August 31, 2005
PLOG time again
Announcement: I will be on vacation (Again) from Thursday, September 1, through Monday, September 5. I'll be keeping a Paper Log (plog) again and posting them when I return on Monday/Tuesday.
Monday night there is a concert by Katey and Gordon in Minneapolis so I'll be going to that. I can't wait. Also coming up this month is Dee Duckwall, which I'm also looking forward to.
Have a great Labor-Day weekend and I'll blog my plog when I return.
Average speed: 16.5mph
This morning I rode down Smith, up the Ramsey hill, along Summit to Lexington, then North to Rosedale and back by the same route. I was tired this morning. I think the running drained my energy for this morning. I got enough sleep, but it was difficult getting up and motivating myself. But I at least got out and rode and did a couple of good hills. That might account for part of the slower average speed. But mainly it was being tired that made me slower.
Tomorrow is a running day.
Bike Rental Summary
29 bikes rented at 15 dollars per bike. yay! It was a major hassle getting there with 30 bikes and another hassle getting back after it was over. I'm dead tired right now. The day was long but everything went well.
August 30, 2005
Very interesting podcasts
I just found this very interesting blog, intended primarily as podcasts. It's called the Philosopher's Almanac. Good stuff to get the brain and heart working.
The Birth of a Zine
I donít know how many of you have heard of a ĎZineí before, but itís basically a self-published, not for profit mini-magazine, usually photo-copied onto plain white paper and stapled or tied in the middle. I think Zines are like blogs in a lot of ways, except they are not online and they often include hand sketches and handwritten text. Some are more formal than others, created on a computer and focused on a specific topic, like many blogs are, but some are like handwritten journals or scrapbooks about any topic scribbled on the pages. That could also be like blogs. As I looked into this Iíve seen that some covers look like Ďprofessionalí magazines, and some are simply the title of the Zine on a blank page.
Considering that Zines are self-published and the budget is usually low, the quality of appearance and format is determined by how much time, effort and love a person puts into their project. How often are Zines published? That depends on the author. Iíve looked at one that was published 4-6 times per year and one that was published once every year or so. It may take the Author that long to gather enough material, create enough artwork and put it all together.
Most Zines Iíve seen now have either been given away free, or with a small charge of one or two dollars each to cover production (photocopy) costs.
After a conversation with a friend about blogs, the internet and Zines (which I had never heard of until I got some handed to me at an event last week), I decided that it would be cool to take some of this stuff Iíve been blogging and put it into a Zine to be given or sold somewhere to people who donít use or have the internet. Itís a way to put the same material to multiple uses using a different media. Of course I had to come up with a name for it, and since I talk a lot about attitudes in life, you are witnessing the birth of the ďAttitudesĒ Zine. It will be mostly taken from things Iíve written here, but as I found out while putting it together, Iíve had to fill space with other comments about the topic. Also I found myself editing my previous material for better presentation.
Right now I donít know where Iíll be distributing my Zine yet, but it will be probably be downtown St. Paul. Seeing that I am down here a lot I thought it would be a good place to start. Since Iím new to this whole Zine world, I would also like to know if there are other places in the Twin-Cities that sells or distributes Zines. Iíve never seen them, but maybe I havenít noticed them because I havenít been looking for them.
The self-published, not-for-profit idea is really cool, just like these blogs weíve been reading and writing. But as my friend pointed out, not everyone has a blog, and many people donít have adequate access to the Internet. I see Zineís as another way for individuals to have a voice that they might not otherwise have. I also see a Zine as a way for people to read other peopleís personal thoughts without having to go onto the internet.
Attitudes, Issue 1 Ė Death - Starting at the beginning
For copies, information, contacts, ideas, etc., send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Run: 5.5 miles
Today at lunch I ran 5.5 miles on the Shepard Road/Mounds Park route. My muscles feel tired but it's very cool that I do not feel any pain or stiffness after that! That is a good thing and shows I'm not totally out of shape anymore. A sign of progress and encouragement to continue this process. In my logs I'm not counting my commutes by bicycle as exercise anymore because it's not the same as hard training. The level of exertion just isn't high enough.
August 29, 2005
20.1 MPH Average speed
38.7 MPH Maximum speed reached
New goals for training:
start logging my training again.
Run every-other day for 4 weeks, minimum of 15 miles per week.
Cycle workout every-other day, minimum of 60 miles per week (not counting commute)
Then after 4 weeks, add running every day, with light runs every other day on cycling days.
In November add swimming to my routine once per week at the community pool.
I'm thinking about winter already. I was thinking about buying a trainer soon for my bike.
I don't have a real good plan, but I'm thinking that it will be difficult for me to do more than this. We'll see. At least I started logging it again so I can tell for sure what I'm doing and how much.
The Dumpster Bike Revived
I wrote about my dumpster bike before:
and now is a good time to bring it up again. Jim http://blog.lib.umn.edu/thil0020/carfreelife/2005_08.html#025834 was writing about the different categories of bicycles and it generated a lot of good discussion. I wondered what category my dumpster bike fit into and my conclusion now is that it has to be an economy bike. So far I have exactly seven dollars invested in this bike for miscellaneous parts to make it run; I replaced the chain, added fenders and a rack. Finally, here is a photo of the Dumpster Bike:
A few weeks ago I had to stop riding it because the chain snapped as I was trying to accelerate. I think the problem was not only an old chain, but my chain line was a little at an angle since I had it on the 42-tooth on the front and the 13 on the back. This time when I put the chain on I put it on one ring larger on the back and the chain is in a straight line now. Itís also easier to pedal uphill.
One of the reasons I decided it was time to get that bike running again was that I rode my mountain bike in the rain and had to go to a meeting at another office. The only way to get there was through an industrial area with a thick layer of concrete-type dust on the road. Imagine that stuff all wet, spraying all over my wheels, bike, bottom bracket, chainrings and getting in my derailers. I thought about my 1971 Schwinn Suburban 5-Speed that I was using for a commuter bike and realized how nice those full fenders were. And it was nice having a bike like that for a Ďbeaterí bike. They are solid bikes that can take a lot and are easy to fix. Unfortunately for me that bike was stolen. Then I thought about my Dumpster Bike sitting in my driveway waiting for a chain and fenders. I found some yesterday, brought them home and this morning installed them. I rode it to work today and it was great. The purple frame and blue fenders really make the look too! Haha. But itís functional! It is an economy-utility bike after all.
I rode it to the bike shop during lunch one day and Terry looked at it and said right away that I should get a can of black spraypaint and paint the whole bike and fenders the same color. Well, yeah I could do that, but it doesnít really need paint to be functional. That would be a purely cosmetic expense. Donít purple and blue go together? If I added some yellow bar tape it would be a rainbow bike. But then Iíd be back to adding things for appearance, when the old ratty black cloth tape is still functional enough to give me grip.
I am not condemning other bikes, because I have several that I use for different purposes. But I think I am proving a point to myself and maybe others, that utility and functionality donít have to be expensive. That much of what we say we Ďneedí is not really a need, but a Ďdesire.í Also Iím saying that if this functional bike was being thrown away, we are a wasteful society. To ride a Dumpster bike with a purple frame and blue fenders with the derailer missing does require me to give up some of my notions about what I actually need. It teaches me that what I really need in bicycle transportation is two wheels, a frame, a chain and brakes. The fenders I added were a bonus and so was the rack. I have a backpack after all. And riding this bike is easier on my feet and faster than walking everywhere. For that I would only need two feet and two legs. Maybe I could get by with one of each. Plenty of people get by on less.
The dumpster bike is a teacher and I am a student. What am I able to learn? I can apply itís lessons to the rest of my life as well: The house I live in, the clothes I wear, the activities I do, etc. What do I really need, how much is enough and what am I wasting that is still functional?
August 28, 2005
A RAM of a day!
