Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My proud moment

Geoff and I went to see "Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price" tonight. It's left me sullen and ponderous about economic downfall and corpocracy, but it doesn't benefit me much to write about things I know little about and for which shallow research will only succeed in further incensing me, so I'll write about something positive - bicycle accomplishments.

Fat Cyclist solicited cycling-related triumphs from his loyal readers today. I read through the list of impressive accomplishments but already had mine in mind. I mean, there was this one time, at band camp, that I rode my bike from Salt Lake City to Syracuse, New York. It's not the Race Across America or the Tour de France, but there are people out there that might be impressed by that. And, in my career, it's a given.

I went to the gym between work and the movie. Just as I was leaving, a woman on the recumbent bike complimented me for the hour I put in on the elliptical. I'm one of those shy people, so being complimented by strangers always catches me off guard. Especially when the compliment is directed at something so mundane. I smiled and said "thanks" but I felt as if she had just congratulated me for finishing all of my milk. Following our short exchange, there was an awkward silence and I sort of just slunk away. But, later, I began to wonder which one of us was actually being condescending.

We take our triumphs in degrees. My cycling accomplishments have slowly rended their way up from the first time I rode all the way from Salt Lake City to Draper (20 miles!) to rolling over Lizard Head Pass on my first bicycle tour to crossing the New York state line. Since I took up cycling in 2002, each triumph has had an escalating scope, but I can't say that the last was any more rewarding than the first. Now I'm planning to cross into what many tell me is irreversible territory - racing - in what is, for lack of a better term, an insane race. If I finish the Susitna 100, will it really make me feel any better than that first time I rolled up to my parent's house on the rigid, rusty mountain bike I borrowed from a friend? Or am I just locked in a punishing arc of diminishing returns, like a heroin addict hunting for the next fix? Too tell you the truth, I wouldn't entirely mind going back to a time when I would have felt great for spending an hour on a stationary elliptical machine. Is it too late for me? Am I lost?