Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Itching

I have never been good at ignoring itches: I simply must scratch.

I have a few chicken-pox scars from kindergarten because I scratched them.

Mosquito bites also must be scratched until my skin is red and the bites have swelled many times their original size.

The rash/saddle soreness caused by my underpant band on my sitbones is healing nicely. This is good--except for the fact that it itches like crazy.

I've been scratching my ass all day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fourth of July Decisions

Fourth of July Weekend:

Do I go on an extremely hilly 150-mile bike-packing trip with my roommate to Southern Illinois

----OR----

Do I stay in Chicago, sleep in everyday and drink with friends at BBQs?

John initially planned a 325-mile, 3-day trip and invited me along. When I first got the invite I was pretty intimidated by the other invitees, because they are serious tourers. Some of them have completed crazy biking adventures:

T.C. -- countless stories, including the non-stop trek from St. Louis to Chicago. No sleeping, just pedalling.

John -- Chicago to Minneapolis w/ T.C. in 3 days

Adrian -- Racer, and numerous trips through Equador. He loves hills.

I also realized that I was the only woman on the list and then John explained that he invited "only cool people who I know can bike over 100 miles each day, without it being a problem." Crazy. I was always the second-last kid picked in gym class, and yet John clumps me with this legendary group.

We met last night and eased up the ride so there would still be time for hiking and exploring instead of just riding. The route now also heads straight into the heart of hilly country (Kentucky border). T.C. and Todd grimaced as they remembered riding some of these hills before.

So the ride is tempting, but I have only had crazy weekends this whole summer, and kicking back and sleeping in sounds really good.

Plus there are boy issues:

There are several boys going on this trip that I sort of flirt with and wouldn't mind exploring something more. But I've seen me during and at the end of these long rides--it's not pretty. The boys will be even grosser. Add mosquitos, chain oil and sleeping in fields and the hooking-up chances approach 0. At the same time, I like hanging out with these boys as a total tomboy, 'one of the guys' so hooking up with any of them is probably a bad idea, because it might ruin my tomboy fun.

Back in Chicago there might be better boy opportunities. One party has a boy who I have also been spending more time with and sort of like. Plus I need to give Paul a call, now that I have his number, and maybe we could do something over the weekend--he likes long rides, so maybe I could stay in Chicago and still get some miles in. Finally, I have a tentative invite to go out on my friend's boat to watch the fireworks with him. I've never seen Chicago fireworks and I bet it would be cool to be in a sailboat.

But, I really am intrigued by these hills, because I need to learn how to climb hills smart instead of tackling the way I currently do. 150 miles should give me ample time to pull my head out of my ass and downshift. Decisions, decisions, decisions......

Saturday 'Century'

Disclaimer: We did not do a complete 100 miles for reasons explained below. I will continue to refer to it as a century, per Oil is for Sissies definition.

That said, Equipoise, my marathon-running, Ironman triathlete, super-fit brother, BAILED on doing the ride. BAILED, even though I procured a nice road bike to borrow, BAILED even though he brought along his own seat, BAILED even though the ride was originally going to be only for women, but was opened up to men purely because of his presence. bailed, Bailed, BAILED.

Anyway, I got up early to create the route map and meet people at the starting point. This was a century ride that I organized and was very nervous about leading, because there were points along the way that were tricky--and I am Horrible with directions.

The first person that showed up was...odd. It looked like a He, but was wearing a new, pink Cycling Sisters' t-shirt and a skirt. It had on earrings and I thought it might have eye make-up on, too. He introduced himself as James, and I realized that he was one of the heirs of the Pritzer family fortune, and I later learned he is undergoing male-to-female transformation. Anyway, he is 55 years old and overweight in the beer-gut style. He was riding more of a hybrid and had lots of gear with him.

Then Tom, 40+ years old, another attorney who I've met before arrived. At least he had a road bike. Next to arrive, expected but still annoying, was Kathy--the dog-obsessed woman who I don't like for reasons including freezing me not only Once, but Twice in January, generally being super-fucking-annoying and abbrasive and recently showing pictures of me at the World Naked Bike Ride to friends & strangers.

Dear God. With this crew, the ride ahead was not looking fun. Luckily, Hui Hwa, came too. The group dawdled around too much. Kathy rudely bleeted to passerbys demanding that someone take our photo. Finally we got rolling.

A few things were apparent immediately: First, no one else had even glanced at a map to get a general understanding of where we were going. Second, Tom was going to bully his way into leader of the group. Third, it was hot and sunny outside--sweating while doing nothing hot. Most importantly, though--we were not riding nearly as fast as I prefer.

Assuming we departed a little before 10:00 (only one person showed up on time, and then there was sunscreen to apply, bathroom breaks, water-bottle filling.......) we were making horrible time. Tom, Hui Hwa, and I were much stronger riders than James and Kathy. Those two not only rode slower, but they wanted to stop more often and stay rested for longer when we did stop. Grrrrrrr. Everytime anyone stopped, for even a second, Kathy, James or both of them were off of their bikes, and it always took too long for them to get rolling. I don't know what exactly they did when we stopped, but they always had to fiddle around with their bags and gear and were often the last people to get riding again.

Because women had expressed interest, I organized this ride for beginners to try out distance-riding at about 15mph. Everyone on this ride had done several centuries in their lifetimes. When I picked the date, I didn't know that my brother would be visiting that weekend, nor did I know it was going to be as hot as it was. These two things made me want to just knock it out and get back as soon as possible. While I was disappointed that there were no newbies, I was grateful that I wouldn't have to babysit any rider.

Except I was wrong. My average speed was about 12mph--and this includes long periods of coasting/stopping/barely peddaling to wait for the back to catch up. Kathy at one point informed me that her heart rate was about 140 and that her cardiologist had told her not to go above that for a long period of time. I wonder whether her doctor would have approved of a 60+ year-old woman going for a century ride in 90 degree weather. Anyway, I got pissed upon hearing this. Why the Fuck does the woman keep going on (my) rides when she Knows, or damn-well Should Know that she will hold everybody up? I think this is incredibly selfish.

