Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And you will know me by the overly bright shirt...

It's getting warmer (well, this week's impending cold-snap notwithstanding) and that means more time on the road. It's slow going when the weather is unpredictable. Was going to ride on Sunday morning, but decided to wait for a friend who was coming back from a southern suburb. By the time he got home, the wind had kicked up to 25+ mph sustained and rain was starting, so I forced myself onto the trainer out in the garage.

Time moves much slower when riding a bicycle that is attached to a trainer. A half an hour on it is akin to that last half hour before school lets out on a sunny day. It just draaaaaagggggsss. Tell yourself, okay, I'm going to kick up the gear and put in a full minute of intense effort. The minute hand turns and it's go time. And the minute never ends! The song in the headphones has to have gone on long enough for a minute, right?


By the time 30 minutes elapses, I'm reduced to just spinning and sweating and wondering why..... why.... wondering why what? It's numbing.

A half hour on the road at least goes by. Actual distances are traveled. Cars and trucks skimming by make the ride visceral and heighten the senses. Wind taunts and teases. Folks give funny looks. Once in a while another lone rider will glide past in the other direction, a quick hand raised in acknowledgement that this ride is necessary in the scheme of things. Necessary for when temperatures get warmer, hotter, and sweltering.

Here's my latest jersey for when the warmth kicks in. Should be bright enough out on the road. I'm expecting to hear fun comments on big group rides, just like with the Fat Tire jersey. Beer is good. Beer from Kalamazoo is even better and Bell's Oberon is a near-perfect one for summertime.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Navel Gazing

Ahhh, nothing worse than a lazy narcissist.

So yesterday on a bulletin board there was a conversation about blogs. Among the responses were several that were quite hostile to the whole idea of blogs. They are too boring, narcissistic, etc. This from folks who will fill up the ether with empty posts on a public bulletin board. Surprising. The majority of opinion was okay with blogs as a way to keep friends/family informed of goings on, or to make community connections by sharing experiences. I read several blogs from time to time, but most are specific to a subject, such as book reviews or cycling adventures. If someone wants to use it as a place to gather thoughts for future recollection, as mine seems to be shaping up, then that’s great. Blogs are the journals/diaries of today. It’s just that anyone anywhere can read your thoughts, no matter how boring, insightful, or even inciteful they may be.

As for my resolutions in the post from two months ago, I’m working through the book list and have completed several. Right now I’m about 2/3 of the way through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. So far it has been an interesting read. What happens to the old gods brought to a new land once the old gods are forgotten? What happens to the mythological figures raised up to tell the story of a land when the land no longer tells their tales or venerates their adventures? Those gods and myths fight to remain alive and viable even as their names are known, but they are not given the attention they once knew. A bit fantastical, but something I would expect to find in the Literature section as opposed to the SF/F section of a library or bookstore.

Here’s another thought on music from the car ride in to work today.
Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads. The faded in agitated acoustic guitar picking leading into the spooky synth line leading to the heavy drum beat. The percussion on this floors me. And the final minute of the drums, the slow synth line loping along, and the rhythm guitar line rising and falling. There is no singing in that final minute, which I now realize is unusual for a song that hit the charts. I’m wondering how many Top 40 DJs just talked right over the outro back in the day. I guess when I was 10 this song just was fun because of the goofy lyrics, but 24 years on it holds up as a great musical piece.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Setting some goals

Well, what's a new year without some goals. These aren't 'resolutions,' as those imply some change in lifestyle. They are more a statement of things I really would like to accomplish, or at least keep in my mind to work on as the year progresses.

The books below present a challenge, as finding time to escape without interruption makes it slow going. If I get to half of them I'll be happy. I have a bit of a guilty chip in the back of my brain that says that if I'm at home, then I should be helping out with the kids. Even when I get some time to leave the chaos, I feel that obligation to help out creeping in, so a lot of the reading gets done on lunch breaks at work, or just before going to bed at night after the kids are down. But I've discovered that I read much faster and with more comprehension in the morning, so night time reading usually ends up only a few pages or a chapter at best. (Oh, if only I knew I was a morning person back in college! The things I could have accomplished!!)

The reading stack:
The Winter King - Bernard Cornwell (Book One of The Warlord Chronicles)
The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch (Book One of The Gentlemen Bastard series)
The Mutineer - Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005 - Hunter S. Thompson (Third and final volume of letters - to be released soon!)
Moby Dick -- or The Whale - Herman Melville
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
The Pale Horseman - Bernard Cornwell (Book Two of the King Alfred trilogy)
The Lords of the North - Bernard Cornwell (Book Three of the King Alfred trilogy)
The Darkness That Comes Before - R. Scott Bakker (Book One of The Prince Of Nothing trilogy)
1776 - David McCullough
Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Prachett
The Once and Future King - T.H. White
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Bradley Zimmerman
Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman


The cycling rides listed pose a different challenge, as once on the road, there is a commitment. The obligations are tugging at my brain, but keeping upright, or better yet with a group of riders helps to center the focus. With these, making a commitment is somewhat easier when there are entry fees paid in advance, or there are other riders expecting you to show up.

The Riding Goals for 2007
Start regular rides around neighborhood with the family. This would be awesome for me and hopefully fun for all four of us.
Get 500 road miles ridden before the first century in May. This means getting out on the bike for lots of small lunchtime rides and several 40-50 mile rides. If a few can be done in February, that would be great, but would like to get ramping up in March and April. The base miles will make the rides later in the Spring much more pleasant with less chance of falling off of the pace.
Joliet Sudden Century (100 miles) - May, Joliet, IL
Udder Century (100 miles) - Early June? - Union, IL
Horribly Hilly Hundreds (200k route) - June - Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
RAIN: Ride Across INdiana (160+ miles) - July - Terre Haute to Richmond, IN
Dairyland Dare (200k route) - August - Dodgeville, Wisconsin
Cream City Cycle Century (100) - August? - Waterford Wisconsin
More rides will be added, especially when consulting with folks from the Bike Forums site

Home improvement:

Housework is yet the other challenge for the year. Painting a bedroom, planting, and hopefully getting a patio put in before summer are the primary goals. Those involve getting off my lazy arse and making them happen. Sometimes it's a bit too easy to just ignore the home improvements until tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It's too warm outside.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a 50 degree unlimited sunny day as much as anyone else. In fact, I took a nice walk with the family around the neighborhood at lunch today. However, it is January 3rd. And this is the upper Midwest. 50 degrees shouldn't occur but as an aberration before a major front socks us into our flannel-lined jeans and heavy wool sweaters. For goodness sakes, there were thunderstorms on New Years Eve. What's up with that?j

I have a feeling we'll get some more bitter cold sooner or later, but this constant mild winter is getting a bit suspicious. Global warming? Well, big glaciers have been falling off of Arctic islands into the ocean. Greenland is actually getting green in the summer. Of course, certain politicians would have us believe we're on the verge of the oceans swallowing up Miami, NYC, and other coastal cities, while others say it's all a bunch of liberal hooey. I don't know, but it just seems that evidence continues to pile up in favor of climate warming.

Thankfully we live up pretty high and dry. ;-)

I've been reading and enjoying Brandon Sanderson's Elantris in the past week. For a change, I've picked up a book that doesn't start a whole series of books, though my to-read list is filled with such multi-volume stories. I'll compile a list soon and start to pick them off as the year progresses.