"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



My professional status has been officially revoked.

I can’t daydrink like I used to, and have no desire to do so, regardless. I left the company-event at Wrigley Field yesterday at the top of the 7th to make a purposefully-scheduled 4PM vet appointment, specifically so I wouldn’t get sucked into, “what the hell, ‘hey Old Style here!'” and “what the hell, as long as the corporate card is going down!” or “what the hell, it’s last call!”

As I walked out after seven beers (including pre-game at Red Ivy) at 3:15 saying goodbye on my way out to Waveland Ave, it felt like getting off the Titanic at Cobh, Ireland with full knowledge of the iceberg laying in wait somewhere out there. All of the passengers did too, in this case. There was a time I, myself, would’ve knowingly stayed aboard and stared down the impending disaster along with them. The party was all that mattered; that and staving off the eventual collision: the more you drank the further away the frozen leviathan seemed to be, until the fun came to a sudden, crashing, panicked end.

Leaving early is sign of getting older and wiser for sure. Gone are the days of post-game marathons at the dearly-missed Wrigleyville Tap or the Blarney Stone, over pool sessions ringed in smoke, easy shots missed from fingers slick with pizza grease, and laughter intertwined with the clinking of dozens of glass bottles going into the trash at the start of a new round.

I don’t know if it means I’m weaker as well, but I just can’t handle going to bed drunk at 9PM on a school night, anymore. I want to feel normal, fresh; to be good-tired and not achingly dehydrated with the motivation to do nothing but lie on the couch and watch South Park episodes on Netflix. And the sleep I get, even hitting the sack early enough, is so poor that the morning alarm is unbearable.

The last real bout of daydrinking in my life was New Year’s Day, 2006. After an absolutely epic party in Lakeview with a friend in from out of town, we spent most of the late morning/afternoon at Morrison Road House in Skokie abating the wicked champagne hangover with Bears-game specials. As the sun set on that dreary and ice-cold Day One, we returned to Lakeview to Fil’s place where we drank into the evening before a flip-cup chick brawl sent us pacifists over to nearby Toon’s Bar to await the iceberg collision at last call. Thankfully, that never happened, since New Year’s Day was a Sunday that year, and the office gave us an extra day to recuperate.

Once back on the ground in Edgewater yesterday afternoon, I felt ok getting to and during the vet appointment – a little sweaty and lethargic – but the subtropical weather had returned that day. Doing anything with Jack always peps me up, however, especially in a situation like the examination table, soothing him and making him as comfortable as possible.

Getting home, however, I felt much worse. I did indeed take some couch/South Park time, and needed several glasses of water before I could get up again to take Jack out and then cook dinner. But luckily I started my recovery early enough so that, after finishing supper by 9:30, I was in decent enough shape to head to bed with reasonable confidence of quality sleep. I read a few pages before the comforting nod-offs started, and then there was only blackness until breaking the surface again a full half-hour before the alarm was to go off.

Then sunlight was peeking in through the curtains, and Jack was looking at me with anticipation. I felt superb.

I’m ready for this new stage of my life. It’s not like I’ve gotten here overnight. The bike racing has often necessitated some turbulent choices in my life; as Newt says, the dualities are always dueling. But this is the first time I’ve made the choice completely of my own accord. My new life with Patty, renewed ambition and purpose, and thinking of the future – of just to the next morning, and of the next ten years – makes it a very easy choice to make.

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