Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I didn't collect the mail for a week or so... Just lazy, wasn't expecting anything good, etc. Sometimes I get a kind of weird pathological avoidance issue about the mailbox, whereas other times I am fanatical about collecting it every day. It's a locking box so I don't worry too much about security.

So today there was a note on the door, "Please collect your mail!" because the box was full. I extracted the armload of mail, sifted through the catalogs, junk mail, etc and found a few items of interest. A birthday card from my friend Elizabeth, who is currently in England, a whopping good fat check from the escrow account of the old mortgage (which J. must check on whether must be sent to the new mortgage company, boo), my updated CNA certificate, etc. Odds and ends.

But ho!

What's this big manila envelope addressed to me?

"Congratulations! As Director of Nursing at Euphemism College, it is my sincere pleasure to inform you of your selection into the Nursing Program beginning winter 2008."


Last I heard I had not made the cut in April and so was waiting ever so patiently for the October evaluation... and would be attending in either April or September of next year. Someone must have declined, most people apply at several places and then choose the one they want most. And I was high enough on the list to make it in.


More Tri Stuff (short, at least)

I looked up my times from two years ago when I did the bike and run (walk in my case)at the same tri that I just did.

Two years ago I did not swim, and my bike speed was 12.something mph.
This year I did swim and my bike speed was 14.something mph. Perhaps the new bike? And adrenaline. Definitely part of it.

The walk times were essentially the same.

My goals for next year: cut at least 5 min off swim time. Bike speed 16mph or better. And run the run course instead of walking.

More News of a General Sort

It's been kind of randomly hectic lately so I haven't updated in a while. Let's see what's shakin' down by the Swamp....

We lost a chicken to the kiddie pool last week. Oh sweet Harriet, we hardly knew ye... She was the fluffy, curly-feathered frizzle banty. It was a sad day. The remaining two chickens, Elizabeth and Beatrice, seem not to notice her absence, but they do have brains the size of a fingernail so perhaps that's not surprising. The baby also does not notice for which we are very relieved. Eventually we will have to explain this whole shuffling-off-the-mortal-coil thing to her but we are hoping to put it off a bit longer.

Took said young one to the state fair last Sunday. It was a lot of fun, we went with my mom and stepdad, my brother and his wife, and three of the nephews. It was more or less the perfect day to go to the fair, warm and sunny but breezy too and not blistering hot. Delia being 3 is both too fast and too slow (quick to disappear, but needs to be carried if you want to keep up a lot of the time) and as I dislike the stroller in these crowded situations, it was a lot of work taking her, but she had fun. Except on the first ride which was a little too scary for her. It was a kiddie ride but had a little hill and went a shade too fast and she got freaked out. Then we put her on the canoe ride, wherein a tiny canoe goes lazily around a loop of aqueduct and she settled down and enjoyed it.

I myself went on the Regurgitron 2000, or that's what I call it. The spaceship that spins and you lean on the wall and stick to it from the centrifugal force. (Or didn't I hear that it's actually centripetal force and everybody gets it wrong?) Anyway my mom and sister-in-law and the three nephews all went too which was a novel experience. Not sure I have ever ridden a ride with my mother. We all laughed our heads off. I wondered aloud how often they have to hose it out between rides. Eww.

The funniest parts of the fair came courtesy of my brother, who is nothing if not a good sport. First we draped him with our purses and the Big Bag of Kettle Korn, around which orbited Delia, while we went on our ride. Then as we sat and lunched near the stage, on which the talent competition was being held, he got "Whoops there goes another rubber tree" going through his head, which continued at least through yesterday per his text message to me of yesterday afternoon.

But the final story requires a bit of backstory: My brother's backside, or lack thereof, is legendary. First it was just my mom and I saying he had no butt. Then it was friends. Then, he was walking through a popular night spot and heard one person seated nearby turn to their date and say, "Did you see that guy who just went by? He had no butt!" Seriously, his Levi's ride a little sideways on account of there is no butt to anchor them in place.

So as we hiked tiredly through the parking lot that night, I told Delia to "follow Uncle Craig and his imaginary buttcheeks!"

