It's Thursday, and that's usually the end of my week. To tell the truth, it doesn't feel like it to me, as I will be working at Blue Sky on both Friday and Saturday, before heading back to work at the paper on Sunday.
No matter. I guy's got to do what a guy's got to do, right? I am looking forward to getting back into the shop ... there's nothing quite like the challenge of selling bicycles in the middle of a snowy winter. I haven't worked at the shop since December, before they closed for their winter break. So, that's that. I'm still going to find to spin away my few hours off.
I'll admit that I've been having a hard time drumming up my normal enthusiasm for this blog this week. I attribute that to two factors: 1) My continued lack of internet at home means that blogging has to be done outside my home, which means that most nights, after spinning, I'm rushing to shower, cook dinner, eat, and to get to the coffee shop before it closes. The stress definitely takes some of the fun out of blogging. And, 2) I'm feeling overworked at work, but there's not much that I can do about that. At least I'm doing good reporting ... I hope.
Anyhow, I'm hoping my enthusiasm will return with a bit of rest next week.
Also, there's some kind football game on Sunday. I just thought you'd want to know.
Tops from this week:
1) I guess it was really last week, but visiting HMI.
2) My rollers.
3) Just one week to the Tour of California, and the start of the 2009 domestic racing season -- does anyone else thin it's odd that the season starts with a 9-day stage race?
4) Biz-casual Saturday's in the White House... See, Obama's already making changes!
5) Jackson Hole has a new tram. Sounds fun to me, the old tram was fairly slow when I rode it in 2003.
Bottoms from the week:
1) Examiner.com. Cool site, but a monumental waste of my time. I'm done.
3) Working for the weekend ... that never comes.
4) 12 inches of snow on Wednesday. At least my landlord cleared the walk... until the snow came off the roof and buried it again.
5) Winter. I am so over winter.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It's Thursday, and that's usually the end of my week. To tell the truth, it doesn't feel like it to me, as I will be working at Blue Sky on both Friday and Saturday, before heading back to work at the paper on Sunday.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today was one of those days. You know, one of those days where you sit at your desk and look at the window at big fat snowflakes driving down from the sky, landing in giant fluffy piles that beg to be jumped in, played on, and otherwise enjoyed -- but you're stuck tap-tap-tapping away at your keyboard.
Yup, today was one of those days. Just when I finally decided that I needed to have some snow-based recreation, and sent out an email to rally friends to go to the local ski hill for some night skiing, the snow changed to sleet. What fun.
Fortunately, no one seemed to share my suddenly-wavering enthusiasm for being out in the cold. When a wave of tired washed over me right as I was getting ready to leave the office, my one friend to respond to the email wasn't too upset over the change in plans. We went for a walk in the snow instead.
By the way, it's still snowing. We didn't get the 18 inches that were forecast for some parts of this area, but we might have got a foot, when this is all said and done. I expect to be shuflfing my car back and forth for the next several days while a front-end loader works to ensure that the icy sheen currently covering our parking lot at work remains exposed, ready to cause a car to slip out, an employee to fall, so on and so forth.
I did finally succeed in getting my landlord to clear the snow off of my side steps, a chore that I had been doing. Although I don't mind shoveling snow -- infact, I kind of like it -- I figure that for the amount of rent I'm paying, and with her agreeing to take care of that kind of stuff, I shouldn't have to. So, I was gratified that tonight I didn't have to.
Riding is tough this time of year, as you know, I spend a lot of time on my trainer and rollers. Of the two, I prefer my rollers, as it's much more like riding outside, it's easier to get in high-cadence drills, and, most importantly, if I ever move back to an urban center, I'll be well-prepared for some roller races.
For those of you who don't know, roller racers are what track riders do in the winter. There was a roller race in Brooklyn on Tuesday, there are some photos by BVFer Pete Biamanote here. The way it works is that racers ride on rollers set up next to each other. Each roller is attached to one needle on a giant dial mounted behind the racers. Each needle shows the corresponding racer's progress around an imagined track. In a 500 meter event, the first racer whose needle passes the 500-meter mark wins.
OK, I know that a 500-meter event is ludacris, that I needed an example. Anyhow, I'm good for a sub-minute kilo time. Just you, me, and the rollers.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
When I returned to the office around 5:30 p.m. after an afternoon spent running from one meeting to another, I stepped right into a breaking news story: a small army of police officers were searching for a man who'd walked away from Four Winds, a psychiatric hospital here in Saratoga.
I jumped in my car and drove out to where the police had set up a command post near some woods where the man was believed to be. The verdict? Yes indeed, a man was missing. Information was thin at the time. I later got a description of the man: 41, 6 feet tall, about 200 pounds, and dark skinner -- but not too dark.
Now, how does one write that in the newspaper?
What the police official I was talking to was trying to say was that the man missing was likely the product of a biracial couple: Beyonce black, not Chris Rock black, if you know what I'm saying. Reports on the police scanner -- which sits on my desk, by the way -- had police looking for a biracial man.
But, it left me wondering, when "black" or "white" are such an important part of the way we describe people. So, how does one write that a person is a little black and a little white? Mulatto is a start, but biracial is way off. Why? Biracial children can look like either of their parents, or neither of their parents. So, "biracial" is more of a description of genealogy, and not color.
My favorite writer, Kurt Vonnegut, is really good a describing the color of skin. Cat's Cradle has "oatmeal colored people." Asians are sometimes described as yellow. Not only is this a racist thing to say, but it's also just wrong.
The man missing tonight was "dark-skinned," but I might have called him "tan." Of course, if I'd put "Police are looking for a tan-colored man who walked away from Four Winds...," I probably would have been bitch slapped by my editor. A paradigm shift is needed, and we're going to start it here.
