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Not so tough after all
I don’t consider myself a tough guy.
Not by any stretch.
If, say, I’m with a group of friends at a watering hole, and tensions rise, I’m the guy buying the rounds to keep the peace.
And if, as the night wears on, those peace beers start to serve the opposite purpose, I’m less likely to say, “I got your back,” than, “I’ll get the car.”
So, no, I’m not so tough.
And that goes for two-wheelin’, too.
Yes, I’ve ridden bloodied and bruised, through blisters and saddle sores and hot spots and aches and pains, but that’s mostly out of necessity. Wipe out (operator error) at Lone Star Lake, and there’s no shuttle home, so you climb back aboard and start turning the pedals, however gingerly.
Once I rode 70 percent of a 100-mile ride wrapped in bloody gauze, the result of another wipeout (that time, I had a little help). But I’d traveled hundreds of miles to participate, so I was determined to finish. And I did, flashing a little buttock with every pedal stroke. And you just know how attractive that must have been. After all, the only thing sexier than a pasty, middle-aged guy squeezing into Lycra is a pasty, middle-aged guy squeezing bloody cheeks into shredded Lycra. Yeow!
But that doesn’t make me tough. Just determined.
Same goes for toughing out the elements.
I ride year-round, and I’m proud to say I’ve never not ridden my bike to work because it was too hot or too cold out.
In the spirit of the there-is-no-bad-weather-only-bad-gear mantra, that’s not proof of toughness so much as preparedness. With the appropriate garb, there’s no such thing as bad weather.
That said, I don’t care what the prefix — thunder, hail, snow, Brazilian tree frog — as long as the root word is “storm,” I don’t ride in it.
But some folks do.
Invariably, a winter storm will blow in and I’ll drive to work, and as I’m crossing the street with the flakes flying, I’ll look down and see the unmistakable sign of a mountain-bike tire in the snow. And I’ll shake my head and think about how not-so-tough I am.
Or the skies will open up, and the rain will be pelting down or even sideways, and I’ll be headed home, peering through the thwok-thwok of the wiper blades and I’ll catch a glimpse of a cyclist dutifully pedaling through the squall, and I’ll think, “Man, Drew, you are such a (wimp).”
I was reminded just this past week of how wimpy I really am, when the Mother of All Blizzards was headed our way, and I decided to drive to work. As I reached the door into the News Center, I saw two narrow tire tracks cutting through the minuscule amount of frozen precip that had fallen.
I recognized the telltale marks of a bike coming and going and again castigated myself for my lack of fortitude. If one of my pantywaist co-workers — kidding; don’t hit me, please! — can ride, what was I doing in the car? (As it turned out, the tracks were from a two-wheeled handcart, not a bike. Whew!)
But it did remind me of a time last winter when the flakes were really flying and I opted to drive.
As I was heading home in awfully poor visibility, I caught a glimpse of what proved to be a real toughman cyclist, head down, grinding into the wind as the snow swirled about him. I watched in amazement as he rode down Sixth Street, seemingly oblivious to the conditions — and the only car on the road.
The cyclist careened into the middle of the street, then crossed right in front of me. I veered, then slid to a stop as he pedaled right toward me, swerved at the last minute, then disappeared into the near blizzard behind me.
OK, so he’s a lot tougher than I am.
But I still have a slight edge in the smarts department.
At least, that’s how I console myself.