Monday, May 28, 2012

The secret plan for world domination

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about the challenges posed by trying to become a superhero (see the road to becoming a superhero is pavedwith broken ice makers).  To recap – I wrote about the difficulty in transforming into a comic book character cut from the Batman cloth (sans mystical/magical/supernatural/superscientific intervention).  In my case, I did not want to be the Dark Knight nor Iron Man but Super-Bad-Ass-Dada… a.k.a. Subad.  Most of you will not be too surprised to learn that it was mostly tongue in cheek.  However, the handful of readers out there who know me well probably suspected something else lurking below the surface of the Subad story.  You might have seen the shadow cast by a Secret Plan.

The dangers inherent in revealing a secret plan are legion.  Among the most obvious issues is that of commitment.  Once you have publicly committed to a course of action you have bound some of your credibility to the outcome.  You have to walk the talk.  Quitting and walking away from the project takes on a whole different aspect.  The declaration of “this I will do” is a bit like a marriage vow.  You stand before your assembled friends, family, and even the gods of your ancestors and declare “I am on the plane till we level out or crash into the mountain”.  There is no bailing out.  You throw out the parachute.  It is very hard to do the first time.  The second time, after a crash and burn, is brutally hard.  Most of us crash and burn a few times before we learn to either play it safe/shut up - or to walk our talk.  Just because revealing the Secret Plan is scary though is no reason not to do it.  Throwing out the parachute, when the flight is worth it, is a critical step.  Some flights leave without you if don’t toss it before boarding.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Super-Bad-Ass-Dada or just a Regular-Old-Bald-Ass-Dada.  Subad and Robad are faced with people that do want them to succeed.  Both Subad and Robad have overt enemies try to poison the wells, well-intended but limiting friends, and unequivocal supporters.  Unfortunately, stories told by the first two groups are the easiest to hear.  Both are telling themselves narratives that are different than the narrative of the Secret Plan.  One of the hard parts about reinventing yourself is breaking out from the force of the story that other people are telling themselves about you.  Almost everyone says “I don’t care what other people think about me”.  We are all liars.  We care.  The stories carry a weight that propels, drags upon, enrages, motivates, depresses, and limits us.  Make no mistake – most of the time we play a serious role in the shaping of these stories. The enemies’ stories and the friends’ are a combination of our actions and how they have chosen to interpret them.  Sometimes the story is grossly unfair; and, other times it is something we can never live up to.  It is seldom dead on accurate.  It might be who you were… but it doesn’t have to be who you are going to be.  You can write a new story.  There is a point at which you have to let people in on the Secret Plan.  If you don’t they never get to change their story about you, and trust me – you will need the energy that their new story creates.  Secret Plans cannot be implemented on your own, doesn’t matter if you are Subad or Robad. 

My own Secret Plan is uber-ambitious but is broken into concrete stages that build upon one another.  It does not involve having an island hideaway with lots of henchmen and a giant city-killing laser or anything like that.  It is based on some pretty basic premises. 
1. I am happier when I am very fit. 
2. The longer I live, the more time I have to be successful. 
3. I am a teacher and a coach.
4. I am a competitor.          
5. We need me to have an income.

All of those premises add together to equal my own Secret Plan.  In a nutshell, the plan is to....  Well, more to follow.  Maybe.  Walking away.  Plan stays Secret for now.  Some things are better left....

Friday, May 18, 2012

bike porn (the secret guilty please of looking at human powered vehicles)

I hate to admit it - but I am worried that I am something of a pornographer.  Perhaps I am no Larry Flynt (if you dont know who he is here is a link to a G-Rated wikipedia article about him) but I am guilty of publishing pornography. At least that is what my pal Mateo told me a few days ago.  He said "a lot of your pictures are like bike porn."  I suppose they are.  Sure it is not hot young naked hard-bodies... it is even sexier.  I publish pictures of bikes.  I suppose you could even go a little broader and say I publish pictures of human powered vehicles.  To a builder of such machines, and a creator of the spin off photo genre, there is not much that is hotter.  I admit it is a rather unusual turn-on to discuss, but I don't think it is all that unusual to have.  To be fair though, weirdos seldom think that they are weird.  There is something deeply satisfying though in taking a piece of crap

and transforming it into a functional work of art.  Particularly when it can be ridden down a mountain single-track at a frightening velocity.  This old Schwin went from junk to hot.  It is in the hands of a 16 year old boy who rides it every day on his school mountain bike team.  It takes a serious beating.

