Thursday, May 30, 2013


I rarely eat nachos, but when I do it always goes the same way.  There are variations on the toppings, but the 2 main ingredients (Chips and salsa) are the problem.

Technically, I think the 2 main ingredients of nachos are chips and cheese.  Could you imagine being at a movie or sporting event (or even a restaurant) and ordering nachos and getting no cheese?  I think we’d all be pretty mad.  However, in many cases, there is no salsa and we understand that.  

For instance, at the movies, you’ll get a bunch of chips, stood up neatly in a partitioned tray and enough nacho cheese to dip about 3 of those chips.  By the end of the snack, I’m often putting a dry chip in my mouth and licking the cheese compartment for the last little bit of nacho cheese, trying to recapture the joy that was those first few chips covered in warm gooey cheesy goodness.

Maybe I’m not eating nachos the right way.  Maybe I’m using too much nacho cheese per chip.  Perhaps the perfect chip/cheese balance is found by gently grazing the edge of the chip over the top of the cheese, barely scratching the surface.  Maybe, just maybe the nacho experience is about the harmonious combination of the 2 parts.

I’ve always seen the chip as more of an edible spoon than a meaningful part of the meal.   If the movie worker people would put the cheese in the chips compartment and vice versa, one problem would be solved, but 2 more would arise.  First and probably most important, the little plastic tray may not be able to support the added cheese weight, particularly after the plastic heats up.  I’ll venture that piping hot nacho cheese spilling onto your lap as you settle in for the main feature will spoil a perfectly good movie experience more than running out of cheese.

“How was Avatar?”

“Sucked balls.  Worst movie ever.”

“Really?   I’ve been hearing nothing but rave reviews.”

“Rave reviews, eh?  Obviously, you haven’t seen … THIS!!!”

“What the hell happened to your leg?”

“I thought so.  Whore!”

The second reason is that now there would be too much cheese and once the edible spoons (chips) were gone, you’d have a similar (but not as dire) problem as the first one.

So yeah, the compartments of the little plastic tray have a designated use that should not be ignored.  Maybe they should offer cheese refills.  Maybe they do.  I don’t know.   If I were at home, this would not be a problem.  Well, sort of.

At home, I rarely bother with the cheese.  I either have to melt it on the chips if it’s just some shredded cheese or heat it in its jar if it’s some store bought nacho cheese dip thing.  Either way involves what I think of as “cooking” and is usually more effort than I’m willing to put forth in order to have a little snack.

So typically, I just pour some chips on a plate and mix some salsa and sour cream in a bowl and call it good.

Whether I use salsa or cheese, however, the “Nacho problem” becomes worse at home than at the movies because it never ends.  At least at the movies, there is a finite amount of both cheese and chips.

Always at home, when one thing runs out, I have to get a little more of the other.  It goes like this:

“Oh – I’m out of cheese.  Pause it.”

5 minutes later …

“Need more chips.  Pause it.”

and still, a bit later on …

“Oops.  Looks like I got too many chips.  Need to finish these off with just a little more cheese.  Pause it.”

And on it goes until I’m banging on the neighbor’s door late at night asking them If I could just borrow a little cheese and/or chips.

I don’t actually think there is a correct ratio of chips to cheese (or sour cream + salsa).  I think it is likely that with scientific analysis and practice, there’s a way to get close.  But there will never be a consistent reliable way to ensure that the cheese and chips are gone simultaneously.

It’s not fair.

Jack is 10.  Before he was 2, he would go on long bike rides with me.  I had a Burley.  I’d pull him along as I rode the trail for as much as 2 and a half hours.  He loved it.  We’d load up the Burley with Fruit snacks, drinks, chips and salsa, etc.  He’d sit there contentedly and enjoy the scenery.  When he was too big for the Burley, he rode.  In fact, he was up and riding before he was 3 years old.  He is always up for a ride with me and he has become a strong rider.  Earlier this year, he realized his child’s bike was holding him back.  It was a heavy wal-mart bike.  Heavier than any 2 of my bikes.  We looked around to get some ideas and settled on a small adult comfort bike.  The Trek Allant.  He loved this bike because it had a 3X7 gearing configuration.  It was relatively light and had smoother tires.  He was easily able to go from averaging about 8MPH on the trail to roughly 15MPH.  It was all good.

Abe has never really taken to it the way Jack did.  He would not go in the Burley.  He did not want to ride much at all.  Eventually when he was the last of the kids his age who couldn’t ride a bike, he decided it was time.   We got him a heavy wal-mart bike and he has ridden it maybe a dozen times. 

