So, on Monday, I didn’t need to be in until 9am, so I thought I’d ride all the way in from home – about 23 miles, judging by Google Maps.
Not that hard of a distance for me as I’ve done it before, even though I’m not in the greatest shape these days. However, on this particular occasion, I was riding my new/old mountain bike as the Bob Jackson is now in the shop getting a generator hub, headlight, single speed crank and new handlebars.
The mountain bike is what I bought about this time last year. I had the frame powder coated this cool burnt orange color, transferred the good stuff from my old, unused FSR over and added a front rack. Cool looking, not horribly heavy, but…it felt slow.
No matter, I gave myself 2.25 hours to go 23 miles…this should be doable.
In the old days, I used to consult maps and make a cue sheet. With the advent of omnipresent GPS, I’ve come to rely on the iPhone. I like Google Maps app and think it works fine, but the iPhone does not do well in cold weather; it dies at inconvenient times. So, I went back to the old way: Making a cue sheet. Which was convenient for a while, until I could no longer find the road that I was supposed to turn right on. This led to several minutes (longer than I thought, as it turns out) spent backtracking and trying to find my turn. This went on at various parts of the trip between Menlo Park and Sunnyvale. Ultimately, I rolled up to my office. I figured I was maybe 1/2 hour or so late. When I get inside and warmed up the phone to start it, I checked the time: 7 minutes after 10. Holy shit. In a panic, I checked pages and e mails for anyone that was looking for me and happily found none. Showered, changed and at my desk a full 1 1/2 hours after I was supposed to be there. It was not until after lunch did I finally warm up from the ride.
I took the time to map out the route, backtracking and all. The original route was supposed to be 23 miles; I rode 31.
In the post mortem, I learned a couple of things: 1) Don’t ride a new route if you have to be somewhere by a particular time; 2) Wool clothes do a fine job of keeping warm, but a beanie would have helped; 3) Missing one minor side street can derail you’re entire navigation plan; and 4) despite all of the articles now saying you ride just as fast on wider tires, someone as heavy as I still needs to jack up the pressure, somewhat. (this is why the bike felt slow, I reckon).
I was able to get through the day, but it was tough. However, I wasn’t out of the woods, yet; I still had to get back home. As I was rather tired after work, my boss (who is also an old friend that I ride with) took pity on my and gave me a ride to CalTrain. As there was no recent train that would stop at my house, the thought was to ride it north to a particular station, cross over and pick up the southbound train that arrives a few minutes later and get off at my stop. Well, my train arrived late, so I missed the southbound train. There was another train in about 5 minutes that would get me home in 1/2 hour. Wanting to get home sooner, and not wanting to walk the 1.5 miles home, I decided to walk over and see if there were any cabs in the parking lot – there weren’t. 3 minutes until the next train comes, so I turned back…then I heard the horn. The fucker showed up early. Shit…legs too dead to run, I could not get to the crossing before the guards came down, trapping me on the wrong side. While I could have gone under, that’s a $250 fine which I did not want. I hoped against hope that maybe the guards would go up after the train had stopped; they didn’t. So, I got to stand there and watch as everyone loaded up and took off. Pissed, I put on my headphones, cranked up some music and hoofed it out of there, finally making it home about 1/2 hour later.
I’m happy to report that the first shakedown ride went very well, however. Tahn builds a damn fine bike. I still need to tweak some things (still getting numbness in the hands, even with ergo grips and padded gloves), but I like the bike.
But sometimes you get more exercise than you bargained for…
A quick post.
I’m down in Fresno this weekend for Thanksgiving. Having a little time this trip, I finally dragged my scanner down so I can get copies of some of the old pictures my mom has stored in a box. While I’ve been planning on doing this for years, my brother’s passing brought it to the forefront.
While picking out pictures to scan (pics of brother, pics of me as a baby and teen to show the GF just who she’s involved in, random posterity pics from the 70’s), I came across this:
That there is my first bike. Now, if you had asked me, I would have said that my first bike was blue, and had orange and yellow pinstripes that our neighbor put on it, and had knobbies that I got one year for my birthday. Of course, I would have been wrong. I had forgotten about this one. What I remember most about this is the non-pneumatic (nonmatic?) tires. I think the rear tire had split by the time I upgraded to the blue bike (of which I found no pictures of).
