Monday, December 12, 2011


i didn't want to ride today.

i wanted to ride all the other days. i wanted to ride when there was sunshine and when there wasn't, when the kids were asleep and when they weren't, when i had the legs, or watched that youtube video of that mountain stage, or when the coughing from the bunk bed drove me just that much more crazy, or when there was everything else to do, and all of it mattered more. as we all know, not wanting to do something, REALLY not wanting to do something, is often a sign that it should be done, and probably immediately.

so i choked down two cups of coffee. i got off the unmade bed, fully dressed, and dragged on my riding clothes. i put on chamois butter. i put on wool. i put on a hat and gloves and helmet and shoes and booties and a spare tubular and some water and a computer and a heart rate strap. i pumped up my tires. i walked down the steps. i did all of these things begrudgingly. i didn't want to ride because i wanted to pout. i'm really good at pouting. i'm really good at ignoring all of the great things that are there, and blowing all the not as great things completely out of proportion. i'm good at being a suck. and i know exactly where my daughter gets it from. (she couldn't make it through dinner without crying every third bite.) and so, even the thing i love to do, this two-wheeled pushing pedals thing, i did, begrudgingly, because i wanted to be an idiot and pout instead.

as soon as i clipped into the first pedal though, all that was gone.

it has always been this way. it hasn't always been this instantaneous - sometimes it takes longer than clicking into the first pedal to really get the head where it should be - but it has always worked just like this. riding has saved my mind, and my stupid, stupid heart, for as long as i can remember.

i'm beginning to hate my thirties. i long for all of those things i remember so fondly and have left so permanently behind. my hair. my self-assigned sex appeal. my inspiration. my creativity. my singular ability to feel, so intensely, so much more than anyone else, and give into it entirely, wallowing for time on end, in feeling. what a bunch of crap. well, not the hair part, but probably everything else. my thirties seem to have left everything else behind, replaced it all with mundaneness and broken dreams, and what the fuck is left to really get on about? a bunch of debt from my twenties? another load of laundry? more questions for which i have no answers? dark days and valleys ahead. or maybe just hills to climb. and i've always loved hills.

so i wallowed for a bit, then got on my bike, and fixed everything. as long as i was out there, doing a good job of staying in a base-miles-only heart rate zone, it was all going to work out. i breathed. i breathed. i spun little perfect circles, over and over and over. i blew a lot of stuff out of my nose. i sipped water. i stayed in the drops. i handled my bike. and we left everything behind. there is nowhere to wallow atop a steel frame made for me, to the hum of tubular tires on hand built wheels, breezing along in air crisp and clear and colder in the shade of leafless trees. obstacles must be dealt with immediately, usually preemptively, and hills must be climbed, because there's no other way out. to wallow would be to freeze. to stay would be to die. so we go.

when i was a kid in high school, i always wanted things to mean something. i loved ceremony, and would invent it for things most sensible people would have just gone through and forgotten. my first kiss was a big deal. my grades were important to me. i tried to save some experiences for times i could share them, the first ones, with certain people. usually i got it all wrong and fucked it all up and ended up doing things on the fly, but even then, i'd grab my huge bag of feelings, and plunk it down on the table, and expect to deal them in, dole them out, subject everyone else to my self. terrible. but i did it anyway. i guess that's what we do when we're high school kids - figure things out, usually the hard way. needless to say, i'd end up breaking my own heart on anything i could, big or small, ceremony and meaning or not, i'd break it a little or a lot, and go from there. somewhat by accident, i figured out that i could ride all this turmoil away.

i lived in a hilly rural area. the people i loved lived far apart. i often couldn't drive. so i rode. after one romantic endeavour or another, i had to ride home, wrestling with meaning and emotions and justifications for kissing a girl i wasn't dating. i wanted meaning. i wanted things to be profound. i also just wanted to kiss beautiful girls. conundrums and difficulties ensued. anyway, i had to ride home. with all this thought and feeling going on in my head, i tackled hill after hill, mile after mile of broken pavement, and i spun circles as perfectly as i could. and somewhere, somewhere on rockingham road, i processed all of that ridiculous emotion. maybe i justified things. maybe it all became that much clearer when there were bigger things (and hills) to worry about. maybe i just forgot to feel so much. but it worked. riding saved me from my stupid self. and i've been doing it ever since.

i don't get to ride to pretty girls' parties anymore, make out with people i shouldn't, then head home and come to conclusions with my hands on the bars and my head in a helmet. i stay home. i do dishes and homework and laundry. the diaper days have ended but the coughing has not. we need more soy milk.

riding will still save me. one click. two click. on down the street. up to the other street. breathing in and out. pacing. spinning. looking. breathing. in. out. gone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


in order for this to work, we've got to go a little faster.

there's the concrete, then the apron, then the blue part that the anglophones keep calling 'd'orré', then the boards, then the black line, the red line, and way up there, the yellow line.

we are attached to these brakeless machines through hands and feet, and these machines attach us to the boards. we must go a little faster.

we must look far, far to the left, always craning that way, pushing hard into what we see, into where we will be, in a moment's breath. there is no breathing. there is that stopping and starting and gasping like drowning or sobbing or exalting. it must be all three at once. like turning, and gravity, and speed, all working at once to threaten death while planting us ever more firmly into the boards.

we run through drills. on-drills and off-drills. hand drills. passing drills. calling out drills. maneuvering over the boards at any point in that glorious oval drills. black line drills. red line drills. never yellow line drills. an old man in a leather jacket, cap toe shoes, and an irish cap calls out the routines, demonstrates them with fluid grace in black leather gloved hand and black leather shoed foot. he is excited. he is not alone. other older men lead us around the track. gesture toward our lines. demand more and accept less. we learn. we progress. what time is it? we've been in orbit forever.

and i still can't get enough.

sometimes, we have speed and cohesion and grace. then we forget, or we get tired, or someone slows down or speeds up, and the flow that was there, leaves. we try not to crash into each other. we run up the boards in awkward lines on attached machines that are squeaky but moving, not stuttering like our pace, or rushing like our head blood.

here we go again.

on. up past the apron and the blue ribbon and onto the boards. in sprinter's lane. we are not sprinting. we are barely keeping up with the graceful stroke of the old man in lead. one by one, we practice passing on high. our pedals sweep past his grey temples, past his glasses, past his helmet that looks so oddly modern. we spin smoothly along, moving tubes of steel and circles of metal teeth past the skin on his face, past his wool jersey by nike, past his chrome lugged cinelli, and off toward another left turn. our necks ache. we check left out of the turns. we check right halfway through the straight. then we're turning again. all the blood rushes to the bottom of me. my vision gets blurry. my open mouth creeps into a vague grin. we're bounding out of the turn.

it's hard not to go faster. it's hard to stand or sit still once we're back off. we want to look over our left shoulders. we want to put on more clothes. the fans are off so that all we can here is our teeth chattering and the boards flexing under rider after whirling rider. we're blending in that cycle. jerseys turn to multicoloured swirls and boards turn into moments and teeth turn into clenches and time turns into space and those both turn into light and all we can see is the black line the black line the red line the black line.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011


snow fell in shards to cut the dry pavement and muffle echoes like silence like soft like shattering.

icy hands crept around warm, pulsing throats
and screams remained genderless
in a woolen handknit

radiators dripping spoonfuls of wasted heat rise
and tempered her
and the edges were no longer soft.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

a good day.

