Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Second Annual Traverse City Extravaganza

Cool nights, leafs on the deck, Bill and I did a night ride last weekend…it’s the end of summer. I handle autumn no better now than when I was 8 and really didn’t want to go back to school. My summer swan song will be our second annual Labor Day trip to Traverse City and, possibly, the Logsplitter Mountainbike Challenge Race. The challenge part of the race is not getting lost, a challenge which my friends and I all failed miserably at last year.

Allie and I went grocery shopping last night for snacks for the Labor Day weekend that will start Wednesday night. I let her pick out everything on her own; I was careful not to encourage or discourage any choice, I just walked along, neutral, like Switzerland. Allie can make the right decisions without any input from me, encouraging but with a hint of sadness at the same time.

Paul and Laura decided against going to TC this year. That’s a pity. They are a fun couple and such good cooks, they made the kind of meals you lay in bed at night afterwards just thinking about. We are on our own this year, I imagine we will just put Vanilla Bean Gu on store bought bagels and call it good. Bon App├ętit.

Now to try and find some locals that can show us the Iceman course. I tried to pick out the course on my own before and got lost. I am often lost.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Art of Being Un-Cool

Nothing blog worthy this week really. Tuesday I rode Poto with Randy, Rob, and Renee. The ride was interesting. We left later than planed, it took longer than planed, and it got dark earlier than planed. We did the last few miles in the dark. Pretty fun actually. Rob and I went pretty hard then we would stop and wait for Randy and Renee. I never talked to Rob before. He is maybe 21 and the polar opposite of me. He works enough to save a little money then goes hiking in a foreign country. He has been through Europe and South America. He told me stories, like when he tried to leave a bar in Peru (?) and the police wouldn't let him because it was too dangerous at night. He meets people along the way that let him stay at their house and show him around. Very cool. He is planning to go to Antarctica next, with no real plan as I understand it, just head south until he gets there. When I was 16, Mike and I drove my truck to Colorado with no real plan, just headed west, spending the nights at rest stops. Antarctica is a completely different animal.

I hit and killed a deer Wednesday and felt awful. I was getting ready for bed when Emilie asked for a strawberry banana smoothie from McDonald's. She just got braces and apparently smoothies are the only things she can eat. I couldn't let her starve so I went and when I was almost home a deer leaped out from the woods and ran into the side of my truck.

I normally drive very careful around my house. The woods are loaded with deer. I noticed the cool, adolescent deer egg each other on to play this game of chicken where they wait at the side of the road for cars to come by, leap out in front of the unsuspecting motorist at the last second, and watch the cars swerve. They then prance back into the woods and have a good laugh. I think they post video clips of these encounters on their facebook pages. The deer that ran into me miscalculated.

Yesterday I picked up Emilie from a friend's house. She asked to stop by the Apple Store on our way home. Apparently all the cool kids use MACs. The Apple Store was giving a class on how to use the I-Phone to a half dozen retired people, all looking very baffled. The Trekkie trying to teach them how to text had a hint of frustration in his voice. I think the problem wasn't they couldn't text, I think they didn't understand why they would want to. I felt very cutting edge compared to them, then realized I was the only person there who doesn't have an I-Phone. Maybe, just maybe, I am not only un-cool by "free-spirited lets go to Antarctica on a whim" standards, but also by "hip adolescent deer" and "retired and living in Novi" standards. This could be worse than I thought.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If I Had It To Do All Over Again

The girls were with Cindy all week in Traverse City, leaving a horribly empty vacuum in my evenings, filled slightly with riding all I wanted. By Thursday my legs felt like goo. I didn't think I had it in me to do the Thursday night MMBA group ride so I rode with Randy, Rob, and Bill instead. I think they all did their first races this year so I figured I should have no trouble keeping up. I would have struggled if they didn't ware themselves out by crashing so much. Ptfff...young bucks, except Bill, he's my age, and managed to stay upright this ride.

Saturday was the Maybury race. I had to work in the morning but took my single speed with me so I could do the race on the way home. It rained right before I left and this race didn't mean enough for me to do it in less than ideal conditions. The significance here was I intended to race. I don't think god intended me to be a racer; instead of making me in his own image, he made me a fat little kid, always the last one picked for baseball, the atrocities of which I haven't forgotten.

Saturday afternoon I met Cindy in the parking lot of Caribou Coffee to get the kids. Not to sound all introspective or anything but on the way to pick them up I considered if I would have lived my life differently if I could have a do-over. I made a lot of dumb mistakes. It's a silly thing to dwell on.

