Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Extra: Response

I was going to just put this as a comment to Brady’s last post but I decided just to tell the story.  Please stop me if you’ve heard it.

I think Jolene (my daughter) was about 16 or 17 years old when she and her friends, or maybe her mother frequented CiCi’s all-you-can-shove-down-your-pleasantly-plump-face pizza for just $2.99.

I had never been to the place and Jill and I really had no interest.  At the time, I had all of my occasional pizza needs met by Papa Murphy’s Take and bake.  A large one of those was usually all the family could eat and it was about $7 or $8.  So – it was actually less money and – oh my god.  Way better pizza.  Sure we had to bake it ourselves, but that was a small price to pay.  Heat the oven, throw the pizza in there, retrieve it about 10 minutes later, enjoy.

But after a few times of Jolene saying, “pleeeaze, can we pleeeaze go to CiCi’s.  Pleeeaze,"  We figured, “What the heck.  We’ll give it a try.”

Walking into the place, I was not surprised that it had a strict dress code.  Apparently, we were improperly clothed.  There was a Master of the House who greeted us at the entrance.  His distaste of my casual attire was in clear evidence as he loudly cleared his throat and reached for a pair of hangers.

“If Monsieur has no objections,” he said, holding out a grease-stained white tank top (wife beater) 2 sizes too small for me.  

“No problem,” I said and kindly thanked the gentleman for his help as I changed into the dirty undergarment.  The Maitre ‘d seemed to instantly approve as he made special note of my now prominently displayed “farmer’s tan.”  As long as he, or anyone else in there didn’t find out it was from cycling, I figured we was [sic] in the clear.

“And for the lady,” he held out a bright pink simple t-shirt with blindingly bright depiction of “The Looney Tunes Gang” on the front.  The words, “The Looney Tunes Gang” were magnificently displayed across the bottom of the timeless portrait of all your childhood favorites.  There appeared to be a tomato sauce stain on the left sleeve of the top.

Jill was also thankful for the preparedness of the Cici’s staff as she pulled on the shirt. 

“Didn’t I tell you this place was great!” Jolene beamed with pride having been given the opportunity to introduce us to a new dining experience for once.

Abe and Jack were thrilled. 

So after we paid our $9 or whatever (I think Jack and Abe were not charged), we were free to “Belly up to the pizza trough”.  The feed area was separated into roughly 2 sections.  Going from right to left, there was a clearly delineated area starting with all of the “Salad” stuff.  After the various dressings and toppings, was where things got real.  The Pizza section.

With the exception of 1 or 2 trips to Godfather’s years ago, all of my previous pizza buffet experience was at Valentino’s.  At Valentino’s there are about 1000 sections of all-you-can-eat crap.  You just step up to the one you’re interested in and start piling meal onto your plate.  There’s not some set order.  No “rules of engagement” that if left unheeded may result in your extermination.

But we weren’t at Valentino’s.  Luckily for me, my complete disregard for propriety was met that day, not with immediate action, but more of a stern warning.  Whew!

There was a small line of people starting at the salad bar.  There was nobody at that point getting any pizza.  I never get salad when I go to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.  It seems kind of stupid to me.  I would not have considered standing in line behind all of the people piling up their plates with lettuce, mayo and potatoes to get to the pizza part. 

So I just stepped in front of everyone and starting loading my plate with pizza. 

The woman at the “front” of the food line was still cramming her plate with various types of pasta and potato salad when she looked up and saw me at the pizza section.

I was not in her way nor was I slowing her down.  She stopped what she was doing and glared at me.  She was about 5’4” and 280 LBS.  In other words, she was a big pleasantly plump fucking slob.  Her hair was cut about chin length and was an impossible white of bleach-blond.  It was burned into a frizzy dryness that made it look like a good breeze would snap most of it off.  She was wearing a pink t-shirt with some depiction of Porky Pig waving to the world.  The caption beneath the drawing, made spherical by her morbidly obese form, read “Th, th, that’s all Folks!”

After she saw that she had captured my attention, she turned to her partner.  A man about 5’2” tall weighing about 94 lbs, with stringy filthy hair and a perfectly unwashed white cotton tank top (wife beater). He had on a pair of blue denim jeans, made dark from weeks of wear down at the auto-shop.  Through one of the belt loops was attached a huge ring with 700 keys jangling from it.

“That’s how mother-fuckers get shot,” she pointed out to her grimy friend, who nodded in agreement, but I could tell he was admiring my farmer’s tan.

I was so thrilled by the insight into the way other people think, I rushed back to the table to tell Jill and the kids about it. 

If you ever wonder how some people get so pleasantly plump, the answer is that they murder anyone they perceive to slow them down from getting their next bite of food.  Should you be between one of these people and a sandwich when their blood sugar drops below say, 200 or so – well, let’s just say you take your life into your own hands if you don’t nimbly move out of the way as they slowly waddle towards you, huffing and puffing, clutching their chest, etc.

 … And Scene!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Turns Out I Also Have a Dream

But it's much more selfish and probably not quite as personal or universally acceptable as Martin Luther King Jr's.  I'll venture that in 50 years, nobody will be all dramatically recounting the major talking points of my dream.

