Monday, March 30, 2009

Conference Bike Church

Sunday morning, six people—three dads and three kids—rode a seven person bike about eight miles from the Leschi neighborhood in central Seattle to the Ballard neighborhood, across town to the west, thereby setting, I’m pretty sure, the long-distance record for Conference Bike travels, at least in our hometown, at least by this particular CoBi available for rent from the Dutch Bikes of Seattle.

All things considered, it was pretty easy sailing, and somewhat less eventful than anticipated. Our elapsed time was just about an hour, meaning that our average speed was in the vicinity of ten miles an hour, that rate made possible by the initial descent down Martin Luther King Boulevard from Cherry Street to Madison, on which we probably hit a top speed of somewhere closer to fifteen or twenty mph.

There was only one hill steep enough that it might have been faster to have a few of us jump off and push, and it was pretty short. And the part of the trip I was most worried about—the busy section along Pacific Avenue in front of the UW Medical Center—turned out to be no real problem. Sure, we took up a whole lane of traffic, but cars in a hurry could get around us—although more typically, drivers slowed down and took out their cell phones to snap photos of this strange contraption making its way down the road in front of them.

The adventure did little to quell my enthusiasm for the Conference Bike; I still believe it has potential—especially with a few tweaks—to be a viable form of urban transport.

Outfitting it with a couple higher gears, for instance, would go a long way, I think, towards making it a more reasonable option for getting around. And an electric assist motor so it wouldn’t be such a nuisance to pedal solo.

And, of course, those padded gel seats have to be replaced with Brooks saddles.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Race Report 09

Rob Johson, continuing his streak from last night’s midnight Greenlake Race, won the Vapolution Vaporizer (by 4 seconds1! ahead of Robin) and first girl went to Gretchin, (1’ and 40” before Kat) but the main thing that brings tears to my eyes is that all these people I know came out and did this entirely stupid thing just in the name of whatever, in the full realization, I have to believe, that life is meaningless but we have no option other than to live meaningfully, and nobody ended up hurting themselves any more than they wanted or needed to.

What humbles me is that Sylvie made it to the top of Magnolia (and that Rob waited for her) and that a number of people, including Andrew and Gib on the tandem, ascended Dravus, but even moreso, that nobody, really, let the weather stop them—and were rewarded by a reasonably perfect fucking day for being on the bike, shit.

I want to—and will!—express my gratitude to all the people I can remember at the moment who made whatever was fun for people about today possible: Rogelio, to whom I owe some booze, Miss Laura, Sylvie,, again, Sweetbike Scott, Evil Mike, Kevin, (where are you?), and all our sponsors, including especially, New Belgium Brewing Company, as well as the Madrona Eatery, Vapolution, Swrve Cycling, Taliah Lempert Bicycle Paintings, Drunk Cyclist, Paragon Machine Works, 2020 Cycle, Bicycle Fixation, and Dutch Bicycle Company, Seattle, Wa.

I loved how there were three DFLs: first, we thought Ethan was the end. Then, Max. But finally, who should really persevere other than John and Teresa, (who showed up, according to Mimi’s spreadsheet, one hour, fifty nine minutes and fifty seconds later than anyone else, the title), thereby earning the title if not the schwag.

And then, a whole bunch rode the CoBi home, even though everyone but me had to walk back to their bikes; happy fucking birthday to yours truly.

Race Day 09

I must like doing this shit, I really must.

Because in addition to being mildly-to-majorly obsessed for the past several weeks (to the detriment, even, of my prep work for next quarter) with planning for today’s Tour de French Fry, I’ve pretty much spent the last 24 hours running around getting stuff and arranging things for the big race.

I’m not complaining, though; in fact, there must be little else I like doing better; for some weird reason, my idea of a good time is like riding my bike over to Crown Hill to pick up a 16-foot moving van, then driving it to Ballard to stick the Conference Bike in it, then hauling the behemoth across town to my house, then dragging it out, installing it in our garage/studio, then taking the truck back through mid-day traffic to the rental place, then hopping on my bike and riding home.

Or, apparently, I get my jollies out of bounding from bed early to ride through shitty weather to the bank, the grocery store, then back home to pick up the Haulin Colin trailer and load all my race prizes and schwag aboard it in order to pedal over to 2020 Cycle to drop the shit off before hussling home and making final preparations and writing this little reflection.

