Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Googled myself, and it was awesome!

I'm in Ohio. Up until this past weekend, if you had asked me what there was in Ohio that was worth mentioning, I would have said the best part about Ohio is that I have a favorite family member here. Outside of that, I pretty much only looked at this State as a pain in the ass. Bad drivers here, see... BUT! I have to admit that there is something else here that is top notch. I know you might be thinking that it's some kinda miracle that I've changed my tune about anything, but it has happened in the past. I can't exactly remember when, but I'm sure it has.

This past weekend I did an event at Ray's Indoor Mountain BIke Park in Cleveland. It was a women's weekend sponsored by my good pals at Dirt Rag Magazine. I'd heard a lot about Ray's, and all of it good. It wasn't a place that I felt the urge to drive to Ohio for though. The guy is onto something there. I told him as much. It's not often that someone comes along in this industry with a ground breaking idea. You can only change the shape of a brake lever so many times, and in the end, it's still a brake lever. What Ray has done is something special. He's taken an old, World War II era parachute factory and turned it into a winter playground for bikes only. No skaters of any sort, just bikes. I have no problems with skaters at all. I only mention it because it's not like this is a skate park where people show up on bikes. This is a bike park. BMX'ers have started coming, but there's no conflict with the mountain bikers. It has to be seen to be believed.

Sue Haywood from the Trek Pro team was there, as was World Champion Jill Kintner and Kathy Pruitt, along with a handful of other pro women. A good time was had by all.

But, no post of mine would be complete without another installment of "Why I Hate People".

SO there I was, practicing my dirt jumping. What's that you say? Dirt Jumping? Oh, did I forget to mention that I learned how to dirt jump at Ray's? Well I did...

Anyhoo...There I was, just waiting at the top of the dirt jumps on this decky platformy thing. It has a waiting area with a painted line to designate it and everything. From this deck, you drop into any one of a number of features at Ray's, all of which loop back around to the same spot. When it's busy there's a lot of people up on that deck going back and forth. Most people have the common sense to back up to the waiting area if they aren't going right away, leaving the deck clear for others, such as myself, to get a good head of steam going into the jumps.

Along comes this gaggle of boys and their adult supervision. These kids were over in another area of the park that I was using to warm up before going to the jumps on the opposite end. They were giving me a headache there too by being in the way, riding the wrong way on the one way system, and not moving out of the way when they were stopped. The man in charge did tell them once to get out of the way as I was trying to break through the 10 year old boy logjam. I was annoyed enough to leave that side of the park early.

Off to the dirt jumps I went, and much to my dismay the pack of pre-pubescents followed. I knew this was going to be trouble. They just camped out on the deck. They would ride a line, then all 5 of them would squat right in the middle of everything. The man was completely oblivious to the dirty looks that everyone else was giving them and the kids. Absolutely zero trail etiquette. Get behind the white line, stoopids! It's right there! It even says 'Standing' to indicate that's where you go if you are doing what you are doing which is standing in the way of everyone else!

I finally couldn't take it anymore and decided I had to go and say something. So, I rode over to them and pointed out the white line and asked if they could get behind it when they aren't riding because people are coming through there pretty fast and we don't want to hit any of them. That last bit is a lie. I *did* want to hit them because they were being rude.

All at once, I got 5 sets of stink eye. I didn't care. They left. The lines were clear. Success. I know I was a hero to everyone else up there. I just know it.

Weather permitting, I'm off to see my parents for a couple of days tomorrow. I'll drop the trailer off there since there's another foot of fresh snow on the ground in New Hampshire, and my next trip is back south anyway. I might even get some riding in.


I got the following voicemail from Ross last week (not verbatim):

I'm driving and was thinking about the reasons why I like you, so I thought I'd call and tell you what I have on the list so far.

1) I like that we can be in the car together but don't have to talk all the time
2) I like that you wear board shorts.

There was another one, but I can't remember what it was. I'm sure Ross will be along at some point with a sarcy comment to either deny any knowledge of this call, or to remind me what the third one was.

Oh, and I see your two posts in one week Rosstafarian. I see them. Where have you been for weeks before though, eh!? Sa-LACKER.

