time for 24

Over a decade after its first season aired, I’m finally getting around to watching 24.

If, like me, you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen this show, there are moments when the time will appear in digital format, with beeps accompanying the seconds as they tick by, closer and closer to catastrophe. This display is sometimes accompanied by a montage of all the simultaneously occurring events, all of which are also preventing Kiefer Sutherland from thwarting certain disaster.

There is a possibility – a small one, given that I only watch like five different shows a day – that I watch too much TV. I’d like to think that 24’s ticking, beeping clock is so characteristically ominous that it will linger, even for those who aren’t actively destroying their hard-earned educations with a flood of bad television shows. I suspect that the show itself is genetically engineered to trigger that beeping whenever something in a viewer’s life involves a countdown. Which is to say, that clock will haunt everything you do.

I suppose, then, that I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard that beeping in my head as I tried to crest a small hill a few days ago. While caught in the vice grip of intense pain and a failing cardiovascular system, I wondered what I was supposed to be mentally counting down to [assassination of the president? Another nuclear meltdown?]. Then I realized there was no rushed crescendo of beeps. More like a slowing down towards the inevitable flat-lining of energy, availability of oxygen, and the will to go on. The inescapable consequence of over a month of inconsistent [“nonexistent” might be more accurate] riding.

It was 16C out, and gorgeous, but I limped home after a mere 2.5 hours on the bike, unacceptably exhausted. I heard that beep again, on the way home. This time, it was my Garmin. “Battery is low,” read the screen, as if stating the painfully obvious state of my legs and lungs. It died soon afterwards, and I was almost tempted to pull a Marcel Kittel: 

The ride and my addiction to 24 reinforced what is so easy to forget: that the problem with time is that it happens. It keeps happening, even when you’re trying to hit the pause button on training, an assassination, or bikini season. This means that there’s really nothing left to do except to do it; claw your way back to fitness, save the world, or get a set of amazing abs. The time will pass, either way.

And besides, if Kiefer Sutherland ever died/failed, there wouldn’t be eight seasons of the show…right?

3, 3, 3

Three days before my birthday [I am now officially 70 years younger than the Tour de France], I only managed a scant 30 miles.
But there was a little over 3700ft of climbing, which included one of my most favorite passes. I even took a few of you there with me, breaking up the cathartic quiet with mental images of a Rosko, a Parlee, and a super fast Ridley.

As a woman, I suppose I should have been riding 100 miles or 100 km on Sunday, but a haircut and color [you can't tell but it's a dark, dark brown] seemed more pressing. Because you can't turn 30 with bad hair [but sweaty eyeliner is perfectly acceptable].

More words soon.

TJROW ver. 3.0

I am bookending the week with another favorite pro cyclist. Tim Johnson and crew left Boston yesterday on the first leg of their 525 mile trip to Washington, D.C. to raise money and awareness for peopleforbikes.org. It's a great cause, and if you live along the route, you are obligated to go heckle Chan.

There should be lots of Tweeting and blogging. Oh, and you should donate, too.
Have fun guys! Miss you!

hello, 2013

It took a little mental arm-twisting, but it happened. My first outdoor ride of 2013. It took a while [a whole six days!], but colder temperatures and shorter days tend to reinforce my conviction that sometimes, it’s okay to never want to spend too much time outside the dimensions that enclose your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and whatever room your bike and trainer might be parked in. Because it’s cold out, and that means layers. And layers make me look fat, and this time – or at least these past few weeks – that just hasn’t been okay.

My addiction to air popped popcorn and the resulting inordinate amount of time I spend in front of the microwave is most likely a contributing factor to my voluntarily letting go of reality/responsibilities/sanity. I do like spending time outside. Love it, in fact. Just not when sucking in exhaust fumes for hours has me coming back from rides sounding like Lauren Bacall after chain-smoking 40 cigarettes [“anybody have a match?”]. Compromising my lungs for the entirety of my winter vacation didn’t seem like it would be worth it. So I just moved all that shit inside.

I was also running away from the sometimes distracting nature of rides, where I’ll think up reams of ideas to write about, but also chide myself for all the things I’m supposed to do that day, what errands I have to run, how many hours are left before the inevitable resumption of office life. Spinning inside to Jeremy Renner’s lickable face in “The Hurt Locker” means there’s no room for muddled and unnecessary anxieties. It’s like Warren Buffet worrying about money: it’s just not possible.
As frustrating as it is to have my cardiovascular system spontaneously shut down at the mere sight of a 5% grade while my brain will mostly refuse to chill out, hitting the “less than 24 hours to go until I’m back in my cubicle” deadline kind of freaked me out. I put on a baselayer for the first time since early November, plus my first ever long-sleeve jersey.

It was everything I’d hoped and predicted. My legs were alright, I was cold until I started sweating, and there was a lot of stopping, then starting, then stopping, then slowing, then spinning back up to speed again. I didn’t feel like I was breathing in a lot of exhaust, but when I got home and called out to my dog, I sounded like Humphrey Bogart. There was the distraction, too. The seed of this blog post, and a few other ideas, some guilt trips for being so lazy the past ten days, and that anxiety about going back to work.
But there was also sunlight and a view that was familiar but far more engaging than the front of my microwave. It even made up for the last thing I wanted to see 20 minutes into a three hour spin:

…If only I’d stayed inside.


I’m still not quite sure what happened. The light changed, I got out of the saddle, or at least thought about it, then my bars twisted, my entire body followed, and I slammed into the tarmac.

“Oh, this again…” I started to think. And then a bike rode over me, which honestly didn’t seem right at all, and then everything got heavier. Something pressed my head onto the road and I stupidly thought, “I’m glad I have my Oakleys on,” as I continued to slide across the road under the additional weight of a guy on a carbon fiber bike. On my face.
My brain either stopped or started working at that point. Still pinned onto the ground like a beached mermaid, I blubbered horrified apologies, until it was suggested that I pick myself up. The carbon fiber bike guy had skinned and cut up his chin. The guy behind him turned out to be Watanabe-san, a teammate I’d never met before but know on Facebook. I wanted to die of embarrassment.

Everyone was, thankfully, okay [bikes included]. A bit banged up, I waited for my hands to stop shaking before clipping in to ride home. My left arm hurt, and I didn’t want to see what shape my knee was in. Still running on adrenaline, I had weirdly grateful thoughts, like how glad I was that I had on a Giro helmet, because I could stash my Oakleys up there with my one functional hand. The light in front of me turned red and I pulled on the front brake. Bad idea.

I hailed a confused cab driver to take me home. Damage was assessed, and hospitals called. My left arm was useless by the time I got to the ER, but wasn’t met with much sympathy. “You fell off your bike? Hmm, well, you can raise it, so I don’t think it’s broken,” the doctor said, almost bored. X-rays confirmed he was right, that I’d only banged up my nerve. He gave me a sling before looking at my knee.

“So, do you play any sports?” he asked.
“Yeah, cycling.”
“...Oh, so you were on one of those race bikes? How fast were you going?”
“I don’t know. Not that fast. I was at a light and it changed…and then I fell…and then the guy behind me kind of ran over me.”

Ah well, shit happens, right?
[The arm’s better today [I can type!], and hopefully I’ll be back on the bike in a few days. Thanks to everyone who emailed/tweeted/Instagrammed!]