My dad, the badass biker
September 14, 2005
My dad is 64 and he still kicks my ass.I was reminded of this once again last weekend when he came to town to do the Ride for the Cure. Of course he did the 100-mile ride and I pussed out and did the 33-mile loop since I haven’t ridden my road bike once this whole summer. I just leave it parked next to my mountain bike on the front porch where I can stare at it and admire how cool it looks. Plus, my dad isn’t the kind of guy who sits around and waits for me, and 100 miles is a long way to fly solo, so that’s my other excuse. You could say Dad is a bit on the competitive side. It doesn’t matter if it’s running, biking, snowboarding or seeing who can do the dishes faster – it’s always a contest with him. Like that time we hiked up Aspen Mountain and he dusted me in the first five minutes and said, “What the hell took you so long? I can’t believe you’re my kid!” when I finally made it to the top. We’re talking about a guy who counts the number of runs he does in a day of snowboarding and a former marathon runner who used a rotation system for the dozens of running shoes he kept stacked in boxes in the closet with numbers on them. My mom only lets him do one marathon a year because he got so fanatical about training. After the Boston Marathon one year, he was so exhausted he passed out after taking a shower and smashed up his face on the bathroom sink at the Sheraton. He looked like a Jewish Rocky Balboa. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s turned his competitive prowess to road biking now that his running career was cut short by an arthritic hip. Unlike Lance, he’s all about the bike. Sometimes he’ll go for a mountain bike ride and then hit the road in the same day, so stiff at night that he shuffles around the house without bending his knees, like he belongs in a nursing home. It’s painful to watch him creep from the couch to the kitchen for more snacks to replace the 10 million calories he burned. I seriously don’t know how my mom can deal with it. He’s not exactly humble, either. He loves to brag. The greeting I got on my last visit to Steamboat was, “Guess what. I rode 94 miles today.” His favorite story of the summer was how he went for a ride with his 35-year-old neighbor and beat him back home by five minutes when the guy “boinked” halfway through the ride. I’m like, “Dad, it’s ‘bonked,’ not ‘boinked.'” He’s like a flipping 10-year-old.”It’s just a ride, not a race,” he repeated over and over the morning of the Ride, though not to anyone in particular. He was so laid back about the whole thing that we were late getting to the 8 a.m. start. On the way into downtown Aspen, we got stopped at the roundabout, where cyclists were already heading up to Ashcroft on the first of many climbs along the route. “How far is this from the start?” Dad asked.Knowing my response would determine his next move, I fibbed a little bit and said, “Like a mile.” “Let me out,” he said, his hand already braced around the door handle. Before I had a chance to look in the rearview mirror to see if he’d managed to get his bike off the rack okay, he was off. He looked like a little kid going off to camp, more interested in what lay ahead than what he left behind.The “short loop” didn’t start until 11 a.m. from Woody Creek, and it still kicked my butt. I seriously thought I was going to die. I figured 30 miles was nothing and chose to do the ride without gloves, in my mountain bike shoes, which are nice and cushiony and comfortable. What I didn’t anticipate was the foot cramps that would result, seizing the ball of my foot and radiating pain through my toes. I think my bike might be a little too big for me because I tend to hold the bars with just my fingertips, and then my knuckles when my fingers get tired. I must have a really big brain, too because my neck was killing me from holding my head up for three hours and my butt hurt so much it felt like I was impaled on that damned skinny seat. I don’t even want to think about how the men can manage.Speaking of men, the best part of the ride was seeing all those badass cyclist dudes and their pumped, shaven legs that look more like organs than limbs, all those veins and sinewy muscle sticking out like that. I kept imagining what their calves would taste like with a little barbecue sauce. But the thing I was really thinking about was how I could be so tired knowing my old Dad was doing more than three times the distance I was.We passed each other as I was coming down Snowmass Creek and he was going up.”Hey! How the heck did you get in front of me?” he said, looking more than slightly shocked. Instead of being really cruel and just shrugging, I explained they started the short-loop riders at 11 a.m., well ahead of the lead pack. With just in excess of 30 miles left to go, he was tired, but far from exhausted. “I was thinking I’d ride home to get the car afterward, just to get those extra two miles in I missed at the start,” he said.I should have known my dad is all about going the distance.The Princess is still recovering and really needs a neck massage. Send your loving e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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