Dogbite Update

Today I spoke with the dog owner’s insurance company. It seems (knock on wood) that they realize that I’m being completely reasonable are going to do likewise. Just after getting off the phone with them, I get a call from the local court’s ‘Restitution Coordinator’. She called to see how I was and what sort of expenses I’ve incurred. I told her of my conversation with the insurance folks and that I don’t anticipate any major expenses, but one never knows. So, she’s going to pass this on to the judge (the dog’s owner has to appear in court tomorrow). She said she’d let know the outcome of the hearing and said that if I have any expenses that the insurance company won’t cover to let them know and they’ll assist me in recouping.

The bite seems to look a little worse, but is feeling marginally better.

I had a nice ride today, no excitement. Well, an asshole in an SUV yelled some sort of Doppler-shifted gibberish at me. All I made out was “the road”. Then, as I was stopped in left turn lane at the light near my house a man in a pick up (to my right) said to me, “You made good time”. Apparently we’d both been caught at a light a few blocks away together and he was impressed I’d caught him again.

Not a bad day at all. Seems like the system is going to work as it should, and the assholes were canceled out by the friendly folks.

Dogbite, on my leg – Not right, supposed to beg

Went out for my first ‘real’ ride of the season today. You can probably guess what happened on my way back into town. Black chow comes charging down his driveway (where the owner was impotently standing by), with no wasted movement he makes straight for me and chomps down on my ankle. The owners were cool (though not nearly apologetic enough for my taste) and are saying they’ll cover my expenses. Wasted a lot of my evening talking to them, at the Urgent Care, and at Wal-Mart picking up the de rigueur antibiotics. Tomorrow I have to call animal control folks back and talk to them. Hopefully they will report back that the dog is, in fact, up on all of his shots. The owners said he was, but c’mon, what the hell else are they gonna say?

Got a couple of nasty punctures/gashes in the back of my calf, one with a chunk ripped out! First time I’ve been bitten, had to make it a good one, I guess.

And now, I think I’ll go listen to the Dead Kennedys’ song from which I purloined this post’s title.

When it Rains, it Pours (Again)

You may recall me doing some bitching the last time my basement flooded. Well, with the practically non-stop thunderstorms this week, it happened again.

Anyway… I headed out for a ride this evening and kept coming across roads that were closed due to flooding. I took a chance that I could get through on Valley Road (which was “closed”), after all, it hasn’t been raining today. I climb the hill by the airport, speed down the other side and there, up ahead, is the water. As I draw closer I see that there’s a narrow strip down the other side of the road that’s above the water and only a bit wet in places. Onward! I cross 35 and head to Hilltop Road, which also has signs up that it’s closed (flooded). Emboldened by my previous success, I press on. I come to one area which was obviously underwater, but is now completely dry, so my decision is looking better. Then I come to another Road Closed sign. “Uh-oh, this doesn’t bode well.” Then I see that the entire low-lying part of the road which is adjacent to the river is very much underwater.

Dejected, I turn around to seek another way home.

Here’s the thing that ties the two flooded basement incidents together. The last time it happened I had lost my key, but had a spare hidden away. Today I realized early in my ride that I had forgotten my key, which was hanging right where it belongs, right next to the spare, which I hadn’t bothered to return to where it belongs.

I ended up calling a locksmith, who couldn’t pick the lock and had to drill it out. A rather costly lesson for me. Between the service call, and the new lock (re-keyed to match the deadbolt); not returning my ’emergency key’ to its hiding place cost me $96.30.

Another Perfect Day for a Ride

While the theme for yesterday’s ride might have been “bugs”, today it was wildlife. Two deer (in different spots), several bunnies, all of the birds I would expect to see, plus a Blue Jay. I don’t know why, but Blue Jays and Mockingbirds are scarce in this immediate area. A twenty minute ride to the south and you will find both in abundance, but here you rarely see either.

Anyway, I made my mind up before leaving that today I was doing the ride I intended to do yesterday. There would be no bug-gauntlet/shortcut today, no sir!

I felt surprizingly strong climbing Hilltop Road, and of course I enjoyed the run back down the hill on Fairground. Reaching the rolling hills on Fairground… Bonk! Just like yesterday, I found myself totally spent, riding back home at a crawl.

The legs are strong, but the motor still needs some work.
All in good time, all in good time.
It’s really quite sad, here it is nearly June and I’m in ‘February shape’.

Bugs!

