4.06.2010

the sun is setting... I think I managed to salvage the day

this happens all the time...
I get started on a rant... that rant goes unfinished
that rant does not get proofed
that rand does not get published
I think I will give this a quick scan then hit PUBLISH AND POST
not sure what I have... lets see what I have got!

the sun is setting and my legs are tired
Dean's homework is done and the black dog Brutus has been walked
we are back from vacation one day and already slipping nicely back into routine
it pleased me this morning that the boys did not give me any issue about getting out of bed or getting ready for school
in fact... they were each up and out of bed a few minutes early
getting them to get dressed and eating breakfast occurred with the standard parental guidance
eight year old Dean needing far less prodding than six year old Grant

the boys stepped into routine better than their father
as their father is still trying to figure out his routine
sure there is the structure of the morning... then drop offs and pick ups of the boys at school... and of course there is the requisite walking of the dog
but what about in between
what is the routine that goes in between

I am still trying to figure out the routine
I am still trying to figure out how to budget my time
I am still trying to figure out how to spend my time

it has been two months since CBS News had its layoffs
it has been two months since 100 people within CBS News were laid off
it has been two months since 10 people at CBS News in Washington DC offices were let go from their jobs and stripped of their benefits
it has been two months since I had a job
it has been two months since CBS News took away my job... my pay check... my benefits... and my routine
severance is about to run out
sadly... I have less to show of this time than I had expected

sure I had the SNOWPOCALYPSE to keep me busy
then I just got back from a family spring break trip to Florida
but what about all those other things I wanted to do
none of those things have happened yet
it is harder to make things happen than one would think
there really is not that much time between drop off and pick up
even on the two days a week that the kids stay for aftercare

today I had some ideas of what I wanted to do but stumbled on the first set of objectives
it was tough to get started
then once things began... they took much longer than anticipated
once item one on this mental things to do list was checked off I took a look at the clock
took a look at the clock and then a glance out the window
did an estimate on how much time I had before I left out to grab the kids from aftercare
there was enough time for a ride

there was no hesitation as there was little time
there was no hesitation but there was a stutter in my step
things were not ready to go
I was not ready to go

I knew that I needed to ride
I knew that I wanted to ride
it had been since before my family vacation in Florida that I had been on the bike
I had been missing the feeling of being on the bike

in an old outdated DCMTB kit with a black and red design and all sorts of names of companies that no longer sponsor or support our team and I was out the alley and on the bike
with the leg over the Specialized Tri-Cross with its riser bars I rolled towards Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park
it was hot
I was excited to be on the bike
with two spins of the cranks I agreed to myself to head out for a little over than an hour thirty rather than the initially intended just over an hour

there was some quick consideration of where I would like to ride
MacArthur Blvd. was a consideration... this gwadzilla archive expresses some of the issues on that road
but then decided I did not have the time to trek across town
so I stayed local on the roads that wind through Rock Creek Park

at a decent clip I rolled down Park Road into "the park"
a long list of cars passed anxiously
as each car passed I took notice of the make and model of the car, the condition of the car, the license plate and bumper stickers if there were any
then of course the driver

as the cars pass I take notice of the car and its passengers
very few cars have passengers
most every car has the solitary driver and a handful of vacant seats
so in most cases I only have to take measure of one person... the driver

as the cars pass I take notice of the driver
I take notice of their attention to me and their attention to the road around them
I make a mental not of age, sex, and body type
I try to imagine who they are

I watch as they multi-task...
drivers are usually more involved in a task other than driving
for some it is the phone... for others it is the music on the radio... then of course the evil electronic distractions of the texts and emails... bad... bad.... very bad
although this day did not offer such
there are also less than ordinary things seen by the passing cyclist
none of which will be listed here

the cars all pass me... some pass me unnecessarily fast and unnecessarily close as we all roll down Park Road into Rock Creek Park
the cars queue up at the red light at the base of the hill
not many of the cars have left me much room on the right hand side of the road
I consider passing on the left
I anticipate that my timing is such that I am going to catch the light just after it turns green
so staying to the right is my best bet
I am turning right onto Beach Drive

with only a few inches to spare I split the space between this line of cars and the road side
making sure that my tires are not rolling through any debris that could cut my ride short by causing a puncture
while also being careful of the side view mirrors and any sudden movements by these cars

