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CRI

I have been taking a certification course from Crisis Response International to be certified as a responder. The course was a lot more extensive than I expected when I signed up but tonight I finished my certification. With all the hurricanes, floods, fires, etc. going on these days I figured I should do what I can to help.

Longjohn

Longjohn

 

Coincidence? I think not.

I have been working with Zane a 16 year old non-verbal autism boy at church for about four weeks now.  I would love to see a breakthrough but realistically looking at it if he hasn't had a breakthrough in 16 years who am I to expect anything now. Anyhow I was at a swimming pool about an hour south of where I live on Friday and there were only four or five people at the pool. I started talking with the one lady that was there and somehow I started telling her about Zane. She said that is really odd because she used to work with a little boy with autism who's name was Zane. She asked me if his mom's name was Lisa and I said yes. We both were talking about the same kid.  She works at an autism center and she said she always wondered how he was doing now. I told her how much I was hoping to see a breakthrough, at least enough that he could communicate because he gets so frustrated at not being able to talk. I asked her if there was much hope for someone that still couldn't speak at age 16. That's when her boyfriend who had been sitting beside her on a lounge chair spoke up. He said he had autism and was non-verbal and he didn't see any breakthrough until he was an adult. He said he was about 18 years old when things started to come together for him.  I told the director of the ministry I am working with about this meeting and the boyfriend who's name is Shawn and his coming out of his prison of autism as an adult and her mouth dropped open.  She said: "You met Shawn?" I have his book, I'll bring it in for you to read.  He has written a book about his experience growing up being autistic and the frustrations that he had. He now works as a reporter for a local newspaper. I am expecting a great breakthrough with Zane, this "random" meeting was destined to take place to encourage me to press on and not give up with Zane. I can see so much potential in him that just can't get out. 

Longjohn

Longjohn

 

I am really healthy

I am really healthy but I'm not as healthy as I once was. Old age has a way of messing with people.  Crashing used to cause me to spend money buying parts to fix my bike. Now that I'm older my bike always survives the crash fine but I get beat up and broke. A couple crashes ago when I hit the deer and broke my collar bone and shoulder blade my wife told me I was lucky I didn't break my back/neck or die. I shrugged it off but I'm beginning to think about it more. This crash in April my broken rib healed up pretty well but the ortho doc said my shoulder will always be like it is now. I have a new primary care doctor that is going to hook me up with a shoulder specialist to see if there is anything that can be done. I can still ride ok and I can run.  Two out of three isn't bad for someone 67 years old but it sure would be nice to be able to swim again. I can still swim enough to not drown but not good enough to compete. I swam two hundred yards at a nice easy pace and my shoulder was killing me. Every stroke I could feel/hear my scapula and my clavicle clanging together. Maybe my ortho doctor said they can't do anything because my Medicare Advantage plan won't pay them enough?  If this injury really isn't fixable then it's good I did it after I retired because I would never be able to do my job the way my shoulder is now. On the bright side five years ago I was diagnosed with Lymphocytic Leukemia. A throat surgeon removed a couple lymphomas from my neck and my oncologist has been monitoring me ever since. She says that my type of leukemia is incurable but slow progressing. I have blood work done every six months and visit my oncologist for a check up. I had my six month check up today and she said my blood looked good and that she won't need to see me for a year. I lost ten pounds since my last check up, not sure how I did that because I really haven't been riding very much. I do a lot of kayaking/fishing with at least four miles of paddling. It doesn't feel like a work out but I suppose it's better than watching Oprah.

Longjohn

Longjohn

 

Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes Revisited

Last year my wife and I rode one-way from point 38 (Plummer) to point 11 (Pinehurst) -- about 50 miles.  Yesterday, we rode from point 9 (Kellogg) to point 30 (Harrison) and back for about 80 miles.  The entire trail runs about 72 miles.  I took photos on the way out to Harrision and only a couple on the way back... which is kind of too bad because I think the view heading West to East is better.  Plus the weather burned off and there were clear, blue skies.  But I'm posting them all here because a ) it's easier than to hunt and peck for the best ones, and b ) why filter on my discretion?  c ) this way I can take up more server space.  They are almost all shots taken from my bicycle seat. So there's a lot of photos here.  Some good.  Some bad.  Mostly good.  Basically the trail follows the Coeur d'Alene River to the lake... with plenty of other waterways sprinkled in.  The photos are all in chronological order.   Please see my previous blog for more details on the CDA trail.        