Today was as close to a perfect day for a ride as you can ask for, so naturally, I went for a ride. My original “plan” was to return home by way of Hilltop Road to Fairground Road. Sadly, as I neared the point where I would turn toward Hilltop Road, my legs felt like lead and I just couldn’t talk myself into climbing the hill for which the road is named, so I decided to hop on the bike path, bypass the hill(s), and pick up Fairground Road at the Fairgrounds.

It turns out, this was a bad idea. I ride on bike paths infrequently enough that I sometimes forget the various reasons I eschew them. The reason I don’t ever ride this particular section of path during the Spring or Summer, particularly in the evening, is bugs. Vast horrible clouds of tiny little bugs. Bugs in my eyes, bugs in my ears, bugs up my nose, bugs down my throat, bugs in my hair, bugs every-fucking-where. It was like a Goddamned mile-long bug rain storm, the difference being; actual rain doesn’t make me curse like an enraged Tourette’s patient.

Thankfully, I was soon off the bike path and out of the bugs. The horror of the bugs would have been quickly forgotten were it not for the fact that they still coated me like some sort of insect breading. Mmm… insect encrusted, deep-fried cyclist!

I made it home with no further drama. The cat enjoyed playing with some of my insect stowaways while I made haste in washing the remainder off of me and attempting to blow some of the less fortunate ones out of my nasal passages.

I won’t make that mistake again any time soon (famous last words).

It seems so much worse in print.

I know I’m officially “middle aged”. While I don’t necessarily embrace the fact, I do (begrudgingly) accept it and even think of myself as such (from time to time).

I was stunned by my reaction when Fritz over at Commute by Bike referred to me as “This middle aged man“. I wasn’t surprized that he wrote it, but I was quite shocked by how much it stung, if only just for an instant, seeing it in print. Ahh… the power of the printed word!

Oh and Fritz, you’re still missing the point of my story. It wasn’t about being complimented by a teenaged girl. It was about her subsequent mortification and embarrassment. The compliment was just the icing on the cake.

First Ride of Spring The Year!

So, I finally got my lazy ass out on a bike. JW knows (or can deduce) how shamefully long it’s been, but I’m hoping he’ll keep that to himself.

With my lack of conditioning and whatnot, I originally planned a leisurely ride with gears, but the cyclometer on the Fuji was dead and everyone knows that battery changing is an after-dark or rainy day activity, so I was ridin’ fixed on the Svelte Felt.

What is it about riding, particularly on the fixed gear that makes it so hard to “take it easy”? Every incline becomes the finish at Alpe d’Huez, every signpost an intermediate sprint (for time bonuses and valuable prizes, natch!)

Of course, I was slower than usual, but all things considered, I felt surprizingly good and my spin has remained remarkably smooth (26.2MPH @ 42×16 on 25mm tires, that’s just shy of 130RPM, bike-math geeks, not too shabby (for me)).

Later I was looking over some old ride logs, seeing entries like rides home from work at 14° with 25mph winds and wet, slushy roads. Man, I gotta stop with the “it’s too wet/cold/windy BS”, harden the fuck up, stop making excuses, and ride!

Embarrassment

I know that most, if not all, cyclists have our tales of forgetting to unclip from our pedals, thus toppling over in super-comical slow-motion in front of various pedestrians, motorists, and other cyclists. CycleDog shared one of his, which led me to post this counter-point, as it were.

I won’t deny that I’ve had my share of those mortifying incidents, but that isn’t what this post is about. This is about the much more satisfying converse of that situation, that special moment in time when we get to revel in the discomfort and embarrassment of another.

A few years ago I was riding here in town when a car whizzed past, as it did the unmistakable voice of a teenaged girl yelled “Nice butt!”

As the car went past I could see only the driver, raptly looking straight ahead. The fates intervened, however, and there was a light changing to red just up ahead. The car stopped and moments later, I rolled up on the passenger side. There a second teenage girl (obviously the ‘shouter’) was ducked down in the passenger seat, giggling and thinking herself invisible. With me being on my bike, however, she was nothing of the kind and I was looking right down upon her, not even a window separating us.

The driver was also keenly aware of this situation and was furtively whispering at and prodding her friend.

The friend slowly looked up, our eyes met, and I smiled, giving her a slight ‘tsk tsk’ headshake.

I’d give anything for a photo of that moment. Her face turned such an extreme shade of red, it seemed almost painful.

Thankfully for her, the light quickly turned green and they sped away. The driver, no longer able to contain her mirth, burst into peals of hysterical laughter.

