Friday, January 30, 2009

Freakin' Friday

The weather was so bad (Jesus! We're already talking about the weather in the first sentence of the post, this date is over!) Wednesday that The Shop didn't even open. I procrastinated my morning away, which is normal. School was canceled so Miriam was home trying to get an insane amount of work done, I had to get out of her hair so I headed down to the basement to prep my bike for a "Crazy Snow Ride!" which would look excellent on video.

Every tool has a job and my job is to search for twenty minutes trying to find each of those tools so they can do that job. Often by the time I find the tool for the job, I have forgotten what that job was

After an hour or so of getting off task and generally dicking around in the basement my bike still wasn't ready and I could hear, much to my chagrin, that the snow had begun to turn to freezing rain. I don't start rides in the freezing rain, unless I have to get to work. It was back up the stairs to script Plan B.

I placed the camera on a beam to get the "Aerial Shot" of The Little Workshop of Horrors, it got dusty

M was in the living room working so I didn't want to be in there blaring the TV while I thundered along on my trainer so I set up in front of the computer. I attempted to arrange a ghetto, trainer/office Whittingham type deal. It did not work. Not even close. Miriam could sense my mounting frustration and offered to clear out of the living room for a while.

I hate trainer, I hate stool, I hate TV, I hate carpet. "Thom are you just looking at things in the photo and saying you hate them?". I hate butt.

Yes, I have a mirror set up to the left there. This is because I am so frickin' narcissistic that I am not content writing about myself, sometimes five days a week (I'm trying anyway) I need to stare at myself while I ride the trainer. Truthfully I have it there because my left leg is still a bit "wonky" as Bobke would say. I need to watch it to make sure it's actuating properly.

Hey, if you don't think I'm a big enough dork already, let me share this - I am watching UFC fighting while I ride, doing intervals based on the length of the rounds, while I stare at myself in the mirror going "Lookin' good big guy...look-in' good!". Uh, I mean "watching my wonky leg".

Here I practice my victory salute. Miriam said "You look like a crazy man". I was deeply offended and hurt. So off off base. I'm probably not going to marry her now.

This is totally off subject (what subject were we on) but the other night, Dan Meyer who was awesome enough to be giving me a ride home from work, locked his keys in his car. He had "A trick" where he basically jammed his whole arm in-between the the window and the frame of the car. It went well until there was this loud POP! and the window shattered into a million pieces. It was in the teens that night, not a night to be driving around with the wind in your face so we constructed this beauty out of shop supplies. A cardboard parts bin and some packing tape. Hey, we're bike mechanics. We even cut a little porthole in it, classy! If you see Dan on the street, give him a hug, he's had a rough week.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bitter Sweet Fixies

he past couple times my buddy Andy and I tried to get together for a ride the weather thwarted our plans. Acid rain, thunder snow, wind which smelled vaguely of old people who haven't bathed recently. This past Sunday we managed to get it together. Andy is a morning person, I only wake up before 9AM when it is absolutely necessary (when they were programming me to be a Super-Assassin, they accidentally programmed me to never wake up before 9Am. I'm pretty sure someone got fired over that one.) he was flexible, agreeing to a 10:30 (or so) start time.

Non-racing energy food

It was not warm out, sub twenty degrees anyway, I would have been happy with 2.5 hours on the bike. My desire to impress my ride buddy with the roads down around my way caused me to lead us farther and farther from home. We rode until it was too late for a College town. By the time we did get back to the house we had to "settle" for Tex-Mex, waffle fries, and beer(s) at the place down the road. My people are accustomed to suffering.

Andy up on Nagog Hill

I made a video of a 37MPH (Abominable Snow Man knows what cadence) descent out in Carlisle on 225. Andy was running a 42 X17, me - a 44 X 17. And you thought the way I commute is dangerous. If either of us crashed at that moment it wouldn't have been dissimilar from a gerbil falling into a running blender, the blender operator, in a panic grabbing the blender and throwing it into a washing machine on spin cycle, but the washing machine isn't full of water, it's full of gasoline...and the gerbil is smoking (oh my god, now you are testing my belief suspending abilities) the whole shebang detonates causing serious discomfort to the gerbil, who then sues the blender operator for attempted furry-weird-little man slaughter, the court case drags on for years and is eventually made into a whacky child-friendly court drama like Bee Movie.

