Monthly Archives: May 2008

Coffee and catholicism

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I just made the afternoon pot of coffee, which is usually “afternoon” in name only, as we basically wait after the first pot of the day just to see who will break first, and then the other one of us jumps around and pees up the house like an untrained puppy when the other asks, “Ready for more coffee?” But today it really made it until well into the afternoon, causing the question of whether drinking hi-test this late in the day isn’t at least a venal sin, and even without all the catechism and communion my soul is clearly a Catholic soul and someday there will be a marathon confession that will finally cause the priest to ask me to just cut to the chase, and I don’t need to be adding minor sins like late-day coffee drinking to the list.

So, this pot is made up of 2.5 parts ancient Mexican decaf that was hiding in the back of the freezer, possibly since the Carter administration, and 1.5 parts Rainforest Nut Crunch, a very accidentally purchased flavored bean — flavored, as near as my tastebuds can tell, with the same kind of oil I use to keep my bicycle chain moving smoothly. That combination can only lead either to a surprisingly splendid late day treat, or a taste that will make us hurl. Wish me luck!

The road is never dull

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A bike ride through the hills of Rensselaer County is never dull. A few days ago it was punctuated by a very sudden and very fierce hailstorm that reminded me that a) ice falling from the sky hurts, and b) hypothermia sucks. I was soaked to my shoes and chilled to the bone, but I still finished the ride, and did it without getting a flat. But in general it’s just the little surprises that make the ride — new, unidentifiable roadkill; the chained-up attack dog who fails to attack for the third time in a row, leaving me with a vague unease; the goat standing guard at the end of a driveway, unpenned, but apparently unconcerned with passing cyclists. And, inexplicably, the Silver Surfer:silver surfer

Short but memorable

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That was today’s ride — short but memorable. The weather is what they keep calling “unsettled,” which means sunny, rainy, blustery, calm, warm and cold, all within about five minutes of each other. So getting dressed for the ride I second-guessed my outfit like a starlet getting ready for the red carpet. Decided that since I was cold in the house, I’d be cold outside — the thermometer said 60 degrees, and the wind was a-blowing. So I put on a base layer under a long-sleeved jersey (mistake No. 1) and pull-on leggings (less of a mistake, No. 2). Then got out on the actual ride, the sun was burning through the clouds, and I made more costume changes than Liza on Broadway — 6K out and the leggings had to go, and the base layer was gone by 8. Then it was zip up, zip down, I’m warm, I’m cold, I’m on fire — me, me, me.
I’m used to people in cars yelling things at me, throwing things at me, slowing down to match my pace, and doing just about everything else imaginable as they go by me. But I’ve never before had someone in a monstrous pickup truck start tootling me vigorously as they come up beside me, match my pace with a mirror bigger than a baby just inches from my helmet and ask me for directions. Of course, I had a hard time understanding them, because they kept asking “Where’s New Road at?” I know where it is, but I don’t know where it’s at, man, you know what I mean? Okay, well I actually just couldn’t understand them. I just kept my eyes straight ahead, figured out what they were asking and hoped the trailer they were pulling didn’t take me out as they sped past.
I don’t know who’s building all these new homes out on my riding roads, and it’s not that I don’t support in-fill, but it’s starting to make what the pros call “nature breaks” a lot harder to come by. There isn’t always a cemetery nearby!

The world has a smell

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And it is Glade Lilac Air Freshener. Except worse. More lilac-y. A little bit of lilac goes a long way, but this is not the weekend when there’s a little bit of lilac. Just had a splendid ride out Nassau and Burden Lake way, 52km of decent rollers, one of those rides that’s about an hour and 15 out, 45 minutes back, and though the wind was a little fierce, I was feeling strong and came in at a crazy 25.9 kph average (crazy for this old man, anyway, and that’s 16 mph in the hills for those of you philistines who still see the metric system as some kind of French/Communist plot). (I was at a solid 26.0 before the final 2.5k climb, which I ripped to keep my numbers up.) That’s a good day in the saddle. Not that, other than days with flats, there are any bad days in the saddle.

How did I get lost in Ballston Lake?

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Well, “lost” is an exaggeration. Let’s just say I was on my bike in a place I hadn’t ridden before, without a map, and decided to just keep taking roads I didn’t know. Easier to get there than I would have thought.

Why does wind hate me?

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Seriously. I’m getting in the miles again this week after last week’s Atrophalooza, in which my previous week’s training gains were allowed to dissolve into bittersweet memory and fat. But it is only May, and so waiting for the temp to come up and the sun to come out is key to an enjoyable ride. Yesterday I went out despite a vicious stomach bug and rode as softly as I could, and that was fine. Today I went out into bright sunshine that, as soon as I was into the hills, turned into dark ominousness accompanied by a vicious crosswind that always knew where my wheels were and how to dislodge them from the pavement. It was a low, evil wind — if you looked up in the treetops, it didn’t seem like much, but the long grass at road’s edge was knocked down flat. Several times I had to dial it back on the downhills just for fear of getting swept off, and as I crossed intersections (where currents get even funkier) I felt that old wobble and just hugged the bike. Twenty miles is twenty miles, but it didn’t have to be so hard.

I forgot to mention the find of the weekend, a marvelous movie that I had somehow never seen — not even a snippet of it was lodged in my memory: “My Favorite Year,” Peter O’Toole’s tour de force performance as a dissolute ’30s star of swashbuckling epics and his appearance on an early television variety show. Just one of the funniest movies there is, and I can’t imagine how I’ve never seen it. Now I have. Hail the digital video recorder!