5.83 New Year’s Goals

I woke up yesterday, January first 2015 with a belly full of hope and a brain full of ideas of what I was going to accomplish in this upcoming year. I, like many other human beings when given a calendar with a new year number and a bunch of empty squares are immediately filled with the desire to create an assortment of tasks and goals for which to fill those squares.  Tasks which become the benchmark on how successful our year was.

So I set about the annual tradition of creating my goal list for 2015.  A list that in the past that has included items such as eating more donuts and learning all the words to the Nicene Creed.  Two goals by the way that I failed to accomplish.  Surprisingly enough eating a donut a day is much tougher than it sounds, although this was probably my most delicious goal I’ve ever set.

Goal #1
Start a Procrastinator’s Club

Mundane or Memroy

This one has been a desire of mine for the past 8.5 years.  Ever since July of 2007 I’ve wanted to start a club devoted to procrastinators.  I’m not saying that I’m a procrastinator, I just saw a need in the market for a club dedicated to the art of procrastination.  This is something that I want to get started in 2015 and yesterday I was supposed to write the bylaws.  Something that after opening up the computer to begin the process of creating bylaws and other procedural documents I put off in leu of riding my bike trainer.  I mean I’ll get this club started in 2015, I’ll just start working on it tomorrow.

Goal #2
Don’t Forget My Pillow

If you have ever traveled with me, and if you have consider yourself lucky as I make an excellent travel companion full of wit and handsome to boot, you will often times notice that I forget my pillow.  I don’t know why I always forget my pillow, I just do.  There have been many a trip where my pillow has remained at home and I end up using a sweatshirt or a pair of jeans to rest my head.  Now it’s not that I don’t mind sleeping on a pile of crumbled up dirty denim, I find it lovely at times expect when your head rolls over the rivets.  No it’s that I need to get a little better at remembering the small details in my life.  I sometimes get lost in the big picture of where I’m going and forget the small, yet important details, like a pillow, and I need to get better at looking at all the small details while keeping an eye on the big picture.

Goal #3
Upgrade my phone to OS8

OS8 scares me and I’ve resisted the upgrade to the new operating system, but not in 2015. No sir I’m upgrading to OS8 this year.

Goal #4
Race my bike

Pack Fodder Practice

This year I want to get up early on a Saturday morning with butterflies swarming in my stomach, get myself dressed in a kit that doesn’t quite match, and head to some dot on a map to race bikes with a bunch of other middle aged men who have something to prove.  Bike racing scares me and intrigues me at the same time, but I know if I don’t race at some point in my life I will deeply regret it when I’m 80 years old and sipping milkshakes on my front porch.  I’d rather be able to regale my grandchildren with epic stories about how their grandfather was pack fodder at small time Cat 5 races, then tell them tales of how I spent every Saturday going to Home Depot to look for deck boards and new kitchen faucets, speaking of which I do need some new deck boards.

Goal #5
Give stuff away

I have too much stuff and I need to give my stuff away.  I don’t know how I got so much stuff, but I have too much of it.  I think 10 plus years of Saturday morning trips to town have added up and I now have too much stuff and I need to get rid of it.  If you are in need of some stuff let me know and I’ll be happy to give it to you.  My stuff is pretty nice, it’s not all beat up.  I do have one caveat attached to this, I do not have too much bike stuff.  I’ve researched this and a scientist once told me that the science has decided that it is impossible to have too much bike stuff and hey who am I to argue with science.

Goal #5.75
Be more awesome

IMG_1124Going to take my awesomeness to the next level in 2015. Which in case your wondering is level 11 on a scale on 1-10. Yeah I’m that awesome.

Goal # 5.83
Grow in my faith

This is something that I all to often put off to tomorrow, where at night I often find I’ve forgot this important detail of my life.  I’m scared to upgrade and grow in my faith, convincing myself that time spent at Home Depot is more important than time spent racing around the inner workings of my brain wrestling with why I believe.  In the end when I do grow in my faith, I am more willing to give it to others, which in the end is pretty awesome.

Crucifix

God Bless and have a happy new year

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Spinning My Wheels

I hate to admit it but my outdoor cycling season is quickly coming to a end.  I’m going to hold out as long as I can, but the reality that unless I become a giant fan of riding in the dark part of my next six months of my cycling life are going to be spent spinning indoors.