"someone just got a bike."

so read the text from my lady friend, as i sat ensconced in grading obligations and further demands of unsung assignments on a tedious afternoon. it was time to go.

after months and months of nothing going right, for one reason or five billion others, some things went right today. i love the way sunshine changes everything. it's a changing season, and the weather can't make up its mind as to whether or not to accept winter and forget summer, or tease us with promises of both in the same forecast. there is dew. there is fog. there are beautiful leaves everywhere, and short skirts when it's hot, and short skirts and mittens when it's not. this season suits my mind. i haven't yet made it up as to whether to jump into this thing or that, whether it's a matter of heart or training or genius or opportunity. i haven't decided to excel. and there's anything to do other than fail. so what now?

now, we have a great day. we started off with rain and a too-early wake up and a crying departure to daycare and a fendered fixie ride to a day full of grading. we did all of this without a lady friend. then there was much to do and it was done and it was good and it rained, a lot, even though it only had a 40% chance of happening, it soaked the streets and my pants as i pedaled home and back for hot lunch and to wait for the fedex guy. the computer i was supposed to buy got taken off the market. i didn't mail those photo discs, again.

half the day was a piece of crap.

then, the sun came out. little by little, it burned through the haze and made everything a little softer and warmer and brighter in a glowing kind of way, and i smiled, in spite of myself and everything else. the leaves got shinier and yellower and the streets dried up.

and my bike arrived.

i began to drive through the stacks of papers, planning my afternoon route and thinking of whether or not to test the tubular wheel. i thought of hills and time taken and how soon i could leave and how much work was left to do before i could sprint home.

and then work was done. i sprinted home. i opened the box. i built the bike. i checked it. i adjusted it. i threw on shoes and a helmet and jacket and took off.

the bike is damn fast.

even though i could only ride for 20 minutes and still be late to pick up the girls, that 20 minutes cleared up all the crap of the last however long, and put a smile right smack in the middle of my face. i picked up the girls still smiling. i made them dinner and didn't yell. i washed the dishes bare-handed to get the grease out of my fingerprints. i'm still smiling. it was a good day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


it was 5:30 in the morning, and i was freezing cold.

she had told me to wear the knee warmers she had loaned to me. she had told me to bring a jacket and warm riding gear. i had brought all of these things. i had checked the forecast. i was ready. i was layered and layered but not wrapped in a jacket. i had strong enough legs, doused in warming embrocation, but no knee warmers. it was 5:30 in the morning on saturday, and i was chattering my teeth down sixteenth street into the heart of washington, d.c.

best buddies is an organization dedicated to facilitating the interaction of persons with developmental disabilities with the rest of us and our disabilities. the fundraising requirements were steeper than the hills (we got some over 10% grade). the temperature was lower than my energy level after an all-night drive less than 24 hours before. and all around, there were smiling faces and ridiculously-enthusiastic rest stop spirit-cheerleaders. this was a great ride.

sometimes, the point is not to go fast. and sometimes, the point is to go, not fast. the entire day was spent trying not to break any teeth as they chattered in the shade, trying not to fall asleep after gorging myself at the rest stops. we stopped often. we ate much. we hydrated. and through it all, it was great to go slow. other than being cold, it was a great ride. never once was i worried about my equipment or whether or not i'd be able to keep up with the group. i had energy and time to do stupid things, like charge hills so i could pee at the top and jump back on before being passed, or pedal a super low cadence on the little hills on the course, coaxing a burning workout out of the slow, slow pace. best of all, i spent the day with a couple of guys i don't see often enough, and we did it on bikes, and we laughed heartily in spite of any and all discomfort. even if it was slow, it was well worth the drive.

i've been reflecting further and further this year, mostly on achievement of goals. as we all know, my goals are few, simple, and generally unexciting. my realtime goals lack panache, which is odd for someone of my own history, but they are true and few, and generally unexciting.

my dad told me once, when i was in high school, about a time when he was in high school, and he figured out that to do all the things he wanted to do, and be all the things he wanted to be, at that time, he needed three things: a really good camera, a really good guitar, and a car. i can't remember what the lesson was in that conversation (inevitably, there would have been at least one), but i feel like i've had those thoughts frequently in my life. if i could just get/accomplish these three things, i'd be set. of course, things are never this simple.

my job is relatively simple. unfortunately, it is starting to pile up and i am utterly unmotivated (hence the writing/procrastination right now) to do the homework that is sitting in the kitchen. my children are wonderful and rarely require above-and-beyond measures of being/parenting to meet their needs. my lady is solid and hard-working and even likes me every now and again. the big pieces of the puzzle have mostly been figured out. the part that grates on my mind, then, is all the stuff that hasn't been figured out, and that must be addressed, on one level or another, every single damn day. these things require myriad steps just to be solved or disposed of or cleared from my to-do list, and they are not simple and few like my goals; they are ubiquitous and incessant, like my insecurities.

i thought like my dad a little while ago, sure that i would be set once these few things happened or were acquired. i got and built a custom steel dream bike. i worked extra in the summer. i trained smart in running and got new shoes and stretched more than ever in my life. i did photography for free. i planted vegetables and drank smoothies and drove safely and made special trips for important events. and now all of those goals, all of those well-meaning pieces of the method puzzle, have come and gone and been tarnished by some aspect of the present reality. the dream bike has been anything but a dream since its acquisition and import to the country. the plantar fasciitis in my left foot has kept me off running for the last two months. the extra summer work pay has fizzled to goodness knows where. and all the safe driving in the world couldn't stop the utter destruction of the only things we invest in after the children and our overpriced educations.