The kids ran to me in the parking lot and everything seemed normal again. We went into the coffee shop. I get coffee all the time, a pretty mundane experience really, but not with kids, they make it an adventure. Allie somehow got hot chocolate in her nose. God I love them.

Em asked me to take her to a friend's house when we got home. Allie asked to have a bicycle race, a very complicated race with ambiguous rules that seemed to change on a whim. Allison won. But I should point out that since I didn't know the course, I had to follow her which made passing pretty much impossible. And I haven't really been training this season. Why do I feel so compelled to explain my poor race results.

After the race, Allie asked to go swimming. We didn't have our suites or towels but that didn't curb her enthusiasm.

Which leads me back to my original question: would I live my life, a life filled with unforgivable mistakes, differently if I had the chance? Absolutely not.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Changing Gears

Sunday morning I changed my 16 tooth gear (left over from the Bloomer race) to something a little smaller in case I do the race at Maybury this weekend. The Surly gear did less damage to the aluminum cassette spline than my Chris King gear. I'm starting to dig Surly. My affection for Surly started when I saw they integrated a bottle opener into the single speed tug nut I bought earlier this season.

As if I needed another reason to dislike discs, I had to remove the rear caliper off my Inglis in order to slide the wheel back through the horizontal drop outs. No big deal yesterday but it would be very inconvenient if the rear flats during a race. And tires do flat no matter what set up you have. My front tube went flat yesterday as a matter of fact.

My Tomac came with Stans but somehow during its trip from Colorado to Michigan, the inside of the sidewalls bonded themselves together; I could not get them separated. I ended up cutting the new Kenda Karmas in half to get them off the rims, covering myself in this sticky Stans goo in the process. Are tubeless necessary? Really? I converted the wheelset back to tubes, yes, I know, I'm a Ludwig.

I don't give a lot of consideration to the type of tubes I use. I bought 20 Bontrager tubes this Spring, not that I thought Bontrager really had anything to do with them. My flat yesterday was caused by a broken valve stem. That was the third time I had a Bontrager valve stem rip. I'm expecting to have this problem 17 more times. I don't think Keith really knows what's going on down here. I don't think he really cares. I imagine he lost all concern for his good name when he sold it to Trek.

After I got the gear and brake and tube issues sorted out, I went to Maybury with Bill. It is kind of crazy trail to race on. The ground is hard like cement but with a thin layer of talc on top. It is a very tight, twisty, and flat course. The race next week won't be so much about one's ability to go fast but rather their willingness to. It is a time trial, probably because it's narrow single track with few places to pass. Every so often the course offers two or three sections of trail to choose from, this is where a lot of the passing will happen. One choice will be smooth, the other choices you just take the weight off the front wheel, go hard, and hope for the best. Hoping for the best is a fickle strategy. My strategy will be to go slow, wait for the other single speeders to break their collar bones, then carefully maneuver around them. This strategy is slightly more fickle than choosing the technical passing lanes but we go to the races with the skill sets we have, not the ones we want.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pithy Princess

Typical Saturday evening, I'm sitting on the deck with Allison, we are grilling salmon for dinner or lunch or something. She is instant messaging on her notebook and talking to Cami on her phone. She keeps warning Cami that she is on speaker, as if Cam might say something I'm not suppose to hear. I tried to muster support from Emilie and Allie to go to the Brighton Art Fair tonight; they are happy just hanging around the house.

I timed myself at Brighton today, 37:28. To put this in perspective, I did a 35:27 as I came out of hibernation in March. Lord things have fallen apart this season. Bill and I are going to pre-ride Maybury tomorrow. I'm thinking about doing a race there next week. I will get my ass kicked but I feel I need to line up in a race soon; it's better to be uncompetitive than not competing at all.

Allie and I went swimming after work yesterday. I will miss the lakes and mountain bike trails around our home when the house sells, if it sells. We have been trying since May and haven't receive one offer, frustrating. I guess the cold reality is my house is worth less now than when I bought it 13 years ago. The plan was to move to Canton after we sell the house. Emilie had her heart set on starting school in Canton.

I asked Em to go to the lake with Allie and me yesterday. Em decided she would rather stay in her un-air conditioned bedroom and text her friends. I pointed out that she could text at the lake but she was happy where she was. It is so hard seeing her slip away into adolescents. I knew this day would come, it's normal and I realize I became coolly indifferent towards my parents at that age but still, I'm not ready for it. I thought playing endless games of Pretty Pretty Princess with her when she was four would somehow buy me a few extra years.

