Wednesday, October 29, 2008
On Friday Alex and I took a couple demo Yeti 575's out to Pisgah to ride big bikes and feel cool, but fatty Alex snapped a chainstay less than an hour in, so we wound up hiking out, disappointingly as it was a wonderful fall day, back in the 70's after the mid-week winter freak-out. But so it goes. I'm not such a fan of big bikes anyway, slack head angles, 7 inches of forgiveness, 2.4 tires, all that rediculousness. Keep mine straight and steep, with the constant feeling that you're about to get tossed from your bike. That's the jam.
Saturday I sort of got my fix in, but was all sick with a headcold and whine, whine, whine, so more sort of slodged and pleghmed my way through a four hour mountain bike ride. Sunday, still feeling sick, I spent about four hours riding all over the place and yet no where at all on my road bike. It was awesome. This has been my road riding lately--no more epic loops for some reason, I'm just zipping here and there with some sort of half-formed agenda, taking the longest, most convoluted routes to places I need to get to that day, thus turning a 20 minute errand into a 2.5 hour ride. I guess this is base training, or end-of-season rest/transition period, but I do feel like I need to sit down and figure out where I'm going with my bicycle-riding life. You know, like a, uh, er, a (cough, cough) training plan. That'll be a good task for when I'm unemployed, I think. That and building cold frames and chicken coops and turning Alex's suburban house into one heck of a homestead.
Anyway, collegiate nationals a couple weekends ago: props like woah to Johanne and Dan from Brevard. Jo won everything twice (DS and omnium) and Dan podiumed all over the place. And Matt from the Warren to the Wilson for getting 3rd or something like that in the omnium, and of course, Rebecca Toma-wiki-wiki-wiki-Goddamn! who won XC (on her SS, of course) and tied for omnium with Jo but got squeezed to second because of rules, or something. Anyway, fast little scholars, always a good scene, ridiculousness and mayhem and bikes and smiles.
I've got Adventure Racing Nationals this weekend. Gulp. Wish I were doing the Swank, quite honestly, but its sort of like eating broccoli as a kid: You feel forced to do it, you never quite enjoy it or see the point in it, but you're probably getting some trace benefit out of it that you're completely unaware of...maybe. And it appeases those around you. Stupid team sports. Oh well. Can't complain too much about running around in the woods for a day. By the way, I just heard an awesome joke about broccoli, but again...it's one of those that can't be told on such a family-oriented blahg as this. So remind me about it later.
And now I'll leave you with some words of wisdom. Last week, I was walking back to my little office at the Southern Research Station with a mug-full of coffee, and a construction worker said, "Hey, you're spilling all your coffee!" And I said, "Yeah, I know, I'm terrible at this." And he said, "You just can't look at it." So I lifted my head, picked up the pace, and didn't spill a drop. We used to watch former WWC forest manager Richard drive the work trucks off-road with coffee filled to the brim, and he'd never spill a drop either. I thought he was God, but turns out he just knew not to look at the coffee. This story also, for some reason, reminds me of the time Lexy and I were throwing a football at a basketball hoop, trying to make a basket. And I said, "I'm just not trying anymore" and of course I made it on that one. I don't really know where I was going with this, but I think the moral might be that looking down and trying only causes you to fail. But if you just do it, you're golden. You can't lose because you're unattached from the outcome. And if you're not looking--you don't even know how much coffee you're spilling anyway.
That doesn't make any sense. I'm no philosopher. But I do rock at crossword puzzles. Go Vote. I mean, if you feel like it.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Even though it resulted in a disappointingly dinky weekly total, 20 hours worth of riding (which, admittedly, also included some hiking, eating, and some PBR shot-gunning) in two days proved to be pretty beefy. But in a good sort of way. It was an absolute blast. The race format was Noon to Midnight on Saturday and 6 am to 6 pm on Sunday, with 10 checkpoints each day. Only one was mandatory per day, which created a very open-ended "race", by which I mean, a good way to force yourself to ride loops and trails in directions that you otherwise never would.
Of course I didn't feel like sitting on my saddle at all on Sunday or then Saturday night, descending down 256 from Mt. Pisgah back to White Pines in 34 degree weather felt a little drawn-out and torturous, but that's peanuts compared to shot-gunning PBRs at 9:30 on a Sunday near Shining Rock (which was, of course, part of the race) or campfires or Jeremy making an amazing plate of eggs and pot of coffee that morning, or climbing Pilot and getting to watch the sunrise over to our right, or getting to ride trails I'd never ridden before, and don't really know why I never bothered, and now having a bigger inventory of Pisgah and wonderful ideas for big rides, and the newfound/refound motivation and apprectiation for bike riding that a good epic leaves you with.
