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September 30, 2005
I got back just a little bit ago from having the bike commute challenge breakfast. 10 of the 17 bicyclists came, which I thought was really good. I meant to take a picture of the spread, but as usual, I was so caught up in the preparations that when I finally had a chance to sit down, I forgot about taking pictures. Even in spite of doing most of the shopping and prep last night, I forgot some things, like a knife and cutting board to cut bread, or a knife to cut up apples.
In spite of forgetting some things, the bakery not having some things I wanted, my running late, etc, etc, people seemed really thrilled about the breakfast. They seemed impressed that there was coffee, and OJ. That there was fruit and yogurt and hardboiled eggs (and salt & pepper), as well as scones and rolls and croissants and bread (since there was no baguette or ficelle in the bakery). It was so gratifying, how thrilled they were.
I was afraid it would be me, sitting alone in the room, but everyone came and hung out, talked about our commutes and our challenges, quite happily and excitedly. Several people who didn't bike in today (it's raining, dontchaknow) even brought their bike helmets!
I had approached our HR department about offering some sort of token endorsement, but got no response. I can't say I was surprised, though it really seemed to anger some of my challengers. I ended up spending a pile of money on this, but I feel so good about it. It was worth every penny.
So I feel 180 degrees better than yesterday. Today, the fact that someone had gone through my desk, stolen money and a computer, and had strewn my stuff all over the place, seems far away. Or much farther away than yesterday, at least.
The last couple nights, I've been so tired that I haven't remembered my dreams. Or nightmares, since that's all that I'm remembering these days. Now that the adrenaline and coffee is wearing off, I'm feeling pretty worn out. It's been a draining week.
I've been relying heavily on my iP0d this week, and have been stuck on just a couple things. There's a new JuniorSenior song (Taking my Time) that features the ladies from the B52s that I totally cannot get enough of. They (JuniorSenior) somehow manage to incorporate their joyology into a song about dating uncertainity - I don't get it, maybe it's part of not having English as their first language. But I love it.
I've just stumbled on the New Pornographers, and I have become an addict there too. I just got Twin Cinema (dig that IMDB ripoff website!), and I love it. I listen to it over and over again. I just saw the video for Use It this morning and now fragments are crashing around in my head.
There's a song off Liz Phair's new album which is just driving me nuts, Stars and Planets, and a They Might Be Giants song off the Brain Candy soundtrack, and so I just keep cycling through these. I'm bound to get sick of them at some point, but, who knows when.
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September 29, 2005
could I just go back to bed?
Yesterday, my work day imploded. It was just one of those days, a combination of hurry up and wait, my own procrastination catching up with me, and the mistakes of others. I stayed late, and got to my hair appointment late.
Things turned around at the hairdresser's. As usual, she worked wonders with my hair, and did my eyebrows for free. I then went and met up with Sweetie and friends at a new brewpub, and had a couple of beers. We got home late.
This morning, surprise, I didn't want to get up, and I really didn't want to go to work. But I did go to work. I bicycled in, relishing my saddle sore. I have a saddle sore, aren't I lucky? I have to say that while bicycling was nice, it didn't elevate my mood.
And then I got up to my office, and it was ramsacked. I go through phases of being very orderly and phases of having piles of paper everywhere, and I was in the latter phase. Whoever did this was not trying to be subtle. My paperclip tin was emptied on my desk. A birthday card from mom, wide open, my gym clothes all tore apart (ooogh). And the work powerbook is gone.
I found some of a cow-orker's clothing in a recycling bin. That's been it for good.
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September 28, 2005
my day of overdoing it
So. Yesterday I rode Sweetie's bike in. At lunch, I walked the Salmon Street Death March with the rest of our hearty crew of Death Marchers. I got some super-excellent pictures which I am so very excited about. I found some new bike lane stencils, and whoa, that really makes my heart flutter.
Then, I rode Sweetie's bike home. No news there. I luff his bike.
Then I went to pilates. On the way, I found two more bike lane stencils that were new to me! Then, I got to class, and my instructor tried to kill me. She was concentrating on glutes. Of course, pilates on Monday was all about glutes. And bicycling is all about glutes. And walking uphill. I tried chanting Nietzsche, like that did a lot of good. So after class, my hair is wet, my whole body is wet with sweat. I guess that worked.
Of course, this morning I woke up and every inch of me hurt. So I listened to one of Sheldon Brown's podcasts about English 3-speeds and the Oyster Band (I found this via Fritz at cyclelicio.us). Tszuj had mentioned Mr. Brown the other day when I was fumbling with bike-speak, but I had not visited his site. The podcast was totally too cool. I'm hooked. Last night I was a podcast virgin—now I am a devotee.
It was cold enough this morning, riding in, that I thought: I've got to wear tights in the morning. I've got to dry my hair. I've got to get a wool Buff. My skirt, which is too long, kept getting caught in the rear wheel. That was easy enough to remove but kinda a pain all the same. I was running late, so I was moving fast—but made my appointment. I give it the ment0s thumbs-up!
And thank you, all, for the suggestions on the breakfast. I hadn't even thought of fruit and/or hardboiled eggs. I'm still game for suggestions, and I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to pull this all off. The breakfast I'm hosting is Friday morning at 8am... and it would be very nice to bring everything in by bicycle. The bakery I'd like to get some of the croissant type things at opens at 7. I haven't figured out where to get the coffee—the building coffee shop could cater it, no doubt cheaply, but it's not really good coffee. And I want this all to be super special, super nice. Cuz I loves my Bike Commute Challengers!