The weather, this morning, has been something of an issue; drizzly and cold—and it’s probably my fault for not importuning the gods by doing the Greenlake Race last night—but a few minutes ago, when I was outside, it had almost stopped dripping and I believed I saw a hint of blue sky behind the overcast.

Last year,
it snowed, though, and people still showed up.

So, we shall see; I’m almost at the point in the party where you get to say you’ve done all you can and just let things happen.

Just a few little more odds and ends, and then, ready or not, I’m there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Forty Twelve

My first real job was as a writer of scripts for interactive videodisc training programs as at a place called Wilson Learning in Santa Fe, New Mexico, back in 1984. I was 27 years old and all grown up, I thought.

There was a guy there who came on about the same time I did; his name was Doug Stewart and he was 52 years old.

Dude was a fucking fossil!

He struggled with the technology, told boring stories of other places he worked at, and stared at the computer screen through the bottoms of his bifocals.


But now I’m that guy.

As of today, I’m as old as a deck of cards, as old as Doug Stewart was when I met him.

A quarter of a century is a long time; it seems to me that when somebody is that much older than you, they’re definitely old. Like 52 is nothing to me now, but 77, that’s fucking decrepit.

Still, I still am able to get out at night, on a bike, with a gang of cyclists, most to whom I’ve got that same two and a half decade head start on life, and manage to keep up even if , from time to time, I do feel a bit like a wraith walking around the land of the living with nothing to say.

And when that happens, as it did last night as we congregated on the topmost top of Kite Hill in Gasworks Park, I prefer to just drink in the scenery with my eyes, feeling for all the world like Chief fucking Seathl himself, wrapped in a horsehair blanket, stoic and watchful.

Best of all, I managed not to give my even older friend, Chris, a heart attack, as I dragged him along, although that did mean we came home before the inevitable outdoor fire and class one drunken shenanigans.

On the plus side, we’re both still alive, albeit older by a day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I’m a better scout than I am a leader; if I were in the army or on the Lewis and Clark expedition, my skills (such as they are) would be put to much better use by sending me off ahead to scope out the territory than by putting me in charge of showing the group where to go.

Some of the reasons for this include:

1) My sense of direction, while not terrible, is more approximate than exact. My usual way of finding someplace is to just keep wandering around in the general vicinity until it shows up.

2) Efficiency is not really that big a deal for me. I’m not particularly bothered by having to backtrack or climb an extra hill or three; while I don’t totally buy the aphorism that the journey is its own reward, I’ve come to terms with the realization that most of the places I might be heading for aren’t especially better than the places I’m already at.

3) I’m relatively slow; any group I might be in front of, I’m not likely to be in front of for very long, and it’s tough to lead from behind the pack, especially when numbers 1 and 2 above are in effect.

All these factors were in play last night, as I showed a small group of riders the general shape of the route for Saturday’s Tour de French Fry, albeit in a backwards direction (counter as opposed to clockwise, I guess you’d say), albeit with more than a few missteps and inefficiencies, including, even one checkpoint that I somehow managed to miss in the dark and coming from the wrong direction.

Still, it was a fun ride on a surprisingly dry night and featured the very first (to my knowledge) .83 police escort, all the way down First Avenue from Denny to Pike, then up the hill past Boren where we were wished safe riding by the cop from his cruiser’s loudspeaker.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Madness

I’m coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs! Mad as a hatter! Crazy from the heat! And nutty as a fruitcake!

The voices in my head keep telling the voices in my head about the voices in their heads all of my multiple personalities are schizophrenic, at least.

You think Charles Manson was a lunatic. Or Hannibal Lecter. Or Jeffrey Dahmer with his taste for human flesh. Those guys go nothing on me! I’m so deranged that I eat cottage cheese right outta container. And then I throw that same container right into the recycling bin!

It must be the season…of the witch! Or is that the what? Or the who? Whom?

Vroom-vroom! My brains are spilling out my ears. And get these friggin’ bugs offa me!

Aladdin Sane, right Bowie? Bowie! Fuckin’ Bowie, man. David? Or is that Jim? Look out! He’s got a Bowie knife! He’s got HIS knife!

Doesn’t scare me, though, I’m Napoleon. My body is purple and my head is made of glass. So bilious are the vapors that confound me that I must be dreaming that I’m dreaming!

