Another great ride, but what did I learn?

You can see the faster people in the group, pretty much everyone but me, riding ahead on West Alpine
You can see the faster people in the group, pretty much everyone but me, riding ahead on West Alpine

It gets a bit boring talking about each awesome ride, one after another, a product of yet another mild, near-rainless “winter” in Northern California. 67 miles, met up with the Alto Velo A ride in Pescadero, rode hard enough to feel it in my legs later in the day. I live for that feeling!

But what did I learn/what was unique about today?

  • Stick to the plan. If Kevin has a seizure at the to of Old LaHonda (like he did today after setting a pretty fast pace up the hill), don’t let him cut the ride short because he doesn’t feel well. It’s temporary and passes quickly, and has been a “feature” of many of his best rides.
  • Believe in yourself. When we hooked up with Alto Velo’s “A” ride, the pace was quite a bit faster than what we’d been doing on our own. Heading east from Pescadero I’m trying to figure out when I’m going to get blown off the back. You’re going through the route in your head, literally planning your exit strategy. That’s dumb! I went back to my racing strategy from back-in-the-day. No matter how hard it is hanging onto that wheel in front of you, it’s even-harder losing it and trying to keep from getting too far behind. So I managed to stay with the group until things started to break up on the Haskins climb.
  • Cars don’t have a vendetta against cyclists; they’re trying to kill themselves off and sometimes we just get in the way. It’s amazing how often you see cars pass you on blind corners, moving completely into the oncoming lane.
  • Ride earlier in the day and you’ll find a lot more cyclists on the road; more rabbits to chase on the climbs, more people to introduce the local “bridges of death” to (the bridge at the base of most of the epic local climbs, including China Grade, West Alpine and Tunitas), more trains to catch (groups of riders you can draft behind).

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An early, strong influence in my life died today. RIP Leonard Nimoy (Spock).

bio_lnimoy_highres_article[1]It can’t possibly come as a surprise that I was a bit of a nerd in grade & high school. In fact, I’m remembering, for the first time in ages, one of my school nicknames. “Mr. Scientific.” Odd that I’d not thought about that since school, 40 years ago.

The attraction to Star Trek and Spock in particular was logic. Making sense out of a nonsensical world, which pretty much defines being a teenager just as much as it defines someone who’s at the fringes of any spectrum, political, religious or financial. Logic, or pretending to be logical, allows you to construct a scenario that makes sense to you, a rational way to explain irrational things. Everything else can still be whacko, but you’ve got a path.

There was also Spock’s sense of alienation, being different from those around him. Again, a teen anthem, at least for me.

And finally, and this is what really helped out with my then-chronic Osgood-Schlatter disease, the idea that pain existed only in the mind, and if you could control your mind, you could control pain. Drugs weren’t the answer to pain management; changing your perception of the pain, the experience of pain, was. Worst-case scenario, the pain would be gone at some point, and all that separated you from that point was time, and what is time anyway? In bike racing I relished pain; I’d take it out and imagine it outside my body, looking at me as I climbed, fueling my effort. Totally derived from Star Trek/Spock. An example of Spock’s mind over matter can be found in this short Star Trek clip.

My kids are going to read this and think yeah, Dad’s a nut case. Knew that. My wife will read this and think nothing new here, move along, I’ve lived with it for 39 years, what’s another couple of decades. And I’m thinking, of all the influences for good and bad on a teenager’s life, Star Trek was up at the top of those “good.” Even Leonard Nimoy’s death pointed to an amazingly-positive thing about Star Trek. He died of pulmonary complications related to heavy smoking back in the day. Reading that, I realized that nobody smoked on Star Trek. A show in the 60’s, when everybody smoked. But not in Star Trek’s world. Amazing thing, that.

While reminiscing, I recall quite vividly the first time I saw a Star Trek episode. It came on past my bedtime/TV time (I would have been 10 on December 15, 1966 when it first aired), but we’d inherited this ancient B&W TV from my grandparents that sat in a corner of my room, and I’d turn down the volume and dim the screen and see what’s on. I came across the classic Star Trek episode Balance of Terror.  To say I was mesmerized is an understatement! It remains one of the best-written interstellar space battles ever (which makes sense, given that it’s largely a re-write of “The Enemy Below”, one of the best WWII submarine vs destroyer movies ever).

RIP Leonard Nimoy.

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