Sunday, July 24, 2011

I took most of the month of June off from riding. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time, until my asthma started to flare up. I had no idea I still had asthma or that it could come back and ruin my life until a few months ago...plus I was turning into a huge tub of lard. When I was a kid I was prescribed cough medicine laced with codeine and alcohol to treat my breathing problems...doctors did things differently back then.

I have spent most of the month of July riding. About 200 miles a week. I'm breathing just fine. I'm in semi-decent shape. No codeine required.

Saturday was my off day, so I spent most of the day watching cartoons and the local car dealer program that runs from noon to one p.m. Dragonball Z Kai is currently broadcast in repeats on channel 11.1, but I missed a few episodes. Frieza transformed into something frightening and horrible...and his power level made it to one million. There's really nowhere else to go from here. Worlds will be destroyed.

I went for a ride fairly late in the afternoon. It was around one hundred degrees when I started, but, for whatever reason, I was feeling really motivated. At the halfway point I was swinging around a 21 mph average for a 70 mile ride...solo. After 50 miles, reality crushed down upon me like a shattering blow from the reptilian claw of Lord Frieza. I tried as hard as I could to maintain a 20 mph average, but I couldn't do it. I ended up with a 19.5 mph average for the ride.

I was pretty pleased with my effort for the ride.

On Tuesday, I rode up to Spanish Lake after work for a total of around sixty miles. It was a much less eventful than the previous ride. I never really tried that hard and ended up averaging around 18 mph. I discovered a filling station on an acropolis above highway 270 that was selling two Powerades for two bucks. I chose two bottles of White Cherry for my twenty mile ride home. I enjoyed one, and saved one for later.

Which brings us into the present. I was planning another lengthy ride for Wednesday since it was my day off. I was lying around the house and attempting to store up some energy when BVD called me. I swear I have not ridden with this guy since my last blog post. We decided that we would meet up somewhere in the vicinity of the McKinley Bridge.

I was averaging 19 mph when I met up with BVD. After latching onto the train, my average promptly dropped to around 16 mph. We rode over to Forest Park to check out what was going on over there. In one hundred degree heat, it wasn't much. Only the dumbest women were brave enough to jog and exercise around the park in skimpy clothing on such a hot day. Normally, I find stupid women really attractive, but not on this day.

It was a slow and painful ride, considering the heat and intensity of the sun. I wound up riding 80 miles in five hours for an average speed of 16 mph. I was mildly sunburned, probably because I don't usually start my rides so early in the day. I limped home the last 25 miles after parting ways with BVD at the Glen Carbon Casey's. It hurt a lot, but I was riding home to seven beers, a partially eaten tub of potato salad, and a couple of slices of pizza in my fridge. Yum!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get it so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?

I have been riding on the BVD express for the last week. Last Saturday I headed up to the Rister ranch for an 80 mile ride in Calhoun county that would almost certainly jerk numerous tears out of a weaker individual. The ride consisted of the perfect triumvirate of Bobby, me, and D4L. Tim and I continuously attacked each other while BVD would fly past us when we sat up. In a way it was my hardest ride of the year, since I haven't really been riding with other people. I also haven't been riding up hills that top out at a 26 percent grade and average in the 20's. I'm not even sure how they paved this particular road. My lowest gear is 39x23 and I was weaving from one side of the road (wall) to another. By the top (which was only around 21 percent according to Tim) my arms were quivering and I was fighting as hard as possible not to collapse on the road, break down into tears, and cry for my mommy.

No worries. We finished the ride. Bob complained the most, Tim was the strongest, and I was the most opportunistic...just because I'm not used to drafting people (this year). It was nice to grab a wheel, then attack...only to get attacked by the person on my wheel. It was nice to engage in healthy competition with a few friends. It was also nice to sit around, drink Milwaukee's Best Light, and reminisce about better (2006!) times.

This Saturday, Bob and I participated in a sequel to the Calhoun ride with McGibbs playing the roll of D4L. This time we started from Edwardsville and rode to Carlyle Lake. It was a perfect day, the sun was shining, and the wind was blowing. Things started out innocently enough with everyone spinning along in the small chain ring. But it wasn't long before Gibbs demonstrated his dominance. The guy rides way too much for my taste, so I decided not to attack him. I took a few strong pulls during the ride, but that was pretty much it. Gibbs laid it down and pretty much pulled Bobby and I the last fifty miles of a 105 mile ride. I'm not going to lie to you, I was glad to let somebody else do the work for once on a ride. Riding solo get's old after a very short period of time. Thank you McGibbs.