By the way, if I had to describe my color, I would call myself tawny.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I find myself bereft of ideas for tonight's post. Much happened at work today, but it is not up to me to divulge those events here. I'll be posting about it all as soon as it become public.
For tonight, you will have to make do with a reminder that this weekend is the UCI Cyclocross world championships. Apparently, some Americans won medals in master's events last weekend, as masters races are held ahead of other competitions, which will culminate with junior, espoir and elite events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Going into the race, I am obviously rooting and hoping for a victory in the women's race by my 'cross idol, Katie Compton, who is showing great form, having won the Roubaix World Cup 'cross race in France last weekend. She'll face some stiff competition, and with other American women riding well, the U.S. could even see multiple medals in women's event for the first that I can recall.
There's also going to be a men's race, but I'm about as interested in professional men's 'cross as I am in that sport you play with a stick and ice skates, so I couldn't tell you too much about it. The one thing I do know is that one-time world silver medalist in 'cross, American Jonathan Page, who accidentally missed a doping control a couple weeks ago, has been cleared to race. So that's good, although we're not yet sure if he'll be named to the U.S. team for worlds. If he medals, maybe we can have the double fun of seeing him deposed and replaced with another finisher, should he get popped for doping.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The last stop on last week's trip to Colorado was in Leadville. This old mining town is perched at the highest elevation of any established municipality in the United States, a lofty 10,200 feet above sea level -- high enough that many visitors feel the thin air manifest itself in a shortness in breath while simply walking around.
Though it may seem it, our visit to Leadville was not random. While juniors in high school -- 2002 for me and 2004 for Eric -- we each attended Leadville's High Mountain Institute, as students in the Rocky Mountain Semester. RMS is a semester-long program for high school students who want a break from the ordinary.
When I went to RMS, (in the eighth such semester), there were about 30 students. We all lived in cabins heated only by wood stoves, and illuminated only by the sun and kerosene lanters. Students handle all the cooking, cleaning and fire-wood splitting. Faculty were on hand to teach the normal range of high school classes, but the real reason you go to RMS is for the outdoors.
We took it outside before we actually swung the hatchet
One NEVER splits kindling inside.
Most of the semester takes places on the Leaville campus. But, each semester, students and faculty pack up and head out into the wilderness for three two-week expeditions. When I went to the HMI, in the winter and spring of 2002, our first expedition was to the Grand Junction area of Utah, at the end of January. A month later we headed into Colorado's Moisquitto range for some back country skiing and sleeping in the snow. Finally, we headed back to Utah for the last expedition, which was run solely by students.
Before heading to HMI for my semester sojourn, I was feeling very sick of Brooklyn. I was contemplating leaving my high school and going to a boarding school someplace in the country. HMI was a sort of a compromise. I left home for a bit, but came home and finished high school as planned. When I returned, I was more sure of what I wanted from the remainder of my education, and was more dedicated to both my academic and extracuricular activities. Plus, I was way more excited about getting out into the woods.
But, I failed to wake up for the second round of stoking, and it got cold fast
Just like the old days... nothing like running to the heated main building in the morning to wake up!
It's a big sacrifice for any student to leave their friends and family -- especially in their junior year, which is an important time in applying for college -- but I have always felt that my experience in Leadville was well worth it, as it helpped me to learn about myself and the world around me. I won't speak for my brother, but I suspect that he feels similarly.
So, we went back to Leadville. We had dinner at the home of Molly and Christopher Barnes, who founded and now run the school. They were all too happy to cook us a meal, reminice about what's become of our semester mates and various faculty, the school, politics, skiing, and so on. For two people who have educated so many students, it's remarkable (and makes me feel grateful) that Molly and Christopher still know Eric and I, and welcomed us into their home. Of course, both Eric and I have made an effort to stay in touch since graduating. That, Molly says, is the key to keeping a relationship with them.
Believe it or not, it was a team effort
Eric and I both thought we knew best
After dinner, and after Molly and Chirstopher's two young sons went to bed, Eric and I headed off to cabin three on the HMI campus, where we both lived during our semesters -- in fact, we both slept in the same bed, albeit at different times. It was cold in the cabin, and we spent some time bickering over the best way to build the fire, but we eventually got it going, and went to sleep in our sleeping bags. (Eric got the bunk we had both slept in). By the way, there were no students on campus at the time.
Aside from paint, different furniture and the addition of a photovoltaic system to run a single flourecent light, the cabin was nearly exactly as I remembered it, right down to a whiteboard by the door, which my cabin mates and I used to leave inappropriate notes to each other, particularly after a late night of Texas Hold 'em. (Ever tried to look for a poker face by headlamp light?)
I woke up to stoke the fire once before it went out, and it was rather cold in the morning. With the cold in the cabin, we didn't need any encouragement to pack up (after cleaning up) and leave. We had breakfast at the Golden Burro Cafe, a Leadville staple, and haeded back to Denver, for me to get my flight back east.
Like I said, my semester in Leadville was formative for me, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to study there. It's even better to know that one CAN go back. Thanks again to Molly and Christopher for their wonderful hospitality.
So, I failed in my journalistic duties and didn't get a photo with Molly and Christopher. Then, my camera batteries died, and wouldn't be revived, so I didn't get any great photos of the campus, of the town. Sorry. Here's a stock image of downtown Leadville, the definition of one-horse town:
Friday, January 23, 2009
This may be the first time in history that I wish I was at work on my day off. You see, as I sit here tapping away on my laptop in the Higher Grounds Cafe in the Saratoga Springs Public Library, U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson, is mere minutes away from being named as New York's next Senator.
