Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tandem Starts

I mostly ride our tandem with Jason, my long-suffering husband.  However, he has taken to the water in the past couple of years and does not ride as much.

Jason and I conspired to get Jaz and MarkN to buy a tandem.  Jason simply didn’t understand how they could not already have a tandem.  They were a happily married couple and they both loved cycling, but they didn’t own a tandem.  This combination of facts could not be reconciled in Jason’s mind and Jason walked around muttering to himself that it just didn’t make any sense.  “It just makes no sense. Why don’t they have a tandem?”  After much deliberation, Jason decided that the lack of a tandem in their lives was due to their ignorance regarding tandems.  He told me that I should ride with Mark and he could ride with Jaz.  Mark and Jaz would see the light, buy a tandem, and live happily ever after.  I had already independently decided to ask MarkN to ride with me, not to help Mark understand the joys of tandeming, but because Jason had decided to get all wet.  While Jason’s motives might have been noble, mine were completely selfish.

My tandem is too big for Mark.  Mark refers to it as the tank.  We eventually changed the captain seatpost from a set back  post to  straight post and this change helped, but the bike was still too large.  I was unable to convince Mark to use the “proper method” to start the tandem, but we were fine starting with each of us with one foot one the ground.  Mark kept referring to my “big strong husband” who could more easily hold the tandem up and control it.  Jason laughed himself silly to hear himself referred to as big and strong, but he does outweigh MarkN by 20-30 pounds depending on which way either of them are lying about their weights on any given day.  Mark seemed to be ok with the tandem and perhaps to even like it, but I didn’t really think that he was sold on the idea of actually buying one.

The clincher was, of course, Jaz.  Jaz is an avid cyclist who is limited by knee problems.  She seems to want to be able to go faster, but is hindered by her knee problems and the fact that Mark is male and just generally too fast.  Sticking her on a tandem with her husband seemed a perfect solution.  She could go faster and not get dropped by Mark.  I love riding the tandem, because going faster with no additional effort is so much fun and I figured Jaz would like it, too.  So we stuck her on the back of our purple bike with Jason captaining and we all went around the bears.  At the top of Mama bear, we all stopped and Jaz exclaimed, “the tandem has a lot of momentum going up the hills.”  Jason and I knew we had won.   At the end of the trip, Jaz turned toward Mark and asked, “So what are we going to do about this, Marko?”  Mark didn’t answer and instead gave the uneasy smile of a man who did not want to discuss an important decision in front of an audience.  The audience, however, had no doubt that the bike would be bought.

My friend Michael thought that Mark didn’t really want to buy the tandem.  Michael, as the rest of us do, sees the world though his own lenses and he envisions all men as creatures who make great efforts to spend less time with their wives.  The tandem would be running in the wrong direction.  I, seeing the world through my own lenses, thought Mark would love the tandem.  He could ride with Jaz, not drop her, and still get a hard workout.  Life would be perfect.

When Jason and I bought a tandem, we test-rode a sample tandem just to be certain that we could ride it.  We had a terrible test ride and I screamed a lot.  We, of course, had already decided to buy a tandem, so unless we had actually gotten run over by a trolley during a test ride, we were buying one.  We promptly ordered one, one we had never test-rode and we love it (other than the color).   Mark is someone, who either is good at decisions or thinks that he is, and they test-rode a bunch of tandems, gradually convincing themselves that they were able to form a rational opinion about the different frames.  They chose a steel, banana-yellow bike.

I don’t know for certain if the banana tandem has been a complete success, since I haven’t spoken to Jaz about it, but Mark seems delighted.  I don’t get to tandem with Mark as much, since he is riding the tandem with his wife.  Jason, feeling a little guilty, has been agreeing to more tandem rides with me and we have been having fun with tandeming again.  All-in-all, our conspiracy was successful and I think that the world is a slightly better place.

Climbing Mama bear.

Climbing Mama bear.

after the press

Mark and the purple tank in wine-land

Six Smushed Skunks

I was being driven crazy by a particulalry opinionated women named Barbara who rode in my cycling club.   I wrote to Alexis complaining about her and Alexis responded with a one-sentence email:

OMG, I want to slap her.

