Thursday, July 31, 2008
Yesterday I was sitting at work (not UP) minding my own business when Oliver Sutton, my boss walks up and says, "Hey Fred."
So I'm like "Yes, Mr. Sutton? How may I help you sir?"
And he's like "A bunch of us are knocking off early Friday to go over to the Cox Challenge, Wanna go?"
"Hell yeah," I argued.
So that's how my casual Friday is shaping up. I should steal a potato just for old time sake.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I used to commute to work by bicycle then, too. It was an old Schwinn continental '10 speed'. Brown. Rusty. The commute was 8 miles (one way). Now I have 15 miles (one way). Of course, I have two pedals now. I only had one then. Really. The right one was gone. Not the crank arm, just the pedal. It had completely broken off a few weeks before. It was either ride that bike or walk 4 miles to take a bus the other 4 (which I did sometimes). Sometimes I went by skateboard. Really.
It was in Ft. Collins Colorado. I lived in the southwest part of town and worked 4 miles north and 4 miles east of there. At Wendy's. Getting there was mostly downhill so that was no problem.
The way back required a little more effort. I would pedal with my left foot and push down on the right crank with my right. It wasn't bad after I got the hang of it. I was pretty poor back then, so I used to steal potatoes from Wendy's and cook them at home. I once tried to make spaghetti with a handful of ketchup packets and some Ramen noodles. It came out tasting surprisingly like I had just dumped a bunch of ketchup onto my Ramen. It was terrible. Maybe I should have used Catsup. Or even spaghetti sauce (yeah, whatever, Howard Hughes!) People used to call spendthrifts 'Howard Hughes' back then. Now they say 'Bill Gates'. Oh, they also used to call people spendthrifts. Did I mention that this was the 1940's?
That's the only time in my life that I stole stuff on a regular basis. It's interesting to me. I never had any guilt about stealing stuff that I felt I needed. I was just happy I didn't spend money on whatever it was I stole. I've never been that poor since then (I've been close), so my sense of right and wrong has improved dramatically.
I had no furniture. I had no bed. I didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out. All I had was Floyd. Just kidding, I didn't have Floyd. I did buy a color TV at a garage sale for 25 dollars. The brand was 'Ford'. Yeah, it had the blue oval car logo on it. Good TV.
But that's not why this morning reminded me of 1986. Unfortunately, my ride took me right by the Colorado State Campus. I was 21 at the time, so it was particularly humiliating to be pedaling this old rusty Schwinn up a hill in my Wendy's uniform (nametag and all), pushing the right side crank arm with my greasy brown "all man made materials" work shoe, next to a bunch of extreme college hotties, sitting in the grass socializing with clean, non-greasy, good looking people (stay in school kids).
The bike had been borrowed from a next door neighbor, Lorna. It had been leaning against the back of the house for a while and was in a certain amount of disrepair. I asked if I could use it and she said no because it didn't work (flat tires, problem with one of the pedals). I asked if she would mind if I took a look at it. So I got some inner tubes and cleaned/oiled the chain. At that point, the spindle part of the right pedal was still there. The platform part was gone though. The shifting and (center-pull) brakes worked fine. It was really hard to pedal on just the spindle. When it broke off, I thought that was the end of it. It actually turned out to be easier without that spindle in the way. My left leg got a really good workout.
Lorna's husband was Dave. Dave was a Vietnam Navy veteran. He identified strongly with Nam. He and I used to go up into the mountains sometimes and he taught me how to shoot a 12 gauge and his M1-A rifle (or maybe not, I can't remember if anyone was allowed to touch the M1-A, but I think so). That was pretty cool. He also had a Springfield 1911 45, but I don't remember shooting it. Sometimes we went hiking into the mountains and he'd show me where he and his family would be living when "Ivan" comes. "Ivan" meant the Soviets (they were not called Russians again yet) and Dave was prepared to live in the mountains if worse came to worse.
Once I said to Dave, "You're a regular Jeremiah Johnson, aren't you?"
"Jeremiah Johnson forgot more than I'll ever know", Dave assured me. My first reaction was to laugh because I thought Dave was brilliantly pretending that Jeremiah Johnson was an actual person and not a character that Robert Redford played in a movie by the same name. Then I realized that Dave believed there actually was a Jeremiah Johnson. Then I realized that I don't know if there ever was a Jeremiah Johnson or not, I had just assumed it was fiction. Well there was nothing for me to say but "Some say he's up there still."
"Indeed", came Dave's satisfied response, and we nodded at each other, affirming our mutual respect for Mountains and cinema.