I've been covering Gillibrand since I took my job at the Saratogian, and I was I was able to cover today's events, including the many politicians now clambering to run for the son-to-be-open seat in Congress.
But alas, it is my day off, so I will have to leave this news story in the hands of my capable colleagues, while I blog, spin, and otherwise amuse myself on my day of rest. However, it is all very exciting!
In less happy news, despite earlier plans to run the Empire State Games for collegiate atheltes by instituting a fee, the Hudson Valley Organizing committee has decided that doing the games under such a scheme is not viable, and has canceled the 2009 event. In my estimation, that just plain sucks. I'll post the letter explaining why this move was taken at the bottom of todays post.
Anyhow, here are the week's tops and bottoms:
Tops from the week:
2) And Colorado again.
3) Hail to the new chief! And, props to Mom and Dad for being on the Mall to witness the event.
4) The sweet new Velo News hat I picked up in Boulder.
5) Three day work week... I have to find some positive in my lay over in Cincinnati.
Bottoms from the week:
1) My unplanned lay over in Cincinnati. I didn't even get to tour downtown.
2) Pretending that this country is post-racial. We are not.
3) Still not have the internet at home. Although, I am on the fence about this one.
4) No more Empire State Games. For anyone.
5) Paying the price for sleeping in this morning. So much to do, so little time!
Here is the aforementioned letter about this year's Empire State Games:
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Denise D. VanBuren, (845) 471-8323
2009 Empire State Games LOC Vice Chairman for Public Relations
Hudson River Valley LOC:
“We’re Unable to Host 2009 Empire State Games As Proposed.”
(Poughkeepsie, NY) Members of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2009 Hudson River Valley Empire State Games notified the New York State Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today that they will be unable to stage the Games as a result of the proposed funding cutbacks and modifications to the Games’ structure.
“It was with great disappointment that our Local Organizing Committee learned of the unfortunate changes proposed for the Empire State Games in light of New York State’s current fiscal crisis. And, it was with deep regret that I informed Commissioner Carol Ash today that our LOC has unanimously concluded that we are unable to conduct the Games as now proposed,” Steven V. Lant, Chairman of the 2009 Empire State Games LOC, and Chairman, President and C.E.O. of CH Energy Group.
The 2009 Empire State Games had been scheduled to held at Hudson Valley venues throughout Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties between July 22-26, and based upon prior years, were estimated to attract an estimated 6,000 athletes and 24,000 visitors to the region. The Games were to have been staged as part of the Quadricentennial celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage.
The proposed budget has eliminated State funding for the Games and forced the cancellation of the Masters and Open levels of competition; in addition, a scholastic athlete’s fee of $285 was proposed to cover the cost of room and board for participants. The changes are expected to essentially cut the Games in half, from an estimated 6,000 to 2,800 participants and from 28 to 16 events.
“The Hudson River Valley LOC arrived at this regrettable decision based on an overwhelming feeling that the participation fee violates the spirit of the Games and that objections to this approach are so strong among our host site partners, sponsors and volunteers that maintaining the support necessary to successfully host the Games has become untenable,” Lant wrote to Commissioner Ash. “We also noted that any economic benefits to the community would be greatly reduced based on the drastically lower participation now projected.”
He continued that the committee recognizes the strong financial pressures facing New York State, adding, “we are also well aware that many other worthwhile line items are vying for a limited and shrinking pool of dollars. As the same time, we hope that New York State can understand our inability to stage Games that have departed so far from those we had envisioned and which our State’s athletes so rightfully deserve.”
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I feel much better today, after using my blog last night to vent the many frustrations I harbor surrounding racism. Thanks for the catharsis.
Now, I'm ready get back to more important stuff, such as posting photos from last weekend's trip to Colorado. In part one, I took you with me from Albany to Denver to Boulder, and on a walking tour of one of the west's most pleasant medium-sized cities.
Today, we'll get down to what's really important: shredding Aspen's sweet powder.
For those of you who don't know, Aspen is comprised of four ski areas: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk. There's a whole lot of terrain between the four ski areas, and there's no way that you can ski even a fraction of the slopes in the two days we had. So, we decided to spend day one at Snowmass. Throughout the whole day, we didn't ski the same trail twice, a rather impressive accomplishment, especially for someone from back east, where such feats are unheard of. I didn't bring my camera along on the first day, but had it at the ready the next day.
On day two, we headed to the Aspen Highlands, where we did repeat some trails, but only because we found a couple stashes of untracked pow-pow deep in the woods -- stashes that were too sweet not to visit a second time. (OK, OK -- since I know that there are real skiers reading, I'll admit that my impressions of what "untracked powder" is may differ from the norm, but, like I said, I'm from the east. I maintain low-pass standards when it comes to snow.)
Anyway, as you'll see, the highlight of the day was hiking 700 vertical feet to the sumit of the Highland bowl, and decesneding through its steeps and deeps. It was a singular experience, and my only regret from my time in Colorado was that we didn't have time for a second crack at the bowl.
And now, onto the photos:
Getting ready to ferrett out some fresh tracks
It was sunny and in the mid-30s to low-40s on both days we skied
I did my best to keep up on the bumps,
but my rented boards wound up being a bit too long
Tom's only been skiing since 2006
He's a quick study.
Eric is contemplating the long walk
It was a bit of a walk, but well wort it
from the highest level accessible from a lift
It's not as long a walk as it looks
On the steep sections, steps in place were spaced kind of awkwardly
It was fine for my long legs, Eric had some trouble
There's a whole world off the backside of Aspen Highlands
If I'm ever good at skiing, I'll go back and shread those slopes.
This is the view back toward the east
Aspen is really out there...
Eric thought we should have removed our helmets
But, I say helmets are hardcore.
