Friday, October 30, 2015

Too Old to Feel This Damn Young

A younger colleague was lamenting to me about how old he felt recently. Despite being in his mid 20s, he had a lot of responsibilities that he felt we weighing him down: a new born, a career, autos and mortgage payments. I reflected that a lot has changed since he graduated from high school. He chuckled, then quoted Garth Brooks, saying he was "much too young to feel that damn old."

After a little of my own soul-searching, I'm happy to report that the sentiment is not mutual. In fact, I feel the opposite: I am too old to feel this damn young.

Maybe it's because I don't have children. Probably that's the great equalizer, but I wouldn't know.

But I have my own stressors, and my time is still over-booked. After work and house projects, what remains of personal time is spent with Katherine, or the bike. So I'm plenty busy.

The recent return of my health may also have something to do with feeling younger. After going through a rough patch over the past couple months, being mostly pain free is liberating. It means I can ride more. Riding more contributes to both physical and mental well-being. Take a recent lunch ride -- although it was a blustery cool Autumn day in the upper 40s, the set of vO2 max intervals had a very positive effect of supercharging my mind and body. I felt completely rejuvenated at the end of an otherwise grueling workout.

I suppose I feel young because I have the luxury of being able to enjoy riding a bike often.

“We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”
--Keith Richards, age 70
As a kid, I would have never guessed that embracing bicycles as an adult would bring so many benefits. As an aside, I would have also never guessed that I'd turn to Keith Richards for inspiration on aging gracefully.

Anyway, I'm grateful for bicycles and the luxury of time to ride them.

Speaking of aging gracefully, a well earned Happy Birthday shoutout goes to Fred. Keep staying young, you damn vampire!

Thanks for Reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, October 23, 2015

You Work at a Gas Station

Several years ago, I was out on a long ride that brought me back through Boyer's Chute/Ponca Hills. I was out of fuel and water and reeling badly from the effects of a bonk. Turning a weary crank in squares, I finally made it to the Cubby's gas station at Hwy 36 and Mormon Bridge Road. I practically fell off my bike and stumbled through the door.

The clerk behind the counter looked up and said, "well, you look awful."

My mind gathered some words in reply, but all my trembling lips could do was to form a wry smile. I then procured a small feast of a coke, a snickers, a couple slices of pizza, and some half dozen donuts.

Later, after blogging about this experience, Fred left a comment about what he would have said if he was in my place. It went something like this:

Clerk:  Well, you look awful.
Fred:  You work at a gas station.

To give Fred the benefit of the doubt, I might be misquoting him here.

Nah. I think it's accurate.


At this past Wednesday's night cyclocross practice, I felt really good on the bike for the first time since August. I could do all the things required of cyclocross without any pain in my hips, ribs, or back. Therefore, the only discomfort I experienced was the "good" lactic acid and cardio pain that comes from a hard cyclocross workout.

I was happy about being pain-free. As a result, I completely ignored my current fitness state and proceeded to shred myself on the initial 15 minute mini-race.

After a five minute breather, we did a 25-30 minute effort. I was going ok for the first couple of laps, but then detonated spectacularly near the end. Afterwards, I plopped down on the bench next to my buddy, Fred. From the looks of it, Fred was suffering worse than I was. He was doubled over, with his head in his hands. He didn't look up when I sat down. I'm not sure if he even knew I was there.

Anyway, when I saw him, I nearly said, "you look awful".

Instead, I kept my mouth shut, and smiled when that string of words triggered the memory of his gas station comment way back when.

Maybe the next time I see him doubled-over, head in hands, I'll just say to him, "You work at a gas station."

Yes. Decided.

Happy Friday. Thanks for Reading.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Staycation Update

I took the week off from work to do stuff around the house. So, since I'm technically on vacation, this will be a short update.

It's funny how difficult it is to get a good workout in when I take time off from work. At work it must be the efficiency of a fixed routine that accommodates being able to do more with the allotted time.

Still, I've gotten a lot of stuff done around the house, so at least the time spent there has been productive.

I did make it to the super secret cyclocross workout this past Wednesday, and I'm happy to report that I can now run barriers. It isn't pretty, but at least I can do it. I sorta just winged it at the last moment. The initial step was quite ugly, and the jarring shock to my hips/back nearly buckled my leg. Fortunately, I was able to somewhat stumble my way through and not eat dirt in the process.

