The Ugly Goslings

These little critters were strutting behind their mothers (fathers?) with a self-assured sense of entitlement as they obstructed traffic into and out of the parking lot outside of the building where I work. Even the young ones have learned already that cars will stop and wait for them to pass, despite the fact that a car could so easily mow them down (is it illegal to hit a goose?). Soon they too will be pooping all over the place and hissing at the weary post-lunch walker. But right now, they’re so ugly they’re cute (unlike their parents) so maybe they can still get away with their self-assured entitlement.

It’s kind of sad that they use a puddle in the parking lot (right in front of several spaces) to bathe… I don’t think it’s a bi-product of civilization. I think these little garbage pickers would bathe in any sess pool as long as it was wet… and if the waters were pristine before they came along, the water would soon be polluted.

Maybe we’re like geese–mucking things up where-ever we go and strutting around the planet with a sense of entitlement. Which is why we hate them so much.

Or maybe I just needed excuse to post picture of geese and their goslings.

Great Memorial Day Weekend

Michael, me (with cue sheets), Brad,
and Todd on ABC Memorial Day Ride

I forgot that I had a flag and therefore didn’t end up putting it up outside my house. However, I did enjoy thoroughly the fruits of the long weekend. We had the most perfect weather all weekend–sunny and in the 70s for the most part. So, naturally, I took to the bike each day. It turned out to be one of those weekends where I just felt so complete and happy at the end of it. Life is good.

Saturday morning, I made myself wake up early to hook up on the ABC 9am ride. One of our faster riders was leading a second ride to compliment the usual social ride (which I normally don’t do because it’s too slow). Plus, the ride leaders for both rides had rescheduled the start location to Country Maid, the very spot where I was leading the Adopt-a-Highway cleanup activity later that day at noon. The thought was that anyone who wanted to ride, and then hook up with my clean up activity could easily do so. So I figured that I ought to get up early to ride too.

We did a nice 33 mile ride into Richfield and then Hinkley along ambling country roads with very low traffic. Some nice slow climbs, my favorite of which was Hinkley Hills Road (Route 606), which turned out especially nice since a section of the road was out and cars were detoured off the route. On bikes, detours usually mean very little if you can walk your bike around a bad section. The bad section in this case was right by the intersection onto which we would have entered the road, so we just walked our bikes around the missing slab of pavement, and then rode on. I’m so glad we did because the slight grade was very nice. I love slow climbers–that was what I did best in Colorado–because you can pace yourself and you don’t have to worry as much about keeping yourself going. Once you find that pace, you’re good. I don’t think I bottomed out on my gears any time on this ride. In fact, I’m starting to notice that I’m using my granny gear less and less in situations in which I would have done so in the past. It’s amazing how I’m finding my pace in the middle ring. Not that I would ever want to be without my granny. I still need it often and especially on steep climbs.

Anyway, Saturday was a beautiful morning for riding. It was warm the whole time and I was comfortable in my Keen sandals. After the ride, it warmed up really quickly, leaving us sweating and hot during the highway cleanup. I’m proud to say that we had a pretty good turn out of about 15 or so people–some people who hadn’t rode but had come up just to help! The Country Maid owner informed us that we were all to receive a free ice cream and drink after the cleanup, which I didn’t know about as I’m the new chair for this event, so it was a good deal all around. I had a pistachio ice cream in a regular cone and a Diet Coke, both of which hit the spot on that hot day. (Country Maid, for you out-of-towners, is a local ice cream shop and apple orchard. There were lots and lots of delicious homemade ice cream flavors there, it’s a local favorite place to get ice cream.)

Sunday my mom was coming over to help me plant some more flowers around my yard. So after church, I took a quick 21-mile ride before she arrived. This was just a quick route along the bike trail to Route 303 into the Peninsula. From there, I went to Truxell for an easy climb out of the valley where I did not let myself bottom out on gears (actually didn’t need to but I did use granny) and I sprinted (stood on my pedals) in my highest ring on the last two rolling hills at the end of the road in an attempt to strengthened my leg muscles. I was really surprised about my endurance. I mean, you do roll off of other small hills into those hills, but usually in the last few feet, I end up going to my middle ring. So instead of doing that, I just stood on my pedals in a low gear on my big ring, and pounded it out. Nice!!

Mike, Michael, me, and “Shirtless” John
donned in our ABC attire on Memorial Day Ride.

Monday was the annual ABC Memorial Day Ride, which I was attempting to lead again this year after last year’s crushing failure (long story, but let’s just say that I must have been insane to try again). Fortunately, this year, you couldn’t ask for better weather! It was a little chilly in the morning so instead of my Keens, I wore my new Sidis. The route was to be 57 miles, as tradition dictates, and, because it starts at Stow City Hall, I decided to ride to the ride since I only live 1.8 miles from there. (I just learned it was 1.8 miles.) So ultimately, I ended up with 62 miles (I only had to ride 3/4ths of a mile around my neighborhood to top off the mileage).

