About Me

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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.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Race Day, Birthday, OK

We had to be up early because the race course was not close to the official race motel - go figure. "Happy Birthday, Limes!" "Thanks for remembering, Badger. You'd have been forgiven if you spaced that today." I knew the look on his face. He was very busy in his head. I went to get us the crappy free coffee and continental breakfast, leaving him to dress, fill water bottles, tweak his bike. "Hey, Badger, they've got oatmeal, too. Want some?" "OK." "It's raining, Badger." "OK."

As we toted everything out of the room to the car, we passed many other cyclists and support team members - everyone getting ready to head to Skull Valley. On my seat in the car was my birthday offering, "Limes" written on the envelope. We picked our way through Prescott checking off our personal, internal lists. Mine was pretty easy, although it scared me. After the start, drive out to the turn-around point (about 27 miles) and wait, possibly for a long time. The turn-around point would have a big tent, be clearly marked, would have tables and lots of water and volunteers. "You won't be able to miss it, Limes, unless you take some wrong highway." OK. Not likely I'd do that. It was pretty straight and clear. Pre-select a place to run where I wouldn't be crowded by other people and he wouldn't have to contend with other cyclists trying to get their water. He'd throw off his empty water bottles which I would gather after doing my new "run, hand up bottles, don't topple the cyclist" trick. OK.

We arrived at the road near the starting line and joined a throng of cyclists and supporters. It was cool, gray, drippy - not like August in the desert, although it was August in the high desert. For two people who are avid communicators, who seek each other out to tell things to, we got pretty quiet. He was deep in race preparation mode. I know when to leave him alone. The Cervelo was removed from the car. He checked the tires and added some air. He put on his cycling shoes - black Sidis. He checked everything twice like Santa Claus. I was so wound up I got very busy snapping the 50 or so photographs that make up the collection called The Race. They show a very preoccupied man about to go out for a race. He was 58 years old. He hadn't raced since 1989. "Limes, I'm going to warm up. I'll come back for a moment before I go to the starting line so you can decide when to head for the turn-around." "OK, Badger."

Although I was surrounded by people talking, laughing, getting their bikes ready to go and was in a picturesque little dot on the map that invited photography, I suddenly felt very solitary. I thought about how solitary he must be feeling and that made me feel sad. The cheerleader can stand on the sidelines dancing, shaking pom poms and yelling "Boom shacka lacka" and that's all well and good . . . but finally the man has to mount the bike and go do it alone, in competition with others. It put me in mind of how many things he has accomplished in his life by going after them completely on his own - it is part of the attraction. He wants human warmth, affection, admiration, love . . . but he functions well on his own, doing what he needs. It makes certain types of women feel very protective. I got busy arranging all the "stuff" in the car. The Badger is disorderly - I'm freakishly organized. I put all the extraneous nonsense in the back and took pains to set out the water, my camera, cell phone, purse, iPod, book and sunscreen in an array that pleased me. I planned to go to that turn-around point and put a few miles on myself on foot. Maybe read a little. I wished I had brought coffee. Although inexperienced, I had a picture in mind of how I would do this. "Housekeeping" made me feel a little better and my tension began to ease . . . . . until I saw him.

He was pedaling toward me at an amazing pace. He didn't have to say a word for me to know that something was up. I know this man. His face spoke volumes. "New shit has come to light," was written all over him. This was not a "cruise on back to say 'bye". He was carrying news. "What?!" I thought. "What's wrong? What did we forget? Is there something wrong with the bike?" As he slowed the bike I ran toward him, proving that I can run. I managed to keep my mouth shut, to allow him to spit out whatever important message he had come to deliver. When he did so, I wanted to run in the opposite direction.

