Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Picked up this bewitching bicycle photo from Cyclelicious. Love it! Not sure I could steer it, but it'd be a heck of a lot of fun trying. While wearing a black dress and pointy hat, of course.

This is one cool bike. on TwitPic

I just noticed the mount attaching the broom to the front wheel. Clever. I want one!

Escape Plan...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not just another presidential debate

I've been watching all the political goings on. I'm not voting for either of the two annointed candidates, so I've not been talking much about them. It's a case of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." The presidential debates, especially the VP debate, were purely entertainment for me. Frankly, they haven't even been good entertainment. I got more out of the various bloggers (Vodkapundit, Reason) liveblogging the debates then I did from the questions and answers on the television. Not just because I like my substance served with a garnish of snark, either.

It's not that I don't like either Obama or McCain. I think they are both charismatic men with incredible personal stories, and I would gladly sit down for a beer with either one. They both have ideas. Good ones, bad ones, and ideas that aren't even theirs, but make an interest group swoon in supportive fervor.

On many issues, I'm completely neutral, mildly opposed or mildly supportive. I know that should put me in with the elusive undecided voter group that gets all the attention in focus groups, but I'm not undecided. There are issues about which I hold strong opinions, but neither candidate addresses those to my satisfaction.

I'm very decided. I will not vote for either Obama or McCain. McCain might be a little closer to my economic and smaller government views, but only in the way that a gentle snowfall is closer to a July afternoon than a blizzard. Same goes for Obama on social issues. With McCain's support of the financial bailout and general economic rescues (a.k.a meddling), I don't trust him to protect my wallet. I agree with almost nothing Obama has said about our economy, but that's nothing new. I do expect better from democrats on protecting my individual rights. I don't see the conviction from Obama I need to give me any confidence he'd start rolling back the invasions of privacy and lessening of freedom on the slippery slope of the Patriot Act(s). One or the other might be better on particular issues, but there's no choice when you look at the big picture. Each would be disasterous, just in different ways.

Which brings me to Sunday night. The 3rd party candidates will be taking to the stage for a debate, sponsored by Free and Equal. Ralph Nader (Independent), Cynthia McKinney (Green), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution), and maybe Bob Barr (Libertarian). Bob Barr's a maybe, because he says he'll only debate Nader. That's rather hypocritical of him, as he bitched about not being included with the big boys in the official debates, but has no problem trying to snub the lesser known 3rd party candidates when it is his turn.

It should be a load of fun. These three (or four) folks won't agree on much of anything, and they will argue. I expect politeness, but there will be claws. There is no carefully chosen tightrope for them to walk, in order to fall in line with the highest number of voters possible. They will talk about what they actually think and believe, sans focus group approval.

I'm not voting for any of these presidential hopefuls either, but I'm going to watch their debate with something I've missed in the debates thus far. Genuine Interest. Maybe even a bit of enthusiasm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Business Casual Biking

It occurred to me as I was checking the tire pressure on my knock about commuter (Patty the Hybrid), that this was not going to be a normal day on the bike. Weather's cool enough to ride in my street clothes now, and today's street clothes happened to be work, errands and lunch wear. What the heck - good time for using that self-timer again.

Who says you can't commute without official cycling clothes?!

Proofs copied, bank deposits readied, and shopping bag ready... Oh! Almost forgot the red purse. Pulled my hair back, ready for the helmet. Didn't put the helmet on for the photo. I'm all for safety on the road, but I think I'm pretty safe in my carport. After, I'm the most dangerous driver on my little stretch of driveway.

I ride all the time in dress slacks and stacked heel loafers, but the skirt and heels was new. Took off for my first stop. Wind wasn't bad at all, so no worries about skirt flips. (Just in case though, I had pulled on a pair of spandex bike shorts.) The boots were comfier than I feared. I had enough room in the calf, and the narrower heel didn't cause any trouble. Pedal popped right into the arch of my foot, just like in the other shoes. In fact, the sole of this shoe does a slightly better job of gripping the pedals than the loafers.

I did ride a bit slower in the skirt. I don't think it had anything to do with the outfit being uncomfortable. I really think I was just being more "ladylike", and going into slow bike mode.

The ride to the bank was pretty normal. I got a few more comments than usual. Stupid things, yelled from the window incoherently. Sometimes, it's an attempt at clever comments, sometimes remarks about my usage of the driving lane, by people who don't know the white line painted at the shoulder does not a bike lane make. Sometimes it's outright rude. "Get a car!" is always one of my favorites. Today, some genius yelled "Where's Toto?" three or four times. I'm not sure how that's supposed to be clever, but... I hope it was the highlight of his day.

There's no place to chain up at Bank of America, so I pedaled into the drive thru lanes. A couple of the customers did a double-take, but the tellers were awesome. Extra cheery good morning, questions about my gas mileage (he asks me that every time), weather perfect for riding, be on the lookout for those crazy drivers on Roswell Rd, where was I off to next, etc. Conversations happen on the bike. I like that. Best part of being on a bike at the teller window? No worrying about being able to reach the tube.

Lunch at Rumi was excellent. Had the eggplant and veal stew with saffron rice. OMG, it was so very good. I ate too much, and was glad I'd be getting home using power from all the rice and flatbread. The valet was quite nice about helping me find a place to lock up. He and I chatted about Sandy Springs traffic, and he asked me a few questions about routes and how long it takes to get around. I like questions like that. Any chance to let people know how very easy it is to start is worth taking. They might actually give it a try sometime.