The snow wasn't fresh, but there was pleanty of it
It came down in a mini-slide as we descended
That's it for part II. After our day at Highlands, Eric and I said goodbye to Tom and headed to Leadville to visit our friends there. I was originally planning on showing those photos here, but Leadville is important to me, and although I didn't take nearly enough photos while there, it deserves it's own post. I'll be getting back to my top- and bottom-lists tomorrow, so come back for the final installment from Colorado on Sunday. It'll be worth it!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I know I said I'd be away from the blog tonight, but after spending the better part of the day watching coverage of President Barack Obama's inauguration, I feel that I need to vent a little, and where better to do that than here.
Ever since Obama's victory on Election Day, people have been talking about post-racial American.
The idea that because we elected a black president, we are now in a place as a nation where we are blind to color, that it no longer enters our consciousness, is ridiculous. This is a step in the right direction -- a big step in the right direction -- but it is just an incremental movement. I talked to numerous people today who said things like: "Obama will be a wonderful model for all the children of color."
Well, he surely will be, but if you say things like that, than clearly you're not post racial, because you're still thinking about race.
I believe that there is still a lot of latent (and some not-so-latent) racism in this country. I hope to see a day when we truly are post-racial, and we're much closer today than ever before, but I don't believe for a second that we're there yet. In the meantime, we shouldn't be to eager to congratulate ourselves, or to give ourselves credit for being further developed as a people than we really are.
Above all, we should not become complacent in addressing race in this nation. There's still a lot more work to do.
I'll be back tomorrow with Colorado part II. Happy inauguration day.
Monday, January 19, 2009
After a brief delay, I made it home to Saratoga Springs this afternoon. Now that I'm comfortable in clean underwear and clean socks, of which I was deprived last night, I can say that I am once again reveling in what was a glorious trip. On top of spending a great day in Boulder, Tom and Eric and I had two phenomenal days of
Here are some photos, of the first part of the trip, during which I visited my brother, Eric, in Boulder. I will be away from the blog tomorrow, in observance of inauguration day, but check back Wednesday for part II, during which we got up into the big mountains with our host for the weekend, Tom.
If you look through me, you can see the plane
It was cold in Albany, about 0 degree Fahrenheit.
It was pretty empty on Wednesday afternoon.
I was pretty bored.
but alas, the advertised wifi was not free,
despite its billing
This is what Albany International looks like at take off speed
It was dark, so the view wasn't great.
I thought about buying one,
but I didn't have enough pocket change
This is what it looks like when everyone tries to get off the plane at once
I remained sensibly in my seat until things cleared out a bit
This is a typical view:
pancake flat, then huge mountains
I met my two editors for the first time
it was very exciting, and they have me a hat
I was too intimidated by the awesomeness to get too close with the camera,
but the garage was packed with more Zipp wheels than I've ever previously seen in one place
This was the most startling.
I thought Performance was only mail-order
Actually, it's a stack of them
It's built by Fuji. I don't think there are any Fuji dealers here...
It took about three hours to get to Aspen
There was power apleanty in Eric's Honda Fit
It got dark before we saw too many more
Colorado is very scenic...
So, that's part part 1. Part two has many cool mountain views, faceshots, and smiling vissages. But before we get to all that, we must pause to inaugurate a new president. It's good to be back!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I'm currently in a hotel room in Cincinnati, OH, capping off what was otherwise a fabulous weekend in Colorado with my brother and Tom by missing a connection to Albany here because of a problem with the plane. Of course, I would prefer to be at home, in my own bed, right now. But the good news is that I'll be home tomorrow, and will download all of the manifold photos I took over the past couple days, including some epic pics from Friday and Saturday's escapades in the mountains.
In the mean time, I'm left to puzzle over what, exactly, Delta airlines had in mind for me to do with the envelope of detergent that conveniently stuck in my "over night kit," -- this is sort of a mea culpa on the airline's part, for making me staying this flea bag motel, and not even allowing me my luggage, which contains things like clean underwear and socks -- along with a tiny toothbrush, hairbrush, and humongous T-shirt.
To make matters worse, although Delta gave me two $7 vouchers for meals (breakfast and dinner), I arrived at the hotel after the restaurant was closed, and thus had to spend my own money to eat a gross chicken sandwich from a fast food place across the street. To make matters even worse, the hotel bar wouldn't accept my voucher in exchange for a much-needed beer. This has got to be one of my worst flying experiences.
So, tomorrow I'll be home, and can continue my exuberance about Colorado. In the meantime, I'll continue enjoying the gratis cable and wifi.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
OK, I'm probably coming back, but I have to say that this is a great town.
Bikes everywhere, mountains within a couple hours, and mild winter temps. After having breakfast with my brother this morning, I took a stroll through downtown Boulder, stopping in every bike shop I came to. In a matter of 30 minutes, I'd visited three shops. A little while later, I found a fourth. Apparently there are at least 12 in Boulder, so I'll have to see how many more I can cram into the afternoon.
If you believe, as I do, that the true measure of a city's coolness is the number of bike shops and the number of cyclists, Boulder has got to be in the top three in the nation.
In a minute I'm going over to the Velo News offices to meet my editor there, and will then continuing my wanderings until Eric and I depart for Aspen this afternoon. I hope everyone back east is enjoying the cold (snicker...).
I was going to try to post some photos, but I forgot my camera cord, so you'll have to wait until next week.
You can read my most recent Examiner post here. (Remember, extra points for visiting frequently!)
