POSTED ON JUNE 25, 2008:
Off to the Races
Prepare for the heat or you're going to get burned
Purpose Driven. The races and estimated crowd of more than 250 helped raise over $4,500 for the charity. I hope 2009s race will draw an even bigger crowd. Families, you might consider this in roughly 350 days.
Not all spontaneous days work out. Sometimes they lead to a day or a series of days watching obscure crap on VH-1 about the 1980s. I don't care what Tiffany was doing in the spring of 1988 much less in the spring of 2008. But I have no other plans. I'm a sheet in the wind. "Do with me what you like, Saturday afternoon television!"
So, when a spontaneous day turns into one of those days you talk about for a week or a month, you praise spontaneity. You dash cold water in the face of planning. You say, "Planning, when have you had a day where everything fell into place without cracking your planner or checking your calendar. Planning, you know not of what I speak!"
You might guess I had a Saturday free of television or itineraries. You'd be right. I didn't pencil anything in and I sure as hell wasn't going to use the pen.
I had heard about a Big Wheel race for adults (tulsabigwheel.com), but two things were preventing me from committing.
First of all, I had a sunburn I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy Greg. My knees were so badly burned that I was walking like Frankenstein. I even sounded like him. Secondly, I had misread some information about the event. I thought it was going to cost me $20 to attend. I wasn't in the mood to pay for an even more brutal burn.
Luckily, I later checked my facts and realized the $20 was only for individuals wishing to compete in the race, not spectators. Pedaling a Big Wheel would have been painful, so free attendance is all I desired.
Saturday morning came and all I could think was I want to lie in bed with wet wash cloths on my knees. All day.
My girlfriend was hoping for something a little more active and exciting. "Let's get outside, babe, it's a beautiful day," she said. I thought about trading legs with her for the day. Oh, I have never wished more that it were possible. Not even on the days when dozens called me "chicken legs" and accompanied the names with dances. How I miss you, high school!
She had a couple errands that needed running, so I agreed to tag along. I had applied my hemorrhoidal ointment, which a trustworthy doctor told me was good for sunburns, to my knees. Our errands took us by Centennial Park, 6th and Peoria, so we decided to drop in, as we had both heard of the Equality Festival planned for the day.
People were out and about in a scenic park on a beautiful day with live music and food and dogs, a lot of dogs. I like dogs. This is when I first started thinking: hey, this day isn't so bad. The knees aren't what I'd wish they were, but I do love dogs. I think this day could work out.
Wheels Kept Turning
With my newly improved mood (puppies), I re-opened the Big Wheel idea during lunch with the aid of the World Wide Web.
"It's free. The race is free. Let's go over there! We can probably make it for the second race."
Prior to the outdoor race I thought it wise to find some sunscreen, so that my beet red arms, legs, nose, neck, ears and face didn't feel more on fire than they already did. I searched for SPF 3000, but I settled for 50. They aren't making sunscreen in SPF 3000 yet.
If only I could have rewound my life to Wednesday and applied SPF 15 prior to the Drillers' day game. What the hell was I thinking? I'm fair-skinned. Farley is an Irish name. The Irish weren't meant for three-plus hours of scorching sun without protection. We weren't meant for 15 minutes of it.
So, I liberally applied my sunscreen. A quarter of the bottle for my left knee, a quarter for my right, a quarter for the rest of my body, and the final quarter for later. I was ready. The bottle I was using was a relic from the mid-90s. It was the kind that squirts varying amounts of lotion at unwanted times. Every time I opened the top I shot lotion on the car seat, steering wheel, and finally in my right eye.
A quick trivia question: Which of the following items stings worse when applied to the human eye: 1) Tabasco sauce, 2) a dozen diced habañero peppers, or 3) SPF 50 sunscreen?
If you answered Tabasco or peppers you have obviously never encountered Target's version of Coppertone. I've never cried like that. Never. You'd think I wouldn't want to revisit the pain, but sadly I later rubbed my hand in my eye. Yes, the very same hand I had used to reapply.
After I finally calmed my tears, I enjoyed the races. As the competitors barreled toward the finish line at Veteran's Park I awaited carnage.
Mixing steep hills and sharp turns with Big Wheels and their under-experienced operators was sure to produce thunderous results. Throw in a drunken or slow-witted onlooker and it may just get ugly. Yes, a picture would be nice, but if it means you're going to get hit maybe you need to rethink the shot. I learned that lesson the hard way at a small airport in Belize. It ended with a dive roll and a picture of the ground. A plane is more intimidating than a Big Wheel.
The day was a major success for me as I accomplished my two objectives to 1) have a good time while temporarily forgetting my sunburn, and 2) avoid additional burns. The sunscreen did its job. I also frequented the shade whenever possible.
The day was an even bigger success for Cancer Sucks, the charity the event benefited. The races and estimated crowd of more than 250 helped raise over $4,500 for the charity. I hope 2009s race will draw an even bigger crowd. Families, you might consider this in roughly 350 days.
Marion Gooding who, after defeating many formidable opponents in the championship race, was crowned "Lord of the Wheel" and awarded a custom-made Big Wheel. Watch for him on your Tulsa streets.
For me, after taking in hours of racing excitement, the spontaneity continued its good run.
"How about a drink over by the river?" my girlfriend suggested.
As the wind blew through my hair, after happy hour concluded at the River's Edge, I breezed down the bike path beside Riverside Drive on my freshly rented free bicycle thinking: I bet I could take Marion Gooding on one of those Big Wheels. Look at me now!
It was happy hour talking.
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