Thursday, September 26, 2013


Well, to me, actually.  Probably not to anyone else.  I'll take this blogging session as an opportunity for a little auto-therapy.

As this year has progressed, I've been able to drop (or add) things to my life to become a better cyclist. I started riding regularly last November.  My first limiters were fitness and weight.  As the time went on and I still couldn't hang with the best of them, I looked for reasons.  I found a few, but in the end, I still was unable to keep up for the whole WNW.

I came close a couple of times, but never quite made it.

I refuse to accept my age as an excuse.  There's really nothing I can do about that and anyway, I still believe there are things I can do to get better.  Two obvious ones are things like certain types of training I neglect (intervals) and the amount of beer I drink (more than I should, not less).

There's also the continuous application of the things I have improved on this year:


Oh yeah, and racing.  Racing is really the only way to get to top speed.  So who knows if that will happen.  I'm not going to make any claims about what will happen.  I've already done way too much of that (and been wrong).

During this self-analysis thingy throughout the year, I've  become aware of a fear I have.  What if I do everything correctly and I still can't keep up? Deep down, I don't believe that would happen.  I believe that if I paid closer attention to everything I'm doing I could become one of the best.  But maybe not.  The fear is I would get no better and then not only would I still suck, now I wouldn't have any excuses to use to rock myself to sleep.

I've realized that I find comfort in my excuses and/or rationalizations.  Last year, I made some blog post about chasing down Munson and Miles on the keystone.  I was proud of the achievement at the time, but then Shim made comments that showed the boasting for what it really was.  Pointless drivel.  Who cares?  It proves nothing unless you go out there and test it against racers.

I was glad for the revelation.  Since then, I have tried to make an effort not to boast.  Let actions speak for you.

This fear of failure after having done everything "right" is sort of a safety net for me.  I am free to say "Well, I could have performed better, if ..."

Even though I saw boasting about what did happen or what would happen in the future as meaningless, I still was not ready to completely abandon my safety net.

Then two days ago I read something that completely floored me.  I had to read it several times to get the meaning of it.  It didn't seem true.  I couldn't grasp how someone could think this way.  It was just a few words in a book.  It's been going through my mind ever since as I try to come to terms with it.

I am reading the book "Domestique" by Charly Wegelius.  It is his story about how he came to understand and relish the role of the domestique in the pro peloton.

He had been obsessed with the idea of being a pro cyclist from a young age.  He's talking about his first few pro races and his thought process in preparing:

I had to have trained properly, eaten properly, stretched properly and recovered properly too. It was an issue of conscience; if I lost and I had done everything, then I could accept it. But if I lost and there was one little box I hadn’t ticked, I couldn’t forgive myself.

I saw that and thought, no that's all wrong.  Then you'd be faced with the fact that you really weren't good enough.  How could you live knowing that?

The answer of course, that is 49 years in the making for me is: How can you live with yourself if you never really gave winning a chance?  I am still not sure I grasp the mind of a person that is completely without excuses, but hopefully it's coming.  But again, I can't speak to the future.  Maybe I will get it maybe I won't.

One thing is for certain though.  It really doesn't matter that much at all.  Whew.  As long as I remember that, I'll have one excuse to hang on to if I come up short (assuming I do actually compete at some point, which I probably won't).

Thanks Dr. Blog, I don't know if I feel any better or not (I don't) but I just wanted to talk through it a little bit.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ok, That's what I thought.

At the company, there used to be this one guy who we'll call "Chris".  He decided one time that it was time for him to get back into shape.  He started dieting and losing weight quickly.  For exercise, he started "riding bikes" to work.  At that time, there were as many as 3 bike commuters coming to the office.  There was somebody who I never saw.  The bike was a comfort bike with some sort of potato powered head light or something and that was weird.

There was my super ultimate racing steed and there was Chris' road bike somewhere in between.

As Chris became more serious and rode in to work more frequently, he began to  pick my brain for info.  No problem.  I was glad to discuss "riding bikes" with him for a while.

