“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I sold my Porsche and Bought a Station Wagon

Here's a little break from the SCD regimen. Athletes in particular will enjoy this. The post is about trading my racing bike for a commuter bike (not really about cars. I've never owned a real Porsche--probably never will)
So here goes...Ahem,

I Traded my Porsche for a Station Wagon

Yes, you heard me correctly. After a more than a decade of racing in one form or another, I’ve hung up my racing shoes—for a while. Almost 18 months ago, my wife gave birth to our second child, a girl (Thank you, we think she’s gorgeous too), and I took a job in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the newness of it all—new town, new job, long hours, new daughter—I decided on a temporary racing and training sabbatical, focus on what’s important. Make no bones, for a fanatic like me the initial decision felt like quitting smoking, cold turkey. Instead of a patch though, I bought a commuter bike. I didn’t just buy a bike of the shelf, of course. A man has to have standards. So like any good bike geek, I built it myself. I found a sturdy Surly, saturated the inside with linseed oil and added all the usual accouterments: double wall rims, bar-end shifters, rear view mirror, massive amounts of lights, a rack and panniers, full coverage fenders, stickers, and I even bought a bell. Yes, I bought a bell, and I use it proudly with every pedestrian, tourist, and bare-headed commuter I can find. It’s freeing, you should try it. Add one to your racing rig, show up for your next group training ride, and give a “Ding!”, as you smile and take off for your solo escape. It’s a hoot.

I arrived in Maryland, with my new bike assembled and in perfect working order. I dubbed it my station wagon (since my racing bike was my Porsche; I thought it appropriate to have another 'car'). All it needed now was to be christened. I took it for its maiden voyage on a crisp October Saturday morning, two days before I started my new job, under the guise of ‘exploring’, finding a good route to work. It was only fifteen miles, but I was gone for three hours (normally 15 miles takes less than an hour). I had found a whole new world. Instead of gasping for air like a suffocating fish, I was smiling—and breathing; there were trees and people. I ate lunch. I read the park signs and maps along the way. I could stop anywhere I wanted for any reason. The sheer magnitude of enjoyment caught me off guard. At one point, I looked down at my new steed and said out loud, “I think we could have a long and fruitful relationship, you and I.” Ding!

I’ve also never been on a bike that was so comfortable. Sure it weighs more than me, but that didn’t matter. I could have stayed in that saddle (my old racing saddle, worn, threadbare, familiar) all day. I was hooked. I had hung up my light and luscious racing rig, and mounted a station wagon. I had traded my saddle bag for fenders and a bell. And I loved it. Ding!

The distance from my new home in Maryland to work is, as the wheel spins, only 15.5 miles. That’s about 155 miles/week (for the mathematically challenged), not bad for two kids and a 12hr work day. So I suppose this short piece of writing is half self-inflicted catharsis, and half reassurance to those out there who feel life encroaching on their training. My advice: Embrace the change. I did, and it’s been fantastic. One day, I may race on the road again, but I do not need to race like I used to. When I return, it will be because I want to. For now I stay in good shape commuting, and on the weekends I attach the bike trailer and the whole family goes out for a spin. Heck, one day we might just set off for Wally World. Ding!

Onward to Health.

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