Tuesday, February 25, 2014

fear of monsters

so, fear.
we're not supposed to let it bother us, control our lives, impact our decisions, be louder than other voices in our heads.
on the other hand, we are supposed to respect its messages, attend to it, use it to keep us safe.
we're supposed to live fearlessly, go big or go home, be all that we can be . . .
french author and nobel prize winner andre gide said, in an attempt to be helpful,  there are very few monsters that warrant the fear we have of them.

every time I ride my bike I feel fear.
fear of splatting myself on the road again, breaking bones, wounding muscles and ligaments and joints, having bone fragments slice into a delicate, life-sustaining lung.

I'm afraid of
dips and gutters
sand and cinders and salt
uneven pavement
right hand turns
left hand turns

I try to live fearlessly, to have trust and faith and acknowledge my strength, my ability to handle what's thrown my way.  but not right now, not on the bike.

as I am confronted with descents, uneven pavement, sand and gravel and icy patches, I feel fear.  I feel it well up, I know it's there, I ask it to go away, and it remains.  it rests inside me and tells me I don't want to crash again.  it won't let me go any faster;  it squeezes my brakes, gently but firmly.
I've ridden hundreds of miles since my crash, up and down canyons, and the fear remains.

some monsters are worth fearing.  
aeschylus said, there are times when fear is good. it must keep its watchful place at the heart's controls.  my heart wants me to soar and swoop and ride with abandon.  it wants me to slice through corners, leaning, feeling the curve in every cell of my body.  but aeschylus was correct.  I need a little fear right now, on my bike, to keep me safe.  to keep my heart from being carried away.  to help my body again learn to trust itself, to trust the bike.

there may be very few, but some monsters, sometimes, are absolutely worth fearing.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

the back-up bike

a year ago john bought me a beautiful new bike.
it's shiny and sleek, black with subtle bright green and white accents.  it's light and responsive and shifts like a dream.  it has a super lightweight wheel set, and is an all-around fabulous bike.  it takes me to incredible places, and tolerates my getting it wet and grimy and gritty.
it's an awesome bike.

then there's my former bike.  an awesome bike, itself, with a great wheel set.

when I prepare for a ride, the thought to ride my former bike never even crosses my mind.  why would I?

I understand that some people have multiple bikes and choose which one to ride based on road conditions, weather conditions, how long they'll be riding, what their mood is that day.
I just choose the best bike every day.
I don't protect it from elements, hours and hours of work, or questionable road surfaces.
perhaps I should . . . and I'm not being critical of those who make different choices.  I only speak for myself.
because when I think about the end of my riding days, I'm pretty sure I won't be caught saying,
gosh, I wish I hadn't ridden my Time bike quite so much.  I wish I would have saved it for special occasions.  I wish I'd ridden it less.

uh-uh.  not going to happen.
I'm quite certain I'll be thinking, thank God I rode that bike so darn much.  I'm so glad I loved it, and chose it every time I rode somewhere.  I'm grateful for how well it supported me, and all the great experiences it gave me.  thank God I rode that bike as much as I did.

so I don't really need a back-up bike.  it just grows sad and lonely, and dusty.
because why would I ride anything less than the very best bike I own?
I wouldn't.
just as I drink coffee from my favorite mug, sleep on my favorite sheets, use my favorite towels, and treat myself to favorite treats, I want to ride my favorite bike.
so I do.

life is fragile, every day a gift.  I like to make sure I love and am grateful for each day I'm alive, and riding my favorite, most awesome bike is a terrific way to ensure both of those things.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#4 through #30

the winter olympics are in full swing in sochi, russia, and I watched a bit of women's ski jumping this morning.
one of the american athletes in the sport is actually the daughter of an old biking buddy, so I have a little personal pull to the event and wish for her success, and it's always a bit of a tingle to watch her.
I watched the trial jumps, where the young women jumped in bib number order, beginning with number 1 and continuing to the final jumper, number 30.
hailing from 12 different countries, these young women, many of whom have been jumping more years of their lives than not, all perched upon the starting bar, awaited the signal, then swooped down the slope and up over the course before touching down ninety, one hundred meters later.  with courage, guts, agility, and grace.
all of them.
and the top 3 were named and medaled and were told to stand on the podium.
the top contender, from japan, placed "a disappointing fourth" according to one news article.
a young woman from germany took the top spot, someone who'd never before even won a world cup in the sport.

