Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Had i opened my emails before i set off pedaling i would have found out that i wasn't capable of doing so. you see the ADA informed me that I have a "devastating disease". That i will carry a lifelong burden of "suffering and danger and fear." That without a cure for diabetes my life would be limited by my condition and that those close to me would live their lives in "that terrifying, gut-wrenching place."
Fortunately i didn't read this, i checked my blood glucose and went about a normal day, without being arrogant i did things that most people, diabetic or not, couldn't do. I was told when I was diagnosed that I couldn't race my bike any more, I didn't take no for an answer and i educated myself, i used myself as an n=1 experiment, i taught myself how to manage my diabetes, what to eat and when and how to use my insulin to make myself the best version of myself i can be.
In my work with AYUDA and with the Pascua Yaqui I have tried to share my message that my diabetes doesn't hold me back. A lack of supplies or medications would hold me back, a lack of available education would hold me back but I have the great misfortune to have been born in a country where the state takes care of my medication needs and where i have access to education which has empowered me to take the best possible steps towards controlling my diabetes. I'm immensely LUCKY to be in this situation, diabetes has made me friends and taken me around the world, without it my life wouldn't have the meaning and the direction it does.
Our goal at AYUDA is to empower people, to give them the tools they need to make the best of their situation with regard to their access to supplies and their diabetes. Whatever their situation we give them the invaluable tool of education which allows them to make the best of their resources and to live happy, healthy and productive lives with diabetes. Most of all we give them a community to belong to, a network to rely on, and a positive attitude for them to go on and empower themselves and others and serve as agents of change in their own communities.
In sharp contrast the ADA has told me i'm disabled (i'm not) that i am a burden on those that love me (i hope i'm not) and that my life is worthless without a cure for Diabetes (i couldn't care less). Their language is neither empowering nor educative, it's upsetting and offensive. Perhaps,a s they have no people with diabetes amongst their officers they don't understand this. Perhaps they do but they don't care. I'll likely never raise as much as this one email will but I would question the real value of what is being done here. My goal is to help people to live healthy , happy lives with diabetes, i need to raise funds in order to do this but the goal is what's important. What the ADA has done is put the cart before the horse, the money before the people and the cash before the cause.
My diabetes doesn't hold me back. What i do want is access to insulin for those who need it. I have said and will keep saying that i am fortunate to have the insulin and education that I need, what I want for diabetes is for my brothers and sisters not to die from a treatable condition for want of cheap supplies. I won't go into the why's and wherefore's but please investigate the 100 campaign who aim to achieve 100% access to insulin within 100 years of the creation of syntheic insulin. People in Mali can expect to live just 12 months post diagnosis, this IS something worth crying about, living with diabetes in the USA, with access to medication, is not.
please take the time to contact the ADA and let them know how this makes you feel, even if you do not live with diabetes. Please think carefully and give generously, especially at this time of year.
here's that link again: http://main.diabetes.org/goh/12-10-13/lndr.html?s_src=EOY2013_RED_Email03&s_subsrc=LNDR&utm_source=email&utm_medium=EOY_Email03_121013&utm_term=LNDR&utm_campaign=EOY2013_RED http://main.diabetes.org/goh/12-10-13/lndr.html?s_src=EOY2013_RED_Email03&s_subsrc=LNDR&utm_source=email&utm_medium=EOY_Email03_121013&utm_term=LNDR&utm_campaign=EOY2013_RED http://main.diabetes.org/goh/12-10-13/lndr.html?s_src=EOY2013_RED_Email03&s_subsrc=LNDR&utm_source=email&utm_medium=EOY_Email03_121013&utm_term=LNDR&utm_campaign=EOY2013_RED
here are some pictures of the last two weeks with my devastating disease and my life burdened by suffering and fear.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
I love this time of year, big miles, a bit less stressful racing/ travel, beer and bakeries, coffee and cookies and of course the turkey dinners. I see a lot of riders who seem incapable of enjoying a good cookie or croissant only to consume innumerable quantities of semi solid goop as soon as they don lycra. at this time of year the lower intensities and longer rides allow for digestion of slightly more "real" foods and I personally enjoy the break from foil wrapped rectangular calories. oh and did i mention that cookies and coffee are also warm which makes cold days that much more enjoyable (remember the old "central heating for kids" advert?
