The most interesting thing that I did today was "supervising" the assembly of a Cetma Cargo bike. I've put the word supervising in quotation marks for the obvious reason that, while I was in the workshop while the bike was going together, I had all but nothing to do with its assembly.
Cetma employs a steering rod system that locates the tiny front wheel way out in front of you, and ahead of a large cargo platform, to which you can mount a cargo box or large objects. The rider sits fairly upright, and the whole bike is is very stout and seems that it could confidently carry lots of stuff.
I didn't get to load the bike up, but I did take the bike for a couple of laps around the warehouse. Despite it's long beam, it managed nearly all of the building's tight turns. I overcooked one turn and nearly collided with a refrigerator, but it was otherwise a successful first run. I'm looking forward to testing the bike more fully in the near future.
In some kind of a weird trend, the Cetma is orange, just like the Yubba Mundo I've been testing since mid-December. I'd say, if you're buying a cargo bike in 2011, orange is the hot color.
Of course, I've been riding an orange bike since June, so I was ahead of the trend, as usual.
Riding around the warehouse notwithstanding, I'm feeling pretty bummed that I didn't get outside for a ride today. As it turned out, it was a really nice day and some of my co-workers came back to work after the lunch ride looking flushed with fun. I spent my lunch hour working.
With the 2011 Buyer's Guide about to ship, we're all incredibly busy and there were days last week when I legitimately could not leave my desk during the day, but I could have taken a break today, as my co-workers did. Bad decision making on my part, I suppose. Underlying my disappointment, of course, is the knowledge that in a scant few hours it's forecast to start snowing, and won't let up until sometime on Wednesday afternoon.
Worse than that, after snowing for a while, it's going to change over to ice, sleet, and freezing rain, so I'm not feeling really optimistic about my chances of riding outside for the next few days. So it goes. I guess I'll be focusing on my rollers for the next few days.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The most interesting thing that I did today was "supervising" the assembly of a Cetma Cargo bike. I've put the word supervising in quotation marks for the obvious reason that, while I was in the workshop while the bike was going together, I had all but nothing to do with its assembly.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I have pretty much nothing on my mind tonight.
As usual, I had a successful weekend of riding my bike, hanging out and doing very little else.
Well, that's not exactly true. I found time to vacuum and clean my bathroom and kitchen floors, which was good, as they both needed it pretty badly. Also, after having my blender out of commission needing a new rubber seal for a few weeks, I finally got my new blender part in the mail, and was able to return to one of my favorite things, which is making humus.
Ah, my humus is so much better than the crap you buy in the store. Stop by any time if you'd like to try some.
What else can I write?
For no particular reason, I was perusing the the New York Review of Book, and discovered that they have personals. Who knew? As you would expect, folks advertising in the personals are of a certain age range, which seems to be about five years north of 40. Still, an interesting read.
Less than five days to Girl Talk at the Electric Factory!
I'm hoping to have more coherent thoughts to share tomorrow. Goodnight.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
My new home here in Pennsylvania has a couple really attractive features: a tall ceiling with really large windows that let in lots and lots of light at almost all times of day. However, the walls are all the same boring shade of white, and the carpet is an equally dull beige. I get a little variety in the kitchen's and bathroom's vinyl flooring, which is a yellowy shade of beige.
With my busy work and cycling life, I haven't done as good a job decorating my apartment as I would liked. Read: I haven't even made time to hang up any posters. In fact, until very recently, my only nod to decorating most of my place was to hang a framed collage of the vista from Mount Skylight in the Adirondacks, a poster from the Tour of the Battenkill, and to tack a Lehigh County road map to the wall. (I did slightly better in the bedroom, which got a tapestry treatment and some family photos.)
But I'm trying to improve, with the thought that I might want to entertain here someday.
To that end, I spent the majority of this evening framing a pair of photos that I took, printed, and mounted at some point in high school, and which have been on display for years in many of my residences but never framed. Both were taken while hiking in the Adirondacks in the winter. Despite the wintry setting one of the photos feels kinda warm. The other is just cold.
This is what my hall looked like, as viewed from the front door
Note the toaster oven
The trouble with me doing photography in high school is that I didn't think to mount things on usefully-sized mats, figuring that any old slab of poster board would be fine. Not so. A large frame was too large, a standard-size was too small, so I took a trip to the art supply store and bought some poster board and an X-Acto knife, then spent tonight making new mats, in different sizes, one for each of the two photos. I even remembered to clean the glass before I put everything together.
