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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

He Decides to Ride in a Race

It was a bit more than a year ago. One of the morning e-mails said, "I've decided to ride in a race, my first since 1989. It's in Arizona on August 24th." All kinds of stuff in those two sentences got my attention. "What? Race after 19 years?" "Hey, waaaahhh, that's my birthday! No fair!" He was gentle: "I know, Limes, I'm sorry. But I want to tuck one race under my belt before summer ends." OK, if you really care about someone, you want them to do the things they want to do . . . .

After a few days of musing, the Badger allowed as how he could certainly be benefitted by having someone to hand water up to him as this is a 53-mile race in the desert in August. "Um, Badger, I could probably just about learn how to hand up water." "OK, Limes, let's go!" Reader, until you have been on a little road trip with the Badger and Limes, you haven't experienced life. This trip would exceed expectations in many ways, however. We readied ourselves as we always do: "I'll bring this. Do you have that? Who's bringing bubble water? Does our room have a coffee maker?" There were many, many exchanges about how he wanted to check out the course, ride a little of it, get serious readings of the gradient on the many hills in the course, find the turn-around point . . . and for a woman who isn't a cyclist, I understood most all of that.

He arrived on Saturday morning to say he thought his Honda's air conditioning was struggling. This made me feel pretty badly as his car had been to a mechanic of my recommendation twice to have that air conditioning fixed. That mechanic had said to me only days before, "Limes, we'll get it right this time. I know you're going to Prescott in it." We stopped at a store so the Badger could pick up some needed items. "Limes, could we take your car? I don't think this A/C is working." "No, Badge, my tags haven't come, which looks like my registration is expired. I don't want to get ticketed in Arizona." So we set off, hoping that once we got on the freeway and the engine ran awhile . . . . . . . an hour later, crossing the Hoover Dam, we were sauteed. Roasting in our own juices. And way too late to turn back and lose time. I can say without hesitation that badgers are not known to tolerate nonsense. He roared. For miles. Filling that Honda with more hot air, if that were possible. At every pit stop and gasoline fill up, I felt steam coming off of my body as I stepped into the frigid air inside.

Finally we turned off the highway onto a lesser highway and began to climb into the mountains. The heat began to drop as the humidity began to rise. For the area near Prescott, AZ, is notorious for thunderstorms in late August. Eventually we were on the race course, but following it from the turn-around point backward toward the starting line. That was OK, he'd still get the lay of the land. We got out and practiced having me hand up water. This may sound like a simple enough task, but I'd never done it before. While I envisioned standing firmly on the ground with both arms extended, I was told gently that I needed to be running when I handed it up. "Running? The ground is sandy! I could slip and do no good for either of us. You'll be in a pack of cyclists! What if I can't easily pick you out? What if I don't successfully hand it up? " You see, I'm not a wiener or afraid to try new things. I just had a tremendous need to not let the man down. We practiced and I did pretty well. I was still worried about picking him out in the pack, but I kept it to myself. He was distressed enough without me yammering.

The next hour was filled with thrills. The Badger drove the car through the hills, imprinting the course in his brain. Limes rode shotgun on her knees, hanging out the window from the waist up (it dried the perspiration!), arm extended, holding onto the Garmin and shouting out elevation readings so the Badger could memorize them. Frequently on his blog, the Badger exclaims, "Hey, I know how to have fun!" He does, too! Finally, I got to sit back down and we drove a l-o-n-g way from the race course into Prescott.

We arrived at the "official" race motel. Yep, a racing weekend dive. In the grounds, the club sponsoring the race was set up to register the racers. We got our stuff inside, sponged ourselves off, and went out where the cyclists were gathering. I knew to watch the Badger. I'd never done this or seen it done. I needed to follow his lead. To my utter shock, as soon as he started chatting up other cyclists, I saw the Badger begin to behave gregariously. I had never seen this before. Never, in any situation. And I began to hear something as introductions were made and new conversations begun. Some of the veterans in this race, the old dudes, remembered the Badger from the day. And said so in glowing terms. I was impressed. There was a bit of buzz about the race being poorly organized and not many of the volunteers showing up, but spirits were high.

We got his official race number, his information packet, showered, found a great pasta place on Prescott's Whiskey Row. A good cabernet sauvignon was ordered and a birthday-eve toast was made. We located a convenience store because the sponsoring club gave out no safety pins with the official race numbers. They had to be affixed to his jersey somehow! The Circle K in Prescott, AZ, on a late Saturday night before the race . . . did not sell small sewing kits or have anything to be substituted for safety pins. I was distressed and kind of babbling the whole story. A young, marginal looking man behind the counter listened to my angst, put up his hand and said, "Just a minute, M'am." He went into a little "employees only" area and emerged holding an army jacket . . . . covered with some 200 safety pins as decoration! He took off four and handed them to me. "Badger," I said, as I elbowed him in the ribs, "give the young man $1." "No, M'am. My contribution to the old cyclist dude." Ha!

In my ears right now: Queen. Bicycle Race Song. Sorry, Badger. I know. But there are not a lot of songs I'm aware of that are about bicycles. Hey, it was the '70s!

Something that charmed me: That marginal looking young people who might scare me if I met them outdoors alone at night can have heart and do decorate their clothing with big safety pins.


  1. I guess you can be grateful that the engine wasn't also overheating. Nothing heats up the inside of a car--and it's occupants temperments--like having to turn on the defroster to keep the engine going. it sounds like quite the experience. Are you going as the support team again this year?

  2. Dooz, I *am*! Keep reading the blogs. I'm posting a time or two each day until we leave Saturday.

    You're right about the car - it could have been worse. Steamed Badger is a meal best not even eaten at all!