When Jack got the new Allant, Abe sort of wanted Jack’s Wal-Mart bike.  So he got it.  And we had one extra bike. 

Next, Brady competed in some mountain bike events on his cross bike.  And won.  This sparked in me a very costly realization.  It is possible to ride on the area trails on a cross bike.  I have a cross bike.  Cool.  Maybe I should look into this whole off-road thing.

So while I was looking into it, I found out that some great people in town have organized a program to teach kids how to ride off-road.  It’s called Omaha Devo and it’s fantastic.  I signed both kids up and after each session, I quiz them about techniques they’ve learned.  I don’t do this because I’m some sort of enthusiastic good parent or something.  I do this because they usually tell me something I need to learn.  Things like “Get your ass out of the saddle,” etc. 

Unfortunately, the bikes we have for the kids are not quite right.  I did what I could with Jack’s.  I put the biggest cross tires I could fit on his bike - and it works.  The problem is he’s about the only kid there with a no suspension, non mountain bike.  I understand the feeling.  He’s been upset about his bike not quite being appropriate ever since.  But I’m proud of him.  He loves the off-road stuff so much, he’s accepted that his bike is less than ideal and he makes due.

Abe’s bike, though.  The one that used to be Jack’s?  No.  Not gonna happen.  Abe likes the Devo stuff.  Not as much as Jack, but he likes it.  His bike is such a POS though, it is seriously limiting his ability to do anything. 

Jack’s bike is like chips.  Abe’s is an empty container of cheese.

So out of pure necessity and a focused intended use, I began a search for a suitable bike for Abe to use at Omaha Devo.  This is tricky because there are very few lightweight kids bikes and the new ones are relatively expensive.  $300 is about getting you started for a bike that will be outgrown in a year or 2.

Finally, I found a great mountain bike for Abe (used) at a great price (now we have 2 extra bikes).  He loves it.  It’s approximately the color of a big new bowl of nacho cheese.  It’s perfect for Devo even if Abe isn’t that into it. 

What’s that Jack?  You’re out of chips?  Oh crap.  Jack really likes Abe’s bike too.  There’s a good and a bad thing about this.  The good thing is that for Abe, his big brother’s approval validates the coolness factor of the bike.  No matter what Mom or Dad say, it’s the acceptance from peers that actually matters.

The bad thing.  The thing that hurts the most is knowing that Jack is the one who will take this sport and run with it as Abe has only a passing interest.  And now, even his little brother has a more suitable bike than he does.

Excuse me while I start my search for some more chips, and cement our status as a “3 extra bike” family.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Once there Were Sun Birds With Which to Soar

There's an old Bowie Song called "Station to Station."  It was a semi-non hit in the late  70's.  Before I was a Huge Pearl Jam fan - Or there even was a Pearl Jam -  Before Mookie Blaylock even -  I was a big huge David Bowie fan.  The song starts with the line "The return of the thin white duke, throwing darts in lovers' eyes."

The personal meaning to me is obvious.

Back in the zeroes, I was working at the U.P. and cycling a lot.  The U.P. was a great place to work if you wanted to be a cyclist.  There were showers just a few steps from the front entrance and very near the newly installed bike rack. There was a lunch ride, which was great.

The corporate cycling challenge was sponsored by the company.  They gave the "serious" riders U.P. jerseys.  The funny thing was that some of those riders showed up in tennis shoes and old mountain bikes.  The first year I did the CCC for the U.P. I didn't know about the jerseys. Then I was like, "Hey! Why's that old guy get one and I don't?"  and they were all, "Shhh, Mr. Shimonek gets what he wants."

One day at the U.P.  I asked for a raise/promotion and was not flatly denied, but I was told it would be an easier sell if I finished my bachelors degree.  I only needed 26 measly credits to graduate.  Of course the courses I needed to take totaled 45 credits.  But hey, you say tomato, I say tomato.

So I started back up at the university.  No more darts or cycling for me.  I had to study.  I wanted that raise/promotion.

My cycling and fitness slipped away.  I felt at the time like it would never return and I didn't care.

A couple of years after starting back up at school, I was set to graduate in the spring.  I went-a-whistling into the director's office to discuss the possibility of me getting a raise/promotion.

We're sorry.  We have an initiative right now that we've given the clever title "Project 75" to.  Throwing a couple of bucks your way would upset the whole thing and bring this department crashing down.