Note the misplaced bicycle in the living room
and the Lehigh County map
Do I have a future as a framer? I'm not going to quit my day job, but I could do it again if I had to. The photos look pretty decent, even if I do say so myself, and have done a lot to improve my hallway.
Lest any dudes out there think that all this talk of decorating and picture frames are reasons to question my manhood, here's a photo of the recycling in my kitchen sink, proving that I'm still a dude:
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
It was snowing when I got up this morning, and I rode to work (on a cargo bike, yes, that's still happening) in about three inches of new snow.
Snowfall let up sometime mid-morning, before starting again around lunch, tapering off, then starting again in earnest some time later this afternoon, while I was in my office with my head bent over my keyboard.
Snow crusted but smiling
My nose did eventually return to its normal color
I was scheduled for a day off of the bike today anyway, so a ski trip was clearly in order. Leaving work around 6, I raced home (on the cargo bike, of course), threw on a couple layers and my ski pants and headed out to my car.
Clearing off what amounted to about six inches of snow took a little longer than I had thought it would, but I was soon on my way to Bear Creek. Driving was not ideal, but I eventually made it to the mountain, which was relatively uncrowded with people, and very crowded with new snowflakes.
After skiing at Blue Mountain a few weeks ago, this was my first trip to Bear Creek, which is closer to home, but features less terrain and a shorter vertical drop. Did I mention that it was closer to home? Like 20 minutes away instead of 45. Incidentally, I was supposed to have a buddy to ski tonight, but she bailed at the eleventh hour.
The smaller mountain had a few trails that were pretty fun, and the new snow definitely kept things interesting. The slope was crowded with young kids on snowboards who seemed not to know how to ski in unconsolidated powder. I, however, knew what to do with it, and spent a really fun few hours poaching the still-untracked powder on the periphery of the steeper slopes.
All the while, the snow continued to fall, which had the dual effect of keeping the skiing good and making everything wet. After all, it was right around the freezing mark, making for a wet evening of skiing.
Eventually, I decided I'd had enough (the snow was still good, but my layers were getting wetter by the minute), ate a quick dinner in the lodge, and returned to my car, which was buried under a fresh six-inch blanket of snow, and had been plowed in a few times over.
A few minutes of rocking back and forth and I was eventually able to back the car out of the spot (pulling forward was ruled out by a headlight-height bank of plowed snow), and started home. The main road leading from the hill was in good shape, but the old Nissan struggled mightily to get over even some of the smaller hills on the way home, crawling at bicycle speeds or even slower. Roads hadn't been plowed in a while, and a few times snow was deep enough even to drift over the hood of my car.
At this point, I'm happy to have the car parked
and nervous that it will be stuck for a while
Fortunately, there wasn't a lot of other traffic, and I was relieved to get back to main roads, and eventually back to Emmaus. ... At which point began the next part of my adventure -- parking the car. Getting my car up the driveway was a challenge, opening the gate to my building's lot required me to dig out a bunch of snow, then I got the car stuck twice in the middle of the lot, before I was finally able to excavate more snow from under the car to get some traction and ramming the sedan into a spot -- sort of. I'm not gonna, lie, the car is a little less than straight, and may be hanging out the back of the spot, but so it goes.
It was late.
So ends another skiing adventure. I'll be glad to have gotten these turns in when I head to Colorado to visit Eric for President's Day weekend.
Dieter Drake is fighting to ensure that he has access to top-level teams for this year's Tour of the Battenkill Pro Invitational. Earlier this week the fight got legal.
And now, other NY cycling organizations are falling in to support Dieter and the Battenkill. Here's an open letter sent from Constantine Kontogiannis, president of the Capital Bicycle Racing Club to officials at USAC:
Capital Bicycle Racing Club
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Two days of posts about spinning. So it goes.
Tonight was trivia night here in Emmaus, and since trivia doesn't start until 9, it leaves an awkward pause between the end of work and the start of spinning. This, of course, isn't a problem for me, since I fill the hours between 6 and 9 on most week nights by spinning, showering, cooking and eating, but my friends who live slightly less-disciplined (read: more fun) lives were left looking to fill a couple hours.
I don't know what everyone did, but one of my co-workers came over to join in the fun of three, 20-minute sub-threshold intervals.
