Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thoughts While Sitting in the L. A. Airport (and Vancouver and Calgary)

On the Pacific Coast Highway. I could have ridden up and down here all day. 
Los Angeles Airport

Sitting in airports appears to be the definition of killing time. There isn't much else to do other than sit and think.

I will attempt to write about this week but there is so much whirling around in my head right now I don't know how to organize it. All I know is I can't look at my week in So.Cal day by day. The days are already starting to blur.

Typing is hard. I've somehow mucked up the nerve conduction to my left hand. I have no pincer grasp with my left thumb and any of the fingers. It functions much like an infant learning to pick up Cherio's off a high chair table. I can spread my fingers apart but I can't close them. It was endlessly entertaining on Thursday night trying to watch me cut steak at dinner -- grabbing my fork with my left hand and fist. I'm not sure how I managed to control my bike yesterday, especially down the Tuna Canyon descent, where you had to ride the brakes continuously on the 17% grades and 170 degree turns. Shifting from small to big ring (and vice versa) was tremendously challenging the last couple of days.

I haven't been 100% healthy this week. I had a sore throat two days before I left Winnipeg. When I got on the plane Saturday morning, I felt OK but by the time I got to Calgary I couldn't hear or talk. The warm weather helped. Monday I rode feeling well, probably powered by adrenaline. Tuesday and Wednesday my nose ran like a tap but I still felt OK. Thursday I did 144.6 km with no voice and I could feel, what for the previous two days I had convinced myself was allergies to something growing on the Santa Monica Mountains, slipping into my chest. On Friday I was coughing up crud but at least the nose had stopped. Today I am still popping sinus meds, over a week later, and I imagine it is only a matter of time before my body gives in to whatever virus I've managed to will myself to ignore up to this point.

I'm thinking about my kids. I can't seem to travel anywhere without some kind of cell phone mishap these days so I've sent an email or two but I haven't had a chance to talk to them. I miss them.

I'm thinking about Jenn still here in L.A. for another day, hopefully resting the legs by a pool. I'm thinking about how proud I am of her that she had the courage to come out here and do this trip. Especially after day one when I think every single one of us there wondered what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. It requires a special kind of crazy to do a trip like this.

I'm thinking most of all about Don from Raleigh, NC who was my well-matched riding partner for 5 days. A good friendship can be built over 25 hours of riding with one person who is good company and always has something interesting to say. I ride with lots of different people at home, and I spent a week trying to figure out who he was most like as a rider and failed to come up with an answer. He was a constant navigator; he knew when to lighten the mood; and he was the occasional therapist. And maybe I was for him too. We took care of each other after a dumb-ass Monday riding too hard and both of us with our respective nerve damage problems. Me and my hand, him and his feet. I hope that fate somehow makes it work out that I can ride with him again someday.

And I'm thinking about the things I'm coming home to as well.

Vancouver Airport

After having to walk the entire terminal to get to my baggage, go through customs and then check another bag at another gate (forgot to take my duty free out of my carry on and put it in my luggage before I checked it), not much time here but Vancouver has me thinking about math.

How about math like this:

499.7 km (shoulda rolled around the parking lot a bit)
11,125 metres of climbing (36, 499.3 feet)
16,410 Calories burned according to Garmin (I still feel fat though -- and I'm sure I drank enough beer to make up for a good chunk of that).
25:20:31 seconds of ride time.... road time... not sure? Add another 10 hours I'm sure.

Calgary Airport

Right about now I am hoping my bike is on that plane. I don't get to see the bike between Calgary and Winnipeg. They transferred it for me. At the very least I can say that it was with me in Vancouver.

Sat on the plan with two nice "newspaper" men from Nova Scotia. They'd never flew over the mountains before, so one of them spent a lot of time leaning over me to look out the window.

I didn't tell them I am a writer. I don't know why I don't tell people that. Maybe because I don't feel much like a writer right now.

The good news is that I think the strength in my left hand is moderately better. I still can't operate zippers. This is annoying but hopefully only temporary.

I feel now like I am getting back into my real life headspace. I've thought about work, but I've drawn the line at checking my work email so far. I have not thought about my legs and let me tell you, I've thought about little else for the last week. I got up this morning and had bike envy at the cyclists I passed riding through Agoura Hills. Except it was really windy in California today and it would not have been pleasant riding.

You learn so much about yourself when you do things like this. You learn what you are capable of under pressure and when in pain. There are a couple of climbs on a couple of roads out there that I feel I have an axe to grind with -- Decker (which was the third climb on the first day when I had already blown up) and the last one from yesterday, the name of which escapes me. The 18%-er... that never ended.... Los- something.... All I can think about now is how is all this going to translate back into flat riding?