On the way back from the lake with Allie, I rented some scary movies for Em and I to watch. Not my favorite genre but she has developed this infatuation with horror films. I won't allow the gory movies but try to pick out scary ones that are appropriate for a 12 year old. I am still not comfortable with this but we talk about them beforehand, like you would in English class. I liked English classes. I liked school. I got my masters just for fun really. Em and I talk about the classics and put them in perspective to the time they were written.

Frankenstein was written in 1818, a few years after Luigi Galuani published his discovery of bioelectricity that demonstrated that electricity was the medium by which nerve cells passed signals to the muscles.

Vampires have been folklore since maybe prehistoric times. Dracula was written in 1897. The move came out in 1938, after the roaring 20's when sex was becoming more open and America had a syphilis outbreak, at least that is what I told Em. As as dad I can say things with authority that I'm not sure of. Vampires are slightly erotic but they kill you. I think people may have linked syphilis to open sexuality like they would death to Dracula in the 30's. Incidentally, we rented Interview With a Vampire last week and Em pointed out how fake it was; it contradicted Full Moon.

Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde came out in 1931 during the American Prohibition; there are some parallels there.

Plan 9 From Outer Space came out in 1958 (even cheesy by 1950's standards, so cheesy it's great). This movie was about aliens protecting the universe by preventing humans from creating a doomsday weapon, much like the Atom bomb.

Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 when people were use to seeing horrific pictures on their TVs from Vietnam. Also there is a Civil Rights element to this movie, a movie that I decided was too much for Em. Maybe next year.

But the real reason I picked up a scary movie for Em on the way home from the lake was much more selfish. Em curls up like a little child when we watch them, her face pressed tightly in my arm. She won't let me leave her side, much like when she was young. Scary movies lets me experience Em as a child for just a little bit longer. And I'm not ready to let go.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Understanding God and Math

Yesterday was the Pontiac race. A nice course but I crossed it off my list earlier this year. I almost added it back last week when Randy encouraged me to do this race with him and Rob. I tend to cave with the slightest amount of peer pressure but it just didn't feel right yesterday. I stold this picture of Pontiac from Diane and went to church instead.

As we were sitting down in church, Allison whisperers: "How was Jesus born if he created everything?" I am on the fence a lot when it comes to Christian theology but this question concerned me since it was so basic. I whispered back: "God created everything, Jesus was his son". Allie replies: "Who were God's parents?" I tried to explain the Trinity as quietly as I could since by then the service had started. It is difficult explaining something to a 9 year old that you don't really understand yourself. I may have done myself a disservice when I lied to Allie about Santa Clause, now she questions everything I tell her that sounds a little made up.

I remember being Allie's age and learning about fractions. I wasn't a brilliant kid but I was solid in math. The teacher talked about taking away from a whole. I thought she meant "hole" so my little brain raced to understand what that meant. I figured you needed to add to a hole to take away from it, like filling it in, which made fractions much more complicated. Five seconds of clarification from the teacher would have gone a long way in my understanding of whole numbers. Maybe my brain just worked a little differently than the other kids'. Allie is a lot like me in many regards.

With the race and church over, I decided to do the Sunday shop ride. Although not race pace, it is a fast ride. I fell asleep while getting dressed, apparently while putting on my socks because when I woke up I was sitting in a chair and missing a sock. I missed the ride.

I did yard work and got a short ride in; a productive day on different levels.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

That Time Of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold

This was a big weekend, Emilie move up to a 26" wheeled bike and Allie moved up to Em's old 24" wheeled bike. The 20" wheeled bike just became obsolete. The kids are growing up. Ouch.

Cindy and I visited my parents yesterday. Cin mentioned she has poison ivy and my dad leaped into action, always the problem solver. He goes upstairs and brings down an aerosol can of something. This picture I took from my BlackBerry is horrible but if you look closely you see the can is from 1984. Cindy, always a trooper around my parents, let dad spray this 26 year old crap on her. I cracked up, who keeps medicine back from when Regan was in office?

I was in high school in 1984. I have a hard time comprehending it was really 26 years ago. In 26 more years, I will be 70. Yikes. I can't do anything about that but I have committed myself to spend less time doing yard work these next 26 years, and to use that time instead for riding.