A Comedy of Errors

It’s two in the morning and I am supposed to run a timed mile in 3.5 hours. Instead, I’m hunched in agonizing reverence, begging the porcelain god to make it stop.

Food poisoning.

It was a bad end to a decent week, to say the least.

On Tuesday Sherry calls me: “I got some new wheels, dude. Wanna go roll around a bit?”

Having just returned from a week in San Jose surrounded by pasta and canoli, I was more than game. We decided to meet at my house in 30 minutes. This is just enough time for me to decide that we should not just “roll around” – we need to go on an adventure. I break out the maps and chart a course to get to the Portland International Raceway, where I know Sal’s team will be racing.

We’ll get there toward the end of the race but it will still be fun. It’s only about 9.5 miles there, just under 20 round trip. No sweat.

When she arrives I manage to convince Sherry that this is a good idea so we set off. I’d forgotten how good it feels to be on a bike, flying through sunny streets, navigating off in a new direction. For me, part of the joy of cycling is the sense of adventure that comes with exploring new territory. You don’t just go out in your car exploring new roads and routes – you sit in traffic, at stoplights, and try to get where you’re going as fast as possible.

Sherry is a great cyclist and presents a very cool convert story. She started commuting a few years back and soon became zealous about it – she’s a year-round commuter (yes, through the freezing rain and sleet of winter!), a strong cycling advocate, and a huge fan of all forms of racing (especially cyclocross). In a comment the other day she thanked me for being an inspiration but really, I should be thanking her. She puts her heart and soul (and calves) into cycling with a passion that is truly amazing. (Thanks, Sherry.)

This year she is determined to make the move from commuter and advocate to road cyclist. And by road cyclist I mean she wants to start doing long rides, entering centuries, and generally taking her bike fitness to the next level. I’m looking forward to joining her on this journey and, by the looks of her calves during our Tuesday night excursion, she’s going to be eating my lunch in no time.

Our 20 mile adventure took it out of me as I haven’t been on my bike much these past few months. Nevertheless, I woke at 4:30am the next morning, strapped on running shoes and decided to run to boot camp instead of driving. “It’s only two miles,” I thought, “It will be a good warm up.”

Ok. It was a good warmup. But it was also uphill the whole way, a small detail that I’d neglected to take into account. I left with barely enough time to arrive promptly so I couldn’t even dog it – I had to keep pace. At boot camp we did sprints, and ran 9-10 flights worth of stairs, pausing after each one to do 10 pushups. In the end that’s 90-100 pushups (if you’re counting). I could not feel my arms at the top of the last flight.

We cooled down by walking down the “mountain” and then I fell into a comfortable clip and settled into my 1.5 mile jog to Stumptown. I’d tucked coffee money into my pocket just before leaving the house.

It was one of the best Americanos I have ever consumed. :)

I had work that took me to Olympia later that morning and I ended up having to stay through Thursday, which meant boot camp was out of the picture.

I arrived home Thursday afternoon, climbed onto my bike and started riding with a vague idea of my route. The city spread out before me like a soft dream. It was neither too hot nor too cold. The sun was low in the sky but wouldn’t set for a few hours.

On the river pathway I passed a young couple getting their engagement pictures taken. The tall buildings of the city rose up behind the bridge and reflected light off the surface of the water. I picked up a cycling buddy for 3 miles and then she turned left, heading off into a small park. I got lost again and again and again and ended up on a sweet, tree-lined street that curved past mansions and immaculately manicured lawns. I got lost and ended up on fast streets with no bike lanes or shoulders, cars passing me within a few inches of my life.

In the end I was gone for 3 hours. I don’t have a bike computer right now but I was lolly-gagging so it was probably just about 40 miles.

At home I was ravenous and cooked wok-seared broccoli, grilled ahi tuna, and a little bit of whole-wheat pasta for the purpose of fueling the timed mile that I planned to run in the morning. I was worried about how thrashed my legs were from the ride but I figured that they would pony up for 7 minutes of early morning agony.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry about it. The fish was bad which led to me spending the entire night hunched over my toilet, making every possible effort not to die right then and there.

I’ve been asleep for most of the day and just walked to Stumptown for the americano that I should have been drinking at 7am.

The key to hitting the curve ball is get out ahead of it. Quick hands help, and a deep stance will hurt you.

All this to say, keep swinging, even when the pitcher’s got your number. She’ll throw a fatty at you one of these at-bats, I promise.

Oh… and don’t eat bad fish.

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