Today's Question: how do you judge a liquor store? Here in Oregon, we sell all hard liquor in liquor stores (with a few exceptions). They vary wildly, from Soviet style commissaries to lush IKEAs (okay, maybe that isn't a good juxtaposition). I don't drink liquor at home, so I'm not a real good judge of what makes a liquor store good. Are there speciality liquors they should stock? What sorts of cool things should I be looking for? Any help here is appreciated.
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September 27, 2005
Sticky, sweaty and with bugs to boot
suggests that I'm delusional. And I have to give in on that. I read Jonathan
's description of being near His Mighty Bikedness at the LiveStrong Ride
, and some might go so far as to refer to Lance as an @$$h013. I still like to imagine that a miracle happened, and Lance Armstrong gave me, a fat middle-aged woman, a thumbs up, though I'm willing to believe that prehaps it was some Lance Armstrong imposter. It's all good, I'll take it either way.
I did mat pilates at the gym yesterday with a new instructor. She kicked my ass. I thought my legs were going to cecede from the union.
To make matters worse, I had brought super ugly clothing: a pair of super-baggy capris and a super-baggy striped shirt, which meant I looked super-fat. You know how when you look in the mirror, you look differently than in pictures, because your eye and brain are editing the perception? Well, I usually see myself as a chubby woman, probably not as a woman of the size that I really am. But yesterday, in those clothes, it was painful to look at myself in the mirror.
Lesson learned. Them's going to goodwill toute suite!
After riding home, encountering a bug swarm within a block of the house (?!? ugh!)(and having them stick all over my sweaty face and freshly lipglossed lips—double ugh!), and listening to a phone message from someone who wants me to advertise their motels on alt.portland (?!?), Sweetie took some pics of the new haircut. Unfortunately, I'm wearing that awful striped t-shirt and it's all I can see in the pictures. Well, that and I appear to be in front of a firing squad. You'll note in the second one that I am protecting myself with a dog.
I rode Sweetie's bike in this morning. Oh, so sweet. So incredibly sweet. (I want one so badly. Is it wrong to covet your darlin's bike?)
Hey, you guys. Today's Question: If someone was going to present you with the all time best continental breakfast, what would it include?
(I'm doing a continental brekkie for my Bike Commute Challengers, and I want it to be super-good!)
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September 26, 2005
And now for something completely different...
This weekend was big. I cut my hair
, took a walk
, and went for a bike ride
. Those links will take you to that section if you don't want to suffer through something you don't care for.
So, Friday, I went to the hairdresser with three options. Keep it long, do a cleopatra bob, or do this short-short cut. She chose the latter and went to work. It's beautiful. Really really short—so much so that a number of acquaintances haven't recognized me.
It was really fun. I like my hairdresser a lot, and trust her implicitly. Her boyfriend came by with the kids, and it was just sweet. Everyone friendly and outgoing, like a party going on in the shop. Loved it!
I got home and immediately got online and saw all the alt-chicks with their bobs, and thought, maybe I did the wrong thing. And then I thought, I'm not an alt-chick. I'm a middle-aged woman. No one is going to mistake me for Bettie Page, and that's fine.
I thought I'd miss playing with my hair, twisting it into a knot on the back of my head, swishing it around. But I don't, at all. If anything, washing my hair is especially pleasurable, as the hair on top of my head feels so thick and luxuriant. And my sweetie can't seem to keep his hands out of my hair.
I went to PFit on Saturday, albeit late, and did the walk. 7 miles. It seemed like nothing! It was great. It felt so good and there were so many interesting things to look at. I kept up a good pace, and felt just lovely and strong. It was super chilly so I was bundled up, but it was also clear and sunny.
This makes me think that my bad experience of a couple weeks ago was just that—a bad experience. And if I would have just tried it again, I probably could have gotten on track to do Portland. But it is probably good for me to take a bit of a break. And it will be great to work a water station, and maybe, walk someone in.
Oh. And Lance Armstrong gave me a thumbs up.
Am I delusional? I might be. I was coming to the end of my walk, and I had just gotten an excellent photograph of the absolute best bike path stencil in Portland so I was entirely blissed out. I was thrilled too that I had caught up with someone who had started 45 minutes ahead of me as well. So my heart was full to bursting with joy.
And then this guy drove by, in an old Jeep. He looked a lot like Lance Armstrong. In fact, he looked a lot like Lance Armstrong if he was trying to pass as a normal guy. And, he gave me a thumbs up.
I prefer to believe that it was Lance. But, who knows?
Sunday morning, I met up with the Slug Velo group for their Statuary in September ride. I like this group a lot—it seems to have a good cross-section of normal people and the bike-obsessed, and there's always a kid or two.
This month's ride visited George Washington, Joan of Arc, the moose, the volunteer, Portlandia, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Skidmore Fountain, meandering through eastside, from 57th and NE Sandy to the Hawthorne Bridge, then to the Park blocks, and Saturday market.
It's always easier riding with a group, and it's fun too. I chatted with Dale, the recumbent rider, about his bike, and the electric assist I thought he had. He told me a bit about the former electric assist, but I definitely didn't get the impression he liked it.
Another person had an electric assist: in fact, the bike was so new that this was her first ride on it, and she hadn't yet tried the assist. It was really sharp looking and I'm looking forward to learning how it's working out for her. The setback of the rear wheel doesn't look far enough back to support an xtracycle, and I think we all know how xtracycle-obsessed I am. But it seems quite economical.
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September 23, 2005
mentions Russell Secker's amazing performance running the Trans Gaule
. 18 days, 725 miles, (Atlantic) coast to (Mediterranean) coast. Incredible. Read more about him here:
Oh, and listen to this quote from the Austin American-Statemen article:
A kilometer from the finish line, they all stopped and gathered, the faster runners waiting for the slower ones, so they could cross together on their final leg. "It was an emotional moment and a great way to end," Secker wrote in his blog.