I realized that this was actually shot during our second fastest decent (around 34MPH). Be forewarned, Girl Talk or DJ Danger Mouse I am not, my so called "Mash Up" of Men at Work's "Overkill" and Motorhead's "Overkill" is nothing short of egregiously horrible. Lemmy's wart is spinning in its grave along with Colin Hay's career.

We wound up doing 55 miles in 3.5 hours. That's a long (not too fast) day on a fixed gear, especially riding on completely destroyed new England roads. When you're riding around in this weather you want to keep it honest. Every second has to count before your toes and fingers go numb and you need to B-line it for home and recovery cocoa. You go out on the fixed gear, you know that you were pedaling the whole time. And that's the way, ow-argh, ow-argh I like it ow-argh, ow-argh.

I'm running two brakes on the fixed gear these days. It helps save my energy for going forward and will allow me to take on bigger hills later in the season without dying

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things I'm Thinking of Doing

This is as much an organizational exercise for me as it is a piece of brilliant entertainment for you. I have not put together a plan for the '09 season as of yet. Things are moving forward and it's time to get busy.

Here in The New-Improved England (This one has Dunkin Donuts) we got the Root 66 race series which is all USAC sanctioned and whatnot and we got the more Grassroots EFTA series. Both these series have great races to offer. I will definitely be hitting a bunch up in-between bigger (not necessarily better) things.

My goal every season is to mix things up, do something different. New things I'm thinking of doing are The SSUSA and Dirt Sweat and Gears down south in the spring.

Thinking about the Massanutten Hoo-Ha! In VA, don't know if I can squeeze in that much travel in such a short amount of time.

Hundies? Geez, I dunno. Last year seemed to work out as far as training for shorter-faster stuff, don't really know if I've got the time to train properly for these big bastards. I might hit The Lumberjack and see what happens. If I suck donkey mittens I'll call it a base ride and move on. News flash, the Lumberjack is full! Since when do mountain bike races fill up? I thought this sport was dead. Oh well.

I bet The Windham Mountain "US Cup" race won't fill up. That was fun last year and kind of a big deal so I may do that one again. Camping is cheap and on site, they really put together a nice event. Not to mention the nearby swimming hole of the gods.

If I do decide to try the 100's I might roll down to PA for the Wilderness 101, hopefully that won't fill up before I get my head out of my ass.

Then we got the US Cup at Mt. Snow, Vermont. I'd kind of rather throw myself down a flight of stairs than do this...but I'll probably be there. Mt. Snow is always the hardest two hours you will spend on a bike all year. Maybe this time I won't try to do three races in three days, but that would be uncharacteristically smart of me.

Of course there's one definite in all this yammering; SSWC09, Durango. That's happening. With the new date in conflicts with Chequamegon which I was hoping to do, next year for that.

Oddly enough, the only other definite I have is a frickin' road race; Battenkill in NY. Speaking of New York, I'm pretty sure I'll head over and do The Singlespeedpalooza and maybe the Darkhorse 40. My Single-Speedin' 29ering brethren Sean Cavanaugh and Mike Montalbano have been talking this stuff up and it sounds pretty good.

I've got crazy ideas about trying to get The Shop to send me to Wisconsin for Trek World and extending my stay to include a WORS race.

Do I try to get the band back together and do a team 24? Didn't do one last year and I missed it. Not only are those a hoot, they are killer training. I'm always flying high a couple weeks out from a 24.

If anyone (hi, three people) has any ideas or suggestions for awesome races or events I should check out I'm all ears...or eyes...whatever. I shut my gob now, I have plans to lay.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Don't Die On The Road

Spent an hour or so last night finishing up this video then ended up losing it when i-Movie crashed on me. At that point I put my laptop away before I put it through the window. So this morning I spent my writing time re-editing this crap-fest. Although, like a foreign film it does have lots of subtitles..."Eh, I don' like that John-druh (genre) ...far-in films...the ones with the subtitles...those aah' I ain't no weedo kid".