*Edit: As the lovely Simon pointed out below, the third item on Ross's list was that I like Tourette's guy. I can't believe I forgot that one. If you don't know Tourette's guy, you can find it here. Prepare to laugh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Great Pollenator

A perfect example of a picture being worth a thousand words:

Or, one that is representative of many of my several things at once: Bikes, Calderdale, and some of my favorite friends (others out of shot).

A weekend spent in the UK for Chipps' Birthday Bash was not nearly enough time. What was I thinking!? I could have been over there much longer, but things on this side of the pond made that difficult. I should have just made the time. As usual, I had loads of fun. I could go on and on, but it's really more of the same story that I always tell when I'm back from the UK. And also the same is that feeling of 'homesickness'.

Apologies to Nick for not getting to see his little orange car. Next time, I promise!
Thanks to Sideways for letting me spend some time with the fam despite things being the way they are currently.
Big hugs to Matt and Tanya for being ace hosts again.
To Chipps for deciding to have a big party. I know it was your weekend, but in someways it feels like it was for me to see nearly all of my ace friends.
To Simon for being lovely. Sorry that your good name got dragged through the inevitable heckling that comes my way from the likes of friggin' Steve and Dave. :~)

And to the sheep, for being there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"And then I ran into Derek Jeter..."

Or, More Reasons Why I Hate People...

Today was a travel day for me. I made a last minute decision to skip over to the UK for Chipps' 40th birthday bash. It's not as long a trip as I had originally planned waaaay back, but it was looking like I wasn't going to make it at all, so I'm happy to be here now.

Of course, considering that my travels began at 11:30am Eastern Time Wednesday morning, and ended at 7:30am GMT Thursday, there were bound to be some travel misadventures. It didn't take long. Unfortunately, I was lulled into a false sense of security when my arrival, check in, and security clearance went without incident. There was a bit of a tense moment when the weather looked like it was going to keep me on the ground, but I was booked on an earlier flight and made my connection 3 hours in advance.

It's the boarding of my plane in Boston where things started to be a bit interesting. Some man decided to take up residence in the aisle, despite other passengers, namely me, trying to get buy. Of course, it could be that he was completely unaware that the world other than him existed since he was on his cell phone. He let the man in front of me pass, then suddenly returned to his little cocoon of narcissism. It's a chicken and egg thing. I can't tell if I realized he was an idiot before, or after I hear him say this to the person on the other end of the phone (who was probably also blocking traffic somewhere):

"So I was coming out of the restaurant and then I ran into Derek Jeter! I don't know! He was going in...blah blah blah....."

For those of you on other continents, Derek Jeter is a pro baseball player for the New York Yankees. He's one of the superstars of the sport. This guy was clearly name dropping, and did so in the most annoying way possible. I got up to him, invaded his personal space, and waited to see if he would suddenly become aware of the existence of another human. He didn't, so I very nicely, and without any hint of irritation or suggestion (as I'm sure you can imagine), "Excuse me!". He moved, but still acted like I didn't exist.


Then I got annoyed because I thought I was in an exit row, and wasn't. This would later prove to be more problematic than I thought. I'm not short, if you hadn't noticed. So leg room is often an issue. It's even worse when the most fidgety person IN THE WORLD is sitting in front of you. It's not bad enough that she had to recline her seat all the way, a given, but then she persisted in pushing back on the flexy seat, which then kept jamming into my kneecaps over and over and over again. I still can't feel them. And then, she had the gaul to keep looking back at me as if *I* was doing something to affront her!


The two women next to me were cranky.

The people behind me kept yanking on the back of my seat to use it for leverage when they had to get up, which seemed like every 10 minutes.

Fortunately, it all ended well. Getting through Passport control was a breeze. No line at all. I'm now safely tucked away at Sideways and have had two naps. Up to the old stomping grounds with Simon tomorrow to rendezvous with Chipps for a nice ride and lunch. The weekend festivities promise to be grand!

Oh, and Ross, you are really slacking now.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Well Fuck You Very Much!

Not that I'm one to drop F-bombs unnecessarily, but given the two encounters I'm about to relay you might agree that it's sort of an apt description.

Number A:

There I was, JWA (just walking along) with Frazier the other morning when all of a sudden I hear this big, booming voice yell "LEASH!". Now, It was about 8 am, and I was fresh out of bed. My eyes weren't even open all the way and I was in PJ's. I was headed down the street along the usual morning loop when I heard this. My initial, split second reaction was that God himself was talking to me. I wasn't awake enough to actually process anything, see.

