Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chicks kick ass

I was out on my road bike doing a climb not far from my house. It is a climb used in the Ironman triathlon when it comes to North Idaho. I ride it all of the time. This time I was spinning up the climb without any motivation, and Whoosh! this young woman on a mountain bike comes blowing by me.

Well I know this climb. And it was a little disrespectful for her to blow by me like that on a pace that nobody could keep. Not to mention doing it on a mountain bike. I don't know what she was thinking.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of women who can out climb me. But I wasn't going to have this. I wasn't up to speed and just spinning. This was just the carrot I needed. So I hooked onto her wheel forcing her to continue at this pace.

I wanted to see her crack. Then I noticed a sticker on her left seat stay that read "Chicks Kick Ass." Once I read that I was determined to punish her for her act.

She noticed me back there. I don't think she ever imagined that I would hook on, but it is something I always do when someone passes me, and I stay as long as I'm comfortable. She pushed on. Her pride didn't allow her to back down. I knew that the pace was way to high for her, and sure enough she cracked. Half way up the climb she exited off on a dirt road. I think to save face. But she was way into the red zone as I made a point of trying to chat with her first. She was breathing so hard that she couldn't talk. It was funny.

Chicks do kick ass however. Some of them.

Wheel repair

I took my broken spoke to my regular bike shop and got a replacement. When I got it home I realized that I didn't have a tool to remove the fixed gear on the hub so I could insert the spoke in the hub. I didn't want to take the wheel in as I obtained this bike over e-bay. The guys at the bike shops frown on this. And this guy is very sensitive to this even though I have purchased two bikes from him, my mountain bike and my regular road bike.

Anyway I decided to go to another shop to avoid any hard feelings. One of the things that bothers me is that when you need a simple thing done they always want to make out a repair order and make you wait a week and then pay $30 or $40. All of the shops tend to do this. They are busy this time of year. So a couple of years ago I bought an extensive set of bike tools so I could make my own repairs.

None the less I arived in this shop with my wheel and spoke in hand. There was a sales woman at a counter and the mechanic also. The woman hauls out a repair work order form. I looked at it and said, "you know, I just need this lock ring removed." I can do the rest myself. She pulled back the book with that look on her face, (he is going to weasle a free repair out of us) and the mechanic said I can do that for you. So I followed him into the work area.

He had to work to get it off but finally did. Then together we laced the spoke in. And I got his advice on truing the wheel. (I have a truing stand) and I picked his brain in general. I took the wheel home and got it true and put tire back on and put it all back on the bike. Like everything it ended up being more work than I thought. But it only cost me the price of the spoke. $2.40 and a couple of trips to bike shops.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cowboy country

"THIS HERE'S COWBOY COUNTRY!" read the bumper sticker on the back of John's old Chevy pickup. He had gone to White Sulpher Springs to get a part for his truck and was returning to the ranch with a 6 pack of Olympia beer. Dad and I had met him on the road on our way into the "R" ranch. John and Walter had been cowboy'n on that ranch during the summer. It was hunting season and all the ranch hands had returned to claim that prized spot hunting elk that they had earned working there.

I knew of John from highschool. I was in art class with his girlfriend Patty. She always drew horses. I never had any contact with John, but my old man did. All the hands knew and liked my dad. Dad had grown up on a ranch in the old days, so they respected him and cut me some slack due to it.

I wasn't really interested in shooting an elk so I represented no threat to them. Plus I figured that if I made my intentions clear about elk then I would have a good time on the hunt and would get along with all of the hands. It was all about diplomacy. Then after opening day when the elk herd is broken up they don't care. It is every man for himself. All I wanted was a nice mule deer.

So we were sitting around the breakfast table, those of us privilaged enough to be at the table in the ranch house, and after we were done eating John says, "Let's go get don a birthday present." as it was my birthday. We drove out on to the ranch in search of mule deer. It wasn't long and John spotted a couple of mule deer over 100 yards away below some trees on a hill side. I had the old 30-30 winchester saddle rifle with iron sights. I was pretty handy with it and had alot of practice. But all of the guys had fancy rifles with scopes. I shot. The deer ran up into the trees. John said "You got him!" I said "How could you tell?" as it was so far away and the deer looked really small in my sights. "I could tell by the sound, he'll be down up in those trees." And sure enough, when we got up there the deer was down. It was a nice buck. I got some respect from the cowboys after that shot when word got around. Of course Walter knew I could shoot. He showed up out of nowhere and helped out. "Sorry Mr. Deer." Walter said, as he helped us clean it out.

