Last weekend I went to Quinn and Allie’s wedding in Portland. Being the first wedding I’d been to since I was six, and the first formal event I’d partaken in since prom, I had no suit to wear. This problem was resolved on the way home from the airport, as my dad had a particularly good Salvation Army in mind that was on our route. The suit I chose was maroon, tight, and smelled extremely old. It still does, even after I put it through the washing machine. It actually made all my other clothes in the wash smell bad and old too.
The wedding was a lot of fun, and it was especially nice for me since I hadn’t seen a lot of them peoples in half a year. I danced hard, ate a lot of good food, and even got some great training advice from Mel, Jacob’s mom. But back on track, the food being served was buffet style: a make your own salad with lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, raspberry sauce, crumbled feta blue cheese, and red olives. Then there were fried potatoes, bread, a spiral pasta dish with some sort of cheese sauce and SALMON. There was SO much salmon in that pasta dish it could, in fact, be called a salmon dish. Half salmon half pasta. It was amazing. Then there was steak with two kinds of sauce to dip/pour on: a wine cheese one and a brown one that was sweater. I ate so much food that I was still eating during all the toasts and speeches. I was still eating when Allie fed Quinn cake. I was still eating when they had their first dance. I ate so much food that I only had room for one small piece of wedding cake. I was extremely angry at myself for this. But in some strange butterfly effect, the universe granted me another piece of cake a few days ago at the Ethiopian restaurant. A group of people had brought their own chocolate cake to the restaurant to celebrate someone’s birthday. When they were done with everything and I was getting them the check, I somewhat jokingly asked if they needed any help with the rest of that cake. They laughed and said, “sure, you want a piece?” I’m not sure they were being serious, but my smile faded instantly and my face turned ashen. “Yes. Yes I would,” I replied. And it was delicious.
It feels like forever since I last raced. I can’t really count the races I’ve done in CA this year as race days, since I lasted like 2.03 minutes in each. I’m heading to Battenkill right now, which is a one-day race in Cambridge, New York. It’s the only “spring classic” we have in the states, and involves numerous gravel sections and some steep rolling climbs. It should suit me well and I’m extremely motivated to crush it here since it’s one of the courses I feel that suits me perfectly. I was hoping for cold rain, but it looks like it’s going to be 70 degrees with a chance of showers. So we might get some mud if we’re lucky. (Sidenote: maybe it’s good that it won’t be cold, since on the first segment of my flight I was so cold I tucked my arms into my track jacket like a middle schooler. Why does everyone immediately turn the air on, blasting them in the face and creating a human fridge in the cabin? I think everyone is secretly scared, and therefore sweating and needing the air to cool and calm them down. I always cross my fingers for a plane crash, because that would be a really cool way to die. And if I survived it would be an awesome story. In fact if this next plane is as cold as the first one I think I’ll just open the hatch and jump out, which would be an even cooler way to die.)
Wise Guru Coach Sam Ginsing has been packing on the sprints and hard intervals during the last week. I’ve done so many sprints I have a bruised forearm where my arm presses up against the top part of my handlebars. It’s only on the right side, so it’s obvious I have some unequal thrashing of the upper body going on. But to even things out I gouged a large wound in my other forearm while attempting to loosen my pedals—the shark teeth of the large chain ring got me. Battenkil should prove much more painful, and I hope it lives up to the expectations we all have for it.
Some sports are about teamwork, having fun in the sun, some require specific technique or skill, etc. Bike racing is some of all of those, but it’s mainly about suffering. And by suffering, I mean making other people hurt and feel bad about themselves in ways that may or may not make them decide to quit the sport and pick up crocket or something. I think most of us were born with an extra large batch of evil in us that needs a way to get out, and inflicting pedal pain on our rivals is the best way to relieve the pent up meanness. A pickup game of basketball has an entirely different feel than a group hammer fest ride, with one involving high fives and the other involving tearing oneself apart to make sure everyone else is hurting at least the same or hopefully more.
Bike racers are a lot like those religious fanatics who whip themselves on the back for Jesus. As a bike racer you have two whips, one in your left hand whipping your own backs, and another in your right hand whipping someone else’s. And there’s actually a third whip in the mix, held by someone else who’s whipping you. So, depending on the size of your whip, I guess you can only inflict half as much pain on others as you yourself are experiencing.