Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back where they belong

Few things are as hard to swallow as having your bike stolen. But sometimes life takes a poetic turn, and bitter pain is rewarded by sweet revenge. The owner of a boosted Eddy Merckx bike in Portland learned that a few days ago when a sharp-eyed restaurant hostess recovered his ride.

Uh, huh. A restaurant hostess. The ripped-off bike owner had put the word out to the local riding community, and the bike showed up at a restaurant when the thieving scumbag showed up to apply for a job. The hostess, who is a cyclist, thought the guy and his bike were a little mismatched, so she called a friend who’s a shop mechanic. He knew about the missing bike and filled her in.

She called the cops, had the thief fill out his job application, and even got him to write a personal check to pay for a pre-employment background check.

Guess what was parked on his front porch when The Man showed up.

Yeah, baby.

One asshole busted. One happy owner reunited with his bike. Read all the details over at BikePortland.org, where Jonathan Maus maintains a registry of bikes stolen in the Portland metro area. Thanks to his site, two bikes have been recovered so far this month.

Who says there are no happy endings?

I know an Anchorage rider who had an almost-new Santa Cruz Blur stolen off his roof rack a year ago last September. He had finally treated himself to a really nice bike after years on and old, entry-level hardtail and then bang, it’s gone. Not to mention that his rack was mauled.

He worked his way through the post-theft funk, replaced his bike with a used Blur and bided his time through the winter.

One day in spring, his phone rang. A piece of human trash had just walked into a pawn shop while a local bike dealer happened to be there. LBS guy saw the Blur and sprung into action. The cops were called, my friend was called, and bada-bing, bada-boom, another bike comes home to daddy. (That's him riding it in the photo, more than a year after it was stolen.)

It was even recovered in good shape. Just a couple of scratches. Battle scars with a story behind them.

Fortunately, it's happy story.

Separated at birth?

Dick Cheney

Monday, February 27, 2006

Not that I'm surprised, but ...

At least now it's official. The Scottish press has finally obtained the police report on Dubya's wipeout while riding his bike at the G8 Summit last year. It is confirmed that the president cannot talk, wave and pedal at the same time. That pathetic dumbass.

Thanks to Lady Velo for the link, and apologies to Pee-wee for this photo.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pucker factor

I knew we were in trouble Saturday night when I pedaled up to the staging area and Carlos told me to ride the Goose Lake course and then offer my opinion of whether we should cancel the race because of the dangerous conditions.

Halfway through the lap, I was thinking maybe an oil spill on the ice would improve traction. A couple of riders came off the lake and said, "Um, no, thanks."

Jon Kunesh nailed it when he looked at me near the registration table and said the Frigid Bits championship was gonna be a "Spenard lovefest."

Translation: Somebody's goin' down.

It was an orgy. Everybody was goin' down.

Five inches of new, dry snow on top of glare ice was a recipe for carnage. The race was shortened to options of three or five laps. By the time it was over, the snow on Goose Lake was littered with the imprints of bodies.

It was fun, in a twisted way—the kind of fun you can have only if there are other crazies present to help you laugh your way through it. And it was butt-puckerin' scary. At least it was for most of us.

Amber Stull won the whole damned thing while riding five laps yelling, "Woo-hoo!"

I have no idea what she was saying.

From the saddle of my bike, "Woo-hoo!" sounded like some foreign word for "Holy shit! We're all gonna die!"

Saturday, February 25, 2006

How it should be

Further proof that riding bikes is good for our mental health. I found this over at Postsecret.

Another thing that's good for mental health (at least it is for mine) is seeing a reminder of what sports can and should be. Egos, criminal behavior, greed; they're all wicked distractions from the beauty of pure athleticism. I've spent the last week reading about the ugly-American behavior of some of our Olympic athletes, and then yesterday I picked up the newspaper and read about Jason McElway.

Jason's an autistic teenager who volunteers as manager for his school's varsity basketball team. You can see what's coming—the usual, "last game of the season, let's put in the handicapped kid" story, right?

