Coincidentally, I am sitting in the Oakland airport waiting to board a flight to Phoenix for our Grand Canyon trip. Also, it is Easter Sunday. Phoenix and Easter are great metaphors for a cycling story I have. We have probably all experienced moments in our lives when we “died” and then were re-born. Not to be overly dramatic, but in cycling terms I died and rose from the ashes. In October 2009, my Giant road bike was stolen. The thief had a lot of nerve, having walked down the ramp into my office building’s parking garage, within view of where the attendant sits, and cut the lock attaching my bike to the rack. The video camera showed him walking it back up the ramp and leaving, right around 4:30pm. Naturally, I was stunned when I went to leave that day and my vehicle was missing. The police took my report and watched the area for a couple of days afterward, but I knew it was unlikely I would ever see that bike again, and I was right. I checked Craig’s list for weeks afterward to see if it would be up for sale, to no avail. The other nervy thing about the criminal was that he left his own bike right across the street, unlocked, for days; no one took it. I certainly didn’t want it — it was very low-end. Eventually, it disappeared, and I assumed the thief simply returned and picked it up!
I have experienced that sinking feeling and sense of loss before: in 1989, my Honda Civic was stolen near the El Cerrito BART station. Eventually, miraculously, the police recovered that car for me. No such luck with my bike. It’s fairly traumatic to suffer major theft, as many people know. I still miss that bike and its killer paint job. However, it was only a material possession, and of course I got over it.
Like the Phoenix, we can be reborn, because we really have no choice. My homeowners insurance actually covered the theft (which still amazes me, since it did not happen at my home). My deductible is pretty high, so I was still out a lot of money; however, I ended up with a new, slightly better bike with all the accessories replaced. I bought a Specialized Roubaix Expert Triple, which means the front gear set has three rings, and the smallest is very helpful on the Mount Diablo ascents. Although the bike is great and has nice components, I simply couldn’t find any bike with a paint job that approached my old Giant. OK, OK, I will stop pining…
It actually took me a long time to re-establish the level of riding I had been doing before the theft, which really took the wind out of my sails, so to speak. Even though I had a brand spanking new machine, I did not ride all that much throughout the winter of 2009-10. Normally I ride about 250 miles per month, but I was doing 100-150 for quite some time, and in December 2009 I did exactly one ride of 20 miles. I know this because I keep a log of my rides, down to the tenth of a mile, including the date and destination. My heart just wasn’t in it for some reason. I don’t recall, but the weather that winter may have had a lot to do with it. On the other had, I did reach the summit of Mount Diablo about a month after getting my Roubaix, so I did have some motivation.
Gradually, I built up my mileage again. After a great vacation to Hawaii in April 2010, I was re-energized. In May I managed 320 miles, including a 52-mile circumnavigation of the mountain and one trip to the top. Other great rides are to Crockett via Franklin Canyon and the “three bears” through Briones and into Orinda. In some ways I grew stronger than ever. I totaled exactly 3,000 miles in 2010 by riding 32 miles on the last day of the year. I have grown to really like my Roubaix. Another nice development was that, unlike 2009, I was not experiencing much of the right knee tendinitis I had before.
As with other aspects of life, it’s important to set goals and try to achieve them, and cycling is no exception. I like to set goals for the mileage I will do in a given year and the number of times I summit Mount Diablo, and I have always met them. In 2011 I hope to summit the mountain more often (I have already tied last year’s mark) and exceed last year’s mileage (on pace to smash that number). I will also tackle my first “century”, or 100-mile ride, when I do the Wine Country Century in May. I have already set a new personal best with a 73-mile ride to Livermore and back, in March.
Despite the heavy amount of rainfall we have had in the Bay Area, in each month of the year so far I have topped what I did a year ago. I like to think I am impervious to the weather. Cold? Bah, it’s not cold around here compared to most parts of the country. Rain? Sometimes you have to suck it up and ride anyway. As I did in March when I rode the Three Bears and covered 43 miles, much of it in pouring rain and temperatures in the 40s. Once I got soaked through, I was shivering and had to stop and seek shelter for a few minutes a couple of different times. Nevertheless, I finished that ride!
And that is the point: persevere, keep pedaling, keep being re-born and overcoming obstacles. Whether in cycling or any other endeavor, setting and achieving goals keeps me young at heart.