Thursday, October 30, 2008

Freeze-dried, black and piping hot.

About when I was thinking I might be writing this blog all by myself, I got an email from Eric (you know, that guy I'm doing some silly race with next summer) at 3am with his first entry in the impending saga of our conjoined lives.

Let me set the stage:

Just as I was sitting in a coffee shop in the midwest last week thinking about bikes but not getting to ride them, Eric was likely sitting in a dark basement laboratory, or the dark basement he lives in, grinding away at his PhD thesis last night, thinking about bikes and similarly not riding them. (Don't worry, we promise this will change soon) It says a lot about who he is, why he's here, and what is to come over the next few months, and once we get all that important stuff out of the way, we can talk about racing.

******** Begin Eric********

Again, it is far too late for any reasonable effort, yet it seems these are the hours of my day. Slowly, steadily, I’m slipping into that lifestyle where, under the burden of too much to do or too little done, everything gets packed into the midnight hours in hopes of making up for lack of direction. It’s my job (a blessed one) to understand, and understanding comes only by thinking, which like racing, requires the courage to face the unknown and the daily patience of training. It's just that training is no substitute for competition. How I dream of the day when I publicly challenge my advisor to find chink in my logic. Wake me after I’ve defended my thesis.

That other kind of training--the kind with wheels--seems so far away now, unless an elevated heart rate from continuous ingestion of coffee can act as substitute. Unlike some other cyclist’s taste for low-fat half-caf lattes with no-fat foam and carob sprinkles (just a few, thank you), I take mine richly roasted - the slow accumulation of reheated flavor from a seldom washed lab coffee pot. But I diverge, my plan for the coming months is the “one-a-day” plan in which I try to hold on to as much as that hard earned endurance as possible, mitigated loss. I have yet to run it by my training partner. But, as I’ve never stuck to more than the vaguest notion of a plan, unless throwing down with Keith on hammer rides can be considered training, I don’t have high expectations for it. I did make a valiant attempt tonight. I polished off a super burrito, slipped into my favorite chamois and jersey, and then let set off on my trainer ride, letting the inspiration flow from that Hollywood classic “The Fast and the Furious”. It's actually an exceedingly good film if you rate it on the frequency of eye candy, seriously. I mean the care that went into crafting this totally plebian film is captured in these lines, [Brian] "You sure know your machines, you should be going to MIT or something." [Jesse] "Yeah, but I have this know..." [Brian] "Attention deficit disorder?" [Jesse] "Yeah that's it." Quality. But almost anything is better than a 22nd viewing of “Floyd Landis: Hero or Villain”. Perhaps motivated by the evening’s entertainment, needing to clear my head I found myself considering for a moment the possibility of a midnight ride in the thrashing winds of an Autumn storm bearing down on New England. In an earlier day I might have done it, but tonight, after a triumph at lab four years in the making I feel that I’ve learned a bit about how to choose my battles. When I first entered this grand culture of cycling I might not have resisted such temptation. That might also be why some triumphs take four years.

So here we are, starting this grand adventure with a new element, the blog, for which I have three main aspirations. First, that we can use it as a reminder of the goal and the deal we have made, to motivate each other to train and prepare for this adventure. Second, that in doing so we can tease out some of the more elusive meanings to our motions. And lastly, that we may entertain ourselves and others by our words. I think that in making a commitment to this effort, it would be prudent to start with an account of what we have, that is, our dreams and ambitions.

When I think of the ideal life, it’s one where I might greet my colleagues tired and battered, but walk yet with the levity of victory. It’s one where on the starting line my competitors might call me Dr. Edlund, though I might suffer more because of it. It’s one where the suffering we endure makes us gracious and wise. We should aspire to live a passionate life, drawing from and giving to the stories of legends. I am honored to be embarking on this mission with Keith, and hope that with the courage to ride what comes, the coolness to flow with it, and the patience to try again, that I can learn some of his grace.

I’m not sure what I’m in for, but know that it’s good to dream of the future. With the inception of my thesis writing and graduation looming it’s hard to say where this year will take me. It’s good when heading off into new territory to take a survey of the land and set your bearing by some prominence – I think a mountain top somewhere will serve well.

******** End Eric ********

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