Well, this Jason guy put a new spin on it. He ran onto the court, missed a couple of shots, and then started shooting the lights out of the place. Scored 20 points in the only four minutes of his high school basketball career. He nailed six buckets from 3-point range.

And the crowd goes wild ...

I wish we could have sent Jason McElway to Turin and left Chad Hedrick in a trailer park somewhere.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Go, Speedo Boy, Go!

Good luck and bon voyage to our man Adam, who pedals away
this weekend in the Iditarod Trail Invitational.
That's 350 (yes, three-hundred and five-o) miles
from Knik Lake to McGrath.

We're all right behind ya, Adam. Waaay behind you.
And with every mile you ride,
we'll be, well, another mile behind you.
You'll have the pride of achievement, we'll
have cold beer. Who's to say (beer) which
is really better? (Cough, cough beer)

May the trail be firm, the
avalanche chutes clear and the river ice dry.

Most importantly, may the
Speedo shrinkage
be minimal.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who you callin' squirrelly?

Years ago, I was haulin’ ass downhill on a rural highway in New Mexico when a squirrel ran out of the ditch and right in front of my mountain bike wheel. I grabbed a fistful of brake and missed the squirrel, but I nearly lost control and turned myself into a road apple. I scolded myself all the way back to my house for not just running over the damned thing. I figured it would have been safer.

Then I saw this series of photos this week over at Gwadzilla’s blog. Whatever happened here must have been painful—and not just for the squirrel. Hell, it looks like his lights went out quickly. But breaking a fork on a squirrel? Damn.

I once had a panicked sparrow nearly fly into my front wheel at high speed, and since then I've always thought that would be the blood-and-feathers equivalent of shit hittin’ the fan.

After that little episode, I decided it might be best to avoid yelling, “Oh, Craaaap” as you watch a Kamikaze Cuckoo throw itself at your spinning spokes.

Because “Craaaap” is a really long word.

And at a time like that, you should probably have your mouth closed, if you know what I mean.

As long as I’m on the subject of blood, birds and involuntary impulses to yell, “Craaaap!” this might be a good time to mention that this Saturday is the Big Event at the Goose. And this ain’t just any race, it’s the gosh dang “Stud Slutz Cham pee in shipz” as Carlos is billing it.

Show up at Goose Lake between 6 and 6:45 p.m. with ten bucks, and be ready to race at 7 o’clock. Yeah, that’s after dark, so light 'em up. I plan to be stylin’ with some sweet new gear that would have scored serious points with babes during the disco era.

If you’ve been meaning to try one of these races but haven’t, get off yer butt. This is probably your last chance for the season.

Besides, if you're the kind of person who will read an entire blog post about killing small critters with bike parts, you belong at this race.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The New Dirt Rag: Now twice as absorbent

Dirt Rag magazine has such fine taste in photos. Is it any wonder it's so cool?

Skedaddle on out and grab a look at Issue 119, which is hitting newsstands. This photo, which I shot (and used on the blog) earlier this winter, is featured in "The Rider's Eye." The shot is of my old Trek commuter, which now does double duty as my winter bike and my son's summer ride. I built it up and rode it for years, and I consider it "on loan" during summer.

When he saw the magazine, my son checked out the photo and said, "Hey, those are my brakes."

Not many people would be so eager to claim blue anodized cantilevers. But forget what he says. I found 'em at the spring bike swap, I put 'em on the bike, and I maintain 'em. So they're mine!

Besides, the kid rarely rides anyway. (I don't know where I went wrong with that boy. Maybe it was a bad idea to come home muddy and bloody so often when he was an impressionable toddler.)

I was reading the Alaska forum on mtbr.com the other day and saw this hideous banner ad across the top of the page. First of all, why would anyone advertise a children's sing-a-long video to a bunch of mountain bikers? And, more importantly, why would anyone even create such a thing with Rosanne Barr?

Admittedly, I've never heard her sing. But I've heard her speak, so I suspect her singing is right up there with the inhumane frequencies of Yoko Ono, fingernails on a chalkboard, your lover passionately screaming the wrong name, and the sound of carbon fiber meeting the top of a garage door.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A call to duty

"I don't want to read your blog.
Just tell me how your day was."

