Friday, June 8, 2007

The Mount Hood Cycling Classic

Several months ago I decided to forgo some of the comforts that accompany a full time job (or any job for that matter), and instead opted to spend the majority of my time traveling around the country racing my bicycle. Thanks to the team, the cost of racing is almost non-existent; they pay for my travel costs, my entry fees, and the bulk of my equipment. My expenses are mostly limited to a few small bills (student loan, cell phone, etc.), and food. However, seeing as how my income is also almost non-existent, I try to live as cheaply as possible. I shuttle from race to race, from host housing to friend's couches; I live out of suitcases and the back of my truck; I subsist on a diet based around oatmeal, pasta, and eggs (which are all dirt cheap), and Hammer Nutrition products (which I get for free). There are perks to this lifestyle--for instance, it's now 1:40PM and I'm still in my boxer shorts. All I've got to do for the rest of my day is spend a few hours pedaling around Seattle. It ain't so bad when the weather's nice. However, there are also moments when I question the merit of my chosen lifestyle. I'll list a few of those moments taken from last week's Mount Hood Cycling Classic in Hood River, Oregon. These are in no particular order.

  • "Too bad I don't work a 9-5er in an office somewhere," I thought to myself, just before my front wheel locked up in the middle of a turn, "it's hard to get road rash in an office". It was my second crash of the day. The first one wasn't so bad--I got caught in a pileup and just sort of flopped off my bike, landing on my butt like a toddler who trips on its own foot--my chamois absorbed most of the impact. Something told me this second crash would be different. "I suppose rug burn is always a threat, but that heals so much quicker and oozes so much less," I thought, as I streaked across the asphalt on my ass. It was kind of like sledding, but without the snow....or the sled.
  • I rummaged through the plastic tub in the back of my truck, and to my disappointment found nothing I hadn't already seen. With a sigh, I removed another hot-dug bun from the bag. I was hoping that I'd somehow overlooked something yummy in my food tub--a lasagna perhaps, or maybe some tacos--but instead found exactly what was there last time: a few condiments, some rice and pasta, and numerous plastic containers filled with specially formulated drink mix with made-up names like "Perpetuem" and "Recoverite". I spread some peanut butter on one side of the hot-dog bun, and squirted a generous blob of Apple-Cinnamon Hammer Gel on the other. As I closed my food tub, my attention drifted back to the stunning view of Mount Hood I had from atop Panorama Point, the finish location of the next day's prologue. The imposing, snow-capped, and lonely volcano seemed to float above the fertile river valley below; its jagged rocky edges were made soft by the hazy air, blending into the textureless blue of the sky. I stared, transfixed for minutes, until I realized that I'd dribbled Hammer Gel all over my vest. It's a lot runnier than jelly. Man, I wished I had some jelly. Or some lasagna.
  • I drive a great truck. It gets me and all my gear to all the races, it's got a lot of character, and it's never broken down (knock on wood). However, when I was stranded in Hood River for a night with nowhere to stay, I wished it were a little bigger. To be fair, my truck is tiny. It would fit-in great in a country like Japan, but by US standards, I drive a clown truck. The cab has been described as both claustrophobic and coffin-like, and when I drive for a long time, my knees hurt, but I don't mind--like I said, it's a great truck. Anyway, there I am, stuck in the quirky, hilly, hip little town of Hood River without a floor to sleep on. I'd arrived in town a little early, and incorrectly assumed I'd be able to reach one of my friends who live there. So picture me, all 6'4" of me, curled up in the cab of my little truck, trying to nap. The bench seat is long enough for my torso, but barely, so in order to fit inside I have to fold my legs up paper clip style. I'd gotten as close to comfortable as I was going to get, and just starting to drift off to sleep, when I felt the uncomfortable sensation of motion. Opening my eyes and looking up, my suspicion was confirmed by the scenery outside the car, which was gently moving in relation to my vehicle. My curiosity dissolved into horror as I came to grips with the situation. I guess my emergency-break decided to slip at that particular moment, without provocation. Since I was parked on an incline, I was drifting towards the 4-way intersection right in the middle of town. Not cool. With a jerk, I unfolded my legs, and stopped on the break. With the danger over, I briefly wondered what would have happened if my break had failed while I wasn't in the car (which is usually the case when I'm parked), but instead banished those thoughts and simply resolved to never park on an incline again. Ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People should read this.