Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer reflections

Cross is just around the corner and the dirt crits only have 2 more races! Pretty crazy that the summer has gone by so quickly. I haven't blogged much, mostly because I haven't had too much to say with respect to my cancer...which generally seems to be the more therapeutic and justifiable topic upon which to blorg. I mean blog. Bike racing, riding, and training this year is something I feel is simultaneously a selfish but extremely humbling and gratifying experience. I guess I should try to write more about the humbling and gratifying part.

With respect to dirt bike riding, other riders (namely Pirtle and Chris Ploch), the trails, weather, bike parts flatting or breaking, and training all keep kicking my butt. I'm glad I've been able to pull myself up each time, but there have been some nasty crashes while mountain biking and some close calls on the road. Time spent on the bike this year is around 280hrs and around 4000miles have been ridden. Last wednesday I was out doing 20min intervals and puked in my mouth. Jeez. This is totally and completely all for fun and even upon reflection looking back on the money spent, time taken from other parts of life, and the amount of energy going into riding...I guess I really am an adrenaline junkie. But strangely, probably 90% of my time riding I'm in a very different place with my mind, emotions, and spirit than the fight-or-flight catecholamine induced high of adrenaline pumping through my veins. I love this form of being outside and I love the feeling of crushing a steep hill and then shredding a downhill on my mountain bike. I love the sound and feeling of floating down the local farm roads on a road bike. And I love the solitude and beauty encountered while riding gravel roads that always, eventually, connect to the katy trail along the Missouri river, what an incredible part of this continent!

I'm addicted and I don't think I get addicted easily to things.

The racing is amazing, but I imagine at some point in the next 2-3 years (basically when I'm done with my research and PhD) racing probably won't happen at all. So it goes. This year I'm lucky enough to keep things pretty well balanced. I've found myself the homemaker, a very happy father and supportive husband, and still able to get some good work done as a scientist. And racing has fit in. I'm stoked to give it my all this year and next...keeping things super amateur, ultra-fun, and hopefully safe.

I spent some energy earlier this year trying to somehow unite all of what is above, with some type of cancer-service-based thing. I tried to get a race team involved with Pedal the Cause but things haven't worked out. I don't usually say this particular phrase, but 'it isn't meant to be'. I guess one of the reasons I'm drawn to science and medicine is that I just simply don't understand business. Oh well. It ultimately has just felt like this lofty goal was just some way of justifying an ultimately somewhat selfish activity. But like I said, I'm all good with that. Life is short, you gotta do things you love each and every day if you can.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Presence, Sadness, and smiles.

My wife has an incredible ability. It has manifest a few times now, but most recently this past friday I was in St Louis and she was working on the burn unit in her surgery rotation here in Columbia. I usually text or talk on the phone at least a few times per day just to check in, ask questions, or make plans. But last friday I hadn't heard a thing. She didn't respond to my emails, texts, or calls. At about 6pm, I started getting freaked out. A little while later, I had worked myself up and was in the process of trying to contact a med student I knew was on the service with her just too see if she'd seen her that day. Then I realized I could page her, so I did and within a few minutes I was relieved to hear her voice on the phone at around 6:30pm. She'd been there since 6am and had no idea what time it was. She thought it was mid-day. She said that she was so focused on what she was doing that she hadn't checked her phone, looked at her email, or even thought about anything else besides patients, doctors, nurses, and surgery. Can you imagine that kind of focus? I know I don't have it. I'd have checked my email a few times, looked up tour results, and generally would have not been fully present for a descent portion of the day. Man, I sure hope I get a doctor like her next time I need surgery.

A friend lost his young child this weekend. I thought a lot about Dwayne and his family this weekend. I thought about suffering and pain. I thought about biology and fairness. It is a very sad time and I hope for peace and healing to the Goscinski's.

It was good to get out on saturday and to do Pfoodman team's Castlewood race. These guys always put on great events and I love racing at Castlewood. Everyone there seems to have the Goscinski's somewhere in their mind that day and it was good to see that there are so many positive and friendly people involved in mountain biking in the St Louis area.

The race went well. It started with a Lone wolf (big wall of a climb). I was 3rd wheel going in and as soon as the grade increased, I passed and put in a good tempo pace...nothing that felt crazy, just a solid pace. Nearing the top, I turned around and has a pretty good gap on the field! After some rocky ridge riding we hit a technical descent with lots of switch backs. I rode pretty well, but got caught by Chris Ploch...who's pretty ridiculous in descending. We rode together for the first lap (of three). I had no problems with the exceptions of the descents...way out of my comfort zone. Starting lap 2, I attacked on the start hill. Got a little gap but he clawed back on the ridge. He was on a dualie and he gapped me on a short rocky straight section where he could pedal very efficiently. That was right before a descent, so the gap stuck and the rest of the race I kept trying to close it but couldn't make it happen. Psyched for 2nd on the day and a great time at an awesome event!

Irish Blessing for the Goscinski's:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there... I did not die...