Part of the thrill for me as a bike pornographer is in capturing one of my creations in an environment where it is natural.  A place where it fits.

Sometimes the thrill is in capturing it in an environment where it absolutely does not fit.

Sometimes the thrill comes from creating something that belongs in no known environment.  The creation below has two drive-trains - two chains - two sprockets.  It folds in half.  The rear wheel is a 26 inch mountain bike wheel.  The front is a 27 inch antique road wheel that I restored.  As far as I know, it is the only one of its kind in the world.  It is ridiculously fast, stops on a dime, and lives in Trinidad and Tobago now.

One of the most interesting human powered vehicles I have ever seen is in Kathmandu, Nepal.  It is made of teak.  Is two stories tall.  Serves as a playground for neighborhood kids.  Weirdest of all... it is also a religious shrine to the hindu god Ganesh.  It is super slow and almost impossible to stop once it moving.

What could be more pornographic (in the bike-porn world) than a bicycle built for two.  This 1950 Workman Cycle was a non-functional lump of rust when I got it.  It is a true work of art now.

Bamboo fenders, hand-painted accents, and photo decals from my love's career as a dental missionary around the word are just a few of the features on this 1943 John Deere bike.

My dad's retro cruiser features a dc generator built into the front wheel hub, brakes from the 1920s, leather wrapped handlebars from an 1895 Wright Cycle (like Wilber and Orvile Wright), and old car horn.  My dad rides it all over the village where he lives.

My 80cc Bianchi Cafe Boardtrack Racer really should be illegal.  With a nitrous-oxide injection system, a seven speed manual transmission, and a top end in the 60s this definitely earns the "hot" label.

Matador is a celebration of the Mexican Bull Fight.

Larry Flynt?  I don't know Mateo... I am a rider, and a builder, but I don't know about bike pornographer. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eating yourself to death - the Great American Diet

Want to know what Soloman Burke, my beloved Grandmother, and Etta James all had in common?  They ate themselves to death.  Suicide by carbohydrate poisoning.  Victims of the Great American Diet.  Today 31% of all Americans are obese.  In ten years, if the current rate of growth continues, the obesity rate will hit 40%.  The spin-off medical conditions are delightful - heart disease, type 2 diabetes, even certain types of cancer.  You can survive a drug addiction, a long cigarette addiction, even long-term alcoholism - but no one survives unchecked obesity.  If one spin-off doesn't kill you another one will.  HBO Documentary Films has recently put together a series about this problem.  If you have not seen it - get out from under your rock and check it out.  It is a frightening and enlightening piece of artwork.

Obesity cuts across racial, and socio-economic lines.  It has no age.  It is very much an American thing.  It is hard not become obese in our culture.  We have made high carbohydrate crap both addictive and cheap.  We have made it easy.  We have made it hard to resist.  We have made it part of who we are.  It ain't easy to escape the ubiquitous carbo-clutch either.  I have.  For now.  In the process I have learned a few things that can help to break free.  I wish I could tell you that if you do these things you will be thin and hot and live to be 120.  I'd be lying if I did.  I can tell you this though... you will have a better chance at achieving those things.

Number one... do not eat anything that comes from a convenience store (other than an overpriced package of nuts).  The hotdogs are 2 for a dollar... I know.  I fountain drink is one dollar... I know.  You stopped to get gas for the car... I know it is convenient.  Don't do it ever again.

If it comes from a steamer table then it is basically toxic.

If it is such an incredible value for the cost that you almost can not believe it... then don't.  It is poison.

Number two: set the table, and sit down to dinner as a family as often as you can.  Have it become the new normal (if it is not already).  Don't put on the television, put on music.  Have the times when you don't sit down this way be the exception to the norm.  Even a sparse meal seems bigger and better when everyone is together, interacting, and enjoying the presentation effect.

Number three: effort in equals quality out.  This is true in every one of life's endeavors.  Make dinner a "production" of quality and aesthetic and you will find that the quantities go down and the healthiness and enjoyment go up.  The more time and life-energy you put into dinner - the more you and your loved ones will get out of it.

