Quote: Watchmen

February 27, 2009

Regarding Ornithology:

“Is it possible, I wonder, to study a bird so closely, to observe and catalogue its peculiarities in such minute detail, that it becomes invisible?  Is it possible that while fastidiously calibrating the span of its wings or the length of its tarsus, we somehow lose sight of its poetry?

… Until we transform our mere sightings into genuine visions; until our ear is mature enough to order a symphony from the shrill pandemonium of the aviary; until then we may have a hobby, but we shall not have a passion.

… Although I had recovered my motor abilities in the aftermath of the owl’s shriek, I found that my equilibrium was not so easily regained.  Some facet of the experience had struck a chord in me, forged a connection between my dulled and jaded adult self and the child who sprawled in the faint starlight while the great night hunters staged dramas full of hunger and death in the opaque jet air above me.  An urge to experience rather than merely record had been rekindled within me.

… A scientific understanding of the beautifully synchronized and articulated motion of an owl’s individual feathers during flight does not impede a poetic appreciation of the same phenomenon.  Rather, the two enhance each other, a more lyrical eye lending the cold data a romance from which it has long been divorced.” (‘Nite Owl’ from Watchmen, chapter 7. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons)

Clearly, it applies to all things.  Karate, cycling, cello, everything.  Writing like this is why this is more than a ‘comic book’, why this is a graphic novel.

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Gear Test: Cold Rain

February 22, 2009

It was pouring rain outside today, and cold too, but the new jacket was great for keeping the weather out, as I knew it would be.  I had no trouble with the rubber pants either, though they were wet inside, it didn’t seem to be a problem.

The only problem was my ankles.  Since my boots are waterproof I just tucked the pant legs over and got moving out into the cold rain.

Very soon water was pouring down into my boots and I was not at all entertained.  After some impromptu tugging and unzipping, I decided to just finish the ride and figure out a solution later.

I still don’t have one.  My Trek is in the shop for maintenance.  I have a solution for that: booties over bike shoes.  But the booties aren’t designed to fit over my boots, and that seems silly for a number of reasons.  I’m not too worried, though.

Also, today’s trip for groceries on the winter bike confirmed that it is just fine for the task at hand.  Maybe I’ll get studded tires at some point, for a bit more turning confidence, but other than that the gearing is just right for a quick 4 mile trip to the grocery store.

Bold New Jacket

February 20, 2009

Today I took the winterbike on it’s first snowy ride.  We have a couple of inches on the ground that haven’t melted yet, and I needed to go to the bank.  Unfortunately, I never cleared the cyclometer from my last trip for groceries (Monday?) so I can only show you the combined ride.

0’23:41, 5.7mi
avg 14.6mph, max 22.6mph
25ºF, SS Odo 5mi

Clearly nothing spectacular on the SS, not that I really was trying for such, I was just running errands.  And normally, I wouldn’t have even posted about it except for one awesome thing:

my new jacket

my new jacket

That picture was from my 20 mile ride last week, at 33ºF.  Note that I’m only wearing two layers: The coat, and a single long-sleeve jersey.  These are from today:

Yes that's snow on the tires!

Yes, that's snow on the tires!

Note the butt-flap.  It snaps up and away when you don’t need it.  Today I had it out (opening it while riding was slightly more difficult than I  would like) in spite of the rear fender, mostly to insulate better.  It was COLD!

And finally: the hot cyclist of the year award goes to…..

Probably someone with hair

Probably someone with more hair

With all the snow I haven’t biked to work this week.  I was playing with the idea for Thursday, but was told to work from home due to ‘inclement weather.’  I’d like to bike in on Sunday, but chances of me waking up in time are slim.

A Bold New Plan

February 15, 2009

This winter continues to plague my cycling dreams, but Spring’s hope is budding restlessly!  Tomorrow I’m buying the coat. I own the coat.  Now I can ride in freezing rain fearlessly!  The plan is, of course, to start riding to work again.  I’ll start next week, with my shift change.  I thought I’d ease myself back in, so I put on the jacket, other gear, and took off for my first ride of the year.

I thought I’d take my favorite route, the hilly twenty.  With a total climb of 1182ft, I was fairly certain I would not ride the whole thing.

The weather was sunny, 33ºF.  It was one of those ‘warm feeling’ days, in spite of a cold wind.  I made good progress, keeping my cadence up and generally getting used to riding again.  At my almost-half-way intersection point, I felt like it was time to go back, but wanted to see how much more I had in me.   How could I settle for 10 miles?

I kept my cadence around 90 for 3/4 of the ride.  After I conquered the biggest hill (mile 13) with a cheer, I pushed down the other side and hit my top speed: 37mph.  Half way up the next hill cluster, I felt my exhaustion sap away my hopes.  Immediately I rose out of my seat and tried to blast up the hill, but there was nothing left.  I had already resigned myself to using the granny gear on the previous hill, but now was a different kind of resignation.

The last few miles were horrible.  I was hungry and physically exhausted.  Water didn’t help, I could only pushed on.

1:27’20, 21.45mi
avg 14.7mph, max 37.0mph
33ºF, Odo 21.4mi
Cadence: Good for 15mi!

Home. Pain. Fear. Please god let the door lock open. Failed. Again. Opened!  Drag the bike inside, immediately desire to raid the kitchen.  Too hot, peel off stinky gear.  Hang it up first, eat second.

I knew, on sight, that the stairs would do me in.  After a brief stretch I had the confidence to climb them.  This was a tremendous mistake.  Sure, I climbed them, slowly, carefully, and it did hurt; but it was the way back down where I thought I was going to die.

My legs were jelly.  Each step down the stairs prompted the question “Is this leg going to buckle?”  This was less like descending stairs and more like a controlled fall in slow motion.  I was afraid for my life.  It took every ounce of effort I had not to fall down the stairs.  It was critical fatigue and I couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to.  And yet here I am: safe and sound.  Instant relief when I braced against the wall at the bottom of the stair.  Yay, I’m alive!

Thoughts on the ride: I’m so glad to be back.

Winter Bike?

February 15, 2009

I have been thinking about my ‘winter bike’ idea, and I realize the bike I bought is trying to be too much.  It can’t have it be a fixie and a mountain bike and a winter commuter.  However, it is possible to salvage the bike.  I could put a big chain ring on it.  Right now the gearing is miserable.  I detest the handlebars, too.  Maybe they can be adjusted.

My other altertative is to sell this bike and buy an old junker track bike, put some cross tires on, and go fixie.  This is the attractive idea, at the moment.

Lots of people think very negatively about failure and mistakes. But a mistake is an opportunity to learn. Do not feel defeated about a goal you failed to reach, instead look back at what happened, look at where you struggled, where you succeeded. Every failure, every mistake is an opportunity to improve.

The only real failure is to give up. You are cementing your own defeat.

We’re coming up on the big trial time: February and March. Most people give up and quit, and lock in the big failure. To succeed, just hold on. Just keep going. A black belt doesn’t become a black belt by a single superhuman act. They do something entirely human every single day. The biggest deciding factor in a black belt is determination.

Karate is not made for people who are superbly athletic. It’s not made for big men. They don’t need to defend themselves. It’s made for common people. Most black belts are not people with special coordination skills or exceptional physical skill. They are people who do not give up. More often than not, someone with ‘talent’ will give up when karate gets too difficult. Since they have natural talent they’ve never had to struggle. At the first sign of difficulty, they quit. Black belts persevere.

You can all be black belts. The goals you have set are are difficult, but they are not impossible. You can do it!