Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Joe's Final Exam
From taking that first step to figure out how to stand to taking a driver’s test to move us from childhood to becoming an adult, we are questioned and tested on our abilities. Tests are a necessary must to continue the forward momentum of life. We are constantly examined from pre-school to grad school on every word and thought driven into our skulls. After school life ends, we are tested by the real world. Our bosses analyze our performance using money as a reward or punishment. Our kids test our authority more often than not. Spouses test our patience and tolerance. Just how long can YOU put up with pee on the toilet seat? Did you really NEED to buy that $400 pink flamingo lawn ornament? It’s all just one big test. For the past 32 weeks, I’ve been studying for next week’s final exam – the Trans-Sylvania Epic – the 7-day mountain bike “race” I entered last October. At first, my brain tested my physical ability to even attempt such a thing. Do you really think you can endure 7 days of mountain biking? Do you think you can get through it without any injuries? You aren’t a kid anymore you know. How do you expect to recover fast enough to continue riding? Once I aced that mind-boggling self-criticism examination, the physical testing came into play. Weeks and weeks of winter bike riding trials and tribulations seemed never-ending. Snow and sub-freezing temps forced my butt indoors. Then the test became how long can one tolerate spinning in one place without moving? It was nothing but riding bike for hours on end. Twelve and fourteen hour weeks in the saddle became the norm, not the abnormal – all while testing my need to maintain a full-time job as a “Joe” and endure a two-hour commute every day. The test also was on toleration of one sport with no variation – something I haven’t done for over 8 years. Would I be able to do absolutely nothing but ride bike? Won’t I miss trail running and paddling? Priorities were tested. What once was top priority became mediocre and put on the “can wait” list. Experimentation of numerous combinations of foods and calories became yet one more test. Was I eating enough? Was I eating the right foods? What if I tried this “diet” or that one? Next week will be the final exam for this year’s semester. The test will be over a seven-day period and cover all my studies over the past 8 months: the training plan, the bike, the physical ability, the diet, the attitude, and of course one of the reasons I entered this thing in the first place, my age. All will be scrutinized, examined and quizzed. I’m really looking forward to graduation and getting my final grade. I got my hat and gown ready and the bottle of champagne for the graduation party afterwards. It’s time to line up for the commencement procession. Bring it!