"I Should Buy" Poll Results

I think there has been some electronic tampering going on here. Did Diebold design this poll gadget?

First off, I don’t think more than 10 people read my blog. Seriously. If I had an audience of 50 or more people, surely I would have been discovered by some great publisher by now who would have scooped me up and paid me to write my memoir or novel, like has happened recently–or so I heard on NPR’s books podcast–to some young bloggers.

(Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? My blog is too varied in topic and my writing too wandering to ever be considered publishable or interesting by anyone other than my own friends.)

Secondly, I’d like to know who the one–for I’m sure it’s only one–motorcycle-advocate is who has certainly gone to this site via multiple computers to vote such a huge margin for a motorcycle?

So I don’t think this poll is valid.

Not that I don’t appreciate the help in deciding what toy I should buy for myself. Logically, I should buy a motorcycle because it’s more fuel efficient than a car and it offers a lot of the same freedoms and fun that cycling does without all the work. I did enjoy riding a motorcycle in the classes I took in June and I’m happy that I’ve fulfilled my lifelong dream of getting a license.

However, I got to thinking the other day… I’m a pretty fearful cyclist. I’m constantly worried about and anticipating every emergency or situation that could occur as I’m riding. I’m totally and fully aware of my surroundings. Which makes for a great motorcyclist. But a really obvious thought occurred to me as I was soaring down Hines Hill on my OCR during my commute to work on Tuesday:

The chances of me crashing on a motorcycle and a bicycle are about the same. The chances of me surviving said crash is higher on a bicycle.

Most crashes on a bicycle result in a shaken up rider at the least and a trip to the hospital with a concussion, maybe a few broken ribs or other bones, at the most. Okay, sometimes a motorist hits and kills a cyclist. Maybe about as often as a motorist hits and kills a motorcyclist. But dying from a crash on a bicycle is much less likely.

With this week marking the 10 year anniversary of my (doomed) marriage, I remembered something about Mike’s past. His ex-girlfriend from college–whom he was very sure at one point in his life he was going to marry, but obviously never did–lost her brother to a motorcycle crash. I remember him talking about how his girlfriend changed after that accident, how she went through a period of depression that ultimately did end up destroying their relationship. It’s not really the relationship part of this story that I remember most, but Mike’s sadness about the end of this man’s life and how it affected the other people in his life. I have a feeling–but I’m not 100% sure–that Mike would probably have not ridden a motorcycle. And he probably wouldn’t have wanted me to (though he knew he could never stop me from doing something once I had my mind set).

Not that that matters significantly. I mean, we’re also talking about a man who encouraged me to jump out of an airplane with him–multiple times, I might add–so there’s no accounting for sanity here. Maybe he would have ridden a motorcycle with me, maybe he wouldn’t have. It doesn’t matter now, he’s no longer here and this is my life. But that memory serves as a little caution light, winking in the back of my mind, as if it were Mike himself saying, “Be careful, Fritzy. Be aware of the risks.”

I guess just a part of me thinks that if I take to motorcycling, it’s only a matter of time before something happens to me since the statistics seem so high. It seems to me that death on a motorcycle has about the same odds as death from cigarette smoking. And I feel like I’m willfully taking that risk by deciding to ride. I have that same nagging voice in my head about it that I did whenever I lit a cigarette. As a smoker, I never really enjoyed any cigarette because I thought about how each puff might be moving me a step closer to cancer. I feel like I’d feel the same way on a motorcycle each time I’d turn the key in the ignition: Is this the last trip I take? Will I survive this ride?

I don’t have a death wish. And I’m no longer an adrenaline junkie. I’m just trying to live life to the fullest and to experience everything there is for me to experience. I could do it on a motorcycle, for it offers the freedoms that cycling gives me and at faster speeds. I could do it only bicycle which also offers the side benefit of exercise.

Suffice it to say, I’m still undecided about how to spend my money. If I buy one thing now, I may potentially buy the other later on–like next year or something. No doors are closed. I’m just not sure that at this moment it’s the motorcycle calling out to me.

I think of how during the class, I totally went off the track I was supposed to take because I looked up at the instructor instead of the road ahead. The motorcycle, of course, very quickly went in the direction I was looking and I had to brake hard to avoid running into the instructor. That’s when I realized how much of a powerful machine a motorcycle is. If I’m fully aware on my bicycle, I have to be 100x more aware on a motorcycle. Can I do that?

