Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm Back!

But this time ... it's nothing personal.

Over the past 14 years or so, since I started using cycling as my main form of exercise, I've backed off from it several times.

I've made at least a dozen or so declarations of "returning."  My weight has gone up and down.  I quit to finish college once.  I took up golf once, and so on.

About the time I was on my first big fade, Barry (AKA BM) started crossing over from running to cycling.  I could see right away that he was talented.

Eventually he became an excellent rider.  At the same time - around 2006/7 or so, I got serious about golf and gained about 25-30 pounds.

In the fall of 2011, I started crossing back over to cycling from golf but it didn't stick.  In the Summer of 2012, I golfed much more than rode.

Throughout that whole time (2006-2011), I'd hear from Barry occasionally.  He'd email me with something like, "You should come back to cycling.  Good times await."

Around Thanksgiving 2012, Boomer came into town from his home in California.  I had not been riding much in the previous 5 or 6 months. Boomer asked me if I knew what Strava was.  I didn't, but it sounded really cool.

I bought a Garmin within a couple of days.  I was more focused on cycling than ever.  I was aware that someday the novelty of Strava would probably grow tiresome for me, but I just hoped that when that happened, I would be able to find motivation from somewhere else.

As I started coming back, I was constantly asking Barry where the rides were.  He was the only cyclist I was in touch with on a regular basis.

The first group ride I went on in years was on a bitter cold December day.  The streets were clear, so it was road bikes.  When I showed up at Blue Line, Shim said, "This is the day you decide to join us?"

It was pretty funny, but I had to get my Strava going so I wasn't missing the ride.

After that, the only way I would find out about a ride happening was if Barry told me about it.  In fact, if it's anything other than the widely advertised group rides, Barry is still the only person who tells me about it.

So to those of you who are new to Omaha cycling (weren't there when I left), that's why you think I only ride if Barry's there.  It's not true at all.  The truth is, I only go on your little secret group rides if Barry tells me about them.  I was riding before Barry and if he hadn't taken cycling up, I might not have come back as soon.  I certainly wouldn't have been privy to many of the rides I joined.

Earlier this year, I found life getting in the way of my training.  It was relentless.  I lost fitness and motivation. I tried to train through it, but it really didn't free up until July 1.

In hindsight, this is probably a good thing.  I had been frustrated by not being able to get adequate rides in for so long that when it opened up I didn't miss any opportunity.  July has been an incredible month. After what seemed like Winter winter winter rain rain rain for the first 6 months, July arrived with little wind or rain and mild temps for basically the whole month.

Last week on Thursday and Friday, I decided to stick it to the man and use up some of my PTO.  On Friday, I did not get a bike ride in.  I was on my bike the other 30 days of July.  This includes 3 GSV Sunday rides, 3 WNW rides and  a Tuesday GSV ride.

This month, I've had my most hours and miles in a calendar month ever.

Barry is a triathlete now.  To a cyclist, that's kind of like telling somebody you're taking up golf.  Hopefully he'll come to his senses some time soon.

But even if he doesn't, I'm back.  I may not find out about secret rides anymore, but I'll be at the public ones.
Why do I say all of this?  I can't remember.  Oh yeah.  I know what it was.  Hey Leah:  You don't need to tell me Barry's not coming on a ride anymore.  I like when he's there.  But my ride sponsor days are long over.  Especially at WNW.

When I'm at WNW, it's a better ride than when I'm not there and everybody knows it.  Why?  Because when I'm there, Shim can ask 70's trivia and there is a possibility of somebody (me) knowing the answer.

Without me there, it's all "What in the hell is Shim talking about?"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Awful lot of weather we [sic] been havin' lately

Conversation.  Small talk.  I've never felt comfortable with it.  It's because I take things too literally.  I always have.  If you see what I see when you read between the lines, you'll wonder why you thought there was ever anything there to read.

I remember being a kid when I first heard someone say "You need to read between the lines."  I was so confused.  I think I know what it means now.  This notion of the meaning is what I gather strictly from context.  Over the years, I've heard it (Read between the lines) enough to get a general idea of its meaning.  I think it means, "Don't take stuff literally.  The speaker has ulterior motives."

Knowing this - I realize "read between the lines" is not to be taken seriously and whoever says it should not be trusted.

But that's not what I came here to talk about.  Earlier tonight, the family and I went over to the BW3 for some weck and whatnot.   I guess it should be BW4 if you add "whatnot"

If you know Shim, now would be a good time to imagine him saying "What the hell is cube talking about?"

