This blog started out life as The Year of the Cow, so named because it was the chronicle of my year training for Ironman Wisconsin, aka IM Moo. It was my first Ironman and as you might expect it was a helluva journey; you can read all about it in the older posts on this site.
But it wasn’t the end of the journey. Ironman was not simply an item to cross off my bucket list. Other triathlons followed. So did another Ironman. There will probably more of that at some point. But along the way I found that my love for exploring and seeking out new experiences, by bike, with friends, was continuing to grow. The more I rode, the more I realized how much there was about bikes and cycling I didn’t know, how narrow, and even how rarefied had been the world of triathlon cycling with which I had become so familiar. This led me almost inevitably to my current interest in randonneuring.
What is the significance of the title for the blog? I’ve always found the homophonic similarity of tri and try intriguing. But I’m more interested in an alternative meaning of try, one that used to be common but is now rare: try not as “attempt” but as “test, evaluate.” This is the way in which old Tom Paine was using the word, in the famous phrase, “These are the times that try men’s souls, a phrase that, for a while formed the tag line for this blog. He used the word in the sense of a stress-test, to see what you were really made of, to separate the true metal from the dross.
So, Alchemy. Because, at least in my case, the worlds of cycling and multisport is about trying to take base materials (extremely base materials) and transform them into something that, just for a moment, looks like gold. Alchemy also in the sense that cycling involves bizarre attempts to fuse often incompatible compounds–human and bike, human and water, human and Recoverite–to see what results. Alchemy finally because the last few years in particular have taught me, the multisport crucible is also about the bonds–complex, often unpredictable–you form with other people.
Ye olde alchemists tend to have a bad reputation in our oh-so-rational age, on the same page as sorcerers, conspiracy theorists, and Tea Party activists. Yet many of them were motivated by a belief that the world was more than it appeared on the surface and were doing their best to test the world and their relation to it with whatever means they had at hand.
So, my friends, let us light the forge and see what we’re made of.