Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unpleasant Realizations

I've gathered together a few "unpleasant realizations" that I've experienced in the last few days.

Unpleasant realization #1: "I'm racing my bike right now"

As most of you know, my primary mode of transportation is my bicycle. This means I'm on my bike a lot -- whenever I need to get from here to there, there's a 95% chance I'll get there on my bike, be it to the grocery store, to work and back, or to my weekly appointment at the nail spa for my mani-pedi. Obviously I spend a lot of time training for racing, but I also spend a lot of time commuting, just pedaling along, taking advantage of the marvelously efficient and utilitarian invention that is the bicycle. Seattle, being the eco/bike/hipster-friendly city that it is, is filled with other cyclists. Most of these commuters are, like me, simply commuting -- they're using a bicycle to get somewhere; however, some of these cyclists are out there to race. And race they do. All the time. Every day. Most of the time, I am the responsible category one racer I should be, and have enough restraint to keep my guns holstered when I'm just riding across town. Some of the time however, I do not. Let me paint you a picture: I'm riding at a moderate, steady pace on city streets. I look back and realize that a cyclist, let's call him Jarred, has caught up to me from behind, and is sitting in my draft. "No bother," I tell myself, "Jarred can suck my wheel all he wants." I almost feel like I'm doing a good deed: I'm helping a stranger get to his destination a little faster than he would otherwise. However, once the road starts to pitch uphill, our relationship takes a drastic turn for the worse. I keep pedaling the same steady tempo, but once we're halfway up the hill, my parasitic wheel sucker shifts three or four gears, and jams on the accelerator. There is no way to mistake this behavior: Jarred just attacked me! He's clearly trying to drop me! Well FUCK THAT! All of the sudden, my racing alarm-bells are blaring -- instinctively I shift the same three or four gears, stomp on the pedals, standing now out of the saddle, and cover the move. I stay glued to Jarred's wheel, and as soon as I sense he's starting to pop, I counter-attack, sprinting flat-out over the crest of the climb, dropping Jarred like hot rock. "That should teach him," I think. Right about then I realize "I'm racing my bike right now." Then I feel like an idiot, because today is supposed to be a rest day, and sprinting flat-out over Eastlake with a 25lb. backpack is nobody's definition of rest.

Unpleasant realization #2: "That's not my alarm"

Have you ever found yourself torn from a deep slumber by a sound that unmistakably informs that you have badly, badly overslept? I have -- just this week. I teach a morning InCycle class over at Cycle U, and normally I set my alarm at the painfully-early hour of 5:40 AM, so that I might have ample time to rise, dress, and bike to work. My alarm makes an awful, but easily recognizable techno-rhythm, however this isn't the sound that wrenched me into consciousness last Thursday. The sound that wrenched me into consciousness was a different sound, one made by a buzzing, dinging iPhone. "That's not my alarm," I think to myself in my half-dream-state. That's girlfriend's alarm, set to 6:30 AM (the time class starts). I instantly bolt upright. "MOTHERFUCKER!!!" I bark, my throat still all croaky. My girlfriend reaches for and silences her alarm. "MOTHERFUCKER!!!"  I repeat, lurching for my backpack full of clothing. "MOTHERFUCKER -- HOLY FUCK I FUCKED UP!!" I say, by now frightening my girlfriend with a torrent of obscenity the likes of which she'd never seen. "Is there anything I can do?" she asks a little timidly, knowing that in all likelihood there isn't. "I'M SO FUCKED!!!" I say, throwing on my spandex faster than a sailor throws on his life preserver on a sinking ship. I only partly dress: no knee warmers, no hat, no gloves, just shorts and a jacket. "MOTHERFUCKER," I say one last time, as I grab my bike, flick on my lights, and dive out the door into the inky black, 35 degree morning. My ride to work is possibly the fastest that anyone has ever covered that route by bicycle in Seattle History. I must have averaged 35 miles per hour. I took every risk, ran every light, and sprinted up every hill. I would have frozen, were I not going to hard. I somehow arrive only a few minutes late, and (for the most part) salvage the class. That said, I'm pretty sure that morning took years off my life.

Unpleasant realization #3: "My brake was rubbing that whole time"

This last one is pretty self explanatory. I last realized this after I finished the Sublime Sublimity circuit race. For those who don't remember, I felt stupendous during the first half of this race, but things got worse and worse as the race wore on. Eventually I totally cracked, and got dropped by my breakaway partner. After the race was over, when I was getting ready to put my bike it the car, I noticed my rear wheel wasn't spinning freely. A further inspection informed me that my wheel had fallen badly out of true during the race, and was dragging on my brake quite badly. "My brake was rubbing that whole time," I realize, my heart sinking. What's funny is that I'm sure my breakaway partner realized it too -- well before I did (he did, after all, spend a good chunk of that race staring at my rear wheel). But did he tell me this? Noooooo he did not! He kept his goddam mouth shut, you know why?  'cuz he knew what was good for him, that's why! When you're minutes ahead of the peloton, and you're with someone who's stronger than you are, there has got to be no sweeter sight than a rubbing brake on your breakaway partner's wheel.  


EazyE said...

I schooled you hard on eastlake. Next time I'll put you in the gutter and all the glory will be mine.
As for your brake rubbing, I've heard THAT one a million times...
On the other hand, you make me laugh, so I might just believe you, Pirate.

Martin Criminale said...

Not only did you blow a rest day you also scored a huge PR victory in the ageless battle between RACERS who TRAIN and have NICE BIKES and nameless commuters who could live off of that one hill they beat you up for weeks.

Imagine the talk around the water cooler at that guy's workplace... "And then I shifted up and put the HURT on that my-bike-matches-my-outfit clown; you shoulda seen me." It would have made his month.

Of course it has taken me 20 odd years to be so egalitarian and when I was your age I did exactly the same thing.