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The Path of the Two(Wheels)
MatrixismAn article on paganism got me thinking that perhaps the whole concept of a job search is silly.  Why not just start a religion?  I can’t imagine it’s that hard to do given how many others have done it and with great success.

What I can imagine is how my church would inevitably lead to my evangelical TV show (hello Vs.  Are you listening?)  My sermon each week (delivered while circling the pulpit on the new bike I bought that week) would inevitably relate to when I was lost in the valley of wheelless until I found the Sheppard (the bike) and his (her?) light shone down and lit a path which has led to my rebirth (not to mention economic revival which is nicely funded by all of you, my congregation and, let’s not forget our wonderful fans out there in TV land – donations are tax deductable by the way.) 

So I googled “religion of the bike” (didn’t want to infringe on any sacred copyrights) which led me to a somone who had googled “bicycle religion” which led me to Matrixism which led me to an epiphany – it would be a whole lot easier to base my new religion on existing doctrine rather than be faced with either hoping a spirit reveals to me where I can find two disc wheels upon which are written some scared beliefs or having to create the whole thing from scratch.

Matrixism seemed a perfect launching pad.  As described by my fellow googler:

“It’s a religion based on the movie The Matrix (kind of like Jediism) that bicycling plays a big part in. Riding in Critical Mass is a sacred duty and Bicycle Day is one of its Holy days. I guess the bicycle represents the proper man/machine/environment relationship or something.”

Unfortunately, diving in a little deeper revealed two disturbing elements.  First, apart from celebrating Bicycle Day, the religion doesn’t seem to have all that much to do with anything related to a bike.  Second, there must be some sort of commune where you are expected to live with other Maxtrixists because they keep referring to the Tenants of Matrixism.  Oh well, as with any schism, my new religion will have to have come into existence because we don’t subscribe to all (any?) of the tenets of Matrixism.

But that also leaves me at having to create the whole thing from scratch (it seems easier find a job) or to wait for that spirit and the disc wheels.  I’ll give it until Monday on all three fronts.

The Triumvirate: Spouse, Spouse and Bike
Most religions seem to hold marriage as a sacred rite which is why my, uhm, research reminded me of this gem that someone had sent me many, many years ago.  I actually did give this to my wife when she was my fiancée.  She hasn’t stopped laughing about it yet.

The Cyclists Prenuptial
This agreement acknowledges that the forthcoming marriage is an arrangement that accepts the perpetual continuity of pre-existing relationship between the first two parties and that a three-way coexistence shall be created consisting of the following participants:

Spouse A (the non biking loved one) hereafter referred to as SA; Spouse B (the biker) hereafter referred to as SB, and; The Bike (the glorious one) hereafter referred to as TB.

Condition I: Acknowledgment
SA shall henceforth recognize that SB and TB have forged a long standing and unbreakable relationship and shall never attempt to permanently divide, or otherwise separate the two.

Condition II: Cohabitation
SA and SB shall agree upon comfortable and equal living quarters for TB, its related service equipment and riding gear. TB shall only be exposed to the elements of nature during rides. All other times TB shall have access to warm, dry, low traffic living space. If at any time there should be conflict w/ SA, SB or furniture, TB shall have preference as to where it stays. In SA’s absence TB shall be permitted bedroom space (if not already arranged).

Condition III: Exclusivity and Infidelity
At no time shall SA, SB, or TB be loaned out to be ridden by anyone outside the three-way relationship. SA must request from SB permission to ride, fondle or otherwise physically contact TB and only do so in the presence of SB.

Condition IV: Equal Time
SA shall be guaranteed quality time equivalent to TB unless it conflicts with TB in which case TB gets preference. Service time shall be guaranteed and considered a separate requirement. In the event of emergency, ie SA stranded, child sets hair on fire etc, SB shall complete whatever TB related activity as soon as possible and attend said emergency. In the event of a in-law visit or should, for any reason, SB become depressed or otherwise in need of stress relief, SB shall be permitted as much time w/TB or TB related activities, magazines, books, events etc as needed until such time SB feels better.