Yeah, it was maybe not the best thing to say in front of Uncle Craig's sons, ages 11, 9 and 6... I myself laughed so hard I nearly had to stop walking and collect myself. I don't know where it came from, but there it was. I am told I must watch my mouth while babysitting said nephews this weekend...

Speaking of which, there is no high speed internet at my brother's. It will be like stepping back into the dark ages. I will need tranquilizers to get through it. :(

Friday, August 24, 2007

What kind of nerd are you?

I've come to the conclusion that nerds have way more fun, and at last I am coming to grips with my nerdhood. To that end:

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Science/Math Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Thrilling Conclusion

You might think that if the triathlon is over, so is the story. But you would be so wrong! There is always:

The Epilogue

After the race I'm a little bereft. I'm here alone, so there is no one waiting to hear how it was. There is also no one to pick me and my bike up. I am to ride the shuttle back to the parking garage by Qwest Field and then drive my car back to the park to pick my bike up. I knew this going in and it doesn't really bother me, but now I have a concern: my bike numbers, like many others, have disintegrated in the rain and come off. The bike trail was littered with them. Now I am expected to leave my bike, sans any identifying marks, in the transition area for nearly an hour, during which time any other participant could claim it as their own.

I want seriously to believe that no other woman would do this to me, but I have a dim view of humanity in general and dammit, I just got that bike. Although it's just an off-the-rack entry level bike, I still couldn't really afford another one. And when I look at the gate very near to the rack my bike is on, I am unimpressed with security there. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much. If any. I ask yet another Wrong Volunteer and she is at a loss as to how to address this issue. I leave the transition area full of anxiety and doubt. The farther I walk, the more uneasy I become, and at last I stop at a volunteer tent and tell them of my concerns. They really want to help me but can do little more than offer me a sticker ("Hello my name is... ") to write my bike number on and stick to my bike, which doesn't really appease me much, but they also give me a ziptie. I can attach my helmet to my bike. My helmet has my numbers on it. At least it's something.

When I return to my bike -- by the way, it's a big park and I have walked a LOT since the end of the race, and no end in sight -- my fears are not assuaged. The gate attendant is not in evidence, and the gate is just a big opening in the fence that opens right onto the street. I put the tag on my bike and ziptie my helmet to it and then decide to take it up to the other gate, where several volunteers are posted and appear to be checking bikes to riders as they leave. I tell them why I'm moving it and they try not to make the "cuckoo" hand signal to one another. I can tell they think I'm being paranoid. But my spidey sense is tingling... At any rate I feel better now.

Once again I make the long hike up to the other end of the park where the buses are, and haul my damp and lake-smelling self onto the bus. After another twisty, lurchy ride back to Qwest Field, I face a huge flight of steep concrete steps up to the parking garage. The bus ride has given me a chance to chill a bit and also to stiffen, as I discover when I start up the steps. But, I am surrounded by people who have either just finished the tri themselves or at least know that I did, so I have to put on a show. I muster what surely must be the last bit of adrenaline within me and bound up the steps in a sprightly fashion. ....Okay, fine, if you want to be a stickler for the truth, I walked up them at a normal, even pace. But it took a lot of effort! Vanity, thy name is woman...

Fortunately I have a few miscellaneous plastic bags floating around the car and I use these to cover the car seat so I can drive back to the park without saturating it with lake water. Despite my waterlogged fatigue I did notice throngs of Mariners fans milling in to the Safeco Field area (immediately adjacent to Qwest Field, I have no idea why there are what look like two stadiums side by side in downtown Seattle, but there it is) so I know that I must now negotiate game traffic to get away. I manage this and fortunately have just enough time to retrieve a note off my windshield that I had not noticed until just before the freeway on-ramp. If I were some kind of non-lazy person I would scan the note but instead I will just type it out for you:

"Good Job
Great Job, Vancouver Woman!
Congratulations on getting yourself up here & completing this grueling event. Never mind the short distances, this was a difficult & dangerous event today. YOU ROCK!

On your way home, will you be thinking about the next thing that you'll do for the first time? You're amazing! You can do (nearly) anything!

