Friday, April 18, 2014

The good times are killing me

Baseball started on Wednesday. We're lucky it didn't also end on Wednesday, because by the time we went home the wind chill was 35 degrees. It got ridiculous in a hurry. Jack told me today that it really wasn't any fun. At all. Yeah, I'm not sure anybody had a good time.

I'm the head coach this year. A long time ago, I was the head varsity coach at a decent-sized high school in Iowa. My last year was 13 years ago this summer. It's long enough ago now that it seems like it didn't really happen — it's just a collection of memories. I remember all of the players and some of the bigger games, but the day-to-day life of those years has pretty much exited my mind.

The day-to-day life of this current team — 11 5- and 6-year-olds — is weighing heavily right now. As the head coach, all I really do is drag the equipment around (just like always) and make sure everybody ends up where they're supposed to be. Oh, and I send emails about important things like photo day and treats and stuff like that.

It doesn't take a ton of time, but I don't have a ton of time to begin with. I handle a lot of stuff with Flatwater, which I love. And I try to ride my bike a lot, basically so summer at the races isn't the worst thing ever. And then there's that whole "interacting with my family" bit. You can probably guess the priority. I have family responsibilities first (I've seen what happens when that isn't the case), then the other responsibilities — which I readily accepted.

And then I have time to ride my bike. I've always aimed for early mornings or in the evening, after the kids go to bed. When it was winter and trainer time and there were no other options, both worked well enough. But now that it's spring and I want nothing to do with the trainer ... oof. This is not working out.

Mornings are out. Screw that. I'm tired and I want to sleep. It's not like I'm getting 9.5 hours every tight. I'm coming in at 7 on a good night. The evenings are better, but that's wearing thin, too. Trainer time starts at 9. And by then, really, all I want to do is go to bed. I've spent a lot of time convincing myself that I need to get on the bike and train.

So, yeah. It's not going so well on the bike. It's not going bad, but it's last on the list. Looks like August will once again be the best time of the year.

Part of me wonders how long I'll be able to keep it all together. Will it be when Maddy starts playing? Is that when it it's going to end? Or maybe that turns me into a full-time 'crosser or something. Or perhaps a late-season crit guy.

Or maybe I'll finally win the Corporate Cycling Championship.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easily amused

Our printer died a couple of weeks ago. It changed from a basic, dependable hunk of plastic that did what we needed, to an angry, hungry, paper-eating monster. Basically, it started shredding things. And  I have no idea why. Even a thorough examination of its inner workings couldn't straighten it out. So it had to go.

And while we were shopping for a new printer, we started looking again at new computers. Our old iMac is just shy of seven years old. The machine has done its job quite well over the years. But it's cranky and slow and can barely handle the photo files that come from our DSLR camera. We ended up getting a new computer, too — a MacBook Pro this time.

Because the new computer is basically just a juiced-up version of Chris' school laptop, it was a little anticlimactic. "Check out the new computer ... which is exactly like the computer you've had for two school years at this point."

But the printer? Wave of the future. It's WiFi enabled, which is hardly new. But considering our old printer bought the farm after seven years, this whole wireless printing thing is new. And since I now roam around the house with the computer, wireless is way cool. I was worried when I set out to get it ready, though. Troubleshooting the other devices in the house is pretty easy — there's a wealth of information available to right any wrongs with iPhones and whatnot. Printers, though, seem to not have much in the way of troubleshooting options.

I knew we were off to a good start when this screen popped up:

Oh ... it's gonna be like this. 

Actually, it turned out to be pretty easy — grammar concerns aside. It only took a few minutes, and I can also print from the iPad or my phone. It is pretty much badass. And, like I said, I'm easily amused. I want to print things remotely just because I can. I won't, but still!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Haven't we been over this?

Whether because I'm kinda fast or because I'm present semi-frequently, leadership of the Wednesday night ride at Bike Masters has lately fallen to me. I'm OK with that, since I'm generally just trying to get a workout in without someone wadding everything up. We've made a pretty solid effort at getting out of town in an orderly manner and making sure that nobody at the shop gets a phone call in the morning. (As a guy who's been on the receiving end of Thursday morning phone calls, I can confirm how much it sucks.)

Anyway, for a group that doesn't race a ton — compared to Wednesday Night Worlds out of the Trek Store — they do OK. Those who don't know any better are generally happy to learn. Ultimately, everybody goes faster. And that makes for a better workout for me, which is awesome because the ride starts about five blocks from my house. Tough to beat that kind of convenience.

That said, not everybody is on the same page. Sometimes people pull through a little hard. Sometimes they pull through and gap their guy and then keep going. Sometimes the people who do that have been racing for longer than I've been alive and should know better. And then we all have to surge forward to close a gap created by a guy who, seriously now, has raced more than the rest of us combined.

It's like herding cats. Except the one cat is really old and shouldn't be able to move like that, and no matter how much you try to keep on training him, he's gonna go ahead and pee on the curtains anyway. That cat is a jerk. Or, rather, he rides bikes like a jerk.

