About a month ago, MG over at ChasingMailboxes outlined a fun early season challenge - the Utilitaire 12. Unfortunately, that was in the final days of my all-encompassing work project, and the energy/time for reading anything outside of the immediate scope of “need-to’s” was nonexistent.
As I’ve slowly righted myself and trimmed the sails this month, the hash tag #Utilitaire kept popping up, and I finally got around to catching up on the excellent writing which MG shares on her blog. If you work the math and follow the instructions, you’ll realize that I have about two weeks to do 12 rides at the rate of 2 per week. I’ll admit, I was not a math major, but I’m pretty sure that’s a tough trick to pull off using standard numbers.
Which means the gang is well up the road and I’m just rolling away from the start. Nothing to do but smile and wave, smell the flowers, lean into the headwind and see what comes of it.
Anyway, here’s my first official Utilitaire 12 Controlle Stop:
According to the rules of the Utilitaire 12, I need to document the ride with a photograph (above) and confirm with an informational/observational insight:
Mmmmm…. a whole massive midden of thoughts and notes. That’s what sparse writing and little time will do to you. Feel like I’ve flung open the back door and found one heckuva large lump of congealed detritus - everything all interlocked and wedged together so that you don’t know where to begin.
Luckily, there are a couple of threads to tug at. Pulling at that should get the fabric to unravel a bit. Then, I’ll just pull at something that looks promising and see what pops out into the light.
And this intro probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone. ‘Cept those folks who know a little more about my life in the past 18 months or so. Honestly, most of that isn’t all that interesting. Not to mention that there are many more people who have acted more honorably under greater pressure and higher stakes. The interesting thing is that as I’d cut back writing here and actively updating the Galleries, a lot of people sent emails asking if things were OK.
I think I thanked everyone directly. But, if not, please know how much that meant. It’s funny to think how words tapped out onto a keyboard, or a web project that grew from frustration at not being able to track down a photo online can actually migrate into so many places in the world. Thank you all for taking the time to read this, or poking through any of the bike geek photos.
I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there, but my “day job” project for the last bit involved an exponentially-increasing number of hours. That culminated in January of this year. While that was expanding in momentum and deed, the other plate I was spinning involved auditions and recording sessions for my VO work. All work has its idiosyncrasies to be sure, but one of the quirks of VO is that you end up recording and submitting many, many auditions for each job you get. And those auditions must be submitted in a timely manner. And after riding home from the day job and then analyzing scripts and producing auditions for a couple hours, the choice was whether to stay on the computer or remind my wife and dog what I looked like.
Fact is, though I love writing about cycling and the bicycle world in general, when push comes to shove, I’d rather ride. Oh, I suppose it’s possible to punch up Dragon Dictation and ramble forth about stuff while riding. But, there’s something about riding that pushes me away from tech gadgetry. There’s intrinsically something about the ride which makes me realize the moments, see the subtle contrasts around me helps to balance everything.
One pedal goes down, the other comes up. On a flat stretch, the rhythm of breathing becomes a metronome. The horizon remains far distant as the pavement hisses quickly beneath the frame. Expansive moment.
The Quickbeam is bringing me back. It’s a simple, honest system. Patient and direct.
A hill that once sang by under the momentum now is cause for a bit of bar-wrestling and heavy breathing. A steeper climb demands a rest. The bicycle is the same. The gearing is the same. The weaker variable is me. Even without the complete cycling layoff of the final six weeks at work, this past year consisted of regular rides, but markedly shorter distances.
But, it’s all relative of course. I’ve been in worse shape than now, and the toughest part stems from my brain recalling how easy it was and not quite believing the feedback it receives from the various appendages and contact points. I did manage to keep fairly consistent with yoga, so there remains some surprisingly tenacious bits of strength here and there. And I did roll over a 40 mile loop last weekend which did not send me immediately to the couch for a nap.
So, like the writing, it’ll be a diet of small bites and thoroughly chewing.