At one point we saw a bicycle festival along the trail and stopped. There was free water, sandwiches, snacks and frozen water-pops. WooHoo! Plus CBF had a booth there, so we stopped and chatted Pamela and Brian up. Then we hit the road again. Kathy and James kept dragging behind and I was shocked at how little we had ridden in such a long time. I was mentally chopping miles off of our route to try to get back to Chicago before dark.

Kathy looked really bad, and we hadn't hit the half-way point yet. My concern about her switched from annoyance to actual worry. She was adamant that she wanted to finish the ride because if we (Hui Hwa and I) could do it, so could she. Bullshit. Hui Hwa is 33, I'm 28 and we both have done several centuries this year already. I don't know about Hui Hwa, but I think twice I breathed heavily going up hills. Physically, this simply wasn't a challenge at all at the pace we rode. Anyway, I also learned that kathy hadn't eaten anything at the bike festival. What. The. Fuck? How unbelievably stupid is she? You have to eat and hydrate when you ride. She has been riding for more years than I have been breathing--why is she so stupid to ignore this basic concept?

Tom and I discussed what to do. He wanted to either leave James and Kathy behind, or force them to take a train in Geneva. I thought this was a good idea, but decided to wait. We stopped for lunch and I showed them what I planned for our new, shortened ride. Lunch seemed to perk everyone up and Kathy was determined to finish the ride, so I mentally gave her one last chance.

From the beginning, James knew he might not finish, and was prepared to 1.) get dropped, 2.) take a shorter route, or 3.) catch a train back to Chicago. He didn't bother me, especially since he expressed concern about holding the group up, and told us not to wait for him. True, he was slower than Kathy, but he at least understood that without him we would have ridden much faster. Kathy was oblivious to anyone else's desires and only viewed this ride as a personal challenge.

Anyway, we navigated the trails back to familiar territory and our time was slightly better, and had fewer stops. James decided to take the CTA back to Downtown when we eventually encountered it. There are some rougher areas to bike through and he wanted to break off towards the most direct route. I changed our route to pass by the CTA station in Forest Park, and insisted that he ride with us. James didn't want to hear this, but I finally had to lay down the law: I will NOT allow an older, exhausted white guy wearing a pink shirt and matching skirt to ride through the 'hoods alone. He relented and we rode him to the train station en route to Chicago. James believes he rode 90+ miles total that day. Good for Him.

In Chicago we decided to drop Kathy off at her home to increase our mileage. Then we backtracked to the Hbar and got some food and drinks. Weirdly we weren't even that hungry. I ate far less on this ride than I did on other long rides. I don't know if it was the heat, or just the slow pace. The pace was so slow that there were only about two points (hills) when I found myself even beginning to breathe harder--and I was sort of sick, too. Ridiculous.

I ended up riding about 95 miles that day. I'm sort of embarrased about not knocking out the rest of miles to equal 100--but I was sleepy-tired and had some chafing issues. I managed to complete this ride without spandex, but not as easily as other rides. First, (my bad) when I adjusted my seat before the ride, I made it sort of crooked. The nose of the saddle veered to the left, and created friction on my left inner thigh, which turned into some sort of heat/friction rash by the end. Plus, my underpant elastic band did the same thing on my sitbones. So I have these ugly, not particularly pleasant, red blotches on my ass and thighs. After being out in the sun for 12 hours, I feel mostly justified for not finishing 100 miles.

My first attempt to lead a Century was mostly successful--we all got home fine and we had 0 flats. Now I just need to figure out how to deal with this super-annoying, oblivious woman in the future. Any reasonably observant person would have picked up on my behavior that I don't like her and would avoid my events, but she is either to clueless, or too inconsiderate to care.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Big Brother in the city of Big Shoulders

As anticipated, my big bro Equipoise came to visit me. We met at the Hbar on Thursday night and had dinner before he left to see a show downtown. Too bad, because he missed a lot of cool bikey people. I gave him the Mint Julep, my fixie, to ride and he didn't seem too impressed with it, because he says it looks unfinished. He also disapproved of my wonderous gear 52/16 gear ratio, because it is hard on the knees. Still, it was his first fixie experience, and he came back alive--but somehow lost one of my fantastic bar-end lights :(

Friday was a crazy, crazy day of work for me, and I was stuck there several hours later than I had hoped. Then I went to CBF to prepare for the Pride Parade; went to the party store for Pride decorations; went home to change and eat/drink something and back to Daley Plaza for Critical Mass. On the way there I saw big bro heading in the opposite direction--back towards my place to pick up a pair of socks. Once again, too bad because it would have been fun to introduce him to more people at the plaza.

The ride itself was nice. We rode to a Southside beach and through the neighborhood where I went to law school. Twice during the ride we rode past fire hydrants that were opened and spraying cool water everywhere. I got drenched. I also got severally pushed off course by the water--there is a lot of pressure in the hydrants.

There was a new guy with a sound system on the ride, and my rider with a sound system for the Pride Parade bailed. So I chatted him up and he agreed to pull his system in the parade on Sunday. Score.

Best of all, I met Paul again. We've been on two long group rides and spent a lot of time talking with each other each time. However, I haven't seen him in a while and have wanted to. After chatting a bit, he dropped back to help his friend with a flat. At this point I informed my brother that my intentions towards Paul were not pure. Later, at the beach my bro and I chatted again with Paul and ended up getting invited out to dinner with him and his friends. Excellent--my plan was working. We rode up to our hood for dinner and the three of us talked together as a group. As we were unlocking our bikes after dinner, Paul mentioned that we needed to stay in touch and gave me his business card. Double Score. And all under the watchful eye of big brother, who now has another role: my wingman. Tehehe. As mentioned before--me getting some action is a group effort. Housemates, friends, brothers--It takes a village.

We came back to the apartment and crashed.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Big Brother Visit; A Preview of Craziness

Thursday my big bro comes into Chicago for a visit. Here is the basic itinerary:

Thursday: We meet at the Hbar, before I send him downtown to hear a storyteller. In the meantime, I work at the Derailluer Party. He comes back to the Hbar, chatting, home.