I've been experimenting with some new pocket nosh recently. First off thanks to the opening of a new Korean market near my house I've been introduced to the joys of ho-tteok whicha re delicious cold and MEGA DELICIOUS warm. I've been munching on mochi balls as well, those are some FAST acting but yummy sources of carbs.
Whilst recently cat sitting a friend's house i was overcome by my genetic predisposition to enjoy meat wrapped in pastry and made myself some pasties (i don't have an oven so I took full advantage of theirs. Having made my pasties it occurred to me that these were the original pocket food (the crust allowed miners to carry them with hem down the mine) and, in a flash of brilliance the POCKET PASTY was born. using a basic dough (there are a few good ones in Allen Lim's book) and everything in the fridge i came up with the following combos:
apple, raisin, cinnamon
mashed potato and cheese
mincemeat (which isn't really meat at all ) anyone know where i can get this in the US?
couscous, curry spice and raisin
mozzarella, basil and tomato
but really you could go a million directions and not go wrong. The important thing is to take ingredients you like and cook yourself something special, and if your riding buddies are putting the hammer down, there's no better way to ingratiate yourself with them than via pastry wrapped goodness. Not only are they not 1 cent a calorie like some of the more heavily marketed sugar water out there they're also better for you and more delicious and you don't have to eat sixteen of them to feel full. Oh and you don't get to see your blood glucose climb like Pantani either.
Pro tip, warm these bad boys in the microwave and foil wrap them, put them in your innermost layer and they stay warm for a fair while AND they help keep the old lumbar spine nice and toasty. double win!
oh and when even these go wrong, there's always the Taco shop stop
Friday, 29 November 2013
The only time i can remember being as cold this year was in Flanders in March, the odd thing was not that in Tucson i thought of Belgium but that in Belgium, i'd thought of Tucson. I can remember each and every lap that i passed the warm cafe with the smell of cigars and coffee i wanted to give up. my fingers hurt so much that i wanted to cry and my jaw was cramping from cold. I remember looking back through my legs, so low in the drops as the wind whipped straight from the Siberia (or so it seemed) and seeing the Yaqui charm dangling off my saddle and thinking that nothing i would ever endure on a bike would ever be anything like as tough as what the guys on the rez had to deal with just to get on a bike. If i gave up just because i was cold how on earth could i ask people to overcome the barriers that society, economy and culture put between them and the health of their community.
I'd spent the week before The El tour in the Casino Del Sol with my friends, fundraisers and volunteers from AYUDA preparing for The El tour de Tucson with our Pascua Yaqui participants, we put the finishing touches to bikes and introduced Mexican hot dogs to Canadian kids, we sat at the expo for hours trying to find someone who wanted to make a difference, not take a sticker. It was a pleasure to introduce the higher ups from AYUDA to the higher ups from the tribe, to see worlds coming together for the wellbeing of people who wnt to make themselves better. We attended stuffy, formal dinners where wine flowed and small talk came awkwardly and we had our own dinners where tears flowed and big ideas were raised easily.
It's hard for me to express how proud it made me to see my participants dressed up and being honoured in front of hundreds of people, what means more to me is that they were honouring themselves, that they had ridden themselves to a place where they could stand up, smile and be proud of themselves. What made me even prouder was seeing some of my participants stand up in front of just a couple of dozen people and talk about what this year has meant to them, about how through divorce, through the death of loved ones, through abuse from the roadside and miles and miles of self doubt, through (deserts as hot as) hell and high water they'd kept on with their cycling because it had come to mean something to them, it had stopped being about a medicinal benefit, about "taking" exercise and it had become a spiritual benefit and had become about loving exercise.