The ride was an enormous success, so I’m relieved. The only issues that occurred were 1) I forgot to make a sign-in sheet so no one was “signed in” and 2) I had printed 30 cue sheets and ran out. Fortunately, one of the women there had access to a photocopier in the police station so it turned out okay. I guess next time I will just print out 50 cue sheets. I honestly did not think more than 25 people would show. Stupid me, the weather was great, so of course the ride would be highly attended. Sadly, my counter part leading a 35 mile route at the Aurora High School (which we were to meet up with along the route) only had four riders. I’m thinking our little cycling group is becoming a bunch of long ride sort of people.

I was a little nervous about what everyone would think because I changed the traditional route on the return trip from Garrettsville. In the past, the route would leave Garrettsville via Route 82 and then take Route 82 back through Hiram, and up a hill lovingly referred to as The Wall. The thing is, that road is a little too busy these days and there are long unshaded stretches that offer no protection from the heat of the sun. Not to mention, there’s a long slog along Diagonal Road back into the Stow area. I just thought the route could use some tweaking. So I rerouted from Garrettsville along some quieter, shadier, more scenic roads–Freedom/Hankee to Asbury Road, Asbury to 303 for a few miles, then to Cooley and more backroads. I’m familiar with a lot of these roads and find them much more enjoyable (with the exception of the miles on 303).

The route turned out to be very rolling. I hadn’t realized how rolling Pioneer Trail is out to Hiram. Minus the horrible pot-holed condition of that road (which we’ve learned to expect out of Portage County), it was really sort of fun. Add to the first part of the route the part I added and it makes for one rolling ride. I had us head back to Stow via Lake Rockwell Road from Peck, which is pretty rolling too.

To be nice, I actually routed the ride along a mile stretch of the Franklin Connector–a bike path–from Judson Road to Spell. I called this segment the “leg relief” because it, like most of the bike paths around here, are pretty flat. Of course, to get back to Stow, there were still a few rollers on Call Road. All and all, I would not have called this ride an easy ride, despite the lack of The Wall. There was a lot of climbing of steep small rollers. A lot of downhill, too. But I will admit that my legs are fitfully sore this morning. Nothing bad, just that wonderful feeling of having done some work. I think my legs were quite strong for most of the day and again I was proud how often I stayed in my middle ring while climbing.

Interestingly, some people who knew the area suggested that next year I route part of the first part of the ride along Winchell Road. I have mentioned Winchell in the past as being one of my favorite roads because it’s pretty. My favorite part is when you go through the little “town” of Hiram Rapids. There’s a church there and it just looks so quaint. Winchell is less hilly than Pioneer Trail and slightly less potholed. I don’t know, I’ll have to consider it. Though, still, if I did reroute, that means we’d enter Hiram along Route 700 from the eastern side, which, really, has a fun short hill that I do like to climb (it’s kind of hard for a short hill–definitely need granny for that one). It’d add some mileage onto the route… but who doesn’t want to do an even 60 miles?

Well. I’ve got ideas. I know a lot of these roads now and there are so many possibilities. I was really pleased that everyone seemed amenable to the route change. I was afraid I’d get all sorts of flack because a lot of people in ABC have problems with change. I personally get bored if the same route is used year after year without any alteration. The best rides do do little modifications throughout the years. I think that’s why rides like XOBA and GOBA are so popular, because you can ride them every year and never get bored with the same old, same old route.

I guess I’m stuck leading the Memorial Day Ride for the next several years (or at least while I’m living in Stow) since no one else seems to want to do it. Well, I suppose I don’t mind after this year’s success. I’m getting my confidence back about riding leading. I just have to learn to shut out the hecklers and haters. My dad always says that you can’t please everyone so I figure I just need to listen to the majority. After this weekend, I realized a few things I need to correct for the future in both the Memorial Day Ride and the Adopt-a-Highway cleanup so hopefully the next time I do both, I’m better organized. I’m less detailed in my organizing which always bites me in the ass. But I do like taking leadership roles here and there. I guess I just feel that when I belong to an organization that I enjoy, I should assist where I can in order to keep all the great spirit going. If no one does anything, then there wouldn’t be a club like Akron Bicycle Club. So in that spirit, I’m attempting to contribute.

Goodbye to My Little Red Shoes

My first pair of clipless pedals led to the purchase of my first set of cycling shoes, which my ex-boyfriend used to describe as “cute.” In fact, when I first got them–and, okay for the rest of my time using these shoes–I used to think of that Elvis Castello song where the line goes, “The Devil wants to wear my red shoes.” They were my legacy, these Little Red Shoes, my identity as cyclist, if only to myself. Later, when I bought my road bike, it turned out that these Little Red Shoes just so happened to match the color scheme.

And, I swear, it was a complete coincidence. I was also looking longingly at a silver, blue, and yellow Trek before I ended up deciding that the Giant fit me better. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that my Little Red Shoes matched my bike until after I’d bought the bike and donned them for that first real ride. Cool, I thought. I match! Even though you’re not supposed to try to match because it looks amateurish. Cutesy. And we’re cyclists; we’re not supposed to be cute.

It was even more of a coincidence that my bike club ended up choosing red, black, and white for the color of its new jerseys. So on days when I was fully decked out in my club shorts, jersey, and Little Red Shoes, I totally matched my bike. In fact, Lou Vetter, one of our members, upon seeing me decked out in my matching gear, laughed and said, “Where you on the jersey committee or something?”