Condition V: Parts
SA and SB will agree that SB be permitted and encouraged to purchase any and all TB related equipment at any and all times, whether they be repairs, replacements, upgrades, or just plain Chi-Chi. Any replaced parts shall be considered cherished spares and provided appropriate storage space equivalent to that provided for TB, preferably under the bed, favorite closet or on coffee table as a conversation item.

New Items immediately installed shall require TB to be put on prominent display (ie in front of TV). Newly purchased items not immediately installed shall be put on display as a centerpiece during the day and they shall be kept under the pillow of SB at bed time, unless it is potentially dangerous to said part. This shall be for no less than 5 days or until they are installed whichever comes first.

Condition VI: Finance
All household finance shall be considered separate from TB finance. If conflict should arise then TB gets preference.

Condition VII: Disposition
In the event SA has a compatible bike SB can offer spare parts to be temporarily installed for use by SA until such time SB requires their use on TB. No prior notice is required. All equipment and TB they are installed upon or intended for, shall remain the property of SB come hell or high water, and shall not be relinquished under any circumstance including death, in which case the surviving party will be obligated to complete the upgrades (expressed, implied or dreamed of) and bury TB with the departed, unless TB or SB requests a separate grave in which case they shall be buried side by side and SA shall not be buried between them.

Condition VIII: Protected Communications
All TB related communications intended for SB, be they voice (phone messages, visitors); print (mail-order catalogues, etc.); or electronic (e-mail, buddies calling to ride, etc.) shall be forwarded and delivered to SB as expediently as possible. Furthermore, no censorship of said communications shall occur, and SA agrees to refrain from making disparaging comments about the content of these communications and/or their source(s).

Extended Conditions: TB shall never be the focus of an argument nor brought up as part of one. TB shall never be discussed w/ in-laws unless said discussion is in praise or defense of TB. No retaliation shall ever be taken against TB.

All of the above is to be considered iron-clad and in stone and non negotiable, unless of course, the nonbiker says so.

(c)Ryan Mason

(c)Ryan Mason

That’s today’s view from the back (of the doghouse, which is where I was after presenting the prenup, even in jest.)

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Another first lap in solitary confinement was well on its way to becoming two laps when it very quickly almost became 1.5 laps and a trip to the hospital.

Riding alone about to start climbing Harlem Hill for the second time, I see a teammate bombing down going in the other direction, looking for me.  Unfortunately, my teammate, who is blinder than a bat and wears glasses for most other occasions, doesn’t see me.  He’s got to be joking I figure as he keeps heading straight for me at warp speed.  It’s too late by the time I realize that our long running joke about the way he says hello to someone on a bike is by picking them off the ground after he’s run into them because he can’t see them is about to become reality.  A very painful reality.  Luckily, at the last second, and I do mean the last second, he sees me and swerves to avoid a collision.  When he finally recognizes me, he’s parallel to me.  “Hey” I hear as he zooms past.  Lucky.  I could just see trying to explain why there are two of us from the same team lying on the ground at the start of Harlem Hill.

My teammate is a little vain, well, a lot of vain, so much so that he’d rather not see than put on “non-cycling” glasses (don’t ask me about contact or prescription Oakleys – I stopped mentioning them a long time ago.)  Such is the nature of amateur cyclists with our matching kits, helmets, team-issue socks, and bar tape to match our kit.  I have a blue saddle on my race bike because I like the saddle and I got for free.  I never thought I’d hear the end of it.  We’re like a bunch of, excuse me ladies, girls when it comes to putting it all together.  And even important at 5:00 am when you can’t see anything anyway.