I stood at the finish line, shivering in my woefully inadequate jacket and welcomed all of our riders. From grandmothers to grade schoolers via tribal padres and boxers each one of them finished in the freezing rain with a huge smile. Some sang their ancestor songs along the way to stay motivated in the freezing rain, others thought of their children hoping that through their example they'd be able to grow up and look forward to long, happy, healthy lives. The power of a hero can't be underestimated but we all need heroes we can relate to. Overcoming the adversities placed in front of these guys makes them heroes, standing up and being proud of being native American makes them heroes, getting back up when a million and one things knock them down makes them heroes. These aren't heroes who you read about in magazines, these are the heroes who can really change the world, because people can really relate to them. They're ordinary people who have overcome their situation to prove that they CAN make their lives better, an din doing so they have made the world that they come from better, brighter and more welcoming. They really have changed the future of their community and that really is a victory more meaningful than crossing the line first.
In so many ways the start line was the finish line, months of training, hugely improved blood sugars, weight loss and as many finger pricks as pedal strokes. Just by getting to the start, by overcoming a distaste for wearing lycra and a fear of being out on the road. For keeping riding when people around them were reinforcing what society already told them: you can't. For all these reasons they'd already won. Yet for so many reasons they started as they crossed the finish line and made a commitment to share what they had learned with their colleagues, their community, their children. They committed to riding further and eating better to being more visible as positive role models and to teaching others what they'd shown through their example, that their health was their own and that they had the power to improve it.
What i saw people do on a bike this weekend is truly more impressive than anything i've seen before.I don't want to name all the individual who helped, i couldn't but It's only fair to extend my gratitude to Focus, Primal Wear, Camelbak, Kryptonite, The World We Want Foundation and the Diabetes hands foundation. And to my partner in health Apryl Krause. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who gave us money, product, support, letters, emails, good wishes, thoughts, prayers or even just a smile. Without so many people riding in front of us on our proverbial ride to health this wouldn't have been possible.
Monday, 11 November 2013
Listening to the song took me down a terrible live aid rabbit hole, haircuts rapidly deteriorated and i ended up in a David Bowie place pretty quickly. It also made me think that lots of people really don't like Mondays (incidentally it also made me think it might be time for a haircut) we've been over this before but if you live for the weekend you should really think about if you're living right. I like Mondays, I don't teach and often the museums are open for free. I do my long rides, I sometimes take my pupils to museums, I hear from my participants in Arizona about all that they've achieved over the weekend and the coffee shops are a lot less busy.
On Friday i was sat in a car body shop, my car seems to be bleeding most of its essential oils at the moment and in order to ascertain exactly what is haemorraging from where I had to get the underside steam cleaned. As my car was getting cleaner than I am, is at with the most surly tradesman I've come across in a while, i didn't help myself by reading a book, weighing as much as a teenage girl or wearing pink sunglasses but it was pretty clear that on my entrance I'd been judged and I wasn't scoring 10/10. efforts at conversation were met with grunts so I went back to Clifford Geertz. After about 20 minutes one of my type 2 participants called me and we talked about some issues she was having, we talked for maybe 20 minutes and then i put the phone down.
The chap running the car shop waited until I was finished, i was waiting to have him tell me off for talking loudly in his office but to my surprise he told me he's been listening, he said he'd never been checked for diabetes but worried about it a lot, he said hearing me talking had made him think it wasn't that bad and that he was going to get himself checked out. He said it was really nice to hear someone taking the time to care about someone and that doctors never did that. he said lots of nice things, frankly he said lots of things i thought i 'd never hear from a shaven headed 250lb who fixed cars for a living, he showed me pictures of his kids and asked lots of questions.
