Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Genou

As a follower of this blog, you know that the world of amateur non-competitive cycling is one filled with endless excitement, drama, and spandex. Likely the prospect of belonging to this atmosphere of glory has prompted you start rigorous training, or buy a new bike, or maybe to just try to look out from your car window at those on bicycles with just a tiny bit less outright disgust.

Whatever your reaction, surely it has been transforming. But as a serious amateur dedicated recreational cyclist, I can tell you the transformation happens on and off of the bicycle. Specifically, the body undergoes multiple changes in response to frequent riding. With an increase in fitness comes toned muscles, a decrease in fat, and many other less sexy and boring attributes (heightened skills, new abilities, increased confidence, etc).

Being a cyclist during colder months is especially gratifying. There is the undeniable perk that your physique will remain relatively unchanged while everyone else is gnawing on holiday goodies, growing gleefully bloated and hence more grotesque and malformed. There is also a less conspicuous benefit to off-season cycling: that epidermal curiosities aggravated by continual exposure to dirty sweat tend to go dormant.

In winter perhaps the cyclist's body looks even better, as helmet-line acne recede, mid-thigh and mid-bicep tan lines fade, and rigorous full-body shaving schedules relax. Cyclists bodies also look better in winter because the scars and scabs collected after a summer of exceptionally fun yet accident-laden trail riding can heal. While fantastic visions of cycling as a tan and glistening thigh-throbbing heaven are mostly apt, an array of lesser-attractive bodily changes do exist. These include but aren't limited to ingrown-hairs, back-acne (bacne), and embrocation chemical burns.

I'm particularly fond of hiding one of my new-found body parts from the cruel gaze of the world, at least until I can sort out my feelings thereof. To adequately describe this novel anatomy, I perused the divine and all-knowing dyad of google/wikipedia for at least twelve to fourteen minutes, and could not find a proper name for this unique form. I find this odd indeed, as many athletes (as well as chubby grade-schoolers) tend to have them. It is a personal duty of mine to always describe and christen new findings, as I have a Bachelour's in Science degree which affords me the knowledge and societal significance to do so. From now on I will refer to this skin-flap as a greater geniculate groove. This is not to be confused with the lesser geniculate groove, which I believe to be a dance popularized in the 1920s. Being that this is a rare case in which the phenomenon I'm referring to is best depicted in image, rather than though excessive adjective-use coupled with oft-poignant narrative, I have googled a few photos to illustrate:

Figure 1. Old body part:
(Disclaimer: not my legs)

Note total separation of Knee/ Thigh area.

Figure 2. New body part:
(Also: not my legs)

*Note with tension of Vastus Medialis, greater geniculate groove is formed around the patella.

I understand that on me, this new body part is indicative of gaining muscle on my legs over the past few months. However it remains unsettling and reminiscent of my own chubby grade-school years. Fortunately it is winter, and my layers upon layers of clothing conceal all of my cycling-related (as well as multiple other) disfigurements. If I'm still wearing knee-warmers in June, you'll know why.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Love gloves

I'm from Florida, where 10 months out of the year it is oppressively hot and the other two moths are rife with hurricanes. As such, I'm accustomed to wearing string bikinis and galoshes year-round. However no matter how appealing this ensemble may be, I have found it rather incompatible with northern weather. Up here we have "seasons"- like those things Indian food. From what I can gather, somehow curry causes leaves to turn yellow (I think because of the saffron), and the temperature to incrementally and consistently drop.

As I'm relatively new to seasonal variations, I've been placed in the unusual situation of not owning proper garments to combat the elements. Through unfortunate instances of under dressing, I've learned just how viciously the wind amplifies the penetrability of cold. I've revived enough blue and throbbing fingers in the past month to warrant the purchase of some new gloves. While typically my insistence on looking really good wins out over logic, function, price, or necessity, I think I've finally discovered that functionality may indeed serve a function. I suppose I've matured some over the last seven weeks; or possibly it was the looming threat of gangrenous digits and amputation that prompted me to start rocking these grotesque crustacean/carny-inspired gauntlets :

These gloves impart a buddy-system on your fingers, as phalangeal loneliness accelerates heat loss. I especialy like these because the claw fingers allow enough dexterity to manipulate a U-lock, turn a doorknob, or give proper salute to your vulcan friends.

I was lucky enough to purchase a size small, which means they're only one-and-a-half sizes too big. They are so big that while riding I can lodge one befisted hand fully in the palm to warm it. However, I must advise in the alternating of one fist-hand with one fully-extended, frigid fingers-hand for safe brake-operating purposes: as I've already found myself curling up both hands, basking in blissful cozy warmth only to be wretched from my mid-ride margarita-themed meditations to perform a spastic, flaccid-gloved fist/wrist-to-brake-lever maneuver to slow down. (While that may sound like a description to a sexual act, I can assure you no such sensuality was involved).

Stay warm folks, and keep riding.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Season's gleamings.

I have moved about twenty times in my life and lived in no less than five significantly different latitudinal regions. This experience has melded me into a sort of world-class climate connoisseur; a self-taught atmospheric savant, trained on the meanest of suburban streets. As a participant in multiple realms of recreational outdoor athletics (road and mountain biking constitute different realms), and as a self-proclaimed academic of ambiance, It behooves me to remain abreast of current climatic conditions. Being that this is my first Fall in the North East, I've tried to pay special attention to these distinct, fantastic, and fickle few months.

