Monday, October 31, 2005

First Cross Race of the Season

I made it to Gloucester to punish myself for not training for cross this year. I could not stay away from racing this event. Despite the advice of my loving wife to register for the C-race, I did the Bs. Reason number one; pride. Reason number 2, the B-race goes off at noon, the C-race at 9:00 AM. That decision haunted me not only for the extra 5 minutes of suffering I endured but also for the snow that started coming down in earnest about 15 minutes before my race started. I pedaled away on the trainer, back to the wind, noticing that my gloves were already soaked. Well, I suppose this will be a test of my fortitude, and it was. My typical early season "I wanna quit" mentality kicked in part way through lap two when I felt like I could barely turn the pedals and nearly passed out...while riding. Maybe the C race was the better option.

Ah, but these are the races that get talked about for years. The pleasant weather ones are generally forgotten, or at least held in slightly less regard. 68th out of 81 finishers (scroll down)...sweet!

The biggest pain in the behind is cleanup; mud all over the place, a bike that shifts like crap, and feet that felt like numb stumps for about four hours.

Tough life. At least I have the opportunity to race for fun.

The next challenge...balancing the work with training...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Born into Brothels

An interesting title to this post? It will come out later.

I decided to head out on the ANT through Waltham, passing Bentley College and continuing on Totten Pond Road. I took a right onto Wyman Street paralleling 128 and stopped to explore a vacant office building adjacent to the on ramp. It may have been on of the Polaroid buildings at one time. I kept on Wyman, heading toward Arlington and came to Trapelo Rd., where I stopped a chatted with two cyclists, one from Colorado, one from California, preparing for the rain and on their way to NYC. I made sure I stopped and chatted to be sure they were "all set". I wouldn't want anyone to think New England cyclists are jerks now would I. One of the gents, named Stephen, is a Rock Shox employee, well "SRAM employee", as he put it. Small world. We talked about the new SRAM road group; had to get some shop talk in there.

I left the GPS duo and took a left onto Trapelo and then a right on Old County, forgetting that it was interrupted in its journey by route 2. I pulled a U turn and headed back to Trapelo, continuing on toward Lincoln. I took another right onto Lexington Street, a road I'd never ridden or driven on, and again ran into route 2. Darn. Another U turn, back toward the Lincoln town offices, but not before I took a detour through the Lincoln Cemetery. I love the sense of stalled time and reverence I feel when pedaling silently amid the memorials of lost family members.

Back near the Lincoln library, I took a right onto Bedford Rd and headed into Lexington. This time crossing route 2 and taking a right onto North Great Rd/route 2A headed back to Lexington. Before passing Minuteman Voc Tech, I took another right onto Mill Street, remembering all the Saturday morning Cycle Loft rides I did when I worked there in 2001. The road was beat up an bumpy then, now it was smooth and silent. The hard left onto Lincoln Street led me back to 2A and onto 2/225 Mass Ave to a bear right onto Pleasant Street passing Wilson Farms on the left. The place was mobbed, with pumpkins the same color as my bike in piles awaiting eager hand and Halloween Hay rides for people of all ages. The police officer directing traffic for the farm motioned me along as I dutifully awaited passage with the queued autos. I bore left onto Watertown Street passing over route 2. The street becomes Winter Street, though I am not sure where, probably at the Belmont town line. Merging onto Concord Street, bearing right onto Mill Street, and left onto Trapelo brought me back to Waverly Sq., where I started the ride after dropping two sold ebay items into the mail. Overall, I felt good, though my right leg below the knee felt less than stellar in some stretches. Getting better.

On to the title of the post.

Any good feelings I had following my ride this morning have been wiped away by watching Born into Brothels, a 2004 documentary about nine children growing up, struggling to make it out of their impoverished lives in the red light district of Calcutta. It is a smack in the face of my jaded western sensibilities, a reminder of our privileged lives living where we do, with access to what we have.

