Some would think that when you have a wife, a child, a mortgage and an expensive bike racing habit, that losing your job would be a bad thing... Since I had the good fortune to be laid off several weeks ago, my plan for the coming months was to ride my bike and grow my beard. You say, "Larry, that seems like the anti-strategy? What gives?"
After nearly a year of anticipating my demise, watching my company change and reorganize in such a fashion that there would be no room left for my position, I am left with bigger demons than I have ever faced before. Demons that make Mount Tamalpais appear no more than a mole hill. Demons that will require my dealing with them before I can regroup. I am just an ordinary, American man. I eat, I sleep, and I pull on my bib tights one leg at a time. I face the same challenges that too many others are facing.
Time has passed since that fateful, life altering day. The beard has come in nicely. The riding, along with various other to-do's hasn't fared so well. Sometimes it becomes difficult to find that everyday motivation when forced to fight the perceived foe that waits outside your door. But bike racing has taught me to overcome pain, misfortune and long challenging ascents, either corporealized or metaphorical.
With the exception of sporadic epic rides, my West Coast reports had been lagging. Then, one day, my phone rang, I was greeted by the "The Man's" whip cracking, Dan the man that is. At the prodding of my East Coast editor and compatriot I decided that my time off the bike needed to come to a long overdue end. Looking out the window at the dark clouds that had been dumping rain for the past two days, and having just finished off meatloaf and mashed potato leftovers from Thanksgiving, I realized that I must answer my editor's call and go for a ride.
Gearing up, I took the mountain bike down from the hooks in the garage, slipped into my ever-so-snug racing kit, pumped the tires and headed out for a two hour loop around pastoral Lake Chabot. Just a quarter of a mile from my front door, the park offers a scenic wilderness escape. In my case, it was an escape from eating and sitting in front of the computer all day, pondering my unemployment. Lake Chabot is a challenging ride of varied terrain with some very technical down hills and strenuous climbs.
The ride started with an easy paced climb to the trail head to warm up the legs. At the trail head the fun began with a screaming descent on a fire road which leads onto a twisty single track. On this damp Monday afternoon there was no one else on the trails and having the park to myself was an extra treat. Fragrant eucalyptus and bay trees filled the air as I entered my zone and started the first extended climb of the day. After approximately a thousand plus feet of climbing, I hopped off the bike and took a few photos of the peaceful, serene lake below.
Continuing on the dirt, the path was as slick as ice from the recent rains. The tires bogged down with mud and traction was hard to come by. Reaching the crest I readied myself for a fast, almost vertical at times, descent. Trying to keep my nerve, since at any moment the bike could slide right out from under me on the slick mud, I picked up speed while globs of mud ricocheted off my face thrown up from the tires.
Reaching the bottom, I let out a yell as the rush subsided and the adrenalin flushed away. A glaze of perspiration coated my skin, as I stood for a moment of rest. I noticed the return of the dark clouds which meant it was time to make my way back home to shoot my story off to the East Coast and Pedal Pushers Online's readership, so that they could share in my escape.
Rounding that last bend which put me on the paved trail back to the road, I asked myself, "Why did I wait so long to get back on the bike and ride?" The elation of riding returned and the feeling of getting out from in front of the computer was pure joy. Once again, for the first time since that pink slip landed in my hand, I felt alive. So much so that I have another ride planned.