Tuesday, October 6, 2009

THOUGHTS OF RIDING ON A RAINY DAY

Wet weather has returned to Western North Carolina and it looks like it will be with us for several more days. My riding time has been limited since last Thursday due to duties associated with a special HonorAir Flight this past Saturday.

I was privileged to accompany another 95 World War II Veterans to Washington DC so that they might visit their Memorial along with other important memorials to our country’s Veterans. Friday was filled with getting ready for the trip as there were numerous duties to arrange and coordinate. These took priority over riding.

 IMG_2548

On Saturday, we were up and meeting our Vets at 5:45 a.m. in order to be at Asheville Regional Airport by 6:30 a.m. The morning fog was thick as soup and visibility was measured in feet rather than miles. As I was going to meet our group, an earlier starting group called back and warned me that the interstate was blocked due to a 5 car pileup at a bridge. The calling group of Rotarians and Vets were about 20 seconds behind the accident when it happened and were fortunate to get stopped in time. Unfortunately, they were now stuck behind a mass of mangled cars and had no way around the bridge to continue their trip to the airport.

We had arranged police escort for our group and, with the other group’s kind warning, were able to skirt around the accident and arrive with 2 minutes to spare. It took some wreckers, police and mayoral intervention, but we finally managed to extricate the stranded group of Vets in time for them to make their flight. We arrived in D.C. on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. (The details of this and other HonorAir flights are too detailed to cover here but, for those interested, you may find out additional information by clicking HERE! You may also see a short video of our trip by clicking HERE!)

IMG_2550

From a cycling perspective, I was able to note the considerable biking infrastructure built into Washington. On this day, cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians were out in mass taking advantage of the early fall/late summer weather. If the sections of D.C. and Virginia that I observed on Saturday are reflective of other sections in the city, D.C. must be filled with some very fit individuals!

I am always ready to spend the day with the guys and gals of WWII. Once they start talking (and they don’t often, which is a hallmark of the WWII Vet), I really develop a deeper appreciation for their sacrifices some 50+ years ago. To see citizens come up and shake the hands of these folks and say “thank you!” is remarkable and awe inspiring. They also bring history to life for me. On this trip, I met a Vet, who played sports with my namesake before he was killed on Saipan. We were privileged to share the memory of a Veteran, who was on Iwo Jima when the flag was raised. It is truly an emotional journey each time I’m allowed to join these folks…

The Lance Spot

O.K., I’ll go ahead and admit this is corny for a 56 year old man to be saying but I’m gonna say it anyway! Over this summer, I’ve developed a certain position on my bike and, more importantly, a state of mind when I’m climbing and beginning to wear out. I call it my Lance Spot.

For some reason, a particular image of Lance Armstrong out of the saddle and sweating like the dickens has fully imprinted itself in my mind. I don’t know which particular image it is or where I first saw it. I do know that one day, while I was struggling with a climb, that image came to me between gasping breaths and I realized that my current position on my bike reminded me of the Lance image. I focused on my position – where my hands were, how my body was aligned over the top tube and pedals – and came to appreciate that I was climbing stronger and without as much energy. Through the summer, I’ve come to recognize when I need to find my Lance Spot on climbs and have made more progress in my abilities to climb. Now, this isn’t the end all, be all of climbing for me as I still wear out and feel my legs turn to noodles. Still, I’ve made it over more summits this year than last and my confidence level has improved drastically.

 

  • When a warrior (cyclist) learns to stop the internal dialogue, everything becomes possible; the most far-fetched schemes become attainable.
    Carlos Castaneda Quote
  •  

    I still fight some mental demons when I realize that I’m approaching a loss of momentum and the edges of panic begin to appear in my mind when I fear that I may have to get my feet out of the clips. With apologies to Carlos Casteneda, I’m still learning to stop my internal dialog. I still fall over occasionally when my right foot won’t release and my weight is going in the wrong direction. Thus far, these events have all been at very low speeds so I really do just fall over with minimum negative outcome other than embarrassment. Finding my Lance Spot has given me the confidence to help fight those “falling over demons” of mine.

    Remember that you heard it hear first from a middle aged man – may you find YOUR Lance Spot!

     

    Until later,

    - Zeke

    Post a Comment