Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween everyone. Do yourself a favor and check out the best Halloween song ever: "It's Halloween" by the Shaggs. If you haven't heard [or heard of] the Shaggs, well, you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lost another screw from my eggbeater cleats this morning -- left foot this time. I'm trying to unclip as I approach a red light and the foot won't come out. I was very proud of myself for not simply falling over, as I have in the past [even when my pedals aren't malfunctioning], but pulling up to a wall and leaning against it whilst I got myself sorted. Managed to get the shoe out and rode the rest of the way unclipped. Even did some one-legged drills down the lakefront path. Heh.

Despite the issues, I really like the eggbeaters. Now that they're broken in and I'm used to them, they're excellent. Many thanks to my teammate who passed them on to me at a crazy discount.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We voted on Saturday. Early voting is convenient . . . and sorta weird. I can't shake the suspicion that they aren't counting those votes. Conversely, I feel like I do when I make a pledge to Public Radio on the first day of the pledge drive -- irritated that they continue asking for money for another week and a half! I have voted, people. Election OVER.

A friend of mine got to meet Barack Obama the other day. She was very impressed by his kindness and sincerity. He must meet hundreds of people every day, yet he makes a real connection with each of those people. Because he actually CARES about them. About us. I'm worried that racism will keep him from being elected. I worry that he will be assassinated.

Speaking of discrimination, if you know anyone in California, please urge them to vote 'NO' on proposition 8. For many years, I thought that marriage didn't really matter. If two people loved each other and made a life together, it was just as good. But then I was able to get married and I was overwhelmed by the experience. It DOES make a difference. To us, to our families, to our community. And this is beside all the legal rights and privileges that marriage bestows. It doesn't change anything for mixed sex couples -- it doesn't hurt straight marriages, it doesn't harm children, it doesn't force any religion to accept anything they don't want to. It just allows people who love each other to participate in this powerful ritual that binds you to each other publicly. And that's beautiful.


Right now my cycling team has the opportunity to vote on how the memorial to our fallen teammates -- Beth, Pieter, Eric, and Thomas -- will be remembered. There are five options. The team has worn hearts on our sleeves for Eric and Thomas for many years, so its a big decision to change the design. Do we keep the hearts? Do we move on to a simple black armband? Or something else entirely? Its in the team's hands now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rest week is over. I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike in earnest.

I dreamt last night that I worked in a large, lofted room with many other people. I had a six foot square wooden table, chest height, to myself, over near the large windows. Lots of room to spread my work out, lots of sunlight.

Then someone comes in and asks us all to try sitting elsewhere for a moment. My desk is moved towards the center of the room and I am sent to the back to sit in a row of workers for a while. When I get to go back to my desk, it has been replaced by a child-sized table and chair. Maybe two feet across and so low I can't get my knees under it. This is my new workspace. I point out that I can't sit at this tiny table and I get another the same size, but taller, like a child's schooldesk. I have no storage, no room, and I'm far from the airy windows. But I have a desk -- the writers are all sitting three to a couch with their work on their laps.

This dream pretty accurately reflects how things have changed for me at work.


Women's program had a potluck last night. It was so nice. The host's home was warm and welcoming with lots of oak everywhere and a burning fireplace. There was plentiful food and wine and animated conversation. Two of our members had won races earlier in the day, so we celebrated them and all our successes this season. Its a good group.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I was almost doored on my ride to work this morning by a cop. On the phone. She didn't even look up as I shouted and swerved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wow. Bike Snob really does know it all:

"But let's be honest--part of the bicycle's appeal is its swift mobility. What cyclist hasn't fantasized about living in some kind of Apocalyptic wasteland with only his bicycle and his wits to keep him alive?"

Seriously, the bike would totally be the way to go -- all those empty cars jamming the roads and you and your trusty cross bike ready for anything. You can go fast enough on the knobbies to outrun the mutant zombies, right? Think how much MORE awesome '28 Days Later' would be with bikes. You could do a whole chase scene thing with Cillian Murphy et al doing freestyle BMX through London, jumping staircases, revolving in mid-air FOR THEIR LIVES.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I raced in the Carpentersville Cyclocross race on Sunday. And it was just super fun. The more I race cross, the more I really like it.

We had 21 women [yay!] in the cat 4 race, and the start was hot. I need to practice sprinting from the whistle -- getting out ahead at the start is SO important in cross. I ended up in a pack tearing over the grass and through the narrow corners -- something I was not completely comfortable with. I overcooked a corner before the first barrier and lost about 15 places. I spent the rest of the race catching and passing, catching and passing. Which, I have to say, was extremely gratifying. Especially as I was catching women I know to be very strong.

I was more comfortable dismounting and mounting, but still have a long way to go. My strengths continue to be that I'm fast in the straights and have the endurance to keep racing hard in the last laps. My endurance was better than at Jackson Park -- the "3 laps to go" sign wasn't anywhere near as daunting.

Coming through the start/finish for the last lap, someone yelled that I was in 7th place. I'd just passed and dropped two women and had another one 30 feet ahead of me. But the top five were long gone. I was able in the last lap to catch and drop the racer in front of me, and finish 6th -- which is a great result for me. As I improve my handling skills, my running and jumping, my mounting and dismounting -- and when I get better at the opening sprint -- I should be able to finish in the top five.

