Friday, February 28, 2014

Proof That I Am A Cyclist....

As both of you, my readers, know....and as I tell anyone that will listen, I am a cyclist. And not just an ordinary cyclist, I'm a committed cyclist that has worked long and hard to train my body into the cycling machine that you now see before you.

Now, if by some chance you've met me and haven't had the pleasure of hearing me regale you to no end about my cycling adventures and accomplishments, I apologize. I fully realize this is a failure on my part and your life is considerably diminished because of this error.

So, being as I stated, a cyclist, I love to talk not just about my exploits on the bike, but all of the paraphernalia that surrounds said exploits. I can talk for hours and hours (and hours) on things such as single speed gear choices, the benefits and handicaps of one type of frame material over another, cable disc brakes versus hydraulic, the benefits of going tubeless, etc and all the while sounding very condescending and without even a smidgen of fact or knowledge about said topics.

This ability is mostly due to my years in sales but lately has been honed and refined by time spent in bike shops, scouring the various message boards and internet forums and finally reading every advertisement in every magazine known to man on the topic of cycling.

As a matter of fact, my ability to speak inaccurately on any topic even remotely cycling related, has been enhanced lately by not riding and instead spending my time refining my loquaciousness and my verbosity. (Don't worry if you had to look those previous words up, it's a major part of being a cyclist to use words and phrases that others don't understand, i.e bridging the gap, domestique, echelon and embrocation)

Lately though, I feel like my life as a cyclist has affected my friendships. Granted, you always hear that elite athletes have to sacrifice to achieve their goals, but I have to be honest, I never expected this type of anger and jealousy among my less experienced cyclist friends. It's almost as if my less experienced friends are trying to undermine my expertise by throwing out questions in the middle of my dissertations like, so how far do you usually ride? Or where have you ridden lately? or even more biting is the question, when was your last ride?

These types of inflammatory questions serve no purpose other than to create conflict and as everyone knows, being a cyclist really has nothing to do with cycling. Sort of like being a public servant has absolutely nothing to do with serving the public.

So, how does someone prove their a cyclist? I put forth the following as evidence that I am indeed a cyclist:
 - I own bikes - so many bikes in fact that many people that mistakenly believe I own a bike shop
 - I own (and am willing to wear) bike clothes - yes, the simple fact that I'm willing to wear clothes that make me look like 10 lbs of sausage in a 5 lb casing is proof that I'm committed to my sport
 - I have several large bins of miscellaneous bike parts - if I wasn't so committed would I spend so much money upgrading and buying new parts to replace brand new, perfectly acceptable parts on bikes that never get ridden?
 - I know what GU is and have actually tasted several flavors of this product - (note, espresso love double caffeine GU goes really well with a chocolate old fashioned doughnut)
 - I can name (but not recognize) several pro-cyclists
 - I own, and can walk in, those silly clunky cycling shoes that make you walk like a duck

As you can see, even without actually riding a bike, there is incontrovertible proof that I am indeed a cyclist despite my body fat percentage and sure, I could actually get out and ride a bike, but since I'm already a member of this exclusive group....why would I need to?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Before the Storm....

The word best used to describe our winter so far here in northern California has been "dry".  As a matter of fact, according to the talking heads on TV, this is the driest winter ever since they started keeping records back in the 1840's.

And, while I'm definitely concerned about the pending drought, the effect on crops and all the ramifications of a lack of precipitation, I am enjoying the fact that my weekends have been spent outdoors and not cooped up in the house.
This past weekend, with the rumor of an actual storm in our near future, we had planned to ride up Mission Peak on the mountain bikes.  The amazing thing to me is that I've lived in the bay area my entire life and the east bay specifically for the majority of my 51 years and have never been up Mission Peak. I've driven by it hundreds of times and actually ridden my road bike around it on Calaveras Rd several times, but I've never hiked it our ridden it before.

We had a large group as we met up at the base, just outside Ohlone College and with bikes tuned and legs and lungs ready, we headed out.  Almost immediately after hitting the dirt trail things pointed up and they never really stopped pointing up until we reached the top. Sure there were a few places where it was almost level, but for the most part, the entire 6 miles to the base of the summit is up....and parts of it are STEEP! Like sit on the nose of your saddle and push down on the bars to keep from popping a wheelie steep.

As I've maintained in this blog, my fitness level this year is not the best. Life has been too busy and I've had too many other priorities for it to be any different. But even so, I thought I was stronger than I felt doing this ride. Several times in fact, I had to stop and get my heart rate back under control because I couldn't hear my iPod over the sound of my heart pounding in my ears.

Eventually though, as all things do, the suffering came to an end and we were greeted with amazing views of the entire bay area. It had been a bit windy, so the skies were clear and you could literally see for miles....

Having never been up Mission Peak, but having heard its a popular local hike, I wasn't too surprised that we weren't alone on the trail. What I was surprised at, was just how popular the hike is. The entire ride was spent avoiding hikers, most of whom were polite and pleasant.  It seemed as if everyone out there knew the beautiful weather was going to end and winter would soon show up for real...well, as much as winter does show up in the bay area anyway.
Having done all the suffering in the first half of the ride, we took our pictures, enjoyed a quick snack or gel and prepared for our reward. The downhill. And it didn't disappoint. Where it had taken us over an hour and a half of riding time (not including rest stops) to get up there, the downhill portion passed by in about 40 minutes...and that included several stops to regroup.

Now that I've completed this ride I can now say I've been there and done that and don't really need to do it again. I'd like to go back with the dog for a nice hike and a good workout, but as a ride, it really wasn't that great. There were a lot of people, the trail other than one section of narrow single track is all fire road and other than the views at the end, it's just not that pretty....yes, it's a tough ride and a really good workout, but on my mountain bike, I really prefer my rides to be more fun.....(of course it could be that I'm just out of shape and not suffering the entire time would change my perspective)

Sunday, for once, the talking weather-heads were right and it rained which made for a perfect excuse to spend the entire day, after church of course, laying on the couch "recovering".