Today was a great day, but exhausting. It was really the culmination of a weekís worth of hard work. Today I started the Bicycle rental adventure at the Minneapolis Convention center with the National Recycling Congress, hosted by the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). We recycle bicycles and get them back on the street and recycle the metal from the ones we donít/canít fix. It was an interesting concept to do this rental with them and helps promote more bicycling. Instead of the convention attendees riding cabs or walking they had the option of renting a bike. Nine people rented bikes this afternoon alone.
Here is how it all happened:
Starting on Wednesday at volunteer night, we had everyone working on these bikes. Only about 4 people did though, since Wednesday is more of a social event than a serious work night. And even though they were working on them, not much got done. Those bikes needed a lot of work!
Thursday night I worked on 4 of the bikes and got them finished. On Friday at 5pm we went on the St. Paul Critical Mass ride, which was fun. After the ride, Nathan and I went back to the bike shop to work on these. Saturday at 10:00 am was the deadline. Nathan really came through. Thanks Nathan! I could not have done this without your help so you really made a difference! Nathan alone fixed 11 bikes before going home. I kept working until 6am when I couldnít do any more.
I went home, ate a large breakfast, showered, napped for an hour, then went back to the bike shop. When I got there, I called Paul and he told me our storage room would not be available until Sunday morning, so not to bring the bikes until then. I was really happy, because I had six bikes to finish. Those six bikes also needed a lot of work, but I finished them by 4:30pm and went home. I was really exhausted at that time but had to stay awake so I wouldnít screw up my sleep pattern for the night.
This morning at 11am, I loaded up 15 bikes and hauled them over to the convention center, then came back for the rest. At 1pm I started renting bikes out and talked to people about our bicycle recycling and other programs. Nine bikes rented out, and the people came back all excited and told me about their rides. One guy made it a point to tell me how lucky we are to live here and mentionioned how beautiful the area is around lake Calhoun. Cool! A lot of people talked about how nice our trail system is. Isnít this a good idea? Convention goers get a good deal on bike rentals and they get out there and see our city up close, without wasting gas.
I came home at 5pm and then ran some errands. It was a beautiful day, but hard. There was a lot of sweat in getting this whole thing pulled together. But itís worth it. When I returned for the second load of bikes, David told me I was insane basically. Well, yeah, but for a good cause, itís not a burden.
Wednesday I go pick up the bikes, and I will see how things turn out. Oh, one of the highlights of my day was meeting Dizzy and chatting about his fixed gear bike and other things. I have to thank him too, because he was a huge help to me unloading, at a crucial time when I was frantically trying to get these out before 1pm. He also gave me a good tip on another project Iím working on with teaching kids, so it was perfect timing. Thanks Dizzy!
Now itís time for bed. I have a hard ride in the morning with some GP guys. Not sure if Iím up to it, but Iíll try. Today as I was picking up my second load of bikes David told me I was going to burn out from putting in so much time at the bike shop. I understand what he's saying, but I told him he doesn't see me yet then. When something is important and worth doing, someone has to do it. This is what he preaches all the time: Theology in action. It's fine to talk about things, but even better to put your heart into action. It's not heavy and it's energizing. This last week I charged like a ram and now it's time for a rest for a couple of days, then another vacation for 5 days.
August 27, 2005
Bike Fixing Delirium
Well, I'm almost there. I stayed up all night fixing bikes for this bike rental project. I couldn't have made it without Nathan's help. Thanks Nathan, I can't even express how thankful I am.
These bikes needed a lot of work. For instance, the last one I did had already been repaired once, but the rear derailer wasn't working properly. I looked closer and saw it was a new cable, new housing, etc. But it was the wrong cable for the job. It was too thick and had a coating on it, and was sticking in the housing. And the cable housing was cut too short on the front end and the back so it was bending at really sharp angles. Too bad. I had to redo the whole thing. Another bike I had to just give up and replace the whole front brake. All of this takes time. At six AM I finally called it quits and came home for breakfast, some coffee and a chance to close my eyes for a brief moment. Now I'm headed back to the bike shop to finish and deliver these 30 bikes.
The deadline is today and there was no-one else who seemed to think meeting this deadline was important. Everything else up to this point has taken a higher priority for everyone else and they kept taking the good bikes out of my lineup and selling them, then giving me the junky ones. I don't know why this happened, but I did learn some valuable lessons:
1. There is a huge need for quality improvement all through the organization. The standards have to be set much higher.
2. Next time I won't wait for others to prepare things like this and I'll start the ball rolling myself much sooner. Last night was crunch time, and too late to be doing the kinds of repairs I was doing.
3. I have to keep working on this rental fleet of 30 to improve them and keep them up. I will have this group of bikes ready to rent to any group or convention or event at a moment's notice. Our rentals are the cheapest I've seen anywhere and it's a good way to promote more biking. Imagine if people going to a convention used a bike to get back and forth between their hotels and the convention center. Well, that's the idea anyway. I think it's easier to maintain than to rebuild each time.
4. We need to work on building the mechanical skills of our volunteers. This goes along with improving the quality of the output, but even more than that, I saw a lot of uncertainty and lack of troubleshooting skills, which led to work not being done, ignored or done incorrectly on the bikes people were checking. Volunteers do everything at our shop, so it would be good for everyone to boost those skills. How to do this? More in-house training I think. I might institute a brief tutorial session every Wednesday night for volunteers on different subjects and find one volunteer willing to share their insights with everyone else with a demo.
Ok, enough thoughts, back to work. I'll most more later after I get the job done. My attitude right now? Someone has to do it even if it means me, and that I have to stay up all night to do it. I'm willing to make huge sacrifices to get it done and done right. So is this the right way to think? I don't think there is a right or wrong way, but I feel good about what I did and how I did the repairs to make these bikes safe and meet the deadline.
August 25, 2005
Setting a course requires a captain and a crew
Here is one thing I learned from the seven years of leading a youth group. It's cool to make plans with lofty community and people-saving goals. It's nice to have a well-thought-out plan that develops people. But unless everyone is on board, the ship is headed for the rocks along the shore.
So thank you Andy and Nathan and Tom for jumping on board! It's exciting and we can do some great things together!
She has her work cut out for her
From the AP news today:
"The Bush administration will be represented at the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) meeting by Karen Hughes, a Bush confidante who recently was confirmed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Her tasks include improving the U.S. image in Muslim countries."
I find it hard to believe that a Bush confidante could accomplish the task of improving the U.S. image in Muslim countries. I find it even harder to believe that the Muslim countries in the Middle East would buy any rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of our current administration. Our country is not on a 'peace keeping mission' in the Middle East. It's an exercise in Power and Control over other people, bully-style. When the most powerful nation in the world wants something it takes it uses force. Instead of looking at our bully-ish attitudes and corrupt moral values, our government uses lies to appease the nation and force to carry out it's greed.
Good luck Karen Hughes. You have a job that your own administration fights against.
August 24, 2005
Change Progress Report
Here it is 11:13PM and I'm typing my blog entry. Just like old times. How quickly we slip into old habits. It's not Midnight yet though, hehe. I thought since I'm thinking about it, I would let everyone know how it's been going turning myself into a morning person.
I've been going to bed earlier almost every night, with the exception of the last few days and Wednesday nights, and getting up early every morning. This has caused a few problems with me not getting enough sleep, but I feel that consistency in my early wakeup time is the most critical right now. I was pretty exhausted at work today and tomorrow will be worse I think. But I'll deal with it
and keep working on going to bed earlier. I still don't know what to do about evening activities.
I like getting up early in the morning because it's peaceful and since my wife gets up early there is the added bonus that she has someone to talk to. I've been going to the coffee shop with her more frequently in the morning. That's kind of cool.
Except for the last week I've had many more early morning blog posts also and very few midnight posts. So I'd say it's going good so far. Now I'm rushing off to bed exhausted. Resistence is futile.
