Sunday, May 24, 2009

rv living

My father has worked in retail for years, the past 30 or so in furniture sales. In the early 80's we were living in Western Mass and he worked at the Lay-Z-Boy store in West Springfield. He left that job and worked briefly for a company called Scandinavian Design in West Hartford and Long Island. It was like an upscale Ikea and I recall going to NY to look at houses.

I like to think that it was divine intervention that had him leave that company and save us from a life in the Empire state.

He returned to Lay-Z-Boy, but to a new franchise in RI. That was quite a trip from Ludlow, so he bought a small trailer, parked it behind the store, and lived out of that thing for 7 months or so. It was small, the next thing down was a popup and one of those probably would have been bigger once unfolded. I recall that it had a tiny "kitchen" and the "living room" doubled as the "bedroom" at night.

During the summer when I was out of school I'd go down and spend a few days in the RV, wandering around Warwick while my dad worked. Retail is tough on a family man: late nights and weekends are standard, so I learned to entertain myself. Dad's store was in a very busy retail section of town, near the intersection of two highways, two malls and too many strip malls to count. I'd pass the days walking down to the two malls: the Midland Mall (later renamed the Rhode Island Mall) was way better than the Warwick Mall, if for no other reason than it had two floors and a pet store.

I recall that the deli across the street had the best ham and cheese subs for $.99, though it was really $.90 worth of bread and $.09 worth of cheese and meat. Playing in the store after hours while my dad worked in the office was a blast, probably the best part of it all. I rode my bike a lot there as well, but it was just a BMX bike so I kept it local, spending hours upon hours in the parking lot trying to pull off tail-whips and cherry pickers.

The Warwick Mall has since caught and passed the RI Mall on the coolness scale, even though it still only has one floor.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My new ride

Between a hurt knee and the NHL playoffs our couch has seen a lot of my ass the past few weeks. We've had a lot of Friendly's ice cream in the house lately, so the ass in question is getting bigger too. This Sunday will mark two weeks since any sort of ride for me, and now that I'm out of the ironman I can't say that I'm anxious about it. There's plenty of time until cross season, and taking time to heal completely is my new objective for the spring.

That's a training program anyone can get used to. Most people have gotten used to that plan I suppose, too many really.

The ass getting bigger line is an exaggeration, the scale has been pretty kind to me and I'm only up 3-4 lbs over my "fighting weight," but I have virtually no appetite. I can't loose weight when I exercise a lot and can't gain it with lethargy.

I'm having a heated argument with a co-worker as to which college sport is more popular nationally... Men's hockey or Women's softball. I was reluctant to agree when he suggested that Men's baseball was more popular than hockey, but since he's from Oklahoma and I think that is where the College World Series is I figured he knew something I didn't. But when he tried to push hockey down below women's softball, I had to put my foot down. He was going to have his dad who was in Vegas to ask someone at the sports book which sport got more action, but he forgot. That was going to be the thing that settled our debate.

This guy's dad heads out to Vegas (from OK... no big deal) once or twice a year. Ten years ago or so my friend approached me saying that his dad was looking for someone who knew hockey to give him some picks. I was deeply involved in a fantasy hockey league at the time so I handed over 20 or so predictions. I got something like 18 of them right and every year since I get a call from my friend and know exactly what is coming. I'm always promised a little "something special" if the guys wins big, but I don't follow the league as closely as I once did and my picks have suffered from it. I don't think I've broken the .500 mark with my picks since that first year, but the guy seeks out my advice nonetheless. I think I was 3-12 this week. I thought defense won championships, but apparently not this year.

The wagon search continues, but it's not like looking for a house where you know that the right place must be out there somewhere. There are only so many mfgrs that I'd buy from, and all of the models that they make are fairly well documented. The Subaru Forester looks nice, but is 15% beefier than it really has to be. On my last ride I stopped to ask this guy who was working on his lawn mower how he liked his 1991 volvo wagon and he thought I wanted to buy it. He owns an old farmhouse in Douglas with a huge old barn on the property and he used the wagon for dump runs only. The thing was a beater, but clearly had many good years ahead of it. Dan's right... those old volvos are bomber. The guy was pretty chatty, every time I tried to leave he'd find something else to ask me about cycling, cars or living in Sutton. He took a look at my bike and then asked if I was interested in buying a "serious" bike off him. I said no thanks, but then thought that perhaps he had an old Masi or a Pogliaghi in that barn. No such luck, some sort of late 90s alu trek with an ultegra 6700 group... triple. There surely are some treasures in that barn, but a classic bike isn't one of them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

it's over johnny

well, that was fun. I officially ended my ironman preparation today, canceling the condo rental and initiating the race withdrawal process as well.

Long before I signed up last July and in anticipation of that day I visited an ortho in Boston to get an idea on the likelihood that my left knee IT band problems would hold up to the training volume. Like any good doctor he made no commitment, but the early indications were good so I signed up.

My training started in January and I ramped it up pretty good through February. March 1st I spent 3 hours on the trainer and developed some pain in my right knee, along the inside edge of my knee cap. Classic Patella Femoral syndrome. I rested a few days but kept going for the most part, thought the intensity was slipping. Despite the easier efforts, the pain worsened over the next few weeks.

First it was uncomfortable when I ran but fine when I stopped, then it would hurt while riding, then would hurt for some time after rides and finally it was just sore all the time. I shut it down in mid April for 8 days but upon resuming the knee felt bad again. The training became more spotty as that was the only thing that would keep it from hurting constantly, but this past Monday was the final straw when my right IT band started to ache.

Giving this up for good wasn't easy, there were more than a few people who were/are inconvenienced and I feel I've let a few people down. But no race is worth an injury and I want to be healthy for cyclocross.

So it's done. I won't sign up again. I can't say I didn't try, so I don't expect to feel guilty about not getting to the finish line. Maybe when I'm 60 and the kids are gone I'll consider it again... but probably not.