07 October 2009


Friday morning. Liftoff...

Back in February, my kid brother (who's only 50-ish, as opposed to being MID-50-ish) overheard me talking about an organized three-day bike ride and told me if I'd do it, he would. Since it entailed my driving from Louisville to Carrollton, KY, and having Ed pick me up around Bowling Green, KY, and Bob driving from (and back to)the D.C. area, I thought -- what the hell, it's his gas money! And promptly found myself, shall we say, "in the soup."

All summer, I've been riding my bike most of the places I meant to ride, not nearly as often as I intended. I've probably racked up about a third of the miles on my "wish list," which is going to send my friend Stacey screaming if she reads this, because it's supposed to be all about commitment, but as far as I could figure, the commitment was to do the ride. In between then and now, I had to give my best shot to getting ready.

Last Sunday, I rode from home, in the Lyndon area of Louisville, to the St. James Art Fair, down in Old Louisville, south of downtown. It's an annual event, one of my favorites, and it was a great ride besides. I rode to church, then down Frankfort Avenue to Nancy's Bagel Grounds for a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee, then took back streets to St. James Court.

One of the delightful things about riding -- as if I'd never mentioned this before (or assuming you've never read my blog before) -- is that you get to know your surroundings in a whole different dimension. By mid-summer, I knew the best back streets to get downtown or home, and I knew a couple of alternate routes for a really good workout. Sunday, I rode through the Highlands to Swan Street, then over to St. Catherine. It's not the upwardly mobile part of Louisville, but I love it. In the Highlands, it depends on where you are -- really, which side of Bardstown Road you're on, I think. By the time you get down around Lynn's Paradise Cafe', made semi-famous on Bobby Flay's "showdown" show, it's already starting to lean to the funky side of bohemian, and beyond that, well, skip the boho. It's funky. Period. This is a good thing.

Perhaps, when I am old and gray, if I happen to be living alone and don't feel like messing with this house any more, I shall buy myself a shotgun house on St. Catherine Street on the easternish edge of Old Louisville, near Third Street, kind-of-sort-of in the general vicinity of St. James Court.

But I digress. (Pogo stick!) Friday. Oh, yes, indeed...

Friday morning, we depart Carrollton, KY, at 8:30-ish a.m. (BTW, I live on "ish time." In case you hadn't noticed. And I don't do "early.") The first day is about 60 miles. I can do that. I did 40 last Sunday, by the time I got done going in circles around the Scenic Loop in Cherokee Park (got on the loop and couldn't get off...), and I know I can do 60. The question is, can I do 90 the next day?

We shall see. Oh, yes, indeedyroo, we shall definitely see. I am getting ever so slightly anxious, but not so much as to call it panicky or anything. Just a little edge of self-motivation going on.

Tomorrow, I go to the office for one more day this week. Yesterday I was there for 10 hours, today about 11. I have two major projects and one that's not as "major" as the business owner would like to believe that must be nailed down before I leave tomorrow evening. And so they shall. Tomorrow morning is Project #1, from noon to about 2 p.m. is #2, and then I shall devote an hour or two to #3 -- the one that's not so much all that. And then I shall come home, pack my paniers, and ponder the importance of this seismic shift in my identity.

Friday morning is liftoff. Friday morning I make the official transition from Weakling, Slug, Sorriest Specimen the Gym Teacher Has Ever Seen, etc... to Athlete. Sometime in June or July, I became an official cyclist. In August or so, I decided to shoot for the Senior Olympics next year. But this ride makes it official. Makes it real. Makes it inescapably, irrevocably, absolutely, documentably true: that I am an athlete.

T-minus 19.75 hours and counting.

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