Friday, March 10, 2006

Looking for Trolls

In my Cat. 4 years I just rode. I did a sprint now and again. Got on my bicycle. Put in lots of miles, got fast. It was a throwback to my competitive high school days -- that feeling of being pushed to the limit and beyond was exhilarating.

I’d always been a decent athlete, but never exceptional, in whatever sport happened to be on the calendar at the time. But, I was also a flute player and a painter and a back-stage hand. It was all so cool!

And there was so much of it!

The plight of the easily-distractible: as soon as I got a handle on something and got comfortable with it, my fascination would wander whoa! What is THAT? I want a piece of that! When I was eight it meant endless hours walking the four blocks home from school because of bugs and sounds and people. In the early days of Title 9, I suddenly had the world of sports opened unto me. Me. Shooting hoops in the spring? That’s track season! Besides, right after practice I had to be in the auditorium for rehersal.

So, there I was 20 years later: Cat. 3.

I hadn’t realized this group would be that much faster than the 4s. Man, I was toast. I wasn’t getting better by accident or happenstance. I should maybe train. This was a new concept. Training. Purposeful riding. Staying away from junk miles. Sticking within a certain zone and staying out of others. Spending time riding junk miles meant I may as well be standing around eating donuts oh man, donuts with those little sprinkles. Intervals. I did intervals. I rode with the team. The bicycle lived in the car and the car lived on the freeway which took me to the team so I could train. The bicycle lived in the car.

But, I lived for the ride. I couldn’t quite seem to figure-out how to keep cycling inside constraints. I loved being on the bicycle, but I wanted to be out all day, stopping for coffee and lunch and donuts. I enjoyed looking at the various numbers tick back and forth on my heart rate monitor. I found myself fascinated with the HRM display and how it functioned rather than with the numbers themselves and what they meant for my fitness.

I started sneaking-out.

I would ride recreationally every now and again. At first I didn’t like it. Who were these Joes who couldn’t hold a line, who didn’t understand a steady paceline? And their legs! With hair!?! They’re all out here fighting the wind on their own? But there’s a crowd of people around! All they need to do is get organized MAN, LOOK AT THOSE HORSES BESIDE THE ROAD! THE WAY THEIR MUSCLES MOVE WHEN THEY RUN!

And the trees.

I couldn’t help it.

I turned 40 couldn’t help that either.

Tiny flowers at the base of the fenceposts.

I did a supported tour, just one, since I hadn’t in several years.

My mother had heart surgery.

I bought a fixer-upper.

I wanted to race. I loved racing, but I just couldn’t shake that soul at the core. The one who’s been with me from the start looking out the window during math class making sure I didn’t miss anything important...the one whose desk wasn’t a holder of books but was a multi-leveled underground home for trolls.

I just never know when they'll show up again.

- and The Bag sure doesn't want to miss them


Trée said...

When I ask myself when is the last time I rode without a specific training purpose, rode just to ride I'm sad to say I can't remember. I keep telling myself tomorrow, no HRM, no tracking of distance, no intervals, no goal of any specific type--just ride for the joy of riding. Yet, tomorrow never comes. Why is it so hard just to get on my bike and ride.

When the battery on my Polar died and I discovered the battery was a speciality item that I could not find locally but had to order online--I decided I couldn't ride without that data. I refused to get on my bike if I couldn't track every mile, every heartbeat, every zone, every calorie of my ride and then upload that data into my computer and ooooh and ahhhh at the charts and graphs and numbers.

Then I decided if I couldn't ride for at least 90 minutes, it wasn't worth the effort of riding at all. And 90 minutes seemed like a waste of time at that.

I want to see those horses and those trees. I want to ride for them. Perhaps tomorrow. :-)

the old bag said...

Giving up the numbers for the Zen of cycling is disconcerting -- been there (lost my bicycle computer and never replaced it...variety of reasons). But you know time and distance and heart rate and breathing and muscle burn and how hard you can push for how long.

Of course, if one's goal is racing the data counts. Been there, too.

Extricating oneself is like going through withdrawl. Now and again, I still find myself jonesin'....

Trée said...

That's just it. I don't race. I don't even ride with a club anymore. 99% of my rides it's just me the road and a random dog or two. Yet, I've become addicted to the data. I think it's my personality. For two and half years I tracked everything I ate, weight it all on my little digital scale, took three measurements each morning (weight, bodyfat% and waist measurement).

I've broken myself of tracking every single thing I put in my mouth, but the data from riding. I'm getting close, but I'm just can't let go of that data.

Pete said...

You mean if I started racing I couldn't ride my bike to work any longer? Weird.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

i dunno why ... but this post casts me back to that silly Gump-a-flick ...

"life is like a box of chocolates ..."

jayzus ... i need a cup o' coffee.

and a moment to lose myself out the window.

right on, sistah.

Nathan said...

The bicycle lived in the car and the car lived on the freeway which took me to the team so I could train. The bicycle lived in the car.

Stop it, stop it, stop it! Can't you see you're making people cry?

I just couldn’t shake that soul at the core.

Oh, thank God - you stopped it.



the old bag said...

Trée -- You must be a numbers-guy. I wonder if there's a 12-step program for that. :-)

Pete -- no, that was just me, and the time, and my decisions, and the team I joined from across the river. I'd say most people do it the right way while riding to and from work -- I'd definitely do it differently now that I get-it.

Nathan -- HA!

oV -- like a box of chocolates, like the beer-of-the-month club, like the bar down the road, like the just-in shelf down at fantasy gifts....