Dottles

Dottles

 

Route of the Haiwatha

Named after the train that ran from Chicago-Minneapolis-Seattle, this bike route is a 15 mile ride that literally takes you from a starting point in Montana to your end point in Idaho.  It's a rails-to-trail line that drops down into the valley and passes though a kagillion tunnels and crosses over as many tresels deep in the Bitterroot Mountains.  The first tunnel which immediately starts the ride is about 1.8 miles.  But there's a catch.  The Lookout Pass ski area runs access to the trail and charges $9 to use the trail per person as well as provide a $9 bus ride back to the top if you don't want to ride back up it.  Plus you need a mountain bike w/ at least 700x35 tires and a helmet/headlight.  They have rentals at the top for those who just want to show up but you get what you get when you arrive there.  My wife and I decided to rent from a top bicycle rental shop for the day.   To access the trail, one needs to drive 15 miles east on I-90 out of historical Wallace, Idaho, over Lookout Pass (which is the Idaho/Montana state line) and take Exit 5 or the Taft exit.  Then you must drive for 2 miles on a forest road to the trail head.  My wife and I opted to get the return trip back up the mountain because honestly we couldn't wait to get off the gravel and return to the paved CDA Trail.  So for the 2 of us, it cost about $20 for two trail passes, about $20 for two return trips, and about $65 for 2 Trek mountain bike rentals from the LBS for the day.   It set us back about a $100 for the two of us.  Was it worth it?  I dunno.  We had a great day out in the mountains and forests.  We got some great photos.  But it was pretty damn dusty, there were a lot of lemmings on the trail, and the surface was pretty bad as you worked your way to the end (Pearson trailhead).  The Route of the Hiawatha was one of the main reasons we returned to the Silver Valley in the Northern Idaho Panhandle.  We're glad we did it.  But I doubt we'll ever do it again.  As far as I'm concerned, if it isn't paved, I don't get to excited about riding it.  There are many more rides in Montana on their highways I'd like to do -- and it's free and w/o dust.   Once again I'm not narrating the photos.  Takes too long and you get the idea anyway.  Feel free to ask questions.    

Dottles

Dottles

 

Epic 63 mile bike ride with my wife in Western Washington

I went on a 63 mile ride with my wife this last Saturday.  We didn't take a camera (I hate stopping and starting and thinking like a photographer while riding) but decided to revisit our path today.  Our ride took us through the Sammamish, Snoqualime, and the Snohomish river valleys.  So while there's not any photos of us and/or our bikes, I hope it gives you and idea of what it's like to ride in Western Washington.  I've really enjoyed the photo threads you guys have put together so thought I'd return the favor. The photos below are in series.  They are linear and represent the start to finish.  I had to filter out a lot so if you think there are too many -- sorry.  There could have been a lot more.   I also chose not to narrate them.  I hope they are self explanatory.  Please ask if you have any questions.  

Dottles

Dottles

 

