Monday, December 21, 2009

Have I Mentioned I'm Excited?

Most of you already know the MMBA Expo is coming up at the end of next month. I have always enjoyed the Expo. It's a chance to catch up with old friends, check out some good deals at the swap meet and hang out with like-minded people (mostly). However, I will say that I've enjoyed it much more since they moved it out of Davison to the Lansing area. Not only is it practically in my backyard, but I don't have to make the ridiculous trek to Davison, which is convenient for no one (except people who live in Davison).

This year, though, I have a HUGE reason to be excited about the Expo. That's because a certain person, who'll I'll just call "DAVE WIENS," is going to be speaking. DAVE WIENS! DAVE WIENS! As in, 6-time Leadville champion, awesome Dave Wiens. As in, the guy who lives a mere stone's throw from Crested Butte (where I will be in 10 short days) Dave Wiens. I have never been excited about a speaker at the MMBA Expo, but this one is enough to make up for all the years past.

More info on the Expo can be found here, but really all you need to know is that Dave Wiens is speaking.

BTW, on a completely unrelated matter, is anyone else starting to get the impression that something is going on between Fat Cyclist and the Runner?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I apologize to anyone coming to this site to read cycling-related posts. There just hasn't been much related to cycling to talk about lately. My winter training went well for the first couple weeks, but then I got sick again, got ridiculously busy at work and found lots of excuses to avoid it. My plan at this point is to start up again when we get back from Crested Butte and work hard the rest of the winter, because I do want to be in good shape for Barry-Roubaix. Realistically, though, even if I had been training, it wouldn't make for scintillating reading. I can just picture it now:

Today I rode the trainer and watched Spinervals 2.0, Sweating Buckets. I did a lot of sweating. Then I took a shower.

So, on to the real topic of this post ...

I said quite a while ago that the first hurdle in plan to move to Crested Butte was to get our house ready to sell. Since October when we rented an 18-yard container to throw a bunch of things away, we haven't made any progress toward this goal. It could be because it's so overwhelming—there's so much to do, and I fear it's going to be prohibitively expensive. There's much in our house that is in disrepair, not to mention downright ugly. Here's a taste of what I'm up against:

Bathroom floor tile

Garish color combinations (and yes, the tub matches this toilet)

Precious kitchen wallpaper complete with baby farm animal border

Kitchen counter and backsplash made of, you guessed it, linoleum

Vinyl floor tile in the kitchen

Stained, indoor/outdoor-style carpeting in bedroom and hallway (formerly in entire house)

But lest someone think there is nothing about our house I like, I give you our wide oak trim, which is really quite nice:

But if all you do is whine about how much you have to do, nothing ever gets done. So, I started planning to do these projects incrementally, so as not to overwhelm our stamina or our budget too much. The bathroom really needs the most attention, so I began with that.

Ideally, I would like to make the following changes to the bathroom before we put the house on the market. Luckily, we can do most of them ourselves or by enlisting the help of my dad, who can fix, make or build pretty much anything.
  • Remove hideous wallpaper
  • Paint
  • Install an exhaust fan
  • Replace vanity
  • Replace mirror and light with lighted medicine cabinet
  • Replace rotting trim
  • Build storage shelves 
  • Replace floor tile with linoleum
(That's right. As of now, I'm planning to leave the pink toilet and tub, as well as the sea foam green wall tile and tub surround, but I could change my mind.)

After my first two days of work on it, I have not even finished removing the remarkably stubborn wallpaper (see top photo). I guess I have my work cut out for me. Wish me luck! 

Thursday, December 17, 2009


After spending the bulk of my existence cursing Michigan winters and snow, I find myself a bit taken aback by my recent emotions regarding our lack of snow. For most of my life, I have thought it would be ideal if we had about two snowy days a year, Christmas and Christmas Eve. And, although I had never been a fan of moving to a warmer clime where there are no apparent seasons, I was ready to bid adieu to winter completely. So I guess I shouldn't be so judgmental about some of my friends and family being skeptical about me wanting to move to Colorado.

