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