Then he started boasting.  "My average to get here is around 25."

"Not bad at all," I said, "I'm right around there too."

Then the guy that sits next to Chris said, "What!?!  You guys average 25 MPH on your bikes!?!"

"Yes," Chris smirked as I said "No we're talking about kilometers/hour.  What?" As I realized Chris was claiming he averages 25 mph on his commute.

Chris in no way had the traditional cyclist physique.  I myself was about 15 lbs too heavy at the time, but he was what we used to call husky because mom would get mad if we called kids fat.

"Well that's pretty impressive.  Is it a flattish route, because I've seen some pretty powerful heavy guys that can really hammer it down the trail,"  I asked.  Totally not believing him.

"Well I ride most of the way in on the trail, but I'm also the best climber of all of my cycling friends."

"That's good.  You should go ride with the skinny guys.  I'd love to climb like them, but until I lose weight, that's not going to happen.  Probably not even then."

He countered with, "Skinny doesn't matter.  All my cycling friends are always shocked to see me drop them on hills.  They're always like - what the hell?  I've never been dropped by anyone as husky as you before."

At this point, I'd usually just drop the conversation.  This Chris guy was implying that he was some sort of freak of nature.  The truth is, unless I actually rode with him, I couldn't be sure (but I was).

No way this guy could drop me on a climb.  But I never said anything to him about it.  It didn't matter.

About a year or longer ago, Chris quit his job at the company and moved on.  I haven't seen or thought of him or his ridiculous claims since then.

At least not until he showed up on Yesterday's GSV ride.

This is a casual ride.  Luckily Bryan Redemske, Pete Duryea, and Fred Galata showed up because I had gone on a pretty mellow ride the day before and was hoping for a few harder efforts.

Basically, Bryan and I pulled leisurely the whole way.  Then we got to 30th and Hwy 36, heading West to 72nd.  It's never a steep climb, but it is a climb the whole way.

The shoulder narrows at one point so we got into a single line with Bryan and me trading increasingly more spirited pulls.  Just when I feel I don't want to go any faster, who comes flying around me at about 5mph faster than I was going?  That's right.  Unbelievable!  It was ... not that Chris guy.  It was Gregg Wollenhaupt and it was on.  Then Bryan, Gregg and I traded punches until Gregg got all toasty with about a half mile to the top and left it to Bryan and me to finish.

Yeah that Chris guy must've been dropping all his skinny cycling buddies about 5 minutes back.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Extra: Hey you there, grab a mop and pail and clean off this here boat floor thing!

 I normally get into work each morning about 7 AM.  Yesterday, I got in early, ready to concentrate on finding the cause of a segmentation fault in some new code I was adding to some old server code. 

One of the reasons I started working 7-4 many years ago was I could usually get a lot done in that first hour before people started arriving to chat about the TV show I didn’t watch or the bad call on the game I didn’t watch or some other crap I don’t care about.

Don’t misunderstand; I don’t mind shooting the shit at work at all.  Because of the way I approach the code I write, though, it’s easier to problem solve in an environment with fewer distractions.

Don gets in earlier than I do.

So yesterday, as I was eliminating possibilities for why my code was causing a crash, Don walked up behind me and said. “You’re not dressed like a pirate.”

His presence startled me.  I hadn’t heard him coming.  After his statement, I thought, “Oh please Don.  I don’t know or care why you said that, but please shut the fuck up."

Let me say right here that I am glad that Don doesn’t take a hint easily.  Because as I’m snapping out of my concentration to respond to him, I’m rude.  Actually, I respond in a way that I think says, “Not now Don,” but Don is persistent.  I only have maybe 5 seconds tops for him to leave before I have to jump off my train of thought and wait for the next arrival.  After that time is gone, I’m all too happy to chat with Don about pirates.

But the first thing I said was, “No.  I didn’t,” and continued to stare at my screen, hoping he’d get the message.

