Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'll Snitch on Myself...

There are a FEW ways to watch the Tour De France in Louisville:

1. You can pay approximately $12 extra dollars a month for a slightly upgraded cable package that basically includes Versus and a host of other USELESS channels that you will only use to give your thumb exercise with the remote when you are bored with commericals.

2. You hopefully have a friend who has paid the extra $12 and you offer to cook them dinner, do their laundry, or care for their animals all from the comforts of their oversized couches (with the Tour in the background).

3. You locate a bar in town that is showing it. You are lucky to find a well positioned stool.

4. Find a local bike shop willing to host a dozen or so bicycle enthusiasts for several hours.

I chose option number 1 for a FEW reasons:

1. I like to lounge around on my couch in my plaid flannel pajama pants that I have owned since I was 18 (no joke…these pants have lasted longer than any relationship I’ve had). I like to eat a Klondike bar, some movie candy, or sip on a tasty beverage. It seems worth the $12 charge to have my OWN private bathroom only feet from my couch.

2. While I have some friends with cable, I cannot bring myself to employ the use of their couch for nearly a month so I can watch bike riders carve through France. I feel this crosses that invisible friend threshold line and I would not likely be asked over for holiday parties.

3. I hate bars. I hate bar food. I hate drunks. I hate sitting at a bar bending my neck upward while dodging mindless chatter of strangers around me. The bar is NOT an appropriate venue for the Tour.

4. My local bike shop does not have a couch and this is a required provision with watching the Tour. I will further have to engage in conversation about every detail of every rider. I just want to watch the race, not disect it piece by piece.

So I spend the extra hard earned funds, fully aware that it is an “extra” in life. It is not a necessity. For three weeks, nearly every morning I can wake up and turn on the tour. Most stages start at 7AM or 8AM…which means I can sit back, drink coffee, not get dressed, not shower and enjoy a stage of the race. Even if I do MISS a stage…no worries…they will show the stage at least 2 more times throughout the day and end it all with a recap show. That is quite possibly the BEST part of the entire 3 weeks. Not only can I watch any stage I want…but I can also choose when and how long I watch it.

All of that said…I must confess, instead of watching last nights recap show…the preview for the steeper mountain stages, the individual interviews with the race leaders, or even the cycling commercials showing sexy bikes…I watched SOMETHING ELSE. There we were, sitting and taking in the time trials from the beginning of the race when I remembered that Hot Tub Time Machine was now on Demand. So instead of listening to the strategy some of these cyclists are planning to use for the upcoming stages, we watched a group of men travel back in time to the 80’s when their lives were hip and they were cool.

Yes, we chose a mythical hot tub over a century old bike race. I’m embarrassed enough for all of you (the movie was very funny though).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Feeling the Heat

For some reason this summer, hell has truly opened up its doors thus engulfing everyone around us in a crock-pot of heat and misery. The interior of my car has exceeded 120 degrees with a digital thermometer. I could potentially fry eggs on my passenger seat instead of getting a bagel on the way to work. With this apocalyptic heat wave, riding has taken on a new challenge. Short 20-milers feel like century rides near the end. It is nothing to suck down 2, 3, or even 4 bottles of luke warm water on a ride. Once I am finished riding, I must attempt to peel my kit off in sopping wet layers only to immediately put them into the washing machine before the salt forms a crust around the seams creating a faded look on black riding shorts.

As if the winter were NOT enough punishment enough to cyclists, this summer is a horrible sequel to an attempted hobby known as "training." Winter precluded rides because of the numerous snow, ice and wind chills below zero. Your muscles do NOT work when they are frozen. Now, we must contend with 96% humidity, arid oxygen, and blistering sun. It's safe to say that when you are out on your bike, you look for lava vents to open in the roads at any given moment. To surmount ALL of this pressure, then I have to think about racing. If there were ever a time I felt in a frying pan, this is IT!