Oh alright, I said.  Here's my notice.  I found a new job that pays more.

Oh um.  This is awkward.  May we counter, please?

 No you may not.

Now that I'm back into riding, I miss the convenience of the showers/locker room and the lunch rides.

After I'd been working at the new company for about a year, they put some concrete down and installed a bike rack.  The bike rack is roughly 100 yards from the back door (servant's entrance).  A significant walk in bike shoes.  Then after I enter, the nearest restroom is another 60 feet from the entrance, right across from the break room/cafeteria.  The walk in bike clothes is always awkward.  Once in the restroom, I prefer to use the spacious wheel chair accessible stall.  There are 4 stalls in the restroom.  Three of them are just your normal sized, back up and sit your ass down variety.  These make for precarious changing room conditions.  No part of me or my clothes (except the bottom of my shoes) will ever touch the floor.  It's just easier to do this in the big stall.

A lot of people where I work are not finding the job satisfaction they would like.  I think they go home after a hard day and drown their sorrows in Bud Light.  Lots and lots of Bud Light.

Bud Light is not like any beer.  For one thing it takes a lot of it to get a person drunk.  But it takes surprisingly little of it to give that same person "the shits."  This is how I know there are a lot of Bud Light drinkers where I work.  And for their daily bouts of explosive diarrhea, they want the big stall.  I imagine it's because of the nice cool metal bars that go around the toilet.  Something to grab onto, perhaps?  The wonderfully cool chill of the metal pressed to your sweat dampened forehead?

So the whole commute by bike thing is a logistical nightmare at the company, but I'm doing it anyway.  When the summer mornings are warm, I go to the nearby 24 Hour Fitness and shower.  It is about a mile from work and I just ride in with my work clothes on.

The rest of the time.  I change in the restroom next to Splashy McSquishyShits in the big stall.  Ironically, when hangover hears the odd sounds of my changing clothes, he occasionally shouts, "What's going on over there."  I always reply, "Sorry.  Just unfastening my velcro underpants.  Go on back to shitting brown water from your bottomhole and stuff. Smells great, by the way."

Even though I manage to commute with the much less than desirable conditions at my company, there's still one thing that the company has never been able to offer that U.P. had.  I'm talking about the lunch ride.  Well, that all changed today.  I started the lunch ride.  And man was it ever inconvenient.  Lockers would be nice.  I have nowhere to put my work clothes while I'm riding.  At first I thought it would be no problem.  I would just leave them at the bike rack.  Who wants a backpack with some clothes in it? So the plan today was to go out and leave my backpack at the bike rack while I rode.  I saw no problem with that.  Do you?

As I was getting ready to take off for my lunch ride, I had a vivid image.  What if someone sees this suspicious backpack sitting at the bike rack?  Sure, it's very far from the building, but I could easily imagine coming back from my ride to find a bomb squad and stuff surrounding my jeans and polo.  Perhaps neutralizing any threat with some sort of foam spray stuff or something.

So for today anyway, I decided to take the backpack with me.  It was Taco Thursday after all.  I could use the backpack to carry my tacos.

In the future though, I'll explain to security about the backpack in advance or something.  Or maybe I'll just drop it off at 24 Hour Fitness.

When the U.P. first installed the bike rack, there were few who took advantage.  After a while, the convenience became common knowledge such that a second and eventually a third rack were required to meet the demand.  I'm led to understand that even with 3 bike racks out front, there is sometimes no place to park.
Let me just cram my scooter in here because I'm fucking lame.

Especially after lunch:

But this is where my company's "throw a bone to those fitness fags" attitude has come to my aid.  I can always find a place to park:
Keep Calm.  It's sunny and 70.  Drive to work.  AC on 70.

Even after lunch:
Scream if you want.  No one will hear.

And oh, what a lunch:
Extra gringo sauce, please.

Best tacos in the world?  How about solar system!

Ok I know I was going somewhere with this, but fuck it.  Oh wait - I remember.  The thin white duke is back.  Making sure white stains.  Today, I learned that the yabbadabadoo taco stains everything.  But yum.

With the lunch ride in full swing at the company now, I'm ready to settle in here until the day I retire.  For the first time in 5 years, I can see a future here and, hang on, there's a knock on the door ...

Oh it's you.  Oh no.  What are you doing?  This is horrible.  My tibia!