Wow, now that is too cool!
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One of those days
Last night riding home, I felt like my legs were long and so strong. I felt like a bicycle riding pilates ad. But my legs just felt so good, so... leggy.
(for those of you who don't know me in real life, my legs aren't long. Shapely, proportional to body size, check and check, but there's no hiding that I'm short-legged. That's fine, they still both work)
It was a nice ride home. I worked hard at points and took it easy at points, but got home, not out of breath. Very nice. I had fallen into work, so I missed a lot of the traffic, too.
It's already turning out to be one of those days.
Exhibit A: altportland. Some of the pages offer the option of comments, some don't. Okay, so that's not consistent. But worse: you can't actually leave comments. The commenting mechanism isn't even there. Oops. How embarrassing.
Exhibit B: the pc laptop. I'm borrowing this from work, and I went to grab some of the work that I had done over the weekend. Hmmm. I look around for blank CDs, they were just on the table, but, not any longer. Hell, I don't even know that this pc will burn CDs! So, plan B. I grab a floppy disk out of my backpack, and grab the external floppy drive out of the laptop case. The laptop is docked because the mouse mechanism sucks so, and, there is no port on the dock that matches the floppy drive. Okay. So I undock the laptop, and—no port on the actual laptop will work either. Sigh.
Exhibit C: yesterday's pictures. I noticed I never added them. Yikes.
I ride into work and that is just fine. On pinky. Yay!
Today I alternated between being in 3rd gear, and hitting a particular speed, and then shifting into second, and trying to maintain that speed without bouncing all around. It's getting a little better, and to my surprise, I can very frequently maintain that speed. I try to chant pilates phrases to myself about my core being strong and locked into place, which gives me the giggles.
Exhibit D: my work computer. I come up to my desk all in a whirl, ready to start immediately on my deadline task and—up comes a message that the computer must reboot several times more to finish updating the software. I can't win this one. I go to the coffee shop.
I'm hoping the coffee shop will signify the beginning of a brand new, sparklin' day, full of productiveness and not roadblocks (especially of my own manufacture). And not a lot of hurricane damage.
September 22, 2005
Riding it out
Okay. Things aren't looking as rosy. Sweetie's brother and family couldn't get out of League City. Sweetie's aunt, frail and living in a flood plain, spent four hours on the road and got 8 miles away today, so everyone is holed up at her house. Sweetie's dad is hanging tough.
I'm so worried about them.
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Waiting for the storm
Flickr is having a massage right now. I'll post pics when it gets done with that.
The ride home on Pinky last night was not pretty. But it really is getting easier on the 3 speed. Just not as easy as on Sweetie's sweet ride. I'm going to keep riding Pinky on M-W-F, as I hope it is making me stronger.
The Steel pedestrian bridge was going up as I was approaching it, so I went over the regular Steel bridge. I almost made it to the top with stopping, almost. As I was atop the bridge, the MAX was on the bridge at the same time, and I'm moving a smidge faster, thinking, hey I'm out here in the open air, and you guys are in a metal tube. A nice metal tube but a metal tube all the same.
I think about those fixies (A fixed gear bicycle, also known as a fixie, is a single speed bicycle without a freewheel. The cog is 'fixed' to the hub, usually secured by a reverse-thread lockring. This from wikipedia, natch.), and I swoon. I'd love to be the rider of a fixie. But first I need to gain skill and strength and stamina, and I'm sure not there yet. But it's nice to see some progress.
In Portland Transport, Jessica wrote about Evacuation, Sans Car. It's a timely subject, certainly, and one I've been obsessing about. Hmmm, me, boyfriend, 4 cats, one dog—that's a lot of stuff to carry in two bicycles or two scooters. Yet, two wheeled transport seems much smarter, especially if automobile traffic is sluggish or stopped.
I'm also nervously watching Rita. Sweetie has relatives in League City (Galveston County) and NW Houston. We heard from his brother a couple of nights ago, but since, neither we nor Sweetie's Mom have been able to reach him. Initially he and his extended family were going to hole up at his father-in-law's, but now that there is a mandatory evacuation of Galveston County, well, we're all hoping they're moving inland. I just wish we knew for sure about that. Sweetie's Dad is boarding the place up, planning (last we heard) to try to ride it out. And another relative has moved Sweetie's beloved Aunt Betty, as her place will almost certainly flood.
Last night, I dreamt that I was in a disaster. The most memorable part of it was that some guy irritated me so I broke his arm(!), but there was also some 4-wheeling along the side of a freeway, and some other stuff which is fading rapidly. Snow, for example (?). I had broken the irritating guy's arm right before waking up, as well as incorporating Sweetie's soothing wake up manner as little talking animals. Don't ask me, I don't know.
September 21, 2005
Yesterday, we did the Salmon Street Death March. Essentially, we start at Waterfront Park and walk up Salmon, strangely enough, til we get to Washington Park, some 26 blocks away. Up a fairly steep hill at points. It really winded me. I need to get out more often, obviously.
On my ride home, I was still cranky about a California-plated SUV driver who was adamant that I ride in front of her across Broadway—four lanes of traffic speeding directly at me, about a block away. I did get across the road, cursing myself for giving in to her "kindness", and then every stop sign required a stop. Get up some speed, then, stop. Repeat. Okay. Fine. Remember, Vicki, you're a good rider. You obey traffic laws (when other vehicles are around). Even though my adrenaline had my heart in my throat.