I sure hope nobody is reading this; otherwise, they might get the wrong idea, as if any idea could be wrong. My primary concern is that someone might think I’m paranoid. But why would they? More to the point, why wouldn’t they?

The lunatic is on the grass, ahahahahaha! The lunatic IS the grass! The lunatic is up your ass! Ahahahaha.

But in saner moments, cooler heads prevail…and then are shaved, lathered up, and have electrodes applied to them. Just for fun. For shits and giggles. For nobody’s business but my own.

Crazy? Crazy? It is not I who am crazy! It is I who am mad! Don’t make me use this! Don’t! Back off man! Back off!

But seriously, too bad about the Huskies losing in the second round; they wuz robbed! Ticky-tack fouls on Overton; that sucked ballz.

Wait till next year…if you dare!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Test Ride

This morning, I sampled the route for next week’s Tour de French Fry; I think it’s going to work: the French fry stops are set; the diabolical hills are identified; I think it’s long enough that people will have a chance to work off many of the calories they ingest, and the scenery, for much of it, is pretty lovely, especially up on Queen Anne, Magnolia, and through Denny Blaine.

I also think I’ve worked out a few of the logistical issues necessary to ensure that people actually do climb the required hills while giving them some options for alternate routes to the tops should they prefer to take a little longer way around.

It occurred to me that I can leverage the “52” theme by using playing cards as proof that riders have ascended the mandatory summits. We’ll see if that works, but it seemed like a good idea as I huffed and puffed up the final hill today in Madrona.

It took me about two hours and fifteen minutes, but that included waiting for my fries at each place; hopefully, I’ll have some helpers to have orders waiting for riders, so that will speed things along a bit. My guess is that the fastest riders can do the eighteen or so miles in a bit over an hour and a half; the only concern there is one I had last year: that I’ll have to hurry to get from the start in time to greet the fastest riders at the finish. But, it worked out then, so with luck, it’ll work out again.

I also thought that I might give folks the option, at least at one stop, of doing a shot of potato vodka instead of eating a bag of fries. Naturally, anyone can do both if they prefer.

The other good thing about having ridden the route today is that I can pooh-pooh any complaints that it’s too fucking steep or long.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not It

Pride goeth before a fall and all that; the only wise man in Athens is the one who knows he isn’t wise; and there’s no surer way to be proven wrong than to maintain that you’re right.

All this was brought home to me in stark relief yesterday when the clicking noise coming from my bike as I turned its non-drive side crank just past about seven o’ clock that I was certain I had diagnosed and fixed over the weekend re-appeared with a vengeance. I was so sure that the source of it was the metal retaining cup and so very smug that my quick work of replacing it with a plastic one had done the trick that I bragged about it in print, and even though I realized at the time that I was tempting fate, I did so anyway, secure in my belief that I’d figure the thing out and rectified it.

Alas, that wasn’t the case at all, although for the life of me, I can’t imagine where else the noise could be emanating from. It’s pretty predictable, occurs at the same place in my pedal stroke every time and makes no difference what cog or chainring I’m running on. So what else can it be?

Frustrated, I put the bike up on the stand last night, pulled off the non-drive side cranks, unscrewed the plastic cup, and replaced it with the original metal one, lathered up extremely liberally with Phil Wood waterproof grease.

The good news is, that seems to have solved the problem for now; on today’s ride home, my cranks turned quietly.

So, while the noise is gone at the moment, I’m not going to claim that I’ve figured it out and fixed it; the source remains a mystery, but at least I’ve treated the symptom.

Completely solving the problem may require the purchase of a more expensive bottom bracket; I have no illusions, though, that I actually know this.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Would I Do?

I’m starting to prepare for my spring Environmental Ethics and Sustainability class, so I’ve been reading a bunch of writers on our current and impending environmental crises, and it’s got me all wondering what the hell good I am at anything that’s going to be worth anything in the post-oil apocalypse, what James Kunstler calls the “long emergency.”

As a 21st century community college instructor at a commuter campus in the suburbs, pretty much my entire occupation depends on cheap oil; not to the extent perhaps of being something like a marketing and sales manager of electronics at Costco, but certainly there’s no question that without the automobile infrastructure that currently exists, I wouldn’t really have a job—even though I ride my bike home almost every day.