906 Polar Roll 2016

This is really a great event. They work hard on the trails, they have the support of the community, they have a nice expo at the finish line, and they have a good after-party with a ton of give-aways (fat bike fenders, Marge Lite wheels, cranksets). I just wish I had better snow skills. The weather got too warm on Friday for this Saturday event. The snow turned crystally, sugary. The roads were thick with glare ice. But the event went on, and that's good. I went up to Marquette the evening before the event so I didn't have to drive on icy roads to get there. It was good to get there and have my packet. I installed my GoPro and my number plate on the bike that night. The next morning I saw on FB they were suggesting air pressures of 3-4 psi. I went with 4.5. It was neat to see all the trucks and some cars coming in with ONLY fat bikes! According to the FB page, 171 fat bikes started the 15 mile ride. It took a few moments for us in the back to actually start moving. With that many bikes riding on mashed potato snow, it was tough even getting started. People were falling off left and right. I was actually doing fairly well, but it got too slow for me to keep my balance. I put a foot down a couple times; the third time I let the people behind me go past. Wrong. Just keep going.  We had to use a road for a bit to get from the starting line to the single track, and the road was glare ice. I feel ok on ice, but I stayed on the sides like they told us to. A little slushy, but ok. I realized I forgot to get Map My Ride going, so I stopped for that. I was standing on some gravel that was peaking through some thawed ice on the side of a hill. I decided to hike to the top of the hill, but I noticed people actually pedaling behind me. I stepped into the road and onto the ice to let them pass. My feet were not moving, but I was sliding sideways down the icy hill! I think I slid like that at least 10 feet like that. Doesn't sound like much; but when you're holding onto a fat bike and sliding uncontrollably, it's quite unnerving. A few moments later I had to do it again. More sliding. Ugh! Then I got to ride again on the road for a bit.  Icy road The single track was really hard for me to ride. That was really sad because I know it was gorgeous just a few days prior to that weekend. I have been hearing many other people were having a really tough time on this trail, but at the time it seemed like I was the only idiot who couldn't keep rubber side down. Kinda rolling along I should have gone lower with my tire pressure. The trail ended up with a fairly deep rut running down the middle of it, and I kept getting hung up in it. You can kinda see the rut in this pic, but mostly I took it to show how a lot of the trail weaved through the trees. That's really a neat idea and quite pretty; but as you are rolling and start falling, those trees come up to your face pretty damned fast. I think 4 or 5 times I reached out a hand as I was falling to stop myself from slamming into a tree. There was one lady who was having almost as hard a time as I was, and we kinda rode together for a while. She eventually got her shit together and left me in the dust. Maybe she aired down and got better traction? I don't know. I hope she got going ok. But here she is, and here is how pitiful my performance was. (In a little bit of my defense, this is a very switchbacky stretch of trail called FreakNnature. I'm sure it's a hoot for those who know how to handle it; I am horrible at it.) Mostly falling I found this guy's video of the short route. About 14:45 in he slips and falls on the icy road, around 38 he's on FreakNnature, about 54:30 he gets to the area of the pic above, and about 1 hour and 9 minutes in, he gets farther than I did. I like that his posted comment states "14 miles of stupid." Ha! Another racer's perspective. Ya, I did horribly. I had practiced and trained for the three weeks between the IronLine and this Polar Roll, but you'd never know. I know that's not a lot of time, but it wasn't my first day on a bike even though it felt like it. I gave out about 7 miles into the 15 miles. I wasn't super tired, but I was very discouraged. I was so frustrated, I cried. Just a little though.  The nice lady with the red van hauled my bike and me back to my truck. I changed my jacket to a little bit warmer one, drove to the finish line, and checked out the expo for a bit. I was soaking wet; every footstep felt like my toes were stepping into puddles of water. I went into the warming tent and had a cup of post-ride stew. I was shivering while I was eating it. But I still wanted to look around a bit. I decided I needed dry clothes, so I cut it short. I headed over to the YMCA and took a shower. Just getting into the locker room warmed me up. My clothes were so wet, I had to peel them off. The chatty little girls showering after pool time with their moms made me smile. And the dry clothes made me feel much better. I headed over to Border Grill (a major sponsor of the Polar Roll event) and got some late lunch. I hung out in Marquette for a couple hours waiting for the post-race party. I got there, and there were free little plates of Border Grill food. Yay! And there was BlackRocks Brewery beers. I dove into a 51k IPA. OMG, did that beer go down well! I saw two guys who put on the IronLine race three weeks earlier and talked to them a bit. They each won swag (Marge Lite rims and a crankset!), and I was happy for them. I hung out for about an hour and then headed home. I promised myself I didn't have to put stuff away, but I did. I threw my clothes into the wash, unpacked everything, patted my bike and said, "Good ride," hung up my now clean clothes, and went to bed. The next morning I counted my bruises. It took a couple days to find them all, and there were many. My chiropractor appointment Monday was a little dicey... Ouch! Not there! Ok, that's fine. Ouch! Not there! Ha!!  I checked out the FB page and realized I didn't do as horribly as I thought. Polar Roll FB Today I talked to the LBS owner, and he said the people he knew who rode were all bruised up too.  It was truly a test of a rider's mettle. One guy commented it was a very humbling ride. The event was put on very well, but Mother Nature sure had her say. And Smudge has her say: my fat bike is for playing, and there will be no more fat bike events for me. I enjoy getting outdoors, but these events were not fun for me. Not my cup of tea, I guess. Playing with my fat bike is fun. Running with cars on my "city bike" in New York is fun. Rolling all over the countryside on my Roubaix is fun. Winter fat bike events just aren't for me. But I'm still glad I did it.  

smudge

smudge

 

Tour Of Mercer County

For years I always did the Tour Of Mercer County century ride.  This year I haven't been riding much and I haven't been working out at the gym, two things I always did.  I have been hanging around the house when I'm not at work and taking care of my wife after her surgery.  Anyhow I figure out last night as I was sitting around the campfire in our yard with my wife that I could do the short 35.5 mile ride and be back home by lunch time.  I got up at six am and got my stuff together, we had a light rain.  I got to registration about 7:10 am. got signed up and went back and unloaded my bike.  I noticed the guy parked next to me had a pink cue sheet (35 mile ride).  I struck up a conversation with him and found out this was his very first organized ride.  He was a bit unsure of himself but wanted to try it.  He said he has been doing 20 mile rides from his house and has lost 40 lbs since he got his bike last year.  I told him I could ride with him if he didn't mind an old slow guy tagging along.  He had no clue the amount of climbing he had in store for him.  I warned him that we were basically going to be climbing and descending for the entire ride. He climbed at a faster speed than I did but I had lower gears.  One third of the way through the ride he said he was really glad I was slowing him down.  He said if he would have rode it like he rides his normal rides he would have been calling for someone to come get him by the time we made it to Mercer.  He had to get off and walk on a couple of the climbs.  He has lived in Mercer County for a long time and had no idea we had hills like this.  On the return part of the ride he had trouble with leg cramps.  He said he had been drinking Gatoraide and lots of water. I know he drank a lot of water because I was behind him watching him.   We had a pretty steady rain on the return half of the ride.  It took a different route and he was excited to not have to ride back over those hills we just rode.  I told him not to celebrate too much, the return route isn't much better.  We kept seeing a skinny lady and a young man looking at their map and then we wouldn't see them for awhile.  It turned out they were looking for shortcuts because they were beat and just wanted to get back to their car. They took at least three shortcuts off route but we still got back before them. It was a good ride, I'm glad I went.  I have been feeling cooped up during my wife's recuperation.  The noob said he enjoyed the ride and plans to start training on hills so he can do the fall ride the same group puts on. I don't know why I enjoy coaching noobs so much but it give me a good feeling to help people out while they are learning the ropes and encourage them.  This guy is serious about getting in shape and losing weight.  I didn't ask him how much he weighs but probably not too much more than me.  He is a lot shorter than me. There were a couple Strava segments on the ride and even as slow as I am I placed well in the over 65 age group on each segment.

