Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keep Dancing!!!

I was scrambling around the house this morning getting everything ready for today's ride. The detail that is needed that just goes with every long ride across snow covered trails on a bicycle where cell phone service and anybody else isn't always available. 

 The TV was on in the background providing music as VH1 was playing their Top 20 videos. One of the videos caught my ear then my eye somewhere near the middle of the video. There was a young man, a Marine, standing next to his military uniform. He had his leg blown off, his hand, and there were other serious body scars. It became obvious the song was chronicling an actual real life situation. A man blown apart while serving his military duty in a country far far away from his home and family. A terrible tragedy. It's sad but often we become calloused to tragedies in people's life's such as this, we see them way too often in every newspaper. But there was something else that grabbed my heart, caught my soul as I watched.

There was a scene near the end of this video where this solider and his wife were dancing, together. Instead of wallowing in despair he chose to dance. There he was with his wife, while missing hand and part of an arm blown off, a leg gone, and yet dancing. I will never, ever be able to comprehend the depths of despair, the pain, the suffering the hopelessness that must have been part of the cycle of recovery. The waking up in the middle of the night and being in dream and forgetting what happened, and then the reality comes back and stays with the pain. But he chooses to dance.

I have somehow slipped into mediocrity. It crept in unawares and made itself a major player in my day to day activities. I did have shoulder surgery, and I did have to stay off the bike for a time. But I didn’t have to change healthy habits for bad ones. Staying up late, overeating, drinking too much beer, sleeping in late, not stretching, gaining weight, not doing what I should be doing that comes with every lazy and negative attitude. Forcing myself to ride and indoor exercise bike took an extreme effort and was put off later and later each day, sandwiched between couch time. I've chose to get lazy, and it was hanging on.

Oh woe is me, was my theme, I hurt, this shouldn’t be happening to me, if I can’t ride my bike, I will just become self destructive, I’ll show em.

We have in us the ability to dance in spite of our circumstances. It is our choice.  I should have chosen to dance instead, and kept dancing.

My ride today was beautiful, fantastic, and challenging all rolled into one. The conditions were such that is made for a great ride. There was enough snow cover, and was packed down to make a good ride through the country trails. As the day warmed up the snow melted and the mud came out, but I was on my bike, and that was what I needed. I put my largest snow tires on the bike, it rode slow, and hard, but wonderfully. About 40 miles on snow mobile trails, my legs are tired and well spent and that makes me feel good about myself.

I am starting back, to the lifestyle I need, for me, to be me. I want to dance, and stay dancing.
Cheers, and thanks for stopping, I gotta go, I need to put this beer down and get to bed, I have a long long bike ride planned for tomorrow.
Oh and stop and say hi in the comment section if you don't mind, I get a lot of visitors and never hear from most. I would like to hear from you. Thanks.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Overheard at a bikecoholic’s meeting once, “Hi my name is Dave, and I am a bikeoholic.”

I guess that must be me, it seems I spend a lot of my time, thoughts, and plans riding or thinking about riding a bicycle. My day job supports my habit. When my doctor told me I needed shoulder surgery and that I would be off the bike for at least 4 weeks, probably more, my immediate fears were not about the risk, the pain, or what would it cost me. My first thoughts were how do I survive not bicycling for all that time. What the heck was I going to do with myself for all that time.

But 4 weeks did come and go. I did survive. The time did pass, in spite of my fears of not knowing what I was going to do and thinking I would be going terminally insane.

So after 4 weeks I went and visited with my surgeon. I asked for a release to go back to work, because I knew I needed that so I could get back out and ride. He agreed, and told me to expect pain, and to be careful, that I would still be healing for several months.

That was Thursday, Friday morning I rolled my bicycle out the front door, down the front steps, into the street, threw my leg over the cross bar, clipped my feet into the pedals and headed down the street to the trails and gravel roads, like I've done over 1000 times before.

Much like a pilot's initial checks of the cock pit, we cyclists often make multiple physical and mental checks the first minutes on the bike especially when the bike and rider haven’t been ridden for some time. My feet felt right in the clips, seat is adjusted just right, tires pressure feels good, and there are no unusual noises. I take note of what clothing I am wearing and how it feels with the outdoor temps, and wind speed. I go through my mental check list, food, fluids, multi tool, spare tube, patch kit, air pump, lights, and so on and so forth are all on board.

That’s enough of that, as I settle into the ride. My cadence becomes rhythmic, hypnotic, it feels just like how I remembered it did, as I head down the road, over the bicycle paved path, onto the single path trail, and out past the city limits and I’m loving it.

