Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Can't Walk Tall But It's Still A Long Way Down

I had an epiphany today, a stupid one, but an epiphany all the same. Since I am short by American standards (5' 7") I cannot really ever "walk tall", even when I strut with shoulders back (my little tough man walk). If my name was Buford and I had a baseball bat, I'd still not be walking tall.

The old saw, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall", brings me scant comfort. Yes, I realize that being height challenged means it is easier for me to fall, but it also means it should hurt less when I hit the ground. I am here to categorically state that it's not true. It hurts like hell when I hit the ground.

Let me list some examples (for brevity's sake I will skip all the motorcycle crashes) They will be rated on a Loss of Blood Scale of 1-10 (LOB) and a Level of Pain Scale of 1-10 (LOP):
1) Oracle Ridge Trail in 1999 with Mike Jones. He fell in a very technical section. I tried to show him the correct line and crashed even harder than he did (He was pleased). LOB=5, LOP=8
2) Yetman Wash Trail in 1996: Face plant showing Curtis how old fat men can ride. LOB=7, LOP =8 (I got bonus pints for having a bratwurst for an upper lip and making faces at people through the Emergency Room window. "Look at that poor retarded man")
3) Charaleau Gap in 1996: Slow speed fall that shook the mountain. LOB=0, LOP=8.5
4) 24 hour of Old Pueblo course in 2005: Caught a pedal on a rock at full sprint. LOB=5, LOP=9.5. (Bonus points for bruises, cuts and scrapes on front, back and inside of legs and arms. Plus one additional point for losing rectal control when I hit the ground)
5) Upper 50 Year Trail in 2003. Fell and slid down sandstone rock into a gully. Slow speed but I watched the rock peel the skin off my leg as I slowly slid down the hill. LOB=8, LOP=9.5. (Bonus points for Will saying "nice" as he surveyed my damaged leg.)
6) December 15, 2007. 11:00pm approximately. Challenged by Darrell to a foot race after imbibing way too much beer and bourbon. All I remember is I was catching him when my upper body started moving at a much higher speed than my feet. I tried to save it but I couldn't. It registered at least 3.6 on the Richter Scale when I hit the ground in a pile of asphalt gravel. It was the triple crown of falls. Both hands, both knees, both arms and elbows, the nose and forehead were bloodied. LOB=8, LOP=0 (remember, I was hammered, plus I still kicked Dave's butt in a race immediately after).

These are just a few of the many painful moments experienced while not "walking tall". In looking back I have to admit that I have fallen quite a bit riding, but in my defense I only needed stitches three times. In conclusion, it doesn't matter if you walk tall or walk small, it still hurts when you fall.

I was listening to Simon and Garfunkle today. Is there a better song than The Only Living Boy in New York? Best line, "I get all the news I need on the weather report."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speedy One Day, Sluggo the Next

You know you are having a 3 Fingered moment when you pass a Highway Patrolman doing 72mph in a 55mph zone and don't even see him. Fortunately, he saw the humor in the situation and let me off with a warning. (Maybe it was the hint of cleavage I gave him). I am actually glad he stopped me. If I am so preoccupied that I speed by a police officer, I deserve the ticket. If not for breaking the posted speed limit, at least for being a moron.

I did the final Picacho Peak 20k TT of the season yesterday. Don Mehado and crew really put on a great event. I was satisfied with my performance. I cut 2 minutes/20 secs from my last effort and didn't even put out a 100% effort since I was saving myself for the afternoon swim lesson. Even so, I still got smoked by the majority of riders there, but the time difference from last race shrank. Next year, on to the 40k event.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Joys of Swimming in Public

My legs have finally recovered from their efforts on Sunday. A nice two hour road ride with Keir was immediately followed by my swim lesson. I thought it was going to be easy, but the instructor had us kicking up and down the pool with our legs. Oy!!!!

Unlike last week where there were only two of us, a nice husband and wife joined in. I must have made quite an impact with them because they studiously ignored me the entire time they swam. They had their reasons, but they completely misread the evidence. As they were entering the pool I turned to greet them and some air trapped in my suit escaped up my back. The look on their faces was priceless. I am sure they expected me to crap in the pool at any moment. Hilarious.

I can't wait until next week to see if they come back.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day!!!

July 14, Bastille Day. Vive la France.

I decided to lay out the cash and ordered Versus from the cable company so I could watch the Tour de france. I especially hoped that by some miraculous twist of fate, a Frenchman could actually win on Hautacam on Bastille day. I think the earth has a better chance of being struck by a meteor today, but I can still dream.

