Friday?

I have tomorrow off, as a present to myself, and today felt like Friday. I do love my work, but when I can taste the finish I find it hard not to focus. Nonetheless managed some good teaching-by-not-answering questions. It’s hard to explain political parties to anyone, I remember my dad trying to do so to me when we went and saw Mike Dukakis speak in ’88, and he was an economics professor ( though I was 7). Even moreso is not yelling at poor kids from ignorant parents who think abortion is evil. An idea I cannot REALLY understand, which is something I want to work on. Moderation aside, these are girls who should not be having kids, and should be open minded to readily available abortions. It’s a mark of solipsism and the confines of one’s upbringing that they cannot see that they’re the central reason for this debate. My intolerance is another, mark that is. I recall the excellent Laura Dern in Citizen Ruth.

On another birthday note, I got myself some fine Thai Papaya salad for dinner while M was off at school. Enjoyed a nice hour cruise round trip to get it with the 30:20, as Julie is set up for SSAZ. After another twist of the wrench, the saddle is really rounding into shape, and is quite good without bike shorts, which I’ve always hated. Tara Thai II (the 1st is in Phoenix, I believe) takes their spice seriously, and a 4 (on a 0-4 scale) had me pounds a brace of 1554s to avoid reaching for the milk. Like good sushi, its the kind of fresh and tasty on could live on almost exclusively.

Interlude: the nature show on PBS right now has a King Cobra struggling to the death with a Python. Awesome! On to the bike stuff…

Surly has beta on their Mr. Whirly cranks up now.

They’re an adaptable spider model, running on outboard bearings. Most interesting, all bcds (94, 104, 110) have a 58 bcd granny, allowing a non-custom 20t ring. A 100mm, interchangable spindle is also available, so the same crankset could be switched from Monkey to Pugsley to Cross Check. They look like a clean, versatile rig. I’m skeptical of the bearings versus square taper based on my experience, but Phil Wood has gotten into the act, so I reckon the evolving standard will work itself out. The complete cranks bearings, bolts, rings, etc) have been quoted, I think, north of $300. Quite expensive, but Surly is NOT a bargain brand, though they’re changing that somewhat with more complete bikes. Rather, even a “cheap” and “heavy” Surly frame is quite expensive when moderately kitted out. It’s an indie rock, utilitarian image that many including myself are buying. And a great bike.

Finally, a brief tire review:

I’ve had a set of Weirwolf 2.55 LT 29er tires since I got ’em from the first shipment, back in early November. They’ve become my favorite tire, about as close to perfect as I could ask, and have changed a lot of my beliefs regarding traction in the dirt.


While they don’t measure at 2.5″, the number 2.55 is internally consistent within the WTB tire line, and the metric number (58mm) is dead on. It’s a fat tire with tiny knobs, that grips gradually and hugs the terrain, gaining much of it’s handling abilities from being intimate with the ground. It doesn’t take to especially aggressive handling, plowing through rocks or huge handfuls of brake, unlike the 26″ Timberwolf 2.5 tire I’ve used. It will stop very effectively if a small degree of care is taken, and handled rocks provided a modicum of line-selection takes place.

Interlude #2: Crocodiles eating Wildebeasts is also awesome!

The tread pattern and tire width combine to produce a unique (in my experience) cornering experience. The Timberwolf sets into a corner in a very predictable way, as do tires like the Motoraptor or Jones XR top a lesser extent. Much has been said about the Weirwolf’s wanting to be “slammed” abruptly into a corner, and this is true in my experience. A certain amount of aggressive finesse is rewarded with exceptional flow in the corners.

Not surprisingly, the added volume and reasonably stout casing have allowed me to get excellent cush and durability at low pressure, typically a bit more than 20 psi rear and a bit less in front. I’ve had one rear pinch flat, the cause of which is still a mystery.

After some experimentation, I found using the rear “backwards” improves both braking and climbing, the latter more decisively than the former.

It’s great in snow, just as on dirt the tread pattern seems to have a great marriage of speed and traction.

The compound is WTB’s DNA, a good balance of sticky and durability. The rear knobs are showing signs of wear, but none have yet parted company or done anything else untoward.

Disclaimer; all this data is operative for Arizona and Southern Utah riding. Loose dirt and gravel, rocks of many sizes and persuasions.

Ahhhhhh!!


As an ardent fan an admirer of the Pug breed, this was a bit distressing. And funny.

The Pug was, apparently, fine. Head on over to Jill’s blog for the full deal.

It dovetails nicely with school, as we spent a bit of this week and last talking about animal adaptation and geography. A Pug is a wonderful example of an animal which is in no way suited to anything. They are however exceedingly friendly (an interesting nuture v. nature question) and not at all a yippy “football” type critter. Their only real disadvantage, besides prodigious shedding, is their severe aerobic handicap. Not the dog to take trail running.

I’m sleepy this morning because the aforementioned documentary ran two hours, and was thoroughly fascinating for the duration. School material for certain.

Back to work……

Wednesday

No clever titles this week.

We’ve had a full complement of seasons in the last month, and today is July. Warm, lovely, the heat hasn’t gotten old at all. Yet. I do have to remember when we moved here actually in July, and were sleeping on the porch to avoid the hot air.