I’m a crappy driver. Just look at my car full of dings and scratches and my dented back bumper. I’m not sure I have the responsibility to ride a motorcycle. On a bicycle, my crappy driving style is more forgiving.

Well, either way, this matter can’t be decided by a simple poll, no matter what I said. I guess, though, it was interesting to learn that my audience thinks I need to get a life other than that of pedaling all around Ohio sans motor…

I’m sure I’ll keep you posted as to what I’ve decided to do. Maybe I’ll just continue being a tight-wad. I could lose my job tomorrow and then I’d kick myself for spending the money. You never know.

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It’s all in your hands

I’m about to spend money. Yes, I’m trying to fill the hole in my heart, the gulp in my throat, left from a tumultuous week as well as the would-be 10 year anniversary of my wedding. Forget that it’s slightly dysfunctional that I chose to buy large ticket items when I’m depressed. I never spend outside my means; I’ve always got the money for these things. But being in a funk releases the gate of frugality which prevents from spending money on even the things I want dearly. Under normal circumstances, you can only imagine how long it takes for me to buy anything over $100. Money in the bank is better than actually using it for something I need/want. Blame it on my mom for making me such a tight-wad.

Anyway, the fate of what I purchase is in your hands. Thanks to modern technology, I have the means to put up a poll to millions–okay, maybe twenty or so–of you, who might not even know me but through my disjointed laments and incongruent thoughts on this blog, so that you can decide for me the item I will splurge on since I can’t make up my own mind. You can be the deal-breaker. Isn’t democracy wonderful?

So what will it be? A motorcycle for the newly licensed motorcycle operator? Or man-powered bike number 4–an all-season cyclocross–in my garage? (Well, realistically, I will guilt myself into getting rid of one of the other bikes. Probably The Beast–can you hear her crying?)

Right now the poll is tied. I need more votes! So chime in and let me know what you think. Post thoughts and commentary below if you feel the need to justify your vote.

Cyclist Haters?

Okay. Looking at the poll results, I notice that the current leading answer is “Get off the damn roads, cyclists.” And I have to ask: Um. Why are you reading my blog if you’re a cyclist hater? Is it not stated clearly in the mission statement of my blog that this blog is largely about cycling and how said cycling relates to my recovery as a widow? In case you forgot, I’ve reprinted the statement below (which also remains banked on the info bar on the right side of the blog):

The intent of this blog is to outline my cycling and traveling adventures. My love of cycling has sustained me through some rough times in my life. I want to share my love with my friends, family, and anyone else interested. This is my story. This is how I learned to find a healthy way to deal with loss and depression. The high you get from exercise is legal and free. The endorphins it produces are better than any that can be given to you in a prescribed drug. It’s my drug of choice.

So… Um… Doesn’t seem to be much question here about what my blog discusses. If you hate cyclists, does it not follow that you would then not really be that interested in reading this blog? Now, being the type of person who assumes the best in all people, I have to think you’re selecting that answer just to irritate me and inspire a rant. If so, okay, cool. I realize I take myself seriously–sometimes too seriously. I get it; you like to piss off the blogger. I have been known to be a ravel-rouser myself online (as my Highpointer friends well know).

However, if you aren’t joking and you really harbor unabashed hate for cyclists, I don’t understand at all why you are reading this blog. Do you do it to aggravate yourself, the way I read fundamentalist gay-hating blogs and propaganda so that I can get fired up and battle-ready? (I only do this every once in awhile… and I’ve been good about not flaming these people on their own blogs.) Why are you here? I’m curious. Explain yourself.

Just so you know, I just have no patience for haters of any kind (don’t have much patience for even myself when I’m in a hater mode). I would also suggest that perhaps you need to buy yourself a bicycle or take up running or other exercise you find less offensive because it’s obvious that you’re spending a bit too much time at home on the computer without exercise. If you exercised, your endorphins would be flowing and you’d be so high on the energy that you just wouldn’t even have the capacity to hate anyone… or be in such a general hurry in your life that the thirty seconds it takes to maneuver around “slow” moving vehicle such as a bicycle peculates such venomous hate within you.