Today also marked the return of Rider X whom I’ve managed to avoid for the better part of two months.  Today he was riding a borrowed cross bike.  One lap in, the front tire starts losing air.  It’s a slow leak, but a steady one and soon it’s all but flat, but he keeps riding because, surprise, surprise, he doesn’t have a tube with him.  He’s so squirrelly on the downhill to Harlem Hill that the guys next to him have to scatter in different directions.   Once again, his problem is now everyone’s problem.

You probably shouldn’t be riding if:

  1. You don’t own a bike – seems to be a pre-requisite
  2. Every ride you have a mechanical issue. Every single ride – here’s some advice: check your bike the night before (let me rephrase, check whoever’s bike you’re borrowing the night before). You’ll probably notice things like the front tire having no air in it
  3. You can’t be bothered to bring a tube and a pump with you – those flats aren’t just going to go away by themselves, are they?  And the solution is not to ride tubulars on training rides.  That just exacerbates the problem
  4. You can’t be bothered to stop and fix the flat – Heck, we’ll probably even help you change it, but it makes the ride better for everyone if we take care of the issue and get back to riding instead of hearing about for 20 minutes

Rather than get into it, I just increased the pace up Harlem Hill.  When the boys caught up to me on the next riser, he was nowhere to be seen.  Problem solved.

That’s today’s view from the back.

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monotonySomewhere between the end of the 1st lap and the start of the 2nd lap in Central Park today, I started thinking of being home.  More accurately desperately wishing it were 7:20am, and I was in the elevator on the way up to my apartment.  This was a lot better than most days.  Ride 300 laps a year (give or take), and see how quickly your thoughts turn to anything that might helps stave off the monotony.  Which is why I’m dumbfounded that some guy would walk around his block in Brooklyn 75 times (which was 26.4 miles).   Actually the guy was Andy Newman, a writer for the New York Times and of course it was for an article, but still, Andy, there’s got to be a better way to make a living.  Then again, at least Newman walked around his block for a day because he is making a living.  Can’t really say the same now, can I?

“This is pathetic — I’m walking miles every day without getting anywhere” morphed into “What if we kept walking — without going anywhere?  Wouldn’t that be kind of cool?”  That’s what training in Central Park is, riding without going anywhere.  And it’s anything but cool.

04:56 – Hit Tavern and I circle around waiting to see who shows up.  It’s really dark out.  Make sure I don’t hit the one other idiot already doing laps who says “good morning” (why is it that everyone who rides a bike feels obligated to say good morning to everyone else on a bike?  You wouldn’t say hello to me if you saw me walking down the street or if I got into the same elevator as you, would you?)  Anyway, it’s not morning yet.  It’s still night as far as I can tell.  And it’s not that good.  I’m bleary eyed, freezing and I have to pee because it’s so cold out.
 
5:00 am – start rolling because no one showed up (have they seen the error of our ways finally and are all sleeping in like the rest of the city that never sleeps?)  Start talking to myself about nothing in particular.  At least it makes me feel like I have company, because there’s no one around except for the occasional odd runner, emphasis on odd.

5:05 am – See blonde woman who is in the park every single day running by backwards to meet the three guys she runs with every single day.  Guess she wasn’t training for the marathon, my bad.  Which means she actually likes running and running at 5:00am no less.  Now that’s weird.

5:07 am – Roll by Boathouse and look longingly at the locked bathrooms.  If it’s illegal to urinate in public which includes the any part of the park, couldn’t they at least open the bathrooms when the park opens?  Yes, I know the park doesn’t officially open until 6 am, but the bathrooms aren’t open then either.  That leaves the unenviable choice of the using the boathouse parking lot and taking your chances with the RoUS’s (raccoons of unusual size) or a special spot near the entrance to the cut-off at the top of the park (note: be careful where you step if you ever find yourself walking on the trails near the cutoff.)

5:xx – (I’ve given up trying to figure out what time it is when I get to different spots as it requires too much effort to a) do and b) remember.)  Oh, the sweetness of the warm spot on the 86th street overpass.  Who cares if it’s our own little proof of global warming?  It’s warm and that has momentarily helped me forget that I’d rather be home.