While that sentiment isn’t exactly novel, I highly appreciated her one-line letter.  Being exasperated by someone over a club email discussion regarding photographs is silly.  Barbara really was not causing any problems by emailing.  I could easily ignore her, but instead I got mad.  Having someone else share the same exasperation is vindicating.  I felt less silly and the sharing somehow made me less angry.  “See other people think as I do,” I think and somehow I am no longer annoyed.  It was as though the annoyance came from me sitting alone at my computer and feeling like no one else agreed with me.  Would it matter if no one else agreed?  Why was I comforted when someone did?  Humans are strange.

The issue, hashed out angrily on a cycling club email list was about artistic freedom, immorality, personal privacy issues, the human race’s destruction of the natural world, or people’s inability not to click on every link that says click me.  -or it was about pictures of road-kill, depending on your point of view.  Road-Kill Andrew posted links to the club email list for his personal flicker site.  The links were to flicker sets that showed pictures from the previous week’s ride.  Andrew used to race ahead and then stop and take pictures of other riders as they passed.  It was quite nice, all these pictures he gathered.  However, Andrew also liked taking pictures of dead animals that had been killed by cars.  I am not sure why he wanted these pictures, but he did and he uploaded them onto his flicker site.  I managed not to see any pictures of roadkill, while actually seeing many of the pictures of people.  Maybe I would have felt different about this issue had I been surprised by the pictures.

People, upset by the pictures, complained.  Subsequently, due to these complaints, when Andrew sent in further links to his flicker sets, he accompanied the link with a warning regarding the likelihood of viewing a car-smushed creature.

Well, that warning didn’t go over well.  Barbara wrote in to the list saying that the pictures were highly offensive and should not be linked in anyway to the cycling club. Then people responded, defending road-kill Andrew, saying that the photos were artistic expression and he should be allowed to take the pictures and show them.  She responded indignantly that the issue was a moral one, not artistic.  The pictures were immoral and should not be shown.

I was of the opinion, that the site was his personal flicker set and he could have the pictures he wanted on that site.  He hadn’t actually killed the animals to create those pictures.  The animals weren’t less dead if he didn’t take those pictures or more dead now that he had.  Other people argued valiantly for artistic freedom and its importance in a free society.

Are pictures of dead animals art?  I don’t’ know.  I never spoke to Andrew about the pictures and I don’t know why he was taking them.

Are pictures of dead animals immoral?  I don’t know.  It seems wrong to kill an animal just to get a picture you think would have some artistic value.  Our society raises and kills animals all the time for food, clothing, and all variety of body part reasons.  Some of those reasons might seem as trivial as killing an animal for a photograph.  Andrew hadn’t killed the animals.  Our society, in the overtaking of the world and the paving of roads was what killed those creatures.  None of us were less guilty or more guilty than the rest of us for the smushing of those creatures.  Perhaps Andrew was making a comment about our ecological disaster. I don’t know.

Seeing pictures of a dead animal or person is upsetting, but the person or other creature is not less dead or more dead, because the picture is or isn’t taken.  The person would not be less dead if the picture were viewed or not viewed.  Taking a picture of a dead person for entertainment value would strike me as highly disrespectful and, to use Barbara’s word, immoral.

I do a couple of rides a year that go through Rio Vista and one of the reason I like Rio Vista is to be able to go into Foster’s Bighorn and see the taxidermy.  Is finding the stuffed animals interesting wrong?  Is it like child pornography?  The viewing of child pornography is considered wrong because the production of the pornography involved the harming of a child.  You cannot legally kill all those animals in Foster’s Bighorn anymore and the hunting had been done for sport and entertainment.   Foster’s Bighorn post.


Is seeing a picture of someone dead disrespectful?  Are we better to be reminded of deaths than to avoid them?  Is looking at the picture of someone or some animal dead and seeing something interesting wrong?  Does the addition of possible entertainment make the viewing immoral?  I suppose I am not really that annoyed that Barbara sent her incensed email.  The whole episode was more interesting and more worth discussing than I had initially given it credit for.  Is being interested in the subject of pictures of dead animals ok?  Is everything just here to entertain us?

I bike by road-kill regularly.  We have skunk-killing season when the air fills with a gasoline-like smushed skunk smell.  I am currently riding in dead-newt season.  The newts are dying out due to habitat destruction and I feel slightly sad for our planet to see so many of them killed off by cars, too.

Shoes.  picture stolen from the Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum web site.

This post was written about an incident that took place a couple of years ago.  Andrew stopped sharing links with pictures of dead animals.  I am only reporting my impressions.  I do not really know the opinions of the others involved in this discussion.  Thanks to sonofabike for the title.  

