On My Further Evolution As A Cyclist
Long ago, in a neighborhood
far, far ten miles away, I declared myself to be a non-lycra-wearing “bike-riding guy” who would “never race.”
…Shortly thereafter, I evolved into an all-lyrca-all-the-time-proto-roadie (with mountainbike pedals, because I could only afford so many shoes) and embarked upon a journey to become a mediocre bike racer.
Somewhere in the middle, I worked for a while as a bike courier, during which time I wore a mix of lycra (when it was hot) and Farking Hipster Pants (when it wasn’t hot).
There was a period recently during which I found myself assuming that, now that I own all kinds of fancy bike kit (including proper road pedals, shoes, and cleats), I would almost never ride in non-bike kit ever again.
Then, somewhere in the middle of February, I started feeling vaguely rotten, and simply didn’t feel like messing around with changing my clothes when I got to school … not that I always even bother to change, when I wear my lycra to class — but that’s another story.
Instead, I dug out my longest pair of Farking Hipster
Pants (most of the ones I have are about knee-length; these make it to a couple inches above my ankles), hopped on the Tricross, and discovered (lo and behold!) that the Specialized Riva+ saddle allows you to ride very comfortably in appropriately un-chafey pants without a chamois. In short, the Riva+ offers a pressure relief cutout that keeps the center seam from doing unspeakable things to your undercarriage.
Since then, I’ve done a lot of commuting in my “civvies.” Excepting the weeks immediately before and immediately following the Death March, I haven’t felt quite right since the inception of the first go-round with bronchitis. Basically, I’ve just kind of wanted to wear semi-normal clothes that don’t remind me how much I miss racking up megamiles on the bike.
Admittedly, “civvies” is relative — all of my jeans are basically lycra with zippers. I am so configured that I can comfortably rock a junior’s size 11 (I think “juniors,” in this context, means “teenage girls”); that grants me access to an entire world of high-percentage lycra jeans. This isn’t quite the same as rolling up a leg and rocking out your regular ol’ guy jeans, but it’s what works for me. Besides, lycra-free denim bunches and chafes like crazy.
The funny part is that, for the first time in my life, I can actually justifiably call myself a mediocre bike racer. Timothy and I finished just into the top half of our field (a little better in the mens’ division than the overall, where we were literally exactly halfway down the standings) — that’s a solid mediocre result. Not, mind you, mediocre in the pejorative sense: mediocre in the literal sense. “Fair-to-middlin’,” as one might say.
So, basically, I think what this represents is that sort of evolutionary step in which one becomes comfortable with one’s identity as a member of some or another subgroup and no longer has to “wear the uniform” so rigidly all the time. I am now free to ride the Tricross in stretchy teenybopper jeans. Once in a while, I even ride in non-bike shoes (though very, very rarely, because it feels weird to go clipless-less at this point). I am contemplating the building or purchase of a nice, stately, slow upright bike with chubby tires … something that I can ride around on the trails in Iroquois park en route to the grocery store.
It’s like that phase in being a Goth kid wherein you realize that you probably won’t die if you also hang out with the ravers sometimes (unless you live in a place where there’s open warfare between Goths and ravers).
I no longer feel like an utterly hopeless case in terms of bike racing: finishing Death March, and finishing well, was a big deal. Racking up tons of miles (even with the hiatus that has been February and March) helps, too. Assuming no further interference from my good friend Bron Kidas, I expect to pull down greater mileage this year, perhaps, than any previous year in my life.
I’m looking forward to this year’s races. I’m still contemplating doing Gay Games next year … I want to, but at the same time, it would tie up a whole lot of my racing budget (on the other hand, what a way to celebrate the completion of my Bachelor’s and the beginning [in theory, anyway] of my grad school career!). I’ll probably commit to a decision a little later this year. Right now, I’m on the fence, and I’m okay with being on the fence (in fact, I’m fantastically good at staying on the fence until the last possible moment).
Even with the bronchitis, 2013 feels like a good year so far. It’s started out on the right foot. The first race was awesome; I broke my DNF streak. I’m able to see my way clear to my undergrad degree. I feel like I’ll probably hit my goal weight. Who knows, I might even finish the review on the Tricross!
Perhaps more importantly, I’m stoked about the chance to work on dance workouts with Denis, and I’m really quite pleased with myself for coming up with an activity that suits both our tastes. It might mean spending a little less time on the bike, sometimes, but it’s worth it to spend a little more time with the man I love (who also happens to be my biggest supporter and the person who makes it possible for me to live my totally irresponsible, bike-addled lifestyle).