5:xx – Still pitch black out.  Why does Harlem Hill seem so much harder than it really is?  Still no one around, except for the occasional odd runner.  Well at least, I’ve turned the corner and have one lap done.  I count by the number of times I’ve gone up the hill even though I’ve only done a half-lap at that point.  This must be why invariable I lose count.  Counting laps being the only real thing to do in the park, I ought to be able to remember.  I think I’m too young for Alzheimer’s but you never know because I never remember.

5:xx – First tri person passes me on the downhill on their way to Tavern for their 5:30 meeting with other bad tri riders.  Are there any triathlons left to do this year?  If not, can’t you all put your bikes away for the winter?

5:22 – End of lap 1.  Still dark out.  Still no one out.  I know what time it is because of the CNN clock which also lets me know that it’s 43o.  Darn Accuweather.com – you said 46o and I dressed light.  I hate you.

5:23 – Doubt starts to creep in about the feasibility of doing another lap without going completely insane.  Just as I decide it’s time to head in, lying to myself that I’ll hit the trainer later in the afternoon, Omar shows up.  That ought to take the edge off until the Boathouse.

I’d go on, but I’m even bored just writing about it.   That’s the conundrum of Central Park.  Without it, those of us who live in city would be totally screwed as far as training goes.  Where else (apart from Prospect Park except there there’s even less to keep you occupied and you have to ride twice as many laps) in the middle of one of the busiest metropolises can your ride more or less traffic free more or less any time you want without the need for light (sunlight or the rechargeable kind?)  And yet, the monotony of turning laps in the park will put you off your bike.

That’s why I can’t imagine how anyone, even someone getting paid, could possibly walk around the same four corners for the better part of a day.  That sounds as bad as the Empire State Games qualifier in Prospect Park.  22 laps.  About the only thing you get from that race is dizzy.

That’s today’s view from the back.

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You Ought To Be Able To
ObesityEvolutionI put it at 18”; my wife said it was wider.  Let’s split the difference and call it 20”.  The bottom line is that a NYC bus seat is pretty wide. 

Much as I try to ride my bike everywhere, it doesn’t always happen.  I’m lazy (very lazy, so lazy, I mentioned it to my wife on our first date so she would know what she might getting herself into – in fact, I mentioned three things “just in case this ends up going somewhere” – namely, I’m the laziest person in the world, I ride my bike a lot and I mean a lot, and I really love watching TV.  At least now she can’t say she wasn’t forewarned,) and many times it’s impractical with a family.  The latter prevailed today, and I found myself on the 23rd Street cross-town bus with wife and son in tow.  A woman plopped down next to me (literally, plopped).  Next thing I know, I’ve got a meaty arm and even meatier thigh, encroaching on my seat and pushing me up against my wife.   Worse yet, the woman was one of those closet fatties.  You know, one of those people you don’t even notice is fat because they just blend with the rest.  It takes a really, really obese person to stick out nowadays, such is the state of the American populace.

And the answer is not to accommodate as they are doing in Brazil by putting in special seating for the obsese.

Fat Seat in Brazil

A large part of the reason I ride is to stay in shape.  That said, before I started riding, I lost 40 pounds in four months.  It wasn’t that hard.  I just changed my eating habits.  No exercise. No diet.  Just a little common sense and some will power.  To borrow from Floyd Landis (I think it was him in Lance Armstrong’s War), “I don’t understand the big deal.  If I want to lose weight, I don’t eat for a couple of days.”   I’m as big a comfort eater as the next person, but I also know when to stop – which coincidentally for me is Sunday when I start focusing on getting ready for next season.  