Despite bad running form, progress felt good. Two weeks ago, I was able to just swing my leg over my saddle. Last week, I was able to complete a full mount. This week, I could dismount, run the barriers and mount.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to truly test my progress at Flatwater's CX weekend, because I'm not ready to race just yet.

Good luck to all who are racing this weekend.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Effective Communication

One evening this past week I was relaxing on the deck out back. It was a perfect evening to sit and get caught up on Bredemske's Sweet Home Algomaha blog. My dog, Emmylou, was enjoying the evening too, as she was outback dilly-dallying here and there.

Then all of a sudden, Emmy made a bee-line directly to me from the far corner of the yard. This was unusual, as she normally does her own thing when outside. But not this time. She came right up to me and sat down. I ignored her for a moment. Then she deliberately leaned into me. Now that was highly irregular, so I put the tablet down and looked at her. She was silently looking into my eyes. She rarely looks into my eyes, and when she does, she quickly looks away. Again, not this time. Something was up.

So I asked her, "What's up?"

I'm not kidding what happened next. She stood up and preceded to slowly turn her backside towards me. That's when I discovered the motivation behind her actions: a sizable dingle-berry was dangling back there from a long strand of grass.

I know, ick.

Sorry, but that's what happened.

Fortunately for both of us, I have a box of latex gloves. After extraction, Emmy completely disregarded me and resumed her dilly-dallying once more.

You're welcome Emmylou.


Emmy's story is a fine illustration on effective communication. I am still amazed that she could communicate so much, and do so nonverbally.

I often fail at clearly communicating what I want. Most of the time, it's because I tend to be a people-pleaser who prefers to go with the flow. This is fine and dandy if the flow fits within my plans, but proves troublesome otherwise. Rather than express a contrary view, I typically keep my mouth shut. This is especially true the closer the person is to me -- a friend, family member, or my spouse.

Failing to state what's important to me is a slippery slope. The more I do this, the further I get away from what I value. Inevitably, this can lead to frustrations and irritable feelings on my part, which can devolve further into other undesired behavior.

All of this can be avoided if I clearly state what I want in the first place. It might be uncomfortable for the moment, but so much better in the long run.

Yes. I should follow Emmy's lead and be clear and direct about my thoughts.

Who knew a dog's dingle-berry could be such a teachable moment? Thanks Emmylou :)

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Stop. Stop. Stop!

Dr John "Doc" Milak ran his fingers through his thick hair and waited for the band to quit.

You guys sound terrible today. Truly awful. It's the worst you've sounded all semester. The woodwind section alone sounds like a flock of geese that just got blown out of the sky. But you're not the worst. The brass and percussion sections make a train derailing in a nitro-glycerin industry yard sound appealing.

Dr John "Doc" Milak had been teaching high school band for over twenty years. A stand-in for Jerry Garcia, with his shoulder length wavy brown hair, beady eyes behind coke bottle glasses, and his signature tweed jacket with leather patches, everyone at that school knew Milak was the band guy.

Doc ran his hand through his hair a second time and shook his head. Then he smiled.

"Let me tell you something about sounding this bad. It's actually good. A band sounds its worse when it's ever so slightly out of tune. That's called dissonance, and the discordant tension rises as you get closer to playing in tune. I'm smiling because this is the first time I've heard you sound this bad. So take heart. Until today, you guys sucked. Badly. Now it's only a matter of small adjustments until we've got something groovy."


Lately, it seems my life is something like a high school concert band that is going through a rough patch. While I could talk about my slow hip recovery, and work related stresses, I'm going to focus on the effort that Katherine and I have been putting forward to get our house ready to sell.

For the better part of 2015, we've put a lot of work into our house. We've checked off several big ticket items, including kitchen and bathroom refreshes, installing new windows, rebuilding a deck, and repairing our roof. We've also dressed up our house by re-surfacing the wooden floors, and adding a fresh coat of paint in and out.

Still, after all of this, there is seemingly never-ending list of minutia to go through before we actually get the house on the market. It's frustrating and tiresome, mostly because it seems that we're so close to finishing this project.

It's this feeling of being almost there that reminded me of Doc Milak's band being ever so slightly out of tune. Hopefully, it's just a matter of attending these final details and we'll have something groovy, too.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.