I'm waiting at a stop sign when I hear a voice behind me saying hi. It's Ali, one of my PTC teammates, also on her bike, natch. We chat, and then she says those words that freeze you in your tracks: I read your blog.
I met Jessamyn West at a party once. I followed her journal, so when we were introduced, I said so. That creeps me out, she replied. I wasn't expecting that. Hell, she posts her journal online, and I'm telling her it's interesting enough that I read it, and she's creeped out?? I didn't really get it then, but I do now.
There are all these invisible people (to me) who read a blog, and then there are the ones that make contact. When you meet the ones who have made contact, it's not weird, really. So why is it weird when someone you know socially tells you they read your blog? I don't know, really. It makes me confused, because, honestly, why shouldn't Ali read my blog? I mean, it's a compliment, dagnab it!
Anyways, I think I got over my initial freak-out quickly, probably by trying to get up the little Dishman hill, and was just enjoying talking with her. What a nice coincidence! I thought about it afterwards—bicycling as a form of social interaction. Pretty darn cool.
If I were scootering, would we have talked? Probably not. If we were on the bus—maybe. But that is one of the beauties of bicycling or walking—you have these opportunities to interact, to be friendly. Nice.
We parted about a block from my house. She shouted something; I couldn't distinguish what she said from the traffic. I wanted to say goodbye, and say, hey, my house is a block up and it's a nice through street (though not as through as others), and great to see you, nice talking to you, and thank you for reading my blog, but, no.
This morning I rode Pinky in. Not as fun as Sweetie's bike. Oh, that pains me to say that! But true. It was a nice ride, cool, sunny, absolutely beautiful. I loved seeing all my regular peeps: the karate guy, the ham radio operator who always walks the esplanade loop, the friendly homeless folk.
I swooped into the garage (whuhoo, I swooped! Shouldn't that by itself be the highlight of my day?), and then saw the guy, who I used to consider an ally, who is proposing outsourcing my work. I rode behind him, and I wanted to shout, So, So-and-so, are you outsourcing my job?, but then I thought that the combination of me bearing down on him (even on a pink cruiser bicycle with silk flowers on the basket) was probably too aggressive. So I just said hi, and I meant to ask him about it, but then a couple of other cyclists came through, and that was that.
So in the end, I didn't ask. I don't trust that he'd give me a truthful answer anyways. If I was in his position, would I?
Oh, and so far in the Bike Commute Challenge, I have ridden 78 miles. This doesn't count the couple of times I've bicycled to lunch, done errands, biked to dinner in Northwest, gotten bored and taken a longer route, etc. 78 miles!
I decided this morning to take a look at other daily Portland blogs. I know they exist, I even follow some of them, for heavens sakes. But doing a blog search only turned up three useful hits (in the 80 I bothered to skim). Interesting.
I'm kinda obsessed, again, with alt.portland, and working on a redesign so it looks new as well as is new. I have been working on a daily blog for it, which I haven't announced there. I don't want to announce it til I have a number of entries, and now I have a number of entries, but... But I think when I get the redesign finished, I'll move the blog to the front page, and the front page to an about page. Exciting stuff, huh? Oh, the minutia!
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September 20, 2005
Lots of links, lots of distractions
I just walked by one of the HR people, who had a giant binder on her desk: What to do about Personnel Problems. The spine looks like this:
What do do about
(I can't help feeling that I am a personnel problem. Outsourcing. Ugh.)
I love my sweetie's bike. Love, love, love. I go up that damned ramp up from the Esplanade to Holladay Street, and it's work, but not unending, thigh-searing, why-does-g-d-hate-me? work. Up the hill from the Rose Quarter, that's okay too. I even recover in time to be able to charge through intersections.
Today someone asked me if it was a folding bike. I thought of the cool Brompton I saw the other day, which folds up so small you can put it under your desk, and I realized that this guy was not a bike nerd—he was just making conversation. Which is fine too.
Today it is cool and sunny, and I had that wonderful synchronism of feeling like the pedals were natural extensions of my legs. The transfer of power, the small movements in my feet, it all affects the ride. I just felt like I could do that all day, and not be happier.
There have been a couple of interesting bicycling stories circulating: the principal who rides to school, the teachers who get paid (sorta) to bike-commute, and now, the bike messenger whose food costs are reimbursed! These are all via Treehugger, mostly via cyclelicio.us.
Cyclelicio.us also posts a public service announcement about protecting your bike from bike theft.
Finally, something not about bicycles. Here's a Vespa video. It's no LambrettTwist, but it's enjoyable in its own way.
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September 19, 2005
Bright lights, big city
I had a good weekend, but today has been unpleasant. First, one of the cats appeared very ill, then I felt very ill, then I went to a meeting where I learned that some of my coworkers are working towards outsourcing my and my associates jobs. So I'm a wee bit distracted.
Anyways. Saturday morning began really early. I got to the Rose Quarter at 5:20 to get my volunteer assignment. PFit was having their 21 mile benchmark, and I was going to work a water station. It was going to be the water station on Mt. Tabor, our resident slumbering volcano, so I went straight there.
Mistake number one was just wearing a fleece. I froze on the scooter, and I never warmed up. It was chillier too on Mt. Tabor. Anyways, I hung out with Deb, who was also coffee-deprived and cold, and we watched the runners and walkers come charging down the hill. Quite impressive.
While we were standing there, we noticed four or five Japanese monks, in robes, walking up the hill. They were quite impressive too, but I didn't want to be rude, so I tried not to stare. They were interested to learn that we were a marathon training group. Then they went up to the playground and swang on the swings. Too cool.
In the afternoon, I tried to sell my older bike. This would be the one that I bought last August, and immediately became disenchanted with. Someone came by, rode it around, and then left. I was disappointed.