So to the woman who sat next to me on the bus today:  I don’t get it.  Is it really that hard to shut your mouth at the dinner table?  And no, having a diet coke with the super-sized Big Mac and super-sized fries is not watching what you eat.  Go ahead and have the real coke, it really can’t hurt that much more.  Start riding a bike or running or whatever, but your largesse is your problem and it shouldn’t be my problem.  You ought to be able to fit into a bus seat.  It’s pretty wide.

If that sounds mean of me (and it probably is), so be it. 

Merckx in Central Park
Eddy Merckx will be riding in Central Park on Nov. 14th with 70 people, each of whom will be paying $100 for the privilege (thanks to ratherberiding who’s blog Cyclosity is where I first read about it.)  It’s a fundraiser organized by the Belgian American Chamber of Commerce who will also be honoring Merckx with a lifetime achievement award.  The proceeds go to Children’s Lightning Wheels.  I get the idea of using a celebrity ride-a-long as a fundraiser and it seems like a worthwhile cause (although, it’s amazing how many causes there are these days and how many “a-thons” there are to go with them.  Last Sunday there were three walk-a-thons in Manhattan.)   What I don’t get is how on earth they expect to keep away the throng of people that will show up?  Not that anyone who didn’t pay would do that.  This is New York after all, the archetype of social etiquette.  They going to tell someone not to ride in the park?

RideWithEddy

Happy marathoning this weekend.  Looking forward to having the park back.

That’s today’s view from the back.

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As this is the second recipe I’ve posted, you might be picking up on the fact that I like to cook.  And I think I’m pretty good at, all things considered.  Well, actually, one thing considered, namely that last night the owner of a well-known restaurant in NYC, helped himself to thirds of my Pollo al Cacciatore.  Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t like it enough to hire me as a line chef, despite my mentioning it about 30 times.

Today’s menu item is not pollo al cacciatore but spaghetti alla carbonara (or more accurately, pasta alla carbonara since I use organetti, little accordion pasta so my son can eat it.)  The dish is perhaps the simplest of all the pastas to make, so that leaves a little time for a digression.

In May of 2004, I went on an apartment hunting expedition to Rome in advance of my move.  I also arranged it so that I could partake of a week-long cycling trip to Sardegna on the back end, which happened to be one of the best run trips ever (and which also spurred my desire to starting a cycling vacation company.  That I wound up doing once I returned from Italy.)  Anyway, on the second day of the Rome portion of my trip, I had found a bike shop, through the yellow pages no less, that turned out to be my second home while I was in Rome.  Mario and Simone, the father and son owners of Cicli Lazzaretti, had extended an invitation to join a group ride from the shop the next weekend.  The night before the ride, I found myself roaming through the historical center, and as happens from time to time, I wandered on to a secluded piazza and into a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant.  Wanting to gets some carbs in for the looming ride, I mistook the carbonara for another dish.  Mistakes often lead to great discoveries.

The pasta was excellent, and as the restaurant was empty, I got into a half-Italian, half-English conversation with the waiter and the owner.  This may be common knowledge, but it was then that I learned that carbonara originated with the American servicemen during WWII.  Longing for the bacon and eggs of home, GIs starting adding it to pasta.  And that’s really the beauty of pasta, you can pretty much add whatever you want to it and you can’t muck it up too badly.

I had a great dinner that night.  Try as I might, I never found the restaurant again while I lived in Rome, but I did come home with a recipe.

Organetti alla Carbonara

La Carbonara
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes – this dish can be prepared in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.

Ingredients
A note about amounts:  As with any recipe I post, they’re all of the more or less variety.

