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:
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.
She 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.