Trader Joes was next. Normal grocery shopping. A sweet little old lady mentioned how nice it was I did my shopping that way, and warned me (again) to watch out for the crazies on the road. She's lived in the area since long before there were shops on every corner, and I think she misses being able to get out without worrying about being run down. We complimented each other on our outfits, another fun part of seeing her. She's always so well put together. I hope I keep running into her, because I have the feeling she has some cool stories to tell. And even if she doesn't, her smile and hello brighten my shopping trips.

Home again. Groceries put away. I'm getting a bit more of a map drawn before I head off to pick up the kids at elementary school. I do wish there were bicycle lanes between here and there, because I'd love for my rugrats to roll over the crunchy leaves with me along the way. Until then, we'll have to pack the bikes up for path rides once every week or two. This weekend will need to be one of those times.

In summary:
Commuting by bicycle for multiple errands, instead of using car? YES
Commuting by bicycle great for inspiring pleasant conversations with complete strangers? YES
Commuting by bicycle in skirt and heels? YES
Commuting by bicycle to Rumi for big plates of delicious Persian cuisine? YES

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Half Training, Weeks 12-13

Week 12 (9/22-9/28)
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 3 miles, Bike (commute)
Wednesday - 21.77 miles, Bike (group)
Thursday - 3.16 miles, Easy run
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 9.51 miles, Long run
Sunday - 2 miles, walk

Total Miles: Run - 12.66; Ride - 24.77; Walk - 2

Week 13 (9/29-10/5)
Monday - 4 miles, Hill run
Tuesday - Rest
Wednesday - 3 miles, Bike (commute); 13 miles (road); 2 mile, Easy run
Thursday - 10 miles, Bike (road)
Friday - 4 miles, Bike (commute); 15.23 miles, Bike (road)
Saturday - 8.3 miles, Long run
Sunday - 9.78 miles, Bike (road/fun)

Total Miles: Run - 14.3; Ride - 51.01

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Running on Empty

I'm seriously late this week on my updates. It's been busy. I need to get my weekly total up for my training, but am starting with my Saturday long run. I'd slacked a bit during the week, in anticipation of the weekend's big push being the 61.5 Silver Comet ride. I wasn't sure I'd make it, as the normal truck fill up was not possible in Sandy Springs on Friday. The family was not going to be able to meet me at the Alabama state line to bring me home when there was no way to guarantee we'd find a station somewhere along the way.

I popped out of bed at 5:30 Saturday morning. Checked the local website, to see who had gas near me. Pulled into the line for the BP at Roswell and Hammond at 5:59 a.m. Made it to the pumps at 7:48. The line wasn't really that long; the pressure on the Regular was just that low. It was taking 10-15 minutes for each car to fill. I noticed nobody was using the Ultimate. It wasn't bagged. I tried it. Filled my 26 gallon tank super fast, and I was on the way out of the station long before my fellow drivers had even hit the halfway point on regular. Made it home a few minutes after 8:00. No way to make the 7-7:30 kickoff of the ride in Smyrna.


I made myself some oatmeal while getting the kids breakfast. Tried to figure out a route for my long run which would let everyone have a mini adventure. I decided to run the long way from home to the Chattahoochee River. Not my normal route by the river, but up toward Roswell. Riverside Park would be a great place for my support crew to meet me for the drive home. I started out around 11:00, and was planning to call them about five miles in, so they'd have time to play.

Lots to see on my route. And at 9.51 (or 9.35, depending on which website I use to measure - I'm going with 9.51), I had lots of time to see it. Red Baron Antiques on Roswell Road was having an auction, with military vehicles and cool old cars. I'm posting a few photos. A 1965 Armored Car, pretty roadster. The red one next to the military jeep is called a Jeepster. And last, but not least, an amphibious transport, of some sort.All this, and less than three miles into my run! Miles 3-5 were nice. Rolling hills, steady pace. I saw more people out walking than I'm used to, and a few more gas stations with bagged pumps, police tape, and 0.00 on the price board. Saw a few people on bikes. One of them wasn't even a teenager.

At 5.5 miles, I made the call home to my team. Then, stopped at the QT to use the restroom and buy a water bottle. The station had gas. And lines. Of cranky people. The pumps were jammed. After leaving the station to continue up Roswell Rd., I was running next to the line of cars for about five minutes. That makes for about a half-mile line, give or take. They were bumper to bumper, blocking drives and side streets. I smiled at a few people. No one smiled back.

The downhill to the river was fanatastic. Hit at a point where I was really dragging. I think I was close to seven miles. Ran across the bridge, turned left and hopped onto the Riverwalk trail that joins Azalea and Riverside Parks. My final 2.5 (or 2.35) along the trail, and met my gang at the dinosaur forest playground at Riverside.

The kids decided I was far too disgusting for a mere shirt change and face wash, so I was driven home. After shower and gatorade, it was off to celebrate with salty, spicy food.

Woo Hoo! My longest run... EVER!

I hear the Silver Comet Trail ride was great on Saturday. I wish I'd been able to make it, but am pretty happy with how the day turned out. I am looking forward to making the trek another day, hopefully not too far in the future. Jett, of Atlanta Intown Cycling, has a slide show of his trip with the official PATH riders, and a ride report.