now i'd be set if my homework was done, my bike was actually in my goddam house in full working order, and i had more than a hundred bucks to go on till the next paycheque. i'd be set if i got up in the morning and didn't have to take off the night brace that keeps my plantar fasciitis at bay. i'd be set if all the photography i do could actually be downloaded onto a computer that doesn't crash or run out of memory at the mere mention of an additional 3-MB file.

i don't mean to whine. of course, it's the easiest thing to do and write about, as happiness is too busy being enjoyed to be yearned for. it's just that these days, all the simple goals, simply achieved, have dissolved into dissatisfaction. it's time to achieve something else.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


i've been a bit of a hypocrite.

back in my younger days, having so much energy and anger-driven optimism, i took it upon myself to be exemplary. i was exhausted all the time, because i was doing so much, all the time, that i collapsed at the end of every day, utterly spent, and authentically beat. i woke up each morning to do it all over again, with slightly renewed fervor, and i never expected to stop, really, or at least, not until i was old and retired. i couldn't wait to retire.

all day, i spend the best of me with the youth, hoping for them and encouraging them and judging them and encouraging them some more. then i come home and spend the rest of me with my own young ones, loving them and encouraging them and hoping for them to be better than i ever will be. but i've been faking a bit these days. i've been dormant. i've been answering greetings with, 'fine thanks, you?' i've not been saying the whole truth. i've been lying.

in my day, i tell people what to do. and more than ever, it has become outright hypocrisy. i demand excellence in this format or that, but i do not put forth the greatest effort i can to be excellent. i speak highly of loving so hard it hurts, but i can't remember the last date i went on, or how exactly a dinner can be romantic. i talk about running fast, while i sleep with a night splint and a case of plantar fasciitis to beat the band. all this, and i can hardly come up with ideas for photo shoots, or grammatical examples for lessons on grammar, or other ways to write good.

hopefully, it's all just a case of the blahs. it's a case of not riding enough. it's a case of the house getting cold and winter-like and drafty again. maybe it's a case of going dormant before coming out again, swinging and sweating, in some kind of raging creativity. whatever it is, i hope the fog clears soon, and gives way to either sunshine or snow. something must precipitate.

Monday, October 10, 2011

32 spokes.

from the waning golden light on the back porch amid hopeful mosquitoes and the smell of liquid cement and acetone and rags, i looked long and hard at the rim, and committed. standing shirtless in white socks and birkenstocks and running shorts, i quietly refuse all logic and dive, headlong as usual, into something more mythical than practical. this is usually the way it goes.

and, as usual, the doubter calls out from the kitchen, checking my progress, laughing at my foolishness, hoping i don't glue myself to a stretcher.

i'm starting tubulars.

tubulars are tires from the days of yore, the earliest pneumatic tire design, and they are fussy. like wine, they are as much about tradition as they are about science. there is heated and endless debate about process and result. they have pros and cons and no one can agree on which ones are true. people swear by them. people get injured by them. people fix them. people flat them. people win on them. there's a tube sewn inside a casing with a tire laminated to the top. it's like a football on a bicycle wheel. it's supposed to stay there via chemical adhesive bond. glue. i'm going to rail 20mph turns on contact cement.

of course, i poured more wine. i had already finished a beer. this is a meditative process.

many hours and glue layers later, i was still in my funny outfit, though i had added an apron, now in the kitchen, on the counter, adding more glue. i was being careful not to miss a spot. i was wrestling with the one major flaw that will screw up any tubular tire glue job: impatience. i wanted to get another coat on the tire. mount the tire tonight. align it in the rim bed and let it seat and bond for the next couple of days. inflate it and enjoy the most phenomenal road riding tire system ever. but i don't have a bike. and the work week starts tomorrow. and we are out of wine.

so i was in the kitchen, gluing, and my lady friend, the doubter, responding to my question as to whether her ironman-triathlete-friend rode tubulars, stated matter-of-factly: no one rides tubulars.

thankfully, i am no one.

furthermore, i asked, somewhat dejectedly, why she always has to doubt the things i do. she said that she doesn't doubt, i just like to do complicated things and she doesn't have time for complicated things; she has enough complicated things going on otherwise. that got me to thinking. of course, complicated things are what get me excited. i like to figure things out. i like to fix and refurbish things. i like to pursue mythical things and steep myself in them. i like to love and make art and write (bad) poetry and take pictures and express and learn about stuff and understand systems so that i can adjust them. i like to have to glue my tires on. i thought, further, about complicated things. i wondered if i was a complicated thing. i wondered if my life was too simple, so i sought out complication in hopes of retaining some kind of validity. i don't think so. i don't think i have time for that. i think the things that i do that are complicated are done in simple ways, to the best of my ability. i think beauty is a complicated thing, and i think i've denied myself too much of it, and i'm sliding back into it, one goopy, stringy, sticky step at a time. i'm sure it'll be worth it, eventually. the first little whiles are always messy and steep.

so here's to being unnecessarily complicated, if only in the pursuit of something great. here's to sticking it out, process and result, just to see something through to the end. simple.


if i asked you to wrap your lips around
the parts of me that usually come undone
if i asked you to stem the flow
of so many deeds and oversown seeds
and all my pent up needs

would we still be on our knees?

or would we see beyond the trees and be lost in tangles
of undergrowth
and overgrowth
and exhausted metaphors for love

if i asked you to wrap your lips around
the parts of me
that always come undone
you would button me
fasten me
stem the flow

knees are for the things
we repent.

Friday, September 30, 2011


cardboard scrapes against metal like metal against wimpy liquid paint that is so pretty until i mar it, like a great afternoon gone bad because of a skipping chain or a nagging pain and a reminder that not all is perfect.

i rushed around today, thinking that if i rushed more and crossed things off of lists and put effort in any direction necessary, something would come of some direction, and i would get somewhere. that is, with a little luck, i would get somewhere. i've had some luck these days, and most of that has been bad.

i reflected on this as i rushed around, undoing car seats and overstuffing the yaris and wishing i had a damn pickup truck and a country song to go with it. i thought about what to call all of this since june. it's the season that could have been (but most certainly wasn't). i started cursing things, starting with surface frustrations like the fact that my ridiculously large bike box wouldn't fit easily into our ridiculously small car, that i had paid someone to box it no better than i could have, and certainly no smaller, that i had to send it off at all after less than a month of even riding it. cursing comes so easily, it's like blame; contagious and disgusting and ultimately dissatisfying. i cursed a few more things, getting right down to the nitty gritty: my obsession with bikes in the first place. lately, it's been blow after blow of things that would shatter the resolve of anyone more willing to leave these two-wheeled machines for things more lucrative, less taxing, simple. loving bikes is anything but simple. it started with the broken steerer tube. then there was the rear-ending. then the season was over. then the dream frame came, with a million dollars of duty and a black spot on my 'infraction'-stained passport. then the insurance settlement came in thousands of dollars under the mark. then the weeks filled up with things other than bikes. then the chain started rubbing against the seatstay. then it was october. is a seatstay going to make the world a better place?

