Things I love about the Bike 2006 – #1 – Mud

So, let’s start this again. Last year, I completely failed to finish what I started, so this year I’ll work from the bottom up, dig. Not sure where we’ll stop.

#1? We’re starting with Mud.

Tonight? Home in time for supper. The wife, my mom, and the boys headed out this morning and picked strawberries. Wow. At least there’s some good coming from all this &)(#$$! rain we’ve been having this spring. Nutmeggers? I highly suggest you find your friendly neighborhood pick-ur-own berry patch and spend a little time enjoying nature’s bounty this weekend. Never before in my life have I had strawberries even close to these.

Supper was salmon, spinach salad with white cheese, walnuts, strawberries, and strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Dessert was hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries out of the freezer. The freezer was just slightly longer than necessary to harden the chocolate, but ended up being brilliant since the berries weren’t completely frozen, but at the squishee/slurpee/frozen coke stage. Yum.

We played in the yard for a bit, and, as Mom’s been taking bath duties, I strapped on the MTB to do a spin on the neighborhood singletrack.

Remind me that I need to carry a saw up the trail this weekend – there’s a couple of trees down right at the start of the trail. Not big enough to have fallen all the way down to the ground, but too big to just push off the path.

Anyways; biffed once on the first climb, but found the groove that’s been missing from my riding for a while on the first descent. Did one out-n-back, looked at the light situation, and decided that I could squeeze in another one without running out of light. No problems at all with that – things were clicking (in the metaphorical good way, not the bad oh-crap-are-my-bearings-about-to-seize way), and I was seeing the lines on the trail instead of the rocks and the endos.

The new, paranoid me was starting to freak out, thinking that the common thread in every big crash I’d ever experienced was that feeling of eupohria just before I found myself butt-over-teakettle on the ground. As a result, I managed to ride straight through the middle of a mud hole.

As soon as I realized where I was and got the bike under control, fear turned to joy. The squish of mud around the tires, the feeling of cold, wet earth splattering the back of my calves, and the smell of mud on my upper lip took me back to being 7 and taking the BMX back in the woods behind Amy Briggs’ house. I managed to stop making “Brrrroom, brrrroom” dirtbike noises, but the feeling was there.

I ended up biffing once more on the ride home. Absolute classic – I caught a branch with my back tire approaching another mudhole. Bike stopped, Billy kept going (kids, notice how consistiently I apply Newton’s second law of momentum even at risk to my own life and limb). Over the handlebars, through the air, and into the dirt. Which was cool, ’cause there were the biggest f’n deer tracks I’ve seen in my life literally under my nose.

Yes, I love mud. Always have, always will.

* Note – before the trail nazis reproach me for encouraging erosion, neither of the puddles I rode through are on slopes – they’re collecting basins, and riding through them really doesn’t accelerate runoff. Though, if I were really pure in heart, I’d haul in a load of gravel to fill them in with…

Go drop condolences on Mark and the rest of the Canadian RBF. Some jerk made fun of hockey in Mark’s comments.



We just had what ought to be a mid-summer thunderstorm roll through after the boys and my mom were in bed. The wife and I were down on the couch watching a tape of our guilty pleasure, Jay Leno’s Headlines, as the storm started. Quietly, at first – the rumble of distant thunder, indistinguishable from the rumble of the washing machine in the basement.

As the storm rolled through, the lightning grew brighter, the “one-mississippi, two-mississippi, three-mississippi…” between the flash and the thunder became a “one-mississ..”. We turned off the TV because we couldn’t hear it over the rain. Buckets, I tell you. Buckets. We stood in the front doorway watching the rain and the thunder and the lightning close but not touching. I could smell her hair over the ozone and the wet earth, and feel her warm and near in the cool of the storm.

Then, like that, it was over. The flashes moved back into the forest, the rain stopped, and there was nothing but the dripping from the trees, the still of a summer night, and the woman I love, just like so many summer storms before.

Happy Father’s Day and Summer’s here

Yesterday – wow.

