Friday, February 26, 2016

The BCM Pep Talk

"What are you doing?" a male's voice says to somebody, breaking through the rumbling of the westbound #2 bus on Dodge Street.

It was the end of a long day that started with a conference call before the crack of dawn. I put in nine hours at the desk, and another hour and some during a rigorous workout over a cold and blustery lunch hour. Now as the sun was setting, I was heading home. My bike, a 2008 Trek Madone -- dollied up with a set of deep dish carbon fiber wheels -- sat in the well-rack at the front of the bus.

I was quite tired. I'd by lying if I said I wasn't enjoying the warm bus ride home.

"You're a cyclist, right?" the voice persisted.

I opened my eyes and looked in the direction of the voice. It belonged to a teenager. I had never seen him before, but his words were unmistakably aimed at me.

"I am."

"Then what the hell are you doing here on this bus? That is your bike up there, isn't it?"

I nodded, the smallest grin forming on my face.

"Then, um, shouldn't you be riding it?" he shouted again over the Detroit Diesel. "This is a city bus, you know."

"Yeah, so what. I rode the bike over lunch today." I said unaffected.

The kid collapsed all at once onto the bench across from me. His lanky body was swimming inside a Central High sweatsuit, making him appear like one of those Salvador Dali paintings, melting all over the place. After a moment, he gathered himself up and leaned in towards me.

"You look like a cyclist, and that bike up front ain't no commuter. That bike was meant to be ridden, and more than during recess time, or taking Joe Businessman to-and-from his daily bus stop."

The kid was landing verbal punches left and right, but his smile broadcasted his intent to chide, not incite.

"Right. Well the truth is -- "

As I formed the words to reply, my mind shifted from my lunch workout that I could still feel in my thighs, to the several hills that stood between the office downtown and home. It was cold and getting dark. The bus not only a convenient option, but the best choice that evening. Or so I told myself.

But the kid wasn't going to have any of that.

"-- the truth is that I'm lazy" I ended up saying.

"Lazy?" His eyes lit up like a wildfire. "And you call yourself a cyclist? Ha! You need to ride that thing home next time. Got it, man?"

I liked this kid. A lot. He was giving me what my buddy Fred likes to call, the BCM Pep Talk.

For those not in the know, the Brady Christopher Murphy (BCM) Pep Talk primarily comes in two flavors. The first is to level-set the appropriate amount of dread for the horrendous task you've decided to undertake. You know, just in case you wondered if there was any hope of success of ahead for you. (There isn't). The BCM Pep talk involves taking the last 30 seconds before the whistle to attempt to psyche oneself up before enduring an arduous task. For example, I've employed it in the starting chute several times before a race. Like, getting the gumption to ascend a Mt Krumpit saturated in mud the consistency of peanut butter; or in contemplating how to sprint to the front from a 15th row's starting position at Snake Alley; or while preparing to race my first cat 5 criterium while sickly green storm clouds gathered to drop a torrent of hail stones 15 minutes later into the race. As if the perils aren't already known enough, the BCM Pep Talk is there to underscore the futility of the whole endeavor. Somehow, paradoxically, this version of the BCM Pep Talk is meant to inspire a heroic effort despite the likely outcome of failing.

The second version of the BCM Pep Talk is to call one out when they are not living up to their potential.

Having a racing bike with racing wheels on the front of city bus qualifies for option #2 of the BCM Pep Talk. Especially when the commute is only four miles.

The truth is that I was being lazy. I knew it. More importantly, the kid knew it, and he was giving me the proper BCM Pep Talk that I deserved.

As I got up to pull the stop cord, he told me that he was going to buy a road bike one day.

"I'd better not see it on the bus."

"Not a chance."

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Workbench

The airport service road is a downright dreadful place to ride a bicycle. Sure, it's safe and all, with its light traffic, and its unobstructed views. That and its better than average concrete surface makes it a perfectly suitable place to ride a bicycle. Nobody disputes this.

Still, its a dismal place to ride a bike. In all, the six miles of service road that nearly encircles Eppley Airfield has got to be among the most boring stretches of tarmac in the greater Omaha area. For one, it is pancake flat. For another, it has very few trees, or any other remarkable features that makes for an interesting place to ride a bike. Apart from the 75 flights that takeoff per day, or the occasional spotting of an eagle, there is very little else that breaks up the monotony of riding there.

Otherwise, it's dreadful. But I go there often, and encounter many other cyclists who do so as well. What it lacks in scenery, it more than makes up for in utility. It is a wonderful place to do interval workouts and testing protocols because of those boring traits: it is flat, virtually straight, has light automobile traffic, and has excellent surface quality.

And then there is the wind.

Because interval workouts are best done alone, the wind is one's constant riding partner. Admittedly, the wind is not a relished companion to ride with. Apart from the annoyance of it in one's ears, intervals and power tests would be more precise without the wind. But since a single trip around the airport brings headwinds, crosswinds and tail winds, a sort of power canceling effect kicks in. That, and it presents the rider with the opportunity to consider aero positions and proper gearing selections as wind angles change while completing the loop.