Friday: He goes to museums or other touristy things. I go to work and hopefully Get Out Early! Then I need to work on organizing the PRIDE float at the CBF office and going to a party supply store. About 4:30 we meet at Cal's, the messenger bar, before going to Critical Mass. After having a great time at Critical Mass, and the after-event, we bike to my friend Anne's place who I am plant-sitting for, and pick up Grant's road bike for my brother to ride on Saturday. We will work on our bikes a bit and finally go to bed.

Saturday: We get up to be at Alliance Cafe at 8:45am for the Cycling Sisters' Century Ride that I am organzining and leading. I hope I don't get the group lost. After that, there are two parties that I have been invited to--don't know if we will have the energy for those.

Sunday: Get up and start preparing for the PRIDE parade. I am organizing the CBF bike float in this parade. Yikes! Have a blast riding in the parade and then possibly, go to one or two BBQs that I'm invited to. Send Brother back to Minneapolis.

Does this sound crazy to anyone but me? I hope I don't tucker the old boy out. I am looking soooo forward to his visit. The craziness begins in 4 hours!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bad, busy Blogger

Let’s see.....since the last post I have been busy.

Thursday I went to listen to Jazz at the Shedd Aquarium with my friend Todd. We walked our bikes along the lakeshore and he showed me his sailboat. There was some sort of running race taking place, so biking would have been really rude, and damn near impossible–so we walked.

At the Shedd, there were children at the Jazz thing, unlike other years, so we explored the aquarium for a while. The wine I had got me a little tipsy when we had to chug it to enter one exhibit. In a horribly funny turn of events, Todd kept getting strong sushi urges–I don’t think that is the expected response from aquariums. Eventually we wandered back to the terrace which was now clear of children to chat and listen to jazz. It is a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening, because there is the view of the lake and the sunset over the skyline. Ahhh....summer.

Afterwards we decided to bike to dinner and took the lakeshore path. I have never biked on the northside path at night, so it was a little weird for me. Todd showed me some of his favorite places along spurs of the path that ran atop breakwaters. Just as he promised, these places were so calm and serene that they didn’t feel like part of Chicago–even though the view of the city loomed above. Plus, the sound of traffic was replaced by the lapping of water. Bliss.

Only one incident (sort of) marred the ride. I FELL OFF OF MY BIKE! Seriously. I am terrified of falling and haven’t fallen in this millenium before Thursday, but down I went. I tried taking a very slow, almost stopped right hand turn while clipped in, started leaning too far to pull out of and hit the ground with my knee, which was scraped and bloodied. If not for the gloves I wore, my hands probably would have suffered the same fate. I was more mortified than hurt or shocked and quickly got up and brushed off Todd’s concern. The darkness luckily hid my blood and the massive amount of chain grease and dirt on my legs.

Weirdly, I think this was good for me, because I learned that Falling Doesn’t Really Hurt. Obviously 20mph would increase the pain, but the skinned knee isn’t a big deal. So instead of being more freaked out about falling, I actually feel less concerned about falling. Although I am still a freakin’ chicken. I haven’t been able to clip in my left foot on the fixed gear yet. Part of this is a mechanical problem, but mainly it is because my attempts are timid and half-hearted.
Anyway, we wiggled through the city until we reached our destination bar and Todd ordered crab-cakes to sate his aquarium induced seafood cravings. At one point he noticed my bloody knee and seemed to think it required attention. I fixed the problem by spinning my skirt, which is longer in the back, around so as to cover the offending knee. I should have been a doctor with my mad skilz. A nice ride home and I put my tired head to bed.
___________________________________________

Friday morning was a Bike to Work Week celebration at Daley Plaza, so I dragged my sorry, semi-hungover ass out of bed early. Damn, is there any group of people more vulture-like than cyclists? The line for free food wrapped around the plaza. What a beautiful sight. So many different types of people, bikes, clothing. Raggedy messengers, basket-bike commuters, spandex, suits, uniforms...ahhhh.

As I walked past one booth, a man explained that I had the best bike on the plaza as he admired my fixed gear. Later I giggled at a man from Shimano exclaiming about his great deraileurs and trying to hawk them–until I glanced at my rear hub and following my gaze, he shut up. Tehehe.
The CBF booth was fun and I bought new t-shirts for myself and the brothers. Visit your Sis–get a free t-shirt! What a deal.

While talking with a friend, the man admiring my bike earlier ran up to me with a t-shirt from his bike club. He explained that he used to work at Schwinn when it was still in Chicago, and was so happy to see justice done to my Traveler frame. He was beaming with happiness at my bike and I thought he might start blubbering, so I chatted him up for a while and then bailed when I saw a gracious exit.

Onward to the office and into clothes to wear to court. I was quite excited about this day because the reward of Summer Hours was nearly upon me. I figured I would spend an hour in court, then an hour writing up my memorandum, knock out a little more work, do administrative bullshit and then Get The Fuck Out. I had plans to take a long ride with Anne in the afternoon. Woohoo. My friend Hui Hwa emailed me with a lunch invite and I eagerly jumped. So I bust out early and went to eat lunch on a high balcony overlooking the city. Then I sped to meet with Anne at a nearby coffee shop.

We were so bad–we sat around chatting for hours and didn’t go for a ride, and around 6:00 went back to her house for dinner with Grant and David. Drinks, dinner, chatting and soon it was time to go to the Hbar to meet Frick who was coming into town that night at 11:00. Or so was the plan. He had a few bumps along the way: long delayed lay-over in Denver, arrival in unexpected airport, wrong subway spur.....so he arrived after 1:00 in the morning. Anne and Grant had already bailed, but Todd was still there waiting for him and keeping me from freaking out. {Baby brother lost in Chicago!!!!}

Although the kitchen was closed Todd had the cook whip up a make-shift black bean, avocado quesodilla for Frick and then we meandered back home. We alternated riding the fixie through my neighborhood. Frick isn’t a chicken so he got used to the bike quite quickly.
_____________________________________
Saturday Morning: back to the Hbar for breakfast and Frick briefly met the other owners. Then after some more dorking around I put him on my Bianchi and we rode down to the train station. There was some concern that we might be too late, but we made damn fine time on the ride there. As much as it hurts my pride, I know that both of my brothers could smoke me on bikes like nobody’s business. Sniff. Sniff. I took the lights off of my fixie and left her at the train station and took the Bianchi to my office.

