Headed north up the California coast last month to celebrate the wedding of my buddy Tejay van Garderen. I was happy to see the young stud start a new chapter in his life, tie the knot and settle into a dedicated relationship. A local winery in beautiful Santa Barbara hosted the gathering and there were a few bike racers in attendance. I especially enjoyed chatting it up with Chris Horner (who’s always got a funny take on things).
Wolverine Crashes The Party
I’d been sporting a pretty thick layer of facial growth right up to the morning of the wedding. My wife kindly asked me to put myself more correct for the affair. I gave it a sincere effort but was only able to remove the hair on my chin before my super hero fascination took over and I dropped the blade. ‘I’m going to the wedding as Wolverine,’ I declared, quite to her dissatisfaction.
A week after the wedding I was at the airport to catch a flight to Boulder for the Garmin-Cervelo Team presentation. I’m happy to report that I’m not the only Wolverine freak in LA. I enjoyed a morning of huge props for the chops from others catching a flight. Even a typically torturous airport caffeine break became amusing when a suddenly overly amped barista behind the Starbucks counter almost burnt herself with excitement handing me free coffee, “On the house, Wolverine!”
At the presentation, in a sweet downtown Boulder theater, with the entire team on-stage, someone in the audience asked if I’d sing. Obviously my song and dance skills proceed me. And while its true that my head is a naturally occurring Pandora-streaming mobile music devise, I came prepared. I happily laid down an original version of the Creedence classic ‘Proud Mary’. The theater was in an uproar, my teammates were howling, and JV was crying with laughter. Damn, I get a charge out of moments like that.
While together with the team for a few days in Boulder we did a wilderness adventure / survival training exercise with the guys. The entire team was broken down into teams of 5-7 guys, handed a map, asked to carry a random object and race through multiple designated spots to a final destination. The heavily wooded, snow-covered hike would be rough, cold, even dangerous, so I naturally seemed unprepared to my group when I showed up in my barefoot shoes. My guys agreed to be somewhat relaxed about this ‘team-building’ exercise except we had one problem, the super serious Robbie Hunter was in our group. Robbie’s so competitive he wants to race you through a relaxed dinner. It would kill him not to go for first, busting through the woods like a madman. Well, to Robbie’s dismay we took last among the groups (while my feet were close to frostbitten).
After several years of solid attachment, multiple adventures, a theft and a recovery, I finally kissed the Subaru off and welcomed home the more refined, overly plush, surprisingly efficient, suburban chariot, the Honda Odyssey. My neighbors couldn’t have been more thrilled, sensing I might actually fit in after all.
Hitting the Trails
I may have exaggerated the mountain biking during last year’s off-season, so I’ve limited myself to once a week this time around. That’s painful if you know how much I love the dirt. My old buddy Derek Wilkerson from our US National team days was in town and we gladly tore it up. We went off and discovered some new trails together while rehashing old times and catching up on the present. I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more.
Don’t Stress Me
The team recently sent me to a heart specialist for a stress test. This happens every year. Useless. But at least last year I only needed to do a resting heart rate test and echocardiogram. This year they wanted me to prove my heart actually performed well under extreme stress so up onto the treadmill I stepped and off we went to nowhere. They increasingly sped up the machine and then ramped the incline from 5% to 10% to 15% then 20% just to get my heart rate above 170. I had my oldest boy with me, Waylon, 3 1/2 years old, and he was much more amused by all of this than I, repeatedly shouting, “Go Daddy, Go!”
Batman, is That You?
Since I was a small boy I was a Batman fan. I collected the toys and dreamed of the stories I read in the comics. One of my favorite versions of the Batman mythology is the 4 issue series that Frank Miller did, The Dark Knight Returns. I’ve been gradually introducing Batman to my son Waylon who is beginning to truly appreciate ‘The Caped Crusader’ in much the same way I did. The other night I passed by his bedroom when I thought he was asleep. Instead, his faint voice called out into the dark hall, ‘Batman, is that you?’ I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
Sometimes it All Makes Sense
I’m as confused as the next guy about life, but every once in awhile I have a moment that allows me a brief glimmer of hope that things do in fact make sense. For instance, I was at my favorite bike shop recently, Win’s Wheels in Westlake Village, conjuring up another bike project for the owner, Win Allen. During my visit I find myself chatting with David, one of Win’s mechanics, and I reveal my comic book fascination. David casually tells me that he’s related to the venerable Jack Kirby, the American master of the comic book world. Jack was a god among men, with an extraordinarily creative mind, huge talent. Jack was a major innovator in the early comic world and among many other brilliant characters, Jack was the co-creator of Capt. America, my oft-used nickname. So here I am, just chilling in the bike shop, chatting with David, a talented musician, mechanic and cyclist, who’s also a relative of Jack’s. David told stories about the informal drawing lessons he took from the great master. I can’t help but smile uncontrollably, inwardly and outwardly, when things like this happen to me.