Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Legend Of The U.P. Lunch Ride

One of the many great things about my new job is that it's close enough to the U.P. that I can easily scoot on down there on occasion and join some old friends for a nice little lunch ride.  The U.P. ride.

After working at my new job for a few weeks and realizing how cool the scene was, I had no problem letting my boss know that I'd like to target Thursday as the day I take a 2 hour lunch and go ride with some friends and eat some tacos.

Today (Thursday) I had a clear afternoon (no meetings) so I joined the ride.  Mark Savery was also there.  There were a couple of new riders there.  Liz and Mike.  

As we rolled east toward the BK Bridge, I heard Leah telling Liz the genesis story of the U.P. ride.  It goes like this:

"Fred started this ride."

I've heard that a few times.  It's not true, but I have been thinking about where the idea may have come from and I might have an explanation.

I don't remember how I heard there was a group of people who rode every day at lunch but when I started working at The U.P. about 14 years ago, I was also riding my bike pretty regularly.  Maybe after a couple of years working at the U.P. I was telling somebody - "So I was riding my bike and ..."

"Say - you know there's a bunch of guys that go out for a ride at lunch time ..." somebody told me.

I didn't know what time and neither did the guy who told me.  Also, I have no recollection of whether or not this happened before the new building.  I don't think it did.  It's funny I can't remember if I rode down there before the new building or not.  

Anyway, it was a little bit of trial and error. I went down to the bike rack a few different times on different days before I caught up with a regular.  He told me everybody's welcome and they start the ride at 11:45 A.M.

In those days, Jack was a baby (he's 12 now - so I guess it was the new building) and I was looking to get a hard ride in.  I would ride hard to work.  Ride hard at lunch and ride hard home.

The U.P. Lunch ride was a nice friendly casual ride.  Good guys, but I wanted to get a hard ride in.  I would start the ride with them and then take off.  I explained this to them and there were no hard feelings.  

After a while, some of those guys decided they wanted to ride hard too. Then it really got fun.  Pretty much every day, we'd beat the hell out of each other.  There were still casual riders there, but it was all good.  They knew we'd be playing our games.

Ed Brown was always up for the challenge. Well - except on Friday.

I don't know if they do it anymore, but Ed started what we called "Easy Friday"

Easy Friday meant at least one day a week, we would hearken back to a simpler time when the U.P. Lunch ride was not some horrible lunch race.  We'd all play nice.  We'd all ride together just like back in the old days.

Except no.  We just couldn't help ourselves.  Easy Friday became a joke that meant "Let's make Friday the hardest day ever."  YPG. 

When new people would come to the ride, we'd do the same games.  The new people would get mercilessly dropped.  It was similar to the current affair at WNW.  

Right or wrong, I didn't care.  I enjoyed the competition and felt I needed the workout.  I didn't think I needed to wait for new people.  I didn't want to exclude anyone, per se, but I saw lunch as the best time to get my ride in.

So did I start the ride?  No.  Did I have a part in what it became?  Probably.

So I'll accept that.  But honestly, up until about 20 minutes ago when I figured out what I was going to write about, I thought the idea that I started the U.P. lunch ride was beyond ridiculous.  I didn't believe it at all.

I think I get it now but please understand that at 4:30 this afternoon, I was still of the opinion that I had nothing to do with the incarnation of the U.P. ride. All I knew that was there are a few people who would back me up on that if I made the claim (even if I myself didn't agree with it).

So I was leaving work (at not the U.P.) today.  It was at about 4:30 in the afternoon or so.  I was unlocking my bike when some guy walked by and said, "That's a really nice bag.  You've got good taste."

It was a guy leaving the company who had a Banjo Brothers backpack exactly like mine.

If I'm just commuting, I don't use the bag, but if I do the U.P. ride, I take all my gear and stuff.

"Oh yeah, I really like it," I replied as I was getting ready to go.

But the guy wanted to talk about bikes and stuff for a while so we swapped stories for about 10 minutes.

At one point he said that his bike is just an old beater, not a premium race machine like mine.  I explained that I normally ride a more utilitarian bike to work, but that I went for a lunch ride with my friends down at U.P., so I needed my good road bike.

The following is 100% true:

Mike (my Banjo Brothers bag buddy) said, "Oh shit, those guys are fast.  The U.P. guys.  They're not fucking around.  Damn.  You ride with them?"

I did not say, "Well actually, I started that ride." 

I was tempted because I knew the lie could be verified.  But I didn't say it.  I promise.

