Century. This was my guys' weekend—the companion to Jo Ann's all-ladies weekend at the Chateau I've been so jacked up with work that I haven't had the time and energy to write a proper post. Writing on the Pablog is not something I take lightly, and I've somehow always had the time to write...until the tidal wave of the past two weeks hit. To add to the time crunch: Friday, my friends Piero and Jeff and I drove up to Solvang for a the somewhat treacherous and totally amazing+beautiful Solvang Century. This was the guys-only companion trip to Jo Ann's ladies-only Chateau Marmont weekend back in January.
The major difference is that we didn't lounge around and have the kind of fun that sane people yearn for, like Jo Ann and her friends did. Instead, Piero, Jeff and I woke at 6 a.m., ate like we were going to the chair, pinned numbers on our jerseys and set off like bats out of hell into the cold morning air of the Santa Ynez Valley in an attempt to conquer the course in a remarkable time. It was epic. That's the cliche that cyclists of all levels use when describing rides that didn't shatter them. So, it was epic, and made our bodies hurt. But not too badly. I finished 6,000 climbing in 102.9 miles by expending just 6,658 calories in 5 hours 29 minutes. Just nine minutes slower than last time I did the event, and that was in November of '07—at the end of an incredible season of races and events and thousands of miles of training. This being March, I'm at the start of that cycle. Solvang '09 was meant to lay out the harsh facts of who I am as a cyclist, and where I am in my fitness.
Why either of those things matters is cos in 10 weeks I will be on the start line of a much different event: the California State Time Trial Championships. Why would I subject myself to such physical and psychological torture? First, I truly, actually do love to suffer and the time trial is my fave way of doing so, more than any other event on the bike. Second, I figure anything—ANYTHING—is easy now that we have repeatedly walked on the mixture of hot coals+broken bottles for the past 10 months. The French call the time trial 'the race of truth,' because each rider goes alone, and is riding against the clock without help from any other riders. In regular pack racing, those in the front of the peloton block the wind for others, lots of strategies play out, and so on.
This year, the race of truth has untold levels of meaning for me. I see now that the past two years of early morning training with Coach Rick at the Rose Bowl, and all the kooky+cold early morning drives to the monthly TT race in Piru, CA were leading up to something. The pursuit of me against the clock was etching into my soul what it would be like to walk over hot coals+broken bottles. And now that Jo Ann, Grady, Pablo, Polly and I—and all of you—have done this for nearly a f**king year, bringing it full circle back to the bike seems like a dream. Yesterday, I emailed Jo Ann from the start line and told her I was going to pedal like hell for her and G and P. I did it. And it felt good. Ramming my pedals and pumping my lungs is a freedom and a luxury I appreciate. Making a bike move at speeds of 35 or 40 m.p.h. makes me feel like I'm actually doing something—the exact opposite of countless moments over the past 10 months, when Jo Ann and I have felt pinned and mounted.
Jo Ann and I just got Pablo to bed, and we're off to have a date upstairs—watching the premiere of the new NBC show 'Kings.' But what I do have to say is simple: I love Pablo. I love Grady. I've had moments with each of them this week—slivers of time, conversations, experiences—that are the kinds of things life builds up to. I'm grateful that I was paying attention when the moments arrived.
A great moment with Grady happened on Thursday night. We were both up late working on our laptops—he on homework, me on business stuff. He came into the den and asked if he could run his Geography report. It was a PowerPoint presentation on the three members of Green Day. He had an elaborate show of visuals, stats and personal facts on each guy rolling on the computer as he eloquently and naturally spoke about them. He spoke as if he was talking about three of his friends. Not a surprise—they've been his fave band since he was six or seven. I was so damn proud of Grady as he read. And I felt like a grown up—a parent no less—when he asked if he could run the show for me.
This evening, Grady asked me to help him change out the rear tire and tube on his dirt bike. I was happy to help him. It was fun. We did it together—something I really enjoyed. After we got his bike together, we raced up the street a couple of times. I was on my feather-light carbon fiber TT bike, wearing street shoes on pedals meant for special cycling shoes with cleats. He was on his army tank heavy dirt bike, wearing tennis shoes on big fat platform pedals. Guess who won both races? Grady! Looks like I have a lot more training to do. And, as always, Grady showed his natural athletic ability—something he's inherited from his dad, Jimmy, who's also a major all-rounder in every sport he does. Now if I could only get G on a road bike....
My moments with Pablo were many. Some snapshots: he counted to 500 by 50s this afternoon.... He explained the premise of the tooth under pillow / Tooth Fairy / money exchange; when I responded, 'I know,' he assured me that I didn't.... He recalled that on the night of my last bday party, when he and Jo Ann went to the ER at CHLA because 'I had bumps in my tummy and I wasn't feeling well,' I brought only Jo Ann a bday cupcake (for the record: I did so cos I thought he'd be sleeping!).... I told him I was meeting with Coach Rick in the morning (he hasn't seen Rick since July); his response: 'Oh! I remember him—he brought me the book about the Chihuahua on the bike!' He informed me that the movie 'Robots' has better music that 'The Black Hole' (he got this cos earlier today I told Peter how great the music was in 'The Black Hole.').... I can't think of more, but there are so many other little capsules of wonder with this little dude....