No, I wasn’t. But I’d like to think that the committee was inspired by the utter cuteness of my Little Red Shoes. How could they not?

Well, my poor Little Red Shoes have gotten worn down. The lining on the back of the heel support was falling, driving me crazy because I couldn’t push it back up. Then, lately, I noticed that the tread was getting lower than the cleat resulting in much unstable sliding around while walking around off-bike. So, sadly, I realized that it was time to say goodbye to my Little Red Shoes. *sigh* I really was attached to them.

They served me well at over 5,000 miles of riding. They took me from my meager beginning days as a hybrid rider to my crazy cycle-obsessed road riding days. They were part of my first experience with clipless pedals. I am so sad to see them go. Really, I am. There are many memories associated with the Little Red Shoes:

  • My first bike accident outside of Lyons, Colorado on US-36 which resulted in an ambulance ride to Longmont Hospital and stitches by my eyebrow where my sunglasses had pierced the skin during the fall. (I had hit a lip of pavement in the road and my tire got caught in it.)
  • Elephant Rock, a ride in Colorado, which was one day, 65-miles, along rolling terrain outside of Colorado Springs. It was the very first long ride I’d ever completed.
  • My second bike accident, one month after the first–the Dog Incident. Ambulance ride to Westminster Hospital. Had a beautiful concussion and lovely road rash on my face. The shoes were on my feet until I got home. That accident shook me up all right and put a kibosh on my days of zooming mindlessly down slanted grades. Thus began my cycling “nervous tick” when encountering dogs and downhills: I unclip one foot out of my pedals.
  • 75 long and mostly-climbing miles on the first day of the Colorado MS 150, and then 40 miles of the next day (didn’t complete).
  • Commutes to and from work, 20 miles each way, from Brimfield to Boulder.
  • My first century on the first day of the MS 150 in Toledo, Ohio in 2006. I just did it on a whim since I felt good at 20 miles into the ride and the weather looked great.
  • My first completion of both days of a two day ride–the MS 150 in Toledo. Again, 2006.
  • My first TOSRV last year. These shoes are definitely not waterproof, I was quick to learn.

And, lastly, the springs, summers, and falls of increasing madness that led me to this moment today when I’m 1,000 miles into the year in the early month of May. My how I’ve grown into a semi-mature cyclist with these shoes. I am not sure I have the heart to throw them away. But I do not want to become a hoarder… So out with the trash they must go. It will be a very painful moment. I’ve never before grown so attached to a pair of shoes. Seriously. This is just sad. It’s like getting rid of my first set of baby shoes. The Little Red Shoes launched the beginning of my cycling obsession in that I’d finally made the commitment to become a fully attached-to-my-pedals cyclist so as to make every stroke of the pedal count.

The Little Red Shoes symbolize a metamorphosis that only a few crazy cyclists take. I still remember clearly the day that I proclaimed as I stared in horror at the toe clips on my new hybrid’s pedals, “I will NEVER use those!” But I never took them off my pedals either. And the next thing I knew, I was daring to slide my toes into the clips for short stretches of road to see what all this clap-trap was about. Over the course of that first year with my hybrid, I began to realize that the toe clips positioned my foot in the right spot on the pedal and I learned that my positioning had always been off–you are not supposed to press the pedal with the center/arch of your foot but with the ball of your foot. I also noticed how having the pedal attached to my foot did, as claimed by other cyclists, help with my favorite activity–climbing. And the next thing I knew, I was designating my tax return money for a pair of clipless pedals. And the bike shop guy hooked me up with the Little Red Shoes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, I guess I didn’t do so bad with purchasing the new shoes. Century Cycles had these Sidis on sale so I got them. They not red but the standard black. At least they still generally match my bike. They do have a little red seal on the back. That’ll have to do, I suppose. I know I’d said before that I wanted to get a pair more like tennis shoes. It seems, however, that I’ve grown attached to having the velcro straps on top instead of laces and there was only one pair of laceless tennis shoe type cycling shoes. They were not on sale and they made my feet look huge. I have a weird thing about my feet looking huge.

I guess these Sidis will have to be my “grown up” cyclist cycling shoes. I wonder what experiences these Little Black Shoes will adorn my feet through. Hopefully only good ones. I think I am done with all that accident business. *knock on wood*

Foiled by Time Warner Cable Again

Folks, my internet connection has been down all frakking weekend… I have a service call on Wednesday to hopefully fix this, but my patience is running short with TWC. I have never had a strong and consistent connection at my house and it’s frustrating. Maybe time for a DSL line. Having no internet on a holiday weekend is unacceptable. I amhaving serious withdrawal and I have an entry I’m excited to post. Not to mention updating my miles counter which should be at 1047.53 as of yesterday… Ugh! The humanity!

Hope your Memorial Day weekend is going better than mine… 60+ mile ride scheduled for tomorrow!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless LGVX9900 device.

Movie review in haiku

Here is a haiku I wrote during a meeting yesterday while reflecting on my thoughts of the new Star Trek movie.

