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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MY UNOFFICIAL START OF SPRING -- March 2, 2016

In high school, I was part of the track team.  To this day, I'm not quite sure why I went out for track in ninth grade.  I sure as hell didn't like to run and, to the best of my knowledge, no one in my family ever ran track.  But there I was...an out of shape, 14 year old, mullet clad freshman at the first day of track practice.  I can only imagine the amount of eye rolling the coach, Mr. Bob Shank, must of been doing.  I wasn't motivated to be there in any way, shape, or form.  At one point, I must have told coach Shank that I wanted to try to throw the javelin...he acquiesced, no doubt to get me out of sight and out of the way.  

A 15 year old me competing in the District V Track & Field Championship -- May 1989
I would like to say that I picked up the javelin, instantly became a star, and gained the admiration of coach Shank...but life doesn't work that way.  I sucked...and there's no other way to put it.  I'm pretty sure that it came as a complete shock to coach Shank that I came back out for the track team in tenth grade.  With a year of maturity and a little weight lifting, I had some moderate success throwing the javelin...and I actually contributed to the overall points awarded to the team.  Slowly but surely, I began to fall in love with a sport that, just a year before, was nothing more than a way to kill some time after school.  By my junior year of high school, my best friend, Aaron Housel, and I were ranked as the number one and two javelin throwers in the district, coach Shank became one of my biggest fans ( and I one of his), and I was viewed by younger members of the team as a leader.  

A 17 year old me hanging out with Coach Shank a the District V Track & Field Championship -- May 1991
My love of track & field followed me to adulthood.  In 1995, when I was hired at Northeastern Middle School, there was a vacancy on the coaching staff of the high school track team.  I coached for ten years and then officiated track & field for five years.  In Pennsylvania, according the the PIAA, the spring sport season officially begins on the first Monday of March, so...in my  mind, March 1 has always marked my unofficial start of Spring.  I no longer coach or officiate...but every year, on March 1, a switch flips in my brain.  No more snow (although the weather guys at ABC27 are predicting up to 3 inches on Thursday night) and no more cold weather (although it is currently 30 degrees outside).  I actually try to WILL it to be Spring.  

Thanks to Jay, Derrick, and everyone else at Gung Ho Bikes for making my bike ride ride like it was new -- March 1, 2016
My love for cycling has since surpassed my love for track & field...but sometimes riding during the winter in Pennsylvania can be downright impossible (unless you are a friend of mine named Clark).  Just after the Blizzard of 2016 pounded the east coast, I took my road bike to the guys at Gung Ho Bikes for a winter overhaul.  Four years of hard riding has taken a toll on my 2012 Specialized Roubaix and I figured that, since I wouldn't be doing any road riding for a while, this would be as good of a time as any to get the work done.  I took it out for a ride yesterday, March 1, for the first time since I got it back.  With temperatures in the 60s, Spring did not disappoint...and do you know what else didn't disappoint?  My bike.  I couldn't believe it.  Riding it was like riding a brand new bike.  Derrick, Jay, and the rest of the crew at Gung Ho replaced my drive train, installed new front and rear derailleurs, new brakes, and new bar tape.  My ride wasn't long...just an eleven mile jaunt around the neighborhood... but it was just what I needed (along with some Turkey Hill Black Raspberry ice cream) to celebrate MY first day of Spring.  

Life is a journey, not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- March 2, 2016