Monday, September 28, 2009

The AtomicMan

The day I was defeated by AtomicMan. To start, the 1.2 mile swim went terrific, probably my best swim of the year with a personal best of about 39 minutes (10 minutes better than I anticipated), I left the water feeling fresh and excited. The bike leg started very well, but at mile #2 I became careless which resulted in me catching the side of the road with my front tire and driving me into the pavement. As far as road bike crashes, this ranks up there. After a few minutes of taking a toll of the damages, I decided to try and continue on. My legs still felt fresh and I could tell that my conditioning was good, but I had a lot of open wounds and my back and ribs were really hurting. After completing the 28 mile loop (I am proud I rode 26 miles on a damaged bike and body), I conceded. I am VERY disappointed at the results - a lot of training hours went into this event and I can't feel anything but frustration at a DNF result. However, it has developed a motivation to conquer the 70.3 mile event next year. I will be back! Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The greatest practical joke of ALL TIME!

When I was a boy (and DEEP into my adulthood), I was quite the prankster. I was actually good at it, no, I would say I EXCELLED at it. I spent many hours thinking about and planning the perfect prank on the perfect person. I could have held weekend seminars on how to pull a great prank. I could have done a late night infomercial selling a 20 minute DVD outlining the key components of laying solid ground work and building a foundation for a strong prank. But I didn't and that ship has sailed. I have long since retired from that field and have lost the critical edge so necessary for good pranks.
There was the time we tricked my HS Spanish teacher into believing a buddy of mine fell out a second story window (I am thankful she did not have an ACTUAL stroke, although momentarily I thought she might), or when as teenagers we would take the universal television remote control, the one the cable company gave everyone when they installed cable in your home, at night around the neighborhood and point the remote in people's windows and turn the channel or turn the TV off and on while they were watching it (the efforts people went through to "fix" their broken cable box was hilarious), or the time we filled a 55 gallon trash can and leaned against the door of one of the guys in my dorm (after a late night knock, he opened his door only to be met my 55 gallons of water flooding the floor of his dorm room). These are all classics (although somewhat mean-spirited at time, thus my early retirement from the industry all together), but my question is - what is your greatest prank of all time? What is something you did (or had done to you) that will remain in your mind for many years and always gives you a chuckle when you think about it?
I want to hear what you got! I am searching for the greatest practical joke of ALL TIME! Do you qualify?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Two types of people on the bike

One of the greatest hazards when riding your bike on the back roads of Bradley County (or any other community for that matter), is the unfenced, unleashed, and otherwise unconfined dogs. I have seen all too often my friends and riding partners go down in a heap after a dog runs under their tires. I have been fortunate, while I have had many close calls, I have yet to be taken down by a canine friend. In fact, on my "old faithful" ride to and from Red Clay State Park, I have essentially mapped the ride by the dogs I'll encounter. There is the crazy German Shepard I have called the Yard Nazi - that family must have a invisible fence because he will run to the edge of the road and run tight circles until I am out of sight (somewhat humorous). There is Duke II, because he is very friendly and likes to run alongside of me, and looks just like my old dog Duke. There is Rocco II, a little Terrier Terror that makes every effort to run between my tires and the culprit of my closest calls (I now ride quiet on the approach and make a sprint attack past the house, much like the group finishes at the Tour de France - except it is only one fat guy on a bike and a little 20 lb. dog chasing him through the back roads of SE Tennessee). There is Gramps, an old lab mix that only raises his head to bark, but never gets off the porch, and Doggy Bolt, an incredible sprinter for short distances who otherwise has no endurance. There have been many other dogs on this route come and go over the years (I am fearful that the "go" was a sad ending created by a vehicle larger than a bike).
Now I have ridden with many people in this community and there are generally two ways to deal with the dogs - love and contempt. I am not judging either, but it seems to be a common theme. Those that deal with love, either try and sneak by in an effort not to disturb the dog, bring doggy bones to toss to the dog during the chase (hoping it will be a distraction), or actually enjoying talking and playing chase with the dogs. I tend to fall into this category. The other approach is contempt. I have seen this play out with yelling, threatening, and most recently, many riders are carrying a form of pepper spray to hit the dogs with during the chase. While the spray usually works, I have also seen the rider in the draft become a "collateral damage" victim of the spray.
I am not judging or suggesting either is right or wrong, just pointing out an interesting pattern I've noticed, much like the preferences people have of which way their toilet paper rolls open (many like the toilet paper to roll over the top, others prefer it coming out the bottom). What does all this say? What does it mean? Probably nothing, but I am not smart enough to be the judge, I simply write it down for you to ponder. Ride safe and don't let Rocco II get the jump on you!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My first (almost) fight

It was fifth grade. I was playing quarterback at recess and my best friend, Chris, was running a deep pass pattern. He was wide open, but I overthrew him on the play and ended up hitting the school bully named Butch in the back with the football. As you might guess, Butch was not happy. Butch was in fifth grade, but had been held back at least twice. He smoked and was rumored to have stolen a car (probably not true, but it certainly added to his reputation).
Butch cornered me and my friend Chris and told us that he was going to fight us Friday after school at the local park (ironically named Pleasant Street Park). The strange thing about this challenge was that it was only Tuesday. I assumed Butch planned it that way so that he could enjoy the next several days watching Chris and I sweat like two men facing their final days on death row. However, it may have been that his fighting schedule was full for the week and the first opportunity he had to squeeze us into his busy schedule fell on Friday afternoon.
Nonetheless, the week crawled along as news of the big fight spread through our small school. Finally Friday arrived and I trudged through the day dreading the impending doom that faced me at 3:00. It was at recess that day that I realized Chris was absent. Rumor had it that he had come down with some mysterious form of the 24 hour flu and would probably be back on his feet the next day. My prognosis was much gloomier.
The bell rang and about half the school ran down to the park ahead of me. I wanted to believe they’d be there to scream their support for me, but more likely they were scrambling to get the “first come, first serve” front row seats to school yard slaughter. I tried to convince myself that if I was brave that I had a chance of winning. But the truth was, Butch was twice my size and if I was brave, I had a chance of surviving.
I arrived at the park to see a circle of children, forming a Roman Gladiator-like arena. I had two strategies; the first was to fight with the heart of Rocky Balboa, earning Butch's respect through my endurance until he called it a draw. The second strategy was to take a dive early to limit the damage. I was leaning toward the latter when I stepped inside the circle. Seeing Chris was absent, Butch asked, “Where’s your friend?” I explained the mysterious illness and Butch seemed to become suddenly sympathetic and said, “Since you had the courage to show up, I’ll let you off, but tell your friend I’ll find him.” I walked away as if I was never scared and tried to cover up the fact that my knees were visibly shaking.
My son is now at the age where pushing and shoving is a part of childhood play. As parents, it is important that we all teach our children the difference between boyhood rough-housing and threats of physical violence that can create an unhealthy and unsafe school culture. The feeling of safety is paramount to a successful learning environment and the trauma that often goes with violence can last a lifetime (just don’t tell Butch).