Posted by: Travis | January 5, 2011

We’re back, baby!

I’ve got a few blog posts semi-organized in my head that i need to sit down and crank out (one dedicated to our 2 week Christmas road trip, one about how to make riding bikes in the rain enjoyable, one about my great uncle Rusty who died from colon cancer last week, plus a few others), but at the moment i have some more pressing things to get to that are a bit more consequential than blabbing about on this blog. It will likely be a week or two before i get anything else written here. So in the meantime this shorter entry will have to do.

Our road trip was just about perfect. For reasons that i won’t get into, i’ve been in a bit of a funk the last few months (although i’m so easy going that a funk for me is probably ‘normal’ for most people), and the two weeks in Oklahoma and Texas, spending time with our friends and family was just what i needed to perk me up. The drive was pretty uneventful, save for a little bit of weather and the Subaru’s turbo charger acting funny for a few hours. We put in a few 15 hour days on the road, but as long as you have good music, and you try to keep yourself from thinking about how much longer you have to drive, i found it to be tolerable, if not enjoyable. We split our time pretty evenly between Rachel’s family in Oklahoma and my family in Houston. We did some runs and bike rides in the cold, and quite a bit of what my mom calls ‘souvenir eating’, but for the most part, our time was spent just hanging out with the people we don’t get to see enough of.

We got back into Palo Alto on New Years Eve after a 15 hour day in the car in which we started in Tuscon. Totally exhausted and both feeling colds coming on, we opted to watch the ball drop live in NYC at 9:00pm, have a glass of champagne as if it were actually midnight, then head to bed. We didn’t set an alarm and ended up sleeping for about 12 hours Saturday morning. When we finally woke up, our colds had set in, and we both felt like we had been hit by trucks. I was planning on hitting my training hard when we got back into town, but feeling as i did, and with rain and temps in the 40’s, i thought it best to skip riding that day.

My great uncle Rusty got diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer this fall, so getting to see him before he passed was a big goal of our trip. For a few days there was some uncertainly that he was going to make it to our arrival in Houston. We ended up getting to see him for two visits while in Houston. The first was with my whole family. Though he was just a few days away from the end of his life, and legally blind, he insisted on playing the nursing home’s piano (by feel) for all of us. The second visit a few days later was just Rachel and me, hanging out with him between lunch and a nap. We got the phone call from my Dad as we were driving through Phoenix on Friday morning that he had passed that morning. While he certainly went through some discomfort, he didn’t suffer as much as many colon cancer patients, for which i consider him very lucky. Rusty was famous in our family for having such a relentless zeal for life that it bordered on annoying. It seemed every bite of food he ever put in his mouth, every movie he ever watched, anything he ever experienced was the best he had ever had. He actually told you it was the best ___ he had ever experienced, over and over again. When hurricane Rita struck his home of Beaumont, TX just a few weeks after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, his property lost something like 40 trees and his house, miraculously still intact, lost power for a few weeks, so stayed with my parents. One of my favorite stories about him happened several times a day. Rusty would be sitting at the dining room table, where there are 8 seats, by himself. One of my parents would walk into the room and he would immediately jump out of his seat and offer it to them, despite the fact that there were seven other empty chairs in the room.

When those two things are the biggest digs about a person that you can come up with, that they are so enthusiastic about things they experience, and that they are so generous that it almost gets annoying, i guess there just isn’t much to complain about. Because we had just seen him, and because the logistics of either turning around in Phoenix and driving back to Houston, or finishing the drive to California and hopping on a plan back to Houston were just too difficult for us to manage, we weren’t able to make the funeral. I’m just happy we got to say goodbye.

On a happier note, bike racing starts up this weekend. Though i’m not planning on being on top form for another 6 weeks or so, i can’t wait to start racing again and training hard with teammates i haven’t seen much of since the season ended in September. I’ve got some Christmas weight to shed, but i think a month of really disciplined eating will get me to where i want to be. My legs are feeling much better for January than they have in years past, so hopefully, that’s indicative of yet another season better than the last.

Okay, that’s all i’ve got time for now. More to come later.


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