Postcard from King City

“Are you ok?” I texted Jason at 1155pm on Saturday night.

“I’m fine,” he politely replied, “How are you?” Netflix had just raised the quality of his life substantially, by suggesting that he watch the British comedy “Black Book.”  Jason had just spent the last couple of hours watching this show, giggling, so was in a very happy and accepting mood when I texted him at the cusp of midnight.

“Earthquake, felt big,” replied I.  I had been asleep in a motel room in King City when the trembler hit and was now anxious and very, very awake. When the quake hit, I thought, “that seems to be going on for a while,” so I walked to the wall next to me to go outside.  It took me a second to realize that the wall did not contain a door, which is good, since a door on that wall would have lead to a quick drop from the second floor to the first.  For some reason this image bothered me, as though in my confusion, I could have found a door in the dark that lead to a 30-foot drop.   I recalled that the door was located on the opposite wall and made my way to the other side of the room. By the time I got to the correct location of the room door, the shaking had stopped.  Worried that the big one had hit the bay area and that our lives may be in ruins, I texted Jason, thinking that if the big one had hit San Francisco or Oakland, I would not get through anyway.

I was relieved that Jason quickly and happily responded.  Alexis was trying to get information on her iThingy, but the USGS site was not showing any earthquakes at all, so we were happy to hear from Jason and learn that our loved ones and our lives still stood sound.

The earthquake turned out to be local to us.  It was a 5.3 magnitude quake on the San Andreas fault about 17 miles from King City.  King City was the closest town to the earthquake.  There was no damage or injuries.

I was on an overnight biking trip with a group of about 45 or so and I think that everyone was awakened by the shaking.  Many people called home, worried as I was.  Michael’s response was slightly different.  He thought that it might be the big one, too, but he was pleased and content.  He was happy to be out of town, safe, comfortable, and warm with his beloved bike in King City, far away from any possible destruction in his hometown.

2012 Knoxville Double ride report part one: But I thought you said the ride went well?

I really would like to write a ride report for the Knoxville Double and now would be the time to do it, but I don’t want to.  I feel tired and worn out and maybe I should go out and buy me a coke?  Are you kidding?  It is about 100 degrees outside and I am never leaving my shaded apartment again.

Dorothy Parker is supposed to have said, “I hate writing. I love having written.”

I feel the opposite way about doing doubles.  I like doing the doubles, but I hate having done them.

The doubles start early in the morning, so you start the double with a sleep deficit.  I got up at 0230 to start Saturday’s double.  I end the doubles late and then do not sleep well the next night, so I continue the deficit.  -And then let us not forget the 200 mile ride that is done between the two nights without enough sleep.  Maybe I am just tired.  Maybe I just need another nap.  I don’t know.  How long I am supposed to feel sort of lousy?  My back hurts.  I’ll write my report later.  I wish someone would come over and do my laundry.


Will you still love me when I am old and grey?

A friend posted this picture on her facebook page.  She strongly believes in eating meat in the same way vegetarians strongly believe in abstaining and she stated that this Pinterest post resonated with her and I could see how it might, considering her strong meat leanings.

However, this poster was also the same women who looked down at my eating habits, saying that she had gotten to the point in her life where she no longer saw the point of eating food that lacked nutritional value, so I also found her posting of this picture annoying.  I eat plenty of food simply for the joy of consuming it and can hardly be considered a consistently healthful eater.  (I don’t think I eat as poorly as my friends suppose, though.)

This post did, however, also resonate with me, but for a different reason; I found it offensive.  I had never heard of Gillian McKeith and was only aware of Nigella Lawson, because of a friend’s husband, who happened to find her hot, and I have a vague, but uninformed opinion, that I might actually prefer the diet supposedly touted by Nigella Lawson.  Even if we ignore the fact that one picture is clearly posed and fuzzy and the other is candid, Nigella Lawson can be said to be prettier and to look younger than Gillian McKeith.  Nigella also looks younger than me and I am 6 years younger than she.  Suppose Nigella Lawson and I were to meet and suppose in this odd situation we were to have some sort of disagreement, would the argument be solved by the juxtapostioning of our pictures?  I suppose this disagreement would be actually solved by the fact that she is a successful and wealthy celebrity, and thus, far more important than me.  That she is actually prettier would be just gravy.  Any opinion she would have would clearly outweigh mine and she would be deemed correct.