Hint: it was Nancy Kerrigan at the door.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Jack Rabbit Slims (now with no Shim)

The 8-track tape version of Elvis Presley’s album “Moody Blue” had played itself all the way back to track 1 (of 4) for the third time.  My parents had a lot of 8-track tapes.  8 track tapes had 4 “sides.”  I think it always confused me that they were called 8 tracks, but they had four sides.  Right this moment I’m thinking maybe because they were in stereo, one side counted as 2 tracks.  Anyway, my parents had a lot of them.  They (my parents) belonged to the Columbia 8 track tape club or something.  Dad was a huge Elvis fan.  He and mom had gone to see Elvis a few months before at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.  “Moody Blue” was released a couple of weeks before our big trip to California and dad promptly ordered it from Columbia’s 8-track of the month club.  So we listened to it most of the time we were in the car.

Sometimes dad would let us listen to something else.  Not that Steve or I had much of anything for 8 tracks, but we were really sick of “Moody Blue.”  All we had were tapes we’d been given as gifts from our “cool” uncles.  So we had “Wild Cherry” of “Play that funky music white boy” fame.  We had 10cc “I’m not in love.”  I think there was some Chicago in there and probably some BeeGees.

I was well aware that this music wasn’t cool.  If I wanted cool music, I would have to buy it for myself.  But I didn’t like cool music.  I liked pop music.  I knew what cool music was, though.  I’d hear it while delivering papers.  Some of the houses along my route were owned by the parents of the cool kids.  There would always be music and a pungent smoky smell coming from the screen windows of these houses.  And coughing.  Lots and lots of coughing.  That’s how you could tell they were really cool.

Two songs I distinctly remember hearing as I tossed newspapers at the front porches of the parents of the cool kids were, “Rock and Roll all Night (and party every day)” By KISS and “In a Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly.  I didn’t know the artists at the time.  Just the songs.  I pieced it together later.

“Hey dad,” I cleverly interjected between a clicking on tracks, “You know what’s funny?  Somebody said this ‘Fleetwood Mac’ is pretty good.  I say we listen to it and prove them wrong.”  I was desperate to hear anything else.

But dad wasn’t having any of it today.  “You know what boys?  I figured it out. This 8-track is about 37 minutes long.  If we listen to it about 40 more times, that will be roughly 24 hours and we’ll be home!”

The thing about 8-tracks and these “4 sides” I was talking about – all the sides had to be the same length.  Different albums dealt with this completely unacceptable problem in different ways.  Some would fade to silent right in the middle of a song.  Then the machine would click over to the next track and the song would continue, gaining in volume until it was back up to normal.  Horrible.  Sometimes, the 8-track architects would just put the same songs in there more than once.  That’s what “Moody Blue” did.  So if listening to the same album 40 times in a row wasn’t bad enough, some of the songs would be played 80 times by the time we got to Omaha.  I said to my brother, “I just wish Elvis was dead.”

Admittedly, when the news came nine days later that Elvis had died, I was full of regret.  I had no idea that wishes were being granted.  Had I known, I would not have been so foolish.  I would have wished for something way cooler, like a Red Ryder BB gun or something.  Not that I was complaining, I’m just saying.

I looked it up and here’s the actual listing from Elvis Presley’s Moody Blue 8-track:

Track 1: Unchained Melody, If You Love Me, Let me be There
Track 2: Way Down, Little Darlin’, He’ll have to go
Track 3: Pledging My Love, Moody Blue, It’s Easy For You
Track 4: She Thinks I still Care, It’s Easy For You, Little Darlin’

So 12 songs.  10 different ones.  “Little Darlin’” and “It’s Easy For You” are repeated.  And pretty close to each other.  I guess the thinking was that once you got to The second “It’s easy For You,” you could skip ahead to the next track (track 1 in this case).  But we couldn’t do that.  We had to listen to the whole thing or it’d mess up the whole “40 times through to Omaha” thing.

We had gotten up early that morning from our hotel just outside of San Francisco to make the drive to Las Vegas.  Dad was a huge Las Vegas Fan.  I think if he could have ever seen Elvis in Las Vegas, it would have been a real treat.  Kind of like how I’m such a huge fan of Pearl Jam and the Chicago Cubs (except for the Chicago Cubs part).  A boy can dream …

Meanwhile, back in the car to Vegas …

As the king crooned some melody that wasn’t even chained, dad noticed we only had about a quarter of a tank of gas left and decided we’d better “fill ‘er up” before continuing on to Sin City. 