“Oh because Krispy Kreme is giving away a dozen donuts to anyone who goes in dressed as a pirate.”

My last gasp before I enter into mindless office chit chat, “I don’t eat donuts,” still looking at my screen.

“I wonder how many people are going to Krispy Kreme dressed as pirates today.  Now that would be interesting to see.  Even you, a person who doesn't eat donuts would have to admit it'd be funny to see a bunch of people dressed like pirates and eating Krispy Kremes,” Don went on.

Snap.  Code puzzle solution progress reset.  Now Don has a captive audience.  There’s no way to get to where I just was with him standing there.  And at this point I don’t mind at all.  I like talking to Don.  The evil concentration demons have left my body for now.

“How does a pirate dress, Don?”  I asked, thinking of software or DVD piracy.  I was purposely avoiding thinking of the peg leg, eye-patch, black flag seafaring type of Pirate.

“An eye patch, of course,” said Don, “And they say ‘Arrrg’”

And that was all he had.  He then walked away.  The irony being now I was ready to chat and I was a little sad Don was leaving, “I better get back to work,” he said, “and happy ‘Dress Like a Pirate’ day”

Thanks Don.  I was thinking how sad it was that I've now missed "Dress Like a Pirate Day,"  for the 'however many times they've had it' in a row.  On second thought maybe Don does know how grouchy I am and chooses to bug me for kicks.  Seems reasonable.  I hope that’s what’s actually going on, because I can respect that level of fuckwithedness.  Good on 'ya mate. 

If there's ever a 'talk like an american saying aussie phrases' day, I'm gettin' me some donuts.  Oh shit.  I don't eat donuts.  Never mind.

And just so you don’t lose sleep wondering, I was trying to insert several elements into a std::map and the program was crashing on the second or third insertion.   In one of the files included in a file included in the file I was changing was the #pragma pack (1) directive.  I had include map (#include < map > ) after the line that included the file that included the file with the directive.  I just had to move the “include map” line above the other one and everything was all hunky dory.  Arrrg! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest Blogger

I have nothing to say.  I've turned the floor over to myself at Gin Soaked Vagina.  Thanks and good night bitches.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The greatest fans in the country

Fans of Nebraska football have heard this throughout the years.  Great praise for the knowledge and courtesy of the Nebraska fans.  There truly is no place like Nebraska, so I have a little story of my own to tell.

I was at a game with my dad a couple of years ago.  Dad took me to my first Nebraska game when I was 8 years old.  It was Nebraska vs Wisconsin.  It was memorable.  Nebraska won that game 20-16.  I made a comment about how bad I’d feel if I was a Wisconsin fan who had traveled to see the loss.  My dad corrected me and said it was a good game and Wisconsin played well.  Behind us, a Wisconsin fan who had overheard echoed my dad’s sentiments and they shared a wry smile over my youthful ignorant spirit.

That is one way the greatest fans in the country are created.

Over the years since then, my dad and I have each been to several games.  We have never gone together though.  Coincidentally, we went to the game together in October of 2011.  Wisconsin was the opponent.  Nebraska took a bad beating from the Badgers that day losing 48-17.

After the game, I was waiting to get to the aisle to get down the steps when a very old man said to me, “Excuse me.  These steps are narrow and steep and my wife has a hard time walking.  Would it be ok if I rest a hand on your back as you go down the stairs so that we have some support?”

“Of course.  I would be glad to be of assistance,” and I truly meant it.  It makes you feel good to be able to help so much by doing so little.

As we got to the first landing, the man joked to his wife, “I told you these Nebraska fans aren’t all bad.”

Errrt.  What?  He was a Wisconsin fan!  I hadn’t noticed because he had been sitting in a Nebraska section and was wearing Wisconsin’s red.

At the revelation, I said, “Have a safe trip back home,” as I reached behind me and shoved him down the rest of the stairs.  His wife tumbled after him yelling something about her hip.  Good times.

