If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. This according to The Velominati rule 9.
According to the list of rules, this might be my favorite. Just behind Rule 5 of course. http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/. If you’ve ever found yourself on a bike in extreme conditions you embrace that rule. And quite frankly, you know that the word “badass” could easily be swapped out with a number of other words. Bonehead, dimwit, moron, idiot or any number of even more colorful descriptors usually reserved for those lacking any sort of common sense, that might keep one indoors when unfavorable comes calling. But unfortunately for my self and my son, in regards to our cyclocross intentions, common sense isn’t all that common.
I haven’t had any days in recent memory as perfect as this fall All Hallow’s Eve day of racing. It might have been having my family there to support and getting the chance to watch my son race his second bike/cross race ever. It might have been the teammates and friends surrounding a full day of this fall festivus. It might have been the spirited costumes that reminded all of us that it’s all about having a good time. Or it might have been about a course that I truly enjoyed the heck out of. I’m 50 years old. 50 pounds overweight and at least a couple minutes a lap out of any chance of finishing with the leaders. Why do I continue to put myself through this? Because…
I raced cyclocross this past Sunday. Actually, I raced twice. Neither of the results were very memorable. I might even add they were quite forgettable. It’s been a year since my last race and shoulder injury, and going into these races my initial goal was to get a feel for racing again and just gain some confidence . By the end of the first race I was more angry than confident. I had started at the very back of approximately 100 riders and soon enough I had managed to get past a group of riders. Unfortunately, after a miscalculation I went down and was passed by the same group of 10-15 guys. As I wrestled to free myself of plastic route ribbon and recenter my rotated brake lever the last guy in the group passed me and shouted a parting remark, “You’re last now!”
This past Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, one of the most famous single day bicycle races treated us to a very special outcome. No, it was not the favorite that set the record for his fifth victory- most wins in history. It was not a world champion proving his place and stature among the greats. Nor was it a loved Swiss strongman and 3 time winner going for his last victory before retiring from the sport. Nope, it was a little known Aussie journeyman racer just shy of his 38th birthday that raced the race of his life. And just barely squeaked past the favorites in arguably one of the most amazing finishes ever in the infamous spring classic.
About a year ago my son came to me and asked,”Dad, When can I get a road bike?”I scratched my head a bit and gave him the worst answer you could ever give your son who is prepping for his rite of passage. “Well, maybe when you’re a little bit older.”…Wah Wah!
So I turned 50 today. It might be a milestone year but I did not feel that “special day” vibe. This one came and went as quickly as the last 49. I’m not saying that it did not leave a bit of a wrinkle, I’m just not sure I am ready to embrace the reality. Some might celebrate with fanfare, parties, and black bowed gift bags containing geriatric products all intended to spark a response as if to say “hey look how old you are and how closer you are to staring the grim reaper square in the face. So you may as well toast it with a glass of prune juice. Yuk Yuk.” So this morning I filled my bidon with water and set off for my first 50 mile ride of the year.
New year’s resolutions can be fickle initiatives that quickly dissolve as fast as a New Year’s Day Alka Seltzer chaser. In years past my resolutions were long forgotten by the time Groundhog Day came around. But this year my commitment and resolve need to take priority one as it will completely affect my life. It is time for a new body, a new soul and to embrace the process of change itself, not just the results that I hope to accomplish.
Finally on the bike again this week after a 6 and a half week hiatus. Interesting how much mental processing goes on during a bike ride. I’ve replayed my crash as well as many thoughts about my injury and recovery. I also battle with the fact that I should not be riding yet, or to put it in clearer terms, shouldn’t be risking another fall. Technically, I am not recovered to a level that would permit me to train at full effort or full speed, but in my case I feel like I am risking more by not riding at all.
It really is amazing how far sports marketing has come in the last few years. The leaders in the industry continue to innovate in order to make an impact with professionals, and amateurs. This is a case study on how one of the biggest brands in sports decided to make an impact on the weekend warrior. Using an unknown, slightly overweight, amateur cyclist you may know as Heavy Eddy.
According to “Mighty” Mick “back in the day, they used to train by chasin’ chickens. If you could catch a chicken you could catch greased lightnin’!!!” I don’t know why that goofy quote stuck with me. It might be because it was a great euphemism way ahead of its day, or because it led to another famous quote from Mick about eating lightning and crappin’ thunder! Or maybe I just needed to succumb to my primal urge to chase a flightless bird through a back alley in hopes of turning it into a golden fried mouthful of greasy goodness. But really, who chases chickens? Who even has chickens to chase in the middle of Philly? And what does any of this have to do with cycling? I digress. I guess what I am getting at is there are ways to train that if they don’t identify you as a total jack-ass and ensure you lose any remaining sense of dignity, might actually make you better, faster and stronger.