We pulled into a dusty little gas station on the outskirts of Tonopah Nevada.  There was a single pump located about 40 yards from the little building where the cashier was.  This was a strange time in America because it was 1977, a transition was still in place from full-service to self-service gas stations.  Dad didn’t quite know which it was when we pulled in, so he sat there for about a minute before he decided to get out and pump the gas himself.  As he was getting out of the car, a light Blue 1975 Ford Granada pulled up behind us to wait.  My dad, whistling a tune from the 1977 Hit album “Moody Blue” by Elvis Presley, waved cheerfully at the driver of the Granada before continuing on to fill the tank of our car.  The man did not wave back. 

There were 4 people in the Granada that I saw.  The man driving.  The adult woman in the front passenger seat.  And 2 cute girls in the back seat that looked to be about the same ages as my brother and I.

Dad was taking his sweet time.  For a moment he was dancing and singing a little bit into the nozzle of the gasoline hose, “Oh Moody Blue, Tell me - am I gettin’ through” or whatever.  Finally, he put the hose in and started refueling the car. 

Now, since this station had recently been full-service, the gas dispensed rather slowly.  This allowed the attendant to clean the windows and check the oil, etc.  Dad, now humming, took it upon himself to do all of these things; including ensuring the correct tire pressure.  The whole time, the man behind us was gripping the steering wheel of his Granada with greater intensity.

Finally, the gas tank was full and the auto-shutoff thing happened.  This alerted my dad that it was ready whenever he was.  Which was fine as soon as he topped off the wiper fluid.

Dad went over to the hose and saw that it had landed on an uneven dollar amount.  $18.52.  “Hey Carol!”  dad shouted, “I bet I can get it to $18.75.”

Sure that would be easy now, but then it was probably a little more than 1/3 gallon. 

So as he was topping off the gas tank, the man in the car behind us got out of his car.  I thought that was odd, because as soon as my dad was done, the man would have to get back in and pull forward to fill up his tank.  “How’s it going,” my dad said as he slowly dripped that last possible drop into the tank.

The man just stared.  Arms crossed.  Grimacing below his thick moustache.  He was wearing sandals and over the calf white socks.  He was dressed in light blue plaid patterned golf shorts and a powder blue polo.  Typical family man on vacation style (grumpy).

Dad Shrugged at the silence and replaced the nozzle to the pump.  Then he started for the building to pay for the gas ($18.70 – he didn’t quite make it).  Well that was the last straw.  Family man had a request.  “Excuse me,” he said addressing my dad a little too loudly, stopping him in mid whistle, “Do you think you could move your car forward so I can fill mine up.”

“Yes.  Just a minute.  I need to pay first.  I don’t want them to think …”

Then the family man changed.  He turned to badass all of the sudden.  He said, and I quote, “Well god damn man, all I’m asking is you to move your fuckin’ car so I can get some gas.”

A number of things happened in that moment.  Mom, knowing dad better than any of us clicked her tongue and dropped her head, catching it with her right hand.  There she stayed for the duration of the incident, pressing the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger.

Steve and I giggled in sheer excitement.  We turned around in our seats and rested our angelic faces on our arms to watch this most entertaining scene play out.  We saw the 2 girls in the back seat of the Granada jumping around to get a better view and the adult woman in the passenger seat pressing the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger.

“Woah! I told you I was just going to pay and get out of your way and I was.  But now I think I’m going to get me a cup of coffee,” Dad said – and I cannot stress enough that these were the actual words spoken, but my brother, my mother and I knew that dad was just getting started.  Apparently so was family man turned gansta.  Suddenly, his tone and accent changed to what can only be described as “Black people he’d seen on TV.”  He walked toward my dad and said something like, “No man, you’z gonna move that mother fuckin’ car or I’ma gonna move it for you.”

Dad laughed.  He stood there.  The man stopped walking toward my dad and turned around to go toward his car.

“That’s right,” Dad needed to push buttons now.  We knew he would not let this go.  “You be a good boy and go sit in your car.  When I decide I want to leave, you’ll be allowed to put gas in your car”

But the man didn’t go to his side of the car.  He went to the passenger side and told the woman to move over.  Then he started fumbling around in the glove box.  My brother and I suddenly realized with horror and delight that the man was getting his gun from the glove compartment.  “Mom,”  we said, “The guy’s getting his gun.”  

“Your father is going to get us all killed,” my mom predicted.

