We have rain and 60 degree temperatures in the forecast for this week. While it's hard to believe that as I drove to work in single digit temps this morning, I hope that spring is coming fast. As the snow clears and the roads lose that layer of dirty crap, I start thinking about one of my favorite cross-training activities: cycling.
It's something that I try to do during periods where my legs don't feel the greatest (read...the last few weeks).
Whenever I hope on my road bike, I think about how different it is from running; especially running barefoot.
That's my bike. I don't know anything about bikes really. In fact, you could shoot bike jargon at me, and the only thing I would recognize is God's gift to bicycling: LANCE ARMSTRONG. If I ever lose my man-crush on Nathaniel Wolfe (opps...that was a secret), I'm replacing it with a man-crush for Lance.
I bought this bike on Craigslist for $1000 last year. Apparently that is a good price. It's a 1998 Trek 5500 OCLV. I don't know what makes it better than the 5499 other models I suppose Trek made that year. Maybe 5500 was the original price.
The word "OCLV" probably cost me an extra $500, because according to my wife (the materials engineer), that is an acronym for a really awesome kind of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber to me means a light, fast, and expensive bike. Therefore, carbon fiber also means, "please don't brake this bike, or your wife is going to karate chop you in the face."
I also know that Lance Armstrong rode it in the 1998 Tour de France. Well, not this particular bike. This bike sat in the garage of the dude I bought it from (let's call him Derek...I don't remember his name) for approximately 12 years next to a can of lighter fluid and a betamax player (I saw it in the ad...he wouldn't sell the betamax!). Derek, if you're out there, your garage smells like paint thinner and Winston cigs. And now...so does my bike seat.
It also has a custom paint job. To me, that means that no one else has to endure this crappy color. If Barney owned a bike, he would own this eggplant monster.
I gather this must be a road bike, because Lance rides on the road. Plus, the tires are so small that I lost my traction just thinking about gravel. A friend of mine said it looked more like a tri bike though. I don't really know what the difference is between a road bike and a tri bike. In my experience, in order to own a tri bike you need to like wearing adult onesies and shaving your body. Since I don't manscape, I'm going with road bike.
It's got Dura-Ace, which I guess is pretty cool also. I brought the bike down to my local bike shop to get it tuned up, and they asked me what the model was. I replied "1998 Trek 5500 OCLV with Dura-Ace", as instructed by Derek. The bike shop mechanic just replied, "Nice..." So I got that going for me...which is nice.
I'm always struck by how high-tech biking is in comparison to running. Biking is all about carbon fiber everything to lift that extra ounce off of your total weight. Calibrating your gear/shifter thingy to maximize your pedal stroke. Wearing those helmets during time trials that make you look like the light bikes in Tron (I'm assuming we're all old enough for that reference). It's about building up your butt callus. 'nough said...
I also don't know anything about maintaining a bike. The bike store guy said that I need to degrease my bike chain regularly. Then I need to grease my bike chain regularly. Sounds an awful lot like wiping my ass before I take a shit.
Of course I have no lack of gizmos while I run. You can't grow any of the fabrics I wear while running. They all wick moisture away to who knows where. My watch beeps at me to tell me just how out of shape I am. I have four different kinds of hydration waist packs with a variety of really small water bottles that I can place in ergonomically awesome positions. I have a box of stuff called Gu, which tastes about as good as it's name. And I have so much BodyGlide on you'd think I were a stripper (is that a bad image? sorry).
But I've always appreciated that the simple act of running requires nothing more than my legs, and a socially acceptable amount of clothing. I'm not good at painting word pictures, so I'll just say that it's all that hippie crap that everyone always says about barefoot running. Real "in tune with the earth, feel like a kid, happy as a pig in shit", kind of stuff.
I love it and I miss it right now. I feel sore and cranky and depressed. You'd think I was coming down off of meth, not a marathon. It's like the taper blues with nothing to taper to.
And riding a bike just isn't the same feeling. I'm more close to the earth than in my car, but the world's still passing me by a little too fast. Plus there are pads in my shorts. That's just not right.
I've read a lot of articles about absence from running due to vacation or injury makes you want to run more. I guess this is mine. I just did a few 3-mile runs and I can't wait to get back out there.
Just remember to appreciate the sport guys. You could be out on a Barney bike with an IT band tighter than Lance's bike shorts like me. Get out there and run!