Today I went on a 22-mile bike ride with the 1400 Miles whose motto is “Probing the Conversation on Prostate Health.” Their slogan is “Don’t Fear the Finger” (which for women who don’t know, stands for the DRE, the Digital Rectal Exam). OK, I can tell by the perplexed look on your face and the tilted puppy dog head that I need to spell it out for you. A DRE is when a doctor sticks his (or her) digit (finger, not an actual number – that would be weird) up your butt to feel your prostate gland.
As the recent recipient of this lovely procedure, A Dude can say it’s not pleasurable. But then, neither is prostate cancer, so the DRE is one way to screen for it. I did not sing “Moon River” a la Chevy Chase in the 80’s classic movie Fletch (which I’ve seen a dozen times with my brother). Nor did I ask the doctor if he was using the whole fist or say he should at least buy me dinner. But he did know the scene, so that’s good enough for me to trust him. What does the perineum have to do with biking? Well, alot if you put in as much T.I.T.S. as I do (remember, it’s T.ime I.n T.he S.addle).
The 1400 Miles is an annual ride in October from Austin to Denver to generate awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. They use bikes and beers to engage stubborn guys in conversations about this difficult topic. Despite my progress in bike-riding including my recent century, there’s no way I’m riding an average of 100 miles 14 days in a row. But there are the social training rides and a community ride in August where I hope to do 60 miles. Should be a piece of cake. Did somebody say cake? Because A Dude will ride for cake. It’s a fundraising ride but that part is optional. After raising almost $2,800 for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, I’m kinda over having to ask people for money. But I’m a sucker for a good cause so we’ll see if anyone wants to pitch in for this.
Writer’s Block, but Lots to Write About
A writer writes, and a cyclist cycles. Lately I just can’t get excited about the former and just focus on the latter. That and trying to get my Hulu queue down. Which are tv shows that writers write. Another One Page Salon is coming up, so I hope to get re-inspired. Especially for my number one fan Gloria, who allegedly loves this blog. In a text she wrote, “OMG! I can’t stop reading it!” Here’s a shout-out to you Gloria: Thanks for reading if you do, I do what I can, and when are we going to hang out? I do still hope to someday write fewer words more often. For others reading but not following, you can click on icon at the bottom right that says “Follow” to get future posts.
Anyway, as on all rides, there are always are sights, sounds and stories. One was taking a nature break and getting covered in burrs. Very shortly after that I stopped to wait with a friend who wasn’t feeling well. Like a monkey picking nits off its mate, she nicely helped get the burrs off me while we waited for her ride to pick her up. This meant being left by the group but riding with Albert. He did not have the usual attire for a bike-rider. Orange patterned long shorts, running shoes, and a t-shirt. He just had one bottle of Gatorade, no snacks, no gloves, just a guy out for a bike ride. But you cannot judge a book by its cover. He had driven the route earlier in the morning and knew the way, and was a nice guy. Since I wasn’t feeling so hot myself, and it’s always safer to ride with someone else, I was happy for the company. Even though he did have to poop by the side of the road.
Travis County is Beautiful
The rolling hills of southeast Austin offered some nice views on a mostly cloudy day. The rain stopped and it wasn’t too hot or humid. But then the inevitable unfenced dog came out into the road, menancingly. Not unlike the dobersherpherdweiler mix that terrified me last year, this demon hell beast stared at us, deciding if we would be worth chasing. We both yelled at it and I had my water bottle at the ready. He let us live to ride another day. Cattle, bird, roadkill and of course cars were all there. As was the ostrich I photographed on a previous training ride, but Albert didn’t want to stop for it.
With a lot of sponsored rides in Austin, there’s also free beer involved. Allegedly it’s good for recovering from long bike rides, but I think that’s just an excuse for guys to drink beer. A Dude’s not a big beer guy but he does love the free (aka attracting abundance), so to not be rude, I did try one. Independence Brewery is one of the many craft-beer producers in Austin. I tried two kinds and they were both really good, for beer. Albert and Seth who I met on the HCRA hung out and shared their fried okra, calamari and more from the Quality Seafood truck. Yum.
Bike People are Interesting
It was fun to see a number of folks from the HCRA, including Bryan, who I met as a ride martial for last year’s HCRA, is the organizer of the 1400 and a great guy. This year after my 104-miler, he called me by my jersey, “Hey, Sun and Ski!” and invited me to hang out with his gang and super nice wife Stacy. We’ve also recently begun following each other on Strava, and today he greeted me with a hearty, “A Dude!” Fast guys Mark and Marty, the latter of whom I’d invited and planned to buy a free beer for since he rescued aforementioned jersey, along with the friend who had to SAG out, were there.
I also met Stephanie, a volunteer and staff member who seemed very interested in my taint, but in a non-creepy way. There were two massage therapists taking donations to fund their travel the whole way to Denver on the Big Ride. Stephanie she said she needed a massage so I gave her shoulders a few squeezes. After asking about my perineum I felt like we had skipped ahead several steps in our trust and comfort level so she didn’t mind; hopefully I didn’t rub her the wrong way. There was another Stephanie who’s apparently a major rider. Then there was a little girl named Lucero, the 4-year old daughter a friend of Albert’s. I didn’t get her picture but she was super cute, with long brown curls alot of women would die for. Since Seth has a 3-year old, he got Lucero talking. Shy, smart and silly, A Dude (who has no kids) was reminded of one of his favorite all-time bumper stickers: “I love children, I just can’t eat a whole one.” (In case you’re dumb, I don’t actually eat kids, it’s a joke.)
Seeing familiar faces makes life better. So I’m glad I dragged myself out of bed and got down to the ride. I just need 28 miles on Sunday to make my weekly 100. I admit to struggling to keep up that silly but addictive mileage goal. There’s always some good reason not to ride, like rain, fatigue, knee pain, saddle sores, and just not wanting to. But that’s the time when it’s most important to ride. Today’s 22-miler was both easy and still required a nap to recover from. I ain’t gettin’ any younger.
What’s Else / What’s Next?
This week I joined National Bike Challenge, which just means you ride your bike alot and that gets uploaded and counted nationwide. I also signed up for Bike Austin’s Strava Club, which I think amounts to about the same thing. I get tired of writing about myself, but I have an idea to start profiling some of the interesting folks I meet. I keep going, despite all my ailments. But since I’m at over 1,000 words, I’ll end here for now. Thanks for reading, and come back soon.