I met a friend of a few years ago and he was amazed that I was fully dressed to ride mountain bikes after driving from work. He was sitting in the lot in his business casual dress and I was patiently waiting for him to get ready. He inquired how it was that I left work in similar attire and now was fully dressed to ride? I told him that similar to being in shape and concentrating on fitness, you also need to be well skilled in what I call “The Art of the Change.”
SUVs, like my Jeep, facilitate this type of behavior in that you need some room to switch from business clothes to recreational clothes. The proper use of red lights and putting the vehicle in park are key elements to this skill- but I will refer to that later. Let’s talk for a moment about some of the classic changes that have taken place in the life of the 59 year old kid.
One time I was sitting in the parking lot of the OSI Meat Company near Salt Lake City after a successful meeting. My co-worker said, ” We didn’t get our tour of the plant” and I said,” You drive- I have seen enough meat plants in my day and we are 8 miles down canyon from Alta Ski Resort.” As she took the helm of the rental SUV, I quickly made the Superman like change from sport coat and slacks into my ski gear and asked her to pull into the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. I told her to get a massage and that I would be back to get her at 5:00 so that we could drive to the airport to get our flight to Las Vegas for a trade show. She was dumbfounded but amazed at the plan and to her surprise- in no time I was back to pick her up and was dressed in slacks and a sweater. I told her,” Great afternoon pounding the High Traverse, Eagles Nest and High Rustler and look, ready to go to the airport.”
Another co-worker was with me on a week long trip to our Salt Lake City location for the company. Every day after work, I would drive her up to Park City and tell her to meet me at the parking location in 2 hours. We then would have dinner and enjoy the town before the return trip back down Interstate 80 to the hotel. She saw me remove my mountain bike, which I had brought on the plane with me, and as she walked away, she noticed clothes flying in the car and voila- another Superman change. When she returned to the car I was standing there putting on some shorts behind the car door( some decorum is necessary some of the times) and a T-shirt and some deoderant so that I would not totally gross her out and off we went to get a cold one at the Wasatch Brewery and a burger. This similar routine allowed a full day of work, 2 hours of great riding up at Park City and a beer and a good meal before we got up and did it all over again every day of the week. She was astonished and said,” Pat- if you would not have taken me up there every evening, I probably would have just stayed in my room and done nothing.” I said, “Jamie- you need to enjoy every moment in life. Carpe Deium girl.” She laughed and shook her head in amazement.
One time the Art of the Change was challenged by an Ambridge,Pa. police officer as I was coming from skiing in the Laurel Highlands and dressing on the fly for a funeral in Ambridge. At one point, I was down to my boxer shorts and the lights from the police car came into full view in my rear view mirror. I pulled over to the side of the road like a good motorist and scrambled with my dress shirt and suit pants as the officer came to the window. He greeted me and fortunately did not notice my bare feet on the gas pedal. He said,” Not you sir- the guy behind you is who I wanted.” ” Thanks for pulling over though and have a nice day.” I returned the pleasantries and sighed with relief that he had not seen me two minutes earlier driving down Rt. 65 basically in my birthday suit.
One other time, I was in the Reno Airport and frantically ripping through my bag to put on my ski clothes right at the carousel. People laughed as I strapped on my ski boots and schlepped my skis and bag to the curb to be picked up by my friend Eric to ski up at Mt. Rose. He laughed when he saw the blue Lange boots in the distance and said that he had only missed three runs when we arrived back at the area. That quick carousel change assisted us with gaining some valuable vertical feet.
One thing about cycling and skiing is that you spend some time changing clothes to participate in the apres activities. As important as it is to be able to change out of your clothes, it is perhaps more important sometimes to be able to quickly change into your clothes especially if you are meeting some folks and you are late. This is where the Art is fully employed. Traffic lights are the friend of any car changer and it is most important to know what can be accomplished between red and green lights. After putting the car in park, a shirt change, sock change,and cycling short change can easily be accomplished. Ski pants can take a little longer and your timing must be perfect otherwise you travel “au naturale” until the next light allows the completion of the change. If you are really skilled like the 59 year old kid, you can even put in your contact lenses between traffic light cycles. But safety first!! I have often been tempted to change by steering with the knees and completing a final change cycle but I consider that like texting and driving and opt for the completion down the road a bit. Some things can throw you off like a big toe stretching the lycra of cycling shorts down to the brake pedal. Or perhaps a ski sweater put on inside out. Or even a clumsy change of a sock. But the better you get, the more you can utilize traffic lights, heavy traffic, and quick pull-offs to a rest stop on the Interstates.
One of my mantras is to always pack what you need before your day starts. A rookie would stop at home first and risk having a series of “honey-do’s” befall him or her. You can get sidetracked if you do not focus on your exercise after work by the faux pas of not packing ahead of time. Similarly you do not want to sit around drinking a post ride or ski beverage still attired in your workout or ski clothes. The change is necessary for full comfort and the more skilled you are at the Art of the Change, the better the experience and with a little effort, you can enjoy some things that you might not have even considered. Timing is everything in life and you must reach out and go for the gusto. Use your vehicle or rental vehicles for the appropriate changes, be courteous to your fellow travelers but never let decorum stand in the way of a good time. If they catch a glimpse of your Steeler boxer shorts, so be it. Life is short- grab it for all its worth. Thanks for reading and use those red lights.