While there are any number of ways to handle this — including being amazed that an old cat can even ride a bike like that — the best way to resolve it is to attack until the problem goes away.

You know, just like with real cats.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring fever

We're close. So, so close. Almost spring — real spring. And so, it's time to start doing stuff. Jack got a new bike a while back. His tiny little 16-inch bike is gone, replaced by 20-inch wheels that are faster and more likely to get him in trouble. It's geared a little higher, though, so he'll have to adapt and get stronger. 

Maddy has been working on bikes, too, but she's also been hanging out and watching baseball. Mostly, she's probably just excited to have the TV on.

Me? It's time for baseball. Jack's team starts practice tonight. Games are next week. It's going to be ... great? Right? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

OK, let's try this again

When I set out last fall/early winter building a plan that would have me ready to go in the spring, I wondered how it would all turn out. I'm typically not a fast starter. Like, at all. Get me to June and July and August and we'll have some fun. The results from the Tour de Husker bore this out: slow. I did the work and spent many a morning (and evening) in self-loathing on the trainer, but I thought it would work out.

It is not working out. Well, not consistently enough to make me feel good about things. I have some days where I'm drilling it and feeling fantastic and others (like Sunday) where I feel like I'm pedaling in sand. In between there's work and other duties and I've been sick for a week and baseball is starting and OH DEAR LORD TWIN BING IS COMING AND WHY IS THERE RAIN/SLEET IN THE FORECAST?

I love racing my bike and I love the challenge of trying to go fast. But I'm not feeling it right now. I spent last night rebuilding the plan with an eye on Lawrence in late June. I'll hit the races between now and then (but not Twin Bing) and I'll be where I need to be when the time comes. If not, I guess I'll get ready for 'cross?

And now, if I could shake this cold, I'd be super-psyched about ... well, most everything. In the meantime, I'll pedal easy and get some good sleep. Or just drink bourbon. Maybe I can burn it out.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Brady put me up to this

I ran into Brady last weekend on the trail. Well, not literally, but given all of the kids, dogs, walkers, skateboarders and kids with dogs — and triathletes in aero bars, of course — running into him would have been excused.

Anyway, we had a brief chat about things. The main thing? "Write more, Bryan. Write on Fridays with Fred and me."

Well, OK then. Here were are. I should note that I'm not in any way resisting. He's probably right. I should write more. But words have been hard to come by for a while now. About a year, really. I got to the point where I felt like I was writing the same thing over and over. And I didn't want to talk about it anymore.

I've started and abandoned dozens of posts in the last year. They're sitting there in draft form. Some funny, some depressing. Some spiteful and angry. Some dripping with toxicity. They're gonna stay there, because they're also not any good.

The funny part about not being able to write like I used to is that I actually write more than I used to on a daily basis. Thousands of words. But all of those blocks of writing are done in a really specific way — more like a just-the-facts news story. Kind of like the first version of an AP news story. Basic, rigid form, but also damn informative and — if I may say so — very good.

That's the tricky part of all of this. My ability as a writer, wherever it came from, makes me very good at what I do. But it seems like that's now the only writing I do. Mostly because it's the only writing I feel good about. This stuff here? The posts below this one?

Meh. I'm working on it, though. Every Friday. And maybe sometimes in between. Maybe next week I'll tell you about the time Brady mowed my neighbors lawn.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Get busy living (or dying, or whatever)

I quoted Marcus Aurelius one time in college. It was the basis for a sports column on the virtues of skipping class in favor of watching baseball. It went like so (approximately):

"Marcus Aurelius, in (whatever book it was), says that as soon is man is born, he's on his way to death. That's true, of course, but wholly depressing. And I won't be spending my dying days locked up in some windowless room in Schindler Education Center. No, sir — I will be out watching baseball instead. It's a much better way to die."

Looking back (at my GPA), I probably could have spent a few more of my dying days locked up in windowless rooms at school. Even so, watching baseball is way better than humanities (either I or II), as well as curriculum and instruction. And sociology. And a few more, really.

That Marcus Aurelius anecdote was me taking the long way around, rather than simply noting that it's finally Opening Day and spring is here and all is well. In my last year of college, or maybe the last two years, I skipped afternoon classes on Opening Day (I tried not to schedule anything for the afternoon to begin with). Today at noon, I looked wistfully at the clock and — though tempted — remained clocked in and present. Instead, I just watched my phone for updates.

I paid more attention to the Cubs than usual during Spring Training. In year three of the Theo Epstein rebuild, there are finally some glints of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. The prospects that were noted on draft day are making their way through the system and won't be long for the minors. I watched mostly just to see those guys — and whether they're actually good. They are. It won't be long now.

And that's good, because in my dying days, I'd prefer to watch some good baseball. Until that day comes, these Cubs will do. Happy spring.