Not wanting to sabotage my exercising any further, I made myself go out for a ride last night. Despite the Chief’s warnings that it would be dark by the time I got back, I suited up and headed out, comfortable in our bike lights’ ability to get me home.
The trail was nice and cool last night. The insect sounds filling the air at dusk reminded me that winter is on its way (and speaking of, it may be time for a snow blower – screw that shoveling crap – any suggestions are welcome). There weren’t many people on the trail, so I was able to zip through the miles at a good clip. I made it to Bellevue and began the trip home with the sun descending fast over the surrounding farmland and prairie. Halfway back, I switched on my lights and rode in quietly back to the car.
This all sounds great, right? Peaceful. Tranquil. Me and the bike, looking lovingly into each other’s eyes?
I was covered in bug shit.
Bugs in my eyes. Bugs in my hair. Bugs in my mouth. Bugs on my face, zooming up to meet me and then getting trapped in a sweat bead and struggling hard to escape before the toxic salt water killed them. I had bugs all over me – those little gnatty bastards.
I stopped at the corner store on the way home and picked up a six pack. I still had to finish for tomorrow’s Quick Step update, and one of the panels was going to take me most of the night. A man in bike shorts covered in bugs and demanding beer… well, I wish I could have seen it for myself. I think some kids laughed at me. Laugh, you little bastards. Soon you’ll be trapped in a job with no soul and three cube walls, looking at how rapidly your bellybutton is rising up to meet your face from all those cookies you eat in the afternoon from the vending machine.
I usually get my cookies between 3 and 4, so I’ll see you then, okay?
Yesterday over lunch, I ran home, grabbed the bike and hit the trail. I’m still a bit out of sorts coming off of a vacation, especially one where I rode a bike almost everyday. I thought getting back to something I enjoyed over my vacation might help me focus a bit.
After my hands started to go asleep on the flat bar, I started to look at all the other bikes going the other direction. Treks, Specializeds, Giants, even a LeMond all zoomed by me in the heat; their riders probably looking for the same thing I was. The LeMond got me thinking about Trek, since they own the brand. There is a large group of bike technicians who bemoan the Trek brand because they bought up many of the smaller companies. It is kind of like the Starbucks thing, you know? Everyone hates Starbucks. However, Trek, like Starbucks, started out as a very small company and grew, which is the dream of every American business (if not the ultimate goal). I don’t know about Trek, but in the case of Starbucks, I’ve read articles about how employees really like working there (mostly) because of their benefits and incentive programs, and that local coffee shops that have a Starbucks move in near their location actually do better business than before the Starbucks “invasion.” Is it bad, then?
Then I remembered that Trek was based in Waterloo, Wisconsin – near where I was riding on vacation anyway. I think they make good bikes, but I think there are many companies that make good bikes – it isn’t really rocket science over 100 years of experimentation and innovation.
Later, thoroughly bushed from riding (16 miles in 55 minutes in 94 degrees), I checked out the Rivendell website for the first time. I’ve heard of Rivendell bikes before, but I haven’t even ever seen a photo of one before yesterday. Rivendell sells itself as a bike boutique, focusing on craftsmanship and classically reliable parts and products. I obviously could relate in any number of ways. In fact, they have this wonderful article on the death (and rebirth?) of craftsmanship that is well worth your time to read, especially the part on technology and craftsmanship holding hands.
However, the article also made me sad – in many things, I am a craftsman that is starting to feel antiquated. I see the portfolios that come across my desk of new students looking for a design job, and I know that none of them know who Josef Muller-Brockmann is, nor have they ever had to draw a perfect .075 Pica high line with a Rapidograph. I’ve embraced technology with open arms, but I enjoy its benefits because I know the old ways – none of these newly-minted designers do (I’m sure there are a few out there). But gosh darn it, they know how to use programs! The desktop revolution made potential designers out of everyone, you know?
I got over it by looking at an Atlantis... what a bike! I’ll be riding one of those sometime in the future, with the classic Brooks leather seat and a merino jersey with my old Mercatone Uno hat. The classics never get old.
Only in the Midwest can you have record breaking highs and lows in the same week. Sunday was 100 plus degrees, and last night was hovering around 50 degrees. The thunderstorms produced by this front was enough for a leak to start in the kitchen from the roof.
Last night, I cautiously got up on the roof with my father laughing at my wobbly ass climbing the ladder, loaded with sealant materials. We weren’t able to find anything, so I said we should go into the attic and scope it out from there.
The attic entrance is above the stairs leading to the basement. Again, this did nothing for my ladder uncertainty. We climbed half in to a very cobwebbed attic and our search was again fruitless. Time to call a professional.
I decided to actually fix stuff around the house though, goddammit (which seems to be falling apart around me). First up was the garbage disposal. It stopped working last week. I opened the cupboard and felt around, noticing that the plug had been pulled almost all the way out. Plugged it back in, and Action Jackson, it worked!
Next, I ran out to the hardware store to pick up a few things, but mainly to fix a very stubborn drain. Based on this review, I grabbed a Zip-It line, hoping that it would clear the block that all the chemicals I tried would not. While it did pull out a tremendous amount of foul-smelling bio-gunk (which was blue gray in color, you know that’s bad), the drain is still not working to spec.
I blame the Chief and her hair. She’s not here to defend herself anyway.
Two failures and one success later, I stood outside whilst the dog was urinating, relishing the fresh cool air. It reminded me of when I used to be a runner. Since my bike is currently touring the state of Iowa without me, I thought, what the hell. A test run couldn’t possibly hurt me too much, could it?
See, I’ve had these unpleasant seeds planted in my head from my brother and father, both of whom just came back from injuries to start running again. When my brother came over to see me last week, we were talking about bikes and he said “yeah, but you know? I’m just a runner. I can’t get into bikes.”
I was a runner, too, so I knew the elitist feeling he was talking about; that shared bit of respect runners have for each other because you do something that 90 percent of the population tries to avoid.
I got suited up and walked up to the old middle school track a block away from me. I set my watch and away I went.
I didn’t injure myself, but it could have gone better. It was pretty damn painful overall as I tried to remember what it was I liked about this knee-pounding experience. Once my achillies tendon started to tighten up though, I quit immediately. My doubts realized, I walked back home after my quick 15 minute run. I wasn’t sad, it just pointed out how ill-suited my body is for that exercise and that it was pretty amazing that I did it for as long as I did.
In fact, all it really did is make me want a new sexy bike even more.
You can also browse through the Parlor archives.
Keep up to date with my email newsletter. Newsletters are sent at least quarterly.
Stay up to date with my Feed in your favorite newsreader!
Check out who is linking to me with my Technorati Profile.