My boss, when we saw him, briefly, between spinning and trivia, said that some things aren't Kosher for two men to do together. I say that it was a little odd, but also kinda fun to have a partner for "spin class" in my living room, even if Matt didn't really put his all into the 20-minute efforts. He can be forgiven--I've been working up to those since mid-December, and they're still pretty painful.
The thought I had during our spin session was that spin instructors in real spin classes have it really rough. How the hell do they manage to talk so damn much? While concentrating on my own effort it was all I could do to give Matt occasional updates on how much longer my suffering would go on for. Matt gamely acknowledged the updates, mercifully humoring me. But, during a 20-minute interval time updates only came after long periods of silent riding.
If I were a spin instructor I think I would do things a little differently: no 20-minute intervals, really frequent updates on how long the suffering was going on for, lots of announcements about target power/hear rate. I'll fine-tune my presentation for my living room spin class.
For now, I'm in recovery mode, good night.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sometimes, things just click.
Today was one such day.
I had a rough day at work. Not because of anything work related, just because I was tired and frustrated that certain things aren't progressing as quickly as I would like them (due entirely to situations outside of our control). As a result, while I still had plenty of work to do, it wasn't nearly as busy a day as I was geared up for it.
The combination of being tired and not having enough to keep me busy resulted in a rough day in which all I wanted to do was put my throbbing head on my desk and shut my eyes. I made it through, though, and left once I'd finished the day's tasks.
It wasn't just me. Shortly before I wrapped up for the day, Brad stopped by my office to commiserate on similarly exhausted feelings. Maybe lots of time outside in the cold outside temperatures this weekend contributed to things.
At home the schedule for riding was an hour-long recovery spin, and I don't think I couldn't have born the thought of any more time on the bike. But there was no doubt that I needed to spin some crap out of my legs, so I chamoised up and got on the rollers. After about 20 minutes I started to feel a lot better.
Not only did the lactic acid that had kept me limping around all day leave my legs, but my head cleared and I felt great to be pedaling my bike, even if in my living room.
I got to the hour mark and kept rolling. It just felt good to be riding, so way stop?
I rolled to an 90 minutes and figured it was best not to overdo it. I hopped off the bike feeling great and went about the evening.
Hours later, after I'd showered, hurt myself with too much chili, and caught up on some important TV, and was relaxing on the couch my phone rang. It was pretty late for calls, and sure enough, it was my friend Amanda calling from Seattle, a land where clocks are set three hours behind us here on the eastern seaboard. Amanda, incidentally was returning from the gym, and was all hopped on endorphins. We've been playing phone tag for a while, so it was great to finally connect with her.
By that point I was way too sedate for Amanda's up-tempo energy, but I totally get it. Exercise just feels good sometimes.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
In the face of being alone in a totally new community, a long road to new friendships, and what seemed like few romantic prospects, it probably should have been harder to throw away what had been a serious relationship. When the time came, it was startlingly easy. I’d come to realize that we had no future. I’d moved four hours away from her for a new job and was left searching for reasons to put in the long distance effort. We had fun living around the corner from each other, but it there wasn’t enough substance to abide the distance.
So suddenly I was living alone. I mean, I’ve lived alone for years, but then I was really alone: No one comes over for a whimsical dinner on quiet work nights. No one else knows where to find the glasses in the kitchen. No one else hangs a coat on the rack. No one leaves long hairs on the pillowcase. I get no remonstration when I sprawl across the entire couch. Worst of all, there’s only one toothbrush in my toothbrush stand.
There’s no such thing as a stand for one toothbrush. My stand has four slots, and try though it does, my toothbrush will only occupy one at a time.
In headier times I had two toothbrushes in that same holder, and that felt pretty good. I was halfway toward the full house that big box retailers told me I should strive for. Better still, when I was home alone there was evidence of another person. When I had a girlfriend and a roommate, three brushes made the holder feel brilliantly full. One more and we’d have been a family in the best consumerist sense of the word. Those were good days, embodied by soaring social capital. That feels like a long time ago.
Every morning and every night when I go to wash away sleep’s sticky sludge or the day’s food debris, I find myself contemplating the empty slots in my toothbrush holder. For a while, even after I’d allegedly severed all ties with my former companion, I kept her toothbrush around. The lavender-and-white implement never asked how my day was, or how I was feeling, or what time I needed to get up in the morning and should it set its own alarm, but it did helped me feel like I was still sharing my life and my home.
Of course, it was only illusion. If I didn’t make the bed in the morning, no one else was going to. Without anyone else in my space with any regularity, I had to come up with reasons to keep the kitchen clean, fold the laundry, and vacuum – all things I’d gotten in the habit doing, primarily, to create an environment a girl could be convinced to visit. What folly.
