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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Found poem

I opened up one of my Rumi books and found this haiku I wrote on a receipt:

Corner, Jay and Dove--
we are all music fleeing
a fast car's window.

Ride report: Alcove Reservoir/Greene County

Saturday was wet and warm; Sunday promised to be windy and cold. My alarm woke me up (again... what ever happened to sleeping in?) and I managed to get to Delmar in time for the ride. Soon enough, eleven of us were rolling along, inside the deceptively quiet tunnel of tailwind. To Art's credit, we finished in a tailwind as well. In between was another story.

Michelle said I ride like a mountain biker. The "real" mountain bikers in the group told me that's a compliment. I'll go with that. Seems like the universe is telling me to get out on the dirt more.

We were on parts of the CBRC race course, plus some other cool roads. I'm in this area fairly regularly, but some of these roads were new to me. We turned off of 143 and went through the tiny town of Alcove, with its general store/post office crowding the narrow road. We rose above the reservoir, looking positively oceanic with its rows of whitecaps.

We rose up some cracked tarmac. I was a bit behind the group, and got treated to a Graham Watson-worthy sight of riders climbing the hill while late fall leaves swirled around them.

I figured out that we were doing town-line sprints, after like the third one. I jumped first, into the wind, uphill, feeling sheepish about it, since I thought no one else was going. Sure enough, Doug came around and got me by a bike length or so. Note to self: once you decide to go, go. Another note to self: you probably couldn't have given it much more, since your heart rate was 172.

Mixed in some dirt roads, too. I felt pretty confident. Heck, after my so-so cyclocrossing, "just riding" felt pretty good.

Brownies in the parking lot, courtesy of Kim. I'll burn off those calories... but not in that century next week. I'll have to wait until 2009 for a triple-digit day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Race Report: Bethlehem Cyclocross

The alarm goes off Sunday morning. It's cold outside. I'm snoozing away, thinking, "hey, it's only 20 bucks, I can blow it off and sleep in." (I did hang out with my rock'n'roll buddies a bit later than planned.) Then, it's "OK, I'll get out of bed, make some tea. Hey... it's not that cold out! I can do anything for 25 minutes, right?"

The bike's on the car, I'm on the way, thinking, yeah, I feel pretty good. I get there, do some warm-ups, a couple laps around the course. At that moment I'd never loved Schenectady more. I was pining for that sandy, well-drained soil of the September race. Not to be found in soggy Bethlehem. (Nothing like its namesake, that's for sure.) I'm pedaling ragged squares in my lowest gear, following the slithery tire tracks in wet grass. Legs are burning already. Not good. Should have gotten up earlier for a proper warm-up. Maybe next time.

I see Matt. I see Art later. He says something like kick Matt's ass. Heh. You're a mountain biker, he says. I'm like, yeah, I guess I am. Cool.

I see a gal on an orange Kona. I say, hi Rachel. Jenn says hi. Kinda surprised her. She ends up on the podium later!

I'm lining up with some of the Tuesday night fast crew: Jeff, Alan, Andy and Jay. Whoa. We all have numbers pinned on. This is different.

And we're off. Much faster than my warm-up laps. Some guy crashes right in front of me at the barriers. Then the off-camber bit. Art says good job; a millisecond later I almost eat it as my front wheel slips. We're on the flat. I pass Andy and some other guy, but not for long. That gravel ride-up becomes a run-up as I lose traction. Oh well, at least it's the back side of the course. No spectators. Then the "real" run up. Holy shit. Super muddy. OK, lap one done.

The course gets sloppier with each lap. My pedals get loaded with mud. (Note to self: ask for eggbeaters for CX-mas.) I'm stomping on them, trying to get the mud out. Kinda hard to weight the outside pedal in a turn when you're not attached to it! I'm keeping Andy in sight, barely. There's that damn run-up. There's Art again. There's Barry with the camera. I try to smile. Probably means I'm not running hard enough.

Lap three. That wood fire smells great. Or are my legs really burning? What's simmering in those crock pots?

Lap four. I'm gaining on someone. Yes! Nice form. Good cadence. It's the future of the Luna Chicks! Yes, the rider in my sights is a girl of about ten. Ethical questions abound. This is a race, should I slow down? What will people think if I pass her? Is anyone looking? Hey, is that her dad? Is that Barry with the damn camera again? Did she lap me? What happened to Andy? When do we eat? I look behind me and see no other riders, adult or child-sized. I ease up. Yes, it is her dad running alongside. I assume an exaggeratedly relaxed position on my bike so any bystanders will know that I'm No Longer Racing. The finish line is in sight. Dad's going crazy. Others are clapping. More cowbell! I take my hands off the bar, not for an ironic hands-in-the-air salute, but to clap for the rider in front of me, who rolls across with grim determination, not even looking up. Somebody sign her up.

I see the Tuesday night guys after I finish. We're all covered in mud, and we're all smiling, and saying stuff like, damn, that was hard, but it was fun. They're ready to hose off the bikes and get in some road miles. I have to bow out... my other life is calling. Six hours of drummer auditions.

Oh, I came in third from last. But my technique's improving. And I just may have seen the future of cyclocross.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ride report: Darkness closing in

Yeah, I rocked the bib shorts today. And the forecast was mostly right... mix of sun and clouds. They left "darkness" out of that little concoction. Whoops. I had a meeting that went way too long. (Principals love to hear themselves talk.) In the bibs and out the door at four. Blah. Then I broke the little screw thing off the valve in the parking lot. Blast! Good thing my spare tube was powdered up and ready. Anyway. Rode exactly one hour. It was like a creepy criterium race of sorts. I was off the front, being chased by darkness, who closed the gap in the last 5K. He can really dig deep late in the season. I didn't even hear him coming. Oncoming cars were turning on the high beams, presumably after seeing my feeble LED flashing like some sort of rabid beastie. Luckily, the roads were smooth and quiet, with little traffic, and I rolled back into the lot intact. I need better lights. Still, that's one more ride and one less spin class.

Voting on the block

Yesterday morning, I walked up to the dance studio to vote at about ten of seven.

My neighbor Lois, the matriarch of the block and perennial polling place volunteer, hugged me on the way in.

I closed the curtain, voted for Obama, and headed out.

My neighbor Wendy, ubermom and dutiful school employee, high-fived me on the way out.

What a way to start a day that ended as we hoped it would!

A Letter to My Students

I don’t say it enough, but I care about you. Each of you. That’s why I’m here. It’s too much work to do it for the money, so there must be ...