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Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Bike Day

New Bike Day

When I was a kid I used to think Xmas was the coolest day of the year. Who didn’t?

Now, as an adult, and adult might be an understatement, I have come to appreciate that the coolest the day of the year is the one where I get to ride my New Bike!

At least for the last 13 years that I have been a pro, New Bike Day, has been the most excellent, sweetest, most superlative day of the year. This is the one day where being a pro racer really pays (okay, one of the many).

New Bike Day is not only the most important day of the calendar year, it’s also the first day of the season in a hedonistic pagan sort of way. New Bike Day is the Cherry trees blossoming along the Potomac, it’s the first bat cracking a line drive in Tampa, it’s the rebirth of my cycling self.

marla streb
Marla's first day on a New Bike

I usually get my New Bike just before the Sea Otter and I ride it with the little antennas from the molds still dangling from the tires’ knobbies. I ride it so fresh that the saddle tilt is just a tad off, and the stack height not where I’ll like it. I ride it with the disc brakes squeaky and I ride it with grips whose contours do not line up with my callouses. But, I ride it anyway… and I love it.

This year was different. Oh, I got my New Bike alright. And I rode it. But it wasn’t me riding it around. So it barely even got dirty at the Sea Otter which normally jump starts the mountain bike racing season.

For valid medical reasons, my uber-maternal self wasn’t supposed to ride trails. Or at least Really ride Real trails. All I could do was tool around on some flat fire roads, or maybe roll along some really buff singletrack if there was no mud, or roots, or loose gravel.

So, my slick new carbon fiber/aluminum Orbea hung upside down suspended in animation in my bike shed, the side knobs still factory fresh until just this weekend. I was finally able to breathe some life into its cold hard frame. I achieved my goal of wearing some of those side knobs down. It was just an hour on some technical trails in the park here in town, but it was long enough to feel better than any Christmas morning I’ve ever had.

I didn’t even notice if the saddle needed some adjustment, because I stood on my pedals from beginning to end. Hours upon hours on an elliptical trainer can do that for you. I felt strong and light… finally. I could breathe deep and long for the first time in nine months.

It finally felt like New Bike Day had arrived.

Although it’ll take a couple more rides before I can settle the saddle issues…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mountain Biking or Body Slamming?

Friday night. According to my doctor, and my once six-pack abs now swollen into a keg, maybe my last Friday night. Before I become a mom. Due any moment now. Unfortunately, bagging some moonlit mountain bike miles on Mt. Tam is not a time killing option either.

So what to do with my last Friday night? The car is already packed with baby stuff. New IKEA furniture instructions fulfilled. My bike is sparkling clean, all tuned up, and banned from singletrack for a while. So, what’s a girl to do?

Why… drive to San Jose for a World Wide Wrestling match of course!!!

I’ve never been to one, and this was one sideshow experience I’ve wanted to check off my list before becoming a parent. And my ob-gyn agreed that going on a quest like this could actually induce labor.

marla streb
Leap From the Ropes

Even though Mark had wasted much of his extenuated youth at the Boston Garden in dumb struck awe while Andre The Giant tossed around a half dozen midgets, he couldn’t really explain to me the subtleties of the sport. We splurged on floor seats, four rows from the mat.

Maybe because I passed on the seven dollar draft beers, but I couldn’t understand why the referee was so easily distracted by the bad guy’s manager while the bad guy wearing big underpants adroitly palmed a ‘foreign object’ repeatedly against the good guy’s forehead.

marla streb
Tag Team

I did splurge on the six dollar salted pretzel, and it was beyond a little stale. Why didn’t the concessionaires just shoot ‘em full of the same juice the combatants in the square circle use? Are baked goods subject to UCI anti-doping protocols?

But in many other ways pro wrestling did have some appeal for me. I felt as much at home among the mullets on the floor section as I would have in the pits at a Hare Scramble.

All the guys, athletes and attendees alike, shaved…even the spots where there was no discernible athletic advantage, except for their chins. All of their chins.

And, it was comforting to see by the quality of the skin suits that pro wrestling evidently pays nearly the same scale that pro cycling does…

marla streb
3 Chicks Rassle

Like in downhill racing, the women’s wrestling ranks thinned out rapidly. Although I should note that their outfits are much more flattering. For a few body slams, I even imagined myself out there …as Marla, the Mauler!!!

Nah. As we filed out of the HP Pavilion past these strange freaks and geeks, I realized I’d much rather keep the rubber side down among the freaks and geeks I already know and love as one of the Luna Chix.

By the way, it turns out that going to a pro wrestling match, followed by 2 hours of ‘easy’ riding the next day, does actually induce labor. Mark and I have a little baby girl now to prove it!