Rode back from work, then got in a 50 minute pseudo time trial on a rail trail at dusk. The Brooks started breaking in fast as of late, and today I realized that the leather was sagging such that I was sitting back onto the frame. So, I tightened things up, and was beginning to feel the Brooks comfort kick in. I think the process will need to continue for a while, but the corner is being turned. Which is nice, even on ebay the damn thing was expensive. And pretty.

Julie’s parts shipped, and will arrive next week. SSAZ this weekend will be the last hurrah for the proper SS for a while, the Blackspire bash will get fitted, and it’ll run 34 x 16/20/25. In the end, I hate wrenching, and this will permit errand running and brutal singletrack without messing around.

I’m taking Friday off as a present to myself; I envision breakfast out at our favorite place, and a late morning trail run. Granite Basin all to myself, without the damn horses. (I actually got stuck behind two on Sunday, I kept catching them in the rocky parts and they kept looking over their shoulders and galloping off in the sand.) M also gave me an early gift, a new wallet. For reference, I’ve only ever used one wallet, ever. It’s a tiny, silly little thing, more likely a buisness card holder. I like carrying it in my right front pocket. I’ve had it since I was 8 or 9. I’ve carried it every day since 5th grade. It’s polished, restitched, stretched out of shape of late by an increasing number of cards. It has been retired with honor.

PBS has a great sounding series on the Supreme Court coming on, so I’m off. More later, I imagine.

Tuesday

It’s been a long week thus far, in part thanks to some garbage at work, but mostly because I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done. Details, work, primarily. I do need to rererevamp some aspects of the grading system (I do not work at a normal school, lets say) which is a bit of a nuisance. On the whole, very good. It’s all the little things afterall, you do one and it becomes a bit more downhill for the next. So, I was able to do some good teaching, help a few kids out after school, and while dropping off some fries accepted a dinner invitation at one of the transitional living houses.

(The fries were payment of a debt; extra credit that no one could recognize Moira Kelly of The West Wing as the star of the early 90’s classic The Cutting Edge. One girl did.) Burger King wouldn’t even let me use the drive thru on Julie, sad.

I did get some good shake down miles running errands, it took 20 minutes to push the residual junk out of my lower quads, but after I felt very good indeed. It would appear that I am finally beginning to do things properly, which a month ago seemed like a very far-fetched thing indeed. SSAZ this Saturday will be excellent, the Red Hot also. And yet it’s all just progress in the process, and I still have a difficult choice to make for the end of April.

It has been warm here this week, I rode home in the dark an hour ago in shorts, totally comfortable. Chris, it’ll be nice down here next weekend.

The Brooks is also beginning to break in nicely, I may need to crank up the tension a bit for more comfort, tbd tomorrow.

And yeah, its Tuesday. I think I’ll have a beer.

Mostly non-cycling related diatribe

I hope most of you 6 or so folks have read Jill in Alaska’s blog. If not, do so know (see links, that way>>).

Good. Today Jill posted a picture of herself. She often does this , but this time made a point to put up a non-cycling photo. Why?

I try to put up shots of myself as often as possible, because this blog is a fundamentally narcissistic endeavor and I don’t have a digital camera.

The point here is I think a double standard; increased public attention (which Jill’s writing richly deserves) combined with puerile groupthink seems to mandate a “real” picture of this person in order to commence evaluation. Or shall we say, judgment. I think that I, who labors in a tiny land of obscurity and is thus not a good example, would not be subject to such demands.

So to go the comments received therein in reaction to Jill’s musing about weight. A coincidence that these two subjects come up in close proximity, I think not. And said comments include condolences about said weight. Not good.

The differences in the demands placed on individual women versus those of men is my paradigmatic example of how culture is internalized. Their are standards into which we are all born, and our influence on them and control over them is very limited. Because these rules are constantly enforced by others, be they friends parents or television; because they are reinforced by us ourselves. To “fit in” or even be recognized (in both the pedestrian and Hegelian sense) by the people in your life you have to conform.

Inexorable fact that this is, I don’t like seeing egregious examples. Society would not be possible without it, yet it’s far easier (especially at my work) for me to dwell on the nasty sides. What I’m doing now.

It seems to me that a great virtue of the net is shaking up normal standards, being exposed to those pieces of intellect and creativity an individual chooses to air, which may or may not be any variation of physical looks and presentation. I like it this way. In the same vein, “sports” are for me a way for a person’s innards to manifest themselves in actions. Similarly, it seems unfortunate when the less dedicated but more photogenic rise up in the public eye. Amelie Marismo vs Anna Kornikova?

I’d like the microcosm of internet biking to stay away from “the outside”.

Not well formed, yes. This is my template, and sometimes things are gonna be ugly.

Jill: my apologies for any inconvenience. I presume you don’t know and don’t care, and thought to keep it that way.

Ouch!

My feet hurt.

My quads hurt.

My calves are a bit tight, as is my lower back.

Such is life.

