Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Feast Your Eyes.

New Frame. Beautifully painted!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Patience - have you seen it? I seem to have lost mine.

Cycling can be frustrating. But even worse, the inability to ride. Saturday I wasn't able to make the club ride due to some banking issues I had to take care of. My bank is open from 10-2 on Saturdays, so I wasn't sure I'd make it there if I went on the ride and had time for lunch (a very important part of the Saturday ride ritual). The fact that some jackass decided to counterfeit my debit card and charge up all kinds of crap all over San Francisco necessitated my fun trip to the bank. The charges have been disputed and are being investigated, and the debit card has been cancelled & a new one issued, but that doesn't make the feeling of being violated go away.

But I digress. Missing the Saturday ride sucks. Fortunately I made it to the coffee shop in time for lunch, which was great since a) a friend was kind enough to buy me lunch, and b) I got to commiserate with other cyclists. On Sunday I decided to go out for a ride, a process that takes probably 20 minutes - getting dressed, finding helmet, gloves, vest, food, filling water bottles, pumping up the tires. Not even 10 minutes into the ride I hear something rubbing on my back tire. I look down, can't see anything, and decide to look at it once I stop at the stoplight. Before I even get there, I hear a "POP". Flat. Great. I stop, roll over to the grass up the curb and proceed to investigate. Remove the wheel. Obtain tools from seat pouch - tire levers, pump, CO2 cartridges, extra tube. Sit down on curb to commence removal of tube. I don't see anything on the tire (which was brand new, by the way) that could have caused the flat - wait, is the tire overlapping the rim? WTF? Not again. I attempt multiple times to get the tire lever around the bead of the tire. Cannot quite get it right no matter how many times I try. I take deep breaths and curse all the people who have helped me do this, because in the process they are actually preventing me from learning how to do it myself. I *HAVE* done it myself. So why can't I do it this time?? Finally in frustration I pick up the tools, stash them, and pick up frame, tire and proceed to walk home. Total and complete humiliation. In the process a group rides by and asks me if I have everything I need. Although nice of them and comforting, I am too embarrassed and wave them on, saying I'm done for the day and going home. Then a group of young girls ask me if I'm OK and need help. I shoot a smartass reply across the street at them and then quickly realize what an ass I am being and apologize, saying I'm having a bad day. But seriously. Is it that bad? I start to cry. Really, is that necessary? At that moment, yes, it was. My internal dialogue goes something like this: "People can do this, why can't I? I suck. I guess I'm not meant to be a cyclist. I need to ride - I have been so lazy lately. How am I ever going to ride Cycle Oregon? I hate all those people who get to ride during the week.. Me? No - I have to WORK. INDOORS. IN AN OFFICE. It blows." Yeah, real positive. Very helpful. I get home, hang up the bike, go inside and hop on my stupid lame Lifecycle recumbant stationary bike and grind out a boring hour workout. Not the same. Just as well, the weather looked pretty ominous outside.

Here's hoping that this weekend is better. But some good news - my new frame is at the painter. I am hoping like HELL that I am worthy of this new bike. I need to prove that I am - to no one else but myself.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My love affair with the wind: I'm over it.

Years ago, I used to windsurf. When you rely on wind to propel you across a body of water, and those perfect days when consistent, steady wind gives you just the right amount of wind for the size sail you like to use, it's a thing to be enjoyed. Windsurfers are wind snobs. If you have just a few sails, the small ones are for screaming wind, the large ones are for the low-wind days, and hopefully you have a middle-sized one for decent wind days. I had one that fit that description. I can't remember the size or the color, but when conditions were right, I'd hop up on the board (or waterstart), position myself just right so the wind filled the sail, hook my harness straps to the boom, and take off. The wind was my friend.

I haven't windsurfed since about 1994, and sometimes I miss it. I used to stop in Stevenson or Hood River and just watch them scoot across the Columbia with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I just didn't have the money to support such an obsession. And believe me, it's an obsession, and an expensive one.

Not that cycling isn't. Just when you think you have your bike, your equipment and your clothing all dialed in, something new catches your eye and it's all you can think about. That lightweight carbon frame. That sassy 'cross bike. Those light, stiff-soled shoes that match your kit. That helmet that makes you look like you are going fast even when you're standing still. Those special lenses in the glasses that keep crud out of your eyes and make you look cool at the same time.

So, as a cyclist, I learn that wind is something to be endured, something to tolerate. We learn to draft, to ride in a paceline, or an echelon, and hope for a headwind early in the ride so we can enjoy a tailwind on the way back. Sometimes this doesn't happen the way we like. I've come to appreciate group riding so much that I rarely ride solo anymore, at least not lately.

So yesterday I'm battling down Evergreen, having passed people in my hurry to get back to Longbottom's and enjoy my bagel sandwich. I'm cruising along at a snappy 14mph, feeling like I'm standing still. I look down and see 13mph, and then as I approached Shute Road, a screaming 10mph. Good thing there was only one stoplight to go.

Sorry, wind - I'm over you. Can we just be friends? I want to stay on your good side.