Eat protein and vegetables for dinner.  Jettison the carbohydrates.  Have carbs be a very occasional treat.  Like once a week at the most.  You are FAR better off having a meal with too much fat than you are with carbohydrates.  In fact you are far better off having a cigarette than a bag of chips or a plate of spaghetti.

Number four: learn to have snacks and treats be fruit.  Figure out how to not have that be boring.  Presentation and thoughtfulness can be a substitute for doritos.  For real.  You just have to want it be true.

Number last: learn how stop expecting to feel full after you eat.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Here is the WORD - ignore me at your peril (sort of)

Being positive is hard some days.  Today is one of those days for me.  I feel a bit like Homer Simpson when he launches into one of his I'm-so-stupid-and-everything-is-going-wrong rants.  Maybe I need to be sitting down to a Duff's at Moe's Bar.  Today is the Tempe International Triathlon.  About three months ago I set a goal that I was going to place in the top 10 in my age group (40-44) today.  It was a big goal.  It is a particularly hard one to achieve when you aren't even there.  That is really hard to swallow (harder than a Duff's at Moe's in fact) when I am painfully aware that it is my own damn fault.  I have a stress fracture in my left hip.  I got it from trying to cram about 8 years of training into a few weeks.  What the hell was I thinking?  

Given the metal detector activating hardware that I already had in my back - this was exceptionally stupid.  When your spine is pinned back together... ease into running.  So no Tempe for me.  I am sitting this one out.  I would love to be able to say "I would so easily have hit my goal and placed in the top 10", but the truth is that I have no idea what would have happened.  I have not run more than 5 miles (total) since March 1st.  I am really bummed out about it.  I am embarrassed to say that I let it drag me down today.  

When you have set your sights on a fitness or lifestyle goal it is so easy to shoot yourself in the foot by trying to fast forward to the victory parade.  Everyone does it to one extent or another.  Relatively speaking I was lucky.  I did not do anything that permanently disabled me, or was super expensive to fix.  I know people who have fundamentally altered the course of their lives this way.  All I did was delay my debut into the elite triathlon category by a half a year.  The hard thing about something like this is to shake it off.  It is not the kiss of death to your plans and goals and dreams.  Like my very wise mom always says "progress ain't always linear".  There are lessons to be learned from days where it feels like you are moving backwards.  In the realm of training, of reinventing yourself, of life in general - those are often the most valuable lessons that there are.  

Let me tell you though - it is brutal hard work to shake off an I-suck-I-might-as-well-throw-in-the-towel-all-is-lost style funk.  With that kind of self-talk you get off the hook and you get sympathy from those in your circle.  Feel sorry for me and understand why I am giving up on my goal that I have publicly stated in the past.  It is perfectly understandable and totally natural to go there.  The courage comes in the next part - afterward.  The part where you don't stay there.  The next stage where you are looking it in eye and moving forward.  It is not the end of the world.  It is a sprain.  A fracture.  A concussion.  It is 5-10-12 pounds in the wrong direction.  A bag of corn chips.  A vacation where you ate too much.  A cigarette you swore to never have again.  Don't throw in the towel and go buy a pack.  You don't quit AA because you went to a bar.  It is a moment of human weakness that is all too normal and just a bump in the road less traveled.  Of course I feel like shit about Tempe - I screwed up.  I should have been in that race today.  So tomorrow no wallowing in self-loathing - I need to swim, ride my road bike, work in my shop, and be a great Dada.  My two oldest sons come home from college tomorrow.  The only thing they need to see from me is how happy I am to have them home.  The one effective treatment for feeling like you have failed is to wake up the next day and focus on moving forward.

I am particularly blessed.  Tempe was not the end of some program.  It was a part of long term plan.  there are lots of other opportunities ahead of me.  I have another triathlon coming up on the 3rd of June at Keuka Lake in New York.  I am doing it with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  He is in much better shape than I.  Having said that, I will be well rested and my hip will be fine, and he would be crazy not to pay attention to me on race day. I might not be as competitive as I would like to be, the 6 mile run will be my first since the injury, but I will be present.  At the end of the day that is all that any of us can do - dust off, get up, jump back in, and be present.  As for the other competitors in the race at Keuka... I know that it will be my first run in about 14 weeks - but you had better hope that you can pedal really fast.  Cuz I will smoke your asses in the water so badly that you will never be able to catch me on the run alone.  That is gospel.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

There is no door number four on the price is right

Someone I know is killing himself because he keeps looking around for door number four.  Someone you know is also.  Some of you are killing yourself looking for that door too.  I get it.  I used to look for it all the time.  It is the door to the land of painless choices and fantasy results to stupid behavior.  Don't you wish there was a door number four?  I know the excuses: but I like.... I know, but it is hard and....  I just need to scale back...  I have a lot of stressful shit going on right now and when that stuff is passed then...  Ad nauseam.  There is no door number four dude.  You can choose door number one.  Door number two.  Door number three.  No four.

