Sunday, December 19, 2010

Year's End Interview

Towards the end of 2010

There were times in my youth when I dreamt of becoming (moderately) famous, later in my life. The 'later in my life' is now, and I still have not become famous, not even moderately. My blogging didn't help either. But it gives me an opportunity to pretend. Like pretending that somebody is interviewing me, as only "famous" people are being interviewed.

Q: Your last blog post dates from September. What happened - did you stop riding your bike?

A: No, I didn't - although it's true that the miles/month statistics dropped substantially, and that the only ride longer than 30 miles since then was the Death Valley Fall Century on October 30th. But we had the wedding of our elder daughter Valerie, early October; and that was big enough that everything else had to step back.

Q: You could have posted about the wedding, then.

A: I should have. But at first, I was still too busy entertaining our guests from Europe. Then, some kind of flu or cold virus got hold of me and bogged me down for a couple of weeks. Finally, there was still work at the office, which is always another good excuse.

Q: So, tell us something about that famous wedding now, and show us some pictures! The couple is still married, I suppose?

A: Yes, that's always my first question when I see my new son-in-law. He and I agreed at the wedding to do something about the fact that most in-law jokes involve the mother-in-law. From now on, the father-in-law will be the butt of the jokes.
The wedding was big (140 guests from six continents), a little outrageous (the celebrations went on for four days) and very pluricultural (can you say interfaith? Did I mention six continents?).

Q: Your most memorable moments from the wedding?

A: The first was the Father - Daughter dance. I selected the music ("Prague Waltzes" by Antonin Dvorak); and the bride, a former professional ballet dancer, knew how to come up with some choreography. Even though we did better during the rehearsals, the performance went well enough and I am very happy with it.

The second was my series of push-ups while waiting for the elevator in the hotel, when we finally came back from the restaurant and decided to go to sleep, around 4:30 in the morning. Frankly, I don't quite remember how this came about - too much pluricultural celebrating, involving no small amount of vodka, I guess. (There was the consensus during that evening that you cannot trust people who refuse to drink; and I pride myself of being trustworthy). It could have been the result of some kind of dare. I certainly did impress some people, favorably I hope. But not enough to become famous.

Q: You mentioned the Death Valley Fall Century. I understand (from the previous posts here, here and here) that the Death Valley weekends in Spring and Fall have become a family tradition. How did it go this time?

A: This time, I didn't believe we could go there at all, because I was suffering from that bad virus and thought I could not even drive, even less ride the bicycle. In addition, Fabienne had spent a very uncomfortable night (and that's a euphemism!) in the emergency room of the UCLA hospital a couple of days earlier, and was absolutely unfit to ride. But eventually, everybody made it to Furnace Creek in time - even Sebastian who came back with his family from New York. I still did not believe we (Valerie and I on the tandem) would be able to ride more than an out-and-back to the first rest stop; but I underestimated how strong-headed Valerie can be. In the end, we successfully battled it out up to Scotty's Castle and back. I did admit at the finish that it was "hard." By the way, Sebastian finished the century two hours before us.

This was three weeks after Valerie's wedding. (My new son-in-law was there, too; but I couldn't get him to ride a bicycle - yet). Complimenting Valerie's gutsiness once again, I would like to report that she fulfilled one of her long-term dreams on the way to Furnace Creek, on the afternoon before the ride: to stroll and jump around in the dunes in her wedding dress!

Q: I can see you are proud of her. - Back to bicycling and your randonneuring apprenticeship. It's time for a review of the past season. Your blog posts suggest you have had a pretty good year?

A: Yes, it was my best year ever - so far. I feel fortunate that I could accomplish nearly everything I had put on my calendar, a year ago, and I am very grateful for it.

Q: But you failed to accomplish what you had declared as your number one goal for 2010, the Mille du Sud?

A: Correct. I certainly wish I could have finished this demanding high-end randonnée in my first attempt; but I don't make a disease out of a situation where I am confronted with my physical limitations and some circumstantial restrictions. It was not a defeat or a failure, only a consequence of consciously prioritizing some honorable aspects of randonneuring that happen to require a higher level of athletic ability than what I have to play with. Besides, the final lack of success in this case is probably again a blessing in disguise: it will motivate me all the more for next year's edition!

Q: You are calling "Wine and Cheese" honorable aspects of randonneuring?

A: As long as you don't accuse me of any missionary zeal: yes. 

Q: And you are attempting the Mille du Sud again next year, only three weeks after Paris - Brest - Paris?

A: Of course. Remember: I said "it was my best year ever - so far."

Q: What else is on your calendar for 2011?

A: Before answering your question, I should mention that I will go into retirement, in early March (no more excuses with too much work at the office, after that ... and no more complaining about not enough vacation days to travel longer distances to brevets). 
Aside from the local brevets in the early months of 2011, and aside from the traditional Death Valley weekend of February, I plan to do my first 600 on March 19th (Saint Joseph's Day) in Arizona where I always wanted to ride. This will complete my qualification series for Paris-Brest-Paris which is of course a "must." Taking advantage of my new retiree status, I then plan to stay in Europe from May through October, to catch up on what I missed since we moved to California in 1991. For example, I could never participate in the 600k Bayern Rundfahrt and the even bigger 1000 km Große acht durch Bayern - in 2011, I should be able to do both, in June! July will bring the prestigious Brevet de Randonneur des Alpes; and I still have to figure out how to work my ambitious plans regarding the Mont Ventoux and hopefully the Super Randonnée de Haute Provence into my schedule.

Q:  It looks like you are going to be quite busy in your retirement.

A: Oh yes. Do you want to hear about my plans for 2012?

Q:  No.

A:  :-(  :-(

Photo credits: Kerri-Ann Watson

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