My heart is broken in two

My dad and I went to the last game in our six-pack of Cleveland Indians tickets last night, which is what I had bought him for Christmas last year. It was pretty pathetic. Pathetic is not even a good enough word. How about: deplorable, miserable, paltry, heartrending, wretched. I know I shouldn’t let a “little thing” like baseball get me so depressed. But I can’t help it. I think of 2007 when I attended the ALDS against NY (in which the Indians won) and the ALCS against Boston and I just want to erupt into tears. I remember standing by my seats, the crowd roaring with each play–screaming, shouting, stomping their feet–and all the hope we had in those moments. We almost made it to the World Series. We surely could have beat the Rockies.

And then the next year, when our hopes were high for another good season–an even better season where we didn’t make it to the ALDS through a wild card–they changed the name of our stadium from Jacobs to Progressive, following in the new age tradition of naming every public arena after some business, and all the energy of the team coincidentally seemed to deflate. This year was even worse. You didn’t think it could get any worse, unless you were around to remember the 1980s at Municipal Stadium, but it did.

Last night’s attendance was maybe 2,500 people. The True Fans, I told my dad. We’re it. Even John Adams, our loyal fan and drummer, was in the bleachers, pounding out encouragement in a last pitch attempt to bring the team’s spirits up. But even his drum beats sounded dull and without enthusiasm.

I knew we’d hit a real low when my dad and I were told as they scanned our tickets at the gates that they’d closed the upper deck (where our seats were), we would be reseated in the lower deck, and that our upper deck tickets entitled us to $5 off the concession stands. Which, of course, my dad and I used to buy beer. For the first time ever, I paid $5.50 for both our beers! It was as good as free!

Anyway, we did get some GREAT seats along the third base line–section 164, AA, seats 6 and 7. Not that it really mattered. We probably could have sit in any unoccupied seat closer. My dad said they probably closed the upper deck to make the stadium look full on TV. Of course, we both knew it probably had more to do with not needing to open the upstairs concession stands.

Before we even got to our seats, Chicago had already scored a run. That’s when you know your team is really doing bad–you haven’t even reached your seat in the top of the first inning and your team is already losing. There’s still hope at this point. But I wasn’t feeling it, looking at the scant gathering of fans and the line up of names I mostly didn’t recognize.

During the fourth or fifth inning, I went to use the restroom and acquire the beers my dad sent me to get. I ended up missing I think two innings because I was trying to find a beer stand that wasn’t serving light beer. On the way, I encountered a free give away and managed to get my dad the Grady Sizemore sliding bobblehead thingy he’d seen someone else with and mentioned he wanted. I then also stopped at a souvenir stand where they were selling hats for 15% off. I bought an old school 1980s cap with the “C” on it that I remember as a kid. I joked with the old flirtatious men running the stand. It was an adventure all its own. I think it’s sign of my disinterest when I am in no hurry to return to my seat. I usually never want to miss a moment of the game.

Fortunately, I got to see Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run–our only run for the night. My dad pointed out how Choo has really come a long way since the beginning of the season. But then he said, depressingly, “So he’ll probably leave now that he’s good.”

I watched a bunch of players bat who I didn’t recognize. Grady Sizemore, our only other good player, is out having had surgery my dad informed me. I guess it looks less bad to not be shut out. Of course, Chicago came back with three more runs, making the game 6-1. No hope of redemption by the 8th inning. Not these Indians. Not tonight.

And so my six pack season ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. (Again, unlike 2007 when they took us by surprise and made it into the postseason.) I don’t know what I’m going to get my dad for Christmas this year… I’m not sure I have the heart to sit through another season like this. I don’t think they won a single game we went to this season.

What else can you do when your team is pathetically losing at the end of a season that no longer matters? You take pictures of yourself with your camera phone, smiling as though you’re having a great time. After three beers, it doesn’t hurt so much.

Good sportsmanship in MLB!