I would also ask you to revisit my TPL blog entries which explain in detail the reason I enjoy long challenging rides and how healthy these activities are for me (and could be for you too!). I’m sorry, but there just ain’t enough bike paths out there to please me. I ride 3-4 times a week and would get very bored if I confined myself to bike paths. Most bike paths are also generally flat and I’d never have the opportunity to burn the big calories trying to get my butt up some steep grade hill.

Frankly, I don’t care less if you hate cyclists. I’m not getting off the road. So there :P But feel free to express why you have selected such a hateful way of responding to my poll. Just keep in mind that if you’re too nasty, I reserve the right to delete your comments. I’m not about hate here. It’s all about love. I don’t have time to deal with your personal psychological issues. As my favorite bicycle shop says, “Define your life. Ride a Bike.”

Easter Poll Results

Here are the results of my Easter poll:

Easter – Celebrate it?

Yes, I’m Christian and it’s very significant to me. 9 (33%)
Yes, but it’s not so significant to me. 8 (29%)
Passover for me. 2 (7%)
I’m preparing for Beltane. 1 (3%)
No. I’m agnostic/atheist/non-religious. Just another day. 3 (11%)
All holidays suck. 4 (14%)

I find it fascinating that the majority of people reading my blog were Christian or celebrated Easter but didn’t find a close Christian identity in the holiday. Which seems close to the recent poll I read about religion losing its stronghold on people. Even though most of the people who answered my poll claimed to be Christian, almost as many claimed to celebrate Easter in a more secular manner. Hmmm… very interesting. And if I were a scientific type I might even have something more interesting to say on these statistics.

I was curiously happy to see a few people claiming to be Jewish answered my poll (unless some people simply do not know that Passover is a Jewish holiday). My church has done several services about Judaism and I must admit I’ve found the religion fascinating. Being in the middle of Ohio, and lot living much on the east side of Cleveland, I don’t come across a whole lot of Jewish people. Which kind of disappoints me in a way because I feel a kinship to the religion since the religion (Christian/Catholic) in which I was raised was so closely tied to Judaism. I don’t really even understand how the Jewish faith thinks of God. I am only recently starting to understand what the Jewish holidays are all about. Anyway, if you’re Jewish and reading my blog (and able to tolerate my pseudo-new-agey faith), welcome! I’m UU–everything goes with me. I hope I provide a welcoming atmosphere.

One pagan — not surprising! I also spent some time hanging out with practicing pagans, ones who followed the Druidic path to be exact, and it was the first religion I allowed myself to explore upon my husband’s death. I think I found the meditational aspects of the religious rites very comforting. At the time when I was religiously exploring, I was uncomfortable with the whole idea of religion because I’d been so hurt by it in the past. I’d spent most of my life as an atheist so I felt completely ridiculous trying to attend anything religious. But I needed it at that time in my life, I was drifting. It didn’t turn out, though, that I identified as a pagan — I had enough trouble believing in one god, let alone a pantheon of them. Still, my time with the pagans ultimately led me to find my true faith in UUism; a pagan friend directed me to look up the UUs as I’d never heard of them before. I think I’m more comfortable in UUism because it’s just close enough to the familiarity of the kind of religious practice that I grew up with. Plus, on any given day I can believe in God or not and it’s all okay with my fellow parishioners.

Three atheists/agnostics/non-religious people. Not surprising. That was me several years ago, in the years before Mike died. No shame in admitting to not knowing or not believing at all. If you can find solace in that through the rough times, good for you. I’m weak and seek the community of others. I have found I need a faith in something or else I’m sunk. I want to believe. But that’s just me. Atheists, agnostics, and those of the non-religious ilk are more than welcome here and I’m sure since I don’t ascribe all the losses in my life as part of my greater spiritual journey, you’re probably totally comfortable here.

As for you scrooges who answered that all holidays suck, I hope you’re just joshing me… You might need to consider taking some depression medication or something. Life is beautiful somewhere amidst all the misery. Holidays bring us together on some level. Of course, maybe hating the holidays keeps you skinnier. I’m starting to see holidays as another place to eat food I don’t need to be eating…

Regardless, I hope everyone had a good Easter. Even the scrooges. In NE Ohio, it was sunny. Even though it was chilly, you can appreciate that.