Anyway, a good way to spend the weekend. I can't wait to get back into the woods. I get to go back today, but that's for measuring trees, which because its part of work and my bicycle isn't present and Mike Brown won't be there with beers and a slingshot...just doesn't feel the same.
I spent yesterday sleeping in, running, going for a 2 hour road ride, clearing Alex's new backyard, making plans for cold-frames and chicken coops, getting my fixed gear up and running, and then making some homemade pizza and store-bought PBR. This is how I envision unemployment--long days of getting lots of good stuff done, until you loose your dignity and get evicted from your house. Shoot. Back to work today though, working for the man and having a steady source of income for three more weeks.
I'm skipping the BMX track today, since Lexy won't be there to drive me home afterwards. Maybe I'll go try not to die on my fixed gear. You should see the top-tube, heh-heh...scary! Alex doesn't like it, he says its a piece of shit, which it is, but it wouldn't be anything of mine if it were any nicer. So I dig it. And I finally wore knickers, winter-gloves, and socks on my commute to work this morning. It usually takes me about a month of being a frozen-idiot before I remember how to dress for cold-weather rides, but I think this past weekend helped me along a bit (e.g. "I won't need booties for the Double Dare, it won't get that cold..." and then we rode from Bent Creek Gap to White Pines via the parkway and 256 in mid-30's weather and I realized I was retarded.) You would think that living in the mountains for 4 or 5 years would have taught me something about elevation and shit getting cold. But no...
Collegiate Nationals this weekend! I am so excited to be standing around with 20 oz of coffee, wearing a beanie and a down-vest and watching all these nervous kids freeze their butts off while racing for glories and stories. That was such a friggen hard race last year--I wanted to win so bad and Kate Chapman (watch out, too, for her...she's so strong and will soon take over the world--of endurance-racing, at the very least) was relentless and it kind of hurt for awhile and I had worked really hard and I really wanted the win then I did and then I smiled, and now my jersies are collecting dust somewhere and I lost my medals, but now all that silly stuff is over with...until grad school, of course. My work here is done. I love retirement.
As Megs would say, "Go Phillies!!"
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
yes is a pleasant country:
let's open the year
both is the very weather
when violet's appear
love is a deeper season
my sweet one
(and april's were we're)
e.e. cummings is the jam because, not only does he write awesome poetry (some of its really erotic, but I'm always too embarrassed to read that stuff, so I just skip along to the PG stuff) and uses unconventionality in form that just seems to make so much more sense (kind like in real life), but he also doesn't even bother to capitilize his own name. I went through a phase like that in grade school--i thought it be a cool self-humbling statement if i always wrote my name like kylie krauss. I stopped doing that, though, as soon as I realized feigned self-righteousness and conventiality works for most other people, and they were all getting along much better than I, or i, or whatever. What the hell am I talking about? Oh well, I'm digressing anyway.
Spring, like e.e. cummings, is the bomb-dot-com, as it were. But like co-worker Brandon and I happened to notice today, fall isn't too bad either, assuming you're able to ignore what it's about to lead up to (i.e. winter, which is a terrible idea, seasonally speaking.) But fall, for what it is, is awesome. Especially here, in the Southern Appalachians. Word.
As much as I don't want to identify with the octogenarian motor-tourists that drive 25 mph down the parkway oggling over oranges, reds, and goldens...E.O. Wilson's whole Biophilia hypothesis forces me to excuse them. Everyone loves fall for its aesthetics. And dang! As they ought to.
It does, however, make me rediculously restless. Dwinding daylight and changing seasons coupled with me soon to be jobless, waiting to hear back from team sponsorships, not know what I want to do next year (work? grad-school? bake corn bread and make coffee for my man?), etc. It's been the most wonderful Indian Summer so far, and I'm trying to squeeze in as much riding as possible, knowing this isn't going to last. Soon there'll only be, like, 15 minutes of daylight once you're out of work, and it'll be all cold and wet, and my Campi grouppo will get all salt crusted from the road spray. I didn't just say that.
But yeah, fall riding...sure is swell. I've been feeling awefully strong this week--the Rainbow Ridge-Kitsuma-Rainbow Ridge oreo ride was great, I tried to take it slighty slower and focus on the key technical and power moves, all-official like. Last night I hammered a standard Bent Creek loop. My singlespeed's been sitting at home this week, waiting for me to put in a half-link so I can finally run it as a true 2:1, without a stupid tensioner, so I did Bent Creek on gears, which I hate doing. It makes me disappointed in myself. A couple easy rides the next two days, then I somehow got myself into doing the Double Dare along with Jeremy Hargroves. I think it's going to be a real tough race. I'm excited though--I haven't raced since August, and I've been feeling a little slacky.
