Adios, Amoeba

Such is my dismal command of Spanish after 5 months living in Tampa. But that’s not the point of this post.

This was a week of changes.  I switched to new running shoes after 7 relatively low-mileage months in my Asics Gel Nimbus 13s, and I used my indoor trainer for the first time.  Neither change was exactly earth shattering, but each did represent a shift in my training and triathlon life.  The shoes were an acknowledgement that I do actually have mechanical problems with the way I run, and I could either accept it or continue to risk injury.  Using the trainer was tacit agreement that I’d rather be safe riding inside during the week than risk being smashed like a bug in the dark on Tampa’s early morning roads.

But the biggest change this week was bidding farewell to my trusty Suburban.  The “Millennium Falcon”, as my kids like to call it, was a relic of the past, but a beloved relic.  It carried my family and me cross country more than a few times, some more memorable than others.  Remind me to tell you the story of the five pound burrito and the “eens” crackers sometime.  We drove “the falcon” for over 10 years and 190,000 miles, so there were a lot of memories in that truck.

Not the least of which were training memories.  The falcon became my mobile gym when I started cycling almost two years ago.  It was big enough that I could fit the road bike in the back, upright, by simply removing the front tire.  I often left the bike in the back for weeks at a time, especially during the winter, so I could change clothes at work and ride on the way home before it got too dark.  I couldn’t have done that with a bike rack.

I can’t tell you how many brick workouts I did out of the back of the falcon.  I’d drive to the flatter terrain around Two Rivers Park with the bike and my running gear in the back, along with water bottles, helmets, food… all the stuff you need for 3 or 4 hours of running and cycling in the Arkansas heat.  I’d do an “out and back ride” from the Suburban, and do T1 out of the cargo area.  Then, off for a 3-6 mile run.  I usually had a cooler in the back (the thing had the cargo space of a 747), so I had cold water and maybe even a recovery snack after the run.

The falcon carried me to and from my first duathlon, first century ride, and first triathlon.  By the time I handed over the keys to the dealer who reluctantly accepted it as a trade in, there were no less than 7 “badge of honor” stickers on the back window marking marathons, half marathons, etc.  I considered asking if they’d take the car without the window, but couldn’t see pushing my luck.

The falcon had some signs of wear and tear.  The guys at work used to joke that there wasn’t a surface on the truck without a dent.  Unfortunately, that’s pretty true.  Three of my four kids drove it for a while as teenagers.  Enough said.

It wasn’t the dents and scrapes that led to the change, though.  After all, aren’t dents, bruises, and scrapes “badges of honor” in their own way?  I mean, a kid who is always spotless and perfectly dressed is one who probably doesn’t enjoy childhood very much.  The kid with scrapes, band aids, and bruises probably has a lot more fun.  Same with cars.  Same with adults.

No, it wasn’t the dings and dents that did in the falcon, but the price of gas and cost of keeping it running.  At about 10 mpg in the city, which is where I do most of my driving nowadays, it was just too expensive to operate.  Plus, I don’t really have to drive anywhere to ride in flat terrain anymore.  I live in flat terrain.  Surrounded by it for hundreds of miles.

So, I’ve switched to a smaller, more affordable “crossover” SUV.  I can still fit the bike in the back (with a lot more finagling), and the gas mileage is literally a 100% improvement.  But I admit there’s a little twinge of sadness when I walk out to the parking lot and the falcon isn’t there.  Kind of like saying goodbye to an old friend.  Guess there’s only one choice.  Time to go make some memories with my new one.  It might be smaller than the falcon, but the back window is plenty big enough for a new collection of stickers.

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