Hello, and welcome to Flashblog. I'm Flash, and I'm pleased to report that my Team Alameda medal for "Most Rides Led in 2008" has not been stripped from me by the Cycling Arbitration Board. In fact, they don't care a whit if I ate an entire cow made from pure clenbuturol, unlike the hapless Alberto Contador, Tour De France champion, who just saw all his gains of the last 2 years taken away from him by the CAB, and he may have to pay upwards of 2 million Euros in fines. As a bike blogger, I enjoy the freedom of not having to endure urine tests just to ride my bike fast. They don't even test for caffeine, so I'm golden!
So I started wearing my medal again last week. I've worn it once or twice since 2008, but I felt self conscious those times, pretentious. Not any more. Last week I pulled it out of its box and was struck by its timeless design and rugged good looks. I knew then it would be on my future rides, I had grown into it.
The ribbon is striped in blue, white, and orange, the TA colors, and the medal itself looks to be bronze, but I prefer the term "tarnished gold". (wink) The medallion is almost 2 inches in diameter, and is heavy. Etched in relief in the center is a flaming torch and olive branches within a shield, Olympics style, with near mirror image old-timey cyclists riding on either side of it. In the background are trees lining a road, and above them an old fashioned horse riding style helmet resting upon a parchment (?) that has the number "51" on it.
This is my Olympic gold medal for inspiring my fellow cyclists, most of whom are ride leaders themselves today. The etching says almost everything about me, Flash. However, I would change two details.
1. In place of the trees I would prefer triangularly peaked mountains in the background.
2. I would replace the parchment with a steaming cup of coffee
That's it, otherwise its perfect!
This is a classy dignified medal, suitable for wear with my Team Alameda kits. But the thing is, I wear it less as a medal of achievement but rather for something more important to me in this time and place: Good Luck. Yes, I am getting superstitious. I wear it as an amulet.
From Wikipedia: "An amulet, similar to a talisman (Arabic: طلسم / transliterated: tilasim), is any object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner. Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plants and animals"
There you have it...engraved pendants. Need I say more?
I will admit to being very fortunate in my cycling career, only having had one bad crash in 1975. I've fallen since, but without injury. I attribute this to veteran skills on the bike, innate good balance, using a mirror, and overall situational awareness. Some people have it, some have less of it. Believe me, I ride in large groups and the range of awareness is all over the spectrum. I have also had my share of pure good luck too.
One day I was riding down Park Blvd just before the 580 underpass. I rounded the corner to see I had the green light ahead, so I kept my speed up, which was around 25mph. As I entered the intersection, my front tire caught in a road crack and instantly turned 20 degrees left. By all rights I should have launched over my handlebars Superman style at 25mph. By some miracle, I reacted, the tire skidded sideways, then straightened and I stayed on my bike. But there was a moment of deep, all-consuming utter dispair that welled up inside of me. It was like I had crashed and I was feeling the agony of my broken, helpless body, perhaps a body that would never ride again, all because of some fucking little crack in the road. Alameda Velo rider Alan Le perished in a very similar situation up on Grizzly Peak last year.
And how many times have I had to grab a fistful of brakes to avoid some oblivious auto driver who blindly pulled in front of me and caused me to slide sideways to avoid a collision?
I think about all the door-ings I narrowly missed. All the rocks I've rolled over causing my tire to lose traction in a corner. I've witnessed harrowing criterium crashes that happened to the side of me instead of in front of me.
Even my worst crash in '75 could have been much worse as I didn't have a helmet on. They hadn't been invented yet for non-racers. I hit my head and scraped off the top of my ear, broke my left arm, but no concussion or other head injuries. So very lucky.
I like the idea of an amulet, a talisman. Its romantic and quaint. I know it makes no real difference, but then again, maybe it does in some way. Because it changes ever so slightly, how I feel that day, how I ride. It makes me feel Olympic caliber, ready for anything. Confidence cannot be understated in this sportive activity.
Last weekend someone came up to me on the group ride and said, " You're the guy with the medal". That sounded good to me. How many people ride their bikes with a medallion hanging down under their necks anyway? I do now, and I will continue to. We, as cyclists, need all the advantages we can get. If a round piece of bronze or a stuffed pink moose help you get through it, then do it.
Stay healthy, and get on your bikes and ride!