(I found this cartoon over at "really bike-y".)

Well, the Susitna 100 is in the bag. Congratulations to all the finishers, and a big, lazy high-give to Jeanne and Pete, my brothers in arms in our hedonistic race for sloth and comfort. Sure, Jill might send us all e-mail bombs after she reads through all our smart-ass posts, but we were here for her and all the others. And I mean here for them. Right in our chairs, sittin' on our soft, chamois-free asses.

The real test of relaxation is still ahead of us. The Iditarod Trail Invitational starts Saturday. It's for the gonzo crowd. My friend Adam will be racing in it—350 miles up the Iditarod trail to the village of McGrath—and he expects some moral support from the rest of us. His exact words were, "I hope to God you and your fellow bloggers can drink us 350ers to the finish line."

My fellow Americans, if that's not a call to duty, I don't know what is.

Damn, 350 miles? That might require a Camelbak full of booze, and a bike helmet for the staggerin' trips to the can. I'm old. I'm slow and weak. Adam knows; he's ridden with me. I'll just have to pace myself for the long haul.

By the way, is it possible to take out a rehab-insurance policy?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

One big, final push

Man those recliners. Pour a Pepsi and open a bag of Goldfish crackers and send out some good vibes for our girl Jill, who's gutting through the final miles. The latest race update was posted 40 minutes ago (about 10 a.m., Alaska time) and two cyclists are still on the course with plenty of skiers and runners.

Jill pulled out of the Little Su check point 13 miles from the finish just before 6 a.m. this morning. The final, painful, why-did-I-ever-want-to-do-this miles. She should be coming in any time now.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

On to the finish line! (Zzzzzzzzzz)

The wine's running low. My belly's full. It's about time to clear this check point and enter the sleep zone.

Looks like cyclist Jay Petervary (a freaky-fast rookie) of Jackson, Wyo., has won the race with an elapsed time of 11 hours, 27 minutes, followed closely by Frigid Bits criterium veteran Tom Peichel, who was only four minutes in arrears, as Phil Ligget would put it. The trail held up and made it a year for the bikers. Jamie's in. Janice is in. So are several others. Only one skier has cleared the final check point.

Jill is out of Luce's Lodge and heading for Flat Horn Lake and the third of five check points. She's hangin' tough and clearing check points quickly.

Out there on the trail northwest of Mount Susitna, also known—cruelly, tonight—as "The Sleeping Lady," headlamps are glowing on the snow-covered trail. Rain is likely falling, if the weather here in town is any indication. Lactic acid is burning in the quads of very tired people. Shit, it makes me yawn just thinkin' about it.

It's time to do my part. Down the last swallow of wine, turn out the lights, crawl into bed and listen to the wind blow.

One hundred miles, one sip at a time

Night has fallen in Alaska. This is when the wimps get dropped and the committed break away from the pack. Velocipete has been carbo-loading like a pro. The Old Bag is doin' her part, snackin' 'n' sippin' while checking race updates. I just popped the cork on a bottle of Le Grand Noir and I'm preparin' to kick it up a notch.

Yeah, that's right. Bloggers from Alaska to Minnesota are well into the comfort marathon in support of the Susitna 100. While our fellow cyclists are slogging through the wilderness, we're keeping the home fires burning and representin' in living rooms across America. Others, no doubt moved by our selfish devotion, are surely holding their own vigils and bravely staggering through their homes in search of another snack, another log for the fire, or that damned corkscrew. (Where the hell ...?)

We're in it for the long haul. You won't see any of us kickin' up our heels and grabbin' a rail before we cross the finish line. We're professionals, damn it!

Our fellow blogger Jill has checked in at Eaglesong Lodge near the halfway point of the race, and trucked right on through. The local speed demons like Jamie Stull and Janice Tower are out of Flat Horn Lake and headed for the finish line 25 miles away. At this rate, they'll barely be late for bed. A lot of the mere mortals will probably be crankin' the pedals until morning.