Back at Bob's house, we discussed the pros and cons of a funkiller like Gibbs. Pro: Gibbs is so strong we had no chance of dropping him. Con: Gibbs is so strong we had no chance of dropping him. If you can't beat him, join him.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My cat, Cubby, died on Tuesday. When I got home I found her on the floor on her side. Her body was making noises but she was too tough to show any pain or acknowledge that she was dying. I picked her up and carried her to my bed. She had a few seizures, vomited a few times, and finally passed away. I could tell she was already dead, even though she kept breathing for several minutes.

I wish more people were like Cubby. Cubby never complained, was never sick (other than the kidney failure that ultimately killed her), and never showed any weakness...none whatsoever. Cubby never gave a flying fuck about anybody but herself and her source of food (me). I care about more things than Cubby and my next meal, but that makes me weak. I wish I could be as tough as Cubby.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The mini-hearse finally made it on the evening news. Some gun-wielding nut was caught possessing a concealed weapon at my store several days ago. The police arrested him and took him into custody. He was attempting to make some kind of misguided point about the second amendment.

I would have had no idea any of that happened if I hadn't been watching the evening news. While I was watching the evening news, the mini-hearse popped out against a spartan, consumerist skyline in one of the stock shots...muscular, sexy, and far-beyond capable. Black steel...curved, and ready to pounce. American strength...indefatigable.

A mini-hearse would never step into a Walmart with a gun on it's belt. That might scare grandma while she is busy shopping on one of the store's scooters. A mini-hearse would stoop down to tie your shoelaces if they were flapping around helplessly. Grandpa would approve.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My off days this week were Tuesday and Wednesday. Originally, I thought it was a bunch of crap not to get at least one weekend day off, but I was excited to get two whole days in a row off. That is a rarity. Then mother nature decided that my two off days were going to be the last nice days we are going to see for quite some time.

I took advantage of the situation and rode 110 miles on Tuesday in about six hours. I rode over to Illinois and took Fruit Road to the old Apple Pie road course. It was nostalgic to ride those roads again. The last time I rode there was with Bobby Van Daley, chasing Jack Daugherty on his motor scooter. I think it was 2007. I have never felt better on a long ride. Originally, I had planned to ride 80 or 90 miles, but things were going so well I tacked on twenty or thirty miles. I was somewhat disappointed that I only averaged 17 mph over my last 30 miles, but you can only do so much on a six hour ride.

The next day, I decided to take my mountain bike out to Greensfelder for several hours of riding. I ended up riding three hours and thirty miles in several laps of the park. My plan was to improve my skills, update my muscle memory, but most importantly, break in some new gear that I plan on using, on the Ozark trail in the next several months. Because...let's face it...it's mountain biking season. I'm primed and ready for a five or six hour mountain bike ride on the OT.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I assume everyone has situations, sounds, circumstances, or random things that trigger memories of certain songs. Right now I can't help but think of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" covered by Rage Against the Machine, every time I ride by the homeless community near the beginning of the Riverfront trail. Bruce Springsteen did a bang up job of writing the song, but he didn't really do his own words the justice that Rage did them several years later. Maybe partial writing credit should go to John Steinbeck for writing the Grapes of Wrath. Tom Joad wouldn't exist otherwise. But how many living people have any clue who John Steinbeck is? I guess it's a bad idea to die.

I'm not homeless or dead yet, though sometimes, both prospects are very appealing. I stumbled into my first century of the year on St. Patrick's day, maybe because of lack of fear or a sufficient amount of stupidity. I had this memory from a few years ago of riding through Soulard in front of a bunch of revelers in my old green team kit on the holiday and I knew I had to do it again this year. I took it a step further by attempting to ride at least a hundred miles. The attempt was a success. I rode one hundred miles in five hours and forty minutes. I wrote the numbers as words to express how long this ride took. It took a long freaking time!

I don't know what the deal is with Soulard this year, but people have really decided that they are going to spend huge chunks of their lives partying, parading, and drinking themselves into oblivion. Maybe it just seems worse because Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's day were so close together this year. What's next? Hold a parade and perpetual party as an excuse to stay drunk until Easter is over? I think it's pretty sad that people need excuses to be alcoholics. In my opinion, no excuse is necessary.