so what about numbers 4 through 30?
these young women--like all olympic athletes--devote their lives to their training, forfeit normal relationships and experiences, and frequently receive little more than a mention from the press, from the world.  and they are better at their sports than anyone else in their countries, or they wouldn't be where they are.
to participate in such a worldwide competition that only truly recognizes the top 3 . . .  what must this be like?

I don't think they complain.  I don't think they feel left out or mistreated, but to be that good at something and still not make the cut . . . I can't imagine.
I, of course, feel pretty darn amazing when I reach the top of any old hill on my bicycle.
I'm thrilled when I sell the products I designed and created, every time.
when someone praises my writing, I glow.
when I prepare food and people actually compliment--and eat--it, I'm deeply satisfied.

so I suppose it's all relative.

but today, this week, during this time of the olympics, I have a greater awareness of what it might feel like to be in the bottom half of the best in the world.  to know that you qualified to be there--powerful--and to accept that you are still not as good as the ones who podium.  to be the cream of the cream, and to still have one level left above you.

I hope each one of those athletes who don't podium feel darn amazing, are thrilled, glow, and are deeply satisfied.  because they are awesome.

even if given a number between 4 and 30.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

150 miles and no major climbs

I have a collection of beautiful, amazing, nutty, a little bit crazy, terrific cycling friends.
I met them through a winter indoor cycling program we've all done over the years, some of them every year, some for just a few years,  and some who did it regularly until they moved out of the state.

we get together semi-regularly for dinner or for events, and the out-of-towners can often fly in to join us.  what's most fun, quite often, is the email chain that builds as we discuss things, and so today, I'm sharing with you a bit of the fun.


J (in seattle):  hey superfriends!  while I sit here in rainy seattle, I dream of both skiing and summer bike rides so....   check out this 150 miler near sandpoint, idaho,  chafe150.org.

L:  tempting for sure and definitelly amazingly beautiful there... however, same weekend as Wahsatch steeplechase and I might want to do that this year...

J (in seattle):  you can fly into spokane, lots of commercial flights into there.... just sayin'..... M and I are registered.

A:  in the mean time, you can all learn "how to be a road biker,"

B:  150 miles and no major climbs?  why not just go to a movie?

L:  the bike seat might be more comfortable than a movie seat...

B:  what about the gran fondo in moab...anybody up for that?

S:  this sounds better than the sandpoint 150.... not sure if it's better than a movie, though.

B:  oh, it's NOT better than a movie.   but you do have to exercise sometimes, you know.

B:  hey all, it snowed and the air cleared!  we're thinking of having a celebratory dinner this saturday, let us know if you're interested.

T:  we have symphony tickets, but if others can come I will change the date of the tickets.

B:  symphony?  why not just go on a 150 mile bike ride with no hills?

A:  it's a toss up on which seats are more comfortable...

R:  dinner sounds better than 150 miles or symphony.  I'll bring wine.

J (in seattle):  seattle kids are out, can't make it.  hopefully we'll be back soon for more skiing!  miss you guys!

L:  not sure we can make it... we're going to have 6 kids under 9 years old at our house this weekend... I'll let you know.

B:  wow.  6 kids < 9 years old.  I'd rather ride 150 miles with no hills.

L:  or we could watch a movie.  or go to the symphony.

R:  I'll bring wine.

what I have to say is this:  thank God for friends.  

friends are more fun than 150 mile bike rides without hills.  or the symphony.  or a movie.   just sayin.