Friday, October 8, 2010

The Great White North

Hi all (you know, the 2 or 3 people who keep up with this),

I'm just dropping by to say that I'm up in Canada for work, so I haven't had a whole lot to write about.  I fully expect to come back inspired with all kinds of ideas (and about 10 extra pounds) next week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Regurge Redux?

Miles: 17-something round trip
Avg. Speed: 13.5
Weight: 189.5

Today was the second day of riding partway to work.  I decided to stick to the same route, mostly because procrastination prevented me from mapping out one with a few less hills.  Besides, Happy Barfday earlier in the week was surely just an anomaly, right?

Thankfully, yes.  Mostly.  I stuck to the same route I ended up taking on Wednesday, even though it looked like my low-traffic road was open today.  I figured I was better off with the hills I knew than ones I had a vague memory of suffering on a few times.

Not taking the turn-off there meant I missed Barf Hill Numero Uno.  I was still suffering up a more gradual hill, but it didn't have quite the same impact.  Sooner than I expected, I was at the turnoff for the base of Barf Hill Numero Dos.  Proving that I could outwit an inanimate lump of asphalt, I made a right turn at the base and snuck around the side.  It turns out there's a steep one that way, too, but it was shorter.  Best of all, at the top I still had all my fluids (and dignity).

My celebrating was short-lived, though.  Despite the fact that there were no more hills of any consequence on the last 1/3 of the ride in, my legs were pretty much shot.  I stayed just one mishandled burp away from christening a Barf (non)Hill Numero Tres for the next 3 miles or so.  Eventually I recovered a tiny bit, just in time to cruise into the parking lot at work.  Hooray for the Competent Bicycle Commuter lie.

And as before, the ride home was very uneventful.  I'm sensing a pattern here...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Update: The ride home was cake

I guess my offerings to the gods of suffering were deemed worthy, because I had a tailwind and downhills most of the way home from work.  It took about 2/3 the time, too.

I think I'll ride again Friday, preferably sans barfing.

That which doesn't kill you can definitely make you miserable

"I've had worse days on the bike."

That's what I told myself after the first time I barfed by the side of the road on my way to work this morning. After the second time, I wasn't quite so sure.

Yep, it was a rough start down the road to fitness. I mapped out a 10-mile route with a start point that I could easily drive to and park the car. I knew there were a few killer long hills about 3/4 of the way through, but I remembered them being more looooong than steep.

A few miles in, I got to turn off of the busy highway and head toward a much more low-traffic road. It has burbling streams, shade trees, lovely curves, and now a big ol' ROAD CLOSED sign right after I turned onto it. Crap. I cruised down a little ways to see if I could sneak through, but they were doing active repair work from the big floods we had a few weeks ago. Time for plan B.

Plan B immediately included a short steep hill that I'd just ridden down. It sure was fun going down it. Up, not so much. Barf session #1. I know, I know... don't push so hard, right? Well, I was in the lowest of low gears on my bike. Like walking speed low. The last time I used this gear was on a mountain pass on a 100-mile ride in the Sierra Nevada. I thought I'd never see it again, but we sure were friends today. Since I refused to get off and walk, I was pretty much stuck with gutting it out to the top. All 100 feet or so.

I'll skip the details on the next few miles, except that I turned off the highway and was immediately faced with yet another steep (and longer) hill. For local folks, it's the road that goes by Z Tejas in the Arboretum. Once again it was: gut it out to the top, out with the guts at the top. At that point, I would have laughed at myself if I had the breath to do it.

After that debacle, the last few miles into work were totally mellow. Nice and flat, not much wind, and low traffic. That meant I got to cruise into the parking lot at work looking like a competent bike commuter. I'm okay living that lie for a bit.

Thank goodness the ride home is almost all downhill.

The trusty steed:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back in the saddle

So I think it's safe to say that plans for my 40th birthday will probably be changing. The family was going to go to France, and I was going to do the Paris-Brest-Paris uber-marathon bicycle ride. While the first is still totally possible, the second has been completely derailed by more important life events.

That said, I feel like crap about myself physically, and there's nothing better for that (for me) than getting on the bike again. So tomorrow I'm going to try out a new routine. Baby steps, man, baby steps.

I mapped out about a 10-mile bike route (each way) so that I can drive part of the way to work with my bike, park the car, and ride the rest of the way in. Even though I can clearly remember doing 100+ mile days on the bike without much trouble, I have no doubt I'm gonna be humbled by 10 miles each way. Still, I'll end up feeling better eventually and might even lose a few of these pounds I gained recently.