That toothbrush mocked me with its false sense of shared space, so I used it to clean greasy bicycle parts in my kitchen sink. The translucent bristles turned black after a while, so I dropped it into the trash, one more bit of waste on top of months spent in pursuit of a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.
I did keep the toothbrush holder, if only to stay focused on relationships to come.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Every year for the past few years I've had the same conversation with my Dad on a call home, usually on a Sunday evening:
Dad: "Hi, how was you're weekend? Whudja do?"
Me: "It was pretty good, got out for some nice rides."
Dad: "How can you ride when the roads are covered in snow?"
Me: "Well, they plow the roads and then you can ride."
Dad: "It's amazing that they can clear the roads, you'd think they would be all icy for the winter."
Me: "Yup, pretty amazing."
The conversation then transition into a more general discussion of how cold it is during the winter.
Of course, I should cut my Dad a little slack: he lives in Brooklyn, where they have a harder time keeping roads clear during the winter.
I suppose, though, that I can forgive Dad for this annual line of questioning. After all, it is really cold out there, and riding a bike for hours on end in the frosty dead of winter may not seem like the ideal use of one's time.
To underscore the point, here's a the latest edit from my partner in 'cross crime, which illustrates, I would guess, the understanding attitude he experience in his domicile after a day of training:
John may be an architect by day, but I heard that he's been moonlighting as a stand up act on the Saratoga Comedy Club's revolving stock of dinner venues. This video may be some of his best work yet.
Of course, I may finally find that this weekend is not conducive to riding, based on this un-promising forecast. Of course, with 24 hours to clear roads between the projected end of the storm and the likely start of a Saturday ride, who knows?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
After writing yesterday's post, I got to thinking about the little things that make the difference.
This weekend, I'd say that it was about 15 degrees that made the differences between a really pleasant ride on Sunday and absolute sufferfest on Monday.
Last night, when I left my apartment for a failed attempt at trivia, the air felt downright pleasant, but it was, in fact, below freezing, and I nearly slipped on ice on the sidewalk.
Tomorrow it's going to be a "balmy" 27 degrees and I'm planning on heading out for my first outdoor ride since Monday at lunch. I'll be throwing fenders on the bike later tonight, and bracing for a bracingly chilly ride, but I'll be happy to get off the rollers.
That brings me to my next topic. On some nights the rollers make me hate riding my bike. Tonight was one of those nights. I was tired, my legs were heavy, and I didn't really feel like doing much of anything. But I knew my legs needed a little recovery so I dragged myself onto the rollers and suffered through a 90-minute ride. I couldn't put my bike aside fast enough when it was over.
Last night, by contrast, I busted out an hour-long tempo effort, keeping my power readings slammed up against the ceiling of my aerobic capacity for the full 60 minutes. About halfway in I realized that while I was working hard, and that sweat was accumulating in a pool under the bike, I felt really great. I pushed a little harder.
I was surprised when the two hours allotted for my total workout had elapsed, feeling like I could have easily gone another hour.
What was the difference here? Probably not more than the sum total of hours on the bike catching up with me. I haven't had a day off the bike in ... a while. Why would I take a day off? Riding is more fun than not riding. But sometimes, you gotta go easy on yourself.
We've got some more weather slated to blow in on Friday, so maybe I'll take it easy that day, before seeing what the weekend holds.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Turnout was impressive considering the cold
And, organizers swear that set up didn't take too much extra work
Appologies for taking an extra couple days off from the blog here, I was observing the holiday on Sunday night, and then headed down to Philadelphia for a Park Tool Tech Summit yesterday, and didn't get back until after blogging hours.
I know that some readers get miffed when I through around the "hipster" term "epic," and it's understandable, as it is a fairly lame word, but with this weekend's extra day of fun, I did find time for some great riding, some of which may (or may not ) qualify as epic -- in the hipster sense, or otherwise.
Saturday, which was the same day as the season's last 'cross race in this state, saw me head out with a small group from the Trexlertown Velo, only to loop back through Emmaus, and then out and around Hellertown.
Rumor has it that snowballs were the spectators' weapon of choice
Fortunately, I left before that
Afterward, we circled back to watch the start of the B race at Camp Olympic, before heading for warm showers.