Jim Thome, if only you had done something as simple as buy a $12K ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer thanking your fans, as CC Sabathia did, we might not greet you with hisses each time you come to town. Of course, you said you loved Cleveland and Sabathia never made such overtures of affection. However, at least Sabathia realizes that the bread and butter of his early career successes in MLB is due to his fans. We may not have a lot of money in Cleveland to retain the best of the best players, but we sure have heart and fierce devotion. And those are things no large MLB check can give you.

Thank you, CC Sabathia, for being such a good sport, even though we knew you wanted to leave Cleveland. But I guess I can’t blame you when you’re pitching your heart out and your offensive lineup isn’t hitting worth the money we pay them. (What happened to you, Pronk?!?! We had so much promise for you, but your hitting over the last two years has been pathetic!)

May the sports gods bless the Cleveland Indians. This has been a depressing, heart-wrenching, painful year. We lost our beloved Jacobs Field name to Progressive Insurance… our team is in last place… we lost Casey Blake (my eye candy!)… oh, the humanity!

Maybe a bunch of businesses will move into Cleveland (because the cost of living here is so much cheaper), build beautiful headquarters in downtown, bring more jobs to the market, and people will migrate here from other states to bolster our dying economy. Then we’ll have enough money, market share, and TV viewership to buy players instead of constantly farming them from the minor leagues.

Yeah. And maybe I’ll write a best selling novel too. Huh. I’m not holding my breath.

More bitching about new name of Indians’ ballpark

Marketing people suck. I’d like to get my hands on the publicity genius who thought that this was a great new symbol for Progressive Park–or “Regressive Park” as Diane has been calling it. C’mon… surely you could have made a cooler symbol…? This looks so cheesy and half-assed. I’m a technical writer; I know the importance of making graphics presentable, not an eyesore. Bleh. They spent whatever million dollars to buy the name for the stadium, the least they could have done is spent a little extra cash on signage that doesn’t look like a marketing major’s midnight miracle. At least the old logo for the Jake was in the red, white, and dark blue color of the Indians.

What’s with the silver colored bats? In the major leagues, you use wooden bats. These look aluminum. I suppose it’s supposed to inspire a sense of flashy, futuristic newness to us. Look how small the Indians logo is at the bottom. It says to me, “Hey, this is PROGRESSIVE PARK. We’re a big auto insurance company in Cleveland [which recently laid off several people]. Oh, yeah, and that major league team–the Cleveland Indians, I think they are called–also play here.”

Why don’t the buy the naming rights for the team? We can call them the Progressive Indians. Or the Cleveland Progressives. Or how about the Progressive Insurance Agents?

How many insurance ads are we going to be forced to hear during the game? What are they going to do with the Farmers Insurance foul ball post? So many unanswered questions…

I found this picture on the Indians’ website… Some corporate Progressive dork thought it would be cute to have an Indians’ shirt made with PROGRESSIVE across the back (oh, hell, maybe they should put an ad right on all the uniforms). The thing that ticks me off about this photo is that they used my dear Casey Blake’s number! Oh, no, Mr. Progressive Man, you don’t go soiling my Casey Blake’s number with your Progressive advertisement, even for a “cute” photo op. That’s just wrong. You’ve incurred the wrath of Blake’s Babes. Some one’s going to pay.

Progressive Big Wig and Indians’ President Paul Dolan
disgrace my Casey Blake’s number.

Corporate America rears its ugly advertising head on another defenseless public arena

Today I had to drag my tired ass grudgingly out of bed for work only to hear the news on my radio alarm clock announce that Progressive insurance has bought the naming rights to Jacobs Field, the ballpark of the Cleveland Indians. We Clevelanders knew for months that the contract for the naming rights was up and that it would not be renewed, but we had hoped that the company acquiring the rights would be kind and keep the Jacobs Field name out of a sense of tradition. We’ve recently had to readjust our lingo when the home of our basketball team, the Cavs, changed from Gund Arena to QuickenLoans Arena. In this day and age, it’s disgusting that every public venue has to come with an advertisement for some local company.