You’ll also note – for posterity’s sake – the long shag carpeting that had to be raked. Of course, not being Fancy People, we did not have a carpet rake so we used the steel rake that we had for the yard.
Another angle, showing the rest of the living room:
This – it should be noted – was the Living Room, where no mortal entered unless they were Company. You can just imagine what the rest of the house looked like.
Diet and exercise has sort of shit the bed since the summer. Strike that, since about Easter…but I was holding on for a bit, I think, until the summer, then I sort of let go of the controls. Whatever, I’m winding out to around 260 or so and getting through it. That said, I feel a turn coming. As I do, I tend to be good for a while, then I lash out and be bad for a while…then I get good again. I reckon I’ve gained and lost 500 lbs over the years.
But every now and again, something gets me to make the turn. Either some experience or story. A lot of times, it’s simply a visit to a national park: Seeing all of those fit people doing active things is enough to get me to start eating healthy, or at least not eat so much. Some times, it’s a story about someone who set themselves straight. True, I was at Glacier NP during the summer, it was shortly after my brother died, so I wasn’t exactly hitting on all 12 cylinders, so that effort died out. So lately, I’ve been reading Scott Cutshall’s old blog – Large Fella on a Bike.
Scott gained notoriety for losing something like 312 lbs by riding and eating right. While I’m not that far down the road, it’s still good reading to me. While I try to at least cycle commute in once a week (more, preferably, but that doesn’t always work out), I don’t normally get out on the weekend. After a few days of reading his blog, I went out this evening. So that’s a turn in the right direction.
I also remember using the bike to run basic errands, like grocery shopping. For some reason, I had stopped that. Now that I’m at my GF’s place in the flats, its even easier. In fact, tonight I was going to head out to the store to get some powdered sugar (GF’s daughter and neighbor friend are making cupcakes, and they needed it for the frosting). Upon realizing that we didn’t have any powdered sugar on hand, I was ready to ride the 1/2 mile to the local Safeway: “I’ll go,” she said. “Besides, you’ve been drinking.” It’s true that I had 2 Lagunitas Little Sumpin’s but I was not blasted, just a tad buzzed. Besides, I love riding while buzzed. In fact, when I quit drinking 5.5 years ago, one of the things I said that I was going to miss was riding while buzzed.
Now, I’m not going to recommend this. A bike’s natural attitude is on its side, and booze is known to mess with your trim tabs. All you need to do is veer into the path of an oncoming car, and then you get your ticket punched. Also it can be considered somewhat illegal, should the local authorities wish to stop you to chat. But, I must say, it’s fun. There’s a sort of high, fine feeling you get with the breeze passing over you, watching the scenery go by, feeling good, relaxed. Alas, it was not to be…at least tonight: The neighbor’s had powdered sugar.
But, I foresee myself trying to ride more. I figure, with some cooperation, I can ride at least 3 out of five days in to work. On those days I don’t, I figure I can right at night…something I sort of didn’t think about until reading Cutshall’s blog (he made a few references to riding late, so I figure he’s either a night owl or an insomniac). Regardless, he’s given me something new to focus on, in the realm of undoing some of the damage incurred over the summer and fall.
Now, I’m off to order some new lights.
Since we’re discussing Pink Floyd… OK, we aren’t actually…
This was some random thing that popped into my head. Nothing more than a stringing together of individual thoughts or ideas that I have that somehow coagulated. I’ve done some polishing, but not much. I come across as a self-important twat in graf 2; I would be if I actually said that shit, but being that it’s in my head, I think it’s OK… So, grab a snifter of brandy, settle into a wing backed chair, and enjoy…
I went to the place
To talk to The Guy about the Thing
And he said: “Fuck that.
I don’t think so.”
I went to the place.
And everyone was there
And I thought, “Don’t you have homes or jobs or other shit to do?