I saw this sign last weekend in Montana. It is kind of like an art piece out there like that. Not really sure what the significance is. Marking land I guess. But I remembered that old bumper sticker on John's truck when I saw it,.. "This Here's Cowboy Country!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial day

It was pouring down rain and I came across a very small parade in a small town. Some veterans and some reserves. So I thought that I should get out in the rain and show some support and take some photos. A couple of Hummers went by and then some young troups followed handing out flags, both young men and women. Kids really. One young soldier ran up to me and handed me a small flag to wave. I said "Thanks!" He looked me in the eye and all I could think of saying more than that was "good luck."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Broke a spoke

My morning commute was kind of difficult today. I had purchased this can of corned beef hash for breakfast the night before. It is kind of like dog food. You fry it in a pan and when it is browned then you kind of scramble an egg in with it. And then I put hot sauce on it. I like to put Tapatio on it. It is very unhealthy but I like it.

I had a flat the day before on my regular road bike and It looked like it would be a nice ride to work as there was an overcast sky and no wind. So I decided to ride my single speed bike. It is a track bike with only one gear. The kind of thing bicycle messengers use. Here is a photo. I like the simplicity of it, I't fits me really well, and it was inexpensive.

But when I finally got all packed up and ready to go, the wind had come up. None the less I took off on my single speed. I had underestimated the weather. It became really windy and cold. Probably in the low 50s and with the wind chill it was cold. But it is only 4 miles to work so no big deal. I can suffer for that long. I went down wind for the first mile or so but then I had to turn into the wind and it was really a pull to push that gear into it for 3 miles. Plus I didn't want to be late for work.

At noon I rode home without my pack and made a quick lunch and then took the other bike back to work, but this time I brought my arm warmers with me. It was raining after work. Just a drizzle, but it was nice to have the arm warmers. They are just these spandex thingst that cover your arms, and it was just the thing to be comfortable.

I got home and was drinking a beer and watching the news on TV and I hear this loud pop. It came from the direction of the track bike. My cat jumped to attention. I thought about it for a moment and realized that it must be a spoke. And sure enough one of the spokes had broken on the rear wheel of the track bike. So I'll go to the bike shop and get another.

In the last two days I've had a flat and broken a spoke. These things don't happen too often.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Prayer wheel

It's as if my whole life I've been on my bike. Looking down at that front hub going around and around. It's very meditative. Like a prayer wheel.

I just sit there and experience whatever comes my way. Sometimes I suffer. Sometimes it feels good, and sometimes my mind goes totally blank as I let the front hub spin the thoughts out of my mind and leave them on the road behind me.

When I go out on training rides now people always say "have fun." Having fun is not my motivation to ride and I never understand this. I do admit that sometimes it is fun. But most if the time I suffer, and then feel good when it is over.

I started doing distance rides at a pretty young age. (I had forgotten about the large back packs!) Now and then I had a companion but most of the time I was alone. I'm really supprised as I look back, that my parents allowed me that much freedom at such a young age.

Here is a photo of one of my first 100 mile ride attempts. We made it about 60 miles before we decided to hitch hike. But first Lynn wanted to rest, so we just went into some tall grass and took a short nap. Then Lynn let the air out of his front tire and held up his wheel with his thumb out. Right away we got a ride most of the rest of the way in the back of a farm truck. I've always remembered this trick as an option, but have never had to use it. I'm on the left and my friend Lynn on the right with the white shirt.

Lynn was a foster child. His family moved in right next door. His adoptive father was a church minister and had three foster children. Lynn and two foster daughters, Linda who was a native american, and Jill who was older. Both Jill and Linda were really sweet. The only people in the family in question were the parents. But I shouldn't judge them.

I really liked Lynn. He was stronger than me, a little older and more grown up for his age. He was always really kind to me and protective. He ran away from home about a year after this photo was taken. His father was really strict to a fault, and I didn't trust him or like him. I often worried about Lynn as they worked him so hard. About a week before he ran away he told me he was leaving but wouldn't tell me exactly when. It was top secret. Told me not to say anything and I didn't when they questioned me. He said he was going back to where he came from. I never saw him again, and it wasn't long before the family moved away. I suspect the father went to pastor another church somewhere else.

I think about Lynn sometimes as my front wheel spins around.

Monday, May 22, 2006

after DaVinci

There has been a lot of interest in the DaVinci Code lately. Leonardo happens to be my favorite artist. A few years back I decided to do a little pencil sketch study of St. Mary from his Adoration of the Maji, working from a plate in a big huge book Aunt Mildred gave me years ago. I work using a measuring stick that you see artists using. If things get really small then I use dividers. But I don't use any projection devices. I can also just draw and paint from life.

(They aren't teaching some of these old techniques here anymore, and they frown on realism to a great degree. It is one of the reasons I didn't continue for my MFA.)