I make a sweeping right hand turn as the car along side of me goes straight
a number of the cars turn straight
sure enough... some of the cars that passed me unnecessarily fast and unnecessarily close are forced to pass me again
aware of this I move forward and try to anticipate the behavior of the car drivers around me
my pace has picked up... without an bicycle computer on the bike I can only guess how fast I am going
apparently I am not going fast enough
one car passes without issue but the following car passes as well
they put themselves and other at risk by going straight head on into fast approaching opposing traffic
only to have to dash in front of me before a head on collision and the cement median strip

as I cross past Broad Branch I try to anticipate the moves of the cars around me
a car waiting to turn left looks like it is going to go after the car in front of me passes
it looks like they are going to turn in front of me... it looks like they are going to take a left hand turn right on top of me
in a near panic I am pulling the brakes
they stop short... but only after causing my heart to skip a beat
I regain composure and award myself congratulations for being alert
and not acting such that my front brake was pulled so much that I endo-ed over the front wheel

cars on the right merge follow a similar routine of unpredictability
the car drivers are always anxious to keep moving
to so many of these car drivers the bicycle is a nuisance... not another person... just an obstacle to move around
although I can not read their minds I am confident that they are frustrated because they had to slow for a second for the person on the bike

onto into Rock Creek Park past the point where they close off the road on weekends I pick up the pace
nothing fantastic as I am really not that fast
there are limits
there are the limits of my bike and the limits of my body
this is my cross bike and it is a one by nine with no big ring
which is fine... I really don't have big legs... especially this time of year

after crossing over the old stone bridge I get a feeling that it is odd that no cars have passed me
then it happens
not the car behind me but a car a few cars behind me starts honking
it is not clear if they are honking at me or at the car that is not making the pass
I try to not let this honking bother me
but I know that my being here is part of the equation that is causing them to honk their horn
even if it me that they are not honking at

the timing is such that the road is either winding too much or on the straights there are oncoming cars
I try to stay to the right but not so right that someone will think that they can make the pass in the same lane
finally the driver makes a pass
it is a old Toyota Corolla in okay shape... the driver is an older white male... grandfather old... Maryland tags and no bumper stickers
the driver does not do so much as glance my way when he passes

after he passes without hesitation each and every car behind him passes
they pass without much anticipation of oncoming traffic
the last car slips in
making a generous pass giving me all sorts of space while giving a dangerous amount of space to the approaching car
it is a moderately close call
the driver leading the charge of opposing traffic looks like he wants to respond with some sort of gesture but is too focused on not making contact to the on coming car

just ahead at the four way stop cars line up in the queue
the slow and roll method of movement keeps the cars moving ahead
as I pass the Park Police Headquarters I pass half the cars that just passed me
I slow my pace and time things such that the right turning car in the queue can go forward ahead of me
then roll through the intersection just behind a car going straight when their turn arises

across the intersection on the right hand side of the road I get passed by the cars that I passed at the Stop Sign
the cars pass without incident
I am pleased that there is no conflict
I make a mental not of the cars
again... make and model of car... the driver... and all other variables including their response to me

it is not uncommon for eye contact to be made and for people to make faces
non verbal communication is not uncommon between cyclist and car driver
it is good to know what I am up against

who looks especially crazy?
who looks especially dangers?
is anyone taking my actions personally?
does anyone look like they are going to put my life at risk?

the legs are feeling pretty good
although there has been no caffeine since the morning I am feeling pretty energized
sometimes being on the bike is energizing enough on its own

things roll by without consequence
cycling is a weird balance of ultra intense focus and wild over the top day dreaming
I have been day dreaming on and off pretty much since I started to get my legs pushing the pedals

it is hard to explain
it is not a spacey lying on your back staring at the clouds sort of day dreaming
it is more like a dream that you have slight control over
I can not tell you how many times I have taken rides where I determined how I would spend Power Ball winnings or how a Q&A on the David Letterman Show would go
on this day my day dreaming is highly influenced by the events of the day

I can not help but let my mind wander about WABA and the opening of the Executive Director's position
I think about how they are going to view my resume and how they are going to respond to me
my mind wanders

again lacking the ability to read others minds I have to fabricate the thoughts on the other side of things
I think about people on the WABA Board and wonder who knows me and who knows my blog
it is curious to think whose radar I am on and what impressions they have of me
it is hard to have this day dream without throwing in the variable of being drunk and wearing the bicycle helmet lampshade at a couple of WABA Holiday Parties

