Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oh Ponca

I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of this event. It was my first cross-country race in about two years. And I was ready,or so I thought.

Dale and I set sail from Omaha at 9 am. The plan was to be there by 11 or so and have time to fill the bottles get your gear on, warm up a bit, listen to some tunes and oh yeah, there is that registering thing.

Nearly there, we stop in Ponca at some gas station so I can use the atm. Because racing isn't free people. Problem was that the atm wasn't giving me what I wanted and the race started in just 40 minutes.

I inform Dale of my dilemma, and without batting an eye he hands me a twenty and says now all ya need is ten.

As we roll in into the park I quickly unpack the chrome bag and snagged the Surly and went out to try and find some folks to be my sugardaddy. The time is now 11:40.

I run into the bushes and change into the lycra (superman style), and then almost forget that whoa I still need ten dollars, and havent registered yet.

I then pedal to the lodge to check if they had an atm or some nice old couple to throw some cash my way. As I am pedaling back towards the other racers I see MOD, And at this point I was stressed like you wouldnt believe; so instead of saying hello mark, or have a nice race, I say, hey can I have ten dollars. And MOD came through through like the champ he is and got me that last ten.

It was freaking ridiculous, and the race was now 9 min from starting.I took a deep breath and tried to refocus with what little time I had, Then before i knew it riders are rolling down to the start. It was time.

We started 30 ticks after the experts and it felt like the longest 30 of my life.I closed my eyes as Joy Division songs rang in my head until the whistle blew.

I started quick with MOD next to me, then realizing I didn't even know where I was going,I let Josh pass and followed his wheel closely into the dirt .It was a quick descent filled with tight switchbacks, I was having a ball, feeling great, legs all loosey goosey, then josh and I miss a turn and are suddenly in third and fourth.Next my perpetuem filled bottle falls to the ground, moments later I whip through a turn and hear a pop, I kept pushing until my rim was grinding on the dirt. I look back to find that my tire had peeled off the rim and tangled itself within my chain and seat stays in a web of disapointment.

3 minutes in and my race was over.I didn't have time to pack my spare with all the registration madness, and it came back to bite me, quite hard.Carrying my bike up the paved road to the start was like a walk of shame,I sat for a while and thought about what happened, shed a few tears in the shade then tried to track down some tools and get back to it.

Eventually I fixed the problem after Biker Bob came through with the lock jaws for my stripped dropout bolt.He was a ray of light in my dark day. Thanks again man.

Even though my race had ended, I needed to get out and hammer,I hit the dirt for 2 and a half laps with a vengence and hope for next time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

All aboard the Pain Train

That's what delivering went like last night.A whole lotta pain.

The pace started quick at 5 pm and the humidity caused my pores to burst.Typically it takes an hour or so until you get in that phase of delivery where you are truly feeling it, zipping up and down the hills and getting in your groove. All was wellto begin the night though, I delivered to a large black man north of Dundee. And upon counting out his change of nine dollars, he asks, "Yo, who ya like in da championship" He probably thought i had no clue what he was speaking of, but I do enjoy a little baskettball here and there, and knew exactly what he was talking about. I reply,"Boston man, C's all the way",He says," "cool brotha, just give me eight back then".

It was a little after seven and the evening had a great pace to it thus far,but something was lurking behind the corner,and I was in for one hell of a battle.

I arrive back at JJ's, and my good ol boss Deacon informs me that Britni's car broke down and was unable to deliver tonight. The other driver Joe was off in twenty minutes at eight. That left just me to deliver until midnight. Iv'e done things like this before, but for only an hour or two, this was four hours. And I knew things would be crazy with all the CWS madness and Saturday night bar hoppers.

When I heard the great news I went to the back of the store, ate my face off, downed water and mentally prepared for the oncoming pain that awaited me.
My first fleet of deliveries were all over the place,I could no longer think about routing my deliveries, just had to endure it.

