Monday, February 28, 2011

Still missing you, Captain Z

I know this is a blog about my return to cycling, but occasionally I will have to take a side road and address other things in my life. Tonight, my wife and I were  cleaning out some old things from my late greyhound, Zoomer (aka: Captain Z). We had to put Zoomer to sleep last June after some very nasty osteosarcoma returned to his little body. It's been 8 months since we said good bye to our little buddy, but there are times when it still hurts. I got him as a puppy at 9 weeks old, and he was in my life for nearly 10 1/2 years. He was with me through some of the most painful years of my life, and through the most joyful ones. He was my buddy. He was my companion. He was my protector. He was a gift from the Creator. And even though part of my pain is just not having a dog in my life right now, I also know that much of that pain is from losing him and his own little personality.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that it's been 8 months now. Still, at other times, it seems like a lifetime ago...the last time I stroked his beautiful, smooth coat...or got a kiss from him. That's the way it always seems though: whenever a loved one leaves this life, the life after they go, is like a completely different life. And so in a way, it is. After all, the relationship is over. It is no longer. Your life has in a way that can never return.

My wife and I will most likely be getting another dog sometime in the future. We've agreed to wait at least 2 years after his death though. And since my wife has fallen in love with the greyhound breed, it will be another one of those graceful, gorgeous creatures. But there will never be another Zoomer. Zoomer contracted the bone cancer 20 months before we had him put to sleep. But before it had returned and attacked his lungs, he still love life during most of those final months, even though he had a cancerous rear leg amputated. And I will always remember how he lived during that time, living it with the same love for life and passion for running that he always had. I will always remember the walk he and I took to Brown Deer Park during the winter of 2008/2009, just a couple months after his leg was removed. He ran through the soft snow with abandon that is only possible when you are filled with joy to be alive. Zoomer showed me how to love life and be thankful, no matter what life brings you.

Zoomer taught me that, even when you are a crippled, old dog, you can still have fun going fast. Zoomer taught me that those who mean the most to you, are to be treasured and loved as much as you are capable of. And then, when you have nothing left to give, give them one last kiss.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Good way to end February

After I returned from a small concert where my wife sang this afternoon, the streets had almost dried up from last night's snowfall. It was time to squeeze in a short ride. I took a leisurely jaunt around the River Hills/Fox Point area, with a quick trip to Beach Drive along Lake Michigan, to climb the hill for the first time this year. This climb is only about 1/4 mile long, so repeats will be in order in a few more weeks. 20 miles today, a good way to end the month of February.

As for hill training, I'll also be using the new road up in Port Washington - the one that rolls just south of town before hitting County Trunk "C". That climb is about .4 miles long, if you include the last small rise that brings you up to the intersection with "C". My plan is to use that for hill repeats on my frequent rides out to "Port". Then by May, I hope to take a trip out to the western part of the state, where I can get in some longer climbs.

I have always had a love-hate relationship with hills. As a tall, but rather light-weight cyclist (at least when I'm in fighting form), I've always enjoyed the process of getting in shape for climbing. Okay, I guess that's not the complete truth. The truth is, hills hurt! But to make them hurt less, you have to accept and believe that they are conquerable.

Cutting out the nightly buttered popcorn might help a bit too...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February thaw, and a new start!

Two days ago, on Sunday, I was able to get my first road ride in of the year. 40 miles of sunshine and smooth tarmac makes Mark a happy boy. To smell the early freshness of the coming spring and the dream of long rides through the countryside, are enough to keep me looking to the days ahead. I'm also looking forward to a new part-time job, working at a local bike shop. I made my bike shop debut 30 years ago when I got a mechanics job at Rainbow Jersey Bike Shop. I learned many facets of the cycling world at RBJ, and am indebted to Jerry Pearce for giving me the chance to break into the world of cycling back in the '80s.

Now, I as I enter into a new phase of my life, and new dreams as a cyclist, I will be spending some of my days at Emery's Bike Shop this coming spring. The Milwaukee location, owned and operated by 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist, Brent Emery, has an extremely impressive history of supporting the cycling community in the Metro-Milwaukee area. Brent's knowledge and involvement of the sport from many aspects is mind-bogeling in itself. I'm really looking forward to being part of the team and, and helping other people enjoy the healthy, fun sport of bicycling!

Friday, February 11, 2011

No fun when you're down and out

We got a blizzard last week Wednesday, and I ended up wrecking my back from too much shoveling. For 3 days I could barely get out of bed. But I'm slowly coming around and riding the rollers again. I'm even doing 2 workouts a day sometimes. This Sunday we're expecting to see some temperatures near 40 degrees, and I'm hoping to get a little road ride in. That would be so sweet!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wisconsin is winter

Well, that road ride a couple days ago will have to be treasured in my memory for awhile, as we are about to experience one of the worst snowstorms we've seen in a long time. The weathermen are forecasting a possible accumulation of over 2 feet of snow over the next 48 hours. It seems like we've already had about 5 or 6 inches since yesterday. It's snowing this morning, but very light. The big wallop should be coming late this afternoon and this evening, and continuing into Wednesday.

And to think I almost took the studded snow tires off the winter commuter bike.