grrgoyl: (Bad Jesus!  Very Bad!)
My, my, my I've been quiet. TOO quiet. Which is good news for everyone, because instead of writing a hugely epically long post, I'm forced to reduce it to key highlights from sheer lack of memory. So I have those, plus a large number of mini-movie reviews.

First, to wrap up the Parade of Homes 2011! I've been back to MyFriendDeb's to go on an unrelated outing. She wasn't exactly ready when I arrived, however, her pace of preparing to leave could be described as "hustling" if not "frantic," and we walked out the door five minutes later rather than twenty. If you knew Deb like I know Deb, that right there is as good as an apology, my friends.

In fact, Ryan was supposed to join us that day, but bailed at the last minute because he was spending the previous night with John (translation: drinking). While I'm not thrilled he's regressed back to him after more than a year's break, hey, whatev, I'm not his mother. But as I told Deb, I just knew it would be followed by a Facebook pity party about how much his life sucks and bemoaning being surrounded by losers all the time.

Sure enough, that night Tery was checking her page when she read it to me: "Last day off for 8 weeks and I didn't even do anything fun -- laundry and Facebook. Yippee." My first impulse was to comment "Awww, too bad you don't have cool friends that invite you out to an awesome day in the mountains." But I knew he was probably hoping for/expecting something from me, so I gave him stony silence instead. Because I'm done. And if you know me, it takes a lot for me to be done, but I'm there.

~*~

Tery FINALLY gets mountain biking. She lowered her saddle by two inches, and that has made all the difference between feeling like she was in control and feeling like she was going to pitch over the handlebars any minute. It also helped her feet reach the ground for dabbing, something she couldn't do before and something I was unaware she couldn't do. I wish I could take credit as her mentor, but the suggestion was made by an older woman hiker on the trail who noticed Tery sitting too high. Consequently we returned to Little Scraggy and, as predicted, she loved it--though probably wouldn't have without the adjustment. She is putting together a little video of our adventures that might be published here. Turns out she's quite the Steven Spielberg, because there wasn't much to work with.

~*~

Oh right, so I'm on the pill! Which still sounds weird to say a week later. I'm happy to say it was simply a matter of going to the clinic and asking for it: No intrusive questions about why I wanted it or lectures on the moral implications, etc. (Of course I did go to Planned Parenthood which might have had something to do with it). Didn't even have to lie about only wanting it until November and that was all, just "how many packs would you like?"

Tery's first reaction to the news was "Great. You're free to sleep with guys now," as if her only objection was with unwanted pregnancy (it certainly is not).

I spent the second day researching possible side effects, which include headaches, nausea, breast enlargement (PLEASE GOD NO), weight gain and mood swings. This last one worried me the most (not helped by [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana's reassuring "You're about to turn into Queen Megabitch") -- I'm unsettled by the thought my mood can be artificially affected (control issues), and I spent the day imagining that a mood swing was gestating inside me like a chestburster alien. Tery isn't concerned about it; she thinks it's not something I would consciously notice, and anyway she's holding out hope that I'll be nicer, as if I'm so mean now there's nowhere to go but up (I really don't think I am).

There was one incident when we realized twenty minutes too late that the new "Office" wasn't recording, but I'd like to think that would have happened with or without chemicals. Other than that I've experienced a few episodes of random and extremely intense horniness, which I might blame on the medication. But if that's the worst that happens, I can certainly live with it.

~*~

In biking news, I think I've seen the guy whose picture you find when you look up the word "dickhead."

On my route I have to cross traffic three times, which is only a big deal during rush hour, as I've stated before when people don't care about anything but getting to work (or home) and God help anyone that gets in their way. One of these intersections is by far the worst, and that is where our story is set.

In fact this was afternoon, so the traffic was (mostly) returning home. I waited on the curb with a fellow lady biker and a male pedestrian. At one point the traffic cleared, no cars coming, so we all started across (it wasn't just me taking liberties here). We had almost made it to the opposite curb when traffic started coming over the hill. Let me explain that from the top of this hill drivers have clear visibility all the way to the intersection, a good 100 yards or so. Plus there were three of us in a big cluster, not one lone hard-to-see person. In theory, should be plenty safe for everyone, right?

As we were all just about to reach the opposite curb, the guy whose lane we were crossing (an SUV. Act surprised) suddenly slammed on his brakes so they would let out a dramatic ear-splitting squeal, as if it was a blind turn and he had just noticed us and came within inches of hitting us. You know damn well he saw us from the top of the hill, and you know damn well he deliberately avoided braking until getting right on top of us (in fact might have even accelerated a little) just so he could do that. Really? You want to be That Guy? Because no one likes That Guy.

Dick. Head.

I've found forums about traffic laws featuring bitter arguments in the comments over who the bigger idiots are, cyclists or motorists. Obviously it's a case-by-case basis, but I think motorists are by far more careless and dangerous -- most of the time they barely notice each other, let alone someone not driving two tons of death-dealing steel. And I include myself in this category: I'll admit I've almost hit people in the crosswalk because I wasn't paying attention. And conversely I'll admit I've done some stupid things on a bike because I made an incorrect split-second decision. But a cyclist's bad judgment will get themselves hurt more often than a motorist, whereas the converse isn't true.

I think one solution would be a mandatory day on a bike for everyone (I'd actually love a week, but let's be realistic), so they can get a tiny taste of how scary it is trying to negotiate traffic with people who either don't see you or who don't think you deserve to be on the road. And I nominate That Guy to take the first shift.

~*~

Now, movies! Oodles and oodles of movies! So many that these are mostly mini reviews. No spoilers really, except maybe for one or two you've never heard of/couldn't care less about. I've bolded all the titles so you can skim easily. Behind the cut: 127 Hours, Wrecked, The Reef, Trollhunter, Shiver, Piranha (1978 and 2010), Insidious, The Last Airbender, and Paul.

::I have too much free time:: )
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
I've got this year's Parade of Homes on-deck, but frankly it was even more lackluster than last, and my heart just isn't in it. So first some smaller news:

The good news is I got a notice from a collection agency that I owed the remaining balance in full of nearly $200 on my hospital bill. This was confusing to me, as not only have I been paying them faithfully $50 a month, they've been taking it automatically so I KNOW I haven't missed any payments. I was even more confused because, by my reckoning, I actually owed them close to $500.

I reluctantly called the number to get to the bottom of it. Long story short, it's another case of "pay X amount now and we'll forgive the rest of it." Tery says sometimes they just want to "clean up their books" or something, though I can't see why anyone would walk away from money rightfully owed to them, particularly money that was actually being paid. But hey, pay $200 to save $300? Groupons never has deals so good.

So, another $86 to the ambulance company and I AM DONE. Maybe they'll tell me they'll settle for $20?

~*~

We have a new neighbor below us. Nice quiet nonsmoking Kara decided she wanted to live with her boyfriend (so she said; we think she was tired of listening to the still ongoing Feline Wars every morning at 3 am. For that matter, so are we).

It took surprisingly no time for her replacement to move in, considering how many other units seem to sit perpetually empty in the complex. I met him one morning returning from my bike ride -- Mike, a heavyset, 50ish, meek-looking guy. Not unlike the ill-fated Kent, of never making a peep before dropping dead of a heart attack fame.

Mike has been here about two weeks and so far I've been positively beastly to him. In our first conversation he won me over instantly by starting with "I haven't rented an apartment in about 20 years, so please let me know if I'm making too much noise." I asked him to do the same for us, explaining he really only had to contend with our cats racing around at all hours. "Oh, I have two golden retrievers back in my house in Pine Valley" (I think that's a housing community south of us). "If you have a house why are you renting an apartment?" I asked, a fair question I thought. He suddenly looked really uncomfortable and confessed, "My son just went to college and my wife, ummm, wanted to make the most of her empty nest syndrome."

Well, what the hell does THAT mean? I interpreted it as, "The kid's gone and I want the whole house to myself now." Without thinking I said to him, "That seems kind of harsh." He turned a deep red and we went our separate ways. I felt bad, it seemed a really embarrassing detail to share with someone you just met 30 seconds ago, but he needs to come up with a better cover story, it seems to me.

The next time I saw him we said hi, then for some reason I couldn't just drop it there. I said we had been admiring his satellite dish (a fancy 3-room jobbie with HD) -- and couldn't drop it THERE, adding, "Seems a bit excessive for such a small place." He blushed and shrugged helplessly, and closed his door. I simply shouldn't be allowed to speak to this man ever again.

Just tonight a new theory occurred to me: What if he's a serial killer, but also a really bad liar, and this "empty nest syndrome" was the best he could come up with on short notice? In which case I must be at the top of his list by now. Notify the authorities if I don't update within a week or two. But so far he is very quiet and doesn't smoke, so it's all good.

~*~

Suddenly fall is upon us. You're probably wondering what became of all my mountain biking adventures. I am too.

Tery's new Toyota suffered a crazy amount of hail damage in one of the last storms of monsoon season. Her car looked like a tinfoil Jiffy Pop cover, with thousands of little indentations. Fortunately insurance was covering it. Unfortunately we just went with the first shop they mentioned, a place called Global Collision.

My insurance company offered multiple times to set us up with a rental car, but Global said it would only take three days. We thought we could survive for three days using my car. Then three days turned into three weeks (Tery insists it might have even been a little longer). Every time she would call for an update she was told it would "hopefully" be ready by such-and-such a day. "Hopefully." As if she was their first client and they had no idea yet how long the process took. I don't know what game they were playing, but she was told on two completely different days a week apart it was "going to paint."

I was getting steadily more and more furious, but Tery hates confrontation so my fury never made it past her ears. We went together to pick it up FINALLY, and I sat and watched as she inspected their work and gratefully shook the salesman's hand as he gave her the keys. "You sure gave him a piece of your mind," I commented when we got home. "He never knew what hit him."

Thankfully she was a bit more honest when USAA called for a follow-up survey of her satisfaction. Which doesn't change the fact that GLOBAL COLLISION STOLE MY SUMMER.

Not helping the situation was the few times I made it to the mountains it was with Tery, who is still struggling to gain some confidence on the trail. I've been patient with her, god knows I didn't start out as the fearless daredevil I've become since last season, but it's really, really difficult to find a trail that doesn't have any technical sections (translation: rock pits, tree roots or anything else that might create a bump in the road) or steep hills to climb (these are still mountains, don't forget), and she ends up walking her bike almost the entire way.

We tried Elk Meadow ("It's a meadow. You can't ask for easier than a meadow" -- well, only a teeny tiny part of it is meadow. The rest is a lot of climbing and, of necessity, descending, which scares her the most). Last weekend we did Meyer Ranch in Conifer, parts of which she liked quite a lot. That was only 4 miles though, so we were going to also hit nearby Flying J Ranch (a trail which Singletracks.com describes as "Adrenaline junkies should go past the first entrance, go past the second entrance and then just keep driving until you find a different ride" LOL) but opted to head home instead.

Meyer Ranch was actually a consolation prize from the previous weekend, when we set out in search of Buffalo Creek Trail in Pine, CO. Following the directions from my book "Bike With a View: Easy and Moderate Trails in Colorado" (published 1994) was our first mistake. We followed a sign for the Buffalo Creek Rec Center which sounded promising, but after driving for 20 minutes on what seemed to be an incredibly long, bumpy dirt road and seeing nothing, we stopped at a random trailhead, set out, and within ten minutes decided this particular trail was too difficult (for Tery. I still might have tried it on my own) and headed home -- after I stubbornly drove for another half an hour on the main road convinced that the stupid trail had to be just around the next bend.

(We didn't see "nothing" exactly -- we stopped to ask for guidance from a family setting up their campground. The parents were off doing something else, so I approached the grubby 9-year-old boy who just stepped off the Deliverance set. He looked wary of me, so I kept it brief. "Is there anything in that direction?" I pointed down the road. "Oh yeah, there's plenty down there" he answered. I thanked him and ran back to reassure Tery.

"Oh, I'm sure there's plenty," she snarked, "Plenty of bears, plenty of trees, plenty of..." I don't know why she was so snippy -- I saw plenty of what appeared to be biking trails disappearing off the sides of the road, but as I said, she can't handle just any trail.)

So Meyer Ranch was something we noticed on our very disappointed drive back to town and went back to a week later.

However, the first trailhead we saw upon turning onto the dirt road was called "Little Scraggy." We didn't want to risk exploring it at the time (still hoping for the Holy Grail of Buffalo Creek), but it did look intriguing to me; intriguing enough to want to return Monday on my own, which I damn well did.

WELL. As it turned out, this trail was exactly what I've been looking for for Tery. Super smooth, literally only two or three rock pits in the entire 8 miles I rode, and really gentle, no major elevation changes. One minor complaint would be that about 45% of it was covered with loose gravelly sand, but other than that an absolute dream ride. Little Scraggy was only the first section. It soon joined up with the Colorado Trail (I'm beginning to suspect every trail in the mountains does; it's apparently 483 miles long, according to Wiki), and farther along the branch I took, the Shinglemill Trail.

This trail winds through the site of the Buffalo Creek wildfire, which I remember happened in 1996, the year we moved to Colorado (we're pleading the fifth). The area is slowly recovering, but still very much characterized by blighted acres of blackened fallen trees, which sounds horrific but actually is kind of beautiful in its own way. Definitely makes for great biking as you can see in every direction for miles upon miles.

