Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Life - Hanging Out

(Written the day after the 2013 UCI World Championships)

I'm going to say now that I'm generally coy about stuff I put in the blog, meaning I try not to name full names, I try not to offend readers, and generally speaking I try to be discrete about what I put down here. I figure it's safe if I assume that my readers range from 12 years old to 120 years old and that I need to post stuff appropriate for those ages (and everything in between). I admit that I've posted stuff in the past that wasn't quite to those standards but in the one case that really sticks out I actually edited the post (very unlike me) to remove one offensive word I had used throughout the post.

I mention this because someone asked why I was being coy (his word) about naming a name in posts to the intraweb. I replied that it's because I felt that it'd be more discrete to not name the rider in question rather than have the name pop up on Google here and there. A search engine can't, right now, figure out when something refers to someone sideways. For example if I type "Rui Costa, 2013 World Champion", then this post will get indexed appropriately. If I type "The commercial teammate to the rider that I really don't like that won last Sunday" then Google et al will have a hard time figuring out how to index the sentence.

And yes, I will admit that I am not a fan of the rider that got 3rd on Sunday.

Anyway, I put this disclaimer at the beginning of this post because this post will be full of sideways references.

It all started when a local rider got engaged. To celebrate his impending non-singleness, a mentor and friend sent out an invitation to go for one last ride with him. It'd be an easy ride, 20 miles, not really challenging, one meant for the end of the road season.

I checked with the Missus and our schedules worked out such that I could attend the ride. The time of day - 3 PM (that's important here), the day (Sunday), the week, everything worked out. I sent a note saying that I'd be attending.

Said Sunday dawned and we did the stuff we'd planned on doing in the morning. Junior (a sideways reference since I only call him that in the blog) got us started by waking up at 5:30 or so, and from there it was full gas. As noon approached I started to think about going - I wanted to arrive at about 2:30 PM, hopefully a bit earlier, and I still had to pack the car. The Missus (another sideways reference name) gently nudged my preparation forward and so I packed the car with bike, gear bag, helmet cam, shoes, frame pump, carry-kit, everything.

I also stuck a drawer in there for a trip to IKEA. It ends up that the holes drilled in the drawer sides were off by 5mm so the drawer didn't hold together properly. I hoped to get shorter screw things so that the turn buckle thing would grab properly.

Then, at about 1:30, I was off. Fortunately traffic flowed very smoothly, very quickly. Before I knew it I was at my destination, 2:20 PM. I recognized some of the people, didn't recognize others, saw some bikes, etc. A few people cleared the driveway of their cars but I didn't think much of it. I figured they were making room for others.

I parked, got out, saw the man of the day (sideways reference), said hi. He stood in the open (and nice!) garage bay, had his kit on, and had a wrench in hand, fiddling with his bike. This is exactly what you see just before a ride, riders kitted up and doing their final checks before throwing a leg over the top tube.

Nice garage floor - epoxy coating with non-slip stuff.
This is what I want for our garage.

I went back to the car, changed, grabbed my shoes, helmet, and assorted stuff for my pockets, and returned to the garage. To my surprise the man of the day now had on his street clothes.

"Aren't you riding?" I asked, a bit confused. "The ride's at 3, right?"

He looked at me, bewilderment on his face. Then a smile cracked through as realization hit.

"Dude, we rode at 10!"
"Dude, we rode at 10! Oh, man, you gotta come to the back and show the guys. Come on."

I reluctantly followed. A bunch of guys were on the (nice) patio, hanging out.

"Hey, guess who thought we were riding at 3!"

They all laughed, friendly-like, and told me I should at least sit down and hang out. I excused myself to change and returned and did as they suggested.

First we cleared up the confusion. None of us could figure out how I thought it was 3 when clearly everything had said 10. I dunno. After that we talked about normal things.

We talked about stuff that all regular amateur bike racers talk about. How this season went, how last season was, and what we thought of for next season. We all had lives outside of cycling, significant others, kids, stuff like that.

We talked about the unlikeliness of a recent Grand Tour winner (sideways reference) and how he might have worked the system.

We talked about the US riders that came out, like Tyler and Floyd. We talked about how it seemed another US rider didn't seem quite so "complete" in his confession as them.

The time flew by. I looked around at one point and realized that, yes, this is what I dreamed about for the house in Norwalk. A hang out, music playing in the background (outdoor speakers), a nice area to hang out, a workstand with some tools scattered on the stones next to it.