Life is often about making choices from an option box that is full of options that suck.  It doesn't matter what you want to have happen - it matters what your options are.  The only choice is often to select the option that sucks the least.  It is a rare and wonderful occurrence when the option box has a choice that includes what you really want.  It is not the norm.  Not on life's high stakes stuff.  Most of us have at least a few blind spots when it comes to this. We keep talking about what we wish and want; and, not about the options in our box.

For a long time (like years) I smoked cigarettes, chewed tobacco, ate as much high carbohydrate junk food as I wanted, and (aside from the occasional and ever shortening mtn bike ride) did very little exercise.  I was border-line obese, had chronic joint and muscular pain, and got winded from simple tasks.  I was a few years away for being diabetic, I would get skin and eye infections.  I was self-conscious, often self-loathing, and into self-anesthetizing.  Things were not headed in a healthy direction.  Door number one - keep on the same track.  Die early, expensively, and painfully.  Door number two - talk about fixing it, take a few faltering steps, decide "I can't" and go back to door one.  Door number three - quit my bad habits and start some healthy ones.  

I searched for door number four a long time though.  If I pretended hard enough  maybe I could eat, smoke, and drink myself into good health.  I couldn't though.  There was no number four.  I wasted a lot of life energy figuring that out.  I miss hand rolled cigarettes and McDonalds.  I want fish and chips and five draft Guinesses.  I want a brownie sunday for dessert and then I want to go outside and have a smoke.  I always will.  Door number three sucks.  It just sucked a little less than one or two.

There are some things that are real easy to get.  Financial choices are no-brainers for most of us.  They are often painfully grim, but easy to "get".  Most of us want live like a millionaire.  Most of us "get" that ain't in the option box.  I want to go Guatemala on vacation.  Every month.  We can't afford that, can't even do it on credit.  It is not in the box.  Going to Buffalo to see friends and family a few weeks a year... that is an option.  That kind of option is an easy one for most of us.  Much harder to get is "I can't ever have a smoke again.  Nor can I ever have crappy carbohydrates be a part of my life again.  People I love and hang with can do those things and it is unfair that I can't."  

So how do you do it?  There is a multibillion dollar world wide industry dedicated to helping people answer that very question.  In truth, I am a part of that industry as a writer, athlete, coach, and a trainer.  I will tell you a free trade secret... there is no secret.  No magic spell. It is never too late, it is always brutal to start, and it is not complicated.  Just three simple things to do.  1. Stop the bad habits today.  2. Do something physical that makes you sweat and gets your heart racing today. 3. Eat fruit, veggies, and protein and nothing else today.  Just those three things - just today.  Don't think about one month away, or how you will look in bathing suit at the beach next summer.  Do it today, it is not too late.  Tomorrow when you wake up don't look for door number four, rather tell yourself "I am going to do those three simple things for just today."  If you falter - so what?  Shake it off, wake up the next morning and concentrate on today.  It is not too late.  When you have strung together three weeks worth of "today" then you can start to set goals.  

Maybe you will decide to become a superhero.  That is what I am hoping to find behind door number four.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thor don't swim butterfly

I saw the Avengers movie last night.  Like a whole lot of males on planet Earth - I went and worked out the very next day.  Lifted.  Swam.  Road biked.  Swam.  In that order.  It is a funny thing what a testosterone filled action movie can do to the male brain.  Mine in particular.  You see, I was already toying with the idea of becoming SuBAD before the movie came out (I recently wrote about that in  The Avengers renewed my commitment to being a superhero.  Kind of a butterfly-cycling-running superhero.  I doubt I'll get a helmet/mask kind of thing.  Nor a shield.