I do not over think those events... these things do not worry me so much
alcohol has a tendency to get people drunk
there is more to me than blowing some steam at a party
there is more to me than this... I let that thought drift away

in my head I laugh to myself when I think about how the founder of WABA shaved his beard to be taken more serious and how I am conscious of such things and choosing not to shave my beard
in my head I day dream about choices I will make and how I will respond to various questions
it is hard for me to think about interview situation... I think about what I might wear and if I will wear a tie
I am a cyclist not a lawyer
I am also a person who does not understand why our society continues to do things the way that they were done before
times are changing
there are some customs that need not be continued
something like a tie is from the old school
but also... we need to do certain things... why? we just must

I feel it is important for me to try not to pretend to be something I am not
then my day dream throws me a curve ball... I am wearing glasses in my interview
I do not wear glasses... but I have worn glasses in different situations in an effort to tone things down
a simple prop that alters the viewers perception
it is my day dream... but it is also its own directed flow of thought
I am spectating my own imagination

as I hammer along I go in and out of day dreams
trying to balance that uber focus
trying to make sure that I am working hard
that I am going as fast as I wish to go
it is dangerous to day dream too much
too much day dreaming can cause me to drop pace
too much day dreaming can have me unprepared for a dangerous set of variables
it is important to always be ready for anything

my pace has dropped
once the pace drops it is important to drop the day dream
focus again on my legs, my lungs, and my output
then let the day dream return

as I approach the intersection of Beach Drive and East West Highway I notice that my seatpost has slipped
that has been a chronic problem with this Specialized Tri Cross
in each cyclocross race this season past I suffered major slippage... which of course means the lose of proper leg extension... which of course effects power output and comfort
I decide I will knock things out to the Mormon Temple before I raise the seat

in the shadow of the Mormon Temple I raise my seat post
the issue has been diagnosed but not resolved
it turns out my cable guide that feeds to the rear brake hangs from the bolt that tightens the seat clamp
that hanger shamefully fits in the split in the frame that closes the gap to tighten around the post
well... with that little piece of metal in that gap I am unable to tighten down enough on the seat post
carrying an allen set is my temporary resolve

while doing the repair a cyclist rolls past
I make the quick fix then am back on the bike
in no time I am past this man on a Celeste Green Bianchi
I pass him only to be caught at the light at Connecticut Avenue
the light is long... real long... traffic is such that it would not be wise to bust a move
I still try to see if there is an opportunity that presents itself
but no... I am forced to wait for the light to change

ahead of the cars I get out of the saddle and hammer ahead
it pleases me that each of the cars that had passed me previously that were caught at the light pass me safely
even a second Toyota Corolla of similar condition with a similarly aged silver haired man passes me safely.... quite differently than the previous pass

the pedals turn and the road curves
the day dream returns
in my head I think of the former Executive Director of WABA Eric Gilliland
I think of all the things that happened over the years
It really pleased me to see Eric and WABA move in the direction that they have moved in recent years
yes... lots of what has happened is a changing of the times
there were many things that happened that were a direct result of Eric and the WABA Staff
while there are also things happening that are a movement with the times
I think about the momentum and how we need to snatch this opportunity
this has me thinking of how I would build on that and then expand on what Eric has done
that with my personality... my passions... and my connections...
and yes... my agenda... I could really make things happen
lots of things... a long list of things
vital things and subtle things
recreational and utilitarian things

I think about the list I have been working on in case I get called in for an interview

there are so many things I would like to see happen
it is more than just rolling with the momentum and throwing down some bike lanes
it is about evolving a better system
trying things... accepting that there is a bit of an unknown
demanding that things are not except-able as they are and that things need to be changed
ouch... demanding... that is sort of a strong tone
luckily no one has read this far
and if they have... hopefully they understand me and who I am
I am passionate
this stuff does mean something to me

my body is feeling good
it is to my advantage that it is a weekday in the afternoon
there are some cyclists... but not too many people... not so many people that anyone is passing me

as I approach the T where Beach Drive or whatever it is called hits Randolph Road
again... I think... I have only ridden out there a thousand times
so not sure about the road names