Unfortunately this trail goes downhill first, which means you're lured into going much farther than you probably should before remembering what goes down must come up. I never wanted it to end, it was so incredibly fun coasting down the mountain on twisty, rollercoaster-like turns (Tery could do it I was sure, just maybe not at my speed). But I eventually hit the dirt road at the bottom and reluctantly decided to turn back.

No, up wasn't as fun, but it was really just lung-busting more than difficult. I could ride the whole way, but had to stop often to catch my breath. It being a Monday, I was the only one out there, and it was so eerily quiet. There was no wildlife living in the burned out valley. No black devil squirrels crossing my path, no birds, not even any insects really. I forgot how much I enjoyed being so utterly alone.

By the time I got back to my car I had gone 8 miles in about 2 hours (the slow return climb had made it seem much longer than that). I headed back to town exhilarated in the knowledge that I had found my new favorite trail -- just in time for the end of the season (also just received my last batch of cycling jerseys from an eBay seller in England yesterday, naturally. Guess these puppies will have to wait for next year to see any action).

I bring photos. This one is my favorite, I think.



::+7:: )
grrgoyl: (Pilgrim Thunk)
Addendum to my bike post (because I have so many observations they were bound to spill over):

I forgot to mention the level Six-and-a-Half bikers--the ones with aerobars and teardrop-shaped helmets doing speed trials. The Six-and-a-Halfers don't even have actual drop bars, just weird prehensile vestiges of bars with shifters at the end, so small they look like they were made for carnie folk.

I got my first proper bike jersey from eBay and wore it today, which earned me nods from TWO Fives...apparently not so "in the zone" as I thought. That was a bit thrilling. The jersey puts me at a Four-and-a-Half, I figure, but I'll never be a true Five. Not with my big clunky $25 hiking sandals



my "suicide" levers (considered taking them off but I do use them quite a bit)



and most of all my cow skin speed bag, which I love to death but will always hold me back from full Fivedom:



I was sort of in a peloton for all of 90 seconds once, when I was passed by three guys just as I was passing two girls. We stayed together in a little pack for a hundred feet or so before breaking up again. That was kind of thrilling as well.

Most thrilling of all is the wildlife in my park. Deer are a dime a dozen, prairie dogs even moreso. But I've seen a snake that had to be about 2-1/2 feet long twice now (ran right over him the first time but he seems unharmed), a golden hawk that I startled out of the weeds, and two coyotes. The second one was just trotting on the side of the trail, chasing a butterfly. He turned and looked at me and it was the most bizarre sensation. I've looked into animals' eyes before, of course -- but my cats look at me with affection, and even the dogs at the hospital have an expression of familiarity. But this coyote, a truly wild animal, not used to seeing humans all day long like one in the zoo, had this look of strangeness, utterly inhuman and alien. At the risk of sounding corny, it was like looking into the eyes of the cosmos. Yeah, that's corny.

~*~

My review of The Room, arguably the worst movie ever made (at the very least top five for sure):

::Spoilers! But if I say so myself, I think this is some of my best work. It would be a shame if you skipped it:: )

This movie has to be seen for you to believe how incredibly awful it is. "So bad it's good" might be a stretch, but yeah. It shouldn't be watched alone -- you'll want someone else there to share an MST-style commentary. If you can't find anyone don't despair: The MST guys took it on already and you can get their audio track here (Tery and I were proud that they repeated many of the jokes we made ourselves).
grrgoyl: (Muscles not motors)
I hadn't planned on a work rant, but I just have to get this off my chest.

Last weekend someone had written on the message board a big list of "Please don't"s. Unfortunately that same night it had once again become relevant for me to add my $.02 about not dumping food in the sink.

Maybe I shouldn't have written "(27th time asking)," except it was, and as most parents raising children will hopefully back me up, I'm getting pretty fucking tired of repeating myself. Maybe I shouldn't have written that garbage cans don't get backed up and require expensive plumber visits, but I hoped that, like with children, if I provided the rationale behind the request (even though I feel it should be fairly obvious) it would drive the point home finally.

For whatever reason, the following night I got the phone call from my day shift liaison (I'm hesitant to call anyone "friend" anymore in this place) about whether or not I was needed to come in, and to my surprise she asked if there were any problems the prior night. When I said no, she launched into a laundry list of complaints from the staff about things they thought I hadn't done, each more petty than the last. Coincidence? I doubt it.

The one that stuck in my craw was the accusation that the cats' water bowls were empty. It was also empty for me, which is why I put an extra one in the cage. So a) you expect me to believe the cats drained two bowls in the space of two hours between shifts? b) even if they did (they didn't), what the animals do after I leave is hardly in my control, and c) even if they did (they didn't), isn't the point of giving them water for them to drink it? It's not a decorative measure.

I made sure to set her straight on this point, but she didn't sound convinced. So why were all the other "please don't"s fine but mine pushed them over the edge? Probably because I made them feel stupid. Well, I'm sorry, but they're a little stupid, and not likely to get smarter by coddling and tiptoeing around their porcelain feelings. I firmly believe there would be a bit less stupidity in the world if more people were taken to task for it. This is just my public service.

~*~

In Tery's news, she ran her second triathlon a few weekends ago. It went much better for her, in part because she knew what to expect, in bigger part because we arrived much earlier so she had more time to get settled in.

No, the two big highlights of the race were MyFriendDeb came to keep me company, except when I asked her to videotape Tery running she refused, stating "people waste so much time with a camera stuck to their face they miss the actual event right there in front of them." It was only much later I thought of the comeback I should have made: That we weren't there for ourselves, we were there for Tery, and perhaps she'd like to see herself in the race. Whatevs. Next year I just won't ask her.

More exciting, Tery has decided now that she's "officially" a triathlete to get a tattoo to commemorate. I can't let her have all the fun, so I'm getting one too -- a bike chainring on my left inner forearm, because the only thing I love more than biking is tattoos with circular motifs. We still have to find a parlor and extra money, so it won't happen for awhile yet. I'm just thrilled Tery wants one too.

~*~

Biking, biking, biking. Probably no one else cares, but I do so here we are. I'll hide it behind a cut because I'm nice that way and I fully expect no one to read it. But feel free to prove me wrong. But since (practically) no one is going to read it anyway, I might as well put it here as anywhere.

::Don't you dare come in here...:: )

~*~

Last but certainly not least, [livejournal.com profile] swankyfunk drew me ♥ Severus Snape ♥! (reposted with permission):


"I know you're up to something, Potter!"


She's made of all kinds of awesome.


COMING SOON: Parade of Homes 2011 and my review of The Room
grrgoyl: (satan)
I had hoped last weekend would be the beginning of mountain biking season. Well, actually I had hoped LAST last weekend would be it. Tery and I went to Elk Meadow, which I remembered being pretty easy apart from the half a day I spent trying to climb Bergen Peak. But alas, Tery was even more nervous on the bike than she was last year, and it was a lot of me racing ahead a half mile or so, then waiting while she walked her bike to catch up.

She apologized for holding me back, but I remember very well that I wasn't so different this time last year, just starting out before I learned to trust the bike. I had the benefit of doing it alone with no one watching me though.

Last weekend was to be Lair o' the Bear with Ger again, until he wussed out at the last minute, asking for a street ride instead. I didn't mind since it meant more time with Mamba. He took me straight across the city on this one trail, eventually wending up Mount Carbon in the foothills. It was for the best that we avoided the Lair, as good ol' Ger barely made it up the very smooth uphill portion of our paved trail (in his defense, he still works the evil inventory job so doesn't have the luxury of a regular exercise schedule).

To make up for his performance on the mountain, he raced back on the return leg at an average pace of 20 mph -- heedless of the fact that I didn't know all the turns and was in danger any second of losing him. Heedless too of the other many pedestrians and bikers using the trail, resulting in more than one hapless girlfriend or toddler being yanked out of his path at the last moment.

So THIS weekend I'm going to the Lair alone, and have done with it. As with everything else in my life, if I want something done I have to do it myself.

~*~

Of course, I also had the advantage because I've been biking extra hard, 20+ miles a day, so my get-away sticks would look good for Laura and Tyler's wedding, where I planned to wear a kilt.

I was looking forward to the wedding, except for Tabby. If you'll remember, when we last left Tabby she had proven what kind of friend she was by doing such things as pretending to be too busy working to offer Tery a smidge of support after her marathon; going behind Tery's back and bitching to her boss because Tery had the nerve to not work 13-hour days so she could train for said marathon; and showing my completely not-work-related texts asking why everyone was ignoring Tery to the medical director (who mentioned them to Tery), hoping to accomplish I can't imagine what.

So, in answer to the question of what kind of friend Tabby is, evidently the kind who would sell her grandmother for a pack of smokes.

To top it off, despite Tery's instructions that she was on vacation and really, really didn't want to be bothered unless it was absolutely, positively unavoidable, on day two she got a text from Tabby: "Washing machine broke. What do we do?"

Really? This can't possibly be handled without Tery? Here's a little multiple choice quiz. See if you guys, who don't even work at the hospital, can pick the right answer:

A) Just try your hardest not to dirty anything else and let the pile heap up until Tery gets back in two weeks.
B) Buy a washboard and tub. The Amish have gotten by without washing machines for centuries.
C) Call the damn repair company, for whom there's a file in Tery's desk very clearly marked "washing machine."

Or better yet, ask the medical director, who isn't on vacation and who in theory also manages the hospital. Apparently it's just too much to hope that there's a single other grown-up working there that can make decisions in Tery's absence.

Tery wisely ignored the text, and when I went in last weekend there were a series of notes on the board documenting the process of someone finally calling the company, underneath which someone wrote "My hero!" Do you think any of them once called Tery their "hero" when SHE called them? I'm willing to bet this week's paycheck that's a big fat no.

So I was dreading the wedding because I was afraid I would be stuck at a table with Tabby, with all this anger and resentment between us. I came this close to emailing Laura to explain the situation, but Ryan wisely stopped me, thinking she might have more important things to worry about.

It all worked out. There was no assigned seating apart from the immediate family -- Tyler said they "didn't want to be responsible for people fighting" (he's a joker, I don't necessarily interpret this to mean he knew about our petty squabble) -- and Tabby and I spent the evening in an elaborate dance of avoidance. Which was almost comical at times, since Ryan is her friend too so she had to come close to me to talk to him, but we pulled it off.

I mentioned something to Kay about how glad I was not to be stuck at a table with her, and then had to go into why without dredging up everything. Kay, who fortunately escaped a relationship with Tabby (though not amicably), was surprisingly generous and said, "Well, Tabby's going through some stuff..."

I see. When TABBY'S "going through stuff" we should all cut her some slack and be nice to her. When TERY'S "going through stuff" she's expected to keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on. Except, given Tabby's love of drama, I guarantee you there's an 85% chance her "stuff" is of her own making, so it's a little hard to be sympathetic.

Say what you will about my rages, but at least when I'm angry with you, you know it. I wish everyone were so refreshingly honest.

Like Dr. N, who was also there and ended up sitting with us. Dr. N is very nice, very friendly and pleasant, to your face -- but Tery says she stirs up trouble behind the scenes, and doesn't hesitate to stab people in the back. We suspect she was the mastermind behind reporting my Heely video to the medical director, as well as part of the contingent complaining that Tery dared to devote some of her energy to her personal life and not the hospital. But she's good, never leaves a trail, so for now all we have are (very, very strong) suspicions. Still, it's hard to look at her smiling face and not see the snake in the grass behind.

Fun wedding!

No really, it was.



::more photographic evidence inside:: )

There was one truly funny moment at our table (apart from the rip-roarin' hilarity of the tiny plastic goblets). We had all chatted politely over dinner, wondering where Tyler and Laura met, what Tyler's previous wife was like (I put forth the bold theory that she was Asian. "You think?" almost everyone answered), etc. Then they cut the cake to the song "When I'm Sixty-Four" by The Beatles. Dr. N. asked out of the blue, "Are they divorced?" meaning Paul McCartney and whoever he just divorced. We all assumed she was continuing the prior questioning about Tyler and his previous wife and said, "God, I hope so!" Maybe you had to be there.

Ryan and I left about an hour after the dinner, so apparently got to miss Chris getting utterly shitfaced again, boo. We spent almost the entire drive back drooling together over Tyler. I love having a gay best friend.

~*~

Ah hell, as long as I've got you, we went to the Chalk Art Festival again this year. Here are some more pics:



::inside:: )

Finally, my own humble contribution to the art world:


This is how the tree at the side of our building looks at 3 am when I come home




~*~

Next time, promise promise: Week of a thousand movies!
grrgoyl: (Dr. Horrible)
Nothing big happened this week. However, lots of little things happened instead. Have some bite-sized updates, plus some movie reviews.

I was driving home from work this weekend at 5 am when suddenly I noticed my car sounded a lot worse than it did a second before. It was quite alarming, but seemed to be operating fine. I prayed for it to just get me home (I had about 2 miles to go at this point). I eventually pieced together the engine that now sounded like a motorcycle with a peculiar dragging noise: obviously my muffler had fallen/was falling off. Whew, at least not an engine malfunction.