Diane said it best when she e-mailed the following to Progressive (and then proceeded to e-mail the same comment to me):

I just wanted to say that, as a life-long Clevelander and Cleveland Indians fan that I am DISGUSTED by the fact that Progressive has purchased the naming rights of Jacobs Field and is changing the name to “Progressive Field.” The name Jacobs Field honored a family that did a lot not just for baseball in Cleveland but also for the town in general, and the name of the ballpark was a fitting, sentimental tribute to this fact. Baseball has always been the metaphor for American life. Given the recent steroid scandals, I guess that it’s only fitting to corrupt the spirit of the sport even more by turning our ballpark that has evoked so many emotions – good and bad – from a cherished memorial to a Cleveland family into nothing more than a giant advertisement for your company. If Progressive had done something such as kept the name to “Jacobs Field at Progressive Park,” that would have been more in keeping with the spirit of baseball and Cleveland in general. But I guess that’s just not the corporate way.

I can’t say it any better than that. It’s the new capitalist American method of advertisement. And I’m getting tired of it. I’m pretty sure that in the future everything’s going to come with an advertisement attached. Here’s some samples of what’s to come:

This presidential election brought to you by DIEBOLD.

Welcome to the 2012 Depends Iowa caucus.

Christmas Mass brought to you by Yankee Candle. When you’re buying candles for your Advent wreath, be sure you use YANKEE CANDLES for a fresh scent to your religious experience.

This Passion Play brought to you by Home Depot. When the Romans crucify thieves or the Messiah, they always buy their lumber at Home Depot.

Every flush of this public toilet brought to you by Tidy Bowl.

The University of Goodyear at Akron.

The New Church of Rockwell Automation

Perhaps I should name my house The Emhoff Floorcovering Abode since my dad spends so much time over there working on it. That way he can ring in some more business, not just help his daughter out.

Pulllease. This smacks of the commercialism accoladed (and warned about) in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

I think I will be adding Progressive insurance to my boycott list…

Like a horror film…

An unsettling fog has descended upon the world, as viewed from outside the window of my office. Michael had warned me that such was occuring in Wadsworth at just this moment, but I figured it was an Akron/Cuyahoga Valley thing and it would not affect me up here in Mayfield Heights.

Yet, here it is, engulfing the gloomy day like something from a horror film…

It’s days like these that I really miss Colorado. Not that it never gets foggy in Colorado… But it’s this whole lack of sun thing… and forcing myself to go to the gym in the morning instead of having the luxury of riding my beautiful little bike… I’m all meloncholy and missing the cycling season, for one of my boredom activities today has been to look up the TOSRV and MS 150 sites to see if any of them are doing online registration yet… These are for rides in May (TOSRV) and June (MS 150).

Desire is a nasty thing!

Don’t rip on Cleveland or Clevelanders!

Mars Girl with the Mars Dad during the first ALDS game
in Cleveland, when the hope and promise of a World Series was ripe.

It’s been a rough week.

It all started with the Indians’ nose-dive into oblivion somewhere in the seventh inning of the last ALCS game. I, unlike my father, was still holding out hope that the Indians would manage to beat Boston in the seventh game. My father gave up on our team when they did not defeat Boston on the last night of our home stand. I still believed they could do it. I never give up hope. (I’m pretty stupid.)

At the start of the game, we looked like a team of minor league players. I had to check my channel guide to make sure I wasnt watching a re-run of Major League. Who were these guys? What was wrong with Westbrook? Did anyone know how to hit anymore? What happened to our pitchers? Sabathia? Carmona? Hello, guys, we’re in the playoffs. No joking around now!

It was miserable. Yet, somewhere in the middle of the game, there was a glimmer of hope when Cleveland managed to bring in two runs. You actually thought for a moment — and you could see the same hope in the eyes of the watching players in the Cleveland dugout — that we could pull ourselves out of the deficit.