I looked up to see Frazier trotting along and heading toward this man-who looks like a cross between Jerry Garcia and Santa Clause-standing there with inversely proportionally small Westies. He was yelling at Frazier to stop as I was calling him back to me. Frazier, being the curious dog that he is, took another step toward the Westies which prompted Santa Jerry to grab a fistful of snow and raise it towards my dog. Frazier, sensing the threat, immediately came back to me and I put his leash on. I told the man that he wasn't vicious, and he blasted there's a leash law here, and 'all dog owners think that right up until they attack another dog, and my dogs are only small". I told him that the two Puggles across the street from me are smaller than his dogs, and Frazier is afraid of them. He wouldn't hear any of it. He ignored the fact that Frazier was standing next to me, while his dogs were yanking on their leashes to get to him.

-He wouldn't let me explain that Frazier is 10 years old, and I'm pretty sure I know how he's going to react in any dog situation. That reaction is always the same: he runs to me if the other dog isn't nice. He has no aggression in him whatsoever. He's never been in a single fight in his life.
-He wouldn't let me explain that my brother also has a Westie, and perhaps he though Gus had come to visit.
-He wouldn't let me explain that my parents have a Daschund that Frazier has lived with for a while.
-He didn't let me explain that he was being an idiot.

This man lives right around the corner, and since I won't be forcing Frazier to be on the leash on every little quiet street in town, this altercation is bound to happen again.

Letter 2:

I got the following Flickr mail the other day. I'm naming and shaming because, well, because I can:

From: MaLóL



I´ve seen you have some great photographs about mountainbiking. In our site we have a main banner which background is a picture of a landscape or a cycling related pic. We change it everymonth. We would like to have one of your pictures there, but obviously we need to have your permission first and we would but a small sentence saying the author of the picture or a link to your work or a post in the news section. What do you think? do you agree?

thanks in advance and congratulations for yourpics.
Manuel Torres. webmaster and cycling lover.

Well hello Mr. Spanish cycling lover! My reply:

Hi there Manuel!

Thanks so much for noticing my photos! I'm flattered that you find one of them worthy of your site. Unfortunately, I don't license my photos for free, so I can not accept your offer at this time.

Many thanks!


He replied wondering how much it would be. After talking to the resident expert Dan the Photo Man I replied telling him it would be $100 to use my shot.

This is what I got back from him:


The picture is not that good for that price. And not even for half that price.

Thanks anyway.
Manuel Torres.

After hearing this, Dan suggested that I should reply "Dear Juan, or whatever your name is. Kindly fuck off".


Wow. I'm sure you didn't mean to insult me with your reply, so I'll just pretend that it wasn't incredibly rude. Perhaps the translation from Spanish to English only *sounds* insulting. You might want to work on your tone.

Sorry you don't think a shot is worth paying for. I guess it's good enough for publication in magazines and calendars, but not for your website. Oh well.


He told me that his tone was my problem, not his. Odd, since he was the one that had the tone in the first place.

He added, "we have other photographers colaborating and as our site is non-profit, we don´t pay for pictures which by the way will also give you advertisement."

Simon agreed with Dan's suggestion after this reposte.

I haven't replied again. Mostly because I really don't care if my photo gets used on a Spanish website devoted to the 5 or 6 people in Spain who are obsessive and who's sole joy in life is scouring the web for the latest ridiculously light chainring bolt made by some unheard-of company with a titanium forge located in a dark alley in Uzbekistan so that they can buy said bolt and add it to the other parts they've dug up from the realms of obscurity in order to make an 11 pound mountain bike that no one weighing more than the average 6 year old would dare to ride out of fear of dying a horrible death when all the weight weenie parts simultaneously explode in a mushroom could of carbon and titanium dust. This would probably happen in the driveway on ride number one of the 'newly built weightless wonder'.

Yeah, I'm ok with my photo not getting that 'advertisement'.

Where have all the nice people gone?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Another Sad Day for Cycling

Sheldon Brown died on Sunday. Words fail me, really.

Rest in peace, Sheldon. Thousands thank you for the information you have willingly and happily passed on to us.