Going for the throat

April 3, 2014 § 41 Comments

I have greatly reduced my time on Facebag. I’m ashamed to admit it, but before I went lukewarm turkey, I was spending up to four hours a day on it. That’s four metric hours, and sometimes more. I told this to DJ, who’s an engineer. “Dude,” I said. “I’m spending four fuggin’ hours a day on Facebag. Metric hours, man.”

“Seth,” he said.

“Yes?”

“Time isn’t a metric unit.”

“Oh,” I said, relieved that there wasn’t yet another aspect of the metric system that I was supposed to understand, but didn’t.

Nowadays I’m a lurker. I stalk the ‘bag for about thirty minutes a day or even less. I noticed for the first time that it’s pretty much the province of angry old people, new bicycles, and cats. With all of my new-found time, I began reading again.

I used to read voraciously, and it took a while to learn to read again because my brain was so wired to those little mini-jolts of excitement when something popped up on Facebag, or worse, on the Twitter. After a couple of weeks, though, I stopped expecting the pages on the book to light up with a notification or message or clever retort. My stack of books has piled high, and there’s an equally towering stack of unread ones.

I was talking with a friend about ratcheting down my Facebag activities, and he concurred. “I quit cold turkey three weeks ago,” he said.

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

“It made me so depressed. I’d see all those posts about how perfect everyone’s life is and how wonderful their kids are and what excellent relationships they all have and it made me feel like a piece of dung. It was either that, or posts about how they’d just experienced the worst day ever, or a photo from a bike crash with four teeth missing. So I quit.”

“How do you feel now?”

“Great! The only people I talk to now are, you know, real ones. And none of them are perfect. Not even a little bit.”

We laughed.

Real people, indeed

In tandem with my cancellation of the Twitter, Strava, and Linked-In, and my Napoleon-at-the-gates-of-Moscow retreat from Facebag, I started riding with my youngest son, who’s sixteen. We ride on Sundays. Our first ride was from RAT Beach to the ice cream shop on the Redondo Pier and back. Our second ride was to the frappucino spigot at the Sckubrats in Hermosa and back to RAT Beach. The third week we tackled something big: we rode from Pregnant Point down Paseo del Mar, up the Lunada Bay bump onto PV Drive, and from there to the frappucino spigot at the Golden Cove Sckubrats. Then we returned to Pregnant Point and called it a day with a solid 10-mile ride.

I would like to tell you that my youngest son is a natural-born cyclist. After all, he’s been around it all his life. I’d like to tell you that he has the perfect build for a road racer — he’s compact, lean, and has long legs. I’d like to lay out our plans for an all-out assault on cycledom as he learns the ropes.

But you see, it’s not really like that, even though he does have the perfect build. First of all, I’m a terrible coach. What the hell do I know about cycling anyway? And I don’t care how people ride as long as they don’t fall down or get picked off by a car. Truthfully, he’s not really a natural, which makes sense, because neither am I. And he’s not one of those kids who loves to compete. I’m pretty sure that if you showed him your jugular, he’d want to know what it was connected to … he wants to be a doctor, not the Cannibal or a forcat de la route.

In a way it’s depressing to think I have a child who is interested in something that might result in a job, as if he’s repudiated the Davidson family history. But I will adapt.

On that ten-miler day we took our first breather just where the road rises up from the Lunada Bay vista. Then we pedaled, with mucho effort, up to PV Drive. Rest Stop Number Two. Then we gritted our teeth and made it to the Starbucks. Mucho mas tiempo was spent drinking frapps and gazing at the ocean and talking about science. I also learned that in mid-1800’s Italy there was no right-wing reactionary party, and that the nation’s unification involved moderates, liberals, and anarchists.

Who knew?

What other people care about isn’t always what you care about

We pedaled back to Pregnant Point, and the next day he said that his legs were “real sore.” I thought about that.

The following week we did the same route, but instead of stopping at Golden Cove we continued along PV Drive to the top of the hill just before you descend to the glass church. We turned around there and fought a stiff headwind for two long miles all the way back to the frappucinos, which tasted better than good. Did I mention that the frappucinos tasted good?

As we sat there I remembered riding along the seawall in Galveston with my dad and my brother. No one ever coached me or told me how to ride, probably because no one knew any more than I did. The only advice I ever got, in fact, was to “Watch out!” when I stopped paying attention one day and rode off the 15-foot seawall onto the granite boulders below. It’s miraculous that I wasn’t killed, if you believe in miracles. Otherwise, I was just another dumb-lucky little kid.

My son and I drove home from Pregnant Point, still talking about Italy in the 1800’s. We had a big dinner, which tasted as good as one of those dinners you have after a 100-mile beatdown with the fast riders. The beer I washed it down with tasted special as well. We both went to bed early and I slept a deep, uninterrupted, profound, and satisfied sleep. I’m hoping that maybe he did, too.

