The holidays always seem like a good time to think about bikes.. As in, the proverbial shiny new bike under the Christmas tree. As a cyclist and bike geek, these days always have me wondering about the year that's just wrapped up, and what the riding and racing season ahead hold in store for me. It's a tough time of year, trying to keep the weight off, and stay motivated enough to train through winter's cold and gloom. Along with the looking up the road with great anticipation to the bikes and rides which lay ahead, sometimes, I've found that I tend to look back with great nostalgia at my cycling life, as though peering through a frosted window at the rides and bikes of "Christmas past.." Epic rides? Sure, we've all got stories. Many a cyclist will spin a yarn or further embellish tall tale of this or that perfect day on the bike, or the race that went just right, or oh, what could have been!... if only,.. if only.. (insert reason here). And what of those bikes of days-gone-by? Which ones do we longingly remember (and secretly still pine for), and try to recreate through some modicum of "retro" gear)..? Which bikes do we REGRET having sold off or traded-in or released from our lives? Oh, the one that got away!! That old Bridgestone MB-3 or Ritchey Road Logic! Where are they now? That old Cannondale was indeed like riding a beer can on wheels, but we had such times together up and down the Pacific Coast Highway! Coming of age with that old Centurion or 1985 Peugeot with what, in retrospect, was possibly the WORST mix of low-level French and Japanese componentry ever (actually, the Japanese stuff was not too bad). It didn't matter, for those were truly the "wonder years!" We didn't have drivers' licences or cars, as we were geeks on bikes and the girls were still mysterious (ok, they'll always be mysterious!). Sometimes, on a late summer afternoon, we would ride by their houses, those mysterious girls... Then, lost in our little moment of "Hey, look at how cool I am on my new Mongoose IBOC," run into the back of a parked car, and discover the amount of impact force it takes to bend a steel mountain bike fork back 45 degrees. What good is running into the back of a car like that in front of those girls, if it does not bring with it, a great moment of clarity (as in, I must have clearly gotten their attention, right?). Luckily, I think they were laughing so hard, that they were moved to tears, and their subsequent, teary-eyed blurry vision allowed my to scuttle away in bruised male-ego shame. So, on that note, I would be curious as to which bikes we miss the most, and WHY. I KNOW I can't be the only one who has run into the back a parked Oldsmobile like that! Come on, let's hear it for the ones that got away.
Okay, 30 SOLID minutes on the rollers, done! It's difficult to dig deep during these winter months, when training indoors on either the rollers (sort of a treadmill for the bike, really) or "trainer" which holds the rear wheel in place. Time spent on either of these two devices seems to pass mmmuch, m m m u c h, s l o w w w e r r r... Most racing cyclists (or, most endurance athletes for that matter) have special relationships with their training life. I've often tried to approach the seemingly endless hours required to even be minimally competitive as a racer, with the attitude that as long as I get the training accomplished, everything else in life will fall into place. That's especially encouraging when life gets really hectic. Half the battle is just getting on the bike and pushing off on the pedals. Riding a bike indoors is its own special challenge though. It's more of a mental game. Ugh!.. head-games.. of course! Pedaling and pedaling.. going nowhere fast. All that wattage which could otherwise produce electrical current seems like such a waste.
So far, it works! I should REALLY be working on dissertation edits so I can wrap up and establish a date for my oral defense. There is no escaping the dissertation, for even when I'm out on my bike or running, I'm thinking about research, or how best to write things up, or directions for future research! After this thing is done, then there's the issue of the chapters either ending up good starts on individual scholarly journal articles, or some form of book manuscript draft! It all depends on what the goals are, and what the department at any given institution expects. We'll see.