Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Change for Me

Just before bedtime last night, I left my wallet on one of the un-hooked-up stereo speakers that have been "temporarily" sitting in my bedroom since we needed some extra space in the living room to put up the Christmas tree.

I almost always leave my wallet in the kitchen. But I didn't feel like going all the way downstairs and clear across the estate home to put it there, and the butler was sleeping.

To my mother, this morning would have been all too predictable. In grade school, I would fail to put my shoes where they belong and then work myself into a stomping, crying frenzy in the morning, screaming, "Who moved my shoes?!?" Naturally, when it was time to leave today and I was already 20 minutes late, I could not find the wallet. I wasted another 10 minutes looking for it and was about to ride eight miles out of my way to my wife's car in South Euclid because I was sure it was there. Then I took one last look, which is when I found it where it shouldn't have been.

Which leads to this conclusion, applicable to all areas of life: Do not ever do anything new or out of the dull routine because it will just raise your blood pressure and lead to fright. New and different is bad. Static, predictable and monotonous is good.


I still have yet to decide whether to do Pedal to the Point (the MS-150 ride) for the sixth straight year, but I got some practice miles for it on Saturday.

Practice miles for P2P mean miles spent riding in a deluge. We've gotten drilled on the way to or from Sandusky for the last three years running.

Last year I awoke to find my tent and its contents pretty damp from the overnight gullywasher, then rode in the rain for five hours and flatted twice. (Thank God I had arm warmers and a (clean) garbage bag to wear between my jersey and my UnderArmor.)

The year before, we rode through a steady drizzle for a couple hours.

In 2005, we got caught in a torrent just outside of Berlin Heights; it came and went in half an hour.

Those experiences taught me that there's not much point in ranting at the rain. Whether you're in it for two minutes or 20 or 200 doesn't matter all that much; you don't get any wetter than soaked, and you're soaked after about a minute. So it doesn't get worse. As long as it doesn't get cold.

It was plenty warm on my 45-mile solo ride on Saturday, which started under a blindingly sunny sky that left me unprepared for rain. I never even looked at the forecast before I left, and didn't really notice it was clouding up until I got halfway between Chesterland and Chagrin Falls. That's when I saw the skies didn't look good, and I got hit by some sprinkles on Russell Road.

But nothing looked ominous -- until I climbed to the top of Shaker Blvd. and looked west toward SOM Center Rd. and saw a curtain of gray spanning the road ahead of me. I hit it, or it hit me, in about 30 seconds. And it rained, hard, for a good 15-20 minutes.

Then, suddenly, it was dry again when I hit Shaker. My house in CleveHts hadn't seen a drop. Yet.

I hosed off the bike and went downstairs to wipe it down. That's when the rain hit again. By then I was in my SpongeBob SquarePants boxers, lubing the chain.

There was a time when getting caught in a storm would've had me cursing. But last year's P2P was a turning point.

Cyclists like to find joy in suffering, I guess. It allows us to elevate and congratulate ourselves, in large part because it inherently means we can think less of everyone else who doesn't suffer with such quiet dignity and nobility as we do. You know -- like those lazy-asses with muscular dystrophy or spinal-cord damage who never even get on a bike, let alone face up to the physical and moral challenge of riding up Sherman Road or riding in a rainstorm.

Riding from Sandusky to Berea in a steady downpour did suck. But as I passed hundreds upon hundreds of other riders who had abandoned, who were huddling together in rest-stop barns and shelters like Siberian dwarf hamsters at Petland -- it gave me energy and resolve and strength. I was drenched. I couldn't get drenched-er. And I was beating something that made those others quit.

That's what we do, right? That's why we climb, or race, or ride 100 or 200 miles: So that, inside our heads at least, we can embiggen ourselves by calling other people pussies.

Not that riding home on Saturday made me less of a wuss, because I wasn't suffering stoically. Actually, it was pleasant. Sure, there are more pleasant ways to ride a bike. But I'd rather be riding a bike unpleasantly than doing something like watching TV. And if you're reading this, you probably would, too. Or else you're a pussy.


If you're a fan of pro cycling on the other side of the pond, you definitely need to read this blog. But don't do it while drinking coffee at your computer, because there's a great chance that you'll bust out laughing with a mouthful and blow it all over your keyboard. I haven't laughed so hard since I first discovered BSNYC when he was in his prime. The link above is to Schmalz's tour preview, which is a must-read to get grounded in his slant before you delve into the daily posts. But there's a new, inspired and hysterical post with each tour stage.

- JN

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