Then I went to ride that bike this morning. My gosh, it's awful. Super uncomfortable. I need to get it tuned up and then reassess.
In the evening, we took part in an Asian beer tasting. I brought sushi from one of my favorite places, and another person made excellent asian snacks, so we were eating very well. And we tried a variety of beer, and had a great time.
Yesterday's highlight was taking pictures of neon. I went and took some pictures of my favorite signs, which I'm hoping to transform into an alt.portland logo. It's either that or tattoos. We'll see.
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September 16, 2005
Here's the short version.
Riding Sweetie's Townie 24 home was sweet! I was still slow going up hills, but I was going up them! And when I got back home, I didn't feel like I needed to lie down for the next 45 minutes. I also made it home 5 minutes faster.
Pilates: yucky. I was achey and tired and just felt exhausted during and afterwards.
This morning I rode in. (Of course) I had asked Sweetie if I could borrow his bike again, and he agreed, and then I noticed that it was raining. Not hard, but still. Since his bike has no fenders, I made the easy decision: ride pinky. And so I did. I love my basket, I love my bell, I love my shiny chrome fenders.
By the time I got into work, I felt hard-core! Yeah! You couldn't wipe the grin off my face. So much so that I sent the Talk Like a Pirate message to all my coworkers. I'm waiting for the fallout, but so far, nothing.
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Talk Like a Pirate Day is Monday
Forgive me, all of you. But Monday is Talk like a Pirate Day.
As you can see, there appears to be a correlation between global warming and the number of pirates. While we have Very Important Work to do, perhaps through individual efforts like Talk Like a Pirate Day, we can make a positive, err, I mean negative impact on global warming.
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September 15, 2005
Still we ride!
After a trying experience with the Russell Street hill yesterday evening, I asked Sweetie if I could borrow his Townie 24.
Sure, it might have been the beer that I drank with my librarian Portland to Coast team. Sure, I'll give you that. But it was an unpleasant experience. The hill, not the librarians.
So, I rode it (being the black on black townie 24) in this morning. It was funny because I did very little shifting—but of course, the route into work is mostly downhill.
It felt terribly fast. It still has no rack or basket so my satchels were digging into my shoulder, and no bell. The whole bell thing (or lack thereof) is very irritating.
Much to my surprise, all the folks in the garage commented that I was riding a different bicycle. The western African woman complimented its sleekness. It's a sweet ride, and that black on black—well, it's not pink. But it's awful nice.
I'm tempted to make an excuse to get lunch on Hawthorne, just to see how it does on that slow, slow hill. It's doable on Pinky, but I wonder if I would even notice the hill on Sweetie's?
I'm hopeful that perhaps this afternoon's commute home won't be such work. Part of me thinks the ease that I rode around with during the Bridge Pedal was all a peloton-inspired dream.
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September 14, 2005
Too Much Information
It was there, late Monday, that we had our first major incident of this year's tour: a serious outbreak of skinny-dipping. It reminded us of the first law of skinny-dipping: It's never the people you'd like to see skinny-dip who actually skinny-dip.
— Jonathan Nicholas: Coming full cycle : Cycle Oregon celebrates the sport's advances, then lets loose with some skinny-dipping, the Oregonian, 9/14/2005
Yesterday afternoon, I was down in the garage, getting ready to ride home. I spotted one of our Bike Commute Challengers, we started chatting. We're having a nice conversation when another coworker appears, in shorts and a t-shirt. This person has a history of inappropriate and/or strange actions and comments—last week he told me I looked like a little girl in a play. Huh? Anyways, he jumps on his bike (he's not a BCCer), whips off his shirt, and saying something about sticking it to the oil companies, while pedaling off. Dude, I just did not need to see that!
I went to mat pilates last night and my instructor tried to kill me. If this hadn't happened before, like at the beginning of each new two-month session, I would think that she really meant me, and the rest of the class, harm. But every session, she tries to shake us down (and succeeds to a huge extent) by doing an insanely hard class.
I was still feeling Monday's extremely hard mat pilates going into this, so I suffered. Oh yes. In the arms section, I ended up putting down my weighted bar several times. It was harsh. By the time I walked out, my hair, and my whole body was wet with sweat.
I stopped at my bike shop on the way home, to ask about the gearing on my bike. The service guy mentioned swapping in a 7 gear hub, which would be a couple hundred, or just swapping out the chainwheel rings for something with some more teeth. That would be cheaper, the guy says, 50 dollars, 40 dollars, 30 dollars—until I finally asked if I stood there long enough, would it be free?
(Are they called rings? I hate being this ignorant.)
So, I am very excited. We'll try the cheap option first and see how that goes.
While I was there, I looked at the other townies. There was a red one with white trim that was kinda classy looking, but I still feel like my townie wins out, stylewise.
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September 13, 2005
I forgot the interesting thing. While riding the bike into work today, I saw a homeless couple having sex.
This would probably be more exciting or illicit if they were trying to be at all clandestine about it. Or exhibitionist. But there it was, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
I made the transition from athletic chunky girl to fat woman in my mid-twenties. I was in Germany, not having a particularly good time. When I got back, my cab-driving coworkers kidded me about liking the food there. I didn't really get it, as I really hadn't liked the food there. And then one day, I realized, I'm fat. I don't know, maybe I stood on a scale or got a good look at myself in the mirror, but the realization was like a lightning bolt. I had been reasonably happy with my clumsy body, and then suddenly, it was a shanda.
Low and behold, I had gained 100#. And been largely unaware of it. How on earth?, you might be asking. Believe me, I still ask myself that. I don't know. There was a lot of unpleasantness that had gone on, and I had been otherwise occupied.
