Thursday, March 27, 2008

When will the sleep come?

I haven't been sleeping well the past few nights because I've had that 'work's about to start' anxiousness. My brain has been making lists and I've had to start piecing together a plan before heading out.

This is why I am awake at 2:30 in the morning, despite having spent the entire day walking around Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME with my sister. We've been planning a trip over to the coast for some time now. It was always due to be on a Wednesday since Ruth doesn't work on Wednesdays. We've been thwarted by one thing or another (mostly crap weather). We were running out of chances since I head out this weekend, and neither one of us wants to deal with the tourons who flock there in the summer.

The weather last night was telling us it was going to be a sloppy day. It started snowing around 11pm last night, but by the time I got up this morning the sun was out. So, we made a spontaneous decision to go for it and make the long awaited trip. It was well worth it. The day got more gorgeous as it progressed; the temperature topped out around 50. I took loads of pictures, we collected some cool rocks, and we shopped. We didn't make it home until just before 10pm. Then, Sara called for our overdue catch up chat, courtesy of ITV.

My head hit the pillow just after midnight. I didn't even have the energy to edit photos. Despite that, my mind went into list making mode. Flip, flop. Toss, turn. SHUT UP BRAIN! How can I not sleep despite being this tired!? I need to reply to this email, and that email, and I need to send emails to these people. I've got phone calls to make, and scheduling items to firm up. Shipping to consider, laundry, packing...Get that cracked bit on the hitch fixed. Dog gets a haircut in 7 hours now...TAXES!! Do my expenses, send that form back to Boulder to let them know I can't possibly do jury duty because I don't live there anymore.

So I've spent the last hour catching up on the email portion of my to do list. After that, I wasn't quite tired enough yet, hence this post. It's now 2:48am. I'm going to shut the lid and try to get some sleep now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cow Flop Doesn't Freeze

So I went out with my nephew tonight to get some shots of the moon. We have some pretty cool moon rises around here. I thought the best place to shoot would be along a road out of town next to a large field. At one point along the road, there is a parking area. I turned into it and discovered that there's actually a road out the other end of parking area and into the field. I thought this would lead to a great spot for shooting.

After about 150 yards of rutted bumpiness, we rounded a bend and were met with a wall of dirt and snow. Dead end. I got out and was immediately smacked with an unmistakable odor.

"It smells like poo," I said to my nephew. I figured maybe there was a horse farm nearby. We were in the middle of a field, after all.

I decided to scope out what was on the other side of the snow pile, so I approached, my little head torch showing me what seemed to be a solid mass of snow and dirt that had been dug up from the plow.

I raised my left foot and took a step to begin my ascent. I was surprised when it sank into some very soft...shit. I looked down to see my half buried foot. My mind went into that processing mode when everything seems like it's running through your brain in slow motion. All at once I realized where that odor was coming from, and the fact that it was emanating from the pile my foot was in. As I extricated my foot it made that slurpy sucking noise that you hear when you pull your shoe out of deep, wet mud...or shit.

So gross.

I immediately backed away and walked to a very white part of the snow pile that surrounded the little patch we were in. I started jabbing at it with my foot, only to discover that the below freezing temperatures had solidified the snow again. I was kicking ice. Everything around us was frozen solid...except for the huge pile of poo. Then I remembered a bottle of water I'd left in the car. By the mercy of God it was nearly full, so at least I could rinse off the disgusting crap. The worst was realizing that I'd gotten some on the bottom of my wool jeans.

"Well I guess we figured out where the smell was coming from," I said to Taylor. He was obviously getting a hearty guffaw out of this.

We finished the shoot and headed home. When I got back in and Ruth asked how it went, my reply was obvious: "Shitty."

The result:


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Smack Down

Today it feels like I dipped my toe in the pond of darkness. My mood can best be described as 'black as pitch'.

The following is a list of things I'm absolutely SICK of:

-Not being tired until 1am
-Consequently waking up at nearly 10am
-My dog playing like shit and not letting me throw his toy, then being on my ass all day to go out constantly, only to not play well again, thus not getting worn out enough to rest
-The weather-wind, cold, cold, cold, more cold, more wind. I know March isn't supposed to be nice, but usually there are a few nice days then few cold days. All we've had is fucking cold and I'm sick of it. When it warms up, it rains/sleets/snows. Then it gets cold again. It's going to be 60 degrees in Boulder this week.
-Riding like a jerk. I can't get any sort of form at all
-Feeling like I'm working my ass off for an hour and a half to have done only 15 miles for the effort
-Legs feeling like complete shit at the slightest hint of an uphill.
-Being lied to, including lies of omission and finding out things about people that make me feel like a complete chump
-Having no will power
-Having to censor myself
-Not having Simon nearby
-Being shit at guitar
-Being shit at photography
-Being shit

I had it in mind to do 30 miles today. The wind was calm this morning, and naturally picked up just before I started riding and the it became a constant headwind. It was pushing me around. I decided at some point during my ride that I was going to bury myself. This grand illusion lasted for about 10 minutes. I started pushing hard gears, and when the wind blew, I pushed harder, only to have it slap me down again and again and again. I couldn't take it anymore, so I turned around and did the short loop, feeling like a complete failure for not being able to hack it.