4.5 hours exactly, 2.5k of up (not very much, really), and I have no idea how many miles. Officially my longest run, ever. And while I am indeed tired, and will surely be gimping around tomorrow, I’m not wrecked. 14 months ago, when I did the r3 hike in the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t walk the next morning. It’d be inconvenient if it hurt as much tomorrow, but I doubt that.

Being this tired does no favors to being articulate.

Now, your daily fun, from the BBC:

Campground workers were stunned to come across the bear sleeping off the effects in their grounds, surrounded by dozens of empty beer cans.

But this was no ordinary case of a bear with a sore head at Baker Lake resort, 80 miles (129km) northeast of Seattle.

He had apparently tried out and rejected the mass-market Busch beer in favour of local brand Rainier.

(news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3580626.stm)

Today

(Envision Smashing Pumpkins)

Today I slept past 6 for the first time in three weeks, and damn it felt good. M made the mistake of promising to do (long overdue and stinky) dishes before I woke up, and I was able to prod her awake and coerce breakfast out of the deal. OJ, sausage, banana pancakes?! I am a very spoiled little boy.

I did manage to be industrious by about 10am, changed the air filter in the truck (loooong overdue), and collected materials for a pair of scree gaiters for my trail runners. $35 seems far too much for a little thing, and I like browsing Ace to make odds and ends work for new and different things. Example: I found some plastic rod hangers that, with a little modification, will I think make excellent lace hooks for my new creations. Even hand stitching everything with dental floss it only took a couple hours, with a test run tomorrow. Next up, after M gets her new-to-her sewing machine running; a two bottle waist pack for trail running. Again, I want to try DIY before caving in and dropping $40 on something. The general problem of how to carry hours worth of liquid on a run remains, for mountain runs this isn’t a big deal, but out in the desert it is. I’m taking this one step at a time, but the ultimate will still be a light, bounce free (or damn close) system to carry a gallon of water, snacks, and a minimal kit of layers and emergency gear. Tricky because it seems like on the waist I have a 10ish pound limit, and haven’t found a way to make a backpack thing function. Again, not all today. Sometimes I find that a hard concept to embrace.

I also managed to actually get out for a ride, not easy as the Netflix West Wing disc 2, season 2 arrived mid-afternoon. M threatened me with bodily harm, and I rode 305 again. Cleaned all of it, not without difficulty but without really significant difficulty. Went under my record time without really trying, and more importantly without feeling really tired. It all seems like this is coming together too easily, when I use the only other serious benchmark of training in my life, the Chicago Marathon 4 (!!) years ago. At this point I remember that there haven’t been many months during those years when I haven’t been very active outside, and the concepts of aerobic base and physiological maturation start to make more sense.

So, tomorrow is the big day. Last big torture test before serious goal #1: The Red Hot on the 17th. Granite Mountain circumnavigation. When I finished Chicago (limping and in pain) I wanted to keep building on to ultras. Knee injury (why I don’t run seriously on pavement anymore, and don’t hesitate to take days off) prevented that, and it’s good to be going full circle. I’m also turning 26 in a week, which along with the aforementioned 4 year span seems like a damn long time, until I think of what has filled it. Finding a “real job” after college, and being financially independent. Getting married. Sort of becoming an adult. Beginning to find my calling in life. Being forced to become more patient and mature (see #2). Becoming a real outdoor guide. Taking up and mastering (as far as I really care to) canyoneering. Getting back into cycling. Becoming a teacher. Being paid a salary.

I’m pleased.

I have only a dim idea of what tomorrow will bring, and how long it’ll take. It can’t take too long, because I can’t carry that much water, and have only one place to get more. I’m excited. I’m not good at being a hampster, if I don’t want to do it I’m quite bad at doing it because I should do it. Why timed out and backs kill me. It’s more about fitness pushing adventure than adventure pushing fitness. I’m not setting a damn alarm, though.

Closing argument, A Prairie Home Companion had their annual joke show today, here’s a really bad one I remember:

What do you get when you throw a grenade into a French kitchen?

Linoleum blown apart.

Interested to here about Hairball’s weekend, and what bike he used for his big loop today. The gravel climb up to Cedar Mesa would be very cool. Hope Plesko found a way to not gnaw his leg off. Marni, you and M should talk about that, she’s got some good ones.

17 is the number.

Yeah, you know the drill: I’m going to sleep.

A good day


We live in a very beautiful place. On one of the semi-regular trail runs this afternoon, the steepest hill tops out with a fantastic view of the San Francisco peaks 70 miles to the northeast, a good excuse to take a short break. I also managed to drop a few minutes off the round trip without trying, even with four inches of snow hidden in places towards the top. And now my knees feel excellent.

The problem now becomes choices (see below).

Work also went very well indeed; the annual football tournament to tell us that we live in a strange world. Several small herds of distinctly non-athletic adolescent girls play two-hand touch is a very refreshing thing. The real value of sport is, I believe, trying: why televised sports of all sorts have so much appeal today. Lives of quiet desperation don’t have too much real trying. So, its nice to see a big group trying hard at something they’re bad at. Trying means more than success.

My part of all this is to organize my own personal protest against what I find to be a distastefully masculine ritual. Perhaps a circumnavigation of Granite Mountain on foot, or a trip to the Grand Canyon?