There is one subtitle that's totally off toward the end, the one about the glass door. I'll try to be better. The quality is pretty shite, I'll see what I can do about that as well.

If you watch it on Vimeo the video window is slightly larger, you might actually be able to read the smaller subtitles.

How to Commute or "Don't Die on The Road" from thom parsons on Vimeo.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Philosophy on Commuting
or How to Ride Amongst Steel Cattle (if you have a pair)

We're not afraid to ride
We're not afraid to die
So come on, wheels, take me home today
Come on, wheels, take this boy away

- Gram Parsons

Albert Raine brought up some valid concerns about my commuting style after my post a few days back.

Let me try to explain (or create a trainwreck trying).

First off, here's my record:
Years commuting/Riding in the city: 15 (2 as a Messenger in Boston)
Number of times I have made bodily contact with a car: 3
Resulting serious injuries: 0
Number of times my knee has inadvertently taken off a rearview mirror: 2

First and only real rule,
As Arnold Darkshner of The Green Team says:

Arnold Darkshner - Green Team

Thou shalt Not Kill. I just made that up, sounds pretty good doesn't it? My prime directive is really "Don't endanger others". This means not jumping up on pedestrian strewn sidewalks, blindly blowing through walk lights or red lights before assessing the situation and making damn sure you are not going to mow someone down. That's about it for that one, the only people truly vulnerable to an attack by bikers are pedestrians. Any other boneheaded thing you might do is only going to damage property or get you killed or catastrophically injured.

Maybe even stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk once in a while if you're feeling nutty.

If you think it's awesome to buzz through walk lights or crosswalks, weaving between people, and ride down one way streets the wrong way, think about it for half a second. If you hit someone, if you injure someone, if you KILL someone, it is 100% your fault. Legally that sucks, what sucks more is the fact that you will have to live with what you've done. Unless you are a true sociopath that may be difficult.

I wish someone would give drivers the same advice. Pick up a desk stapler and wield it at someone, it's assault with a deadly weapon. Swerve at a cyclist with a two ton car, you won't even get charged with a crime.

The Man. Cyclists are an oppressed minority group living in a world designed and created by The Man, the car driving, coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other hand MAN. The way I choose to deal with this is, admittedly more Weather Underground than Ghandi. Yes, I blow up empty cars. No, that's made up. I do assert myself, hold my ground on the road, and take very little to no crap from car drivers. I'm a skinny little man with a big fat mouth.

Trust No One. Do not trust directional signals on cars, do not trust other cyclists, do not trust drivers waving you on. Trust that people will do the dumbest thing possible at the worst possible time. That is the only law they follow. Getting into a car turns Albert Einstein into George W. Bush. This is your war, cars are your enemy.

Learn to ride your bike before you ride in traffic. This is a wide open subject but if you can't control your bike you should be on a bike path causing non-serious injury to children, dogs, and rollerbladers. If I see you at a busy intersection with your left foot in the downward position as you kick along with your right foot to get going I will ride by you and grumble inaudibly to myself which will be emotionally devastating for you.

Do it right. With your right foot clipped in grab your front brake and just your front brake (that's the left one) lean forward causing the rear wheel to lift of the ground, pedal to a position where you can get a good, powerful pedal stroke in as you start up.

This one act causes me more consternation than a cyclist riding the wrong way at me on the road. At least that guy has a reason to be doing what he's doing...he has to find the crack pipe he dropped.

Same Road Different Rules. Is it legal for me to ride through a red light if there isn't a car in sight and no one (especially the law) is watching? Technically - no. Is it dangerous? Absolutely not. You know how I know that there isn't a car coming (and the law isn't watching)? Because on a bike I have 360° unobstructed visibility and superior hearing to those enclosed in metal boxes. I'm like a super-being compared to them. I refuse not to take advantage of my super powers. You hear that The Man? I do what is safe and reasonable not necessarily that which is 100% legal. Membership has its privileges...with great risk comes great reward...America runs on Dunkin' Donuts.