August 23, 2005
Just when a person thinks their priorities are straight, it all falls apart. As I was wrapping up at the bike shop tonight at 9pm, I kept thinking about something my wife said earlier in the day. I'm spending a lot of time working with the bike shop. So that means I'm not spending enough time at home. It's not hard to understand 'why' I'm doing the things I'm doing, just hard to understand where the balance is going to come from. It seems that everything I get involved in, I really get involved in and go all out. Just when I thought I was slacking off and not doing enough training for bike racing, my wife tells me that I'm spending too much time exercising and that it's 'excessive.' Or probably another good term would be 'obsessive.' It's true, I do get heavily involved in the things I am doing, which tends to make it a higher priority than everything else. We are all faced with limited time, ability and resources. So it becomes a matter of priorities. I'm not sure I have this figured out yet. I do know that once I see a problem it's very hard for me to turn my back on it, even if it means personal sacrifices. Learning healthy prioritizing is a good goal. I have to keep working on it
August 22, 2005
Quality Control = Caring about what you are doing
Tonight I went to the bike shop after work to check and work on the bikes we'll be renting at the convention center for an upcoming event. This is a huge deal and will be important to do right. Low-cost Rental bikes for convention goers is a great idea! They can use them to get from their Hotel to the convention center or to ride around on their free time. Each bike will come with a bike trail map, helmet and lock. We have a fleet of 30 bikes now. But are they ready yet? No. Will they be ready? Yes, but with a lot of work.
I was told that the bikes are all ready to go and I didn't need to check them. A few days ago I spot checked one bike, the third one from the end, and the back brake was completely disconnected! Ok, from that point on I determined to re-check all of them myself. Tonight I started on the end of the row which are the bikes they worked on today. I was there until nine and only got through two bikes!
I won't bore you with the list of problems, but I'm writing them all down and checking them off as I fix them. On the first two bikes I checked tonight, both of them had brake problems, one had a loose bottom bracket that wobbled about a quarter inch! Anyway I fixed most of the problems I found on those two bikes but I still have 28 to go before Thursday night. Not good. I'll be there tomorrow night also and Wednesday night every volunteer will be working on those bikes. If anyone is interested in working on bikes and learning from others as you do it, you can come and help too. 6-8:30pm at the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul, Wednesday night.
I care what people will think when they rent these bikes and I care what kind of problems they could have with them. I care about their safety. I care that when I say I fix a bike that it's really fixed. I care about doing the best job I possibly can and not cutting corners or blowing it off. I care because it's a good way to be. Quality control takes care of itself when we care.
Yesterday was a strange, dream-like day for me. I was up very late Saturday night because of the bike movies at the Bell and hanging out talking with David and others. But I still got up at 6am. Being short on sleep makes the whole day seem kind of out of balance. I did some things at home, went to the coffee shop for some coffee and read the newspaper, then came home to get ready for a bike ride. I rode the dumpster bike for about 30 miles. I met Terry at the bottom of the High Bridge and rode along the river bluff, down behind the old Brewery to Shepard Road. We watched the In-line skaters doing the marathon. The road was blocked off to automobile traffic but we were riding on the bike trail. Terry was having fun crushing water bottles that the skaters had thrown down. Evidently there was a crew coming behind later to pick up all those bottles? I would think it would be more efficient If they would have to skate by a barrel and throw the empty water bottle in.
We rode up around Fort Snelling and along Minnehaha to the Hub bicycle co-op. That wasn't our original plan, but Terry had never been there, and had only heard about them. He told me, "That's our competition," and that sent up a red flag for me. Terry is a super volunteer that puts in a lot of time at the bike depot. He pretty much doesn't go to any other bike shops and could care less about 'competition,' so where does he get thoughts like that? I think it comes from the mentality of others that are in charge of the ship and he picks up on it, like a child repeats the words of the parents. Seeing the other bike shops as competition is not actually the way some of us believe though. We've started to have some discussion about how we can work together to make a better biking community. There are interesting changes coming up for our non-profit group and it has everything to do with cooperation and working together.
But the stop at the bike shop was originally unplanned. We were going to ride the Greenway, but never made it. Both of our chains were squeaking so I told Terry we should stop and get some lube so he thought it was a good idea. We bought some and the ride home was much more pleasant on the ears.
We then rode back along Lake Street to the River, then South on East River Road to Summit and back to Downtown St. Paul. My time was up. I had to meet my wife to go pick up a new bed. I thanked Terry for the ride and headed up Smith Avenue again. I discovered that whatever gear I put that in seems pretty comfortable going up Smith. I think it's a 15 or 16 tooth ring.
We picked up the bed and brought it home. It's huge! We got a King-Sized bed and box spring set with four sets of sheets for free, and our bed was shot so we brought it home. Then we discovered that King-sized beds don't fit up our old-house stairwell. Now what? We really bent that mattress like it was a contortionist and barely got it through and up the stairs. That took almost all evening to do. Then I showered and cut my hair. That's haircut number three by the way and my barber kit is paid for. The next haircut is free. I'm still having trouble with getting the taper in the back to look tapered instead of lopped off, but it'll come with practice.
Collapsing on the bed last night was great. I've never slept in a bed where my feet didn't hang over the end, or close. Now it's like the other edge of the bed is a foreign country or at least another zip code. It was so nice though that I feel into a good sleep right away. I had an interesting dream about the bike shop and the people there. It was a dream about change. Change is scary for most people and in my dream I was talking to everyone and helping them get through their fears of change. The only thing that was a constant in the dream was that 'change' was inevitable. There was no way we were keeping anything the way it was. Nothing would remain static. So in my dream we were discussing ways to deal with change. One of them was coming to an agreement between us that change is going to happen and that there is no problem or challenge that we can't resolve together. Isn't that so true?! Everything in life changes, but if we work together, everything is easier to deal with. Our burdens become lighter. When we are not facing change alone our fears dissipate.
August 21, 2005
Real Voices, Real thoughts
Yesterday I worked all day fixing bicycles and then went to the Bell Museum for the 'Bike-in-at-the-Bell' event. It was cool. A lot of people showed up. I spent a lot of money eating two dollar slices of Spokes Pizza. I bought some for my friends too. They brought it by bicycle of course. Maybe they didn't expect it to be such a huge event because they only brought two pizza's the first time. It sold out quickly. The second time they brought six pizzas. The line was huge and they were quickly out again. Who would have thought? Their pizza is really good though!
Then I checked out all of the tables there, with various people representing their group. I chatted with them and grabbed some literature off their tables and made plans to contact a few of them later. Good stuff. In the middle there were a few people selling their home-made CD's and other things. I bought Katey and Gordon's greatest hits. Why them out of all the ones at the table? Energy. They had it and there was a reason I needed to hear and read their words. Katia had also written a few 'zines.' which she gave me to read. This morning that's what I did. I read them. I'll talk about this more in a minute because it relates to the subject of this blog entry: Real Voices, Real Thought.
They had live music there, which was both amusing, sad and good. I heard one person describe some of the music as "Fresh." It was fresh. I ran into other people I knew there. I saw a lot of bicyclists I've met over the past year-and-a-half. We were all sitting around on the lawn, getting our butts wet from the grass and listening to music, eating, talking. Then between 9:40 and midnight or something we watched bicycle movies made by local independent film-makers. Very cool and interesting.
