"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sooner or later

I had defied the odds by having gone my entire clipless pedals career--spanning the better part of a decade--without falling over due to failure to get my foot unstuck in time. Had some close calls, but never fell down. Until Sunday in the Wildflower Century, climbing the first hill. My friend H was having some kind of really frustrating derailleur problem that kept her from being able to shift into the big gears, making climbing not much fun at all relative to the joy that it typically is. I wanted her to pull off and stop so I could fuss with her bike and see if I could possibly make it work better. So finally we stopped. But I guess I thought about stopping more than I thought about the procedure of stopping, as I found myself with my right foot still stuck on the pedal (and my new pedals are a lot stickier than the old ones), and my bike suspended upright for what seemed like a long second before I tipped over.

In a way I was glad it happened because I'd been so afraid of it happening before, and it turns out it didn't hurt very much at all. A bit embarrassing, yes. I didn't put my hand out to catch myself, which is one way people actually do get injured from this kind of fall. Just rolled right down. Have a couple nice bruises to show for it. Since I stopped playing football I've really missed the bruises.

And after I got up and collected myself, I managed to make her derailleur work right, so she was free to climb the two much bigger, nastier hills after that one. Maybe she'll forgive me some day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I wanted to have more bullet points, so here they are:

  • 4:50 a.m. or so: woke up, kind of
  • 5:25 a.m.: went to spinning class at the gym (a little late)
  • 8:00 a.m.: breakfast meeting with a Chico city council member to talk about ACLU LGBT committee project(s) and any other letters of the alphabet
  • 9:10 a.m.: arrived at work
  • 1:30 p.m.: case review meeting, decided that welfare fraud cases and clients who act like they may have personality disorders should be recurring soap opera themes to complement all the comas and cases of amnesia.
  • 3:30-ish: done with case review
  • 5:00 p.m.: went to General Plan Citizen's Advisory Committee meeting to discuss preferred land use alternatives for eleven study areas in the unincorporated vicinity of Chico. Spoke twice in the meeting. One of my proposals for a 500-acre cluster of high density zoning in a 9,400 acre area, next to existing dense development in urban Chico, and pending a Specific Plan & City oversight, with the remaining 8,900 acres designated Resource Conservation, actually got two other votes besides mine (out of about 18...that's 16.6%! Wa-hoo!).
Worried that I sounded too meek or conciliatory and perhaps uncertain when I talked; decided it was just because the people who did most of the talking talked loudly, and a lot, and sounded like they believe they know quite a lot about everything. Coincidentally they were all white men over the age of 45. Occasionally a few white women over the age of 35 would say something too. You'd think that there were no people of other colors living in the county. I guess they didn't want to be on the Citizen's Advisory Committee. I wonder why?
  • 11:00 p.m.: meeting adjourned
  • 11:20 p.m.: came home, watered cat and fed plants.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Decades come and go, but a century is a long time

Lessons learned over the weekend:

  • 100 miles of biking doesn't hurt as much as 26.2 miles of running.
  • I arrived at the rest stops at pretty much the same time as everybody else from our group, regardless of how fast I tried to go, because they were smart enough to stay together and draft while I was riding off into a headwind.
  • It's a bad idea to schedule things after a century ride that make you feel like you need to hurry up and finish it already, because:
    • people think you're showing off (and then it's harder to get sympathy when you're tired);
    • you are in danger of missing the things scheduled afterwards unless they're happening at the place where the century ends.
  • The fun of riding as fast as you can for as long as you can keep it up (relative concepts; my all-out 'fast' would be a leisurely spin through the orchards for others) is costly, but the fun of having friends with whom to ride, through the good stretches and rough patches, and with whom to go to In 'n Out after two days of riding, is better than finding a sushi polka-dot jersey on sale.
  • I can go farther than I ever thought. A nice motorhome with a fridge, or even a motorcycle, would be more comfortable, but there's probably lots of time to spend being comfortable.
  • You can't bring too many snacks. A rider in our group said that her heart rate monitor said she burned about 2600 calories in the 8 hours it took us to finish (about six hours of actual riding and two hours of rest stops). Maybe I'll start wearing mine so I can calculate the number of In 'n Out menu items I can consume and still be in a calorie deficit.
    • That would be some clever fast-food marketing...to hand out free heart rate monitors to people that track their exercise and how many calories they've burned, and for every 10,000 calories burned, you can get free stuff. Energy trading.
So next Sunday I've got a chance to apply some of what I learned. Maybe I'll start working on the Energy Trading project too...hello, In 'n Out Headquarters?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The most awesome jersey ever, and on sale!!

Do you ever walk into a store thinking you're looking for one thing, but then you see something else that is clearly the reason destiny brought you to that place at that moment?

For the record my skin is not oompa-loompa orange. I'm just lazy about taking pictures with my cellphone and I think it was overwhelmed by all the sushi polka-dots, so it turned me a nice shade of Uni. Mmmm.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

cellphone photos wouldn't have cut it

The good news about the Wildflower Century ride is that the scenery will be fantastic, especially Table Mountain. The not quite as good news is the climbing you have to do for the fantastic scenery.
Table Mountain is that last big bump. I rode it for the first time today--and visited it for the first time as well. I'd like to go back in a motorized vehicle sometime. People were up there flying kites and driving their vintage cars back and forth, and perhaps looking at the wildflowers. I didn't take this picture but it looks a lot like some of what I saw (in the places where there were no kites or vintage cars).

Next time I'll bring my real camera and I'll try to have fresher legs. Or at least stiffer shoes.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

O me of little faith

I offended Karla a little bit by suggesting to her that I didn't know if we'd be able to ride all the way up to the house from the bottom of the hill where the road turns off from Highway 1. Yes, I talk to my bicycle. Since she survived the dragging-behind-truck-on-freeway experience she is quite interesting to talk to. And every moment we have seems more precious.

I have apologized for doubting and for just plain forgetting that I put Karla together with this hill specifically in mind, along with the idea of towing a tent trailer or small RV, or perhaps a few sustainably harvested logs. She reminded me. Though I'm glad we didn't have to tow anything up the hill at this time. She wants to do it again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I rode my road bike to the bike shop yesterday to have the wheels swapped out, and then realized I would have to walk home. I realized this out loud and the owner asked me if I wanted to borrow a bike. Sure, I thought. He went to the back and then reemerged with this 3-speed cruiser with coaster brakes. I tried to conceal my ambivalence as best I could, he was loaning me a bike, after all. I said, "This will be my first cruiser experience." The owner said "Watch out, you might get hooked."

I pushed it down to the corner so that nobody in the bike shop would be able to see my first attempt to ride it. Right away I noticed that the pedals don't go backwards. The bike seemed very high, and much heavier than I was used to, though the seat was about the right height for pedaling. I managed to jump on and start pedaling and didn't fall down. The shifting is some kind of internal hub system controlled with a grip shifter. It even tells you where to 'start.'

I can't deny that the seat was mighty comfortable. But I had to talk myself out of being embarrassed all the way home. I have nothing against other people riding cruisers...I'm all for it. Just not quite right for my idiom. Maybe this is how some dogs and cats feel when somebody dresses them up in a Halloween costume.