Aunt Mildred wasn't my aunt but I called her aunt Mildred. She was aunt to anyone who needed an aunt. I have lots of aunts, but I can always use another. She was a little old lady who was someone elses great and great aunt. She lived in an old pink cabin on the lake with Aunt Dorothy, also not my aunt. But the old pink cabin used to belong to my aunt Gertrude. (I know it is confusing but it's all in the family)

Anyway Aunt mildred was really cool. At that time I was going to art school and would go up and talk with Aunt Mildred about art and music. She had a potters wheel in there that she threw pots on, and a little piano that she composed music on. She asked me who my favorite artist was and I told her Leonardo. So at the end of the summer she gave me this great big book about Leonardo. I found out after she died that she had gone to the Chicago Art Institute. She never even mentioned it!

I decided to do this little pencil study in sort of a forensic way. I wanted to see if I could see something of the real model Leonardo might have been working from. Or at least try and learn something from the master. I did learn a few things.

Leonardo on the left, don on the right. (this is a very small sketch, a little over 2 inches tall) When I was in highschool, I would sometimes send my girlfriend a love letter and draw a little sketch somewhat like this on it. I would use various images from the classics.

P.S. I haven't forgotten about the drawing I owe you Kirk! Your drawing is on much higher quality paper! ( like Leonardo, I hardly ever finish anything) I promise to finish it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday go to meet'n

Here is a photo of a small gathering of cows that I took on my bike ride Sunday morning in Montana. All herfords. Some folks call them white face cows, but I call them herfords. The barn on the left is painted with a white face and a red body to match the red cowhide of the herfords. Some call it brown, but some call it red when it's on a cow. It's as if the cows have their own church.

And in the background, a little white church containing a small congregation of Luthrans.

(I had to edit this from when I first wrote it as it sounded way too much like something Garrison Keillor might have written. It was interesting however. The geese all together over here, the cows over there together, and back over there the christians. All meeting in their respective places on Sunday morning. The Presbyterian church is not far away.)

I guess this church has now become the community center and not just a church. They have kind of an ongoing bazaar there during the week. People drop items off they no longer want. There is a little old lady that looks after it. From what I understand, they don't charge anything. If you want something you can just have it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Profanity free zone

I here-by declare that the bicycle log will be a profanity free zone. No dirty words. At least not coming from me. It is ok if someone cusses me out in comments (if I ever get any.) And I do enjoy, and don't want to inhibit anyone else's experession, as I'm all about free speech with regard to this sort of thing. But I think my own self-expression on this blog will be enhanced if I avoid using dirty words. (now and then I might use the H word but only in the right context, and I might use abbreviations.)

New white adidas

I broke down and got some new adidas to wear. Thankfully they are making them look more like they used to, kind of plain with three black stripes. That is how I like them. I don't want look like I'm in the NBA, I just want to look kind of sporty. The problem is, and I don't know if it is just me, but if I wear one new thing to work everyone makes a big deal about it every time I walk in the room. It could be a shirt or slacks, anything. So I end up not getting anything new as I don't want to draw attention to myself. Probably if I got new stuff all the time they might get used to it. But even strangers seem to notice anything new on me. I don't know what it is. Even my cat ran right up to me and started sniffing my shoes and then looked up at me in wonder.

Well I was wearing my new adidas and I went to the place that makes film for me. The film guy just looked straight at my shoes. He didn't say anything about them outloud, but there was this un-spoken dialog going on in the back of both of our heads ("You are wearing new shoes! What the heck!," "Yes I know darn it! eveyone will just have to get used to them.") And our spoken dialog, ("Here is your film." "Thanks for making it so fast!")

Then I went back a week later and he looked right at my shoes again, as if to make sure he didn't imagine them the first time. But they are starting to look a little warn in now, and everyone is starting to accept me in them. And I have to admit, there is something about new white adidas that draws attention.

National Bike To Work Day

Today is national ride your bike to work day. From what I could see two of us represented eastern Washington. (I'm sure there were more) While they were announcing it on the local morning news, one of the reporters started coming up with reasons not to ride your bike to work. The other reporter was standing over his bike and wearing a bike helmet and admitted he didn't have the time, and brought his bike to the TV station in the back of his truck.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bike Computers

The battery went dead on my bike computer and also my heart rate monitor, so I said to heck with it, and went for over a year without that data while cycling. For those people who might not know, the computer is a speedometer and keeps track of how many miles you go, total and trip, average speed, and has a clock. Some also have cadence and altitude. People fixate on this data. It becomes more important to them than the experience of the ride, and when they talk about their rides they just report this data. Some of these devices allow you to download data to a PC. People doing tri and such, use this as a training device.

Not having a working computer allowed me to be outside of the bubble, but I have to admit it is really nice to have good data on tours or group rides as it becomes an important tool to measure your effort on a day long ride. If you use a heart rate monitor all the time and watch your speeds you will know what your limits are and know when you could get more out of your body, or when you are taking too much.