Monday, January 12, 2009
Since I've now been done racing for more than two months, and since there is no chance I'll be riding outside with my legs exposed anytime soon, and since my tan is pretty well faded anyway, I've finally decided to stop shaving my legs for the season. The thing about shaving my legs for racing, is that I've really gotten used to keeping them nice and smooth, and now having substantial stubble on my thighs and calves is taking a little getting used to. No matter. I figure that in about five weeks I'll wax my legs in preparation for the coming racing season, which begins with the Spring Series on March 1, and the whole leg hair cycle will start anew.
Anyhow, enough on my manscaping.
At this moment, it's seven degrees here in Saratoga. In Boulder, CO, it's a comparatively balmy 19 degrees, and in Aspen, it's twelve degrees and snowing.
Why do we care what the temperatures are in Colorado? Well, in just a shade over 48 hours I'll be landing in Denver, en route to Aspen, via Boulder. My dear brother Eric, is a student of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and with him recently returned to the front range from his winter break, I figured the time was right for a visit.
Out in Colorado, we're going to head to Aspen Snowmass for the weekend, where we'll stay with Tom, who is working as a ski guide there. Aside from catching up with my brother, I'm really looking forward to seeing Tom, who I've not seen since last May, when he was on a break from his Master's program at Leslie University, and came to Saratoga to see Dante and I. Also, while out west, I'll be meeting with my editors at Velo News, whom I've never actually met, and Eric and I will swing through Leadville, to catch up with our old friends at the High Mountain Institute.
All in all, I can't wait to get going on this little adventure. In case you're wondering, the only reason I've been skiing at all this year has been to get ready for shreading the snow out in Colorado.
Of course, I'm also looking forward to enjoying the mild winter temperatures, (esp. considering that it's forecast to reach as far as 10 degrees below zero here toward the end of the week) and a base depth between 42 and 61 inches at Aspen Snowmass's four ski areas. Not that I want you to be jealous or anything.
Anyhow, since I'll be spending tomorrow packing and getting ready for my Wednesday departure, this will be my last blog post for the week. I'll be returning home from Colorado late on Sunday, so regular posts will resume on Monday, Jan. 19.
If I can manage it, I may try to update the blog from Colorado, but I'm not sure what my access to the internet will be like.
So, adieu. Enjoy the cold, I'll see you next week!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Real post begin here:
This is exactly what our ride looked like on Sunday
Except, I didn't have bar mits
And it was a little cloudy
I have to admit that "snotcicle" was the last term I expected to find defined in my go-to source for off-beat definitions, Urban Dictionary. But sure enough, there was the definition.
Primarily found in cold climates, the snotcicle occurs when the fluid of a runny nose freezes, creating a sort of icicle. Freequently found in the beard and/or mustache of rugged outdoors men.
"Wao! Check out that dude's snotcicle! Nasty as hell!"
On Saturday morning, when temperatures hovered around a frosty 10 degrees, I met up with Jamie and Steve for a ride around the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater, in the neighborhood of the Saratoga Battle Field historic park.
Normally, I adhere to a strict 20-degree rule, where I don't ride outside in temperatures colder than 20, but I was on my trainer for 10 hours between Monday and Friday last weel. As a result, I had some serious cabin fever, and was feeling a strong desire to get outside for a ride. Jamie and Steve are hardier than I, and don't seem to mind riding in the cold quite as much.
So, we all met at Jamie's place, and embarked. It wasn't quite like Jack London's "To Build a Fire," but it wasn't that far off!
For the occasion, I was wearing two long underwear tops, two long-sleeved jerseys and my winter riding jacket. On my legs, I wore a pair of tights and leg warmers. I was wearing Peal Izumi lobster gloves, and hiking socks in my mountain bike shoes (I was riding my 'cross bike to deal with snowy roads, making mountain shoes a neccessity). I was also wearing a windstopper hat under my helmet, and a neck gaiter.
Steve and Jamie were similarly equiped, and during the ride each of us collected frozen exhale on our face coverings, creating some fine snotcicles. The funny thing about these is that you don't always notice that they're there. At one point, Steve (whose own snotcicle was really more of a snotgotee, as it formed on his chin and grew throughout the ride), let me know that I had a good chunk of ice on my nose. I wiped it off, which proved painful, as it took several nose hairs out along with it. I resolved to leave the next one in place.
This being winter, I was carrying a pair of ski gloves and chemical handwarmers, in addition to my usual stores of granola bars, cell phone, keys, cash, etc...
To say that I was in adequately dressed would be a big understatement. I could feel my feet going numb within five minutes of leaving Jamie's driveway. Cold krept through my feet, first freezing my toes, then the metacarpals, then the arches, and finally my heels.
My hands faired a little better. By balling up one hand into a fist inside my glove, while riding with the other hand, and then switching, my hands stayed cold, but never lost feeling. I never felt the need to break out the warmers, with was just fine with me. Of course, my water froze solid within the first 45 minutes, not that I had much desire to drink.
So, we made it through the ride, all 34 miles of it (in a snail-worth 2 hours and 40 minutes). The real fun began when I got home.
My hands began to warm up in a painful kind of way during the last two miles of the ride, prompting me to announce to Steve that I was "thoroughly miserable." By that time, I was realizing how cold my core was, and I was eagerly anticipating a hot shower. I somehow made it up the stairs to my apartment (the bike only made it about halfway, where I abondoned it), and began stripping layers as soon as I walked in the door, strewing clothing all about the place.
Fortunately for me, my room mate did not emerge from her room to see me throwing spandex all over the living room. I was intending to get directly into the shower, which I did, but my ice-block feet began to thaw in a very painful way, which made standing on them pretty much intolerable.
Gasping (yes, I know, I'm kind of a baby about the cold), I got out of the shower, and dove straight under the covers on my bed, where I curled myself into the fetal position and shivered for what must have been about 30 minutes. Only later would I realize that my window, against which my bed sits, was open and blowing cold air on me.