i dropped some cash today on bike service and birthday presents for little people and takeout sushi for the girls. the only thing i rushed and felt fine spending about was the parenting stuff. i got way more excited about seeing my girls and giving them dinner on friday night than i did about getting my damn boxed bike to the shipping depot before closing. i think we know where the priorities are. i'm not a good bike rider. i haven't run for real in a month, while i wait for word on my plantar injury. i don't cook meals of variety, or hold multiple degrees in prestigious fields of study, or know more than ten species of deciduous trees or what the hell a mud puppy is. but i know that the best part of my day runs instead of walks, lights up my life more than fluorescent green oakleys or pink bar tape, and is pretty much the only part that matters.

Friday, August 12, 2011


the detail of memory is a terrible thing.

my memory cannot be trusted. i have no recollection of the time, on sunday afternoon, that we were so happy to have a whole and happy family, and a destroyed rack full of destroyed bikes. i cannot recall the last time i saw so much splintered glass around my children, and wanted nothing but to keep the calm in their eyes, the sweat on their foreheads. i don't remember license plate numbers.

i remember, in vivid detail, on a snowy night in november of my grade ten year, my first kiss with a beautiful girl named meghan, in a snowbank, on the side of a highway, under ten million stars. it wasn't yet my birthday. i remember pushing jada, her on her bike, me running in first edition shimano mountain bike shoes, down a gravel path, while we hoped for the bee sting to not swell any more, wondering if we should just use the epi pen now. i remember the first ride on my first road bike. i remember my mom teaching me, in sweltering virginia summer and tapered jeans and white reeboks, how to ride a bike on karen lee's pink huffy. i remember missing my daughter's first independent pedal strokes in the park, and getting choked up when she rode up to me, yelling that she was riding. i remember all those times i persuaded women to love me, because i couldn't love myself. i remember losing all of my friends, at one time or another, and gaining them back when we all grew up and forgot the stupid shit. i remember being romantic, or at least, feeling like a romantic and acting accordingly. i remember bent metal and streetcar tracks and hit and runs and kneeling in the rain on parliament street. i remember driving to temagami to get my heart broken once and for all. i remember when my heart could be broken.

the carpet has been pulled out from under us, again. i asked her why this seems to happen to us, all of the time, every now and again, and with devastating consequences. she said it's for the same reason that we'll never win the lottery: we can handle it. after this many days and no bikes, you should see us arguing...

Monday, August 8, 2011


watching auto glass shower the backs of my children's car seats, my first reaction was cynical rage. i call it cynical because i was ready for such a terrible thing to happen. this is the kind of thing that happens when you put ten thousand dollars' worth of bicycles on a two hundred dollar pink plastic bike rack on the trunk of a four thousand dollar sedan and drive it on the 401 on a sunday afternoon in the heat of summer. this is the kind of thing that happens when you've pieced together little dream machines and placed your dreams, precariously, into the ambivalent current of reality, and watched them with guarded hope as they carry along and flicker. she told me to take deep breaths as i yelled bad words into the dashboard. i took one. i unbuckled my seatbelt and took another. then i slammed the door upon exit, and hated every tinkling of falling glass as it hit the rear dash behind the perfect curls of my formerly-sleeping children.

nothing else is important.

i was in a rage, seething with absolute maniacal anger, because there was broken glass in my girls' car seats. i just itemized all of the immediate material costs of the event in order to illustrate their very lack of importance. it's like watching contador toss his ten thousand dollar bike into the ditch because he's got bigger things on his mind than a bit of carbon fiber and cabling. nothing else mattered. it was the glass in my children's car seats. it was the shock on their faces as one was woken from a nap and the other woken from something much more profound and even more innocent. it was the fact that they were closer to the danger than i was. it was the fact that i couldn't stop it or protect them. that's my fucking job, above all else, and i didn't do it. someone was going to suffer it, and damned if it was going to be my girls.

the man was small in stature, looking tired and spent and unshaven after a weekend away. his massive black pickup truck had the ironic 'RAM' decal on the side. i took pictures of his license plate in case he wanted to make a run for it. the front end of his vehicle dwarfed everything except for my smoldering rage. he said he was very sorry. he asked if everyone was alright. he came forth with all paperwork and documents and phone numbers and addresses. turns out he works for a bodyshop in the 905. ironic. i doubt his shop works in high modulus carbon fiber or triple butted titanium or italian drivetrains. we were both wearing sandals. i was glad i had shaved that morning. he looked scrappy, but past his fighting days, not because of age, but because of maturity, the kind one gets from sticking with a lady long enough, or making a career out of something, or owning up to big trouble.

maybe my anger knew that this wasn't going to be big trouble for him.

he wasn't going to have to fix anything on his truck. there wasn't a scratch. he would have to pay slightly higher insurance, if anything, but probably not even that with the no-fault policy promos going on these days. he didn't have to put on a strong and positive, yet meaningful, face for his little girls with glass in their hair, and tell them that they're fine and don't move and it's going to be alright and no, mama's bike is not okay. he didn't open a bag of chips and open a container of blueberries and open the windows and look into the sweaty red faces of his most important treasures and know that he didn't protect them enough. he didn't instantly wish for a bigger car and faster reflexes and earlier departure and a home not in the travel requirement of the 401 on sundays. he didn't wish that he was a better man.

it's not like i feel vindictive toward him. i'd hate to have to pay more insurance. i know that the collision was his fault, but he knew that too, and we were all in a shitty traffic situation, going fast and then slow and then fast and then BANG on the 401, just trying to get home like everyone else. i'm glad the hassle doesn't extend any further. but here, in my lap, there is a huge smoking pile of trouble.

the short story is: the girls are fine. the lady and i are fine. i feel more hungover from the late night and post-incident-stress than from any impact. two out of three bikes are totaled. the rack, snapped in half and still going strong enough to get us off the road (all hail the Saris Bones 3, in bubble gum pink). i keep going back to how much bike wreckage there is, but i think that's only because i understand that the important thing, the girls, are fine and good and i didn't do enough for them and i can't think about that anymore, so i think about something i know, the bikes, and what i can start doing there. it's not exactly shopping spree time around here. we're just trying to make it through the pay periods with enough groceries. time to make some appraisals of the damage. time to make some lists. time to breathe deep and run far and know that there is no more glass in the perfect sweaty curls of my little treasures.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


i blame john yakabuski.

