One of the most disgraceful things to ask a person whom you may have just met, or may have known for a while and you just now happen to find yourself alone with them is this:
“So, what do you like to do for fun?
It’s just plain rude to put someone on the spot ordinarily. However, asking them something as intimate as this is cruel. What do I like to do for fun? Well I can’t tell you what 80% of my free time is spent doing or you’ll judge me for the binge-eating, couch-ridden, borderline alcoholic that I am. I can’t straight up lie to you, or else you could ask me a follow up question and I’ll have to pretend like I know anything about spelunking. So I’ll just spend the next thirty seconds panicking while I try to think of the last thing I did that didn’t involve sitting on my ass with some form of technology.
“I like to ski.”
“Well it’s July, what do you like to do in the summer.”
Oh you fucking foul breed of devil.
The depressing part about this forced revelation is not the fact that you realize how lazy you are. No, I’m satisfied with my lazy ass. The problem is that when I was a kid I spent every available moment outside. Sure, I played my share of Mario Kart and spent eight hours battling my friends in Goldeneye. The lion’s share of time, however, was spent on anything that would quickly earn me an injury.
Skateboards, rollerblades, bmx bikes, mountain bikes, and the rickety ass jumps we made with scrap wood stolen from a nearby construction site. Trampolines and the various contraptions of death we invented because forcing an 80-pound child 20 feet in the air just wasn’t crazy enough. Pogo sticks and pogo balls. Pogo balls you ask? Yeah, sucka.
My point is that when no one was asking this question, I had answers ready to fire off. Now I get asked the question and I understand what irony means, so the universe kicked me in both balls.
One year ago, I participated in a Denver event called, “Ride to Work Day.” I did it half-assed and my heart wasn’t in it. I bought a cheap ass Target bike, rode the 13 miles to work, rode home in the car with my wife that night, and didn’t unlock my bike from the rack until two weeks later. About a month ago, someone asked me the dreaded question we covered earlier and I shot right out with something about biking. I got something in my head that I was going to start biking. True to my fashion, I latched onto the most materialistic part of this new endeavor. If I was going to start riding this bike, it needed to be worthy of me riding it. So I dropped $100 on Amazon and stripped the bike down to frame and fork. I sanded her down, painted her matte black, and rebuilt her with all new components. Of course, I threw on the obligatory NS sticker. This whole process got me prepped for this year’s “Ride to Work Day.” I was fucking pumped. I was going to ride to work and back home. I’d get some exercise, and – more importantly – keep myself young and adventurous like I once was.
Unlike the first time I rode this bike, my 2014 ride was as smooth as butter. Good thing I spent so many years with a wrench in my hand or I would have been fucked for my quarter-life crisis. I pretty much knew exactly what I was getting myself into with the ride to work. I had already done it once and knew it was cakesauce.
So freakin chyll I could snap a mid-ride selfie and affirm myself as still being a young gun. #hashtag
I couldn’t help but notice that the way in to work had a pretty good amount of downhill. Hence the chyllness. So now I’m a little worried about what kind of rough ride I’m in for on the ride home. No, fuck that. I run damn near 30 miles a week and I’m still in my 20’s dag nabbit. Who gives a rat’s ass if it’s a little bit rougher on the way home. I’ll slay that leg just as brutally as I’ve slain this leg.
One day of work passes.
I get my bike off the rack, pack up my lock, an walk over to the street. One leg swings over and fits snugly into my pedal strap. I rotate the crank in reverse to get my strapped in pedal up higher. I shift my weight onto that leg, push off with my other, and plant down on my saddle.
What can only be described as the sensation of two tasers meeting each of my respective butt cheeks shoots up my spine and into my brain. I damn near fell off the bike. Luckily I hadn’t fit my second foot into the strap or I would have. I reach my hand around and gently push on the two bones at the cleft of my butt cheeks. The pain gives me a dull confirmation that not only are my ass bones bruised, but the next 13 miles will, in fact, be just a little uncomfortable. I approach this situation much like I considered my previous concerns about the uphill, albeit a little reluctantly. This shit won’t stop me. I’m doing this ride; I’m going to have a great time, and when I’m done, maybe I’ll go buy a skateboard.
I’m back on the bike now and maybe a mile or two into my ride. There are most certainly more riders on the trail, and more people to witness the awkward shifty-show that is me trying to cope with my ass pain. I come up on a trio of riders who are single-file, laden with spandex, and have assumed a choreographed routine of avoiding every bump an crack they see while barking out commands in single word codes.
“Left,” “Follow,” “Brake,” “Pedal,” “Maintain!”
I understand the intent of each one of these commands, but when your posse is maintaining a steady 8mph pace, the intimidation factor gets bumped way down. I come rolling up on these guys in a batman t-shirt, puma running shorts, nike shoes, and a matte black single speed with green wheels and red components. This will be good. I wait for my window, pedal harder, call out “On your left,” and accelerate past them. All commands cease. It takes about four seconds before I hear a variety of scoffs, coughs, and sniggers. I clearly make out the sassiest “Reeeaaally??” I’ve ever heard a grown white man muster. It was the sass that made me sneak a peek at what these guys’ fronts looked like. They were your typical middle-aged men, but my peek prompted the front guy to sit up, throw his hands out to his sides and yell, “What?!” I’m pretty sure I found Mr. Sassy. I know a gang when I see one, so I just kept my head down.
Things go smoothly for about two more miles after that. It is then that my worst fears are confirmed. What I once thought was flat concrete was, in fact, a hill - and not a hill in my favor. My pace slows, my breath quickens, and my sweat increases. Time goes on and the hills seem to continue. Every once in a while I get a 200 foot reprieve of downhill when I can lift my aching ass cheeks off of their torture device and let the wind cool my sweat soaked body. Alas, the ecstasy ends, and I have to resume my seat, hang my head, and pedal on.
It got to the point where I was silently cursing every person that past me with a set of gears. Smug bastards with their clicking derailleurs and water bottle cages. Careless Target and your cost-cutting measures of excluding a water bottle cage. I mean jesus, you included a kickstand that I had to fight off with a hacksaw, but you couldn’t provide me a conveniently placed water bottle to provide me sustenance while I slowly die on the Cherry Creek trail?
Hills are hills and after seven miles or so of them, I finally made it home. My legs feel like rubber, my face burns from the salt in my sweat, and my ass feels like a horse dry humped me. I began this mission with the hope that I would re-capture my youth. I wanted to make myself feel better about the fact that I don’t do anything for fun. Maybe all of the people who have good answers to that question are lying. Maybe the things they do “for fun” aren’t actually fun to them and they simply do them because they live in Colorado and that’s what you do when you live in Colorado. Maybe doing this stuff was just as painful as a kid, and I just didn’t care to notice it.
I’m not sure about any of that, but what I am sure of is this: It’s much easier dealing with all of the pain of getting older knowing that I can sit on my ass and do nothing while drinking a beer.