Even with the window open, I eventually warmed up, and felt up to making a second attempt at a shower. Round two was much more successful, and I followed it up with lunch, tea, a sweatshirt, and a nap on the couch.
So, while there was surely some benefit to 160-minute ride, I have to think that the damage I did to myself out in the cold makes any good seem far less worthwhile, relative to an inside ride.
The upshot is that I while I was temporarily miserable, I successfuly cured my cabin fever, avoided freezing to death, and was more than happy to put in three hours on my rollers, toasty and warm in the living room, this afternoon.
Friday, January 09, 2009
First things first, go read my Examiner.com page. Then read it again.
OK, you may now proceed to the rest of this post.
It's just come down the pipe that the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has decided to terminate the open and senior divisions of the Empire State Games. This effectively means no cycling competition in future games. That sucks. At least, I got to enjoy the competition's last hurrah, and as it was pointed out, at least the Adirondack Region went out on top. The scholastic games (both summer and winter), for high school athletes, will continue, but will have a fee for the first time in the game's history. The games for disabled athletes will also continue, and will remain free.
I wanted to link to the press release, but I can't find where it's hosted, so I'm going to paste it at the bottom of this post. I think you can guess the topic of this week's Top and Bottom lists:
The best things about the empire state games:
1) Free athletic competition among the state's best athletes in a wide range of sports.
2) Economic stimulus to some of the city's less-visited areas.
3) A proud tradition since 1978, and a model for other states' games.
4) A good mid-season goal for endurance athletes, and a chance to race in an open field.
5) Camaraderie with the best athletes in your sport, in your region.
The worst things about the open games' cancellation:
1) Fees will dissuade some athletes from attending the games, and could dilute the game's purpose, of pulling together the best athletes.
2) This is a shocking way for the state's budget woes to come into the lives of thousands of families across the state.
3) The Hudson Valley, planned site of this year's summer games, will miss out on some economic stimulus, as with fewer divisions, fewer people will come to compete.
4) No chance to re-up the Adirondack region's bragging rights in 2009.
5) Now I'm going to have to pay for another stage race to fill my calendar!
As disappointing as this news is, I have to admit that there are some positives.
First of all, I may now plan my first return to the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic since 2006. Second of all, the Adirondack region trials race, as well as trials in other regions, to qualify athletes for the Empire State Games, were planned for May 30. If those races are now canceled, it will likely help boost attendance at the planned Saratoga Crit, which will roll off on May 31.
Here is the press release, have a great weekend, and stay warm!
State Parks Announces Plan to Preserve Empire State Games for High School and Physically Challenged Athletes
Participation Fees, Discontinuation of Certain Events Necessary to Address Record State Budget Deficits
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today outlined a plan that preserves the Governor Hugh L. Carey Empire State Games for high school and physically challenged athletes in the face of an economic downturn that is severely impacting the state budget.
In the 2009-10 fiscal year, participation fees of $285 and up to $100 will be implemented for the Summer and Winter Games, respectively. Previously, there had been no participation fee. The Games for the Physically Challenged will continue to have no participation fee.
In addition, the annual Senior Games, and all Masters, and Open competitions in the Winter and Summer Games will be suspended for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Certain events and activities for high school athletes and the physically challenged will also be suspended or scaled back, as detailed below.
The changes for the 2009-10 fiscal year are in response to a 10 percent agency spending reduction ordered to help the state address a precipitous reduction in revenues caused by a deep recession. The Empire State Games, which originated in 1978, has operated on an annual budget of $3 million – including $2.7 million in state funding support. State funding support will be discontinued in 2009-10.
“In a time of unprecedented fiscal crisis, the unfortunate reality is that reductions have to be made across every area of government,” said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that allows the Games to continue for high school and physically challenged athletes, while also helping the state address its record $15.4 billion deficit.”
Looking ahead to the 2010 Summer Games in Buffalo, Ash indicated that the agency would be pursuing private sponsorship with the hope of reinstating the suspended competitions, as well as revisiting the new fee structure.
Further information on the Games is included below:
The Summer Games: July, 2009, Mid-Hudson Valley
A $285 fee for scholastic-level athletes will be implemented. The fee will cover the cost of room, board and local transportation during the four-day event. Scholastic boxing, fencing, and shooting will be suspended for the 2009 summer games.
The Winter Games: February, 2010, Lake Placid
Athletes will continue to pay for their own meals and lodging, as they have traditionally done. The opening ceremonies will also be scaled back. A participation fee of up to $100 will be implemented.
The February 2009 Winter Games will be held as planned in with no fee. However, three sporting events will be suspended (bobsled, luge, and skeleton).
The Games for the Physically Challenged: May, 2009, Long Island; October, 2009, Brockport
The Games for the Physically Challenged, for athletes 5-21 years old, will have streamlined activities and events.
Information on the Empire State Games, including details on registration, can be found at www.empirestategames.org.
The reduction in state support for the Empire State Games is one of several steps State Parks has taken to address the state’s fiscal crisis, including reducing operations at state parks and historic sites, eliminating the 2009 State Park Police academy, instituting a hard hiring freeze, eliminating state support for the Heritage Areas program, and others.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of today's post, I wanted to share some photos with you. It's been snowing here since Tuesday night, I didn't bothering clearing my car off until tonight, when I was heading out to Geyser Crest.
When I went to clear my car off, I found a fun message scribed into the snow on the car's rear windshield and trunk:
We had about three inches of snow
then a rain crust. Not good for skiing.
I know it's a little hard to read, so I've outlined the text for you:
I have to assume that someone who knows me (and my car) took it upon themselves to leave this completely true message on my car. Although I was tempted to leave the snow in place, to let other drivers in Saratoga know that "Bikes rule," but I decided it would be safer to drive with an unobstructed rearward view, so I just took some photos to document, and drove away.