• 7oz pancetta, cubed  – look for a block of pancetta as opposed to thinly sliced pancetta although either will do
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 4 eggs – I use 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, but you can vary this.  I like the thinness of having more egg whites
• Pecorino
• 1 box of pasta – the dish is traditionally made with spaghetti

Directions

  1. Set water for the pasta to boil on the stove.   While waiting for the water to boil begin making the sauce.  At some point during this process the water will boil.  Put the pasta in the water then.  If you buy Barilla or De Ceccho pasta, the box tells you how long to cook it.  They’re always right
  2. Cube the pancetta
  3. In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil and set heat to medium
  4. Once the oil is heated, add the pancetta and stir.  Cook until the pancetta begins to turn pink (about 2 minuts).  Remove from heat once done
  5. In a bowl, whisk eggs, a splash of milk and pepper
  6. When pasta is cooked, drain and reserve some pasta water
  7. Return pasta to the pasta pot and put over low flame
  8. Stir in pancetta
  9. Stir in egg mixture
  10. Continue stirring over low heat for 1-2 minutes or longer depending on how you like the eggs
  11. If necessary (and it shouldn’t be) use the reserved pasta water to cut the sauce (e.g., if too salty)
  12. Top with pecornino

That’s it.  Very, very easy and very, very satisfying.

That’s today’s view from the back (and unfortunately not from a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Rome.)

A Sunday In Hell, Well At Least The Build Up Is Hell
NYCMarathonMid-October is quickly followed by the first weekend in November which brings with it the New York City Marathon.  The 3-5 weeks in between are dreadful for Gotham cyclists.  The weather and lack of sunlight in the mornings leave us with little choice but to ride in Central Park.  But enter the park at your own risk, if not physically at least at risk of needing to rush over to Duane Reade for a bottle of Norvasc to bring your blood pressure back to normal.  For the legions of would-be Greta Waitz’s and Aberto Salazar’s know no boundaries.

In preparation for the big event, the city installs seating and barriers 2-3 weeks in advance.  That means on any given day, the area around Tavern On The Green (guess we’re going to have to change the name of the meeting place soon) is littered with trucks dumping off the stuff or workers carrying the stuff from one side of the road to the other.  Here’s an idea, dump the stuff off where you actually need to put it.

As for the runners themselves, apparently the larger recreational lane (I say recreational lane because technically it is a bike lane) that came with the repaving of the park over the summer does not provide enough room.  In an off itself, runners running outside of the rec lane is no big deal (obviously, they’ll be yelled but you always ride with a buffer zone).  What is a big deal is the group of 30 or so idiots running short distance repeats, then doing an about face leaving them potentially in the path of coming cyclists.  Isn’t the marathon a distance event or am I missing something?  Added to that are the people who for some reason think it’s okay to run on the outside of the loop (i.e., in the right hand lane), making it a shooting gallery as you try to pick your way through.  I don’t think I’d care so much if there was at least an ounce of recognition from these folks that there are other people also using the park.

David Weir

David Weir

The Marathon itself is actually rather pleasant.  I’ve been on both end of it, as a spectator and as a rider in support of a wheelchair competitor (you didn’t think I’d run one of those things did you?)  The wheelchair marathoners go off before the runners, and the job of the support riders is to make sure there’s a clear path and warn people on the roadway to get out of the way.  My friend and I (two riders are assigned to each competitor) ended up supporting David Weir, the then British national champion and a 4-time winner of the London Marathon.  We were clear instructed to not talk to our competitor and to ride as close to each curb as possible and not near the competitor, which we did.  At least until a right hand turn in Williamsburg that I saw but my friend didn’t – in his defense it was a bit hard to see as there was no barrier and the city lightly paints a dark blue stripe on the street to outline the course which is unfortunately next to impossible to pick up against the asphalt.  Anyway, I make the turn only to see a whole lot of bike coming right at me.  Weir has not place to go and veers of course, not making the turn.  From then on, we pretty much paced him by riding in front of him and also gave him our water bottles whenever he wanted (another no-no.)  Weir finished 5th that day.  Oops.

The Masked Marauder
Speaking of dangers in the park, while the park has a long-standing raccoon population, has anyone noticed the size of some of these critters?  Baby hippos come in smaller.  And unlike their other road hazard brothers, the squirrels, the raccoons come packing some attitude.  One stared down Sayid the other day in a game of chicken.  And they don’t play by the usual rules, i.e., going straight at them because they will eventually move doesn’t appear to always be the right choice.  At least with a squirrel there’s a chance you’re going to stay upright if you hit it.  Not so sure about these humongous procyonids.