Alternate time line:
Hollywood’s licence to change
Sacred cannon lore.

I know I am one of the only people who was disappointed by this movie. Even my Star Trek fan buddies were taken by this new re-envisioning of the original Star Trek series. But I just had a problem with this whole premise that now creates an alternate reality in which a new version of the old crew can become another franchise. I smell marketing, marketing, marketing. More movies using our beloved old characters–younger versions of themselves in an alternate time line. Beh!

I don’t like change, though, so don’t take it from me. I guess the movie brought new fans into this much “cooler” version of Star Trek. Now it’s hype to be a Trekkie. Great. I’ve longed for that day when my love of Star Trek did not label me as a geeky fan girl. Some part of me, however, feels stingy and does not want to share my geeky love with non-geeks who are only wooed by special effects.

Why can’t Hollywood just let classics stay classics without nit-picking them to death? Why remake something that was already good, had a fan base, once? Are we running out of ideas? None of the remakes I’ve seen in the last several years have ever given me what the original did: Dawn of the Dead, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Time Machine (gacks, that was a true, sad failure). Leave the classics alone, I say. New CGI does not replace the more creative plots offered from the days when the special effects were minimal. Seems back then we focused more on plot substance. That’s what made the original series of Star Trek good–not the horribly costumed aliens, but the great plots. What the original series lacked in eye candy, it more than made up for in character-building and interesting ideas.

You don’t believe me? Well, you’re not trying hard enough to imagine. I have an active imagination and Star Trek sparked that in me with episodes such as:

Space Seed, the original appearance of Khan Noonian Singh, which explored the topic of genetics and the consequences of manufacturing “superior” beings.

Let This Be Your Last Battlefield, which explored racism with beings from a planet at war with each other–one race with black on the left side of its face and one with black on the right.

Journey to Babel, which explores the complex relationship between a father and a son, both Vulcan but both with very human problems of handling each other. (Also a great episode where my darling McCoy smugly gets the last word.)

The Mark of Gideon in which a war-torn world sends its people on both sides to death chambers determined by a lottery system run by a war computer. People no longer fight wars, but there are still casualities. Interesting idea for a modern age. And scary.

Sure there were cheesy episodes too (Spock’s Brain, Plato’s Stepchildren). You’ll have that with any series. No writer or team of writers is on the money every day. I just feel that they could have written a story using the existing cannon from the current time line without inserting this alternative timeline idea. They had me believing everything up until the point where the Nimoy Spock came into the picture. I know JJ Abrams thought he would please more fans by using this alternate timeline idea because he wouldn’t have to deal with the pressure of inconsistencies, but I think he did more to hurt the series by making a “new” cast and crew.

I kept expecting the movie to end with them somehow reversing time and putting us back into the “real” Star Trek universe. It would have been another cheesy plotline to fix the broken past, but I’d have accepted it more readily than this ending that leaves us with a destroyed Vulcan, a fatherless Kirk, and two Spocks talking to each other.

It just seems to me that as the technology for special effects and realistic visuals increases, the story telling, plot lines, and character dialog decreases. I think I’ll go back to reading books where I don’t need any fancy effects to feed my hunger for a good story.

Text/email posting and video recording

So I’ve set up my blogger account for email and text posting (both methods) in hopes that I can keep you all faithfully updated on rides likes the MS 150 or the epic XOBA. You may be happy to note that both methods limit the amount of text I can actually type (my phone only lets me enter so much even for the email application) so the entries would be relatively small. Perhaps I will have to take to relating my days in haiku. Forced to confine my thoughts, I may actually do a better job at reporting my journey. I may even be able to take pictures on my phone, and then post them on the blog. This seems like a whole exciting concept to me, this on-the-spot reporting method.

The only issue will be keeping my phone charged. I’m already planning on bringing a new camcorder (which I’ll be purchasing soon) on XOBA and that will also occasional charging. I’m going to have to make sure I set up camp by an electrical outlet in whatever gym floor I’m sleeping on. My phone needs to be charged, roughly, every three days. I don’t know how often the camcorder will require charging. Hopefully I can go a couple of days, unlike my current camcorder, which is ancient (still uses actual video tapes, though those mini-kind), pretty big and heavy by today’s standards, and the battery can’t hold a charge for longer than a couple hours anymore. After losing my battery life halfway through both days of TOSRV–which Michael and I were video recording–I decided it was time to move into the 21st century and get a digital camcorder.

In recording TOSRV both last year and this year, as well as Marietta River Rendezvous last year, and then later watching the videos has really inspired me towards recording more of my cycling excursions (and maybe next time I travel abroad, too). It’s kind of cool to look back on the movies we’ve made and capture the spirit of the moment. This year, Michael and I recorded each other receiving our registration packets as well as our certificates of completion for TOSRV, which was way cool to watch this weekend when we were recording the video to DVD. It almost made me want to do TOSRV again!