In other aspects of my silly little life, my job with the Forest Service is ending soon--seasonal position as a research technician. It's been a good time, goofing off with co-workers under the guise of advancing the science of forestry. Or something like that. And so I've been trying to find another job, which, for those of you in Asheville, know is about as hard as cleaning Farlow your first time--unless your Sam Koerber, or God, then that analogy doesn't make sense. But yeah, trying to find a job. Trying to keep on keeping on.
And the guy I've been climbing to the top of fire escapes with to watch these fall sunsets, and other such acts of rediculous adorableness, is moving to this side of town, which sadly, yet conveniently, means no more evening sprints on the townie across, well, town. We used to use phrases like "smitten" all the time with eachother, now we're solid-like-a-wolf and use phrases like "re-smote" "smodden" and "forever smod."
And if that's not making you feel sick, wait 'til you see this.
I'm excited for this weekend--a good excuse to ride for 12 hours two days in a row, and there's no entry fee, so officially we're not really racing, so no pressure. No pressure at all....Gulp.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Not that I've been trying to look at other bikes or anything, but...oh, swoon:
Straight lines. Steel. Lugs. Italian. I love it. The closest I've got is a Trek 420 that I have built up as a townie. I love that, too, for what it is, which is a straight, steel, lugless, American janky-ass piece of shit. Far, far inferior, but hey...it gets the job done, and I love it for that reason. Tomorrow, to make me love it even more, a track wheel's going on the back of the ol' 420. It's going to be fixed. I'm going to get hurt.
Invited are Industry Nine, Suspension Experts, Hearnes, Carolina Fatz, Pro Bikes, Sycamore Cycles, BioWheels, Ski Country, and Liberty Bikes. I'm assuming, however, that this will be like a typical group ride in that half the folks will wimp out, half of the other half will show up late, and the few that do make it will have one hell of a good time.
Too bad this guy can't make it (recognize him?) :
I think he's busy that week, either crying or rejoicing, it all depends on what YOU do on November 4th. Actually your vote doesn't really matter that much, despite what people try to tell you. But you should still vote anyway, just because you can, and because it gives you an excuse to leave work for a bit.
Anyway, for as many people there are who ride bikes in this town, the culture is a little diffuse. We're working on that. Ever been to Gainesville? Those guys stick together. Probably just because they can and because it gives them an excuse to leave work for a bit. I'm not a fan at all of huge (I mean, like, 4 plus) group rides...I always secretly try to get separated from the group, or hope the group breaks up on its own accord, or I keep riding until others have broken off to head back early and its just me and two others left. I don't like being a flock of weirdos clogging up roads or trails. I'd rather just be a handful of weirdos doing that. I don't know why, maybe just because you can't get away with more in little groups.
But I do love cammraderie, and I love seeing 27 bikes locked up outside of a bar (which never happens in Asheville, but should, and I can't understand why it doesn't--see blahg post below), and I do love running into friendly faces at trailheads, and I do love seeing the guy who actually owns a successful business party down like woah once in the safety of a post-race/post-ride setting.
At some point, Phil, Kevin and I were talking about the phrase, "...So you ride bikes?" and all its other forms. As in, "This is my friend Such-a-whozit. She rides bikes." And then you know, it is understood, that she knows how mush psi she likes, she has more than just "a" bike at home, she gets cranky when she hasn't ridden in awhile, she thinks arm-warmers are more practical than silly, and so on. This is in sharp contrast to someone who has a bike and rides it. You know, from time to time. Don't get me wrong, if you're on a bike, no matter what your cause, you rock, go you. You're probably still pretty cool if you're not on a bike, I just can't judge. It's just not as easy to tell that you're cool by our (i.e. the collective our that is the culture of "people who ride bikes") standards. But oh, hey...you ride bikes? Cool.
There's just something different between people who ride bikes and those who do not. Bike riding is weird and silly and made fun of from both inside and outside the little group. Kind of embarrassing, but still really fun for what it is.
Sort of like bowling.
Actually not at all. But less all us bike riders become too uni-dimensional, I figured it was high-time to try another activity. So...
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Or rather, go bike! To work, or class, or the grocery store, to over there and back, or, like, from the boys who got it right, you could just sit at home and drink a tasty brew:
Monday, October 6, 2008
My first thought flying into Vegas was "dang, that's a lot of lights." Then walking through the airport my thoughts we're "Why the heck did that Starbucks charge me so much for this goddamn coffee?" and "Holy cow, all the men have really nice shoes. Weird."
