Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Life - Preparing for Koichi, Part 1

Obviously now the secret is out. We didn't want to share the news with everyone in case something happened, and so I had to bite my tongue (and hold back my typing fingers) whenever something significant happened relating to the baby.

It all started back in 2010, when I was having the season of my life. Over the winter of 2009-2010 a multitude of factors combined to create a slew of factors that changed my cycling world. First off I'd lost a large amount of weight, while and after recovering from my first broken bone ever (in 2009). During that time I bought my first custom geometry bike, the working man's Tsunami Bikes custom road frame. I also, in the interest of light weight and aero slash top speed, bought a trio of HED wheels.

I intended the season to be a good one, and it was.

The Missus and I spent the whole summer traveling to races, driving down to the Rent on Tuesdays, driving to whatever race on Sundays. Usually race day travel can be a bit stressful, especially for a racer already a bit hyped up on adrenaline. We also drove some distances, a few hours each way for some races, so we ended up sitting in the car a lot, together, no one else around, with all sorts of unexpected stress raisers jammed into our faces.

We'd been doing this for a while, but once we moved up to northern Connecticut, the longer drives to the NY and NJ races meant a lot more traveling. Combined with a bunch of longer trips, we racked up a lot of drive time together.

Drive time can be hard on a relationship. There's no escape, there's no distractions, just you and your other.

Yet we thrived.

We loved the trips, we loved getting into the car, and we laughed and talked and giggled and snickered and even criticized together throughout the summer.

At some point we decided that, yes, we really wanted to have kids, for real. We talked about it before we got married, we talked about it a bit after, but we never had the real "let's try" kind of feeling until the summer of 2010.

This meant preparation for the life changes ahead. And you know me, I'm so risk averse, I want to be prepared.

First things first.

My spectacular year meant I met USAC's requirements for upgrading to a Cat 2. I thought of my friend in SoCal, the host wife there. She upgraded to Cat 2 and received her upgrade when she was 8 months pregnant. She hasn't raced since.

I figured I'd be in a similar boat. Although I didn't plan on stopping the racing, I knew I'd be hard pressed to have another season like my 2010 one.

So I requested, and got, my Cat 2 upgrade.

Because this was to precede the baby bit, I felt no need to continue any kind of training. In fact I discouraged myself from setting any goals for 2011, for fear of feeling conflicting priorities. If I really focused on a particular race, I'd feel a bit cheated if I didn't actually give it a good go because a little tyke started competing for my time.

My upgrade and my just-under-Masters age forced me into entering just one race at Bethel, the P123s. And as good a year as I had in 2010, I knew that there was no way I'd be competitive in the P123s, even at my 2010 fitness level, in 2011.

This eliminated Bethel from my 2011 goals and basically set the tone for the rest of the year. No goals meant no distractions. I could focus on baby stuff. Any racing stuff that fell into my lap would be a bonus, nothing more.

Another preparation area had to do with vehicles. It's easy to buy a crib or a car carrier, but buying major things like a car or a house or whatever take time. We bought our house with a kid in mind. Our cars, though, didn't match a family's needs.

We didn't want to drive an SUV but we understood that a small Honda Civic sedan and a two seat 350Z didn't make for ideal cars for a new family. We decided to sell the Honda first as it was starting to age a bit. Honestly we both enjoyed the Z for driving to the far away races, and the Missus I think wanted me to hang onto that "single guy slash midlife crisis car". She knew I enjoyed driving it so she wanted me to hang onto it for as long as possible.

We bought a Jetta Sportswagen TDi, a nice compact wagon, plenty of luggage area, and rails where we could mount a pod or two if we needed more room. It also got good mileage and it worked well in the snow. This was our first major "baby specific" purchase, after the house.

Works as a race day car as well.

We went through 2010 all ready to be ready for a baby.

There was one little problem.

We had no baby.

In fact, we didn't even have the beginnings of a baby.

We went into 2011. My training had dropped off a bit. I felt it less necessary to train because, frankly, I wasn't going to be racing much. Because, you know, I was going to be a dad.

This attitude slaughtered my 2011 season. I lasted maybe 15-20 minutes in many of my races. I had a few where I finished, so few that I think I made clips of almost every one. Usually I watched the race finish from the sidelines, moping a bit. We had no baby and I had no race legs.

We traveled a bit that summer (apparently we like road trips). We figured it'd be the last trip for us alone. We made a special week-long trip to Wisconsin (part 2 here), driving out and back, 18 hours each way, returning so that we'd stop by at the Keith Berger race before finally arriving home. At that point we'd practically given up on having a baby, and we started thinking about taking more formal steps to address this no-baby situation.

Of course that's when, one day shortly thereafter, from upstairs, I heard a shriek of joy.

The Missus was pregnant.

I was super paranoid about sharing the news. Nothing on the blog, nothing on any forums, no Facebook things, nothing. We told almost no one, to the point that my family didn't know about it for a while.

I did panic a bit when I realized just how little time I had to sell the Z and buy something more suitable for a family. Already August, I knew that the Z's summer selling season would draw to a close within a few weeks. I prepared myself for a lowball trade in value and started looking at cars.

With the Missus driving around in the Jetta TDi, and me absolutely loving that same car, I decided that I'd get another one just like hers. She vetoed me, saying the wagon would be a bit too grown up (okay, boring) for me. She insisted I get something a bit more sporty, something I could mod later.

We wanted a car that would basically duplicate the Jetta driving experience, so that either of us could get into either car, in a sleep deprived groggy state, and drive to wherever at some level of competency. That meant controls, the view out the front, the handling, they all needed to be similar.

So, just like my two Tsunamis are basically identical handling bikes with slightly different details, we decided on a second car from the same family.

In my case it'd be a Golf TDi.

The second family car.

I chose red. The Missus thought it might be a bit much, but you know me. A bit much is not enough.

Okay, I admit it. The real reason I chose red is because I couldn't get a bright blue. Barring blue I got red. I have to say that the color really grew on me.

In the snow.

Same engine, same transmission, same controls. The doors switches and stuff differed just a bit, but the main controls and such were identical.

With that out of the way (and a lot of people wondering why I suddenly traded in a perfectly good Z), we started getting ready for the baby.

(To be continued in Part 2)

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