I suppose I should only pick arguments with people less pretty than me and then I can just point that fact out and win the argument.  If I were pretty enough, could I change the rules of the universe?  Could I change reality with a bat of my eye?

Cyclist use a similar fact-determining technique frequently.  Disagreements regarding riding, equipment, and clothing are routinely resolved by figuring out who is faster.  The faster rider is correct.  Case closed.  However, sometimes these arguments are actually resolved by the posting of extremely long, illogical, inaccurate, and supposedly technical arguments, with which no one can be bothered to argue, since life is too short.  I have no idea which is the better method, since both seem equally random.  Truth is hard to determine.  Determining it by the appearance of the person making the argument might be as accurate as other methods.

Female cyclists have long discussions about cycling clothes and how they are not designed properly for them.  Women seem to want jerseys that cut in at the waist and out at the hips.  Women’s jerseys also frequently have small capped sleeves and, in general, show more skin.  Women’s shorts, for instance, are quite a bit shorter.  I do not like the cycling clothes designed for women, so I usually buy men’s cycling clothes.  I am on a bike ride, do I really need to try to emphasize my waist to hip ratio to somehow convey some sort of fertility?  I am almost 45, for goodness sake.  Can’t I stop this already?  I want to go on a bike ride.   Do I really need to dress in clothes to make me sexually appealing to men?   Why should I bother?  I am on a bike ride, aren’t I off-duty?

One day, as I walked by the loading dock of Whole Foods, the owner of a small pick-up truck  covered with pleasant, feel-good, lefty bumper stickers offered me some food.  He was loading food donated by Whole Foods onto his truck and took a quick look at my clothes and kindly made his offer.  I smiled and said no thanks.  I know why he offered me the food.  My clothing is old, stretched out, ripped and full of holes.  My clothing selection each morning is based on 3 factors:  1) how cold I am, 2)  what am I already wearing, and 3) what is next to my bed when I got up.  One of my goals in life is never to go clothing shopping again.  I wish to coast the rest of my life on the clothes I have already accumulated.  I see no good reason why these clothes should not do.  They can prevent me from being naked admirably well and isn’t that what clothes are supposed to do?

However, the guy I sometimes go on dog walks with once told me I looked like a schizophrenic.  He then listed all the odd things I was wearing:  15 year old purple knit skirt, 8 year old light blue castelli long sleeve winter cycling shirt, stripped wool knee socks, black clogs, and a cute cycling cap covered with little white daisies. My hair was in Pipi Long-stocking braids.  My friend is a mental health care worker.

My husband thinks I should make more of an effort and try to look nicer and I suppose I should.  I dress up when we go out to dinner, which we do regularly, and I try not to look too horrible at work.  Perhaps the only important thing about you is the way you look.  Perhaps that is the only reality that really counts.

I did the Alex’s all-club Second Saturday Ride (ASSR) this past weekend.  Once a month, the Grizzly Peak Cyclists do an all club ride that splits up after about 10 miles into different paces.  It is a nice ride.  The route is pretty and the company nice.  I love cycling.  I love the joy of movement.  I like the hard effort and its accompanying thrill.   I spent the evening in the company of friends, eating good food and talking for hours.  It was a day well spent.  I am luckier than I deserve.  Perhaps that is the only reality that counts.

OYJ Petaluma ride report: Cyclist versus car

Since the hospital ER bays are separated only by curtains, we could clearly hear the ER doctor telling the man’s family that they had been doing compressions on the man for 25 minutes and had given him meds.  The doctor explained that they were running out of things that they could do and that it didn’t look good.

Jason and I were doing great, however.  I had had my xrays and was feeling much better.  We were pretty sure that the xrays would be clear and we were really just waiting to be released by the doctor.  Despite the dire situation occurring nearby, the doctor soon came and released me.  He warned me that my right shoulder would probably take longer to heal than I expected and that I might need some physical therapy.  I didn’t really believe him.  My shoulder hurt a little, but it did not seem that bad.  When we left, they were giving the cardiac arrest patient his third dose of epi as his family watched on.

Garmin trace showing ambulance trip

Of course, I hadn’t turned off my Garmin when I crashed.  I didn’t even know what had happened to my bike, but they had put it into the ambulance with me and the Garmin dutifully recorded the trip to the Petaluma Valley Hospital.