(signed unintelligibly)"

This note was from the woman who parked her car nose to nose with mine, also doing the tri, who obviously was no stranger to it what with her wetsuit and all. We had chatted on our way in the shuttle. I didn't see her again once we'd entered the transition area. I thought it was a very kind note. Oh, and I had to look up html commands to learn how to do the strikethrough effect. :)

So, I drive on to the park, retrieve my bike, which is safe and sound where I left it, stuff it in the back of the car and then set about to finding my cellphone which I had thought I must have left in the car but still hadn't been able to find. In a sudden flash of memory I recalled putting it in the pocket of my tri bag... my sopping wet tri bag that sat in the rain for three hours... I locate the phone right in the pocket where I'd left it. It is waterlogged but miraculously, it still functions. I call my better half and check in, and off I go.

I decide despite being cold and damp to get out of Seattle a ways before stopping to change. On the south end of Tacoma I spot a Shari's and have a leisurely lunch there after putting on dry clothes. Fine, I still smell like an aquarium, but at least I'm dry. When I get up from the table to leave I find that the backs of my knees are sore.

Traffic is fairly heavy and gets very bogged down an hour or so down the road, right about the time true fatigue sets in, so I stop at a rest area and doze in the car for about a half hour. Once I get some gasoline and a soda at a gas station down the road a ways, I feel pretty awake and make it home without further incident.

I spend the evening putting the baby to bed, washing my smelly tri clothes, and blogging. Oh, and taking ibuprofen. The backs of my knees are killing me.

So let's just take inventory:

Entry fee: $80.00
Hotel for two nights: $200.00
Tank of gas: $32.00

Finishing your first triathlon just before you turn 40: Priceless.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

In which I become a triathlete.


5:15am -- alarm goes off, I spring out of bed and eat a bowl of cereal with banana. Which sits in my stomach like a brick for the next two hours. I shower quickly and get dressed in swimsuit, bike shorts, sleeveless shirt and bicycle jersey, running shoes, windbreaker. Since I am not running this event I do not have to worry about foundation undergarments. I check out of the hotel and drag my enormous pile of baggage (clothes bag, sports gear bag, laptop bag, triathlon bag, and miscellaneous junk bag) to the car. It is raining. Great.

Twenty minutes later I am at the parking garage to Qwest Field, in downtown Seattle. Here we must park per an agreement with the neighborhood surrounding the park in which the triathlon is being held. I unload myself and my tri bag and hoof it down to the schoolbus shuttle which will take me to the park.

We arrive at the park twenty minutes or so later, after winding through the neighborhoods of Seattle in what seems to be an arcane and torturous route. The rain continues to drizzle lightly down. At least it's warm out.

At the park I make my way down to the transition area, where my bike is racked along with 5124 other participants' bikes on huge groupings of racks. The groupings are labeled and the rows are numbered so finding my bike is not a problem. My body markings are refreshed by a pen-wielding volunteer, I pin my bib to my jersey front, put my water bottles on my bike. Rain drips off of my helmet which I wish I had taken back to the hotel last night. Oh well.

I busy myself with these little tasks to avoid feeling too alone -- it seems that everyone else has brought friends, but I'm by myself in the crowd. Also, I'm nervous. I haven't done the swim before and it intimidates me.

Finally I see that others in purple latex caps are making their way down to the water and so I guess I should too. I strip off my clothes down to just the swim suit, grab my cap and goggles, and start the hike. It's not too cold out, drizzling still but not bad, and I'm not uncomfortable in my swimsuit. Other than some self-consciousness. Which rapidly fades. There are thousands of women here, all in various types of outfits from swimsuits to tri suits to wetsuits, all shapes and sizes, and I'm just one of the crowd.

After some hemming and hawing I had finally decided to take my glasses down to the water's edge and place them on the table provided for such things at the swim finish line. I wore my new bright yellow Crocs down which will give me something highly visible to tuck my glasses into on the table as well as protect them from being swept off the table or squashed in some way. I ask The Wrong Volunteer where the table is and he leads me on a wild goose chase through the throngs of spectators only to find out that the table was very close to where we began this fiasco. Dammit. I put my stuff on the table and proceed, visually impaired and barefoot, to the waiting area. Hundreds of women are huddled there and there is a hum of sound coming off them as I get closer.