———————————

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§ 41 Responses to Going for the throat

  • Winemaker says:

    I woke up early this morning (again). I read Ovid for an hour in bed with the cat. Today I am going to keep working on the big deck, putting down deck boards with my daughter. I hear you, brother.

  • Rick says:

    Getting more out of cycling by going slow. Good read to start the morning with.

  • Toronto says:

    A very poignant snapshot to kickstart my day. Real people (and books) are not overrated. Also heading in the direction of similar connectivity refinement. Did I say thank you very much?

  • Rick says:

    Seth. On the book front my daughter has been reading “The Greek Way” to help get a mental construct to deal with Joe’s death. She will read passages to me that she discovers as treasures of wisdom. I hate it when people tell me to read books. So I won’t tell you to read it.

  • @fsethd (how do you pronounce that?)
    I kinda like it when you pretend to be a human, instead of a wanker. What do you call yourself at those times? Dad? I remember being called Dad.

    @Winemaker: Ovid? Really? Good lord, man, keep it to yourself. I have a Riverside Shakespeare on the back of the toilet but I would never, NEVER tell anyone about it in the comments section of an alleged cycling Blog. Pull yerself together.

    Sorry. It’s Thursday and that’s my cynicism day. Wednesday is irony and Friday…on Fridays we weep.

    • fsethd says:

      Ha, ha, ha!!!

      “Dad” … called that only by a few!

      Winemaker does go overboard sometimes, and your Riverside Toilet Shakespeare secret is safe with us.

  • jorgensen says:

    Some of my most rewarding cycling is with my son, he is not that interested in riding alone but fortunately is ready to go on a ride with me. Those outings are not that useful as a workout but very useful in every other way. We have from time to time had to pick up the pace a bit, he complains but gives it a go. There is a stealth plan that he will be in better shape by the end of Summer, but I will let him discover that on his own. If I am riding with Dad will not lose it’s appeal.

  • John says:

    Regarding metric time, the French did try something like that for a few years following the revolution:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Republican_Calendar

    It would be cool to get a hold of one of the clocks made during that period.

  • Arkansas Traveler says:

    Could eschewing social media be a first step toward mindful awareness? Sure starting to look that way. Slowing down to live a better life…what a concept!

  • A ride doesn’t get any better!

  • Bryan says:

    Awesome… I’ve been lucky enough to have my 13 yr old son make me take him for a ride every weekend (something we’ve been doing now for about 2 years). Usually it’s centered around food of some sort, and often, he brings a friend or two. But it’s priceless time, away from screens, moms and sisters…

  • …sorry, i don’t have much interesting to add… i just love this story so much. BTW…what was Italy like in the 1800’s!?

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Your son will be grateful that you are his dad and you will never regret the time he is letting you spend with him.

  • sibex9591 says:

    I kept looking around and found this http://www.jims59.com/vintageschwinns/images/1995_Supersport_Rt1.jpg which if I imagine it metallic blue with metal flakes, downtube shifters, and 19mm tires it would resemble what must have been the Schwinn Super Sport my Dad rode when we used to ride together back in the early 70’s.

    D2 will be home from China at the end of June, so perhaps maybe I can get her to come out to play and we can try some drag-our-asses-around-and-consume-more-calories-than-we-burn coffee and pastries at our favorite market deli. Here is to hoping!

  • dan martin says:

    I love riding with my youngest son….stopping at sbux for hot chocolate, showing him where strand brewing is, cruising bits of the donut route, this is the stuff I want him to remember. Its the best!

  • vladluskin says:

    I hate to break up the father-child bikie love fest, but reading this post had a profound effect on me. Wanky says: “First of all, I’m a terrible coach. What the hell do I know about cycling anyway?” Please explain why I’ve been religiously following Wanky Training Plan for the past three months, riding downhill in 34×28, in the process wearing out three pairs of Assos bib shorts from saddle-crotch rub? My invoice for wardrobe reimbursement is in the mail!

  • cmparrish says:

    Thank you, Seth. A lot to think about.

  • posinihilist says:

    I’ve got an auto-reader app on my iphone called “Voice Dream.” It’s pretty sweet. I found out that many industrial workers in the 19th century used to hire people to read to them while they worked and were highly educated autodidacts. It would be so nice to have a little person in lederhosens enlightening me while I drudge away at my quasi-sweatshop job. But nope, we’re a part of this whole technocratic post-modernity–thing. No dictating midgets for us. Sigh.

    And what if developments in quantum theory are suggesting that time might not be a thing to be measured in the first place? (WHAAAAA…)

  • Rob says:

    I tried to self coach myself back in the late 80’s. My source of info: The Complete Book of Cycling by Eddy B. What did I learn? I don’t like Mutton and my atom bottles were to big.

  • Sherri Lee Foxworthy says:

    Reading this blog reminded me of a quote from Ernest Hemingway…
    “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
    You Seth…you are a true treasure…you are a reader and a writer…thank you.

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