I still envision someday finding a way to rig up a helmet cam that I can turn on and off and film while riding. Wouldn’t it be way cool to watch–from my point of view–a climb up a difficult hill? Or certain scenic legs of a ride? I haven’t yet found a cam that small that I’m satisfied with as far as that goes. Ideally, I’d be able to toggle it on and off easily and I wouldn’t have to hold it. In theory, it wouldn’t be heavy so that it would weigh down my helmet. I’m not sure they’ve invented the technology I envision yet or, if they have, it’s not within the price range I’m looking at. So for now, I’ll just have to be satisfied with the handheld camcorder I’ve selected.

Love and a Voyage to Mars

Sometime during our marriage (I can’t recall at the moment what year it was), Mike had to spend a week in Chicago for a trade show. Since I’d never been to Chicago–and Mike, of course, had–he decided to take me there for a long weekend before the trade show began. I think it was early spring or late winter because I remember it was cloudy and rainy all weekend. But that’s no problem in a big metropolitan city like Chicago where there’s oodles of indoor activity to partake in. We went on a spree of sight-seeing and museums that remains a blur in my memory. All but one: a visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

We spent hours at this museum. There was so much to see, from rooms that replicated villages to a room that contained John Deere tractors to a hanger building that contained a full (small) commercial airplane that we could walk within. It was candy for me and Mike, two people who loved science and industry and all the marvels of mankind.

But nothing tops the show we saw at the Omnimax theatre. I don’t recall what it was called, but it was a “choose your own” adventure story in which all the participants in the theatre were given voting devices on their chairs. The story was about a mission to Mars and we, the audience, were the first colonists. At points in the movie, we were given three or four choices for how to next proceed and the movie would continue based on the collective vote of the audience. We learned about and voted on where on Mars to place the colony, the kinds of structures to build on our colony, the method for collecting water, and many other key decisions future astronauts would need to make. In the process, we learned the pros and cons of each choice. It was a fascinating experience.

It was the decision made at the end, though, that always stands out in my head. Five years have passed in the timeline of the movie and the Martian colony has been successful. Now, the narrator indicates, a ship is coming from Earth with new colonists to fill in the positions we–the current colonists–are currently filling. “You can go back to Earth with the ship. Or you can stay on Mars,” the movie told us. “However, the next Earth ship will not be back for five years. By then, you’ll have become so acclimated to Mars’ gravity and atmosphere, that you will not be able to ever return to Earth. Do you chose to stay on Mars with the new colony or return to Earth?”

This was the only vote in the story that was individual since some people would have to leave anyway to balance the colony out. It didn’t matter what you chose because the story was basically over, but it was supposed to be a fun exercise in imagination. What would you do in such a situation?

For a moment, I thought about hitting the button for Earth since I knew that while Mike was into outerspace and would probably enjoy a trip there if given the opportunity, I didn’t think he’d be inclined to stay. He was attached to Earth, as I well should be. But, yet, I couldn’t resist the urge in my head that told me I’d want to stay. Mars is so alien, so different. I can’t imagine that if I were a true colonist on Mars that I’d be so ready to leave it. I mean, I don’t really know how I would handle a situation such as this, but I couldn’t imagine I would so readily go back to Earth when this was the chance of a lifetime.

So I pushed the button representing my decision to stay on Mars. Everyone’s votes for this decision were being projected on the huge Omnimax screen over the position in which the people were sitting. Mars was represented by a red “M” and Earth with a blue “E.” I affirmed that my vote showed a red M and I prepared myself to look to the seat next to mine to see Mike’s vote. I was sure it was going to be a blue E. I was prepared to playfully chide him for leaving me behind.

As my eyes moved from my vote to the seat next to me, I was absolutely surprised to see a red M in Mike’s position. I turned to him, shocked.

“You decided to stay!?” I exclaimed.

Mike shrugged with one of his sly smiles. “Well,” he said. “I figured you were going to stay and I didn’t want to be on Earth without you.”

I know it’s silly, but that moment always stands out in my mind as one of the moments in our marriage that really defined the relationship we had. He got me. He understood me. He was willing to play along. I felt an overwhelming love for him at that moment. His gestures of love for me were never grand; they were subtly sweet, yet they touched my heart in ways something more abrupt never could. Maybe it was because he knew me so well that he didn’t need to over-aim. Like a true marksman, he knew exactly where to send his arrows to get his intentions across.

Now, it may seem like I’m the domineering one in this relationship with him because I’m forcing him to my will. The thing is, that decision was a freewill moment. He could have chosen to go back to Earth even knowing that I would chose to stay on Mars. I could have chosen to go to Earth knowing that he would want to go. But it didn’t go that way. Without even trying, we were in sync with each other. The truth of the matter is that if this were a real situation, a real choice, I would have discussed it with Mike and I most certainly would not have stayed somewhere where he was not going to be or didn’t want to be. What I didn’t express in my voting is that I would have given up Mars for him, had he truly not wanted to stay, just as he would have given up Earth to stay on Mars with me. It was a moment of mutual understanding. And impish fun.

I guess that particular memory just reminds me of how much we understood each other. We didn’t end up voting completely different. When I pushed the button to select Mars, some part of me thought that there was a chance that Mike’s sense of adventure would win out, that he’d also want to stay on Mars just to see what would happen. I know it wasn’t a real choice, that this whole scenario was completely fiction, but it represented something deeper to me. I wonder if it did to him too.