In much more important news, the Empire State Games, may be in jeopardy. As most readers probably know, I had a great time competing in the games as a member of the Adirondack region Cycling Team this past summer.
For about the past 30 years, the state department of parks and recreation has run the games for free, as a way to promote health and healthy spirit of inter-state competition. Now, as a part of Governor David Paterson's proposal to reduce the state's coming deficit, is to eliminate funding for the games.
Gary Toth, who runs the cycling competition at the Empire State Games, said it much better than I could:
Lynn Chabot, who runs the Adirondack region for the games, had this to say:
As an athlete who has participated in the games, I have to say that loosing this event would really suck. But seriously, in a time in which so much money is spent on things like war and bailing out unsustainable industries, the Empire State Games are an expenditure that aims only to promote health in our culture. It was very cool to go to Binghamton last summer and see kids from all over the state giving everything they had to win the Lacrosse or basketball or synchronized swimming or track title back to their region. Part of what makes it so great is that any athlete who is able to qualify for their team is able to participate in the games for free.
It is a truly egalitarian competition, and that's a pretty unusual thing. I hope that the state will find a way to sustain this very healthy competiton.
On an unrelated topic, I got a little vitriolic towards Israel over at my other blog yesterday. I thought readers here might be interested in seeing my views on the current conflict with Iran.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Earlier today I kicked off my winter training in earnest, spending three hours riding my trainer this morning, and, for the first time since last spring, I subjected myself to intervals: muscle tension intervals, sprint intervals, and hill repeats. Following two hours of intervals, I completed an hour of endurance riding in the fat-burning zone, or about 70-percent of my maximum heart rate.
Mostly, I ride my bike because it's fun. Racing is even more fun. Intervals and three-hour trainer sessions are about as much fun as enduring open heart surgery performed by a caveman wielding an ice pick. And yet, riding competitively in bike races is infinitely more fun than getting dropped, so I endure trainer sessions such as today's during these long winter months.
This morning, my session started after I'd consumed two bowls of cereal with skim milk, and one banana. I nearly lost breakfast 20 minutes into my workout while doing 4 second on, 4 seconds off sprints. Some deep-guttural belching relieved the pressure in my stomach, and I managed to keep breakfast down. I'd forgotten one of the most basic tenets of training: don't eat right before you do a hard work out. Right.
But it's easy to forget something like that when you've become accustomed to eating right before rolling out the door. Food seems to stay within much better on outside rides. Oh well, lesson re-learned.
Anyway, I spun. It hurt. I'm way out of shape. Of course, being out of shape is OK for Jan. 6. Afterall, I haven't raced since the beginning of November. I'm hoping that my early start will put me back in shape well ahead of my first goal of the season, the Tour of the Battenkill.
After the first two hours of today's session I very nearly collapsed on the floor of my apartment. The first day of hard training is always a real shock to the system, and today was much more so than I remember from previous years. Fortunately, I always keep Gatorade powder on hand, so I was able to revive myself and finish the work out. In all, I consumed two bottles of water during my workout, and two bottles of Gatorade.
Since completing my workout -- and even mustering the strength to stretch afterward, I've spent the rest of the day in a fog. Pretty much all I'm good for today has been doing what I can to avoid standing, and eating more-or-less continuously. It least I've got a nice recovery ride on my rollers to look forward to in the morning...
Ah, winter training -- I only hope it's worth it.
Monday, January 05, 2009
In this day-and-age of digital media, there are lots of places for a prolific writer such as myself to pedal the written word. Many of these places, such as this blog, don't offer much in the way of fiscal compensation, but there's lots of intrinsic rewards from a project such as this.
Still, times being what they are, I find myself needing to find new sources of income. As such, I've recently signed on board with Examiner.com. The website publishes several different editions, and I'll be working for the New York City edition, serving as their alternative transportation "examiner."
As such, I'll be serving as a kind of expert on alternative transit here in upstate New York, and posting articles to my examiner page three or four days each week. I was planning on having a fresh article posted tonight to give you an example of my work, but alas, there was a problem with the site. No matter, check back soon.
I don't mind telling you that the pay for this kind of work is not likely to help me buy snow tires for the Maxima, nor is it likely to help me buy groceries next week, but it just might enable me to get internet service at my apartment, so that I can stop coming to this damned coffee shop to do my work!
More importantly, the pay scale is based on compensating writers per 1,000 page views. Specifically, I'll receive about $10 per 1,000 page views. This blog receives about that figure per month, so clearly I'm going to need to increase my traffic figures over at my examiner page if I'm going to be able to get that internet I crave, and that, obviously, is where you come in.
Go ahead and bookmark my examiner page now. Click on it daily. Maybe set it as your homepage, or better yet, subscribe to updates to have my words delivered to your in box. Even if you don't care about alternative transportation, or even if you live out of state, just clicking on the site, and possibly even forwarding it to a friend or two, will greatly help boost my traffic numbers, and that is a goal we should all strive for! What me, selfish? I never...
Of course, my writing for the Examiner will be slightly more restrained in form than this blog, and is in no way intended as a replacement, merely a supplement that might help spread the word about something that is truly important, while also supplementing the meager funds currently residing in my checking account.