Looking down at their decrepit crumpled remains, I got a little teary-eyed thinking about the greatest fans in the country.  Sniff.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Extra: A Bicycling Magazine quiz

Parts of the bike frame quiz (choose the best answer for each question):

a. The top tube
b. The seat tube
c. Seat stay
d. Chain Stay
e. Bottom Bracket [shell]
f. Down tube
g. Head Tube

Extra Credit:
h. The fork
i. Front wheel hold tubes

__ The tube that is on top

__ The tube for the seat

__ The tubes that make the seat stay off the rear wheel

__ The tubes that make the chain stay off the ground

__ The tube on the bottom where the bottom bracket goes

__ The tube that goes down from the head tube to the bottom bracket

__ The tube in at the front of the bike (head tube)

Extra credit:

__ The tubes that hold the front wheel.  Careful: Not "front wheel hold tubes"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bicycling Magazine

When I was first taking an interest in cycling roughly 35 to 40 years ago, I was hanging around in various bike shops drooling over some of the more elite road bikes.  Sometimes I’d notice a copy of a cycling related magazine on the counter of one of these places.  It was called “Bicycling.”  At the time, I figured it must be the written authority on everything cycling related.  I flipped through some pages and upon seeing the stunning beauty of the photos and the wealth of information therein, realized that once I had my own money and everything, I was going to definitely subscribe.

And I did.  I bought a nice 1986 Bianchi Campione d'Italia and subscribed to Bicycling Magazine.  Just for one year though.  I didn't really ride enough to care about any of that stuff.  I read maybe the first issue, and even though it seemed chock full of useful information, I never opened any of the other 11 issues that came to me.

But the next time I got into cycling ...  I had been riding consistently for a couple of years and decided it was time.  I was accomplished enough to deserve Bicycling Magazine.  I thought of it as almost something you had to have if you were anybody who had an interest in "riding bikes."  I subscribed.  Unlike the time before, I read each issue cover to cover.  There were interesting columns, useful product reviews, and even bike related fiction stories.

I think I had the magazine for 2 years before I realized they didn't really have anything new to say.  Each issue was basically a different spin on the same old crap.  Yes, there are new technologies or fads that come around, but I don't really care about those.  They will get to me eventually.

I don't know if they still do this, but the main thing I hated back then was the training plans.  Almost every issue would have some 12 week plan that you needed to follow if you wanted to achieve some greatness on the bike.

Then the next issue would come and there was a new, different plan.  Hey - wait - I was still on the last plan.  Do I need to add this to it?  That's when I realized they were writing to a crowd they knew was not going to stick to a plan.

Also, they had lists.  On the cover of each issue would be something like, "7 Ways to Make You a Mountain Goat,"  "5 Foods to Supercharge Your Legs,"  "4 Steps to Demonic Descents," etc.

It got annoying and old quickly.  Too many ads.  Too many reviews on really expensive crap.  Too little cycling news.

So I switched over to VeloNews and figured now I had really arrived!  And though this post isn't about VeloNews I will say this.  Fuck those guys too.

Anyways, last Saturday I found two issues of "Bicycling Magazine" in my mailbox.  I quickly checked the name and address.  They were mine.  I never ordered Bicycling.  So in my instant anger that they would just send these to me without my asking, I called the customer service line.  While the phone rang, I composed a brilliant speech for whoever (or is it whomevereth?)  answered the phone.  The following is a transcript of that speech:

   I don't know why you fuckers sent your shit to my house, but don't do it anymore.  I absolutely despise your shitty magazine.  Good day sir or madam!  Slam.

But unfortunately, I was greeted with a recording that informed me that I needed to call during the week and at certain hours if I wanted to tell somebody how shitty one of their magazines was.

So I sat at my desk and waited for Monday.  After about an hour of waiting (this was Saturday afternoon), I absentmindedly started flipping through one of the issues.  I couldn't believe what I saw.  This is not your father's Bicycling magazine.  They have completely changed.  They have heard the cry of their readers.  They even changed the lettering on the front cover!