I am going through a period right now of being obsessed with haircuts. Right now, my hair is shoulder-length, with bangs, but I've become very fixated with cutting it very short. Cheesepuppet went through this a couple of months back.
As usual, it starts so innocently. I've been thinking: does my hair make me look like I'm trying to look young? And the favorite, does my hair look stoopid long? There's also the long hair on a middle-aged woman suggests (in some cases) working-class. One of my coworkers, in her 50s, has grown her hair out—and she looks awful.
Then I see a woman in a cafe with short hair, and it's all I can do to keep myself from walking over and talking to her. It's a very German cut, and no, I can't get more specific than that.
Of course, if I had been smart, I would have talked to her, and I would have taken pictures. But I didn't. And so today on lunch I marched over to the B0rders Public Library to check out hair magazines.
What I learned is: long hair is in. Short hair is not. I'm hopefully going to go to the tobacconist tonight and see what they have in honest-to-g-d German magazines. And then I'll go talk to my hillbilly-punkrawk hairdresser and see what she thinks of this craziness.
Oh. And I'm obsessed with two songs. Let me share.
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struggle vs ease
And just like *that*, my funk is gone. I woke up and feel human again. Who knows?
Yesterday, I went to the gym mat pilates class, which is always really tough. And was. My arms hurt like hell today. Incredible.
I biked home, in spite of really wanting to load the bike onto MAX and getting home that way (funk, you know). It was good. I decided to consciously not hurry, to just relax. If it takes me awhile to get up the hill in this gear, so be it. So, I felt like I was going insanely slow—but once I looked at the computer, I realized that it really hadn't taken more time at all. Progress!
The evening was spent with friends watching Galaxy Quest. We got home late, but it felt good to have some social time.
And then I sprung up outta bed this morning like I had springs.
I was talking with a friend who I haven't talked to in months this morning (I'm bad about communications even with people I really really like, and I'm phone-adverse). Anyhow, she asked me about what walking events I had coming up, and I said, nothing. It's so weird to think, to realize, that I have no races coming up. I mentioned that my ambition and motivation for walking dried up after the Gorge Marathon, and she said that happens everytime her partner does a marathon.
I know I'm not the only one, but it felt good to hear someone else say, you just needed a break. I feel so guilty about it. I feel like such a slacker. But perhaps sometime soon, I'll wake up and want to race again.
There are so many stories coming out of the Gulf in the aftermath of Katrina. I get frustrated at points with the whole libertarian 'you shouldn't rely on the government' thing. Hello, government is, among other things, to maintain social supports. Giving people water, food, and shelter in a disaster is not communism.
This report is from a guy in Mississippi who had a deadline. This guy had a lot going for him: luck, not being in New Orleans, not being black, not being poor, having a working vehicle with gas in it, and having some infrastructure to be able to be off the grid. The infrastructure part was what I found interesting.
Which makes me think: I should set up my exercycle to be a DC generator. I should put solar panels on my house. And then it makes me think, sure it's nice that I can filter my water or buy it at the store, and that means that the tap water quality isn't as important to me as if that were the only source I could afford. What's wrong with solutions that benefit everyone—that make everyone float?
I've felt angry that the poor are dismissed by others as lazy and lawless, and that somehow they deserve what comes to them. Yes, we should all be accountable for our actions, but for heavens sakes, the majority of people under the poverty line work fulltime. They should work harder—how exactly?
There's an interesting Q&A with Donna Beegle, an educator who came from generational poverty—a really thought provoking read.
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September 12, 2005
I had a nice bike ride in this morning. It's amazing to me how restorative these rides are. I had a bad night's sleep, I'm in a funk, but for the 20 minutes of my ride, everything is going to come out okay.
Yesterday, my sweetie and I decided to scooter part of the route for Portland to Coast. We got a couple miles into my leg, leg 20, and once we hit the gravel road, decided to turn back. What's scary is that I really don't remember walking the route. I remember looking out the window of the van, but, my first leg -- not bloody much.
Incredible. This was just a couple weeks ago.
Perhaps the highlight of the ride, however, was coming across this skeleton of a boat beneath the St. Johns Bridge.
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September 11, 2005
Katrina - real stories
This week's This American Life is about real stories from New Orleans. The show is called After the Flood:
Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. Broadcast the weekend of September 9-11 in most places, or available via RealAudio next week.
You must listen to this. It will break your heart.
UPDATE: One Good Move has the segments available online. Thank you Norm!
September 9, 2005
stuff as a mirror of self?
I'm sitting on my back porch right now, drinking coffee. It may sound beautific—well, it is—but I just checked work email and am working off and on on work stuff, and just spent the last two hours furiously cleaning house. So it's nice to sit.
Someone is vacuuming out my heat and cold air return ducts. Given that there are only four heat duct outlets, this shouldn't take long—though the ducts are so old, and so narrow, that the duct cleaning guy isn't sure how much he'll be able to do.
He was pretty certain he wouldn't be able to do the upstairs heat duct at all. Of all of them, that's the one I really want done. For the first two winters I lived in this house, I had no heat upstairs. I was superpoor at the time, but I finally asked my handyman to look at that duct and make some recommendations. He pulled two full garbage bags (of dirty diapers and other garbage) out, and suddenly, there was heat upstairs. Unbelievable.
I was feeling everything yesterday. And today. I rode the bike into work, and felt like my legs and arms, and even my sternum were made of rubber, taut and strong. I did the Salmon Street Death March over lunch, which kicked my ass. An hour and a half of steep ups, then downs. Must do more hills! And then, riding the bike home the usual way, I felt each pedal stroke in my belly—which was aching from pilates on Tuesday, and scooter riding on Wednesday.