So I'll just go ahead and reveal my dream here.

At 3:25 A.M., I was startled awake out of a dream state.  It involved various people and jobs in my life for the last 15 years or so.  I sat up and thought about the dream because whenever I have a dream like this that is completely realistic, I want to remember every detail and see if there is anything impossible or even slightly implausible that happened in the dream.

If not, I consider it a successful dream.  People always come up and say, "I had the weirdest dream, do you want to hear about it?"

And I always say, "Actually, no I don't want to hear about it.  Although it may seem wildly entertaining to you that you subconsciously created a little story or something, It's really fantastically boring to everyone else.  I'll tell you what I'll do for you.  I will patiently listen while you struggle to remember exactly how it went if after you are done, I

1) Don't have to help you understand the meaning or the symbolism involved.


2) Get to tell you all about my dream.

"No?  Hey where you going?  I thought you wanted to ..."

Sorry about that, I had to get rid of that guy.  So yeah, weird dreams are the norm.  It's the ones that make complete sense that I find spooky.

So last night, while I was sitting on the edge of the bed, running my fingers through my hair recalling in reverse order the details of the dream, I decided it was one of these rare ones that actually could happen.  These are the ones that I personally believe aren't dreams, but prophesies!!!

Ok, so at the end of the dream, I was sitting at the helm of a Union Pacific locomotive.  I was the driver.  I was parked in the DTN parking lot on the east side, facing north.  I was picking up Union Pacific CEO Jim Young.  The weird thing here is that when I woke up and thought about this, I thought I remembered that he was no longer CEO.  So since this dream is obviously a prophecy, it means Jim Young will be CEO again or he still is, I don't know or care.

Now I never really disliked or for that matter 'knew' Jim Young.  There was only one time when I was slightly jealous of him.  Back when I was at "The U.P." I was walking my bike from where I parked my car (about 6 blocks away - it was only $45 a month to park 6 blocks from the building) to where I locked it (my bike) up outside the building.  I was walking along the west side of the building and there was like this big automated garage door on the side of the building that started to open.  I figured it was for a food delivery truck or something because they had this pretty elaborate cafeteria at U.P. HQ.  But no.  It was not for delivery.  It was Jim Young's garage.  After the side of the building opened, he zipped by in front of me in some little silver sporty car and deftly disappeared somewhere deep within the bowels of the U.P. HQ building.  I glanced down at ol' Maroon V (my bike) and told it, "That was pretty effin' cool, was it not!"  Maroon V confirmed my suspicion by mutely rolling along beside me.  Then I suddenly became aware of a need to read my emails more carefully.  I surely missed the one where the employees could sign up for those underground lair spots.  Oh well, I shrugged and walked on, verbally battered by the comments from co-workers about how I, by pushing my bike along, was using it incorrectly.  By the way, all of these jokers were big huge pleasantly plump1 fat fucks.

Ok - so back to the completely plausible dream:

Remember.  I was sitting outside of DTN in a U.P locomotive.

Then just as Jim Young was walking across the DTN Parking lot to get into the passenger side of the U.P. locomotive, I looked down to see that the passenger seat was all covered with a bunch of Real estate junk and also some empty mocha cups.  I telepathically said, "Ji-iiill"  with a stern warning undertone.  When she started picking up her things from the passenger side, I said to her (again telepathically) "I don't even care.  It's your fault, anyway."

Then I woke up.

Before that (in the dream), I had been riding my bike home from work.  As I went through downtown, Brady flagged me down.  He was hopping about from one foot to the other like he had to pee or like the sidewalk was really hot or something.

"What is it?"  I mentally sent this query to Brady.

"Don't worry, I don't think Shim will let you do it anyway." Brady willed his thoughts to my head.
"What - do you mean drive a locomotive from the Council Bluffs yard out to DTN on 90th and Dodge and pick up Jim Young because you have to go to the pawn shop to recover your stolen bike?" I asked silently as I boarded Ol' 4156  that was all gassed up and ready for me to drive it down Dodge street.

I let Brady know it was ok by thinking the words, "It'll be fine.  Shim won't have any objections as long as I let him shovel the coal on the way out.  Now go get that bike of yours, tiger!"

"Thanks Cube!"  Brady nodded, "Otherwise I'd never get all these newspapers delivered before Evel Knievel does his nationwide televised jump tonight,"  he explained without opening his mouth.

That was when I noticed Brady had a huge bag over his shoulder.  At first I had thought it was to carry tacos, but upon closer inspection, it was just a World Herald Issued Newspaper carrying bag.  So Brady is a paperboy?  I wondered briefly if he had one of those sweet Gary Fisher bikes.

Shaking my head as I punched the cigarette lighter on the interior of the Train engine, I drove off towards the west (and um, my destiny).  The feeling I had driving that huge vehicle down Dodge street was directly related to the experience of the 2013 Corporate Cycling Challenge.  At the end of it, police motorcycle escorts cleared our path of all bike and other traffic for the lead group of riders.  We were able to fly through the streets with hundreds of people cheering as we passed.