I've ridden this loop hundreds of times over the years. I typically don't enjoy it while I'm there. That's not it's purpose. But I respect what it has to offer.

If I see you out there, chances are that I may simply nod my head in acknowledgement that you've discovered the purpose of riding there as well. Socializing can wait for another time; work is what gets accomplished there.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sick in the Head

I've got some sort of ick going on inside of me.

I've felt like crap since early Tuesday morning. It's in my head, nose and throat. After going to be symptom free Monday night, I awoke three hours later with a raging sore throat and a headache. I took Tuesday off and slept a bunch. By Wednesday, the sore throat was gone and I felt good enough to return to work. Still, I wasn't a 100%, and by Thursday afternoon, I was feeling fairly awful again. The headache had returned, but the sore throat was replaced by a runny nose and burning, itchy eyes. My evening consisted of dinner, a nap, waking and going to bed again (I went to bed really early).

At first I thought it was a virus. But the later symptoms are allergy like. Still, it's February and I used to think I was only ragweed sensitive. Ragweed pollen is extremely low right now. Who knows.

Anyway, it's Friday and I still feel like poo. It's funny that when you're not your normal self, fun things seem like a chore, and motivation drops for all but the essentials. Apparently, committing to a weekly blog post isn't one that made the essentials list, and I wouldn't have written a word otherwise had I not made a commitment that one of my readers, the Real Wes J, would hold me accountable to.

So this one's for you, Wesley J.

Now please allow me to put my head on my desk for the next nine minutes of my lunch break so I can sleep and dream of something pleasant, like being choked to death, or falling into an icy river.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 5, 2016


People must think I have a foul mouth. Maybe I do. I haven't really considered it till now.

Take for instance a family reunion a few years back where one of my relatives thought that a karaoke machine would be a good source of entertainment to accompany drinking copious amounts of beer. This was a good thing for several members of my family who have the gift of music and great voices. Unfortunately, I'm not in that subset of Murphys. So you can understand my apprehension to get up and sing in front of anyone. But it looked fun, and what better place is there to try something than in the safe confines of a family reunion? Still, I had my doubts. So I recruited my brother and his then four year old daughter to get up sing with me. We flipped through the catalog while one of my uncles with a golden voice crooned yet another Sinatra tune. I decided right then and there that if we were going to do it, we'd mix it up and put some funk into the reunion. The song I selected was "Play That Funky Music".

It didn't go well. I'd have to say that "Play That Funky Music" is not a wise choice for an audience of senior white folks. Duh. What I obviously didn't take into account was the audience. Most had never heard this song before. That was immediately apparent as I scanned the audience one verse into it. I saw a lots of confused and unhappy looks. By the time we got through the chorus, my Dad was frantically waving us down and signalling for us to stop. So we did. His anguished questioning afterward was: how could we -- me, my brother and his four year old daughter -- how could we be singing a song about the "F" word at a family reunion?

Funk,  Dad. The word was funk. 

Yeah, pretty good. Apparently, all my relatives think I have a foul mouth.


Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got a one-word SMS response from my kid brother. It said "okf".

Upon receiving the text, I assumed that he had fat-fingered a letter "f" when he typed, "ok". I dismissed it and moved on.

But then a few minutes later he replied with another "okf" to something else. Brendan's texting is typically precise. He rarely butchers things more than once.

So curious, I asked what the "okf" was all about. I had never heard/read it before.

It should be noted that other than fat-fingering, I never ascribed any meaning to the trailing "f" here; my mind was simply pure in wonderment.

He replied: "Okay Fine".

He immediately followed up with an explanation that the IT professionals from India like to say "Okay fine" in place of the simple, "Okay" when they are in agreement on something.

Okay fine. I got it.

I listened for the "Okay fine" on my next conference call with my colleagues in India. Suddenly, that's all I heard. It was as if somebody turned on the Okay Fine spigot and it was flowing freely like never before.

I decided right then that I'd adopt this saying in my own speech, and begin sprinkling the shorter "okf" in my SMS messages as well.

So the first chance I got, I sent an "okf" to my buddy Fred.

There was a pause before the bubble indicated he was replying back to me. He didn't mention anything about the "okf".

I replied with another "okf" shortly after.

Fred didn't ask. But he noticed. When I told him later about "okf", he laughed and said that he thought I was saying "Ok F*cker" in my replies to him.


So keeping score, in addition to all present at the Murphy family reunion, Fred also thinks I have a filthy mouth.

Okay fine. It's okay that Fred et al think I have a filthy mouth, but I never expected my wife to say the same thing.

But sure enough, using "okf" with Katherine brought the same confusion that Fred experienced. In fact, she vehemently protested with lots of exclamation points to stop texting,"okf" in my replies to her.

I asked her why.

She replied that it wasn't nice.

I pressed and asked her what she was talking about.

She stated that I shouldn't send "okf" because the single letter "F" means a lot of things, most of which are not nice to say.

Okay fine. Who knew "okf" would cause so much consternation?

In any case, lots of people think I have a dirty mouth. Okf, maybe I do, but I haven't considered it till now.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.