After watching a short Italian deservedly win the stage I can safely say that it doesn't matter what channel/company is showing the Tour in the US. If it has American announcers, it will assuredly suck. And tonight was no exception. The final 30 minutes were the only worthwhile coverage out of the entire 3 hours. I know, I know. There are TV starved cyclists in eastern Montana that would give up their Sidi's to be able to watch the Tour. But still, would it kill them to cut 90% of the human interest stories and show a little more racing? Please?

And to keep to the general whining of this post, let Liggett and Sherwen do all the announcing. Please...please....puuullllllleeeeease.

Kudos to Cadel Evans for the Yellow Jersey. Well deserved.

I apologize for the rant, but since it is Bastille Day, I believe I have the right to lose my head.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We Meet At 7:00, Give or Take 40 Minutes

Wow. It is officially monsoon season here in Arizona. The humidity level has really kicked up. I felt it during today's ride at McDowell. I went through 53 ounces of water in only 90 minutes of riding and then went through a large Gatorade afterwards. It's a good thing I stopped drinking alcohol since I am sure if I had more than only two Stella Artois last night I would have been in bigger trouble today.

I found out about the ride at 6:40 this morning when I checked emails. Fred emailed last night at 10:45pm that he and the ASM crew would be at McDowell at 7:00 to ride. That gave me 20 minutes to get ready and drive there. Considering it takes 40-45 minutes to drive there from my house I almost didn't go. But, since everyone is usually late I wasn't too worried about not being able to catch up by half way through the long loop. I got there at 7:30 (still stopped and got a coffee and bagel for the drive) and saw that Lee was the only one there. Fred, Chris, and Ahmad showed up about 15 minutes after I did. Gee, I'm glad I didn't rush.

Even after the big storm on Thursday the track was in incredible shape and the tires were really hooking up. The pace started off a little bit fast for my old legs, especially being the only one on a singlespeed, so the short grinds hurt. But after I warmed up I was able to get to the front, keep the legs spinning, and pull away on the climbs. If Cesar or Keir had been there I am sure they would have kept the speed up and the "Ihatemylifeometer" would have been pegged.

I find it amusing that, lately, during every ride, road or mountain bike, we meet some wingnut(s) that has to make what he/she think is a witty, but ends up being a condescending, remark. Today's comment came from a older lady that rode through as we took a break to regroup at the top of the only tough climb on the long loop. I can't remember exactly what it is she said but it pissed me off My brain was moving too slow to come back with a decent riposte so all I could do is mutter, "Oh yeah?"

Soon the humidity took its it toll and the last couple of miles were not too much fun since I had gone through all my water. I must have still been dehydrated form yesterday's after work ride.

I have to say that any ride beats sitting on the couch watching TV. And all the riders out there today, including Smart Ass Woman, must have agreed. The place was packed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Wanna be a Jellyfish!

A great week. It started with a great ride last Saturday with Timo at McDowell's competitive course. I singlespeeded it and we enjoyed excellent trail conditions. Even though Timo wasn't feeling his best, we still hooked it up pretty well. The highlight of the ride was the two guys we met who told us everything right and wrong with our bikes and bikes in general. Wow. I didn't realize that there is still so much to learn and that I am just an ignorant boob. As an aside, Timo's wife, Rebecca, runs the course almost as fast as we ride it. Fantastiche!!!

I have been wanting to start doing Triathlons but a lack of swimming skills (read: the skills of a Coconut Cream Pie, which probably floats better than I do) has prevented me. So, I took the plunge (pun intended) and went to the first swimming lesson of my life the Sunday past. I had emailed or left voice mails for four different coaches since March and had not ever received the courtesy of even a, "Sorry, we train only the beautiful and fit" reply. (One of these coaches replied to Amy within 24 hours, for me it's been 6 weeks and no response to phone call and email. But I am not bitter) Gold Medal Swimming in Chandler was finally interested in teaching me. I wonder if my friends, Jackson, Lincoln, and Franklin were beautiful enough for them to decide to let me join. I originally wanted private lessons because I am easily embarassed (too many 3 fingered Moments) but joined a group class in desperation. I arrived and found I was one of two students so it is essentially a private class. Hopefully I will be done with the Baby and Me 2 class in a couple of weeks so I can progress to the Jellyfish, Starfish then Seahorse levels. I have to be careful, they'll charge me $100 if I have a "fecal accident" since I am not wearing approved swim diapers. The first lesson was a success except for one nervous moment. As I was laying on my back floating I noticed a gentleman with a peg leg sharpening a harpoon.