Last night was a mat pilates night that I didn't make. I fell into work, and then there was too much cleaning to be done at home. I keep coming back to the realization: I have too much crap. And I've been slowly working away at it—but I'm impatient with my progress.
Some of it is big stuff, like the exercise bicycle. I don't ride it, it makes too much noise. And now that I'm commuting frequently by bike, the idea of riding a stationary bike in the living room just doesn't sound like that much fun. So do I admit that buying exercise equipment was a failure and unload it? I should, but I haven't, and I just don't want to admit it.
I wonder how much my not wanting to admit my limits has to do with my hording of crap. There are the books that I haven't read, that reflect the person I want to be. The hobbies taken up and abandoned. I try to remind myself that whittling away at my horde allows me to focus on my interests now. It's hard though.
September 8, 2005
My night with two Rivas
I had a breakthrough yesterday at work, and I am now feeling a lot better. It's just a little thing, but it's so exciting. I'm learning!
Last night I biked home on a different route: crossing the Hawthorne bridge, taking 3rd through the Eastside Industrial Area, cutting over onto MLK and riding on the sidewalk for a couple blocks, and then up 2nd. The hill was more gradual, but riding on the sidewalk on MLK, next to 4 lanes of slow moving cars, made me feel kinda like an idiot. So that's out.
It occurred to me that most 3 speeds are geared: hill, flat, downhill. Though mine is geared: hill, hill, flat. I wonder if there's anything I (or more likely, the bike shop) can do to extend my range?
Photo by Brad Ralph
of a scooter at a rally in Vancouver.
Last night, we met up and went for a ride with the St. Johns Scooter Club. Mind you, we don't live in St. Johns, but they didn't seem to mind. It was a small group, 7 of us, with one motorcycle, two Yamaha Rivas, a Yamaha 75? maybe, two Kymcos, and a Bajaj. One of the first things one of the Riva riders said was that he used to have a 1950s Vespa, but traded it in for the speed, reliability and convenience of a 20 year old Riva. I knew that was a good sign.
Maybe I'm more aware of this than most, but it seems amongst many scooterists, a vintage metal scooter (Vespa, Lambretta, AllState, IWL,...) is the right thing to ride. Unfortunately, these often require a lot of tinkering to keep them going. So I ride my reliable plastic asian scooter, and wish it was just a bit cooler.
This conceit—vintage/metal/european is better than non-vintage/plastic/asian—is barely below the surface in some interactions. I admit, I prefer the looks of the vintage scooters, too. I just don't prefer having something that I have to constantly be coddling.
So, anyways, the group was great. I was so happy to meet up with Riva owners—my first scooter was a Riva, and I loved it—they were nice folks, and a small enough group that we were able to hang out and chat for a while comfortably before taking off. We rode through the NW hills, by the zoo, and then up to Council Crest. It was a beautiful night.
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September 7, 2005
Change of direction
More layoffs have happened. People look like they've seen their own ghosts.
But I'm trying to keep my spirits up. There's work to be done, goals to meet, things to learn.
I got home from athletically bicycling home (it's getting better. It's not easy, but it's getting better!) last night, changed clothes, made ramen, and sat on the stoop eating it. Sweetie was off doing sweetie-things, and the weather was nice—it was a nice thing to do. Watch the bicycles and cars and pedestrians go by, talk to my neighbors.
After that I went to pilates. The soccer guy was there, and we talked beer until class started, but no Jill. Class was not frenzied or insane as it sometimes is—perhaps because the instructor had bicycled there? Anyways, it was intense enough that I was covered with sweat by fifteen minutes in.
This morning, I thought about finances. For the time being, I am still fully employed, but who knows what will happen to the economy in the next little while. A quick estimate suggests that I'm spending about $60 a week on food, coffee and water at work. Sixty bucks! If I could manage to save that, that's not chump change—that's over $3K a year.
My goal isn't to spend no money, but certainly a lot less than I am now. So, I brought a can of soup for lunch, a tub of yougurt for a snack, and this morning I am seeing what the morning is like with no coffee at work. Will I survive? Who knows?
I biked in, of course. Damn I love it. It's just so much fun. I angled by the library to drop off some books, and then rode a whole new route in. I rode by an elementary and saw tons and tons of adults walking their kids into school—today is the first day.
On the ride into work, I just feel so free. The ride home is much less fun, but I love that I can change direction at will or whim.
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September 6, 2005
alt.Portland and bike culture
Wuhoo! The new alt.portland is up!
If you're familiar with the old alt.portland, well, yes, it doesn't look any different. This is the problem of concentrating on content. I may try to whip up a quick design later today. But I am so relieved and happy that it is updated and live and all that.
Previously, I had thought that I would send out a self-promo email now, saying that it was new and live. But since it looks just like it did, and I've really only pruned out-of-date content, maybe it's too early for the self-promotion. However, I know that the guide used to be seen as an important document, and it's fallen from grace, and I want to restore that grace ASAP.
I tried a variation on my usual route this morning, and I feel like it was a big improvement. Less street riding, more cutting through parking lots and riding on sidewalks. It is cool and sunny out, a beautiful day to be out on a bike. And as usual, that's been the highlight of the day.
We found some fun bike propaganda yesterday. Try these on for size:
The Amazing Bike Haiku Bros. Mega Mix
Moving via Bike
Portland Bicycle Tour
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September 5, 2005
A long weekend with little to show for it.
Well, I'm at the end of another long weekend, and what do I have to show for it? Not a whole lot. I'm within spitting distance of finishing moving alt.portland to MT, so that's very exciting. But I keep falling into reading about New Orleans and Katrina, which just fills me with so much anger and helplessness.
