Animals Gone Wild Kingdom

Sheepdog quite possibly killed a rabbit.  Or maybe he did not.  He could just be hopping around totally unharmed.  We will never know.

This is what I do know…

For a decade Sheepdog has been working in Buckhead, which is the uptown district of Atlanta.  It is about 25 miles (approximately 3.17 hours in ATL real traffic time) from our house.  For at least a couple of years now Sheepdog has been taking public transportation to work.  This means that he wakes up during the 5 o’clock (Good Lord, I didn’t even know that was humanly possible) hour, drives his car to the MARTA bus stop at Windward, rides the bus to the northern-most Red Line MARTA train station at North Springs (exit 5C on GA-400N), then takes a train to Buckhead.  Finally, he walks the last block or so to his office.  It saves us a ton of money in gas and he is often able to work, make phone calls or read/ sleep during his commute.  According to Sheepdog this really sucks, especially when gas prices skyrocket and public transportation becomes SRO (standing room only).  But he is the ultimate team player, so he endures.

Then sometime around the end of October Sheepdog came home and announced that he wanted to start commuting to work on his bicycle.  And no, I’m not joking.  My immediate response was that he was certainly NOT riding a bike to work because he would surely make me a widow (with five freaking children!), especially given the fact that drivers despise cyclists around here and often try to nudge them off of the roads.  And it’s not just me that does this.  Soooooo… End of the Crazy Discussion.

Whenever Sheepdog talks about wanting (in fact NEEDING) to ride his bike, I always start singing the song "Bicycle Race" by Queen in my head. It is awesome (the song, not my singing)

As always is the case when I flex my muscles in the “And That’s Final!” way, the jokester that is my God immediately brought a new person into my life to expose me to a different perspective on things.  On Halloween night I walked around our neighborhood shadowing Kid C and her friends.  With me were a few of the friends’ parents, some of whom I did not know.  At some point during the night I talked to a dad who, as it turns out, does triathlons and is an especially enthusiastic cyclist and thought it was just the best thing ever that Sheepdog was considering a 2-wheeled commute to his office.  He proceeded to tell me all of the reasons why throughout the long evening.  Awesome.

I then went home and told Sheepdog that he could look into riding his bike to work.  As long as I was convinced that it wasn’t a suicide mission, I would consider endorsing his plan.

The word “tenacious” was brought up by my dad during a toast to Sheepdog and I at our wedding all those many years ago.  My dad explained that it takes tenacity to have a successful marriage, and I believe that Sheepdog took that sage advice to heart.  Moreover, he also applies that same tenacity to other aspects of his life.  When Sheepdog gets an idea in his head, he is more often than not tirelessly persistent until that idea comes to fruition.  I knew that once he started considering riding to his office, he would figure out a way to make it happen even if I wasn’t totally on board.  My dad also said during that same speech at our wedding, “Stacy’s personality is such that it takes a very special man to live with her,” but I forgave him for that because it is kind of true.

So Sheepdog promised that approximately 90% of this commute would take place on “very safe” bike path routes, and after he successfully dispelled my fears that he would be on said bike path routes when it was mostly dark outside (“…and do you know who is on bike path routes at these insane times?  Undesirables fleeing from the law, serial killers, sex offenders and vampires, that’s who!”), I agreed with the plan for him to ride his bike to work.  But I had some conditions.

1.  No intentional riding in the rain.

2.  Always be defensive and alert while riding, especially on the 10% of the ride that is not classified as “very safe.”

3.  He must text me every day when he gets to work to let me know that he has arrived safely so I can cross “call life insurance company” off my To-Do list (at least on that day).

I will have to say that the arrangement seems to be working out fine.  Sheepdog has gotten caught in some sudden and unexpected (Me: “Why didn’t you check the forecast, dummy?”) downpours, but he hasn’t melted yet.  He says he is very careful, yet he insists on listening to his iPod while riding, which I am less than thrilled about because it means he is not paying attention as fully as I would want him to.  But he wears a very bright, flashy light thing and he does text me that he is safe every morning, even though I forget I have a phone and often don’t check my messages until after 10 a.m. or sometimes not at all.

Then one day Sheepdog posted this on Facebook:

Rabbit run! Crazy commute this morning. Lots of rabbits on the bike path. Hit one but we are both okay (think he bounced off of the crank).
commuted 21.9 miles by bike.

What the what?  A rabbit?  Here I am worried about angry drivers crashing into him, or murderers and the undead chasing him in the dark woods, and he gets attacked by Little Bunny Foo-Foo?  Then today I saw about eight deer running through our neighborhood around 7:00 a.m. when I was driving some kids to school.  And don’t get me started on the darting, schizophrenic squirrel population.  They could all easily hit my Sheepdog.  It is like Jumanji out there.  It just goes to show that you never know what dangers may be lurking, even in the “very safe” sections of the world.