Anyway - at some point, my top 5 daughter was talking about that thing that happens.  I mentioned that there's a comedian who does a routine on it.

It's when somebody says something like "How's it going?"

And you say "You too."

What's funny is - I don't know that I've ever caught somebody giving me the wrong mindless response to my mindless greeting.  But when I'm the one who says "You too,"  I hate myself.

I have done this countless times and every time, I feel like an imbecile.  I vow to never do it again.  Of course this is silly.  The reason nobody has ever called me on it is that NOBODY is listening. At all.  When somebody says, "Have a nice day," and you respond with "Not much,"  You're the only one who hears it.  That guy is already somewhere else.


Unless you know something about somebody.  If you accidentally found out somebody's deep, dark secret, and it was really deep and really dark.  The sort of thing that you are sorry you know about a person. You'd take EVERYTHING they say literally while simultaneously reading between the lines.

What is that supposed to mean?

It's natural to rank how wrong certain actions are.  The kids play a game "Would you rather ..."  We grow up deciding what is the lesser of two evils.

Stealing from a poor old person is worse than taking a candy bar from a grocery store.  Shooting a guy in the head is worse than wanting to shoot a guy in the head, and so on.

So this guy I know.  I see him once in a while. As we pass each other, he'll invariably say, "What do you know, Cube?"

He doesn't know that I know what he did.  I found out accidentally.  Let's just say, he'll be lucky if there's a millstone and the deep blue sea in his future (Mt. 18:6).

Since I learned the terrible secret, I always say, "If I told you, you'd have to kill me."

And since people are as I described above, he pays no attention to my answer and simply says, "Hardy Har Har."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I wasn't eavesdropping, per se

As a matter of fact, I didn't really want to hear the conversation.  At all.

How long can you talk about pickles?  I mean, if your directive was talk about pickles for as long as possible, then you could probably talk about pickles for a long time.  It's my guess though, that after a while you'd get repetitive.  Then we'd have to establish rules on what you could say about pickles.

Here.  Let's pretend you have to write an essay on pickles.  If you were lucky enough to attend Omaha Central High School, you would use the theme format you were taught.  I don't know if it's still the same as when I went to Omaha Central High School, but back then it went like this:

Outline.  This was a template for the theme.  It described the parts of the theme.  The introduction, the body, and the conclusion.  It was the old "Tell us what you're going to say.  Say it.  Tell us what you said."

An outline for a theme on Pickles might go like this

Introduction: Pickles -
 I. Unknown Origin
  a) A city in Crisis
  b) Farmer John to the rescue
II. Get those Cucumbers outta here.  We want pickles!
  I.  Granny is making stuff up

and so on.  You know, that's about as far as I ever got with outlines in school, so.

There's this guy at work (Brian).  He likes pickles.  He does not like cucumbers.  His wife doesn't like cucumbers either.  But she likes pickles.  If you're from the city, you may be asking yourself why the hell I keep bringing up cucumbers.  If you're from the farm, Shhh! don't tell them.  It's a surprise.

There's another guy (Rob).  He sits in a cubicle facing mine, but down the row one chair.  Pickle guy sits in the same row as me but 2 cubicles down.  Oh, I'm not explaining this well.  Hang on while I pay an expert sketch artist to illustrate:

That's me on the lower left.  The guy 2 down (Brian) is having a hard time concentrating on his work.  He's thinking about something much more delicious. Rob is facing us.

So the other day, Brian stands up and says to Rob "Do you like pickles, Rob?"  The only way I know he was asking Rob is because he said the name.  Otherwise, it was loud enough that he could have been asking anyone in the building.

Oh boy, I think.  This is going somewhere.  The following is not a word for word transcript.  Nor is it an exaggeration.

"Yeah, I like Pickles,"  Rob confirms, obviously happy for the break from the drudgery that is "I.T. Shit" to the promise of some thought provoking "pickle talk"

I should point out here, that they were literally talking about pickles.  This is not some sort of euphemism.

"Me and my wife [ sic ] we really like pickles.  I make my own. Have you ever had homemade pickles, Rob?  They're so much better than that store bought crap the Media is always trying to sell you.  I haven't made pickles in years.  But we always used to when I was a kid.  So I figured this year; it was time.  So I planted some cucumbers in my garden this year and ..."

At this point, I decided to go take a walk.  I got up from my cube and went into the break room where CNN was still talking about whatever it was before the Russians shot down that Malaysian Airlines flight.  I walked over to the fundraiser $0.25 machines and bought a handful of delicious almonds.  I really like almonds.  Usually, I just make my own ...