The first thing I noticed was a helpful guide for getting the most out of your Cyclocross experience.  What!?!  I'm thinking of maybe doing some cross this year.  This is perfect for me!  Tell me what I need, Bicycling Magazine.  I'm not sure if it will stack up well next to the personalized tips I get from 2013 World Cyclocross Champion, Mark Savery, but it couldn't hurt.  I'm your newest fan, Bicycling Magazine!

Um.  What's that Bicycling Magazine?  I'm supposed to wear those for cyclocross?  Um.

Ok, but I don't think I could ride very well in them.  Oh wait ...

Spectating?  You've completely given up, Bicycling.  You're now a magazine that tells people how to look at people "riding bikes."  You suck.

"All the other cyclocross spectators used to point and laugh at my cold wet feet.  Not anymore, thanks to my new SpeedVagen Pit Boots!  Thanks, Bicycling's Jennifer Sherry!"

"Hey Cube.  You've been getting a lot of miles in.  You should seriously consider cross this year."

"Gee.  You really think I could race cross?"

"Race?  No.  You should come and watch some races, silly."

Well maybe I'll turn a few more pages and see if there's any useful reviews of overpriced products like there used to be.  Ok here's one, but it doesn't really apply to me.  Or does it, Munson?  Well, at only $130 each, I can't afford not to get both of them.

Ok, that was useful.  What else do we have?  How to be styling on a bike? Yeah, count me in!

Ok, I'm not riding in that, no matter how cool it is supposed to ... Hey wait a minute.  What's that bike?

Dammit.  That's my bike.  Get away from it, Style lady!  I just got done making fun of Munson.  Where'd you get that bike anyway?  Oh I see.

It's a classic Bicycling Huangist review.  About my sweet new Lumina (Some day, if you're lucky, I'll explain why I named it after perhaps the most boring car ever made).

Ok Bicycling Magazine.  I took your advice.  I bought this great new bike so I could still pay daycare and the mortgage.  But now what?  What's with all these levers and sprockets and things?  How do these gizmos work?

It all seems a little confusing.  Smallest cog harder?  Largest cog easier?  I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree Bicycling Magazine.  Anyway, thanks for the info.  I've cut out the "Cheat Sheet" and pasted it to that one tube on my bike frame that's on the top.  I don't know what it's called.  Hey there's an idea.  How about a feature for your next magazine about the names of the bike frame tubes.  I always get that confused.

You do that for me and I will surely subscribe.  As long as you print the same information again in a couple of issues.  Oh yeah - and make sure I get the 2014 Buyer's guide with my paid subscription.  And The Swimsuit Issue, of course.  Thanks Bicycling Magazine!

Monday, September 09, 2013

What are the odds?

Well I now realize that both of my sons are geniuses.  I just went into their room to tell them it was lights out and found them both huddled over a notepad where Jack was finishing his drawing.

"Ok lights out guys," I said.

"Wait dad.  I want to show you something,"  Jack stalled.

"Fine.  What?"

"Ok, first, here is a picture of a guy riding a moose," Jack said, showing me this:

Now both boys start giggling.  They know what comes next.  The writing is on the wall.  The instructions are on the notebook paper "turn to next page"  So with what I can only assume is the sweet innocence of a ten year old, discovering the beauty of absurdity, he proudly declares, "And here's a picture of a moose riding a guy!"  While both boys laugh hysterically.  I, on the other hand was deeply disturbed.  Oh I was also laughing hysterically.  On the inside.

How you know you've arrived

It's not when you're riding around in a skate park with full Rainbow kit:
No.  It's when people are referring to the World Champ as "Your friend."

You've arrived Scott Redd.  Congratulations.

Abe's Homework

One thing that I find incredibly boring is when people talk about what stunning little geniuses their children are.  It doesn't matter who it is or if the kid is really bright, I just don't care.  Mostly because the story is usually of something I've seen kids do a thousand times.  It is not unique.  It is just kids.  It is interesting how much children understand.  I think we usually see our kids as special because we've been underestimating them or something.

