Good news, Dear Readers!
Firstly, my computer died last week. Thus, no post. Sorry about that. (Ok, I guess this part was bad news)
Secondly, my computer is partially back in commission. With some substantial finegaling I managed to coax the sucker into taking a charge which means your intellectual deprivation is over. Never again will I deny you the condescension and rhetorical majesty upon which you have become so dependent. [Until my computer bites it for real(sies)]
You’re welcome, Dear Readers.
In other positive news, Chicago’s weather isn’t terrible. Around this time last year, Chicago looked something like this:
This time last year Chicago was crippled by an enormous storm. The historic magnitude of the storm prompted a lot of ridiculous names: “Snowpocalypse…” “Snowmegeddon…” but truly, no words or amalgamation of words could aptly or entirely capture that hellatious week. And while this time last year Snowzilla kept most of us inside, debating if “food” qualified as a “valid reason to leave the apartment,” this year we are basking outside in balmy 75 degree heat. Temperature index records are getting curb-stomped and the memory of those tragic events from 2011 are waning in the minds of my compatriots. While I’m certainly enjoying the weather as well, experience warns me to brace myself for the inevitable. Somewhere in the shadowy depths of Lake Michigan lurks Mechasnowzillasaurus Rex the Destroyer. And he is just biding his time, waiting for that golden opportunity to bitch slap this whole city into oblivion. Hold fast, Chicagoans, and please pray for us, Dear Readers.
Doomy future aside, this weather has allowed some serious and enjoyable riding. The Lakeshore Path is alive and bustling with people as I ride its length several times over. Now, for those of you who have never done any type of indoor spinning, it can be misleading. I felt I was doing well in the cold months… Putting on the miles, strengthening the legs and girding the mind and the… ah… gooch-region (Perineum? Nope.) for the long miles I knew were ahead of me.
Apparently, I have been doing nothing of the sort. Indoor spinning eliminates so many of the variables inherent to riding. A measure of climate control, complete lack of headwinds, no bumps to ride over, no pedestrians to ride over, no glaring sunlight etc. make for a pretty cushy ride. I’m not discrediting the merits of spinning–it is invaluable to any cyclist looking to emerge from the winter months as an immediately competitive rider. It is just slightly demoralizing when you come home beaten and tired from a ride you had expected to be rejuvenating. Which just goes to show, even great Chicago weather is terrible weather.
Injuries are actually a pressing concern for me and this trip. While a sore butt and/or lower back after a long ride is not too serious (fixed by riding more and simple lifting, respectively) I am worried about my knee. Several years ago I damaged my iliotibial (IT) band pretty drastically and opted for the natural healing process. IT band syndrome, as it is often called, is an injury that plagues runners. It is manifested in swelling and severe pain on the outside of the knee, just in line with the patella. Basically, the rubbing of your IT ligament against the knee as it reaches toward the tibia causes inflammation and hobbling pain. I, in all my stubbornness and stupidity (the pride and bane of all runners), worked with this injury and exacerbated it. Now, though ‘healed,’ my knee pops whenever I flex it and the inflammation will occasionally flare up whenever it feels like being an ass.
So far riding has gone pretty well for me. Even back in the triathlon days when I was doing long rides several times week my knee held up nicely. Considering the tens of thousands of rotations a leg completes over the course of 50+ miles, that is pretty encouraging. I’m banking on this luck holding for… like 2,000+ miles.
Riding outdoors has been good to me, as well. Fortify your minds here, Dear Readers, lest they be blown away, as I am about to be positive. Firstly, being outside does wonderful things for a person’s happiness (it’s says so in the Bible AND Science!). And ever since I watched Laim Neeson simultaneously glass-bottle punch Winter and wolves out of Chicago, ever since that first sliver of sunlight broke though, I have been feeling pretty good. Secondly, being outside has allowed me to get to know my new bike better than ever.
I bought the Long Haul Trucker some time ago. I can’t measure the time accurately since time stops during Chicago winter, but its been… like… at least 100 years. That whole time I have been trying to get a feel for it. You see, riding a bike is an immersive experience. You don’t just pedal and go. The bike becomes an extension of yourself and your senses. Every bike has its own quirks and nuances that make it unique and endearing and until you are familiar with all these you are never fully comfortable riding it.
The Surly is a testament to this. It is stiffer than my fixie and makes noises which are foreign to me. I see more of the road since I am in an upright position and I smell… well… I don’t know how to tie that sense (or taste) into it, but just give me the benefit of the doubt on the immersion thing here, alright? (Shut up, Dear Readers) Now, personally, I believe that anything you hold dear (like my readers) and depend on should be named (hence “Dear Readers”). My car has a name, my other bikes have names (except the fixie, because I don’t love it.) my kids will probably have names etc. That being said, you can’t just name something. It has to be earned, and the process is usually epiphanic.
Well, the name I had been leaning towards for the Surly was Shadowfax. But I had my reservations. I feel like naming my bike after the Chief of the Mearas, the kings of the horses capable of understanding human speech in Lord of the Rings, might have betrayed exactly how nerdy (read “awesome”) I am. Contemplating this quandary while riding one day, my mind drifted to other famous horses in literature and the obvious choice rose up from some of my high school readings. Cervantes granted Don Quixote the decrepit and emaciated nag Rocinante as his primary means of conveyance throughout his various misadventures. And while the horse’s outward appearance lacked the glamour and loftiness of other stallions in the story, Rocinante proved a faithful and dependable companion throughout Quixote’s delusional escapades. In my weeks of thinking there is nothing that comes close to describing my relationship to this bike better than that. And further, I can seem cultured and intelligent when asked what my bikes name is. Look out, ladies; an infinitesimally less nerdy (awesome) me is coming your way.
Speaking of attraction and outdoor riding … Anyone in the cycling community knows that when putting these two together you only ever get one result:
That’s right. It’s leg-shaving season. I am ending my post today with this because I wanted to dispel some rumors. Firstly, shaving your legs as a man does not make you gay, although some gay men probably shave their legs. You see? Leg shaving and sexual preference are not interdependent, so grow up ( seemingly everyone in Chicago who notices my legs). Secondly, cyclists don’t shave their legs for speed (unless they’re elite, where it might make a difference), it is actually much more legitimate than that. Removing leg hair makes wounds like road rash much easier to care for and allows them to heal more quickly. Without hair to host bacteria and lock in debris the damage is easier to mend. Further, kinesio-tape grips much more securely without hair. And finally, it feels good. Damn good.
As I wrap up this post I will leave you, the (dear) reader, with some more media from other sources. It goes nicely with the last post’s theme, I just wish I had found it earlier:
Check it out, vote in the poll below, and comment on the blog. And don’t forget to tell your friends, call your family, mail your extended family, fax coworkers, whisper to your pets, build monuments, raze other peoples’ shitty monuments which pale in comparison, and contemplate quietly to yourself over a stiff drink about this blog. Or don’t… You’re the one who has to live with yourself.
This quiz goes out to a special someone who has been consistently reading and commenting. I appreciate that and I, therefore, will appease her, even though this has nothing to do with anything ever.