Archive for April, 2010

What the F*ck am I doing?

April 28, 2010

This past Sunday I rode up Mt. Tam on my bicycle.  I was amazed, sore, cranky, tired, awed, and overwhelmed.  To name just a couple of the emotions that I experience.  Oh, and frustrated.

I had done the “Day On The Ride” training ride the day prior.  It was to simulate a typical day on the Aids Life Cycle 2010 ride.  I had a horrible day.  I was heavy and sluggish and slow.  I hated the food provided and was annoyed by the hills and the terrain and the South Bay in general.  Ok, Half Moon Bay was pretty spectacular, but much of the ride was through a kind of suburban sprawl that ground me down.

I had decided about half way through the Saturday ride that I was not going to do the Sunday ride.  I was over it, I needed a break.  Screw this.  I planned on a session at Kabuki spa’s, maybe get my nails done, and some nice general sloth-a-tude.  So, I texted my friend Xtine later that night as I got into some Netflix that I wasn’t going on Sunday’s ride.

I thought she would fully support my decision to rest and relax and rejuvenate.  However, to my surprise, she suggested I push through the resistance and do the Sunday ride.  I was annoyed and did not reply.  I watched the movie and continued to plan my evil day of down time.  But sometime just before the movie ended, “Rachel Getting Married,” I changed my mind.  I set my alarm, I gathered my gear and I drifted off to slumber land.

I figured I would just ride to Fairfax.  Then I would turn around and cruise home.  Then at the Coffee Roastery I changed my mind.  I would do the hill.  Mountain, Mt. Tam is a mountain.  I ate some GU, drank a lot of water, had a snack and got back in the saddle.

Had I any clue what I was in for I would have turned around at the coffee shop and trundled on home.  Sometimes not knowing is better.  3/4 of the way up, some one passes me and says, “oh, you’ve done the hard part,” and scoots by.  Awesome.  I have been jinxed, never ever fails, anytime some rider says that to me I get smacked around by the hills.

Yup.  Hills, and switch backs, and sharp little upticks of terrain.  My thighs and quads and butt were working out beyond anything they had yet experienced.  I get to the “top” and coast down into the lovely Alpine Dam area thinking that it was all over, I’d done the worst, right?

Oh no, I get to climb out of the dam, fuck.  2/3’s of the way up I don’t think I can go on and I hear a little voice say to me, “there’s no shame in taking a break.”  So I do.  And look up into this gorgeous canopy of Redwoods.  The smell of damp earth being warmed by the afternoon sun fills my lungs and I finally take in the beauty of what is surrounding me.

I get to the top of the hill.  Drink all my water and look forward to coasting on into Mill Valley for lunch.  Nope, you ain’t done yet, kiddo.  What!?  Nope, still have to do the worst part of the ride, the “Seven Sisters”.  Well, what the hell?  Where’s that rider who told me ten miles ago that I was through the worst part?  I want to have a little discussion with him.  Now.

I sigh, get back in the saddle and go.  The Seven Sisters are spectacular.  Lush, rolling green hills floating above the cliffs and ocean, I am on top of the world.  I am riding my bike on top of the world.  I am beyond belief.  Then I dip down into a little hollow and realize that I have to climb out of it.  Oh shit.

Up and down, up and down, up and down, seven times.  And by the fifth hill I am done.  Exhausted, fed the fuck up.  I see a group of riders at the peak of the fifth and realize I need to stop again, rest, find my lungs, massage my ass, and try not to cry.  I breathlessly get there and unclipped from the bike, straddling it between my legs, I can barely look at the view.  I am too burnt to enjoy it.

“What the fuck am I doing?”  I ask myself out loud.  My heart hammering in my chest, the blood dizzy in my head.

“Saving people’s lives,” a calm voice says to my left.

I look up at a man dressed in blue riding gear, he’s with Pos Peds, or Positive Peddlers, ie he has AIDS and I don’t.  I start to cry.

“You are saving people’s lives, honey,” he repeats.  “Every time you push down on your pedal, every hill you go up, you are helping to save some one’s life.  Just look at it that way, and enjoy the view!”