Bottoms up, Keepers of the Comfort Flame. We've still got a long way to go!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Help save little Jimmy

From a humble, selfish idea a nationwide movement grows. The Old Bag is into it. VelociPete is stocked with meat. I’m giving until it hurts.

Well, that’s what I’m supposed to say, anyway. Truth is, I’m really giving until it feels good.

Join us. It’s not too late.

Cook an animal and uncork a bottle of wine. Ice down some good beer. Whatever you’re into as long as it’s not tofu pretending to be meat, because that’s just perverse. Devote your Saturday night to a vigil in support of fellow blogger Jill and the other self-abusing participants of the Susitna 100.

Act on their behalf. Enjoy what they cannot: fresh, hot food; cold, alcoholic drinks; warmth; sleep.

Savor the fact that you’re in a soft chair instead of humping your overloaded bike across the frozen wastes. Or wish you were out there with 'em, if that’s your thing.

I’ve been tempted to enter that torture-fest but I keep coming up with 10 reasons to stay home—I like to call them my toes. And I'm lazy. My talents have always leaned more toward the area of teasing those with more ambition.

Go ahead, slip off those socks. Put those pink little un-frostbitten toesies a little closer to the fireplace.

Now wiggle 'em.

Take a sip of wine.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Stud Sluts

Photo by Christopher Souser

My previous post might have misled some readers into thinking I'll be spending this weekend doing nothing but eating steak, drinking wine and sitting by a roaring fire.

Silly readers.

I never said anything about steak. Only beef. I might just have a big, juicy hamburger. Although a steak isn't out of the question. Hmm. I will be sitting down and drinkin' some wine, though. I'll sip some of that French stuff while I hunt with Dick.

But I won't just be lounging around watching my ass grow fatter. It's Chilly Willy race time on Saturday at 4 p.m. The usual place. Goose Lake. Hopefully, we'll have some semblance of winter and be able to use bikes instead of jet skis. This should be the last daytime race of the winter, so Anchorage riders who aren't braving the Susitna 100 (Go Jill!) should show up and slide around with us.

The Frigid Bits Championship will be held a week later, on February 25th at 8 p.m. weather permitting. Carlos promises a five-minute time bonus to the rider with the cheesiest head-to-toe costume. Scoff not, brethren. A simple bear costume pushed Rob German to the top of the 10-lap podium at the last race.

Or so I heard. The ceremony was over and the team buses had split with the podium girls by the time I dragged my ass into the finish area.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Athletic supporter

Occasionally, I see a picture in a newspaper or magazine showing someone who has just run a 10K, climbed a mountain or completed a charity ride on behalf of someone who was physically incapable of participating in the event.

You know what I’m talkin’ about. The guy who writes a kid’s name on his T-shirt because he’s running “for” little Jimmy, who has AIDS, Ebola virus, cancer, dandruff, halitosis and the heebie jeebies. Little Jimmy bravely removes his oxygen mask at the finish line so the crowd can see him glowing with pride and gratitude. Tears flow down the cheeks of bystanders who are moved by the touching gesture between a poor, suffering soul and his generous and caring benefactor.

I have often wondered how I might perform such an act to help my fellow man; to achieve the satisfaction of knowing I did something for someone less fortunate who couldn’t do it for himself. Up to now, the realization of my noble goal has always been hindered by the terrifying specter of self-sacrifice and discomfort for the benefit of others.

Run a 10K for little Jimmy? Screw that. Ten kilometers is a long way to run. Jimmy looks like a fairly smart kid; he’d probably see through the whole charade anyway. It’s not like I’d fool him into thinking he suddenly rose from his wheelchair and ran like Forrest Gump as the leg braces crumbled and the parts flew away in the wind.

But I have found my calling at last, and I am prepared to take a solemn vow before you today. The loyal readers of Bicycles and Icicles shall serve as witnesses to my testimony.

Several people I know will pedal into the wilderness this weekend to throw themselves against the steel-toed, bull-dyke boot of Mother Nature in the Susitna 100. After weeks or months of hard training, they will submit to the deprivations and hardships of wilderness racing in Alaska in February. This kind of suffering should not go unsupported.