We tore down our display and took it back to the bike shop and I decided to hang out at the Bobo club for a few and chat with some of the 'community' people I've met around there. It was fun. I showed David the 'Zines' I got and the CD, and he got all excited and talked about the 'Zine' stands in New York where they sell hundreds or thousands of these or whatever. He liked them and enjoyed reading them. I happened to mention I thought they were like blogs. That's when we dove into a murky pool of thoughts and anti-thoughts about the internet. David can't stand the internet and sees it as a cesspool of unliterates pretending to write and being phony. Don't judge David yet or get defensive about your blogs. It's all in a discussion that happened on the deck of a night-club after midnight when morning people like me should have been in bed, resting my athletic muscles. Instead I was there listening and trying to figure out logically why there was such a contradiction in his head. Not just one contradiction but many contradictions. And not just contradictions, but also sweeping generalizations where made and used for argument's sake to bolster his beliefs. For instance, people on the internet are poor writers and would never be published in a book. People on the Internet steal writers ideas and publish them for the whole world for free. The internet is filled with people looking at porn. The internet is full of 'garbage' and you can't find the 'real,' 'valid' information. People are hiding behind their anonymous screen names. I say, "Whatever!" It's too easy, just like these statements to commit the crime we detest so much: Not seeing the person behind the pseudonyms and the screennames and the rantings and the type-style, the network, monitor, keyboard the fingers that typed them, the minds that thought the thoughts. Who are these people posting their thoughts for the world to see or for themselves to read? No matter what medium, it's still real people and the internet is no less real than the real-life drama we see all around us. The drama unfolds at the bobo club as people hook-up, push each other away, celebrate each other's birthdays while drinking their fears under the table, with candles that relight when you blow them out. People laugh, and people cry. It's all about finding our voice and living. People want to be heard, recognized, treated like a equal human being that is alive, not marginalized, generalized, or classified.
Katia said in her 'zine,' "To everyone I say, 'you don't know me, you don't know me.'"
I'd say that's a real voice, a real person. yep. Loving each other is a willingness to look at people and not marginalize or talk down to them or classify them. You can rant all you want, but there you go. That's your voice. You want to be heard. You are a real person too, trying to figure out your life, or maybe you think you know what life is all about and everyone else is on crack. It's life. It's your life and you are speaking. It's a real voice and you have real thoughts. let 'em rip. I love you for who you are David.
August 19, 2005
I looked around downtown and saw a bunch of new condo developments. I saw an ad for one last week and it touted the 'sense of community' in this development. Each unit was selling for about 300,000 dollars. Each unit has an underground parking space and a nice little patio hanging off the side of the building. The construction looks to me like 1980's low income housing, designed to minimize costs and increase profits. The ad pictures people gathering in the central mini-plaza/park and laughing and talking. The picture I see has nothing to do with community. The condo people don't hang out together, the surrounding buildings are low-income and full of artful characters, collaborating on ideas. The guy from the Artist's building a few blocks over is working on the brochure for the nightclub where he frequently hangs out. The guy running the coffee stand opens the door early on a Saturday morning for the guys in the bike shop and has the coffee ready for them. The condo's I see don't participate. The condo's I see were built on a promise that can't be fulfilled. The community is active and bustling with activity down in the streets, between the cracks of the highrise steel and glass and parking ramps. The developers see dollar signs and market 'community' which people desire. We think it's cool, we like connecting with other people and helping each other out. It's too bad the thing they claim creates community will ultimately choke it off until it can't live or is forced to move on. Instead of community development it looks more like displacement.
August 18, 2005
Plogging by the light of a campfire
I'm finally getting around to typing my vacation Paper Log (PLOG) entries into the computer and posting them. It's been difficult to find the time since coming back and tonight I decided enough was enough, so I'm sacrificing my sleep for getting this done. I chose to ignore my body to document my vacation. But I'm having fun and no self-imposed rules are set in stone. Some things seem more beneficial than others. I know that sounds wishy-washy, but it's life. We all make choices every day and there is nothing wrong with that.
So, as I did last year, I posted all of my PLOG entries and the post-dated them so they appear on the correct days. This is for my own benefit, so I can look back on them years from now, if I choose to do so. However, I haven't read my last year's entries and compared them to this years. considering that I went to the same place again this year, I should have read last year's thoughts, but decided not to so it would not taint this years' experience. A very Zen-like attitude is to empty one's mind each day so that we can experience what the new day has to offer without polluting or distorting our experience. I'll go back and read the previous posts now, after posting these. It should be interesting.
This year we decided to separate our camping trip to Gilbert from our Condo stay on Madeline Island with the family, because it was just too hard to do both and haul all the gear for camping and a resort type vacation. Two different styles of vacations with too many different activities. Be forwarned that we are going to Madeline Island, WI, for 5 days over Labor-day weekend. I'll PLOG again. It's a fun way to remember a vacation.
To Gilbert and back. The Five-day camping and bicycle adventure.
And finally my PLOG entries from last year's vacation in the same places:
Getting off to a good start.
In a couple of weeks I will be doing back flips off the cliffs into Lake Superior and photographically documenting Madeline Island. And biking/running it every day. This should make my experience of it different and I will learn a lot.
August 17, 2005
Another Late Night for a morning person ;-)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's difficult to get to bed early in order to get up early when I have activities at night that keep me out late. Tonight was volunteer night at the bike shop. We had a meeting there that was important so I had to be there. I left there early, at about 7:45pm to go out for something to eat and personal financial planning with my wife. So here it is 9:49pm and I have to go to bed again.
Change can be complicated and we may have setbacks, but if it's worth changing, then it's worth being persistent. I have to keep trying. Just like me changing myself into an athlete. I keep reminding myself that before March 16th, 2004 I was in really poor shape and doing NO exercise at all. Today I ran 6 miles at a pace of about 7:20 per mile. So I know I'm in way better shape than I was a year and a half ago. I have to be persistent, and keep working at it, but if I am not looking at the overall picture and keeping things in perspective, I can also too easily minimilize my changes and not value how far I've come. Usually that happens when I am constantly comparing myself with my future goals or with others.
My changes to be a morning person and an athlete is very challenging but will be worth it. I guess I could say that it's easier for me to change if I have a purpose for and desire to change. Maybe even I can say that I have to have a purpose for and desire to change for it to happen. Then persistence is one of the tools to make it happen. Even with minor setbacks it won't stop me.
August 16, 2005
Ah the cool, cool rain!
I went for a training ride with the Gopher Wheelmen starting at County Cycles. About halfway through the ride it started pouring and I got soaked. But it felt good and reminded me of my Spring training when it was raining almost every day. But by the time I rode up Smith Avenue on my way home, I was exhausted. I got home about 9:00pm, ate some dinner and watched a little TV and now it's time to get to sleep. It seems daylight training hours in the evening are getting shorter. I have to start thinking about lights again and maybe training in the morning and during lunch. I guess it's that time. Almost September and Daylight Savings Time, which really cut my training down last year. Tomorrow is a day for running.
August 15, 2005
The Problem with being a morning person
Just when all the other demands on my time are winding down, It's past my bedtime. I know you are all holding your breath waiting to hear about my vacation, hehe, but I'm only halfway done typing it into the computer. I guess that's the problem with writing by a campfire on paper. You have to burn the midnight oil to get it all typed in and posted in a timely manner. I need some good OCR or handwriting recognition software.
Anyway, 5:00 AM comes early and I plan on doing a County Cycles ride tomorrow after work. I need my muscle recovery sleep. ;-)
August 14, 2005
Plog #5 Ė Sunday, August 14, 2005
I went for a approximately six-mile run this morning from the campsite down to Lake Ore-Be-Gone where I saw a fox, who unhurredly trotted off the road while keeping an eye on me, then I painfully ran back up the hill, along the bike trail almost to Eveleth, then south on an ATV trail to a pit lake owned and fenced off by a GGG Land and Mining or something like that. Someone had pried the fence back and made a path down to the lake, so I ran down to check it out. There was a rope swing hanging from a tree over the water and a pile of beer and soda cans in a pile by the shore. I discovered someoneís hangout. It was a very cool, secluded place. When I was a kid we had a rope swing over the water too. It brought back good memories.
After my run I sat and had a cup of coffee, showered and changed. Then we packed up and left for home at 10:30am. On the way home we stopped at my mom and dadís and had lunch with them. I looked at their bikes and my brotherís bike to see if I could do anything with them. yes, but not there. They needed new parts to replace the old, broken, corroded and dry-rotted. Itíll have to wait until September now unfortunately, since Iím out of time this month already with too many activities.
