Welcome back to My Latest Challenge 2.0. Things have been progressing very well. I've added a few new people to my mailing list, so if you're seeing this for the first time, check out the rest of the blog at http://notabouttheback.blogspot.com/ There you will learn that I am, once again, embarking on an unwise challenge in an effort to raise money to fight Leukemia and Lymphoma. And if you feel inclined to make a donation to support my effort, go to my fundraising site at http://www.active.com/donate/tntgsf/steveasche

This May Be Harder than it Looks
I made the bold claim that I would ride 100 miles for every $100 raised. So far I am woefully behind. I have trained 420 miles and I have raised $1,127. I expected to gain some ground, but I think there's a lot of people that want to see me put in the hundreds of miles. That's okay, I'm still confident I'll easily match the donations. That is unless, some overly generous person steps up.

I think there should be a multiplier for particularly grueling rides. Our sadistic coaches took us on a ride on March 3rd that was particularly challenging. Apparently they've discovered roads that don't show up on most maps. There was a particular road, called Morrison Canyon, that is not wider than one car, is really steep, and to top it off just when you think you've reached the top. It actually gets steeper. At the very top of this hill is an area that looks like a scene from the Hills Have Eyes. There were a lot of strange antenna arrays and many keep out signs. Thankfully I made it, eventhough I narrowly missed ending up as a hood ornament for a car that was coming up the road too quickly.

So What is the Hardest Thing about Riding a Bike?
I get a lot of questions about how it feels to sit on bike seat all day, or how my back holds up to climbing hills. The question on everybody's mind but rarely asked is, "How are you able to walk around in bike shorts?"

Let's face it, bike clothes are one step above Speedos when it comes to sporting attire. Since the rider isn't wearing anything under his or her bike shorts, it's equivalent to walking around in fancy underwear. And of course, just like bathing suits, some people look better than others. I fall into the others.

The worst part about wearing bike clothes is that oftentimes, you find that you're in places where everyone else is dressed in normal clothes. Unlike the Speedo folks who generally are going to be around a pool, I've had to endure walking through the office, that's right - my place of work, in my bike clothes. I've heard every kind of comment - from whistles, to "you've got a lot of guts" and one person asked if I was going swimming. I have no idea what they were thinking. I've also gotten a lot of comments when I was out riding. I can always count of some suburban mouth-breather to tell me from his truck window how gay I look. I even had one woman yell, "Hey fella, you've got nothing to be proud of." Sheesh... she doesn't think I won't remember when mother's day comes around.

Here's the trick to wearing bike clothes, you have to just not care. The key is to develop a high tolerance for embarassment. Fortunately I have had many opportunities to embarass myself and have succeeded in building a high tolerance. One memorably embarrassing moment occurred when I was in college. I saw a young lady friend of mine sitting on the lawn by the Campanile. Never missing an opportunity, I decided to sit down next to her and have a pleasant chat. At this point, I should mention that there are a lot of dogs on the Berkeley campus. People thought it was trendy to bring a dog to school and let it run around while the dog's owner attended class. Along with dogs come dog droppings, or as my kids refer to them, dog bombs. So as I sat down, I made the sudden and unpleasant discovery, that something was simply not right. Of course, you're thinking, he sat down on a dog bomb. Well not exactly, as I sat down on the grass I placed my hand down squarely into a fresh dog bomb. All chances of impressing this young lady evaporated like water on a hot pan. I had to make my way into one of the buildings, find a washroom and hope I didn't see anyone or have to touch anything. When I returned, the young lady was still there...laughing of course. Nearby there was freshly imprinted hand sculpture, not unlike the ones that kids do for their moms on mother's day (hey...oh...nevermind), except plaster of Paris it was plaster of Fido.

Now every time I feel embarrassed about wearing bike clothes, I think of that warm spring day, and tell myself, at least I don't have dog doo on my hand.

That's it for this week. More hills and more miles in the weeks ahead. Hopefully the rain is gone for a while.


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