Why don’t you come here some other time, when I’m someplace else?
Like Tuesday afternoon, when I’m at work…
You fucking people.”
And the Thing and the Guy and the Place
Are too fucked up to handle
And the Motherfuckers are Motherfucking it
Every chance they get.
So fuck ‘em.
I went to the place
And they were closed…
And I thought “good for them!”
But I still had shit to do
And when I come back
Everyone will be there, just like before
And The Guy will still be a pisser
One helluva title, no?
NOTE: This is a rambling, unedited stream of consciousness post, so apologies for that.
Things have been…well…things…since the last post.
The diet went to shit. I sort of knew this would happen, so it’s not that surprising. I can only do low-carb for so long without it snapping back at me. So, lotsa weight came back.
The eating was also in part due to stress/burnout/depression over work. I’m in sort of a losing situation and I get like that when I realize that I’m hosed. The pisser is that it’s a good company, but my reporting structure is wrong – the way it’s set up creates a conflict of interest and my department is on the losing end. Of course, we are facing increasing standards and scrutiny, with limited to decreasing support. So that sucks.
Fortunately, I already had vacation scheduled that happened to coincide with my 1 year anniversary. This was 5 days/6 nights bicycling through Glacier NP, up to Waterton Lake Park in Canada and back down again. Overall, it was a good trip, gorgeous scenery and a total of ~160 miles. Originally, I thought we would be doing 300 miles, but there were different options that – considering my deteriorating physical state (see diet/eating, above) and emotional state (see burnout, above and another development, below) my mental state was very much off-step, so the “fuck it” option was selected more than I had originally planned.
So, burnout. In addition to work burn out, I got burnt out on riding about 6 weeks before the trip. To be honest, this could be more related to work than riding, as I was not pushing huge miles, in my opinion. There were other things – mainly schedule (assholes scheduling 8:30am meetings, having to be on call at a different campus, etc…) that contributed, but in the end, my heart was not in it. Oddly, now that the trip is over and there’s no real pressure, I’m sort of looking forward to riding again.
Now, the “new” development that helped my mental game deteriorate: My brother died, rather unexpectedly. One week before his 51st birthday. He was already in the hospital to get a cancerous tumor removed from a kidney, but that had a great prognosis. In fact, no cancer had actually gotten into the kidney tissue; it was all on the surface. But, something got botched up during surgery and he started throwing blood clots, so when he came to, he had lost mobility from he waist down. That was fucked. The doctors figured that he had a stroke in his spinal cord above where the anesthesiologist put in the needle for the epidural (which caused bruising). So, again, fucked, but everything from the waist up was just fine, just he’d be facing the next 20 to 30 years in a wheelchair. I last saw him in the ER on a Tuesday (he was admitted, but they could not move in upstairs as there were no beds). I had taken a couple of days off to be down there for the surgery and was heading back up to work. The plan was to come back down on the weekend to get a bead on the situation, and then tell mom (who knew about none of this). The last thing I said to him was “see you later.” On Thursday afternoon, I got a call from my sister in laws phone – it was an ER nurse saying that my brother was having trouble breathing. When I asked what they think it was, she replied that they thought he was having a heart attack. I tell the nurse to let my sister in law know that the cavalry was coming, shut down, let my boss know, and got on the road.