I told him about what I did, about bike racing, about the Pascua Yaqui project i run, about AYUDA and about diabetes. He listened, he didn't grunt once. After I was finished he said he wanted to help, that he didn't have money to donate but that he wanted to help me put on a concert, he promotes his son's band and other musical groups and wanted to help me put on a concert to raise money.
my ride today took me into the military graveyard, there was a big field of white graves reminiscent of those I've found myself sleeping in more than once in Flanders. The difference was that this one didn't have grass, it had holes, waiting to be filled. That upset me a lot, that could so easily have been me, i was a hair's breadth from the army at 18 (literally, I decided to cut out when they decided I needed to get my hair cut) I wanted to be outside and i couldn't work out how to make it pay. I'm glad i decided to do what made me happya nd think later about how to put a roof over my head. Who knows if I wouldn't be filling a hole in the gorund otherwise.
greatest showman ever born.
Friday, 25 October 2013
Realistically the first paragraph of this post was mostly specious bull**it apart from the pie, that's REALLY why i've been doing all these long east county cyclocross adventures, well the pie and the views and the being outside and the unique opportunity to be totally alone in the wilderness with my facial hair. I'm embracing my inner mountain man and, in the absence of a mountain bike i've been using my CX rig for some fantastic adventures.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Friday, 4 October 2013
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
I drove up from Catalonia to the Cotswolds with my dad. On the way we stopped just long enough to make an assault on the strava segment at the roubaix velodrome, purchase enough beer, speculoos, carambars and nutella to ensure that my luggage was overweight on the flight to San Diego, eat tripoux and stock up on over ripe cheese which my dad insisted wouldn't make the car smell. It made the car smell.
I raced at home, on tree lined roads with some of the characters i raced with when i was a skinny young whippersnapper (as opposed to a skinny, slightly less young whippersnapper), i sat in a village hall and ate cake afterwards, it was magnificent (the whole day, the cake was ok but i prefer a buttercream icing). I got a bike fit and a new pair of shoes. they look shiny and i feel fast and comfy, i can race without back pain and i have the guys at cyclefituk to thank for that as well as a burrito lunch.
From the gold paved streets of Willesden I ate one last dinner at home before packing my life into a bike box and folding myself onto a plane. It feels great to be back in San Diego, i miss Catalonia, i miss home as well but sleeping in my little garage again, getting back into the rhythm of training, teaching and travelling and getting back to the reservation feels great.
Last week saw the gypsy caravan roll into Las Vegas where I met with so many of the people who make my work with the Pascua Yaqui possible. It never ceases to amaze me when people who actually matter in the little world of cycling take the time to tell me how happy it makes them to see the updates from Arizona, or to share in the progress of my participants. It's great to see old friends and make new ones, to try and avoid buffets and to bring back my own bodyweight in free sponsor stash for the juniors.
Oh and I also engaged in some cyclocross, a brief summary of which would be: i started at the back, i advanced to the middle, we all fell over, i broke my bike, we all fell over, i advanced to the middle, my chain fell off, i was confronted by some barriers which i failed to bunnyhop, i fell over on my own, someone gave me beer, i advanced to the back, i returned heckles with what at the time seemed like a rapier wit, i got off my bike to run uphill (i thought i was over that after all these years of bike practice?!) , someone waved a flag, i was too hot to care about looking good so i pranced about with my shirt off and drank more beer.
Honestly Las Vegas is one of my least favourite places on earth, it's hotter than hell and more expensive. Every year i forget how much i hate it but every year i go back, it's not for the $17 sandwiches or an attempt to find the wallet i lost there 4 years ago(although i would like to meet the person who got their hand into trousers that tight without me noticing) I go back because seeing all my cycling industry friends lets me share with them the pleasures that i get to enjoy each day. Sharing my joy in cycling with other people is a great privilege and it's a privilege i wouldn't have if our project wasn't so well supported. I spent a week in Tucson before heading to Vegas and nothing recharges my batteries more. Hearing and seeing that simple changes like riding all journeys under 5 miles, trying new fruit and veg each week and eliminating sweetened drinks have made huge changes not just to people's weight but to their perception of themselves, the most valuable thing i can give someone is self belief and self worth, for a long time society has taken that from people and to be able to help them take it back is a joy.
