Friday, March 30, 2012

still here. for now.

Although this blog has been woefully neglected since the end of cyclocross season, I am still here, and still riding my bike. Most days, anyway.

Since coming to the realization that I needed to evolve aspects of my life or go crazy, I have had to come to terms with the danger of burning out on bicycles in general. The fact that I am currently working at two jobs and therefore short on free time has made it easier for me to make a move away from some aspects of bicycle culture:

1. I am very likely not racing at all this year, though I will go to some races (especially Tabor, when school's out) to cheer on my teammates. I have asked my team to take a leave-of-absence from racing for the year and will reassess if and when time and resources permit me to think about racing again. But between figuring out work schedules for two jobs and the demands of wrenching nearly full-time this summer, there is just no time to train and very little money with which to race.

2. I have unloaded a good deal of my archive of Rivendell catalogs and Readers. I got my use out of them and just didn't feel the need to own them anymore. Plus, much as I adore GP, he has really begun to repeat himself in his writing about bicycles, and since I know his drill I didn't see the need to buy another paper copy of the Reader at this point.

2a. I may also unload some of my collection of bicycle technical manuals. Stay tuned.

3. I am probably going to unload quite a bit of cycling clothing and gear this year. Turns out that at least one aspect of GP's advice seems to be taking hold with me, and that is the knowledge that I just don't need so much lycra for riding anymore. Especially since I have probably raced my last cyclocross race anyway (and that's when I needed most of the gear).

4. Selling a bike or two to make space is an option. I have only one butt; why own five bikes? The three that I use most regularly seem to be plenty.

5. I may arrive at a point where I stopp blogging pretty much altogether. It takes time and energy that I feel I want to direct elsewhere for now. and I have other ways to connect with folks online anyway.

Realizing all this doesn't bother me. It feels like a natural step in a progression of steps that I am consciously taking on my way to Somewhere Else. It feels okay.

Happy riding!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

yet another cool bike - anonymous folder

This came into the shop today:

There are no identifying marks on it, only Chinese characters on the tire sidewalls.
I find it a little odd that there's no front shock, only the rear. It's an interesting frame and if anyone has any idea what it might be, speak up. It's likely going to be available for sale at the Annex after processing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

still going long, only slower

Yesterday Sweetie and I went to a birthday brunch at a friend's house. After two hours of ovely conversation punctuated by a plateful of taty treat -- including a choclate cake that Sweetie had made for our friend -- we went home and I decided I needed a bike ride. So I changed clothes, got out the [original] Rivvy, and headed off to check out my Smith & Bybee Lakes loop.

I hadn't tried this 20-mile route since early last fall, when the bridge over the Columbia Slough had been closed for rebuilding. I hadn't known at the time and was forced to turn around and go back the way I came. This time, I checked ODOT road reports before leaving the house, and learned that the construction had been completed in December.

It was raining lightly but steadily when I left the house. I didn't care -- it was in the 50's and I needed to spin my legs. The stress of my work transition was getting to me and I'd had enough of staying indoors waiting for things to warm up. I was conscious of feeling much slower than on previous rides along this loop; but everything felt nice and smooth as I pedaled past Portland Meadows and turned onto the Columbia Slough bike-ped path. Winding my way past Heron Lakes, I saw cormorants, mergansers and a huge blue heron out on the water. A few hardy souls played golf in the rain -- if you don't go outside when it's raining in Portland, you will end up spending an awful lot of your time indoors.

I reveled in the relative silence -- at 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon, almost no one was on Old Portland Road as I crossed and headed into the Smith & Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area. I kept going, and felt myself warming up. Took the loop along North marine Drive, crossed the bridge over the Slough where Marine Drive becomes North Lombard, and followed the long loop all the way around and over the Burgard Street bridge into downtown St. Johns. After stopping for a cup of coffee I rode back along North Willamette and headed home.

This loop used to take me about two hours, including a short coffee stop. This time, with the rain and my lack of training, it took almost three. But I felt really glad for having gone, and will do it again soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

my knees are older than i am

Portland has been experiencing some unseasonably cold weather this week, with lows in the 30's and highs barely making it above 45F. This morning I awoke to see the lawn and surrounding trees shrubs covered with about half an inch of snow.

It has been difficult to be excited about bicycling this winter and early spring.
The cold weather has gotten to me much more this year. My knees ache after long rides in very cold temperatures (and yes, I dress appropriately). My energy level is lower than it was at this time last year, though I know that a fair amount of that is based on emotional and mental stress. There was no money to rejoin the gym this year (and with me working two jobs there hasn't really been any time to schedule weekly workouts anyway); while my weight has held fairly steady since last year I definitely feel the difference in my energy levels from not having worked out this time around. I have verbally committed to racing short-track this summer but truthfully I have not yet found my sense of drive or excitement around it, and I'm concerned that June will sneak up on me and I won't be able to follow through. If my career transition continues as planned then cyclocross is likely over for me. I am surprised at how okay I am with that notion.

Meanwhile, I have mostly faithuflly plugged along on my morning and evening commutes, in all weather, giving myself permission to go multi-modal when the weather has been especially fierce and nasty outside. Riding from the bike shop to my synagogue job yesterday afternoon, I bundled up in layers of wool and wore full raingear, and was still badly chilled just riding the two and a half miles over the Willamette River and into the heart of the city. Wind gusts made the rain fall sideways and threatened to knock me off my bike as I rode over the Burnside Bridge. I was feeling a little battered by it all.

When I got to the synagogue and dismounted I could feel my right knee creak a tiny bit from the cold, and I was reminded that my knees are getting older faster than the rest of me. I'm not sure working out in the gym would forestall that process -- I could feel those twinges last year during my weekly regimen and the weight-work and stretching didn't seem to make them go away -- and I know that at some point time and age will win out over strength and endurance. It's kind of trippy to experience that as it's happening, to feel that awareness growing, as I stand up on my pedals to power up a hill and notice how my leg muscles respond with the fire but my knees are starting to complain a little at the demands made on them. Friends with things like better-paying jobs and health insurance have urged me to see a specialist, look into knee replacement and do all the other things that the medically insured can count on. I nod my head, smiled and ignore their suggestions, instead mentally noting the ways I can conserve what I have left by portioning out the good days and giving myself a break on the bad days. That is the best that I and many in my situation can hope to do.

I got some news this week about a friend who has struggled with his health. He'd had a bad fall last summer and had been hospitalized or living in assisted care since having surgery to repair his badly broken foot. He was sedentary, diabetic and needed to work on diet and physical activity in order to lose weight. I just learned a few days ago that due to an infection, his foot was not healing as hoped for and he was forced to undergo amputation of the foot to stem the infection and avoid potentially deadly complications. He will have to return to the assisted living/rehab facility and prepare for a prosthesis. The news blew my mind. I am thinking good thoughts on his behalf and hope that he will be able to make the emotional and physical adjustments needed for a complete recovery.

He's only a dozen years older than me. This also blows my mind.