In case you're wondering what that feels like, it feels like driving a train right down the middle of Dodge street.  No exceptions.

But before I was downtown assuring Brady it was no problem for me to pick Jim Young up from DTN, I was sitting in the reception area of where I work.  It was time for me to leave, but the guys from Olympia were out at the bike rack making sure everything was kosher with my new bike.

They came in to the reception area a few minutes later and I said, "I'm all ready to go.  Everything looks great," confirming their thoughts.  Andrew and Andrew (The Olympia guys) fed my brain with the information that not only was this service call not to be charged, but also that they installed a power meter for me and if I like it I can just keep it.  Man, those guys are great.

Once I started riding my new bike toward downtown, I found out it was the most comfortable bike I've ever owned.  In fact, it was as comfortable as lying in bed.

Ok, just for the sake of research, I went and read the text of MLK jr's speech.  Yeah, his dream is better than mine.  Dammit.

1Brady Murphy, "Super Secret Training Stuffs" IM Messages with Shim, August 2013.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Everything was going so well

So about 3 years ago, I decided to turn myself in to the authorities.  I had been on the run for years.  It had caused me no end of anxiety.  I was sure that if I turned myself in, it was somehow a death sentence.  So I just put it off for longer and longer.

Of course I’m talking about the Doctor and the Dentist.

I needed to get my mouth healthy and make sure everything else was ok with me.  It was really scary for me, but I did it.  I had no idea of what would be found.  But I wasn’t going to worry about it anymore.  It finally got through to me that even if there was something horribly wrong with me, avoiding it would only make it worse.  I know it seems simple, but fear isn’t very logical.

Since then, if there’s anything that concerns me about my health, I make an appointment with the Dr.  I get to visit the dentist 4 times a year for a thorough cleaning.  Normally, it would be twice a year, but my years of neglect have put me into this place.

If I have something I’m concerned about medically, I usually blow it off until I feel the need to look it up on the internet. 

Don’t ever do that.  It’s stupid.  The internet always says you have cancer of the AIDS. 

But here’s the thing.  If you have cancer of the AIDS, you should go to the Dr.  Not finding out you have it will kill you much faster than finding out and treating it.

So I don’t look to the internet for diagnosis anymore.

Once upon a time about 12 years ago, I was going to the dentist every 6 months.  I was not really taking care of my teeth between those checkups.  Twice a year, I’d go in and they’d say, “tsk tsk, you need to floss better.”  Or “If you don’t start flossing, you’re going to lose all of your teeth.”

The final straw back then was when I went to the dentist and there was some sort of rash or something inside my mouth.  He suddenly became very concerned.  “I don’t know.  I don’t want to say what I think that might be …” he told me.  My heart beginning to sink as unbelievable fear gripped me.  “Oh my God, I thought.  Surely, I have the cancer of the AIDS! I’m too young to die, etc. etc.”

The dentist continued, “I’d see a dermatologist immediately if I were you.  Oh yeah, and floss better or you’re going to lose all of your teeth.”

So I went home and immediately consulted the internet, which confirmed my fear. There was really no need for a Dr’s appointment.  It was clear from the internet that I had cancer of the AIDS. 

But my wife, who got a real kick out of my psychosis, laughingly yelled at me.  She was sick of me walking around worrying about it.  “There’s nothing wrong with you, but go see a Dr. and stop worrying about it, dumbass.”

So I went.  The Dr. said “I think that’s thrush.”

“Thrush?”  I asked, my fears deepening even further. I had read about thrush.  It was a yeast infection that only babies and adults with AIDS get.  “I thought only babies get that.”  I said, leaving out the AIDS part.

“Well let me get a dermatologist in here.  Hang on.”

Oh man that was a long 5 minutes.  The dermatologist came in and glanced inside my mouth.  “Lichen Planus,” she declared instantly. 

“Like an whosit?”  I asked.  My internet diagnosis had never uncovered that one.

“Nobody knows the exact cause.  It's non-contagious.  It’s not cancer and HIV positive people never get it.”

“What now?”

“Nothing.  It’ll most likely just go away.”

So next time I was at the dentist, it had completely cleared up.  The dentist asked me if I had found out what it was.  I told him and he said, “Oh of course it was.  It’s so obvious.  They teach us about this in dentist school.  Here, look at this, I have a big book with pictures.  Doesn’t that look exactly like what you had?”

Yes, it did.  Too bad he couldn’t have told me that in the first place.

“And floss your teeth better or you’ll lose them all,” He yelled after me as I left the dentist office for the last time in roughly 10 years.

Well for the last 3 years, I’ve taken care of my teeth.  I like my dentist a lot.  I went in with years of plaque built up on them and a mild case of gingivitis.  I was afraid I was going to lose all of my teeth, but after examining me, he said, “Well the good news is, you can keep all of your teeth for as long as you want.”

This was a different approach.  For whatever reason, I responded to it.  I’ve faithfully taken care of my teeth since then.

