January 19, 2016

Changes in Focus

  It's already been an interesting year, despite only being a few weeks old now.  I've taken some long overdue inventory and have managed to get back into the gym and have finally taken to a more serious diet plan, since someone hoisted yet another workplace weight-loss challenge.  The timing couldn't have been better, as getting and staying focused hasn't been easy... nor have I been terribly motivated to do so.  I've taken, again, to the horrible habit of packing for the morning ride to work, only to cave to the perceived safety and warmth of the car.  I've maintained a pretty solid streak of trips to the gym lately, but without it being paired to a consistent diet, well, you can imagine the results.  
Once again, here I find myself at the keyboard at the beginning of another year - another year that "didn't quite go as planned."  

Yet, I'm not here to lament the present, the past, or get all misty-eyed about the hope for the future.  I'm pretty sure I've been down that road enough in these pages, and nothing but the tone and verse will have changed much.

  Now, this is downright trite and horribly cliche, but, I have watched every single Rocky movie with the family while on vacation this winter break, so, maybe that is worth something.  I've had the cinematic version of tough odds and rising to the challenge of arrival tossed in my face, and I can probably quote from it.  I'm just finally tired of typing about it, texting about it, dreaming about it, instant-messaging about it, what-have-you.  It's tired, it's played out.  Do something, or shut the heck up, dude.  That's basically the theme for 2016. 

 Lord knows I haven't really had the time to sit and type about much else, so why should this be any different?  Again, lamentations aside, there is no ulterior motive or subtext that anyone should read into or from, or however that's supposed to go.  I'm, for now, simply checking-in.

I love the position I'm in, however.  I think I typed this EXACT phrase 12-months ago, didn't I?  (checks.... yep...)  But, there is a small difference in that I don't feel AS compelled to explain everything to anyone that will listen.  I'm beginning to settle a touch - which, trust me, is a good thing.  I'm perfectly comfortable just being.  I've begun to hear myself repeated back to myself, I've read books that will have supposedly "opened my eyes" to a lot of things, but, my only takeaways have involved thoughts like "well, duh."  I simply haven't been ACTING on that about which I know better.  I'm making my way through the next 60-days or so of "winter blues" until we get a good thunderstorm or a shot of 60+ degree air, when my lungs might fill with the sort of desire that comes only from climbing a steep hill a little faster than I maybe would consider "smart" for whatever stage of "training" I might consider myself to be at the time.  (What a tedious freaking sentence, man.)

Maybe poetry IS the way forward.  LOL

Clearly, I WANT to do certain things - but, I keep special watch on my own "fun meter."  I changed out the wheel-set for studded tire commuting this morning, Monday Jan 18th (forecast -1F), and audibly grumbled when the forecast for negative (F) temperatures hadn't played out.  I'd been packed and ready to roll, but, a check of the fun meter seemed to indicate that "no", this morning wasn't the droid I'd been looking for.  I have ALL of the equipment - just not the immediate "need" to get out there and change the world.  Not today.  Probably not tomorrow, despite the foreboding forecast of sure doom for us all in Kansas City ... a forecast that would normally have me licking my chops for adventure in the way the proverbial native of "Somewhere Badass", Alaska looks at a "for gawd-sake don't go ANYWHERE or you'll die!" weather bulletin with a shoulder shrug because he "has" to go to the post office for stamps.  

As us men age, the connection between the "fun meter" and the "you've got a family to think about meter" sorta get crossed up.  Happens.  There's no alpha-male, "I'm more Rule (whatever) than you are!" reverse psychology going on in this paragraph... just personal truths.  Coming to grips with what I'm DOING, and what I USED TO DO... it's a bit of a personal thumb war.

I "launched" a 213km perm ride last Thursday when temps would ultimately hit 58 degrees F.  I say "launched", because saying "started" would give the impression that I'd participated.  No, no, I simply showed up at the start to give a participant their card.  I am taking to the role of "ride organizer" a little TOO willingly, perhaps... but, I did enjoy sitting across the road silently watching them pass by, and then waiting until I could no longer see their taillights in the distance before I headed off to work for the day.  In the car.  On a day that would - again - ultimately hit 58 degrees F.  I think my fun meter is busted.

Well, at least I have a clear direction in mind.  To shake things up a bit and to avoid any burnout before this year even really begins for cyclists, I have modified my gym routine to involve everything EXCEPT the legs.  Now, granted, I still DO cycle in the gym on occasion because those muscle groups require maintenance - but, I no longer mindlessly gravitate toward the bikes every stinkin' time I set foot in there.  Lately it's been the rowing machine, the hand-cycle, bench-press, lat pulls, dips, and core work.  While my winter weight may not be headed south, my body composition has changed a bit over the last five months - and, no, I don't look like Rocky at ALL - but, I look a little more balanced than I've been since starting the whole cycling thing.  Power-to-weight ratio may be important, yes, but, I can work on overall weight later (ok, I've actually started already).  The result should hopefully look something other than traditional "me", which has usually resembled having the "old" me surgically sewn onto the top of the "new" me.  Bye, bye, gut-check... and maybe things will fit better, and feel better.  

How to look good naked.  That was a show, I think, once upon a time.  It's gist kept participants on a track toward personal comfort and health consciousness, and while the cathcy title might have suggested otherwise, the only people anyone on the show had to be comfortable being naked in front of had been themselves.  So, that's the sort of bent I'm on... Same as always, just, hopefully with the sort of personal confidence and comfort I deserve to throw my own way.  I think, compared to before, I had been focusing on these things for the wrong reasons.  Sometimes a change of focus is good.

The gym, as a matter of fact, has taught me that - with a little focus - strengthening other muscle groups can ignite a different mode of transportation... Which, for me, is when exercise changes into motion, adventure, and freedom.  That's what happened with the bicycle, anyhow; so, the rowing machine has had me looking at kayaks and river trips, local marina rules and regs, and races, too.  I don't think I'll be hammering any floodwater rapids.... recreational, endurance stuff more than likely.  Time will tell, because while I'm encouraged by used pricing... But, also about to slap down more coin for another set of adolescent orthodonture.  Drat.  

The same holds true for an adult (ahem) kickbike... Um, scooter... Yeah... A giant, pneumatic-tire adult-sized "Razor" scooter, photos of which I've found on various PBP webpages and regional brevet photo sites.  With a cleverly-mounted front bag and a generator wheel (yep, they're 700c), its possible I could create a new bicycle challenge by ditching the traditional bicycle.  Still, weighed against a kayak.... Hah.
At the very least, I won't run out of post-retirement hobbies, eh?

Ok, so, this photo is pretty much talking me OUT of the whole kickbike thing.  Although, the thought of bombing down a giant hill at unchecked speed while basically crouched down directly behind the front wheel... Human cannonball?  Close.

Nah, kayak wins this round.
I'll post more after tomorrow's ride to work.... 
Stay tuned.  ...but, don't hold your breath.

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