[Panting from exertion] "Limes, I've never heard of this anywhere, ever. I can have a personal follow vehicle! You can stay right with me. My tools and spare wheel sets and gear sets will be right at my fingertips! You can hand me up water from the car as often as I need it!" I froze. Bambi in the high beams. I believe this will go down on record as the one time I truly had nothing to say. "All you have to do is remain behind the official follow vehicle and don't piss off the sheriffs - there are a lot of them." Thought I: "Personal follow vehicle driver. Now I was wrapping myself around that run, hand up thing pretty well. I don't know about personal follow vehicle driver." I managed to say nothing deflating to the Badger, but if he'd been less excited, he'd have surely read my face as clearly as I'd read his. Abject terror would be about right, I think. "Come on, Limes, get in. We need to get to the starting line. I'll be right ahead of you!" Knees quaking, I got in that Honda and headed for the starting line.

Some of the categories had already started. The Badger and the other codgers were among the last to push off. The area surrounding the starting line was filled with racers, well-wishers, sheriffs on foot blowing whistles to direct traffic, sheriffs in SUVs. I saw the official race follow vehicle. I pulled in behind it. Apparently the Badger was the only racer in his group to have a personal follow vehicle, as the line consisted of the official vehicle and mine only. We started to roll - the cyclists off first. A woman sheriff windmilling her arms in the middle of an intersection asked, "Are you following?" I said I was and she said, "Good! Our reserve sheriffs are a group of really great older guys and they don't know about these races. Show them the ropes!" She spoke into her radio. Oh, boy. Limes is identified as a veteran! In the know. Oh, no!

I learned something about myself right then, right there on my 56th birthday. I had to figure out something important to someone I care about and I had to do it all by myself. No one to ask. My feverish thoughts threatened to burst my throbbing head, but then I did figure it out. I had carte blanche from those sheriffs. I only had to stay behind the official follow vehicle. No other rules to box me in. "Think outside the box, Limes. Cast off the shackles that bind you to doing only the things in your comfort zone." I could pass up the whole pack and drive miles ahead, get out, wait for them to catch me, and learn that way. I could overtake the pack and pick out the Badger whenever I wanted to. I could look at his face and he'd see me in the car. If he wanted water, I'd zoom ahead and be waiting for him. He was easy to pick out in the red jersey with the gold hammer and sickle. And I had a long, long course to test my skills. Pretty soon I was a cat doing figure-eights around the ankles of that pack of cyclists, sheriffs and official follow vehicle. I got so comfortable I played the music loud and sang along with it.

In my ears right now: Pachelbel. I have a CD entitled "Pachelbel's Greatest Hit". It's the same piece, rendered by some 20 different artists or groups.

Something that charmed me: The number of Yavapai County reserve sheriffs who gave me my "props" that day. They grinned, they waved, they wiggled their eyebrows like Groucho Marx. One saluted. They helped keep the Sunday drivers away from the cyclists. They allowed me to do whatever flitted into my head to do. Because I was the woman who knew how these things were done!


  1. This is getting to be pretty exciting. I felt so strong on today's "recovery" ride. A full bore uphill sprint and the bike just jumped with me. I've been practicing this specifically since July... every ride at least once.

  2. Quite a gripping tale: tackling something brand new and unexpected and having the courage to ad lib your way through it with good results. I hope you have some fine adventures this weekend too.


  3. OK, I'm trying to figure this out, but I give ... This is a report about last year's SV RR, right? This year's isn't until Sunday, or are there races other than the Sunday race?

    I was there last year, and came in 3rd of the 60+ "codgers". ... Dan

  4. @ The Badger - get over here!

    @ TRW - thank you. I'm proud of him, proud of me!

    @ Dan - yes, you've got it, last year. Wish we'd met you there, "codger". That's a term of endearment from me.

    Here I go, everyone. Lots of miles on me already this morning and an hour to get ready to go to AZ!

  5. Happy Birthday! I hope it's a wonderful day of celebrating you! :-)

  6. Thank you, Doozyanner! I sure have a lot of miles on me for someone who still feels pretty young.