So, while my fiancee went to Zumba class, I went to the weight room.  I threw a medicine ball and slung dumb-bells around for an hour.  They didn't have a war hammer like Thor's.  I don't really have the wardrobe to support a hammer either.  My daughter says that I would look stupid swimming butterfly in a cape and armor.  She's 12, she knows these things.  I'll have to settle for having my super-distinction be my speed in the pool, on my feet, and in the saddle.  Right now I am not much of a threat to any of the Marvel Universe superheros, but I am big trouble for about 75% of the athletes in my age group.  In my secret core - I want to be better than every single one of them.  A super hero.  I'm working on it.  Today harder than many days - thanks to Captain America and the posse.

I need to workout like intensely and consistently in order to face the super challenge I have in front of me.  Basically, I need to swim 5000m per day 4 times per week, lift weights 3 times per week, and ride at least 70 miles per week until mid June.  It is superhero stuff.  I too have a battle with a scary nemesis fast approaching.  It is not Loki (like in the Avengers).  Much worse.  The 200m Butterfly at US Masters Nationals on July 8th.  I have written about it more than a little of late.  Some former team mates and coaches have reached out with sound advice, words of humor, love, and support.  I am profoundly grateful to them and blessed to have such wonderful friends.  None of us goes into a competition alone, we bring those who taught/coached/supported into the event with us.  I am glad they will be in that lane with me in Omaha when I swim the fly in July.  I'll need them.  My goal is to swim it in 2:10.50.  I swam a little faster than that in my prime nearly 25 years ago, but not a whole lot.  It is really fast.  Absurdly fast for a guy who has been at this since February.  

In fact, it is exactly five seconds over the time I will need to hit next year when I break the US Masters National record.  It is superhero fast.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fly away to Omaha

There is nothing that scares me more on this earth than an expanse of water that is 8 feet wide and 50 meters long.  I have had some hard-bitten dudes point firearms at me in Guatemala.   I have rappelled 100s of feet down into black holes in the ground.  I've ridden a mountain bike off of stuff that would give a billy goat vertigo.  I am no stranger to dumb-ass nail biter stuff.  Having said all that, there is nothing that weakens my knees like standing on the starting blocks at one end of a long course meters pool.  I (mostly) don't do the other dumb things anymore... but I still get on those starting blocks.  I still feel my stomach turn to water.  Nothing is as intimidating (for me) as looking down the length of that 50m.  Conversely, there ain't nothing that thrills me more.  I feel like "I don't belong here" and "this is who I am".  I worry that everyone else standing on the blocks alongside me will know that "I can't do this" and at the same time I know that "I am going to kick all of your asses".  Fear and insecurity are juxtaposed with confidence and swagger on a starting block.  The faster the pool and bigger the swim meet - the louder the dichotomy tilts between the opposites, ringing like a bell.  It is only in that endless nanosecond when Quasimodo stops pulling on the bell rope and the starter's horn sounds that I find all of it washes away.  When I hit that water only the race matters.  

Today I took the plunge and went all in on the 2012 US Master Swimming Nationals swimming meet.  It is in Omaha, Nebraska 5 July through 8 July.  I bought my airline ticket, my hotel room, and my registration for the meet.  I will be swimming 50m/100m/200m butterfly, as well as the 400m free.  I have two months to get ready it.  To be real, I have two months to be ready for the 200m butterfly.  Four lengths of oxygen deprived hell.  In a pool twice the length of what I typically train in.  Four lengths that, at present, I can not not do.  I'll do it.  But I am not going there to finish it.  I am going there to compete in it.  I am in it to win even when I probably can't.  

I am going there to stand on those blocks and make the folks on either side of me think "shit, that is John Beck. I am in big trouble here."  I am going there because (strange and unreasonable as it may sound) I think I can win.  At an intellectual level I know that I can't win.  Hell, an old Clarion team mate, Ross Davis, will be in the same event and I know that he can mop up the deck with me!  To be honest, when I am on the blocks - I am always there to win.

I think that might be the key to achievement in athletics and in life.  I wish I could say that I brought that ethic to every aspect of my life.  I try to, but I often fall short.  That does not mean that we need to be cut-throat or unkind, or even aggressive.  It means that in the pool, in the gym, on the bike, with your family and friends - you need to be "all in".  Half measures achieve nothing but half results.