After some time a few riders showed up. They were mid-ride and wanted to check over some stuff on their bikes. The man of the day and the host, both former bike shop people, sprang up and gave the bikes some pretty serious work. I didn't meander over but at one point I saw bar tape completely undone, levers and calipers getting wrenched on.

Serious business.

An hour or so later, with three bikes checked and approved, the riders got going again.

I'd wanted something like this in Norwalk. The garage and driveway/parking area would have been a great spot to hang out, to wrench on bikes. We'd have power for music, a small air compressor, and the garage had a bench in it already. Food upstairs in the kitchen, lots of hooks and such hanging from the ceiling for tires, rims, and other critical bike stuff.

It'd be the Service Course for our band of riders.

It never happened though. When I had the shop I was too busy and too stressed to worry about anything at home. After the shop the band broke up and we never found a good place to hang out, to chat, to work on bikes. A bit sad but true.

Then, as life took over, the garage space became a car storage space, a this, a that, anything but a bike work area. The basement, too, ended up less than usable. And then we moved away.

Here, at our house now, I didn't really think of such a thing. In the warmer months you can't go outside because of the mosquitoes. The yard is basically off limits because there's poison ivy everywhere there are bushes. Any bike people would be trapped in the garage (no AC, no heat) or have to tramp through the house, down some stairs, and down a narrow hallway to access the current workshop.

Not ideal.

So for me to be at a house where there was music out on the patio, no bugs, workstand, tools, food, kitchen right there, beautiful garage, man cave, a beautiful landscaped back yard, and even two cats... well it was very nice.

One of the two kitties.
Note nice stone work under kitty.

We talked about, appropriately enough, the bike shop world. Within the group of people there was a former race promoter, a former shop owner, a bunch of mechanics, and of course everyone there was a racer at some point in their lives (including the current time).

I had a long chat about the bike shop days. We both reminisced, both about the normal parts of having our businesses as well as the final bits. I realize now just how naive (aka uneducated and inexperienced) I was back then. Having had a couple conversations about the bike shop days in the last few months, I could fill in a bit more of the category "stuff I should have known but didn't".

I didn't know how late it'd gotten until I realized I couldn't see the face of the person talking to me. It'd gotten dark, it was getting chilly, and, well, I'd fallen into that "Bike Time Warp" again. In the shop days we joked about it, how people would come into the shop, enter the Time Warp, and leave hours later than they intended. I'd fallen into the Time Warp, something that's happened only a few times in the last decade. A nice experience then, and, with an understanding Missus at home with Junior, a welcome one also.

With that I set off. After all this I still wanted to go to IKEA to get some shorter metal screw things. I headed out, the nav system telling me where to go, the dash cam recording everything in front of me. (I'd damaged the rear view cam so that was disconnected.) I got to IKEA, the friendly people there tried to help me out, but no dice. Before I left I called the Missus, who by then had put Junior to sleep.

I walked out into the IKEA parking lot, a cool day but very nice out. No bugs. No wind. A quiet lot. I saw our red Golf, a TDi, one that we got shortly after we found out that the Missus was pregnant.

In the old days I had a Golf also, a black (1988) GTI, a car that I enjoyed driving just way too much. I dreamed about getting wider 15" aluminum rims for it because I thought that would look better than the stock somewhat narrow 14" aluminum rims. I dreamed about getting a car that didn't have 90k miles on it. I dreamed about a car where everything worked right. I dreamed about more than 118 horsepower.

I dreamed about a lot of things.

Now I had a car that I'd owned since it had about 50 miles on it. Although it has "only" 140 horsepower (a diesel quirk), it has a massive 236 pound-feet of torque (another diesel quirk). It came with a 6 speed, a nav system, 17" aluminum wheels (my inner 21 year old loved this), all sorts of stuff that I never thought I'd ever own back in the GTI days.

I got in the car (after hitting the key fob, another thing I never thought I'd own) and drove away. Interestingly enough my music selection wasn't very different from 20 years ago. I was playing mostly "alternative" music off my SD card with a good two or three dozen of my brothers' songs as well.

Even a wrong way driver (on the admittedly confusing local road construction stuff a few blocks from IKEA) did little to disrupt my thoughts. I got onto the entrance ramp, trying to hit a nice late apex, and pushed the go pedal down. The turbo spooled up and the car launched itself onto the highway, getting up to speed quicker than the GTI ever could.

I could turn the music up, something I don't do when I'm driving with Junior or even with just the Missus. Tail lights in front of me. Headlights passing to the left. Buildings and such.

The highway stretched ahead into the night.

No comments: