Thursday, April 24, 2014

How not to get your ass kicked by an old man

Not that I'm an authority or anything.  I just think there are steps you can take to keep yourself from getting your ass kicked by an old man.

Every once in a while, there will be a story in the paper about how some old man beat up some young adult who meant to rob him.

It always goes like this:

Kid breaks into old man's house.  Kid has weapon; Knife, gun, tire iron.  Whatever.
He starts yelling at old man, threatening him.  Old man takes weapon from kid and shoves it up kid's ass.  He then keeps kid around so cops can fetch him.

The kid goes from thinking he's some sort of criminal badass to having some feeble old guy with a little moxie get the better of him.

This is sad.  The shame.  Can you imagine?  As if that wasn't enough.  The story is published online where the whole world can not only read, but also comment.  You may not believe this, but most of the comments are from people praising the old guy and laughing at the kid.  Some even think the kid deserves more punishment.

He does not.  The humiliation of the events is enough.  Rather than try to ruin a kid's future, wouldn't it be better if he could be reformed?  If he could learn the basics of not getting his ass kicked by an old guy?

Yes, of course it would.  That's the reason for this post.  If I can help just one kid, I will feel I've done my job.  Then I'll call in sick because I still have to go to my real job otherwise.

Here's a handy little guide I whipped up.  I hope it helps.  You're welcome whipper snappers.

1)   Stay away from old people.  Isn't it funny how often the answer is right there in front of us?  Just don't try to take stuff from old guys.  I know they look frail and weak, but they were your age once.  If they can kick your ass now, just think what they would have done to you back then?  Whew!

The good news is that if you don't provoke them, they will leave you alone.  They didn't get to be old by starting fights.

2) Learn to fight - or at the very least, learn some basic self defense.  You may never need to defend yourself against an old guy, but it's better to have it and not need it than - say it with me - need it and not have it.  If you're going to be getting into showdowns with old people, 9 times out of 10, no problem.  The old guy gives you his stuff and you're on your way.  But that 10th guy?  Is it worth getting beat up and laughed at by the community/world when you could have spent a couple of hours learning self-defense at the library?  I think you know the answer.  Get some training.  A little goes a long way against old people.

3) Choose your target judiciously.  If you absolutely must accost an old person, there are certain types you should avoid at all cost.

 3-a) Thick glasses that look like they automatically darken in the sun.  Watch out for these guys.  They're worse than old guys in track suits.  Whether or not they are/were ever in organized crime is irrelevant.  They will beat your ass before their lenses have a chance to adjust to the light in the room/outdoors.

My wallet, eh?
 3-b) Old guys in track suits.  These guys are in organized crime.  Even if you should somehow get the better of one of these good fellows, there's a Colombian Necktie in your future.
I swear. I'm just gonna talk to the kid, sweetie.  

 3-c) Blurry tattoos.  This may not be so easy to tell on a cold day.  But if you are about to make your move and your "victim's" arm is stained with unintelligible blue blobs, just get away.  This is probably a Marine (they tell me there are no ex-marines).

Try not to bleed to death before the cops get here, princess.

4)  Mug other pussies like yourself.  Again.  Sorry if it's obvious.  But since you can't handle old guys,  others like you are most likely your best bet.  Approach only other young "tough guy" criminals and you should be fine.

5)  Don't go on a bike ride with Shim.  About the quickest way to get your ass kicked by an old guy is to engage in this risky behavior.  Just don't do it.

And Sceeeeeene!

Friday, April 18, 2014

I got nowhere else to go

This is the fourth time I've started tonight's post.  The other 3 are fan-effin-tastic, but just not ready.  Since I have to get something posted, I'm just going with the stupid boring old WNW report.

Last night was the first Wednesday Night ride I was able to attend this year.  I want to work something out where I can go every week, but we'll see.

Recently I talked about inspiration coming from strange places.  Well, I'm going to talk about it again.

On last night's ride was Jordan, Paul Webb, Lucas, Grant Rotunda (probably a real last name), Brady, Leah and that bad mofo on keyboard right now.  Check it! [plays awesome keyboard riff]

I went on this ride having no idea about my fitness as it relates to the others.  I haven't been on any group rides in a very long time.  I didn't care if I got dropped, I just wanted to see where I was and decide what to do from there to kick everybody's ass next week.

The temperature during the ride went from about 60F to 40F.  It was a strong NW wind.  So the way out was brutal.  We tried to paceline - but it was a mess.  Echelon would have been ideal if the roads were closed, but what do I know?

The way back though - all tailwind.  Nice.  From Ft. Calhoun, we headed east toward Boyer chute.  Spinning comfortably at 30MPH.  Then we turned to the south and got organized.  The paceline was going pretty smooth when there were murmurs of "we lost one."

Guys were kind of sitting up and saying, "Should we wait?"

I think the answer was "No."

Actually, I think if I hadn't dropped off, they would have wondered what to do for a while.  But it was a gray cold night getting colder and grayer, and I've been alone on that road before and it really sucks.  So I stopped pedaling.  As soon as the rest of the group saw that I was going to wait for Leah, they moved along.  They knew she wouldn't be left alone.  All was fine.  The race was on or whatever.

For me, it was a complete switch.  Well, the rest of a complete switch.  The first part of the switch happened a few days earlier.  My son is getting excited about mountain biking and I'm finding myself putting his training before mine.  It's a realistic look at life.  Where am I going to take this bike racing thing?  I'm 49.

Do not misunderstand.  I will compete as hard as possible and do everything I can to reach my best.  But some things are just more important.  Big picture.

Big picture is we're on a remote road on a quickly darkening and chilly night.  We should not leave somebody out there alone.

And here's the change.  Normally, I would have done everything I could to stay with that front group.  I probably would have lasted until the final big climb.

But on this night, I couldn't care less.  There was this wonky feeling in my chest.  I think people call it "compassion" or something.  Not that Leah needs it.  She's one of the toughest people I know.  If you drop back to her on WNW, you better be serious or she'll kick your ass.

Unlike a lot of people, she doesn't gripe about it.  She knows she's going to get dropped on this ride.  That's why she's so strong.  That's why she often laps the field in real races. She doesn't shy away from the dreaded WNW.  If everybody was like that, we'd have 30 people show up every week.

There are a lot of guys who show up, get their asses kicked and never return. They could learn from Leah.  They'd get faster if they rode with faster people.

After I had lost contact with the group and Leah was making her way to me, I noticed Brady was also drifting back.  Nice.  I've seen Brady do this on many occasions in the past, but only as I was continuing with the lead group.

So in the end, I rode back in with Leah and Brady.  While we were riding I realized how much I admire these two riders. They are nothing alike, but there's a common attitude I see in them, that I see in few people.

They are up for any challenge.

Last winter, Rafal led a few of us on a cold 50MPH windy gravel ride in Iowa.  It was brutal.  We were exhausted.  As we were heading home on our cross bikes, I joked to Brady, "Hey you wanna do a lap of Lewis and Clark real quick since we're right here?"

Brady said, "Not really, but I will."

That's the attitude.  If somebody would have asked me if I wanted to do a lap, I would have said, and I quote, "No."

Oh say, that reminds me.  Let me back up.  I may have given the impression that I think these 2 are somehow special.  I'm so sorry.  I did not mean to do that.  I mean, I'm sure they're great and everything, but certainly the rest of the group is a bunch of champions too.  It's just that I'll never know about it because they insist on riding so far in front of me.*

And sceeeeene!

* Samuel L. Jackson is a genius:  Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'll never know 'cause I ain't eatin' the filthy mother-fucker.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's that time of year!

It's been a few months, but we now get to share the keystone multi-use path with other people on bikes.

I remember the first time I saw somebody with one of those bicycle specific rear view mirrors.  Not those that attach to the handlebar and vibrate. Not even the ones that attach to a helmet. Nobody wore helmets back then.  No, these clipped right on to eyeglasses.

There was this guy in our neighborhood who was kind of a "pussy" as my dad would have called him.

He usually wore light brown corduroy slacks and a sort of plaid greenish button down shirt.  Also, he rode his bike everywhere.  He had these leather strap things to secure the bottom of his pant legs so they wouldn't come to any harm at the hands (or teeth) of the bike's drive train.

I was probably 10 years old or so and when I realized what the mirror attached to his "spectacles" was, I thought it was one of the coolest contraptions ever.  I knew I had to have one one day.  I hadn't yet realized that humans, unlike cars, can turn their heads.

I've since changed my opinion about these ridiculous mirrors.  I no longer feel that they are cool at all.  But maybe old people can't turn their heads.

The three people I saw on the trail the other day all had helmet rear view mirror devices.  They were all old.  Older than me even.  Who knows - maybe one of them was the guy from my neighborhood 40 years ago.  Let's just say it was him.  Let's also give him a name (♫ Tommy can you hear me? ♫).

This geriatric group was riding exclusively on comfy bikes.  When I was still about 200 yards behind them, they were riding 3 abreast.  As I approached, one rider must have spotted my reflection from her fancy helmet-mirror-attach-o-matic because she fell in behind the one to the extreme right.  Now they were 2 abreast.  Progress!

I rolled up beside the one who had moved over and said, "on your left," to get the attention of the man now in my way.  That worked about as well as his helmet mirror did (it had absolutely no effect).    

I will say at this point that I don't really care.  I'm patient about that sort of thing anymore.  There are children and puppies and things on the trail.  I'm not in a hurry.  I'll move along when I can.  It's all lollipops and butterflies for me these days.  Caveat: Those stupid goose things that sit on the trail and don't move until you go by them and they kind of hiss at you and start to run toward you.  Screw those guys.  They suck.  Maybe somebody should attach some kind of a beak rear view mirror on those assholes so it won't come as a complete surprise when the tenth cyclist in 25 seconds whizzes by.

Oh yeah, old people ...

So after a complete lack of reaction from the man in front me, I said again, a little louder, "On your left."


I could have sat behind him all day, saying on your left and giggling about it with Janice (that's what I'm calling the woman I was riding next to at this point).  It wouldn't have bothered me at all.  I thought it was funny.

I looked over to Janice to see if she was sharing my amusement.  She wasn't.  Also, she misinterpreted my glance in her direction.  She probably took it as a plea from me to tell her old grandpa friend to get the hell outta my way.

It wasn't.  I wanted to make fun of her deaf friend with her.  But she couldn't understand that.  Her slightly defensive response to me is the reason for this post.  By way of explanation for Tommy's inaction, she said, "He's drinking water."

The message was clear: "Are you blind or just stupid? Can't you see this man is thirsty?  All you care about is getting around him, regardless of whether or not he's in some serious need of hydration."

I have spoken before about the 4 or 5 things I learned last year that are of the utmost importance when it comes to cycling performance.  Proper hydration is near the top of that list.  So I was a little appalled by the unspoken message Janice was preaching at me.  I shrugged as if to say, "You know what Janice?  Don't tell me about the importance of proper hydration! I'm the hydration master. Got my technique down and everything. I don't be ticklin' or nothin'"*

What I didn't understand was why a deaf, blind, thirsty guy needed to be on the left side of the road to take a drink.

After I got done silently giving Janice the what for, I turned my attention back to Pinball Wizard and repeated the mantra "on your left" for a while.  I even tried to make it all spooky sounding.  drawing out the word "left"

Like, "Ooh scary.  On your le-e-eft."


Eventually, break time was over and Tommy returned the bottle to the cage.  Finally.  Now he has one less reason to tool along in the left lane.

Turns out Janice was wrong though.  It seems the "None shall pass while I hydrate" rule was irrelevant.  After Tommy took out a small napkin and carefully dabbed at the corners of his mouth to clean up any wayward liquid from his recent foray into dehydration.  Sorry.  That last sentence was stupid.  I was just goofing around and now I don't feel like going back and fixing it.  I'm certainly not going to read that piece of shit.  Writing it was annoying enough.

That's when Janice spoke up, "Um, Thomas, this gentleman would like to pass."

Thomas got startled and almost swerved into Janice trying to get out of my way.

This made me laugh because Janice's excuse for Tommy not moving over was that he was drinking water.  Now that he was done, she would help me get him out of my way.  Like "That water thing?  That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

But then after I passed and was on my merry way, I remembered something.  Old people Love Roger [sic] Kipling.  Maybe I had it all wrong.  Janice was cleverly referencing Jungle Law.  No attacks during the "water truce."

It is a time of drought in the jungle, the rains have failed, the green plants are dying in the heat, and most of the sources of water have dried up. Hathi, the wild elephant, proclaims the Water Truce according to the Law of the Jungle, so that all animals can come and drink at the shrunken Waingunga River with no fear of being killed by predators.-- Rudyard Kipling, How Fear Came, The Second Jungle Book

Naah. They're all just stupid old people with mirrors on their heads.

And sceeeeeene!

*Samuel L. Jackson is a genius.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Friday Extra: On Giving Up

It occurs to me that there are a few things that inspire me to continue riding.  To not give up.  I never know where they are going to come from and they don't always make a lot of sense, but they somehow become a part of my internal dialogue.  Every once in a while I hear these things going on in my head and I stop and think, "Where does that come from?"

It's rarely some sort of amazing quote about being a hero or anything.  Normally, it's an offhanded remark that probably was not intended to inspire at all.  There are 3 of these pesky little proverbs that regularly speak to me from beneath consciousness.  This morning I captured all 3 and was able to recall their origin.

Admittedly, the first one was from sort of a "win one for the Gipper" speech.  It was an email from Brady about how I need to get back on the bike. This was maybe 3 years ago.


I saw you at the Trek Store back in May.You were riding a lot back then. Now that Jack's back in school, can you resume commuting to work or something? How else are you getting your excercise? Golf doesn't count. Get back on it. You'd make great gains in a short time. Then we could ride sometime.

Then the prophetic:

When you get tired of golf, come back. Good times await.

The emphasized words above are what stuck for some reason.  Don't know why.  They are still there, driving.  They are not alone though.  They are accompanied by a quip Shim made last summer.  This one drives me on as much as anything I've ever heard.

It was on the Wednesday night Trek store ride.  The climb they call the Surfside KOM.  I always get dropped there.  In fact, after giving it everything several weeks in a row and failing, I wasn't aware of it, but I had stopped really trying.  We'd all start up the hill and I was resigned to getting dropped.  I'd sort of pull over and get into a rhythm for the rest of the climb.  Slogging along until the regroup a few miles south of Dodge park.  

One week as I pulled over, Shim went by and said "Don't quit, Cube." There was no discernible emotion.  It was matter-of-fact.  The tone in his voice was almost one of impatience.  Like I was taking a report card to my dad.  He'd take one look and know I wasn't really trying.
So I thought, Oh alright.  Then Shim slowed a bit to make sure I was on his wheel and pulled me for as long as I could hang on.  I still got dropped, but I knew I went absolutely as hard as I could.  Which was a lot harder than I thought I could.

When I need to hang on a little longer, I realize "quitting" isn't the way to get it done.  I always hear "Don't quit, Cube,"  in that same accusing tone.   

The last one still surprises me, but it's in there.  It's from the movie "Joe Dirt."  Seriously.  

I haven't seen the movie in years, but it seems like Dennis Miller is giving Joe Dirt some crap for being such a big huge loser and why doesn't he just give up.

Joe Dirt is a big huge loser, but he always remains upbeat.  He's spouting some philosophy and he says something like, "I gotta keep going.  What am I gonna do, quit?  That's not an option."

As stupid as that (and the movie) is, there's something there.  When you are living, quitting is not an option.  That's why giving up feels so crappy.  Regret comes not from failing, but from not trying as hard as you can.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Heh, Heh, Heh, No excuses, part 3 of 2.

Man I hate it when people make excuses.  Also, I seem to have a problem with people who live in Phoenix.  But that's not important right now.  What is important is that now it gets real.  It's April 3rd.  The Wednesday Night World Superfast race thing has 2 weeks under its belt already.  The first Nebraska road race weekend of the year is a distant memory from almost 2 weeks ago.

With the changing season, we're all going to be kicking the training up a notch.  No more complaining about how (read this part with a really nasally mocking sound) "Oh, it's too cold and yucky out! Oh, I don't wanna get my widdow toes all cold and everything."  No more gosh darn excuses.  Get the fuck out there and ride.  See?:

What?  Snow?!?  No fair!  Waah!

I bring this up because my actual true reaction when I saw this was a little smile.  Also, I chuckled a bit, saying, "Heh, heh, heh."

Admittedly, I have not put in near the miles I had at this time last year.  Some of that is weather related, but most of it is just business around the house.  The reason I wanted to add a part 3 of 2 (this post) was when I heard myself say "Heh, heh, heh!" I realized how true my post from fall (looking forward to winter) was.

So what if it snows?  I'll figure some way to get a ride in.  Or I won't.  No biggie either way. This is drastically different from my attitude every year of my life until the last one.

I think I figured out why.

I'm old now.  I believe that the older you get, the more important it is to stay active.  Also, as life gets more complicated, it becomes increasingly difficult to stick to a regimen.

It's easy to come up with reasons not to exercise.  Stuff that needs to be done around the house.  Taking kids to events.  Doing stuff with them. Injuries, illness and so on.

Or you could just say, "I'm too old for this sort of thing."  Lots of people do that one.

I think the reason the weather doesn't bother me anymore is that it's less of a hindrance than the rest of the things in life that get in the way.  Once the kids and house and work and stuff is taken care of and there's a chunk of time I can go for a ride - I'm not letting crappy weather stop me.

Life's too short to waste days waiting for a nice one.  Unless you live in Phoenix.  Then, the sooner your miserable life in hell is over, the better.

Also - I won't make an excuse about how short this post is.  In fact, I'm sure most people prefer that.  You're welcome, most people.