bicycle bicycle

Staying up late blogging is bad for me. I get on the bike and my legs feel dizzy, woozy, lazy. They will still sprint for the lights if I order them forcefully, but the instant the urgency passes it’s time for some coasting.

So far the story of my cycling has mostly been a series of bike purchases, which may seem a rather superficial approach to something so life-changing. Shouldn’t I be talking about the struggles and triumphs, the fears and frustrations, the revelations, the joy? Or should I just be honest and admit that deep down, I’m superficial? But looking back at the first three and a half years of being on the bike, I would get home at the end of the day and be absolutely done, get to the end of the week and have nothing left for the weekend. If I absolutely had to go somewhere other than work I did, but not far and not for fun, certainly. I remember clearly right around the time I bought Hurty McScarybike, talking to my boss about vacations I never take, and mentioning I might want to go do a century ride while in my mind thinking yeah, but I’ll never be able to do that, I’m just talking shit here.

And I haven’t done one yet, so it remains to be seen whether or not I was shit-talking, although I have ridden 94 miles so I actually might not have been, and I’m as surprised as anyone by that. And honestly the main reason(s) behind the changes that have occurred, mostly this year, happened because of Bob the Fastroad Comax 1:ojaivalley

After acquiring Bob in September, things went on pretty much the same, except that I had gone from a 35lb bike to an 18lb bike, and I gained the weight the bike lost. Alarmed, I decided I’d have to up the miles (eating less didn’t occur to me, never does). My first weekend outing was a ride to Ojai, which I did not really expect I’d be able to do since Ojai is on a hill. But I did it! 36 miles, 800 feet of elevation (it’s a puny hill). I continued to do Ojai on the weekends, and in November when we had to go to my son’s girlfriend’s house for Thanksgiving I decided to be one of those pain in the ass weirdos who insists on arriving by bike and using the clothes dryer. It was a 22 mile, 1-way trip and I barely made it. I had planned on riding home, but allowed them to talk me out of it with some relief. All the evidence suggested that my wacky back-of-my-mind plans to ride things like centuries were just crazy talk, but more and more I would find myself sitting in my living room gazing at the wonder that was Bob. It felt wrong, not riding more and more.

And then I joined Strava.

And at the beginning of December, I joined the Distance Challenge: 1,250km. 776 miles, or around 180 miles/week. Did NOT think I’d do that. Wasn’t on pace to do it either, but then towards the end of the month another challenge popped up: The Rapha Festive 500. 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 300 miles in 8 short, dark, cold days, and 5 of them were full time work days. The spirit of the challenge is to go and do adventurous things, festive holiday-themed things. I did one festive thing, a Christmas loop up through Ojai and then up even more and around to Santa Paula. The rest of it was commutes and boring loops and even more boring laps up and down my street — but I did it in 7 days.


And in January, I started going to Simi Valley every two weeks. The first time I got lost and only went to Moorpark, but the second time I made it. I will never forget coming up to the first intersection that I knew for sure was in Simi, the feeling of oh my god I actually made it. To be honest, I pushed the bike quite a lot that day — there was a long section of sharrows (share the road arrows, where cars are supposed to let bikes take the whole lane but it seems to piss them off, and that frightens me) so I decided to go ahead and walk a bit. It’s a 90+ mile round trip, which I now do approximately every other week.

Then in February, I took Bob to the bike shop for his first big tune-up, and jumped on Hurty McScarybike for my regular weekend Ojai run. It was the day after my longest ride ever, and I was dead tired, and I got home and uploaded the ride and there were so many PRs (personal records) — going uphill, no less — that bicycle virtually scampered up that hill. Determined to ride her more, and make peace with those drop bars, I acquired a better bike seat, and took her to the bike shop to get a nice overhaul so that I scamper up more hills. And by the time I left the bike shop, I had one less bike and a receipt for a down payment. I shouldn’t have been surprised, after all I’d had Alice as my desktop wallpaper since sometime in December, just window-shopping really, no intention … ok, maybe a little intention. But I didn’t think I’d do it.

alicethenewShe wasn’t called Alice at first, in fact the bike naming (aside from Tank Girl) was mostly done retroactively. But sometime in April or thereabouts, I read an article about an old guy that died, having ridden almost the distance from the earth to the moon in his lifetime, that had been his goal. The article (or someone talking about it) mentioned 220,000 miles and I thought, hmm. To the moon, Alice? So I did some math, and really all I’d have to do is ride about what I’m riding now — for the next twenty years. Then I discovered it was actually 239,000 miles, recalculated, it’d be slightly more than I’m doing now. So I figured I’d have to step it up considerably, since I can’t honestly expect myself not to slow down a bit in the years between 55 and 75. Keeping this to myself, not changing my Strava goals, I tried to step it up. And then I rescued 3 kittens and my lungs fell apart, and the increased corticosteroids I needed led to an outbreak of saddle sores (those are boils, in very sensitive places). Pleurisy (painful inflammation of the lining of the chest wall, feels like broken ribs) followed, and for a month or two I was mostly in agony and breathing at a decibel level you’d expect from, say, a lawnmower in your living room.
Got the cats washed, bought an air purifier, discovered some over-the-counter stuff that is the same as the stuff they put in the purple inhalers I can’t afford, started soaking my ass every. single. night. no. exceptions. I go through Tea Tree Oil like crazy. But I’m breathing now, my butt is boil-free, and I’ve even set a PR or two in the last week or so.

The moon thing is such a silly idea though.

It’s embarrassing to even admit I’m thinking about it, it’s that silly.

3 thoughts on “bicycle bicycle

  1. The moon is Great idea, I’m trying to bounce radiowaves off of it to talk to people on the other continents, and people say thats crazy….

    We have a little bent over old man down our street who does marathons walking, he has done 97 at last count , he is 83, and aiming for 150 by the time hes 100. Crazy old fart. He trains by walking the streets bent over as usual with 25Kg of rocks in his shirt to simulate the hills we don’t have any round here.

    He has walked 2500 miles in marathons and no-one knows how many training.

    Is he crazy, no, he is fit healthy, keeps active, and busy every day in his orchard or recycling old TV’s and scrap he finds while out walking.

    So you GO GIRL, GO to the Moon, I’ll wave.


  2. I read this just now, at the almost most perfect moment possible, and thank you.

    A dude I follow on the Strava has on his profile that he started at 68 and lost like 50 pounds and it’s been four years (and then there’s pictures of him being a national age-group champion at riding up enormous mountains).

    Last December when I turned 55 I was so stoked, I’d been in the 45-54 age group and I thought moving up to the next group would make me the young whippersnapper, but as it turned out, my age-group ranking for distance that month went from being in the top 10% — to being in the top 25%. That, plus all the old people I constantly see zooming down the road on bicycles suggests this is an optimal approach to whole getting old thing.

    I’m going to angst about it anyway, of course.

    I also get inspired by this young woman who is currently 41 days into a HAM’R (High Annual Mileage Record) attempt. The HAM’R stood from the 1930’s until January of this year, when a 53-year old dude named Kurt Searvogel broke the hell out of it. If Amanda can keep up the pace she’s set (and there is every reason to believe she can) she will demolish that record by more than 5,000 miles.

    So Girl Power, you know?

    Have you ever considered playing Minecraft? I have a server, it’s almost 3 years old. It’s an amazing game.

  3. Offtopic: I have watched Kurtjmac play minecraft, sorry its not a game for me.

    Havent seen a post from you for awhile, come on I want to see whats happening with my favourite Lizard Girl.

    Oh yeah we have a bike now its a Giant, with 28″ wheels and high pressure tyres. Just beginning to get my leg over as they say. LOL

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