The wind is not my friend: TOSRV 2009

I know it’s a great source of natural energy and, as a liberal, it is my duty to praise it for its promise of green energy. I’ve even contemplated buying wind energy as part of my electric mix. However, I wish the wind would blow in lands I’m not destined to pedal amongst. Like Siberia. Or Antartica. Contrary to certain proclamation I made in college, the wind is NOT my friend. We have parted ways. I no longer have any desire to show my love for the wind.

Yeah. Well, at least it didn’t rain. There’s always that. Saturday’s clouds threatened to deluge us with rain, but nothing ever happened, thankfully. You know why it didn’t rain? I brough a rain coat, that’s why. Though, maybe I would have traded some wind for a windless rain.

I’ve now experienced a windy TOSRV (this year) and a rainy TOSRV (last year). I guess I can claim my TOSRV balls now. I’ve now ridden 420 miles in less than desirable conditions. Yay.

Really, it wasn’t all as bad as it sounds. I still managed to have a fun time. Unfortunately, I was forced to draft, which I hate doing, to survive the wall of wind on Saturday–25-30mph SSW winds that were pretty relentless all the way to Portsmouth. We got some relief for a period of time after Chillicothe to the infamous School House hill where, once we reached the top, we were again attacked by wind gusts all the way to Waverly/Lake White (the last stop before Portsmouth). Fortunately, the downhill trending ride to Portsmouth was mostly protected by the Scioto River valley, except in a few exposed areas. Thank goodness for this or we would have really suffered long.

The sun also broke through the last leg of our Saturday journey and really made the trek into Portsmouth, as well as the party at Tracy Park, very welcoming. We relaxed for about an hour at Tracy Park, talking with fellow ABCers, and enjoyed a beer and a hot dog. I met one of the people who has commented on my blog–bAD dOG–who, I learned, is a member of the famous partying group known as the Polka Dots. He handed me a Bud Lite–free beer makes you an instant friend of mine–and told me to buy the Surly I’ve been drooling over. Don’t tell the guys at CC, but the best way to get me to buy anything is ply me with a few beers. My judicious frugality goes out the window when I’m intoxicated. This has resulted in a few late night purchases via the internet. Dangerous!

Fortunately, Michael and I–unlike many of our fellow riders–had a coveted room at the Ramada Inn. So we did not have to sleep on the gym floor. Unfortunately, we weren’t aware that the co-ed gym we signed up for as our back up plan was located at the Life Center at the top of a steep hill which we had to climb to get to our luggage. Which was no fun to climb after a beer and an hour of rest. Further unfortunately, I stupidly put my clothes in a gym bag instead of a back pack. So had to loop the handles around my shoulders (fortunately it fit) to make it a backpack. The ride from the Life Center to the Ramada was unbalanced, making me nervous. I chastised myself for my stupidity the whole way.

Once checked in, our first activity was a visit to the hot tub located by the pool. Aaaahhh… refreshing to painfully sore muscles. We met a few other riders in the tub, one woman whom Michael had met last year in the hot tub while I simpered in the hotel room because I’d forgotten my swim suit. We chatted about the ride, traded stories, and reveled in the fact that we had hotel rooms instead of sleeping on the gym floor with the rest of the suckas. Ironically, the name of the woman at the Ramada who is in charge of finding rooms for TOSRV riders is named Angel. We all generally agreed that she was our personal angel of mercy.

After the hot tub, we showered and headed for dinner at Damon’s, which is mercifully attached to the hotel. I know there are lots of all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinners for just $10 to enjoy at the local churches in town, but it’s so much easier to just go to the restaurant attached to the hotel. And I wasn’t too interested in spaghetti being that we’d had Italian on Friday night at an Olive Garden in Columbus. My goal was not to gain weight on this ride. Instead, at Damon’s, I enjoyed a salmon skillet and, of course, a glass of wine–Pinot Grigio since I was in the mood for cold drinks. I also downed an entire glass of water in about five minutes.

Just like last year, I pretty much crashed halfway through dinner and could barely finish my glass of wine. We went back up to the hotel room where I conked out within a half hour of brushing my teeth. The last time I remember is 9:30. I had the dreamless sleep of the dead and woke up at what seemed like just a moment later at 5:30am. So much for a Saturday night, eh?

The second day is always harder than the first. It’s hard to motivate yourself to get up and ride another 100+ miles, especially when you’re aware of the fact that the damned winds changed direction–of course, north, the direction in which we were headed (God has a sick sense of humor). It was a chilly morning of about 47 degrees so I had to don the arm warmers and tights. I was also glad I’d brought a fleece jacket even though I knew it would be a pain to crunch up and stuff in my rack pack (fleece does not compact well).

We cheated by dropping our luggage off at the Portsmouth High School instead of dragging it back up the hill to the Life Center, figuring all the luggage was going to the same place (the Hilton in Columbus). Then, we set off into the foggy morning around 7am.

I immediately felt strong climbing back out of Portsmouth. Again, we were shielded mostly from any wind in this valley and perhaps, also, the wind hadn’t really started for the day. We were flying along the first 30 miles to Waverly/Lake White and I felt pretty good. By Waverly, I was able to remove my jacket. I left the arm warmers on all the way to Circleville where my freeze-baby nature finally warmed enough despite the chilly air.