I remember how good it felt to do long difficult rides with my best friend Trevor, and I'd really like to feel that capable again. I guess I gotta start somewhere...

Friday, September 24, 2010

You can't go home again

It's funny how emotions hit you out of the blue sometimes. There are plenty of things about being Separated(tm) that make me sad, but tonight one particular malady is rearing its head unexpectedly: homesickness.

(This is a companion post to Jessica's description of the pain of a changing home.)

They say home is where you hang your hat, but I think that's a load of crap for most of us. Home is where you line your nest with little bits of you, so that after your time out in the big, bad world you have somewhere safe and secure to return to. I've never been one to be sentimental, so I think I underestimated the importance of home for most of my life. I took it for granted, and now it's gone, at least for the time being.

I'm living in a one-bedroom apartment that was originally supposed to be a shared space for Jessica and I to go to when it wasn't our week to take care of Hollis. It's decorated tastefully (if a little sparsely) and contains most of the accoutrements of daily life. I decided that our back-and-forth living arrangement didn't result in enough separation, and suggested I move into the apartment full time. Boy, I've got my separation now.

Despite moving a big chunk of my stuff from the house to the apartment, it still doesn't feel like home. Part of it is my lack of design skill, and part of it is a reluctance to fully settle into this place that I'll be leaving soon for something bigger. Whatever the reason, this place always falls short of "home." The walls are too white, the kitchen and fridge are too sparsely stocked, and I sleep on the couch every other week when Hollis stays here (he gets the only bed).

I spent this past week living out of a hotel for work, and I realized when I came "home" that this may as well be another hotel room. It smells nicer, and it has more of my stuff, but it's just about as comforting to my soul (and just about as familiar) as a room at my usual hotel in Bangalore. It's not a refuge from the big bad world; it's a constant reminder of it.

Part of the problem is that I'm a little embarrassed by my living arrangement. Someone asked me last night where I lived, and after describing the general area, she asked, "Oh, so which apartment complex?" I felt like such a cliche: middle-aged dad does something to end his marriage, and is forced to pack up and go live in a small apartment somewhere. It's a scene that has been played out over and over again in the world, and it attaches baggage to our Separation(tm) that shouldn't exist. I see it in the eyes of strangers that learn that I'm separated. I see it in the (admittedly very slight) awkwardness around the neighbors now when I go by the house to pick up Hollis. Jessica and I have worked really hard to make this transition amicable and respectful and egalitarian, but I definitely feel like strangers assign me the label of the guy who chose to leave his family and home for the promise of a better life somewhere else. (There's some implied jackassery in that label.)

The other aspect that hit me today, the more painful aspect, was the realization that I can't go back home again. The house is still a nest, but the little bits of me are mostly gone. I know it's painful for Jessica to live there without those little reminders of me, but it almost broke my heart today to realize I was slowly starting to feel like a stranger in my own house. The badass tempur-pedic bed that we were so excited to get doesn't have a "my side" anymore. I won't be walking by and feeling that little sense of pride about the slate my dad and I put up on the fireplace, or the pendant lamps over the bar that caused me to leave much of my blood sweat and tears in the attic. Sure, that stuff is all still there, but it's fading into the background of someone else's home.

I know this is temporary, and that Jessica and I are making the right decision. But man, what a shitty thing to have to go through. Can't I just skip all this and get to the other side already? The side where I have a place that's big enough to breathe in, with enough bits of myself to be able to come back in from the world and say, "Whew, it's good to be home"?

And now for something completely different

What a difference a year makes. I wish that all I had to worry about right now is gaining weight on business trips.

I'd like to use this space to throw out some perspective as I stumble through my separation from Jessica. I'll try not to be too maudlin and depressing. Surprisingly, our situation does offer some chances for humor. I'm not going to sugarcoat the rest of it, though.

A few things to note before I start all this:

- I tried to turn comments off, but I don't know much about the technical side of blogging. If I was successful in turning them off, and if you want to talk to me about a post, find me some other way.

(Edit:  Comments are back on.  Fire away.)

- Don't take any single post as an indication of my overall state of mind, friends and family. I'm doing fine. I'm just providing some snapshots of stuff that goes through my head. But I love you for being concerned anyway.

- Yeah, I'm going to talk about the craziness of venturing back out into the dating world. Jessica and I agree that we both should go back out there, even if we aren't divorced. That whole world is just bursting with good stories, especially for a guy who is learning at almost-40 the social skills that everyone else learned in their 20's.

And without further ado... You can't go home again