Friday, October 31, 2008

Core values...

I keep reading that one of the keys to being a better cyclist is developing a strong core. "Core". Sounds so solid, doesn't it? Unfortunately, mine is kind of squishy. So how do I work on this core thing?

Yoga. Ok, I don't bend well, nobody wants to see me with my shirt off, and I don't prefer posing like an animal. Except at home, when the kids are in bed. You know what I'm talkin 'bout, Lisa... rawr. Weights. I'm a weenie, and LA Fitness sucks (trust me, been down that road). Beer. This is the program I'm currently on, and apparently its effectiveness has been debunked. Who knew?

Alright, how about pilates? I'll drag my good-sport wife down to the community center and we'll give that a try. We'll call it a date.

Last night was Session 1. Dispensing with formalities (and apparently with the need to make anyone feel comfortable), our instructor got right to it without a word. Wait! Don't we get to introduce ourselves and say why we're here? Aren't you going to tell us what pilates is? Guess not. Let's get straight to stretching this piece of thrift-store spandex while doing exaggerated LeMaze breathing.

Lisa and I struggled to hold back the laughter from the absurdity of it all. We both silent-laughed the first ten minutes, to the point of tears and red faces. I had to consciously avoid making eye contact with her so that I wouldn't pee my fancy athletic shorts. Eventually we settled in. But whenever we caught each other's eye, the same thoughts were running through our heads. Be like a cat? Breathe louder? What the hell do you mean "zip up the thighs"? This is weird. I want a cookie.

And that's why I'll be back next week. My real "core" isn't the squishy middle part of my body. It's the girl on my arm walking into the community center for another adventure in the unknown.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My girls give me life...

Lungs searing, I'm suffering just to hang onto the back of the pack. Where will my fans be this lap? They like to move around and surprise me with cheers and cowbell. What was that lavender blur in the tree? Yep, that was Payton. New energy, head up, smile. My girls give me life.

Seattle Cyclocross, Fort Steilacoom, October 26. After a mechanical problem put me a full minute off the back on the first corner, it was decision time: A) give up. B) chase some fuckers down. Mountain bike dude, you're mine. Who's next? I managed to pull in 20 guys in three laps, and I'll go ahead and call that a success.

But this day belonged to Payton. It was her first race, and a chance for Dad to ring the cowbell. It made me so proud to watch her line up fearlessly at the start, the "great unknown" directly ahead. Her little legs could barely keep up with her adrenaline (especially on a too-small bike), and the race was over in a flash.

Lisa and I beamed with admiration and wonder, perhaps recalling something of the adventures we undertook at age 8. Petey obviously loved the excitement, and next time she wants to "upgrade" to the two-lap race. Something tells me this is just the beginning... how small do they build 'cross bikes, anyway?

Monday, October 27, 2008

<3 Cross...

Remember learning to ride a bike? You weebled, you wobbled, you fell down. Somebody told you to get back on and try again, so you did. Before long, the asphalt was disappearing beneath your feet, and the streets belonged only to you.

My own introduction to the way of the bike went like this... a less-than-ceremonial briefing ("Put your feet here and pedal") was followed by a firm shove down Breckenridge Street. And even though I was brought down quickly by a parked car, somebody has to be the one to give that first push. Thanks, Dad... I'll be pushing you now.

And thanks, Lisa (my amazing wife) for giving me the same kind of prodding, some 30 years later. See, I thought I knew how to ride a bike. Turns out, I don't know 'cross and I've been hitting the figurative parked car for about a week now. Lisa bought me a 2-hour skills class, and I subsequently discovered that I don't have skills. I practiced dismounts and run-ups in the park tonight, and was reminded that old guys learn slower. Often painfully slower.

But the little successes have given me the same ecstatic feeling I had when I was six... when the pedals first felt natural, and I could just ride. I love cyclocross (and someday I might be able to do it without crashing).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

About the Bacon Rating System

Bacon, much like a smile or a cold beer, can be universally understood, and is therefore a suitable measure of awesomeness for the global juggernaut that is Mud, Sweat, & Beers.

Ok, stick with me here. Some bacon is better than no bacon. Two bacons is better than one, three is better than two, and four is better than three. Five bacons is sublime. Tread carefully above five. Plumbing systems, your internal and your home's, may be strained to the point of failure.

Bearing in mind the above truths, I have implemented a 5-bacon rating system to help you determine awesomeness at a glance.

No Bacon = Not awesome.
1 Bacon = A tease. Leaves you wanting more.
2 Bacons = You can just about see awesome from here.
3 Bacons = Satisfying. You could almost stop eating. Naaaw.
4 Bacons = Awesome enough to share. Slow down if you're working alone.
5 Bacons = Put on your sweats and get comfy. So awesome you won't be moving for awhile.

You might be wondering how you can contribute to a post's bacon rating. You can't. I control the meat, including where and how much of it is laid. I pledge to vary the brand, quality, and quantity to avoid monotony. You, in turn, agree not to question the chef.

I'm glad we got this out in the open. Carry on.