The Old Man By The Sea

It was the middle of summer, sometime in July. The three youngish friends had met at the donut shop to wolf down some empty calories and then transitioned down to the beach for some people watching. Leaning against a vehicle they gazed out at the water and talked about the old days, the glory days, the “better from a distance than they actually were” days.

As they relaxed and chatted, an old man approached from the north. He had a purposeful stride and a focused gleam in his eye. His pants were high waisted, his shirt was tightly tucked, his white hair perfectly parted and firmly held in place with some kind of hair spray. As he drew near to the three he let out a cheery “Hello!”. The youngish men replied in turn and continued talking amongst themselves, or at least they tried to for the old man had joined their circle. Gesturing toward some houses in the distance he loudly told the three that he had grown up in one of the houses, that he used to play on the railroad tracks that ran nearby, and that the town was a lot smaller back then. The taller one of the three youngish men politely engaged the old man in conversation, asking questions and uttering exclamations of amazement at appropriate intervals. The other two listened with reserved interest, wondering when the old man might finish his stories and move on. But any interest in his stories only encouraged the old man, and he proceeded to tell his life history, condensed into 20 minutes. He had been in the military (thanks for your service), liked blueberry pancakes, and drove a blue Cadillac XLR with the top down. “Boys” he said, “let me tell you how to become a millionaire like myself. Put everything you can out of every paycheck into your 401k. But be careful, it’s a lot harder to take money from your paycheck and put it into investments than it is to have it automatically deducted from your paycheck. The automatic deductions also get the money put away before your wife starts spending it. I never made more than $25 dollars an hour in my career and now I’m one of those millionaires you hear about on TV. I did it all through compound interest” With that he was gone. Words of wisdom hanging in the air.

The three youngish friends looked at one another with puzzled smiles, amused at what had transpired. While he may have unfairly stereotyped the spending habits of women, there were certainly pearls of wisdom in his tale. As they stood and discussed the old mans advice, a beautiful blue Cadillac XLR whizzed by, top down, perfectly parted white hair not blowing in the wind, but held perfectly in place by some kind of hair spray.

Hair spray not included

5 Rules For The Weekend

Should there really be rules for the weekend? It’s debatable, but I’m not going to let that stop me. The weekend is a special time; it’s a 2 day holiday that happens every week. It’s a time to relax, to get stuff done you were not able to accomplish during the week. The weekend should not be wasted, but neither should it be used as just another Tuesday or Wednesday. With that in mind, let’s get to the rules.

1) If you have a job like most people, you wake up with an alarm, a loud, shrill, obnoxious alarm. Forget the alarm on the weekend, sleep in at least a little.

2) All week you get things done. Business from dusk till dawn. Your relaxation consists of mowing the lawn and helping with your kid’s homework. When the weekend hits, do something totally unproductive, at least for an hour on one day.

3) These days, everyone knows they should eat healthy, or at least they do if they have access to the internet. All week you battle with eating what you should and avoiding the donuts. Forget that on the weekend; eat at least one thing you know you shouldn’t. Ignore this rule if you are dangerously overweight.

4) Rule number 3 begets rule number 4. Exercise like it’s going out of style. It can be hard to exercise during the work week, on the weekend there should be no excuses for not getting in two solid days of exercise. Run, ride, row, and….do something else that starts with R, I can’t think of anything.

5) During the work week you may not have time to see people or talk with them on the phone. Talk with at least one person who you didn’t see during the week. Posting “What’s up dude?” on their Facebook wall does not count.

There you have it, 5 rules for the weekend. As always, feel free to add your own rules in the comments.

Soaring Eagle – A Little Mud, Lots Of Speed

Sunday found me once again racing the Singletrack Cycles West Side Mountain Bike series presented by BUDU racing. This time, the race took place at Soaring Eagle Park in Lake Sammamish, Washington. Driving to the race, I could see dark clouds hanging in the sky and traces of rain began falling on my windshield. I mentally began to prepare for a mud bath. Arriving early, I parked on a residential street with scores of other racers and waited for noon, the designated start time. There seemed to be a few more people in attendance than at the last two events. As the race director attempted to go over pre-race instructions, the crowd at the starting area drowned out his words. Even though he was using a megaphone, it seemed people started talking louder to be heard, meaning the rest of us heard nothing. Needless to say, it was impossible to understand his instructions. The first group prepared to start, and I waited my turn. After the 30 – 39 age group and the Singlespeed group had started, it was my groups turn (20-29). I had barely moved into starting position when the race director shouted “go”, and immediately I was 5 back of the lead going up a very muddy gravel road.

After the 150 yard sprint up the mud slip and slide, the race dived into twisting single track and I found myself tailgating other riders and jockeying for position. Very quickly we caught the stragglers of the other groups, and a log jam developed. Unlike previous races, everyone seemed a little more irritable and impatient. Those of us trying to go fast were being hampered by those wanting to go slow. I jumped out of the saddle and used my favorite maneuver of passing the group on foot. Better to run past the slow riders than wait for my turn to pass them. Time is precious in a race. I quickly moved into 2nd place, and could see the first place rider about 10 yards ahead. As I rolled over a massive root, my wheel dropped into an unseen divot and I found myself flat on my face with my bike on top of me. Quickly jumping to my feet, I attempted to get back on my bike, only to realize that my handlebars were twisted around, and my chain had fallen off. As I fixed these problems, a long string of racers filed past, each one of them becoming an obstacle I would have to pass in order to get back to my former position. Rolling once again, I picked off riders every couple minutes, waiting for a corner or wide section to pass. I witnessed several racers elbowing each other, and fighting for position. Eventually in a botched passing attempt, one of the riders crashed into the dirt, shouting at the other racer as he did so. I moved through this unpleasant group, and by the end of the first lap I regained some ground. I lost my water bottle on the second lap, but after a few minutes I was able to get a new one from my wife who was waiting at trail side (Thanks Ellen).

Lap after lap, I kept the peddles spinning, uphill and down. The course was well made, smooth and fairly root and rock free. Surprisingly, even with the foreboding clouds, the rain did not fall, and the mud was actually only a problem on the long straightaway at the starting area. Coming around on my third lap, I crashed in exactly the same spot as the first lap. This time there was no one around, and I quickly recovered and was back on my way. I passed the leader, and found myself in first place with one lap to go. Keeping my intensity and concentration up through the last lap, I managed to avoid crashing a third time. I sprinted up the long muddy straightaway and crossed the finish line, race number 3 in the books. My brother grabbed third place, and we headed straight to Krispy Kreme and got some donuts. Nothing like high fructose corn syrup and starch to top off a day of mud and sweat. Thanks to the race organizers and my fellow racers for another great day.