Really, it's been that kind of weekend. Saturday morning, I decided I was going to either walk 30K or 6 hours, whichever came first. I started out at 5am, pitch black outside, and started walking from my place to the PFit meeting area. My neighborhood is still described in the media as sketchy, and I admit, I was a little nervous. I decided to stick to main, well-lit streets.
Mind you, I love walking at night. Love it. The quiet, the cool, the stillness. And it was. Barely any traffic, barely anyone else walking around. I saw several people, and that was fine—it was cool, they were cool, I was cool.
I walked past a car dealership, which had a second floor balcony that I had never before noticed. Security guards were patrolling it, and seemed particularly interested in me. Hello, if I were an ecoterrorist, would I be wearing a wildly flowered skort? I mean, really?
It was beautiful crossing the Broadway Bridge, with the sky becoming light, and then walking into the deserted Pearl district. Once I was into NW proper, I got nervous. There were three guys, drunk, carrying another case of beer, side by side, shouting at each other as if they were a block away. Add some misogynist terms for women, and oh boy. I slowed down. They turned off two blocks later.
So that's the good part. I did a 12 mile route with PFit, walking with one of the slowest walkers. She told me about losing 50# in the last year, which totally made me feel like a slacker. About 5 miles in, I ran into Hollie and stopped to chat with her, which was great.
By the time I got started again, I really was the last walker, and I never did catch up. By the time I hit the route's 10 mile mark, I was really hurting, and I had been out for 5 hours at that point. So. I had walked only about 13 miles in 5 hours. Yikes. I thought about finishing just for the sake of finishing, but for some reason, I had told Sweetie that I would be home around 10, and here it was after 10. Of course, there are no pay phones, because everyone in the US other than me has a cellphone. Finish, be in pain, don't call Sweetie or call late? They just didn't seem like good options.
I have to admit, it all demoralized me. 13 miles in 5 hours?! Jeez! Was I just going too slow out there? Is there a too slow? Or am I this out of shape?
I don't have an answer. I wish I did. It makes me really sad.
I was hoping that today I could do a middlish walk, 8 miles or so, but it's looking inproblable with my goal of getting alt.portland done, and helping Sweetie restructure the kitchen.
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September 2, 2005
moving towards living my politics
Like so many, I cannot believe the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. I feel so helpless. This could have been prevented. This could have been prevented. Not hurricanes, obviously, but the conditions that make hurricanes stronger. Not flooding, but ensuring that the levees were strong enough. What about evacuation of the poor? What about securing our largest national port? Isn't that national security, having a plan for disasters that have been predicted, for heavens sakes? Isn't that national security, protecting the poor—if for no other reason that they will cause revolution if you don't?
As Michael Moore wrote:
Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
Anyways, sorry. It's really on my mind.
Bike ride, ride, ride. Lots of bicyclists out. It's quite nice, that.
I've been thinking that I need to take everything down a notch. I've been running a deficit the size of my student loan payment every month since my student loan came due, and I think it's time to acknowledge that it's there, and figure out how to stop that.
What I've been coming up with is pretty common sense, I suppose. Cook and eat at home, that should save a pile of cash. Use the bike for transportation more. Try to use the car even less than I already do.
Something that I've been really interested in is a local product called a stokemonkey.
Stokemonkey is an electric motor assist kit for Xtracycle Sport Utility Bicycles. Xtracycle gives almost any bike amazing cargo capacity, and Stokemonkey gives you the power to haul it over mountains or swiftly across town.
It's for people who want to transport their spouse, their child, and their camping gear a dozen hilly miles offroad and back. It's for picking up a friend with two checked bags at the airport. It's for your knees. And if there are thousands of vertical feet between your farmers market and your family kitchen, now you can pedal those couple dozen melons home without qualifying for charitable sponsorship.
It's for people who commute twenty-five miles each way, can't shower at the office, and never want to sit in traffic. It's for taking the lane without slowing motorists down.
It's for people who understand that tweaking the efficiency of personal vehicles too heavy to lift is coming at sustainability problems from the wrong end, while ignoring the social and health problems of car dependence in built environments altogether.
I love the idea of being able to give up the car almost completely—to move to a Flexcar type model. I'd love to be a bicycle zealot—but as long as I'm a hundred pounds overweight and riding a 3-speed, even as wonderful as it is—that's going to be a hard row to hoe, you know?
Tomorrow is an 11 miler. I'm game to make it a 30K, to make up for a couple weekends ago. I haven't entirely come up with the game plan for this yet. But I'm looking forward to a good walk.
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September 1, 2005
Bike Commute Challenge
So, alt.portland is still static. Soon though, soon. (I hope!)
Today is the first day of the Bike Commute Challenge (they appear to be having server load issues, so, no link) here in Portland. Our Bicycle Transportation Alliance puts this together every year, for the last 10 years running. There are almost 500 businesses taking the challenge, and our team has 12 members.
It's fun. For competitive folks, they can see how they're doing against their coworkers. In the end, we get to see how we do against similar sized organizations. Last year, it was how I started actually bike commuting, which has created the monster that I currently am.
Last year we managed 2.5% trips by bike, with 136 days biked, 13 bicyclists and 8 new bike commuters. I'd really love to see those numbers rise.
So this morning, I noticed a new (to me) bike lane icon, a bicyclist wearing a hard hat, so I stopped to take a picture. At least 30 bicyclists must have gone past me in the couple of minutes I was off the bike. Pretty cool. It was a beautiful morning, bright, sunny, chilly. Great day for a bike ride!
Tzsuj had told me about the icon to the right. Pretty cool, eh?
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