Meteorological rules dictate that Fall spans the first of September through the first of November, with astronomical rules book-ending the season with the autumnal equinox (22nd of September) and winter solstice (21st of December). However, with the authority that my meteorological mastery endows, I will promulgate the end of autumn to be today- November 18th. This is partly because rules are for fools, but mostly because it snowed in my face today.
Street climatology 101 clearly dictates that:

(Note the definitiveness of the equal sign.)

With Autumn already over, I wanted to disseminate some knowledge I've gleaned from my experiences here to my lesser-traveled and/or more equatorially-located cycling peers:

1) Fall is named as such because the leaves fall off the trees.

2) Mountain biking on leaves is slippery and fun.

3) Before the leaves fall off, they turn red. This makes road riding more scenic.

4) Putting Red on your bike makes it more scenic, too. (And lighter and faster).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cyclocross and Junk

Some posts back, I may have mentioned some perhaps possible intentions of mine to compete in a bicycle race. My noncommittal determination to maybe race one day assumably left you with a pit of burning suspense in your belly and/or groin region. While burning gut (or crotch) suspense may produce an interesting odor, like a pop-tart catching fire in your toaster oven, it remains important to extinguish. Allow me this instant to unfence my fixed intents in participating in an upcoming competitive event:
Bilenky Urban Cyclocross 2008.

There are multiple photos of the '06 and '07 races on their website, but unfortunately there aren't any diagrams or descriptions of what this year may hold. In order to suitably tailor my training regiment to the course, I attempted to use my vast industry insider connections to gain access to the top secret plans for this years race. All I ended up learning however is that apparently it is not customary to plan out a race course months in advance and have said plans available for on-demand review. In light of this, I took the liberty of generating my own images of what the course and the riders may look like this year:

Now I just have to work on my outfit.

Happy Riding!

Monday, November 3, 2008

R.I.P. Mr. T. (the bike)

Building up a bicycle is a process not unlike I assume childbirth to be. It's painful, time-consuming, costly, patience-requiring, and greasy. And after all the work (or labor to resume the matador), you get to bring a beautiful, innocent new presence into the world, likely to immediately begin systematically abusing and mistreating it.

I suppose one could just purchase a complete bicycle from a shop, and have a professional mechanic do all the work. We've already been over what I think about that. You can't tell heroic stories about walking to a store and making a purchase. Missing out on the full experience of building up a bike yourself nullifies bragging rights about your grueling hours of labor, much like getting a c-section might be. If there's one thing I've learned about bicycles, it's that you must know how to brag about them. Because bragging about physical strength is frowned upon, cyclists must channel all need for incessant one-upmanship into their equipment. If nobody is going to covet your skills, you absolutely must present something more tangible for your friends/opponents/the jones' to be jealous of.

As finishing a new bicycle is like taking home a newborn baby (as it can be both bundle-y and joyous), taking apart one can be like dismembering... an old person. Presently I'm unsure as to the correct simile, however I am sure that discombobulating a bicycle is in a sense, ending a life. Bicycles live quiet yet noble lives of dedicated servitude, and for this they deserve deference.

Join me in saying sayonara to my heavily guilded Tommasso 3-speed:

...which I dubbed "Mr. T"

Mr. T the bicycle was christened such for both its ostentatious affinity for gold and its munificent mercy of morons, or pitying of fools.

Since I would indeed be a fool (or foo', if you're not staying in schoo') to let a beautiful, steel, hand-made Italian road frame sit around unused, I have decided to promptly resurrect it. It is being rebuilt into something more along the lines of what it was originally intended- road riding. Here is the bike in an inchoate stage, and as it is yet unfinished I've added a fig leaf to protect its modesty:

Now to answer the question that always comes next after the announcement of a having a bike-in-the-basement: if you look closely you can see that the pedals are in fact pink.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Polemical Political Post, part 1

Because I'm young, broke, well-educated and not from the mid-west or deep south, you can probably assume correctly who I will be voting for on Tuesday. And that's fine, I don't mind following along with certain demographic patterns. What's important is that I still have a decent grasp of our collective differences as a country. I know that I like to read and ride my bike, while others like to play World of Warcraft, or watch sitcoms, or smoke crystal meth and buy prostitutes. Still others even enjoy eating babies or shooting animals from helicopters. I get it! This is 'merka, we do what we want because we're cut from a different cloth; a square, chunky, Puritanical cloth, not unlike broadcloth or linen.

Speaking of cloth, I've read some boring yet persistant rumors that the Illinois senator is not truly patriotic because he does not stand for for the Pledge of Allegiance. As a disgruntled youth, partly because of the Dead Kennedys and partly because I learned about Nazism, I stopped standing, too. How asinine is it to ask schoolchildren with zero grasp of the complexities of international affairs to espouse unwavering dedication to a striped piece of fabric, anyhow? Unless of course that fabric has been delicately melded into a Camp Cupboard© hip-pouch, then and only then would I see the point.

Can the U.S.A. hold your U-Lock? Your wallet, phone, keys, your et cetera? And what about your change- that stuff we've been hearing so much about lately? If you want change, you should buy a bag to hold it in. For America.

Now that I've exhibited my true, red-white-nblue American spirit by making light of a situation that is of paramount importance for the possiblity of monetary gain, I want to remind you to go vote on Tuesday. One demographic I am not comfortable with is my age-bracket's consistent political apathy. I also want to point out what is most important this election year. It's not the economy, or the war, or education, but instead it's the unique once-in-a-lifetime chance to really freak out and piss off a lot of cracker redneck yokel racists. Don't let it pass you by.