There are lots of things I truly love about Boulder.
The sun setting behind the foothills, or the Flatirons; the evenings of crisp air that are neither humid or chilly - they are perfect.
The quality of life that embodies the existence of each person I talk to who lives here; in effect it changes their perspective. Small stuff doesn't appear to be sweat much in Boulder.
The Boulder Creek - the flowing water that often has quite a current. I wander there with various friends at various hours of a given day. The water is cold enough to be a good lower body soak but not so cold that we shiver. We submerge our lower bodies and watch the occasional person float by on an inner tube. Funny...
There are lots of things I love out here...
But I think what I love the most is doing everything from my front door. I have a little cruiser bike that I ride most everywhere. Boulder is so bike friendly that there are bike stands all over the place. There are more bikes parked at restaurants than cars. I always smile at that.
On almost every ride I've done at some point I'll see someone I know. That is fun. :)
The other day after fixing my second flat, I thankfully was only about 5 miles from home, out of co2's, and cautiously rode slowly on the rim. I wanted to limit the walking required. At one point a yellow blur goes FLYYYYYYYYYYING by me, but looks back and then stops. He unclips and smiles, "Sharpie!" It's my good buddy, Jeff Keil, whom I hadn't seen since Kona in October. On the road shoulder he gives me a hug and asks what I need. I tell him I'm just going to ride on the rim home, that I am almost there, and he suggests we give it a bit more air. He grabs his small pump only to discover it's broken. We laughed at that. Good thing HE didn't need it 70 miles out in open country road. :) He saw by the way I was hunched over that I was hurting a bit and asked how I was doing. Better, I said, but still not too good. "You hang in there, kid. We're all pulling for you", he responded as he pushed off.
I've been riding steady 2-hour rides, even done a couple 3 hour rides. Physically things are status quo. I still dismount the bike to a hurtful lower back, but the lingering ache which stays with me for hours afterwards seems to have improved significantly. So, I'll take it.
Better still, a couple weeks ago JZ took at look at me riding on a trainer. She wanted to look at my form and some basic mechanics because she has been baffled. This chick is like the "athlete whisperer", I swear. Her instincts are sometimes really eerie. She has long been baffled by how poor my cycling became over the years. In 2003-2004, I was a pretty strong cyclist, then something happened. She's taken a personal interest in helping me (how fortunate am I to have her on my side?), wanting to solve the puzzle that seems to contain more riddles than clues. She said in her usual scrappy tone, "This is my project for the summer - figuring out what the hell is going on with your riding!" She saw the decline in my performance for herself training with me over a few seasons. Each time I came back to train in Boulder, different weeks and different seasons, I had become a weaker cyclist. Only another elite could notice that.
As I pedaled on her trainer she noted some things, a couple of which pretty significant... mostly related to my positioning and power output. She suggested a few very specific things to work on when I ride, and each time I have been on the bike, I have consciously worked on them.
Something is now very different. Though my back still aches, I have actually had a few rides where I have felt strong. Often times like my old self several years ago before something with my riding changed. I am most definitely out of shape, but the power output I am producing is very, very different. I can just feel it. Even my position now on the bike just feels like it did years ago. My body remembers even when I didn't.
Today I rode for a couple hours and laughed to myself with a metaphor that came to mind. For some reason, I thought of Peter Pan looking at his shadow. Peter had forgotten who he was, what he could do, his powers... until he saw his shadow ... and the shadow said, "Oh, there you are, Peter!" I smiled at this today, feeling something related. Today my spirit caught up with my body, or my body caught up with my spirit - one of those. ? :) At the end of my ride I felt out of shape, but I felt like an out of shape cyclist - not some slow ass on a bike who can't ride.
Only I know the difference, because only I know what this reality has been for several seasons.
I won't be racing in 2008... but if I can return to give it one more go for 2009, I know both Carole and her shadow will be in sync...
"The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory."
- Vince Lombardi -