Memoirs of a Girl in Training
Late this summer on the Manhattan Greenway, I caught up with the tenacious and ever-focused Pied Piper as she prepared for the New York Century bike ride on 9/11/05.
She allowed me to pedal alongside her as she leisurely made her way on a 50-mile training ride. Truth be told, the staff at The Pedalist had been especially interested in talking to Pied Piper for some time. We've been watching her dedication and drive during her extensive training for the century-long (100 mile) bicycle ride. After a considerable amount of time, I was lucky enough to hear her reveal her secrets of staying motivated. After all, what kind of individual willingly bikes 100 miles in one day?
I hopped on a borrowed road bike and strapped on a helmet so that I could join Pied Piper as she trained. The following is the interview that took place on an exquisite August afternoon as we made our way down the west side of Manhattan:
Penny: Wow Pied Piper, it's very exciting to finally catch up with you.
Pied Piper: Thanks Penny, it's my pleasure to have you along with me today. The company is good for a change.
Penny: I understand this is the third century bike ride that you're training for... is that right?
Pied Piper: It sure is.
Penny: I've heard it said that riding centuries is difficult. As a matter of fact, I might go into cardiac arrest just joining you on this training ride.
Pied Piper: Well I wouldn't worry if you do Penny, someone will come and scrape you up off the path before long. They don't really like folks blocking the lane too much.
Penny: That's encouraging... Well, why is it that you bike centuries?
Pied Piper: A few reasons. First, I enjoy the challenge. Second, it allows me to work off the stress of work. Third, it gives me something to do.
Penny: Ok... but why not do hang gliding if you want a challenge? Or fire-walking? Or base-jumping?
Pied Piper: Penny, I don't have a death wish.
Penny: Gotcha. However, bike riding can be very dangerous. We have film footage of your colossal wipe-out in Riverdale 3 years ago. That was a nasty spill.
Pied Piper: Yeah, it certainly was. Those bruises lasted more than a week. I won't even tell you how hard it was to get the gravel out of my shorts. Plus I still have a scar on my elbow here. Actually, it bruised my ego more than anything. I got right back up on my bike and finished.
Penny: So what drives you to train so hard for this ride? Where do you get your motivation?
Pied Piper: Aside from Lance Armstrong, I get my motivation from the horror of my job.
Penny: Horror? Do you work on cadavers?
Pied Piper: No, what I do is scarier than working on cadavers. I'm a manager for a widget company. I'm a widget-analyst.
Penny: I can't imagine that being horrific.
Pied Piper: You would if you worked under the management that I do.
Penny: How does this motivate you to train?
Pied Piper: I imagine that I'm trying to get away from my managers Snap, Crackle and Pop. I shudder to even think about it. Believe me, if you worked for these people you'd pedal faster and harder too.
Penny: I see... this apparently seems to work for you.
Pied Piper: It does. Unfortunately, they give me nightmares... but the pay off is worth it once I cross that finish line.
Penny: So what are your managers like? Are they aware that they're your motivation to work so hard?
Pied Piper: Well, I'll try to put it in a nutshell for you. It sounds like fiction: I was there over 4 years and they offered my promotion to a full-time temp employee.
Pied Piper: He turned it down.
Pied Piper: So then Snap, Crackle and Pop gave the job to a nitwit (a Back Street Boy wannabe) who was new with the company.
Penny: Oh my.
Pied Piper: Oh my is right. He spends his work day surfing internet sites on 80's hair bands.
Pied Piper: As if that wasn't enough, they promoted my subordinate of 3 years into my job and moved me into the worst area of the department to manage Larry, Mo and Curly. However Curly got smart and left the company for a better job.
Penny: Now I'm understanding this better. No wonder you do so well with the long bike rides... you don't even need to visualize that much; You're actually cycling to separate yourself from the horror.
Pied Piper: See? Now you get it about the horror. You know, I'm not a great cyclist. This is purely recreational for me... I just use the negative for something positive. I'm positive these people make me want to run for my life! Or in this case, cycle.
Penny: Pied Piper, this is great... thanks for sharing your secrets with me.
Pied Piper: Secrets nothing -- people don't usually believe me when I tell the story. It's all true... and in my mind as I pedal, I see them growing smaller and smaller behind me. One of these days they'll be gone for good.
Penny: Well it's something to work toward anyway. You've really given great insight into tricks to stay focused and accomplish the task at hand. Thanks so much for talking with me today... Good luck to you. Just remember, the next time you take a tumble, our cameras will be rolling.
Pied Piper: Thanks for listening to my story Penny.
Penny: Good luck on 9/11. I'm going to stop now and find an oxygen tank for myself.