Lights. Have a rear blinky so that folks overtaking you will only kill you intentionally. Only like 5% of US citizens intentionally kill people on a daily basis. The odds are in your favor. Front lighting is much more important. This "prevents" oncoming drivers from cutting you off and lets pedestrians see you coming. Having enough light to see if there's a big honkin' pot hole in your path isn't a bad thing either.

Your mouth. My mouth has helped keep me alive. Letting out a big "Yo!" or "HEY!" from thirty yards out as a door is beginning to open, a pedestrian is about to launch themselves off the sidewalk, or a car is edging out in front of you can save your ass. Silence = Getting Wrecked.

Look of Death. Stare a car which is about to do something sketchy down. I don't mean look sideways at it, turn your head and let them know your are watching. . It is much harder for them to make the decision to run you down and kill you that way. "Wow, that cyclist has a kitten...or one of The Real Housewives of Orange County...I feel my foot letting up on the gas pedal". Think "Death lasers out of your eyes" and mouth the words "I will ride over you". Unless they read lips they won't get it, but it's all about the attitude and the body language any way. Commit, own your actions, and don't hesitate or you will be lost.

Pointing. This is good, when entering an intersection, a car is approaching coming the other way, maybe they have their blinker on, maybe not, either way you know they are going to turn into you as you enter the middle of the intersection. Point at them, not like you point at a muffin at the bakery "Hmm, I'll take that one...what is that, Banana Nut?". No, do it like Champ Kind in the fight scene in Anchorman. "You! You're next." it says.

Pointing also works for rotaries and for giving free-from-interpretation hand signals. Forget what you read in your driver's manual, everyone driving their cars so haphazardly around you has. Point where you are going, left right, even straight, use your entire arm, with feeling.

Don't do this. I've heard that when when one is being charged by a Grizzly Bear they should blow up two large trash bags then wave them up and down to make themselves appear much larger then they are. I can't imagine this actually works, I can imagine that when the rangers find you they are totally psyched to have two large trash bags to scoop what's left of your mangled carcass into. I sometimes employ a practice similar to this which does work on cars. I take my hands off the bars and wave them up and down. It completely freaks them out.

Be alert. When performing any of the maneuvers described above be alert, be engaged, use your ears, use your eyes, be paranoid, never let your guard down. You should always be watching for any sign of life in parked cars. Tail lights, doors cracking open, heads in the driver seat, these are signs that your are about to eat a door.

Watch the traffic not the light.

At an intersection, especially with a four lane road, watch to make sure traffic has come to a complete stop. Every morning I see drivers blow solid red lights from ten car lengths out. This is not the time to stands up for your rights. Unless you feel like ghost riding your bike into the intersection as the light changes. Same goes for turning in front of traffic, if you haven't got a big enough gap DO NOT count on cars to slow down or stop for you. Hell, they probably aren't even looking at the road.

Speed is your friend, The closer you are to traffic speed the better off you are. You'll feel more comfortable riding just out of dooring range (the middle of the bike lane) without cars buzzing you at twice your speed. Believe it or not cars will respect your place (or just be too nervous to function) when you're going closer to their velocity.

Lane-Splitting. I'm still waiting to hear back from Bob Mionske on the legality of this one (seriously). I'm not talking about riding in-between two lanes of fast moving traffic. I'm talking about riding in-between two rows of stopped cars in grid-locked traffic or while approaching an intersection. I have witnessed several incidents where cyclists got whacked by cars discharging passengers on the curb side. I have never seen a cyclist whacked while lane-splitting.

Bob Mionske recently cited several incidents involving cyclists being killed by right-turning cars at intersections in his column "Legally Speaking" on Velonews. When you lane-split coming up to an intersection as you overtake the last car, you pull in front of it (the driver clearly sees you and becomes aware of your presence) situating yourself just ahead and to the right, not in it's blind spot where you could potentially die.