However, as I alluded to at the beginning of this post, my thoughts they are a changin'. Recently I've found myself complaining about our dearth of snow. In fact, every time snow has been forecasted, my hopes have been dashed and I've cursed the weathermen. But so unusual is this sentiment that my own brother (who admittedly doesn't pay a lot of attention to details) recently demanded on Facebook that I "man up" because he thought I was complaining about snow when I was complaining about our lack thereof.

I'm not sure what explains this drastic change in feeling. Perhaps it's the fact that I have new winter gear, including a parka and ski pants. It may also be the Christmas presents I'm expecting, such as the warm winter boots. It may even be the new ski boots and the pair of cast-off cross country skis that my mom will be sending my way soon. Whatever it is, it's a little unnerving, but I like it!

It seems kind of crazy that we don't even have enough snow to cover the grass successfully even though it's mid-December, particularly with the amount they've received in other parts of the state. (This person and this person actually have snow where they live.) Maybe we'll get some soon, but in the meantime, I can always dream about this. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What if I Were a Different Kind of Person?

The other day, when I was hunting around online, I found an open position for an editor of Crested Butte Weekly. Now I know that I have no background in journalism, but I was the editor of a magazine for several years and I have seen the Crested Butte Weekly. I'm not only certain that I could handle the job, I'm sure I could improve the publication.

I had actually seen the posting before, but this one included an actual salary and the detail that the position was full-time, which made it seem quite a bit more palatable. My head was up in the clouds for the rest of the day, working things out, trying to imagine the earliest I could possibly have the house ready to sell. I even wondered if I could find some temporary lodging and leave Chris here to work and get the house ready to sell while I went to Crested Butte to start the job. How's that for getting ahead of yourself?

Later that day, I found out that even though it was still posted, the position had already been filled, so I didn't have to envision any more scenarios about how I would start working there right away. The hope and excitement vanished almost as quickly as it had arrived.

In its wake it left a distinct air of wistfulness. It made me wish I were braver. I can count on one hand the few truly brave things I've done in my life and sometimes that rankles. It's not that I'm so materialistic, but I don't like the idea of things being completely uncertain. I don't need a ton of luxuries, but I like a few, and I have to be able to put food on the table and Pro Plan in the dog dishes.

Just once in a while, I wish I were the type of person who could just pack up and go and not worry about the consequences. My fear is that waiting for everything to fall into place, instead of leading to a move to Crested Butte, could just lead to more waiting.

On the bright side, we'll be there in 17 days, if only for a little while.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Salute to Cyclists (and Other Assorted Ramblings)

(I was going to title this post "Ode to Cyclists," but I remembered that my poetry-writing skills were never that good, particularly for someone who majored in English. And since my strophes, antistrophes and epodes aren't what they ought to be, I decided to stick to prose for now.)

At any rate, something amazing happened in the realm of cycling over the past few days. If you read Fat Cyclist, you already know this, but for those of you who don't, here's the gist of it. Late last week, Fat Cyclist, as he is wont to do, wrote one of his famous open letters. This particular letter was written to Johan Bruyneel. (If you don't know who Johan is, just Google him. That's what DG would do.) In the letter, in typical satirical FC fashion, he asked to be allowed to join Team RadioShack. But his pleas didn't fall on deaf ears, and Johan replied by presenting him with a fundraising challenge, which, if met, would allow FC to attend Team RadioShack Training Camp in Arizona. The amount he needed to raise was $10,000 for LAF and $10,000 for World Bicycle Relief. The real challenge came from the fact that he would have less than a week to do it.

When he and his readers completed the feat a mere day later, Johan upped the ante. A couple other people donated prizes and FC wound up raising more than $50,000 for each cause in three days!

Now because I attended a very impressive social media presentation just this morning, I'm inclined to say that this just shows the outstanding feats that can be accomplished so quickly using social media. And that would definitely be true. It's also true that FC is a phenomenon and he could probably get those who love him (pretty much everyone who reads his blog) to do just about anything he asked. But it's also a testament to how generous and supportive this cycling community can be (and almost always is). I can rattle off a handful of examples of this—maybe not as extreme, but in some ways just as meaningful—that have directly affected me in the last few years as I've surrounded myself with these people.