Coming home was a little bit of a relief and sad. Itís like this I think when you take a vacation that totally takes your mind off the life and struggles you face back home. Itís like living a different life even for a brief moment. This is why we need a day of rest. If all of our struggles are relentless, there is no time to regroup, meet new people like Mark and gain new hope for the future.
To Gilbert and Back
We arrived safely back home after 5 days of camping in the Sherwod Forest, Gilbert MN and riding the Mesabi Trail
Full report starting tomorrow. ;-) It was extremely fun and enjoyable!
August 13, 2005
Plog #4 Ė Saturday, August 13, 2005
This was a great day! My wife drove me to Giants Ridge Ski Resort to start the ride then went back to the campsite to wait for a couple of hours until her start time in Buhl. When I was first starting out I spotted this guy who looked like he was about to begin his ride. I waited to see what kind of a pace he was riding and decided Iíd ride with him. He was going at a fairly decent pace so I was in for a good workout. Actually it was no problem until I neared the end of the ride where the hills became just a little more tiring. Mark was a nice guy and as we rode and talked we discovered that he grew up with one of the guys I know from the bike shop! I was amazed. Very interesting, small world. Next year though, Iím going to put on skinnier slicks for my mountain bike so I can ride a little faster.
After the ride we checked in our bikes and got a bus ride back to our car at the starting point. Then we went back to Iron World for the BBQ dinner and entertainment. Mark, his wife and their two children were there and we had a nice dinner. Mark invited me to look him up next year to go mountain biking with him. He said there are thousands of great trails to ride off-road. He gave me his email address and Iím thinking of taking a whole week next year. Weíll see how vacation plans work out. One thing that gives me hope is when I come all this way and find a guy who owns a pickup truck, but still commutes by bicycle all Spring, Summer and Fall 20 miles each way to work. He is the same age as me and told me how great he feels. I was able to share the same feeling with him.
August 12, 2005
Plog #3 Ė Friday, August 12, 2005
This morning I got up at about 7:30AM. Yesterday I had asked the park ranger if I could ride my mountain bike in the Off-road-vehicle park and they said yes, there was no problem with that. So this morning I was intent on abusing myself with some heavy exercise. At 8AM the park ranger lady was a little surprised to see me and my bicycle, and with a sparkle in her eye and a smile, checked me in and told me to have fun. I think I was the only bicycle rider to come through there in a long time. I checked out their website once and they said they have special BMX events there, but other than that, the park is targeted toward off-road motorized vehicles.
I rode through the trails for about an hour and a half and had a blast! Some parts were easy, and some very technical and dangerous. Note to self: Donít take that swampy motorcycle-only trail again! During my ride I wiped out twice; Once on that motorcycle trail when my front tire went into a hole and stopped me immediately, sending me over the handlebars. I let out a yell, but when I got up I realized that I was the only one there and no-one would have heard that. The other time I wiped out I was on a muddy road, trying to avoid a rut full of water when my back tire slid into the rut and I went down on my side. I had no injuries bus was plenty dirty. When I left the park I washed off my bike the best I could then told the park Rangers that I was out of the park. I had so much fun, that I plan on doing other mountain biking in the future.
Back at the campsite I ate breakfast, drank some coffee then packed up and moved from campsite 38 to 46. Later I was changing my wheels out for Saturdayís Mesabi Trail Tour when I discovered my rear wheel was wobbling. I tried tightening the skewer but it didnít help. On further inspection I discovered that my axel was broken! I was really happy that I had two sets of wheels with me because at that time of day I would not have found an open bike shop. I looked at my options. 1. I had a useable mountain bike wheel with knobby tires on it, but it had a broken spoke from my earlier ride and was a little out of true. I didnít have any replacement spokes with me either. I could put the slick tire on that wheel and take a spoke from the wheel with the broken axel. Or, 2. I could take the axel from the knobby-tired wheel and put it into the wheel with the broken axel and not have to deal with the changing of tires or spoke replacement. Simple right? No. I managed to change out the axel but somehow got the centering wrong so my wheel was too far to the left and was rubbing on my left break pad. Too late. It was all together and it was getting late. I disconnected my back break and I was back in business for the bike ride. Not the best solution but it worked. We hurried off then to find my wifeís starting point in Buhl and the check-in/registration point in Virginia. They had very poor directions so it took us a while to find it. Once we got our starting packet and T-shirts, we retreated to our campsite again, had a fire, ate some campfire stew and baked apples with cinamon again. Today it was hot and sunny and we were able to wear shorts. Tonight itís very cool so the fire feels good.
August 11, 2005
Plog #2 Ė Thursday, August 11, 2005
This morning we woke up as the sun came up but layed around in the tent dozing off and on. Finally at 7:30 AM we got up. I went for a nice run through the town of Gilbert, MN. I ran from the Sherwood Forest Campgrounds up Wisconsin Avenue all the way to the top of the hill. In 1908 when the streets of Gilbert were layed out, all of the cross-streets to the main one, Broadway, were the names of states. There is an interesting history behind the formation of this town. Between 1908 and 1910 residents and businesses from the town of Sparta were being relocated to the new town of Gilbert so the mining company could strip-mine the land under the town. I intend to learn more about this, but there is a story of one man who refused to move and they mined all around his house. The story goes that he was eventually removed by force when he fired his gun at the excevators. At that time Sparta had a population of over a thousand people. Gilbert today has about 1800 residents.
Then, after I ran all the way to the top of the hill I ran East to Highway 135, then back down to Broadway. I ran straight West Along downtown Gilbert, which to me looks very similar to the original photos of Gilbert, except for their modern upgrades of power, lighting and international flags lining the streets. I ran up the hill again to the catholic church, which has a beautiful stained-glass window centered at the end of the street, which you can see from the bottom of the hill on Broadway. It was kind of beautiful and motivating running up toward it. I ran West again to the cemetary at the edge of town. There were a lot of graves there. I wondered how many were from mining accidents.
I ran down the hill, back toward town on the highway, turned off on the first side street, then along the southern edge of town back to the campground. I have no idea how far I ran, but I was sweating and breathing hard.
Gilbert is a beautiful, well-kept town. There were no trash houses I could see. Running down the main street, Broadway, I counted eight bars. In contrast, around 1910 Gilbert had about 25 saloons in the same number of city blocks. They were all quiet in the morning hours. I only saw a few people, mostly old people out walking their dogs or trimming their yards. These few people are the morning people here. They smiled and waved and said good morning to me.
At the campsite we had some of Marleneís freshed baked muffins we brought with us, some orange juice and coffee. I sat around for the rest of the mornign with my legs up, writing, while my wife read her book. After lunch we went to the 4-wheel drive park, then returned to our campsite to make foil dinners and baked apples over the coals.
This night was marked by severely strong winds, whipping our tent around, keeping us from getting very sound sleep. I remembered the story of my younger brother getting blown tent and all into a tree on one camping trip many years ago, but thankfully our tent stayed up.
August 10, 2005
Plog #1 - Wednesday, August 10, 2005
This morning I was getting ready to go while my wife was at work. I had some laundry to do (last minute packing panic) and I had to pack up my clothes and other things that she couldnít find the night before, like some of the camping gear.
It was kind of a downer because we are short on cash this month and this morning we almost decided not to go. We have another, more expensive vacation coming up in a couple weeks. We already paid for the bike ride this weekend on the Mesabi Trail http://www.mesabitrail.com and we already had the groceries bought, but gas is so expensive and we had not yet paid for the campsites. We knew we would have to pay a cancellation fee. In the end we would not have had to pay that cancellation fee, as Iíll explain in a minute. But we would have lost the money on the bike ride, which was 75 dollars for our family. The proceeds went to help public radio. Anyway, after checking our bank account I went to the coffee shop to discuss our options with my wife. She wasnít very happy. I went back home to think about our options. Skipping the family vacation in a couple of weeks is not a good option, considering we already paid for half of the cottage rental. Itís no fun losing money deposited, but even less fun not having the money to pay for even more expenses.