I mentioned earlier that there were a couple of new people there today.  I was totally ok with JRA.  It's not like it's my ride or anything.  But I will say this.  If I go on the U.P. Lunch ride again and it's this 13 mph thing we were doing today, Ima ride up ahead a ways and recreate the U.P. lunch ride, because that shit was lame.

You're welcome, U.P. Lunch ride.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I lied

Sort of.

Today I joined up with the U.P. Taco/Lunch Ride, now with Jim Maaaaske (not sure when to stop with the a's). I bet a lot of people think Jim's last name is pronounced "Masky" and a lot of people are wrong.  Look at all of those a's.  It's got to be drawn out for a while.  Kind of like the castle Aaaaargh.

Anyway - after the ride, I told Brady - "Hey Brady.  I'm not blogging about getting pulled over last night."

He said, "Neither am I."

Which is good because Travis already covered it here.

But alas, I am going to talk about it.  Sigh.  I changed my mind for 2 reasons.  The first is that I want to post a photo of myself in the act of being casually deliberate.  Brady took the photo and I asked if I could borrow the negative to get a couple dozen 8X10 glossies made.

He was so kind as to ... Hmm?  What?  Casually deliberate?  Oh sorry.  Yeah.  The Velominati defines it:

Rule 80 // Always be Casually Deliberate - Waiting for others pre-ride or at the start line pre-race, you must be tranquilo, resting on your top tube thusly.  This may be extended to any time one is aboard the bike, but not riding it, such as at stop lights.

They also have many great articles on the subject, but I want to talk about the photo.  I didn't know it was being taken.  I was quite proud of my obvious Casually Deliberate demeanor.

OMG, legal rights are soooo boring.

So here I am (bottom left), elbows on the bars, left thigh on the top tube, looking off to the left at nothing in particular. I'm just waiting for the cyclists ahead to stop arguing with the Sheriff's deputy so we can resume the ride.

If you care what it was all about (I don't) you can read Travis's blog post (linked above).  By the way, Travis is directly to my right in this photo.

There may have been others doing the "Casually Deliberate" thing, but you can't see them in this photo.  Everyone else is all hands on hips or locked elbows.  Well, Stu's taking a swig - so that's kinda cool.  Newman!

When this photo was taken, I was actually bored and getting a little annoyed.  Which brings me to reason 2 for changing my mind about talking about this.  Reason 1 was to show the photo of me being Casually Deliberate.

The second reason has to do with my opinion on the whole matter.  This extends to every time I find myself in a situation where I'm being scolded by a cop.

I would like to offer some advice to people who may not have had the good fortune to be raised by someone who had countless run ins with the law. Dad learned a set of "best practices" around the police that he shared with me and I have always applied.  For dad, it took a few nightstick beatings when he truly had done "nothing wrong" to learn that you don't fight the battle out there on a lonely country road (or highway, if you prefer).

You say, "yes sir.  I understand.  Sorry" and so on.

But no.  We've got to argue with possibly the nicest sheriff's deputy on the planet.  The guy was polite.  He just wanted us to do something other than what we were doing.

As I was looking to the left, I was thinking, "Oh please, for the love of God, shut the fuck up Randleman and the rest of you.  But mostly Randleman."

Don't they know they will get nowhere with this guy?

If I would have been forced to say anything, it wouldn't have been , "I know my rights.  You're wrong.  Blah blah blah"

I'd have said something like,"Oh jeez.  We're sorry.  We did not know that.  We will not do it anymore. Promise.  Thank you ever so much for pointing it out and shit." Then do as he said until he was out of sight.  Everybody's happy.

But no. After several minutes of arguing, we finally got back to riding (the way the cop said until he was out of sight).  We stopped at the Ft. Calhoun gas station (as always) and the cop showed up.  Several of the guys then huddled around his window, chatting gaily about statute so-and-so and who gives a shit.

So I left the gas station. I was thinking I'd soft pedal until they bid their new boyfriend adieu.  While riding along, I imagined the guys catching up after their group hug or whatever.  I thought maybe they'd want to know why I didn't stick around and listen to the intellectual statute debate. I was reminded once again of the wise words of Samuel L Jackson who once said "I just don't dig on swine, that's all." Then a scene from Pulp Fiction played in my mind.  It goes like this:


I will say that the cop that gave us a good talking to was approximately as charming as Arnold on Green Acres.  Certainly not ten times as charming.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Make up story

First of all.  Yeah I didn't post last week.  I've really been slipping lately.  After the first time a few weeks back or whatever, I was all, "Oooh - Ima post on Wednesdays."

Then that didn't happen.  Then I was out of town last Thursday so I didn't bother.  I didn't even bother to do the post thing over the weekend.  Which sucked for me because I have a strict rule not to read the other posts until I've posted.

