Monday, August 30, 2010


The new formal dining room
In my early 20’s if I were to announce that I was cohabitating with my significant other, my parents brows would have raised in unison to share their unanimous discontent. The dissatisfaction stems from a generation that believed a commitment, a ring, and or wedding ceremony needed be in the works for cohabitation to occur. Fast forward to present day with the remnants of a failed marriage lining their basement and I found my parents brows neither raised nor shifted slightly when I announced my cohabitation plan for 2010. Instead, my parents opened their basement door urging the removal of old objects and offered to store large pieces of furniture for a future, larger home.

As I made announcements to my friends about our unwed living arrangement, many were supportive and yet, they could not help but ask about an impending wedding date. Thankfully, I have reached a place in my life where I no longer feel the “pressure” to produce a socially acceptable answer (Sorry, Emily Post). I simply respond with the truth that if we reach that point…GREAT…if not…then we all move on without lawyers, division of property, and 2 families torn apart because the fairytale did not work out. It happens. While I would love to believe that I have found someone I could wear a diaper around in my later years, the reality is…I may not have found that and only time will tell.

My salty, sarcastic disposition comes from my front row seats of marriages that have occurred in the past two years. I have seen the manic crazed hype built around a few hours for two people who may or may not be able to make it work. I have seen couples who’s “starting off” is already faltered by sly comments made from siblings, family members or Facebook posts. I now understand that you marry because you believe you can work through all the obstacles that come along. If marriage were a video game…it might be like “Frogger” where you are carefully dodging cars. You have only so many lives before GAME OVER.

Living together requires a level of commitment beyond handholding and cheek kissing. Everything is negotiable from a formal dining room converted to a bike room to which direction the toilet paper should rotate. If these simple ideas, tasks, and chores cannot be worked out…it is safe to say a marriage would only be as good as the Titanic and a survival rate of 1 in 3 are NOT good odds. I feel my odds are in my favor as I supported the dining room conversion and I could care less about the direction of toilet paper. Here goes nothing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Now What?

I finally got the cross bike last week. To my dismay, the bike was not ready to ride off the showroom floor. After several hours of re-cabling, various adjustments and the purchase of a new non-setback seatpost, the bike was finally deemed “road worthy” and then it sank in…the thought…”now what?” I have a cross bike, now, what do I do with it? I believe the response in my head was: “RIDE IT!”

I set out on a maiden voyage, which actually included a spin around my super flat, traffic clogged, stop sign infested neighborhood. If someone were to ask me if anything feels different, the best thing I can tell them is YES, EVERYTHING is different. All spacers have been removed from the stem creating a center of gravity much lower than my road or mountain bike. I am back to using SPD pedals which take a wee bit more torque to remove the ankles securely and swiftly. The brakes have loads of clearance for all the sand and mud I will encounter but this also means on the road that I roll to a stop unlike more traditional disc or v-brakes. The saddle is a wee bit more padded than I am used to but none of these things are deal breakers. It is a new bike and each bike requires that you get used to it.

I am obsessed with comfort on the bike. I do not like hip, elbow, or toe pain of any kind. My first few rides are normally obsessive as I work to feel the slightest hint of pain and prepare to remedy it. Having a boyfriend that knows how to fit people comes in quite handy. Yet, this bike has not required tons of adjustments and wrenching. My first park rides were comfortable and fast. The lowered stem really helped on corners and descents. I have spent part of this summer bummed that I can climb with great efficiency…but I descend like a bird feather. This is NOT helpful or cool.

The next challenge…lifting this bike over barriers. Like most women, my upper body strength is like that of a moth or gangly bird. My height is already working against me but now I have to heave a bike over a barrier and get back in the saddle with a great amount of efficiency. Hmmmm. I have no desires to turn my upper body into a ripped machine…I just have to be able to get the bike safely over the barriers…or risk slinging the frame into a group of racers. I will not win any friends there.

My first race is a little under a month away. I feel somewhat prepared but disgustingly anxious at the same time. Preparing for a foot race is EASY; All I have to do is run. This is different…VERY different. I hate to disappoint others, embarrass myself, or God forbid, wreck someone.

As if that were not enough….track season is getting closer…and closer…and closer….

Monday, August 9, 2010

Good is enough sometimes…

I picked up cycling as a “divorce recovery.” Basically, I wanted to take one failure and turn into a success. I put time and energy into the bike for this reason. While there are millions of divorcees around me on a daily basis who act like it was not a big deal in their lives; It was and is a big deal to me. When you divorce, your lives move on and you find a lot of empty space that needs filling. I could have spent that time wallowing in my own misery but that would have been extremely unproductive. I promised myself that I would not fold into the background, that I would try new experiences with or without someone, and I would be good at the things I tried.

Some people choose knitting as a hobby, quilting, basket weaving, golf or even scrapbooking. I wanted a hobby that pushed my limits physically and mentally. I wanted to sweat. Everytime I found an obstacle on a ride, I worked on a way around it. I worked to improve. My first “real” season on a bike, I was bruised, battered, scraped, and tired. A 30-mile ride seemed impossible. Yet, after a while, it steadily became easier and now my challenging rides must tip 60-miles to truly tire me out.

I’m not great on the bike. I do not walk around pretending to be great expecting attention for my cycling conquests. I am not some racing prodigy who is going plow through my competition with the force of a heard of bulls. I am not physically designed well for cycling. I am short and if cycling is not enough of a challenge, finding clothing and a perfect bike fit are. I’m never going to take a race series by storm and annihilate all of those around me. No, instead, I am going to go out this year, race, have fun, accept the risk (yes, I may crash. I may get hurt) and smile all the way with what remaining teeth I have after a few crashes (I have great dental insurance). I will NOT be reminded that I have only barely raced before. I will not be told that I am not good enough and I will NOT accept people’s criticism, skepticism, or disbelief that a 5’2”, 106-lb chick can race. Anyone can race. All you have to do is sign up and pay the fee. I don’t want to race to beat another or to show off my machismo (do women have machismo?)…I want to finish a race. It is VERY important that I finish a race.

I do not take failure lightly. I do not quit easily either. Even in Kindergarten, my mother insisted I was an overachiever. It was not because I desired to be liked by the other kids. I never cared about that. I liked the sense of accomplishment. I liked the sense of knowing I could do something even when others thought that I couldn’t. The rides on the bike that have resulted in grunting pushes to finish have also given me time to clear my head, accept who I am and not dwell on a so-called “mistake.” So while others race to get podium finishes, meet hot women (or men), or express a primal urge to compete, I will race this season because I can. I will never be great…but I will be good and sometimes that is the best I can do. It’s a lot easier keeping promises to yourself when you finish what you started.