Central Oregon 385

I fibbed the timing of The Central Oregon 500 which was last week because when you’re a famous blogger you have to take your security carefully, or more accurately, your GalPal’s security.

Phil Mickelson has hired a full-time security guard for the U.S. Open this week because there’s a lot of scary mother (expletive-plural form) out there. That’s prob my next move. Consider submitting an application if you’re experienced kicking ass.

Monday—5 mile run, drive to Bend. Tuesday, McKenzie Pass, 100.5 miles. Wednesday, around Batchelor, 100.5 miles. Thursday, Crooked River Canyon, 104 miles. Friday, La Pine gravel solo with Lava Butte thrown in, 80 miles. Saturday, drive home/rest day.

When I got home I checked my training log to see what my longest cycling week was. . . 390. When you’re old and slow you can only set volume-based personal records so on Sunday I rode 22 miles to shatter the old record with a total of 407 miles.

The most memorable 20 miles were miles 65-85 on Day 1 atop McKenzie Pass and then down to the West Gate and back. I took off across the lava strewn plateau not knowing my posse had decided against it due to reports of snow and water on the road. Dodging large chunks of snow and crossing a lengthy 6-8″ river of water two times was a hoot. The world class scenery never disappoints either.

In sum, I rode well and had fun, but I’m ready for a return to the cross-training normal.

There was one unfortunate development. Due to a bad accident a few months ago, at times, I found myself thinking about what I was doing, instead of just reacting. Like an infielder who suddenly can’t make the throw to first base or the golfer who can’t make a short putt to save her life, I sometimes thought about what could go wrong. As a result, I had a death grip on the bars and didn’t descend as confidently or fast as normal. I hope I can shake that and return to riding less consciously.

As per usual, I was a little too zealous deleting the pictures I took, but here are a couple.

Going (Completely) Against Type

Often, the best endurance athletes are self-centered and obsessive. Self-centered in prioritizing their performance above everything else and obsessive in their commitment to training.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m the opposite of obsessive. I run a little, swim a little, and cycle a little between trying to do right by the Good Wife, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading, writing, watching StrangerThings, and keeping track of our finances. For good measure, every fall, I teach a little.

Don’t mistake the list as complaining. I like my non-obsessive life. A lot. Even if I was much younger, I wouldn’t want to be a full-time Swimmer or Runner or Cyclist.

This week though I’m going completely against type as a full-time cyclist. I’m writing from a house in central Oregon that Alex, Mark, and Dennis and I have rented. Every day, as per our early June tradition, we’re going long with about 40-50 other crazies. No lawn to mow, no other obligations, just hours upon hours of exerting myself on two wheels. Then the foam roller, then massive calories, then sleep. Rinse, repeat.

For five days, the single mindedness is a kinda cool alternative reality. I will do my best to update you on our adventure as it transpires.

A Balm For My Cynicism

If I could press “rewind” and stop the tape of my life halfway through 1990 when the Good Wife and I were leaving the International Community School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to begin my Ph.D. program at the University of Denver, we may have taken second international teaching gigs somewhere else in the world. And then a third. And then a fourth. And then a fifth just like some of my Addis Ababa teaching friends did.

If I was younger and there was more demand for C-list bloggers, I’d move to Canada. Or some other less violent, less divided country. Where the quality of life is noticeably better.

To which the deluded “Greatest Country on Earth” people reply, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

I concede, pessimism is a downer, but I think of it more as realism. The “Greatest Country” contingent is living in the past, unwilling or unable to rationally assess the numerous ways our quality of life is declining.

And yet there’s at least one thing that gives me genuine hope for a decent future. Loving parenting of small children.

I see it most often in the YMCA locker room. Sometimes at Vic’s (Wildwood) Pizza. I’m constantly seeking it out because I can’t get enough of it. It’s damn near the only balm that does anything for my chronic cynicism.

Since it’s the male locker room, it’s almost always dads, sometimes granddad’s. Sometimes white dads, often dads of different ethnicities. Sometimes middle class dads, other times working class dads. Most of the time I can’t see the father and children because we’re in different rows, so I just eavesdrop. Nothing soothes my soul like listening to a dad talk to his two, three, four year-old daughter or son as if they’re just small adults. Respecting their intelligence, knowing they will rise to the level of their expectations.

Often, that respect is coupled with a beautiful mix of patience, gentleness, and kindness, a trifecta that gives me confidence that those kids will be more than alright, and that collectively, we will too. I have no doubt the same thing is playing out in the women’s locker room.

What if we collapsed all pressing public policy questions down to this one: How can we make it easier for parents to love their children unconditionally? How can we design policies that make YMCA membership feasible for everyone so that children can take swim lessons, and families can swim together, and older kids can play team sports?

At the same time, let’s acknowledge the endless forms family life takes. No form is better than another. The only thing that matters is loving parenting. Parenting marked by respect, patience, gentleness, kindness. I suspect, if we get the parenting of young children right, like so many of my fellow YMCA members do, we’ll be alright.