I think the beginning of the end happened in the top of the seventh inning when the third base coach held Kenny Lofton, preventing him from scoring the tying run. Casey Blake (usually my hero for his game-winning home runs at the bottom of extra innings in the regular season) batted a weak hit that earned Boston a double-play and the inning was over.

I fell asleep for a little bit (hey, these games were starting at 8:21pm and I’m a working girl!) and when I woke up the score was 7-2. I turned off the TV and went to bed. For once, this Tribe fan could not stick it out to the oh-so-bitter end.

I was in and out of sleep all night. When I woke up next morning, I could barely drag myself out of bed. I must say that I was depressed. No, I mean it — I was Depressed with the capital “D” and all.

I swore off baseball. This year alone, I’ve sworn off a lot of unhealthy habits I’ve taken up over the years (excessive drinking, smoking, negative attitudes) in order to thwart my tendence towards depression. It seems my brain decided that it had to find something to be depressed about. And so there I was, Monday morning, just feeling miserable. I drove to work in a dreary haze. When I got into work, the first thing I did was bark at my co-worker. You see, they had been carpeting the office all weekend, but the contractors had not returned our furniture to the desks. A few f-bombs words slipped out of my mouth as I demanded to know where my chair was.

My co-worker, ever cheerful and undaunted by my moodiness, stated, “I know this is a bad day for you. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Had someone died? It sure felt like someone had… The rest of the day, everyone around me seemed kind of deflated. I felt like some people were tip-toeing around me because they’d seen me there all summer in my Tribe regalia, as I had gone to multiple week night games this year. I thought more people would bring up the game and talk about it, but I was really thankful when they didn’t. The pain was still too fresh. I didn’t want to talk about it. Each word stabbed my gentle heart.

At the end of the day, a project manager for about 2/3rds of the projects I’m working on came by. He was as he always is — jovial. He asked me a work question and I answered him quietly and without additional comment.

“What? Are you depressed about the game?” he asked. When I admitted that I was, he replied, “C’mon! We have a great team. If you’d have asked me in July if we’d make it to the playoffs, I’d have said no way. I’m just happy that they got there this year. And, look, they beat New York. That’s all that matters.”

I let his words sink in. He was right. The taste of victory against the Yankees was ever-so delightfully sweet. When it happened, I remember thinking that even if we didn’t make it all the way to the World Series (even though I desperately hoped we would), the season was worth seeing the Yanks get smacked around by us, especially after our pathetic record against them in the regular season.

I decided to suck it up in true Clevelander fashion and chant our Clevelander matra, “Maybe next year.”

Just one year, though, I’d like a professional Cleveland sports team — especially a sports team I care about (ie, BASEBALL) — win a championship. I am tired of being the butt of all regional jokes in the US. When I lived in Colorado and told people where I was from, not a second delay ever went by before I heard one or all of the following phrases:

– Mistake by/on the Lake!
– Cleveland, where the river burned!
– Oh, Cleveland. *make rude face*
– Cleveland Indians? Didn’t they make a movie with them?

– Drew Carey, right?
– Cleveland Rocks, Dude! *sarcastically said* (Okay, that’s the least insulting of all the snide Cleveland remarks.)

Might I remind everyone that the “burning river” and “mistake by the lake” occurred in 1969 — long before I was even born. I’m sure we no longer have enough industry in Cleveland (thanks to all the plant shut downs and our “booming” economy) to pollute the river enough to burn now. But what ticks me off the most about this comment is that I could stand on a ridge near my house that overlooked downtown Denver and I could see a cloud of smog surrounding the city, trapped by the mountains. You accuse my hometown of being polluted; your city ain’t looking all that pristine itself! He who lives in glass houses… well, you know the rest.

Now, it is true that I spent most of my college years swearing up and down that I was going to get the hell out of Ohio when I graduated. I used to want to live in Arizona (because it looks like Mars). But when Mike took me out to Denver for the first time to meet his dad and step-mom, I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. And ever since then, it’s been an unrequited and impossible love affair.

