Runnin’ down this dusty road

Wheels in the sky keep on turning; I don't know where I'll be tomorrow.

Wheels in the sky keep on turning; I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow.

Every year, at some point, I develop an allergy to the bicycle.

Maybe it’s more of an overuse injury. After months of writing, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, cartooning, photographing and making videos of bicycles, I pull a mental muscle. I don’t even want to ride the sonsabitches. Game over. Move along, move along, nothing to see, nothing to see.

So I spent much of the past few weeks easing back into running, and it was a pleasant diversion indeed.

Cycling is preferable to motoring in large part because it slows you down, lets you take a closer look at the world as you pass through. Running — OK, in my case, jogging — takes you deeper into slo-mo, gives you a fresh appreciation of the trails you ride.

First step: Lower the expectations. The trails I ordinarily negotiate with verve, grace and panache on two wheels feel entirely different on two feet. I become a stumblebum. Herself punks me on the hills. It’s not one little bit like “Chariots of Fire.”

Since I no longer run year round for cyclo-cross, I have to ease back into the discipline, tentatively, like a Republican faced with a substantive policy question on the campaign trail. First I jog the uphills and walk the flats and downhills; then I start jogging the flats, too; and finally I add the descents.

After a few outings I reach a point at which I can perform an act that looks slightly like running, only much, much slower. To pass the time I imagine myself to be in a Bizarro World “Godzilla” movie in which I am the monster and the lizards scurrying out of my path are the terrified residents of Tokyo.

Eventually, of course, I go back to the bikes. That’s where the money is, and I have to pay attention. Also, bills.

Still, it’s refreshing to drop the pro act and go full-bore amateur for a while. Oh, no — there goes Tokyo! Go go Godzilla!

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24 Responses to “Runnin’ down this dusty road”

  1. Steve O Says:

    Got any “old guys who get fat in the summer” tshirts lying around? That’s me this year. I’m an equal opportunity saunch bag. Thousand excuses. Kids out of school and too big for the bob stroller, too heavy for the kid carrier, too slow to tag along. Then everyone got sick. And stayed sick. Both kids have summer birthdays, so it seems we have a checkup every other day. Throw in a car accident (t-boned by a texting speeding red light runner) and the obligatory insurance haggling and replacement car googling, and summer just disappeared on me, unlike my belly, which apparently senses an oncoming ice age and is preparing accordingly.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Car crash? Damn, I hate those. Been in a couple beauties, too, and I’m so not interested in repeating the experience. Hope nobody got hurt.

      Did I mention we finally bought a second car? Herself went for a 2011 Honda CR-V, 2WD model. Not a bad rig, and that Magic Seat thing they got going on gives you a ton of cargo space.

      Me, I’m still putt-putting along in the ’05 Forester. It’s had the timing belt replaced and just got new rubber all around. Next up is a rear wheel bearing, a moon-roof replacement and maybe some upholstery work. I ‘speck I’ll be driving the sumbitch for a while yet.

      • khal spencer Says:

        How many miles you got on that ’05, Patrick?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Low mileage, K. Just 108K on the odometer, most of ’em highway miles.

        It’s been a pretty good little car. No frills, but it gets me where I need to go. Now and then I wish I’d gone for an Outback — those boys are long enough to sleep in during road trips — but I don’t find much to complain about.

        The cabin is a little noisy, especially at highway speed, and after a lifetime of driving trucks I still ain’t used to sliding down into a car. Bash my right knee on the center console getting in now and then, too.

        Gas mileage is good, not great. Visibility is superb — not much in the way of blind spots. And it can hold a ton of cargo, as I proved when we moved from Bibleburg to the Duke City. I loaded that sonofabitch like a pack mule.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I liked the Outback, but it was a foot longer and we would have to rearrange the junk in the garage to make it fit. Plus, it was several k more expensive. As you say, the Impreza/Forester line is a little tinnier and noisier. I do note that my wife’s ’09 is a lot quieter than our old ’02 or my current ’07. They have indeed civilized the recent stock. The two more recent cars have been as reliable as the sunrise. The 2002 had a recurrent problem with the timing belt tensioner collapsing. The shop replaced it once and we ended up replacing it a second time before we sold it.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The newer Foresters sit a little taller, yeah? I recall something about Subaru trying to get around CAFE standards by turning the Forester into a “truck.” That PZEV dingbat offends my copy editor’s sensibilities, too. Everything that burns dinosaur wine is a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. It’s just a matter of degree.

