22 May 2005

This is Why We Live in Southern California

Why on earth was I wearing a 4/3 wetsuit today? It was so warm and beautiful that I ended up rolling down the top half. It's kind of hard to surf with a wetsuit rolled around your stomach, but it's still better than baking in the sun. It was truly a beautiful day at the beach. (No, I'm not going to complain about the crowd and the closeouts.) I'm feeling particularly energetic today after yesterday's workout. Instead of lamenting the fact that I couldn't surf or expecting my husband to know that I want to surf—and he always knows but sometimes ignores my ESP-delivered entreaties—I decided we should go back to our roots. He and I met on bikes. At the time that we met, he was a seasoned rider with lightning fast leg speed and I was a relatively new rider with a lot of natural athletic talent. Here we are 16 years later and things have definitely changed. I still ride. He does not. Since he's trying to get back into shape, I got my mom to watch the child. Then we went to ride with a group that meets in our neighborhood. I haven't ridden with a group in awhile. He hasn't ridden with a group since the Ice Age. But we both rode well and felt good . . . until we got home. He passed out almost immediately. I was down for the count for about half an hour. It wasn't the distance or the speed of the ride. It was the heat (for me at least). Still, the bike ride with the group was good for my ego. You see, I'm a legend in my own mind. Just kidding! I am something of a cycling legend in this neighborhood. It's not that I won every race or anything like that. I didn't even come close to that. However, in my time, I kicked ass. I really did.

There haven't been many black women who raced bicycles. So people know who I am. Even if they've never seen me, they know my name. Every once in awhile, I get back on the bike and do the local Saturday ride. Yesterday's ride was good because I felt like my old self on the bike. I did trackstands at the stoplights. (A trackstand means you bring the bike to a stop and never put your foot on the ground. I may have only won a few races, but I can do a trackstand and there aren't many cyclists who can do that. Don't be impressed. I had to learn it out of necessity since my boyfriend, to whom I am now married, and his friends used to do them and then leave me in the dust at stoplights as I struggled to get my foot back into the pedal.) I flew up a a hill over which others struggled. So why am I talking about that? Well, that person who rode that bike yesterday is really the person I've left behind. I like that person when she's on a bike, but I don't want to see her when I'm in the water. In other words, I don't want to be that person anymore. I like knowing that she's still there. I have it in me physically to kick ass when I have to. I simply don't want to be that type of athlete anymore. That's why I prefer to ride alone these days. If I want to ride slowly, I ride slowly. I no longer have anything to prove to myself. But when I ride with a group, I cannot sit back and enjoy the ride. That comes with the territory of having been a good, fast rider. Now I know why my cycling compatriots simply gave up the bike altogether once they stopped racing. You will always be expected to ride the way you did during your peak years. Where's the fun in that? Anyway, today was a good day. Instead of being out on the road, sweating and suffering up some long hill whose two-word name ends in "Canyon," I was in the water having a ball. This is the kind of athlete I've become—the type of athlete who smiles and enjoys her physical gifts without feeling the need to be better than everyone else in the water—and I hope to be this type of athlete until I die.


At 5/23/05, 4:50 PM, Blogger crustyripper said...

Sounds like the type of riding you want to do these days is on a beach cruiser. Give up the lycra and get a Schwhinn!


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