I was thinking of Matt who rode every day for a year in every condition imaginable. I was thinking of Simon who is pushing himself through 30 days of riding in wind that puts our little breeze to shame. And I get beat down by 9 miles of headwind and threw in the towel.

Now I'm cold and needing a shower and food. I wish I could relax after that, but I'll have to take the dog out yet again and try to get him tired out so he doesn't want to go out again in an hour.

I shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Inbox Rubbish

Of things that line the bottom of my inbox, this one deserves a prize:

"My name is {witheld}. I am a 36 year old man. I am 6\'5\" tall, 240 lbs. I would like to become a product tester for bikes. I love the outdoors and anything sports related. I would be perfect for this. Please respond. Thank You"

This was sent to the Fit for Women Tour contact address, i.e. me.

Simon said I should be more tolerant of people. Therefore, I am *not* going to write the oratory that went through my head when this one arrived. I am simply going to leave it here for others to comment on as they will.

In other news, I managed to get out yesterday for my longest ride of the year so far. 33 miles of rolling, New Hampshire goodness. The road riding around here is pretty great, but I really wish the snow would hurry up and melt so I can start exploring the trails.

As I write this, we are in the midst of yet another winter storm that rolled in last night, and will be around for another day yet.

I'm going to use the time off the bike productively, and cut down the steerer tube. I'm sure this will be welcome news to at least Simon and Nick. :~p

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Hugh Hefner of Mountain Biking

Got an unexpected call from The Most Beautiful Man in the World shortly after 9pm Eastern Time. He's carousing even further oop north with the ever-lovely Andy Armstrong. They were 3 bottles of wine into the evening, which was no surprise given the time of night that the call came.

It took a while for me to get out of Steve exactly where he was. I'd forgotten that he was heading to Andy's this weekend. He finally told me, but not until after he'd called me "y'idiot" at least 3 times. Turns out they've got another Yank chick with them. My replacement, I joked. I think TMBMITW was so excited that he'd made another American friend, that he decided to call to find out how far I am from where she's from, which is Portland, OR. I could tell where he was going with this. He was hoping to figure out a way for all of us to get together when he's over on this side of the pond for his family holiday later this year.

I hated to burst the poor lad's bubble though, since for those of you who aren't geographically challenged, you know that Portland is on the opposite coast from me, a mere 3,047 miles from Henniker, NH. For reference, Henniker to Steve's house outside of Manchester, UK is 3,150 miles. So not that close, really. Bless'im.

Still, a call from Steve is always a pleasant surprise. Hearing him having a good time with other good friends is somewhat bittersweet. It's sort of like when my sister calls me from Mack&Manco's on the boardwalk in Ocean City to tell me that they are all happily stuffing their faces with The Best Pizza in the World. One time when she did that, it made me cry.

Thanks for the call, Steve! Don't worry, I didn't cry. :~)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I Believe Elephants Live on the Moon

Another turn of the clocks, another shift in the weather, and another chance for a personal attitude adjustment.

Let me skip to the end of the story. This is going to be cryptic, but hopefully there's a message in here somewhere.

...So I'm going to try and be more patient. I'm going to do the best I can to let my emotional guard down, and put some trust in someone else. I'm not going to assume that things that have happened in the past are going to happen again now. I'm going to try and improve the way I think about myself.

People adapt and change as they grow older. It might not be some huge, monumental shift. It might be something subtle. I have a fairly good idea about the things I need to change personally. They're actually pretty big. I have no idea if I'm capable of doing it or not. Believing good things about oneself is not easy to do. I worry that it will make me become an egotist, or I'll somehow otherwise change not for the better.

The twist in the plot is that I have no problems telling other people how great they are. And I believe it with every fiber of my being. I understand what it's like to find compliments hard to take. I get frustrated when they are received with the same sort of response that I normally give, yet I can't seem to apply logic to my own response when I'm on the receiving end. "Do as I say..."

I know a lot of people who are examples of those who restore my faith in humanity. It's not all doom and gloom, or misanthropic and cynical.

I'd like to try letting go some. We'll see what happens. I think I'll be ok, I'm in good hands.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Acting like a proper athlete.

Again! I rode my bike today. Yes, outside. Only for an hour, and as expected my ass hurt like a personified bowling ball colliding with pins. Every minute was a sore one. Adding insult to ass injury was the headwind I hit on the way back. Good thing I was only out for a light recovery ride. I kept it all very spinny and didn't let myself mash any gears. I've also got a very tight hammy and for a while, though my right groin muscle was pulled. I'm stretching, ooooow! Right now, as a matter of fact. I really must try and avoid such long periods off the bike.

Took mom out for errand running after. Had one minor WIHP moment at the grocery checkout with the woman at the register who decided that examining her nails was far more important than greeting the customer who's helping to keep her in paychecks. If only we'd gone to the next one over with the cheery man who actually thanked his customer for bagging his own groceries. Do you think we got that? Uh no. Not even so much as a grunt, or anything that resembled 'Have a nice day'. Customer service is alive and well at the ole Acme!