So I transferred 170 dollars from our savings into our checking. I cashed in our piggy bank for another 38 dollars. Our daughter loaned us 30 dollars, and I returned a sleeping bag we did not need to Kmart for 17 dollars. We determined that would be enough to do the camping trip so I continued packing. This made me remember why we put money into a savings in the first place. Itís nice to have a buffer for emergencies. A long time ago we were told to do this to help manage our bills. A small savings acts like a buffer for bills also, when the dryer goes out or when the fridge stops working or the heating bills are incredibly high for the month.
We arrived in Gilbert at about 7:30pm and went to check in. They did not have our reservation and told us they were booked up for the weekend! They had changed the email address on their website but the old email messages got lost. He looked us up in the computer and discovered that we were Ďregularsí and this was our third year coming in August. So he gave us a tent site for two nights, the same site that we stayed in for the past 2 years. We love site 38 because it has a spectacular view of Lake Ore-be-gone and has a few trees for a little more privacy. Then on Friday night we are moving to an RV site because one RV family is leaving early because of a death in their family. We paid the 28 dollars for Wednesday and Thursday nightsí tent camping and then pay the rest when we move to the other site. I canít help but see the miracle in how this all happened. My wife gets paid on Monday so paying the second half of our bill at check-out was perfect.
This gave my wife and I a lot to talk about on the drive up there. We do need to plan further ahead and be more responsible with managing our money. Itís a constant theme in life and something we can continuously work on.
We set up our tent, filled up our air mattress and had a late dinner but no campfire, because we were exhausted. We were just happy to be there and have a place to stay.
August 9, 2005
Today I spent most of my day, from 8am to 9pm working in some form for the bikeshop. I'm dead tired, but it's ok because I was off work today and have the rest of the week off too. Tomorrow I'm going to Gilbert, MN for a nice vacation on the Iron Range and the Mesabi Trail. The Mesabi Trail is a great paved bike trail that will be 250 miles when it's completed within the next few years. It goes far enough right now to take more than one day to ride it. Anyway, It'll be fun and refreshing to get out camping for almost a week, do some scenic bicycling and generally relax.
As I did last year, I plan on keeping a Paper Log (PLOG) and then posting my daily experiences when I return on Sunday night/Monday. Rest and Relaxation is an important part of balance. We can't always get a way for a week or more, but it's good to incorporate some fun, relaxing things in our daily diet.
I'm sorry I can't beam my blog entries electronically from my campfire. I hope you all have a great week and see you next week when I return.
August 8, 2005
WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE "THE OTHERS" AND DON'T WANT ME TO REVEAL THE PLOT, STOP READING NOW. ;-)
This morning I got up early again and for some reason my daughter was up already watching a movie. She had "The Others," with Nicole Kidman. It's a story about Ghosts haunting a house, but with a twist. The whole movie is focused on a mother and her children who are living in an English mansion. Her husband had gone off to fight in WWII against the Nazi's. Then her housekeepers just up and vanished so she called to get another housekeeper and an older couple and their daughter showed up at the door one day. But they had a special reason for being there. They were there to help this woman and her children realize the truth about their lives. Wierd things began happening in the house and the mother and children began seeing a 'ghost' family. That's where it gets interesting. There is a huge twist in the plot and we discover that the mother, her two children and the housekeeper family are all the real ghosts and the 'ghosts' they saw were a flesh-and-blood family that had moved into the house. That family left the house because the wife couldn't stand the thought of living in a haunted house. Then the real 'ghost' family decided that they were going to continue haunting their house because they didn't really have a choice. They couldn't leave but the difference now was that they understood who they were and that they were not in the physical world as they knew it. The mother remembered then that she was the one that had smothered her children and then shot herself in the head with a shotgun, and that's what got them into this predicament. At the end she made amends with her children and they all lived happily ever after in the ghost world, prisoners of their house and yard with a thick fog surround them. They vowed that this would always be their house, possessing it until some unspecified time in the future. In the end the mother also admitted to the daughter that she really didn't know anything about her religion while she was living. I guess from that point on, they knew that they were ghosts. But then what? What happened to their Hail-Mary's and Lord's Prayers'? Maybe it wasn't "What" they believed in that was screwed up, but "How" they believed in it. But from their point of view, it didn't matter, because what they knew during their physical life no longer seemed valid. I don't know about them, but I would have felt ripped off, deceived.
Often when our lives seem so real and right, it's not always the truth. Sometimes we are living in denial. We get gentle prompts from friends, relatives, co-workers or other acquaintences that something is not right. The truth in the case of these ghosts brought them peace while they were stuck in their limbo. The truth in our lives can also bring us peace. For instance, when we are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have depression, we often are in denial until some traumatic experience shakes us up and makes us realize we were lying to ourselves. After we realize it, we can move forward and deal with it, no longer afraid to face it.
There have been several similar themes in movies, like the Matrix and Sixth Sense.
It's a brave new world when we start to become aware of our true lives and FEAR no longer covers our eyes. What do we have to be afraid of? Being dead?
August 7, 2005
A race and a Ride
Today I did a bike race and I'm happy that I did it. I did have a problem breathing though. I haven't worked that hard since my last time trial and it felt like I couldn't get enough air. After the race Dan and I went for a 24 mile ride. I ran out of water and decided to back off the pace to keep myself cool. However...I couldn't help trying out my new cog-set. I put an 11-23 9speed on my bike yesterday. The smallest ring I had before was a 13. On the first long downhill today I hit 38.1 mph using the 11-tooth ring. The second long downhill I hit 35mph. The third long downhill, I hit 31mph. Hey I was hot and out of water!
I guess bike racing is tapering off for the year so I'd better look at the schedule to find one more bike race. I'm going to do the Black Dog time trial in a couple of weeks and one road race.
I especially thank Andy and his wife for coming to the race to check it out and see me race! That was very cool to see you there.
I have some pictures, but I used my 35mm camera and will post some as soon as I get them developed.
Off to the Races
Yesterday I 'fixed' my bike. I have to remove a few more links from the chain though because I made it too long. But I'll do it now. Other than that, I'm excited and nervous and anticipating the race. I wish I was better prepared for this one, but that is a lesson all in itself. Today's race will be a lesson. I get to learn a lot today! ;-)
Race Report to follow...
August 6, 2005
Friday Night at the BoBo Club
Last night after work I decided to ride by the bike shop to see if Dave was still around and there was a group of people hanging out so I stayed and chatted for a while. It was interesting because after the bike shop people left I sat and drank a beer with a few guys without houses at the BoBo Club next door. It's an interesting nightclub with live music and other shows. They have a nice outdoor deck where you can hang out. I talked for a while and then saw some other people I know and then talked to them for a while. Bill, the woodworker extraordinaire was there so we talked. I had another beer. Pretty soon I was hungry so I ate some Nachos, thinking I'd go home for dinner still. But I didn't. One thing led to another and it was 11:30 or so. Bill finally announced that he was going to bed. I did not even realize it was so late. I remember thinking as I was riding home that this was going to be rough getting up early in the morning. But this morning at 5:35am I woke up. I'm not counting this as a real change yet. It's a good sign though. It's only been a week and now I'm beginning to wake up without my alarm clock, which I had set for 5am all week, but this morning set for 7am. So I got up and ate breakfast and read. Now I'm going to the coffee shop to hang out before going to replace my freewheel cluster and chain and repair my bottom bracket. The shop won't be open 'til 10:30 so I get a chance to read the paper this morning too! Wow. How cool is that!? Ch-ch-ch-changin...turn to face the change. The change is going to happen and I'm embracing it.
Calling all British-made 3-speed bicycle owners: The All British Cycling Event (ABCE) is announced for September. This is a fun group of people who tour in a relaxed, spandex-free mode. their motto is to 'make as many stops as possible. If you ride off the front you'll be flogged. This event is a companion to the Lake Pepin 3-Speed tour which I did this Spring. Fifty people signed up for that event and I expect a good crowd for this one too. If you don't have a British 3-Speed, I'm sure we can find a good one for you. We have a few gems at the bike depot and One-on-one has some I know of. I will also rent them out for $15 per day if you want to participate but don't want to invest in your own piece of bicycling history. This event will have a swap meet also, so if you have any British cycling stuff, this is the place to bring it.