If you'd like to come and join in with our ride of el tour and celebrate the achievements people have made with just one year of eating better, riding more and finding a new kind of self esteem and self worth which comes from caring for your body, we're asking people to ride the only ride int he world awesome enough to get a double definite article. That's right ladies and gents you could be part of the el tour de Tucson on our behalf. click here and read more, then sign up, even if i have to push you the whole way!
Sunday, 25 August 2013
It didn't occur to me until later that night that, not so long ago i had been that snake. Lying in the road, invisible in a sea of distractions. I'm lucky, nobody ran me over, they stopped and called an ambulance, they saved my life. I'm luckier than the snake. A lot has happened since I last pinned a number onto a skinsuit, I've broken my back and fixed it again. I've lost a friend and made many. I've helped friends change their lives for the better and watched friends change their own lives for the worse. Life goes up and down, you can't change it, you can't choose to make it stop. Your grief, your pain, your sadness and your trials aren't special, everyone goes through the same. It's like bike racing, it always hurts, it hurts everyone and you always want to stop. You never choose to stop, just like in life. But, just like in life sometimes your body makes you.
My body wasn't having any of it on Friday, or Saturday. Friday began well, a morning ride, a croissant, shaved legs, eggs and rice and a drive to the race. Embrocation and coffee, a pretty girl to hold my spare bidon ( and no hope of getting a feed as she squealed and ran away every lap, but i knew that was going to happen) a coffee flavoured gel and a number pinned so as to hold 2 more. A lucky charm on the inside of my base layer, good shifting on the deep wheels and a place on the second row of the grid.
That's where i stopped rolling sixes and started scoring ones: the guy in front of me missing his pedal, coming around him on the gravel, seeing the attacks go off the front, clawing my way off the back, a dropped water bottle, a bunnyhop, a sprint, burning lungs and aching legs. A roundabout, a traffic sign, another bunnyhop and my stomach flat on the top tube, my toes clenched in my shoes and my eyes closed. Eyes open, no more road sign, another bunnyhop and another sprint, more burning. Another roundabout and braking, the smell of burning rubber. A climb, the pretty girl, a wave and another sprint to pay for my cockiness, the same roundabout as the first time but a better line, more smells, a wave of braking, my brakes burning and my bars swinging, toes curling, eyes closed, no crash, another sprint, more burning, a breath, a drink. The the second roundabout, skidding, a sprint, a big gear and a big hill and a nagging pain in my back. Another lap, the ebro delta, thoughts of the civil war, of the second republic, distractions.
Another hill, more nagging but worse, then a rod, a red hot iron rod just left of my spine. Who put that there? Stop thinking, start sprinting. I can't. There's no won't there's can't. Instinct, little ring, start pedalling again, light gear. No big gear, sprint, get back in. Big gear. Can't, instinct again, small gear. It's all coming together now and it isn't what i wanted. One more sprint and the rod is back, instinct has me unclip before i fall like I've turned to ice and it's over. my whole body is shaking and my blood sugar shoots up. I lie on the ground with my ribs rising and falling and wait for the pain to subside, i grovel back to my car, the pain in my back has been replaced by a worse pain. Being hurt is horrible, giving up is hard to deal with, not being able to continue, i thought that would be easier, it's not.