So I went in today for a checkup and cleaning.  After the cleaning, the dentist came in and examined my mouth.  He said he was going to take a look around and make sure everything looked ok.

“No cracked teeth.  Good.  Let’s look under your tongue.  Ok.  Sides of your mouth.  Well, I see no signs of any oral cancer, so we can do a little happy dance about that.”

Boop, boop, boop.  Back the truck up. Don’t say the “C” word around me.  Under any circumstances.  When you say that, I’m like, “Were you somehow expecting cancer?  Is there something in my walk or something that makes me a candidate?  Just don’t say cancer, dammit.”

So yeah – I guess when I go back to the dentist in 10 years or so, it will be a different one.

Bonus (unrated, unedited) Material:

The following is what I had written for today’s post before I went to the dentist (and he said “cancer” in front of me) this morning. 

Well I can’t believe it’s already that time of year.  The kids are back in school.  The long anticipated fall television lineup is just around the corner.  The days are noticeably shorter as summer comes to a close.

Road biking season is wrapping up as well.  People are gearing up for Cyclocross.   This is the time to shop around for great deals on stuff you’ll use next summer.  

I’ve started thinking about how my “training” will go over the winter.  Of course I will ride outside as much as possible.  I plan to do about what I did last year and ride year round on weekends.  But I know there will be some time on the rollers.

Oh yeah, and the Vuelta starts this weekend.

Hmm?  What?  The Vuelta?  As in “The Vuelta a Espana?”

Yeah, that one.  If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what the hell the Vuelta is or why anyone would care. 

I think everyone has heard of the Tour De France.  Well, supposedly, there are 2 more bicycle races in the world.  There’s one in Italy that happens before the Tour and one in Spain that happens afterwards.

The one in France is the most popular because it’s in the summer.  There’s nothing else on to watch, so people have to watch it. 

Second place is the one in Italy because it is in the spring and people are ready for some bike racing after the long winter.

The Vuelta though.  That’s the one that’s held when everybody just wants to forget about cycling for a while and watch some college football (and I mean real football – not that ridiculous soccer thing).

Plus, unfortunately for the Vuelta, it comes around each year after all of the best riders of the year have already been suspended, so it becomes “the race of the domestique.”  Which sucks.  There’s so much confusion among the teams because each member is carrying 9 water bottles in his jersey.

Hopefully though, if I end up watching any of this sorry excuse for a bike race, it will be Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen announcing for the English speaking world.  At least that way, I can close my eyes and pretend it’s the Tour De France and it matters for some reason.

[At this point, I realized I had to get to my dentist appointment.  I wasn’t worried.  I hadn’t heard a dentist say “cancer” for at least 12 years.  Ahh, the innocence of earlier today.] 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Extra: Cherry Salsa

So one Friday afternoon I was at the grocery store.  I was in a bad mood.  The store was pretty crowded and I was getting more agitated by the minute.  I just wanted to get the few things I needed for a little party we were having and get out of there. 

Whenever we are having a party, we never quite seem to get everything ready to our satisfaction.  Mostly it has to do with getting the house in order.  But also, no matter how much we plan it out, there are always emergency trips to Hy-Vee.  I will typically return with the last thing we need, green onions for example, only to be informed that we need Tumeric powder.  Handing over the Tumeric powder, I find that we’ve completely forgotten to grab the Heavy Cream.  And so on.

So anyway, It was on one of these return trips with a grocery store full of people with what appeared to be “all the time in the world” that I began to get very impatient.  Biting my tongue at every turn.

I turned down the Chips and snacks aisle for the last thing I needed (on this trip).  A jar of medium salsa.  Just before I got to the salsa section, an older couple and their teenage daughter got there.  They were blocking my access to what I needed.  I could see it.  All I could do is wait while they discussed what they were there for.  I was trying to breathe slowly and deeply.

As they were having “the longest conversation in the world” about what kind of salsa they were going to get, I noticed the girl had Down Syndrome.  They were talking about a certain brand of cherry salsa that was so wonderful, they just had to have more.  But no matter how they searched, they couldn’t find it.  They were sure they had gotten it here at this store.  Maybe this store didn’t carry it anymore.  Well.  Keep looking, they decided.

This whole time, I was glaring at the thing they were looking for.  It was on the top row of the salsa display.  I somehow felt that if I stared at it, they would find it.  On about their third scan of all the jars of salsa starting mysteriously with the second from the top row, I spoke up.

“It’s right there,” I said, pointing it out to them.

At that point, the little girl was so excited to have found it, she turned to me and said, “You’re awesome!”

I felt like I had just won a prize.  An asshole prize.  I only told them where it was because I wanted them to get the hell out of my way.  If I hadn’t been in a hurry, or didn’t need to get to where they were, I would have let them look for it forever. 

Seeing that girl’s face light up for something so small and simple – her expression of gratitude – changed my day.  I wasn’t grumpy anymore.  Everything that had been causing my impatience was so unimportant, I had to laugh. 

I bought a jar of cherry salsa.  Not so much.  Didn’t really care for it.  But it was still a good day.