back to my location whatever the street names may be... so I am approaching the point where I will turn around and a cyclist is coming the other way
she looked not only dressed to ride but she looked like she was riding at a decent clip... not hard work out... but nice speedy spin
there was some distance before I made the turn around
not sure how much I altered my pace but I never caught her
she was visible on a long stretch but I think that first light was timed such that she gapped me beyond my ability to recover

the day dreaming caused my pace to drop
the day dreaming and the fatigue
the day had involved some hard pedaling and my legs were starting to feel it
it is early in the spring and I really have not had much time on the bike with all the snow and such this winter

ahead at Cedar Lane I could see the light was Red
my Hammer Gel Flask bottle no longer had any water to quench my thirst on this unseasonably warm day that felt more like summer than spring so I decided that I would roll up to the water fountain
not only did I want to keep pace but I also needed to get home so that I could get my car and get my kids from after care after school

as I approached the fountain my hand went into my jersey pocket going for the flask
with my body bent over to get the water direct from the fountain to my mount I kept one eye on the light
the light changes
the flask would not be filled
I took to the bike and made the light after taking one last mouthful of water

as I approached the light I a man on Cedar Lane takes a right turn on red on his bicycle
it was an fit strong bull of a man with silver hair
he was quite muscular and his bike was beyond pretty
although I did not catch the name on the frame I did like the color of the paint, a burnt orange almost brown color frame looked nice with the fenders, the bar end shifters, and the whole feel of the bike
the paint looked like it was still wet from the factory yet the bike looked like it was vintage

as I passed I gave him a glance and said that he had a pretty bike
he thanked me somewhat awkwardly then of course matched my pace
I was not looking to play cat and mouse
nor was I looking to pull him or try and drop him
which had me relieved that he was matching my pace but not sitting on my wheel
well... as far as I could tell
but I was not really so concerned

there were some moments that the sound of his bike became visible what I felt was my personal space but I still was not so concerned about him
as I did not feel like I had someone sucking my wheel
honestly... I hate to have people suck my wheel
unless it is a shared understanding

drafting off a stranger on the road is tailgating
it is not to be done in the car
it is not to be done on the bike
such action on the Capital Crescent Trail is the ride of fools

I have blogged on this idea of pacelines on the multi-use trail
this may be a decent archive from the gwadzilla page

these are not the issues on this day
in fact there are really no issues
well... no issues other than the tragically slipping seat post
which of course had to be resolved on multiple occasions
using red lights as a fine time to set things right

at the last light before Randolph Road... what is that again Knowles?
at this intersection with its No Turn on Red signs I took a position in the right turn lane
I acted quickly
there was some tension... I wanted to be done by the time the light changed
as I turned the allen key I watched the cars come towards me
each car did a slow and go through the No Turn on Red
always paying close attention to the traffic coming downhill to the green light in the intersection
never coming into my space making me feel at risk
but each and every car blatantly not only ignoring the Red Light but also ignoring the No Right Turn on Red
or should I switch what they are ignoring
either way... these same people are ignoring this set of instructions each day and every day on their commute

my mind wandered
there were all sorts of ideas of advocacy within the day dreams
different stretches of road had me thinking of various things that could be done to make the roads better
markings ON THE ROAD? that SHARROW GUY but in a Celeste Green?... Bianchi Green?
then at some of these intersections have the STOP LINE backed up and have a BIKE BOX so that the bikes do not think that they should act like cars and get in the queue or submissively hide off to the side...

through sections of Beach Drive still in The District I thought about how that path on the road side could be intentional rather than accidental
the people have spoken... give them a dirt trail on the road side
the trail in my mind's eye goes not only parallel to the road but dips down to race along side of the creek
if I could ride my bike there... I would spend far less time riding on the roads
I think that would be better for me
I bet some of the car drivers would think that would be better for them

in my minds eye I saw runners and dog walkers using this packed natural surface
not asphalt
oh... no... god forbid
the natural surface is better for all
it is better for the soul
as I pass more dense section of trail I imagine trails where trails should be and I see trails that are unsanctioned but already there
I imagine linking those trails
assisting them... making them more sustainable

and yes... this ride would then involve dirt when the dirt is dry
instead of having to sharpen my elbows and cross my fingers about the cars
but rather have my time on the bike happen car free
sure I would have to slow for runners and dog walkers and then expect other bikers
but that is already known
there is room for everyone