Anyway - if you're like me and hate listening to people talk about how brilliant their average children are, you can probably stop reading.  The following is all about Abe and working on his homework last night.  I was amazed by what happened.

Abe had some math homework that he was supposed to do.  He's 8 years old and in 3rd grade.  I like to supervise when they work on their math.  I've done this with Jolene and Jack.  For the whole time I have worked with those two, I have become frustrated.  It seemed that it had been easier for me than it looked like it was for them.  It wasn't that they were any less capable.  They would just become impatient.  Jack would tend to panic if he didn't immediately see the answer.

Last night was the first time I sat down with Abe with math homework.  Right away, I could see he was approaching it differently.  He was having fun.  There were several multiple choice questions and when he found the right one, he'd go on and read the rest of them just to see how they were all wrong.  I used to do that.  I never thought anyone else did.

The questions were mostly about "Place values."  Problems Like:

Fair enough.  But then (as far as I'm concerned) out of nowhere, came this combination question:

Ok - so Abe didn't know what to do here.  I thought maybe they went over some method in class, but I wasn't about to go into the whole n!/r!(n-r)! formula to show him how to get the right answer.  It might have taken too long to explain.  He said he thought the answer was "2".

I said, "How about we draw a picture and think about it.  So I drew 3 cartons of frozen yogurt and started drawing some cones to fill them with the combinations of flavors.  He then saw that the answer was clearly "3".  He asked if he should put down "2" because that's what he had thought at first.  I asked if he understood why it was "3".  He said he did, so I said it was ok to put "3" down.

We did a few more and he was getting tired.  Making silly mistakes.  I said he should go take his shower and come back and finish.  He said he wanted to finish.  I said ok.  Then about 2 minutes later he said that maybe he needed a break after all.  I agreed.  I told him that you can get this work done faster by taking breaks from time to time.

So he went off to take his shower and I went and started reading my book.  He got out of the shower and I told him to get his pajamas on.  After a few minutes, I went up to see if he had started back up on his homework.  He had.  In fact he had answered 4 more questions.  I was reviewing what he had done.  He hadn't said anything to me.  He was just working away.  Then I saw this already answered correctly:

I was confused.  How did he get that?  Did he just guess?  This one is much harder than the frozen yogurt one.  Then I looked over to the scratch paper we had used on the other problem:
Nice job, Abe.  Maybe I should have told him about n!/r!(n-r)!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Friday Extra: Shim is the new Cosell

I remember when I was very young that Mohamed Ali had been a hero of mine.  Then, for some reason, everybody hated him.  I didn't understand it at the time, but Mohamed Ali had refused to go to Vietnam, citing conscientious objection based on his religion (Nation of Islam).

He was arrested as a draft dodger and stripped of his heavyweight boxing title.  He was also not allowed to box for a while.

Throughout all of it, one man had the audacity to stick up for his old friend.  Howard Cosell.

But that's not why Shim is the new Cosell.

If you've never seen any of the interviews Cosell conducted with Ali, I recommend you go to youtube and watch some of them.  They are fantastic.  Howard Cosell is always egging Mohamed Ali on.  You can see how much he enjoys ribbing Ali just to get his reaction.  They both are acting angry and seem to be constantly on the verge of busting up laughing.  But unlike Harvey Korman talking to Tim Conway, they somehow can keep it together.

Shim is the new Cosell because Cosell was an impersonator's dream.  Everybody who wanted to do impressions in the 70's and 80's Started with "This is Howard Cosell ..."

I think after a while, people were no longer actually impersonating Cosell.  They were impersonating  Rich Little impersonating Cosell or something.  Even my dad tried his hand at it a time or two.