I incorrectly assumed that my bike would be in perfect shape and ready to ride when I rolled out of bed at 10:30 am on Thursday morning. Nope! It was still dirty and had water dripping from it, from a sixty mile ride that I took a week ago in forty degree rain. On that ride, I came close to suffering the effects of hypothermia on that forgettable ride. I lost the use of my hands about fifteen miles from home. It's pretty tough to pull your brake levers at random stop signs when your hands don't work.

While I was attempting to degrease my chain and clean it, I noticed that one of the rollers at the quick-connect link was about to fall off. Astutely, I decided to measure for chain stretch and learned that it was at least 3/16 of an inch over 12 inches. Holy shit! I had a new chain ready, so I immediately decided to discard the old chain before it could do more damage to my drivetrain. With extreme wear and tear present, I decided to check the cassette as well. The 17 tooth cog was completely done. I guess I should pay more attention to my bike, but I really don't ride it that often. I ended up swapping my chain, cassette for a Dura Ace (lucky me), and tire.

How long does it take to partially overhaul a bike like that? Answer: a really long time. Somehow I made it out my front door at 1:15 pm and managed to ride until it got dark. I've never seen so many drunk people in green shirts in my entire life. I think America has become addicted to Bud Light.

Here's a piece of advice. When you hear or feel your tire thumping don't ignore it until you get warmed up and find a convenient place to pull over and check it. That one didn't work so well for me. By the time I finally pulled over to check my tire, about an hour into my ride, I could see the tube bulging out between the rim and bead of the tire. The bead of the tire didn't get hooked into the bead of the rim on the last little final section that's so hard to roll onto the rim because I was using an old tire with the beads cut off as a tire-liner. Damage had been done to my tire, but the extra tire helped everything stay together for the next 80 miles of my ride.

I feel pretty good on the bike lately, but I'm a little slower than I want to be. It sucks to get old. I can ride all day at a leisurely pace, but for what? To ride past a bunch of bums who refuse to work in fast food restaurants and live in somebody's basement? "Look in their eyes ma, you'll see me!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I feel really ripped off right now, because I'm about to lose an hour of sleep to daylight savings. I slept 13 hours last night because it was my day off...but you can never get enough sleep. I got so much sleep, that I had several dreams reoccur that I had a few years ago. I have to say, they were really good dreams. One of my best dreams ever was one where I own two cars and I'm still living at my mom's house. If only it were true. I moved out of mom's place in the mid-nineties. There are no more free rides or extra cars available for me in this lifetime.

I had another dream that I met the perfect girl in a motel room with tight white shorts painted onto her body, but lost her forever for some reason. I'm not sure if the reason she didn't want me was because of my total ineptness or what. I thought about this extremely stupid dream critically after waking up. You don't meet the perfect girl at a motel. She had a hot body, but unless you're a slave to your body, beauty is fleeting. I can just imagine how ridiculous she would look, running along the side of some rural highway with shake-weights in her hands, deep into her thirties, trying to break hearts and make lonely guys feel like losers. Sad.

I hate to admit it, but the only reason I got out of bed on Saturday morning was to watch Dragonball Z Kai on channel 11.1 at 10 a.m. Two episodes in a row. They were awesome! I followed that up with a few lesser doses of Yugioh (the original and five D's). Usually, I get out of bed because I'm hungry, but I guess that sometimes isn't enough.

As an aside...My nearest Schnuck's has begun to carry Murphy's Stout. They are selling four packs of pints for $6.49. I was pumped to try a four pack out until I did some research and learned that Murphy's only has an ABV of 4%. I avoided getting the fine beverage several times, until I came up with this solution: drink the entire four pack in an hour. I did that and it worked pretty well. It's a pretty good beer, other than the fact that it's too weak.

Which brings me to my point. Today, I rode 85 miles in just under five hours. Believe it or not, I'm somewhat disappointed. I wanted to ride my geared bike, but it was not ready for action, so I had to take my singlespeed. I had a pretty good ride on the singlespeed but I gave up at least a mile an hour by riding it.

After getting home from my ride and enjoying a few Murphy's Stouts I heard a dog yelping like it had just had its throat ripped out. Worried, I ran to my back door, opened it up, and listened. This is what I heard: "Mommy, he's bleeding everywhere. He's bleeding all over the place. I can't stop it. I can't stop the bleeding." It was really weird. I'm pretty sure it was an older dog attacking a puppy. most of my neighbors have dogs. I'm not going to lie to you, I don't like dogs. That's because they're wild animals and they tend to rip each other's throats out.

I'm a cat person...I feel like a girl, past her prime, in tight white shorts, running alongside a busy highway with shake-weights in her hands.