Years ago, when I was at the climbing gym with a friend, they suggested that I do an overhanging route next. I tried avoiding it using the excuse, “I’m terrible at those.”
“And that is why you should do them,” was their response. Wow, and I thought my excuse was solid!
Completing an overhanging route at a grade below what I’m typically capable of doing doesn’t fuel my ego in the same way. It’s still fun, but it’s a bonus when you get to be good at something you enjoy doing. I’m not the only one who feels this way; otherwise, competitive sports wouldn’t be a thing. Alas, I am too old and injury-prone to add more awards to my box of equestrian ribbons. I also can’t be spending all my free time training as I sometimes need to use my day off to do things such as visit a Canadian Tire store for some diatomaceous earth and jute, which I did last week.
As much as I mostly enjoy living alone, I’m still finding it challenging to spend the whole day without company. So, the Calgary-based Gator accompanied me to the pest control aisle via WhatsApp. I took photos of some of Canadian Tire’s merchandise and sent it to her, such as a tub of diatomaceous earth. Riveting. A few minutes later, I sent her the squeeze bottle version. I also sent her a photo of one of Canadian Tire’s end caps that displayed bandanas, cowboy hats, and koozies.
I may have crossed a line when I referred to them as Calgary Supplies.
Isolation has been my motivator for sending my friends photos of the following things:
-Large carrot, which I’ve shared on here twice already.
(Three times now.)
-My bedroom light fixture showing the dark outline of dead silverfish.
-Aforementioned light fixture, but without the gross outline.
-The twice-mentioned carrot cut up and in a food storage container.
-The Quaker Oatmeal label accompanied by the question, “How old does this guy look?”
-My raspberry-infused oatmeal, which looked like bloody vomit, to which the receiver unsarcastically responded, “That’s a great idea!”
-My unmade bed.
When I’m not tied up shopping for jute, I do climb. I was supposed to go to the climbing gym after work earlier this week, but the gym has suspended drop-in climbing thanks to the COVID third wave. This change happened while I took two weeks off to heal a finger injury. Now, if I want to go there, I’ll have to make an appointment.
My climbing partner, Nic, wasn’t as defeated to learn that we couldn’t use the gym and suggested that we ride to Fleming Beach, an outdoors climbing spot, to traverse the crag. An alternative that would have us climb outdoors in sunny weather? Ew.
In the cycling department, since I no longer have a default cycling partner, Yann, I knew I’d have to start asking others out on riding dates. The last three people not named Yann, who I’ve gone riding with, includes Ed, who lives on another continent. I’ve gone cycling with so few people that I don’t know how my skills stack up. I didn’t want to go with someone new and spoil the ride by being an uncoordinated slowpoke.
I’m a bike mechanic: I can’t ruin the illusion of being adept with bikes and on bikes. I’ve already fallen in front of my co-workers several times. I felt like they fully expect me to suck and probably wouldn’t be stoked on the idea of having me tag along on rides. Luckily, I have friends at work who don’t work inside the shop and therefore have not seen me topple off a bike: Davy, who actually doesn’t work with me anymore, and Maggie, who’s taking some well-deserved time off.
Now these two have seen me bail off a bike because they took me to Thetis Lake, which has a network of mountain biking trails. I didn’t need the experience of riding with others to know that my technical riding skills are lacking. I have a valid excuse: because my cochleas are ossified, I have no inner ear balance. My dysfunctional vestibular system means it is physically impossible for me to get dizzy from spinning, which isn’t a bad thing, but it has compromised my sense of balance. I had to re-learn how to walk as a kid after I went deaf! While it makes things like technical riding more challenging, it’s not impossible.
As a wise, old climbing partner once told me, being terrible at something is a good reason to do it. It’d also be a shame to have a bike like Ponyboy and not ride it through the woods.
So, I just went for it…ish. In true rookie fashion, I hesitated too much on one of the descents. My nervous braking locked up my wheels, causing my bike to zigzag in the dirt before I veered off the trail, falling into the bushes. The slope off the path softened the impact, but pokey things in the forest scraped up my legs.
I am willing to get used to this happening because it was fun. I don’t anticipate ever taking over Maggie’s post of being the Mayor of Mistytown (the shop folks’ way of saying she’s fearless), but with practice, I could be the deputy mayor.
On our way back to Victoria, Maggie and Davy invited me to their place to see their six month old kitty, Fitz. I had to choose between A. Continuing along the trail back home, or B. Taking a detour for a cat.
I chose B. Cat.
So, being a cyclist is a good way to get me to hang out with you, and having a cat is the secret to luring me to your place. A puppy works too.
Candy? not as much. Pre-ride, someone in the bike shop warned me that Davy was known for carrying weird candy to share with his cycling buddies. I did not get fed mystery candy, but I was flattered to learn that Davy and Maggie had publicized our cycling plans and that my co-mechanics were excited about plans that didn’t even involve them.
Post-ride, the shop folks were interested in learning how I’d fared and probably not at all shocked to see my scraped up legs. Hopefully, one day, they’ll get the chance to witness me hilariously tumble into the bushes. And, one day, I will redeem myself by showing that while I am not great on descents, I am an absolute beast on climbs.
Maybe that day will be today because Ponyboy and I are heading out for the hills in a few hours!