After about 10 minutes or so, I figured the Pickle Monologues must be winding down.  At still quite a distance from my cube, I could see that Brian was still talking to Rob, but I figured they'd moved on to how the colleges rip you off with the price of text books (another of Brian's favorites).

Nope.  Still pickles.

"So, I walk into the house with an armful of baby cucumbers - I like 'em young.  Big ones don't make good pickles, see?"

Rob is intent on listening to this story.  I must be too, because now I am relaying it to youz guys.

"And me and my wife [sic] see, we don't like cucumbers, remember.  We only like pickles.  Well, my wife sees those cucumbers and she just about hits the roof.  She says, 'What on earth are you doing with those things?  I thought you were going to make us [sic] some pickles.'

"She had no idea that pickles were made from cucumbers.  She was pretty embarrassed when I told her, but I promised I wouldn't tell anybody.  I lied.  Hardy har har.  It's really not her fault though.  She's a city slicker.  I grew up on a farm, so I know where stuff comes from.  City folk don't have a clue."

I'm  a little annoyed by this talk, not because Brian thinks people from the city don't know where pickles come from, but because he's affected a sort of hick way of speaking. "City folk."  Whatever dude.

"Rob, did you know that pickles were made from cucumbers?"

"Oh yes.  But you see, I spent a lot of time on my grandmother's farm.  She made all of that stuff. from scratch."

"Yeah, so you know what I'm talking about, Rob.  These kids today.  I'll tell you.  They wouldn't survive if they didn't have everything handed to them.  Fuckin' Obama ..."

Ahh.  And we're off of pickles.  Finally.  I know, right?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stop and Think

Sometimes (most of the time) people (you) do really stupid stuff.  When you do it, I tend to think that you are stupid.  You are not stupid, are you?  Of course not.

Then why do you so frequently do stupid stuff?  It's because you don't stop and think.

Sometimes it can be a matter of simple education.  If you are in the habit of being impatient when you are driving your motor vehicle (Car, Truck, SUV), you should stop and think for a minute.  I know, you don't have a minute.  You're in a big fat hurry.  But check out what I've learned over the years from driving my car to the company each morning:

This is basically a traipse across the city along 72nd street.  There have been several times I was running late and thought that driving faster would help.  It does not.  Mostly now, I just take a nice easy drive at the speed limit and watch as eager, aggressive, impatient motorists weave through traffic, speed through yellow/red lights, and cut others off for that sweet pole position at the next stop light.

Once the rest of us approach the light, it turns green and the "late for a meeting" race to the next red light begins. The rest of us watch with the mild interest that comes from seeing this scene play out every day for years.

It usually takes me about 20 minutes to drive the seven miles from Cass to Cornhusker.  If you stop and think about it, that's just over 20MPH average.  If there were no traffic lights and you could go unimpeded for the whole distance at 60 MPH, you could make it in 7 minutes.  You'd save 13 minutes!  That's amazing! You should do that.

But you can't.  If you drive 60 MPH at every opportunity (the speed limit ranges from 35-45) along that stretch) and run the occasional yellow/red light, the trip will take you 20 minutes.  You can not get there faster.  But you will be all riled up and angry at all the people slowing you down.

I used to be an impatient driver.  I just don't really care for being angry in the morning, so I quit.

When I'm out riding my bike around I will often encounter the impatient motorist.  This is a person who has not figured out it takes 20 Minutes to get from Cass to Cornhusker.  When this person is momentarily slowed because a bike is in the way, s/he takes it personally.  Note: I do not ride on 72nd street in town.  I'm slowing people down on safe streets with light traffic and plenty of room.

The driver feels like the cyclist has somehow stolen a piece of precious time.  Retribution is in order!  The fundamental difference between these 2 parties is that one is on a bike and the other is in a car.  Also, one is a big fat fucking heart attack waiting to happen.  Hey, I think there's some ketchup on your shirt.

This transgression (riding a bike slower than a car) must not go unpunished.  Somebody needs to teach this guy a lesson.  Scare 'em!  Speed up to 10 or 15 MPH above the posted speed limit and bring the car within a few inches of the cyclist as you pass!

Stop and think, driver.  If there's a bump in the road or something that takes the cyclist or you even slightly off course - if you forget how wide your stupid vehicle is or how far your ridiculous mirror sticks out, you may injure or kill the cyclist.