Longjohn

Longjohn

 

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Over the long weekend, my wife and I took the following Tuesday off after Memorial Day and rode the CDA Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.  It was a great time.  The following is a conversation I had on another website -- which got me inspired to ride this trail .     The guy above was 100% on everything... including the exact trail entrance in Enaville. We rode on Sunday and had great weather.   We stayed here A Unique Place to Stay in the Silver Valley - VRBO in Pinehurst and were a mile from the trail. 
The homeowner was able to find us a guy who drove us out to Plummer for $50 and we started there and ended at our cabin. I could have ridden the round trip but I knew my wife could not so that money was worth it. We rode 52 miles in all and it was some of the best trail riding I've done and it completely lived up to its expectations. The weakest part, arguably, was the middle section of farmland between Cataldo and Harrision -- and even that was better than most sections of other trails I've ridden on.  Dropping down to the lake from Plummer and riding around it to Harrison was exhilerating. We surprisingly had a very good lunch out on the deck overlooking the lake at the Landing bar or whatever in Harrison... right next door to the ice cream joint. These first 16 miles were some of the easiest and sadly some of the fastest riding we've done (together). This was not planned. We were just so immersed in our ride that we were pedaling with ease and made it a point to slow down afterwards.
It was in the late morning that we saw a young male moose just 2 miles into the ride and yet again later in the afternoon at the 42 mile mark. We also ran into deer, saw dozens of herons, an eagle or two, and plenty of other wildlife all from the seat of our bicycles.   Kudos to all the agencies involved for designing an environmental solution to the mining runoff problem. They did a great job in spacing trailheads, stops, and bathrooms along it as well. My favorite part was probably from Bull Run to Enaville in which we were hugging the Coeur d'Alene River. In short, the trail hugs a lot of water bodies... lakes, rivers, streams, marshes... while tucked away in the mountains. I can see why you're proud of it.
And he was correct in stating that everything east of Enaville is just a trail. From where we exited, there was only 20 miles of it left and I doubt I'll ever complete the rest of it. Hugging I-90 through industrial mining waste land just doesn't have the same appeal. 

If you haven't ridden this trail at least once in your life, your missing out IMHO.

Dottles

Dottles

 

Brooklyn Bike Jumble

It's good to do some surfin' on the interweb before you head out to your destination. That is how I stumbled upon this nifty event. It's a flea market for cyclists, and it was great! I rode there on my bike. I had purchased some panniers to go with my rack just cuz I had the rack; I was REALLY glad I decided to take them this day! I got there a little early upon advice the day before from the mechanics at Bicycle Roots. The place was busy already! I locked up my bike, and off I went.  I ended up buying the first thing I saw, but it was too cute to pass up. On the back it says, "Enjoy the Buzz." Being a carbon roadie, I loved that! I've been wondering how I can store Bad Ass (the fat bike). I saw this and decided my husband will be assembling one for me with one wide slot! I bought a couple cute bracelets and some plastic water bottle cages ($2 each!). Pretty sure I bought more stuff; just can't think of it right now. I had been struggling with how to carry my 4.5# New York lock. I saw a guy with a U-lock tucked in his back pocket. Cute, but I have a bigger lock. Then it dawned on me; I think I've seen this, so I'll try it. It worked great! Yup. Stick it through a belt! It's best to keep it on your left side; it won't knock into your seat when you put your left foot down to stop and won't catch on the seat when trying to get back on. Those bad things happen when the lock is on your right butt cheek! Fun stuff: Yes, in the bottom right of that last pic there is a plastic "hobby horse" cut in half and mounted on a bike. It was disturbing. I didn't mean to include it in the pic. If I had known I was going to get the front half in, I would have included the whole thing. Still, disturbing. It was time to eat, and I had found a place called Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. I got myself over there, learned a new way to lock up my bike (saw another person's bike), and went in. I had a nice lunch and found out Ithica Brewing's Flower Power IPA is good! Finally a piney IPA!  I did a little more riding around and then headed home. It was a great day!  

smudge

smudge

 

