Archive | March, 2010

Incom-Parable

31 Mar

As the ‘Lady ‘ludes to, today was absolovely. Bright crispy clouds here and there but with that spring-clean hi-def look that seems to say they’re just passing through, no rain no foul – yet.

This morning we kicked bootie on the way in. The other night’s personal trainer session, while leaving me virtually crippled Tuesday, paid off huge dividends today. I felt a ton more snap and sap in the limbs, especially this morning. I’m not kidding when I say, for a mid-week ride during a period of heavy crap going on at work I was refreshingly fresh today. On the way home we were easily keeping up with a randonneur type at a much higher speed than usual without any effort, seemingly. What a great feeling. I have high hopes. And really spring is just starting!

With a sunny day, in near-April, comes the bad news: a butt load of bikers out on the Burke. Where did they all come from? Legions of pale but shaven legged wannabes flying past, tucked down and grimacing with their first hard effort of the year; hordes of college kids swooping this way and that on a hodge podge of cyclery, as unpredictable as puppies; commuter types out for their first ‘mute of the year, t-shirts flapping in the wind; and of course those outlier types on the creaky mountain bikes who grunt with every other pedal. Oh the cycle-manity!

Dare I use the word ‘Fred’? Am I qualified yet? Has my application been approved… sound of harp being plucked dreamily…

The Council will now come to order. Under consideration is the application of ______ aka SurlyLad, to reserve and exercise the right to name other bikers as Freds, whether in person or on the interwebs. How say ye?

Look at him, says the skinny guy at the far end of the half-oval meeting table, he doesn’t even shave his legs!

The nice matronly lady on the other end of the table puts in, mildly, But hasn’t he commuted on his bicycle through two winters and is he not starting on his third spring season?

Commuting is not biking! Commuting is a utilitarian exercise that puts uppity notions in heads to make them suddenly too big for their helmets! (this from the retro-grouch near the center, wearing his faded ‘Faemino’ jersey which is by now much, much too small for him).

Chairman: As chairman of this council, I would put it to a vote but we only have a few hours of sun left, so I say, APPLICATION DENIED. Try again next year.

Bummer. Well, at least I can consider myself near the head of the Freds. Hopefully my new Sidis will create a little respectful space for me up in that rarified zone.

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shoegazing

31 Mar

If you live in Seattle, you know that today was gorgeous, and exactly the opposite of what the weather forecasters forecasted. I figured I’d be busing to work in the rain, but around here you have to take advantage of days like this. So I quickly gathered up my crap and headed out with the lad. A beautiful and speedy morning ride, followed by a blur of a workday, then out into even more sunshine.

waitin' for my man. Though not in the Lou Reed sense.

Speaking of those shoes up there, I have some bad news. Are you sitting down? Those size-nines died a tragic death this morning. Only a year old, with their whole lives ahead of them, and they made like a banana and split. Right across the sole of my left foot, at the critical cleat point. It looks like natural causes—I suspect it was suicide. And who could blame them? If my one and only purpose was touching feet all day I’d do the same thing. So during the ride home, their last waltz, so to speak, with the wind whistling through their gaping wound, the shoes and I reminisced about all the fantastic places they’ve taken me. They have seen a lot of miles! And stepped in some really gross substances, but let’s focus on the good things right now:

so long, size-nines.

You know what isn’t a good thing? Breaking in new shoes. But luckily I’d picked up a new pair at the harrowing REI Dividend Dash last weekend and they seem comfy enough. Not the fancy Eye-talian kind the lad picked—I just can’t bring myself to fork out that much for bike shoes. Even though I know something that’s higher quality will last longer and therefore cost less in the long run. I get the concept, but in practice, “long run” means so much less to me than “right this minute”, and right this minute I’m a cheapskate. This all makes me think of my stepdad, whose favorite thing to say has always been “you get what you pay for.” Except the message loses a bit of its impact when he says it, because for some reason he never says it in English. He swears his weirdly consonant-heavy version is Japanese, but to me it sounds more like a made-up mix of Klingon and caveman. Still, I always knew what he meant, and it makes sense when you’re talking about things where the quality of construction is obvious. But when it comes to things like shoes, and big-name brands, I get suspicious. How much of that cash is for the cachet, and how much is actually for quality? I know how easy it is to inflate the perceived value of things, because, heh, that’s pretty much what I do for a living. So these are all the things that run through my brain when I’m standing in REI trying on shoes, and why I couldn’t bring myself to splurge. Plus, even if I could, have you seen the ladies’ version of Sidis? The last time I saw a print this tacky, it was on Mrs. Roper’s muumuu. Dear Sidi, WHAT THE HELL:

Of course, when my (relatively) cheap new pair offs itself a year from now, the lad will probably have the last laugh.

Russian Admiral

30 Mar

I’ve long been called a Swiss Admiral, due to my overall lack of usefulness. I’ve never, to my knowledge, been referred to as a Paraguayan Admiral. This morning, however, I transformed into a Russian Admiral which, according to Helprin’s Memoir from Antproof Case (which I’m reading currently) really stands for a “shit-eating wussie.”