Who Am I To Cast A Stone
I’m not really into bikes all that much (i.e., I don’t get all wound up over the latest this or that), and I’m certainly not up on the whole commuter, fixed-gear, hipster wannabe, single-speed, regular old Schwinn Varisty argument.  I have a couple road bikes and a few more frames that have accumulated over the years.  I also have a commuter that happens to be a fixed gear, which I chose with lots and lots and lots of help from a friend and teammate (who also had to come over to help me get the fenders on the darn thing.)  So far be it for me to say anything about anyone else set-up, except about this which rolled by as I was choking down lunch the other day.  To quote the “verbacious” Crash Davis from Bull Durham, “a bit much for the Carolina league.”

TimeTrialBike

Looking forward to the rain, again.

That’s today’s view from the back.

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© Bettmann/CORBIS

© Bettmann/CORBIS

The New York Times ran an article in the Business section (true, the business section and sports section are one section but the article ran before any stories about the demise of the Yankees) about cyclists who travel for business taking their bikes on the road with them.  Since when is this news?  Doesn’t everyone figure out some way to train when they’re on the road?  I guess even with the smaller sized paper these days there’s still not enough news that’s fit to print.

Overseas, I had a period of three months where I was working in the London office four days a week.  I’d fly out on Monday morning and come home on the last flight Thursday night.  Packed the bike up in the Trico and rode as much as I could.  Without other commitments, I actually got in better training than when at home.  I’d leave the bike in storage room at the hotel over the weekend.  No big deal.  On the heels of London, I did three months of the same thing in Madrid.  Brought my constant companion along and did the same thing.  Back in the states, at any offsite, the bike would come along too.  If I couldn’t bring mine for whatever reason, I’d find some place to rent one.  No fanfare.  No big deal.  Just a necessary part of being a cyclist. 

I’ve never encountered any issues or hassles and there has always been lots of good training to be had.  (Well, there was one time, but it had nothing to do with the bike.  Going from Gatwick to Fumincino, I lost my passport – long story on how which is neither here nor there.  I’m an American, flying from London to Rome with no documentation.  No doubt, I’m on the next plane back to the States.  I get to customs and explain the situation.  Four things save me:  1) I speak only Italian to them, 2) I have copies of my documents, 3) the commander is really angry at Alitalia who offered no support at all so he spends an hour berating the rep at the customer service desk and 4) the company I worked for makes a product famous the world over which some people find quite humorous and my laptop bag is a marketing item for said product.  After an hour of joking with the guys in customs office regarding my bag, the commander comes back into the room and tells me that he’ll let me in, but I have to go straight to the US Embassy the next day and get a new passport.  I promise to – in fact, I had a harder time explaining how I could be in Italy without my passport to the Embassy than I did with the Italian border patrol – as I also promise to bring everyone some items with that product’s name on them.  The next week, just off my usual return flight, I go to the customs office with goodies in hand.  There are handshakes all around, and I am whisked through customs.  From then on, I am treated like royalty, never having to wait in line, and instead being ushered through the door reserved for airline personal.)

Anyway, the point is, of course you take your bike with you when you travel.  Cycling is a lifestyle, and so, you do whatever you need to do to ride.  Rent, pay the exorbitant rate airlines charge these for a bike or buy the folding bike that fits in a suitcase.  Everyone knows this, and everyone I know does this.  When I land my next gig, if there’s traveling involved, you’ll find me with bike in tow, there’s no doubt.

So why, how, is this news?  For the Times no less.  Has cycling become so chic they’ll look for any angle on a story (or non-story?)  What’s next a story about people fixing flats?

That’s today’s view from the back.

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