The 'cross race, by the way, had impressive turnout for a race in January, and looked a lot less sketchy than I had imagined and feared. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I regretted not racing, but folks who were racing certainly did have a good time.
Readers in northern Europe say that plowing is not traditional,
in that part of the world
Sunday brought a derby in relatively warm temps (mid 30s), and a large group. Many of the heavies who had made life though the week before have left town, so I had no trouble riding at the front of the group, although forcing a split over the climb in Topton turned out to be impossible.
A large group came into the finish together with young Wes taking the win, and with me somewhere just behind. Afterward, I headed out for some bonus miles with the big winner and some other fools. Again, it was warm out, and it was easy to keep on pedaling the day away.
When I finally did get home, my clock read almost exactly five hours, the longest ride of the year to date. I then proceeded to lie prostrate on the couch for the rest of the day. Time well spent, if you ask me.
For Sunday's Derby I had some sweet test wheels on my bike
Easton EC90 Aero carbon clinchers
fast, but apparently not quite fast enough
So, for the three day holiday weekend, I got 10.5 hours in the books. Not a bad stretch of training. Is it next weekend yet?
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I was getting some sass earlier this evening when I arrived late to meet friends for dinner and drinks as a result of spending 90 minutes on the rollers at home.
I guess I've always been a little lame in that way -- choosing to miss some or all of certain gatherings in order to make time to ride my bike. Is it worth it? I guess we'll see, come April.
There's no doubt that it's tough to take the endless hours of roller/trainer time, and the only thing that kept me sweating in the living room tonight was an endless visualization loop of my strategy for winning the Tour of the Battenkill in April. If I finally succeed in standing on that podium in Cambridge, after four years of near- and wide-misses, then, yes, missing one beer at the bar on a random Thursday will certainly have been worth it.
If, however, I have another season devoid of results, I may be thinking differently.
But, then again, maybe not.
Almost since the time I graduated high school I've looked to bicycle racing to give my life structure and some sense of purpose. Refusing to define myself by my job (until now), I needed something "to be," outside of my profession, and cycling has been it. Of course, I have other interests and activities, but I structure my days around when I'm going to ride, and for how long.
I'm sorry, sassy friends, but it's hard to imagine a day when beer will out-prioritize pedaling. Does that make me lame? A loser? A dork? Yeah, probably, but so it goes. At this stage of my life, when I'm without serious commitments outside of work, and I still have the time and energy to pursue this endless dream of being ever-faster on two wheels, I'm going to run with it -- at the occasional expense of my dignity. I have a feeling it won't last forever, but while it's still here I want to hang on.
So, yes, I was sorry to be late to the bar tonight, and I may very well be late to happy hour at the bike shop tomorrow, but I'll be happy when I'm dusting you on the climbs, come spring time. We can still have beers after.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Although I wish it weren't snowing, I have to admit that the view out my living room windows, onto Emmaus's triangle, is very pretty, in a wintry sort of way.
Sadly, the seasonal Christmas tree and lights were removed, courtesy of the fire department's cat rescue truck, so we lose that bit of seasonality. Notwithstanding, it looks a lot like winter is supposed to look outside -- in January.
There was a lot of talk today about schools closing (more from the NYC crowd then here), and lots of people announced plans to work from home. I can't say I blame anyone for not wanting to schlep into the office in a snow storm -- I wish I could make a legitimate claim to not being able to get to work due to snow. Sadly, I made the decision to live mere blocks from the office. It would take a real whopper of a storm to keep me home.
Of course, transit is another matter. Now that I've passed the Yuba onto another tester, and I am currently without a 'cross bike, I'm not entirely sure how I'll get to work tomorrow. My off-hand guess is that it would take about as long to trudge through the snow on foot as it would to dig my car out. BUT, I'll have to get the car out eventually and leaving it buried under a white blanket tomorrow and for a few days would really only postpone the cleaning chore -- while potentially making it more difficult when it finally does come time.
After work, there are still more decisions. With all this snow, it's awfully tempting to hit Ladies' Day at Blue Mountain, but this skiing habit could get pricey in a hurry, and, after skipping a day of riding last week, I don't know if I can handle the guilt of another day off the bike. We'll see, we'll see. On the up side, today's snow held off long enough for the crew to get a lunch ride in today. Could be a few days before the roads are clear for the next one.
For now, it's more chillin' at home watching the snow fall and contemplating tomorrow's activities.