My buddy , Darrell, and I also started Yoga classes on Wednesday before work. What a hoot. Four older, out of shape dudes with a ravishing young instructor (and she called us "kids"). When I saw the four of us in the mirrored walls trying to hold the Warrior One position while being "cool", I could have peed my pants. I learned quite a bit about breathing, flexibility, being centered, and the importance of wearing a shirt that is long enough so that when one's arms are above their head, a dark, hairy belly doesn't pop out. Not that I witnessed this happening. but I can imagine that it could be very disturbing and gross.

Because of the Yoga, I was in a very peaceful state the entire day until I started imagining what it would feel like to be walking to the mailbox, feel something squirming between my toes, look down and see a big bug , kick off my sandal while shrieking like a little girl, all this in front of the neighbors, and finally realize that it was a wadded up piece of string. I just imagined the humiliation and was thankful that such an incident has not happened to me.

And to finish the work week on a high note, I took the Soulcraft out for a Friday afterwork fast blast on Desert Classic. Sweet.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Repeat As Required

What better way to to start off the July 4 weekend than with a true "Three-Fingered-Moment." A moment of such Three Fingeredness that after four days I can finally speak rationally of it.

It is amazing how one can make a stupid statement in public and then continue to add to the embarassment even with full mental warning alarms going off. "WHOOP-WHOOP...Danger...danger...Idiot moment approaching." I was speaking with a co-worker on Thursday afternoon, just before quitting time. We were talking about a 5k race I had run the weekend before and I made a comment about how "this really, really old guy kicked my butt. He had to be at least 60." My co-worker gave me a smile and to my chagrin I remembered that he happens to be 60. Well in a instant of pure genius I tried to save myself with, "But, don't worry, you look great for your shape." Oops. Well, if you're going to screw up in public, you might as well make it memorable.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of The Year

I can't believe that after my rant of a few days ago I am actually saying this but, today is the first day of the rest of the year. (and everyone says, "No s**t, Sherlock") Today, July 1, marks the downhill slide towards the end of the year. The summer solstice has just passed and the days are getting shorter. All the unfulfilled resolutions made on New Years Eve are now closer to being tossed onto the pile of good intentions which rest in the closets of our minds. (Did I really just use that metaphor? Ouch!)

I like July in Arizona. The summer rains are close and the oppressive heat will soon be a memory. This is always a time of reflection for me. I look back to what I have accomplished and look forward to what still needs to be done. Afterwards I compile a mental list of the things that have stood out. I realized during my musings that the most memorable things during the first six months of 2008 have been“Three-Finger-Moments.” I analyzed whether some of these incidents could be re-classified as accidents and un-equivocally can say, "no." I now offer some samples of the difference between a "Three-Fingered-Moment" and a normal oops. Not all these examples are from 2008 and I will not admit if any of these "incidents" are my own moments of greatness. But they are all true.

You have made an innocent mistake if your cell phone falls out of your shirt pocket while you bend over to pick something up.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if your cell phone falls out of your pocket a second time while bending over to pick up the object you ignored after your cell phone fell out the first time.

You have made an innocent mistake if you lose a sock.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you can’t find the sock because you are sitting on it.

You have made an innocent mistake if you forget to turn off a turn signal after changing lanes.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you use a turn signal while going around a curve on a highway.

You have made an innocent mistake if you crash on your mountain bike.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you crash on your mountain bike while showing a friend how to clear the section they just bit it on.

You have made an innocent mistake if you strip an Allen head screw while trying to loosen it.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you strip the head of an Allen screw because you are loosening it in the wrong direction and have actually tightened it.

You have made an innocent mistake if you greet an acquaintance by the wrong name.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you greet your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend by the wrong name. (Bonus points are scored if it is the name of someone they hate. Plus, "Hey you" doesn't count as a "Three-Fingered-Moment", it counts as, well, I don't think I need to elucidate)

You have made an innocent mistake if you have a gastric-intestinal incident in public.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if you describe it in all its olfactory glory to your friends afterwards. (They really don't want or need to know)

You have made an innocent mistake if you forget to buy a present for a friend’s birthday and you grab an unused and unwanted item from a drawer and give it to them.
You are having a “Three-Fingered-Moment” if the item you give them is the present they gave you last year.

There are many more “Three-Fingered-Moments" that come, unfortunately, too easily to mind. But they are for another post. Have a happy downhill slide to 2009.