And a very Happy Birthday on Tuesday to my favorite sister Ruth! Should I say how old you are?? It's half a century ride to those playing along. Or, enough fluffy sheep to make wooly hats for 50 people. Love you Dufus!

Now I'm going to put my PJ's on and dive into the Wawa Brand Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream that I got today. I deserve it. I rode my bike for the second day in a row, after all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

She Strong Like Bull

I rode my bike today. Outside even! As expected, coming to see mom and dad has found me in a place with much milder weather than those at home are experiencing. The report from Ruth is that the snow piles are so high now that you can't see the cars in the driveway. Meanwhile, down at the shore it was around 50 with a stiff wind today. I managed to eek out 31 miles. My legs hurt, which is nothing compared to the pain I'm sure I'll feel in my ass tomorrow.

It was the first major ride of the season though, and it did feel good to be turning cranks outside again. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Spring is on it's way. Once I get back to New Hampshire I'm sure reality will hit me.

Photographic evidence:

Believe it or not, I had no 'Why I Hate People' encounters today, despite riding on the boardwalk in Ocean City which was pretty crowded for a Sunday in March. Rather than get annoyed at people who were strolling, I made a slalom course out of that leg of the ride. I scored top marks since I didn't hit anyone, intentionally or otherwise.

I read my mom my example from yesterday, and told her about some of my other WIHP commentaries. She suggested that I should try to be less negative, after all, she says, 'You can be funny about positive things, too.' Of course I can, Mom. It's just more fun to talk about the stoopidheads.

Now, should I open another beer or not? I did ride my bike today, after all.

Roll call:

Tim: Fingers crossed for Lanark tomorrow
Sara: I thought you said you were on nights? I'm still waiting for my phone call. ;~)
Ross: Two in Two woman. Tsk tsk tsk
SDB: Dumbass. ;~)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Human Petri Dish

Made the journey from Columbus to South Jersey today. I got a call from my mom last night letting me know that she and my father both had been fighting the flu. This is a different strain, apparently, and it feels more like a cold or a sinus issue with a fever. I came here in order to drop off my trailer rather than try and negotiate it back into the drive way that's had an additional 2 feet of snow since I left last week. Despite my plan to try and avoid as many things that are probably smothered with viral bacteria, I've probably inoculated myself 80 times in the hour I've been here.

My chosen method of preemptively combating this has been via Airborne and Berocca dissolving tabs, and Banana Bread Beer (which I have found at a liquor store near my parents' house). After all, alcohol kills germs. I've been sort of smearing it around my mucous membranes. It stings a bit when I get it in my eyes.

On the drive today, I went through Barnesville and passed Sheepford Road. No actual Barnes or sheep sightings, although I did see some goats.

Today's example of 'Why I Hate People":

Dear idiots who drive British and European cars around with the fog lights on in perfectly clear weather,

Just because you think it makes your car look even more cool when you drive around with those extra two lights on in front, doesn't mean that you should. They are called 'fog lights', see, which sort of implies that you use them IN FOG. Perhaps you think that the little icon on your lights with the beam pointed down has some sort of symbolism, as in people bow to you because you opted for the accessory illumination package. What it actually means is that it shines the light down low to the ground. Now, if there's not any fog around, which is often the case here in the States, you have absolutely zero reason to be blinding the people behind you. How are you doing that, you ask? Well, it's because people that design your non-domestic vehicle actually understand the concept of using the lights when conditions make it necessary to do so, otherwise known as 'poor visibility'. As such, the car manufacturers also include at least one exceptionally bright red, rear light so that cars coming up behind you don't suddenly make you a hood ornament. Now, what happens when you, Mr./Mrs./Miss resident of the State of New Jersey, choose to run your fog lights on your Jaguar when there is not a cloud in the sky and you can see all the stars in God's creation? You are searing the retinas of people in the vehicles behind you since your car has two lights that are the equivalent brightness of your LED brake lights, that's what. Furthermore, you are causing a general traffic nuisance further back since the aforementioned lights do look like you are riding your brakes, thus causing other numpties to think there is some sort of slow down ahead. Panic and chaos ensues until someone else who knows equipment features on British and European cars sees you ahead, recognizes the idiotic danger of your stupidity, and resumes normal speed, indicating to other drivers that all is well, there's just a shithead driving that car that thinks fog lights are cool to use, and who obviously doesn't know that it also effects the rear lights.

This is yet another reason that I need to follow through with one of my invention ideas: the car message board. This would be either a lit scroll bar or a whiteboard on which you can write messages to other drivers. In this example, it would be something like 'Hey dumbass, read your owners' manual about what happens in the back when you turn on your fog lights.'

Of course, this means that I'd have to change the message to what it would say 99.9% of the time when I drive: 'Learn the concept of the passing lane.'


The UK lot has started their 30 in 30 month. That's 30 rides in 30 days. I really wish I could participate in this, but I was driving today, and I don't yet have a trainer to use up north. Maybe I'll do my own 30 in 30 and just start it when I can. Hmm...