Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The bike problem"

It has been about 7 years now of bike bike bike bike bike. That compounded with the fact that I dont like to throw anything away has become a huge problem. I am a cheap man, and when I get a deal on something (tubes for 2 dollars say) I buy A LOT of them. So every time a deal comes upon me, I buy stuff and store it away in the basement. The past few days I have been cleaning the basement and finding amazing things.

I found a case of tubes that I didnt know I had. I found no less than 20 cartridge brake pad replacements that are new in the box. 3-4 valve extenders, one new in bag. Three new in box bottom brackets (1 mega xo, 2 square fixed gear)....Close to twenty tire levers. Awesome. I found replacement pins for my Park tool chain breaker. Tons of stuff.

Other things I had in the basement that should have been sent to sea a long time ago: about 15 chain ends (you know, the 3 links that are left when you cut yours), about 20 used chains, a cracked fuji frame from my messenger days, no less than 15 wheels that are pretty much done and I will never fix (track cog worn down to the point the teeth are falling off and the rim is bent... rims with holes worn through the braking surface)... tons of crap of no value to anybody except the scrap yard.

I am still deciding if I am sentimental or just lazy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

At war.

Last week was the first battle. Trying to live the American dream on the cheap has me filling contractor bags with building stuff. The city says you can on their website and on the letter that they sent out. The garbage man said he wouldnt take it, although it met all parameters set by the city.
"Dont tell me how to do my job..." - Garbage man to me in my pajamas.

A call to the city, an hour standing out with the foreman and it is all resolved. The garbage man wasted my time, but my garbage is gone. This is a draw. The foreman gave me the supervisor's number, told me to call it. I did not due to not wanting to get anybody in any trouble, I just wanted my garbage gone.

Today it became personal when they left a 20lb bag of plaster/drywall dust outside. Bring it.

What they dont know is that they started a war with somebody who:
- Has unlimited time.
- Is convinced that he is 100% right 99% of the time.
- Will be "fixing 'er up" until they retire.

Foreman is on his way right now.

When I am not arguing with garbage men or writing emails to starbucks telling them that they were out of (and apparently never carried???) honey at the target starbucks (hell within hell) on route 8 (hell) in an effort to try and get free coffee cards, I am a bike racer.

Speaking of bike racing, there is a PITTSBURGH CROSS RACE. Sunday after Thanksgiving. 9 Days from today.
Here is how it works. You sign up. You race. It is successful. It happens again next year. That one is successful. Fred says "bike racing is awesome, I am going to put on Murrysville again." (Click the link and look at 8th place.)

Below is an image by John S. Minturn of me in my pajamas: 3XL white sweatshirt that looks like a cloud, and polypro hiking tights. Taking it back to 03 or so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My trip to find Ray Brower.

Miniturn had a copy of Stand by me on VHS. My ride giver had never seen it. This blew my mind.

I remember 1987 or so, walking for miles to the "EZ shop," to the only place that rented movies on VHS in the area. Our family didnt have a VCR, but the older kids that I walked with did, and we watched it at their house. As a young kid the movie was just a good story with a bunch of cool scenes, and of course a Cory.

Looking back on it now as I have grown up some, the movie is a good indicator of life. You make a group of friends, have a shared experience, and move on. You find new friends, new hobbies, new subcultures, new spouses, and leave the old. I still call them friends and email them occasionally, but I dont have their addresses or phone numbers.

In my life I have moved through lots of groups of friends. I have had over 30 roommates, with whom I shared some of the best/most ridiculous times in my life. (Calling everybody on the "phone list" {houses used to have phone lists before everybody had cell phones with numbers listed in them} to have a Gorilla Biscuits cover band show in our living room at midnight.) Or the time we evicted the homeless guy who was storing "stuff" in our basement for months on end. Those are a whole other book.

Anyway, my coming of age, story was riding across the States with 5 best friends in 2001. I spent a total of 400 dollars over 2 months and a total of 6 dollars to sleep. It was a contest of who could be the most frugal, who could think of the most obscure movie quotes, who could hold an inside joke the longest. This pretty much alienated us from everybody we met, and drew us in closer to one another. We were a bunch of "men" that would swim naked anywhere we could. We would stop to throw rocks at trains when the headwinds were winning the fight. We had unlimited time for a finite trip. I dont think any of us wanted it to end.

