Monday, January 26, 2009

The Odometer of Life Rolls Over

I feel 50 today.

Which is probably only fair, as I turn 50 tomorrow. And, this past weekend, I celebrated my impending birthday in a classic Randoboy fashion: I rode twice my age.

Background: When I turned 40, I was large. Bluto large. My nickname was Fat Bastard. We're talking almost 300 pounds here.

I'd spent most of my 30's getting there, and as the 10's digit on my Life Odometer rolled over, I knew that I didn't want to spend the rest of my (probably shorter and more miserable) life that way. So I changed some things. No surgery or any of that crap, just got dedicated, lost weight, and started exercising.

I'd been addicted to food, so I became addicted to exercise. And hence was Randoboy born.

The Birthday Ride Begins

For Christmas that year, the Randowife bought me a new Novara hybrid from REI. On my 41st birthday, I took that bike up to the Silver Comet Trail -- a paved rails-to-trails path just north of Atlanta -- where I rode 20.5 miles west, turned around, and rode back. It took almost four hours, but I had ridden my age on my birthday.

For most people, that would be enough. But did I mention that I am an addict?

I did the "ride your age" thing until my 46th birthday. We lived in Tampa then, and the weather on the weekend nearest my birthday was excellent, so I rode 46 miles on the Withlacoochee Trail -- another rails-to-trails, but north of Tampa -- then turned around and yadda-yadda.

I meant it as a fluke. Honest. No way I was going to continue riding twice my age on my birthday.

Maybe part of being an addict is being a little obsessive-compulsive. You get into a pattern, and can't break it.

More likely it's this: Once you've started riding twice your age on your birthday, you've started proving something. I don't think it matters very much to anybody else, so it's just something I'm proving to myself. And what it proves to me is that, as long as I can ride twice my age, I don't have to start acting my age.

So, How Old Am I?

Saturday, I rode the George Dickel Permanent with Jeff Sammons, Jeff Bauer (no relation), Peter Lee, and Alan Gosart. Jeff Bauer and Peter were on Jeff's tandem -- it was Peter's first ride on any tandem, and for him to do 136 miles is phenomenal. For him to do it in the weather we had Saturday ... well, there's no word for it in your Earth language. On Tralfamadore we'd say it's w9lk4nsok32@$DDw09.

When we started, the freezing rain had just stopped in Nashville. The winds were blasting out of the north at a steady 15 mph, so with Jeff and Peter on the tandem it was all I could do to grab that wheel and try to hang on as we zoomed south. We averaged 19 mph to the George Dickel Distillery in Normandy, TN, even after missing a turn and getting 10 "bonus" miles.

Then we started north.

It was warmer by then, but the wind cut right through you. Again, I held onto that tandem wheel for dear life, because Jeff and Peter continued motoring. When we got back to the YMCA in Brentwood, our average speed was 17.5 mph.

I was tired and hungry, and ate lots of pizza with the Randowife and Randodaughter that evening. We were supposed to go out to dinner, but I didn't have the strength.

Not Bad for an Old Man

But I wasn't done yet. I had put together a flat tempo course for my friend Lisa Starmer, and she was going to ride it Sunday afternoon with some other racer friends. I figured I'd ride with them for as long as I could, since I needed some fast miles, too. We ended up riding over 60 miles during the cold, windy afternoon. They rode fast, and I somehow managed to stay with them. It was probably that "proving something" thing again. If you rearrange the letters in the word "stubborn," you can make "stupid." Okay, you have to turn one "b" upside down and flip the other, but you get the point.

So, I get home from that and I am done. Blown. Toast. Burned toast. Barely carbon.

Well, you get the picture.

But there is pasta in my future, because the Randowife and Randodaughter were taking me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bucca de Beppo. And when we get there, it's a freaking surprise party! So I get to eat pasta with my two favorite ladies and a bunch of my friends.

Here's a picture of us at dinner. You probably won't recognize most of these people because they aren't wearing helmets and/or spandex:

Does it get better than this?

Well, a kiss from a pretty girl about tops it off.

So, how old am I? My legs feel like I'm 197 miles old, but my soul tells me I'm 12.

Which do you think I'm gonna listen to?