Thursday, December 23, 2010


My neighbor caught me playing outside last Sunday. He took the pictures through his front window, all sneaky like, then sent them to me as evidence of my adolescence.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

going up

I learned to ride up stairs last night.

Well, "learn" might be too strong a word. I decided I wasn't too chicken to try, thus discovering I could do it.

(My playground. Also the front of the building in which I work.)


Two Fridays ago I broke my Paragon. A crack half way around the seat tube just above the top tube weld (and when I say crack I mean a crevice wide enough to see seat post through). That's right where everyone told me the frame would break.

Frustrated (and emotionally blinded), I went right to the internet and pulled the trigger on a 2010 Superfly. It looks like this:

The frame had been built up, but not ridden. I love eBay.

Anyway, the new ride is (the frame is the only difference) is 470 grams leaner and probably orders of magnitude faster. I mean, GF did a fine job on that paint. And you know black, red, white is going to be way faster than the light blue of the '08 Paragons. I mean, you just know it.

The setup you see here plus a saddle bag with tube and multi-tool weighed in at 25.5 lbs on Merv's digital scale.

This bike makes me very happy.


Warrantied the Paragon at Gettysburg Bicycle. We'll see what Trek sends me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

cold weather lovely

(As I'm writing this I'm nibbling on almonds and sipping from a 12 ounce can of Dr. Pepper that had been sitting in my car all night, at around 20 degrees. This makes me exceptionally happy.)

I rode this morning for a couple of hours. When I left the house my thermometer read 21 degrees. reported a wind chill of nine degrees. I don't know anything about that, but it was windy. Gusty, really. So if wind chill is a function of wind velocity (it is), then in reality wind chill varied varied considerably during my two hours on the bike, perhaps averaging to around nine degrees.

Anyway, it was cold.

But I wasn't.

Each winter it takes me a few rides to get the particulars ironed out, but when I do, I can be downright comfortable on the bike, even for two hours or longer.

Yesterday I rode and didn't get it right. I came home with cold hands, frozen feet, and my body was wet with sweat. But today my hands stayed toasty, my feet were just beginning to get cool, and my base layer was only a bit damp in the usual sweat-prone areas.

I think I've mentioned all this before, but here's a short list of some of my favorite cold-weather riding gear:

ski goggles -- After riding with them, going out in sub-30 degree weather without seems pure torture. If you haven't tried goggles on the bike, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. You'll be amazed. Completely helmet compatible (helmet on first, strap around the back of your helmet--like you would do if snowmobiling or riding motocross).

the mysterious balaclava -- Amazing the effect a thin, almost inconsequential layer of fabric wrapped around your head has on one's overall riding experience. Especially when coupled with the goggles. If the wind is really intense, pull it up over your nose and under your goggles. Now not a bit of your skin is exposed.

Craft Windstopper base layer -- A couple of years ago I picked up this amazing short-sleeved, mock turtleneck base layer thing that has become an invaluable piece of my winter arsenal. The secret is the panel of Windstopper fabric sewn only on the front of the garment. Perfect.

winter riding shoes -- For me, the Shimano MW80s. When it's as cold as it is today, the shoe alone doesn't do it, but stretch a pair of neoprene booties over the top (in my case, neon green numbers from Performance I bought in 1990) and my feet stay cozy warm.

Another tip:

A perennial problem of cold-weather riding is how to keep your water bottles from freezing. For those that haven't experienced it, let me just tell you they freeze mighty quick on a bike in 20 degree weather. Yesterday, for instance, mine was frozen enough after 50 minutes as to be completely useless.

One option is to exchange bottles for a Camelbak (be sure to run the hose under your armpit rather than over your shoulder or the water will freeze in your tube), but then you have to deal with the consequences of a sweaty Camelbaks are kind of mountain bike ghetto, and who wants that...

And so a better option (and I'm ashamed it took me so long to think of it, when the solution seems painfully simple now) is to simply slip a bottle in the back pocket of your winter riding jacket or jersey. I tried it today and it worked perfectly. Not even a little bit of freezing around the mouthpiece.

So there you have it. Trainer be gone! The only riding worth doing is outside. (Mother Nature is a woman with few suitors...)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

rangel: really?

So I don't know how the phone Microsoft is peddling is going to solve any of the problems their ad agency does, frankly, a brilliant job of highlighting in this delightful commercial you've all no doubt seen already countless times...

...but I bring it up because, well, Rep. Rangel... Really?

(FBers, click here for video.)

This morning, while dropping Marian off at school, I caught a Morning Edition interview of Rep. Charlie Rangel.

After an effective enough folksy start, Rangel stumbles on the following question:

Morning Edition: There is an outside group that has been critical of you in the past. It is now criticizing you for the way that you paid for your legal defense, that you had money removed from a political action committee, that political donations were used to pay your lawyer fees. Is that accurate:

Charlie Rangel: No, it's not accurate, but anyone can make an accusation.

M.E.: I don't want to dwell on this, but I thought your office's position had been that your political action committee did help to pay your legal fees, but that you thought that was a legitimate use of those funds. Is that correct?

C.R.: I don't want to dwell long on anything, but all I know is that my lawyers have told me we haven't done a darn thing that deviates from the law.

Really? I mean, if it's true you haven't done anything "that deviates from the law," why lie about it?

What a douche bag.

I'm reminded of a RadioLab episode on deception. In it, there's a segment on pathological lairs...folks that can't seem to help but lie. Rangel seems to be that flavor of douche bag.

Harlem, surely you can do better.


In the spirit of bipartisanship bagging of douches, I'm floored by the conversation surrounding Don't Ask, Don't Tell as of late. All the top military folks seem very enthusiastic (urgent, even) about changing the law to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Well, good. I'm all for changes that correct the irrational with the rational.

But then there's Sen. John McCain, who inexplicably seems to know better than everyone else and therefore opposes any change to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. What seems particularly odd about his present opposition is that he has long said that he would follow the counsel of military leaders on the issue. Well, the military is speaking, and suddenly McCain knows better.

Unbelievable douchbaggery. Arizona, what's wrong with you? (America, how wise of you to have chosen better.)


A note on the video: my favorite parts are the raised eyebrows at 0:41 and the husband-wife scene at 0:19 and 0:44. Really more the later. Too true. I laugh out loud every time.

(I just realized I wrote--which is to say I did not abbreviate--laugh out loud. That's funny.)

(I don't think I've ever written LOL. Ever. Except now.)