All I Want For Christmas

My poor family, I rarely help them, despite repeated requests, with gift suggestions. But sometimes, old dogs can learn new tricks.

So here’s a suggestion for this Christmas. I just hope none of them read the George Monbiot essay from yesterday. A couple of bottle cages and some pedals would be greatly appreciated too.

Thank you in advance.

I May Not Have Been Completely Truthful

I didn’t spend any money yesterday, but I did shop. And I got very close to spending a lot. So I probably don’t deserve that “counter-cultural-minimalist icon” statue the art world commissioned on my behalf.

Truth be told, I went so far as to put an expensive carbon frame bike in my Colorado Cyclist shopping cart. But I couldn’t pull the trigger. Sometimes when I put something in an online cart and don’t complete the purchase, the next day the vendor sends me a message that includes a deeper discount to help me decide. Alas, nothing from Colorado Cyclist yet.

Shifting gears, pun-intended, despite being cynical about most fads, I find myself on the precipice of embracing one of the biggest trends in cycling—gravel riding. I concede, sometimes the crowd is right. What’s not to like about riding in nature free of heavy metal objects hurtling by at high speeds? Not to mention all the adventures the cool bikepacking kids are having. I wanna be a cool kid.

But I can’t decide if I should get a Santa Cruz Stigmata or a Santa Cruz Highball. What say you gravel riding reader? I deserve at least partial credit for narrowing it down to one California city, don’t cha’ think? Juliet has me leaning Highball.

Back to my mea culpa. This morning, before I got out of bed at 6am, I spent $47 on this. Yes indeedy, I am taking it on myself to brighten your winter.

Weekend Required Reading

1. Running a two-hour marathon. Strong opening:

“Here’s a quick and convenient way of finding out whether you’re ready to run a two-hour marathon. Head to the track and run six laps (roughly 1.5 miles) at two-hour pace (4:34.6 per mile), then run one more lap as fast as you can. Have a nearby exercise physiologist fit you with a portable oxygen-measuring mask, to measure your energy consumption at that pace. Then crunch the data to see whether your metabolism is settling into a sustainable pattern, or whether it’s spiraling out of control toward a fiery explosion.”

2. A female high schooler ran a 2:31:49 marathon. Leaving my brother disgusted with her parents.

3. Florida man becomes first person with Down syndrome to finish Ironman triathlon. Incredibly impressive, especially at 21 years young.

“Inclusion for all of us with all of you.”

4. The heartbreaking reality — and staggering numbers — of NCAA teams cut during the pandemic. Damn invisible enemy. Meanwhile, this week I was very pleasantly surprised to see an Olympia High School senior sign to play Beach Volleyball at Stanford. Take that SoCal!

5. And because we can’t live on swimming, cycling, and running alone, Mark Bittman’s Master List of Interchangeable Ingredients.

Be The Rower

Early one morning last week I cycled indoors because Blanca is injured.* Afterwards I plopped into my desk chair to swat back the day’s first wave of emails. All while looking at the Salish Sea.

A rowing scull suddenly materialized. The solo rower probably launched from OAR’s (Olympia Area Rowing) downtown marina dock. With steady strong strokes, they disappeared as quickly as they appeared. Then, five minutes later, after reaching their appointed turn around, they shot by again heading south back to the dock no doubt.

I thought about the probable outline of the rower’s morning—waking early, driving to the marina, lifting the boat from its rack, being on the water at dawn, and rowing a long ways on beautiful glassy water with real purpose. And as required for all Pacific Northwesterners, stopping for the daily latte on the way home.

Then I thought about the rest of the rower’s day and despite everything—the ‘rona, the impending forest fire smoke, the faux electronic schooling, the negative national politics—I bet they had at least a decent, if not good, if not great day. How could they not with that kind of start?

Be the rower. Wake up early. And move. Outside**. Walk, bike, swim, run, paddle, row, skate. With someone or alone. Add some caffeine. Then try to have a bad day. I dare you.

* long sordid story starring a real duffus

**once the fire smoke apocalypse is over

Wednesday Required Reading

1. Canceled Races Aren’t Stopping Endurance Athletes From Setting Wild New Records. I’ve been lethargic lately, postponing and/or bagging workouts altogether. Maybe I should try to take one of these records down, but which one? Wonderland in 18 hours? With the help of an electric mtb.

2. Is Your Blood Sugar Undermining Your Workouts? Uh, maybe that’s my problem seeing that I’ve been hitting Costco’s cakes hard all summer.

3. Garmin reportedly paid multimillion-dollar ransom after suffering cyberattack.

4A. Liberty University Poured Millions Into Sports. Now Its Black Athletes Are Leaving. 4B. Photo appears to show Jerry Falwell Jr. with zipper down and arm around a woman. I recommend college presidents, to the best of their abilities, keep their zippers out of the news.

5. Shira Haas of ‘Unorthodox’ on Sharing the Joys of Her First Emmy Nod. I dare you to try to watch Unorthodox’s four episodes over four days.

6. Make Pizza … On Your Grill. Then invite me over.

Two Wheel Craziness

Everesting is seeing how fast you can go uphill the equivalent of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet (8,848 meters). To be official, the rules dictate it has to be one climb, up and down, over and over. The most I’ve ever climbed in one day is approximately 10,000 feet, a sad sack one-third Everester.

Now some unhinged cyclists have decided Everesting isn’t challenging enough. Real climbers now are “trenching”, as in descending the equivalent of the Mariana Trench, which requires climbing almost the same distance, 36,037 feet (10,984 meters) because again, it has to be on one climb, up and down, over and over.

 

Being Twenty Something

A few months ago I wrote about all the challenges with “Being Twenty Right Now“. Fast forward to today, and I could add to the list.

Since writing that, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how miserable they were in their 20’s. So much so, it sounds as if people are writing off the decade. “If you can just hang on until 30,” their moto seems to be, “it gets much better.”

This idea is unfortunate. Life is way too short to write off any decade.

Being twenty something doesn’t have to be miserable. Why wait to make friends, do socially redeeming work, and build healthy habits?