You will then blame the cyclist.  Especially once you realize the person had a family and people s/he loved.  It will be too much for you to take.  You will bullshit yourself into thinking that it was the cyclist's fault for being on the road.

But eventually, you will have to face the fact that you could have waited a few seconds until you could pass safely.

And since you're not a creative person, your only option for relieving the guilt will be to end your life.  Then you will be dead and your spouse and children will cry and stuff, but they'll know that you were a complete dumbass and all of this could have been avoided if you'd have just stopped to think.  Fuckin' loser.  You deserve it.

I experienced a wonderful example of somebody doing this the right way tonight while I was on my ride home.  I was riding across Pacific and into Elwood Park.  It's pretty narrow there because the oncoming traffic was taking up the left turn lane.  As I entered the park, a driver in a white Chevy Suburban decided to pass me.  There was barely enough room for a car.  Certainly not enough room to pass a cyclist.  I yelled "Hey!  Gimme some room!"  I stuck my hand out in front of the windshield and gave it a good slap.  I was calm but desperate.  There simply was not enough room for the SUV to get between the line of cars without hitting me.  Thankfully, this driver took the wise path.  She stopped to think.  To my utter surprise, the SUV backed off.  That almost never happens.

Then about 6 seconds later, when it was safe to pass, the SUV went by me at a safe distance and I understood.  There was a dog sticking its head out the back window.  The SUV would have had to go by me close enough that I would have collided with the dog's stupid head.  This driver was going to pass me and maybe hit me until she realized her fucking dog might be involved in the accident.

So when she stopped to think, it was about the well-being of her dog.  Stupid twat.

So I guess I owe that dog.

I recently had a stop and think moment myself.  I was riding along with a couple of cyclists named Eric O'Brien Redemske, when one of them decided to have a flat tire.  It was really hot out so the flat tire was a terrible idea.  Whatever, college boy.

As we were standing along the roadside, thinking about that flat tire, Bryan said something like, here comes another dog rescue for us.

I guess these guys have helped lost or stray dogs get either placed back at their houses or the humane society on 3 or 4 occasions in the last few years.

At first, it seems like some kind of weird fate.  I mean I've never seen a dog that needed rescuing.  Are these guys taking dogs from back yards or something?

Wait a minute.   I frequently see dogs out wandering around.  It's just that I never stop and think that the dog could be in some sort of trouble.  I don't own a dog.  When I'm out riding, I'm usually in a big hurry to get home.  If it had been just me riding along up the highway the other day, I may have seen the dog, but I NEVER would have thought to call her over and check out her tags and call the owner and the humane society and all that.  It just never would occur to me.

It will from now on.  Maybe all you cyclists out there do this already.  Maybe I'm the only one who never thought of it.  But I doubt it.  As cyclists, we are in a fantastic position to help dogs get back on track.

My only concern is the obvious one of how to safely attract the pooch in order to get the particulars.  That's why from now on I will always carry a live squirrel in my jersey pocket.

Unfortunately, I don't have a fancy smart phone or anything.  I just have a stupid old flip phone. I can't really look up the number of the humane society while I'm out there with your dog.  So I'm going to add it to my contacts right now.

O.K. that's done.  The number for the Nebraska Humane Society is 402-905-9410.  After 7PM. it's 402-444-7800, option 1.  If you're in Iowa, let the dog go.  I didn't look up that number.  Plus, the SUV that almost hit me today had Iowa plates, so the dog is probably better off wandering around than in that SUV.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Maybe later

I had a deal tonight.  I have to get up early tomorrow.  So yeah.  I'll think about posting something later on.  It's the holiday and stuff.  Happy Birthday Obama's country!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Wednesday Extra: Warning: Last Issue: Renew Now! We Mean it this time.

Judging from the date of the post, It was last September that Bicycling Magazine sent me 2 copies of their Magazine.  I didn't pay for it.  I don't know what I did to make them start sending it.  At first I was going to call them and complain, but I figured they'd go away soon enough.

I was wrong.  The next month they sent me another issue, with a note telling me that they hoped I enjoyed my complimentary issues and that if so, I was welcome to subscribe.

Even though I flipped through those first 2 issues before throwing them away, I haven't opened the plastic packaging since.  But I've regularly received issues of Bicycling Magazine.  I toss it in the trash with the other junk and actual bills since junk mail is now made to look just like real mail.  #thanksEdMcMahon.

The last 3 Bicycling magazine issues that came also had big huge warnings on them that my subscription was expiring and if I didn't renew, this would be my last issue.


I hate Bicycling magazine so much.