Well, Howard Cosell is dead now so it's time to pick on someone else for a change.  That's why everyone lately has been trying their hand at a Shim impersonation.  As far as I know, it started with Brady.  But it has spread like wildfire.  I think now some of the impersonations I hear are actually people impersonating Brady impersonating Shim (Brady is the new Rich Little).  I can't be sure, but each generation seems to be a little bit worse at it.

I personally hate to try to do impersonations of anyone.  I'm pretty sure I'd be as good at it as my dad was (terrible) But I feel in these difficult times, I should swallow my fears and come up with my own.  Here goes:  "I'm Shim.  What the hell is fred talking about."

Thank you very much.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Oh place of employment. You're so cute.

Shortly after I started working here at the company, I went over to human resources and asked if they did anything with The Corporate Cycling Challenge.  I only asked because I didn't want to pay for my entry fee if I could get them to do it.  My previous employer had always forked over the entry and had even provided some nice team jerseys to the "real" cyclists in the company (Shim).  I didn't bring this up to them though because I remembered how much my new girlfriends always liked hearing about great stuff my old girlfriends used to do.

"No,"  they replied.  They didn't really see any interest in the Corporate cycling challenge from the employees.

"Ok, can we get a bike rack or something. I'd really like to commute by bike."

"No, I don't think anyone else wants to do that,"  they said, "Besides, where would you shower (with soap)?"

I said something like, "I mean - maybe if there was a bike rack, people would use it.  As far as the showers go, I have been meaning to ask about that too.  Could we get some showers (with soap) put in here at the company, please?"


So I was pretty much screwed as far as commuting went.  I was kind of ok with it, though.  This was at a time in my life when I thought that I should be a golfer.  Looking back on it now, I just don't understand it.  I was so completely obsessed with golf.  Perhaps even more confusing is how quickly it dropped away from me.  I have almost no interest in it now.

I'm not surprised that the company also shot down my idea to use all of the spare land to the north of the building for a driving range.

But then the following year at the company, something changed.  I believe it was related to getting a better health care rate, but the company was suddenly interested in and promoting all of these fitness related activities and tips.  The new motto was: "A healthy workforce is a productive workforce or some shit like that."

You could sign up for the walking club.  This was a group of people that would take walks around the hallways inside the office for a while.  They were allowed to wear gym clothes on these walks.

There was a designated circuit for these walks and people would do several laps.  We were emailed links to calorie burning calculators and information about the value of being active.  It was weird.

Also, they installed a bike rack.  They cut a chunk out of the grass as far as possible from the front door and poured some concrete.  Then they stuck a Saris bike rack on top of the slab of concrete.  It is not bolted down in any way, it just sits there.

Still no showers (with or without soap) but it was a start.

I think the reason they put the bike rack so far from the front door (about 150 meters) is most people think you won't mind walking if you don't mind biking to work.  That's only partially true.  I don't wear my "street shoes" for riding so I waddle the long walk inside to my desk where I keep my shoes.

But again, that's not a problem.  Whatever.  At least there's a place to lock up my bike now.

After they put in the bike rack, I said, "Hey - thanks for the bike rack.  Can we get some showers?"


In the heyday of all of this fitness stuff (they don't really do it anymore) , the company was all, "Hey everybody, get off your lazy fat asses so we can strike a good deal with the health insurance companies.  How - you ask?  We're glad to tell you ...",

They decided to be sponsors for the Corporate Cycling Challenge.  Again,  all kinds of emails went out.  There were signs posted in the hallways.  If you wanted to do it, all you had to do was sign up and you'd get a t-shirt and entry fee paid.  So I signed up.  Once the deadline was passed for sign-up, the company team was announced:

So yeah.  It was just me.  "You think I could get a team jersey?"  I asked the company.

"What do you think the T-shirt is?"  They asked.

"A T-shirt,"  I said.

Then the company and I just stared at each other for a while, confused.

That was 2009.  Four years have passed and nothing has changed (for better or worse).  You learn to do what you need to to get by.  After a while, it seems like a small inconvenience.  I'm glad the commute is not less than 16 K, so I get a nice morning ride in.