But that's not why this morning reminded me of 1986. In the spring time in Ft. Collins, there is a weird thing that happens. I think I've talked about it before, but it gets real windy. The wind comes off the Rockies at up to about 100 MPH (100/.625 KPH) blowing straight to the east. They call it the Chinook winds. I don't know why. Maybe Chinook is Jeremiah Johnson's friend. It lasts for a couple of weeks or so. Maybe one week, I don't remember. But it's real windy. It was pretty fun riding east with this stuff going on. I actually tried riding into it once. Even with 2 good pedals, there was no way. But I only had one pedal anyway, so … All I could do was lean forward hard against my (Lorna's) bike and push it the 4 miles to the west. Yeah, there seemed to be a lot of sand too. Going south, north or east was no problem. You could actually get the wind to push you up hills going south by leaning into it right. It still didn't impress the CSU girls. Not that they were lounging around during the Chinook winds or anything. But if they had been, I'm sure they would not have been impressed.
And that’s what reminded me of 1986. It was windy this morning.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Usually, I don’t mind riding around in thunderstorms. As long as I’m kind of in town. I feel safe huddled in amongst the buildings and trees and stuff. Maybe it’s still dangerous, but it doesn’t feel that way.
What I don’t like is that little stretch of trail between Culver’s and Harrison, which is part of my ride home route. Out in the open, no trees, no buildings, just my helmet and big, huge power line pole structure things.
There was a bunch of lightning to the west. It was weird to watch. There would be like a certain path a bolt would take repeatedly. Like 5 or 6 times. It would stop for a few seconds, then 5 more. As I was riding, it was getting more to the north, and coming closer to me (east).
I was saying things like “I don’t suppose you could get me home safe, what with all the atheism and everything, could you?”
Then I realized the saying about no atheists in foxholes doesn’t apply in thunderstorms. If you’re not right with “The lord god almighty, hallowed be s/his name”, the last thing you want to do is strike up a conversation when the lightning starts getting thrown around. Low profile. That’s what you’re looking for. Don’t mind me pops, I’m probably some sort of optical illusion that looks like a cyclist foolish enough to be taking a spin on a remote trail in the middle of an f’in t-storm.
I was actually thinking how glad I was that I hadn’t boasted to anyone about the 4 dollars I saved that day in gas. I guess I was thinking if I died, I’d hate to think of people laughing, going “Ooh 4 dollars!” “Well you’re dead now, aren’t you miser boy! Maybe you can use that 4 bucks to get across the Styx.”
So yeah I made it home OK. When I got to the door of my house, however, Jack was waiting for me. “You’re wet,” he said.
“Yes, it’s raining”
“yes I think perhaps you should come inside.”
Oh, did I mention we live in some kind of a hunting lodge for rich weirdos.
Anyway we did the time warp and ate meatloaf. All in all a good night.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Many years ago, High Gear held a Tuesday night crit training series. These were great. Criteriums can be very scary. This was a chance to get a feel for the way the races go with little pressure. You could drop out and jump in whenever you wanted. The idea was that you could work on crit skills that you can't work on in a real crit once you get dropped. I went to these every Tuesday that summer and was in the best crit racing condition I've ever been in. My weakness has always been fear. Gaining confidence going through corners at 30 MPH was invaluable, blah blah blah.
The Tuesday night crit used to kind of divide into 2 groups. A (cat 1/2/3) and B (4/5). Sometimes we'd do this very cool thing. Work on team tactics. There would be 2 teams comprised of a mix of talents. One 4 or 5 rider was designated as the team leader and everyone else would work to help that person win. If that person got dropped - another 4 or 5 would be the one to win. the 1-2-3s just had to pull and help or break away to get the other team to chase, but they could not win.
I bring it up to talk about Munson, Shim, a lady’s seat and why Munson will rule local cycling next year!
The thing I like best about Shim is he has a personality kind of like Steven Jobs (co-founder of Apple computers). If you take him seriously, you will get mad. If you think he's joking, he's hilarious. Problem is -- he’s not joking. The reason you get mad is because what he is saying is true and usually has something to do with how you suck (in a funny way). So really – it’s about not taking yourself too seriously.
Example: One U.P. Lunch ride during the winter, it was about 50 degrees out. I could not find my fifty degree gloves that morning, so I was wearing the 30 degree gloves. Shim said something like "Too bad it's not snowing. You'd have great gloves for a snowball fight." Great stuff. But some people aren't laughing. Strangely, he said nothing to Wesley, who was wearing Pleather driving gloves that he had no doubt received from his grandparents the previous Christmas.
Back to the Tuesday night crits. Munson had a bike seat that had a split in the middle (on purpose). I think the idea is that if your vagina (hoo-ha) needs a good airing out, you can still go for a ride. I'm not sure if there was a sale on "prostate buddy" saddles or what, but if there's ever a cycling fashion faux pas and Shim is in the vicinity, he'll point it out. On this Tuesday night crit Shim asked, “Munson, why do you have a lady’s seat?”
The thing I like about Munson is he’s the angriest person I’ve ever met. No one knows this of course, because he hides it like Dexter (an all new season begins this fall on Showtime!). He’s the friendliest helpfullest calmest person you’ve ever met. But believe me, There’s a monster brewing under the surface. How can I be so sure? My mom was the same way (before she tossed a hamburger at my dad and became hill training for local riders – (another Shim original)). Most postal workers are this way. I used to be this way. Figuratively speaking – I used to have a little Munson in me. I gave it up for outbursts of anger and alcoholism. Big improvement, but no way to win races.