In preparation to make this transition a little easier on myself, I’ve been doing a few rides on my rollers recently.  Truth be told I’m really trying to psyche myself up for the indoor trainer season by trying to trick my brain in to thinking that indoor training really isn’t all that bad.

Rollers

Rollers (Photo credit: rutt)

So the other night I headed to the garage, pumped up the bike tires, dusted off the rollers and climbed aboard.  My dog, who had eagerly followed me into the garage, was spending her time hunting mice.

Under the cold fluorescent lights of my dingy garage I was trying desperately to stay on the rollers and not go flying off the side.  If you’ve never ridden rollers before consider yourself lucky they are very similar to riding your bike on an ice rink.  One swift move and bam on the floor you go.  Trust me on this one, they take a while to get use too and I’m not too sure I’ve mastered them yet.

While I was struggling with my balance, my lovely dog spent the time contently hunting mice in the corner of the garage and when she tired of that she came and laid next to rollers.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind, but we had given her table scraps recently which gave her as some would say “the gas”.  Every so often, while trying to maintain focus, the smell of my lovely dogs digestion system would fill my nostrils and cause me to become distracted.  This in turn forced me to nearly crash off the rollers.

This went on for what seemed to be an eternity, which in reality was about 15 minutes, and as the seconds ticked by I began to question my own sanity and motivations.  Why on earth would I leave the comfort of my favorite easy chair to spend time in the saddle balancing precariously on rollers while my dog does her best skunk impersonation.  I may need to have my head examined.

the little stinker.

the little stinker.

I guess I do it because I trust that it will make me a better rider in the future.  That the time spent spinning my wheels indoors will prepare me to climb a hill faster, ride further, or will simply help me look cooler on the bike (yeah right, hard to look cool while wearing spandex, but yet I manage).

 

My time spinning my wheels makes me think of all those times in my spiritual life where I have felt like I am simply spinning my wheels and not really growing in my faith.  You know those moments where prayer feels a little flat, like your simply going through the motions.  It is during these spiritual doldrums that it is all too easy to lose focus and slip off the track you are supposed to be on.  I have learned that these doldrums serve a purpose.  These prayers,  just like riding the rollers, prepare you for the next phase of your journey.  There is no such thing as a wasted prayer.  We need to trust in God’s plan for us and continue to do what He places before us, even if it does feel like we are simply spinning our wheels.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my dog just ate a large bowl of leftover chili and I have another roller session planned.  This could prove interesting.

 

Velo Vignette–Feedback

I was flipping through photos of this years Tour de France the other day.  One particular picture stood out in my mind as I clicked (Pic Here).  It was a photo of Thomas Voeckler during one of the tours mountain stages (Stage 16 to be exact).  What struck me about the photo wasn’t the obvious look of pain on his face, but rather the fact that he doesn’t have a computer on his bike.  There is no speedometer, no powermeter there is nothing on the bike to provide feedback about his effort.  Voeckler is trusting in himself that the effort he puts forth during the stage will be enough to give him the win (which it did).

Français : Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne 2011, Thoma...

Français : Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne 2011, Thomas Voeckler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first started riding my bike years ago I always wanted to go 20 mph.  It was an arbitrary number I picked out of the air, no real rhyme or reason behind it.  I was much better suited for 15-18 mph rather than 20 mph but my stubbornness made me think myself capable of this speed.

During the bike leg of my first ever triathlon my bike computer stopped working.  I remember looking down to see my speed and saw only a blank screen staring back at me.  After a failed attempt to fix the computer by mashing all the buttons multiple times, I panicked.  I was petrified on riding too slow in my first ever race so I did what every other panicked cyclist does; proceeded to bury myself.

I rode the bike like Jens Voigt that day.  I pedaled until my calves cramped up and my quads melted down. With no computer to tell me how I was doing I turned myself inside out to get a decent bike split.

Later in the day I checked my split online.  I had ridden a 19.9 average, not bad considering that my previous best training ride had been an 18 average.  The lack of feed back made me push myself deeper than I thought previously possible.

