Friday, February 13, 2009

Windy February

It's mid month already, which means that it's finally that time of year again.

The time to ravage boxes of chocolate, cut out holes in construction paper, decorate everything in red, dim the lights, and watch in suspense as Jason Voorhees brutally offs a bunch of camp counselors. Another Friday the 13th to enjoy with loved ones.

More importantly, this month is half-way over, which means this hemisphere is that much closer to Spring, and hopefully a break in crappy weather. It also means I am that much closer to the schism in school of the same name. Hopefully I can engage in more of this "riding outside" I've been hearing so much about.

Less importantly, It is Valentine's Day. For those lucky enough to have snagged a partner long ago, and thus have zero need to romance, impress and/or keep the magic alive, this day will simply pass unprotested like so much flatus from your long-time loved one's backside.

For those of you into cutting, pasting, and giving home-made cards (a lot of special-needs people read this blog), I thought I'd pass on some of my genius via a few V-Day card ideas.

From the romantic cyclist who enjoys plays on stereotypical Valentines sayings: Picture some rippling legs, with caption: I only have thighs for you.

From one unctuous, misogynous rider to another: Picture a jar, or handy stick of embrocation, with caption: Embros before Hos

From the very direct cyclist: Picture a lonely bicycle, with caption: Ride me?

The combination of bicycle terms with innuendo are endless! For a holiday about love (in the noun and verb sense) and a pass-time filled with riding, grinding, racks, power taps, tandem stokers and lube, creating just the right level of corny, cheesy, and sassy should be quite simple. Although with all that corn and sass you may want to invest in bean-o.

Happy bike riding,

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cold cuts.

Just as the old saying goes, "Time flies when you don't get around to killing yourself", this week has flown agonizingly by. By continuing my sadistic short month toil-a-thon, I've made it to another Sabbath (or Sunday, for the heathens) with only 16 hours left of work to do: and around four to six hours in which to do it in. But because I'm utterly unafraid to reconcile with mathematics and probabilities, I've decided to take a pizza break. And slightly less irrelevantly, to simultaneously offer greasy, garlic-tinged droplets of anecdotal wisdom which I've masterfully accrued over the winter.

What I'm referring to is something I've had to learn the hardest of ways. A topic so serious and critical, yet so disastrously misunderstood, that likely just this one blog post will rapidly propagate throughout the world wide web and directly contribute to the saving of at least two to seven human lives. I'm talking about:

How to dress properly in order to ride a bicycle while it is really, really cold out.

As perchance, you may know, commuting by bicycle ill-prepared can be quite uncomfortable. While the seasonal elements will forever fling formidable feculence, commuting in the winter is especially miserable. Balancing on narrow nubs of rubber in the darkness of the early AM while navigating icy streets and frantic morning commuters is terrifying and all, but being cold is the most sentient obstacle, and hence most important to combat.

To begin a proper protective clothing application, one must first start with the base layer. The base is to neutralize the acids your body will likely produce while fearful for your safety. Coincidentally, when ingested it will ease the stress knot in your belly from nearly getting doored twice in four minutes. Apply liberally.

Next, you are going to need an insulating layer. I've seen fancy microfiber (or fibre if you read catalogues) or sport fleeces used abundantly, but I've chosen the original scientifically created insulator: fiberglass. The pink fluff will provide a nice visual contrast to the dismal gray winter.

As for the lower half, nearly every outdoor sporting goods retailer will sing the praises of goose down or merino wool. But If you want to do it right, I wouldn't recommend opting for watered down and processed materials. In the same tradition that brought you haggis and the turducken, for this portion you will need exactly one sheep and two ducks. First, fit the entirety of your body into the sheep รก la Hans Solo. Then simply insert your feet into the geese, much in the same manner. They'll instantly form to the unique contours of your feet. (Shimano actually stole this concept for their custom-fit technology.)

Finally, face protection should be employed when riding in sub 20 weather. Because serious damage to the soft tissues of the cheeks, nose and chin can result if not completely protected, one must employ a dense, layered approach. Sweeten up the bitterest of cold with a nice slab of baclava:

And finally, a real tip. For the experimental and/or Eurocentric cyclist, I recommend a good embrocation. Like a light spanking, the oils are slightly irritating yet sensual, and quickly loosen and warm the muscles. I use greyhound juice. Don't worry, animal lovers-it's humane. The race dogs are put down long before liquefying their fastness and injecting it into easy to apply sticks.

Happy riding,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lull Bye Bye

February, like togas, was created by somebody in Rome who appreciated sensuality, flexibility and freedom of movement. Sensual because every fourth year it becomes the suggestively named bisextile. Flexible because depending where you live, in this month winter either keeps going or sort of slows down...or both. Like yesterday, how it was sunny and 45 degrees out, then today, how it wouldn't stop snowing :

February is unique also because it fits symmetrically into a calendar (just look at those full weeks!), but most importantly: it is lacking two to three days, and thus deserves special treatment. This final distinction is what makes this month so urgent. If you fall into a winter slumber, before you know it March comes and you haven't time to think or plan or even properly apply trousers. You may find yourself slack-jawed at the corner store, fogging the ice-cream case, wondering just why exactly it feels so cold.

During longer, more generous months, I could evenly spread my time-wasting, (or life-enjoying as I refer to it) over multiple days. In particularly life-enjoying times, I could have put aside a block of a couple days to simply fester in my pajamas, consume only animal crackers, and never actually leave the house. Yet, like my long underwear, these precious, stinky hours have been mercilessly stripped away, and so I find myself uncharacteristically motivated and uncharacteristically free of odor.

With exactly zero time to waste, on Sunday, Camp Cupboard set up at the re-scheduled and new-venued R5 flea market. Lets just say that we started the day with copious hats, many pouches, a plethora of neck-warmers, and an unnecessary surfeit of business cards; and ended the day with only a bunch of hats, a few pouches, a slightly smaller stack of neck-warmers, and still a surfeit of business cards (we ordered 500, after all). In short, it was quite fun and successful, with Dan and I spending the day meeting a bunch of awesome people, seeing good friends, and drinking free pots of delicious coffee. (Thanks again Brian and Laura!)

Typically, such a successful day would obviate any need to leave the house for weeks, if not longer. But again, this month can't get stifled, so the very next day I went on a 45-mile bike ride- outside. Now, riding is fun and recreational and all, but in the winter it's more of a chore that needs to be checked off a to-do list at least a few times a week, like showering. However, getting chores done is considered an accomplishment, and accomplishments deserve rewards. (Last night it was coconut curry and beers.)

And now, with a more dire event creeping nearer, my winter training has taken an embarrassing, exhausting, and painful turn. I've recently begun a particularly heinous athletic phase: weight training. And as if it couldn't get worse: I have to do it at a gym, with people around- including male people. It might be the most uncomfortable few hours that I willingly engage in per week (this should carry weight coming from someone who can sit on a bike saddle, or essentially a 3-inch-wide piece of leather, for hours at a time).

With February 14% over, I now have the weighty task of keeping the remaining 7/8ths of the month as fever-pitched as possible. Wish me luck. And go buy a hat, it's cold out.

Happy Riding,