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 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.

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