When I arrived I looked closer: Got it in one. Unfortunately it wasn't the back part hanging down but the front, meaning it was scooping forward like a bulldozer rather than pulling behind.

Tery told me how a similar thing had happened to her first car. She had put off fixing it for about a week, and was told when she finally got it in that she was missing her oil cover and the muffler had been throwing up sparks like crazy -- she had essentially been driving around a Molotov cocktail. She shouldn't be alive.

I got a couple of hours of sleep and then called Firestone. It just figures I was literally a month from paying off my last maintenance visit with them and looking forward to having that extra money in my pocket again. Still cheaper than a car payment, I told myself yet again.

They took me in immediately, which is why I love them. I gingerly drove the two miles or so, my car in obvious distress. At a stop light a guy shouted out his window, "Hey, your tailpipe is dragging!" I toyed with an ultra-sarcastic response, "REALLY? Is THAT the godawful scraping noise I've been trying to drown out with my radio?" But he was only trying to be helpful, so I assured him I was on top of the situation.

At Firestone the guy offered to top off my fluids for free, making it sound like he was doing me a real favor. I was really more concerned about this huge metal thing hanging off my engine, but sure, why not. Tery wondered if "fluids" included gas (of course not).

$650 later and I was on my way. At least it happened after I bought my bike, or else I wouldn't have been nearly so impulsive to get Mamba.

~*~

Ah, Mamba. She has already brought me much pleasure, but I have had my first crash, a much more traumatic event than any damage to my car that doesn't even have a name.

I put pedals with toe clips on her this week. I had these once before and hated them, but that was actually on Rogue Leader and putting toe clips on a mountain bike is a symptom of insanity, even if I had the experience back then that I do now.

The maiden voyage went off without a hitch, and I loved the workout they gave my quads that was previously missing without them. Then on day two I was stopped at an intersection waiting for two cars to pass. A cool parlor trick I do on the bike is balance on the pedals while at almost a complete stop.

Well, as I learned this day, I can do this for one car but not two. I started wavering. I got my right foot out in time but not my left, and WHAM! I went straight down on my left side, exactly like I did that time with the poison ivy. It happened so quickly I actually banged my head on the pavement, so three cheers for wearing a helmet.

I blame the clips (and user error) about 40%; mostly I blame other bikers who ignore traffic rules and barrel through every intersection without a care, so now motorists act like every cyclist is a deer that might unexpectedly leap in front of them (so they drive too cautiously and slowly for my parlor trick).

I took a huge gouge out of the handlebar tape on that side -- this is why I hate buying new things. But fortunately my body bore the brunt of the rest of the fall and nothing else was damaged. Abrasions and bruises heal: a scratched paint job or bent component isn't so easily cured.

And I did have my eye on some awesome handlebar tape, black with tiny white spirals, for the mixte anyway. Maybe it was meant to be after all.

~*~

In not so good news, Tery's friend is dying of end-stage liver failure.

Kristy was Tery's best friend from the bar she used to go to. Kristy worked as a waitress, was more or less an alcoholic (she says less; Tery says more. It looks like Tery was right), and her life was a mess back before Tery had to stop hanging out with her because she simply couldn't socialize outside of the bar setting.

Tery heard she was in the hospital through a mutual friend on Facebook -- also through Kristy, but Kristy is one of those Facebookers who loves to post cryptic, tantalizing hints of news that force everyone to comment, "OMG What's wrong???" (so VERY EXTREMELY annoying and a pathetic attempt to trick people into giving you attention, BTW, any of you who happen to Facebook). Kristy posted things like "in the hospital, guess I'll have to call in sick to work haha" and then "in ICU, now I'm worried. sad face"

Tery went to visit her before her 2-week vacation back home, and reckons Kristy won't live to see her return. She says she's horrifically emaciated with a distended belly full of ascites, and her lungs are filling with fluid as well. They can't give her pain meds because with 20% liver function she can't metabolize them. It's said to be one of the most painful ways to die. She was so disoriented no one told her she's dying; she thinks she'll be going home, going back to the bar and waiting a few months for her liver transplant (so she can get back to her party lifestyle. Even if she did survive this week, they don't waste organ transplants on people who refuse to change their ways) -- hence her flippant, coy little Facebook posts.

Kristy is 32 years old.

Tery is taking it extremely well, considering how close they used to be. Tery desperately wanted her to escape the bar life when she got out, but Kristy was stuck fast. A small irony is Kristy's father died of liver cancer in his early 40's, refusing to quit drinking even at the end. She was so furious with him, and look at her now.

Me, I have even less sympathy. As the mutual friend said, you don't wake up one morning with 20% liver function and go to the ICU. Kristy has had problems for awhile now, vomiting blood, etc. but refused to heed the warnings. At the risk of sounding smug, one night in the ER was all it took for me to change my entire life, and my problem wasn't even that life-threatening. How many times would you vomit blood before suspecting maybe something wasn't right?

With all the uproar about whether or not to legalize pot, I ask why the hell is alcohol legal when it's just as, if not more, dangerous? I guarantee it's destroyed more lives, even without a death involved.

So, yeah, pre-emptive RIP Kristy.

~*~

Dammit, I guess I'm just incapable of keeping my news truly "bite-sized."

Movie reviews!

::The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:: )

Did I say reviews? This one took far too long, I'm quitting while I'm ahead. But just you wait until next time....THEN you'll get it.

~*~

Last but absolutely not least: Got your package today, [livejournal.com profile] velmaneuwirth. You are the sweetest EVER. So much goodness crammed into such a tiny envelope! I can't wait to give Tery her medals, she's going to LOVE them. Andandand you gave me Rickman! (sort of) And BANKSY! LOVE LOVE LOVE that graphic! Thank you so much!! :D (also loved seeing your handwriting. More personal than words typed on a computer :)
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
What did I do with my Memorial Day weekend? I bought some bikes. No typo, bikes, plural. I would blame my temporary insanity on having too much free time during the holiday, but of course there was no holiday for me, I worked my normal day-night-day-night-night schedule.

Let me begin at the beginning. I've always looked down on Tery and her owning a mountain bike AND a road bike. I've always felt I had the best of both worlds with Rojo a-Go-Go and her interchangeable tires. I've always felt disdain for the racerheads covered in brand-name sponsored clothing and shelling out thousands of dollars for top-of-the-line components weighing next to nothing for their ride.

But something flipped a switch suddenly in my brain. Suddenly I was feeling some serious bike envy for the sleek, speedy machines that flew past me up hills and on most straightaways. I fantasized about having some variety in hand placement on my bars (the mountain bike really only offers one position). I dreamed of crouching low to the ground like a cheetah, eating up the miles with effortless efficiency.

Which isn't to say I went completely to the Dark Side and ran out and bought a wardrobe of tight biking clothes that only really look good on Lance Armstrong-shaped bodies.

No, I started my search on Craigslist, where I always do, and over Tery's loud protestations. ::And so the saga began...:: )
grrgoyl: (Muscles not motors)
It seems this new direction of (maybe) vlogging has paid off: The adventures are just rolling in now! I would have also vlogged about this, but I don't want to lose sight of my writing roots so quickly.

Last Monday was promising to be really, really nice; 70-75 degrees. I wasn't going to miss the chance to get out on the bike without being swaddled head to toe in cold weather cycling gear. I lived in dread of getting a call from MyFriendDeb, who always wants to take walks in nice weather. Walking is all well and good, but it's not terribly aerobic, you don't feel the wind in your hair, and I consider plodding along one step at a time to be a tedious chore when I could be flying. Plus I always harbor the tiniest resentment that Deb will never be motivated enough to accommodate my interests and join me on her bike (which needs a major tune-up but is not un-doable), it's always about fucking walking because that's what she wants to do.

But no call came and the park beckoned with sunshine, singing birds and warm breezes. I eagerly saddled up and rode out.

Glorious. Glorious, glorious. The first six miles were just fantastic. I felt like I could spend the entire day out there. The grin was permanently plastered on my face.

Then at mile 6-1/2 I noticed my back tire seemed a little mushy. It was soft before I left so I had just pumped it up. Odd. In the time it took me to stop the bike and dismount, it was indisputably deflating. Damn.

I took it off and immediately spotted the problem -- I had picked up a goathead, a vicious little thorn with the puncture power of a half-penny nail.


Guess how it got its name?


Fortunately I'm a seasoned rider and I'd have the flat changed in no time. A runner had stopped to check on me, asking if I had "everything I needed"; I told him I did, while examining him to see where he was hiding any tools or equipment if I had said no. Nowhere, evidently, but it was nice of him to offer anyway.

He took off running again, and I started pumping up the replacement tire. Tery had given me a bunch of CO2 cartridges as stocking stuffers, and this was my first time using one. It's the same cartridge that powers air guns, etc., inserted in a thingie that screws onto the valve and inflates the tire in a single powerful blast of air.

At first I was impressed -- I had a rock hard tire in seconds, something I could never achieve pumping by hand (oh dear, this sentence is chock full of double entendres). But when I put the wheel back on the bike, I noticed a wobble, traced to a spot where the tire wasn't seated in the rim and the tube was bulging through. I started to take it off again when suddenly it blew out right in my face (bright side: At least I wasn't on the bike when this happened).

I wasn't close enough to be harmed, don't worry, but it sounded exactly like a gunshot echoing across the park. I wondered if Mr. Runner With No Equipment thought I had just committed suicide.

Well, now this was a problem since I was fresh out of spare tubes. Crap, crap, crap. There was no point waiting for someone to happen by to help me -- the vast majority of bikers in that park are racers with skinny little tires. Mountain bikers are the silent oppressed minority, and mountain bikers that use road slicks, that run nearly half an inch narrower than knobby tubes? From what I've seen, that's just me.

There was no help for it: I would be walking. I set off in the direction I was already heading with Roja hoisted on my shoulder. But Roja is no lightweight carbon fiber machine; she's solid old school aluminum hard tail. I can manage her up three flights of stairs to get home, but walking four miles out of the park? Wasn't happening. If I could have pushed her it would be fine, but the rear tire was flat as flat gets, and I didn't want to risk damaging the wheel, which costs way, way more to replace than a tire.

Plan B was to hide her somewhere, hike home, get my car and come back for her. Bleah. Not terribly appealing, but I was drawing a blank on a plan C. (bright side: At least I wasn't in the mountains, where there'd be no coming back with a vehicle and I would have had to carry her the whole way down.) So I doubled back towards a parking area behind me where there was a large copse of tall reeds and trees. I laid her down flat as deep as I could in this thicket. I didn't think anyone would steal her, but you never know. I stuffed as many valuable things I could in my pockets (bright side: for some reason I had worn cargo shorts instead of biking shorts, which have no pockets), forgetting my $20 mini pump, my $20 speed bag, my rear blinking safety light, and the new Cannondale windbreaker Tery had just bought me (value unknown but probably not inconsiderable). Damn.

So I hiked (and what do you know? I might as well have invited MyFriendDeb after all). And at this point I'm going to use some visual aids to show you how I took the stupidest, least efficient route to reach my destination.



It had become almost uncomfortably warm (bright side: better than 40 degrees) and I was wearing my new $20 hiking shoes, which had only ever touched bike pedals so technically weren't broken in yet for actual walking.

Thirty minutes that felt like two hours later, I staggered into the park office and explained my situation. They said it was a courtesy service, but for safety reasons I would have to be accompanied by a police officer (park ranger with a gun). I thought to myself at that point I would go with one of Darth Vader's stormtroopers if it meant I didn't have to walk anymore.

I was paired up with a young attractive guy who smiled a lot. They explained my situation to him and he grinned at me and said, "It's all good!" I snorted. "Easy for you to say!" But we got into his big park patrol truck and were off.

Halfway back to where I prayed Roja waited, he slowed down to assess an SUV parked off to the side in what wasn't a parking place, by what turned out to be some guy walking his dogs, five of them, off leash. Officer Allen wasn't having that nonsense in his park and he stopped to investigate, apologizing to me. I assured him I didn't mind if he needed to enforce some laws.

The problem was he had left his ticket book in the office to take care of me, so he radioed to another officer to take over. Meanwhile he stepped out to talk to the guy. I sat there listening to the police radio. It was like having a front row seat to an episode of "Cops"! Only less exciting because no one was being chased and everyone was appropriately attired.

An interminable amount of time later, the second officer finally showed up. He of course needed to be debriefed. While the two of them chatted, Mr. Illegal Dogman came over to me and apologized for the delay. I said I was sorry he got caught (really I wasn't), and he chuckled and said as long as he didn't go to jail he didn't mind. Well then.

A second interminable amount of time later, the second policeman got in and we were off. My relief driver was older, less chatty and not as smiley as Officer Allen, but it wasn't as if I had a choice. We made some awkward small talk until reaching Roja. He cleared a spot in the bed while I went to retrieve her.

She was undisturbed, but for some reason getting her out of the thicket was a lot trickier than getting her in. I felt a little self-conscious ripping through the reeds and single-handedly destroying the little patch of wetlands with a park ranger staring at me the whole time, but he didn't say anything.

We tossed her in the truck and again were off, this time all the way to my house, which I thought was damn nice. But looking back, I'll bet all the park employees grab any excuse to get out once in awhile -- as magical as it is to me, I'm sure the wonder wears off quickly when it becomes your work place.