And it was just FUN.

Props to the organizers -- it was an excellent course that used the park's width, breadth, bumps, gullies, gulches, hill, and sandbox to the fullest extent -- and to the volunteers who kept everything running smoothly and on time. There was a drum corps, a live band, food stalls and prizes 10 deep [I won a tool set!]. There were tons of xXxers to cheer for and hang out with and a large and very strong women's cat 4 field. An excellent race.

Photo by Luke Seemann

Thursday, October 16, 2008

As the days grow shorter, I find myself on my bike before dawn. There are a few minutes where the morning light is such that the streetlamps cast multiple shadows. Three shadow Tamaras racing each other down the street. The first time a shadow comes from behind, I think its some other cyclist trying to pass me [close, on the right]. For an instant, I'm filled with adrenaline ready to take on this challenger . . . but my shadow selves have it covered.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Three things that should not occupy the same space:

- beer and clamato
- science fiction and fantasy
- the bike lane and the door zone

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gigi and I went jogging this morning, following Coach's cross-training advice. I'm just waiting for the joint pain to begin.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rode home in the pouring rain last night. One of those rides you know is going to be unpleasant and then exceeds expectations. The clothing that had been perfectly adequate that morning for laboring into into the stiff southeast wind, was no match for the rain and wind together. I chose to ride conservatively on the wet pavement, so my heartrate never got high enough to keep me warm. As I got progressively colder, I reminded myself of TRULY unpleasant rides in the past. Rides that went on for hours with frozen gloves and needle-like sleet. Rides where I thought I might lose toes. Rides where I constantly had salty, filthy slush shooting into my face. Yesterday really was not that bad.

But I was still SO happy to get home, get into warm, dry clothes and wrap my numb hands around a mug of hot tea. And then dry off my poor bike.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I heard last night that I placed well enough in the overall standings of cat 4 women at the Northbrook Track to win some money. Which is just crazy -- I SUCK at track. I only raced three nights and I don't think I placed higher than third in any race -- and at least one night that was because there were only three women racing.

Which basically means that not enough women race track right now.

I went to the Northbrook Velodrome site to see exactly where I placed . . . and the results haven't been updated since June. So, really, I have no idea what the deal is.


I started strength training yesterday -- and I really enjoyed getting back into it. My entire body would like to take this opportunity to say "OW! Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!!!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

So, its hard to make out -- my phone doesn't take great photos -- but this is evidence that the magnetic ribbon on your car thing has gone too far. Far, far beyond supporting the troops or AIDS research or breast cancer research or whatever the autism one is about or even the magnetic ribbon supporting magnetic ribbons. This magnetic ribbon was green with a turtle graphic and said "I brake for turtles."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Highlight of my training ride today was riding a couple Freds off my wheel. Without really meaning to. Its the little things.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm starting to wonder if the mouth guard the dentist made for me to wear at night isn't his idea of a joke.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Well, here's hoping that Joe Biden can restrain himself from rolling his eyes, sighing, complimenting her outfit, verbally lunging, staring into the camera with a put-upon look or anything else that can be construed to be in any way condescending, sexist or superior. Don't lose your temper, don't lecture, don't use anyone else's words. Just be the smart, experienced guy you are. Be unflappable. Or she will win this debate despite her vast ignorance and inexperience.


First off: Bosniacs? Joe, Bosniacs? Really?

My fervent hope is that I never have to watch her smirking her way mechanically through her talking points ever again. [When did "Joe Six-pack" become a good thing? She isn't talking about abs.] If there were any doubt that she was doing anything other than parroting her bullet points, her complete non-reaction to Biden's authentic emotion when speaking of his experiences as a parent in fear of losing his child, washed it away. It was chilling. You betcha.
Saturday's crash is catching up to me. More lurid bruises blossom every day on my right leg and every pedal stroke hurts. Its making me feel pitiful and I hate that. I prefer feeling tough. I'm glad tomorrow is a rest day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here's the question: Why aren't I independently wealthy? Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah and I had it off. It was SUCH a nice, relaxing day. I slept in, I had a great training ride, read my book, did some chores around the house, ran some errands . . . it was just *nice.* [Thank you, Jews.] I keep trying to figure out a way to make every day like Rosh Hashanah.

A nice guy on a fixie rode my wheel for a while on the Lakefront Path. When we hit the light at Navy Pier, he asked me if my name was 'Debbie.' As in 'Debbie Dust!' I was pretty thrilled to be mistaken for her, even by a Fred.

AND I got rid of that horrible temporary filling that was rapidly deteriorating. My gold overlay is fantastic -- it feels so smooth. MY other fillings are fine, but this one is luxurious. Which is probably why it was so incredibly expensive. But now my corpse is worth more $$$. Heh.

In addition to the gold overlay, I got the mouth guard I'm supposed to wear at night to keep from grinding my teeth together and destroying them. Last night, I kept dreaming that I was sitting down to a meal and had to take the thing out in order to dig into my burger and fries [or the felafel sub from Subway!]. I actually woke myself up taking it out. This is going to take some getting used to.

Coach says no race this weekend. I'm bummed, I was looking forward to racing cross again. But he doesn't want me to get burned out. And neither do I.