I woke up, got out of bed, I dragged a comb across my head, did some stretches, put on the bike togs, made some brekky for me and the gal friend, then metaphorically and meditatively sipping a cup of coffee (apologies to Antproof Case) checked the weather on the compoo and lo-behold, Weather Underground said SHOCKING AMOUNT OF THUNDERSTORMS FROM NOON TO EIGHT and me, being a Russian Admiral, and having a major set of muscle pain after the personal trainer session the night before, said well that just won’t do and, whiff, off came the clothes, mussed-up again went the hair and boom next thing you know I’m on the bus. What I’d forgotten is that Weather Underground is ALWAYS wrong. Thunderstorms from noon until eight? No. Intermittent sunshine and lack of precip? Yes.

Weather Underground, as of five minutes ago, says that tomorrow will be much the same as today, i.e. thunderstorms all day long. Let’s hope they’re right about the days matching!

On unrelated notes:

1. I got new SIDI shoes this weekend at REI during the dividend madness rush. They’re super comfy. Excited to use them. IbisLad’s joke that they show you are a serious biker almost threw me though, because I worried for a while that I didn’t want to be taken seriously. However when I tried them on they’re as comfy as my ballet slippers which I haven’t worn since I defected all those years ago.

2. I don’t know if I ever said this before, but I have new Velocity rims (Fusion) with Shimano XTR hubs front and back on the Poprad. Had it done at Perfect Wheels on Roosevelt, and he spaced the backend from 130mm to 135mm… seems to work okay! Haven’t had a chance to really put them to the test yet, but I’m definitely excited as this will be my main touring bike for STP etc.

going, even when you don’t want to.

27 Mar

It was a draining week, and on Friday I had to give a presentation at work. If I ever write a script for a horror movie it will be all about public speaking, because I can’t think of anything scarier than that. I’d rather ride a bright pink recumbent to my worst enemy’s birthday party at the Olive Garden than stand up in front of people and talk. By the time Friday finally reached its end, I was more than ready for a weekend of restorative hermitude. So when the lad asked if I wanted to go for a ride on Saturday, which would require leaving the house, I just shook my head, crawled under my binkie and set the alarm clock for Monday morning.

But then on Saturday it looked like this:

I'm spring! You cannot resist me.

And the lad said the magic words: Lake Roesiger Loop. And the angels sang their sweet, sweet song for this little stretch of paradise:

This ride is irresistible for so many reasons. They are as follows:

1) Quiet, sun-dappled streets.

2) Challenging climbs, rewarding descents.

3) Oh my god, BABY LLAMAS. Stiff-legging it across green pastures while the horsies look on majestically.

We coffeed up and headed out, and for the first 10 miles I felt like complete crap. It was really cold, and I felt sluggish, weak and weird. The lad noticed and said “You’re not feeling the joy, are you.” To which I could only whimper, “No, I’m not feeling the joy.” So we pulled over and he left it up to me – take a shortcut back to the car or keep going in the hopes that the joy would hurry the heck up and get here. To stall for time, I ate some m&ms:

hem, haw

Then I consulted Facebook on the iphone to see what my friends had enjoyed for breakfast. Then I updated my status to “Surlylady is hemming and hawing”. Then I thought about cheeseburgers. Then I thought about my pants. Then I thought about how I wanted to eat a cheeseburger and still fit into my pants, so I decided to keep going. And of course a couple miles after that the sun warmed up, my legs warmed up and all was right with the world:

the joy

Then we were heading down the last big hill, a perfect eyelid-peeler, and I hit 40 mph for the first time in a really long time and man, I forgot how fun that is. I almost wanted to climb back up just so we could come down again, but I bowed to the reality that I’m still a long ways away from being back in all-day-ride shape. But this was a good start!

Cherry Times

24 Mar

The commute today was in total a meter-for-meter perfect unstorm. Morning, cool and breezy – a cool 16mph+ easy. Night, tho’ I had to work late and thus flew home solo, was joyous. I quickly had to shed the long-sleeved wool jersey to reveal my pasty t-shirtedness. The sun, the air, the smells, the temperature, everything was just about perfect. On Eastlake while drafting behind a Metro bus I found myself aswirled in a shower of cherry blossoms as the bus shoulder snagged a long avenue’s worth of trees; it was like a ticker tape parade in whites and pinks, just for me. And just for those keeping track, I won my duel with that bus and held steady with a lead until the final quarter up the University bridge. Damn I love racing buses up Eastlake and over the bridge!

Part of this bonhomie (and no it wasn’t the hominy for lunch) had to do with work; sure, I had to stay late but ultimately the best thing that happened was the song in my heart all the way home because I realized what it is that I want to do when I grow up, if I’m staying with the old company (been there 13 years and have a killer amount of PTO built up which with the trip to Italy and dreams of mountain bike vacations buzzing seems more and more important to me): I want to be an Enterprise Architect. Nothing to do with The Fountainhead, chuckles.

