Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just Bike Stuff

Well, it has been a whirlwind week between the tragedy in Newtown, CT and all of the positions about guns, mental illness, Constitutional rights, etc.  Frankly, it was exhausting, and I had to turn the TV off after about three days of constant horror on the news.  Secondly, I have a five year old, and in my opinion, he doesn't need to know anything about that.  I was quite happy to have Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo filling the screen.  That being said, that's about all I'm going to say about that.  I'm going to talk about cycling.

I have a lot of riding to do.

You see, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year not just regarding my goal to ride 11,000 miles over the course of the year, but with other events looming in the near future.  In February, I am returning to ultra-racing with a twelve hour race in Sebring, Florida at Bike Sebring 12/24.  Thus far, everything is set up.  The hotel, rental car, jerseys and equipment, bike, and registration are all ready to go.  The only teensy, tiny, little factor is me.  With less than 2 months to go, I am definitely not in race shape.  It is certainly doable, but it is going to take me becoming a social monk while I spend seemingly every moment I have to spare on the bike.  Ultra-races aren't necessarily fast, but they do require your body to be accustomed to enjoying pain over a ridiculous amount of time.  An ultra-cyclist is of the mindset where pain in the feet, butt, back, shoulders, legs, elbows, neck, and well, everything, is considered "normal".  Add on to that the joys of nausea and nice things like acid reflux (from being hunched over on the bike so long), and you get the picture that it is important to train your body to put up with it.

So far, I've had some good training time, with the last two rides being back to back cold excursions of sub 40 degree weather (don't laugh northern friends -- this is Florida!).  I actually prefer bad conditions for bike training, as I picture all the competition staying inside warm and snug while I knock out some miles.  I know this isn't the case, and I know I can't train with the hope the competition will be unprepared.  In fact, I have to train like the competition will come to the race prepared for the best race of their lives.  Truth is, I know some of those animals, and for all my bike love, they could be classified as plain obsessed with their rides.  Like, sick obsessed, where they post on Facebook that they had a "nice 147 mile ride with friends" the other day and enjoyed some hot chocolate afterwards.  I would much rather they say, "Suffered in a living hell, then puked my guts out".  That's dreaming though.

Anyway, that's not all of the bike saga.  In April, I will be on board again as the ride director for the GEICO Road Safety Bicycle Tour.  That's a 4 day, 400 mile bike ride around Florida to promote traffic safety awareness to Florida drivers.  This is the 5th year of such a tour and we plan on having the biggest team yet with about 15 riders and 10 crew.  The team is made up of very Type-A personalities and very accomplished athletes, who are also stakeholders in the traffic safety arena.  Yes, of course, we all are stakeholders if we use the roads in any capacity, but these folks have a particular nexus.  They are cops, firefighters, doctors, crash survivors, and parents/loved ones of people killed and injured in crashes.  It all becomes a very emotional and mission driven event with a LOT of moving parts.  Currently, we are coordinating team selections, press event locations, and partner-agency participation.  It is a months-long endeavor and almost feels like a second job.  It's a great second job, but more and more in the back of my mind I know that there is some point that I will need to hand it off to someone else or let it go.  You see, this one is my baby, and this spring it will be nearly 10 years since I first conceptualized it and began to beg around for support.  Ultimately, I'd like to take the team to RAAM (Race Across AMerica), but geez, I can feel the bones getting tired on this particular corner of the bike world.  We'll see how long we keep the wheels turning on this one!

 Pic from the 2012 tour -- I watched rear-ends mile after mile...

So, while the whole meaning behind this blog really isn't about bikes, it is at the same time, set upon a stage built on cycling.  To me, cycling has provided me a philanthropic outlet to make a difference in the things that are important to me, and I guess you could say that I have discovered my therapy.  As a matter of personal advice, I would definitely recommend that anyone who is in the fight against mental illness of any kind, to use the things you love to do as a means to step away from the struggle and give yourself the gift of recreation.  Even better, use your gift to yourself as a way to give to others.  Take it from me, it does a lot to make one feel better.

Time to go.  I have to get some sleep.  Riding in the morning.

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