no, actually, i blame myself. next time, i will know better, and the best result of my life will be even better. thank you to joe, sean, and harold for not showing up.

this past weekend was the annual Barry's Bay Triathlon/Duathlon. it would be my third time completing the event, and probably the best pre-event fitness i'd ever had going into it. being a sinker and a half, i forgo the swim and run twice. my runs have been short but at an average easily-sustained 4:30/km pace, and my bike fitness reached an all-time high through WattsUp this spring, though i hadn't been there since the end of May. all things considered, this was to be a great race weekend.

then there was a ballet recital, scheduled for the day before.

i arranged a ride without the lady friend and children, to head up with my gear and some friends on friday. no recital. plenty of sleep. low stress.

then the friends bailed.

back on tap for the ballet recital, i bought tickets, scheduled things in, and resolved to drive 3.5h to Barry's Bay the night before the race. non-sleeping children. fitful sleep the night before. parenting the morning of. great race prep.

the morning of the race, i got up and ate the usual breakfast, wore sweatpants, made sure i had all my gear, packed the car, and headed, alone, to the race start. i got a fine spot on the rack, half-assedly set up my transition area, and set off for a warm-up run of the first 2.2k course. it was a great warm-up. i felt like rocky, overdressed and definitely sweating, headphones with good tunes in, and it was all i could do to not practice my jabs and hooks as i trotted along, dripping wet. my mom even honked as she drove by on her way to work. this was going to be a great race.

let it be noted that the circumstances of getting to this race, with all family and travel obligations/obstacles firmly in place, relegated the race to one without performance pressure. there was no way i could be expected to do well under such conditions, so i opted to just go out and thrash myself as hard as i could.

let it also be noted that my model of pacing is essentially that of a leaky bucket - i go as fast as possible to the finish, hoping that i make it before all the water runs out.

upon returning from my run, i got the pump out of the car and opted to not put my bike on the trainer. time was passing quickly, and there were only a few more minutes until the start. i walked over to my bike, started to ready the pump, and then




LOOK! it's the girls and my dad! i should go say hi!

i hit the start line with a tool kit firmly strapped under the saddle and kanye in my head. my unilateral goal was to stay with the leader as long as possible. little did i know, it would be the whole way...

2.2k is not so far. it's not far enough to really get a pace on. it's not far enough to sound far. it's not far enough to have long strides or rhythmic breathing or a good conversation about nietzsche. it's just plenty far to drag out the agony of a slow build to excruciating lactic muscle burn. it is not far, but it is beautiful and painful.

we did it in 7.5 minutes.

after the first run, i fumbled through my transition, getting my first shoe on by the time the other leader had left, sprinting down the path to the start of the bike course, aero helmet on, carbon bike in tow. i was second, and i was screwed.

not wanting to lose too much of my advantage from the run, i got everything on, ran in my cleats down the path, up the embankment, and did my best cyclocross re-mount to the astonishment of the gasping onlookers. hefting my 165 lb. carcass onto the flexy titanium frame proved too much for the tool kit, which promptly fell apart and unravelled into the brake caliper and rear tire. i skidded to a halt, fell prostate-first onto the top tube, and clumsily jerked at the buckles to free the awful thing from my path of progress. no avail. as it turns out, i finally got the wretched object unwound, tossed it aside, and thanked the wife of the (eventual, and perpetual) champion for picking up the pieces as i scooted off.

the rest of the ride was blown.

it was a windy day, and i felt like all my power had gone into the run. i didn't feel like i had caught my breath until after the turnaround, and each hill seemed to be harder than last year. i definitely skipped the hill work i should have done long ago this spring. thankfully, the girls and my dad were all over the course, cheering and documenting and making me smile (i ride faster when i smile). top speed came to 72km/h. average speed was sadly 2km/h slower than last year, at the best of times.

on the way back through town, i railed the turns, thanked the corner marshals, and bombed in through the finishing straight. the second run was about to begin, but i had some extreme cramping in my calves that wouldn't go away.

much to my surprise, the cramps only needed a good run and they loosened up and it was time to get down to business. the girly-pink Garmin watch on my wrist told me i was going too slowly, so i ramped up my pace and hunkered down for the final 8k of pain. it was glorious. the road was beautiful. the runners on the course were unsympathetic. the volunteers at the water stations were wonderful and encouraging (i walked every station except the last one and had some nice chit chat as i went through). and i still managed to produce the finishing kick i've been practicing - upped from the usual 400m to 1k.

as luck would have it, i passed a bunch of people on the second run, and ended up just missing the podium. Barry's Bay doesn't have a podium for anyone other than the top finisher, but it would have been nice to be up there. i packed it in, headed home, and began a slow spiral of self-dissatisfaction based on my slow ride, and my slower second run. it was nice to almost podium, but almost is kind of worse than 'nowhere near', and if anything, my ride should have been faster this year than last. my lactic threshold had gone up 20 watts in three months. i could ride in the drops. it was windy, but it was also tail-windy... and worst of all, in answering queries from my lady-friend, i wondered if i had even gone hard enough. the runs were, without a doubt, all-out. the ride, i wasn't sure. and there's nothing worse than going to bed wondering if i had put in an authentic effort.

in preparing to ride to a meeting the next day, i took out the pump and straightened out the bent valve and stuck the pump head on and flicked the lock and stared at the gauge: 60 PSI. well there you go. for being a fucking idiot who doesn't check his own tire pressure before the one race of the year in front of a hometown crowd, you get 60 PSI. all that thursday morning training before the sun comes up, pushing soft, heavy tires up and down beautiful ontario hills. all those watts, straight into underinflated rubber.

even now, days after it all, i have to sigh in an effort to let it go. i hate being wrong. i hate being dumb. i hate having regrets.

i tell you one thing, though: i will never forget to pump up my tires again, and i will hang with the leader until i blow up completely. it's only 2.2 k.

