a bruised ego. I untangled myself, picked Frank up and finished last, dead last.
- 2 times I almost wet my Spandex: No, they weren’t Depends moments, I was scared. On a beautiful day I rode with a couple of friends out to Igo and through Happy Valley. As usual, I was playing catch up in the back. We were riding somewhere near the house that is a shrine to Coca Cola when I was startled by gunshots to my right. My friends who live in Happy Valley tell me this is quite common. Apparently people in Happy Valley like shooting targets, cans, squirrels, and whatever else they feel like shooting. Needless to say, I picked up the pace a little bit. A few miles later, I was riding in front when a black blur of a dog chased us wildly. He eventually gave up, leaving my heart ready to pound straight out of my chest.
- 235.274, my total mileage this month: In January I tend to feel like I’ve hardly ridden at all. Then I add up my miles. According to Yahoo Maps, that’s like riding from my front door to Modesto.
- 2 buffalo: Other than an over zealous dog here and there, I love the variety of animals I get to see when I’m turning the cranks. While riding to Millville, I saw two buffalo. Buffalo look pretty cool in books and on tv, but in real life they are hulking masses of matted hair and stink. In short, they are awesome. I tried to snap a picture of them, but buffalo do not care for paparazzi. They turned their backsides to me, too cool to be bothered by a petulant fan. That just makes me love them more.
- 34.8 mph, my fastest speed this season: On a breezy downhill from Igo, I tucked my head down, squeezed my brakes occasionally, and grinned from ear to ear as I hugged The Rocket as she hugged the curves of the road.
- 1 time I wasn’t saved by the bell: Riding home from Shasta Dam, I’d finished an exhilarating downhill section and was enjoying the rhythm of pedaling along a nice straight flat. I was riding by myself in the good company of U2, Third Day, Queen, Kelly Clarkson, Joan Jett, Stevie Wonder and even Weird Al. Go ahead and be embarrassed by my music preferences. I wear Spandex on a regular basis. Very little embarrasses me. Every now and then, I even throw a little Britney and NSYNC in the mix. Anyway I was cruising along when my playlist came to an end. It was Sunday morning. Traffic was nil. I enjoyed the solitude of nature. I passed a school and took a moment to absorb the rare stillness of the playground. Then I was ripped out of my blissful cone of silence by the most dreaded sound ever, a sound that makes all elementary school teachers cringe. The bell. I was in such close proximity to the bell that I think it actually made my teeth rattle. Traffic increased. Dogs barked from behind wooden fences. The stench of McDonald’s accosted my nostrils. The thing about cycling is that all of the noise, all of the clatter, will soon sink into the recesses of my mind. The memory of blissful solitude will rise to the top, beckoning me back to my bike time and time again.
- 42 miles, my furthest distance this season: A few short years ago I’d ride 6 miles on the River Trail and stop for a rest and a snack half way through. Now when people ask how far my last ride was, my earnest answer is “Only 42 miles.” Never in a million years would I have guessed that I, the most un-athletic person on the planet, would fall in love with endurance cycling.
- 5.1 mph, my slowest and favorite speed this month: I am a slow climber. Not only do hills make my quads burn and press my heart to it’s very limit, but hills wreak havoc on my mental fortitude. This year I’m riding without a local team. At first the prospect of a season all on my own left me shaking in my nerdy bike shoes. This month, one ride in particular helped me face that fear. The ride up to Shasta Dam is no picnic. On the way to the dam, I had to choose between going straight for a two mile climb or turning left for a winding four mile climb. On this particular day, I was riding 26 miles by myself. In the past I’ve done short rides by myself or ridden home from rides on my own, but for the first time ever I set out to ride twenty six miles. All. By. Myself. Usually, I take the straight way to the dam, the easy way. Well, not that day. I turned left. Immediately the What Ifs set up camp in my mind. What if I go really slow? What if I crash? What if I’m not strong enough to make it to the top? And then a wonderful thing happened. Rather than letting fear turn me around, I answered the What Ifs. I answered them by tucking my head down and pedaling one steady stroke after another. I didn’t crash. My slow legs and my strong heart carried me beyond my fear, beyond my doubt to the crest. I couldn’t help but think of Robert Frost and his famous line from The Road Less Taken.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
$140 dollars donated so far: Thank you Tracy, Jean, and Steve & Amy. Your generosity and support touch me.
- $1860 dollars left to meet my fundraising goal: Please take a moment to visit my fundraising page and make a donation by clicking here. (If you are unable to click on the link, you can cut and paste it from the bottom of this e-mail into your browser.) You can also make a check out to The Lance Armstrong Foundation. All donations are tax deductible.
Thanks for joining me for another season of fun and adventure for a worthy cause.