Part the first: The Swim.

The way this works is that certain age and skill level divisions are given colored caps -- yellow, pink, blue, orange, etc. -- signifying their waves. They are assigned start times. The rest of us, not old or infirm or elite, i.e. the masses, are given purple caps and our waves are done last. First come, first served. Like a cattle call.

The swim course is a triangle, out from shore, around a buoy, parallel to shore to the next buoy, then back nearly to where the start was. It is lined with lifeguards, kayakers, and swim angels. The kayaks are to provide guidance and a friendly place to grab on and rest or, in my case, adjust your goggles. The swim angels are in the water like we are and carry big foam noodles and are there to help us, either by providing moral support, giving us the noodle to use as we swim, or whatever.

Our purple waves are sent out in three minute intervals. We cheer madly as each wave is released. Then suddenly it's our turn! We make our way down the boat ramp and step into the water. It's not as cold as I thought it would be and Sally Edwards is there to give us a pep talk. She's awesome. We're awesome. Everyone and everything is so AWESOME!!! We count down from ten to one and they let us all the way into the water. I'm fine until suddenly the water is COLD ALL OVER ME AND I CAN'T BREATHE!

It's choppy there by the shore and every time I try to get a breath I suck in what feels like a lung full of water. My heart is pounding and I'm kicking furiously which is not how it's supposed to work -- normally the kick is mostly for balance and because it uses a lot of oxygen and energy to work those big muscle groups, you don't want to wear yourself out with a lot of energetic kicking. I end up rolling onto my back and kicking in a more controlled way, then trying again and again to resume freestyle with the same result every time, a face full of water and that burning-lung sensation. I pass the first two-thirds of the swim this way. At last, as I pass the second buoy and enter the home stretch, I realize that I'm also forgetting to breathe out. If you don't breathe out into the water as you swim, there won't be any room for air to enter your lungs when you try to breathe in. Once I relax a little and remember this seemingly unforgettable tidbit of helpful information, I can swim a little. I bump into a swim angel repeatedly. She has given her noodle to another swimmer and is accompanying her to the finish, encouraging all of us along the way.

While we swim it has begun to rain in earnest.

Close to the finish, as the water gets shallower, I am surprised to find that I can see the ferny, frondy lake plants below me. They are green and wave around and I savor this lush, secret little view.

Finally, the finish line! We stumble up the boat ramp. I find it very hard to get my balance. There are more volunteers to high-five us and help us up the ramp if necessary, and one of them steadies me a bit as I pass her. I make my way to the table and retrieve my glasses and shoes, and continue on to the transition area, weaving a bit here and there for the first dozen yards or so. There is much cheering and congratulating and encouragement from all sides, from the many spectators and volunteers.

Swim 00:24:00, Swim Rank 3078

Part the second: The Bike Ride

Back at my bike, I dispense with the idea of drying myself off. It's lightly but steadily raining and I'm going to be sodden no matter what. I pull my bike shorts and jersey on and struggle into my socks and shoes. My helmet drips and streams water down my face and head when I put it on. I locate the banana I brought with me and find that it has been stepped on inside my tri bag. I eat part of it anyway. A quick drink of water and I start toward the bike start area. There is no riding allowed inside the transition area.

Trans1 00:11:53 (Note: elite triathletes in this race have trans1 times of one or two minutes. Obviously I was not attempting to hurry.)

Once I get past the gate I hop on and start riding. I have ridden this course before and it does not intimidate me; I'm feeling good and I love my new bike, the rain is not too hard and it's fairly warm, so I make decent time, for me. All that slows me down is that I'm still recovering from inhaling a lot of water, and that's making it hard for me to breathe without coughing. The course runs along the lake, then up a short, steep curvy access road onto I-90 across the lake and onto Mercer Island. Nearly to the other side of the island there is a 180-degree turnaround and we ride back the way we came. There are a couple of minor hills. Part of our time is spent in a tunnel which is dry and echoey. Many riders howl and cheer inside the tunnel. At the finish line we are made to dismount and walk (or run) our bikes into the transition area.