        Still, Subaru makes a decent rig for the money. I’d buy another. Too bad they don’t make an AWD camper van. I’d be all over that bad boy.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I too recall that Subaru jacked up the suspension on its Outback and Forester to make them into “trucks” and thereby improve the fleet fuel economy of its “cars” by excluding those newly defined “trucks”. Talk about doublespeak…

      • md anderson Says:

        My ’06 Outback turned 217,000 miles recently, and is starting to really show it’s age (and mileage) in somewhat alarming ways. Seems to need about $1-2K worth of work every 3-6 months and that’s getting old real fast. Normal wear and tear, but it’s adding up. Just got back to NM from a road trip in northern AZ. The engine started running a little hot and it’s looking like some hidden coolant leak. sigh.

        So I’ve been Internet searching for something new. Would really like to downsize since I’m not hauling kids around anymore, but it’s nice to be able to pack for a week with the spouse and little dog and not feel crammed to the gills and to see out the back window.

        Been considering the XV Crosstrek that Subaru has come up with. If I can slide my 48cm Colnago in with only removing the front wheel I might be all over that.

  2. Larry T. Says:

    Running? Can’t do that anymore. While I’m not against a brisk walk now and then, the joggling/plodding/shuffling idea gives me a headache (and some other aches as well) so I’ll not be putting on any sort of costume and doing any of that!
    I’m going through a zero-energy phase for some reason, perhaps just geezerhood? Barely two weeks ago I was enjoying (yep, you read that right) slogging my way up the Passo Stelvio but now back in Iowa I can’t get out of my own way on a bicycle + everything hurts. Maybe after a year in Italy I’m just allergic to the USA? I think the Italian consulate has an RX for that – called a visa. Let’s see, how long do I have to stay out before I can go back?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      See, that’s what I like about it: No real costumery required. Shoes, socks, shorts, sleeveless T and a grimace of pain pretty much covers it.

      Can’t run on pavement, though. That’s where I draw the line. If there ain’t any grass or dirt involved, I ain’t a-doin’ ‘er.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Been there O’G. Back in my serious running daze there were the proper shorts and top, some sort of gizmo to hold the tender vittles in place, the right socks and two pair of running shoes rotated every other day and replaced every six months. To me that’s a costume, a getup I’d go outside in ONLY for its intended purpose. With civilian clothes I can take a brisk walk with no problems…but no runnin’ (can’t) or joggin’/plodding/staggering (won’t).

      • Pat OI'Brien Says:

        The only serious running days I had were without choice. I had no choice, because the NCO said I must run a mile in 8 minutes or less in combat boots at least once a year or else. Of course, I said, “or else what?” After that I resisted until the guys at work talked me into taking a five mile leg for their Mule Mountain Marathon team. This was during my smoking days as well. As Forrest said, “stupid is as stupid does.” Haven’t run since, except to catch a plane at DFW.

  3. Sharon Says:

    Have been getting up super early to try riding without melting…

  4. khal spencer Says:

    I do running in the winter when its too cold to bike very far. Right now, I’m nursing a recurrence of a torn tendon sheath on my foot that I did about three years ago when I got into an argument with the bed frame leg. Running, or whatever it is called when I do it (stumbling, jogging, shuffling, etc), is not a great idea. Heck, even humping my way up the Jemez last weekend left me with a mighty sore tendon.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, me too. I originally took it up for cyclo-cross, then branched out into multisport, and finally quit doing it year-round when too many of my bits started bitching. But I still like to log some ground-pounding miles pre-Interbike to take some of the pain out of those long, forced marches through bullshit on concrete.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Pain at Interbike? They have lots of liquid pain medicine available there, including some I bring to share with my friends in the Italian Pavilion, though they no longer offer the wonderful lunches like back-in-the-day.

  5. Charley Auer Says:

    Old aging really sucks!

  6. Pat OI'Brien Says:

    Well, Patrick, just make your first ride on the Saga and all will be well. That is what I plan to do in the morning after dealing with some unexpected stress this past week.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Almost, Pat. I rode the Soma Double Cross away from and back to the Subaru shop on Friday. Thirty miles and plenty of vertical. My wallet was a whole lot lighter for the return to El Rancho Pendejo.

      Unexpected stress? We don’t need any of that at our age, m’man. Tell it to stress its unexpected ass away from you.

  7. Sharon Says:

    Hey – – I saw your funny at Ass Savers – – August 13.
    https://www.facebook.com/asssavers?fref=nf

  8. Pat O'Brien Says:

    “We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave……..”
    I see today’s NWS predicted high in Duke City will be 99. I assume it will go over the century mark in some areas, maybe Rancho Pendejo? Try not to go over medium rare on the trail today Patrick.

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