Saturday, July 18, 2009

It’s Not About the Bike

Paul Rosenthal on July 18th, 2009

I hope Lance Armstrong doesn’t mind me sharing the title of his book for this blog entry. After all, he and I have a few things in common. For example, we will be riding our bikes on the same day and in the same easterly direction.

Alas, I was never a competitive cyclist. And, Darryle was too kind to point out that I used to need store-bought pads to fill out that football jersey.

Did I mention I love chocolate? And wine? And food generally?

So, my goals are different for this ride–and it is a ride, not a race.

I am looking forward to meeting my teammates on the CFCMD team. Prior to the ride, the team members were asked to provide bios that included something about their athletic backgrounds/training. Here is an excerpt from mine:

Growing up, athletics, not academics, was my life. I was captain of my high school football team (we sucked) and played on the baseball team (we were very good). I got the scholar/athlete award only because most of my teammates were spending most of their time at Miami Jai-alai and other Pari-mutuel havens. My claim to athletic fame, though, is entirely reflected: my high school baseball coach, Skip Bertman, became head coach at LSU where he won 5 national championships (and supervised one last week). Skip once said of me, “Paul could have been a major league baseball player if it were not for a tragic….lack of ability.”

My bio goes on to say that I have done a marathon, a triathlon and a couple of bicycle century (100 mile) rides. But I haven’t ridden many rides over 50 miles.

That said, I HAVE pursued other challenges as I have gotten older.

For example, about 12 years ago, a few friends of mine from our softball team decided to fly to Cleveland to see one of the last baseball games played at Municipal Stadium, before the Indians moved to Jacobs field. We flew in on Friday afternoon in time for the 4 pm start of a double-header against the Yankees. Having heard that the food at the stadium was pretty good, I decided to try to eat “for the cycle.” In baseball, hitting “for the cycle” means that a batter gets one of every type of hit (single, double, triple, home run) in one game. I was determined to eat one of every type of food served during the course of the evening. In general, whenever I would return to our seats with food, I would share it with my friends. One time, though, I purchased a chicken breast that was absolutely tiny. Paltry poultry indeed. I decided that it was too small to share and disposed of it in a couple of bites. One of my friends asked another, “What is Rosey eating?” My friend, Scott, replied, “I don’t know. It went by so fast, I couldn’t draw a bead on it.” Anyway, we left at midnight. Eight hours. Much food. Mission accomplished.

Even more recently (I guess I should be embarrassed to admit), I devised a new challenge for myself. At Halloween, I decided that for every bite-sized chocolate bar that I gave to the trick-or-treaters, I would eat one myself. There were lots of kids in the neighborhood, and I went to the door frequently that night…Let’s just say that the evening didn’t end well.

The RAGBRAI is famous for the food that is offered along the route. Community organizations and schools, churches, etc. use the event as fundraisers as they sell pork chops, baked goods and other essentials to the riders who pass through. 475 miles? Piece of cake.

But it is the pie that I want. RAGBRAI is famous for its pies. In fact, on the website, the official mug this year lists 20 different kinds of pies that are traditionally offered. So, there is my challenge: have a taste of every type of pie. For dietary reasons, I won’t eat the whole pie. It’s all about the bite.