“Oh what?  You got a gun in there?” my dad mocked, “I’ll tell you what.  You might as well leave it in there because whatever you pull out of that glove box, I’m gonna shove up your fuckin ass,” dad was saying from right next to the guy who was still trying to bluff the gun thing.  “Did you look under there,” dad said, pointing and trying to be helpful. 

At that, family guy just sort of clammed up.  He had no other play.  He just sat there and stared forward while dad berated him for a while like the bully he can be at times.  Then he assured the man he would get out of the way in a minute and asked him if he’d like to join him for a cup.  He man slowly shook his head, staring blankly in our direction, but miles beyond us.

After that we were glad to Sing “Moody Blue” all the way to Omaha at the top of our lungs.

Then a couple of weeks later, God killed Elvis so dad would know how the Family guy in Tonopah felt.  Utterly lost and all alone.

The End.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I know it was you Fredo

Shim, you are mentioned below.  But it’s really a bit part, so …

Also, not that it matters, but rainbow jersey wearing Mark Savery also makes a cameo.

Note:  Shim is always reminding us that he only pays attention to something if it starts with his name.

A strange combination of the weather, miscommunications and Brady have left me virtually “group rideless” this past week.  Weather because, well it was the weather.   Miscommunications because I often state my question (rather than ask it).  And Brady, because he wants to hear the Tonopah story.

Let me explain.  I was talking to Brady (maybe texting) on Friday about the possibility of a Saturday ride.  Rain was in the forecast and neither one of us was in the ‘riding in the rain’ mood.  That’s when Brady let me know that he might not ride even if it was sunny so I would have less chance of blogging about a group ride and more chance of getting back to the story of my dad getting into a skirmish with another vacationer outside Tonopah NV.

Well – it did rain Saturday.  Off and on all day.  I decided to just gamble on horses instead of ride my bike.  Then I got a text from Shim at about 5 or 6 PM, saying something like, “Cinco De Mayo ride.  Tequila, etc.”

I texted back that it sounded good if I could swing the timing.  This was the miscommunication part.

What I should have said (in my text) was “What time?”

Or, when I didn’t hear anything back, I should have later texted, “What time?”

Sunday morning, I got a text from Brady asking me if I ever dream about Kite surfing.  He didn’t mention any ride.  Brady rarely group rides on Sundays anyway, so this was not an unusual question for Sunday morning.    

The streets were still kind of wet on Sunday, but it was a really nice day.  I hung around the house and cleaned up a couple of bikes and just kind of goofed around all day. 

Later on, while I was on Strava reviewing all of the KOMs I had taken from Mark Savery recently, I saw the Cinco De Mayo ride I had assumed never happened.  My heart sank.  But my bikes were clean.

That’s when I realized Brady’s plan to keep me from riding.  Somehow he was able to keep me from receiving Shim’s follow up texts with the ride details.  I imagine Brady’s got a secret lair somewhere where he intercepts, analyzes and edits all text messages between area cyclists.  In this way he controls the rides as he sees fit.  Perhaps I’m paranoid, but you be the judge after I tell you what happened.

With the weekend gone and plenty of rain in the 5 day forecast, there was a pretty good chance that Brady’s master plan would be realized or come to fruition or whatever it is that happens with evil genius's master plans.

I understand that the idea that Brady worked out some elaborate scheme to keep me from group riding just so I’d tell a story about my dad getting into a confrontation in the southwest - seems more than a little farfetched.  On the surface, it seems completely ridiculous.  But don’t jump to conclusions my friend.  As a wise colleague once said, “That only makes a ‘jump to’ out of ‘conc’ and ‘lusions’.”

So where did this “ridiculous” idea come from?  Well, I won’t go into all of the details (because I’d have to dream them up) but I can give you a rough outline.

I confronted Brady about this “miscommunication.”  And this is exactly what happened:

Brady said, “You know; we’re not so different you and I.  We both want the same things.  World Peace.  Improved cycling results.”

“I’ll never be like you.  You’re a monster,” I protested.

Brady allowed a small chortle to escape his throat as he walked around the table and reached under it to retrieve a small revolver, “You will tell the Tonopah story or you will not leave this room.”

Thinking on my feet, I offered, ”Well, I mean, I was kind of going to tell it anyway, so.”

Brady was becoming impatient striking me across the forehead with the .38 special, “’Kind of’ is not good enough, Cubey!  All the details!  All the characters!  I want to know them!  I want you to breathe life into these people like you’ve never done before.  I will explain my reasons another time, but you sure as shit are telling this story!  You got that?  Or do I need to spell it out for you?”  He was now poking the revolver into my barrel shaped ribcage.

