Sunday, January 3, 2010

Harry and I don’t share pitchers any more

Harry and I don’t share pitchers any more

The joy, or so they say, of beating your head against a brick wall, is that it feels ever so good when you stop. Cycling can be like that too. Especially if you really do want to keep up with Joe Hotshot with his silky-smooth shaven legs and nauseous-pink handlebar tape. Or if you really bit off more than you can chew on that metric century, when actually forty miles would have been quite enough.

So the sun beats down, the sweat gets in your eyes, your head aches and your legs feel like molasses. And you think of that time ahead when you can stop this foolishness, and of the shower, and of the nap. Or you think of the pitcher. Crystal clear amber nectar with the bubbles softly rising to the surface. Coors, Shiner, Michelob, who really cares as long as it’s icy cold? Because that’s what my buddy Harry and I used to do. We’d always share a pitcher or maybe even two. Not to worry about the gentle roundness of our waistlines or the critical glances of our compadres as they sipped on their diet colas. We didn’t aspire to a century in five or being first over the next hill or dropping all the lesser mortals on the ride. We had our priorities straight.

And then things changed. Harry quit eating his nightly steak, bought Lycra shorts and lost so much weight that he’d have to run around in a rainstorm to get wet. I started training instead of just riding, even thought about shaving my legs and was damned if I wasn’t going to try to be among the first back from our rides. Our muscles grew strong and our faces became gaunt. Harry’s boyhood friends can’t believe it’s really the same guy and mine shake their heads in wonder at what an obsessed being I’ve become.

Our blood pressure is down, our pulses are barely measurable and our body fat aspires to single digits. But it’s not really the same. A kangaroo could hop across the road and we’d never notice it. That pretty girl with the oh-so-nice smile is riding on her own and obviously would like somebody to talk to. But no time, no time. Keep your head down and watch his rear wheel. Hour after hour.

And at the end we still might eat pizza or catfish or a salad. But it’s not the same. Because Harry and I don’t share pitchers anymore. And that really is too bad.

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