I know that you know that cycling is therapy. I somehow slipped into a bit of a coma the last couple of days, maybe it's just re-adjustment and maybe I'm tired or maybe I just have to realize that every once in a while my testosterone levels slip and I have my man-flow. For whatever reason, I did not feel like waking up the last few days. The therapy is failing me.
I dip into many wells of inspiration when I feel like this. I start a couple of books, see how far they get me. I throw some useless shit in the garbage. I go to bed early or I stay up late scouting a possible long term stay in Italy for the next trip. I watch movies, but they disappoint. I watch some of my TV shows, but they seem stale.
I watch some of the Giro. I watch the Tour of California. None of it stirs me. I'll make myself a nice meal and pour a heavy glass of wine, knowing full well the glass is useless, it's just the middleman between me and that bottle. And all three of us know that bottle is getting kicked.
I got a new job this week, down in DC. I still don't know if I want it. It's a conundrum I find myself in often; I want to be creative and involved, but I don't want to be obliged. I made this commitment to myself three years ago to chase only those joyful pursuits, and to straight-arm anything else from getting into my bubble.
I'm just stressed, a bit, I guess. The truth is I deal most excellently with stress, in fact, I strive in it's face. I am efficient, calculating, and viciously determined in my battle with it, but if I see it is a fight I cant possibly win, I haul ass the other direction. That's not cowardice, it's self-preservation.
I climbed onto my bike this afternoon, despite not wanting to do so. Historically, I get over myself at around mile 20 and all is good again. Those natural pain-killers kick in and even Joe Cochran could not complete with the passion with which I am conjuring to belt out lyrics to whatever it is Pandora has chosen for me.
But today, at exactly mile 32.6, as I was cresting a hill, I began to cry. It would not be my first time shedding a tear on my bike, but this one came from nowhere in particular. It ended as quickly and as fiercely as it started. It was maybe 10 seconds long, but it made me stop peddling. And then it made me laugh. Because "what the hell?"
And the next 28 miles? I felt light as a feather.
Pain is normal on a bike. Euphoria is common but not consistent. I never know what kind of day I am going to have, despite putting almost the same things into my body on a daily basis. Today, some nugget of sadness needed to get purged, and though I didn't know it, it was only properly fermented until that exact moment in my ride. I was helpless, really.
These are the things that keep me getting back on my bike, day after day, despite rain or wind or cold, because I know that without my bike and me on top of it, melding with it, being in that moment, there is no other more effective way of getting my brain to stage a completely welcome coup d'etat.
I left New Zealand. Spent a week in Maui. Maui without a girlfriend/lover/wife/fill-in-the-blank is like turkey with no gravy. Unreal moist turkey with just the right amount of salt, but still, the gravy makes it. I needed that week as a book end though. I had Pina Colada's and cheeseburgers and rode almost everyday and saw whales, plowed through two books, and had my fill of steel guitars and tiki torches.
What I was most excited to come home to though, was a brand new Ridley Excalibur bike courtesy of Michelin tires. You might remember that I entered a video contest back in October to win a $7,000 (plus or minus) bike that I was going to give to charity if I won.
It was not my best video of all time, because I did it late one night when I stumbled upon the contest and entered it haphazardly (half-assedly.) Once it was up though, that was it.
And I don't know if you can win and lose at the same time, but I think I did it. Despite having the most votes, ultimately the decision was up to Michelin to pick the winning steed. I knew that from the beginning, and of course they had every right to exercise it.
But the notification that I did not win didn’t sit well with me. Not because I don’t like to lose, because I lose at plenty of stuff, like rat races and most recently, bicycle video contests. My video was very different from the winning one, and so they wanted something more upbeat; I accepted.
And while I have been taught to be gracious when both winning and losing, I felt I should speak up. A lot of people had invested a lot of time and effort into the voting process, including myself. I had spreadsheets that counted daily votes and projected final votes. I knew exactly how many votes I needed based on my average and versus the others averages. I went full retard, because when I care, I care 200%.
I waited a week or so, and then I could not contain it. I wrote an email. I admit that I threw a little weight around. I wasn't being a sore loser, I was being a strategist. I had nothing to lose by creating a stink. After all, it wasn't me who would benefit from it if it worked, but a kid, maybe many kids if the charity chose to auction it off and use that money to benefit all of them.
Two days later I got this from Ralph Cronin of Michelin: “I think what you were trying to do was awesome, donating the bike. What size frame, handlebar, crank etc. Let me try to make this up to you.”
They were going to make good, and they did just that. They sent it to my local bike shop, paid to have it built up, and it is beautiful.
I'm not clear why this occurred to me, to enter this contest, and then later, the decision to pass the spoils along to someone who couldn't possibly afford it. It just occurred to me, and it felt right, and I have to tell you, I love a happy ending.
I can't leave it at that without thanking Ridley, Shimano, and especially Michelin for stepping up for a good cause. Now, go out and buy their stuff. And thanks for voting.
Most of all, I'm just glad to have a positive story to report. They happen everyday, I assure you, but they rarely get a spotlight.
Even the hottest water seems cold after a while. Yes, people do get sick of sunsets. Yes, beautiful things and happy times, they all fade in vibrance, given time. Its not you, it's science. Science has shown that, in the long run, losing $20 out of your wallet is no more substantially life-changing that winning millions in the lottery. It is also scientifically proven that "getting there" is often more than half the fun, as the anticipation of a goal is consistently more gratifying than it's achievement.
So what? Is nothing worth it then?
Date: March 25th, 2013 Location: Whangarei, New Zealand
Wow, I have not updated in a while. Got one percolating though, for the whole week now.
But I should give a sum-up.
Rented a quad bike on 90 miles beach.
Drove to KeriKeri, spent two nights there on a farm (pictures). Went for a ride, wasn't feeling it.
Drove to Russell. Planned one night, spent three. Gorgeous little town. Just my speed. Ate at sunset every single night at the Duke of Marlborough. Lots of green lipped mussels and oysters and lots of books to choose from. I read "The Book of Knowledge,", volumes G and F, written in 1970.
Went for two rides there. Discovered the most beautiful piece of road pavement I've come across in NZ. One ride was a little over 80K and over 7,000vft. I felt out of my body the whole time (more later on this.)
Drove to Whangarei, where I am now. Planning on ride tomorrow and then it's a plane to Maui on the 28th. Finally got hotel booked. Keeping my fingers crossed. Since I waited so long, there wasn't much to choose from.
Video of the ATV rental:
I came upon a horse today. He was a very curious horse, not just because he was walking along a very deserted twisty road with a broken rope still wrapped around his neck and trailing underneath his hooves, but because of the way the brown and the white on him streaked his body less like a horse and more like a zebra. And his face, which was all white, and his eyes, which were a very very light blue, gave him the appearance of an albino, if that is a trait a horse can have. I couldn’t say.
But I have never seen a horse with such blue eyes. Both of them; steely, icy blue.
I included this picture because I desperately want to prove to myself that the reason that some of my posts seem to be conspicuously over-read is not because they include pictures of women (my most popular post included a picture of three hot Portuguese women), but because of it's content. Not that I give a sheepshit, but it'll be interesting to see. By the way, that's the New Zealand Olympic team. I triple checked to make sure.
Content: I had a kind of eureka-day. After staying at a crazy insane quiet BNB in the middle of nowhere, just like I like it, and where I was the only guest and treated like a King, I drove 350km's to Paihia, way up in the Bay of Islands. It was the kind of drive to induce a heart attack, if you are on that cliff, and since there are only a couple of bad radio stations to listen to, I began making some voice memos on my phone.