Some of you may remember that I wrote a couple of articles for an online cycling 'zine a while ago. The editors often asked me to come up with ideas for articles. One of the suggestions I made was to write something about cyclists being a tightly knit community. One of the editors disagreed with me. In his estimation, cyclists are loners, not team players, and that's why they participate in a solitary sport. This is so contrary to my experience that I can't even begin to imagine where he got this idea. In my mind, this FC phenomenon is just another example of how cyclists band together to support one another.

Now for an awkward transition ...

Speaking of incredible behavior by cyclists, can you believe that some people actually ride their bikes on a trail in the dark? On purpose? It's true. This was the plan last Saturday down at Heritage Park in Adrian. Not only did they do that, but I decided it would be a good idea for us to go. As it turned out, it was a somewhat disastrous experience for me. The light I had wasn't quite bright enough for the trail. Besides, taking my first night ride on a trail I had never ridden on before at all was probably not the best idea. And if you think I am hesitant on an unfamiliar trail in the daylight, you should see me at night. Yikes!

Chris and I ended up bailing out of the ride early and waiting for the rest of the group in the parking lot. Still, it made me feel very brave to even try, considering how cold it was. Best of all, we went to a local watering hole, had some food and a few cocktails, and got to hang out a bit with Jake, Nichole, Laurie and Mitch, which we have not done in a long time. So it was worth it after all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Okay, for some reason I'm not overly thrilled about writing a race report for last weekend's Kisscross finale, so I can't promise I'll come up with anything decent. In fact, I may just give the basics and post a few pictures. Here's the gist of it:
  • I finished second to the last, in front of a tandem that either had mechanical issues, took a bathroom break in the middle of the race, or both.
  • The race was fun in a kind of miserable way. It poured rain throughout most of the C race and was very messy. Slogging through that kind of stuff makes me feel really hardcore.
  • Rick originally told us we had to do five laps, but due to the amount of rain and the course getting torn up, decreased it to four after the first lap. I protested loudly and decided to do five anyway, just on principle. (Or maybe I thanked my lucky stars and cheered in a celebratory fashion. You decide which one you think is more likely.)
  • I know I say this all the time, but I have never wanted to DNF a race so badly before. My legs felt like lead from the get go and I had no idea how I was going to finish. As usual, I knew I would feel much worse if I quit, so I slogged through it.
As usual, Rick and Cathy did a great job with the whole series. We're all lucky they continue to do this.

I did my stair workout.

My teammate Nichole was beating the guys, as usual.

Navigating the Death Spiral

Riding through the muddy goodness

Here's how the Death Spiral looked post-race. Kind of reminiscent of crop circles

And here's how I spent my week. Luckily, the event is tomorrow because it's about to kill me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why Me?

Excuse me, please, while I whine for a minute (pretty unusual, huh?) because of the unfairness of it all. Normally, I am a person with a pretty hearty constitution, but lately this hasn't been the case at all. Sunday night, I started to feel crappy, but I thought I was just tired from a busy weekend and sore from a huge endo. But Monday morning I woke up with a full-blown sick, just in time for the last week of planning for a work party for 350+ people. The timing is truly suck-tastic.

Now I suspect that the germs I have were passed along to me by my chronically ill, consistently sniffly nephew when I saw him this weekend. Still, that begs the question: Why, when I am normally never sick, am I sick for the third time since October? I have a couple of working theories:
  • I have been running myself ragged for several months now and am just completely worn out.
  • The Aspergillus penicillium growing in my bathroom has lowered my immunity and made me more susceptible to illness.
  • When I examine my recent diet, I find it deficient in any and all major nutrients, which may have adversely affected my health.
I will have to work on all of the above items, but in the interim, I'm still sick and I still have to get through a week that is going to be a bear.

A Kisscross finale race report is still coming, but it may be a couple of days. Right now sleep seems preferable to blogging for obvious reasons.