Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In the spirit of giving in

Date: Oct. 29
Mileage: 25.1
October mileage: 634.9
Temperature upon departure: 39
Rainfall: .51"

I had decided to finish out the rest of my week's workouts at the gym; give myself a mental vacation, where I could just lift weights and read books and not worry about my disintegrating rain jacket or the wind cutting through my neoprene gloves. Then I thought, why should I let the weather beat me? I only have a few days left in this training block anyway.

Today: Intervals. Two miles on, two miles off. They're part of my month of "speed" training. Sometimes I think I really do feel stronger, and sometimes I think I'm fooling myself no matter what I do. But since I'm only playing this game against myself, I have to decide whether I win or lose. Sticking to a plan is only fleetingly satisfying, but movement through the landscape always feels like a win.

In the driving rain I look directly at the ground. The scattered leaves on the pavement blur into color bars. The debris - bits of shattered ceramic, an old boot, a quarter I never stop to pick up and neither does anyone else - give me an idea about where I am. I watch my odometer tick away, but wind gusts make it hard to measure my progress by speed alone. So I usually turn up my iPod. If I care too much about the song that's playing, I'm not pedaling hard enough.

I was doing well enough today that I didn't even notice when the shuffle switched over to a song I downloaded a while back, for nostalgia's sake, and promptly forgot I did so - an old song by Buck O'Nine, pop ska music circa mid-90s. Sometime within those two miles of wheezing and streaming and seeing nothing but abstract leaf patterns, I started to huff along with the rhythm ...

"All the water, all the water in my head (Oi! Oi! Oi!); All the water, all the water in my head (Oi! Oi! Oi!)"

Fragments of memories flooded in ... brick walls and red sneakers, cold lips and snow. They meant nothing in the moment, but they carried a vicarious feeling of distant warmth. It was a strange mosaic, beauty without meaning. As I slowed down for my recovery, I started to piece the images together.

And then I remembered ... Basement of Club DV8, Salt Lake City, November or maybe December 1996. Two friends and I went to see an all-ages show headlined by Buck 'O Nine. After the concert, the boy we were with, chivalrous as he was, offered to run and get the car from the many, many blocks it was parked away as we waited outside the building. Being teenage girls, we had worn no winter clothing of any kind. I was probably wearing thrift store cords and a baby T-shirt, or something equally ridiculous. All I remember are the red shoes. And the dry snow swirling around us. My feet were so cold that they burned.

I was dancing around to stave off the numbness when the club's front door swung open, and members of the band filed out. Last was the trumpet player, a tall, chiseled man with black dreadlocks. He was the "cute" one.

"'Sup girls, show's over," he said to us. We smiled. Probably giggled. A little awestruck to be caught in this unlikely position. "Damn," he continued. "You mountain locals are crazy. Don't even wear coats in the winter. If it ever got this cold in San Diego, half the city would probably die." We giggled again. I rifled around in my pocket until I found my ticket stub. "Um," I said, trying to muster my best "I'm-not-really-this-lame" tone. "Could you sign this?" He smiled and nudged someone who was carrying equipment out of the building to ask for a pen.

He handed the stub back to me and I promptly stuck it back in my pocket without looking at it. Our friend pulled up in his beater car and we crawled inside, teeth chattering, feet burning, squealing and slightly starstruck. "What's that guy's name anyway?" my girlfriend asked me. I pulled the ticket out of my pocket. In tiny cursive in the corner, the trumpet player had written, "You're hot. Anthony."

I remember clearly now the flush of blood to my head. I thought I'd never forget the way I felt so cold and warm at the same time. But eventually I did forget, essentially, until today...

I laughed at the randomness of the memory, the way time sometimes seems to slosh back and forth without continuity, like the tide. Or intervals. With my two-mile recovery nearly finished, I tried to zero back in for the sprint, but it was hard to focus. They're always funny, these games my mind plays to get through the hard times, to get through the hard rides, to get through the day.


  1. That is a great story. I think one of my favorite things about biking is the zen state that your mind goes into. I do all my best thinking on the bike.

  2. That's awesome. I have similar remembrances when I ride and I really need to start writing them down.

  3. It must have something to do with the excess oxygen that we are pumping through our brains....
    I also get these flash-backs and my memory digs out something that I hadn't thought about in years...and you wonder what triggers what? The music, the weather, something you see?

  4. You are usually so good about goals, I'm surprised you don't have a way to measure your speed progress. I'm thinking your extremely variable weather/road conditions preclude road TTs, so perhaps a flat out spin at the gym every few weeks would help.

  5. Snap! Nostalgia rules supreme this week! Amazing! Although I haven't actually endured any of the hardship there have been some rather obscure reminiscences! Very romantic writing... cool.. transported by a tune who can guess the memories that linger.

  6. Juancho,

    I'm 99.5 percent sure that I saved it, and know where it is. It will require a flight to Utah, but I'll go looking for it eventually.

  7. I think this is my favorite picture of yours with people...you, I presume? :)


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