Granted - I can be pretty sure (But not completely) that Brady will post about however his race went the previous weekend.  But I don't know the details yet.

For this post I will tell 2 short stories.

Jack and Abe are 12 and 10 years old in that order.  Abe turned 10 on his last birthday.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Abe turned 10 on June 28th.  He only wanted one thing for his birthday.  It was either a hamster or a gerbil.  I'm not sure which.  Whatever it was, that's what he got.

Cute little thing.  It stays in the boys' bedroom in this aquarium deal.

After we put the boys to bed, we let them read for a while before lights out.  The other night I went in the room to tell them lights out and a stench most foul hit me as I opened the door.  I was gasping for air.  It was a horrible reeking sin against humanity.  My eyes immediately began to water.  In desperation, I covered my face with the lapel of my bathrobe and said goodnight to the boys.  They looked at me and laughed.  They knew they were cursed with some sort of stomach ailment and they did not care.

I tried to figure out what they could have eaten to cause this sort of gastrointestinal uprising. I had no clue.

Looking to the corner, I was suddenly concerned about Bibbles.  Bibbles is the name Abe gave to the Hamster or Gerbil or whatever it is.  I ran to the aquarium to find Bibbles in the wheel obviously trying to run away from the noxious fumes.

"Don't you worry about Bibbles?" I asked Abe.

"Yeah.  I mean Oh!"  Then he laughed when he realized what I meant.

"If you had a pet parakeet, it would have died hours ago," I continued.

The only reason I tell this story is because of what happened next.  I know there are proud parents all over the world.  Everybody at work who has a kid has at one time or another boasted about Jr's great accomplishments.  Whether it's baseball, basketball or some sort of academic achievement, I hear it all at work.

I like my kids ok, but they don't really necessarily stand out in any way that I feel like boasting about.

Unless it comes to comedy.  That's where they really shine.

The other night they were saying "Give us a kiss and a hug."

That's the normal protocol, but on this night I categorically refused.  No way I was staying in that room one second longer than necessary.  Already, the robe defense was weakening.  I found myself doubling up the lapel in an effort to reinforce the shield, but the smell was seeping into the fabric.  I had to get out of there.

That's when Jack shouted "Release the Dutch Oven!" and threw off the blanket.

I simultaneously laughed, cried and fled the room screaming, slamming the door shut behind me.

So am I proud of my kids?  I couldn't be prouder.  No word on how Bibbles got through the night.

Story 2:

Back when I was working at the U.P., when I commuted by bike, I usually went up Cuming from 30th.  This is not a horrible climb.  Maybe 5 or 6 percent for about 2/3 of a mile.

At about 38th and Cuming, the police like to set up shop and radar traffic.  The posted limit is 35, but 45 -50 MPH is common on that stretch.  Easy picking for the cops.

One day, I was slogging along at about 12 MPH and they were there.  There were 3 cops with their little radar guns, aiming down the hill.  As I went by, I said, "I slowed down when I saw you guys." Big laughs all around.

When I was in High School, I thought I was going to grow up to be a comedian.  I thought I was funny.  I did a few stand up performance things at open mikes and thought it went pretty well.  The main problem I had was that I couldn't bring myself to tell the same joke more than once.  The other main problem is that I was a stupid teenager who wasn't funny.  Although I recently watched a documentary about Bill Hicks and he was a stupid teenager when he started out too.  But oh yeah - he was pretty funny, though.  I guess that was the difference.

So the other day, I'm slogging away up that Cuming hill.  I'm going about 13 mph.

I didn't see the cop and his radar gun. I only noticed when he stepped into the street and stopped 2 cars to pull them over.  It was weird because he was directing them to pull over right into my path.  The drivers were hesitating so I could pass by, but he was insistent that they go "Right fucking now."

I had to slow down or risk running into them.  As I was waiting for the path to clear, some guy was leaning against a light pole.  He said, "You was [sic] going 14 all the way up that hill."

I said real loud like "I was going 13.  Somebody's radar gun needs to be calibrated."

I wanted the people getting pulled over to hear my Bill Hicks like joke.  I think they did.

The cop certainly did.  He looked at me and did not laugh.  At all.

Fuck that guy.

One thing that was kind of interesting about that is that to the guy leaning against the pole, 14 MPH up that hill is impressive.  There will always be lots of people around way faster than me, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded that not everybody can ride a bike even kind of fast.

The other thing I was surprised by was that the cop was bored enough to clock my speed and share it with the bystander guy.