Still, I didn't want to tie up a policeman in case he was needed elsewhere, so I instructed him to drop me off in the strip mall across the street from our complex.

It was as I was getting out that I noticed something that filled me with horror (gentlemen, I warn you to look away now if you can't handle the bodily functions of ladies): It was, let's say, not the best time of the month for such an active lifestyle. And yes, I had left behind evidence of this on the truck's new cloth seat. Holy HELL.

What was I supposed to do? There was no way to clean it surreptitiously barehanded in the few seconds before I was expected at the back to get my bike, so I just closed the door and prayed he would think it was dirt or something. I thanked him and started the (much shorter and manageable) hike home.

I closed the door and tried to shrivel into a little ball in the corner. When that didn't work, I went to the bathroom. My underwear looked like a crime scene. I felt enormously embarrassed and impossibly guilty. So to soothe these totally alien feelings I did what I do best and transferred blame onto the officers; if they hadn't wasted so much time faffing around with their leisurely, authoritative posturing I would have been in and out long before this happened. Yeah, that sounds good.

So, I am apparently not through learning lessons when it comes to biking. On this trip I learned:

Pack two spare tubes. I bought the largest frame pack I could find for adding/removing layers in the cold, so it's not like I don't have the space.

When it's "that time of month," I should just take to my bed with a hot water bottle and the blinds drawn.

If I HAVE to bike in that condition and this happens again, for the love of God I'll just walk all the way home.

Lastly, wild exagerration makes for a much more entertaining anecdote.


P.S.: I've been back to the park since, and passed ranger trucks parked alongside the road. Tery joked that when they spot me, they murmur, "There she goes. Bloody Mary." >:(
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
This was the second weekend for The Mixed Signals Gang. Gerry pushed mightily for a return to the Lair, but Ter and I had our hearts set on my beloved Audubon Loop. Tery did okay at the Lair (apart from the falling and flat tire), but she suffered a bit of PTSD afterwards and I felt she should probably try somewhere a little tamer until she was more used to her bike (nicknamed "The Gray Ghost" nee "Silver Fox").

Just as we pulled into the parking lot, a storm cloud made good on its threat and broke, spattering us with a few raindrops. Families were literally fleeing the trail in terror. But, and this is why I love Colorado, it was done by the time we saddled up and headed into the woods, leaving behind a lovely breezy sunlit fall afternoon.

The ride was fairly uneventful, only exciting to me because we found a different path to loop back on which opened up a whole new unexplored route. Tery did okay (I suppose; she stayed far behind us so she didn't feel any pressure from being watched), though wasn't awfully keen on the trail back as it involved climbing some smallish hills and rocketing down the other side. Downhill still kind of terrifies her (as it did me when I first started out. Then one day it just sort of clicked and now I live for it).

Some pictures:


Sporty and Sassy Ter. You can see the storm front retreating in the face of our bold determination to enjoy the day



Action shot of Ger. He got some air off that tiny root in the path. So manly!



Me and Rojo



I kind of like this carefree one taken without my knowledge, and since it's my blog I get to appear twice


~*~

Monday was absolutely gorgeous, 80 degrees. I couldn't wait to get out, even just to go around the park. But first I had to bring a large torchiere lamp to donate to Goodwill. It was heavy, but not extraordinarily so. I was walking out to my car with it when I felt a sudden twinge in my back that almost made me double over. It hurt so much that it pretty much killed any bike plans. Stuck inside on possibly the last really nice day of the season (though who knows...fingers crossed for global warming); I was PISSED.

So I made the most of it by watching some movies:

::Clash of the Titans (2010):: )

That's it. This movie is just dead to me. Flashier effects to be sure, but shallow, nonsensical plot line. Give me back Harryhausen's photoshop job.

Second, ::Paranormal Activity 2:: )

The best thing I can say about this movie is I didn't pay to see it (thank you, torrents). And I want some of whatever [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana was smoking when she said it was as enjoyable as the first (which I guess technically is true, though not necessarily a positive). Sorry, babe.
grrgoyl: (Jayne momma's boy)
This is Halloween, this is Halloween...

I'm not sure where my inspiration for my costume came from this year. I already had the hat, but I'm pretty sure I did last year too. But it had the dual appeal of being relatively simple to put together, and being a character hardly anyone would recognize (I have a perverse need to go as really obscure things for Halloween; probably my way of ferreting out the "cool" people. Exhibit A: Rorshach from The Watchmen last year. Exhibit B: Max from Rushmore the year before. Exhibit C: Donnie Darko the year before that).

I went as Jayne Cobb from TV's Firefly. If you're staring at me blankly, I guess we now know which camp you're in (kidding).

I knew Chris the host would know me, since I gave him my DVDs of the show and movie when I acquired the Blu-ray versions. It bothered him that I chose someone with such questionable morals (he's a good man in a fight, but he did try to sell out Simon and River in that one ep), but I assured him my choice was based on owning the hat and not any special affinity with him (I lied. Jayne might be my favorite).

Here's the full length shot:


Big Damn Heroes


(I'm obligated to point out that the photoshop was Tery's idea. Without it you would have had a backdrop of a kind of messy living room and a TV playing From Dusk 'Til Dawn (pole dancer scene, NSFW).)

The drop holster and gun (BB) came from eBay. The rest was all thrift store and already owned, even authentic Bowie knife with sheath (not pictured anywhere, sadly) that I have for some reason.


This here's Vera. She's my very favorite gun


The goatee was a surprisingly big hit, mostly because no one even recognized me as me. People admitted they walked into the room and thought, "Wonder who the new guy is?" And Laura's beau Tyler took it a step further and thought, "Wonder who the new guy is? I'd consider going gay for him." The sweetest thing a girl wants to hear! (no, srsly -- I was ridiculously flattered.)


I'm considering growing one for reals


Tery went as "Glee's" Sue Sylvester. No one knew her either, except for one homo accompanying Tabby. Figures.


Two Janes (Lynch and Cobb)


The only other great costumes were Laura and Tyler, et.al. as a hillbilly family -- he's the redneck (in reality he's a civil engineer or somesuch, so the exact opposite), Laura is his sister bride and Kay is his cousin bride. Laura's mom is the proud redneck grandma.


Family of Tea Partiers


Almost no one else wore costumes. Lame. Chris and Liana (the hosts) were Shrek and Fiona, but very minimal interpretations (Chris had a mask and big green hands that he wore for all of 30 seconds). I don't have a decent picture of them.

Two-date Tabby (so called because she brings a posse with her everywhere) upped her game to Three-date, bringing her ex Denise (as a nondescript vampire with cool glue-in fangs, but nondescript nevertheless) and two boys wearing recycled costumes from previous years, Lame and Lamer. They spent the whole night trying to get the girls to leave, not realizing Tabby never departs before midnight.

I was mildly irritated because for the last month I've had practically every Saturday off because the hospital was so slow and there was no point in going in. Nowhere to go, so I spent these rare weekend nights off fighting to stay awake before finally passing out in front of the TV and being kicked off to the bedroom by Tery.

This weekend I finally had something fun to do, and the hospital was full of patients. Naturally. Not only did I have to give a bunch of pills and IV meds, I had to check a min pin's blood glucose, my most difficult duty. You have to draw blood from the tiny veins in their ears, which, lacking any scientific means of locating them, means randomly pricking them repeatedly and hoping for a gush. Most of the time I manage it because I'm dealing with very old, very sick dogs who are used to being poked with needles. One weekend I had a "will bite" dog I was supposed to check glucose on every two hours. He barely let me into the cage to straighten his IV line, so of course my feeling was "are you KIDDING me?" I was more than a little relieved when I called the doctor and was told they didn't honestly expect me to do it.

Anyway, I lucked out this time and hit a vein on the second try. I dashed around taking care of everyone else, and was back to the party within an hour. Not too terrible. Except whenever I have to go back to the hospital after a party is over, I find myself gripped by a bone-deep weariness and I can barely keep my eyes open so I might as well go home (but I can't).

On the other hand, I was thankful to have a reason to leave, or else Chris would probably keep me all night (on this occasion, doubtlessly to join him in a "Firefly" marathon). As it was, he cornered me on my way out to the hot tub (I wasn't going in, I was only going to chat with the people who did) and insisted I do a karaoke song with him.

The problem with Chris is he's an aging hippy who only likes music from the 70's. And, like most drunks, he's terribly insistent you indulge his requests, no matter how much you try to (politely) fend him off.

He was hellbent on singing a song by someone, couldn't remember their name, but while searching his collection came up with plenty of other options. He asked if I had heard The Carpenters. I said of course I had, but I wasn't a huge fan. "You need to revisit them, because they're AWESOME," he said determinedly. I did my best to convince him that I didn't like his music, it was nothing personal, but forcing me to "revisit" it was unlikely to change my mind. "I've got stuff from the 80's too," he responded with a wounded look on his face.

Fortunately Liana passed through at that moment and told him to leave me alone. I could have kissed her.

Speaking of music, no one, not even people who recognized me as Jayne, sang me his theme song. :(

~*~

Lair o' the Bear with Ger and Ter


The good news is I've FINALLY done Lair o' the Bear. Unfortunately I have no pictures to share because I forgot my camera. I blame Gerry, he's always in such a big damn hurry.

I'm especially sad to have no pics because it was Tery's first adventure with us. She finally got herself a mountain bike and this was her maiden voyage. She didn't fare too well -- fell twice (once to the left, once to the right), and got a flat on the downhill trip (Gerry and I were miles ahead of her. She had to rely on the kindness of a passing stranger. I felt terrible). She says she had fun, but now a few days later she's confessed to a bit of post traumatic stress disorder.

I'm bringing her to my nice easy relaxing Audubon Loop next weekend to try to create a good experience for her.

I was disappointed that for her first trip we didn't see any of the sinister-looking devil squirrels I see all the time in the mountains.


Alvin, Eater of Souls (and the occasional nut)


Tery's troubles notwithstanding, I loved the Lair, and it has moved to the top of my faves list. Pretty much like every other mountain trail minus 80% of the rocks and tree roots. A really sweet, smooth ride, especially on the downhill.

We dubbed ourselves the "Mixed Signals Gang" because as we climbed up, we passed a biker going down who asked me if there were any more behind us. I said yes because Gerry was back there. Gerry, who was RIGHT behind me (I hadn't realized), said no. Poor guy. So our nicknames became Geronimo Ger, Scrappy T (Ter) and I'm Indefatigable Elaine for lack of cool adjectives beginning with E. I'm certainly open to suggestions.

When we got back to town we were both so hungry we stopped at Five Guys, a sinfully delicious burger joint I haven't dared even glance at since the ER. I had the smallest slice of heavenburger they offer. I might have had some chest pressure later that night, or it could have been in my head. Well worth it.
grrgoyl: (Default)
I've decided I'm running for office. And the only item on my agenda will be putting some kind of cap on these political TV ads. I'M SICK TO DEATH OF THEM. And I suspect I'm not the only one.

I can't stand the smear campaigns. Just because your opponent may or may not have done these horrible things you claim is not a reason to vote for you.

Our local news has a "truth test" you can read on their website to learn what is truth and what is exagerration (or outright lie). As you'd expect, every statement has a little bit of truth to it, but most are just taken out of context.

My point is, if we need a third party "truth test" to know what to believe, how on earth can we trust any of these people in Washington?

~*~

So what's new? I'm still biking, which isn't NEW, I suppose. I've gotten so hard core that not only do I swallow bugs now, I chew first. I think of it as a little protein bite (these are very tiny bugs, like gnats. I'm not talking horseflies). The good news is with the colder weather, the protein bites have become much fewer and further between.

I never thought of myself as a rage fanatic, but I've noticed I can't seem to leave the house without making at least one enemy. Mostly these are pedestrians, or even other bikers, who simply can't grasp the concept of using only one side of the path. I have stories that could fill hours, but no one wants to hear them I'm sure.

Occasionally my warpath extends to motorists. Not often, since my contact with them is limited to crossing one intersection to get to the park. But sometimes that 100-foot stretch is all I need.

One morning I had had a perfectly lovely ride (on Thursdays I don't start work until 10 a.m., so I get to go out early and be all smug in front of the poor schleps commuting to their 9-5). I was waiting to cross the intersection to head home. The light turned red, when suddenly this huge ass pickup truck literally screeched to a halt in a full straddle across the crosswalk. As the light was solidly red 10 seconds before he arrived, I can only wonder what the hell he was doing that he didn't notice. I'm willing to bet texting illegally.

I crossed, giving him a sarcastic little salute. That was all I was planning on doing, I swear, until my reptile brain took over, turned my vision white, and lifted my hand to smack the front of his vehicle as I passed.

I've done this once before. It was also a huge ass pickup (universally shitty drivers?) but that one had the sense to realize he was in the wrong and do nothing. This guy, however, laid on his horn and didn't stop until I was out of sight (I stopped to flip him my middle finger before moving on). Perhaps he thought his big, manly truck could be damaged by a girl slapping it?

I know I can't claim total innocence here. Like I said, I honestly wasn't planning on doing anything more than wave angrily. But it just isn't right. If someone came to a stop stretched diagonally across two lanes, people would get a little upset (they just wouldn't have the luxury of acting on it like I did). Cyclists get to use a very tiny percentage of the road as it is, and even that isn't safe from assholes like this guy.