He got on his bike and peddled off.  I stood there looking out over the vast ocean and the green hills, the swells of waves crashing far below, and the string of tiny beads, brightly colored, trawling up the hills behind me….the rest of the riders training today.  Those still behind me that had yet to reach the crest.  Those of us that choose to come out on a beautiful day in April and whether we realized it or not, to save a life or two.

My butt hurts

April 20, 2010

I know, I know.  I could get myself into some real trouble with this one.  But it is true.  My bottom is tender.  You ride a total of 137 miles in one weekend and tell me your butt does not hurt.  I may ask you how heavy a dosage of opiates you were on, but I won’t believe you’re not sore.

Yesterday I actually put butt butt’r on my bum in the over flow parking lot of the San Francisco Zoo.  I had just finished a really arduous day of riding.  Although the ride was only 40 miles I had done a pretty substantial ride the day before and albeit shorter, it was far hillier.

I had a moment, or two, or maybe more, really, who the fuck is counting, when I thought I would just give up.  Call it quits, fuck you Aids Life Cycle, fuck you Andrew (my riding partner, guru, mentor extraordinaire, my Yoda–he hates it when I call him that, recently I’ve just taken to calling him papa.  “Papa, I’m tired.”  I say this a lot), fuck, fuck, fuck.

Fuck off old guy in the yellow slicker riding just a scant bit a head of me.  Fuck you for not stopping at all the stop signs (ALC rules, you have to make a complete stop at all stop signs.  Foot down, off the pedal, unclip your shoe, lose all momentum, grunt at silly stop sign in residential neighborhood and try not to self-justify the rolling stop).  And always being just a little bit  a head of me, always.  And like, oh, I don’t know, like, old.

Yeah, that’s me I’m an ageist.

Actually, I’m an asshole and I talk to myself in really awful ways.  Ways that if I heard some one talking to a stranger I would probably have to intervene and have a word or two with.  But for myself nope, internal dialogue does something like this: “You big old lazy thing, that old man is beating you up the hill, look at all that grey hair, come on slow ass, move it.”

Mean while, I am busy hyperventilating on the climb, trying to not throw up the snack I had or all the electrolytes I drank.  Trying to remember to breathe, or take in the view.  Like I give a fuck about the view. Oh, look, there’s the whole Bay area spread out before all panoramic and shit.  Who cares?  I can’t feel my ass.

Oh, wait, yes I can and it hurts.  My quads, yup, they hurt too, no doubt.  Knees, bit stiff, but not too bad.  Hands, oh yeah, they are not happy little campers–stiff and sore, but my ass, it takes the cake.  Chafe city baby.

Too much info?  Oops.

And I applied the goddamn lotion on the bum before getting in the saddle.  I just had a weird Silence of the Lamb flash, sorry, I digress…Anywho.  I was told to use it, I used it.  But it wore off, or maybe I did not put enough on it.  All I know is that I’m tender.  And I did not think that I was going to make the eight mile ride home from the ride start.

Yup, that’s right, I don’t own a car so I ride my bike to the training event.  So when everyone’s congratulating themselves on their great ride and loading their bikes up on their bike racks on their cars to drive home, I still have to haul my butt back to Nob Hill.  That meant another eight miles on top of yesterdays ride, with a nice whopping hill at the end to complete the package.  Ever ride your bike up California St.?  Try it, it’s fun!

So after signing out and being extremely grateful that I had made it back to the Zoo through the crazy Sunday afternoon San Francisco traffic, I was even more grateful to find out that Andrew, my angel, had a little mini one serving squeeze pack of butt butter (think nice thick, soothing balm for the bottom, also called chamois butter).

Only one problem.  No bathrooms anywhere.  And we are right on the edge of the parking lot next to a very busy intersection, Sloat, I think, and I am not just wearing shorts, but a bib type thing with straps.  So, I say fuck it, and I squirt the goop on my hands pull up my jersey, and stick my hand down the front of my pants and rub in the goodness.