Come a world where, as the doomsayers predict, many more of us are going to be spending lots more of our time simply procuring food and shelter, there probably won’t be that big a market for philosophy teachers, although maybe, like Socrates, I can just sort of hang around and be annoying.

He, at least, had a trade—although I’m not sure stonecarvers are that much in demand these days, either.

My ancestors were peddlers, I think; (perhaps the source of my affection for pedalers); maybe I could fulfill some similar niche in the Mad Max scenario; maybe I’d be the guy who rides around to small towns bringing spoons and other trinkets for sale.

If I’m going to continue on in the “life of the mind,” my best bet is probably to be a translator; if Kunstler’s right, I should probably bone up on my Chinese and Spanish.

It’s not entirely obvious to me what a scrawny-armed four-eyed little geek like me would have done in pre-industrial times; as weak and myopic as I am, I’d have probably had to be a monk or something to survive; or maybe I could go all Platonic and opt for philosopher-king.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Will Note

Tragic story in the news today about a local woman killed while riding her bike. Internet reports say she was hit by a Toyota Prius, coming up on her silently, which makes it not only sad but ironic, such a vehicle no doubt driven by somebody with an affinity for alternative transportation, an ally, if you will.

I suppose the analog for me, at least occasionally, would be to get run over by somebody driving stoned, although I tend to think that people behind the wheel under the influence of cannabis are more likely to damage that bag of chips in the passenger seat than folks out on the road.

But all this does have me thinking the dangers of two-wheeled transport, especially when one is slightly to slightly-more affected by the consumption of intoxicants of one sort or another and the thing this has made me conclude more than anything else is that if I ever am killed while riding a bike, especially if it can be attributed to my staying a little too long at the bar or the bong, the very last thing I would ever want to transpire from that would be some sort of increased restrictions on the sort of behavior that led to my demise.

In other words, don’t let my stupidity ever be a reason to limit other people’s right to be idiots.

In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle ponders whether a person’s happiness can be affected after they’re dead. The classic case would be something like a scientist who dies thinking his life’s work revealed essential truths of the universe but whose work is eventually proven to be completely bogus. Or, conversely, someone like Van Gogh, who goes to his death as a failure, only to resurrected by history.

I could die happy on my bike even if it were in an accident; I’d be saddened posthumously, though, if it meant that people were prevented from making their own mistakes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dead Legs and a Headwind

I rode out to Sandpoint for my annual reflexive visit to the Seattle Bike Expo; I don’t know why I go every year since after I go every year I ask myself why I went, but the ride, at least, was welcome as a tailwind pushed me along from home and through the U-District.

But on the way back, and then the entire trip home from Ballard where I’d gone to visit Dutch Bikes, I was fighting a headwind and my legs, never known for their fast-twitch fibers, seemed especially languid, and that gave me ample time to appreciate the weather, which was spitting drizzle all afternoon between bouts of bluster.

But the high point was that I seemed to have, for now, at least, silenced the click I’d been having with each pedal-turn on the Saluki. The other day it occurred to me that the source of the noise might be the non-drive side bottom bracket cup, which was a replacement, anyway, and perhaps didn’t fit quite right.

So, yesterday, I pulled off the cranks, and didn’t even have to extract the bottom bracket to replace the aluminum cup with a plastic one I’d gotten for a dollar at R&E; today, to my delight, clicking gone.

I was thinking last time I rode the Saluki that I might try to fix the problem by investing in a Phil Wood bottom bracket, which would mean I’d also have to buy the installation tool, so by the time all that paid for I’d be out over a hundred bucks; it felt good, therefore, to see the problem licked—(so far; not to jinx it)—for a mere one percent of that.

Then later, I took the 420 Bike out for a spin to the video store and some errands; its stateliness felt like a better match for my speed; it was pleasant enough to get out on two wheels even slowly; dead legs and a headwind be damned.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lunar Landscape

I rode from a community college in Bothell to one in southwest Seattle and a bunch of stuff happened in-between and afterwards. It all unfolded like a massive Rube Goldberg machine stuttering into motion, and nearly every start and stop was filled with such sensory satisfactions that I couldn’t help but feel something almost like nostalgia for the present.

It seemed that once I realized I wasn’t in a hurry—over and over again—the ride became beyond reproach.