Blog plastic surgery

Please excuse me, folks, as I play vigorously with the appearance of my blog. I had the most ingenious idea this morning about my title and description picture and I just had to put it into action (having some time on my hands). I know I can’t please everyone so I don’t know why I bothered with the poll. But now I think I got it the way I like it so I don’t care how you vote. :P Still, feel free to and your opinion will be duly noted. Although, far as this blog goes, in the words of our bumbling ex-president: I’m the decider. Get your own blog if you don’t like it. ;) Word to your mutha.

Vacation quandaries

Having returned from my vacation in Colorado, I find that my mind is focused on the upcoming year and what vacations I might take as I now, with this new job, have three weeks for such adventures. I already decided that I am going to take a week long ski trip sometime this winter, either to Colorado (Vail/Breckenridge/etc.) or Utah. I’ve never been to Utah and I’ve heard it’s actually the best place in the US–if not the whole world–for skiing. Yes, even better than Colorado. So I’ve decided that a week of skiing is something I’ve never done and something I should do now that I’m stuck in the east where skiing is most often disappointing.

But my summer is as of yet undetermined. With my travel buddy, Holly, currently indisposed due to a game of chicken with a wall on her motorcycle (tee-hee–sorry, Holly), I think I am staying in the US this year. Of course, one of the trips I’d like to do is some sort of bicycle escapade. I’m pondering the following three options:

  • Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic (STP). This takes place over a weekend in July next year–two days, ~200 miles (with the option to do it in one day, no thanks!). Sarah keeps trying to get me out there for this ride. Though it’s only a weekend, since I’m out there, I would probably make it a week to visit Portland and/or Seattle on either end of the ride, both cities I have enjoyed in the past. The only “con” for this ride is that I would somehow have to package my bike for the plan (or send it through the mail) as I would not be comfortable renting a road bike for this kind of thing. I’m not sure how much this would cost to do.
  • Bike Virginia. This is a ride one of the guys in my bike club has talked about getting other members to do as a group next year. It’s supposed to be six days through Virginia. It could be very pretty. The camaraderie of going with the club would be nice. I’ve not cycled in a different state yet.
  • Across Ohio Bicycle Adventure (XOBA). This ride is also a week long and it goes all the way across the state, either north-south or east-west (and vise versa). I’m not sure which direction it is going next year, but my guess is that it will go east-west or west-east since it went south-north this year. I’m more inclined to do it if it’s going in a north-south or south-north route because that would be more challenging and the landscape in each area more diverse. However, I do know that the theme next year is “ice cream.” (They have a different theme every year. This year it was the Underground Railroad with stops at historical sites of the Underground Railroad in Ohio.)

I know some of you probably think that I need to go on a vacation that involves relaxing. This is relaxing to me! I have gone to the Virgin Islands before. I do know how to lie on a beach and drink margaritas. Though, when I was in the VIs, I ended up spending most of my time snorkeling like a mad-woman. I don’t know how to do something that doesn’t involve some form of endurance or exercise activity. I can read a book at home in the winter… vacation is for lots of activity!

I’ve tried to explain to people how my trips through Germany and Italy on bike have been relaxing. No better way to see a country, actually. For the most part, these were pretty casual rides of 30-40 miles slowly ambling through countryside with stops at tourist destinations. I have every mile of the countries I saw mapped in my head as a beautiful mental picture. I don’t think I would have gotten that by car.

To add to the mix, I’m still trying to persuade my uncle Mart to take the time to climb Mt. Whitney–California’s highest point–with me. Maybe we won’t be able to get to it in 2009. He told me he has limited vacation time right now and pointed out the fact that two of my cousins are getting married next year in different states, all of which will involve air travel for him. Maybe we’ll get there in 2010? It’s important to me that I do this highpoint with him because he is the one who got me into backpacking and outdoor adventures all those years ago when I was but a small little Mars Girl (called “bird legs” by my dad), visiting California all the way from Ohio…

Anyway, I put a poll up to see what you think of which major ride I should do next year. Not that I’ll follow the majority ruling. Just looking for some opinions. If you have any other ideas of things I might enjoy that might further add to the confusion of my choice, be sure to include them in a comment below. Or explain why you selected your particular polling option.

And, yes, I know, I will get to the details of my Colorado vacation in the upcoming days… I just need more time to mull them over as usual…