The Five Boro Bike Tour

First I want to say to all the Negative Nellies about this ride, STUFF It! This is a nice EVENT. The volunteers are nice, the people riding are there to enjoy the day, and it's a good time. If you want to kill it and pound out some miles, the Gran Fondo is next weekend!  Ya, it was a nice event. Don't let any Negative Nellies dissuade you from doing this ride if you'd like to do it. It's nice.  Now, ..... I got to the subway stop early and another guy with a cycle showed up. The train came, and it was packed! The other cyclist started running to find a spot. I followed like a lost puppy dog! He got on. I had to wait for the next train. Great, more stress! Ended up just fine. I got to the staging area good and early. I was smart; I got there early to be at the start of my wave. It was chilly that morning. The poor young man in black on the bottom left was visibly shaking he was so chilly. If I were a little taller, this pic would be much more impressive; you'd actually be able to see the thousands of cyclists behind us!  Not too far down the road was Radio City Music Hall. I have seen many ride videos, and for some reason I always thought it was super cool that they were riding past this spot. I had to stop for a selfie. And I saw a welcome to the tour riders on the marquee! Nice! The riding was actually pretty smooth! Even with that many people and a Yooper, it really was good riding. I could easily pass people when I wanted, but I could also easily cruise along if I wanted. Of course with that many people, there were going to be some bottlenecks. Like at the Queensboro Bridge. Getting out of Astoria Park was a little time consuming too. Meh, it was a gorgeous day. It was fine. Then I bit it somewhere in Queens. Smooth... I was approaching a group that had stopped. I knew I was in a little tougher gear, so I wanted to sneak in a quick shift before I actually stopped. I heard the shift complete a millisecond before I stopped. Oh good. Oh wait... I'm toppling over. Clip out, clip out! I can't! Pull your hand back in! Don't break a clavicle trying to catch yourself!!! oof! Smooth. I heard a guy behind me, "You ok? Darned clipless pedals." heh, heh.. ah ya. Poor bike. Another hit on this trip! I quickly pounded the seat back to forward, and all was well. I had scuffs on my left knee, wrist, elbow, and pinky. A day later I discovered a tender bruise on my right upper arm. I think it smacked my right handlebar end when I fell. Good news: no broken bones. Bad news: not even any blood!  All the talk about the Verrazano Bridge had me worried about the gradual climb. Psht! It wasn't bad at all! A couple miles prior to it was a rather steep climb that got my attention, but the bridge itself was simply a scenic spin. Thank goodness! The finish party had a park full of people. Of course exiting the park was a walk-your-bike event again. But that was to be expected. We rode to the Staten Island Ferry area for a ride back to Manhattan. While we waited, TD Bank (the primary sponsor) tossed popsicles into the crowd. Ha! I wanted one just to say I got one; but it was green with other colors inside and just smelled too sweet. I passed.  I almost bit it again entering the ferry. I thought for sure I'd end up getting super close to getting on only to be told it was full. I was determined to get on THIS ferry! (I didn't know they can hold 4-6000 people depending on the class of ferry) I saw most people going to the sides of the ferry with their bikes. I also saw a few guys tossing their bike onto their shoulders and going up the stairs in front of us. I figured there were fewer people going up, so I'd have a better chance of getting on. I thought, "I can carry my bike upstairs!" so I went for it! Tossed my bike onto my shoulder, took a step, and almost landed on my face; I hadn't seen the 8" long x 2" high ramp going into the ferry. I saved it, and ran up the steps. whew! As I sat there, the ferry meandered toward The City. I saw this container ship pass by. I bitterly thought, "Hmm, I wonder how many fat bikes are on THAT ship?!" Ha! Ya, just being sassy. I made it back to the apartment. A couple doors down before I got here, a lady in and SUV rolled down her window and gave me a thumb's up as I walked the last few steps to the brownstone. Thanks! I didn't know my way around real well yet, but I was starving. I settled and ordered dinner from Applebees, walked to pick it up, and walked back. I dove into that steak! Not that the 40+ miles were at all grueling; I just hadn't had much hearty food that day! I gobbled that steak right down! The Five Boro Tour is a nice event. Yes, there are 32,000 people, so there will be times of standing around waiting. But you are there for the event. Get in that mindset, and it really is a great, unique event.    

smudge

smudge

 

Made it to New York

Well, I got to the airport dark and early (4:30 am or so), and both flights went well. The take-off of the first flight was funny. I remember loving the rush of take-off. However, this one had me thinking, "Oh shit! We're off the ground! Down! Down! Must go down!" Not surprisingly, all went well on both flights. Until I got to the airtrain/subway area. Totally noobed it trying to roll 2 suitcases through the turnstile, and got stuck. Luckily, a sympathetic attendant came over and helped me. Smooth, smudge. Next day I unboxed my bike that I packaged up myself. It looked good! Then I tried to put the front wheel on. It wouldn't go! I knew the fork was messed up somehow, but I wasn't sure to what extent. The guys (Elvis in particular) at Fulton Bikes had me fixed up in no time. Life savers! Later that afternoon I took the subway into The City to attend the bike expo. Tour riders had to pick up their packets at this expo. I figured Friday would be a better, less crowded day than Saturday. Worked out great! I practiced great restraint, and only bought a few goodies. I mean, seriously; you cannot set smudge loose in a place like that and expect her to walk away with only the packet!           Next day I took the subway as a dry run to find where I was to gather up for our wave's start. Found it pretty easily! Good, that's what I need!  

smudge

smudge

 