There was that nice steep up and down and up to SSCC, where we cooled our heels over mechanicals and I tooled around the giant parking lot thinking of Formula 1 races on airport runways.

When we finally left, we were rewarded with a tour around the Mini-Ghettodrome in the Japanesy garden and then got to look at airplanes used for mechanic training programs before climbing through a hole in a fence and enjoying the view from Westcrest Park, although the exact sequence of events escapes me.

And then we rode the Bomb down Highland Avenue to Loretta’s in South Park where we made a quiet night at the bar a lot louder and busier and managed to do so without entirely wearing out our welcome, either.

It felt like the ride took a bit of time to hit its groove, but that could have been me; I started having more fun when I stopped looking forward so much, or it could have been that third beer.

Also, the moon was hilariously beautiful on several occasions and it occurred to me that while I know that it’s supposed to be an optical illusion we’re reporting on when we say that the orb is bigger when on the horizon than when higher, I have to say that’s in contrast to what my eyesight reveals.

By the same token, everything I saw last night from the bicycle seat looked even better than it was, if that is even remotely possible.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Five Easy Pieces

Like lots of adolescents in the early 1970s, the only way I got to “watch” some of the classic American films of that era—Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, was by reading parodies of them in Mad Magazine. I still recall poring over that first film’s illustrations of Dustin Hoffman and John Voight and wondering what was supposed to be so dirty that the movies earned an “X” rating.

But the parody that made the biggest impression on my was one called “Five Easy Pages,” which poked fun at what many critics think represented the pinnacle of American cinema at that time, the Jack Nicholson break-out picture, Bob Rafealson’s Five Easy Pieces. And while that probably ws mostly due to the way the illustrator caricatured actress Karen Black’s ample bosom and the effect that had on my 13 year-old psyche, it left me hungry to see the film, an appetite I finally fulfilled last night at the SIFF cinema, where it’s been playing for about a week.

And while there were certainly aspects of the film that felt a bit dated, and while one could certainly complain about its inherent sexism, I thought that overall, it held up remarkably well and certainly seems to deserve its canonical status in the history of American cinema.

I like that it was unabashedly a work of film as art, without being an “art film.” There were plenty of the requisite beauty shots, but none seemed gratuitous. The writing was excellent—subtle, funny, poignant—and the acting was superb.

There was only one scene where I thought Nicholson played it over-the-top—when he’s monologuing to his wheelchair-bound dad—but at least it was authentic, rather the scenery-munching histrionics of his later career.

I thought Hellena Kallioniotes as Palm Apodoca stole the show with her riffs on how filthy human beings are, worse than monkeys, even though they do something in public she doesn’t go for.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Andy Rooney Ranting

What’s with all these kids today constantly text-messaging wherever they go? In the last few days, I’ve almost been creamed three times by some clueless adolescent with his or her eyes fixed on a telephone screen as he or she barrels into the bathroom at school or storms through the door of a restaurant, or simply walks me off the sidewalk in an effort to not miss a single inane posting from some similarly self-involved narcissist somewhere out there in the textosphere.

Now maybe this is preferable to the alternative—having to listen to those same superficialities as they blab them loudly into their hand-held plastic for anyone in the general area code to hear—but couldn’t it possibly be possible for them to just be alone with their thoughts for a few moments without the security blanket of another person’s keystrokes or vocal inflections to comfort them?

On the other hand, many of them are all but clinically deaf or so I surmise by the numbers who have their iPod earbuds turned up so loud that it’s impossible not to hear their “music” blaring over even the roar of the bus engine and it speeds down the freeway during rush hour to school.

What’s so bad about not being artificially stimulated through the eardrums every second of the day? I sort of like having thoughts of my own; sometimes it’s fun to have the words in your head not be the “lyrics” to some “song” piped directly into your biological audio processing systems.

And won’t it be a relief in the next decade or so when the cellphone craze has finally passed? Can’t just not hardly wait until people realize that the dreaded “hand to face” disease is not making their lives any better?

Plus, why are we sticking with Bush’s stupid idea to start Daylight Savings Time so early in March? I was just getting used to it being light when I awoke; now this.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Rescued Bike

Last year, all winter quarter long, there was this lovely old Centurion touring frame locked up outside Condon Hall at the UW, neglected, slowly but surely succumbing to the elements and poachers. First its unsecured front wheel went, then its rear; by March, the brakes and derailer had been lifted as well. I coveted the frame, though, and occasionally fiddled with the combination U-lock around its top tube, thinking I might be able to set it free and rescue it. However, come May or so, somebody—perhaps security—beat me to it and the opportunity was lost.