I pedaled to Autozone on 50th and Center to a fella named Jeff, and he was a real piece of work.He ordered a large coke with the food and upon giving it to him he glances inside the cup and squeals,"I asked for extra ice, Can you just bring this back and get me more ice." I was speechless, this loser with a bad haircut and glasses wanted me to pedal all the way back just for more freaking ice, no way in hell. I reply," Look i'm sorry, but there is ice in there and I'm not riding back one-handed just so you can have a little extra. He then exclaimed that he would call my manager and complain, as i'm walking out the door i say, "go for it."

After that I whip out 6 more deliveries totaling 16 in one hour,It was only 9:30 and I was starting to feel the legs stiffen up from slogging through neighborhoods South of Leavenworth littered with hills that can crush your soul.

I get back to find another round of deliveries that will take me south, north, east and west all over our the delivery area. It was time to either kill or be killed, I snag the ipod in hopes that some tunes will rejuvenate the body and mind. It worked as I took my mind away from the numbing hands and the legs that twitched and burned with each climb.

The time was now 10:45, hauling back on 40th St. I was feeling good and strong well aware that dozens of sandwhiches would be waiting for me. This next round was much like the one that preceded it as I went everywhere.

A woman I delivered to at CU med center says to me after i give her the order,"be safe driving out there" i said, "I'm not driving anything, I'm pedaling." She say's "oh I know you're on a bike, but have a good drive back" Silly people, someday they will get it.
Outside a patient and here friend saw me go inside earlier to make the drop off and asked me how do you do it, (puzzled) "how are you not tired"? I tell them,"I'ts what I love and yeah I'm beat. They then said "Go get em" as I pedal down the emergency ramp back to 30th St.

I get back once more, for another couple of deliveries at 11:34. I storm out of JJ's on a mission to get these out fast, and erase past memories of failure and moments on the bike and in life where i have fallen short.Thoughts about not finishing Trans Iowa, and not racing in the DK200, thoughts of past road races where I had been dropped by the group and didn't finish. All of these memories burn inside me for that next chance to overcome and put it all together at one of these races.

I get back, breathless, aching and somewhat delerious.The night was complete after taking 55 deliveries which resulted in over 500 dollars in sales. The battle was won, and the demons of my past had been exercised.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blame it on the Rain

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but I for one am just loving this wet-n-windy weather.
No more humid sweat fest, instead the precipitation is cool and calming.It slows life down and gives things new perspective.

Picked up a delivery shift last night, it seems whenever the weather is at its foulest folks want their Jimmy Johns pretty bad.For the first three hours the phones didn't stop,neither did I as i continually swept in and out of the shop with bags of sandies on my back.
Favorite responses of the evening include...
"Wow, did you run here" As I am standing in front of them in a helmet with my Steamroller to the right. "
Oh thats smart, driving a bike instead of the car tonight, save on gas" I reply, "Nope I pedal a bicycle, I don't drive it"

Greeting from a man with a business polo on his enclosed porch, who laughs as if its a joke that his sandwich was delivered by bike, he said,"Thats cool little fella"

Delivered to a salon next to the Dundee theater, I walk in the doors to stares, comments whispered between scissors clipping as i slosh in my soaked Sidi's leaving puddles with each step. The tattooed woman I delivered to was pretty stoked to get her sandwich delivered in the most environmentally friendly way possible though.

All in all, the night had everything I desired. A strenuous battle with the elements, a slight skirmish with a blue volvo, and a Celtics victory at the end of it all.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What the Crap?

Feeling terrible most of last week prompted my descision to cancel the Kanza. It was not easy to let go of, I'd been looking forward to and training for it quite a while. But hey, there will be more.

Congrats to the Lincoln crew, for another dominating performance. Much respect goes to MG, Corey, and Skip.You guys are the real deal. And Mr. Chambers the overall winner, is a machine.

I still craved to get out on the bike,wanting to erase the bad taste from kanza, and decided to deliver. It was a good time, with everyone believing I was pedaling due to the gas prices.It all went according to form, except for a crank busting in half and smacking my ankle.