Therefore, I vow to build a roaring blaze in the fireplace for those who cannot. I promise to sip glasses of imported wine on behalf of those sucking gulps of water from their Camelbaks. I will savor a meal of hot, juicy beef because I know that my friends will be forced to gulp Gu, munch Clifbars and gnaw jerky. I will sleep under warm blankets for those who are instead crawling into bivy sacks or going without sleep throughout the night.

I might even do it again a week later when the real sickos start the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a race that makes the Susitna 100 look like a run to the convenience store for a six-pack. I'm not sure I can drink that much wine, though. Those people (especially Adam) may be beyond the help of even someone as selfless as me.

No, no, no. Don’t try to talk me out of this. I will not be dissuaded. I refuse let my friends down.

That’s just the kind of guy I am.

There is no need to thank me. Just know, fellow cyclists, that as you grind away the miles listening to the howl of wolves and the crunch of snow (or splash of slush) beneath your tires, my fire is crackling. A fresh pour of wine is softly tumbling into my glass.

Or maybe I'm snoring, because I don't plan to stay up too late.

Whatever. Just remember that I’m doing this for you.

It’s all for you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rode (not so) hard and put away wet

Thanks to Shelby for the post-race photo
OK, so I spent my Saturday night riding laps on a frozen lake that was covered with a snot-slick layer of water that sprayed all over me in 40-degree weather. It was still a shitload safer than going quail hunting with Dick Cheney.

We had an almost-full moon, bizarre winds, and damned if Rob didn't show up in a bear suit and bag the five-minute time bonus for costumed racers. Not that it hurt my final result; I was off the back from the start and there was no way to reel 'em in, so I just settled in for a safe ride in the moonlight.

Carlos continues to class up the race a little more each time, and even provided free swag for our first night race. We had J.J. Cale on the sound system and one free roll of toilet paper for each competitor. Like the man said, everyone needs toilet paper.

This early springlike weather is disturbing, especially with two major winter races coming up in the next couple of weeks. Bike riders in the Susitna 100 may be doing a lot of pushing next weekend if things don't cool down soon. This could be a year for the skiers.

It didn't take long after Saturday's post before I heard from a Minnesota reader responding to my joke about Minnesotans being "soft" for racing in malls. VelociPete pointed out they had two ice races on Saturday alone. Check out his blog and then take a look at the bike photos on his flickr account. Those dudes are serious about their ice riding.

Bizarre, custom-built ice bikes. That kicks ass.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Video goodness

I've got a busy weekend with little time for bloggish activities, but there's some video goodness (and one cheesy cartoon) that needs to be shared before I go rig up some gear for tonight's Slippery Stud Pucker at Goose Lake. It's gonna be a sloppy one. Rain and warm temps are turning everything to goo. Gotta find a fender and get it on the bike.

I don't want to call the folks in Minnesota soft, but while we have guys like Carlos setting up criterium races on frozen lakes, they're racing in malls. Strange. Looks fun as hell, though. Check out the TV news feature here, then get the full-course helmet cam video by clicking on the site's search feature and looking for "headcam."

I have no idea how the race organizer pulled it off and got the people who manage those facilities to go along with his crazy plan, but good for him. High-speed racing through hallways and skyways. Yeah, I'd do it.

Thanks to The Old Bag for the link, and an I-was-only-joking nod to Minnesotans for the "soft" dig. I read a bunch of Minneapolis-area blogs and they have some rugged riders.

I'm one of several bloggers who has been testing gear for Banjo Brothers, a Minnesota maker of bike bags. They've been looking to the "blogosphere" to spread the word about their products, and they recently got some media attention for their innovative marketing approach. Check out the news story, then take a look at their blog, which features a photo of one very cool FOB.

Who is that handsome devil, anyway?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pucker up, baby

Darkness. Ice. Dave's new "FB4L"* tattoo. Carlos-built singletrack. Maybe even moguls.