A day in my life

So, I get up this morning after an on again off again sleep routine and start my day out with a cold doubleshot espresso and gulp down my fish oil, vitamin D, asparin, clariton, acid reflux medicine and gawd only knows what else my wife puts in that pill case.  I like to get on and shoot meaningless crap on these websites before I need to get dressed. I am a procrastinator and typically do everything at the last moment before I have to take off on my bike and catch the bus.  Coming down the hill from our condo complex, I hit the speed bump and shit flies out of my trunk bag.  Damn!  I forgot to zip it up.  I return to fetch my stuff and zip it this time and then bust my tail pedalling down the entrance to catch the bus in the knick of time (think Bonnie Raitt).  After an hour ride into work, I actually arrive 30 minutes before my standup meeting (usually coming in the door a few minutes late), give my status, and proceed back to my cubicle where I catch up on email.  Two minutes later I'm hustling down to the end of the floor to be part of a bug triage meeting as we are almost at release date.  I'm not sure why I am there other than listening to the PM trying to get a grasp on how screwed we are. I barge out of the room, return all the way down to the other end of the building where our barrista is and get me an iced coffee.  Go back to my desk and read more email and whattya know -- it's an early lunch time.  Head down to a place called Nijos on Spring Street and Post Avenue in downtown.  One of the guys (UI manager) hurt his foot getting a pedicure (that's right -- same guy I found out through other sources that is experiencing a transgender crises and is currently married with kids). so we hop the bus.  It's slow as hell but we get there and have an amazing lunch.  I had a bento box and a spicy tuna roll.  I love Japanese food but it's expensive as hell and I always leave hungry.  I dropped $25 and while my taste buds where happy, my stomach felt slighted.  After a late lunch, ended up walking back to work.  On the way, stopped in and bought the group a coffee at Starfucks.   I return to my desk and am about to start my test automation coding when I read my email and one of the other guys downstairs -- who actually has gone through the transgender thing -- needed me to retest a bug I had opened.  That was cool because I had to set my cluster up twice -- each setup and configuration takes about 20 minutes -- and run tests -- which takes about another 20 minutes.  So that's almost an hour and a half killed right there.  Plus, I had to write up my results and reassign the bug back to the transgender complete.  I look at the clock and it's 5:30.  I really should do more but my boss is gone and screw it -- life is short.  So I go down into storage, retreive my bike, and ride out to the transit station.  I don't usually leave this early and was thinking how nice it will be to get home early and have some time to screw around on these stupid websites.  Ha!  Muhahahahaha!!  Traffic sucked.  OMG.  I got home about 30 minutes earlier than I normally do but I left and hour and a half sooner.  No wonder I choose to go in later and come home later.   That's my day, brah.  That's my day.  A day in my life.  Sure hope my wife is feeling frisky tonight.

Dottles

Dottles

 

OK. I'm Scared.

Not gonna lie. I am totally scared right now about my trip to NYC. Three more days at home, then it's a very early start Thursday morning. I don't know. Hard to express. Mostly I hope I can get from point A, The Yoop, to point B, my rental in Brooklyn. Crazy thing is I knew all the stuff I needed to pack for my bike; that was easy. Getting me ready....makes it real. Whose bright idea was this anyway??

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Not Gonna Tempt Fate

I've really been enjoying riding the fat bike. I thought I would only like it in snow, but I like it without snow too. Maybe even better? Hmm.. I've gone a couple times to the Days River Trail and had a blast. I'd really like to go again this weekend, but I'm not gonna tempt fate. I am 1 week away from the Five Boro Tour, so I don't want to risk a broken arm, collar bone, or anything else that may keep me from the Tour. Damn.

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Bike Has Shipped!

Well, my Sirrus is on its way to Brooklyn. That's where I'll be staying while participating in the Five Boro Tour. I used the box Bad Ass was shipped in. For a bit I thought the box was going to be too big considering a fat bike came in it, and now a fitness bike was going in. Nope, it ended up working just right. I placed the panniers/saddle bags over the rear tire, and that worked great to stabilize the bike from flopping around in the box. Of course in the panniers are my shoes, water bottle, Kryptonite u-lock, tools, all kinds of crap! But ya, it worked out great. I used shipbikes.com, and I think that will be a good thing. You enter your box's dimensions and weight, address, and how much insurance you want. Pay the amount, print out your label, and take the box to a Fed-Ex shipping center. Or for a couple extra dollars you can have it picked up at home. My bike and a ton of stuff (ok, it weighed 55 pounds) is going to Brooklyn for $60. You can't beat that with a stick. Only problem is, it's going to get there 2 days before I do! Whoops. Sorry people i'll be renting from; didn't mean to do that. I'll let you know after all is said and done what I think of shipbikes.com. So far so good. (of course it works with Fed-Ex, so they will get credit/blame for the arrival condition of the bike and box..)