Earlier this year, I noticed a mid-80s Miyata 720 undergoing a similar fate near Odegaard Library. On New Year’s Day, I scored the front and rear derailers, the cranks and brakes having already been snatched. The frame itself disappeared about two weeks ago, along with the bike rack onto which it had been locked.

Some six weeks back, near Red Square I came across this beautiful Trek 420L mixte that apparently had been abandoned to the elements, as well; its back wheel was gone; its seat torn apart, but other than that it looked pretty good. Occasionally, I would check on it to see if anything about it had changed; nada.

Two weeks ago on a Tuesday night, I found it unlocked and fallen on the grass. I started carrying it home, but then felt like that was too much like stealing, so I locked it up and put a note on it that I would come back for it were it really abandoned. A week passed with no response, so I took my trailer over last Sunday and brought it home.

A new wheel from Bikeworks, upright handlebars, thumbshifters, and fresh cables and housing, then fenders, a basket, and flashy grips; she’s a beauty and rides like a dream.

I’ll keep her around a while, for Jen and Mimi; all she really needs now is a sprung Brooks saddle.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Peter Singer

Went to see one of my intellectual heroes (students laughed when I said that in class) last night, Peter Singer, the noted contemporary philosopher whose writings been foundational to the animal rights movement and whose views on euthanasia, abortion, and, conversely, the duty of people in rich nations to help out those living in absolute poverty has earned him loads of criticism from religious groups as well as free-market conservatives.

He was at Town Hall Seattle, plugging his new book, The Life You Can Save, in which he popularizes an argument he’s been making in the academic world for decades, based on the principle that if we can stop something bad from happening without sacrificing something of comparable moral worth, we have a moral requirement to do so.

He reprised his famous drowning child example, a thought experiment which compels us to accept his principle by illustrating the obviousness of our obligation to save a toddler from drowning if all that’s required of us is to get our new shoes wet. By extension, then, it follows straightforwardly that if we can save many children from starving to death simply by sending money to Oxfam, say, instead of buying that new iPod, we must do so.

His latest version of what this means for most middle-class Americans is that, at a minimum, we ought to be giving about 1% of our annual income to ending world hunger.

I’ve seen him speak before and was again impressed by how non-dogmatic he is, in spite of holding a position on moral obligation that is, to say the least, rather severe.

After the talk I asked him if I ought to buy his new book or send the 20 bucks to Oxfam. He said if I was going to donate the money anyway, I probably should do so, but perhaps if I bought the book and loaned it to 12 people who then would donate, that was better.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Long Ride Home

In a talk I saw the Ashtanga yoga guru, Richard Freeman, give last week, he said that while the Northwest isn’t exactly heaven, it’s pretty close, and I tend to agree, especially when, as I did on Saturday, I find myself out on a bike for a couple hours. It was a lovely afternoon for a ride: partly cloudy and cool, with just a gentle breeze lifting the throngs of songbirds who’ve reappeared here at the incipient spring and having had, as my late breakfast following several hours of grading papers, half a Perfessor Dave’s shortbread space cookie, I enjoyed every minute of my two-wheeled peregrinations, even when I decided to assay one of the longest, steepest hills in town, the notorious Dravus Boulevard in Magnolia, which I’m thinking of including, at least as an alternative, on the route for the upcoming Tour de French Fry on March 28th.

Today, by contrast, riding home from school, even though I covered fewer miles and not nearly so many hills, I had to keep forcing myself to continue; it wasn’t that I was miserable on the bike, it’s just that it wasn’t so much pure enjoyment as it was a kind of chore. My bike felt heavy, my legs felt weak, and I wished I was a much faster rider so I’d be home all that much sooner.

On the other hand, if Richard Freeman is right, at least any of the pain and/or boredom I was experiencing were being experienced in something close to heaven, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I wonder, though, if up there in the perfect celestial sphere, you get the kind of sudden soaking downpour that split open the skies as I was passing by the UW. Fortunately, I’d packed all my plastic so I was able to gear up against the elements. But as further proof that this isn’t heaven, as soon as I got it all on, the rain basically stopped.