Packing a bike race is never an enjoyable, it's never the easy option. A race might last 6 hours and the pain might be pretty bad but the feeling that you gave up, that lasts a lot longer. At least the 6 days until you race again, until you get the chance to redeem yourself. Bike racing isn't real life, it isn't existence it's just a game, it's just for fun and for entertainment but sometimes it feels like it's more important than real life. Bike racing is the life you choose, the person who gives up isn't the person who you were born as it's the person you made. The body you created, the fitness you worked for, the legs you sculpted, the mind you made. Sometime's when all these things let you down, it does you some good to get some perspective, it does you good to think about the snake. I'm lucky, i'm not the snake. I raced around the Ebro delta, where Idealism, hope, equality, liberty and love made a desperate last stand against hate, greed and fear. It seemed at first that hope died at the ebro in 1938 but, 40 years later hope blossomed again in Spain. Even when it seemed that the republic couldn't go on, and it had to give up somehow, in the end the right side won out. Even when i felt defeated on Friday it does me good to think about the snake and the second republic and try to be the latter and be happy not to be the former.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Yesterday was a big day, the plan was to hit the gym in the morning, grunt a lot, wear a sleeveless top and generally do gym things for 90 mins. After a hearty breakfast (which, if i'm adhering to the gym stereotype should be composed of 17 egg whites and 5 skinless boneless chicken breasts, right?) and some archive action I was going to jump in on the Wednesday night ride. I got off to a good start and by 9am i had grunted and sweated my way around the weight room, completed my bench presses in the squat rack (joking, i'm not THAT guy) and enjoyed a refreshing communal shower with the retired men who occupy the gym when normal people are at work.
Having satiated myself on pastry i made a trip to the archive,a ll the while holding my trousers up with one hand as i had somehow forgotten to pack a belt that morning havign left in my gym kit and carried my archive gear in my bag. Procrastination on yahoo weather revealed what i suspected, a storm was coming. At first i considered sticking around and not riding but my productivity was low anyway so i hopped on the metro, headed home and hopped on the bike at 2. I wanted to keep up the strength focus of the day so i hit a few 20 min climbs in the big ring. All was going swimmingly until i noticed that my pockets, and stomach were yawningly empty. I'd been noshing carbs at an above average rate, finding myself outside a farm i managed to turn some change into a nectarine and 2 figs which sustained me for about 30 minutes.
I knew i was a long way from home, i'd like to blame hypoglycaemia for my refusal to stop but in reality i'm just a stubborn git. I pushed on and soon found myself on a 15k climb with entirely empty legs and a yawning stomach. wobbling around like Bambi on ice i caught myself on the verge of tears when i realized there were 10k to go, each kilometer hurt more and, as always happens when i bonk like this i got emotional and angry. At the top i gorged myself on all 7 of the ripe blackberries i could find. it's hard to descirbe just how weak, empty and useless you feel when you really bottom out. There's simply nothing left and the enormity of the ride home is unfathomable. You have to focus on the next pedal stroke, the next meter and just keep doing that. It's not just your legs, all the happiness seems to drain out of your soul. There's no point stopping to play your harmonica or to look for lizards you're just going to cry when you can't find any. In a lot of ways being bonked take syou back to being a baby, you're more or less totally helpless, all you can do is crawl or cry! so i crawled.
I wasn't hypo, i carry dex for that i was just HUNGRY, incredibly, horribly empty. I grovelled into the town at the top of the climb and found, to m inestimable delight, a bakery, it was as if the sun shone from that bakery, as if Jesus, Muhammad and Vishnu had set up shop in a small Catalan Forn de Pa. Unfortunatley all three of the bastards were on holiday for a month and they'd shut up shop, at that moment I took a decisive step towards agnosticism. More muttered swearwords and desperate use of the "aero tuck" at 15 kph to avoid pedalling along with some bambi on ice like wobbling up the last climb and i staggered into my house.
There was barely time to prop up the bike before i found myself in the kitchen with a jar of nutella in one hand and a bag of crisps in the other. Both went down before i began to eat Jamon Serrano OFF THE BONE. A brief break for a shower and some insulin and i returned to the fray, laying waste to the rest of the milk and cereal in my house. I walked down the street to the bakery to reussply and promptly hit a pretty special level of hypoglycameia (40 / 2.2) . Staggering into the bakery I asked for my bread, the lady took one look at me guzzling my emergency haribo and began adding emergency baked goods to my bag. Having regained my motor control i offered to pay and was politely refused. "i saw you coming up the hill on your bike ride, you looked very hungry". I don't know how someone can give the outward impression of hunger (maybe its by weighing 150lbs and having long hair and a beard?) but apparenlty i was THAT starving that I did so.
