Saturday, January 31, 2009

And Then She Was Gone

I didn’t really know her

Other than to see her

Out in the yard

On rare occasions.


She was bent and slow

Quiet and unassuming

Her little house, on the list for new roof, new siding

Like so many in the path of the storm


Then a couple black and whites

Show up on a Saturday morning

Along with a slow gentleman

And a lady leaning on a cane


Looking, peering in windows and doors

Knocking & waiting... looking and talking

Officer kicking in the door

Seeking contact seemingly lost


Waiting and shuffling outside

Too long, not too long, it’s been so long

The officer, the gentleman

A slow walk to the leaning lady


A sunny January day

Marred by tears and hugs

As another elderly neighbor

Moves on without packing

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WheelDancing Solo

Biking appeals to me for the freedom it grants me. Being a full-time commuter, many of my miles are solo miles just like my fellow commuters in their steel cages who generally go it alone. It’s a mindset that makes us choose our transport vehicle and I choose to power two wheels with my legs more often than not.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy tearing up the single track in a pack of riders or burning down the road in pace-line. Group rides are always a good time but as often as not, I ride to the meeting point, a solo spin to warm up for the group ride. There’s a distinct difference between solo rides and group rides, not that one’s better than the other.

I like solo rides for their freedom, the spontaneous choices I get to make as I roll. Commute rides are defined in their end points but the route and maximum distance are mine to choose. Last year my contract was in downtown Minneapolis so my commute almost always ended with rush hour traffic-racing sprints. When the light turned green, I’d give it everything I had with the goal to beat the cars to the end of the block. I would give myself the sprinter’s points if no cars caught me before the end of the block and the yellow jersey if I ‘won’ all the sprints on a given morning.

What I don’t get in a solo ride is someone else pushing me, trying to tear my legs off on a climb or a spontaneous sprint when I am least prepared for it. Getting out of my comfort zone is easier when losing face is the penalty so when I ride solo, I tend to back off when I reach my threshold since I have no face to lose. There isn’t any motivation quite like watching a rider I know I can leave in the dust glide past me. That’s when I find I can in fact reach deeper, push harder and meet the challenge.

I like to think I push myself on my solo rides and use that freedom to work on my form, perhaps focus on my pedal stroke or standing/sitting transitions. It certainly helps but there’s nothing quite like having to react to another’s challenge to spice things up. Sort of like having another blogger pick the topic about which one writes. It’s a refreshing motivator, thanks Fat Lad!

This post is my response to the cattle prod applied by Fat Lad, the distinguished blogger across the pond. The first jolt seared my inbox charged with the phrase "Solo rides - roll out with your buddies or destroy those miles alone..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Favorite Things

A return to the Rule of Law
as well as intellectual and moral integrity
Time to get back out on the bike!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good Morning!

It is the dawn of a new era.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yehuda's got the wool thing down

Yehuda, always a good read, summarizes my fascination with wool. I was skeptical at first but have come to know that Merino wool is also softer than most other fabrics. I still have some of the old scratchy wool but I don't wear it against my skin. Fact is I'm saving real money on water and detergent since I switched to a nearly wool-only wardrobe. Funny thing is that not only does the wool not take on body odor, I take on (much) less body odor when I'm wearing it. Umm, I still bathe regularly...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Two Sides of One Reality

I ride the trail alone.

It’s a dream and I’m lost in the familiar.

I always ride this trail but it’s new every time.

The same turns surprise me,

Log piles slide under my rear wheel

Just as I realize they’re there to be navigated.

It’s always the same: different every time.

Though I’m alone, there are always others

They come from somewhere

To help, be helped and then

Alone again

But not really

Life’s single-track

Is a thread in a woven fabric

Crossing, intersecting, spanning to the next

According to a pattern unseen

A mobius reality where,

From one side

All that can be seen is a single thread

But from the other,

Only a continuous fabric.

We are the trails

We ride together

Sunday, January 4, 2009

0 degrees, -15 wind chill, dusk to dark

0 degrees, -15 wind chill, dusk to dark. Why?


Thin base layer tank top, long sleeve thin merino wool base layer, Icebreaker merino t-shirt, Bodyfit 260 long sleeve, with a Gore BikeWear jacket for the outer layer. This was perfect. This jacket has pit zips that I open pretty quickly to keep from getting sweaty and I then regulate my temp with the front zipper to let just a little air in on my chest.


Army surplus shooter’s gloves with heater packs which was perfect. I started out with a thick wool liner glove but it was too bulky and too warm so they came off. I always give myself options for my hands though I generally don’t have to make changes on the road.


Ibex Climawool pants over Craft wind bibs over silk tights over wind front briefs over merino wool boxers. This was good but I should have had some sort of cycling shorts. I forgot about them because I had been skiing, skijoring actually, and still wanted more of a workout and thought I was pretty much dressed to ride as well.


Medium weight wool socks, thin wool liner socks with Lake Winter boots covered by neoprene cycling shoe covers. I also had one heater pack under the toes of each foot; left overs from skiing.  My toes got just a little chilly at the very end of the ride but not enough to cause concern or stop me if I had intended to keep going.


Wore my down-hill ski helmet with medium balaclava and cycling glasses. This was pushing it as the balaclava got very iced up very quickly and only offers slight wind protection. I started with the wind at my back and when I turned into the wind, I pretty quickly had to put on my neoprene face-mask and switch to the ski goggles that I keep attached to the helmet for just such occasions.

Riding pace:

I’m guessing around an 8 mph. pace mostly over freshly plowed trails.


This was a fitness ride of about 15 miles that took around an hour and a half. Making certain I open the vents on my jacket early enough so I keep from getting sweaty in the first place was one of the hardest things to learn about winter biking but now that I have it down, I am always comfortable when I ride.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Will Be Perfect

If this year follows the high water mark of this fantastic day, 2009 will be the year to be remembered.
Started out the day cooking, bean, broccoli & rice soup on the stove (all day) and apple/clove pork roast in the crock pot.
Met up with the crew at French for some great skiing and gabbing and skiing. Conditions were pretty good, companionship was fantastic.
Check up on the cooking projects and then off for a quick bike ride on dueling studded tire equipped bikes with the sweetie.
Time to chow down on the soup and pork roast that spent the day getting ready to be consumed. All this followed by some quiet time.
Lather, rinse, repeat and this year will be nothing short of spectacular!
I hope your 2009 is off to this good a start!