Yeah, that's right. It's time for night racin' at the Goose, boys and girls. The Frigid Bits is morphing into The Slippery Stud Pucker and boldly going where we've never gone before. It's time to charge the batteries and fire up the lights for some laps around the lake.

C'mon, you know you want it. Saturday night. Race time 7 p.m. Show up and kick my ass. It ain't hard.

Time's a wastin', because all this snow and ice will be turning to slushy goo in a few weeks. Get in on one of these suckers while you still can. You can spend the summer telling your trail-riding partners what wimps they were for staying inside in February.

The showcase event will be the Big Baby Smackdown. I don't care what this kid's shirt says. The Singlespeed King's bringing nearly a dozen pounds of diapered fury that will be unleashed in the ring. If Shop Baby Cadence shows up, there might even be a tag team on this kid's ass. He's goin' down, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Come to think of it, the same thing could be said about me.

* "Frigid Bits For Life" (Donations to Dave's therapy fund will be accepted. Just give your cash to me. I'm treasurer of the fund. Really.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Crosseyed & Painless

Another in my series of winter training tips: If you happen to be fresh out of DVDs featuring a certain young actress with the belly of a goddess, a well-chosen iPod playlist of Talking Heads music can carry you through a session on the indoor trainer.*

What? You thought I spend all my time watching Keira Knightley movies?

* This might work best for those lucky enough to have attended college in the 1980s and observed first-hand the awesome power of “Life During Wartime” to fill a living room floor with dancing college girls (and guys, too, TOB) during a raucous house party.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

Same as it



Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No wimps on Jack's field

I’m a bike guy. Not much of a fan of any sport involving cheerleaders, balls or bats. But even I watch the Super Bowl. My son insists on it—he sees Super Bowl Sunday as a guaranteed afternoon of hanging out with people and having a table full of snacks.

But damn, this year’s Big Game was dull. Made me long for the old days, when I was a kid in the Midwest and did watch a lot of football. I was a Steelers fan in the glory days: Bradshaw, Bleier, Greene, Harris, Webster, Swann. And this guy. Jack Lambert.

Lambert was a football player. Old school. No bling, no sideways caps, no pretty-boy endorsements, no whining, no pants down around his ass. Just a big, scary guy who liked grinding running backs into the turf. (No, not that synthetic crap. Turf! Dirt. Grass. Remember grass?)

When a player looked across the line of scrimmage and saw Lambert's snarling face behind the defensive line, he knew shit was about to happen.

And it was gonna hurt.

That’s what football needs today. Tough guys with scars, and gaps where their teeth used to be. Fields of grass. Open stadiums that let the snow and rain in.

For those who haven’t guessed, yeah, I’m a little light on bike thoughts today. The temperatures have shot up into the 30s, freezing rain has turned the city into an ice rink and I had my friend Dalton calling from Kentucky yesterday to say, “Hey, man, did you ride today?” It would have been safer than driving but the words "freezing rain" are sort of a de-motivator. I prefer 15 degrees and packed snow, not this wet slop.

I bet Jack Lambert would have ridden in it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

When the going gets weird, Part II

Our man Carlos is really taking us to the dark side. Not only is the Frigid Bits going nocturnal this month (and becoming The Slippery Stud Pucker), but he's adding singletrack with "assorted surfaces" to the icy course. Darkness, costumes and singletrack on a frozen lake. I think I'm startin' to want my mommy.

Looks like I'll be heading up to the lake one night this week for a little practice time. DaveIT, if you're interested in a little recon ride, drop me a note.

Not much else happening in my dark and cold little corner of the bike world. I bagged Sunday's outdoor ride due to wind and laziness, and racked up a trainer ride while watching The Boondock Saints on DVD.

I was happy to read that South Dakota is moving to exempt bikes from DUI laws. There are enough drunks in cars and trucks to keep the cops busy, so why not leave the rest of us alone when we pedal home with a buzz? We aren't the ones killing carloads of people. Besides, it's a rather nice way to travel, especially if one sticks to trails and bike paths.

