En arrière dans la selle
I'm not going to do any of this justice... I just know it. I'm tired. I've been away on a beautiful but incredibly tiring weekend in Manhattan with family and very good friends (thank you to Mario and the Bromberg Brothers). I am beat. But still, I gotta try.
Many years ago I rode a bike. Several bikes, in fact. And I got pretty decent at it, this bike riding. At one point in high school and into my college years, I raced. Not entirely successfully, mind you, but I did accomplish a bit on the bike, and I learned many, many lessons in the course of spending hundreds of hours in the saddle, many thousands of miles on the road. Bike racing is, to me, one of the most romantic of sports. The current doping scandals at the professional level notwithstanding, it's always struck me as one of the purest competitive pursuits. A guy or a gal, on a bike, going as fast as they can, for as long as they can. Simple. Hurty. Beautiful.
The last truly carefree period of my life that I can recall was around 15-20 years ago. I was riding my bike. A lot. I was out on country roads daily, putting in 300+ miles a week. I had a low resting heart rate, I weighed 122-127 pounds depending on water intake/output and I hovered between 2-4% body fat. My thighs wouldn't fit [without a lot of effort, anyway] in the tight[ish] jeans of the day. I occasionally rode against traffic. I wore lycra. I spoke faux French and I was faking my way through Flemish, where necessary.
Those were the days.
Bike racing, and cycling in general, taught me many things. I could go on (and on) about these things, but in the interest of time and hay-hitting, I'll be brief.
Cycling taught me about macro cycles - that throughout every season there is ebb and flow both physically and mentally - and that you needed to prepare, and ride the waves as best you could (and take note of the results, and study and re-study the data). Not every day was going to be your day. But there would be days just for you, and you needed to be ready for them. Cycling taught me about the necessity of working in a very focused fashion toward peaking for these days (yes, in the sun, I will wax semi-moronic, as is my station in life). The process of peaking also taught me - painfully, more than once - that one can't run at redline all the time. Rest and recovery are essential. For next time.
I've taken 15+ years off from the bike. A couple of weeks ago the bike came back to me.
That's a 2007 LeMond Poprad Disc cyclocross bike. It does not suck.
And also like this.
That would be my 1986 Raleigh Competition road bike, the bike I raced in the late-'80s and early-'90s, and which, with the help of some very cool locals, was recently partially rehabbed and converted to single speed. And because I am the sentimental fool that I am, I will most likely have the frame repainted at some point. Yeah. Le sigh.
More pictures of both bikes and a couple of great Maine bike shops heah.
In the last couple of weeks I've been on the bike as time and weather allow, and I can't describe how good it feels to be back on the road. I mean, also... it hurts. But all those old lessons, they're coming back again. And it hurts a little less. And I go a little faster. It's never easy. And that's the romance of it, I think.
Will I race again? Yeah. I think yeah. Probably so.
Above, Greg LeMond in the 1986 Tour de France, on the climb up Alpe d'Huez.
That was Greg's first Tour win. His epic in '89 is probably more famous, but '86 (a very good year) was an amazing ride as well. LeMond was my inspiration to do many, many things. He taught me about that macro cycle (which he learned from Eddie B. and a host of other gifted coaches and mentors). Though he retired from racing more than a decade ago, he continues to work tirelessly in and out of the sport. He continues to spend days in the sun, chasing...
Minus the John Tesh soundtrack, one would hope.
Gotta get up early. Supposed to be clear, if a bit cool. Time to bust out the knee warmers.
(I haven't shaved the legs. Yet.)
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