So that you don't think I've given up on writing about non-transit topics, I want to share this story with you. It seems that a group of religiously motivate squatters have taken up residences in a series of Catholic churches in Boston, in an effort to prevent the diocese of Boston from selling their beloved houses of worship. Because, you know, despite his omnipotence, God's word can only be tapped from within particular structures. In case you're wondering, the dioceses wants to sell the buildings to raise cash to make payments to the victims of clerical abuse. Ha.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
First of all, a bit of business. Nathaniel Ward recently alerted me to the fact that the links in my "Best of Blue Mondays" section, which link to some of my best-read and most-enjoyed blog posts, were broken. I dully fixed the links, and you can now easily find some of the best posts from 2008 linked from there. If you don't know what I'm talking about, "Best of Blue Mondays," can be found on the right side of this page, just scroll down to the bottom of the "About me" section.
And now on to the topic of the day: I am currently without internet at my home.
I know; that sounds almost medieval in this day-and-age. And yet, here we are.
Since moving to my current residence on Caroline Street, my room mate and I have been "borrowing" bandwidth from a non-secured wireless network being transmitted either by someone else in our building or someone in a neighboring building. It wasn't a great signal, and wouldn't support video or music downloads, but it was plenty to write this blog and email. On Wednesday morning, as I gazed out the window at an ongoing blizzard, the network disappeared. Yup, just straight disappeared. Personally, I would find it less aggravating if the network were still there, and had been secured with a password, but no, it just up and vanished into thin air.
So, I spent most of Wednesday at Uncommon Grounds, huddling at a table in the back. I wrote emails, I read the newspaper, I checked facebook, and I even interviewed a young cyclocross racer in Belgium via Skype for an upcoming Velo News article, all while the coffee shop swirled around me. It was a little hard to hear Manny in Belgium with all the background noise, but I got it done.
The next day I left for Brooklyn, and enjoyed the wireless internet at my parent's house. Boy was that nice.
Now I'm home again. Actually, I'm back at Uncommon, since I still have no internet at home. I keep hoping that the network we were borrowing from will reappear, although I have to admit that I don't harbor much hope.
It's funny, and almost frightening, how dependent I've become on the internet in a relatively short time. When I got my first computer, in 2002, I remember thinking that I didn't need to worry about accidentally downloading spyware because my computer wouldn't go on the internet. And, for the most part, until I got to college, it didn't. That was before wireless networks were common, and there was no ethernet in my bedroom. Remember the ethernet?
College was, however, the end of any restraint. In college, the constant need was to be on Instant Messenger, and to keep an away message up at all times, just in case anyone was wondering about my mood. Later, that obsession was replaced by facebook. Nowadays, Gmail and Gchat (and yes, facebook), keep me occupied and sitting at my computer during nearly all of my time at home, save when I'm in the shower or cooking or
spinning (lately, without a TV, I have been using my computer to watch DVDs while spinning).
So, the point I'm trying to get to here, is that I've really been missing the internet at home, although, I will say that it's helped me to get out of the house faster in the morning, and likely will help me get into bed sooner in the evening, and focus my internet time more carefully. I suspect it will also lead me to read more books, and perhaps even write more in my paper diary (yes, I do have one of those, some thoughts are not fit for publication...) So, there are benefits, even if it is generally a royal pain in the ass.
All of this has got me thinking a bit about our relationship with the internet. It's interesting that so many institutions like schools, hospitals, and major corporations rely on the internet as part of their emergency alert system for closings and major events. That's great as long as you have access to the internet at home, but some people don't. I'm thinking now of someone like myself, but I'm also thinking of someone who can't afford another bill to pay, or someone who doesn't own a computer.
Also, the internet is only good as long as the lights stay on. Emergency alerts don't do a damn bit of good if no one can turn their computer on!
So, the internet is a great tool, and I love all the information it gives me access to. But, we should remember how to live and operate in its absence, because nothing is permanent, and it's best to be prepared.
That's my deep thought. Here's my practical thought: I'm going to do my best to continue blogging during this outage, while I figure out what I'm going to do about the situation. But, if I miss a post, you know why. I hope you'll forgive me! If you do happen to click your way onto the blog, and find that nothing new has been posted, I recommend you take the time to read some of the "best of" posts. I promise you'll enjoy!
Friday, January 02, 2009
Despite that New Year's Day falls on a completely arbitrary date (Any given date is exactly one year from the last time that date popped up on the calendar...), any holiday based on celebrating with friends is OK in my book.
A little less than one year ago I set out some goals for myself to accomplish in 2008. I know I said the other day that I prefer to look forward than back, but I still find myself glad that I had the chance to look back on what I hoped to accomplish in this past year.
I'm proud to say that I accomplished every one of the six goals I set out for myself, more or less. OK, so I didn't win the kind of bike races that I was hoping to, but I was close, and light years ahead of where I was in 2007, and that's pretty good! On the other hand, I did write more, I did my best to be a better person, I've done a good job of staying in touch with a lot of my friends who have spread themselves far and wide, I trained harder, and I cast my vote for a presidential candidate who I believe will be a boon for this country.
I'm writing this post in my pajamas, from my parent's couch. Clearly, I'm in Brooklyn enjoying the waning moments of my vacation from work. It's been nice to spend a week away from the office, but a paycheck is a paycheck, and as such, I will return to work on Sunday, ready to resume coverage of politics in government in Saratoga Springs.
But before then, I've got a few thoughts for this coming year:
The top five goals for 2009:
1) Train harder and more efficiently, with the goal of winning bike races, especially the Tour of the Battenkill.
2) Write more and expand my publishing repertoire.
3) Continue to stay in touch with my friends scattered far and wide.
4) Eat better.
5) Live simply to achieve rich ends.
A final thought: I wrote 257 posts on this blog in 2008. I love writing here, and I am proud of the small-but-growing community of readers who frequent this site. By necessity, I'll be making some changes to the format of this blog in the coming days and weeks, but I will have more information on that in the next couple days. In the mean time, thank you for reading, it's truly a pleasure to write for such a great audience.
Happy New Year!