Speaking of riding our bikes and not being hassled by The Man, I remember coming across a police vehicle set up with photo-radar equipment years ago when I was on a weekend ride with my old friend Chris back in Arizona. I stood up and sprinted like Mario Cippolini (well, except that I'm ugly and slow, and he's handsome and fast; other than that . . . ) in hopes of triggering the damned thing to take my picture. As I cruised by, I flew the big one-finger salute just before I noticed a big, hairy arm sticking out of the driver-side window.


Either the guy was napping, really into his box of doughnuts, or he just didn't care about some dumbass on a bike, because he didn't bother to follow me and pull me over. This motorist wasn't so lucky.

Ticketing a guy for giving a Big Brother camera the finger? That's just wrong.

Maybe he should have mooned it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

What's really offensive?

I've read that people at the Pentagon
are offended by this cartoon, so

I'd like to see it republished everywhere.

Do you want to know what is offensive?
A war based on lies.
soldiers into the meat grinder

without adequate numbers.
Without adequate body armor. Without
adequate vehicle armor. Sending
them back into that meat grinder
again and again and again.
Managing a war with blinding incompetence.
Ignoring the Constitution. Stripping
away our freedoms. Setting international
diplomacy back by decades.

Rumsfeld takes offense?

Fuck Rumsfeld.

(Thanks to George for the cartoon link.)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

My other car is a padded room

Bike commuting has a negative side: Some of us just can’t do it all the time.

Luckily, I live so close to my office I can make the drive in 10 minutes on minor streets. I pedal out of my way on ride days just to make it a 13-mile roundtrip.

A couple of days ago, I drove to work because I had to take my son to a medical appointment and run several other errands in the same part of town. It had snowed all day and the streets were slick as fresh dog shit in a downpour. Cars were sliding into ditches, bouncing off each other, idling at traffic lights. In other words, it was a fairly normal winter day in Anchorage.

After my son’s appointment, I spent an hour and 15 minutes wrestling with the soul-killing traffic as we completed a couple of quick errands and tried to get home. I was tempted to pull into a Taco Bell and buy us an early dinner of toxic cow so we could wait out the worst of the afternoon rush hour.

I’d watch traffic lights cycle as my pickup idled, and I’d mutter to myself about harsh punishments for Anchorage traffic engineers—but from the look of things I’m not sure we have any. A well-designed town this ain’t. I’ve happily adopted it as home, but I find its beauty in areas other than intelligent planning.

I also thought—as my blood boiled at those arthritic intersections—how nice the wooded bike/ski trails would be with three inches of clean, quiet new powder on them for an afternoon bike commute.

Most of us who ride to work spend a lot of time telling other people how bike commuting is fun and relieves stress. It’s all true. The downside is that, when you really enjoy traveling to and from work under your own power, it’s just that much harder to adapt when you have to strap yourself into a steel box.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

One of these days ...

When I was 16 years old, a huge group of touring riders stopped for the night in my hometown. My buddy Don and I went down to the local gym where they were hanging out and preparing to sleep on the basketball floor. We talked with a couple of riders, and then swore to each other that we'd join them for the next summer's ride. That's easy to say when you're 16.

I had a 10-speed Raleigh that was nothing special, but it probably could have made the trip. Poor Don rode a cheap-ass Free Spirit that was supposed to be a 10-speed but functioned more like a three-speed. Other than my cheap pair of gloves and a couple of water bottles, that was the full extent of our cycling gear—no helmets, no shorts, etc. The idea faded as autumn turned to winter. We both had plenty of other things to think about by the next summer, like girls and cars (which could be enjoyed simultaneously in wondrous ways).

One of these days, I'm going to bite the bullet and go back to do that ride—Biking Across Kansas. Yeah, I know it's flat. I know it's hot—I lived there for 18 years and couldn't wait to leave. I still want to do it. Maybe I can catch a year that BAK goes through my old hometown so that I can ride through and see what's left. Visit some old friends before pedaling away the next morning.

Don and I still stay in touch. Maybe I'll talk him into buying a bike so we can keep the vow.