I just about wept for joy.  Andrew was laughing so hard I thought he was going to start crying.  Apparently I had quite shocked the poor man waiting to turn into the intersection.  I care not, I said.  My ass feels better.  I can ride home.

That’s when Shannon piped up and said, “anybody need a ride?”  Ah, God, funny, you are funny.  Just publicly slapped lotion on my butt and there really was no need.  Oh well, the car ride home was comfortable.  And I know what I’ll be picking up at the bike store the next time I go.

75 miles, three flat tires, humility

April 6, 2010

Or I could call this post 35 lbs, 2 dresses sizes and hope.  Either works.  I have been trying every Saturday to do a training ride with the Aids Life Cycle training team.  The event is looming.  I am nervous.  But excited too.

Especially when I look at how I started out.  Five miles from the back of the Presidio Sport’s Basement. And a small crying fit in the bike gear area afterward.  Bicycling is not a cheap hobby.  Anyone tells you different, you send them my way.

But as my friend Andrew said yesterday, how else would I be having the experience that I have been having?  We were sitting underneath a giant old growth Oak tree that must have easily been over two hundred years old eating a shared sandwich on our ride lunch break.

He’s totally right.  The ride was beautiful, frustrating, but beautiful.  I had gotten three flat tires on the day and was just about over it.  My first one occurred on the way to the event start.  I was tight on time and knew I probably wouldn’t get the flat changed by myself before we rode out.

So I hailed a cab.  Ugh.  Not how I wanted to start the day.  But got there and Melvin, sweet four year vet of the ride, helped me and explained that I probably had a pinch flat and showed me so new ropes on tire changing. And apparently God decided that I needed a training seminar, because I got two more flats on the ride.

Second one happened on the Sausilito bike path, not very far from where I did my infamous plunge into the high tide.  Bruce, a team leader stopped and helped.  I was already down an inner tube and the frustration was rising.  He explained that I probably hadn’t pumped enough air in the tire and that flats can come as a result of low air pressure in the tires as well as too much.

New to me!

Next flat happened just after I had cleared White’s Hill, the biggest climb of the day.  Frustration spilled over and there I am, Pretty-in-pink, crying alongside the rode by the Nicasio 4.5 Miles highway sign.  I got picked up by the sweep vehicle and was taken to Point Reyes Station.

Here is where my hero, Andrew, sweetly intervened.  First, a hug in the market and an offer to split his chicken, apple, cheese panini, then some laughter as I told him about the ride.  I figured I’d eat my snack on the ride into town and had an oak cake and a lovely apple.  Well, the apple was chock full of worms.  Three flat tires and I’m eating worms.  Ha.

I laughed a little hysterically and then ate an awesome lunch.  Coffee at the bakery and then how to deal with the tire?  Andrew made the suggestion that I needed a new tire.  He whips out his I-phone, google maps a cycle shop and next thing you know we are in the Black Mountain Bike Shop and I’m getting a new tire, gator skins, and a mini-tune up.

What an amazing ride home.  What a lesson in humility and allowing others to help.  Because I didn’t have enough money with me to buy the tire, Andrew did for me.  Andrew has been there since the very first ride and has witnessed many, many crying fits.

It is so hard for me to humble myself and ask for help.  I just have this ridiculous thought that I have all the answers and should know how everything works.  I know jack about bikes.  But I do know a little more about changing a flat!

The ride home was stunning, it was like I was on an entirely new bike.  And as a pack of bicyclist flew by cheering me on I felt completely right in the world.  The smell of Marin county wafted around me, bluebells, lilies of the valley, eucalyptus, fresh cut grass, and maple syrup on that one corner of Camino Alto, I breathed easy and strong.

I cannot express how amazing the experience has been, but it’s been pretty damn cool.  Especially when I stop and think about how far I’ve come and that I actually get up earlier on a Saturday, my day off, then I do for work.  I have become a changed person.

And a smaller person!  Two dress sizes, 1 bra size, smaller than I was when I graduated high school!  Awesome.  I think I may have a new addiction.

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