Check it out at:
August 5, 2005
Do you want to be a better student?
Iíve looked into ways to make myself a better student. Believe me, after living what seems like an entire life already, I need some help in the area of studying and learning. One of my favorite sayings is still, ďOne is taught in accordance with oneís ability to learn.Ē I thought to improve my learning capabilities I had do things like improve my reading skills and learn to take better notes. Those are helpful definitely, but not the total solution. They are part of the tools employed by the overall person. Some people think that they need the latest laptop or organizer or some other high tech gadget to be a better student. Those are helpful tools for many people. But they have to be used in order to be helpful.
I discovered a long time ago the relationship between the amount of time I put into things and my ability to learn. I learned how to take better notes but it didnít help me on my tests until I realized I wasnít putting in enough time studying and filling in my brain.
Do you want to be a better student? Thatís an admirable goal. Thatís something that can happen in the future right? We look to the other shore and try to figure out how to cross the river. But the secret to being a better student is not in reaching the other shore, but in realizing the other shore is here, now, as an awareness and state of being a better student.
Last night in the group ride Charlie talked to me about bike racing. He said that Ďsomething happensí by doing bike races. A lot of being able to give it our all and sustain it is a mental condition that cannot be reached by planning on doing bike races or training for them. In other words I cannot reach the other shore without being a bike racer.
When I look at how Iíve changed over the years, I realize that change never happened to me by continuously trying to reach the other shore. I had to implement the change for it to become part of my being. Itís tortuous sometimes. Like when I quit smoking. That was a serious addiction. I smoked probably for over 15 years, I donít even remember now. I tried many times to quit and failed. Quitting smoking is an admirable goal but to realize it, I had to actually be on the other shore now, not smoking. I knew that for lasting change, where I would never smoke again, I had to remove the addiction, not just remove the cigarettes. I had to be in a state of being where I was a non-smoker. Now I can smell cigarettes and donít crave them. I donít remember smoking as Ďenjoyable, wishing I had one, but thinking that I shouldnít, lest I start smoking all over again.í I remember me being a smoker, but that is not who I am now. I am a non-smoker that has no need or desire for cigarettes. The other shore is not the past or the future, but it is my life now.
I want to change myself into a morning person, so I have to be a morning person. I get up at 6am, granted itís only 4 days now, but I canít be a morning person without Ďbeingí a morning person, if that makes sense.
I want to be an athlete, but I canít do that without thinking and training like an athlete, and without competing like an athlete. My lifestyle is changing because Iím doing and living it. It has to change. There is no other option because Iím already on the other shore. Iím not rowing some boat across the river just to get to the other side. Once I get there, then what? Do I stop trying to get there? I cannot be it without being it.
I want to be a better student so I have to look at my ability to learn. I have to look at the excuses I make for not learning and not being a better student now. When I was in college in 1985, I thought I wasnít a good student because I wasnít living on campus surrounded by other students and the student community. But it was an excuse. I wasnít studying and putting in the time to learn things properly. I thought that not having a word processor was stopping me from being a better writer of papers. But I wasnít writing. Being a good writer is not dependent on the technology, but on how we think about things.
I told this story before, but it fits in this situation. One of my German teachers got fed up with my lack of learning progress, and told me that I should look at a different career because I might not have the capability to go further. She was right. I did not have the ability to learn because I was not being a student. I was looking at the other shore as if I wanted to be there, but didnít have the right boat and didnít think Iíd ever have the right boat. But the other day a nice German man from Frankfurt came into the bike shop and I had a great conversation with him in German. He said my German was perfect (though he was probably being polite). But we did have a conversation in German. The other shore is our life now. Change in our life comes into being when the changes are implemented not by looking into the future and wanting it to be so.
I am a non-smoker. I am a better student than I was 20 years ago. I speak German, Korean and Russian with complete strangers and they are no longer strangers and neither is their language to me. It is my language I am using now to communicate with another human being. I am a better athlete than I was last year. I am more of a morning person than I was a week ago. I am living it and change happens as a result.
We can be better students by being students and learning.
August 4, 2005
Charlie and the Cyclist Factory
Tonight I went on a training ride with the SPBRC group for 40 miles. It was a pleasant ride with a relaxed pace. I had a great conversation with Charlie, who I've also ridden with once on a Gopher Wheelman ride. He's a really nice guy and offered me a lot of good advice about bike racing. And he taught me a few more things I never really learned about pacelines tonight. I'm glad I decided to go.
On the way home, about a half-mile from my house I rode past a DQ and bought myself a treat. The Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard fit nicely into my water-bottle holder and was only marginally melted when I got home. It hit the spot.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to try again to get going, but given that it's 9:46PM now, I may have to exercise in the evening again. We'll see. The alarm's still set for 5AM.
Training is better if I have goals to look forward to. Sunday will be a good race I think.
This morning I got up at 6AM and was learning about vlogs. My computer is way too slow to view or create videos. I might consider adding photos and some video though to this blog in the future.
Here are some links to VLOG Directories I found:
August 3, 2005
How do I do that?!!
Changing into a morning person is a complicated process. How do I get to bed early when I don't get home until 10:00pm and I'm covered in sweat, panting from riding uphill? Now I replenish fluids, rinse off in the shower and get to bed by 11pm. Wow, 5am is going to come really early and Thursday is going to be a tiring day after exercising. :-( Early mornings rock don't they? Well, maybe for now I should be happy with being a night person one day per week on Wednesday nights. Change is a process that requires discipline and time. Dave told me today that it will take me a year to change my internal clock. I am now wide awake, ready to go for another few hours at least, but I'm going to bed. A process that requires time. Be patient, have discipline.
This morning I didn't get a workout in so I went running at lunch. It was extremely hot, but I felt really good! If you remember when I started running in January, I was struggling to run a mile. It hurt, and my body complained. I had a hard time breathing. But recently I've been enjoying running. I think once I broke the 5-mile distance, running became fun again. That's a great distance to run and leaves me "blissfully tired," as another blogger described this feeling. It's a good kind of tired, like "Wow, I did that and feel like I'm on top of the world!"
To keep the rhythm going, I'm still setting my alarm clock for 5am and doing my exercise in the morning. 30 days from now I'll be a changed man, or in the PROCESS of changing. ;-)
Live according to our own truth
Too often we react to the outside world and stop living according to our own ideals and the way we believe we should live.
Gail Pursell Elliot wrote in her Food for Thought article that we should like what we do. She said, ďWhat really defines us is our approach to what we find ourselves doing, not the job itself. We may not always do what we would like but we can find something to like about what we do.Ē In her article she also quoted a man named Kent Kieth as saying, ďIf you're not giving the world the best you have, what world are you saving it for?" - Kent Keith
To tie these two people with good messages together, Gail and Kent, I searched the internet for the name Kent Keith. I like to find out who these quoted people are and other things theyíve said. In my quick search however, I could not find anything official on Kent Kieth. I did find a blog with something he wrote though:
Ryan Masuga wrote about Kent Kiethís 10 Rules for Living:
For your reference, here is the link to Gailís website: http://www.innovations-training.com/index.htm You can subscribe to the free ďFood for ThoughtĒ newsletter, attend her training and buy her books on Mobbing and Dignity and respect. I like Gail because she always has a message about how to treat other people like weíd like to be treated. Kind of the golden rule in day-to-day terms.
Ryan makes a good point about not taking things personally. We should continue to live in the best way we know how regardless of how otherís are choosing to live.