Then I had a thought, “Is it ok if I put if off until next week?”

Brady, scratching his head with the barrel of his revolver, thankfully acquiesced, “Yeah that works for me.  One Week!”

“Cool,” I said.

So with that out of the way, I’d like to talk about last night’s group ride.  

I am a slow learner.  This year I’ve worked harder than ever to try to understand how to improve my cycling.  I’m not really talking about structured training, I’m talking about some basics that are more important.  For example, I recently learned the importance of staying hydrated.  For me, this correlates to muscles healing 3 or 4 times faster than when I’m dehydrated.  Next I learned about eating.  When to eat. How much.  What kind of food, etc.  So even though it took me a dozen years or so to figure out that eating and drinking correctly are important to recovery, I learned both of those things within a month of each other.  So that’s cool.  It took Brady looking at a full water bottle for me to figure that out.

After Brady’s text on Sunday, I went and looked at his Kite Surfing history.  Holy Shit!  8 Hours of Kite Surfing!   I very rarely get more than 5.  Oh wait a minute.  When I say “kite surfing” I actually mean “sleep”.  I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear, but sometimes I’m not the best communicator.

So, yes, I know that sleep is an important part of recovery.  Not from experience or anything.  Just from reading about it.

There’s no way (as far as I know) that I could sleep for 8 hours.  Without an alarm, my eyes pop open after almost exactly 7 hours and it’s as if I’ve had 2 cups of coffee. 

So Monday and Tuesday, I tried to at least get another hour of sleep in from my norm.  I deliberately went to bed in time to commute to work and still get 6 hours.  I went hard on both days.  Silly, yes.  But also educational.  The legs felt about the same as always.  But I think the extra one hour of sleep helped me to endure hard effort for longer.

Last night’s furry wall ride was relatively slower paced with wet streets and lots of slop and flat tires, so it was generally easier overall.  And maybe I’m imagining it, but it seems like I was able to make myself hurt for longer.  Oh wait, I beat my previous best time up that last climb (during a furry walls) by 36 seconds (from 3:53 to 3:17).  So it’s not just me.

Of course, it’s not completely scientific, but I have felt pretty good on the days I get a little more sleep, even after hard days of riding. 

So in conclusion:  Eating food, drinking water and getting a good night’s sleep are important if you want to improve on the bike.  2 of these things, I learned from something I saw Brady doing.  I guess we’re not so different …     

Next week, I plan to learn about the importance of ribcage shape and its aerodynamic significance.  Just kidding.  I’m totally talking about the Tonopah incident next week.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Tonopah Can Wait

Shim is not mentioned in this post.  So if that's what you came here for, you may move along.

“Hey Freddie.  Did I ever tell you about that time we was all outside that gas station in Tonopah Nevada?”

“Yeah Dad.  About a dozen times or so.  But besides that, I was there and …”

“Well anyway.  We was coming down from San Francisco on our way to Vegas when I needed to stop for gas …”

It’s ok dad.  I got this one.

One thing I never quite understood about my dad was how he seemed to find trouble.  I’ve mentioned before that he’s got a ton of stories that he likes to tell.  Most of them are about some bar fight.  Mostly he beat someone senseless.  Every once in a while he will tell a story of somebody getting the best of him.  When he tells one of these stories, you can bet there’s a (to be continued).  And unlike me, he actually has another story.  Usually a story that illustrates his great bravery in redeeming himself from the earlier defeat.  Perhaps in the form of “How I learned my lesson and kicked the guy’s ass on the ensuing fortnight.”

But I often wondered how he happened to get into so many fights.  According to him, he never started any fights.  I actually witnessed about half a dozen of these and in my mind at the time, someone had picked the fight with him.  It was amazing.  He was just minding his own business.  Until he wasn’t.

One Wednesday night at Kelly’s Hilltop Bowling Alley …  Wait a minute.  Dad used to bowl on Wednesday nights.  The walls of Kelly’s were all furry.  Hmm.  I used to go with him because I was in love with the daughter of one of his bowling buddies.  I was like 11 and she was 15, so yeah.  I was in love.  She always wore this really cool pair of bowling shoes.  Stolen from a different alley.  I asked her where she got those cool shoes and she said “I copped ‘em.”  I had never heard that term before, but I assumed it meant stole them.  She was so cool.  But I honestly don’t remember anything else she ever said.  I do remember standing on this narrow catwalk against the wall by the front entrance.  I’m not sure why.