We literally got rained on for the first 31 days straight. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but every single day. We left Pittsburgh and got rained on everyday until the day we left Fargo ND. Warm rain, cold rain, fun rain, drive you to suicide sleeping in a wet tent with a wet sleeping bag rain.

The trip made me love America more than I ever thought I could. The trip made me love human beings more than I ever thought I could. People would ask if we were afraid of strangers. Strangers let us sleep in their garages or guestrooms, bought us dinner, bought us coffee, adjusted our derailers, cooked us breakfast in their closed restaurants... We didnt ask for anything from anybody, but people just offered.

We got caught in a tornado in Minnesota and a woman FORCED us to come into her house because she thought we were going to die. We were taking pictures of ourselves in front of the green sky when she found us. I just remember carrying my camping spoon filled with peanut butter into her house. Some things never change. She offered us food and drinks. She was poor. Not like me being a bum poor, but like offering us roadkilled deer meat that the state gave to her in a welfare program for the poor. She had nothing and she offered it to us.

The low point was finding the rope swing at dickey lake. A teenager had told us about it hundreds of miles before. We would ask every teenager where the swimming holes were and where the rope swings were. This rope swing ripped open Cy's taint and caused 100+ stitches in a very sensitive area. Again, nice people did nice things and we took a week off while he healed. He stayed in Whitefish and we camped at the lake. After one week off, we did back to back to back to back to back centuries and hit the Washington Ocean in six days.

This is long. The point is that these guys are all nearly gone from my life now. People who I spent one of the best times of my life with are out of contact and have grown apart. One is in Chicago and I think might read this. We are facebook friends. One is in Mongolia, I think? One is in the far off land of Philadelphia. One is in Arizona and we occasionally email, but I forget to respond and he probably thinks I am jerk. Finally one married an ex girlfriend, which made things weird at the time, and we havent spoken in 4 or 5 years.

Time flies, life is short, love your friends.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So I finally bought a tubular for cross.

Lazy me has 2 pairs of tubular wheels sitting in the basement waiting for cross tires on them. This has been for 3 years.

This weekend, Gabe who runs race wheel rental dot com offered me a set of his newest tubulars. Brand new, like NEW. "Nobody rented them, go for it." Wow thanks man, that is so rad of you. Needless to say, they ruled and I was actually sold on using them the next day for a FEE!

Being the nice mooch that I am, I offered to take them back to my weekend house (minturn's apartment) and clean them for the next day. They didnt make it. They totally blew off the wheel mounts on the roof rack. Worse things have happened and I didnt actually freak out. Gabe took it well enough and I bought myself a wheel. If you are between bridgeton and philly, go look for it, it was a nice wheel. Of course it had to be the rear, so I bought myself a nice cassette too.

The other lowlight of the weekend was finding out that Bridgeton was Saturday and Highland park was Sunday. I hate bridgeton (aka beacon cyclocross). There is tons of sand, and when there is not sand it is like 30 miles per hour on packed sand. Then there is the Amplitheater of Pain, which is just totally not fun.

Sundays race would have ruled if it were 35 minutes or so. I would have gotten a UCI point or two. Instead I got 13th. Thats how it goes.

I got the following emotional text message from Miniturn on the way home:
"While I was driving back I was thinking about us driving back rocking out to wu-tang and how sweet life was. I do miss it. Tell Patty she is lucky."

That is John talking about us driving to and from races when I was racing the B's and his pedals would fall off during the A's in 2005. Man time flies.
Patty = new pittsburgher who I bummed a ride off of.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Somali Halloween Pictures.

Two years ago, Amy went to Burger King and took like 20 crowns and they decorated them to make costumes. This year the a group of Pitt tutors found them a bunch of awesome costumes and dressed the kids up. My little favorite guy was heard yelling "Hey spiderman, I am Batman... HI" to another kid.
Cute overload.

The expired food store had organic chocolates cheaper than snickers bars, so that is what the kids in Lawrenceville got. It is like covert gentrification, get them hooked on fancy candy and shortly there will be fancy chocolate stores here like the mall at east side.

How much sass can you handle??

Little Somalia Rages.