Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring Training

Timbers' training camp does not officially open until shortly after April Fool's Day, but I'm no fool when it comes to fitness self-analysis and decided to begin my own preseason regimen a little more than a week before the team. Talking for more than two hours at a stretch for an entire soccer season can be grueling work and getting in game shape is no easy endeavor. Yeah right.

Actually, there is a different reason for my self-imposed spring training. I have a theory about why so many sportscasters and journalists are often times not trusted or respected by athletes. Think about it. You've just pushed your body so hard you want to hurl, knowing you'll be feeling the aftereffects for hours if not days, and some sloppy, out-of-shape media type who has spent most of the night eating popcorn and brownies in the press room, asks a stupid question or makes some crack about a lack of effort. After being hit by this revelation early in my career, I made it my quest to be the anti Tight Jeans.

First order of business was to determine what form of exercise to employ. After much deliberation, I opted to dust off my trusty bike and head out for a ride along the Willamette from my new home base in Eugene. That way I could kill multiple birds with one stone: Listen to some recently downloaded tunes on the iPod, get in a little cardio workout and do some world class people watching. For music, I went with live Dead - specifically some tracks off Dick's Picks Vol. 36 - in an attempt to acquire an authentic Eugene cycling vibe. Real hippies didn't tool around on Rockhoppers while cranking their MP3 players, but this was the best I could do.

It's about a 10-12 minute ride from my house to the nearest entry point of "the trail" as it's commonly referred to here and Jerry and Co. were barely past the midpoint of Playing in the Band. Once on the spacious asphalt path, 21st gear was the most common choice as I whizzed past dog walkers, baby walkers, joggers, lost souls and cyclists just out for a casual cruise. The real bikers, with spandex, camel-back water devices and carbon fiber wheels, blew by me like I was riding a Big Wheel (or more appropriate for this blog - The Green Machine). It's a pretty cool place to ride and over the course of 45 minutes or so you can see people from practically every different walk of life. From teens with dyed blue hair to older folks with actual blue hair, the trail has it all. That's one of the unique things about a college town, where you can witness a guy with a two-foot grey beard tending to his crops in a co-op garden while a sorority girl in a $200 track suit runs by, jogging off last night's hangover or buying herself a few extra calories for the evening ahead. I must admit riding past the guy in the garden while the band played He's Gone did kind of trip me out.

Twenty-four hours later I'm no worse for wear, which means that I either didn't push myself very hard or I'm not as out of shape as previously thought. Even though the weather was a bit on the cool side, spring is definitely in the air and it won't be long before Portland again takes the Ax to the Road.

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