But I've put two and two together. The one thing shared in common between everyone who angers me, be it pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, other shoppers in a store, neighbors, movie theater audiences, is this: They act inconsiderately, like they're the only ones on the planet. Ironically as our population explosion continues, people are behaving more selfishly, not less. It's about courtesy. It's about manners. It's about civility. These are becoming quaint antique concepts, like brunch and cotillions. Perhaps I was born in the wrong time. Perhaps I should be living on a remote mountainside. Perhaps I will someday.

~*~

Speaking of remote mountainsides (ha!), I went biking this weekend again with Gerry after a very long hiatus (his schedule, not mine). I thought I was done for the season, but he asked and I couldn't resist.

We went to Green Mountain trail, which is as unremote as you can get and still be in the "mountains" (technically the foothills). It's a popular spot for quick rides because it's close to civilization and a fairly short loop (about 10 miles, though you have to work for it in places).

It was a lot of work going up, since Gerry insisted on ignoring all the easy-looking sloping singletrack and sticking to doubletrack strewn with loose, exceedingly treacherous rocks (where the term "rockdonculous" was coined). Bleah. But we went the long way around the hill on the way back, down some crazy fun hard-packed singletrack that propelled this trail straight to the top of my list of favorites (well, before the list consisted solely of the Audubon Loop, so take that for what it's worth).

The two highlights were first coming across a scenic overlook where a memorial plaque sat, dedicated to "Anita Salazar: For cancer warriors and warriors of all dibilitating diseases." Yep, "debilitating" was misspelled. I don't know which broke my heart more, the mistake or not having a camera to show y'all. It's okay, I will certainly return to this trail again.

The second highlight was when a snake crossed our path. Gerry spotted it first, and he must have the eyes of a hawk because it was only about 9 inches long, very tiny. He told me to get it off the trail before someone else ran over it. I was going to, but as soon as it noticed me it turned and coiled threateningly, and it was then I saw the teeny tiny rattle. My first rattler!

I really didn't want to risk it, but Gerry took off his glove and shooed it off. It tried to strike at him -- little guy meant business. But didn't succeed, fortunately, because I've since turned up literature online that says baby rattlers are more dangerous than full-grown snakes because they haven't learned how to control their venom and release it all in one dose (though it's probably less venom than an adult).

Next trip will hopefully be Lair o' the Bear, cuz that trail will hang over my head until I finally get to do it.

~*~

Last but not least, a fairly quickie movie review. ::Ghost Writer:: )

I didn't even bother checking out the bonus features, which normally means I'll be purchasing it and saving them for later, but not in this case. I'm not so far gone with Ewan love to buy everything he does anymore. Not since Phantom Menace.

~*~

Coming soon: Halloween, and my truly kick-ass costume
grrgoyl: (Muscles not motors)
Before we get to this week's post, I forgot to mention that driving home from the 6.3 millllllllllllllion dollar Parade of Homes, we actually passed a DMC DeLorean on the road. It was pretty exciting, though probably not to you, and probably not now a week later, but it's far too late to put it back in the post where it belongs.

~*~

Another adventure this weekend, and I daresay it might be my last of the season. This summer has been like a microcosm of life: I started out young, full of vigor and energy, curiosity and excitement. Now I feel old and tired, and all I can think about is lying on the couch watching my stories.

I went to Lair o' the Bear, just because Gerry thought I wouldn't like it -- human nature I guess, tell someone they shouldn't do something and that's all they'll want to do. At least I think it was Lair o' the Bear; I didn't see a single sign labeling it as such, and the trailhead started at Mt. Falcon Park.

As I unloaded in the lot, I saw a couple of guys preparing to hike the trail. I must read too much slash fiction, I simply can't imagine two men climbing a mountain without a plan to have sex; particularly when one guy is an older, skanky-looking dude that smoked and loudly hawked up spit balls, and the other a young studly type.

I'll never know since I never saw them again once I got underway (I don't consider this a bad thing). The trail almost immediately diverged into Castle Trail and Turkey Trot Trail -- I took the latter because it sounded and looked a lot easier.

It was really nice, uphill but shady and not too rocky.



I passed a couple of hikers, one of which muttered "wrong way" to me -- I laughed nervously, not sure what he meant, until Turkey Trot reunited with Castle and I saw this sign:


God DAMMIT


I thought the dirt seemed strangely free of other bike tracks. It also sucked because I was really looking forward to going back down some of the nicer-looking sections. Mostly I just hate the feeling of pissing all over nature (not literally, obviously) and breaking rules without realizing it.

So I continued on Castle, a much rockier, steeper climb -- seems a bit unfair the hikers get the nicer trails, but whatev. At one point it was so rocky and steep I gave up trying to ride and just pushed. It was hot, dusty, thoroughly unpleasant, but I couldn't resist the lure up ahead where the path appeared to disappear into the tree line.

I reached it at last, though it was still too steep to ride; however, not having the sun pounding down on me made all the difference. I was passed by a couple of bikers, men in top condition powering through with their granny gears. They were so single-minded on going up that they didn't even see this pretty doe standing five feet to the side:


I didn't see any bears, Irish or otherwise. The nationality of this doe is uncertain


The second guy said something about "Almost there!" as he huffed past. Almost where? I wondered. I didn't have to wait long to find out. The trail soon crested onto a peak, where it turned wide and smooth and lovely. Up here were meadows and benches and observation points and happy couples walking hand in hand, dogs cavorting, sun shining, birds singing. Does every hellish mountain trail have this Shangri-La sitting at the top?


Pictured: Shangri-La


In a way, this mountain was also a microcosm of life: You have to work hard and sweat and suffer to get to the sweet meadows and cool breezes at the top. Or is that pushing the metaphor a bit?

It also had a historic monument I was unaware of, the Walker Home Ruins -- John Brisben Walker was one of the first settlers in Colorado, and built a palatial mansion on this peak, which unfortunately was struck by lightning and burned down shortly after his wife died.



He apparently also had a vision to build a summer home for US presidents, as well as Red Rocks Amphitheater (only one of which was realized after his death). Pretty cool.

As I came up the hill to the Ruins, I was greeted by a trio of hikers in their 40s or 50s, and to my astonishment one of the women started applauding me. I imagine I looked quite heroic indeed on this rare occasion of actually riding up the mountain, but I told them honestly I had walked 3/4 of the way. "We didn't see you walking," the woman said. "Go you!"

Having come all this way, I decided to explore a bit, despite really, really wanting to just head home. I climbed a little farther to Eagle Eye Shelter and enjoyed the view from there.


Save tonight//fight the break of dawn//come tomorrow//tomorrow I'll be gone


Beyond that I raced down some sweet singletrack to Meadow Trail. I started to head back down the mountain, but was distracted by Walker's Dream, which I first thought was a description of the trail but soon put two and two together and deduced that it would lead to an overlook of Red Rocks. I was correct.



This was also the site of the intended summer home.



Make yourself at home, Mr. Obama


At this point the sun had noticeably changed position (note to self: buy a watch before next summer), so I determinedly headed down. Funny, it took me probably 60-90 minutes to get up the mountain, and only about 20-30 minutes to get back down. More enjoyable, except my hands are still stiff from clenching those handlebars. However, I'm pleased to report that I "cleaned" most of the trail, only stopping and walking once or twice.



Didn't dab once!


Some wildlife:


"Did you see the name of the park? I'm the falcon, bitch."



Dead salamander. The falcon is pleading the fifth


Sadly, I did get a flat, my first in the mountains. I went over a bump and suddenly heard loud hissing behind me. At first I thought I had disturbed a rattlesnake and it was chasing me, which is absurd. Then I realized it was Thorny, my rear tire. I had noticed the valve was gradually tilting at the wrong angle all season (should be perpendicular to the tire, as of today it was at about 45 degrees). It hit one bump too many and the valve broke off.

I was actually within sight of the parking lot (which doesn't mean a lot with the switchbacks that zig-zag back and forth down the hill), and I was damned if I was walking down the mountain the way I had walked up. So I changed it, and was thankful I knew how (had never changed a tube before this summer). Two guys passed me, asked if I was okay, and went their merry way when I answered yes; contrary to MyFriendDeb's belief that men insist on helping weak, powerless damsels in distress (to her annoyance). I'd like to think I don't appear particularly helpless. Or maybe I'm just not blond enough.

The funniest thing is not five minutes previously I had passed a "patrol volunteer" pedaling up the hill. I wish I had asked for a photo, the guy was bedecked with toys and figurines stuck all over his helmet. I actually said, "Look at you all...dolled up." You just don't expect to see that kind of thing (although recently I have toyed with the idea (pun intended) of making a Devil Duckie hood ornament for Rojo).

I made it back to my car, and thus ended this adventure. It might also be the last for my trusty Adidas shoes; I gave in to a Labor Day sale and got a pair of Bearpaws (never heard of them) for $20 (on sale from $50, but they feel like $20). Given the fact they made my feet go numb after four hours at the hospital, I didn't think they were ready to climb a mountain just yet.

ADDENDUM: A quick Google search revealed to me that this, in fact, was NOT Lair o' the Bear, but indeed Mt. Falcon Park. It was a quick Google search that gave me my original (and I realize now, faulty) directions to the park, so there's that. Maybe NEXT week will be my last adventure.
grrgoyl: (Lainey South Park)
The good news is my poison ivy rash I couldn't stop scratching is gone. The bad news is I'm left with angry-looking excoriated scabs everywhere that I can't stop scratching. One looked so nasty I actually went to a doctor; after all my years nagging Tery about paying for insurance she never uses, she insisted. "Call me if you have to get amputations and need a ride home," she offered. She takes such good care of me.

My doctor looked a little like character actor Bob Balaban. I explained my situation and he examined my leg through a tiny telescopic instrument. "I like your diagnosis," he concluded. I like that he doesn't mind a patient diagnosing themselves.

Poison something...ivy, oak, sumac. He warned that it could be on my pets and I should probably bathe them, just in case. "Well, they're cats," I told him. "I might end up looking worse than I do now." He laughed! A doctor with a sense of humor! Maybe he'll be my GP.

Despite how awful it looked, he didn't think it was infected. He prescribed me a cortisone cream and some pills to help with itching. I walked back out to the front office and experienced the pleasure of not having to pay a penny, enjoyed by insured patients for decades. Nice.

I was a tad disappointed though. This is my first visit to a doctor with a weight and an active lifestyle I'm proud of, and he didn't say a word. We only hear about it when we're doing something wrong, I guess.

~*~

Lair o' the Bear didn't happen. I canceled on Gerry because, given the appearance of my skin, I didn't think getting all dirty and sweaty was such a wise idea. Then he went on his own to scout it out for me, and decided I was too delicate a flower to risk it.

I tried tempting him with some suggestions from my book, "Bike with a View," a collection of easy and moderate trails written by what sounds like a middle-aged priest on a respirator. I guess he wasn't impressed, because I never heard back.

I thought he wanted to do something this past weekend, but it came and went without a word. So instead I went back to my Audubon Loop; it was supposed to be one of the hottest days of the season, and the leafy cool of the trail sounded preferable to sitting around in a puddle of sweat.

I'll admit, I had another ulterior motive -- I continued to be haunted by that damn skewer tool I left there nearly a month ago. The odds were microscopic that I would find it, but I didn't know how else to stop the damn dreams.

You see, Mr. Man at Adventure Cycling, despite seeming to know what he was doing, and despite my use of phrases like "highly specialized" and "special five-sided," ended up ordering me a plain old hex wrench, just like the dozens I already have at home. I also emailed the company directly, actually receiving a response promising to send me one, but they never did -- which is ruder than just ignoring me completely, if you ask me.

So my options are to either buy a whole new set of skewers with a tool, or go back to Audubon, which I was going to do eventually anyway.

Back on the trail. I rode directly to the spot as if I did it every day. It wasn't hard to find thanks to that great honking root that caused all the trouble. I searched determinedly for about fifteen minutes (using a stick to poke around, I'm not an idiot), but to no avail. Well, it was worth a shot. Hopefully now I can stop obsessing about it.

The trail was as enjoyable as ever (I didn't fall this time), but sadly now I'm starting to recognize landmarks and learn my way around it. I liked it better when every turn promised a fresh new adventure, aimless and lacking any plan or goal, sort of how I live my life. Still, it was cool and breezy and much nicer than sitting on the couch.

There weren't many people at all, surprising for a Sunday afternoon. I think the trail is a well-kept secret, and I'd like it to stay that way. However, I did pass one couple, a guy trying to coax his wife/girlfriend, who looked like a "Jersey Shore" reject, to catch up with him, while she whined in protest that there were "a million bees" between her and him. It was like watching an episode of "Wife Swap," when the wife is shipped hundreds of miles from home and forced to engage in activities diametrically opposed to what she'd rather be doing.

~*~

Then on Monday I decided to go alone to one of the spots from my book, Kenosha Pass, which is actually just a small portion of the ginormously long Colorado Trail (no animal names).


Just a taste


::Cut me off at Kenosha Pass:: )
grrgoyl: (Dylan parka)
I'm suffering the aftermath of my spectacular fall at Audubon last weekend. When I say "aftermath," I mean a poison ivy rash that quickly spread down the entire right side of my body, covering my arm, leg and right buttock. I was sitting in the bushes for a good minute or two while struggling to get the bike off me; still, I can't account for the presence of a rash on my ass. I swear I was wearing pants.