I realized on Saturday morning that I didn’t remember seeing my vacation day for Monday on th calendar, and I hadn’t confirmed it. Sure enough, I didn’t officially ask off. So I wrote a kiss-ass letter to my boss explaining the situation and was sort of worried that it wouldn’t be cool. Oh well–I tried my best.

I had two BBQs to attend that night. The first was at Hbar owner Josh’s place. Two babies, one toddler, one 110lb dog. We made jokes about grilling the tender babies, but obviously didn’t act upon it. Several other fixie riders were there and they picked my brain, because they wanted to hear the perspective of a newbie. Nothing too spectacular to report, just a nice fun time. I then rode back to Wicker Park for a party with my law friends.

For the first time since the Den of Awkwardness began, Gabe came to a party that Ted and Emily also attended. Freaky. After initial weirdness, things settled down. I was glad to see them there together. I stayed out way too late, drank too much and got lost getting home. Nice job. For the first time in over a year I set my alarm clock so to make sure I caught my train to Wisconsin the next morning.
________________________________________
Sunday

I woke up before the alarm (so it is still many years since I have heard an alarm clock), packed and biked to the station. I actually got there before they started boarding–weird. I super locked my Bianchi to the rack and fixie to best protect them both. Once on the train I took a whole damn section for myself (the two sets of seats facing one another) and basically passed out. When Frick picked me up he basically let me know that I looked like crap. We rented a car and took a long route to our Gparents’ house (I am horrible with directions. Why anyone ever listens to my directions is a mystery!).

We certainly had fun there, but the description will wait until Frick sends me the funny pictures we took.

Hearing my mom speak is like hearing a harpy try to make conversation. She only has a few ways to express herself: nagging, insulting or complaining. Grrrr. I should tape record her sometimes so she can hear how much of a harpy-shrew she sounds like. She also needs to stop tanning. She is ridiculously brown, scoffs at sunscreen, uses tanning oil and at the same time talks about how many moles, lumps and other skin weirdness she has had burned or cut off of her lately. Wake Up! I know that given all of the severe burns my pale skin endured as a child that skin cancer is inevitable, but I still try to mitigate new damage.

_____________
Monday

Back to Chicago! The fun began when we tried to load our bags now laden with cheese, butter, old coins and a breadmaker onto our bikes (that were safely waiting for us!). We had one insufficient bungee cord for the breadmaker that I attached from the rear of the rack to the front. For lateral support, we tied my sweatshirt under the rack and over the breadmaker box. A very heavy panier was put on the side of the rack and random other things were stuffed into the top of the sweatshirt. Poor Frick had to ride this home, while I shouldered his heavy bag on my fixed gear. (It didn't seem safe for him to ride the fixed gear through downtown traffic.). I hate riding with heavy bags, and Frick wasn't too happy with his fully loaded, unbalanced bike, either--so it seemed about fair to me.

We wobbled off, and after about a mile, Frick passed me yelling, "this works, too!" The breadmaker had fallen to the side, but was hanging quite securely. It was actually amazingly stable, even though it looked ready to fall apart. So, in a pinch try the sweatshirt/box panier! Frick says that if this is how a loaded bike feels for touring, then we need to learn to pack better/lighter. He and I mosied onto the Hbar for dinner until he caught the subway out of town. Bye Frickers!

Later that night I walked back to the station to pick up the bike he had ridden. Fun weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mugging, Stolen Bike

One of the Hbar's employees got a flat riding home from a Hbar shift, just a few blocks away from the restaurant. While he was repairing it, he was assaulted and his bike was stolen. I don't know many details, but this info alone really sucks. Not. Cool.

He took some time off because he feels pretty sore, but will hopefully be back on his feet by Saturday. The Hbars owners decided to chip in $$ to get him a replacement bike. We'll present it to him when he starts his next shift. I hope he likes it.

Plus, there were two sightings of a guy trying to sell a bike that matched the description, so maybe it will get recovered and more importantly--the asshole(s) who did this will get caught.

G-damn criminals.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Garbly Blabbing

First, find below this post my ridiculously long posts about the weekend:

Friday--Fixie Fix-up,
Saturday--World Naked Bike Ride
Sunday--BBQ

I was tired and feeling crappy yesterday, so I left work sick (sick and tired of being at work when I have better shit to do). Actually I didn't feel very good and wasn't getting much work done. My limbs were randomly falling asleep and I was feeling light-headed. On the way home I almost dumped my fixie at an intersection because my balance wasn't quite right. So I feel justified in leaving a few hours early.

I finally tackled my disgusting hell-pit of a bedroom that honestly looked as though it had been ransacked. Found in my bedding was:
  • An innertube,
  • A deposition,
  • Train tickets,
  • Camping gear,
  • + clothing.

I am a slob. But after two loads of laundry and lots of cleaning it looks habitable again.

Then I sat on the porch to eat dinner and watched the airplanes fly above as the sky bruised before celebrating the setting of the hot sun. I felt very calm after taking this time to simply breathe and observe instead of rushing around. Then I called two friends and felt even better--although I learned that I am recognizable in at least one person's Naked Bike Ride photos. I called her and she agreed to not distribute those pictures. So all is good in the world.

Monday, June 13, 2005

BBQ

Sunday morning I woke up and met my friend Chris for a 50-mile roundtrip ride to the Botanical Gardens. I expected that we would leave at 9:00A.M., get to the Gardens at 11:00–dork around for an hour and leave at noon so I could be back for our BBQ at 2:00. These plans were not meant to be. First the group wasn’t assembled by 9:30 and there were some mechanical problems on some peoples’ bikes. Besides Chris and myself, it was apparent that these riders weren’t going to ride fast at all: hybrids and mountain bikes, people wearing jeans and flip-flops, and people who just don’t ride very much. I am used to riding with people who ride faster, and I realized that the timing wasn’t going to work At All. So I bailed, but Chris seemed to understand without my having to explain it in detail. To be honest, I was also tired and my hands were still tender, so I wasn’t too upset about missing this ride.