Please be safe, Sheepdog.  And please take off the damn headphones. xo

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Sheepdog’s Dream Come True

My husband is not a complicated man.  He needs water (often), food (oftener), and sex (oftenest).  But even more than the desire to quell the hormones that frequently control every cell in his body (“But I have the DSB!  This poison is going to kill me!”), he wishes for a friend who shares his passion for cycling.

He has been a lover of the biking since he was a young boy growing up in West Virginia.  Legend (or the stories that Sheepdog and his mom tell me) has it that he built his first bike ramp, Evel Knievel-style, when he was just three years old.  Many years and multiple emergency room visits later, he has established a zeal for the two-wheeled vehicles that rivals Voldemort’s compulsion to kill Harry (side note: in honor of the eighth and final Harry Potter film’s release on July 15th, I plan to put at least one reference to the books and or movies into each post from now until next Friday – you’re welcome).

Over the years he has read, watched, wanted to be, tried, studied, followed, traveled to watch a stage of, or participated in the following: VeloNews, Cycling magazine, Bicycling magazine, Bike magazine, any and every book on cyclists or cycling, countless shows on OLN and Versus, live bike race streams on the internet, a bike messenger, a bike commuter, a bike mechanic, a bike salesman, taking apart and putting back together his own bike – both out of curiosity and necessity, daredevil stunts on bikes not limited to BMX-style tricks with pegs at indoor/ outdoor ramp parks, mountain biking, mountain bike racing (both in good weather and in the unholy desert heat and/or the pouring rain and/or the freezing snow), road cycling – solo, road cycling – club, triathalons, track cycling, criterium, time trials, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of California, the Tour of Georgia, the 24 Hours of Canaan, the Six Gap Century, the Tour of the California Alps – Death Ride, and the Leadville 100 – just to name a few.

No, cycling is certainly not just a hobby for him.  It is a part of his heart and soul.  If he is not on the internet looking at pictures of starlets in bikinis or their up-skirt shots, then he is surely looking at the newest in bike technology – frames, gears, suspensions, drivetrains, forks… whatever.   Either that, or he is on craigslist or eBay to see which of those is for sale, “just out of curiosity” (trust me, I’ve had to enforce a budget).

I sill believe you, buddy

And as a human being it stands to reason that Sheepdog just wants to find camaraderie and share his excitement with other cycling enthusiasts.  I’ve tried to fill that role.  I really did.  I have watched countless stages of the Tour (I love Phil Liggett but I’d happily push Bob Roll off of the Col du Granon), I have attended countless races (or “Hippie-Freak-Love-Ins” as I also refer to them), and even tried riding myself (it hurts my butt and I tend to break the bikes – I once broke a derailleur just by pedaling).  “Trying” now consists mostly of me defending Lance (getting harder and harder every time 60 Minutes gets involved) and making fun of the costumes that the cyclists wear (really, there is nothing less flattering than a pair of bike shorts, except maybe biking bibs).

So it is a good thing that Sheepdog has all of these kids.  He is hoping against all hope that at least one of them will share his fanaticism for biking.  But so far, he is 0 for 3.  People-pleaser Kid A really tried to get into it (she even contributed to buying her own mountain bike that they found together on craigslist), but it just didn’t stick.  Kid B doesn’t like to try anything new, so she didn’t even fake an attempt.  Kid C says she will surely ride with him, but she has yet to hop in the saddle.

If you are keeping count, that just leaves the two boys.  As it happens, Kid D – even at six-years-old – often butts heads with his father.  Sheepdog has been trying unsuccessfully to get him to take off the training wheels for years.  Sheepdog’s seemingly casual pleas of, “Wanna go for a bike ride?” are often met with disinterested grunts from Kid D, “…um, nah.”  I keep seeing his heart getting crushed a little bit more with every negative response.  Until the other day.

One of the greatest things about my parents’ house here in New Jersey is the isolation of the very flat street out front.  Nobody else lives and therefore drives back here, so the kids have been able to ride their bikes undisturbed for countless hours.  That has led to a peak in Kid D’s bike riding confidence and a request out of the blue to remove his training wheels.

Sheepdog was remarkably calm and reserved (I presume because he has had his heart broken thrice already) as he got his tools.  He casually handed the bike – sans supports – back to Kid D, showed him how to set up the pedals for maximum push-off power, and gave him the go ahead signal to take off.  Kid D took to riding a bike like a Kardashian to professional ball players, and even the classically pragmatic Sheepdog couldn’t help but whoop and cheer aloud.

In twenty years I have never seen my husband smile the way he does when Kid D now asks him, “Hey, daddy – wanna go for a bike ride?”

Except for the other day when he asked, “Hey daddy – you wanna watch the Tour?”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…