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The day I call in sick

That day would be today.  I woke about an hour early before I normally do and about the time I would normally leave for work, I looked at my wife and cat laying in bad snoozing and it hits me that I want to do the same.  I already had Friday off so why not extend it another day?  After Saturday's ride, I tore my bike apart to remove a broken spoke in the rear behind the cassette.  So I'm using today to get parts -- extra spokes, some waterproof grease, some bike rim tape, some extra chain lubricant, etc.  I can't be going to work with a dysfunctional bike in pieces now, can I?  I'm sure, readers will naturally sympathize with my decision not to do so under such unsettling circumstances.  Plus I bought a new derailleur that is not needed -- that ended up costing me $98 with tax-- so I need some extra time to take that sucker back today and reclaim some money.  It's a good thing to as I see the same thing posted on an REI website on a close out sale for $40 and my wife tells me we have a 20% discount from that store.  Let's see.  That's (39.99 x 0.80) about $32 - a huge savings indeed.  But why buy another derailleur when I don't need it?  Because that particular one has become 'old' now and finding them down the road is likely going to be zero to none and I expect to have this bike a long time.

Dottles

Dottles

 

Finally a Decent Ride on Bad Ass

Whew! This fat bike thing is a workout! Especially early in the season. Well, also because the differing terrain demands more work from the engine than the point and shoot of a road bike.  I ended up going out onto the bay. It was going pretty well; there was only about 1 1/2" of crust to break through, and I kept plowing through. Not saying much to a regular fat biker, but that's progress for me! I've learned to use the easier spinning gears. I found out that works great. As I was riding, I was heading toward the water treatment plant. I made sure to give it a wide berth since I know the spots on the bay that break up early ARE breaking up. I didn't feel like going for a swim. I couldn't remember exactly what was around the bend where the treatment plant is, so I stopped to think it over. And to catch my breath. As I was standing there, I heard a crack and what sounded like shifting underneath me. ACK! The ice!! I spun my bike around and pedaled out of there much faster than the trip TO that spot! I'm sure I was fine, but I wasn't going to press my luck. I really wanted a pic of Bad Ass on the bay; but I ran like a rabbit, so no pic. I then went through "the fields." Scrubby weeds and sand. I went down a short, steep, sandy hill; and it went well. I decided to go out to the Kipling Boat Launch to go out on the bay in another spot. I went over to the boat launch to access the ice. Oh dear; I thought the launch ramp was concrete, but it's crushed #3 rock. Ok, you can do this. It took me a couple minutes to muster up the courage, but I did it! Getting onto the ice, I heard a pretty hearty crunch. I thought I had gone through, but I just kept on going. Whew! I wanted to head over the the built up sand bar for a couple pics. (the vegetation/trees have built it up, and the gulls have made it home) The pedaling was decent on this area of the bay too, but there were no scary ice noises. The gulls were upset that I went over there and bothered them. But I liked seeing them against the pristine blue sky. You can see them in the pic. The ride back into town was a little tough. I was getting tired, and I was riding into a hearty head wind. I really need to put money in my jacket pocket and/or get a bag for the bike for a little cash stash. I really wanted a Gatorade mid ride but had no dinero. All in all a good ride. I'm feeling much better about riding this bike. There's hope for my dirt/ice/grass skills!

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Need Road Work NOW!

This weather has GOT to start warming up. Temp is -1 this morning. I know it's only March, but I really gotta get out on my road bikes and get some real miles under me. I've got the TD Five Boro Bike Tour event (http://www.bike.nyc/events/td-five-boro-bike-tour/)coming up in just over a month, and I've got NO road miles under me since probably last November. I've been on the rollers, but my brain cannot make me stay on them to put on real miles. I need to get out on the road. Sure, I've been out on the fat bike a few times, but that was just to play around and find out I need to learn how to ride the damned thing.  The Five Boro Tour isn't a race or gran fondo, but it WILL be a day of probably about 50 miles. The route is 40 miles with an additional 5 miles after the finish line to get to the Staten Island Ferry to get back to Manhattan. I'm sure there will be additional miles somewhere to make the total 50 miles. That will be a lot for me this early in my season. I mean, I'm a Yooper! It's cold this time of year! But I need to suck it up and start getting dressed for the weather and pound that pavement. Time is running out.