Instead I went to help out the Cycling Sisters’ workshop to teach riders how to ride in traffic. It was a good experience and we biked to the Hbar for brunch to practice some of the techniques. Two of the other girls were on the WNBR the night before, too. They seem pretty cool.

Best though, was that I got to speak more with Sarah Kaplan, who I hadn’t seen since Starved Rock. I dig that girl, and really respect her. Since Gilby was in town, I have gotten this really weird competitive vibe from her. She always hints that we need to race each other, either on our road bikes, or on our twin fixed gears. I don’t quite understand how this competitiveness came about, but another person confirmed it, too. Apparently, out of the blue, she has announced that she and I ride at the same speed, and that I am not actually faster than her. I really don’t care who is faster–she can certainly mop me up at a workstand. Anyway, she is very cool and we had a very cool conversation about her recently-created housing co-op, The Hub. There is a building next door to The Hub that she would like to see my zygote of a housing group purchase. That would rock, even though it involves biking through some pretty sketchy ‘hoods.

After brunch I went home and immediately began working on BBQ prep and filling up the kiddie pool. Guests trickled in and soon our apartment and lawn were infested with toddlers. Dear Lord, they were everywhere. John and Mia are several years older than me, and apparently their friends have embarked upon a breeding frenzy. All of the kids were disconcerting and LOUD. This party was a good form of mental birth control.

One of the guests works for my old law school and she and I (and later my law friends) got into major bitch sessions about the school and how much it sucks. She got drunker and drunker and her venom for the school flowed freely. She recognized most of us, or our names–and specifically remembered me from my appearance in our graduation video: I was interviewed about my law school experience and I defiantly mouthed "Fuck the Law School"– while a deep male voice said "I love the Law School" off camera. It was Hilarious. My parting gift to that wretched institution.
We told her to write an article about her ‘interview’ with us alums for the alumni magazine, and in her drunken state she thought it would be awesome: Bitter ‘03 Graduates Gripe about Law School; Two Years Later, and the Hatred is Still Strong. I don’t think this article will materialize once she sobers up, though. Too Bad.

Shawna and Diane gave me a belated B-day gift–a keychain with a condom inside. Apparently my griping about not getting laid has been heard. I told them that it was nice to know that some people are still optimistic about my chances of getting some. Shawna then replied, "don’t worry, it doesn’t expire until 2008, so you have time." Great. Tons of people think I am a complete prude because I won’t just have random hook-ups. Weirdly, two boys I was sort of flirting with overheard and joined this conversation, and now know about my pathetic lack of a sex life. Mortifying, but Funny.

Late in the night Chris showed up, much more drunk than he believed he was. The Botanical Garden ride didn’t get back into Chicago until almost 6:00–thank goodness I didn’t go. He totally understood why I bailed on the ride. We went down into the basement and talked for a long time while looking at my bikes. Mia was absolutely convinced we went down there to make out, and was very disappointed when she found out that she was wrong, "But he is so cute! and obviously into you." Maybe True, but instead we just made plans to go to the Farmer’s Market again on Wednesday morning. I am such a Dork.

By midnight I was exhausted and left most of the mess behind to crash into my bed. Once again I have plans for every night this week, and then my baby bro comes into town for another busy, busy weekend. Sleep, how I do miss you...........

World Naked Bike Ride

WNBR=Exhausting.

I spent Saturday morning working on my herb garden and shopping with Mia and John for BBQ food and then buying dropbar-end lights and making streamers and spoke weavings for my bike in the afternoon. I recycled a mylar ‘blanket’ given to my big bro at the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon from years past to decorate the Mint Julep. She looks beautiful and festive now. Apparently the lights illuminate the streamers at night and are highly visible. Other riders says it looks cool from the back.

After doing these chores I threw in some laundry and showered. All of my sundresses were drying, so I just wore the short/low-cut nightie I was wearing to take the fixie for a trial spin. I wanted to find out if there were any problems caused by the mylar before the Naked Ride began. The bike was fine, but the reaction of my fellow travelers and neighbors was pretty obnoxious. I didn’t appreciate the hooting and actually considered not doing the ride since this was just foreshadowing for the rest of the evening.

I also started feeling a little weird in general about doing the ride because I know a lot more people this year compared to last year. Do I really want to see them naked? Especially my roommate and my Hbar business partners–John and I wear robes to the shower in our apartment. Do I really want to see all of my friends naked?....... Do I want them to see me naked? This wasn’t a huge question in my mind, just a nagging doubt. I removed my tools from my seat bag to make room for my sundress during the ride and packed my ARDC card/sheriff’s ID/$$ and chapstick. I was traveling light. Around 7:00 I tucked an orchid in my hair, slapped on some lipstick, and went to the pre-ride body painting party.

As was the plan, the announced meeting place was just a sham to filter out the creepy perverts. A biker was standing on the sidewalk–with a cop car stationed across the street. People who didn’t look as if they were going to participate, but only gawk and photograph didn’t get the digits. I rolled up to her and she immediately gave me the address of the party–Todd’s place, where I worked on my bike the night before. Off I went and found his place easily this time. After a while a tarp was laid out on the lawn and people set to painting each other.

Travis asked me to paint his face and I was reminded again how amazingly intimate it is to touch another person’s face. When I was done painting him, he offered to return the favor so I slipped off my sundress and he painted a tree form on my shoulders, chest and belly. This felt weird for about 30 seconds, and then it was just fine and cool. Just like jumping into cool water, it is only the initial moment of nudity that is discomforting for me. Travis is an artist, and apparently he did a good job, because I heard several compliments and people pointing at me.