So one night, after the WNBW (Wednesday Night Bowling Worlds), my dad and a dashing young fella walked calmly toward the back exit of Kelly’s.  I wondered where they were going.  I looked at my brother and we shrugged as the big grey metal door to the stairs to the exit slammed shut.  Roughly 20 seconds later, The steel door opened and my dad walked over to us and said, “let’s go.”

Next, the man who had gone outside with my dad came through the door.  From just above his left eye, streaming all the way down his face and on down the length of his white turtleneck was a deep red trail of blood.  He didn’t say anything.  He just walked over to gather his things.

“What happened to him,” I asked my dad.  There hadn’t seemed to be any anger between the 2 of them, but the guy looked like he’d been punched. 

“Oh he just fell down the stairs,” my dad said.  Seeing I was squinting at him, doubting him, He continued, 
“Yeah.  He tried to cop a Sunday as we got to the landing then lost his balance and fell down the stairs after I nailed him in the eye.”

Now I was trying to reconcile the meaning of the word “cop.”  I asked, “He stole some ice cream?  What?”

“No son.  He tried a surprise attack.”

“But why was there a fight.”

My dad has a way of getting on your nerves if you are losing some contest to him.  He gloats.  Endlessly berating you and saying you suck and everything.  Laughing and pointing, etc.  I think this is where I learned to win with grace.  Too bad I don’t win very often, because it would be a treat for the others to see how graceful I am at it.   

I’m not saying he was doing this taunting that night.  I wasn’t paying attention, so I can only guess. I was hanging out with Penny, the bowling shoe thief, who I was in love with by the way.    

What I know about the events of that night, I have gathered from eyewitness testimony.

The guy Dad punched was on the other team.  The other team was losing. Dad was having a particularly good night of bowling.  He was getting a lot of what they call “strikes” which are good in bowling.  He was jumping very high with each new strike.  I believe the night was already won, but dad was still shouting in exaltation, because he does that. 

The guy who later fell down the stairs had been mumbling something for a while.  Each time my dad walked by, he thought he heard something.  Eventually he inquired as to the content of the mumbling.  Then turtleneck calmly explained, “Yeah – I said you’re a son of a bitch.”


If you’ve never seen “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” Then I don’t want to be your friend anymore.  Go see it and come back and read the rest of this.  It will be beneficial for 2 reasons.  “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” is one of the most wonderful movies of all time ever.  And B) Calling my dad a “son of a bitch” is kind of like saying “Cleaning Woman” to Rigby Reardon.

So go watch "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid."  I'll wait.

Man was that a good movie or what?  I can't believe you've never seen it before.  Friend.

When my dad was about 3 or so, his mother was having headaches.  And even though it was the late 40’s, they all said the tumor would have been completely operable if she had not been misdiagnosed as needing glasses.  It was tragic.  She was about 22 years old. 

I never really understood the “Your mama” thing.  First of all, we called her “Mom” and second of all I didn’t understand they were implying that my mother was some sort of pedophile.

But anyway, if someone called my dad a “son of a bitch,” he took it personally.  I guess to him, you might have well said, “I heard that when you were a little boy, your mother died of a benign brain tumor.  That’s very sad.  What a bitch she must have been.”

So when the bowling alley guy called Dad a “son of a bitch,” He most likely hadn't expected a sudden invitation outside.

Well, I never got to the Tonopah story, but it’s probably just as well.  I wasn’t sure how to describe the antagonist in that tale.  The description is easy.  Think “The Cleveland Show.”  What’s difficult is doing the scene justice without sounding like a huge racist.  The thing is, “Cleveland,” upon getting into the little altercation with dad, suddenly “put on” some sort of affectation that was clearly designed to put the fear in the white man.  If the weather doesn’t improve, I’ll explain next week.  Otherwise, I’ll most likely talk about one of my bike rides. 

Penny update: A few months back, I was on the phone with Dad.  He was saying he went to his old friend Ed’s funeral.  I asked if it was the Ed he bowled with.  He said it was.  So what the hell – “Was his daughter Penny there?”

“Oh yeah, I talked to her. Real nice gal.  Got a bunch of adult kids,”  dad said.

I confessed, “You know, I had a big crush on her when I was a kid.”

Then he kind of laughed, “You wouldn’t anymore, son.  You wouldn’t anymore.”  Then we both nodded into the phone and quietly hung up.