Friday, May 13, 2011


it has been a few weeks since that fateful thursday, and i've had time to mull it all over.

the usual thursday sufferfest at the hands of WattsUp computrainers had left me depleted, and thoroughly satisfied with my own exhaustion. i was getting stronger. things were getting harder. and the pain of it all only reaffirmed the goal: be willing. willing to make it hurt. willing to keep going when it does. willing to see it through to the finish. willing to exhaust.

i left the warehouse in a light drizzle, as so many days of april had smeared themselves across the forecast. it had been raining for over a month.

today's rain would be different.

as i turned the pedals and wished for the rain pants i had forgone in my sweaty haste to leave, the rain turned, and became something else. downpour would be an understatement. fat, pregnant drops of warm water cascaded in sheets from the sky. i pulled over to affix my lights, but neglected my rain jacket. it was just going to be wet.

accelerating out of the intersection, i met with lines of traffic, rough roads, and winds gusting to well over the freeway speed limit. the storm, sudden and lashing, was of biblical proportion. and i had not built an ark. the traffic and rough roads steered me to line between lanes, and i ground through the pedal strokes, working to maintain speed and direction in the whipping wind and slashing rain. i could mostly see. i could halfway pedal. and all of a sudden, the traffic accelerated.

now past the submerged creekbed of the right of the right lane, i would attempt to move back to my 'rightful' or 'proper' position on the road. i don't remember if i steered first and looked after, or if i looked as i steered, or if the wind was pushing me and my oxygen-deprived brain and spent legs were too slow in reacting, but all of a sudden that slow-moving city truck was right on me, and the horn sounded.

this is not the time to begin judgement of error or calculate one's reactions to the daily occurrences of traffic and urban cohabitation. sometimes we get along and sometimes we are too tightly packed and sometimes there is friction and the rain does nothing to lessen the rub.

i stuck out my finger and moved over anyway, furious with myself for going slowly and furious for reacting the way i had and furious with the wind for making me look stupid and furiously, furiously pedaling into a wall of rain.

the truck passed me then, around the bend, not with a wide berth but with one of consideration for all lanes of traffic, and i caught it and passed it one light later. two lights after that, "i had cooled my head and warmed my heart", and i waited. when the truck rolled up, i waved, the driver rolled down his window, and i told him i apologized for giving him the finger back there. my bad.

(no further explanation needed; i was just owning up to my own stupidity, and working to maintain positive relations between riders and drivers. he doesn't need to know about the wind or rain or that i'm just trying to get home and take my kids to daycare or that my legs are spent or that i stay up nights worrying about how my at-risk job working with at-risk kids is going to pay for said daycare. none of this is his fault. i shouldn't have ridden in front of his truck and then given him the finger about it.)

this part is what really gave me goosebumps.

after accepting my apology, the driver took it upon himself to speculate, and give me some advice. being proud, insecure, and embarrassed, i hate getting advice. regardless, he gave it to me, saying that i need to be more careful; that i don't want to die on my way to work; that i want to die being a hero, not riding my bike in the rain; that i should have a nice day.

it was the hero part that just about killed me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


and just like that, the tears came in gasps.

i got a text from my dad while at work today. 'call me when you can. nothing urgent. just a little earth shaking...' more cryptic than the usual tweet about how he arrived safely home after a long drive, so i took time out from the youth and called him in the hallway.

while attempting to interpret the text, i came to the inevitable conclusion that someone had likely died. we have a huge family. some friends and family members are in conditions less than favorable. and in the twelve steps it took to reach the hall and dial all available numbers, i had steeled myself against some bad news. i was beyond the shock and working through the scheduling of getting time off work to go to a funeral, pricing out (exorbitant) gas costs, and trying to remember if my suit was still clean.

my dad picked up. he was driving. i said hey and what's up, braced for the worst.

he told me, in a few simple words, that he had set up an unbelievable dream for me, and i just had to make a couple phone calls and measurements to start the ball rolling. no reason. no occasion. just a casual granting of a huge selfish wish on a blustery day in april.

i'm getting a new frame.

the shock was huge. i was completely unprepared. and there was no time to absorb (i had to return to the wondering eyes of the youth). i stammered many thanks and some semblance of my awe, and hung up, almost trembling. four months from now, there will be a whole lot of steel underneath me, and i'll be flying along with tears in my eyes and a grin on my face.

the minutes of the afternoon scratched by with unholy tedium, and i finally got out to sprint my way home. i picked up the phone, and called my dad.

i have picked up the phone and called my dad countless times in my life. much of our relationship has happened on the phone, and there were years when i had it worked out that, because the guy hates talking on the phone, i had to prepare a set of questions, or at least one question, that could be used as the segue to any real conversation. the answer would be forthcoming, we would move on to other subjects, and we were back in touch. thank you, alexander bell.

some of the conversations i've had with my dad were less than pleasant. oftentimes, i needed help figuring out the hard questions in life. my heart was broken. my heart wasn't broken yet, but it was about to be and i couldn't stand the thought of the impending emotional upheaval. i didn't know what i wanted to do with my life. at what temperature is chicken roasted? et cetera. important questions and conversations, usually staging me as pupil, him as philosopher, and always much to learn. there was not so much scolding all of the time, but often the general feeling that there was much to learn and a long way to go, and i could do it, but i was not there yet. i don't like being reminded of this. actually, it's been easier as the years go by, and i'm without ego and with much hunger for learning. but i'm still not there yet.

it never feels like anyone is proud of me. it rarely feels like i've done anything above and beyond, like i'm inspiring or special or good, in that novel kind of way. no one ever tells me i'm amazing, that i'm brilliant. i'm not told about the good job i do, how much my work truly means to anyone, or that all that stuff that i do all day every day, is noticed and respected and admired. never.

being a typical north americanized filipino oldest son, i have confidence issues based in external measures, often reflected and driven by performance. straight A's. memorized shakespeare. pretty girlfriends. make good flan. one thing i've always lived up to and under is my father. the man is amazing, has made a legendary life for himself, and it was impossible not to revere him as we grew up. we were constantly reminded by the stream of admirers in his work life, family life, and everything in between: your father is an amazing man. that's a lot to live up to. especially when i can't dance, sing, or play the guitar. and i was kinda lying about making good flan... so when my dad told me today that he is truly proud of me, when he told me, in explanation of the gift that it was simply because he believes in me, the walls came down.

i told him to stop, before i started crying on the phone. typical me reaction: way overemotional and ridiculous. but i couldn't believe it. it was too much. it was too great. it was far beyond steel bike frames from montana. it was about a father believing in his son, unabashedly, and telling him so through actions that begot words that were true all this time. after i hung up the phone, i sank to the dirty kitchen floor, and sobbed. it was relief. it was surrendering all that defense that i had built up, all those reasons i had to go harder and bigger and make sure that i was being as great as possible, in spite of everyone and everything. i have a long way to go, and much to learn. and where i am right now, right here, it's pretty great. my dad believes in me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

go west, young man.

some times, things need to be blown to bits.