This meant I was trying to cover 165 miles, 50 of which are in Bay Area traffic, at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon. I gave him even odds that he’d be alive when I got there. I called my girlfriend and let her know that I would not be coming over that night. I called another close friend of mine, who – coincidentally enough – had just lost her niece in a car accident and was still dealing with that. About an hour later, as I was driving through south San Jose, I got another call from my sister in law’s phone. It was my brother’s boss (he had been visiting earlier in the day; SIL had called him back as soon as my brother had trouble breathing). He introduced himself. In the background, I could hear my sister in law sobbing. “Well, judging by the sound of my sister in law, I’m guessing you have some bad news for me.” And that’s when he told me that my brother had died. He offered his condolences and I told him that I knew this was a hard call to make and that I appreciated that he did so and thanked him for working with my brother for many years. I can’t remember how I ended the call. I called my girlfriend. She happened to be in Gilroy at the time, so I agreed to stop and see her before continuing on. I called my friend. The day before, I had reached out to our company EAP to line up time with a therapist to talk about my brothers paralysis as it was weighing heavy on me. In addition to getting in-person sessions, they also said that I had access to 24×7 phone counseling, if things got heavy. This qualified, so I called them. I was still numb, but I knew that I’d have the chore of telling our mother that her son had just died. I called another friend. I called another friend. I was on the road for most of the trip down. I got to Fresno and told mom. She was numb; she didn’t really believe it at first. Not that she thought I was lying, but it just didn’t sink in. I spent most of Friday on the phone – fielding phone calls from family and talking to the hospital and coroner, trying to get an autopsy lined up. I was spent by 4pm. My girlfriend came down on the weekend and helped out. My sister in law and mother thanked her and said that I really needed her. I didn’t feel that way, but I guess that I was telegraphing things that I wasn’t aware of. Not that I wasn’t happy for her to be there, but I thought I was holding my own. I spent Monday trying to sort out his financial affairs. Being the opposite of me, he spent a little more than he made, so some things were past due. I made sure that the utilities and house payments were current for the month. I reached out to lawyers. I instructed my sister in law to contact his HR department for life insurance. We went to a mortuary and lined up cremation. I did not cry once, through all of this.
The following Tuesday, I was a back at work. I figured there was nothing to do in the time being, and we had a global department meeting that I wanted to attend. One of the managers said that she was surprised I was there. The senior manager said the same, but said that he was happy to see me there. I resorted to humor “Do you think I’d miss an opportunity to editorialize about our programs? It’s very therapeutic!” We had a good laugh. If I could stay focused on work, then the numb, heavy pressure on the front and top of my head could be kept at bay. Once my mind was no longer occupied, the heavy numbness would increase. During a break, my manager handed me a sympathy card signed by everyone in my department. I started to open it, and saw the front and felt the tears coming up: “I’m not going to do this now” and closed the envelope. Later that night, I read it at my girlfriends house and was fine. Waiting for my flight to SEATAC, I re-read it with the same effect.
I saw a therapist the Thursday before I left for vacation. She said that going on the vacation was a good thing, as well, so I was happy to be validated. This is a new person I got through the company EAP, so she’s not used to my sense of humor. But she did note that I do have one and said “When someone asks you how you are doing, I can see you saying ‘I’m sad, but I don’t know it, yet’.” Shit, she got it in one. That’s how I feel.
I wanted to touch back on drinking, before I wrap this up. Back in February 2011, I wrote this. When I wrote that, I did not know how long I would not have a drink. At the time, I think it was a temporary stop; just a pause to chill out, regain composure and not make an ass of myself. That temporary stop lasted almost 5 1/2 years. 5 years, 5 months and 3 days later, I had a drink. We were sitting in the Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park on our second night of the trip. Earlier in the day, they made reference to whether or not I would want a beer, to which I gave them my “Well, that has merit” face. This led to the discussion that I was the only one really making me do this; it’s not like there was a judge that made me. So, before dinner, my friends wanted champagne: “Would you want some, if we ordered it?” I thought for about 5 seconds: “You know what? Why the fuck not.” My reasons were simple: 1) I missed the taste, generally, 2) I missed being able to have a drink, and 3) after my brother had unexpectedly died, I realized that things can end just like that, so I should enjoy the things that I enjoy. Mind you, I’m not looking to get hammered, and I’m avoiding drinking when I’m experiencing emotions. But, I have been having a beer or a scotch or a glass of wine, without getting drunk. I look forward to meeting with friends that I used to drink with in the future for a beer or two. I haven’t told my girlfriend yet, but I think she’ll be OK with it because I’m going to be OK. And that’s how 5 years, 5 months and 3 days of being completely sober ended.
I’m tired, now. I’m still on Mountain time – 1 hour ahead – and want to go to sleep.