Waverly to Chillicothe was windy. The weather claimed the wind speed was 5-10mph. Michael and I believe it was more like 10-15mph. It was pretty tough and we didn’t seem to have much protection from it during any stretch of this leg. It seemed like there was a lot of uphill climbing in the wind.

Nothing was as bad, however, as the stretch of State Route 104 between Chillicothe and Circleville. This is a pretty exposed area and probably the most trafficked segment of TOSRV. It was rough and my legs were starting to really feel the strain of the ride. Michael had to pull me mostly on this leg, which I guess makes up for me pulling the last several miles into Waverly earlier, but I still felt guilty like I was somehow cheating. Somewhere along this stretch I started wishing I were done. Which made the rest of the ride a bit torturous. But then, pushing myself through this kind of thing is why I like the challenge of riding. So I guess I really can’t complain too much. If it were easy, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. If that makes any sense. (I think that’s why I love hills.)

Of course, nothing is as bad as the last 30 miles back to Columbus from Circleville. I started checking my mileage about every five minutes, which was totally demoralizing. I know I’m tired of riding when my eyes keep drifting downwards to the computer. It seemed like getting from 62 miles–when I first started checking–to 90 took forever. At 95 miles, we rested at small pit stop along one of the last country roads. It sucked to know that we really had about 10 miles left. The second day, as I said, is always the worst.

During the last few miles into Columbus, I had one near accident on a side street where a bunch of kids were playing basketball. Yes, in the street. Of course, since I was merely an nonthreatening bicyclist, they continued playing (which they wouldn’t do in front of a car, most likely), and, of course, the ball bounced out of control, across the street, missing Michael who was ahead of me, but crossing directly into my path. Had I not been the nervous cyclist I am–always prepared for disaster in my post-traumatic stress from the infamous Dog Incident–I might have hit the ball, or one of the kids who came running after it, or both, and gone down. I’ve really improved my reflexes for, in one fluid movement, I unclipped my left (favored) foot from the pedal and pulled the brakes hard to stop right in front of the kid who grabbed my handlebars. We were that close.

“Sorry, sorry, my brother is stupid,” the kid sneered, half-sincerely. I wanted to slap his little snotty face around. I said nothing to him, didn’t even grunt, looked straight ahead and pushed on. I felt like crying for a moment because at about 100 miles, I was in no mood for near-accidents or stupid kids with no respect for the cyclists that were surely going down their street pretty regularly. I wonder if any other cyclists had to make a quick dismount due to this particular obstacle. I swear, I’m never reproducing and this is just further proof of why I shouldn’t.

Anyway, I cooled down when we turned down the next street and found ourselves facing the tall buildings of downtown Columbus looming ahead. Almost to the Promised Land, nothing could bring me down now. Not even the idiot cyclists who decided to run the last several red lights. Evolution will weed them out eventually, I figure. I tried not to think anymore about how their blatant defiance of traffic laws reflect badly on all of us (I saw lots of entitled abuse of traffic laws throughout the ride, so at this point nothing was surprising me anymore).

When Michael and I rolled past the corner near the statehouse, we congratulated ourselves for another successful TOSRV. It was a proud moment for me to complete my second TOSRV; this was Michael’s sixth successful completion as well. But I think both of us were just happy to get off our bikes. Michael bragged he could still have ridden 20 miles. I admitted that I could if I had to. But I had no such desire. In fact, I decided, I was done with my bike for at least a couple of days. (Although, I think I am ready to ride again tonight.)

I took yesterday off work and did absolutely nothing. Well, not nothing. Michael and I went out to see the new Star Trek. I won’t even go there. I’m a bit disgruntled about the movie, though I did find the new Dr. McCoy very scrumptious. The guy playing him was pretty dead-on with his impersonation of DeForest Kelley’s McCoy so I loved him all the more. However, the plot… eh. Maybe I’ll bitch about it in a later entry. It’s hardly worth it though. I vented on Facebook and I think I’m done. Just as I’m done with bitching about TOSRV’s wind. I still completed it so I must be unstoppable. Or stupid.

No, no, don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun. I’ll probably do the ride again next year. There’s an excitement on this ride, a feeling of tradition, that you just help but throw yourself into. And, anyway, when registration opens in January and I haven’t ridden in months, TOSRV sounds exceptionally fun, despite whatever weather you think you’re going to encounter. It is a fun ride. The volunteers are top-notch and cheery. It’s a well run ride. Sometimes the smile or the wave of a volunteer is enough to pull you through the next several miles.

I think, though, after riding 100 miles on Saturday and realizing how much it knocks me out, I won’t be taking the 100 mile option on any of the days it’s offered on XOBA. I’ll never make it through the week if I do…

The little things bring joy

A renovation that’s been a long time coming (for various confusing reasons) has been the replacement of my front door. I’ve hated the front door that came with my house pretty much from the moment I moved in. It was entirely glass in the middle, requiring ugly curtains for privacy. I think curtains look tacky on a door. The two side panels along each side of the door were also glass with equally as ugly (tacky) curtains which I happened to remove while painting over a year ago and never put them back.

