Friday, August 22, 2008

Illegal bicycle hoarding

In this article in The New York Times, several of my favorite subjects intersect: bicycles, hoarding, mental health, and Canada. Do read, especially if you need encouragement to register your bike with your local municipality, buy a better lock, or pursue justice in the case of a stolen bicycle.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bee Gees Tribute

Some people have a prejudice against falsettos and disco and therefore discount the Bee Gees' genius.

In a quest to make the wondrousness of the Bee Gees accessible to all tribes and tongues, cover bands are cropping up to deliver the brothers' music in other genres. One such example is Let's Make Tragedy Happen, which has translated the Gibb's disco scores into heavy metal. Listen. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good reading

An interesting article in The New York Times about globalization's retreat.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No bonking

I completed the ACT Ride yesterday and met my personal goals:

(1) Make friends.
(2) Cheer fellow bikers up hills.
(3) Bike up every single hills unless precluded from doing so by injury (and I had no knee or other injuries, so I biked up every single hill -- yay!)
(4) Don't bonk.
(5) Bike the entire route.

I would post some pictures from the ride now, but seeing as I just woke up for the day (note time stamp), I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow. Along with the stinky stack of laundry and going grocery shopping. No worries about the latter -- I have enough frozen fruit and yogurt to create a smoothie semi-nirvana that will nourish me for the total two to four hours I plan to be awake today.

The secret to getting up those hills was reminding myself that this whole journey is symbolic of the fight against AIDS and I wanted to fight. I have friends who have survived AIDS for 20+ years now, and I wanted to have a fraction of the gumption they do. And a fraction of the gumption of those who have passed.

A note about bonking: Last time I did the ACT Ride (in 2005), I was really sick of Gatorade by the third day. So I stopped drinking Gatorade in favor of water with added electrolyte powder. This seemed like solid thinking at the time, but it wasn't. The electrolyte powder has only one to four grams of carbohydrates per serving. So, only twenty miles away from the day's finish (and half a mile from the next pit stop), I bonked.

It was not as dramatic as described in the above link (I was still able to pedal and, when off my bike, remain standing), but it was a very strange feeling. One moment, I was fine; the next moment, all the mojo had been sucked out of me. Everything took on a more vivid hue. In the ACT Ride, no rider gets left behind (or alone at the side of the road), so I was safely escorted to that pit stop and then by bus to camp. Nonetheless, it was a very very creepy feeling and I decided that I had learned my lesson.

This year, I drank Gatorade no matter how disgusting it tasted and sucked on lots of those sports gels (although I do remain finicky with the latter, sucking on only chocolate or, in a pinch, coffee or vanilla flavors, because these at least have a vague resemblance to pudding, while all the other flavors are just gross). Also, there was a health food company that donated gallons and gallons of this electrolyte-containing juice drink called Zola, and having that option meant I didn't have to drink as much Gatorade. Plus, the Zola was loaded with caffeine in the form of guarana and, as much as I would like it not to be true, caffeine really does help your muscles work when you are pedaling for hours on end.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ACT 6: Day 4

This was where we had our first stop of the morning. I can't recall where the heck we were. Don't you think the line of caution tape contributes so much to the bucolic scene? Luckily, it was not police tape; there was a crane parked nearby that appeared to be taking respite from moving rocks about the river's edge. My prominent memory from this particular stop is that Jesse from Williamson Bicycle Works was kind enough to change my tire when I accidentally popped the air valve off of it. I never knew this before, but you can pop off the tip of a Presta valve if you attach a tire pump to it crookedly.
I called this guy Priscilla the whole ride. He was okay with it.

Only 4 more yards to go!
Rider Zero being accompanied to the closing ceremonies. You can't see Rider Zero, but you can see Rider Zero's bike, helmet and shoes. Rider Zero goes on the ride with us and represents people we've lost to HIV/AIDS. At the close of every day, we welcome Rider Zero into camp. Like all of the ACT riders, Rider Zero never gets left behind.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

ACT 6: Day 3

Someone else took this picture in the morning. I was determined to keep up a good pace because this would be a century (100-mile) day, so I refused to lollygag in the morning.
The theme of the day was Wisconsin, so the hosts of our AM pit decorated accordingly. Alas, they allowed us to consume the cheese curds, but not the beer.
Wasn't Day 2 supposed to be the hilly day?
No, seriously?
A group of Harley riders hosts a watermelon seed spitting contest for the riders and crew every year. This one was at Indian Lake, our PM pit.
Isn't Indian Lake pretty?
See how this road just seems to drop off. It pretty much does. It would have been fun to go down, but we were biking up the descent, not down.
I spent enough time at the top of this hill cheering other riders on that the sun came back out.
Roller derby people also make good crossing guards.
Can we be done with the hills already?
But we all made it up.
This town was one of our afternoon stops. We were there around 2:30 or so and still had, oh, 35-40 miles to go. It was a very nice town, but I guess I was too delirious to be able to remember what it was called. It had a cannery with trucks of corn and peas lined up outside. You could smell the discarded legume pods as they made their way down a chute into a waste truck. I imagine the pods went for feed, but I didn't stop to ask.

