A loaf of toast. That's the only real difference between our cyclocross series and fall bowling leagues, especially for a Masters racer. We like to think we're so different from our parents. We have more advanced education. Exercise is part of our lifestyles, not something that happens when the car breaks down. We call it training, but really it's a good excuse to be with friends and have fun. When I think about it, cyclocross isn't any different that my Dad's Thursday night bowling league, aside from the loaf of toast he and his buddies would order at George Webb's restaurant at 1 a.m. Then again I could crush a loaf of toast after cyclocross racing.
In his 40's, my dad was a bowler by sport, Meatcutter by trade. He had the chain mail glove and diploma from the Toledo School of Meatcutting to prove it. Maybe his strong right forearm, built thick by cutting sides off beef, gave him the power and dexterity to lay the ball down on the alley with the speed and grace necessary to tick his average higher than most. Like me, he was no pro, just good enough to be respectable and maybe win something once in a while. Having a good time was the bigger priority.
He didn't call it a kit. Similar to local cycling, his team was sponsored by the metal fabricating company owned by a friend of a friend. He'd button up his stiff "Custom Products" team logo'd bowling shirt, grab his bag (with ball, shoes, towel and wrist brace inside) and jump into our Buick Regal on the way to Petroff's lanes every Thursday evening in fall. I have a backpack with pockets for water bottles on the sides (helmet, shoes and gloves inside) and a custom name sticker on my bike. His custom drilled & fitted Brunswick ball was engraved in 18 font Arial, "NICK."
Bowling may have been a good excuse to have some beers with his buddies, but, even a little tipsy, he was still proud of the score at the end of the night, whoopin' up on the team from Brookfield and the trophy at the end of the season. If he practiced more, he could have been even better. Just like cyclocross, there was a trophy for every imaginable category of bowler. Youngest player high score, best average, coed team, gutter ball king. I attest, single speeders are the cycling equivalent of the dude with the finger tipped drilled ball.
I'd nix him for smoking, but I've ridden with guys who've enjoyed a grit after a ride. If you could successfully ride and smoke, more would do it. Not to mention, doping aside, there's guys that dip Kodiak and Copenhagen and ride just fine.
So, am I any better off than Dad? That's really what this is about isn't it. Sure I am. It's just more subtle than we'd like to think. It's more about the degree of dedication to the sport. I'm sure there are bowlers that don't smoke or drink, practice 5 nights a week, and go to the gym. There's probably Yoga for bowlers. I guess that's the type of bowler I am. I like my beer and to have a great time with my friends, just not in the quantities that result in a full ashtray and a loaf of George Webb's toast at 1 a.m.