If you are a cyclist or have spent any amount of time around cyclists, you are going to understand and relate to this question — what is it about cycling that attracts obsessive personality types? Case in point is my friend, J, who lives and breathes for the next ride (real or virtual), speaks the constant language of bikes and components, supplements his diet with every little supplement that will enhance his performance. I contributed to his addiction 15 years ago, the person he attributes for getting him back on the bicycle after his hiatus from triathlons. The guy is a legend in the western burbs of Chicagoland now, a machine on the bike even after undergoing a full knee replacement. It was funny listening to the commentator at an indoor virtual race this past January, who described J as the $10,000 man and gushed over J as he demolished everyone in his heat. That race was less than a year after his knee replacement.
The knee replacement is a another example of J’s obsessive trait. Before the replacement, he spent nearly every waking hour visiting forums to discuss the types of artificial components with other cyclists. He shared that with his doctor, wanted to make sure that the surgery wouldn’t affect his performance. It hasn’t. J is still a beast. The only change is that now he only races bike/swim events, the knee making it impractical for him to run.
J and I started playing tennis together this past Spring, something I like to do. This year has been wet, as well, so tennis became a way to exercise when I can’t ride off road or want a break from riding the limestone rails-to-trails paths. There is a tennis court at my condo clubhouse, next to the pool, so it’s great to play a few hours followed by a dip in the pool. This summer, we have become a fixture at the court, residents used to seeing us there and many trash talk us from the pool. As the summer has progressed, we have played more and more, often playing until dark.
J has taken to tennis like he cycles — he can’t wait until the next game. He has become that little kid who constantly knocks on the front door and asks if Stevie can come out to play. We played three hours Sunday, then another two last night, the texts taunting me to play (I wanted to be a couch potato last night!!) starting yesterday afternoon. It was good. I needed motivation to get out and exercise yesterday, my 5 AM morning commute and the three hours on the court the night before making my body say no to practically everything. J has bought three new racquets in the last month, various grips, head and wrist sweat bands, a case of tennis balls, new shoes, tennis attire. He just posted on FB an announcement of his new joy of tennis, named me as his nemesis. We have people challenging us to play, residents of my condos that want to dethrone me from last year’s doubles tournament title.
It’s all good. Tennis is fun and my body is used to the extra pounding that comes from hard court exercise. Despite a slower season on the bike, I am in better shape than I have been in years… I am no longer a shape, I am in shape.
So, I will keep playing tennis with my obsessed buddy until the next thing comes along. Soon, Zwift season starts for him, but he’s already looking at tennis club memberships…..