I think it took a spate of trying to play the peacemaker between a couple of intransigent pride monsters, a separate spate of “hey you know that one emergency we already had you on, here’s one that’s a higher emergency, and we need both done NOW” and the usual spate of 100s of emails with a terribly deflating ratio of signal to noise with the noise being of such loudness that it requires clear signals which I barely have time to formulate – there are times when I’m composing an urgent email, responding to an IM and monitoring my Facebook (kidding) all while someone’s at my desk looking for direction and I almost start laughing because really at the end of the day or at the end of that latest five minutes it’s all immaterial, it ain’t matter. It would be one thing I suppose to content oneself with the slow progress of the org moving up the CMM maturity curve if only I didn’t sense that through too much endemic crapulation and systemic dissimulation there will always be too little improvement stimulation and even then, even if you can inch up the maturity scale, really what does that mean? Now you’re a teenager working at the same old boring stuff as opposed to a screaming grade schooler working at the same old stuff.

And so with that I’m blithely convinced that Enterprise Architecture has none of those problems, and never will, and that I would be happy there forever.

Thus the value of commuting by bike. Fresh air, a complete dispersal of the crummy work stuff, a converse inflation of good ideas and hopes and schemes and then to arrive home just minutes ahead of the Pagliacci delivery chap whom the SurlyLady was thoughtful enough to summon and sit down on the couch with girlfriend and pup and have a small bowl of chocolate gelato with a tablespoon of peanut butter and damn ain’t life grand!

Re-buttal

23 Mar

The Brooks Peanut Gallery (TM) would officially like to say Told You So, but said Gallery is smarter than that.

On a related note – what awesome weather! Riding to work in early spring is just one of the best things in life. Simple as that. This morning we were cold, tired, achy and poopie, and the ‘Lady had a sore bum. I was in a good mood mentally but physically feeling wintry. Then we stopped about midway as usual so I could stretch the knee and suddenly we had wings. Things were in a groove. The sky was a cautionary easter egg purply-blue, and suddenly I couldn’t stop smiling. We zoomed along, with the idea that butt pain is better if you go faster, with the ride becoming necessarily shorter.

Then we got passed by a guy on a Cervelo in Eastlake. No biggie except that, on a couple of occasions, he ran red lights ahead of us. Hmph. I hate that entitlement loser biker crowd. Give the rest of us law abiding bikers a bad name. My personal rule of thumb regarding red lights and bikes is the same as red lights and cars; if in the middle of a wasteland desolate beyond description, at a four-way stop in the darkest corner of night and no other cars have been seen for hours then yes I’ll run the light. Otherwise I wait and enjoy giving the idling car drivers a startle as I beat them for the first 10 seconds from the green.

However! As I’ve done before I had taken careful note of Mr. Cervelo and just had a feeling that, while he’d blown past on the flats he was going to falter on the hills and sure enough, there we were behind him going up the Fred Hutch Hill and the little kid in me (I’ll admit it, or the little man?) just couldn’t help it, I kept the Trucker in a fairly tough gear and just blew past Mr. Cervelo, letting the spin speak for itself. It was awesome. All those winter miles have paid off more than I realize maybe, and this gives me hope for the summer season. This post will sound cocky but believe me, over the last six months I’ve been feeling anything but(t).

On an unrelated note – anyone have anything good or bad to say about Sidi shoes? I’m considering using my REI dividend for the same. The shoes I have (Shimano something something) just don’t have as solid a ‘platform’ as I would like, nor are they super comfortable. The Lake winter boots are solid and comfy, but winter boots.

this will blow your mind! maybe.

23 Mar

I am a very curious person. More than anything, I love learning things that I never even imagined were out there to learn. I mean, there are a lot of things that I know I don’t know much about, but when I learn something that I didn’t even know I didn’t know? Love that.

Like Cary Grant. I doubt my brain ever devoted one single cell to Cary Grant before today. And LSD…uh, okay, maybe I sacrificed a few brain cells to that back in the day. But Cary Grant and acid in the same sentence? That right there is a great big What the Eff?! Which is why I totally love this article, posted on one of my favorite sources of What the Eff?! information, BoingBoing. So fascinating!

But here I am writing yet another post that has nothing to do with cycling, other than it’s what I was thinking about on today’s ride home. We should come up with some kind of tagging system so you know when it’s worth coming here (i.e. the lad wrote it) and when it’s just a bunch of brain-dump (i.e. me). Oh, I’ve got something worthy of a bike blog! You might remember my long, arduous, Diogenes-style search for a saddle. I think I found it! And it’s a Brooks, believe it or not. But not just any Brooks—it’s the one the lad bought ages ago. He rode it for a good long time, then KonaLad borrowed it for a while, then it sat up on a high shelf for months and listened to me whining about my saddle woes, then twenty years later I stuck it on the Surly and hey, it’s not half bad! My sit bones are not fully committed yet, but today they started whistling this song, which is a really good sign:

So after all this time, my saddle story comes to a happy end.*

*Ha! Get it? Okay, that was bad. But please take a moment to appreciate all the even worse butt puns I DID NOT employ in this tail. I mean tale.

You’re welcome.