Even writing this, I’m a little nervous. I hope the “friendly” Munson reads this.
Why is Munson always all smiles? Why does he wave with a big ol’ grin when he flies by you in a crit? Because he figures it’s slightly better than hacking you to delicious little crimson bits with an X-acto (for now anyway).
So on this fateful Tuesday night, Shim’s words pierced through Munson’s soul like light through the middle of his bike seat. A tiny little crack (I wanted to say fissure here, but I thought it was a bit much) formed on the surface of Munson’s otherwise flawless armor of gentleness. A tiny little bit of the true Munson escaped through that crack. A slight whiff of sulfur could be detected. People’s eyes were burning. Munson blamed it on a huge burrito he had supposedly eaten the night before.
At this time (a few years ago), Randell and Shim were at about the same level. Munson was somewhat below that. No way could “nice” Munson challenge Randell or Shim. And though nice Munson probably happily pedaled his happy sandals down to lovely Bellevue, whistling “I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener”, Shim’s comment summoned alternate universe, evil, goatee toting Munson. It was really scary. We were having the crit in a church parking lot and as the gun went off signifying the race start, the skies began to darken and a voice from below could be heard growling “This is my wretched son, Fear him with all that is within you, son of man!”
I’m not saying it was Satan, I’m just saying that’s what the voice said.
So anyway – Munson won the crit that night, beating Shim (Randell was not there).
Once again, Munson was happy, vindicated. The skies cleared. His eyes turned from black to their normal golden color. The goatee vanished.
Talking about it later, Munson was saying something about Shim’s comment getting him fired up. I was agreeing with him (I thought) when I said I had realized what “turning a pedal in anger” means.
Munson (the crack in his gentleness armor haphazardly patched - for now) disagreed. “My best results have come when I was not angry.”
Yeah whatever, Lady’s seat boy.
Well I haven’t thought about that much (not more than 3 or 4 times a day) since then, but some of Munson’s recent blog comments make me realize the shield that has protected us all through the years is finally wearing away. Starting to rust a bit maybe …
The title of his last post:
“Rough couple of weeks”
What?!? That doesn’t sound like Munson.
Good Munson would have said, “Diarrhea is a great way to get down to that target weight!”
I am toying with the idea of racing again, to which Munson says:
“Um, sorry to remind you, but one other guy just hit his 45 candle-on-the-cake year....Mark Brackenbury. And he's strong as ever. And Dave Rogers is also Spence like in his strength.”
Not “Just think of Bunnies and lollipops, and you’ll do fine. Even if you don’t win (you will), you’re still a winner in my book, slugger!”
Brady says “hey, let’s put the drive train on the other side”
Does Munson say, “You could do it with enough duct tape!”
Nope, here comes evil Munson. The real Munson:
“I'm sorry to rain on your left parade brady, but the only way a left drive bike will work is with either a fixed gear or single speed. There's no derailleur hanger on the left side.”
Oh it’s on. Beating Shim was nothing. I predict evil Munson will be in complete control by November. Next Summer, no mortal on 2 wheels will stand a chance.
I’m just kidding. Munson’s really nice.
Update: Told ya.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
So in my renewed bike mode, I rode to work today. I will tomorrow as well. The route I take is 31 miles round trip. Today I was on the way home when I realized I need another pair of bib shorts. I thought I'd stop at the Trek store where, since I think today is Tuesday (It's Wednesday) since I took Monday off, the Wednesday night ride was getting ready to go off. Now even completely fresh, I'm in no shape to do the Trek store ride. So after about 15 miles, I'm worthless. No way I could hang with those guys for even the ride down the trail. Forget it.
Yeah I could do The wussy Bike Master's ride, but that's not really on my way home from work is it? - I'm just kidding - The Bike master's ride is easily my favorite. It's just far, far away. And I couldn't currently handle either one.
I had to get home anyway. I had a commitment (watching the kids). Shim and Mod were willing to recommend good divorce lawyers so I could ride the ride - good guys, Shim and Mod. The craziest thing is ... I was actually tempted.
I barely made it home as it was so ...
Here's the deal - I'm a bit out of shape. I need to lose 25 pounds. I can lose up to 5 a week riding and drinking right. I might be able to do Wednesday in 2 or 3 weeks. Of course I'll get severely dropped, but I'll finish. I couldn't have done that today.
Log of the last couple weeks (Miles):
0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, .5, 0, 25, 25, 27, 25, 32
This morning weigh in: 215.6! Man, I'm glad I didn't weigh myself last week.
Oh it's on like Tron (I hated Donky Kong).
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Ok, I don't know how long this new motivation will last, but I realized today that if I get back down to cruiserweight, and get a few thousand miles in, I could race in the 45+ category next year. Not that that would be any easier or anything (especially since I'll be 45), but I'd like to give it a whirl.