When I fly away to Omaha, Nebraska this July.  I will be there to win.  Even if I can't.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The zen at the eye of the storm

There is a zen-like state to be found while riding a bicycle.  It comes from an intimate connection to the earth beneath your wheels.  Little kids experience it when they roll down a neighborhood street with their handlebar streamers snapping in the wind.  It is the cheapest and easiest high that there is - all you need is a bike and a place to ride it.  There are no shortage of ways to chase that high.  A beachfront path and an old white-walled cruiser bike.  The weaving commute in and out of urban traffic to work on a small wheeled folding bike.   Maybe for some it is cruising along on a bike that fits them - an expression of their own style and aesthetic.  Functional artwork.

I am blessed - I get that high lots of ways.  Climbing a 25 mile mountain road on on my Bad Ass Road Bike and then hitting 47mph on the way down is one of my favorites.  The aptly named bike is Earth Surfer.  It flows and glides over the asphalt like a longboard on a perfect 4 foot right.  I am always mildly surprised that there is no ocean spray in my eyes when I ride it.  Even when my legs are burning and my breathing comes in ragged gasps - it delivers that high.  I don't even like road biking all that much.  However, there is something about the connection between the pavement, that bike, and me that is sublime. 

There is no substitute for the feeling that you get on a mountain bike.  It is unlike any other high in this world.  It Zen.  It is Rage.  It is Peace.  It is Chaos.  It is Living.  It is Dying.  I am not going to get to do it for a while now.  Stress fracture of the left hip (see blog entry Can I get there from here).  It is going to be more painful to go without that drug than the hip injury will ever be.  I don't find that feeling in quite the same way any other place.  I don't find it on Earth Surfer - I find it careening along a six inch wide trail downhill through a forest of towering ponderosa pines.  If I close my eyes I can almost feel it.  I focus on the single-track below and ahead.  The focus gives order to the speeding chaos.  I transport my own personal storm in a bubble around me.  I ride in its eye.

Then I open my eyes.  Time to take some ibuprofin.  My hip hurts.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Can I get there from here?

Today was not exactly what I would call a banner day on the road less traveled.  That would be the road to being a superhero (or at least the one toward being forever out of load-pile-land).  In fact from where I sat at two I would have said "you can't get there from here."  It was a Doctor's office day.  An orthopedic Doctor.  I have been having problems with my left hip.  Six weeks back I got a diagnosis that it was Bursitis from the LPN who works for our GP.  She is a nice lady.  Very smart lady too.  I am very fond of her. She told me bursitis.  Rest.  Ibuprofin.  Ice.  Mtn biking to be eased back into.  You will be fine.  That will be $90 (no medical insurance - makes all of this take on an even ghastlier cast).  A second visit, an x-ray.  No visible problem.  Should be better.  Go see an Ortho-doc if you want.  I'd give it a few more weeks though.  Bursitis takes a while to heal.  You will be fine.  Sure, race in the Whiskey Off-road if want (see blog entry My first whiskey).  It might hurt.  Might slow the healing some.  You will be fine.  Rest on the couch.  Less impact.  More ice.  As I said, I like her.  She was wrong about my hip though.

Indeed today's visit to the Orthopedic Doctor was to request a cortisone shot to treat the bursitis and get me back on the pavement.  I have an olympic distance triathlon on 13 May.  I want to place top 5 in my age group!  I have another in New York on 3 June.  Same goals there.  I spoke about it in a previous entry - Hips don't lie.  Perhaps my little plageristic nod to Shakira drew some karmic retribution.  Within a few minutes the Doctor told me that I had a stress fracture.  I had dodged a bullet at the Whiskey.  One hard fast "declip" from the pedals and hard foot plant (like at 20mph on a rock) and I would have been leaving the course in the basket hanging from a helicopter.  Then I would have been facing a total hip replacement without medical insurance.  Grim.  My beloved would have been facing years of me being disabled and devastated.  It would not have done good things to any aspect of my life.

So now what?  I can swim.  I can train to kick ass at Masters Nationals  I can ride my road bike - with a level of caution that borders on abject wussiness.  I can survive intact to heal and jump back into the fight another day.  I can love and nuture my four kids.  I can build fantastic bikes (for other people - anyone want one?)  I can get better.  I can get there from here.