the guy with the pretty bike with the long name I can not remember is still in my shadow
I am still hammering pretty hard
but honestly... I do not have anything more
if he were to pass me... I would salute him and let him go
bravo... good job
top of the morning to ya... and good day

instead he remains in my shadow
no conversation about the weather
no discussion about the cars
no challenge of legs and lungs

just as we hit the base of that short climb that goes to the three way stop he turns off
AH! The Parkway Deli... I could really go for the Parkway Deli
but no... I am out of the saddle and hammering up the hill without dropping pace
need to knock out this ride
need to get the kids

at the top of the hill I slow and stop for a car to make it through the intersection
I went so hard that I was too hypoxic to think to slow things down and drift through with the car at the front of the queue at the top of the hill just in front of me
maybe vanity had me thinking I would get there and the timing would be perfect
I rolled through when I got my turn and then rested on the downhill
should have spun my legs to free the lactic acid
but instead I let them sit
then when I hit the flats my legs were dead

my legs were dead but my ride was not yet over
my ride was done
but still needed to get home
there would be some nice revolutions
but the power was behind me

coming the other way was a series of fast and fit riders moving and an effortless fast pace
it was obvious that these guys were a different sort of athlete
coming the other direction I thought I saw Dave Fuentes leading a pull with a few SUVS riding comfortably in his wind slip

I thought about the other riders then realized that it was Tuesday... and Tuesday is The Goon Ride... sort of a fast paced group ride with some history in the area
something I have not really blogged about
because it is something I know nothing about
as I have not attended... these things are not my thing
yet I am curious

so... I wind down my ride as people warm up
these guys warm up faster and longer than I ride
only at less effort
their warm ups are faster and cover greater distance than my full on ride

insecurity kicks in... I AM A MOUNTAIN BIKER
I want to should it... but honestly... those machines would be faster than me on dirt too
my engine is nothing compared to theirs
I am a Yugo... they are Ferrari's... Maserati... and Mustangs and Cameros... Bitchin Cameros
I am a Chevy Civette that is proud of its Track Auto extras
I would prefer to be a late 70's Civic

as I passed the Police Station I saw two cyclists a turn ahead
it was a conscious effort to keep pace that I would not catch them
even though it was a slight grade downhill... I did not want to get into a testosterone battle
I just wanted to lick my wounds and go home and get my kids

just a turn or two before the stone bridge I hear a noise
it sort of catches me off guard
there is a guy on a Specialized with Flat Bars
I laugh to myself... is this for real... this guy has the same set up as me... only he has a hybrid and mine is a cyclocross bike that I customized to have straight bars
I cheer him on as he passes me... I do not fight the pass... I am a little afraid that we are going to lock handlebars with our somewhat matching bikes

sorry... I am frail I am weak I am who I am
into the turn before the stone bridge I pass him
having to slow my pedal stroke for fear of making contact on the turn
then cranking things on the bridge before the bike goes to vertical
I am not trying to drop him... but I am picking up the pace

the day dream had taken control
my pace had dropped.... I had to pick up the pace... I had to respond to my testosterone
he matched my pace... well... not really... but he picked up the pace and made the chase
I did not look back until I turned on Beach towards Broad Branch and then Park Road
most people loop to Ross Drive but I was confident that he was headed to the Bike Path
I kept pace for fear that if I slowed he would turn up Park Road from the Bike Path and overtake me again
on Park Road I tried to work something more than a slow grind
there was noting in the tank
there are no miles under my belt
this was a pretty solid effort in summer like heat for someone who has not been riding

I work it up in the bike lane and day dream about how this stretch of road needs to continue its evolution
how the road needs to be narrowed
the door zone bike lane has to be removed from the downhill
the radial arc of the turn feeding into the downhill should be closer to a right angle
the experiments need to continue
the momentum must not slow

I get home and I am too tired to remember so many of the ideas that swam through my head
I wish I had a minute to hit the computer to get some ideas down
but I would rather get the kids
still slick with sweat I change my clothes and grab the dog
in the same motion I get a banana and water for me and the boys
the boys will need a snack
especially if we take the dog for a hike

sorry... I was unable to get through and do a solid proof
time is slipping on this day
there are other objectives then this rant from the evening


1 comment:

Cole said...

Really enjoyable entry, J...