Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

20 August 2014

My Tribute To Robin Williams On The "Huffington Post"

Last week, I noted the death of Robin Williams.  In addition to possessing an amazing, unique talent and all sorts of other wonderful qualities, he had a great passion for cycling--as a participant as well as a spectator.

In case you're interested, here's a link to a piece I wrote about him for the Huffington Post.

I hope he and his Pegoretti are on an absolutely amazing ride somewhere.

19 August 2014

First Ride After An Accident: Going Bonkers

If you've done at least one long ride or have been training with a group, you've heard of "bonking".  You've more than likely experienced it--admit it! ;-)

You've also probably heard it referred to as "hitting the wall". In scientific terms, it's the depletion of the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles.  You know it's happening when, all of a sudden, you can't pedal another stroke or run or swim another stroke.

It happens even to  the most experienced cyclists, runners, swimmers or other endurance athletes.  We do what we can to prevent it, mainly with proper nutrition and rest.  But every once in a while, some condition we didn't anticipate--such as a change in weather or a detour up a mountain (Yes, that's happened to me!)--presents itself.  Or, something causes changes in our metabolism or other bodily function or condition.

Today I felt myself "bonking" after just a few miles.  The ride wasn't difficult and, although I was trying to give myself a workout, I wasn't riding at an exceptional pace.  The temperature and humidity were, if anything, a bit lower than one might expect at this time of year.  And a scrim of cirrocumulous filtered the midday sun.

I don't think my sudden fatigue had anything to do with food, or lack thereof:  I'd eaten shortly before I started riding.  I can only wonder whether it had something to do with whatever trauma, however mild, my body experienced from my accident on Saturday.  I'm still feeling a pretty fair amount of pain on my left side, below my rib cage, though it's not quite as bad as it was yesterday or the day before.  And the bruises are more noticeable than they had been.

Hmm...Maybe it took my body a few miles to figure out that it was still hurting, still in shock.  After all, this ride--I did about 20 miles (32km)  in all--was my first since the accident.

Whatever I was experiencing, I find it amusing that it might be described with a term ("bonking")  that the British use as a less-rude synonym to "shagging" or the f-word.

18 August 2014

Why Did This Cat Cross The Road?

Marley is curled in my lap.  So, I feel almost guilty in writing this.

The other day, the breeze into which I’d pedaled to Point Lookout lapped against my back for my ride home.  Hardly a cloud besmudged the clear, bright sky that would soon blaze with the sunset.  Even the splintered, blistered houses that had weathered the harshest winter in decades just a year after Superstorm Sandy tore at them floated through my vision like images from a dream.

From a patch of cement and shrubs in front of one of those houses, a big black cat darted into my path.  If you are a cyclist, you have had hundreds, if not thousands, of such encounters with felines.  And, to the extent that I thought about it, I expected this one to be simply another.

If you are a cyclist, you also know that cats almost invariably run as close as they can to your front wheel, then cut at a sharp angle away from it. 

Note that I used the word “almost”.  The black cat (You can’t make this up!) wasn’t one of the invariables.  He/she actually ran straight into my front wheel, and glanced off it. 

My front wheel made a U-turn to my right.  The rest of the bike, and I, didn’t follow:  It stuttered and teetered on the pavement. I flung my left leg out.  But it did not stop me from tumbling into the back of a parked car.

The sky hadn’t yet grown dark, but I saw stars.  A gust of steel lashed against my side.  And the leg that couldn’t break my fall flung to the side and left my right calf to take a blow against the car’s bumper.

“Are you OK?  Are you OK?”  A young Caribbean-Indian woman ran toward me.  “Are you hurt?”  I couldn’t talk; I could just barely inhale without feeling a stab under my rib cage.  She pulled my water bottle out of its cage on my bike.  “Here, take a drink.”  I sucked at the nozzle; after I swallowed, my next breath came easier.  “How do you feel?”

“OK, I think.”

“Just take it easy.”

She crouched beside me while a man—her boyfriend or husband, I guessed—watched from a nearby porch.  He held a cell phone.  “Is she all right?” he yelled.

The woman and I both nodded.

“Where did the cat go?” I wondered.  “Does it belong to anybody here?”

“I don’t know”.

I think she saw my frustration.  “I hope it’s OK.”  I meant that, even though a part of me was damning it.  “Don’t worry about it,” she commanded.  “Can you get home all right.”

“Yeah, I think so.  Thanks.”

The bruises are just starting to appear.  But I’ve felt the pain, just under my rib cage, every time I’ve bent over to pick up something or feed my cats.  Hopefully, it’ll fade:  I want to ride, and I don’t want Marley or Max to go hungry!  At least, they’ll never run into my wheel.