Well, last night I was in bed by about 9:08pm. I was not tired at all, so I read until about 9:40pm. Then I tried to sleep. My wife came to bed at 10pm and woke me up. My daughter came home later and it woke me up. Then in the wee hours of the night my daughter decided she wanted to clean and was looking for something, making noise. I woke up again. I was sleeping very lightly. The alarm clock went off at 5am and I was exhausted. I hit the snooze and woke up again at regular intervals until 6am. I was experiencing various states of dillusion until finally shaking it at about 6:10am. Now what? I intended on being at work by 7 this morning. Do I give up my training ride for the morning? Ah, if only I was a morning person who loves mornings. Now all I want is a cup of coffee. haha.
Still, here I am, three days into my makeover and I'm up by about six. I've heard that '30 days makes a habit.' I wish my fitness training was really a habit also. Change. Force change? Desire to change? Lasting change? I look back on my life and reflect on what I've really been able to change and what I haven't. It's interesting. We must first believe that change is possible.
August 2, 2005
Change requires discipline
It's 9pm and this 'morning person' has to go to bed. 21 mile ride in the morning. I'm going to try to get up at 5 am tomorrow instead of 6. Man this is hard. I don't even feel tired now. But it will be worth it. That is if I really have the discipline to do this.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise?
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise? Last night I went to bed at about 9:15 PM. Wow, that's early. I couldn't sleep at first so I read for a little while and finally just put the book down and began some breathing/relaxing techniques, like yoga, to calm myself down enough to fall asleep. The last time I saw on the clock was 9:39 PM.
This morning my alarm rang at 5 AM but I couldn't get up. I finally woke up at 6AM. That's about 8 hours of sleep! I have to admit I feel pretty good right now! But it just doesn't seem right to go to bed so early! haha. Now I'm going for a bike ride and then to work by 7:45.
I guess the wisdom part comes in when I realize the importance of getting enough sleep, regardless of whether I'm a morning person or night person. I see it as shifting my internal clock, which may not be easy. Regardless, I still need to get the right amount of sleep for proper health and balance in my life. We'll see how it goes. Today is a good second day of conversion.
Have a great day!!!
August 1, 2005
Another hot ride
Tonight after work Dan talked me into riding with him at least down to the Mendota Bridge from Downtown St. Paul. I was planning on just going straight home, but decided to try it and see how it fealt. It was hot. We kept up a fast pace all the way there, between 18-25 MPH. Then at the bridge we parted ways and I tried to keep up the fastest pace I could. I did slow down a lot but that's because there is a lot of up-hill riding, including the highway 13 hill headed back to the West Side. The slowest I rode on that hill was 10 MPH, so I was happy with that. I did use a whole bottle of water riding the 13 miles home. I was really hot! But my heart, lungs and legs fealt pretty good! I'm really happy I decided to ride with Dan tonight.
On the topic of Dan, I just want to say how great of a mentor he is. I really appreciate his gentle prodding to get me to do more, and to not give up. It's great to have a friend that's willing to go the extra mile to help someone develop. That's Dan. There is more to Dan though, and to me he is a hero in everyday clothes. Dan commutes by bike every single day from Brooklyn Park, about 17 miles every day each way. He doesn't ride all the way during the winter, but does ride to and from the bus stop about a mile and a half away before and after work. He's also a fantastic bike racer.
I want to share Dan with you because this is what happens to some pro athletes who no longer race as pro's. Dan not only has a good heart, he's a superb athlete who has a history of winning races. I went to his house once and saw his trophy shelf with probably fifty-some trophies, mostly for Triathlons he won when he was younger, like the Turtleman and others. I also know that Dan used to be a pro bike racer but quit after he was diagnosed with diabetes. He still rides and races but has to plan his insulin to adjust for riding hard.
In Yesterday's State Championship Criterium at the U of M, Dan took 4th place I believe. Then he decided to ride another race a little later in the day and took 10th or something. And that's after riding in the front most of the way! He told me he was just trying to avoid a crash because the course was kind of technical. Another little-known fact is that Dan has been racing an old steel Bianchi that outweighed almost every bike in that race and has down-tube shifters! He says that's a real problem on courses with hills. I can imagine how much of problem when you have to take your hands off the handlebars to shift. You could lose a lot of momentum! But these were hot bikes in the old days. It takes a confident, special rider to use one of these in a race now. Dan is that kind of rider. Sadly his frame is cracked and creeks when he rides. Did you hear it in the race? He already has a new bike ordered (much lighter) and hopes to have it before the Dakota Crit next weekend. I can't wait to see him race it. I hope he gets it in time.
In today's newspaper's there was not a single word about this bike race at the U of M. To me this race and the people who are riding it is better news than some of the ignorant reporting they call news. (ie. Bob Sansevere and Joe Sucheray) Why is it that our papers totally ignore Cycle racing? Unless it's something major like a historic Tour de France win, and then probably only because they knew every major paper would carry that one so they didn't want to be the only one's who didn't.
Of course the local and national bike racing scene is not football, basketball, Hockey or baseball; the American pie sports. Only recently has American newspapers started to open up to Soccer even. And then only briefly with events like the Olympics and World Cup finals (If Americans are playing). The rest of the world is in love with Soccer. Tennis seems to make an appearance occasionally with Wimbledon and Serena Williams. But I'm sure these sports go on all year round with many other exciting and tournaments. And there are many hero's like Dan, and many other's who will go unreported because it's not 'newsworthy.' I guess it depends on what is important to the readers, right? So I'm reporting it here for those cycling enthusiasts I know that read this.
Today's hot ride was great and gave me a total of 26 miles today. Thanks Dan! I needed that boost and it fealt really good.
Becoming a morning person
Yesterday I said that I was going to turn myself into a morning person. Last night I went to bed at about 10:00pm and got up this morning at about 6:30 AM, left the house for a 13 mile training ride with an average speed of 19 MPH. That was very difficult to get up that early and muster up enough energy to ride my bike hard. It didn't feel good until after I showered and had something (more) to eat after getting to my desk at work. And everyone was surprised to see me at work earlier than usual.
All in all, today was a successful first day of becoming a morning person. Is a drastic change like this possible? Ever since I can remember I used to be a morning person when I was younger, but after getting out of the Army I changed into a night person, staying up late and getting up late in the morning. I even changed my working hours to start at 8:30 AM so I wouldn't have to get up so early.
We'll see how it goes. I think I can do it because I really want to do it, for various reasons. Day one is a success.
Ok, So I was Wrong!
There is ONE single beginner's bicycle race and instead of not doing ANY bicycle races this year, I changed my mind. I'll be doing this one:
The SPBRC Criterium Challenge 2005
Sunday August 7th, 2005
1.25 miles per lap at the Dakota County Technical College
1300 145th St. E (County Rd. 42), Rosemount, MN
They have all the classes including the added races for "Beginner's Program Men" and "Beginner's Program Women" I fall into this class of racers, although I'm sure some of the people who attended the Beginner's progam are going to be racing in one of the other classes, or both.
My race starts at 10:01 AM and is the shortest of them all, along with the junior's race, lasting only 20 minutes. The other classes run 30, 35, 40, 45 and finally 60 minutes for the Men's Cat 1/2/3 who race last at 1:50 PM.
Entries close 15 minutes prior to start of each race. I better not be late, haha. Oh, I like this..."Promoter reserves the right to combine fields." I hope they don't combine the Beginner's Program Men's race with the CAT 4/5. I like the idea of racing for 20 minutes verses 35!
We'll see how it goes. This week then I have to focus on getting my bike tuned up and ready to go. I'm getting a new sprocket on back, a new chain and fixing my bottom bracket. I am nervous about this race. That should probably be expected being my first real race (not including the ice-crit races, which was more like mountain bike double track, but on a flat, slippery surface)
Why am I nervous? Because of self-doubt and lack of serious training over the last month. I had already written bike racing off for the year, but now I have a race in less than a week with no train-up for it. I've been getting kind of slack over the past month. The other reason is simply that I have never really experienced a criterium like this on my road bike. I don't know what to expect.