A couple of weeks ago, Shim was looking for volunteers for the Bellevue/Papillion crits.  Once I finally committed, he responded by email with: “You’re awesome!”

In the same way as in the grocery store, I hadn’t really done anything.  Much less than people like Shim and Kent who try to get these things going and make them successful.

So Shim’s email reminded me of that day I stopped being an asshole for a minute at the grocery store.  That’s why I call Shim (in my mind) Cherry Salsa.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cleaning up the Peloton

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about being on a mission.  I don't remember what it was really about, but I think it had something to do with "There aren't really zombies, people.  Get over it"

Well, I've moved on from that.  I'm on a brand new (for me) mission. I've recently (last night) been told that if I just do group rides and never race, then it doesn't matter how good I am, I am a poseur.  Next year.  Really.  I'll race next year.  Right now, I've got this other deal I'm doing.

So yeah, I'm not a world class professional cyclist.  I'm not a national level pro.  I'm not a regional pro or even a cat 1,2 or 3.  I'm a lowly cat 4.  All that means is that at some point in my life I've been in a few races.  Results are not required to "upgrade" to cat 4.

Nonetheless, I have a new mission.  To clean up cycling at my level.  We all know about the problems professional cycling has faced in the last 2 decades or so.  What a lot of people don't know is that we have our own problems down here in the local training ride scene.

On any fast paced group ride of more than 10 people there is bound to be at least one who is not riding clean.  How do I know this?  It's pretty obvious, really.  I'm going to explain how you can instantly spot offenders and what you can do about it.

Who cares?  They're only hurting themselves, right?  No, that's not right.  I don't know if it bothers everyone, but it bugs the heck out of me when I'm trying to keep up in a paceline and I find myself stuck behind one of these guys.  Gasping for air.  Trying to keep up.

It's really not fair.

Back before I was a cyclist, I used to just workout with weights over at the Omaha Athletic club.  Then 24 hour fitness came along and bought the OAC and Todd Smith's gym.  I switched over to 24 hour fitness when they came in and I started working out at Todd Smith's.  Todd Smith's was way cooler than any 24 hour fitness, so it was fun until it wasn't there anymore.

There were plenty of powerlifting and bodybuilding types there and strangely enough, there were a few who were obviously on steroids.

There was one guy who may or may not have been juicing but he was certainly not 100% clean, whatever he was doing.  I'd see him there just about every day.  It didn't matter what time I hit the gym, he was there.  He was very strong and had big huge muscles.  He didn't show it off though.  He was always wearing a gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.  The same gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.  The same unwashed gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants.

I didn't know the guy's name, but I always referred to him (in my mind) as Pepe.  Because he smelled bad.  Real bad.  Like Pepe LePew.  The skunk.  From the cartoons.
Spot me on zis, no?

That reminds me - I always refer to Shim (in my mind) as "Cherry Salsa" but for a completely different reason that I probably won't bother to explain anytime soon.  All I can say is, it's not a bad thing.  It's good.  Really.  I swear.

Anyway, one day Pepe was working out on a lat pull machine next to the one I was on.  I was pulling down something like 80k or so and he was straining for everything, pulling somewhere in the neighborhood of 150K.  Suddenly, he jumped up and yelled "Oh Shit!" and walked away from the machine.

I didn't really pay much attention until I glanced over to where he had been sitting to notice that he had apparently had some sort of anal leakage, leaving a soupy brown streak on the lat pull machine seat.

To Pepe's credit, he came back around a few minutes later with a wad of brown paper towels to smear the shit stain around the seat a bit.

From that point on, I began to refer to the guy (in my mind) as "Pierre."  As in "Pierre LePoopypants."  Really.  I did.

It wasn't until a few weeks later that I learned his actual name.  He was working out somewhere near me, same unwashed dirty gray sweatsuit (I don't know if he had washed his sweatpants since he had shit through them, I was trying to avoid finding out), when someone walked by and said "How's it going, Fred?"

I looked up to respond, only to learn that the person was asking none other than Ol' Poopypants  himself.  Doh.

So then I had to start calling him (in my mind) Fred Poopypants.  To me, it just wasn't the same.

After seeing first hand, how dirty a sport weightlifting could be, I turned to the purest, most beautiful athletic endeavor known to man.  Golf.

But then I got fat, so that wasn't working.  I was forced to return to my one and only true love:  Riding a bike around for a while.

I think when people wear dirty workout clothes to workout in, they must not realize how bad they smell and how far away they smell bad from.  It is really quite amazing.  But I think that everyone is partially to blame for their ignorance.  Well I aim to change that. 

Let's say there's a rider on the group ride who, in medical terms, stinks to high heaven.  We'll just hypothetically call this rider "John."

Nobody is going to tell John he stinks.  That would be rude.  Instead, we'll just suffer in silence behind his nasty ass.  Or most likely, we'll just avoid getting behind him at all.  Of course, If we try to stay in front of him, he may see it as a playful attack and jump right back around.  We are then forced to inhale his great stench or sit up and be dropped by him.