Anyways I'm gonna upload some pictures and post this and find food. My next flight leaves in an hour from the moment I type these words. I miss California already. But I miss home too. I will write about the riding another day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What does 40 look like?

I've been waiting for inspiration to strike. I figured at some point, some mood would strike me and I would be able to say something profound about this day I turned 40. But the truth is I've kinda been looking forward to it. I don't know how many people have said to me today, "you know that 40 is the new 30?"

I've had two responses to this: I hope this version of 30 is better than the last version of 30, is the first. The second simply says: Good. I think I deserve to live my 30s over again

On my 30th birthday I was 7 months pregnant with my first child and it was so friggen hot out I was wearing shorts -- obviously this has been a very different weather year -- and my (now ex) husband threw me a "sorta" surprise birthday party. Sorta surprise because he cleaned the house, on his own, with no prompting. Sorta surprise because there was no ruse about taking me out somewhere and coming home to a houseful of people. People just started showing up and I didn't know they were invited. 

I, of course, couldn't drink that night, which was OK by me because I didn't drink much back then anyhow. 

That moment, by the way, is on the list of "very nice things" my ex did for me while we were married. That was in the first 2 years of our marriage. 

Anyways, I no longer want to talk about my 30s. They are done.. and rightly so. I'm happy. 

I woke up to a child-free house and marked papers because even though it is my birthday, work has not disappeared and I'm in a bit of a time crunch that doesn't stop for birthdays. I did however avoid more than one email from students who failed my research course. 

Speaking of work, this blog has been silent for a month or two because I've been consumed by THIS

And if you actually bothered to click on that link, NO SILLY, I haven't been consumed by volleyball player's butt cleavage, I've been consumed by the Women's course I've been teaching since January. It forced me to put a little redirect on my emotional and creative energy. 

And, I'm not entirely telling the truth there but [butt] close enough. 

I rode my bike today, of course. I rode it especially to get to my workplace and get bought lunch by this awesome man. Today, FINALLY, he gave me a hard time about writing that blog entry. I've been waiting. Took him long enough. ....  I sat around my work place caffeteria in the mountain bike pants I won after coming in 2nd 40 year old woman at Cross Provincials (the first moment where I had to admit outwardly I was going to be 40) -- those pants are, admittedly, tighter on me than they were the day I won them -- and my latest addition to my jersey collection from the Twin Six family. And silver shoes because that's what I had under my desk. And I looked like a sporto geek who landed in Oz but, somehow, I am OK with that.

Then I rode home and madly rushed to pick up the kids from school and head to the bike store to pick up Kermit who was at the Alter Ego Spa for some pampering and got a hug from my favourite bike shop boy even though he was all greasy. I was OK with this too. It's busy season in the bike stores folks.... I suspect --  actually I know -- he's drinking tonight. And deservedly so. 

Then it was off to be a Mom. I showed my kids how to use the Apple TV. I think it took my 9 year old daughter about half the time it took me to get the hang of it. They searched Kung Zhu You Tube vidoes and played Dynamite over and over again while the boy demonstrated his breakdance moves.  I absolved my children of homework although I would not allow my daughter to skip swimming. While she swam I took the boy to the U of M Faculty of Nursing; Shoppers Drug Mart, where I discovered that condom packaging has changed DRASTICALLY in the last couple years (and NO, unfortunately, I was not purchasing, but I did have to stand and stare longingly for a while); and Tim Horton's for hot chocolate as, for better or for worse, I stopped drinking coffee two weeks ago. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. 

In the meantime, I got one unexpected email, one even more unexpected text message, and about 35 or so "Happy Birthday's" on facebook: the land of my imaginary friends. 

Then I met my parents at Mona Lisa Restaurante on Corydon where I drank both white and red (sacrilege, I know) and spent most of the evening listening to a 14 year old punk band playing in the party room. And I don't mean the band has been around for 14 years, I mean the players were 14 years old. And they were damn good. 

So it has been a good day and the week's not over. I have 5 papers and 33 presentations to mark. There is more wine, more bikes and a big ass ride on Friday, distance yet to be decided -- maybe 150 if I am feeling stupid. I missed Bruxelles, the gravel road race from hell. It was on the agenda but it was also my last weekend with my kids for a couple of weeks so, I chose them. 

Then on Saturday I get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles. I will explore the Malibu area for a couple days with Jenn and then on Monday we get on our bikes and ride for 5 days straight looking a views like this: 

Life does not get much better than this.