Saturday, June 23, 2012

And the journey begins...

There's a lot of things that are going to change around here. One is my writing style. I was once a fan of metaphor and subtly. But now, I'm going to be frank and to the point. There's really no reason for evasion because you'd probably find out the truth anyway and how annoying is it to read a person's blog and they don't just tell it like it is?

So: here is what's wrong with me:

The Lisfrac Joint in my right foot is sprained. I did this on a trail run with my running coach three months ago. It hasn't healed yet. This is probably because I cannot lay in bed keeping my foot free of the forces of gravity for six weeks. I have a job to do that requires me to walk, and well, I'm the sort of person who needs to get their heart rate over 190 everyday.

I also don't have health insurance, and having just completed a third Master's degree, I don't have a lot of money, either.

So: what do I do? I join a swim team and jump in to a cycling club. It's better than being placed in a straight jacket, though I'm still depressed about my inability to run. But that's another blog. I'm going to write about cycling today.


I have been riding with the Diablo Cyclists out of Walnut Creek, California for about three weeks.

Prior to this, I hadn't ridden with any clubs before, and hardly any people. In 2009, I did a Century Ride-- the Tahoe Sierra Century-- alone. Nine or so months later, I did the Solvang Century--alone again-- despite having not ridden a single mile due to the demands of finishing duel-MA degrees. (Slight digression: I wouldn't recommend riding 100 miles unless you've ridden at least some miles before. I was praying for a support vehicle to take pity on me at mile 70 when my back felt like it might give birth to some alien invader that had decided to gestate there. I limped my way to the final 100 miles with nothing other than sheer will and stubbornness.)

But today, I rode 90 miles with the Diablo Cyclists into areas I'd never seen or heard of. You know, there's nothing like seeing country on a bike. Unlike a car, you feel every inch of it: the air, the terrain, the shade and sun. There's no better way, I think, to discover a new place than on a bike, even on those hills when your legs and lungs feel on fire and you just don't know if you can push and pull your way for the next quarter mile, but you do, happily, again and again and again...


The first long ride I did with the Diablo Cyclists ended up being a self-supported Century in the Point Reyes/Mt. Tam area. I had expected to ride 60 miles that day, but Cisco Dave and Jay-- my idol-of-all-things-cycling--- both said I could do the bonus miles without issue. So 60 turned to 102 or so, complete with wind, a mountain or so to climb, broken derailleurs (not mine, thankfully) and Tums to save the day.

One of the ride members, Jay, told me that what motivates him is not the clock or necessarily the distance; but instead, the possibility of making your own personal best each and every ride.

I like that.

Be the best you can be.

It seems so simple; and yet, revolutionary in this world where "the best" means only one thing: beating everyone else no matter the cost.

I have no doubt I'll be a better rider by tagging along with this group. But I also have the sense that I'll gain something more than that. There is merit in hard work and hard training; you become better that YOU would be which is what sports is all about, anyway.

What seems so simple can become a tangle: doping vs. not, drugs or no drugs, vitamins and no vitamins. What I remember-- and what I love so much-- about riding these long distances with this crowd is what, I believe, sport is essentially about. It's about pushing yourself and finding your own new boundaries.

I can't think of a better lesson for me, while I heal.

I'm so grateful for these athletes I've found.

They make me better than I could have been before.

And what a gift, right? It's the best kind there is.

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