I'm as guilty as anyone.  Not of being dirty. Of being a part of this most insidious omerta. I should say,  "Hey John.  You fuckin' stink, man.  When you get home go burn all of your cycling clothing, take a shower and go buy new cycling clothing, and so on ..."

Since nobody is saying anything, you may stink and not know it.

Just because nobody has ever said anything to you, it's ok to go along as you have been forever, right?  No wrong.  People silently hate you.  And by "people," I mean "we" and by "we," I mean "I".  I hate you.  That's what I'm trying to say.

So how do you know if you are an unclean rider if nobody says anything?  I'm going to help you right now.  Also, If you become clean, I won't hate you anymore!  Lucky!

If you are thinking you might be an unclean rider, then you probably aren't.  Unclean riders don't think about it, I hope.  I hope these people don't actually know how bad they stink, but somehow think that's ok.

Generally speaking, If you always wash your kit (and yourself) after a day's riding, you have nothing to worry about.

So if it's never occurred to you that maybe you stink, here's some guidelines for you:

If either you or your kit gets in more than a day's riding without being washed, you are filthy smelly scum.  End of story.

But you can be fixed.  Here you go:

First, you need to go put all of your cycling clothes (jerseys, bibs/shorts, socks) in a pile and burn them.  It is too late for them.  They are not coming back.  On a positive note, they smell like they'll go up in flames pretty easily, so there's that.

But Cube, can't I just throw them away?  I mean isn't there an ordinance or something about burning stuff?

No, you may not just throw them away, because you are very smelly and lazy.  If you just throw them away and don't get a chance to get them replaced before the next "Epic" ride, you'll be digging through the trash for them.  Trust me.  You will.  That's just how disgusting you are.  "Hey John, It looks like there's some iceberg lettuce on the back of your jersey.  And maybe, a taco bell gordita supreme wrapper"

Second, go to Wal-Mart and ask them where they sell this thing called "Antiperspirant" or "Deodorant."  They may not know what you are talking about.  If that's the case, just ask around at grocery stores until you find it.  Buy some and take it home.  Put it next to your shower.  Your shower is in the bathroom.  You will need both of these things (shower and antiperspirant) for the next step.

Next, you need to shower.  Use soap.  Do this at least daily, but you might find that a shower (with soap) immediately after a sweaty workout is also refreshing.

After your shower, dry off with a clean towel and follow the instructions on the container of antiperspirant you just bought.  It may seem crazy at first, but after a while, you'll wonder how you lived without it.

Also, shower (use soap and antiperspirant) before you go buy new cycling clothes.  This is important.  You are going to try them on in the shop, probably.  You don't want to contaminate them with your foul odor.

Next, wash your new clothes (use laundry detergent and a washing machine) before you ride in them.  I don't know if this really matters or not, but ew!  Who knows where those have been?  I know you're not in a habit of caring where they've been, but you need to get into that habit, John.

Next, after your ride, wash your clothes (laundry detergent) and yourself (soap/antiperspirant).  Again.

What do you mean cube?  Another shower (with soap/antiperspirant)?

Yes that's what I mean.  That's how the rest of us do it.  I know that showering (with soap/antiperspirant) every single day may seem excessive, but trust me on this.  It is not.  Join us.  Please.

Oh yeah, and shave your legs.  You look like a slob.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Box Under Light Load Stow High in Transit

One time, this guy (let's call him August. No Dave) was telling a story at some family gathering.  My family, not yours.  Most likely, it was a Sunday.  That's when we have our family gatherings.  Sunday afternoon.  Someone will have a birthday and we all figure nobody really cares, so we have the "party" on Sunday afternoon.  Nobody ever has anything going on at that time, so there's a chance some people will show up and it will be a grand affair.

And this particular Sunday that nobody cared whose birthday it was, because we were all just glad to have an excuse to unwind after a long weekend of unwinding, was no exception.

So Dave was telling a group of us that were gathered around the kitchen table, the origin of the word "Shit."  It was one of those fantastically stupid stories that people believe.  It always ends up that the word in question is an acronym.  I just now Googled "Stow High In Transit" because I didn't quite remember how Dave's story went.  Yeah this was it:

Manure: In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be Transported by ship and it was also before the invention of commercial Fertilizers, so large shipments of manure were quite common. It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when Wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, not only did it become heavier, But the process of fermentation began again, of which a byproduct is Methane gas of course. As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles You can see what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came Below at night with a lantern, BOOOOM! Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined Just what was happening

After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the Instruction ' Stow high in transit ' on them, which meant for the Sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water That came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start The production of methane.
Thus evolved the term ' S.H.I.T ' , (Stow High In Transit) which has Come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day. You probably did not know the true history of this word. Neither did I. I had always thought it was a golf term
I love how the internet version of the story explains where the water that gets into the shit comes from.  We're talking about transporting manure by ship, but we still feel the need to explain that the shit gets wet from the water at sea and not say, from a leaky faucet or something.  Also "someone came below at night with a lantern?"  In the daytime, the ship's lower levels must have had so much natural light streaming in that lanterns were only necessary at night.