After painting we re-robed and met up with other riders in Palmer Square Park which was flanked with cop cars. The word was given and we quickly stripped and got rolling as a group. We wiggled around the city for about three hours (9:00-midnight) and rode in basically two types of areas: residential or busy bar areas. The bar areas were fun because the streets were lined with people cheering and the flashing of photographs. Basically the bars and restaurants emptied out onto the sidewalks so people could gawk at our 200 person spectacle. White frat-boy types kept yelling, "show your tits" all along the ride, while black men preferred "show me dos titties" as the mantra of choice. Ummmm........both of these requests seemed very odd considering that most of the women were topless. I guess they just didn’t know what else to say. Dumbasses. The residential areas were a nice reprieve from all of the yelling and solace from the cameras.

Anyway we went through the bar strips of Lincoln Park, River North, Michigan Ave and then past Blues Fest at Grant Park before taking Lake Shore Drive (tehehe) south to Congress and then going through the Book Fair in Printers Row, South Loop, Downtown, West Loop and then up Milwaukee Avenue to Wicker Park. Hui Hwa and I broke off slightly before the end of the ride to see John’s band play at the Hideout.

I was exhausted at this point and my body didn’t feel too great either. Long, slow group rides like Critical Mass can be exhausting under normal conditions. Riding past the huge rowdy crowds saps even more energy–especially while being on vigilant look-out for men who might grab or cops who might arrest (6 total arrests). Also my ass was getting sore and my hands and arms were killing me–because I wasn’t wearing gloves and my fixies bars are still unwrapped in the spirit of the ride. Plus there was a man riding a recumbent who sucked because he often swerved unpredictably–I made several conscious attempts to get away from him, but he kept reappearing.

Hint: recumbents are unstable at slower speeds–don’t ride them on slow group rides (or if you do ride them, pay attention so you don’t swerve like a drunkerd into other peoples’ paths.).

Instead of feeling weird with the other Hbar owners, it was pretty fun to ride and joke with them. At one point along Michigan Avenue we were all riding abreast and I thought it would make a great picture for the Hbar. Tehehe. Too. Fun.

Anyway, I got to the Hideout in time to hear John’s last song and then I mentally crashed. I was super-exhausted and starting to feel cranky. Plus, people were asking about the body paint that wasn’t covered by my sundress. Almost all of the people who I explained the ‘tree’ picture/WNBR asked to see the whole painting. Sorry, but I’m not going to strip down in a bar to sate strangers’ curiosity–that’s too ‘girls gone wild’ for my taste. I was over-stimulated and not in the mood to deal with strangers, so John and I left for Flash Taco before heading home to eat our burritos on our porch.

Even though I was very tired, I decided that going to bed with paint on was NOT a good idea, so I jumped in the shower. Thankfully the paint washed off quite easily, and I realized that I was standing in several inches of bright, grass-green water. It was such a delightful site, that my cranky mood disappeared (apparently John didn’t find the evidence of this as delightful the next morning, though). I went to bed slightly after 2:00A.M. tired and slightly achy, but clean and happy.

Altogether, another successful World Naked Bike Ride!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Fixed Fixie--Julep New & Improved

Oh. Yes.

Thursday I stopped by Boulevard Bikes to buy new parts for the Mint Julep: chain, bottom bracket, 16 tooth cog, campus pedals.

No one but me thinks the 52 x 16 gear ration is a good idea, but I'm totally digging it.

I asked to borrow my friend, and Hbar partner, Todd's tools to remove the BB and countered with the offer to go to his place and use all of his tools and work stand. Hell Yeah! So we met downtown after work on Friday and pedaled over to his apartment and began the job. After the first crank was removed we (Todd) realized that the BB didn't come with Bolts. Boulevard was technically closed for the night, but Adrian still answered the phone and gave me 15 minutes to do pick them up.

Todd lent me his ex-girlfriends cruiser bike and off I went. Kevin was there and all was good. Then I tried to get back to Todd's place and my horrible spacial ability reared its head. I tried backtracking, but couldn't find the house that should have been easy to recognize (purple, with Todd's bike parked out front). I also didn't know his address, and I had left my keys at his place. Fuckity fuc Fuk Fuck. I rode around on this awkward bicycle as I became more and more distraught. I couldn't even ride back to my house and look up his address, because I didn't have my keys. I felt like a total idiot as I circled around the unfamiliar neighborhood. Then it started to thunder and the sky darkened.

I haven't cried a tear in over 8 months, but I saw it as a definite possibility. Finally I pulled my head out of my ass and tried to deduce his location from the little information that I knew. As I turned onto a street, I realized that I was thinking of a totally wrong street (a different friend lives on it) and soon found Todd's house. He was outside holding his phone and concerned/perplexed why it took so long, and I told my embarrassing story just as fat raindrops fell.

Anyway, back to the fixed gear. I removed the other crank and then Todd showed me how to take out the old bottom bracket and we installed the other one. Woo! Hoo! The cranks spun as smooth and silently as butter! Todd graciously allowed me to stay longer to do the rest of the work, while he cleaned his place. I swapped the 18 tooth cog for the 16, and broke the new chain to the proper length and installed it. My old gear ratio forced me to pull the axle all the way back to the farthest end of the dropout--and the chain was a wee bit loose. Now, the chain feels perfect, but there is still about a 1/4" of space left to pull the wheel back if the chain loosens.

I was filthy and sweaty in the hot third floor apartment and there were streaks of dirty grease on my legs, arms and face from my blackened, oily hands. But there she was--my new and improved Mint Julep. There are only a few things left to do to her: buy and install a longer seat post so I can jack the seat up higher, get new fasteners to hold the chainring to the spider (I stripped them a bit when I first converted the bike) and most importantly--make streamers for her (along with bar-end lights and possibly bar tape)!! She will rock in every way then.

Todd was great because he taught me how to do the pedals and bottom bracket, but he didn't really do any of it for me. I thought that was really cool, because if left to themselves, a lot of t guys just jump and don't really let women do this sort of thing themselves. Instead Todd instructed and explained, but I did all of the work. Sweet!

Tomorrow I will work on the streamers--because she needs to be prettied up for the long-anticipated World Naked Bike Ride.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Roomie & Me

I just got these pictures--they are both of me and my roommate (why is he always in the foreground?):


New Year's Eve 2005. John had a NYE party following the NYE Critical Mass. So besides a picture of John and me, there is also a snippet of our living room. This was the first time visiting my home-to-be!
Notice my natural 'fist' position--if I ever have to swing a punch without time to think I will break my thumb.