The OYJ (Oakland Yellowjackets) Petaluma ride is a great ride.  It goes over Joy Road and climbs the east side of the Coleman Valley Road wall.  The route then goes up the coast to Jenner, before returning along River Road and Bohemian Highway.  The official route has a bunch of climbing at the end, but we decided to cut out the final climbing and take the flatter way home.  Often on this ride, people cut out the jaunt up to Jenner and eat in Monte Rio instead.  I love Jenner and I wanted to go to the mouth of the Russian river to look at the seals.

To Jenner via Joy and Coleman

Don Mitchell and Jim Swarzman died in separate incidents after having been hit by cars.  Their deaths were awful.  Neither death should have happened at all.  There was absolutely no excuse for either incident.  I could go on and on, but the incidents were too upsetting.

Jack Holmgren, tired of having his friends killed, has embarked on a safety and high visibility crusade.  As part of this crusade, he gives lectures on how to be visible while you are cycling.  He also organized a mass buying of a high visibility neon-orange, day-glow vest with reflective tape on it.  In addition to the reflective tape already on the vest, Jack sewed large reflective tape on to the bottom of each vest.  When you lean down, the very reflective orange tape will still be visible.  “Moonbeams,” he called them.  People donated money in Don’s and Jim’s memories to Jack for him to buy the reflective tape.   I had bought one of these highly reflective vests with the Jack Moonbeam treatment and had been wearing the vest on my commutes.  Saturday’s ride was the first time I wore it on a regular ride.  Jack says that when cyclists are hit by cars, the car drivers say “I didn’t see him (or her).”  He argues that we owe it to Don Mitchell’s and Jim Swarzman’s memories to be as visible as possible.

Mavic vest without the special Jack Moonbeam treatment.

As I lied on the ground with a woman (an off duty nurse) holding my head to prevent me from moving, I could hear the woman who had cut me off, saying over and over that she hadn’t seen me.  At the time, I was happy that she was there.  I was happy that she had stopped and had not left the scene.  I was happy that she was upset that I was hurt.  Alexis told me later that she had been angry at the woman for going on and on about not seeing me as I lay there in my bright orange vest.

Moreover, I was happy that I was not seriously injured.  When the car had cut me off, I had not been able to see a way out.  I thought that this was it- this was going to be my bad accident and it was going to hurt a lot.   However, I was able to slow down the bike a lot more than I thought I would be able to and while my right arm hurt some, I knew that I was going to be ok.

The incident was not only witnessed by my husband and my friends, it was witnessed by an off duty deputy.  There were two off duty nurses at the scene.  I do not know how they could have gotten to me so fast.  As far as I can discern, I collided with the car and instantly this woman was there holding my head and telling me not to move.  The EMTs arrived immediately.  The policeman (David Gilman) who came and talked to me in the ER was very nice and helpful.  The woman who hit me did not leave.  She was loud and upset and she called 911.  The nurses at the ER were nice and the doctor was unhurried, nice and informative.  The XRay tech was great, very friendly and he made me very relaxed. Everyone at the Petaluma Valley Hospital was great.  Next time I crash, I want to do it in Petaluma.  As Jason drove home, he remarked about how great everyone was and that we should move there.

On Saturday evening, I was on a bit of a high.   I was so relieved that I had not been worse hurt.  I have moved past that stage and am currently a little annoyed that I cannot lift my right arm.  It does not hurt much, but the arm is weak and it lacks mobility.

I am also very upset that the vest made with “Moonbeam” reflective tape bought with donations made in Jim’s and Don’s memories still did not prevent me from getting in this type of incident.  I would not have been as upset if I had been wearing another high-vis item, but the wearing of this particular vest for the first time on a ride and still getting hit in this manner makes me unreasonably upset.

I stole this picture from Willy’s facebook site. It shows Willy (wearing the hat) and Don Mitchell.

Picture stolen from Chris Kostman of AdventureCorp

I am glad we went to Jenner.  I love Jenner.  The cafe is great.  Jason and I split a chicken sandwich, but not any ordinary chicken sandwich.  It was a chicken sandwich on focaccia bread with red pepper compote.  It was sooo yummy.  We  also split a hot chocolate to ward against the lingering fog and we sat outside watching the wildlife on the Russian river through a glass screen that protected us from the wind.  We listened to live music; a reggae singer was preforming.  It was one of those perfect moments that occur regularly on bike rides.  All the senses are delighted, you are surrounded by friends, and you sit there and think about how lucky you are.