A woman social worker befriends these children, deciding to teach them photography. Through this artistic expression, the children learn and grow, revealing their resilience amid their horrendous conditions. They caught glimpses of the life they were headed for, as sons and daughters of prostitutes, and knew they wanted to get out. At the age of ten, the wisdom in their eyes was unmistakable. I was moved to tears more times than I care to admit, yet I could not hide my feelings of helplessness. I could help if I really wanted to, couldn't I

The imagery is so compelling, real and disturbing that the feelings invoked can not be resisted. Yet even amid the grinding poverty, danger, and depravity, there is hope hidden in the desperate eyes of the children. They see that there is a way out through education, and some of them committed to school, though the battle to remove the children from the families can be tough. The loss of a wage earner needed to support the impoverished family is strong, and relatives are loathe to give it up.

One boy, Avijit, no more than 12, said the following words to sum up the class on photography and what it meant to him, "we are nine bodies and one soul".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I am a lame blogger

I started this thing to share my profound observations on American culture, along with my experiences getting back into the bike business. So far, it's been spotty as best. I doubt anyone's reading this anyway.

This is so true...

Big Box Mart.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Eight Weeks In

This is becoming fun. I have been working too many hours, and neglecting some of the things that used to occupy my time. I hardly read the newsletters and articles that would consume hours before I joined the Seven Cycles team. My concerns about urban sprawl and land use patterns, while still there, has not been fueled by my normal readings of Planetizen and The Brookings Institute.

I have the feeling that the work I am doing will help the company move forward, help me develop personally and professionally, and lead me to the next stage of my career, whatever that may be.

There is a very strange Steely Dan video on the boob tube featuring monkeys in various 70s costumes. I found the title is Monkey in Your Soul.


I am feeling my scattered time and efforts focusing on the job at hand. After five years of wandering about, trying here, probing there, spending some time in bicycle retail, getting back into the "corporate world" with Beacon Power, and in general flopping about in the ether of this life, I feel like I have landed in a place where my work engages my business background and my passion for cycling and sustainability.

I have been putting in some regular 12 hour days and some weekend days. The pending problem is that I am having difficulty removing myself from some of the work and tending to my physical need for exercise. My 'cross season is on the verge of non-existence as I find myself more focused on my work than I have been in quite some time. It is not just the bike racing that I am worried about. In general I can tell that I have been neglecting my health; eating poorly and not exercising. This is something I need to work on. The good thing is that I can ride to work easily, even when raining. That keeps me on two wheels in some capacity every day.

A good friend sent me this article from the Globe, One Week, Two Wheels. I agree with the author's thoughts on the sounds, smells, and sensations one feels when riding a bike instead of driving a car. I also understood the author's concerns about sharing the road with automobile drivers that may not be as charitable with the strip of asphalt we all share.

I heard a newscaster refer to SUVs as Suddenly Useless Vehicles yesterday. How quickly opinions start to turn when circumstances change.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Wonders of Technology

We just spent about an hour figuring out how to get the wireless network working in our apartment in Waltham. What fun! I just have no friggin' patience for futzing with technology sometimes, though I know that it can aid in "productivity and efficiency"...whatever that is. Technology is a tool, not an end in and of itself. Sometimes that is lost in our consumer driven culture.

There are times when I seriously question the value of the gadgets and gizmos that we have access to. Do they really increase our quality of life? What does a Palm Zire 72 really do for me? I took this snap shot of my computer screen. Is that useful? Maybe I entertained myself and did not know it. It has a cool camera function and helps me carry things that would otherwise be heavier and inconvenient. I suppose that's enough...for now.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Back in Boston - Surviving Interbike

I suppose the term "surviving Interbike" is a little dramatic considering that it is only a trade show. Indeed, with the tragedies that have affected the Gulf Coast over the past few weeks, not to mention the continuing war in Iraq, how can trade show participation be considered surviving?

Whether it is worthy of the term or not, I was in Las Vegas for four days last week. Three of those days were for the most part spent in the small white cubicle shown above or en route to the restrooms and trade show concession stand. Trade show food is always something to look forward to. How much better can it get than three say old hotdogs and soggy sandwiches? Hey! At least I had the chance to get some lunch. Some of the folks I work with were not so lucky.

I met with too many people to keep track of, and quite honestly, I am still a bit off from the time spent in a different time zone. It is a strange sensation to feel like your schedule is not quite circadian, or at least occurring in the same 24 hours that we are used to.

I had very little time to wander the show and ogle the do-dads and gee-gaws that I have been told to expect at Interbike. Having never been there before, I had nothing to compare it to in terms of gadgets and gizmos. From what I heard, this year was no different than any other. I will continue to shovel out.