Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New England Velodrome Rocks!

The missus came in the house this evening.

"Boy, you are one popular guy."

I figured that maybe her co-worker Elaine had said something nice about me. Or maybe I got yet another offer for something in the mail.

I just got one the other day. You know, the "Aw, look, American Express loves me. They sent me mail and all these nice letters and pictures and stuff. Look, they even want me to get a credit card. For my (and here you have to do the quotes thing with your fingers) business. Hey, look, it says here that the annual fee is....$450?! What the heck?"

Yeah, I don't need any more friends like that.

But she walked over and gave me some non-junk-mail-looking mail.


Get well cards.

Heh. I smiled. I mean, yeah, it's kind of goofy, but it's the thought that counts. And it just made me smile, so it worked, right? Endorphins and all that?

I opened one from my boss first. I'd just gotten off the phone with her so I figured I'd open what I know, save the good stuff for later. She'd reported that Grey, who my boss calls Eyes because that's all she'd ever see when she fed the cats, is walking up to her now, just like she walked up to me. Obviously Grey knows who's bringing her the food and water.

And my boss will have to start calling her Grey, not Eyes, because, well, because Grey is grey when she's not hiding 40 feet away from the food and the only thing you see are two eyes glowing in the darkness when you poke around with a huge flashlight. You don't need a huge flashlight to check up on her if she's 5 feet away from you, tail up, curling a front leg at a time in excitement and flirtatiousness. Or hunger. But whatever, she does it.

Resting in her bed. My boss gave that to her. Grey loves the bed, just loves it.

Grey, both feet grounded. Bed behind her. White (the fixed male) is watching. The bin is one of the two winter shelters for the cats. I'll need to make a third one, possibly more.

Right paw up. Tail swishing.

Left paw up. Tail still fluttering a bit. She'll do this for a bit, then walk away, goose-stepping a bit. If a cat can goose-step, that is.

Anyway, the point of all that (other than to put up more cat pictures) is that she told me she had mailed me some stuff, she just didn't mention she'd sent a card with all of it. It opened upwards and I read the message inside. So, yeah, the gang at work miss me. Very nice. I smiled more. Endorphins.

To be fair they'd already sent a card from the store family (and Meg too), and two of them got me a card "from the cats", with cats on it, of course. Very sweet. More endorphins just thinking about those other cards.

Next I opened one that I had a feeling would show up. I think this was the order the missus gave them to me, so it was less my choice and more whatever was there, but still, the order worked out well.

This card was from obra3 from Bike Forums, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (hence OBRA). Very nice, very appreciated. I smiled as I opened the card carefully, just enough to read the card, then opening it more to read the note on the inside cover. As I did this I reported to the missus exactly who these folks were in my "intraweb" bike world.

Then there was one with a return address for a guy I've raced with at the New England Velodrome, Scotty as everyone calls him (I think I say "Scott" though). He and Greta seem inseparable, and I can't help buy smile and wave when I see them roll into the parking lot. They have the funniest discussion about music too, where one will say how they like a song and the other says they really hate that song. They'll roll around while calmly discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the song in question.

I like them because of this one thing that happened earlier in the spring.

I'd gotten a little claustrophobic in the pack one night at the track, one of the first times I went up there. I squirmed out of the middle of the group, going through some pretty tight gaps even for me. I ended up launching an attack because I forgot that I can't squirm out of a hole and then slow back down on a track bike.

Later that night, after that particular race (where I got shelled, thank you), a bunch of "B" racers sat beside the track watching the "A" racers pummel each other. The spectating "Bs" sat bunched up, legs and feet hanging off the various benches, tables, and whatnot. With their various goatees, sideburns, 2 day shadows (well, a month or two for me, for them maybe it was just a few hours), the casual slackness of racers relaxing, they reminded me of a gang of hoodlums, um, bike racers.

Scott had something in his mouth, a straw or something, chewing it at the corner of his mouth, one leg bent, the foot flat on whatever he sat on, the other leg dangling. I think he had on a hoodie. His stance, the straw, the expression on his visage made him look like a gangster. The whole crew watched as I rolled past.

Scott did something, called out my name, to get my attention. He looked at me, did one of those point-the-finger-like-a-gun-and-wink-one-eye things that makes you feel special when someone does it to you. Or like they're trying to sell you a car. Or maybe it's significant because my best friend on the other coast would do it as a big joke and we'd crack up for no reason.

"Nice move there. Threading the needle."

I looked at him blankly because I wasn't sure if it was a sarcastic "Nice move" (like "if you pull crap like that again I'm going to break your legs") or a genuine one. He cracked a sideways Popeye smile.

"It was good. Very nice," he reassured me.

I grinned. It was cool. Cool because I pulled a move that was good, safe, and still a bit edgy. And cool because someone acknowledged it, publicly, and no one dissented.

Anyway, I helped him out with a wheel thing a little while ago, just before The Crash. I hadn't heard anything on the results, good, bad, indifferent, and I had no idea if the wheel was in pieces in the garbage or if it was still rolling nicely. I was hoping that he'd include a note on how it worked out in his card.

I grinned at the missus as I hurriedly blurted out what I just wrote above. Well, I already told her the "point and wink" thing so I skipped that - it would have taken me forever to open the card if I tried to say more than "He's the guy with the wheel". I opened the card, lifting the top just enough to read what would be the third page, where the card's little message would sit. I automatically looked on the right side, halfway down, because that's where people sign.

My brain locked for a moment, unable to comprehend the card. There were signatures there, yes. More than one. None of them were Scott's. I opened the card more, looking at the inside cover. There were even more signatures, notes, well wishes!

It looked like everyone at the track signed the card!

Holy. How do I explain how I felt? Is it even possible?

And not just signed it. Almost everyone had something to say.

After I recovered from my shock, I started reading the notes, the names. And I finally found Scott's note, and Greta's too, which I love.

"Eye of the Tiger"


Cards, NEV's front and center. Tiger and Bella in the background, of course.

I have a feeling I'll be racing very "generously" for a bit in the spring, until my legs have thanked them for their thoughts, support, and just plain sense of community. This means I'll have to prepare to do things slightly unnatural to my psyche like do some early jumps, take long pulls, and display a startling willingness to hit the front. You know, I gotta get better soon so I can start training for next year.

It ain't going to be easy saying thanks with my legs.

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