After lunch, we rode up to see the mouth of the Russian river.  We saw a bunch of seals and two otters and that was nice, too.

Day three! Touring in Oregon: Crater Lake

Crater Lake

On day three the prescribed course was from Fort Klamath to Mosquito Lake  (better known as Diamond Lake) via a trip around Crater Lake.  To get EFI credit (every fabulous mile), one also needed to do an out and back to the pinnacles.  Michael did not want to go completely around the lake or do the out and back to the pinnacles.  Instead we went part way around the lake and then retraced our steps, in order to stay next to the lake the entire time.  Michael’s goal was to be the lantern rouge and he did not care about EFI credit.

Route around lake without out and bak to pinnacles. We did not go completely around lake.

Altitude! and steep at times!  Oregon roads are gently sloped and beautifully maintained.  The gentle slopes are lovely on a tour, since you can always just go slower if you are tired.  However, I am better at shorter, steeper climbs and I liked having something to sink my teeth into on this day.

I never remember this stuff when I get home, so I took a picture. However, “crater formed by volcanic explosion” really is not that hard to remember.

Wizard Island

Mosquitos preyed on us as we rode and every time we stopped.  I got 9 bites on my ass.  The little suckers bit me through my shorts.  I got bitten as I climbed.  They saw me and thought “she’s not used to the altitude- let’s go get her,” and they chased me down and sucked me dry.

Crater Lake, blue rim, and me

I love my blue rimmed front wheel with purple nipples.  The purple nipples create a lovely purple haze that delights me and cheers me up on gloomy days.

Mary, Diane, Michael, me, Andrea. Picture by Steve Rogers.  I am not really that short. 

Diane could make this very loud seal barking noise.  She first demonstrated it on this ride.  At first, the noise was really quite annoying, but after a couple of weeks, it grew on me and I found it amusing and somewhat endearing.

“Take a picture of me by this snow bank!”

I was so excited to see snow.  I scoured the landscape, looking for a snow bank in order to have my picture taken in front of it.  Poor Andrea took this picture.  She hadn’t even had a moment to catch her breath after climbing a somewhat longer than expected and steep hill (at altitude), when I accosted her, shouting orders at her to take my picture.  I have been living in California so long, that I now find snow exciting.  I am glad it does not snow where I live.  I thought of my friend Charleston as this picture was taken and thought about how much he hates the cold.  I was happier than I look.

View looking away from the lake. I should really know what these mountains are, but I don’t.

Imagine a lot of loud seal barking noises being made as this picture is taken.

Crater Lake, clouds, and pollen

I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia and my fifth grade teacher went on a trip to Crater Lake.  She treated us to a lecture and a slide show of her trip.  As a kid, the west coast seemed a world away and an impossible place to ever go, but I wanted to actually see the lake and I never thought I would.  I was very happy to have had the opportunity to see it.

Crater Lake and peaks

View from our camp site at Mosquito Lake (Diamond Lake)

The campsite was not as mosquito ridden as I thought it would be.

2010 Census: Please, please understand me and make me count

I wrote this article in March of 2010.  Jean, my neighbor, has since died.  

During the 1990 census, my aunt was asked to fill out the long census form. I am not sure what the long form asks now, but in 1990 it asked a lot of questions about type of housing: building types, size of building, indoor plumbing, heat, electricity, water, etc. The longer form also asked more detailed questions about the inhabitants. It queried regarding occupations, health, disabilities, education, methods of transport to and from work (biking, walking, carpooling, mass transit?), etc. I want to fill out one the long forms. I want to be more than a number, sex, race, and age.

I want to be described and understood. However, even with the long form, my apartment is not exactly exciting. It is typical- nothing unusual or interesting. A number would probably describe it adequately. (I would, however complain about my lack of central heating.) I might simply have to lie. “I live in a wigwam that is off the grid and has no indoor plumbing. The wigwam, however, does have central air energized by the manure-powered generator out back. I live part of the year here, but for 2 months I live in Sweden, 1 month a year in Morocco, and each July I take a month long retreat on Minnesota, focusing on fly-fishing and meditation. I have several vagrants hanging out in my front hall closet until the rain stops.” I have never been offered the long form.

