Sunday, February 9, 2014

Alone And Yet Together

We are planets to each other, drifting in our orbits to a brief eclipse …
On Saturday morning I did a 2-hour indoor trainer ride at Pleasant Valley Tennis & Fitness Club, where the annual Police Unity Tour Spinathon attracted a small but enthusiastic crowd. Most attendees experienced the event as a Spinning class, riding stationary bikes to the accompaniment of high-energy music while following the directions of an instructor. But that’s not my style. I took my own bike, my own indoor trainer, my own plan and my own music.

I would never use headphones/earbuds on an outdoor ride; it’s just not safe. And I have never been that bored with my surroundings. Even on an out-and-back Eisenbahn State Trail ride, away from the danger of motor vehicles, I still want to hear the world around me. But I do get bored on the trainer. Selecting the right mix of tunes on my MP3 player is a simple way to ensure I do intervals as my effort rises and falls with the tempo of the music.

I grew up in the album rock era and adopted the habit of listening to records from start to finish. Those songs were laid down in that order for a reason. In the 1980s I switched from LPs to CDs but I never touched the shuffle button on my CD player. So, my MP3 player is set up in a way that probably is different from yours. All of my MP3s are full-length albums. I get why other people create playlists or shuffle through thousands of singles, but for me old habits die hard.

For the Spinathon, my musical accompaniment was “De Stijl” and “Elephant” by the White Stripes, followed by Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” It was a good mix of fast and slow. When I was done, I rode my bike outside for the first time in 2014. I won’t count it in my stats, though, as it was a journey of only 100 feet from the door to my vehicle. And I was coasting most of the way. And I had changed into jeans. But most importantly, I didn’t have my Garmin.

On Saturday afternoon I spent an hour snowshoeing at Pleasant Valley Park, packing down yet another dusting of powdery snow in an effort to keep the trails accessible for the fatbike guys. I thought about getting on the snowshoes today, but time got away from me. I hit the indoor bike trainer again, though, just like my 12-week plan demanded. No MP3 player this time; I stayed reasonably entertained by the Winter Olympics.

In the week to come there is more trainer time on my schedule, and probably more Olympic coverage to keep boredom to a minimum. I also need to scrape a few pennies together for Team Pedal Moraine’s annual Bontrager gear order. For me, the big expense will be a set of race wheels for my mountain bike. They will look much the same as the stock wheels, but the weight difference should be noticeable.

Team Pedal Moraine itself will have a different look in 2014. A couple of people moved on to other teams or other interests, but we added a male road racer and two more women: one of the best female mountain bikers in Wisconsin and a new racer who says she wants to focus on cyclocross. Women now make up about 20 percent of the team. You’ll still see us in our familiar orange kit, but this year we’re also rolling out an alternate kit in pink. No fooling! Back in 2011, I got heckled at the Kirke Vei Time Trial while sporting my orange team kit. A racer from Big Ring Flyers shouted, “Come on, mountain biker!” It wasn’t a fitting description—I didn’t really start racing mountain bikes until 2012—but that was and still is the reputation of the team. This year we’re going to be a little more balanced, with better representation in road and cyclocross events.

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