Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Of wine and wheel bags-40 candles for the lefty artiste

Every once in a while, life throws you a reminder that things don't always go according to plan. This week has been one of those little allusions.

After being terribly overdue in the first place, my new work vehicle was due to arrive on Monday at the local VW dealership. Monday came and went, and no car. Tuesday, I got the call from my usual service guy to let me know the car was in, and the hitch was being installed. I could pick it up at 4:30. It was quite down to the wire, but the graphics guys said that having it first thing this morning would give them time to finish it around lunchtime, and then I could get everything loaded up for my departure tomorrow morning. I have an event in San Fran on Saturday, so leaving in the morning would give me plenty of time to make the Bay Area Friday night in time to have dinner with Laura Bontrager and her riding posse.

So...the car comes 'round. The first thing I did was put a Dirt Rag and Singletrack sticker on the back window. I might not have my graphics on yet, but at least I could repr-ra-sent my peeps with a couple of stickers, yo.

This was a mistake, because once I finally got in the car and looked at the center console, I noticed a gaping hole where the control for the auto suspension leveler was supposed to reside. This is the same hole (that's actually a lilttle storage slot that's about the size of a shot glass) that I have in my current Touareg. I'm the ONLY ONE ON THE ROAD that has this hole instead lf the auto leveler. There are nine people on the road, and I'm the only one that hasn't had it ever. The other version of the Touareg has air bag suspension. The control allows you to dial in the suspension based on the ground clearance you are after, or based on the amount of payload you are towing. It prevents the car/trailer combination from forming a V when everthing is hitched up.

This is a huge pain in the ass for a number of reasons:
-My new trailer is considerably larger than the old one. I could get away with not having the leveler before because the old trailer, even when fully loaded, wasn't enough to significantly raise the front end of the car. When empty the new trailer already raised the front end of the car to the same level as the old one at full capacity. I knew that there was no way I would be able to pull the fully loaded new caboose without that leveler.
-I have the largest territory in the country and tow the most miles. The leveler would greatly reduce the amount of wear on the car.
-I have been asking for the leveler since the days when the new vehicles were still but a glimmer in VW's perental eye. Again, I'M THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS NEVER HAD IT.
-I repeatedly reminded my boss and our logistics coordinator that I would need the leveler, especially with the new trailer. They got the message, and henceforth repeadetly reminded the contact at VW that I needed the leveler, more than anyone else like, for example, the chick that lives in FLORIDA where it's flatter than a flat thing (oh, and she has a small trailer). New cars all show up, who still doesn't have the leveler?? ME!
-VW assured us over and over that all of the cars had the leveler. This is insult to injury.
-Because of all of this, I'm going to have to miss my first big event of the year, one that I was very much looking forward to.

Regardless of the fact that this has been completely out of my hands, I regard this as highly unprofessional.

It's my job to represent the company in a favorable way, and to help women become more enthusiastic bike riders; to further their involvement in a sport that isn't just a leisure activity for me, but a career and lifestyle. Even though my potential influence would extend to a handful of people at most, this is a big letdown for me. Don't even get me started on the fact that it means that my arrival into Santa Cruz is now delayed.

The only way I know how to deal with this is to go for a ride tomorrow. There's nothing else I can do. I'm all set to go, save for the frenzy of packing clothes/gear/cameras and all sundry invovled. So, a ride it is, while I wait to hear the results of the inevitable conversations between the home office and VW of America.

One last question remains: road or mountain??

A very happy (and belated) birthday to my acest of pals, my long distance confidante, my brotha from anotha motha, the keeper of the proper road attire flame, the UCI fashion police chief himself-and hand behind the most fab mountain biking sheep Mint Sauce: Jo Burt.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pranged by the French


I've had a couple of fantastic days of riding, due in large part to the arrival of the warm part of Colorado spring weather.

Yesterday I headed out with the intention of getting some serious saddle time in and going at a nice, gentle pace. I was sort of aiming for the Jo Burt 50 Mile Challenge, but I didn't want to put any pressure on myself to go that far. I was perfectly happy to stay on the bike for the equivalent amount of time, though. I knew I could probably hang out for a while since I'd planned to stay on the flat side and not push up any serious canyon climbs.

I headed out the usual way towards Lyons, but instead of turning left into the town 15 miles later, I went right towards a different town that was another 11 miles away. Since it was such a nice day, there were lots of little planes buzzing around overhead, and on this new road I saw several airport signs. Being the plane buff that I am I thought it'd be fun to go check things out. When I got to the airport a while later, about 20 skydivers were sequentially opening their chutes. Another lot was waiting to hop into the plane to go up. I hung out for probably 45 minutes watching people freefall for 30 seconds and then gently ride the thermals down to the ground. It was ace.

I spent 4 hours on the bike in total, being carried along the miles by Snow Patrol and green apple PowerGel. I was completely satisfied at the end. I reckon I did somewhere around 43 miles, give or take (probably take) five.

Today I decided to ride despite having a long list of things to do in preparation for a trip to the Home Office in Wisconsin tomorrow. The weather was unbelievable today. I had some bikes to box up in the garage, so I donned the usual hoodie and jeans. I walked out the door and realized that I was entirely overdressed. By noon it was already 70 degrees. Shorts and a t-shirt then!

The day made it impossible for me to ignore the idea of riding. I decided to go shorter today, but throw in a really big canyon climb, one that I've attempted before but couldn't handle because of the pitch. I was determined today, even if it meant stopping to ease the battle between my lungs and the thin air. I made it, and threw in another loop just for good measure. My ass hurt from yesterday, and it was difficult to find a comfortable position by the end of the ride. It was only about 25 miles, but again a very satisfying ride. The first in just a short sleeve jersey and shorts. I noticed in my post-ride shower that I've already got some cyclist tan lines.

I'm definitely in one of those manic phases of riding right now. Despite the warm weather, the trails are still pretty snowy, so I've been doing a lot of road riding. I've rediscovered the joy of the road bike, I must say.

I still yearn for the trails though, and I hope that the 'in like a lion' tendencies of March are more lamb-like this year. I hope Mother Nature takes some drugs to quell those mood swings that normally result in a couple of winter's last hurrah snowstorms.