Month: March 2010

Slipping my Cogs

This weekend I haven’t been on my bike. At all.

My last ‘bike time’ was in the gym, next to various sweaty persons and watching the local news on subtitle. This is bad, because the stress at work is *phenomenal* right now and what I really need is to ride the endorphin wave, not my couch cushions.

Naturally, what I do is pack up and off to my mom’s, home of endless meatballs and macaroni and cheese and couch-potato-age. Oh, and Pizookie Pie at the local BJ’s restaurant. I did but one 4-mile run and the rest of the time my only exercise was to pull the plate closer.

Guilt! Guilt!

Yet Another Event

I signed up for the Danskin Triathlon.

Last Tuesday (yes, I’m blogging about something a week old, get over it) I sat at my computer, angst-ridden and hitting “refresh”, so I could be one of the participants in this August’s Danskin Women’s Triathlon in Seattle. Apparently it sells out right quick and I had promised not one but TWO ladies I know I would do it, and so I have signed on to Do It.

Well.

I can tell you authoritatively that unlike my training for the Trek Women’s last year, the 12 miles on the bike are not making me nervous. I did 51 last weekend and it is true what they say about the best way to get better at riding your bike: ride your bike. Ride your bike. And, ride your bike.

However this means I will need to get up early on Fridays to add swimming back into the regimen. I signed on to the only gym within miles of my work that has a pool, now only if they’d clean it occasionally.

I wonder when I’ll stop signing up for these things, and what I am trying to prove to myself.

Inappropriate Bike Humor

Last Saturday was 46 miles in 4.5 hours (not including breaks) from REI over the Burke Gilman to Montlake and then back the same way. Getting up at 6AM to meet your bike cohorts is difficult, realizing it’s actually 5am because your supposed 7am meeting time is 7am on the day the time changes — that’s kinda brutal. So as the sun poked out above the leafless trees in the RTC parking lot, the three of us took off.

It could have been the cold.

It could have been the fog.

It could have been the sunnyness of the day.

I personally suspect it was because we all have twisted senses of humor.

It started with Duncan talking about his screw. For his cleat. You see, clippie shoes (they are actually called clipless systems, riddle me that?) have screws that attach them to your shoe. There are usually at least 2 and sometimes 3, and they keep the clip in place so when you shift your foot to the side it takes the cleat with it and separate it from your pedal resulting in your ability to keep yourself from going bonk.

At any rate, Duncan was missing a screw. He talked a great deal about his missing screw, and then we started joking about how he should get a screw by some random shop along the road.

Then there was the discussion of which person had the bigger cog. Your cog size, you see, determines how far a rotation can go on your bike. More cogs = more power, right? Duncan and Bryce got into it but apparently Duncan’s cog is bigger. I did not wish to compare my cogs, as I was busy dealing with cycling legwarmers.

These are not the 1980’s flashdance legwarmers: they are not soft, they are not scrunched, they are not hot pink. They are black lycra and quite tight, and look a bit like they should be kept on you with a garter belt. Verily, they look like cycling fetishwear, and consequently I spent an inordinate amount of time adjusting them as we cycled along. Ever try to look professional while pulling up lycra legwarmers already wearing an impossibly curve-hugging costume? No, I didn’t think so. The jokes trended back toward my bike S&M gear (complete with full length black gloves) and the cogs were momentarily forgotten.

Until I pointed out I was trying to match them stroke for stroke. You see, when Bryce and Duncan take off, they *take off*. Like my new nickname is Waldo and I’m getting a red and white striped bike shirt. And so I played with my gears and attempted to match theirs, and then attempted to match pedal rotation frequency (e.g., stroke). And even though I was attempting to do that, I was not succeeding. So I whined about it at the next break.

Whining to two men who were comparing cog sizes, and one of which talking of his needed screw, while adjusting my black lycra, was probably not the most prudent thing to do.

Fortunately, we found a local bike shop where Duncan got his screw. It was literally by the side of the road, rather quick, and very cheap. But it does the trick; he’s still satisfied with it, as far as I know.

The bike shop guys were alternately freaked out or laughing uncontrollably. We’re… not sure which.

Diversion

I have two blogs: this is my public one. Yes, there is a whole other blog out there, one that has been carefully crafted (ok, not all that carefully) and maintained (although not terribly faithfully) for five years (okay, four and a half). That is the blog I usually dish about life and love and romance and sex and coworkers and occasionally religious derivatives and chemistry and biology and movies. Sometimes really weird combinations of them.

