Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

A photo in the Atlantic Ocean at Hilton Head SC, taken specially for coworker friends freezing indoors in Rochester MN this Thanksgiving weekend.

I am standing about 100ft offshore, up to my knees. Air temp about 60 degrees F. Water temp about 50 degrees F. Brisk, but beautiful. (I won't admit that some strangers wearing coats walking on the beach stopped to watch me and applauded when I got out of the water)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

One-day trip to Chicago. Fought the cold and biting wind walking along the lake, then did the museum.

My photos:

Museum website:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting by bicycle

Bicyclists often forget how they appear to the general public...

I did 'early voting' in this year's presidential election (very popular in NC). I stopped to vote one afternoon as I was biking home from work. A polling place was conveniently located in an elementary school along my normal route.

Everyone else had the same idea to stop after work, so there were lots of cars in the streets and circling the parking lot. As I rode, I was focusing on being seen, taking lanes, not getting hit, and all the usual stuff, as well as not arousing a policeman who was eyeing me suspiciously. I never thought about how I looked.

As I approached the school, I noticed the usual two teams of campaign volunteers, one red and one blue, running around like fire ants. Each time a voter walked from the parking lot toward the school, a volunteer from each side would 'pounce' on them, hoping for a last-minute conversion.

However, as I got off my bike and walked it toward the school, I had a different experience. At first, the two volunteers charged toward me, but as soon as they saw me, they stopped abruptly. They stared. They looked at each other. Then after about two seconds, one finally said in a somber tone "I bet you already know who you are voting for." I nodded and said "yes". They backed off, and let me pass.

"Well that was odd", I thought, as I continued walking.

And then I started to take off my helmet. And the macho goggles. And I looked down at the rest of my regalia. "Ahah", I realized. This must explain why the policeman was staring at me too. And I took off most of the obnoxious clothing before going inside.

I will definitely remember to think about how I look in the future.

Unfortunately, softening my appearance didn't fix everything. When I tried to sign-in, a little drop of sweat dripped from my nose onto the clipboard. And my hand was shaking so much (from working the handlebars) that I could not sign my name. I'll save the immediate reactions of the election worker for another story, but she was eventually cool about it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Flat tires bike commuting

As I biked to work this morning, a thought popped into my mind. I thought about how many months it had been since my last flat tire. I had changed my route to avoid all gravel roads. I did research and bought brand-name tires and tubes with good reputations. I had made good choices and I was reaping the benefits. I was so smug as Mr. Wonderful. Then, I wondered why this thought had popped into my mind so loud and clear. Uh oh, it's another premonition. I am going to get a flat. Crap.

So there I was riding home this afternoon. I was watching intently for rocks, glass, roadkill, anything. I think my eyes and brain consumed more calories than my legs. I got through most of my ride intact, and was beginning to feel good. Maybe I was not going to get a flat.

But then I got to the most unsafe part of my ride, about one mile from home. It's a short section of narrow 45mph two-lane state highway which goes under a bridge carrying the interstate highway. It is dark and moist, I light myself up brighter than riding at night, wait for a break in the traffic, and sprint as fast as I can. I got all the way under the bridge and back into daylight as Miss Perky's Suburban raced past me. Then KERBLAM, I hit something in the road. What was that? I didn't see a thing. And I couldn't look back, since an elephant chain of SUVs behind Miss Perky was still racing by. I kept sprinting the last 100 yards until I turned off the highway and up a steep hill into a housing development.

And as I stood to pedal up the hill, I felt a slight soft wobble in my back wheel. Uh oh, I recognize that feeling. Crap.

But no, I did not have A flat tire. I had TWO flat tires. Both the front and rear tires were completely mush. Whatever I hit had punched holes in both tires. Double crap. And I, Mr. Wonderful, was carrying only one spare tube. Triple crap.

I hate premonitions.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn colors in NC

Autumn leaf colors may have peaked in central NC this weekend. Biked a leisurely 16 miles on the rural American Tobacco Trail in Wake County this morning. Very pretty.

Too bad I forgot to take photos until leaving the parking lot...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

5K Racewalk

I racewalked in a corporate 5K on Saturday morning. I finished in a reasonable time. Not bad considering I hadn't done any racewalking since being on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore in early August. And my legs didn't start aching until, oh, perhaps three hours after the race. And after a nap.

I had forgotten that the best part of racewalking in a running race is playing mind games with the slow runners during the second half of the race. Two types of runners are encountered: those behind, and those ahead. (1) Runners behind me see me as a goal. They MUST catch up to the walker. They catch up, pass by about 20 ft, and then slow to a crawl. In short order, I waddle past them as they rest. (2) Runners ahead of me see me as an embarassment. They just CAN'T let a walker pass them. Whenever I waddle past a runner, I'll hear a grunt of agony or some choice words, and they immediately speed up and pass me. So cool that I am a pacer. (I did nicely encourage a few tired young runners to get moving as I passed them. They all took the advice and sprinted away.)

No photos for you. I looked ridiculous. My self-deprecating spirit does have its limits.