CBF 20th Anniversary Gala (4/2/2005)

Three months later and roommates (and stuffed with goat cheese-covered filet mignon...mmmm.) There are enough pictures of us wearing our bike helmets, so it's nice to have evidence that we don't always look like bike dorks. Lately we've spent a lot of time together all sweaty and gross during bike-camping, so evidence that we can be civilized and cleaned-up is fun.

The 'dress' we are standing next to was one of the pieces of artwork displayed. I met the artist the week earlier at the Derailleur assembly--she was on spring breake from school in St. Louis and is very bikey. She mentioned that she made a dress out of old bike tubes and we put her in touch with the curator of the bike art for the gala.

For the record I rode my bike to both of these events in the clothes pictured (on the beloved MIA Tank)--biking can easily be done in normal clothes--special gear or spandex are not needed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Starved Rock Post

The post about Starved Rock is completed and viewable again. It's really long and probably boring, but I wanted to preserve the details of the fun trip.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Chain o' Lakes Bikepacking

Another weekend, another bike-packing trip. This time, I was invited along to a trip to the Chain O' Lakes with the CDOT boys: John (roomie), Grant and David. Bikes are Finally allowed on the commuter Metra trains, so we took the train west to Geneva and then rode about 60 miles north to the Chain O' Lakes state park, just short of the IL/WI border (Or the Cheddar Curtain as John likes to call it).

The ride was great because we actually had a bit of a tailwind and none of us dawdle too much. About halfway there, and less than a mile after a long lunch, rain started falling. We ducked off of the road onto a small parking lot in the woods to don raingear under some trees. I lobbied for us to stay there and wait out the storm, that I thought would last only a few minutes. Soon, though the rain was coming down in sheets, the wind was whipping like crazy and we were standing in a puddle as the water poured down from the road. We decided to look for better shelter. As we biked on the trail, tree branches were falling around us (I ended up dragging a big branch longer than my bike!) so we ran onto the back porch of the first house we saw. The owner was there watching the storm and he welcomed us. I was completely soaked, because I didn't see the need for raingear in 80+ degree weather (I prefer wet from rain instead of sweat). I tried to wring water out of my skirt, but it didn't seem to do much good.

Shortly the storm ended and we hit the path again--it was a mess of branches and a few miles later there was a big tree fallen across the path. We carried our bikes over it while trying to avoid tripping and getting scratched by branches. After many miles of drizzle, the sun finally came out and my clothes dried out (except for our sodden socks). There was steam coming off of the black pavement and we again rode in the heat and sunshine. Around Crystal Lake there was a steep hilly, curvy part that would have probably been a lot more fun and less scary if the water, wet leaves and branches weren't on the trail. I'm a chicken though, so I rode my brakes a lot. Going up a really steep hill, my bike started feeling really, really weird. Then my right foot unclipped and I lost my momentum and was forced to dismount. My horror and embarrasment was relieved when I saw that my gear was hanging haphazardly--an innertube tie-down had snapped, causing the unbalanced feeling. I trotted my bike up to the peak and retied my gear as the powerlines hummed and crackled angrily above us.

At the last town before the park, McHenry, we stopped at a grocery store for food and booze. $100 were spent--much more than my cheapskate nature would have sprung for. Oh well, we had good cheeses, breads, nuts and fruit for dinner and breakfast the next day. This last leg of the ride was super fun for me--there were rolling hills and straight aways with young corn or prairie growing besides us. I felt peppy and tried to set the pace, but for the most part the boys didn't follow (I slowed down/stopped periodically to regroup). I don't think my odometer went below 18mph for these 10 miles and I usually was clocking 19 - 20 on the flats. Too. Much. Fun.

Then we went through a super small 'town' of the church/gas station type and biking started feeling pretty hard. Grant jumped ahead of me and slowed down our pace. I went from eagerly leading to struggling to maintain second position. I figured I just hit some sort of physical wall from the earlier fast riding. Then a few miles later when we were basically in the park, I noticed a rythmic humming noise and stopped to check it out. Sure enough my rim was rubbing hard against the rear brake. Without momentum, my wheel barely wanted to move for about a third of its rotation. I released the rear brake, but it still rubbed pretty hard. I stayed behind with my damaged bike while the boys went to the office to check us in. Biking the mile or so to the site took a lot of effort with my rubbing wheel, since the last miles of rubbing stole a lot of pep from my legs.

At camp we hurredly set up our tents, started a fire, showered and commenced eating before a big thunderstorm rolled in. Several times we ducked into John's tent with our dinner during false alarm rain. The tent John brought wouldn't remain waterproof in a storm, so we agreed that he would stay in my tent (his good tent that he was lending me). His tent became the 'party tent' and we littered it with beer cans, wine cups and random food. Then at night we distributed the remaining food amoungst ourselves to take inside the tents to protect from the coons who were greedily circling the campsite. John and I slept head to foot in the warm tent and remained dry through all of the storms. I learned that John snores and didn't get much sleep with the cramped quarters, snoring and thunderstorms.

John's party tent had standing water inside the next day and camp was sodden and gross when we woke up. After eating more gouda and roquefort cheese, fruit and bread Grant and I attempted to true my wobbly wheel. We then discovered that I had a broken spoke! Yikes--I've never done that before, but I guess the extra weight of the gear causes extra stress. I am pretty sure I remember going over a small, steep hole almost immediately before riding became hard--so I think that was the culprit.

Luckily, Grant had a Kevlar spoke with him (basically a cord with mounting attachments) that we (Grant, while I watched) used to repair my wheel. We didn't get the wheel very true, and I still couldn't close my brakes without a lot of rubbing. (I'll try to get a picture or two up in the next week). This concerned me, and I began petitioning for a detour around the hilly, curvy part since my braking ability was compromised.