I joke, but I know someone who lost his wife this way. I never ride to the right of a turning car or truck. If you think lane-splitting is insane just stay behind the lead car at the intersection. Also if you can't fit through the space between a stopped car and the curb, please don't try to squeeze through (I have seen people do this, one foot kicking down the curb) if traffic starts up, you are screwed. Just wait behind the car, it won't kill you while the alternative might.

Advanced technique:
If traffic is beginning to move or the light has just changed as you get to the head of the line approaching an intersection you ride between the cars until they are close to matching your speed, then kind of assimilate yourself back into traffic, getting behind the car in front of you and merging back to the side of the road.

If you're still reading this. Please realize that while writing this my tongue was both placed in and out of my cheek. Don't take anything I say entirely seriously but don't necessarily discount it wholesale either.

Don't kill people, ride within your comfort level, and always use your fuckin' brain.

Don't drive too close to me, I might just be strapped with explosives and bags full of nails and marbles.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Base for Your Face

I neglected to get an "After" photo. The shot above was taken before the ride today which is far from how I looked when I returned. I was all smiles. It was a beautiful day, temps at around 30°, I did one of my medium length loops out to Carlsisle and Westford. When you get out that far from the city you can truly relax, just let the music move your legs like Jennifer Beals (or her body double) in the "Maniac" video and let your eyes wander across the scenery.

The tires on my road bikes get pumped up once every couple weeks. Oft times in the winter when I go to pump them up I find I've been running a very supple and forgiving 65 PSI. I prefer to run a meager 90 PSI, running 120 + PSI is for Triathletes. Crashing my bike on wet, sandy roads is not an inherent part of road riding for me.

Early Grey Tea with tons of honey. It worked alright for Joe Calzaghe.
The water in my bottle was frozen an hour in, but my tea was still lukewarm.

I'm finding the new Fixed Trainer to be more comfortable and stable than its predecessor. I was only mildly terrified when spinning Easter Bunny knows what cadence at 35MPH down the rollers out on 225.

A few of the roads out that way could only be traveled by one car at a time. Feeling angst free (for a change) and magnanimous I would pull off to the side and let cars pass rather than block them.

I suppose I could branch out and explore some other areas, I always seem to gravitate toward Concord, it's so lovely though.

When I walked in the door after the ride there was a lanky-ass Vampire standing in my dining room wearing about fifteen pounds of winter cycling clothing. Acting on shear instinct, I staked him with a broken off stool leg and he burst into dust, leaving nothing but a large pile of clothing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shortest Story Ever...

and with no photos. Feels so...naked. Reminds me of that time I was coming out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and my Grandmother was walking up the stairs, I stepped on the edge of the towel as I was walking, ripping it straight to the floor, exposing my bit and pieces, full frontal. I'm sure the trauma was all mine.

That wasn't actually the story I was going to tell. I was going to express more commuter angst because (I know people can't get enough of it). I apologize for all the whining about the commuting with the spitting and the screaming and the yelling every time, but almost getting runned (it's a word Spellcheck. Ya, you think it's not, then what's the past tense of "run" dipshit? Ha!) over ever day does something to a does something to me too.

When a car is peaking out of a side street, they want to go, I'm right there, they lurch, they hesitate, most of the time they don't cut me off horribly. I usually think to myself "Amazing, yer a frickin' genius, thanks for not being a F-in' moron" or something along those lines.

The look I give this type of cretin is similar to the look I would give a child who had just decided it was against its better judgment to stick a fork in a light socket...if the child were fifteen years old and with full cognitive function. That's positive reinforcement.

I'm going to ride my bike tomorrow, this will provide many amusing situations for me to describe so hilariously in my writings, I promise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Get Yourself Killed, Crippled, Maimed, or possibly Arrested On a Bike

This morning I was riding into work, running the helmet cam, concentrating as hard as I could on riding in a safe and legal fashion. I always feel like the way I ride is relatively safe (legal...I plead the fifth) it's all about comfort level. Though today I was trying to make a sort of instructional video for folks who are thinking of commuting by bike, much like our now former President (Woo Hoo!)...I am going to get people killed.