I took over 60 pictures, but it was surprisingly difficult to get the angle and lighting right to convey how horrific my rash is. I wanted you to itch just looking at it. Sorry, there will be no pics of my ass


You would think your ass would be the worst imaginable place, and it's no picnic, but I've discovered the most annoying location is actually on your elbow, which I had never noticed before comes into contact with so many surfaces.

If you have never had poison ivy, let me be the first to tell you it is positively SINFUL how good it feels to scratch, when that's the absolute worst thing you can do. I would say it's better than sex, except I never have such huge feelings of regret a minute after finishing sex.

When you have poison ivy, it makes you nervous to scratch any part of your body, even bits you know are unaffected. And I sort of miss the days when my biggest worry was some scrapes and an elbow that wouldn't bend.

So I'm never going to heal because I can't resist scratching. Nor can I resist picking at the little fluid blisters. I've always been a picker, so I know I'm doomed. Lacking any other medicine, I started with Gold Bond powder which provided relief that was transient in the extreme. Now I've moved on to antibiotic and triamcinolone (steroid) ointment. When you reach in the drawer for a tube of toothpaste in my house, you'd better make damn sure of your selection.

~*~

I'm starting to think my outings with Gerry are hazardous to my health.

Wednesday he suggested meeting me and going to Cherry Creek, where allegedly there was a path leading under the highway that had off-road trails beyond. I was doubtful, but I went anyway.

He was correct. What's more, he opened up a whole new route to me where Cherry Creek connects with all sorts of major roadways that will certainly make getting about much easier should I ever need to rely more heavily on two-wheeled transportation.

He led me to a single-track path that was almost as enjoyable as Audubon, except much more overgrown and unfortunately running a good part of the time along the High Line Canal, meaning sheer drop-offs into raging water (okay, "raging" might be much. But I can't think of anyone who wants to plummet into a canal while bike riding). And all the overgrowth meant poor visibility of the trail and a few very hairy spots I'm frankly amazed didn't end in my demise.

My luck ran out at one spot where I misjudged a turn, plowing straight on into a bush/weed the size of a small tree. The bush/weed fought back and I lost, going partially over my handlebars in a very gradual faceplant.

I promise I'm not doing anything special while riding with him. Just plain bad luck, I guess.

Once again I was unhurt (dairy-based Adamantium comes through for me again!), though once again my handlebars were cock-eyed; only 15 degrees off this time, not the whole 90. This time Ger was behind me and saw the whole thing. I don't know if that was a comfort.

I didn't get any photos (one of the bad things about riding with someone else). The path snaked around behind some industrial parts of the city, uniformly non-scenic. "Gee, Ger," I joked, "you sure show a girl the purty parts of town." No kidding: At one point we even passed through a patch of cacti -- I didn't know we had any in these parts. No sooner had I finished picking all the needles out of my hands, he turned around and made me go back through it. I suspect he has a small sadistic streak.

Speaking of snakes (the noun, not the verb), we saw a huge one stretched across the path basking in the sun. I would have got a photo if Gerry hadn't kept poking at it to see if it was a rattler (it wasn't, fortunately for Gerry). It slithered off in annoyance before my camera app loaded on my phone. Gerry ruins EVERYTHING.

I felt more comfortable sticking to the high road on the way back. Not Ger, who consistently took the turns closer to the water. So I laughed at him when he went hurtling over a blind hill, only to (barely) come to a screeching halt when it deposited him at the edge of a drop-off down to the canal. Serves him right, dragging me through cactus and scaring off my snake.

Still, there's talk of meeting yet again tomorrow, possibly to ride the Lair o' the Bear trail. I've scoped it on YouTube and it looks like fun, except for another nicknamed landmark called "The Waterfall" that only looks half accurate to me. Riders with more ego than sense hurl themselves down it. Not me. It's all I can do to make it home just riding on smooth level ground.
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
Another weekend, another adventure. This time with my long time, and in much better shape than Ryan, friend Gerry. He agreed to give my favorite trail, the Audubon Discovery Loop (or something), a try.

I worked the hospital the night before, and probably should have gone directly to the parking lot and slept there, because by the time I arrived at 10:30 am, Gerry was chomping at the bit to go and couldn't bear the 20-minute process I have to go through to get my bike off the rack. I blame the rack -- it's pretty old, and doesn't have those fancy clamps that just snap down. It uses nylon straps that I have to tie around and around and around, perhaps more than necessary but we all remember how harrowing my first adventure was when I had to pull over four times to keep resecuring them.

Finally we were underway. It was every bit as fun as I remembered, and I was pleased that Gerry seemed to like it just as much. There was a tiny snag about three minutes into the fun when he went left instead of right following me. "We'll meet farther up," he assured me as we went our separate ways. That doesn't work on this trail, where the path meanders in every direction, with more twists and turns than a Christopher Nolan movie.

I tried looking for him, asking every single person I came across if they saw a guy looking pitiful and lost. Finally I cooled my heels at a large crossroads area, and a few minutes later he called me, having the presence of mind even through the terror to return to his car for his phone. (Okay, he couldn't have been that terrified; he evidently explored quite extensively before heading back to the lot).

Reunited at last, we vowed to stay within sight of the other. This lasted a good fifteen minutes. Then I took a pretty bad spill. I looked down and saw my phone sliding out of my bag. I reached for it, took my eyes off the trail, and ran over an enormous root. I had about 2.5 seconds to realize I was going down, and BOOM! I went down on my right side, hard. No time to even start to think about dabbing.

Don't think the irony is lost on me of surviving the death trap of Deer Creek without a scratch, only to take this slam at the smooth (mostly), level and infinitely easier Audubon. Only it's a lot easier to escape unscathed when walking as opposed to biking.

Where was Gerry? Long gone. I tried calling after him, but it was about ten minutes before he noticed my absence. At least he doubled back for me eventually, which is what good friends do -- of course, better friends do it sooner. In the interim, another biker came up behind me. He stopped to help me with my handlebars, which had twisted and were now perfectly parallel with my front wheel. He got them spun back around in the right direction and made sure I hadn't broken any bones. Sir, ask me about my history of milk consumption. My bones are a walking billboard for the National Dairy Council.

Sadly, my skin isn't as invincible:


Exhibit A: Feels worse than it looks. My elbow feels still worse, but photographically the wounds were indistinguishable from my freckles



That's the one, officer. The root that attacked me. Gerry's getaway sticks are a bonus!


Gerry found me and put some manly torque on tightening the handlebars sufficiently, and thank god I just happened to have the hex wrench on me that fit. I don't even know what made me pack it. My guardian angel stuck it in the bag and then took the rest of the day off.

Gerry said he thought he heard a thud, but since it wasn't followed by a girly squeal he assumed it was nothing. I promised if it happened again I'd do my best to muster one. He also assumed, correctly, that I would want him to soldier on if I fell. God knows I already sucked up enough of the day with my interminable bike unloading activities.

As I repacked my frame bag, he suggested next time I just bring a purse. He can be so cruel, but I love him dearly.

I lost my phone and my camera in the fall, and had spent the entire time before Gerry finally pedaled his ass back to me pawing through the underbrush looking for them. When I found them Gerry questioned me bringing such an expensive-looking phone on the bike. I pointed out that if I hadn't, we'd still be wandering in circles trying to find each other.

I thought my rear blinker had come off too, but when I put the bike back on the rack at the end of the day I found it had twisted completely around underneath the seat. Like I said, I fell HARD.

I did leave something behind, maybe not as valuable, but a damn sight harder to replace. And no, I'm not going to say my pride. I had to empty the frame bag completely to find the hex wrench, and saw the highly specialized pentagonal wrench that came with my locking skewers on the ground (I carry it with me because it works on my seat post skewer too). I saw it, thought "Oh, don't forget that!" Then didn't give it a second thought until I got home.

It turns out you can't just get the wrench all by itself, probably to prevent bike thieves from owning them easily (though honestly, if I were a thief, $20 for a skewer set with special tool on eBay that would let me steal tires that were worth significantly more would make good financial sense). I thought my only option would be to buy a whole new set, but I can think of a lot of things I'd rather spend $20 on. Tery of course thinks I fully deserve the headache because the locking skewers are unnecessary.

Ever the optimist, I reasoned that at least I had quick release skewers on for my trip, so I wasn't stuck with knobbies all week.

The thought of that tool sitting on the side of the path tormented me all night. Sure, I could go all the way back across town and try to retrieve it. Assuming it was still there, which wasn't a safe assumption after the massive thunderstorm we had last night. But damn, I sure didn't want to spend $20 I didn't have to.

I tried Bicycle Village first, which couldn't help me, and my boyfriend Tim Cera wasn't working, so that was a complete waste of a trip. They referred me to a hardware store, which was an even bigger waste. On a whim, however, I stopped at Adventure Cycling right across the street from our house, which I've always avoided because I thought it was an exclusive store that catered only to serious, extreme cyclists. It sort of is, but the guy got on the computer and said he could special order me one for only $2. I would have asked for three just to have back-ups, but thought that might seem suspicious.

Anyhoo. Back on the trail. Since a bike ride isn't worthwhile unless you end up painfully gasping for air at some point, Gerry suggested going across the street to South Valley Park (?) This is actually on the same road as Deer Creek Canyon, and I warned him if I suspected he was trying to trick me into going back to that hellhole, I would jump out of his car so fast it would make his head spin.

He wasn't, and South Valley wasn't nearly as nightmarish. A fair amount of climbing, but fun downhill too -- especially one long, clear stretch with smooth mounds of dirt just high enough to give a little lift. I actually got some air on a few of them, which would have been more awesome if my handlebars hadn't so recently been so drastically out of whack.

But I lived to tell the tale (obvs). When I got home my injuries really started hurting, probably coming off the adrenaline rush. Ever the optimist, I reasoned that at least I sleep on my left side.

What I learned this weekend:


  • It would have been awfully nice if the handlebar bag I ordered from Amazon had arrived before this trip.

  • Granny gears ain't just for grannies.

  • Sometimes guys are secretly thankful that their lady friends have to stop to catch their breath.



~*~

Since I don't know how to end this, have some super adorable pics of Logues Bogues:


My dreamy boy. He's lounging in a planter hanging off the front of our balcony. Tery doesn't like to think too much about it.



Why god, why?
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
This week's adventure took place at Golden Gate State Park, accompanied by MyFriendDeb. Her idea was for her to hike (she has an ancient touring bike that isn't even roadworthy for pavement, never mind off-roading) while I biked. It didn't sound terribly appealing to me at first, but ended up working out pretty well -- even though biking with Deb walking a half mile behind me felt a little like we were fighting or something.

I won't bore you with too many details, since these adventures, while thrilling for me to experience, might not be as enthralling to read about over and over. I will say this is my second favorite trail so far, after the Audubon Loop, before Elk Meadow and WAY before Deer Creek.


Obligatory self-portrait. Still wearing the Adidas. Also the shades were completely unnecessary, it turned out


::cut for length and still more descriptions of escapades you couldn't care less about. However, there's a video that you don't want to miss:: )


My point is, if there's a sign for it, it can't be that forgotten. Also take note: Trails named after animals were unavoidable this time, though fortunately somewhat easier



Aspens. Beautiful and interesting looking


~*~

The real adventure of this post was Tery's. Sunday she did her first triathlon! Tri for the Cure. I couldn't be prouder of her.


I'm putting this before the cut because it's my favorite of the bunch


::CUT!:: )

Apropos of nothing, this here is my new favorite song, yo. My everlasting gratitude to whoever can find it as an mp3 (disregard. Found!):

grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
I'm a woman of my word, so to Elk Meadow I did go this weekend.

This was based on a YouTube video of rolling meadows and fairly wide dirt paths with few rocks. And this is probably what I would have gotten, if I hadn't felt adventurous and decided to try the Bergen Trail up the mountain. Bergen Peak is kind of a big deal in these parts, or at least I had heard of it before becoming this outdoorsy type, so I thought while I was there I should see what the fuss was about.

So I climbed. At first the trail didn't look that daunting and I thought I'd be okay. You would think I had learned my lesson at Deer Creek about trails that start out innocent and alluring, only to bite you in the ass once you're in their clutches. I hadn't.


The trail was a bitch. The trees were beautiful though. Untouched photo


Soon it became rockier and steeper. Soon after that I noticed there was a little mini Wall of Shame every 50 feet or so. The problem was in between these were gorgeous stretches of path that beckoned me to ride, so at first I did. But inevitably I got tired of the on again off again and stuck to mostly walking. Today was going to be an arm workout day after all.




Mini Wall of Shame


The trail was built in a zig-zag formation up the mountain, with sharp switchbacks at either end that would have been difficult if I were actually riding. I toiled away determinedly, telling myself that making it to the top would reward me not only with hopefully spectacular views (the park map claimed you could see Pike's Peak and the Continental Divide), but would let me loop down the other side so I wouldn't have to go back over some of the truly ugly-looking rock pits behind me.

I congratulated myself for striking on this secret motivation -- the trick was obviously to make turning around an even less appealing prospect than pushing onward.