It was a large enough feat to commit to one team. This decision was made only after I spent days literally making pro and cons lists, carefully surveying every friend with a bike, and even consulting my family, who has NEVER raced bikes. It is a well known fact that I am a "commitment phobe." This is what a failed marriage does to you. You become overly independent and the fear of commitment seeps into your everyday activities. I am lucky to commit to any specific brand of toilet paper, let alone, a bike team. However, I made the choice...to say yes and race. Once I committed to the cross team, I came upon an opportunity to join another team…a track team in Indy. Hmmmmm. For some reason, this decision took less thought perhaps because I adopted the attitude of ‘why not?’

Now, I am flooded with raging thoughts in my head which can all be edited to one question…”WHAT HAVE I DONE???!!!”…I love the bike. I am good on the bike…but now I have to race in front of others, in front of other cyclists, friends and family. Then again, in 2005, I stepped on stage to pour out dialogue in front of a crowd of several hundred…so I can do this. Right? (It would be good to nod your head here…please). If anything, I get 2 new bikes out of this experience. Any cyclist loves an excuse to purchase ONE bike let alone TWO. I will learn from this experience…how to handle my bike better…how to deal with other riders…how to coordinate my kits with my bike…how to avoid pile ups…how to handle my nerves, quivering stomach, and mouthfuls of grass and track.

There are those people that NEED pressure…they thrive on it. They also have heart attacks and protruding veins with intent stares. I appreciate a little heat…I appreciate a little pushing…I appreciate a little competitiveness. It does not cause me to excel though…I am a planner…I like agendas and control. When I have neither…I feel quite untethered to the world. Of course as the saying goes…"if you can’t take the heat…"

I am not ready to leave the kitchen yet.

Fall Fashion Preview

Forget purchasing the tweeds and earth toned textured fabrics of the upcoming fall season; The main staple in this girl’s wardrobe is SPANDEX. The orders are in for skin suits, bibs, shorts and jerseys. Track and cross season require the same wardrobe planning as cocktail soirees and debutante balls (sans taffeta and parasols). Every detail is important from accessories (shoes and gloves) to hair (pony tail or do I work the sporty mullet?). Helmets are the new sheik” must have” ranging in colors and vent styles along side padded shoulder cross suits designed to make lifting more manageable (I beg to differ). Who knew that cycling fashion also offered functionality?

Decisions…decisions…decisions. While the skort is NOT appropriate for women’s racing (or riding for that matter), there is also the worry of “after the race” attire/ look. The boyfriend can simply use a wet nap and fresh clothes to spruce up. I, however, will need a full entourage bag with hair accessories, spray detangler, make-up and perfume. It’s okay to express bodily odor on the cross course or the track…but not on the sidelines cheering your team mates on with your fists wildly shaking cow bells. Besides, these days there are at least 4-5 cameras ready at anytime to snap, upload, and tag a Facebook photo before you can blink (Learning to untag yourself is also a task to accomplish!). I do not want to be caught sidelining with mud, grease, and sweat gracing this temperate skin.

Even the bike needs to be a part of the wardrobe. Nothing can ruin a look more than a severely mismatched bike, skin suit, and helmet. Perez Hilton would have a field day noting the destroyed crank sets, bloodied shins, and sweat stained kits. Thankfully, he is way too busy this season following the Hollywood elite. For now, the cyclists are safe to make small faux pas in fashion as only a handful of dabbling bloggers will catch and report them to the world (the readership of Perez Hilton and the average cyclist blogger are no doubt VASTLY different).

At any rate, I have saddled the task of forming a new and complete spandex wardrobe that I must make look cute but not too cute. It must look cool but not too cool. It has to be functional but not militaristic. If I were a pro, I would have a stylist whose job revolves around these key principles while I focus on riding. Alas, I am not a pro nor will I be dressed like one. My only fashion commitment at this juncture is the sure fact that I will have my jersey on correctly and my bike will be clean. My largest challenge will be pinning my number so they are straight.