T Minus Three Days and counting until I take that Big Jet Airliner back to the East Coast for the Father-Daughter Road Trip, Part Two — The Journey Home!
In the meantime we are toiling mightily here back at the homestead to prepare Daughter’s old room for her return. In her absence, Her Space has been transformed by my Spouse into an Herbal Mad Scientist Laboratory, complete with potions and ingredients worthy of any Harry Potter movie. Plus, it features “The Mat,” an in-bed device that would be right at home in Frankenweenie, which produces magical healing gamma rays and also doubles as an electronic termite deterrent.
But we all swear by it!
So in the midst of these busy preparations, I decided to take a full timeout today and head over to the foo-foo coffee place by myself. Though I would really rather make these visits more of a family affair (so that I have someone to complain to), this morning I went alone. After all, Daughter Number Two was in Full Recovery Mode after spending the past week at Sixth Grade Camp. Translation: She was still fast asleep at 10:00 a.m. And in honor of this unexpected quietude, my Lovely Spouse unilaterally declared a Partial Pajama Day. Translation: I performed the morning dog walk, followed by coffee for one.
No matter, I had decided ahead of time to ride my bike for foo-foo, but I thought better of it when I realized I might begin to sweat at some point over the quarter-mile trip. Thusly recalibrated, I zipped down the street in my car and ordered a large, black coffee. I then parked myself on the sunny patio, and watched the world go by.
As is typical around here on the weekends, the roads are filled with bicyclists. Today was no exception. They range from the Ultra Serious, to the Near Serious, to the Look Serious. I usually fall somewhere between the latter two categories, and I am forever diligently trying to solidify my position in the middle. However, it’s my own “middle” that seems to be solidifying these days, so I usually have to settle for giving it the old college try on those occasions when I am actually engaged in riding a bike (and not just thinking about it).
Well, I was a fairly happy camper there, drinking my drink and checking my email, until I glanced up and spied what appeared to be a professional bicycling racing team powering down the road in front of me.
They were a sight to behold.
And they just reinforced my own perception of cycling. Although I might be a rank amateur, and getting “ranker” by the week, at least I look like a serious bicyclist, damn it. I can drape spandex over my body with the best of them, and I am not too far gone that my gut hangs lower than the bike seat, like many my age.
These guys were spiffy. Really spiffy. And colorful. Wow.
Much to my surprise, minutes after I first glimpsed them, the pro’s rode up the sidewalk and clambered off their bikes wearing their clip-in shoes, and ordered foo-foo coffee, just like me.
These guys. They are really like me! I love them, but not in a “man-love” sort of way — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
They all grabbed their foo-foo ice drinks, and parked at a table next to their bikes outside.
I got a really close look at them, and I then I sadly realized just how far I’ve fallen since my college days.
You see, back in Ancient Times, my primary mode of transportation was my bike. And my first really solid road bike was a Fuji Gran Tourer SE that I bought from a guy who was short of rent money, when I was a sophomore at university. Compared to what I had owned previously, it was akin to trading a Ford Pinto for a new Tesla.
Yep. It was that good, and it made me good.
I loved that bike and had no fear of taking it anywhere. And just to prove that I’m not making any (or at least most) of this stuff up, as a celebration for finally finishing graduate school, one of my college chums and I decided, on a whim, mind you, to take a hundred mile bike ride the last Saturday we were in school together. Go ahead and ask him. He’ll verify.
No preparation. No special diet. We just got up early and took off.
Admittedly, it took us all day to make the trip, but we did it and lived to tell the tale. My butt was sore the next day, but it wasn’t like I was completely wasted or anything, or I needed a week to recover. I just did it. No worries.
That’s the kind of shape I used to be in. No fear.
So keeping that kind of personal history in mind, I’m looking at the professionals today, and the differences between them and me (now) are striking. First, their bikes are ultra clean and look like they were built by NASA. I know for a fact that I could buy four of my beater Miatas for the cost of one of their rides. That’s a little demoralizing.
And the guys themselves? Other than being ripped and thin, the biggest one couldn’t have weighed more than 90 pounds soaking wet.
These days just my legs weigh 90 pounds.
Combine a light, muscular rider with a bike that hits the scales at, let’s say, two grams or so, well, it’s no wonder they can ride the Alps and get by on 3,000 calorie-a-day diets.
I guess the part that is most disheartening is that they make it all look so easy, and that has a tendency to make me sick. Because these days for me, it seems that every waking moment my stinking knees and hips remind me of the glory years of physical prowess gone by — way by.
But all is not lost.
Though dusty, I have a five-year-old state-of-the-art road bike hanging in the garage, and a never-opened stationary trainer, as well. Plus, Son still has in his possession my trusty Fuji from so many years ago. It’s still providing yeoman service.
What value, and what a reminder that Hope does, indeed, spring eternal.
Maybe I’ll go for ride tomorrow. Maybe I won’t.
And though I Am Not Worthy of comparing myself in the same sentence to the professionals, I do take confidence in knowing myself and recognizing my painful physical limitations. I may not be completely at peace with them, but they are a part of me now.
I am 100% confident in one thing, however: Tomorrow, I will get coffee.