It was at least peaceful and perfectly quiet up there. The only wildlife I saw were large dragonfly-like insects whose whirring wings made a loud metallic sound not unlike the smoke monster on "Lost." That was the only sound apart from crunching pine needles under my feet and my ragged breathing.

My heart leaped with hope when I turned a switchback and saw for the first time blue sky above me rather than still more trees. Could it be the top? Well that wasn't so bad.


Bergen Trail: Lies and Deceit


I came upon a clearing overlooking the valley, a gorgeous view. The problem was there was a guy sitting there already enjoying it. I felt uncomfortable disturbing him, so I just took a swig of water and prepared to leave again. We chatted briefly -- I told him I hoped I was near the top, and my plan to pick up the discouragingly named Too Long Trail down the other side. He had never been on Too Long, but did know the Bergen Trail got worse before it got better from our point. He wished me luck and I told him to enjoy his day. People on this side of town seem so much nicer than on the side I live on. Or perhaps that's because I only see them recreating and relaxed.

At this point the path looked smoother again, and again I felt like maybe I could manage it. It didn't appear all that steep, but it must have been because I just couldn't get enough momentum going to mount the bike. It didn't help that one side of the path was a sheer drop-off through the tree line, making that slightly wobbly stage before you find your balance a bit terrifying.

I noticed my friend from the clearing was now hiking up behind me. I imagined he was watching me and wondering if I'd ever ridden a bike before. I opted for a pit stop to eat a granola bar and let him pass me, rather than have him behind me as I staggered around like a newborn foal.

He stopped to chat briefly again, and we were both passed by another biker -- this guy obviously was a bit more experienced, since he breezed right by us, not even breaking a sweat, said "hello" and wasn't even out of breath. I watched in awe, but was encouraged that even he stopped and walked at the mini Walls.

Soon my hiking friend left me in the dust and I was alone again. I had passed a few more hikers and bikers, mysteriously none of whom knew anything about the Too Long Trail. I came up again on an open spot with a view and took some photos:




This is actually my favorite shot, also untouched


Just like at Waterton Canyon, this was about the spot I decided wisdom was the better part of valor and I should turn back. Three things prompted this: a) I had finished off my first bottle of water, could have happily downed the second in one gulp but had no idea how much farther I needed to go, b) I started feeling ominous stomach cramps, the kind that make you look desperately for the nearest restroom, which of course there are none up on the mountain. Sure, I could pop a squat (ugh, I hate that saying), but I had nothing for toilet paper and only a passing knowledge of the exact protocol one needed to follow to respect the environment, and c) I actually did go up a little farther and it showed every sign of getting more difficult, not less. Also more trees, so no indication how close I actually was to the top. It might have been around the next bend or a mile away.

So, ugly rock pits or not, I realized I had to turn back.

Fortunately the downhill was a lot easier than I expected (except for the Walls and pits), and my cramps disappeared. I remembered my promise to let Rojo taste some rocks and actually stopped very few times -- not that going over those rocks was fun, at all. I again stood on the pedals, seized the bars in the Deer Creek Deathgrip, and whispered "Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, oh Jesus" the whole time. REALLY surprised I didn't get a flat, because there's definitely an art to finding that clear path through (called "threading," as in a needle, and most of the time that's a pretty apt analogy) and, dear readers, yours truly has a way to go to master it.

I now know why they're called the Rockies -- because I hit damn near every single one on the way down. I hit one rock so hard my camera literally flew out of my bag and down the drop-off a few feet. Obvs I was able to retrieve it, but DAYUM. Glad I noticed before getting down to the bottom.

It was on this trip I learned there's a third option besides careening madly and coming to a grinding halt -- it's called "dabbing," when you put down a foot for some stability or as a deflector shield. It's a matter of pride for hard-core riders to avoid doing it, or ride a trail "clean," but pride sometimes takes a back seat to just wanting to be done with it and back to the easy meadow trail that I originally signed on for. I dabbed the hell out of that trail, and I don't care who knows it.

It was with enormous relief I made it back to Meadow View Trail. I knew the way back to the parking lot, but did I go that way? Of course not. Forgotten were my stomach cramps and my dwindling water supply. I wanted to explore some more.

I at least resisted the urge to take the Elk Ridge Trail when it crossed my path, partly because it would have been a shorter trip back to the lot but also because I'm becoming wary of routes named after animals, which seem to be more difficult. The map described Elk Ridge as having an 11% grade of a climb. I had gotten my fill of climbing for the day.

The final leg of Meadow View also had its share of ugly rock pits, the difference was they were surrounded by meadow so I didn't feel the stress of possibly going over the edge if I hit a rock the wrong way. Still, I wasn't done taking the good lord's name in vain just yet, evidently. I made it back to the parking lot unscathed, however.


There actually is a meadow in Elk Meadow Park


The first thing I did once back in my car was drive to the nearest McDonald's, for the first time since my ER visit, and order up a super size orange Hi-C with extra ice, one of the few things on their menu that won't land me back in the ER. I drank half that puppy in my first swig. THIRSTY. And GOD, it was heaven. Remember my body craves sugar almost as much as liquid after these rides.

I came home to the pleasant surprise of the arrival of "Bike Repair and Maintenance for Dummies," care of my sugar mama [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana, who heard my none-too-subtle hints and took pity on me. It couldn't have come at a better time either; I rode Rojo to the package lockers and she sounded really cranky (pun intended) after the beating I gave her.

Yesterday I cleaned and lubed the chain, and what a difference -- my ride today was smooth as silk and whisper quiet, like a new bike. And working on my bike myself, despite being a filthy job, was extremely satisfying.

What I learned this week:


  • No matter how badly you may want it, don't drink your water until you absolutely NEED to. Except it's virtually impossible to distinguish which your body is telling you.




  • Stay off trails named after animals.




  • And trails going up a mountain.




  • I learned how to dab like a pro, or, I guess, like an amateur.




  • When you come visit me, you will NOT be subjected to this trail.




  • I learned how to change my own oil (ooh, sounds dirty)



  • McDonald's orange Hi-C is the nectar of the gods.



ADDENDUM: Some of the more observant among you might notice I'm wearing the same shirt on all my adventures. This is because it's the best one I have with "moisture wicking" technology and keeps me the coolest. When I hit a breeze it feels like I have nothing on at all, it's so sheer. I'd love more, but good ones (like this one, made by Adidas) aren't cheap. I wear a size large if anyone needs gift ideas. That is all.
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
Monday I didn't just have an adventure; I had damn near a Perfect Day.

The plan was Waterton Canyon again, not because I couldn't wait to get back but because it's closing August 1 for two years. I invited Ryan, but he's busy trying to sell his condo while he moves back in with John; I know, he's worse than a chick. I think he's going to spend the rest of his life banging his head against John's wall. Whoops, just made a double entendre there.

So back to Waterton. It was as beautiful as I remembered it three weeks ago. Those bighorn sheep that were only blurry dots on my first photo series were now strolling up and down the road like hikers, almost close enough to touch.





The trip up seemed to take half the time without Ryan and his pit stops. Instead of turning around at the dam, this time I continued up the mountain. Again, pushing Rojo (Deer Creek flashbacks taunting me all the while), but not nearly as far. I reached the trailhead, where it continued on to the Colorado Trail for another ten miles. That way looked a bit more like Deer Creek, so I turned back.




This was the way up



And the way down. My choice was clear


I actually rode Rojo down a rocky incline that would have looked like a suicide mission if I hadn't seen Deer Creek in the interim. I let her take the rocks and bumps she was designed for, and it felt pretty good. I didn't go over the handlebars, at least. I was pretty proud of myself.

I was getting hungry so I stopped at this little picnic table on the South Platte for an energy bar. Not another soul in sight, and no sound but the rushing water. It was peace personified.




More Facebook style self-portraints


I was sad when I returned to the parking lot, ready to say goodbye for two whole years. Then I noticed a path exiting the lot from the opposite side, the path Ryan and I almost took mistakenly the first time. I figured it just led to nearby Chatfield Park, which is as large as and very similar to Cherry Creek, but decided to check it out anyway.

Boy, was I wrong. It does lead to Chatfield eventually, but before that was just pure FUN. All the fun that was missing from Deer Creek was evidently stored here.

What it led to was called the Audubon Discovery Loop, or something. In plain English, it was miles and miles and miles of dirt singletrack weaving through woods and meadows and alongside the South Platte. I never thought I liked singletrack, but that was based on one experience where it was full of lots of switchbacks (the trail cuts back on itself again and again in sharp, difficult to maneuver turns) and the path was literally only as wide as the tire.

This was gorgeous singletrack, only wide enough for one bike, but wide enough for a less experienced rider. It meandered through woods and underbrush, in some places so overgrown you couldn't even see the trail underneath, in others wide and clear where the biggest obstacle was piles of horse crap. Mostly level and non-strenuous, occasionally cresting over steeper embankments and down again, sometimes veering so close to the river that one wrong move would pitch you into the water.


YES



What does this remind me of? Oh right, New England. Without the 103% humidity


It felt like riding a rollercoaster, only I was driving. I felt Rojo's mountain bike heart swell with joy beneath me as we coasted over rocks and tree roots. THIS is the reason to own a mountain bike. It was challenging enough to give me a sense of accomplishment without ever making me feel like it was more than I could handle. Well, almost:


If I've learned one thing, it's that when they need to build something to make it usable for pedestrians, that's probably a good spot to turn around



Riding through the dense underbrush, couldn't see more than a foot in front of me, I broke through and suddenly saw the path ending here. Thank god Rojo's brakes are up to snuff


Stress doesn't exist out there. I spent about two hours in those woods, and never once thought about how I only have $22 until next payday, or all my medical bills, or anything; literally the only thing you CAN think about is which direction the path is turning and what you need to do to stay on it. Talk about clearing your mind -- it just happens automatically.

I also didn't see a single other person, which goes a long way towards my sense of peace.

If anyone makes plans to visit me at any point, better brush up on your biking skills, because a visit to this trail will certainly be on the agenda.

At one point the path suddenly became paved, and I felt resentment at this reminder of civilization. But I was also starting to get really hungry and thirsty, so thought I should head back. I had about half a bottle of water, but there are no filling stations out there and, contrary to Coors commercials, mountain streams and rivers are prime breeding ground for nasty bacteria like Giardia -- water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Then I started having a bit of a problem. I had been riding pretty aimlessly, down whatever trail looked the most inviting. I had no idea how to get back, and my phone with GPS and Google Maps was in my glove compartment (lesson for next time). Emerging from the trees gave me a view of the mountains, which helped -- one of the things I love about Denver, it's impossible to stay lost as long as you can see those Rockies (if you're IN the Rockies it might be a different story). I eventually made it back (obvs), but it was a little touch and go there for awhile.

The good news is this trail will probably not be closed, since there's no getting heavy equipment in there. I hope it isn't, because I literally feel like I could ride nowhere else the rest of the summer and be perfectly content.

I got home, had a lovely lunch with a generous helping of sugary beverages (my body craves sugar something powerful after these rides), and a long, cool shower (my legs were so uniformly covered in dirt you could see my sock line as if it were a tan).

(Speaking of tan, this seems like a good place for a segue. I had all but finished the bottle of sunscreen I'd had for two years now (never got much use before this summer). That was SPF 50, which Tery mocked me enough for. When I shopped for a new one, they were fortunately on sale and I got a BOGO on a Banana Boat spray -- SPF 85.

Tery had some choice analogies for that. "SPF 85 is a flannel shirt. It's SPF Robert Smith. SPF 85 is sitting in your parents' basement playing Farmville." She can laugh. I'm not out there to get a tan. The sun's a killer these days.)

I thought this had been The Perfect Day. Then I decided to give this movie a try recommended by [livejournal.com profile] metatronis, Ink. Cut for heavy spoilers and length, but don't be fooled: this is my new favorite movie. When you come visit, expect to see this too.



::Ink:: )

I abbreviated some parts because otherwise you'd have no reason to see the movie for yourself. And see it you should. It's an indie low budget, went straight to DVD, but I'd say is better than most of the movies that will be in theaters this year. The effects were impressive on so little money, the visuals dazzling and unique. My thought was "Finally, something NEW." But more importantly, the story is complex and beautiful, open to many levels of interpretation (most of which are being hotly debated as we speak at IMDb), including some pretty strong religious allegory without ever mentioning anything overtly. The two leads, Christopher Soren Kelly and Quinn Hunchar, really made you care about their characters. The music is haunting and deeply moving, not unlike the Amelie soundtrack.

Written, directed AND scored by Jamin Winans. Unless I'm very far off, he'll be going places, mark my words.

I can't even say how much I loved this movie, so if anyone sees/has seen it and feels otherwise, I'd rather not know about it. I freely wept at the ending, and announced to Tery that I might as well go to bed that instant (it was 7 pm) because I had had The Perfect Day and it just couldn't possibly get any better from there (I was right, but I stayed up anyway).
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
First, thanks for all the input on my poll. I have to admit, I kind of like one that combines suggestions from [livejournal.com profile] mmmrorschach and my non-LJ (but no less wonderful) friend Harold: Rojo A-go-go. It sounds a bit stripperish, plus starts off sounding like "rogue," plus rhymes. Of course, I've been referring to it as she so I suppose it should be "Roja," but we'll overlook that for now.