That blog is not this blog. This blog is usually about workouts and work, more the former than the latter, because it’s my public blog and as such it shouldn’t mention all of the things one avoids discussing in public (e.g., sex, politics, religion, and money. Or having sex with a politician for money in a church. Or something.)

Therefore, the urge to write on this blog of things not appropriate to it is, on occasion, overwhelming. For example, I’d like to blog about how I haven’t yet participated in the Rides of March (aka Taxes). I’d like to blog about the atrocious parking at the Braevern, the happy hour fare and fair to be found at John Howies Steakhouse, the simply staggeringly awful week I’ve had at work, the other job I’m applying for, the angst-ridden time I’m having attempting to find a simple pearl grey dress to satisfy two weddings. I would totally blog about it… but not here.

No, here you are to hear of my workouts, of which I have not done one today. I went to spin class  yesterday (and did some endurance riding the day before) and have this to say of my gym:

People appear to be leaving it.

It started with the Hottie and the regular Spin Class Lanky dude. Those two have been missing for over a week and someone else has taken the Hottie’s bike and is now staring at herself in Hottie-like fashion. Two other regulars have dropped out and all that are left are the old lady with the bike on her ankle, the Napoleonic guy with longish hair (ok, so he cut it but it’s still somehow long and yet not long enough for a ponytail), the elderly man who has more musculature in his little finger than I posses in my entirety, and the bellevue housewifey with the bandana hairdo. The rest of them are new, people wafting in and out of the class who clearly cannot appreciate what Hot Teacher Eric means when he says we are going to to “jumps” today.

Other things are happening too: I was able to get a regular cardio bike of a Tuesday at 5pm. This NEVER happens. Clearly, the New Years’ Resoluters are irresolute and have waned, leaving me free to watch CNBC in peace. I hope it lasts through the summer, you get better service and less stink at an unfull gym. Also, I needs must check out the pool: chances are if they’ve cleaned it lately I can swim in it again and not be reminded of Puget Sound’s visibility. That is to say, you don’t want to go swimming in a pool that belongs to a frequently crowded gym.

We have a long bike ride planned this weekend — 46 miles and mostly flattish terrain; I’m not intimidated but I am reluctant. We are entering the phase of training where I feel inept, like I can’t possibly do as well as I need to. That’s okay, I feel like that at work lately so it’s nice to know there’s a consistent theme. Despite all of this exertion I continue to eat slightly under my own mass in chocolate and so I haven’t lost weight, although my mother noticed a shift (“Oh! You’ve lost weight!” she exclaimed at dinner the other night. I hadn’t. I then promptly gained 2 pounds).  In my experience this exercise in apathy will end sometime around May where I will realize that I have but five weeks to go and decide that this is proof that I can fight aging.

Which brings me back to the discussion I want to have on the difficulties of finding a simple grey dress for a wedding. But I can’t blog about that here.

A Letter to Burke Gilman Trail Users

Dear good people on the Burke Gilman trail, I bring to you enlightenment and knowledge. I bring to you advice as only I can, for we have been on it together now for some weeks and I couldn’t help but notice you need guidance.

FOR THE PEDESTRIANS:

  • It is a lovely day, isn’t it? It is. It truly is. And Scrappy the wunderdog is a happy lil’ fellow, isn’t he? Yes. But could you please keep Scrappy on a leash under, say, 150 feet?  My brakes are fine but Scrappy can move faster than my brakes. And I don’t want to scrap Scrappy.
  • For that matter, I don’t want to scrap you. So when I call out, “on your left” when I’m 20 feet behind you, that means I’m going to pass you… on your left. Get it? Makes sense. This means you should not, you know, walk farther out to your left.
  • Or move to the left after your co-walker figured it out and moved right. S/he wasn’t asking to switch places, s/he was trying not to end up as so much muck on my wheels.
  • Little Jimmie and Janie love their playdates… in their strollers… staring blankly ahead but *right next* to each other. Awesome! Just please have them give up the convenience of their side-by-side solitaire while we use the trail next to you. In seven feet of trail width, your two strollers take up five feet, leaving two feet for me. That’s fine, but I’m big boned, and I’m nervous as a hooker in church on a bike. Just sayin’.