Bike 00:51:31, Bike Rank 2280, MPH 14.4

Part the third: The Run. Or in my case, The Walk.

Once I rack my bike and eat a little more squashed banana, I swap my helmet for a baseball hat and put on my windbreaker, after shaking some of the water off of it. I pocket a Clif bar and grab a water bottle, and then it's time to visit the biffy. Trans2 00:07:27

Now I begin the walk. I've decided to not worry about running. I haven't been running this year and it's much too late now to even think about it. I heard from another participant that about a third of us will walk anyway. I set off and walk steadily. I walk rather slowly and am frequently passed by other walkers. This bugs me but there's not a lot I can do about it so I just continue on at my own pace.

This is another out-and-back course along the lake in the other direction as the bike route took us. The last half-mile or so splits off the lakefront and goes up a short, steep hill into the neighborhood and re-enters the park a few blocks away. As I approach this hill I spy Sally Edwards, the paid finisher, who accompanies the last registered participant and comes in last behind her so that she doesn't have to come in last. That last participant is just beginning the walk as I am finishing it. Sally breaks away from the woman she's walking with and goes to the drummers, a couple of guys who sit at the bottom of the short steep hill and play drums to help motivate flagging runners/walkers. She high-fives them and talks to them for a moment and then she starts walking toward me.

"Girlfriend, I been looking for you!" she says.
"And here I am!" I tell her.
"But you're going the wrong way!" she says.
"Aw, I'm sorry!" I say.
When she gets closer to me she high-fives me, looks me right in the eye and says, "I'm really proud of you. You're doing great." And walks on.

I hike up the hill and finish the walk. I decided not to try to run the last bit. Walking has brought me this far. I'll finish at my own pace. At the end, there is much cheering from spectators and volunteers. One amusingly costumed volunteer meets me a little ways from the finish and accompanies me past the sensor. An announcer tells the crowd that my name is Kim something. Which it is not. There must be a delay of some kind in the computer. A young boy puts a medal around my neck and I am done. Another volunteer relieves me of my timing chip and I make my way to the food tent for a little nosh, free to participants.

Thirty seconds later, some other woman is given my name as she crosses.

Run 01:04:34 Run Rank 3392 Pace 00:20:49

Overall Rank 3261 of 3496
Class Rank 850 of 925
Final 02:39:27

Tomorrow: The Thrilling Conclusion!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I <3 Swag

Spent several hours checking in, wandering the sponsor booths, and then racking my bike today. I freaking love swag.

Technically speaking not everything that I came away with was swag. Swag is the free stuff, and I did buy a couple of things: bright yellow Crocs and a couple of those little doo-dads that you pop into the holes (a pink crown and a big round shiny diamonoid), and a pair of open water goggles. Regular swim goggles are a huge pain. They are small, they tend to leak, if someone bumps you they pop right off. Sally Edwards, world class triathlete and paid final-finisher for the Danskin triathlon series, pushes these goggles at her "first-timer's talk," so I finally tried some on today and they seem to be pretty sweet. They are not off-the-rack prescription like my other ones but I'll manage. Maybe it will be better if I can't see properly...

But I did get some swag, which I swear is half the reason I do these things. Okay, maybe more than half. Every participant gets a tank top which this year turned out to be an unfortunate raspberry pink. We each got a red nylon and mesh bag which will be quite handy for the stuff we have to take to the race tomorrow. And at the sponsors' tents, oh the goodies! Water bottles, carabiner key chains, little first aid kits, baseball hats, packets of sunscreen, and pocketknife-style bike tools with Allen wrenches and screwdriver heads. And little single-serving peanut butters. And water. And "Sport Beanz" jellybeans. And Soleil razors.

Tomorrow morning I have to be up early to be there on time. So I'm getting up at like 5am... Ugh.