The nice thing about the internet is that not only does it provide us with some of the hugest bullshit stories ever, it gives us what we need to find out whether or not they are true.  If for some reason you are extremely gullible, It's easy to find out that Bill Cosby didn't say: "I'm 76 and tired."

Go to google.  Type "Bill Cosby 76" and there you go.

However, nobody likes a know-it-all.  I don't.  You don't.  But I couldn't help myself.  The thing is, I felt bad for Dave because he's a really nice guy.  I actually felt more than 99 percent sure the story was bullshit.  But Dave had the floor.  People were listening intently and interested.  They evaluated Dave's story as studious and amazing.

Dave is a smart guy.  He doesn't ever come across as super intelligent, though.  He has a good sense of humor about himself and is never showy or boastful.  Just a good guy to be around.  He was only telling the story because he had heard it and thought it was fascinating.

I, on the other hand, am a weaselly little show-off, know-it-all jerk.  I annoy myself.  Often after I say something, I say it again in my head with a mocking voice.  I imagine I'm wagging my head at myself repeating what I just said in a nasally tone.  It's pretty bad.

But like I said, I couldn't help myself.

"Uh Dave?  I have a question.  How could you believe such a huge load of Bull Stow High In Transit?"

Dave was slightly taken aback.  Others who were just a moment ago, discovering a joy they'd never known upon learning the "history they won't tell you at school,"  turned angrily toward me and my party pooping.

My dad was in no mood for "Mr Smarty pants" today, saying, "You best mind your p's and q's, boy!"

"That explains something though,"  I continued,  "Back when I was really poor and my car would break down and I didn't have enough money to fix it so I'd have to go buy another piece of shit car, I didn't understand why I had to put a piece of paper on the car that said 'In Transit.'  Now I understand that it was some sort of shorthand description of my car.  Thanks Dave."

As my dad and a couple others grabbed my arms to extricate me from the premises, my rant was just getting going, "Oh dad, that reminds me.  The other night when you called me and told me the origin of the word 'golf?'  Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden" Did you actually believe that?  What a moron.  Was I adopted?"

With that, the guys opened the storm door with my forehead and threw me out into the street.

Sitting there for a moment, I looked back at the house, bemused.  Everyone had gone back inside and shut the door.  There was snow on the ground so it was probably my sister's birthday.  I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my last crumpled Marlboro.  Leaning back a little to dig into the front pocket of my dampening, cold jeans, I grabbed my green Bic lighter.  "These damn things are gonna kill me," I said as I struggled to spark a flame from the now wet lighter.  Finally I got it lit and inhaled the tobacco-ey goodness deep into my lungs.  That's better, I thought, as I rested a shivering hand on the street, oblivious to the fact that I was sitting on a combined wastewater storm drain sewer grate thing.  Apparently, the lethal combination of melting snow and neighborhood poo had festered into a highly explosive concoction that became ignited by my cigarette.

The resulting explosion shook the ground and sent me flying 200 feet into the air on top of the sewer cover.

Watching the whole thing from inside, my dad turned to my family and said, "I guess now we know where we get the saying, 'Flying, screaming douchebag on a manhole cover."

"I always thought that was a golf term," Dave joked to the delight of all in attendance.

And my sister really did have a happy birthday after all.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

We're gonna need a bigger box of Cocoa Puffs

It's time to proselytize.  I have a new mission.  I officially kicked off my evangelism tour at last night's Trek Store Ride (WNFW).

That's right, I'm back.  The kids are done with swim team and the corresponding meets, so my Wednesdays are freed back up.

It was nice.  Before I temporarily left the ride, I had the feeling that "everybody hate me."  And even though it is most likely true, all in attendance greeted my return cordially, so that was lovely.  Shim even regaled the group with a stirring rendition of "Welcome Back" (The Theme Song to the 70's hit series, Welcome Back Kotter) complete with interesting trivia about the song's author ...
Look out Barbarino, these guys seem to be dying from shortest to tallest

Shim: Hey Cube, you know who sang that song?

Cube: The Lovin' Spoonfuls.

Shim: No.

Cube:  Ok, give me a minute.

This conversation was happening during a double paceline on the way toward the Surfside KOM.  Shim and I would see each other every minute or so as the rotation brought us next to each other twice per rotation.
 Once with me on the left and once with Shim on the left.

So on the next time by ...

Shim: You got it yet?

Cube: John Sebastian.

Shim: Yep. What ... (fading, can't hear)

Next rotation ...

Shim: ... else was he famous for?

Cube:  Being in the Lovin' Spoonfuls?

Shim laughs, then after asking everyone and finding out nobody knew, he told us the other thing that John Sebastian is famous for.  I gotta say, I did not know that.  It was actually quite fascinating.

Anyway - I was happy to be back on the ride.  In the 6 weeks I was away, I was only able to get to the Tuesday Night GSV ride twice.  Both of those times were great experiences.  I met some fantastic people and have made a few friends out of the deal.  Group rides have a way of making that happen.