My mom’s in town (dad’s tied up on business). Jake and I headed off to church a little early to take care of some admin on the Fair Trade coffee mission that Missy and I run, and Missy, mom and Nate followed about a half hour later in the other car. It didn’t make sense to drag two cars around for lunch, so Jake and I planned to take the bike and third wheel back to the church while Nate napped that afternoon.

So, we did. There was a little kerfuffle about a half mile from the house when Jake’s pedal fell off – hadn’t torqued it in, mostly out of habit and experience with well-made bike stuff. The third wheel’s a cheap one from Target. Works like a champ, but weighs in somewhere upwards of maximum ratings for automobile freight. The pedal’s in there good. I dragged him with the mountain bike, with knobbies still attached, so, given our combined weight and rolling resistance, we weren’t about to set any land-speed records.

This was the first time we’d attempted a ride of any real distance without him in the trailer. He did swimmingly. There was absolutely NO complaining about “Are we there yet?” and only a modicum of worry while going down hills. We stopped at Spicer Park – surprised that there were no rowers out – for a couple of drinks of gatorade, and I got a “Come on, daddy, we’re wasting time that we could be riding…” The kid could turn out to be a killer. Though he did get distracted on the way back to the parking lot by some ants and shiny rocks.

The drag up Long Hill past the high school and police station was as tough as I’d expected; however, I swear I could feel the kid pushing. Absolutely awesome. We made the car and about 12 miles in around an hour, give or take. Even though it was the hottest day yet this year, there was no whining by the boy, and he looked fresh when we got off. What a trooper.

When we pulled up to the house, the wife was putting out the Slip’n’Slide in the front yard. They’ve gone high-tech with these things: Not only are they slippery now, but they come with integral “splash pools” and inflateable bumpers at the end. I finished mowing the back yard, and joined the boys sitting in the splash pool. Then the wife actually let me cook for once – kabobs on the grill, followed by a wild blueberry cobbler (frozen berries, but if you’re cooking them, what’s the difference?)

Today: Determined not to let the week get half done before I start running, I laced’em up at lunch, and decided to see how the old rash would feel. Turns out, running actually made the residual itch bearable this afternoon. 5.2 miles, over 47 minutes. So, not so speedy, but it was 80 and 70% humidity – the hottest I’ve run since, like, September. But, I was running again. Good stuff. The wife ordered me a Frazz t-shirt from for Father’s Day, and I broke it in. Think Mallett might approve. Next step is to get it showing up randomly in RBF pictures…

Scale was down to 168 again. Still no net loss since like January, but who’s complaining? It’s summer, the race monkey is off my back (which means I’m itching to line up again), and I can focus on slaying my own demons.

Edit: Completely slipped my mind – before supper, we realized that the cobbler for dessert was going to be way, way too healthy – granola, next to no sugar, etc. So, we started jonesing for some vanilla ice cream to wash it down. And rather than burning dinos and going to the real grocery, I threw the baby in the jump seat of the wife’s bike and shimmied on down to the gas station/convinience store down the road. Sure, we paid an extra buck for the half-gallon of delicious vanilla bean ice cream, but we saved 8 miles in the car, and I got to hear my youngest yelling “Pedal faster daddy” while pounding my back.

Thoughts on t-ball as a metaphor for life

Found this as an orphaned post.

Things I can do better:

Get started on the details earlier. I’m a terrible procrastinator. I let the list of kids sit for a week before I called my first practice. Consequently, the kids missed out on at least one opportunity to play.
Figure out how to better use available resources. There were a bunch of parents who were willing to help. I, however, missed out in two ways. First, it’s easier to recruit people to do well-defined tasks. I didn’t take the time to figure out how to divvy up coaching. And I was surprised at the number of parents on the team who hadn’t played sports at all as kids and who didn’t even know the basics. I’m thrilled that they dragged their kids out, but it really did kind of surprise me.
The second bit that I should have done here is to actually ask.

For the Dumb Idea File

Using the weed-eater (string trimmer, whatever) on poison ivy while wearing sandals; then sitting on a plane wearing same sandals without first steam-sterilizing them. The ivy’s some weird stuff – had an incubation period of about 4 days before the rash got really, really bad. But I went and checked where I ran the weed whacker, and yes-indeedy! “Leaves of three, let them be.”