But then a few weeks ago, a sprinkler system was installed.  Here is my relevant note to HR:

From: Hinsley, Fred
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 10:44 AM
HR (Human Resources) 
Subject: wet bike

Hello.  First of all, let me say that this is not really a big deal.  More of a situation I’d like you to be aware of in case there is a viable solution.  I am one of maybe 2 or 3 people that commutes to the office by bike.  I do this 3 or 4 times a week, depending on circumstances.  Recently, the sprinkler system has been giving the bike rack and surrounding concrete platform a good soaking.  This is not ideal for me. 

On Tuesday, it happened as I was standing there, unlocking my bike to ride home.  And though it provided great comedy for all those watching as I tried to hurry and get out of the way, it really isn’t ideal.

It may seem completely trivial, but I don’t know anything about the water that is spraying me or my bike.  Regardless, if my bike gets wet at some point in the day and is not cared for afterwards, it may suffer premature corrosion.

I’m hoping the sprinklers can either be adjusted so that they don’t spray the bike rack area or that I can park my bike somewhere where there are no sprinklers.

Let me know if you’ve got any ideas or solutions.  As I said at the outset, this is not a huge deal.  I can live with it.  It’s just one more inconvenience to deal with in my quest to bike to work.  Thanks.


Much to my surprise, HR responded almost immediately.  I had not really expected much at all.

From: HR (Human Resources)
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 10:45 AM
To: Hinsley, Fred
Subject: Thank you for your Human Resources related inquiry

Thank you for your inquiry. Please note that as of March 16, 2012, this inbox is no longer being monitored.

For Payroll Questions: You can log onto to HRself-service to review your paystub, PTO balance and personal information. For all other questions email
For Benefit Questions: Please email or contact them at [REDACTED].
For 401(k) Questions: Contact Principal at 1-800-547-7754 or go online to
For HR Self-Service Password Re-Sets: Please contact the helpdesk at  [REDACTED].
For Job Posting/Applications or VE Issues: Please contact
For all other inquiries, please visit the HR page on the HUB or contact your HR representative.


Human Resources


Ok - so I guess HR isn't there anymore.  After asking around, I found out who to send my note to.  Then I went to lunch.  At lunch I was beginning to hate myself.  My note should have been more insistent, I thought. Or I should have come up with some suggestions for a resolution.

I was sitting in the cafeteria of the building looking out the window towards our smoking area.  Yeah we have a designated smoking area.  It's nice too.  It's right next to a door and it is covered to protect the smokers from weather.  Oh and there are no sprinklers that spray into it.

While I was eating my chicken sandwich, I started to think I should have said, "Can I lock my bike up in the smoking area?"

Then my mind went off on this rant about how they treat their smokers so well and their biker so poorly, yada yada yada.

But then an actual solution came to my mind.  Why do they have to water the bike rack during the day time?

I went back to my desk to add to my original note.  But when I got there, they had already responded:


From: Person, A.
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 11:17 AM
To: Hinsley, Fred; Facilities - Papillion
Subject: RE: wet bike

Wait - aren't you the guy that complained about no showers.  I fail to see the problem with the sprinklers soaking your dainty little bike and clothing.


Undeterred, I forged ahead with my suggestion:

From: Hinsley, Fred
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 11:37 AM
To: Facilities - Papillion
Subject: RE: wet bike

I just thought of a possible solution – if the sprinklers that douse the bike rack area could be set to not run between the hours of say 6AM and 6PM, that would probably work in most situations.


And finally, The Company proved they are still here for the little guy.

From: Person, A.
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 12:24 PM
To: Hinsley, Fred; Facilities - Papillion
Subject: RE: wet bike

We have them set for 6 pm now.  So that's the time to be there if you still want to get your shower (with soap) in. You're welcome.



From: Hinsley, Fred
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 12:27 AM
To: Facilities - Papillion
Subject: RE: wet bike