Monday, January 10, 2011
We had a conversation about leg shaving at work today, ahead of an upcoming feature on leg shaving. this got me thinking that while I used to enjoy cracking jokes about leg shaving in my office, they don't really go over as well in an office where most of my male colleagues (and presumably, the women as well) also shave their legs.
In fact, the non-shaving men are more likely to be sneered at than those of us with the body-builder treatment. Working in an office with such vast and deep cycling experience, it's not unusual to overheard conversations on a variety of cycling topics -- anything from fitness to nutrition to maintenance or technology. Yet, in all my years of cycling, I haven't heard anyone talk about the finer points of shaving since my college days, when me and the team took those first, tentative razor strokes.
Although we would almost certainly have thought Bicycling was below us at that point, a how-to-guide, of sorts, would have been really useful. Plus, I think we can do much better than the type of guides currently available for cyclists (our model will certainly have more impressive calves). So, look for that over the summer.
While we're on the topic, I think it's kinda funny that some men shave their legs as if they're extensions of your face. Clearly, we want to put our best calves (and quads) forward, but do you really think aftershave on your legs is a worthwhile investment of time or money? Apparently someone does. Just a thought.
On a completely unrelated note, despite the hurdle of an electric range, I manage to invent a new dish for dinner tonight. I'm going to call it Chorizo Dahl. As the name suggests, this is an Indian dish prepared with Spanish sausage. While I wasn't sure how the strong flavors of the chorizo would mesh with curry spices, it all came together very nicely. I used split and hulled mung beans to give dinner a thick consistency. With the chorizo working in concert with the Indian spices to provide flavors, I stirred some chicken into the pot with chopped onion. Once all the meat was cooked through I added in some broth and diced tomatoes from a can. After 45 of simmering I finished it up with some peas and served it hot.
I can still feel the meal's warmth in my stomach. Next time I'll add a little more liquid to give the dish a slightly thinner consistency -- and get some Naan from my local Indian grocer to round things out a little more.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
I just gotta say that the world is a scary place. If that weren't enough, how about this?
I just finished reading Dead Eye Dick, which was refreshingly pessimistic, as are most Vonnegut novels. In another of his novels, and one of the most influential books that I've read, Cat's Cradle, the world become encapsulated in a solid layer of ice. Two of the survivors of the initial freeze, presumably for want of anything better to do, fuck in a subterranean bunker. Post-coitus, the woman says to her erstwhile lover: "It would be very sad to have a little baby now. Don't you agree?"
Hopefully we have better times ahead, but the level of vitriol, hate and anger in this nation (and world) is downright frightening at the moment. Earlier this weekend I was cc'd on a facebook message questioning the former governor of Alaska (and her gun sight list of political adversaries). Within moments I had a lengthy string of semi-literate responses from crazed right-wingers defending she of the great snowy north.
My feelings on Palin and her followers aside, we've lost something as a culture when adults are resorting to trying to blast each other via facebook over a silly map instead of engaging in substantive discussions on how to improve our society. Now some people are calling for a lowly sheriff to resign just because he had the nerve to identify a very real problem in his state? That makes about as much sense as Mayor Bloomberg's administration demoting a firefighter because the city's sanitation department couldn't keep the roads clear. uhg. OK, I know that's an oversimplification, but I think I get the point across. (For the record, I'm still a Bloomberg fan, but I'm a little disappointed in him at the moment.
Back to la-la land now:
Despite the fact that it was snowing on Saturday morning, I went for a three-hour road ride with three other hardy/foolish souls, leaving from South Mountain Cycles and winding up at the Western Salisbury fire station for an emergency bike wash (courtesy of Chief Schneider).
That was a real experience, and I can safely say that even as the four of us on the ride mocked all the "fools" at home on their trainers, I would rather have been a fool at home on my trainer watching a movie in the warm. Next time. Or maybe not -- the facebook photos were pretty awesome.
Today's ride was windy, but other wise a lot of fun. After making the initial split, I got popped from the lead group on the derby, but take some solace in the fact that pretty much everyone ahead of me was a legitimate heavy hitter, including at least two pros. I'll hang with them next week -- if it's not snowing.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
I'm at a loss for what to write about tonight. I feel like I've got a few ideas that I've been percolating, but nothing that's quite ready to come to the surface.
Well, I did have one idea that's pretty much fully-formed, but it would have been a better post for a day on which I'd taken a photo in my office.
