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Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood: Life happens

“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,” John Lennon once said. Words of wisdom, Lennon’s fortune-cookie philosophy, and lately it seems I’ve been experiencing plenty of life - which, I suppose, beats the alternative. Maybe I should stop making other plans. For starters, with mortgage rates dipping to a 40-year low last week, I’ve been actively looking into buying my first place, which means applying for my first home loan - a procedure that has thus far involved countless conversations with various real-estate agents, lenders, sellers, and my mother - who, in my case,

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By Neal Rogers

Glory days in San Francisco.

Glory days in San Francisco.

Photo: Poster from Chris King

“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,” John Lennon once said.

Words of wisdom, Lennon’s fortune-cookie philosophy, and lately it seems I’ve been experiencing plenty of life – which, I suppose, beats the alternative. Maybe I should stop making other plans.

For starters, with mortgage rates dipping to a 40-year low last week, I’ve been actively looking into buying my first place, which means applying for my first home loan – a procedure that has thus far involved countless conversations with various real-estate agents, lenders, sellers, and my mother – who, in my case, serves as my counselor, agent and lender. Good ol’ Mom. There’d be no life happening without her.

That’s not to say the house hunt has been easy. Even with low interest rates, property in Boulder, Colorado, doesn’t come cheap, especially when you’re hoping to find a place to garage a quiver of bikes. But I’ve grown fed up with renting, and so I’ve finally gotten to experience firsthand all the fun that is involved in the home-buying process. So far it’s been both an exciting and exhausting experience, akin to playing a cross-town marathon session of Monopoly, with cell phones and credit reports.

Still, with all this speculation on a future home, there’s been plenty of life happening to stay on top of. After spending a sunny day last weekend getting in some good road riding, I’ve finally got that basecoat sunburn-turned-farmer’s tan I’ve been striving for. No, really, the Fruit-Stripe gum look is fabulous when walking out onto the pool deck for a swim. Nothing says, “Sure, you can swim circles around me, but it’s only because I ride” like a pair of tan, shaved legs supporting an oddly underdeveloped pale-white upper body.

I also spent the weekend celebrating one friend’s engagement, while I simultaneously step back into the dubious world of dating, and most recently spent Tuesday evening alone, alternating between digging into my left big toe with a safety pin and soaking it in hydrogen peroxide, in an attempt to breach an unruly ingrown toenail that is so inflamed I can’t get my foot into my bike shoe.

Then, just as soon as I started to feel sorry for myself, I picked up the newspaper to read about terrorist bombings across the world.

Ah, life. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Speaking of life going on while making other plans, how about Mario Cipollini’s Giro d’Italia? Forget July, Mario, look at the May you’ve had. After the first week of the Giro, Cipo’ had been dubbed old, yesterday’s news; then on stage 8, he tied Binda’s record of 41 stage wins, and the following day broke the record just hours after learning his Domina Vacanze team was not invited to the Tour de France. Two days later, he’s sent to the hospital, taken out in a crash during a wet sprint finish.

Mario’s Tour plans may have fallen through, but man, that’s living.

The Tour may be the world’s biggest bike race, but the Giro d’Italia has got to be the world’s most dramatic; Cipollini alone has given us all the drama and good looks of an Italian soap opera. Truly, at the Giro you never know what’s going to happen next. Who will throw the next punch? Who will be disqualified on a drug charge? Who will break a bone? Who will talk smack?

It’s never wise to point fingers, but as far as fighting goes, it’s a safe bet the antagonist will be wearing a Fassa Bortolo jersey. In 2001 it was Fassa’s Vladimir Belli, sitting third on GC, who was thrown out of the race after punching a fan who later turned out to be Gilberto Simoni’s nephew. Last year, it was Fassa’s Francisco Casagrande ejected while sitting fourth overall, for taking a shot at Colombian John Freddy Garcia that sent him first to the ground and then to the hospital with facial injuries.

This year, Fassa’s Alessandro Petacchi, fresh off six days in the leader’s jersey, took a swing at CCC’s Latvian sprinter Andris Nauduzs – and missed – while setting up behind Cipo’s wheel on a sprint. Nauduzs swung back and connected, and was ejected from the race while Petacchi took a one-minute penalty on GC, a 25-sprint points penalty, and a 200 Swiss franc fine. Hardly seems fair, given that Pettacchi lost 23 minutes on the following day’s climb into Faenza, while Nauduzs was sent packing.

Looking ahead – there I go again – anyone else looking forward to watching Thursday’s Giro stage on Monte Zoncolan? Supposedly more wicked than the Vuelta’s Angrilu, Zoncolan should produce some good drama. Talk about an opportunity for redemption: With Gilberto Simoni, Stefano Garzelli, and Marco Pantani – three of the most feared climbers in the race – there’s not a one that hasn’t been involved in drug scandal at the Giro in years past.

And how about “life” happening to Fassa Bortolo’s Aitor Gonzalez while he’d made other plans? Boy, did his pre-Giro pick – himself – blow up on stage 7’s Terminillo climb, where he lost more than five minutes. “I didn’t think I’d ride so badly,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know if I have a chance for the overall standings now, perhaps I’ll just try and win the time trials.”

Aitor, when will you learn? Stay in the moment. If you’ve gotta be making other plans, don’t announce them to the press…

***

Saw this black and white poster at a bike shop the other day of a bike messenger riding through San Francisco’s Chinatown. It turns out it’s a poster released by Chris King, the maker of the world’s finest headsets, and man, did it bring back some memories of working as a bike messenger in SF during 1999-2000.

Ah, the good old days: Spending 40-plus hours a week in the saddle, bulky packages strapped to your back; CB radio squawking in your ear all day long; office lobby security giving you the stink-eye; 15-minute rush jobs; nobody wanting to stand next to you and your dank, smelly clothes in the elevator; cleaning black bus-exhaust soot from your ears; dodging cars; avoiding train rails, glass and potholes; being honked at – all for $14 an hour, just to spend $15 a night at the bar after work, trying to forget it all happened.

Uh huh. You can bet I was making other plans working that job.