Saturday, 3 August 2013
proper hypos mean proper snacks,the nutella filled hippo was the lifesaver here
Sunday, 21 July 2013
I’m eating mini toblerone and drinking scotch from a tiny bottle, I’ve been touched rather intimately and I’ve been sleeping next to someone I’d never met a few hours ago. Eating tiny food in smaller spaces whilst sweaty men snore next to me is generally something I don’t do out of choice and as of last week I’ve been avoiding sitting down at all costs.
Last Friday I got the go ahead from San Diego sports medicine to start riding again, I popped straight over to velo hangar where the Argon had been hibernating. Gordon restored it to it’sprecious beauty albeit with some adjustments to my aesthetic courtesy of bright orange cables. By Friday afternoon I’d got everything sorted and managed a couple of hours riding by the sea.
I miss riding my bike when I take a day off, I hate it when I take a week off. After 3 weeks and 6 days away my bike didn’t feel like my own, my pedals felt too far away and my saddle to thin. I wondered how I’d ever squeezed onto 38cm bars or ridden with my drops 20cm below my saddle. Despite this I enjoyed riding, being by the sea, feeling the wind in my (safely helmet covered) hair, sweating in a way which didn’t just make me feel like a smelly office worker and doing all of it fast!
This week has been a great return to everything I missed about bike riding, I love racing, I love competing but I enjoy the process as much as the result. I’m at my happiest when my nose is peeling slightly, when my legs hurt a little bit going upstairs, when I can eat 1000g of carbs a day and never go above 200, when I’m finding weird rubbish in the bike lane and I wake up every morning feeling like I haven’t eaten for a week even though I go to bed feeling so full that I couldn’t eat for a week.
It’s not just training that makes me happy. I hate not engaging with where I live, driving a car to the shop feels so sterile. I miss seeing the buff homeless man and the guy with the parrot and the specials at the Mexican ice lolly place and smelling the beer brewing and the coffee roasting (yes, I live near a lot of hipsters) . I like the convenience of nipping out on my bike for a beer or a few things for dinner or to see a friend. I like that I don’t need to look for parking, or worry about taking insulin for that beer. I try not to make any journey under 5 miles in a car and taking those short trips in air conditioned anonymity makes me feel almost as sad as not training did.
This week I’ve ridden to cafes every day and sat there with my friends. Some of them are younger than me, some more than twice my age. I’ve eaten muffins, continued the search for the perfect cappuccino (pannakin la jolla is leading the charge for southern California), received free welcome back cookies and even been part of a waterfight which nearly led to the first ever forceful eviction from coffee bean and tea leaf. I’ve had conversations about travel, relationships, food, beer, coffee, bikes, family and growing up (or trying to avoid doing so). The sort of conversations which only happen when both parties are mildly hypoglycaemic, hypoxic or otherwise mentally impaired. I suppose some people rely on something other than a bike to have deep conversations and justify consuming quite ungodly amounts of nutella at 11pm but bikes are my drug of choice.
Bike riding gives me little forays into other people’s worlds. Sometimes you pick up another rider and talk until you drop them on a hill or your routes diverge. I met a man this week who had a baby blue pegoretti, an enviable beard and a wife from Oxford, another who wanted my advice on wheels but ended up giving me his on graphic design, someone else who went to the DR on holiday and another guy who rode a surly cross bike and couldn’t believe I was diabetic, I couldn’t believe he spent 60 dollars on Brooks bar tape, but we all have things we can’t understand about other people.
Recently I’ve had some sub-optimal results and some pretty horrific crashes. If I didn’t enjoy the process It’s be hard to keep going but racing, and training make me happy in themselves, even riding my franken – townie bike to shops makes me happy.
Bikes are fun, always and I can’t ever imagine living without them I hope one day that more people share the joy I get from riding my bike and they too can enjoy the delights of midnight nutella and a peeling nose.