I have plenty of complaints about Cleveland. Although, when you boil them all down, it pretty much comes down to two things: the prevailing red-winds of the political climate and the climate itself. I can deal with red states and red attitudes (Colorado was a red state in the last election). I can’t stand the lack of sun — that cloud that smothers the Cleveland sky from November until May. It’s oppressive and pulls me into the undertow of lethargic depression (they call that seasonal affective disorder, but I think everyone in Cleveland has it).

The general lack of healthiness with Clevelanders is a little frustrating. The health food section in Colorado was half a store (it also wasn’t hard to find entire health food stores) whereas in Cleveland, it’s one shelf, if that, unless you’re on the east side of town. Exercise is not as fervent a past-time to Clevelanders. For example, a Coloradoan will brave snow and cold to take a hike up some trail in the middle of January; Ohioans, and particularly Clevelanders, just go outside to get to the car where they drive to another warm building and stay there until they are forced to brave the weather again and leave.

I kind of liked the intrepid nature of Coloradoans. But then, they have sun even when it’s cold. I never saw clouds settle on the sky for longer than a week, if that. It’s funny the things you’ll do in the cold if the sun is shining. Even if the temperature is a chill 20 degrees, you’ll still go out if it looks warm out.

Still, I lived in my Promised Land. And I came home.

Cleveland is home to me, no matter what I think of it. I’m allowed to criticize, though. I was born here. When people from elsewhere comment about my home, I have found myself reacting strangely defensive. I never knew I cared so much.

“Hey,” I would say, somewhat angrily, “Cleveland is not a bad place!”

People always scoffed about it as though it were a third world country, some foreign land where the people were less intelligent and savage. Need I remind my fellow Americans that Cleveland has a nationally renown research hospital — The Cleveland Clinc — to which people from other states send their most hopeless cases. We also have several upstanding universities — Case Western Reserve, John Carroll, Ohio State, just to name a few. We have liberal arts colleges everywhere (Hiram, Oberlin, Baldwin-Wallace, Miami U). A friend from out-of-state who attended Dennison in Ohio once remarked, “Ohio sure has a lot little liberal arts colleges.”
We have a great performing arts facility, as my friend, Colleen, who moved to Colorado herself, has commented to me more than once in the last few days. We get a lot of off-Broadway shows. While living in Denver, I remember thinking that the performing arts selection left a little to be desired. It was all right, but the program was still quite infant.

Of course, someone from New York City would tell me that Cleveland’s performing arts programs were pathetic. I guess it’s all perspective.

Clevelanders are in the habit of complaining. As I’ve stated in other posts, all summer you hear, “It’s too hot!”; all winter, “It’s too cold!” It’s a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction.

We’re good at self-recrimination too. The whole, “Oh… Cleveland sports teams never get anywhere” remark that overtakes us as another one of our teams teases us almost to climax, and then stops short of completion.

But we have passion and heart, as my friend, Diane, pointed out to me in an e-mail on Monday. We are devoted to our sports teams and we really care. When our team is up, Cleveland is up in ways I can’t even describe to an outsider. The city awakens when one of our teams is in a winning streak. It’s a beautiful thing.

While waiting at a bus stop for the ALDS game we went to, people in passing cars honked their horns for us. We were all dressed in Indians regalia; I had my foam finger, and Jeff, Diane’s husband, had his face painted.

As you walk around the city, everyone is ever-eager to talk about the Indians. People who wouldn’t normally even be in the same social circle will exchange conversation about the game. The city seems to breathe with excitement. For that one moment in time, our political affiliations, our agendas, and our social constraints don’t bar us from seeing one another. For that moment in time, all Clevelanders recognize the one thing we all share: the love of and pride for our sports teams.

It may sound hokey and superficial to the outside world. It may sound like the typical American experience that causes half the world to become disgusted with us (though, I beg to differ as the World Cup causes a lot of ruckus with its fans). But this is how it is. I’m not sure big money teams such as Boston or the Yankees really know the kind of love we have for our teams. It’s easy to be a Yankees fan and, this year, a Boston fan. It’s always easy to back a winner. Especially a winner with a lot of money.

