24 February 2007

Not Going Out in that S@!t!

There was no way I was going to paddle out today. Yes, it was a glorious day. But looks can be deceiving. Don't forget, it rained a couple of days ago. Although it wasn't the kind of rain they get in Seattle, it was still enough to wash everything out of the storm drains and into the ocean. Nope, I ain't goin' out like that.

I spent the morning on my bike. You know what? Whatever it was that I loved about cycling . . . is long gone. Now, cycling is merely a means to an end; it keeps me fit to surf. Granted, I can still roll when I need to. It's not like I'm bemoaning skills and power I once had. I could regain them if I so chose. Well, I don't (so choose). While I rode with this group of mostly novice cyclists, I couldn't help but think about surfing. When I get on a bike, I look and ride like someone who is completely at ease. Even when I'm dying, I know how to stay loose. I know how to look like it doesn't hurt. In other words, I know exactly what I'm doing when I'm on the bike. That's the result of almost 20 years in the saddle. And it's this kind of calm, cool and collectedness that I envy in people who've been surfing for decades. I know I'm finally coming into my own as a surfer. The kook moments are less and less frequent, but they're still there. (The cycling term for a "kook" is a "Fred". I no longer have Fred moments on the bike.) My one regret regarding surfing is that I didn't start sooner. I love seeing surfers who, although they may be out of shape or may have been away from surfing for years, have that innate sense of self as one with the board. So they can get in the water after a long break and still surf so well that you can't take your eyes off them. That's how it is with me on the bike. I can see heads turning as I pedal up to the front of the group without breathing hard. The silence is deafening when we pull up to a light and everyone takes a foot out of the pedal to rest on the ground . . . everyone, that is, but me. I just stand there balancing. It's not a matter of showing off. It's something I've been doing for years, something that makes your cycling life much easier (because you simply pedal away when the light changes—you don't have to struggle with getting your foot back in the pedal). I thought of these things while I was riding. People envied me for my skills and the seeming ease with which I rode. This is the same envy I feel for surfers who've been at it a long time. They don't even have to try. They just do it. Everything about surfing is second nature to them. I long to get to that point in my surfing, but I fear that I started surfing too late in life to ever experience this myself. While I was in the group this morning, I wanted to yell, "Don't you people realize I don't even like riding my bike anymore?"

I guess, in some ways, it's about paying your dues. I paid dues for years on that bike. There were periods in my life when I could think of nothing else but the bike (even though I managed to get two advanced degrees during some of those years). I've yet to pay those kind of dues on on the board. It all comes with time and I know that. But, damn!! I'll be in my late fifties by the time I've spent as many years on the surfboards as I have on my bike! I just hope I still have my fitness and my stoke then.


At 2/24/07, 3:41 PM, Blogger Whiffleboy said...

I've given up on hoping to ever reach that point as a surfer. I'm much better at other things and that's just the way it is.

At 2/24/07, 7:45 PM, Anonymous Patch said...

As long as you have the desire to surf, everything else falls into place.

At 2/26/07, 11:40 AM, Blogger clayfin said...

What Whiff said! My career as an "athlete" began and ended with 4th grade Little League - it wasn't going to be. I'm just happy that I'm in decent physical shape for a guy my age, and that I get to surf as much as I do.


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