Sunday, March 21, 2010

Century Training - Week 1; Day 7

Day: 7
Ride: Pace
Route: Hilly
Scheduled Mileage: 9
Actual Mileage: 11.3
Average Speed: 13.9 mph*
Max Speed: 24.2 mph
*Includes city street speed average

Average BPM: 149
Max BPM: 177
Calories: 344

Random Notes to Self:
  • I love watching road races!
  • Cycling is more diverse than I had presumed.
  • Being surrounded by athletic men in lycra is quite enjoyable.
  • I am definitely slow.

After my 30-mile ride in Central Park yesterday, I napped for a few hours before my 9pm shift at job #2. We made pretty good money for a Saturday night (weekend nights are bridge-and-tunnel and tourist nights for Manhattan lounges; big money and celebs generally party during the week). And what can typically be rare on a weekend, there was a celebrity at one of my tables; not to namedrop, but ... [click here].

As usual, and as many celebrities tend to prefer, I pretended that I didn't recognize the actress while providing her party with friendly, prompt service but without a lot of hoopla and special attention. My adjacent tables never even realized she was there. And unlike a few other celebrities I've waited on - and many with whom I've come into contact just by living in New York City - she and her friends were incredibly nice. The downside to the better-than-average Saturday night was that I didn't get off work until five o'clock. Thankfully (and purposely), I work part-time at a Midtown lounge that is only a few blocks from my apartment (anyone who has commuted via subway in the wee hours of morning will understand why five miles can easily take over two hours).

By 7:30am, I was in Brooklyn, groggily following my coach and one of his other clients into Prospect Park, where we caught the last few laps of a road race. As we neared the park, I could hear the periodic whistles that signal that racers are approaching, and as we rounded a small bend, I saw a colorful pack of jerseys slicing through the early morning haze. It was picturesque area of the park, the cyclists in the distance, haloed by a light mist. I felt an unexpected adrenaline rush and had an ephemeral, surreal moment that I've often seen in movies - like where one sees and is emotionally impacted by a herd of horses running wild or a young athlete watches his favorite football team practicing in the early morning fog for the first time. Movies like Dances with Wolves and Rudy come to mind.

[I battled with whether or not to include that description in this blog as the moment itself struck me as corny as soon as I had it. I know that movies are not real life; however, I do believe that movie moments are often inspired by real ones. But don't worry; the cyclists didn't pedal by in slow motion and I didn't hear violins playing in my head.]

We cautiously joined the race route, cycling where there was plenty of distance between the fields [field: the main cluster of riders in a race; also called the bunch, group, pack or peloton], then split from the route on a short cut through the park to the finish line, where I met some of my cycling coach's friends, sipped a latte like it was crack, and watched the final laps of the race. When it was over, we biked a little over 11 miles around Prospect Park, practicing drafting, pulling, and shadowing ride partners with a few of my coach's friends. Afterward, we all cycled out of the park together and stopped for bagels before I again followed my coach to his place of full-time employment at R&A Cycles. I couldn't believe it was only 11am.

Spending money at R&A on Sundays is becoming a weekly ritual. Today it was another pair of cycling shorts, a saddle bag and my long-awaited bicycle seat upgrade (more about my Specialized Toupe 143 as I get used to it; I tried it out by riding from the bike shop to the Bergen Street stop on the F line on my way back to Manhattan, and I have already noticed a welcoming, relieving difference on my lady parts).

I was struck this morning by how diverse cycling is. Maybe because varying cultures don't exactly stick out amongst all the vibrant cycling jerseys and helmets whenever I've happened to glimpse a road race on television. Maybe because I've stereotypically logged it as a "white sport" without a Tiger Woods to bring it mainstream attention. Maybe because few of us can name a professional cyclist other than its poster boy Lance Armstrong - much less a pro cyclist of another ethnicity. Maybe because I've never paid attention.

I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a coworker at job #2, who laughed when she learned I was planning to cycle across North America this summer. Her half-Puerto Rican/half-Black, 100% New Yorker accent punctuated each syllable as she said: "No offense, Katie, but that's such a White thing to do."

"I'm half White so I suppose I qualify," I had sincerely laughed back without a single ounce of offense taken. I, like her, had subconsciously chalked up cycling in my list of more "traditionally White" activities and aspirations, like camping or climbing Mount Everest. However, a week after that conversation, while we both stood with our cocktail trays poised in the middle of the dimly-lit Midtown Manhattan lounge, she said to me: "You know, Katie. I know I said that biking across the United States is a very 'white thing' to do. But I thought about it later, and I have to tell you that I really admire your goal. You're going to be doing something really big, and I'm excited for you."

I thanked her and reassured her that I really hadn't been at all offended by what she said and that I was going to put her apology and enthusiasm somewhere in my blog. I suppose this was a relevant place for it to go.

Total Miles Cycled in Week 1: 82.49  


Monique said...

#1. What "lady parts" of yours are changing? and #2. How diverse is cycling? More races than you thought? Age groups? Men v. Women?

Katie said...

Monique. Nothing about my "lady parts" are changing. Hahahaha! My new saddle upgrade has drastically alleviated the unpleasant pressure on my lady parts.

As for the diversity, it is just more culturally diverse than I had subconsciously perceived.