Friday, October 5

'fessing up about the Saddle Sore (SS)

It's either this weekend or it's not happening this season. Initially, I had planned to keep exactly when I'd undertake this ride to myself and write an entry about it only if I were successful. What a cop out to only mention it if I succeeded! So a few days ago I told one Internet friend that it looked promising for this weekend. Yesterday, I openly discussed it with my shop team at Motoworks. Still, no blogging about it, no public announcement to family and friends. I'm known for taking off to environs unknown until I either get to my destination or return from it.

Silly, right? No big deal! It's just a ride--a self-imposed ride at that; no gun to my head. As part of learning to "let go," I'm abandoning the overachieving, perfectionism that sucks out joy from most fun things and zaps one's pleasure in things loved. So, here's my confession: I'm doing a SS this weekend, specifically on Sunday. For those who are not familiar with this ride, it is a do-it-yourself baby long distance ride, the shortest one certified by the Iron Butt Association. It requires riding 1000 miles in 24 hours or less.

You pick your route; you pick your start time; and you depart whenever weather, physical, or socio-emotional conditions are ideal for you--that is, assuming you're doing the ride solo or with a group of like-minded folks. I've had other opportunities to do a Saddle Sore this season and I was tempted both times. It would, however, necessitate riding with others, taking a route determined by others and leaving at a time others had decided would be ideal. I understand the advantages of a SS group ride--even thought people don't stick together, it's still a group to me. Not riding with a group is another layer of risk management that each motorcyclist must decide whether to take on.

I know me enough to steer clear of group riding pressure, which is totally self-imposed pressure. Unfortunately, I'm the type that if I commit to going on one of a group SS, I will do it without regard to how I really feel and come hell or high water, I will finish rather than go down as a nonfinisher. That's silly, I know--and I'm working on it by avoiding such situations.

Great time to do a SS

Chicago will be a madhouse this weekend. The weather will feel like it's the middle of July, which brings everyone out and downtown. In addition, the near northside will be grid locked. Not only with cars trying to navigate their way, but the streets of Michigan Avenue, Rush Street, and the lakefront, to mention a few, will be painted with pedestrians and every form of non motorized vehicle imaginable. What's happening?

The Cubs are returning from their two game lost in Arizona and will be bringing the next three wins here! Go Cubbies!! Literally, millions of people will be out and around Wrigley Field. The Chicago Marathon also happens this weekend (Sunday) with people arriving Friday to enjoy the various race clinics, spaghetti dinners and practice runs along the lakefront. The Chicago Marathon is one of the nation's largest and because it happens so late in the running season many runners use it to best their time on a relatively fast course through the beautiful neighborhood streets and lakefront. Thus, it draws a massive number of runners, volunteers, families and spectators. In preparation of the crowds, the city closes many streets, for many hours of the weekend. If you reside here, you're locked in; if you want to drive into the city, you're pretty much locked out. This nightmare starts on Friday around 3:30 p.m.

What better time to leave the city? I decided on Wednesday to pick among the three routes I've been thinking about and seriously decided only yesterday morning to go. My goal: Just do it. Even if, for whatever reason, I decide not to do it, or, I decide in miles 100, 300, 0r 700 miles to chuck it, it is not the end of the world. This may sound like a no-brainer and many probably wouldn't give this a second thought. Not me. But I'm working on it.

Cornfields, here I come!

I'm going to have fun riding straight west to Lincoln, Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska? Yes, it's 523 miles one way. Beautiful scenery will be sacrificed to diminish any temptation to go touring. For this first SS, I'm going to be easy on myself. I'm going to be on task. But I'm treating the task as flexible and in the grand scheme of things as, "No Biggie!" Again, if I decide on Sunday morning that conditions are not right or I get that nagging gut feeling not to go, I'll not go. And, the sun will rise again. And, life goes on.

Iron Butt Association

They have a listing of members who will witness your start and finish (by signing a form). I've emailed two people who supposedly live nearby but both emails were returned as "undeliverable." Other options exist for getting the requisite witness but I thought the IBA list would be fast and simple--and the person would not balk about being awaken at 4a.m. to sign the form. As I write this, I don't have a witness.

Motoworks Chicago

These guys (and gals) always come through. Johnny got my bike in right away and Steve took care of her; he changed the oil, adjusted the chain, and caught the bike with low air pressure. I confess, to being negligent the last couple of weeks with no trips and just a lot of running around. Still, it's inexcusable. I stupidly removed my digital air pressure tool from my tank bag to my purse and I kept finding myself on the bike without it. Dumb, I know. Lesson learned!

While at Motoworks, I discussed the SS with some of the guys, a couple of whom recommended using Johnny for the 4a.m, witness. Johnny, who didn't hear this conversation later said it was okay with him and joked that he might not have even gone to bed yet from the night before. Hmmm? I wouldn't do that to him. However, in talking to Johnny I learned that he has personal contacts at the IBA. He knew both of the guys I had previously contacted--one was his college professor! Small world! The reason for his bad email address is that he's no longer in the Chicago area. Johnny made a call to the other contact and I should hear something today, I hope. Plan B is Johnny's suggestion to ask my building staff to witness my start and finish. I had briefly thought of that. I know this might sound silly, but I don't know them and I didn't think it was a good idea to let folks know that for a specified time period, my place would be vacant. Call it paranoia. I call it wisdom.

In any case, it's bound to be an interesting weekend. Looks like the weather will cooperate; I plan to get some sleep 0r at least get to bed early Saturday and hope that sleep comes. And, most of all, I'm going to enjoy a safe, long ride.