Once we got on the road we encountered a pretty strong headwind and Grant, John and I joked about it being the return trip from the Frozen Snot Century all over again. Actually, it wasn't nearly as bad, but still biking felt a lot more like work than fun. I pulled for the first 10 or 11 miles before we hit a nice trail and rode abreast with Grant and I leading. Only a few miles later we saw a lake and decided to stop. Gatorade was purchased and I wiggled into my swimsuit and hung my sweaty sundress on a post to dry. We swam and sunned ourselves for a while before continuing on to the nearest Metra station, because we were all sick of the wind and wanted to get back to Chicago ASAP.

A good time all around and after drying our tents on the porch, showering and doing laundry--I was quite tired out. I need to get my own tent and larger paniers, so I don't have to jerry-rig my gear. Bike-packing is so fun, and I can't wait for more trips. The only problems are that I got some sunburn at the beach (knowing we were riding south, I didn't bother to put sunscreen on my back--and then layed on my belly on the pier for a while: D'ho!) and my feet and legs were apparently a buffet for the mosquitos at the campsite. Still this is a small price to pay for getting to spend another weekend almost entirely outdoors.

Random Note--if I get married, I am totally registering at REI instead of Crate and Barrel. Fuck glassware and placemats.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Deposition Seminar

I spent almost all of last week in a stupid seminar on how to give depositions (sworn interviews of witnesses or parties).

Lawyering + Role-playing = grrrrrrr

Several times each day we had to take a 12-15 minute deposition in a mock case. This was like law school all over again, mostly because I wasn't prepared and just don't care. All of the other tools in my section had highlighted, tabbed and indexed the materials and prepared typed outlines for each deposition exercise. I was super-busy with work, so I didn't even read the damn materials before arriving on Wednesday. Luckily I am good working off the cuff.

The stupid seminar was nine hours each day with hours of expected prep each night--but my boss kept assigning me new work, due the next day, each night. Fucker. Needless to say, I was growly and not pleased. I didn't go into work after the session on Friday and haven't been there all weekend--God only knows what 'emergency' I left festering on my desk. I'll find out Monday morning. To top it off, my boss keeps mentioning how expensive it was to send us to this seminar. My thought: I didn't ask for this.

Him sending us to the seminar is reminiscent of getting braces, because it sucked, I never wanted it in the first place and I supposed to feign gratitude instead of griping about it. Double grrrrr.

Anyway, there were several things that I found annoyingly humorous about the whole affair. Most of the attorneys were young and/or beginners. We were supposed to wear suits or other appropriate business wear. Triple grrrr.

The diamond on a woman's hand caught my eye because it was so huge and garrish. I looked around the room and noticed that the rings (engagement, wedding and other) of my 'female classmates' were all huge and ugly. Apparently the universal jewelry request was, "please throw as many large diamonds on my hands as possible--and don't bother with taste, scale or style". Each ring was uglier and more ostentatious than the one before. Then, I was in an elevator with these women, and one of them gushed that everyone's rings were Just Beautiful. All of the women, but me, trust their hands out and began oohing and ahhing at each others' diamond encrusted digits. grrr grrr grrrr grrrr. I seriously considered vomitting, or at least throwing my short-nailed, chain-oiled hands into the mix.

These women disgust me. (I'm sure the feeling is mutual). So many of them looked damn-near alike. Expensive Coach, Gucci, Louis Vutton or Chanel bags. Fugly shoes that probably cost as much as my rent. Blond highlighted hair and super-manicured nails. Sleek business clothes and all-important demeanors. Nine. Hours. A. Day. Several times my arm itched for a backhand, but I didn't lay a hand on nary a processed blond hair. I would hate hate hate being expected to dress and groom myself like that everyday. Sure, they probably make significantly more money than I do, but imagine how much money they spend on their appearance. Plus, to me the bags, shoes and especially diamond rings advertises that they are shallow women who haven't learned to think for themselves. How else can it be explained that they are walking around with a down-payment for a condo on their fingers, and carrying purses that cost as much as mortgage payment (or my road bike)? So. Fucking. Stupid.

Anyway, three weird instances happened during my depositions of 'witnesses', who were played by actors. First, I was told by the instructor that I should really use my smile more when dealing with hostile or difficult witnesses, because it is 'so warm and engaging that they will just melt.' WTF!? This harkened me back to the horror of the Keep your Apples Up! seminar. The next day, a different witness mentioned that she found herself telling me things that she knew she shouldn't, because I seemed 'so sweet', and the (different) instructor agreed that this will happen a lot to me. Finally, I knew that a witness was lying to me, so instead of pressing her about it, I just stared at her until she ended up screaming at me. The instructor cut the exercise off at that point as the actress apologized, but said that she was really uncomfortable because I was so intense.

No one else in my group had any similar reactions, and none of their comments were so bizarre (mostly about organization, tempo and follow-up questions). So what the hell am I supposed to get from this? The reactions weren't at all consistent. Am I supposed to melt witnesses with my sweet smile, or shake them down with an intense stare? Also, if this is how I come across during a workshop that I don't give a shit about, then how am I perceived when I speak about topics that I am truly interested and invested in? Weird weird Weird.

Anyway, my level of 'professional' dress just got lower and lower. The first day I wore a suit--with a racer-back athletic top as my shirt, and bobbysocks and maryjanes. On the second day I wore a skirt with a rip in it and ugly, ugly sandals (and no pedicure!). Friday was a completely cut-up skirt and turtleneck. I dragged my helmet with me on my junky old backpack and went for rides during lunch instead of heading to the bar across the street or checking messages like everyone else did. Before one session, my small-group discussed what they wore to work normally. Most of them liked to wear suits and therefore wore them often. Why in the world would any sane human being prefer to wear suits? I prefer to wear my underpants and a tanktop, never would I wear a suit if it weren't expected. Lawyers are weird. The field of law blows.

One substantive thing that I realized as I gave my off-the-cuff depositions, was that I THINK better than the other attorneys in my group. They all followed the fact patterns directly and didn't deviate from the material that they were previously given. I asked the witnesses questions that I thought were natural, but not spelled out in the materials, and learned new, important facts each time. Part of this came from my scattered previous work experience, but mostly it came from just putting clues together and following the path. This sort of deduction has served me well in life and law--and I am coming to realize that it might actually be sort of rare. Very sad, but very helpful for me to realize.

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