Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dissonance in Harmony

I am halfway to an upgrade to Category 3 on both the road and the track, and I took the subway to work, again. Take the A Train was echoing in my head as I swiped my MetroCard and daydreamed about a bike with full fenders and a June that wasn't 58 degrees and rainy.

With my household currently reporting from the front lines of the latest public health crisis and my tolerance for the omnipresent noise and fuss of New York City reaching another nadir I was stuck taking the pulse of my season again: if I get sick, it would put a damper on my development. If I don't ride it will put a damper on my fitness. If I ride it will put a damper on my speed.

The irony is that despite fretting about causes and effects, I love being in the full-blown onslaught of the season. I love racing three or four times a week, when I can. I loved last Thursday's 85 mile day - riding up to a crit, racing, placing, and riding from northern New Jersey all the way back to Brooklyn. As much as my constant insatiable hunger is somewhat perplexing and occasionally frustrating, it's kind of enjoyable. I like stepping on the bathroom scale and seeing surprisingly low numbers. I like looking at the last week on my riding spreadsheet and seeing surprisingly high numbers.

But most of all, I like riding. Even when I'm not racing. I like getting out of the city, clad in my team kit, light and carefree, and turning my tire toward open roads. Refilling at shops. I like the pause for coffee and a muffin when I'm not checking my watch and wondering if I'll be back in Brooklyn in time to fulfill my other obligations.

For many years, music was my restart button. When my brain began to feel tied in knots, spending an hour completely immersed in an album would leave me feeling stunningly refreshed; that, or picking up my guitar, playing along with the radio, singing a series of my own songs - the ones that were good, that were honest and accurate, that I kept feeling. Now, it's a five-hour bike ride, the rhythm is my cadence, the melody is the ambient drone of tires on pavement and the harmony of my friend shifting gears beside me as we approach a hill or sprint for a light.


  1. Nice. Just very nice.

  2. NOL, as always: Nicely said. And as always: I feel very much the same way. I often wonder what happened to my musical passion; in days of old, I could spend four hours bent over my guitar in blissful solitude on a sunny spring Saturday, and consider the day extremely well spent. Now, if there is any form of sunshine on any day of the week, I feel like I can't be whole if I'm not out on a road on two quiet wheels, whizzing down the path to contentment. I think your poetic rendition of the way bikes can take the place of music pretty much sums up what happened to my musical passion!

  3. I was riding with Hal the other day, and absentmindedly started whistling. He asked me what I was whistling -- It was Take 5 by Brubeck. "Maybe that's my problem," he said, "I need rhythm" (we'd been talking abut how he's a masher on the climbs and I'm a spinner.) And I agreed that he should pedal in 5/4.

    Lately I've found the two become one... I let the drone of the tires relax me until I just start humming something that matches my cadence. It also makes the taxi drivers less angry.