We need to view our faith in the same respect.  Let us all look at in a Voeckleresq fashion, one where we are not constantly checking an arbitrary screen for feedback.  Let us all ride with out a computer and be willing to bury ourself doing God’s will in our lives.  Let us all work ever harder to proclaim the Word of God here on Earth and when the race is over we may just surprise ourself with the effort we made.

Velo Vignette (How’s Your Average?)

The bikes rolled effortlessly down the road.  Each member of the group moving up in the pace line to take their turn at the front.  With each pedal stroke the line between man and machine blurred slightly until we were nothing more than a group of brightly colored shapes flying through the early evening air.

Lance Armstrong in the prologue of the Tour de...

Lance Armstrong in the prologue of the Tour de France in July 2004 in Liege, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I occasionally looked down at my bike computer and saw black digital numbers staring back at me.  These numbers were bigger than I was accustomed to.  “I’m doing really well,” I thought. “Maybe I should become a pro cyclist.”  I moved up the pace line and took my turn at the front.

With my pull over and the bikes returned to their stables, I went back to my computer to see how well we had done on the ride.  The numbers displayed on the computer screen were much lower than what I remembered seeing when I was out riding.  I was disappointed, the Tour de France would have to wait another year.

How come there was such a discrepancy between my average speed and what I saw when riding? I wondered settling in to my lazy boy.  It was then I realized that while riding I looked down at my computer only when doing well.  Only when I was feeling good, when we were going down a hill I would glance down and see how fast we were going.  I wouldn’t look at my speed when going uphill or when pedaling into a stiff headwind.  Those slower more difficult times brought down my average considerably.

We need to remember that when it comes to our faith, not to fixate on the good times.  Not to focus only on all the good that we have done and believe it is enough to guarantee our salvation.  Those good things we have done are always balanced out by our sins and failures.  Live life the best you can, use the sacrament of reconciliation and hopefully the average is good enough to get to heaven.

Beichtstuhl - confession booth

Beichtstuhl – confession booth (Photo credit: Ela2007)

Made the Switch

I decided at the beginning of this year to switch all of my cycling computers to kilometers.  I thought it would make me sound way more European and would add to my cool points.  Somewhere in the back of my head I thought it would sound neat to walk into a coffee shop and say I just rode 50k (vs the mile equivalent).  It would make me very European and very cool.

We have been blessed with an early spring here and I have been able to take my bike out for a few short rides much earlier than I otherwise would have.  Before leaving the driveway for my first ride of the year, I ran down the mental checklist of what I needed for the trip.

Last year I forgot to run down this checklist before I left and ended up going for a long ride with a seat that was too high, not recommended and the reason for the checklist.  As I sat in preflight mode in my driveway, everything was as it should be. I had water bottles, tires were properly inflated, the seat was at the proper height and I had tools in case I needed a mid ride adjustment.  I was ready to go.

I pushed the grey button on my computer and it beeped to life.  On the display a whole bunch of zeros showed up followed by the Km sign.  I smiled to myself.  How European of me I thought.  A ride marked in Km.  I clipped my right foot in and took off.

The sun shone warmly on me as I pedaled on the backcountry roads near my home.  The birds were chirping, the snow was melting, and a gentle breeze kissed my face.  Life was good.  I glanced down at my computer and saw that it had recorded a whole bunch of kilometers.

After the ride, I pulled my bike back into the garage and looked at the computer.  The total amount of kilometers I had ridden that day stared back at me.  I scratched my head for a moment.  I wonder how many miles that is.  I checked my phone for the mileage conversion and walked into the house a happy man.  I sat down in my favorite chair and told my wife how many Km I had just done.  The first thing she asked me was how many miles it was.  I told her and she went back to what she was working on.

The switch to Km has forced me to think more about how I ride my bike.  I have to relearn how many Km’s my loops are and learn a whole new way to look at speed.  (25 kmh is not as fast as 25 mph I have found.  Much to my disappointment I might add).  I am slowly learning the Km to mileage equivalents, but it is a slow process.

In the same vein, we need to spend more time thinking about our Faith.  Don’t get trapped in just going through the motions.  Spend some time learning why things are the way they are and why things are done when they are done.  Learn about the faith, commit yourself to growing deeper in love with the Word and the Sacraments.  It might not make you European cool, but you will amazed at what God will give you back.