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He Hate Me

Saturday, March 14. Got my fat bike from UPS yesterday and assembled it last night. Whoo hoo! Ya know, with my road bike I clip in, push off, and away I go. These damned fat bikes with their stupid tiny small chainrings (and everyone’s propensity to LEAVE the bike in the small chainring!) really makes it tough for me to start out on these bikes. I will have to learn to leave Bad Ass (this bike’s name; not necessarily a compliment) in the larger chainring for take-off. It was a little sloppy, but my first couple blocks of riding went well. Taking off in the small chainring makes the pedals just spin ridiculously fast with no power; how the heck do you spin like crazy and not move??!! Ugh. Then, I have a new type of shifting to get used to. This bike has SRAM, and I'm a Shimano girl. Luckily I asked Jon about it. He realized all the shifting on both sides is all thumb, no trigger finger. Jon was really nice about my bike. He said it was bad-ass! Aww, thanks! (Jon owns The Beaten Path, a disc golf and used bike shop. He's my disc brake guy) I only had pavement to ride on and was looking for some snow. I was really frustrated with the lack of good snow riding. Probably a good thing since I found out I am not good at it. Not. At all. I rode to the boardwalk and found a bunch of melty, mashed potato type drifts crossing the boardwalk. I was going to push my bike over them, but then I decided to try to ride over one. I backed up the bike for a better approach to the drift and tried to be aggressive to get over this one. It didn’t go well. Luckly I saved my Fail and did not roll off the boardwalk. My girl bits were quite relieved since they probably would have received the hardest hit. I got tired of walking my bike over the snow drifts along the boardwalk and decided to go across the campground. Yes, I ended up walking a good portion of the boardwalk. To get across the grass at the campground, I had to go through a little bit of the same type of snow. It didn't look too bad since it wasn't built up into drifts like on the boardwalk. I decided to pedal more aggressively and be more confident and purposeful while pedaling through the mashed potatoes. Unfortunately the mashed potatoes and Bad Ass (my bike) had a different plan for me. I started smushin’ through and suddenly the bike came to an abrupt stop! My body kept going forward a bit, but then rocked back after the stop. My left foot was at the top of the pedal stroke and couldn’t go forward; so it swooped back and down under no resistance (as backward pedaling on a non-fixie does). All my weight was on my left foot; so when it went down, so did my butt… right onto the long, nose portion of my seat. The girl bits didn’t get smacked, but the back half did. I smacked my coccyx. Hard. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such intense, jarring pain. I thought I was going to puke. No exaggeration. I breathed real hard for a few moments. I didn’t want to cry, and I really didn’t want to puke. But I almost did both. After a few moments, I got off the bike (now you know why I call it Bad Ass). I wasn’t really thinking straight yet, but it eventually dawned on me that the damned thing was stuck/propped up on the pedal; it was just standing in the snow! Well, that kinda explains part of what happened. That was it. I was done. I very, very slowly pedaled home. I whimpered to Scott about it. Bad Ass is on a time out. And I asked Scott to drive me to Holiday gas station so I could get an I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself-hot dog for lunch. I told him I would just stand in the back of the truck; I didn’t want to sit to get there or home. I was feeling SO sorry for myself, I also got Cheetos, a fountain, and Grandma’s oatmeal and raisin cookie. Scott must have started feeling sorry for me too; he held open the door at Holiday on our way out and held the truck door until I got in and situated. Awwwww… That was 4 hours ago. And my coccyx still hurts. Stupid bike.

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Bummin' Thursday

The big news today is that it was gorgeous day here in Seattle and I couldn't ride my bike.  Sadly, I managed to strain my calf muscle in my right leg as I was walking up a flight of stairs yesterday.  That's right!  Let me repeat that:  I strained my calf muscle walking up stairs.  Now at the ripe age of 47, I expect some body barking, but come on man. Walking up stairs?  What the heck would have happened if I had to run for my life darting out of the sand in some beach somewhere?  Or worse, what would have happened if I was enlisted on the beaches of Normandy back in the day carrying a 75 pound pack trying to avoid enemy fire?  I'll tell you what.  I'd be dead, that's what.  Probably shot in the calf.

Dottles

Dottles

 

Punk'd by a Cat

Our cats wanted to go outside for a bit after I got home from work. I get home around 7:30 pm. The temp was fine, and the deck and part of the back sidewalk needed to be shoveled from the 3" of snow we received while I was at work.  It was dark; but I had the deck lights on, so it was all good for keeping an eye on the cats. Hammer (our big, male, orange tabby) went under the deck, and Aimee (my gray and white female) sat on the top step. I heard Hammer start making his "this is MY territory!" mewing. Great. Gray and White cat is under the deck, and Hammer found him. He's a neighborhood cat who comes around at night. I said, "Be nice. No fighting." There was no fighting. In fact I never saw Gray and White cat leave. After a bit, both our cats decided to go back in the house. Weather was good, so I kept shoveling. As I was coming back in the house, I heard the plow go by the front. I figured I'd check out the damage, see how much snow they threw into the driveway. It wasn't bad, but there was a spot on the sidewalk where they had flipped up a bunch of snow from the plow. I decided to clean that up since it was on the sidewalk. And i was hoping the cats would come out for more fresh air. I saw Hammer coming out the garage door when I was done with the sidewalk, so I decided to clean up the driveway to give him time outside. (Our cats are not allowed to roam the neighborhood on their own) I kept an eye on him cuz he started moving toward the neighbor's house. I thought, "Oh great. Gray and White cat is over there now." I kept going back and forth scraping snow and keeping an eye on Hammer. After a bit, I saw a cat walking away from us a ways down the sidewalk. Gray and White cat! I decided to be nice and talk to him. He stopped. He was swishin' his tail like he liked me talking to him. I thought, "I'm a cat whisperer! He likes how I'm talking to him!" I noticed he looked small. I was sad thinking he really had spent all these cold days outside and had lost a lot of weight. I kept being casual and kept shoveling. Finally, I stuck the shovel into the snow so I could get closer. I was talking to him and was about to start walking toward him. Then, he started walking toward me! I looked again at how small he was. Then I noticed he seemed to have way more white than Gray and White cat has. WTFront door?? Aimee!!!! "You get back over here!" By then she was sassily jogging past me and toward the garage door, sassy tail swishin'! Totally punk'd by my own cat. sigh...

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