The new computers are really cool. The Ergo Brain for Campy and the Flight Deck for Shimano. (quite expensive) They tell you what gear you are in with a graphic of the chain position, and the controls are mounted in the brake levers. So you don't have to take your hands off of the brake hoods to change the functions. These only work with the new 10 speed groups and my bike is a 9 speed. (18 actually with two chain rings on the front and 9 on the back) But they call it a 9 speed.

Well I decided to get a battery for my computer as I plan on doing some charity rides this season. So let me tell you about my ride to work this morning. My average speed was 17.0 mph, max speed was 25.5, I went 4.4 miles and it took me 15.38 min. Oh yeah,... I did hear a meadow lark singing out in a field.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Smudge sticks

Some of my friends turned me on to smudge sticks last year. Thanks Kirk and Dora! It's like incense but created by native americans. It is kind of simple to make. It consistes of cedar bows and sage brush leaves. At least that is what I'm using. You tie these things into these "sticks" and they are about the size of a cigar. Then you let them dry out.

Last weekend I collected both cedar bows and sage brush leaves as both of those things are just off of the highway in Monana. The Cedar trees are up on the mountain passes (I know where to find them) and the sage brush is out on the prairie. The sage has fresh new leaves on it now. The only problem is that the sage brush is in SNAKE country! But I have all I need right now.

What you do then is light this like you would an incense stick. It smells really good. Would make great Christmas gifts as they are kind of unusual.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Just for men

I was at the grocery store waiting in line and notice that the guy in front of me had a box of Just For Men hair dye. Then it came to me,... Shouldn't they call it Just For OLD Men?

Well I could probably use some of that, but I'm really not into that kind of maintenance. I hope that when my hair turns all grey it will turn white like my grandfather, and I will look better than I do now. Look at Bill Clinton... He looks cool and still gets the women. I suspect he could have many wives if he were a polygamist. But the problem I've seen is that when your hair turns grey or white you start getting other medical problems. It is kind of like when the leaves on trees change color in the fall. Then all the leaves fall off! But then they all come back nice and new in the spring on the trees. Too bad hair isn't like that on people.

Don't get me wrong. I think hair color is a good thing for women. But if you are a woman, then don't do it before you need to. And don't try to do these things to yourself. Go to a professional. There is this beautiful young woman at the same grocery store working as a checker. A stunningly beautiful young woman. And she totally screwed up her hair. It was such a shame and almost a crime. One day I was going through her checkstand and she brought up the subject. All I could say to her was, "Leave that to the pros".

Don't try to fix what isn't broken.


I got out of the car to take a picture of this prairie in Montana and climbed up above a dirt road. Kind of a rock pile and then the prairie floor which is kind of blooming in spring colors right now. It dries all up later. I've been there before and watch where I step as I know there are snakes around but I never see them. I think I've only seen one other snake in that area but it was a big huge one and didn't rattle. It just slinked away.

So I'm by this barbed wire fence and composing my shot, and I take a step back and hear this buzz. I look down and there is this rattlesnake coiling back away from my foot. It had been hanging out on the edge of these rocks. It wasn't a huge snake and probably if you straightened it out it would only be about 3 feet long, but still. It sent a chill up my spine. I figured if there was one snake there, then probably there were a few. So I scampered back down to my car.

In a way it was a cool experience. I thought about going up and trying to get a shot of it, but then I thought no, I've pushed my luck already. In a way it was a beautiful animal, and it didn't sound like they do in the movies, it was more of a fast buzz sound. I might be pulling on my cowboy boots to walk around there in the future.

Morning commute

Today is the warmest day of the year so far, and the first time I've been able to ride my bike to work in just shorts and jersey. (and back pack of course, with my clothes and lunch.) I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable on the bike after the winter break. It is odd how it goes from cold to hot in the period of a few days each spring.

I had the bike path to myself once again. I'm supprised they spend any money on bike paths here. They do get used but few people ride a bike to work. It's all about SUVs and monster trucks. I did hear in the news that small car sales are up due to high gas prices.

The bike path goes along the highway for a couple of miles. It was quite a contrast; empty bike path, clogged highway.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's day and polygamy

I went to Montana to spend mother's day with my mom. I told her that I had been watching the HBO show, Big Love. It is a show about polygamy in the state of Utah. Mom said, "did you know that aunt (so and so) was a child of a second wife, and grew up in a polygimast family?" Well I faintly remember hearing this "second wife" mentioned when I was a kid but I didn't give it much thought, and actually thought it was probably out of divorce. But this was the real deal.

My aunt said that the second wife's kids were forced to work on the farm and the first wife's kids got to go to school. So she ran away and put herself though nursing school. She remained a regular mormon until she she recently died. She was a very sweet old lady. Happy mother's day to her. Perhaps she is in the celestial kingdom.