Let them be sprayed with round-up, if I weren’t violently opposed to using serious chemicals in the yard.

Fertilizer doesn’t count. Weed’n’feed will count after this summer.

Tried to go run today; feet hurt too much to get more than a half-mile. Grrrr.

Had the last t-ball game today; went surprisingly well. Think I’ll miss the kids…

Stupid Scale

Up to 170 this morning.

Likely due to

  • Not running consistently
  • Not continuing my food log
  • Just generally prioritizing the rest of my life

The positive is that I caught the slide after +3 pounds, as opposed to my usual +5 or +10. But, it’s a slide nontheless.

On the other upside, I’ve already run 2 days this week (Week defined, in my case as Mon-Sun) and have an excellent chance of breaking 20 miles for the week. As far as priorities go, t-ball ends this weekend, so that’s a night and part of a Saturday that I get back. Plus, my folks are flying in, which means that I should be able to sneak off and jump on the bike while the kids are getting baths.

Summer Rocks.

I broke my mother’s heart

A couple of years ago, my mom sent up a kid’s book for Jake. It was about a mother who, every night, would sneak into her son’s room while the boy was sleeping and give him a kiss. Which is all well and good, except this book showed the mother

1. Actually belly-crawling along the floor, hiding in curtains, and that type of thing; and
2. Continuing to do this even after her son was grown and moved out of the house.

I told Mom I found the book actually kind of creepy.

She said it was probably her favorite kids’ book ever.

I’m a terrible son.

Anyway, I bring this up ’cause tonight caught me creeping into the boys’ rooms about midnight and kissing both of them on the head while they slept. Though I think I was secretly hoping they’d wake up. I’ve been down FedLand way – Maryland and VA, with a side trip to DC for breakfast one morning. Great trip. Good professionally, and enjoyable. Hit it off with my boss and our sponsors.

Running’s been pretty good – made 5+ on Saturday, 6-ish on Monday, and 5-ish on Tuesday. We were staying up by BWI, and there’s a great trail around the airport. Wish I’d taken pictures – if you’ve flown into Baltimore/Washington Int’l, you’ll recall that the airport is up on kind of a plateau. The view kind of goes on over the rolling hills of the Pax River valley, and the sunsets were nothing short of spectacular. Plus, the Maryland Highway department isn’t mowing, likely to save gas, and the wildflowers were everywhere.

Hope everyone’s having a great week. Two more t-ball games…

Monday Swim

So, I managed to avoid running all weekend – the weather in New England was borderline awful, but it didn’t stop certain members of the CT RBF from winning trophies. Which makes me a wuss, I suppose. We did have t-ball pictures and a game, but the kids were on the verge of making me nuts – should have stayed in bed…

Tonight, I headed down to the Y for a swim – hey, less than 2 weeks between trips to the pool! The swim was better this time, though I can really, really tell that I haven’t been using my arms. 1500 m in 33 minutes, 5xbreast, 4x5xfree, 5xbreast.

Still no real insights.

Actually, strike that – reading the San Diego marathon race reports kind of made me think. As much as I’ve really enjoyed racing – the camraderie, etc, and the general challenge, I think I’m calling off racing for the summer. Rather than spending a ton of time in the car on Thursdays to do Terramuggus, I’ll stop on Jamestown and do a brick. Focus on the new job. Focus on the wife and kids. Whatever.

But, I’ve proven I can go out and do a given distance. Now, I want to prove I can leave behind the belly. Next year I’ll prove I can stay fast.

Lifestyle change is what I’m really after with this fitness thing.

There’s a joke in the submarine community that ASW, or Anti-Submarine Warfare really stands for “Awfully Slow Waiting”. It’s taken me all of a decade plus to finally understand how that really applies, both professionally and personally. I’m looking forward to racing again, truly. But before I’m ready to line up again, there’s a bunch of refining, triangulating, and preparation that needs to be done physically and mentally to make sure I don’t get sunk like I did after New York.

I think I should be ready by Labor Day.

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