Dear fellow blog followers; my once weekly offerings have gradually slowed and now seem to be on a monthly schedule. One would think that with an entire month to come up with witty, remarkable subject matter that it would be easy to sit down and fill page after page with writing. That might be the case for some people, it isn’t currently with me. My ability to tap into whatever creative vein I possess for writing seems to be inexorably linked to how much I am riding my bike. And it isn’t much currently. Which might explain the miserly amount of posts lately. It isn’t like I haven’t been riding at all, that would be truly bad news. It is more the case of not riding enough. How do you define “enough?” To me it is quantifiable in terms of well being; as in, “I am riding a lot and feel great”, sort of periods. When health, available time, weather and other life factors combine to allow me more than 10-12 hours on the bike per week. It doesn’t appear like too much to expect, perhaps it’s too much to expect ALL the time.After coming back from a rainy weekend in Umbria at the in-law’s I was chomping at the bit and went out Monday morning, hell bent for leather. I was hood-winked by the weather Gods though, every now and then they like to throw you a curve ball to see if you’re paying attention. Apparently I wasn’t. Being spoiled, I like to leave around 9:30/10:00 so that the chill is off the air and you have a decent idea of the temperature,the conditions you’re likely to meet etc. And Monday it was sunny and about 15 degrees C, roughly 60 F. I was practically rubbing my hands together in glee as I came home with Spino from our morning walk and set about changing.
No legs warmers, no tights, no winter gloves or wool hats under the helmet…just knee warmers and only because I’m a whimp, two layers on top, no shoe covers a quick bottle fill and I was off. When you ride from a hill town you’re never quite sure of things until you’re down on the flats and can really take stock. You then know for certain which way the wind is blowing for example, or if your assessment of the general weather situation was accurate, or as in this case, how far off you are. I was off by a bit. The sun was starting to play hide and seek behind dark clouds which 30 minutes earlier hadn’t been there at all. A strongish wind was coming in off the water and it had a little bite to it. By the time I was an hour into the ride I was just hoping it wouldn’t rain before I was home, all thoughts of a romp in Spring-like conditions had long since been forgotten. But hey, I was out there, right? I wasn’t home trying to convince myself to ride like I imagined so many other local riders were doing at that moment, seeing as how I was totally alone on the roads. I was dry, the wind was no longer blowing straight into my face and my tires were full of air. How much more do you want from life anyway?
As I climbed back home to Campiglia though, I felt a strange burning in my thighs. As though I was riding hard, a weird lactate burn but which didn’t make any sense since I was going easy. It was then that I noticed a tickle in my throat as well. At that point I knew it, a bug had its grip on me. I know these signs, you know these signs, I knew that I wouldn’t be riding again for at least four or five days. Years ago I would have fought through it, determined not to be defeated by a virus. How simple minded I was, how arrogant. There’s no fighting a virus, the only smart strategy is immediate surrender. Though active therapy is a strategy, like going to a thermal bath, which Donatella and I did yesterday. Oh mercy was that wonderful. Here’s a link to the place: http://www.termedisassetta.it If you ever get the chance do not hesitate to visit. I know thermal baths and have been going to them for over 20 years and this is my favorite one.
Will I ride this weekend? Probably not. Both my health and the weather have conspired to keep me off the bike but I’m not going stir crazy nor am I even grumpy, any more than usual.
Those of you who don’t know our dog Spino can probably tell that he’s a poodle. If you know him there’s no doubt what he is, he is a personality. He will be 10 years old in a few months and over the years he’s trained me well. I was under the mistaken notion that I was training him but had to quietly concede years ago that the reverse was true. For poodles are truly a different breed of dog. Far too smart for their own good, they are as insightful as shrinks with regards to their owner’s weaknesses, strengths and psychological make-up. It took Spino quite a while to bend me to his way of thinking but he managed to do it. He is also smart enough to know that he can’t be too obvious about his conquest, it wouldn’t be on for me and everyone else to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has me wrapped around his paw. So he plays along, pretending to be a dog just enough to keep the charade alive. Some poodles go overboard or don’t have owners intelligent enough to handle their dog’s power over them, conceding everything. It can get ugly. Spino however is a gentleman, generous with his affections, eager to please (when it suits his needs and looks good) he is only obstinate about affection that isn’t directed towards him. And he is a gourmet, most of all he is a gourmet. He is also a fine athlete and can walk/run all day long, doing triple whatever distance we humans do with his doubling back and back again to check on our slow progress. He is even possessed of a sense of humor and has demonstrated this time and again. Only one thing truly defeats his sense of superiority and that is when we are forced to leave him for extended periods (never longer than two weeks) at a “Dog Hotel” in nearby San Vincenzo. Where, by the way, he’s treated like visiting royalty. But it galls him to no end that we could actually survive for such a long period without him at our side. To underscore this, upon returning from our trip the States last September be began sleeping on our bed at night, a thing he’d never done before. Gradually, over the years he’d convinced me to move his cushion into our bedroom and he slept almost next to our bed but on the floor. Which is where I figured he belonged. Now he sleeps on our bed and takes up as much room as his medium sized body is capable of.
Two weeks ago it was Valentine’s day. I bought my wife Donatella a bottle of perfume, something she generously told me she needed, thereby keeping me from getting another fleecy pajama or wool scarf. She asked me what I desired and I said “chocolates” and she took me at my word. And they were as good as they look!