Farewell to an awesome bike & wardrobe malfunction

Getting ready to set out on its final ride to the coast. Awesome bike. Trek builds them well!
Getting ready to set out on its final ride to the coast. Awesome bike. Trek builds them well!

Found out  Friday that my new bike (Trek Emonda SLR9) shipped out earlier than expected and will arrive on Tuesday! Which means today was the last ride to the coast for a bike that’s served me well for nearly 5 years without issue. Four rides left to go before it enters the “retired” column on Strava- commute to & from work Monday, regular Tuesday morning ride, and its final commute to work shortly after. Why not keep it around? Because it’s been through the wars, it’s been, well, on the ground a couple times, and Trek has a program for customers that allows them to trade in their questionable frames (as long as they’re carbon Treks!) and get a new bike at a 20% discount.

Today’s ride. We knew it was going to be challenging, since Kevin hadn’t ridden since last Sunday (he skipped Tuesday’s ride because I’d traveled to Las Vegas so he slept in, and Thursday he had pretty severe kidney pain). I let him pick the route; reverse Pescadero with West Alpine. So up Old LaHonda, out to San Gregorio, Stage Road south to Pescadero, over Haskins and up West Alpine. Normally, you’d get a tailwind heading south on Stage. Not today. And if you’re lucky, you might not get a headwind out to the coast, thanks to the off-shore flow that keeps the fog away. But not today.

Ewww! Busted jersey on the left, "repaired" jersey on the right.
Ewww! Busted jersey on the left, “repaired” jersey on the right. Was a bit worried about an odd hourglass sunburn I might have gotten had I worn it too long this way.

And normally you’re not wearing a jersey that’s connected only in the middle up front, but after a couple years and couple hundred times through the washer & dryer, the zipper decided it was going to give out. A YKK zipper no less, supposedly the best! But eventually everything wears out, and I don’t have the usual closet full of various jerseys like most people do… I invariably carry the flag, wearing my Chain Reaction store jersey. It was suggested by someone related that I shouldn’t have posted a photo of the jersey “repaired” using safety clips (bought them at the Pescadero Bakery… who knew, great food, drinks, and safety clips!) because it bears our name on an apparently-defective product. But I give our customers more credit than that; I think they know that anything, worn & washed enough times, isn’t going to last forever. And I’m even willing to say this- if you’ve got one of our custom Chain Reaction jerseys and the zipper fails, even if it’s 5 years old and you’ve worn it every day, I’m going to give you a new one. :-)

She wasn't sure how much further to the top
She wasn’t sure how much further to the top

OK, back to the ride. I told Kevin not to overdo it on Old LaHonda, figuring a 22 minute time. He did 21:58. Close enough. I was about a minute and a half behind, helping clear up a woman’s confusion about how much further it climbed. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but I can’t talk well when I’m climbing, and I overshot her very quickly. I also made sure that she knew about “the other side” of Old LaHonda (which it turns out she’s ridden before).

In Pescadero we had our usual Coke plus split a sandwich between us plus one of the face-sized cookies. Then we set off, not feeling quite on top of our game but you can’t feel that way every single ride. Haskins is never easy and it wasn’t this time (Kevin even had a seizure on the way up) and West Alpine? Enjoyable, yes, fast, no. But in the end, a pretty decent 68 mile ride.

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Just takes a few days off the bike and… you wish you hadn’t taken a few days off the bike!

Eric & Milo on West Old LaHonda. Where was everyone else today?
Eric & Milo on West Old LaHonda. Where was everyone else today?

How do people do it? Ride once in a while, I mean? I suppose if you were just riding as a type of occasional fun, maybe the way you might once in a while go out for a nice dinner, it would make sense. And as I type that, it sounds like it might make perfect sense, for some. Maybe most. But not me. Because for me, cycling isn’t something just for fun; it’s part of my lifestyle (some might argue an all-consuming part of it). I don’t feel right if I’m not riding, and as much as I don’t look forward to getting back on the bike after a few days off, and feeling bloated and slow, it’s a lot better than the alternative (getting even-more bloated and even-more slow when I get back on).

I was in Las Vegas for just a few days, leaving Sunday night and getting back Wednesday evening. I did manage to get in a good ride Sunday before leaving, so all I missed was Tuesday’s regular ride up Kings and the commute to work & back each day. Doesn’t seem like all that much! But when it’s what you normally do, when it’s a routine that you’ve worked into your daily schedule, where you know exactly how long it takes to ride to work including a stop for coffee… things just don’t feel right when you change.

Does it ever become tiresome? Boring? Nope. That’s not to say that some days aren’t better than others! But the worse it feels when you’re riding, the better you feel about it afterward. It’s difficult to think of a ride where, afterward, I wished I’d stayed home. I think that says it all.

What brings this up? Besides missing a few days on the bike, that is? Probably Eric asking on today’s ride if I ever stopped riding, ever took time off. Seemed like an odd question, and unfortunately, my breathing routine doesn’t allow me the luxury of having a conversation very often while riding, particularly once the road tilts upward. It’s really got me wondering why he asked.

What’s my fear of not riding? The scariest part isn’t getting out of shape and putting on weight. Not for me anyway. The scariest part is forgetting what it is to really push yourself on a climb, to pretend you don’t mind that headwind and blast your way through it. OK, the idea of not suffering, on my own terms, that’s a biggie. I’d miss the pain, my body talking back to me and telling me that I’m not just existing, I’m doing something. Telling me I don’t just exist… I’m alive!

OK, standard ride report. Just three of us today; Eric and I at the start, joined up top (on Skyline) by Milo, who’d left a bit earlier. Eric nicely held back and rode with me up Kings (I was OK through the park but by the time we connected with Kings, my speed was gone). Kevin didn’t make it; rough night trying to sleep with kidney stone pain. And that brings this full-circle. There’s pain you bring upon yourself, and that’s fine, because you control it. The amount, and the duration. And in the end, you feel better for it. And then there’s involuntary pain, of which there really isn’t much good that can be said about it.

We all have some involuntary pain in our lives. Maybe some of us use voluntary (I hesitate to say self-inflicted) pain to keep the other stuff, the other pain, at bay. Maybe when we feel most helpless is when we need to get out on a bike and ride ourselves into the ground, in total control of what we’re doing and how we feel. If the desired outcome is to feel like we’re in control, it’s a fail-safe way to achieve it.

Yes, it does sound like I’ve gone off the deep end. A couple days in Las Vegas can do that to you. :-)    –Mike–

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