Ice kept me on my toes, eyes watching for every detail in front of me. Sometimes holding my breath afraid my heart beat alone would be enough to start my tire sliding sideways and me slamming down on the frozen hard ground. Then I would find patch of gravel, and then snow and the riding tenseness would let up. Then another patch of ice and all senses alerted, on guard again. For reasons most wouldn’t understand I enjoyed that challenge, I felt alive again, I pedaled on.

Saturday, more of the same, and planning Sunday for the same.

Seems like life as I know it has settled quickly back to ‘normal’ and those 4 weeks of not riding already seem like a long long time ago.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

" ride a bike too much...."

It is a little before 6:00 p.m on Jan 15th 2012. I have been riding my FatBack bicycle for almost 8 hours now on a mixture of snow, dirt, grass, and gravel, across farm fields. gravel roads, and trails. It is dark out, and I'm following a blinking red light of another cyclist that is ahead of me. That rear blinkie light has been playing hide and seek with me around every bend as I and that other unnamed bicyclist weave our way over Heritage Trail headed to the finish of the Triple D winter bicycle race. My legs are cooked. I did my best to hold my ground all day, and my body was reduced to only one desire at that time, and that was to get off this bike. My soul was weary too, and wanted off the bike also. But my soul, my inner self wanted two things more then to stop pedaling. The first one was to pass that bicyclist in front of me, and 2nd, was to arrive at the Grand Harbor hotel and call Triple D completed, for the first time in 3 attempts. This battle between body and soul had been going on for an hour now. Such a paradox, for the last month I couldn’t wait to get on the bike and get this show started, and now I want off the bike, I want this ride finished. I remembered thinking as I hammered on the pedals closing in on the finish line, and at about 5 miles out, I made the decision even if this bike blows up on me I will drag this Fat Cycle to the finish. I had to. I can’t fail, I need to finish.
At around 6:50 p.m. after over 8 and half hours of snow cycling 2 of those 3 desires were accomplished. I was off the bike, and I had finished Triple D. Arriving at the Grand Harbor Hotel, and that blinking red light, whoever that was, finished in front of me.

That was more than 4 weeks ago; I have not been back out there on a bike since then. My spirit, soul, and body want to feel that ‘ride’ again. The surgical scars and the pain in my shoulder reminds me of what my doctor told me, “stay off the bike, do not reinjure that shoulder” He also did 2 of the 4 knee surgeries I’ve had and told me once, “you ride a bike too much” I think to myself, if you don’t know, I can’t tell you why I do this. Thinking about it, I guess I don’t know either.

So to keep my bicycle legs up, or I believe I do, by riding 1.5 hours every day on an indoor stationary bicycle trainer. That is a very long 1.5 hours. I watch my heart rate monitor, I watch my pedal cadence, I watch total calorie burn, and I plan. Plan I do, goals I want to accomplish on the bike, places I want to go on the bike, while I wait for my 1.5 hours to be completed and I can get off this bike.

Someday this will all be just a memory, and someday even the memory will be gone. But that doesn’t matter, I am like a junkie, I just want that feeling right now. That same feeling I had past the 8th hour of Triple D, when I finished and got off my bike.

Thanks for stopping in.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It doesn't get any better then this...

It's different now, then what I've been forever used to as more then a full time blue collar worker since 1971. I'm not getting up and going to work every morning, being off work recovering from shoulder surgery. Week days and weekends don't differentiate much from each other, days just seem to run together now. I find myself falling into the same pattern that repeats itself every 24 hours.

Waking up when the sun comes up I suspect was once Neanderthal's natural pattern before alarm clocks existed and seems I am now following this pattern when my alarm clock isn't necessary.

After coffee, letting the dog out and back in again, some computer nothingness I soon find myself warming up in my dungeon basement on my indoor bicycle trainer.

If cycling only existed on indoor trainers, all cycling would soon come to an end for me. Guarantees of a longer, healthier life would not offer enough rewards to be pedaling in my basement going nowhere. I do this only because I suspect by the end of next week my doctor will release me to go back to work, and when I walk out of his office my legs will be more then ready to take me places rotating pedals on a FatTire bike on a snow covered trail in North East Iowa.

My heart rate monitor hits 130 beats per minute, telling me I am adequately warmed up and ready to begin my daily 90 minute self inflicted hurt. 90 minutes is all I can tolerate, it is my self agreement I made with myself that I need to accomplish daily.

10 minutes, 20 minutes,30 minutes, and a million thoughts now become one hour. 30 minutes left and I push harder to keep my heart rate up to the required commitment.
I am finishing now, 90 minutes is up, I am crossing the 'finish line' I beat everybody, every compromise, every excuse not to do this.

The rest of the day is spent watching Judge Judy, the local news, and other TV shows. Reading some body’s else’s thoughts on their blog and my mediocrity. I also daydream a lot and am thinking it won't be long and I will be spending the day riding snow mobile trails on a FatTire bicycle.