Anyway, I’m just writing to stick up for my town and its downtrodden folk. We walk around feeling a little self-conscious about where we are from. I’ve felt it when in Denver I would reluctantly tell people where I was from. My pathetic, apologetic response always carried the subtext “Forgive me, I’m from Cleveland.”

It shouldn’t be that way. Cleveland is a good place to live. I have good, loyal, and trustworthy friends here (part of the reason I chose to come back). June through October here is absolutely beautiful. Housing prices are fair. I can still find some nasty and challenging hills to climb (though none of them quite as long as those I enjoyed in Colorado).

It’s not so bad. We’ll be okay. The Indians will come back again next year. For better or for worse, I have sworn my loyalty to Cleveland. Like an unfaithful spouse, I left looking for better only to realize what I had was good. Cleveland took me back with open arms, apology accepted. Cleveland forgives (even most of my friends have stopped joking with me about being a traitor).

Clevelanders have heart. I’m proud to be a Clevelander, born of Clevelanders. So make fun of us all you like, but remember that you can always call a Clevelander at 2am when you need someone to drive your drunken butt home from a bar because we’re as loyal to our friends as we are to our sports teams.

I found this great blog that says it all — God Hates Cleveland Sports — about the toils and frustrations of being a Cleveland sports fan. (I did say that if the Indians won the World Series, it would be unequivocal proof to me that there is a god. But maybe them NOT even making it to the World Series is more convincing proof.)

The weather’s smoldering; I’m sick; I rode anyway

The last two days have been HOT HOT HOT! in Northeast Ohio. When it gets to 90+ degrees with humidity, it sure is NOT pleasant. When I turn my air conditioning on (I hate having to close my house up), you know it’s hot.

Still… my philosophy has always been that so long as it isnt snowing, I won’t complain. Clevelanders have a problem with never being happy. All winter long, they bitch, “It’s too cold” and “Where’s the sun?” and “I hate driving in this crap.” On this point, I’m singing with the choir. I hate snow. Snow is only good for skiing in, and here in NE Ohio, there is no good skiing to be had, so it’s completely useless to me here. In Denver — yes, my Nirvana — it rarely snowed but it was always snowing in the mountains. That’s the way I like it — snow up there where I can choose to go to it, rather than live in it.

So I agree with the Clevelanders all winter. I freely bitch as I am an outdoorsy sort of gal and — let’s admit it, folks — Cleveland is no place to be if you like the outdoors in the winter. I can’t be like my mom and look out my window and say, “I like my seasons.” If I had my druthers, I’d rather it be 75 degrees all year. I’d love San Diego if it didn’t cost so much to live there. But I digress.

I get frustrated all summer as Clevelanders continue to complain, “It’s too hot!”

You can’t make a Clevelander happy. You will never hear me say that it’s too hot. There’s no such thing, in my books, as “too hot.” As long as it isn’t snowing and the sun is out, it’s not too hot. I can say this despite the fact that I’ve lived through a lot of hot. I’ve experienced 100 degrees in dry heat with no shade (Colorado) and I’ve experienced 80-90 degrees plus humidity with plenty of shade, and I’ve learned it all comes down to this: hot is hot. Stop whining and go outside. To me, cold is immobilizing. Heat, I can handle. In three months, the clouds will cover up the Cleveland skies and the snow will return. So I’ll take the heat and the sun in whatever form it appears, thank you. I’ve made a vow to only complain about one season and I’ve picked winter. I will find something to be thankful in the remaining seasons.

Anyway, so it’s been hot here. And I’m not complaining. In fact, I rode my bike despite the heat. In the evenings after work, it’s cooler, but you still sweat before you start pedaling. To top it off, I have a cold that has given me a horrible, rattling cough. But the sun called me to my bike. I’m trying to ride 100 miles a week. Illness, be damned. I’m riding.