FOR THE AUTOMOBILES

  • Chances are if you’re one of the many cars we encounter, you are coming in to or going out of a driveway. The chances are good, then, that you live on the BG trail. Possibly it was a selling point when you purchased the house? You know, when you walked through with the spouse you looked at each other and talked about how you’d take little Jimmie and Janie out for walks, along with Scrappy. Great! That is just what the trail is for. It’s also for cyclists, though, and so when you park your car in the intersection of the trail, some of us have to brake rather suddenly. Doing this and unclipping ones shoes is not an easy feat, so please don’t give me the dirty look when I come inches from your door. Trust me, your door will do more damage to me than I will to it.
  • On those unfortunate bits where the trail is side by side with you in traffic — I know, right? Totally rude of them to do that — please do not stalk me. If you are driving your car at my speed, and not passing me, reminding me with every little rev that you have 2 tons of something that will render me into the svelte shape (although, not the same type of svelte shape) I’ve discussed wanting, you are stalking me. It’s not funny, and I’m calling you many rude names in three languages. Four, if I can remember to.
  • Also, please pass me. Please please pass me. When there is space to. Passing me such that I can tell you purchased the carbon-grey-metallic paint instead of regular grey-metallic paint, or passing me such that I can tell what Prada purse you have in the passenger’s seat (you may want to pick up that lost earring on your floormat) is a little too close for comfort. I think it’s cute that you also have a “Share the Road” sticker on your car.

FOR OTHER CYCLISTS:

That’s us: the crack elite team. They made the trail for us; aren’t you glad I told those pesky pedestrians and drivers off for you? Let me tell you though, you guys can be assholes too.

There, I said it.

What do you mean, what? Let me spell it out for you, bro:

  • When you pass me, please use “On Your Left”… or even “Left” or use your bike bell. But don’t scream it at me as you are ACTUALLY on my left. How about saying it a little ahead of time, so I’m not hearing it as I’m checking out your new Pearl Izumi thighwarmers? There is this thing called the “Doppler Effect“, and it is not a 1980’s new wave band.
  • If you don’t use the “On Your Left” or “Left” or bike bell, please do not have the gall to tsk-tsk me as you fly by. I get it: you go faster than I do. That is so awesome for you! But speed does not equal an asshole-ectomy.
  • That two by two rule that I ragged on the pedestrians about? Yeah? That goes for you too. I’m talking to you, the guy in the blue and orange two weeks back who saw me oncoming, pointed to me to his buddy, and then firmly and fastidiously stayed two by two — on the I90 bridge deck — with pedestrians and other cyclists. That was totally uncool, and those thighwarmers make you look fat.

Smug

36 miles, no wall, leisurely pace (yet still faster than the weekend previous!) and I didn’t walk any of the downhills.

Oh hadn’t I mentioned that?

Yeah so me? Not so much with the whole biking down the hill thing: biking down hills scares the poo out of me, because it is speed and it is not easily and quickly controlled with braking. In fact if you brake hard you end up flying over your handlebars like some git who got her bike tire stuck in railroad tracks and then you end up in the ER paying a $250 deductible, $100 copay, and another 10% of the total bill (ok, so I’m just a little bitter about that).

The weekend I hit the wall I walked a lot of the downhills (which adds to a dejected mood) because what with rain and steepness I was scared. This last weekend we got some cool, crisp, and clear weather and I rode those back brakes like a grandma: but I rode them.

However, I am at a disadvantage: I ride with two guys. These guys have leg muscles that make mine look darned petite (and people, I’m 5’10” and not what one would call “thin” or “wispy”), and they get going, and my new nickname is “Waldo” because they get going and stop and turnaround and I’m not there because my pace isn’t quite as fast as theirs.

I’m going to invest in a red and white striped bike jersey, if I can find one.

Completely Unnecessary Spin Class Update

You guys! you guys!!!

So the hottie wasn’ there — no! And the jock she’s usually with (sort of– they sit at opposite ends) spent the entire time in class looking at the floor. I figured it out! He looks in the mirror, so he can watch her! Neat, huh?

Ooh. I hope they didn’t have a spat. Cuz that would suck.

Spin class continues to be only mildly entertaining. It’s about 20% regulars and even I am less enchanted with Eric the Hot Instructor than I once was. I will note his music is still good and there were actual droplets of sweat involved in this last workout. I will also note I’m the only one who shows up to class with visible bruises (mine are from the weekend rides). I am wondering how long before one of the other class members comes to ask me if he beats me because he loves me.

This week I plan to add running back in as well as another half mile in the pool, as I have just committed to do the Danskin Triathlon in August (or is it September?). At any rate: I shall be in front of my machine at 9am sharp on 9-March to enroll. Go me!