I try to remember that day; that priceless expression, when some idiot yells at me to “get off the road”, squeezes past much too closely, or any of the myriad other abuses we (cyclists) all suffer on a nearly daily basis.

Monday’s Vacation Ride Triumph (9/17)

Riding along today, I kept hearing a loud ratcheting buzz, after looking down at my gears and rear hub (a Dura-Ace hub whose freewheel is nearly silent, thanks to my having filled it with automotive 80W 90 gear oil) I realized it was another bike coming up behind.

He overtakes, we exchange pleasantries and he pulls through. His pace isn’t uncomfortable for me, so I follow his wheel. I was unable to draft too closely as he was apparently enamored of his freewheel’s buzz and coasted quite frequently. Despite this I was enjoying the draft and a bit saddened by the knowledge that he’d probably drop me for good on the upcoming descent.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good descender, it’s my biggest (only?) strength on the bike. The problem is, at 135 pounds I can’t keep up downhill with similarly skilled but heavier (gravitationally gifted) riders. Anyway, I figure my compatriot here has at least 30-40 pounds on me, so I don’t hold out much hope.

So anyway, as he crests the hill I let the gap open. As I roll over the top (see map) and shift to the big ring he’s sitting up, glancing back at me. Never one to waste a good downhill run, I crank hard a few times, drop into my best aero tuck and shoot past. There was a touch of a headwind, so I barely broke 38mph (the other side of 40 isn’t unusual on this hill). As the road levels out, I glance back, trying not to be too obvious about it, and don’t see him. I repeat my glance-stealing several times and don’t spot him, nor do I hear his raucous freehub (a fact which I later happily attribute to him not coasting at all, pedalling furiously in a futile attempt to close the gap).

Finally, after I’ve made my right turn back in the general direction of home I look back again and see that he’s about 10-15 seconds back and continuing straight on Washington Mill Road.

Wow, I think to myself, even with me slowing to let him catch up he couldn’t close the gap I opened on a short little downhill run; a rare “victory” on the bike for me! Beggars can’t be choosers so I’ll take ’em however I can get ’em. Whether it’s dropping timid descenders or out-sprinting little kids; a win is a win!

The Tears of St. Lawrence

Last week our weather was typical of the “dog days” of summer; temps in the mid to upper 90’s (even breaking 100° once or twice, depending on who you believe) with late-afternoon/evening thunderstorms popping up. Consequently my preferred evening ride time kept getting rained out. I kept telling myself I’d put on the headlight and go once it dried out and cooled off, but even that proved problematic. Wednesday night, for instance, it was still 90° at midnight. 90°! At midnight! And soupy-humid too, as an added bonus.

Anyway, Thursday night/Friday morning I was not going to be denied and headed out for a ride about 4am. The temperature was a very pleasant 70 and the humidity was ultra-high (which I really don’t mind at night, as long as it’s cool).

Riding out into the countryside I stopped and switched off my light to appreciate the relative lack of light pollution and the attendant dark skies. There was just the barest sliver of a moon so the stars were in full effect. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness and more and more stars became visible I saw a faint, shimmering shooting star. A few minutes later there was another; apparently the beginnings of this year’s Perseids (which I had forgotten about).

After soaking in the beauty of the night for a bit longer I saddled up, switched my light back on, and rode back into town, rejuvenated. Ain’t life grand?

Coasting? Multiple Gears? What a Concept!

Yesterday I decided to stop procrastinating and actually do something about taking my ‘geared’ bike out for a ride. Since I bought the Pista nearly 3 years ago, I’ve ridden nothing but fixed gears.

So last night I gave the Fuji a once-over, replaced the chain, aired up the tires, wiped the accumulated dust and cat hair from the gears and such; got it ready to ride.

As I started out on my ride today the first thing that struck me was how odd it felt being able to coast as I was taking off and clipping into the pedals. When my left pedal didn’t come around to meet my foot on its own, it felt like something was broken or disconnected. A very odd sensation.


My 99 Fuji Roubaix, enjoying a day on the road.

Click photo to enlarge

The next thing I noticed was that I seem to be turning bigger gears than I used to, all other things being equal, and that I’m not shifting nearly as often.

Hitting some hills was when the difference was really driven home. I had forgotten just how much it feels like you’re flying as you coast downhill at ~40mph.

The Fuji will definitely not be sitting unridden for 3 years again. What a waste!