I am not sure what the long form is asking these days. Do they still ask about carpooling, buses and whether you are on the grid? Are they now asking about internet access and phones? “Do you or anyone living with you have a Twitter account?” I am curious about internet access and how many people actually own computers. I think having a home computer with an internet connection is akin to having a diamond ring- a fun luxury. Being a little on the overindulgent side, I have both. However, so much of life these days seems to be done over the internet and not having home internet access now would be a large hassle (as opposed to a diamond ring, the lack of which leads to no real inconveniences at all). Many businesses and services act as if everyone has easy access to these expensive items and services. I wonder how many people actually do.

When I lived in Baltimore, people lived in run down condemned houses with lead paint, no heat, no water, and no electricity. Houses burned down regularly from the kerosene heaters people used to heat themselves. Now everyone I know has a cell phone. I seem to be further and further away from the squalor these days. I wonder if everyone in Baltimore now has a cell phone.

My husband has one of those handheld computer phones. The cost of running one of those things for 2 months is equal to the cost of a dinner for 2 at Cesar’s. I would much rather have the dinner at Cesar than 2 months of email going to my back pocket. The point is not quite valid, however, since my husband’s email still does go to his back pocket and we go to Cesar’s a lot more than once every 2 months.

I am going to try to find the Irish/English/Portuguese/French/German/etc box on the form. One of the doctors at my work asked me about my ethnic background and I said Irish and Portuguese (my answer for this question varies depending on my mood.) He replied “oh- a fiery combination.” I don’t think anyone has every described me as fiery and my husband was highly amused by the descriptor. The census form, however, offers me only “White,” which is hardly descriptive either. I think I prefer fiery, however inaccurate the adjective may be.

My neighbor came over to my apartment this morning and gave me my census form. I am apparently an 85 year old Chinese woman with very poor hearing and poor understanding of English. She mistakenly filled out my form. (Actually a kind neighbor filled it out for her.) She also filled out her own census form, so we have double the number of old Chinese ladies living on my floor and my husband and I are clearly absent.

She was given the regular short form, too. She keeps catching her kitchen on fire and I think we are going to have to insist her stove be turned off soon. She forgets that she is cooking and then goes off for a nap. She is just getting old and is forgetful. The census questionnaire doesn’t have a box on its form for that either.

Day two! Touring in Oregon: Ashland to Fort Klamath

79 miles. Ashland to Fort Klamath

It has been two weeks since the completion of the Oregon cycling tour and I haven’t unpacked yet.  However this morning, I finally hung my tent up on the balcony  to air out and dry and then decided to write up day 2 of the tour.

It rained overnight, so everything was wet and clean in the morning, except my chain, which was slightly rusty.  Michael was the last person to get his stuff on the truck, so he continued to meet his goals.

I had never actually packed up the tent on my own and it is a task at which I do not excel.  Jason packs everything up tightly and gets all the components onto a teeny tiny sac.  He has figured out the best and most efficient way to pack the tent.  “Follow the fold lines,” he instructs.  I loosely folded the wet tent in the air trying not to get it more dirty and paid no heed to fold lines.  By the end of the 2 week trip, I simply stuffed as much as possible in the sac with no time wasted on any silly folding process.  Every time I packed up the tent, I could feel Jason’s disapproval.  When Jason and I were first together, he, with disapproval in his eyes, would watch me pack my own clothes and then he would unpack everything I did and repack it “correctly.”   After about 20 years, Jason decided that doing everything himself was more work than having me do things not quite right.  In general, I could be said to have won.  Our apartment is a disaster.

We left camp a little after 8 am and arrived at the restaurant with pie at 0930.  The little cafe was full of cyclists and 3-4 of them were already drinking beer.  I thought it  a little early to be either drinking beer or having another breakfast, so I asked Michael to order me a hot chocolate (with whipped cream) and headed off to the bathroom.  This restaurant has amazingly slow service.  I believe that only two people were working there: the cook and a very pretty female teenager who served.  I really didn’t want to miss my opportunity to order the hot chocolate, since who knew when my next ordering opportunity might occur.  Michael, of course, forgot my hot chocolate.    I was annoyed and Michael was annoyed to be causing disappointment.  “You should have known I wouldn’t remember and not have trusted me.”   Michael got over his annoyance of having been forced to disappoint someone, by realizing that the missed hot chocolate order gave him a chance to go and talk to the pretty teenager again.   He gleefully ran off after the pretty girl and placed my order.

