"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Let it be, I gotta be me, but hold on, I have to pee.

The brain dump.

The worst form of blogging. I know everyone hates the daily journal blog, but after the weekend, the Monday back, and the week ahead, it's just got to be done.

I'm sitting outside, taking in the residual warmth of this glorious day - not entirely wasted on a Monday. A glass of merlot is to my left, and my feet are up on the railing as I type this. The strains of Ike and Tina are wafting out of my living room as the pasta boils on the stove. It's 10:30. This is the first I've really had my thoughts to myself all day.

I've been accused of not having enough focus, and biting off way more than I can chew. And having no room for a serious relationship in my life, and no hopes of ever settling down...blah, blah, etc, etc. This is all true. One begets the next and the next. I rehearse with 2 bands 4 nights a week. I ride about 170 to 200 miles a week, and the next 3 out of 5 weekends I will be racing with my new team. My parents constantly ask when am I going to meet someone nice and slow down.

How do I ever get anything accomplished? they ask. Good question I suppose. I've never really had a singular focus because I get bored way too easy. I've never been able to hold my attention on one subject for very long. Except 2 things. Music and bicycling. So I wouldn't really have it any other way. I'm never truly happy unless I have an instrument in my hand, making alive the bouncing beats and melodies that constantly dance in my head or...or flying down a path, breeze in my hair, the solid, steady, calm rattle of finely-tuned drivetrain emanating from between my spinning legs...or writing down these very words.

Why do anything else?

Well, for one thing, it can be a little hard to keep up. Starting from Saturday morning, this past weekend:

I came above from slumber at quarter to 6, just enough time to read the news over coffee and oatmeal, stretch, don some tights and head out the door for my team's Saturday morning training ride. The gains are coming fast and furious with xXx Racing. Once we arrived in Highland Park around 8:45, I joined a longer loop with some of the team's strongest riders, and once again pushed myself farther than I thought possible. We reached speeds upwards of 30 miles an hour in flat stretches, chased each other down on mock breakaways, joked, bantered, traded stories and bites of energy bars alike - interacting like a pack of wild dogs playing in a field of morning sunshine for the next two and half hours, all the way back to Chicago.

After a brief stop in Evanston to give a band mate some money I owed her and devouring a PB&J she graciously offered me, I headed home to pack for my trip to Madison. My drummer from the other band picked me up, along with a coworker of his, and we drove to the Wisconsin capital, in under 2 hours (!!!), just in time to register at the Sheraton hotel for the Mad Dash, an annual adventure race held near the University of Wisconsin campus. We spent the rest of the night walking around the capital hill area, searching in vain for a bar that was showing the Pay-per-View boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.

We actually competed in the Mini-Mad Dash, at 10am the next morning: approximately 3-4 hours long, with about a mile of canoe paddling, 3-4 four miles of "trekking" (in reality, running like mad, oddly enough, up and down State Street), and then 15 miles or so of biking, completing a circle around Lake Mendota. The real Mad Dash is over 5 miles of paddling, 50 miles of biking and 15 miles of trekking. The winning team did it in just over 7 hours. We did OK, finishing 9th out of 15, in just over 3 hours. We could've conceivably finished as high as 6th, but we were passed in the canoe stage by one team, and past on the biking stage by 2 other teams, when the girl on our team had a series of mechanical problems on her bike. It was an ancient ten speed, that weighed about 60 pounds, with a Sears and Roebuck stamp on it. Solid to be sure. Too solid. But we were there to have fun, and that was a complete success.

After the BBQ they threw for us we hit the road back to town around 3ish, and I got home about 6:30, after we stopped for gas and some coffee a couple times along the way. Once inside my apartment I relaxed a bit, by finishing the repairs I had been putting off doing on my commuter bike, a Jamis Coda, redeeming myself in my own mind a bit, mechanically. I was able to properly adjust the indexing on my both my front and rear dérailleurs after running new cable to both of them. Not too shabby. I then finished watching "A Sunday in Hell", an award winning Danish documentary on the 1976 Paris-Roubaix, the world's most celebrated one-day cycling race.

Today was back to work, spent excruciatingly indoors, mostly, as the sun teased me as I moped endlessly back and forth between my cube and laser printer. But, being the cycling enthusiast I am, at least I had the leg up on everyone else who had to sit on the train or in traffic this morning. I already had 30 minutes on my bike by time I sat down to push paper and pens. I did get outside for lunch, but anything positive gained there was negated by the fact that I was heading to the Daley Center Special Services Office to obtain a copy of an old speeding ticket. I there I had to endure standing next to a gentleman who had, quite possibly, the worst body odor I have ever experienced.

You know the kind of smell I am talking about. It's that rancid scent of not-quite-shaken-off urine and not-quite-completely-wiped ass, compounded by the smell being locked away in a morbidly obese body, sweat pants, and a Gracie Jiu Jitsu shirt. Why is it grossly overweight, out of shape guys condescend to the rest of us by shaving their heads, sporting "Bluto" van dykes and topping off their sweat pants with some extreme athletic branded shirt, and as though they're really headed to the UFC championships, instead of just not being able to find any other actual pants that fit? He was literally out of breath just standing there, shift his weight back and forth.

I know, I know, that's a defense mechanism and I am being incredibly insensitive, but I was once 260 pounds, not that long ago, I might add, and I can do it (if you knew me back then, you wouldn't have thought I could do it) anyone can. Most of all "tough" guys with facial hair.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand - not being able to focus.

I ended the day with a 20 mile recovery ride on the southern portion of the Lake Front Trail, doing my damnedest to take full advantage of the dying day. The evening was actually quite warm tonight, and even though I kept my pace to less than 70%, I worked up a bit of a sweat. It was hard to restrain myself coming back north with the wind at my back. Hard not to chase down too quickly the hairy-leggers dropped into aero-bars on their $4,000 bikes and go above my heart rate ceiling for the day. A recovery ride is a chance to rest the heart and give it some light work, to focus on form, and pat yourself on the back a bit with a reward for the hard work just completed.

I went straight from the path to the xXx team meeting at the Goose Island Brewery, where I dropped off my uniform order, said hi to some of the new friends I have made over the last 5 weeks, and headed off to rehearsal in Logan Square.

It's now 11:40, and I'm up a bit later than I intended, but this little brain dump was necessary tonight. If you're still reading, thanks. Sometimes you need to stop and reflect, and catch up with youself, and ask, if only cursory, if it's worth it. And of course, after letting it all out to a willing ear, if you will allow me that analogy, it is all worth it.

I have 3 more nights of rehearsal ahead, 4 hard training days, 1 gig, and my second ever bike race, all before Monday.

Why do anything else than what makes you happy?

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