My office is a fairly standard office, but it has one unusual feature: a four-way window that gives me a view into three of the offices with which I share walls. When I first moved in there was a large poster on the sill of my window, blocking the view, but I recently removed the poster, opening up a view into the two offices occupied by Bicycling's web staff. With the poster in place, I sat at my computer with my back to the door, and was -- for all intents and purposes -- alone in my office.
Now, if I crane my neck while in a seated position I can see the top of Matt Allyn's head, as he's seated at his computer. If I stand up, Matt and I can exchange signs or shout through the glass. If I move to the other side of the room, the angle changes and I can see into the office of Daniel McMahon, the newest member of the staff. The third office is occupied by Bicycling's contract specialist, but she has a large paining on her sill, so it's hard to see into her office.
Architecturally, I would guess that the windows were put in place to help bring sunlight deeper into the building (I'm on the inside and don't have any exterior windows, but sunlight still streams into my office from my neighbors across the hall). From an experiential standpoint, the effect of the windows is to create a more open feeling, even in my enclosed workspace.
While some might not appreciate the invasion into their privacy, for someone like me, who came from working in a newsroom's open pit, where desks were separated by mere inches and low dividers, the effect is warmly communal. I can't easily spin in my desk chair to ask my neighbor a question, but it's closer and I'm glad that I got rid of my poster. Still, the number of emails I exchange with people who work in similar offices just feet from me is startling.
But, in the world of publication deadlines, who has time to walk down the hall?
See, wouldn't this post have been better with a photo?
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
It was was also considerably shinier
Check out that contrasting license plate!
One time I got locked out of my car. OK -- I'll admit that his has happened more than once. But, this one particular time was not my fault. See, I was off racing my bike, and one of my genius team mates back in our college days had the good sense to put my keys in the trunk's rain gutter for safe keeping while he changed.
Another team mate then closed the trunk, trapping the keys in plain site, but in a completely inaccessible spot. Everyone was standing around scratching their heads when I finished the race, sweaty and cold. Back in those days, the latch that opened the trunk from inside the car still worked, but, of course, the doors had all been locked as well.
Fortunately for us, a kindly Massachusetts State Trooper was hanging around and was all to please to use a wedge and rod to break us back into my car. Thank god for small favors. The photo above shows members of the 2006 Skidmore Cycling team (and someone's Dad) peering through the windows, watching the trooper jimmy the door open. We had another dad keep an eye on the trooper, to make sure he didn't try to steal the car.
Mostly, though, I just wanted to post this photo tonight for one silly reason: sometime in the next month I will cease to have NY plates on my car, trading them in for much less-attractive (sorry) PA plates.
The prospects of having to learn a new tag number, and being unable to recognize my own vehicle are tough to swallow, but that pales in comparison to a sadder thought: even after leaving Brooklyn for Saratoga back in 2003, I've always been a New Yorker, I just lived a couple hours up the Hudson.
Obviously, I'm still a New Yorker (actually, I'm much closer to home now than I used to be), but the license plate is one more tie to home that I'm giving up. Plus, the out-of-state plates let everyone around me know that I don't really belong here -- I'm just in town for the awesome job and riding scene. Perhaps I'll get a bumper sticker that says: "Displaced New Yorker aboard -- stay the f*ck out of my way."
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
It's been a really long time since I've been skiing -- nearly two years, to be precise. In January, 2009, I visited my brother and Tom and we shreded Aspen.
Then, without plans to travel out west, and disinclined to subject myself to the crowds and wanting conditions of the east coast without the westward draw dangling like a carrot in front of me, I opted to hang my boards up for a while.
I'm not sure I ever really thought "a while" would stretch so dangerously close to 104 weeks, but so it goes.
A few weeks ago a new friend here in Pennsylvania invited me to join a few people going to nearby Blue Mountain. Having realized sometime ago that focusing on riding my bike with such singular abandon for the past year resulted not only in a shitty season, but also in me being less happy, I decided that this was as good a time as any to get back on the slopes.
I think I made a good decision.
Not only was it a very fun evening, but the snow was surprisingly good and the company, as always, was good for more than a few laughs. I divided my time between trying to coach some of the newer skiers (for which I felt particularly unprepared) and carving some of the mountain's diverse terrain. Although some slopes had been skied off, I found a few "stashes" of "powder." Quotation marks in use for obvious reasons. I even talked my hostess into riding a black-diamond "death drop." I think we're all better for it.
Being that it was my first day back on skis, I refrained from riding the half pipe, but I did launch a backside 540 McTwist over a 100-foot tabletop -- to the amazement of the assembled high school kids. Yeah, I'm a real hero.