I wouldn't say I like one ride over the other.  Both have their specific merits.  I think I'll choose the Wednesday by default though because it starts and ends a little earlier.  I prefer the Tuesday route, so, wait - what if we went to Iowa sometime on the Trek Store ride?  I'll tell you what: Fun!

The best thing about last night's ride was that I was reminded of the crusade I have decided to set out upon.  A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Jonathan Wait's blog and I recognized an unsettling justification for stockpiling weapons and ammo.  I am seeing this belief trending lately and I am truly concerned.

In the last year, 3 people that I personally know have claimed to be gathering weaponry in preparation for the zombie apocalypse.  

About 25 years ago or so, I was lounging around in Ft Collins, Colorado, I rented a couch from a survivalist, let's call him "August" and his family.  Actually, I don't think they were charging me.  It was not ideal, but I didn't have much money and the price was right.  The problem was the survivalist was insanely jealous of his wife, who was frequently making passes as me, which is scary enough when the guy doesn't own a bunch of firearms.
Brad Pitt has signed up to play my character in "Couch Pad"
August often told me in great gory detail what he'd do to anyone he caught fooling around with his wife.  He explained how he'd then turn the gun on his children, wife and ultimately on himself, thus bending what I would think should be the first rule of survivalism.

Probably the worst part of all of this was that his wife was one of the most earth-shatteringly unattractive women I'd ever seen.  August would be sending me a not so subtle message that I'd better not fuck his wife.  His wife was sending me the message that she'd be perfectly happy with me fucking her.  I wanted August to know that I could never have sex with his wife because I found her to be disgusting, but I wasn't sure that would have been a wise thing to say.

One day while I was looking through the classifieds for a different place to live, August came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go up into the foothills to some shooting range.  He was going to take a couple of handguns, his wife's 12 gauge, and his very special Springfield M1-A.  I know I've told a story once before where some of these elements were involved, but this is a different climb up the mountain.

On the way up, August explained to me the virtue of knowing how to survive in the event that Ivan Invades.  He had it all worked out.  He knew where exactly he would go and how he would properly shelter and feed his family if it ever came to that.  He had several strategic locations scouted out.  From a single vantage point he could protect himself from any number of invaders and from all directions.

I don't remember what August's job was, but when he talked about living off the land, he became a different person.  It seemed like he wanted Ivan to invade.  Otherwise all of his preparation was sort of a waste.

I was impressed by all the knowledge he had.  I could see the value of knowing how to live off the land.  But I didn't actually believe that any invasion from the Soviets or anyone else was actually probable.

August could surely sense my skepticism so by way of driving the point home, he suggested that I lead us out of the mountains and back to the car.  It came across like a challenge, which was stupid.  We had just walked along a path up to the site of his future post-siege home.  All I had to do was turn around and walk back to the car.

Finally after passing a certain boulder for the 3rd time, he pointed the direction of the car.  I had been leading us in circles for about 2 hours and it had only taken us about 20 minutes to get to his dream home from the car.  So yeah.  I was lost.  Point taken.

I'm a little sad for August that Ivan never came.  We now know he never will.  I kind of thought that August should just move up there anyway, but I suppose until we are under some sort of attack, it would be illegal.  Certainly you can't just build some sort of military fortress on some public hiking trails.

I thought August was a kook.  A likable, homicidal kook.  He had some real paranoia issues.  He had spent years learning to survive in the wild.  Even though the imminent threat he perceived was little more than fantastic delusion, it was still technically possible.

Well maybe not technically.  There really were Russians (Soviets).  They really had guns and stuff.  I suppose they could have marched north over the top of the world and then south into Ft Collins. But even then, at the tender age of 21, it seemed like the biggest load of shit I'd ever heard.

August owned guns and stockpiled ammo because he believed 2 things.

1) The Russians were coming.
2) Everybody wanted to have sex with his wife (It probably didn't help that his wife was flirty.  Hideous and flirty).

Back then (the 80's), when someone felt the need to gather guns and ammo, their reasoning was similar to August's.  To fight an enemy known to exist.  Also - if pressed, August really could survive in the wild.  He had done the whole "go into the wild naked and survive" thing on several occasions.  So no matter how kooky he was, he was for real.

Presently, the 2 reasons I hear for stockpiling are:

1) Zombies
2) Something Obama is doing.

Guns and ammo are not cheap.  When will you really have need of them other than for goofing around at the range?  Never.  That's when.  There's nothing wrong with that.  It's fun.  If you hunt or are in law enforcement or something, that's a different story, of course.  But building up an arsenal in case there are zombies someday or in case Obama comes to your house.  That's just stupid.  There will never be zombies and Obama will never come to your house. I'm not ruling out that Obama is a zombie, but he's still not coming to your house.  I promise.

I understand that you won't believe this.  August didn't believe me when I told him that the Russians would never come.  He didn't believe me when I told him nobody wanted to fuck his wife.  But I was right on both counts.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is if you are going to be insane, you should follow August's example.  Don't just build an arsenal.  Learn what berries you can eat and stuff.  I dare say guns are only a small part of surviving the post-apocalyptic world that is never coming.  You should become a well rounded nutjob.  Like my friend August. You're welcome.