Bodice 101

I'm blogging this from a motel room in the vicinity of Seattle, Washington. In a couple of hours I'll make my way to the materials pick-up for the Danskin Triathlon. Tomorrow morning I'll throw myself into the chilly waters of Lake Washington, along with 5000 other women, and flail my way about 600 meters through the murk until I eventually emerge, gasping, wheezing and frozen solid. Then I will climb onto my shiny new bicycle and ride until they tell me I can stop. Then, in case I'm still not convinced of my generally poor physical condition, I'll walk 5k. I would run it but I'm fundamentally not suited for running, mainly due to my flipper-like, non-weight-bearing, purely decorative feet. I have new orthotics and the left one is not quite right which makes my left leg feel like someone is driving a spike up my tibia by the end of the day. So no running this year.

Meanwhile, since I have a few minutes (translation: none of my WoW buddies are on at this ungodly hour and I got tired of playing alone), I'll finally get around to talking about my visit to this renaissance festival two weeks ago with my wonderful cousin.

Okay, first of all I had no idea my cousin could sew at all, and come to find out she's made this incredible dress. I will post a photo of it when I can. Anyway it featured a laced bodice, double skirt, removable sleeves, the whole bit. Sumptuous. Divine. A friend of hers was visiting from Chicago and was also wearing a cool dress that she'd made.

I was wearing shorts and a tshirt. Maaaaaaaaaaaaan.... I felt so underdressed.

So off we go, after leaving the baby with the eldest of my cousin's daughters (more on that later) and make our way through Ye Olde Parking Lot to the faire. On the way in, a teenage emo thespian dork loudly claims that I am wearing his shoes that I stole from him. This right here is enough to keep me from ever attending another faire... but I soldier on.

Once we get inside, we are assaulted by bagpipe music. Which I secretly love. Shh! Don't tell anyone. There are tents full of medieval and pirate themed merchandise. Food booths featuring Ye Olde Polish Sausage, or a roast turkey leg for that authentic 16th century feel.

My friend Alison calls me at this point. Surprise! She and her family have come up for the faire!

As we peruse the merchants' wares and consume our Ye Olde Curly Fries, I find my gaze directed repeatedly to the, um, frontal regions of many a becostumed wench. There appear to be three general schools of thought regarding bodices. I will, as a service to you, outline them here (with illustration).

Bodice School of Thought #1: Elizabethan. This style is the most modest. The wearer's bosoms are snugly laced behind walls of boned fabric. The image that came to mind most often was the fantastic Cate Blanchett, whom I give you now:

Mind you, no costume at the faire rivaled this one.

Bodice School of Thought #2: The Merchant's Wife. Here the wearer's "girls" are squeezed upward and bulge out from the top of the bodice, but are still technically contained within the confines of the garment. In some cases, the bulge borders on obscene, with the casual observer such as myself wondering when the seemingly inevitable catastrophic failure would be taking place and whether anyone's eye would be put out when it did. A slightly less extreme example:

Bodice School of Thought #3: The Lusty Pub Wench. This bodice does not so much conceal the breasts as showcase them. The garment ends below the actual prominences which are thrust forward, torpedo-like, within their peasant blouse. Think St. Pauli Girl. It was this style that got my attention as I sat watching a truly decent Celtic band -- a couple of barefoot late-teens girls were dancing and twirling about in front of the very un-medieval aluminum stands, their perky pontoons bouncing and jouncing this way and that... it was very nearly hypnotic. Of course, *cough cough* mine was a purely academic interest. Behold:

This is actually a rather refined example, as the girls that I saw were more snugly enveloped by their blouses and little was left to the imagination. Given a choice, I prefer this approach really.

This ends our lesson on laced bodices and the wenches who wear them. :)

More about the baby and her sitter: my cousin's daughter took Delia to a bakery and bought her a cupcake, which the baby ate no-hands style to the amusement of onlookers far and wide. That's my girl!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Whole Different Animal

So I went for a ride on my shiny new bicycle last night. The local bicycle club has a women's beginner ride. I'm not so much a beginner as terribly out of shape, so the length and average speed of the ride are suitable for me. I am about to outgrow it, but they do have longer beginner paced rides that I can try out.

The new bike is so different. I still huffed and puffed up the (albeit, sadly, minor) hills a bit, because of the aforementioned out-of-shapeness, but whoa nelly! It was not nearly so bad as on the trusty mountain bike. By the end I'd ridden a little over 13 miles and didn't feel as trashed as I generally used to on the mt. bike. In fact I felt fine. Little sore in the seatbones but it's a new seat to get used to. I did get a nicer one than the stock saddle as it looked very uncomfy.

The new bike came with pedals with rat traps, but I'm sure eventually I'll want the fancy shoes and all that crap. I'm used to the rat traps so I'll spend some time getting used to the bike before I make any other changes.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Entry Level Cyclist

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the newest resident of our garage, a spunky lil' character I like to call "The One I Could (Almost) Afford."

Today I got a Trek 1000 "Discovery Edition" which was the only color available in my size. I wanted the orange model but they were sold out. Nevertheless, it is a fine ride for an entry level cyclist such as myself. I researched a bit online and found good reviews for it as a nice, respectable, versatile bike and a good value. Then I found that a local bike shop was having its summer sale the very next day. How's that for kismet? I did change out the seat for a cushier, gel-padded made-for-the-female-anatomy one. My rump and I have an understanding. I make things as comfortable as I can for it, and it returns the favor.

And we all know that it's not really the rump that we are talking about. But that's all the detail anybody needs to know on this matter.

And now, having not even ridden the thing, I must put it in the garage and clean the house. I'll be gone all weekend to some Renaissance Faire up in Washington with my cousin. I won't get a chance to put any miles on it until Tuesday most likely. :(

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Event Whore

Now I'm hooked.

I did the Summit to Surf, which was fantastic -- the 36-mile so-called "leisure ride" goes from Mt. Hood Meadows to Hood River, Oregon. A hundred yards out of the parking lot at Meadows and you're bombing down the mountain at 40mph, or faster if you are riding a really nice road bike and aren't a wuss. Wussy types on mountain bikes with commuter tires, such as yours truly, top out at about 40.

A friend of my gracious chauffeurs, Karen and John (and official mascot baby Katie) was also registered in this ride. I'm not sure if it was just that Annette was behind me or if I'm in better shape than last year, or more likely a combination of the two, but I was seriously shocked when the ride ended. Technically speaking she was only behind me on the hills, since a really nice road bike can take you up the hills much faster than an aging mountain bike with the aforementioned commuter tires. Also she's probably in better shape. Even though she just turned *cough* forty, nearly two months before me.

At any rate we blew into Hood River by lunchtime, collected our swag: tshirt, keychains, thermal coffee cups, other assorted stuff from sponsors. Annette and John/Karen scored sets of chrome skull end caps for their Yakima racks. Off to lunch. Burgerville was offering free lunch to all participants but we wanted to go to lunch with our hosts at the legendary Char-Burger in Cascade Locks. Pickup trucks filled with Native Americans (with special fishing rights, or there would be plenty of white folk as well) selling fresh and smoked salmon line the parking lot, and the gift shop sells fudge. 'Nuff said. Also, there is pie, and they serve those big fat crinkle-cut fries. Nature's perfect food.

Now, last year I involuntarily tipped over not far out of Cascade Locks and slept most of the hour-plus drive home, (John at the wheel, and for good reason) but this year I stayed awake although I was sleepy. Again: better condition? Maybe so.

Next event: the Bridge Pedal, which takes you over an assortment of Portland's bridges. Annette urged me to register and we intend to make those bridges our bitches!!!1! We chose the second longest ride, 24 miles, 8 bridges. Next year we'll go for all ten bridges which adds about twelve miles. This is a big event with like ten thousand people riding and walking across the bridges, some of which are not usually accessible to pedestrians or cyclists. I've been meaning to do it for years. Every year I'll space it off and then the day before I'll find out about it. Too late. Not this year!

So my collection of event tshirts is growing. Some may argue that I'm getting a bit long in the tooth to wear shirts with words and logos on them, but I beg to differ. :)