I managed to make it to the hotel, The Stratosphere, ooohhh!!, and called Phil, as directed, because he said there would be no possible way I'd be able to find my way through the casino to our room, which was numbered 3-08-16...of course, it was. There were a fuck-ton of rooms in that hotel. And there are a fuck-ton of hotels in Vegas. It doesn't make any sense. But nothing in Vegas does, and that's why I had to sit outside of the hotel waiting for Phil to direct me through a casino no mortal soul would be able to navigate themselves through, alone, the first time around.
Sitting there at 11:30 pm local time, 2:30 am my time, at the beginning of this little adventure that was to be a week at Interbike, I reached into my jeans pocket in a desperate attempt at comforting myself and making myself feel at home. What did I bring from home that I had forgotten about that was now in the deep recesses of my pockets? Oh, dang...a Miller High Life bottle cap. I strongly believe that all your favorite pant pockets should have a bottle cap in them. You should just keep them there and carry them around with you and replace them when they get lost to the washing machine. It's good luck or something, for its also fun to pull out a bottle cap at a random (or discomforting, in this case) time and try to think of where you were, who you were with, and what was going on when you were drinking the beer (or soda, for you U-21ers out there) that once belonged to that bottle cap.
Anyway, I couldn't remember where that High Life cap came from, then Phil came, and the week began.
It was a good, overstimulating week. And anti-vacation of sorts. Lots of bike products and bike people. Some really cool innovations, like inifinite-engagement hubs (by a lil' company called Stealth) which use needle bearings in crazy little ramps--no pawls at all. Dang! (But warning...I-9 hubs are still the best. Don't be fooled.) And the Hammerschmidt crankset. Planetary gears. Swoon. Neat. And this awesome Belgian (or you know, some other non-American country...) company that had the same sort of cranks, but the shifting was done by kicking a little button with your heel on the side of the crank. Beautiful! A dingle! I've fantasized about this for so long--zipping down to Bent Creek on a more appropriate road gear than the near 2:1 I ride off-road, then not having to adjust chain tensioners or anything--same chain length, just kick, and you're in a trail gear. Word! Plus, it makes it ok to kick your drivetrain, which previously had only been reserved for momemts of anger and frustration.
So anyway, there was a lot of looking at products and wanting and thinking and dreaming up awesome new bikes to build. But there was also free crap to grap and free snacks to eat and free beer to drink, and I ran into some folks I know and met some new folks and made some really great small talk and tried but didn't manage to sweet-talk my way into the Campi cycling cap, but so it goes...
Highlights were sneaking into the VIP area at Cross Vegas with Rebecca "Hot Shit" Tomaszkwiszkiekszwik and her cronies, and riding the heck out of some fun bikes at the Outdoor Demo. Phil and I quite half-way through the day on Tuesday because there were too many people demoing the bikes and it turned into a cluster-fuck, so we starting eating Chipotle chips and drinking Fat Tire, then we took out the most ridiculous "bike" we could find. One, a Da Vinci tandem, which was more race-oriented and agressive then my road bike, I would say--so scary! No me gusta! 74 degree head angle on a tandem!?! Get me off of this! And some recumbant tricycles! So hilarious. Phil equated it to being tickled...its aweful and you hate it, but you can't stop laughing. It was so funny. And some guy on a road bike past us, and we apologized to him for being on recumbants and said we hated ourselves and were embarrassed, and he said, "it's ok, with people on recumbants, to point AND laugh." But hands-down the best part of the show was going into the bike-check room, which was a room full of bikes owned by people at the show. Mainly their townies, and mainly, the most awesome looking, well-built fixed gears. Some awesome old-school, neon-era mountain bikes, some new-ish race bikes (disappointing to see amongst so many other bikes with personality), etc. I walked around there for awhile, drooling, getting ideas for bikes that I want to build up, and probably looking a little suspicious to the old couple checking peoples' bike in and out.
Lowlights were running in Vegas. Disgusting. And the price of food. Oh, and that, upon flying out Friday morning, from the plane I saw a wonderful desert sunrise, and I thought "oh yeah, we're in the desert." Whoops. They fooled me.
It was a good time overall. Met some characters, saw some bike products, experienced Vegas (though not all that all-out, which maybe is for the better...) only missed two days of biking, and made it back to Asheville and normalcy in one piece.
The next day I purged my system with a long road ride followed by a long-ish trail run at Wilson. And then promptly slipped back into the ol' daily grind. Did Vegas ever really happen? Where I'd get all these key chains and coozies and stickers? Oh, right...