it's helpful when preconceived notions, prejudices, and other habits are obliterated by small instances of challenge or change or both, and the resulting mayhem calls to question the very purpose that allowed us to accumulate such routine. today, i'm going to look at a new job in a new place and put my best foot forward and stretch beyond my wildest dreams, and probably beyond my capabilities. the fuse was lit last week, and i'm putting another barrel of bang in the pile, to see how far we can go.

as i was washing dishes and serving up another bowl of chunky oatmeal to the beasts this morning, i was trying to figure out what i want, why i want, and why i never go and get what i want. in all honesty, i think i'm afraid of what i want. i'm also afraid that i might not be able to get what i want. i think i'm more afraid that i am able. imagine being able to do and be and have whatever you want. why, then you'd have to know what you want. thankfully, i don't. getting blown to bits should help. as i sift through the rubble and reorganize within the new perspective, i'll figure some things out, forget about other obsessions, and streamline (hopefully) the new focus.

adding barrels as we speak.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

5 watts.

there is not enough time to wallow, and we're already out of epsom salts.

before i go and grab another creemore, i'll say it: it's been a tough week.

as we saw from the last post, hydro has been more than brutal in its billings lately. then, monday, i get surplus status at my place of employment. follow this with some good news about other possible employment. follow this, promptly, with another case of lice (the FOURTH in a year) in the big little girl's lovely locks. follow this with an utterly disappointing lack of improvement in the individual time trial wattage test this morning. let's all sigh together now.

as we all know, i am the luckiest guy in the world and my life is not remotely hard. however, this all feels like it's been harder than usual and though i have managed to get some breaks in there (thank you GST rebate), the cumulative effects are still rather draining. i'm probably only typing write now to avoid the ever-increasing pile of dishes in the kitchen (dishes that made dinner 4 nights ago are still there.."soaking"...).

so i guess i should write today about positive reinforcement. and if that can't happen, because the results are less than positive, maybe i could write about the process. but then that makes it sound like the obsession of the mediocre, and not a valid pursuit for anyone capable of good results. (why would we sit around glorifying 'trying' if we could actually 'do'?) my legs are sore. my body is a bit drained. my kids aren't asleep yet. and there's laundry to do. glorious process.

either way, i think process is still pretty great, because it's the reality that may yield the result. it's the everyday. the mundane. the real life. the space in between notes that makes the music that much more beautiful. cuts in the tread of my tires. brake residue on my fork and rims. the familiar taste of hydration and recovery powder. the smell of sweat in leather. i'll take it. i'll run with it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

get to the point.

about what we're investing in, and whether or not it has any fucking point.

riding and 'training', but for what, when i can't even pay the goddam electricity bill...

march was a month of three pay periods. i'm used to only two, so i thought i'd take full advantage of this wonderful calendar-enhanced income phenomenon and use it to really get ahead.

yesterday, the day of pay period number three's deposit into my bank account, marked the first pay day to which i'd made it with more than twenty dollars in my account. (the goal is to some day forget that pay day is even happening, as it will be something about which i think much less concretely and regularly.) it was amazing. the pay went in. the student loans came out. i could still breathe. i even splurged a little on some thrifty online source for printer ink cartridges and a jersey that won't match any of my bibs. i transferred my household expenses' share to my lady friend's account. i paid down one of two completely ridiculous credit card balances. i smiled.

at approximately 10 minutes past the time i should have already showered and gone to bed, i made the idiot mistake of opening some mail.

the electricity bill was four hundred, thirty-eight dollars, and ninety-four cents.


i don't know where you come from, but that amount blew my mind and ruined my entire day. i should have just gone to bed. i should have opened it with a fresh mind on a sunny morning with a large cup of optimism in my hand and maybe a ride in my legs. that number is devastating.

hope is something that is often dormant, but constant, deep in my core. it resides quite comfortably next to happiness. it is not likely that i come across as blithely enjoying my minutes on the stage. my demeanor may even be closer to cynical and pessimistic. such is the way of it sometimes, but i am driven by things much bigger and heavier than superficial impressions. if i didn't hope or believe in the good of it all, i wouldn't do any of what i do.

the bill, that horrible blow to any optimism or sense of purpose i could muster, put many things into very different perspective. i thought a lot harder about my recent goal of becoming capable of even thinking about buying a house. i thought a lot less about anything i could upgrade on any of my bikes. i canceled photo shoots that i would have to pay for. i wondered about doing any races at all, with all the fees these days well beyond fifty bucks. and i despaired, maybe just a little, about ever having any financial freedom.

every thursday morning at 5:30am, i leave the house and pedal up to a spin class in east york. there, in a cool industrial warehouse room with 16 other weirdos, i subject myself to 90 minutes of physical output. i know exactly how much i output because the stationary trainers measure it all in watts. i watch my cadence. i sweat through my kit. i turn on the fan. i drink. i eat a clif bar. i pack it all in and ride home, trying not to shiver, trying not to be late for work, unshowered and thoroughly spent. it's 7:43.

after a late-night animated conversation with my dad about my financial attitude and the problem of having no house/other investment to speak of, i decided to work on buying a house. i am about a billion lightyears away from reaching this goal. my dad's justification was that if i shifted my drive, focus, obsession, and sheer determination from cycling into the realm of reaching financial goals, along with my lady friend, i'd be unstoppable. until last night when i opened the hydro bill, i just about believed him.

back to perspective. i have a tendency to zero in on things and get obsessed about them until i acquire them somehow, and then the magic moment is had and forgotten, and i have to obsess about something else. this is the personality trait that drives me to upgrade. i get it from my filipino grandfather. i also have a tendency to, depending on the thing, have absolutely no care about upgrading or using the best possible __________ that money can buy, and to just let things go and enjoy the process more than the equipment. i get this from my irish grandfather. now, i think, is the time to go irish, and focus efforts on process. i can't see a point in getting lighter wheels. i can't see a point in racing. i can't see a point in training to go faster, and paying so much money for it when i don't really need to go faster and it doesn't make me happier or faster yet anyway. i can't see a point in doing things that aren't going to feed my family or keep them warm, especially when it's so fucking expensive to do so these days.

tonight, we are warm. tomorrow we ride. i am thankful for all of it, all the time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


there's something horrible about

"now if it hurts a lot, just raise your hand, okay?..."

and not five seconds later, that perfect little hand, covered in calluses and half-outgrown nail polish, and washable marker, shoots right up in the air. and her boots twitch, two feet north of the plastic boot rest on the chair. and her other hand fumbles with the ribbing on the edge of the creased upholstery. and i feel like crying.

