Sunday, August 07, 2005


Three Months To Go...

..until the Alyn Ride.

This morning I went out to Central Park with my sister and older son. I had my strongest ride by far. We rode very hard for all 24 miles including all of the hills. At the quarter mark of the last (of four) lap, I was starting to get tired. Just then, a women riding the same bike as mine (a Trek 1500, albeit a newer model), zipped passed me on a straightaway. I decided to try to reel her in and did. So, my last lap ended up my strongest. Ironically, my sister, who was following closely behind me, was also getting very tired. When she saw me kick it into a higher gear, she decided that she wasn't going to let me get away so she, too, picked up her pace.

Ah. My sister. Much has happened, good and bad. She bought herself an expensive and amazing new carbon fiber bike and is now not only able to keep up with me but, if she really drops the hammer, she can drop me as well. Her riding has improved remarkably with the new bike. I think it is a combination of the merits of her new bike, her old bike having upright bars and, according to the bike shop where she bought her new bike, the old one being ill-fitting. This, of course, has led to a severe case of bike envy on my part. I will write about bike envy next time. Suffice it to say that I am struggling with my yaitzer harah.

The other thing that happened is that she decided not to do the ride in Israel. She has her reasons which are not for publication. This is very disappointing, especially because she would easily have been able to ride with me and, indeed, would have been among the top half-dozen female riders (despite being a few years older than me!). So, I am on my own.

So, with three months to go before the rise, I am in extremely good shape. I am riding strong with room for improvement, I am at a good weight, fluctuating between 129 and 131. (I expect to be at 128 for the ride). I expect to do about four serious long rides before the Israel ride and continue apace with my spinning. All I need to do is stay healthy and I think I will be fine.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Misplaced Mussar

My father-in-law ("FIN"), zzg, hates the fact that I ride. The only thing he hates more is that the fact that his own son is an avid rider.

FIN grew up during the depression and his entire way of looking at life has been profoundly informed by that experience. As a consequence, stability and rationality are very important parts of life. He spends and invests his money cautiously. He always stressed to his children the importance of education and a professional career (he tried, unsuccessfully, over the years to convince MHW to enter the school system so that she could obtain a pension, something that he values greatly; MHW has always freelanced because of her desire for flexibility).

My brother in law ("BIL"), FIN's only son, is an extremely successful professional, one of the most successful practitioners of what he does in the entire country. That makes FIN very happy. However, after making aliyah two years ago (he still works in the U.S.), BIL got into off road biking and did the Alyn Bike Ride. This, of course, did not make FIL happy. FIL cannot understand how a grown man can jeopordize everything he has worked for to ride a stupid bicycle (especially off road. Come to ythink of it he has a point). What drove FIL even more nuts was that, having seen the DVD BIL did on his ride, I decided that I had to do it as well (albeit on road rather than off).

Every once in a while FIL reminds me how dumb and dangerous it is to ride and tries to get me to give it up. So, when I had my accident last week I had no intention of telling him about it. But, of course, the word got out and one of the eyewitnesses who goes to FIL's shul told him all about it. (Another reason there should be no talking in shul). I found out that FIL knew and braced myself for the coming mishabeirach.

What happened, though, is classic. BIL made the mistake of calling FIL just after he heard about my accident. FIL gave BIL the mishabeirach and, as with the accident itself, I emerged unscathed! I had an accident and my poor BIL had to endure a five minute rant! You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, August 01, 2005


Postmortem on an Almost-Mortem

On Shabbos I saw a man who witnessed my accident. He was in the car directly behind the car that hit me. He said that he was astonished that I survived (no less walked away virtually without a scrath).

He said that the driver must have seen me at the last second, rammed his breaks and veered to the left. I veered slightly to the right. So, instead of the front of the car hitting me, I was hit by the side of the car, the mirror to be precise. The impact was enought to shear the mirror right off his car. The witness told me that I bounced off the car and landed upright. He said it was the darndest thing he ever saw (and that I should be very grateful to Hashem).

I have been thinking a lot about the accident since Friday morning. Two main things go through my head. First, I keep thinking about the split second before I was about to get hit and the two things that were going through my head at the same time. One, 'I can't believe how careless I just was' and two, 'brace yourself, you about to get hit hard'. I can't get that image out of my head.

The other thing that I have been thinking about is just how amazingly careless(reckless!) I was. For those of you following this diary, I hope it has been clear that I am not a reckless or even careless rider. On the contrary. Aggressive, yes. Careless, no. I am usually extremely careful. I do not go too fast downhill. I never so much as ride around the block without my helmet securely fastened. Indeed, I don't do off-road riding because I think it is too dangerous for an untrained 50-year-old.

This was uncharacteristic and could easily have cost me my life or a VERY serious injury. I can't let this happen again.

In the meantime, there is a lot of other training news. I will write about it next time.

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