Apr 19, 2011

Looking for a hobby

I don't remember if I've ever put in six training days in a row on a bike, but I know for sure I've done five, and that wasn't easy, so I'm guessing six isn't any easier. But forcing myself to be off the bike for six days was a lot harder. The first day was easy because I was still in pain. The second day was also easy because I remembered how painful the day before was and there were still some lingering effects. Third day was harder because the Achilles tendon didn't give me any pain, but in the back of my mind I knew that there was no way that it healed overnight. But by the fourth day, it became very, very hard to stay off the bike, so I went to Sea Otter with a friend. I mean what better way to keep myself off the bike than to be around everything bike? Yeah, makes no sense to me either. But it was a lot of fun and I knew that I was doing the right thing by staying out of the saddle - I even resisted the temptation to enter a sprint competition near the Timbuk2 tent. And I even passed up the opportunity to arm-wrestle for schwag – I was undefeated among my high school class in that highly intellectual activity.

By Sunday, however, things became altogether different. There was no Sea Otter (I mean there was, but I didn't go there) and I also kept myself off the bike, though I almost gave into Dan's invitation for a 3p.m. easy cruise. What I realized, however, is that I'm in a desperate need for a backup hobby. When I'm totally healthy and on the bike, I barely have time to do the things I need to do (like shop or get a haircut), let alone think of another hobby, but if I'm forced off the bike for a long periods of time, I think I need an activity to fall back on. Come to think of it, I don't really recall what I did during Chicago winters. I think I just trained indoors and went to the gym to lift weights more. So I guess this is a call to make off the bike hobby suggestions. Here are the requirements:

1. Don’t suggest running. If I can’t pedal a bike, I probably can’t run, and if I can run, I’m going to pedal a bike. I also just really, really, really don’t like running as a form of exercise. I’m fine with it as a necessary part of an activity, like soccer or football, but that’s about it.

2. It has to be something I can pick up and drop at any point in time. So in other words, this hobby should not involve long term projects, like building model ships or gardening, although I have heard that growing herbs can be a soothing activity … or was that smoking herbs? Hmm, I forget right now, but in any event, no long-project type hobbies.

3. It should be something that doesn’t require a lot of motor skills, or something where you don’t lose those motor skills easily as you abandon this hobby for months at a time. So martial arts, which I’ve actually studied extensively in my youth and young adulthood, would not be a good suggestion, as it requires consistency and commitment.

4. It has to be cheap. I can only afford one expensive hobby at a time, and cycling has in an overflowing fashion filled that spot. In fact, after it filled it, it sprouted very deep roots that I think run directly to my bank account. So this hobby that I hope you will suggest has to be something that requires very little to no gear.

5. In case you forgot, see rule number 1.

Here are some things that I’ve been considering, but I’d love to hear more suggestions because I’m not really crazy about any of these.

Swimming. Pros: great exercise, very good for cardio, low impact and probably beneficial to whatever injury I may be nursing. Cons: I’m a very lousy swimmer – could never get the whole “turning head to breathe” technique down, though my back stroke isn’t too shabby. I also don’t want to join a club or something like that to use a pool. Is there a place that you can go swim with a drop-in fee in SF? I’m also afraid that if I start getting good at swimming, I might get the crazy idea to train for Ironman and then I’d have to start running, and if you missed it, see rule 1 above.

Bowling. Pros: I was actually very good at this. Placed at state when I was 11 or 12 and bowled in a league for a few years after that, but that’s where that kind of stopped. I have all my own gear, so the costs of going to a bowling alley would be less. Cons: I would have to spend time around middle-aged, overweight men drinking copious amounts of beer and being obnoxious. I can’t wear spandex bowling.

Baking. Pros: I like to cook and learn to cook new things. Baking is often more challenging than cooking, so it would keep me interested. Cons: raceweight.

That’s all I’ve got and I’m all ears (eyes). Looking forward to reading your wonderful suggestions.

P.S. To those interested in how my Achilles tendon is doing: Went up McCullough six times today with no pain on the climbs, but with some mild discomfort once I was off the bike. Iced the area for 15 minutes right after getting home and it hasn’t bothered me so far. I’d say I’m about 75 percent right now as far as tendon health and close to 100 percent as far as potential effort on the bike. I think use-and-ice will be my recovery strategy, unless the tendon starts getting worse. 


  1. I recently took up stand up paddle boarding for cross training and dumped my gym membership. It is relatively inexpensive compared to cycling (one time hit of 1600 for board, paddle, and wetsuit, not a couple hundred a month I dump into the bike).

    It is also a great upper body, core, and trunk workout. Getting the board down to the water can be a challenge in this city without a truck, but I live five blocks from the bay so it isn't a show stopper to carry it down there.

  2. "I’m a very lousy swimmer – could never get the whole “turning head to breathe” technique down, though my back stroke isn’t too shabby."- You need not worry mate, by repetition you'll get the hang of it. What you need is the urge to learn and continue despite your admitted lack of skill in swimming.