Best of all, everyone in our group remained bodily intact, and would consider another outing to the slopes. A successful evening indeed.
Monday, January 03, 2011
I'm sitting on my couch tonight with a belly full of turkey chilly and a heart full of pride.
Why? Aside from the especially-delicious chilly, I'm feeling happy to have had the chance to appear in a Skidmore student's documentary film project about the re-birth of the Skidmore Cycling Club. Skidmore Cycling, of course, is where I got my start in bike racing all those years ago. I'm really happy that these guys are committed to racing this year, and appear to be on their way to do great things.
Here's Paul Russell's film:
Watching the footage of these guys brings me right back to my early days, when I didn't really know how to ride in a paceline, couldn't tell my knee warmers from my bibs, and would occasionally forget to clip out of my pedals. Everyone is a beginner at some point.
I've always been grateful for the time I had on the cycling team, and I hope that it will be as meaningful for this new generation as it was for me all those years ago. It's also worth noting that the film has obvious parallels to "Sweat the Drops," a film made by my fellow Skidmore Cycling alum Dave Brown (only one of the two of us is a convicted thief) about the team's first season.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find that film on youtube to link too, but if I come across a copy I will post it for your viewing pleasure.
I unloaded a closet full of old cycling clothes on these guys before I moved to Pennsylvania and was pleased to see a few pairs of my old bibs in the film. (Don't worry, they were clean!) For taking all that stuff off my hands, I am forever grateful. In what was a fairly fitting adieu to good old Saratoga, my last ride as a resident of the Spa City (for now, at least) was completed with members of the club. Although I was sorry not to get one more ride in with friends, there was something very poetic about that ride. For me anyway, I'm sure it was lost on the college set.
Before my move to Pennsylvania, I had offered my service to the club, with the aim of getting them pointed toward success. I am sorry that I won't be around to help, but I'll be following from a distance, and hope to be witness to a very successful first season back.
I've come a long way since the early days. On Wednesday, Coach Scott has deemed it necessary to engage in some foolish "power testing," which sounds like something that will be really, really painful and not at all fun. So it goes. Hopefully no one will tell the Skidmore guys that getting serious about racing bikes sometimes leads to killing any fun the sport may have once represented.
At least I usually remember to clip out of my pedals these days.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Happy New Year! After two consecutive long weekends, the holidays are over and we're into a whole new year.
Unfortunately, unlike Christmas weekend, I didn't get any riding in over New Years weekend. I did get the chance for a long-overdue catchup with Dante (and Rachel), as well as Travis, Brett, Eryn and my brother. Time well spent, even if I am feeling fat, lazy, and jittery with excess energy. It'll be back on the bike tomorrow, and not a day too soon.
Even if I had found the time to get out and ride, the streets in Brooklyn are still choked with snow, to the point where riding, while possible, would have been a very wet (and potentially dangerous) affair.
Speaking of snow, I really thought everyone in the city was overblowing the impact of last week's snow storm in NYC, but, in fact, there is a whole lot of snow in the city right now. Driving into the city on Friday with Dante, we got waylaid by both snowbanks in Jersey, and front-end loaders on Court Street.
My Mom had been going on for days about how I wasn't going to be able to find a parking spot, and although I scoffed that she was being an alarmist (as usual). But, in fact, with the volume of snow mounded in parking lanes and the number of cars still not dug out, parking spots are scarce.
I pounced on the first one I saw in reasonable proximity to home, choosing to lug my bag an extra couple blocks rather than risking not getting a spot at all. As it turned out, I think this was a good decision -- no sooner than I'd stepped out of the car than a lady walked up and asked if I was going to leaving, "Like, ever?"
"Nope, staying forever," was the obvious answer.
There are a few odd things that I've noticed about the way the city handles snow, especially now that I have the perspective of living in a place that's used to having snow on a regular basis. My observations are thus: there is no space set aside in the infrastructure for snow storage, people don't seem to know how to drive in the snow, there does not seem to be any expectation to maintain a clear walkway on residential streets.
Finally, and most importantly, people seem to think that because there is snow on the ground, there's no need to pick up after their dogs. Yup. Everywhere is dog poo. Lovely.
On that tasty thought, I'd note that it's been my custom since starting this blog to set out some goals for the coming year in my first blog post of the year. To be honest, I haven't had a moment to think about what my goals might be this year, so I'm going to hold off for now, but, fear not, goals will be coming!