By this time I had given up on my resolve not to lollygag. My pace (including pit stops) had dropped to less than 10 mph. If I could get into camp before sunset, I was happy. And I did. Somewhere around 7 pm.

Those are the best kinds of showers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

ACT 6: Day 2

The route takes ACT Riders along Condon Road every year. I'm still not sure if this is coincidence, or because "condon" means "condom" in Spanish.

In case you weren't aware, condom use is an effective way to reduce the transmission of HIV.

This hill is steeper than it looks.

See that black dot? That's a biker trying to make it up the endless hill. Go rider!

I thought I'd gotten pretty creative in meeting the theme of Day 2, which was Mardi Gras, what with my peacock feathers and sequined bike shorts. But then I saw Kelly.

See, I actually did spend some time on my bike.

Can you tell which one's my butt?

This dog at the Riley Tavern (in Riley, Wisconsin) made me very happy. I spent much time petting her and found a huge tick on her neck. Her caretakers removed it, as I did not have the proper supplies with me on my bike.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

ACT 6: Day 1

You can tell I'm not really a committed biker because I didn't haul my 40-pound backpack the 4 miles from my house to the ride starting point at 5:30 a.m. No, I threw it in N's truck, along with my bike. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

This is the Cooksville Store. It is the first and longest-lived convenience store in Wisconsin, more than 100 years old. It has no running water, so staff can't make food for you, but it has electricity and their fridges are brimming with Gatorade. Three years ago, I bought some secondhand glass Tupperware here during a training ride and strapped it to my bike for the rest of the journey. A couple of my ridemates found this endlessly amusing.
Dr. Evermore used to have a worshop next to the Cooksville Store. These rusty ratites are its remnants.
Perhaps the world's best stop sign is also in Cooksville.

What's with the serious look? When I am at stop signs, I'm totally focused on watching for breaks in traffic. Which is kind of funny, considering that we had a whole slew of crossing guards keeping an eye on this intersection for us. What can I say? Good habits are hard to break. (Oh, and the pallidness of my lips is not burgeoning stomach upset; it's super-zincky-titaniumy sun-blocking lip balm.)

With the brevity of this photo collection, one would think that the day ended in Cooksville, but we camped in Albany. See?:

But I was so excited about getting into camp before 3:30 p.m. that I neglected to take pictures. So you'll just have to trust me that Albany is beautiful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Long awaited bad news, or The Destructive Alien Pests Are Here, Part MCMXLIV

Wisconsin has received it's long-awaited bad news: the emerald ash borer is here.

We knew it would happen. We knew it had probably already happened. It was just a matter of time, and a confirmed siting.

But all will be well. Steven Spielberg has a new action movie coming out in which Tom Cruise rids North America of emerald ash borers, gypsy moths, purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, buckthorn, japanese beetles, and those cute little nutrias. All without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or soil-disruptive techniques, but with lots of lasers, complicated mathematical formulas, visually appealing but environmentally benign explosions, and strange plot twists.

Tea tree oil

In high school, I would use straight, undiluted tea tree oil to treat cankersores. Just dipped a swab in the bottle and paint it on, and it would immediately numb them. I don't know if it actually helped cure the cankersores -- tea tree oil is antimicrobial, so it may have fought the infection, but it also can irritate mucous membranes, so in that way it may have prolonged them.

What is tea tree oil? It's the volatile oil from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, used in both traditional and modern medicine as a disinfectant, and it smells really good.

I no longer use tea tree oil for cankersores because (1) when applied to mucous membranes, it's kind of like setting off a nuclear bomb to get rid of a fly in the kitchen and (2) I don't get that many cankersores anymore. However, I find it very useful for other things. Now, I hate to have a link to Dr. Weil on my blog, but I ran across this question-and-answer and it is really quite useful, both comprehensive and brief. Unlike my ramblings. Visit it if you want to know more about tea tree oil's many uses.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Exciting herpetology news!

They've discovered a snake smaller than all other snakes known to humankind! It's smaller than the earthworms that live in a plastic bin in my basement and feed on newspaper and vegetable scraps. Read all about it!

(I know, I know, exclamation marks are no substitute for persuasive writing, but I am so excited, I can't stop myself!)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Get rich, rule the world

This article about a certain mega-retailer telling its employees how to vote made me realize (finally, after 33 years of this truth slapping me in the face) that all I need to do to control the destiny of the world is to build a virtual empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working class -- oh, I mean, become a wildly successful entrepreneur. And then manipulate my underlings.