Oh yeah and fuck that guy.  The cop, not the bystander.  He was cool.

Sunday, July 05, 2015


 I have just written a blog post that I will not publish.  I did not read it.  I just typed it in.  When I was finished, I was about to read it to kind of check for any errors but I realized that it might be the most self-absorbed, boring post I've ever written.  As you know, that's saying something.

Maybe I will publish it as a sleep-aid.

Anyways, that leaves me with the problem of not having a post.  I could just write about the thing that I intended to write about this week, but it's about a run in with a motorist a few days ago and even though it's not as boring as the ... What?  Just tell that story?  Oh alright.

Sometime in the last 2 weeks, I realized that I can commute to work by bike (bicycle).  I could not really practically do that before.  I can now.  I live so close to work, that I can just wear my work clothes on the ride.  That's real commuting.

When I'm "real commuting" I feel like a huge dork.  I've got the strappy things that secure my pantlegs so they don't get into any fisticuffs with the drivetrain.

On the other hand, when I see other "real commuters" I feel like less of a dork than when I'm wearing my super cool cycling getup.  Except I don't have a big old goofy-ass beard like all the other "real commuters."
Two "real commuters" and their stupid friend.

Maybe I'll get a fake beard from Amazon or something.  I bet that's what all of the other "real commuters" are doing anyway.

So anyways, I was on my way to work the other morning when I heard a honk from behind.

I was on 50th heading south toward Underwood.  Currently, I turn left a block north of Underwood and go over to 49th because:
1) It is less hilly than going to Underwood ("real commuters" hate hills).
b) After I cross Dodge Street, I can take Douglas street east.  If I stay on 50th, I have to take Farnam, which is heavy with hostile traffic.

So my route is a nice mix of convenience and safety.  50th from Underwood to Western is a nice, relatively quiet street.  Especially at 6:30 in the morning.

So I was all "Arms of the Angel" down the street when I hear "HONK HONK!"
Pictured: Real Commuting

I looked back to see a shiny black BMW about two blocks away.  I didn't think much of it.  I was going to be turning off this road in about 30 seconds.

Then I heard  the engine rev up as I signaled my turn. I looked back to see that even though I was on the very left side of the lane because I was turning, This stupid [redacted] was going to try to pass me on that side.

Then she slowed (still revving) to let me make my turn.  Just when I got to the center line, she screeched by me on the right.

It was surprising, stupid, unnecessary, dangerous and uncalled for. I did nothing that day that had any impact on the time it took her to get anywhere.

I think maybe she just felt it was ok because I don't have a beard.

Well, I absolutely hate confrontations so I was trying to figure out what was the best way to let her know that her behavior was completely acceptable and that I hoped she had a nice day.

I thought about my good old friend Samuel L. Jackson and how he defused a tense situation by suggesting that everybody be cool.

But my problem was conveying the message in the split second that she zipped by me.

Then it hit me. If this hosebag knows her 70's television, I can just impersonate the Fonz and she'll know it's cool.

So I just pretended her car was a jukebox and casually pounded on her driver's side window with my fist.

Remember that episode of Happy Days where Samuel L. Jackson yells, "Fuck off you Fucking Fuck!"

Well, I'm sure Miss Black BMW, license plate #: [redacted] does now.

I'm sure we both laughed about it later and stuff.

Oh and speaking of later ... So later I was going over to Olympia to pick up a wheel.  On the way I came upon an accident scene. Three cars had been smashed up pretty badly at the intersection of 50th and Hamilton.  There was a police car there and everything! There was a woman lying on the road.

One of the cars had the driver's side door smashed completely in.  It was  shiny black BMW.

I hoped against hope that it was the car I'd seen in the morning.  It wasn't.  The license plate, though still redacted, was different.

Then I thought about just how horrible a person I am for wanting harm to come to someone who unnecessarily put my life in danger earlier that day.

Then I thought "fuck that gal" and drove my way around the carnage to go get my wheel from Olympia Cycle.

The End.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

2 promises

So Jill and I are free of the kids tonight.  I was diligently working away at my new novel.  Working title:  "Tonight's post" when Jill said, "Hey let's go see a movie."

I said, "But I'm diligently working away at my blogpost."

Then she said, "Blogpost schmogpost!"

So we went to see a movie.  I'll tell you what.  It was a damn fine movie.

Spoiler alert!

We went to see "Spy"

I recommend it.

I do have a post. I just haven't written it yet.  I'll get it done before Monday.  But here are some keywords by way of a teaser:

The Fonz

I guarantee that all of these words will be in the upcoming post unless they get edited out.

Then they won't.  At all.