Nope, not even a simple cold will keep me from riding. Last Friday, despite a sore throat, I rode 39 miles. I did my normal 35 mile route, but added 4 miles by riding a circle around my neighborhood to ensure that I hit 100 miles for the week (as I had done 62 on the 4th, remember). At points during that ride, I was just in a mindless grind.

Monday was a little tougher. The sore throat was gone, but was replaced by a lot of coughing, especially as I exerted myself. I didn’t feel very energetic about it, but I rode a 25 mile loop suggested to me by Tom Wilson from the ABC. In this ride, I discovered some farm country just practically in my backyard.

The city of Stow is pretty much like any other suburb, but you forget sometimes that it’s newly built up. It’s pushed up against Portage County which is less densely populated. The space between Stow Road and Route 43 is crossed with roads stretch into a pocket of farm land and newer houses for people who desire bigger plots of land. My favorite part is along the rolling Seasons Road, which hits 43 in Streetsburo right before the main 303 intersection. Before you reach the end of Seasons at 43, you find yourself in a completely different world. The first time I drove down this road, using an alternate route to get to work when there was a detour on Stow Road, I was awed by scenery that, for some reason or another, reminded me of Germany. With its hills, I knew this road would be fun to ride my bike on. It certainly was. But it is extremely bizarre when you come to the end of the road and, suddenly, you’re in the middle of a sprawling city (Streetsburo was once a nothing place in Portage County — now it’s one of the up and coming places for young people to move and buy their first house).

There are a lot of other secret roads in the same general area that are great for riding — all rolling and not highly traveled by cars. Alas, I don’t need to go down into the Cuyahoga Valley and back out to get a good workout. These roads are both pretty to ride along and sufficiently challenging (for sickos like me who enjoy riding up hills).

So I took my bike out on them again on Tuesday. This time, I made my own 25 mile circuit that went back along Seasons and used more back roads into Kent. I like to ride on Ravenna Road in Franklin Township by the Akron Watershed. I usually turn off at one of the roads that eventually hit Lake in Kent.

On Ravenna Road, someone on a non-road bike started tailing me and actually started to gain. I could see him in my rear view mirror. It irked me because I absolutely cannot stand it when a non-road bike passes me. It’s just not right. He was sprinting a lot, too, so I could tell he wanted to attempt to pass me.

Oh, no, I was not about to let that happen. Keep dreaming, determined one. I kicked up the gear and pushed harder to prevent this ego-crushing event from occurring. When I turned on my side road towards Kent, I was sure I’d loose him, but, to my disappointment, he turned as well. I thought he’d turn onto the Portage County bike path (for that is where bikes of his ilk belong). But no, he continued to follow me as I turned up Lake.

Now, Lake Road is a long upward incline. While I like hills, they are not my forte. I’m still working on cadence and efficient gearing to give myself the umph to kick butt on hills (for I’m in constant admiration of my friend Michael’s crushing ability to climb a hill as though it wasn’t even there). My non-road biker pal continued to tail me and again began to gain significantly. At the toughest point in the hill, in fact, I was sure he was going to reach me. In my head, I pictured him passing and laughing at me. He seemed pretty determined to crunch it up that hill and, I was determined, pass me. After all, it is a matter of pride on his part to pass a road cyclist.

But I was determined. Despite all my handicaps — a cold with a bad cough, lack of good hill climbing skills, and drowsiness from cold medicine — I continued to push. Oh, he was NOT going to pass me.

Right at the top of the hill, as I was slowing down for a traffic light, he got the closest to me. I could almost see the make of bike he was riding. I could see him just two cars behind. Fortunately, the light turned green and I pushed forward through Kent and turned left onto Route 43. I checked my rear view mirror. At last, he was no longer following me! I’d lost him. Thank goodness. I geared down and relaxed the rest of the way home.

The lesson here: I don’t like people tailing me on trail bikes or hybrids. I’m a road cycling snob with an obtusely swollen ego. I need to be stopped before my head inflates anymore.

Well, at least I got a good workout. Hopefully exercise aids a cold and doesn’t hinder it.