hurt me. hurt me. take this. hurt me. not her. not her. never her. stop.

i watched my little girl get three fillings today. to say nothing of the immediate shame of blowing most of my income on 'wholesome' food and a diet that promotes familial health while ultimately yielding little perfect smiles riddled with cavities, it was with a nauseating mixture of pride and sorrow that i watched her be brave.

women are strong.

save for childbirth, they shouldn't have to be.

it's like i was explaining to a kid the other day: women shouldn't have to learn self-defense. i shouldn't have to use a bike lock. no one should have to guard against the evil of others.

but we do.

and we have to.

and there she was, not literally strapped down, but clinically subject to the application of pain by an institution widely accepted to know best and work for the good of others. she took it like a girl, a calm, wonderful, courageous, wide-eyed, brown-eyed, wonder of a girl. and she didn't cry once.

i was proud.

i was proud because she could take it; because she acted maturely, followed instructions, and shone through discomfort; she responded constructively; she looked away when necessary; she focused when it was time; she held on.

and yet, as i watched my little girl, so full of possibility and wonder and curiosity and courage, i felt a nagging sadness. in that moment, i wanted her, so much, to never take it lying down, to never go down without a raging blistering tornado of a fight. i wanted her to never twitch in pain and let it happen. i wanted her never to hurt. i wanted her to never have to be courageous.

perhaps these are terrible wants. perhaps great things only come from great courage and great pain and seeing the suffering through to the other side. perhaps there is much to be learned in the fight. i understand. and i've already asked much of her. the day she was born we rushed her to the hospital from our warm, cozy home where she came into the world, and they poked her and put tubes in her and put her in a warm plastic box and the smell of plastic and sterile was everywhere and i sobbed on the phone to my mother.

she wasn't more than two hours old, and already, she was courageous.

as she was poked and examined, she screamed with gloriously clear lungs, and she moved her fuzzy dark limbs around and made sure everyone knew that she was boss of herself, and i smiled, and she was perfect. feisty, even.

now she's a big kid with three fillings and a balding dada and a dentist who adores her and her little heart full of courage. i hope she uses it for love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

strap your heart.

i've been searching for a strap to monitor the beating of my heart on a digital device that tells me just where on the planet i am, how fast my bike and i are moving, and how many times a minute my feet go round on the pedals, let alone the percent gradient up or down, and maybe even what street or turn is coming up.

numbers scare me.

i've been searching and researching matching rims and tubular tires and tubular tire gluing techniques and the weight specs and bearing recalls and tying and soldering methods for a wheel that will match the one i just spent a couple weeks' worth of grocery money on.

and all this, so that i can specifically go faster and know just how much faster i am going.

isn't it about the journey?

i recently made a commitment, to the people with whom i work, and to myself, to feel more. the corollary of this commitment is that i will allow myself to also show more, my feelings. i was famous for these things once. huge heart. no strap on it. no gauge. no holding back when leaving the optimal zone of feeling. pretty much zero to sixty in a second. made me a lot of enemies, bemused friends, and persuaded lovers. there must be something irresistible about someone who feels so much, so helplessly.

in hopes of survival to my next couple of decades, i gradually (by which i mean: in huge, painful drops over time and pitfalls) decreased how much i showed my feelings, and eventually, how much i felt. nearly impossible, i would assume, but all of a sudden i couldn't cry anymore. literally, but more importantly, figuratively. years would go by without a tear. and feelings took on designations - feel for that, let that slide, etc.

i've been numb for a little while.

there's a lot that gets done when numb. there is efficiency. there is productivity. there is the tightening of everything because those fragile, wet emotions aren't getting in the way with their messy crushability. things get tossed and recycled and given away. things are not bought. priorities bring about the achievement of goals. there is some laughter, but mostly, there is a stern resolve to press on. if only i had more to show for the numb years.

recently, i was reminded that i should feel more. i make good things when i feel. i take good pictures; write good words; am less stern and more convincing. i believe more, in everything, especially myself. slowly, slowly, i am coming back to this. it's pretty good. the color is returning. things are regaining vibrancy. the filters are off. and everything is a little more important.

so i'm waiting, impatiently, for everything now. i'm not holding too many things back, though it is winter in toronto and there's only so far one can go to 'live out loud'. tubular carbon wheels in the mail. earning them, gram for gram, in sweat on the trainer in a dark kitchen while the children sleep. poetry i wrote once and will find again. photographs to be made. valentine's day. looking people in the eye and having the time to be honest with them. not surrendering. not saving 'the real me' for another time more deserved of it. not holding back. not.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the rollers.

the rollers are blue and black and under the couch.

she got them in a moment of passionate loneliness, post-holiday, happy-to-be-home, dedicated to a new year of two-wheeled fury.

the fury has since become five-wheeled and non-stop.

rollers, like rivers, are perfect objects of metaphor. to that end, they are supremely cliche, yet caché aussi, due to their retro origins, and completely unforgiving nature. you fuck up, you fall.

this is like...everything.

i love rollers. i wish i could spin smoothly on them for hours on end, getting lost in a picture of eddy merckx or the pavé like michael barry, on a custom mariposa, after hockey practice, anticipating my dad coming home and putting the kettle on for tea. instead, i jerk along, next to the kitchen stove and unscrewed kitchen counter, vying constantly for rhythm that i achieve only sporadically. this is hubris. naturally, i take stock of the situation and begin to itemize the blame: the bike is a 'cross bike not made for such smooth pedaling on smooth, microscopic cylinders of death; i'm in the kitchen and its floor hasn't been level since the turn of the 19th century; the front cylinder keeps creeping back on the band-turning side; i'm distracted by my lack of chamois butt'r and the fact that i feel like i'm falling backwards.

in the words of my dad: "oh, wah..."

balance, in life and on rollers, is often only earned. we can be born with it, but usually, we have to find it, whether serendipitously, or by complete accident. either way, it is sublime. and probably like life, finding balance on the rollers, Balance, is beautiful, and like the only beauty we know: fleeting. the other night, after going through my litany of blame and sweating my way through about ten minutes of terror and bliss, i calmly put the rollers away and called it a day. no blame. no dissatisfaction. just yearning. yearning for more chances at more moments when i get to achieve something and realize that my achievement is great and wonderful, however fleeting, and that it is great and wonderful because at my side, opposite the counter that is slippery and unhinged and dangerous, is the lady that put those rollers in our house, is reading the poor installation instructions, and holds me up, catches me, each time i fall.

sure, she's the reason i'm kinda falling in the first place, but she has been since i fell all those years ago.

i love the rollers.