Every bike racing off-season brings with it the temptation to fiddle around with my body. As a pretend bike racer, my body is the engine that propels me to the dizzying heights of mediocrity where I ply my trade. My bike and my body combine to create the souped-up Yugo that I take to races—my body provides the power, my bike is the chassis. If I want to go faster, it would make sense to get more power out of my engine, and that’s where the temptation to fiddle around comes in. Should I be intervals in the winter? Maybe I can lose some weight. Perhaps I should drink and eat only beets until I turn the color of a spoiled radish—there are a lot of fiddling options out there when it come to turning oneself into a mighty power plant. The first step is to make a thorough assessment of the parts that I’m working with, to check for any blinking “check engine” lights, if you will.
An assessment of the moving parts
My ass is killing me. More specifically, I have a bit of high hamstring tendinitis in my right butt cheek. Loyal readers will know that I am not one to shy away from discussing my ass whenever the opportunity presents itself, and this is no exception. I have a sore ass. And the soreness is in the deepest recesses of where my butt meets my hamstring. A quick internet self-diagnosis (those are the best kind, no?) points to high hamstring tendinitis. The recommended treatment for this is rest, which I did for a week. And since then I have been icing, moving and rubbing my ass in ways that I assure you are purely therapeutic (In fact, I’m icing my butt as I type this right now—let that mental image linger in your mind.) Progress is slow but steady and I anticipate not discussing my ass in painful detail in the future, which will make me sad.
Another byproduct of aging that doesn’t get mentioned (along with ear hair growth—why in the name of Dee Dee Ramone do we need late-onset ear hair growth? Is the hair protecting something? Why wouldn’t we need it when we’re young? I’m really perplexed by ear hair growth.) is that fact that the healing process takes FOREVER. I played a game of street hockey in April and the ball hit me in the knuckle on my communicating (middle) finger on my left hand—and my finger is STILL SLIGHTLY SORE. What the hell? It’s been six months. I crashed at FBF in early August, landing on my right hip and shoulder. I didn’t do any serious damage to my moving parts, and after a few scabby days, I was up and about. I had full range of motion on all my parts, but my shoulder was very sore due to the fact that I used it as a brake pad. That was three months ago, so naturally my shoulder is still sore. I can move it however I want in any direction, but it is just sore. It has a slight dull ache that just sits there to remind me of past poor decisions. It calls out to me saying, “Hey old person, why are you still racing bikes? Isn’t it time to start staying at home, watching cable news and getting mad at the government on a full time basis?”
An assessment of the non-moving parts
The bigger issue here is that I have to come to grips with the concept of frailty, specifically the notion that my frailty will only increase as I amass birthdays. That is a bummer because I really like bike racing, but I also like standing and walking, so it’s hard to decide whether to keep participating in an activity that, with every passing year, could potentially turn me into a bucket of ailments. Of course, the argument could also be made that not racing would turn me into a pile of sofa pudding, prone to weight gain, diabetes and exploding from eating too many Wheat Thins, and right now that seems like a worse alternative. So for now I will keep my ass on ice, wait patiently for my shoulder to stop aching and fiddle with my Yugo’s engine until it’s ready to hit the middle of the pack once again next year.