Needless to say, I really had no privacy when going down the stairs to my basement (where, of course, the laundry room is) so if there was something I wanted to wear that was in the dryer (because I had not yet put it away), I always had to ensure I was decently dressed just to run downstairs and snatch it. No more! I can now run naked through my house without fear! (How do you like that image? Ha ha!) Everyone should run naked through their house every now and then. Why else have your own house? It’s one of our Constitutional rights, passed to us by the founding fathers. Look it up.

So here’s a picture of the whole set-up in my entry way (or is it “foyer”?).

I’m so pleased with the design of the windows (thanks, Dad, for pointing it out in the catalog). A lot of the windows in the catalog had these flowery designs that, to me, looked like “old people.” Or a church. I wanted something hot and modern to match the general style of my house. This angular pattern is perfect!

No curtains required! Just nice glass with a pattern that you can’t see through. Here’s a shot of the half-moon pane on the door.

Here’s a shot of the outside front of the house with the new door. Now I just have to get rid of the fugly blue siding. The door will look great with the beige colored siding I dream of having installed–perhaps this summer. I think the beautiful new door also points out how dirty and dinged my siding is too. And how wretchedly decrepit my porch is. Funny how one new renovation leads to other renovations…

I still have to buy a storm door. My old one was kind of beat up so my dad didn’t bother putting it back up.

We (and by we, I actually mean me and my mom–yeah, I had to do some work on this one) are currently fixing up my lawn so that it looks like a normal lawn and my neighbors don’t have me kicked out of their emaculate middle class neighborhood. I’ve had to pay to have a lawn service do a weeding and fertilizing treatment on it and my mom aerated it last Sunday. So hopefully I will have a nice green healthy lawn soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve yet to chose colors for my basement rec room and bathroom. My dad recently rehung dry wall to the bathroom because the people before had painted directly on the dry wall, which left the paint all flaky and cracked. He’s still working on laying down the tile. It’s so great having a father who’s a contractor!! (He’s a floor coverer by trade so I get all my materials at cost. Though I do have to pay him in praise and beer and tickets to Indians games…)

My dad has put so much work into helping me renovate this house that he will kill me if I ever leave it. Therefore, I think I am here for the long haul. Which suits me fine because due to all the work I’ve done in selecting new materials and changing everything, I’m kind of falling in love with the house. I’m making it the way I want it. I’ve never gotten to do that before. It’s kind of satisfying. The house has been mine to mold. Now it’s all me.

I can still dream of buying a second home in Colorado, though. The plan to live there November through June still jumps into my thoughts from time to time. “All” I need is the money and a job that would allow me to telecommute half the year. Ah… if I were a “real” writer, that might be possible. But, anyway, I don’t think anything’s impossible. If I save my pennies, I quite possibly could get what I want. I am liking Ohio a lot better than I used to, appreciating it for what it is and understanding that I do have an attachment to the place because I grew up here. But my heart is in both places so it would be nice to have my cake and eat it too. The months I would pick to live in Colorado are crappy in Ohio but blissfully sunny in Colorado (ski! ski! ski!).

Don’t laugh. It’s not impossible!

Ohio Counties

For those of you out-of-staters who may be continuously confused about the counties I mention in my posts, I’ve uploaded this useful Ohio county map so that you can keep up. I placed an astricks on my home county of Summit. Some other counties of interest I’ve listed below (in no particular order):

  • Medina – The county in which I grew up. Yeeehaw! Also home of the Medina County Bicycle Club who hosts the Ice Cream Oddyssey in July.
  • Cuyahoga – Not to be confused with the Cuyahoga Valley I’m always riding in (Cuyahoga Valley is in Summit County), Cuyahoga County is the county in which Cleveland is located.
  • Lake – Wine country, my favorite. Okay, there’s other wine areas of Ohio, but I personally think that the ones in Lake and the neighboring Ashtabula are the best of Ohio.
  • Holmes – The rolling county in which Akron Bicycle Club’s Roscoe Ramble is held.
  • Wayne – A favored alternative to riding in the Cuyahoga Valley. Home of another challenging river valley called Overton.
  • Scioto – The county in which Portsmouth–TOSRV’s ending location–is located. (TOSRV = Tour of the Scioto River Valley)
  • Lawrence – The backwards county in which I was assigned to put up the probate and juvenile court when I worked for a computer software company 1998-2000. I spent more time than I ever wanted to in this place that 1950 forgot.
  • Portage – Farm country with potholed roads and angry, impatient redneck drivers. Oops. If you live in Portage County, I apologize. But you know it’s true.
  • Franklin – Home of Columbus, our state capital, and the city recently recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bike friendly city! I’d move down there, since it seems to be the hip spot for Hiram College alumni to reside, but I think it’s too flat for cycling. Capitol Square in downtown Columbus is the starting point for TOSRV.
  • Darke – Home to the town of Greenville where Annie Oakley was born. I did the Annie Oakley ride here last summer.

Yup. That’s my home state of Ohio. Not really a bad place for cycling. Just don’t visit in the winter.