We were at this stop for what seemed like hours, but we eventually did hit the road again.  The roads were beautifully smooth.  I don’t think that I have ever ridden on roads that aren’t full of pot holes.  It was a nice experience.  The cars were very polite, since being polite is an easy thing to do in such a sparsely populated area.  Much of the trip was in tall trees.  I appreciate trees in theory, but I am fond of large open vistas and I was really happy when we came out of the trees into open ranch land between the mountain ranges.  A yellow street sign along this stretch warned of “congestion.”  The congestion consisted of 4 farm buildings.

View from the top of the climb out of Ashland

Trees and smooth pavement

congestion ahead

Ashland got a huge quantity of rain after we had left.  Everyone, but Mary, enjoyed a completely dry ride.  Mary got drenched.  It rained in Oakland.  It never rains in July in Oakland.  We however, lucked out and I arrived dry and happy with my unused rain jacket.

I liked the camp grounds.  I was awoken again and again by the howling of wild dogs (coyotes?) and that was kind of cool, too.

Response to “lost art of the group ride”

Last year Peter Wilborn’s article lamenting the current state of group riding was spread about the country through a variety of cycling list groups and facebook postings. I first ran across this article when a fellow club member posted it to the Oakland Yellow Jackets email list and the poster agreed with the article and also bemoaned the current stated of club riding.  I responded with the following letter, which I am reposting here.

Begin quote:

I have several issues with the yellowjackets group riding habits and people who know me will be familiar with my rants.  I like riding in groups and I like the yellowjackets, but I prefer not to paceline with them.  The advanced group vacillates between being aggressively fast pacelining or chatting pacelining.  The aggressively fast version is often hostile and unfriendly game playing, not simply fast.  We would be faster if we were behaving in a more efficient manner.  During the chatting pacelining, people are simply not paying enough attention to the road and other riders and is dangerous for the obvious reasons.  However, if that is what the group wishes to do, then that is what we will do.  I will just ride off the back.

Despite these reservations, I have received a huge amount of support, information, skills from other cyclists and continue to do so.  I do not think that the art of a group ride is lost.  I have learned so much from other people and still do.  I am very thankful for the cyclists, with whom I have been lucky enough to ride.  These people are still around; they didn’t disappear 10 or 20 years ago.

I spent Sunday riding with my friend Jack.  Jack is like the color white; he hits every frequency.  He is constantly irregular.  His speed varies greatly and he often coasts, though at irregular but very frequent intervals.  You try riding 100 miles with him and not become a more attentive cyclist.  Despite these quirks, Jack is a great cyclist.  He has put down about 10,000 miles a year for the past 10 years.  He knows a lot and you can learn a lot from him.  He is friendly and interesting.  The route I rode this weekend is one I would never have known about or done.  He figured out the route and did the reconnaissance.  It was 111 miles of beautiful roads and not a foot of “junk miles”.  We actually had a stream crossing.  Jack wanted to cut out an ugly and slightly dangerous section of road (dangerous due to boat trailer traffic).  He found the site of an old, now missing, bridge and we crossed a stream by foot at that point.  The route was unbelievably pretty and the roads had almost no traffic.  It was one of my favorite rides ever.  I would never have done this route on my own and I am very grateful for knowing Jack and for him inviting me to do this fabulous ride.  I don’t recommend pacelining with Jack, but he has many other redeeming qualities and my world has been broadened by knowing him.

I ride weekly with a gpc group.  Bob is a font of knowledge about rides and routes and riding with him is great.  Mark is my favorite wheel.  He is the most constant and steady wheel I know.  I do whatever Mark tells me to do and that policy hasn’t lead me wrong yet.  He has been helpful to me in both hints on how to be a better cyclist and by demonstration.  He has been very supportive of my cycling and I am grateful to know him.  Michael, my regular partner in crime for during-the-week short rides, has also been very supportive and enthusiastic, introducing me to other groups.   Riding with this group has made me a better cyclist, a faster cyclist, and a happier person.

Despite my complaints about the yellowjackes, I love riding with them.  The group is full of people I like and respect.  Alexis, Chrissie, and James immediately come to mind.  However, I would like to especially thank Charleston, who literally taught me how to be a cyclist.  Other than Jason, my husband, Charleston has been the most supportive of my cycling.  Charleston is also one of the smartest cyclist I know.  He reads traffic well, he picks good lines, and he is constantly paying attention to the situation and environment.   He was very kind to me when I first started cycling and I will always be thankful to him.


Group ride: Duros West without Bob, our fearless leader. Alpine Dam. Me, Michael, George, Mark, Sabi