Velo News has a great diary entry from Will Frischkorn, who describes what runs through his mind during a long race stage.
In that spirit, I decided to try to remember what goes through my mind during a bike commute / training ride from the office. It was sort of a moderate effort day today, so no entertaining stories about blowing chunks during intervals. Anyhow...
- Shut and lock the office door. Pull down the blinds. Can't have all the people in the next building gazing in at me. If I was really good looking, that would lead to an affair, breakup of my marriage, and me ultimately becoming a beach bum somewhere, probably in Key West housesitting for Jimmy Buffet while he's on tour. Since I'm not really good looking, it would probably lead to an indecent exposure arrest, being branded a sex offender, loss of marriage and job, and me winding up a beach bum somewhere, probably in Somalia, picking up unexploded ordnance off the beach. Better to shut the blinds...
- Pull on the shorts, thankfully dried from the morning ride. I wonder what kind of hell-broth of bacteria are growing in these. Oh well, that which does not kill us, merely makes us itch like hell.
- Spalm up with a generous splatter of Chamois Butter. Be careful it doesn't splurt out on the desk. The nozzle gets half-plugged with dried goop, and you have to squeeze real hard to get the stuff out, and it only shoots out in a big blast like you'd see in a film about... well, you know. volcanos. Lotta potential for a "Something About Mary" kind of moment here.
- Zip on the jersey. Do I look fat? Shit yeah. It's okay though. Chicks dig confident guys. That's what I keep telling myself anyhow, and if you layer on self-delusion thick enough, it's like an emotional/cognitive coat of armor.
- Pack the crap in the messenger bag, double check for keys (locking them in the office would suck, big time) push the bike out into the hall, lock the door and go. Do people think it's weird that I keep my bike in the office? Yeah, I guess so. But once you buy into the $3500 bike and kit, the rest of it sort of makes sense. It's like if a guy who thinks he's Napoleon stabs his neighbor, whom he thinks is Wellington. While stabbing is wrong and all, if you think the Napoleon routine is reasonable, well, the stabbing kinda makes sense.
- Get on the elevator. Try to ignore the funny looks (I know I smell bad) and the more funny looks (I know I look goofy) and the nasty looks (I know *you* are *really* fat, Civilian Fat, and think I'm an unctuous exercise junky. Maybe I am but I don't give a shit what you think. Can't wait to get off this descending little box.)
- Push out, gloves on, mount up, click the Powertap on, and off down Eye Street. Left on 13th, right on New York, and past the White House. Geeze, I hope the Secret Service guys don't jump me and knock me down some day... Lotta guys with guns standing around, for it being the center of the Free World and all.
- Crap, what's up with this wind? It's like 25 MPH today. I'm pulling 350 watts to go 12 MPH. Something wrong with that. Why the hell am I riding today? Oh yeah, that's right, rain all day tomorrow. Okay.
- Messenger passes me on the left. He's having to do a standing effort to go faster than me. Must be quitting time for him, I've never seen a messenger at work pedal that hard.
- A bunch of cars are blocking the intersection at 17th and Pennsylvania. Jerks! Don't Block the F***in Box! So I haul butt up the oncoming side of Pennsylvania, so I don't get caught in the morass. Yeah, there's something that makes you feel really alive, when you are riding 20 MPH into oncoming traffic. There's something about it that makes you feel really, really stupid too.
- Some fakenger on a fixed gear passes me doing a standing effort on flat old Pennsylvania Ave. He then cuts through a red light, nearly getting hit. What a jackass. Dude, aren't you supposed to be ironically detached and all that? Well, sweating and puffing real hard is *so* not hip, and getting a shattered femur, with pins in it... mmmmm... back to the mailroom with you, boy. You're totally going to lose your black jeans for this bro.
- Washington Circle... major nervousness. Cripes, one day, I'm getting run over right here. Mark it down. The day is coming.
- I pass the fakenger back. Man, he looks spent. Looozzzzer. If you're going to make a point of dropping somebody, they should stay dropped.
- In Georgetown, under the bridge, a woman turns left in front of me with no turn signal - damn near nails me. No big deal, except for she does it out of the middle (non-turning) oncoming lane. I drop a few choice words on her, culminating in "it's called a turn signal you stupid beotch" - which gets a nice crowd of onlookers staring at me. It's possible I shot her a one fingered salute.
- There are a lot of riders on the trail today. Most of them seem more or less sentient. But WTF is up with the fools not wearing helmets? I don't remember seeing this many people without helmets ever. Just like there's a correlation between crashing without a helmet and subsequent brain deficiencies, there's a correlation between initial brain deficiency and subsequent not wearing a helmet.
- Does being stupid cause you to ride without a helmet, or does riding without a helmet ultimately do things to you that make you stupid? It's a real chicken-or-egg conundrum, that.
- A girl dismounts to walk her nice little Bianchi through the gravel oxbow in the trail. (C'mon, you can ride through that.)
- There's a tree down over the trail, extending from one embankment to the other, at about 6' high. I cycle under it, thinking, "man, it would hurt to hit your head on that." And, "I guess the wind really is frickin' strong today."
- Bumped into Cindy and ride with her from the tunnel. She's a nice lady, early middle age-ish, has a daughter in college. I've chatted with her a number of times, she's a seriously hard core commuter, goes pretty fast when she sets her mind to it. She had a leg brace on - hurt her leg reffing a LAX game, apparently. Finished the game, she said. Tough lady. I respect that. I wouldn't mess with her. I don't chat with people on the commute a whole lot but I think we got to talking riding up to Bethesda one day during really bad weather or something. So now we at least say hello.
- God, I hate the road crossings on the Cap Crescent. You're totally at the mercy of the drivers. Came through the second one, nearest Bethesda, and this one guy grudgingly comes to a stop in his red (with Shelby racing stripes) Dodge Charger. We ride past and he peels out to get to the red light 50 yards down the road. I laughed out loud - he really showed us not to mess with him...
- On the gravel Georgetown Branch trail, a couple toddlers were playing on the edge and their mother tried to keep them off the trail. You won't understand this unless / until you have kids, but I *adore* my own kid, and have a soft spot for most other kids. The really young ones, under 6 or 7 years old, are innocent and lovely little humans. They have their moments, they're people too... but there's just something wonderful about young kids. I slowed down as I passed and took in the scene, it reminded me of my own wife and son. Mommies are really special people too, at least the good ones. They have a really important job, and mothering doesn't get the credit it deserves. Seeing how important my wife is to my son's growth, I'm blown away by that. I feel my spirits lifting when I see an obviously loving mother with her young child. Can't explain it, I guess.
- Ahh, here's the truck now. Time to pack up the bike, turn on Sports Talk radio, and drive the last half of the way home. What a nice ride. Not as interesting as Frischkorn being tormented by Cofidis, but it had its moments. Nothing in that ride was serious, it was just 40 minutes of not-anything-else, which is exactly what I needed.
What the hell. You've been great sitting through that shit. Here, have one of my favorite vids as a reward: