Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ambulators

I opted out of biking today and went for a walk today over lunch. I picked all the flowers I could find, so no one but me can enjoy them.

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That's not really how it went. I collected one or two from each patch and built up a nice little bouquet over the hour I was out and about. Lovely! As an aside, remind me to donate to World Bicycle Relief again this Christmas. Walking places takes for-ev-ver.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interbike, 2010

More like Interbike, two thousand wow. It was a fantastic time. How can you tell? I've got a huge grin in almost every photo I'm in.

First off was the Outdoor Dirt Demo. I tried a 26" carbon hardtail Stevens (it was hard to get used to the sound of rocks hitting the carbon) and talked to the Stevens guys. I mentioned that Cale had gotten a pair of cross bikes, and they immediately said "Oh, the guy who painted them pink?" They saw my kit and guessed. Apparently Cale's photos have been making the rounds. They sent them on to their European office, too.

Then I switched to a 26" dual suspension Specialized Safire. No lines for Women's Specific bikes, what-what. The Safire was like cruising around on a couch, and it was incredibly hard to steer. Like runaway-stagecoach hard to steer. The fork was raked out (for better performance on descents), and I wasn't used to it. The guys at the Specialized tent did a great job setting up the shocks, though, and eventually I got used to the handling.

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After that, I grabbed a Trek Gary Fisher Collection Women's Specific HiFi. Mouthful, eh? Not much to report, because it's similar to what I'm used to riding, and I'm still no good at feeling out the subtle nuances.

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Yay, bikes! Apr├ęs Dirt Demo:
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That night, we ate $7 steak dinners with old friends who have been scattered across the country, then went to check out the Lazer party at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was super swanky, they had rented out the whole pool area and flown in a DJ from Belgium, word has it.

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Wednesday brought the first day of the show, and of course Cross Vegas! The team order from Champion Systems was due to be delivered, so Cale called them up and had them delivered to our hotel instead of back home. Since I was working the booth, it was up to him to wrangle the delivery, pick out my skinsuit, put my bike together and then pick me up to catch a cab to the race. It was then I found myself being wrangled. We got there early and I changed to get ready.

Sometimes you design something and it comes out looking differently than you had planned. Luckily, that was not the case here! I was so excited to find it was all I had hoped and dreamed it could be.

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At the start line, I was so very, very nervous. It was pretty well publicized (what, you didn't hear?) that I was a returning champ, and there seemed to be an awful lot of women signed up. I was getting nervous. And I swing between supreme confidence and crippling anxiety when I get stressed (which was the whole day)... a real treat.

The race started out with a snappy pace. I saw several women pass me, but didn't get too upset. I always start slowly and then pick it up. A lap or two in, I was still in third or so. Over the next lap, I worked hard to get up to second, but then it seemed I was out of luck. I was fading. It was then that my coworker, Luke Musselman (yeah, pronounced muscle man!), dropped back to find me. He verbally abused me into keeping up the pace. I would whine/wheeze/slaver, "I can't! I'm done!" and he would reply "No you're not, she's right there, you can get her. Come on!"

In this fashion, I crawled my way to the front of the women's field just before the beginning of the last lap, and managed to keep the lead by four seconds. Relief, relief.

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That makes three in a row. I think I'll retire now. (p.s. I love these cowbells. They're beautiful and spectacularly noisy.)

Cowbells

The next couple of days were a repeat of the first day at the tradeshow, getting up early, working the booth, then running around. Thursday, I ran into a guy I had met a few years ago at Superweek. We didn't even recognize each other at first! We spent an hour or so walking around- I was on a mission to find and photograph the coolest booths while I was out and about. We did happen across a pretty cool booth... a PHOTO BOOTH! Believe it or not, this was the first time I'd ever been in one.

Slime Booth

Thursday night we hit the Peppermill to hang out with Ritte and the gen-i-us behind All Hail the Black Market. The moment I stepped out of the cab, this very same handsome man hailed me over. It's been a long time since high school, but I finally understand what it's like to be a popular kid! VIP, man. The Peppermill was really cool- it reminded Cale and I of At Random... stuck in the past, and awesome for it. While we were there we got a complimentary postcard. Aw, yeah. First time on a postcard photo, too.

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Friday it was some more fun and games...

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...and then packing up the booth, packing in some dinner, and heading home. I caught an 11:30PM plane back and Cale picked me up at the airport around 4... or 5. I'm not sure, it was all a little foggy. We got home and started unpacking and repacking... Vegas vacation morphed into USGP weekend right before our very eyes. We headed out the same morning to Madison, but that's another story for another post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No Good Double Cross

Cyclocross again... I'd forgotten how much fun it is to see everybody. Yesterday's race was in an old west town (here in the Midwest, no less), the Kettle Moraine Ranch. The horses were corralled near the back part of the race course, the goats and the miniature pony right by the timing tent, and there was a rooster somewhere that I never saw, but heard throughout the race. The goats were pretty disinterested, but the horses followed the racing throughout the day. Needless to say, it was a pretty cool course.

A shot of the main drag.
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Cowgirl Heidi at rounds up racers to register. Hee hee!
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Some of the goats.
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In the morning it rained like crazy. Cale and I were on the road, and the 4's got dumped on while they were lined up to race. It made for some good cross conditions. By the time I raced at 1:15, it was still slimy in some parts, but a lot less difficult than the morning race.

I lined up with only two other women. One of the cross ladies has gotten pregnant, and I suspect more than a few were up in Chequamegon. This treacherous combo of babies and other races was enough to lower the attendance at the cross race. It was announced that the winner of the second lap (in each category, masters and women) would receive $50... chances were good! For the first lap, I tailed a woman from Gear Grinder, looking for strengths and weaknesses. She was slower up the hills, but in some places I would fall behind and have to accelerate to catch up.

No Good Double Cross
Photo by Ben VC.

On the beginning of the second lap, I made my move. I had decided that I would probably be bested for the win, but I wanted to scoop up the $50 prime. I kicked it in and put some distance between us on the hill after the start/finish line, and stayed ahead for the rest of the lap. My stint in the lead was short, however. I was tired after going for the prime, and eventually gave it up. I was pleased, though. I wasn't going to win it, so I burned some matches, got the prime and then settled back into second, where I was sure I would have wound up, anyway.

But fate would not have it so! And lucky for me. In the spiral part of the course and before the truly muddy part, there were a lot of unavoidable rocks hidden in the dirt/mud. I was running tubulars, and the woman in first place was not. On the last lap, I found her walking her bike with a flat. I'm guessing she pinch flatted on the rocks. It might be the first time I've ever believed that better equipment won a race.

And that's about it. Tubulars saved the day. Hooray!

After that I enjoyed a beverage or two and did some spectating with friends while sporting the flag. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday at all.

No Good Double Cross
Photo by Ben VC.

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Photo by John.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Minimizing

A kind of perfect storm has been in the works for a while. While working long hours, things got messy around the apartment. I had just long enough to make messes, but not enough time to clean anything up. Two, the bike room seems to be filling up. And that's a large room. Three, I've been reading some minimalist blogs lately, some so extreme that people pare their lives down to 100 items. All these things combined were finally enough to get me to take a hard look at all my junk. While 100-item living is decidedly not for me, there are some things that could stand to go, and others that could stand to be organized.

Cool chair w/ a good looking pillow that's color goes nicely with the books on the book shelf? Great, but I haven't sat in it in about a year or so. Gone!

Beauty Parlor Chair

The closet. So sad. My unmentionables were stuffed in shoe boxes and a garbage can thing that I've had since college. It's so shameful. Could you even call this living?!

What a mess.

Since the closet's a weird size, I went online to find some containers with which to organize. I found some options, the best of which was $20 per box. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay the man $80 to house my skivvies. I'd rather spend that ON skivvies. So I found some nice three-ply cardboard boxes, painted them, put knobs on them, cut out some vinyl to label them and called it a day. They don't look quite as nice as what I could have bought, but... SO?

Bam! Organized.

Next on the organizing block: books. I can't bear to part with many books, but I'm going to wrangle them. Currently they're infesting the apartment.

Art books, library books.
Books

Design books, kids' books.
Books

Big books, little books.
Books

Oh, books.
Books

Books

Books

I love 'em. I'll have to post an after photo for those eagerly awaiting the solution that I shall arrive at. All in due time, fans. All in due time.

Now, to attend to the detritus cluttering up the couch.

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