This isn't to say you shouldn't expect to see some of your favorites pop up from time to time either. If my cat can have 12 names, my bike bloody well can too.

I did have an adventure this week with her. The thing is, there are two types of adventures: Enjoyable ones that you wouldn't mind having again, and the ones that leave you happy to be alive to tell the tale. I had one of those.

Well, before I had the Adventure, I did take Rojo to Cherry Creek for her maiden voyage. It was quite fun with the road tires, which are totally smooth unlike the semi-slicks I had been using. She felt speedy and nimble; if anything, a little TOO speedy and nimble. People pay top dollar for bikes that weigh almost nothing. A few times when taking a turn she felt like she might slide right out from under me. That feeling must be 10 times stronger on a featherlight racing bike. No thanks.

It was a great success. I don't know if my thigh muscles are now so massive I can crush your head like a walnut, or it's just the tires (it's probably the tires), she goes a bit faster than Rogue Leader. I've had to graduate to the highest gears just to get the resistance I'm used to. It's quite a feeling of accomplishment, even though I'm sure it's just the tires.

And I have to say, the feeling of stopping at an intersection and knowing with 90% certainty that my rear tire isn't going to fall off is worth every penny of that $100.

~*~

Deer Creek Canyon; or, perhaps I want a road bike after all


Anyway, The Adventure. Waterton Canyon, which remember was essentially a dirt road, was given a difficulty rating of 1 out of 5 in "Mountain Biking Denver and Boulder" by Bob D'Antonio. Deer Creek Canyon was given a 2-3. Based on this, I have to assume he reserves the 5 score for biking around the rim of an active volcano.


Beautiful, right? No indication of the terror within


The trail starts off deceptively easy, maybe not dirt road easy, but manageable. Then it starts taking sharp climbs like this one, at which point I thought I might be in over my head, not realizing that even this was not that bad next to what was to come:


Yes, this was the easy part of the trail


It's like this for a little while, then it's like this only covered almost completely in rocks, when I decided to walk for awhile. Then it's covered in rocks, boulders, and huge logs buried across the path for erosion prevention, all at about a 60-degree incline. There was no hope of riding through that, so I just kept walking.


Some gorgeous views at least. Don't know if they're worth risking your life for though


I essentially walked, pushing my bike laboriously, for about a mile. I had more fun biking behind Ryan's rollerblading friend, Chris. Then I hit what I now know is affectionately called "The Wall of Shame" by enthusiasts.


Ummm, guys? You forgot to build a path?


Notice the staircase to the left for hikers.

This guy makes it look pretty easy:



Poor Emily didn't fare as well on the way down, though I admire the hell out of her for trying:



Anything that has earned a nickname, and a series of YouTube videos of people trying (and mostly failing) to navigate it, is waaaay out of my league. It was right about here I said "Well, FUCK THIS NOISE." The entire trail out and back is supposedly only 7 miles, and I had my ass handed to me in just the first one. Sad, but I blame Mr. D'Antonio's grossly misleading rating system.

In case you haven't grasped the terror of this trail, check out The Wall from the top stair:


We're gonna need a bigger bike


The way down was even scarier than up (and not just because of the Great Whites), which I knew it would be. If nothing else I got a great upper body workout from trying to keep the bike from breaking free and heading down without me. A few times the path was so treacherous I almost fell. The worst part of all was I was sweating so profusely that a huge drop of sunscreen ended up in my right eye and I just couldn't clear it out, so I was basically half blind all the way down (thanks to Camelbak's advanced spill-proof spout, I couldn't just squirt water into it, since turning the bottle upside down shuts the spout automatically. DAMN YOU CAMELBAK). Hope this guy wasn't (blind, that is):



A few times the path looked like it might be slightly more do-able on the downhill so I gave it a shot, standing on the pedals and squeezing those brakes like my life depended on it, which I'm sure it did. You've heard the term "deathgrip"; they would have had to modify my coffin to make room for the handlebars.

The trail I told you about, the one that put me over my handlebars long ago? That trail was Deer Creek Canyon's infant baby brother. For Deer Creek you need one of those fancy shock suspension forks on your front tire, which I of course don't have. Oh hell, as long as I was wishful thinking, a handicapped ramp wouldn't have gone amiss either.

I also couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I'd owned this bike two days and had no idea of her limitations -- and this trail sure didn't seem like the smartest place to push that envelope. Would I have felt safer on Rogue Leader? Probably, before learning he needed four major things replaced.

Two miles (there and back). I would guess maybe a thousand feet of it actually spent on the bike. For those thousand feet, I'd say Rogue Coffee Maker performed admirably. I didn't get a flat tire (though the knobbies were from Rogue). I need to learn to trust that this is what mountain bikes are designed for. The problem is, my 41-year-old bones aren't.

I've never been so happy to see a parking lot before. At least the last part of the trail was mild enough that I could ride in, appearing as if I had been on the bike the whole time.

The things I did right on this trip:


  • Put on the knobbies. I was picturing Waterton (which remember is a schoolyard comparatively) and almost went with the semi-slicks. That would have made what was only a disaster a catastrophe


  • Took along two water bottles. It turns out pushing 50 pounds of steel up a mountain in the middle of July is thirsty work


  • Swallowed my pride and turned around when I did. I got home and spent the rest of the day utterly motionless




Things I learned for next time:


  • For the love of GOD, take it easy on the sunscreen around the ocular area. Sunburns come and go. Retinal damage sometimes needs surgery


  • Don't trust Bob D'Antonio, who is clearly a sadist, quite so blindly. From now on no more adventures without scouting out some YouTube videos first




My next adventure hopefully will be at Elk Meadow, which sounds slightly more peaceful and restful than Deer Creek Canyon (Colorado has a thing about wild animal names). I'm encouraged by the fact that our aging friends Chris and Liana have done it and liked it. And this time I'll let RedRum go over some rocks, I promise.
grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
This day came sooner than expected, but then it's always hard to lose a loved one: R.I.P. Rogue Leader.

I know, I know, and thank you for your condolescences. It's very sweet of you.

What happened? I wish I could say he went in a blaze of glory while rocketing down a mountainside, but it was more like a sad whimper.

Remember back when I had the chronic problem of the rear tire coming unseated at stop lights, I know now due to me not tightening the bolt on well enough? That was the beginning of the gouge in the frame that proved fatal.

I hadn't had the problem in quite awhile, had in fact forgotten it with the recent new problem of chronic flats on the rear -- which again necessitated constantly removing and replacing the tire, screwing the bolt over that gouge, which I'm sure didn't help matters.

The problem du jour this week was the rear tire again shifting on the bolt, this time while appearing fully tightened. It would jam up against the frame and bring me to an abrupt halt. Again only while restarting from a complete stop fortunately, not while careening downhill at breakneck speeds.

I was sure the gouge was the problem. Whether it could be fixed I wasn't so certain. All the Google results I found seemed to be gearheads lamenting simple cosmetic damage to their pride and joy, nothing that affected the function of the bike. I thought it should be possible, but you can fit what I know about fixing bikes into a 100 x 100 pixel LJ icon (I've added "Bike Repair and Maintenance for Dummies" to my Amazon wishlist, if someone would like to support my habit hobby).

I decided I had had enough and brought the whole bike into Bicycle Village. I again got Mr. Blonde of the icy stare, who within two minutes of looking it over pointed out four major things that needed replacing. With labor I was looking at about $140 to fix a 15-year-old bike, and none of that would do anything about the gouge. He said no matter how tightly he screwed the tire on, too much metal had been sheared away and the problem would sooner or later be back.

He seemed a little kinder as he broke this news to me. He's probably used to some people taking it kind of badly. I didn't, mainly because I had spent the whole day sort of expecting this verdict. Had even, truth be told, wandered onto Specialized's site to see what kinds of options might be available in the way of a brand new bike, maybe even one that didn't weigh 50 pounds. It wouldn't take much convincing.

I was surprised to learn Specialized still makes Hard Rocks. If you start at the home page where they're featuring their $2,000 specials, the $400 entry level Hard Rock sounds like quite the bargain. But realistically, I don't have $400 sitting around and would likely not be extended any credit with all my medical bills still hanging over me. Not to mention would totally destroy my new resolve not to buy every shiny thing that catches my eye.

So I turned to my third favorite shopping site (eBay first, Amazon second), Craigslist. There seemed to be plenty of options around $100, even more if I upped it to $200, but naturally mostly used and I didn't fancy the idea of taking on a whole new set of problems with a different, unfamiliar ride. There seemed to be a lot of weasel words being bandied about, when condition was mentioned at all, and of course the usual lot of dark, blurry photos taken with a camera phone (I swear, why do all Craigslist photos look like someone took them from inside their jacket while jogging by a yard sale?)

I debated long and hard between new and used, long and hard. New has its obvious appeal (despite not being sure where I would get funds from), but on the other hand, I thought about leaving a $400 bike parked in front of a store and how anxious that would make me. Remember the stress I had worrying about Rogue Leader's security? Multiply that by a million here. Unfortunately owning nice new things (while only living in a fair to middling neighborhood) comes with constant worry about when they'll get stolen/damaged. This is why I drive a 13-year-old car with the top coat of paint stripped off (don't laugh -- it's paid for); it enables me to park in more dodgy locations (such as the hospital) without being a basket case.

Suddenly a more affordable used bike, that wouldn't devastate me if the worst happened, sounded a lot more desirable.

Back to Craigslist. I spent most of my shift Friday night browsing listings. I had even found a Hard Rock that could have been Rogue Leader's twin separated at birth (my heart gave a twinge). I ended up responding to an ad for a HR that sounded perfect, black, the right size, and in practically new condition. I would call her Black Mamba.

Still waiting to hear from that one. Glad to see people are keeping up the fine CL tradition of not bothering to remove their ads or respond to you once the item is sold.

I obviously preferred Specialized but was willing to consider others if the price was right. I looked at a lot of Treks, Diamondbacks and Mongooses (geese?). Treks and Diamondbacks I thought were plain looking if not just ugly, Mongoose of course has the problem of once being a good name before being bought by Walmart. I avoided Roadmasters, Raleighs and Schwinns -- too much of a chance ending up with a crappy department store castaway.

I actually had a few leads in hand on some Hard Rocks that preferred phone contact (the inconvenient part of working third shift). Kind of iffy since some of them were from back in early June, but I guess it was possible they were still available. Was getting ready to call one as soon as I woke up Saturday morning when I quickly hopped back on the site to see the newest listings.

There it was, three listings down. "Trek Mountain Track 820 with extras." Again, Treks aren't my favorite, but I at least know they're a good name. She was a beauty. The picture was in focus and everything, almost as if the seller wasn't trying to hide something. Candy apple red, kind of vintage-looking, built very similar to Rogue Leader. I would say it was love at first sight or fate if I trafficked in such cliches.

I gave it another second's thought and called the guy on the spur of the moment. Didn't do a lick of research, which is quite unlike me -- probably for the best, since doing so after the transaction turned up lots of folks raving about what a beating the 820 can take with very little maintenance, but also with a fair amount of nay-sayers claiming it was useless for anything but street riding. For all I know these people are used to flying down the Grand Canyon on their bikes, so who to believe? (Also practically everyone bitching about how heavy it is; all of them should spend a week hauling Rogue Leader around and then see what they think.)

(I was a little concerned to learn that the 820 is an entry level model. Then again, I thought I was the shit on Rogue Leader before realizing that Hard Rock is Specialized's bottom of the line. Still, a bottom-of-the-line Trek beats a top-of-the-line Roadmaster. It's all relative.)

Long story a bit less long, I drove to see it. The seller lived in what had to be a 2 million dollar house in chi-chi-poo-poo Highlands Ranch. I interrupted him tinkering confidently in the garage on several other bikes (whether or not that was for my benefit I'm not sure). The bike looked in great shape, really clean and well cared for. He let me take it for a spin -- maybe a bit on the tall side, but ran smooth and felt pretty good. He had road tires on it, practically new with the "hair" still on them, but assured me my knobbies would fit.

So the deal was done. She came home with me and I immediately began scavenging parts off Rogue Leader. This made me very sad, but at least now some part of him will live on. And let's face it, bike parts aren't cheap. Wouldn't hurt to have some spares around.

No idea what year she is. Turns out there's a cadre of sites devoted to helping Trek owners (I refuse to call them "Trekkies") figure out their year of manufacture. You wouldn't think it would be so hard, but Trek has been around a long time and built a LOT of bikes, which is all to the good. There's a chance she's '96 or earlier, which makes her about as old as Rogue Leader, but a good deal better cared for.

My decision was probably 70% an emotional one. I had a red Panasonic in college that I loved to death. She's shiny and retro but has some scratches, so I won't be terrified to inflict the first one. I can't decide on a name. I've thought up several possibilities since bringing her home. Perhaps y'all can help.

[Poll #1591036]

Notice a theme? I think it's only right that Rogue Leader has something named after him.

Pics:


Poor Rogue. He looks like a double amputee ):



The pic came out kind of retro-looking, like what's-her-name


I'll miss you, Rogue Leader. You got me started on my bike-riding journey, but now ___________ is going to carry me a little while.



P.S.: Due to the failure of [livejournal.com profile] kavieshana to find me any kick-ass biking icons, I was forced to make do on my own.

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December 2011

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