Can I really tell people that the best way to keep a semi-truck from cutting you off as It merges in from the turnpike is to remove your hands from the bars and wave them up and down while sitting bolt upright and making faces like you're screaming in terror? Probably not.

Can I tell them that the best way to deal with a Cop Car cutting you off horribly (to be seen in my next video) is to give him a big thumbs up? While sarcasm directed toward an officer is technically not a crime it is a good way to get hit in the head with a baton.

We'll see if I can come up with an edit which doesn't warrant the title "How to Get Yourself Killed, Crippled, Maimed, or possibly Arrested On a Bike". It does roll off the tongue though, has certain lyrical quality to it.

Sometimes during my ride to work I have to stop to pee, it happens, it's part of nature. I have my spots. One is kind of wooded with the potential for ambush by dog walkers, homeless men, and runners. I wear bibs. The position you must adopt to have a wee in bibs is awkward and strange. Standing bent over a bit, legs locked at the knee, butt sticking out, hand pulling down the front of the bibs. A passerby might wonder "Why is that man with prosthetic legs grabbing his crotch while he attempts to vomit directly on his shoes?".

Few things in life give you the instantaneous relief of emptying your bladder. Thing are so bad just prior, then quickly become so good. Well, not really so good, just not quite so bad comparatively. One act that might be right up there is getting out of cold, wet socks. After my commute the other day I tried to tough it out, walking around in my soggy socks. Ultimately I broke down and purchased a new pair of DeFeet Classico wool socks (if you want more shameless product promotion, check out my post over at the IBC Blog on winter commuting wear). In the words of Chris Rock "My feet was feelin' GOOD!". Caps and an exclamation that's loud.

Oh yes, the Unicycle. It's winter at the bike shop, time to learn new skills. My new skill is injuring myself with a unicycle. My feeble attempts to ride the thing properly have lead me to adopt a new tactic - I have a coworker pick the one wheeled demon from hell up, twirl like an Olympic Discus Thrower, and hurl it at my nuts with great force.
Much more to the point.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Go Shorty it's Your Rest Day...

and that's why I drove in to the shop. It wasn't because of the foot or so of snow which has now turned to slush and grossness all over the road. Ya, that's right, technically Monday is my day off and I'll be riding the rest of the week so I thought it was in the best interest of my INCREDIBLY STRICT TRAINING SCHEDULE to take the day off the bike.

I'm only kind of being heavily sarcastic here. A part of me really did want to brave the roads this morning. My commute becomes monotonous, sometimes a little adversity makes it more interesting and therefore more tolerable. I like it when road riding becomes more like mountain biking. Probably because I kind of hate road riding.

What is fast becoming a cliched shot of me exiting my house. Shoveling in form-fitting bike clothes with a helmet and helmet cam on, my neighbors and I don't see eye to eye on the subject of "normalcy". Snow too deep to ride. Navel gazing.

Gotta stay on track for Battenkill y'know. That's a big race for me BIG RACE. Not sure what's with the cappin' today. Sometimes I yell without realizing it when I talk. I claim that this is due to a lifetime of listening to the hippity hoppity music too loud and working around air compressors. Maybe it's because I grew up watching Seinfeld and equate loud with funny. Caps are like yelling in print.

It's never a good day to ride a road bike in the woods. Sometimes it's a good day to ride a mountain bike on the road.

It's true, I'm doing The Tour of The Battenkill which is a road race, which historically, I hate, but it involves dirt and is supposed to be wicked hard, um...guy. Did I mention I'm doing it as a Cat 4? Don't blame me when I make the the top 40 in my 50 person field. Hey, I asked for the Cat 3 upgrade after my two road races in 2007...they wouldn't give it to me. THEY WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME! (Pretend it's Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon's funnier).

I have all sorts of other much more fascinating stuff to share, but fodder is in short supply so I will save it for later this week.

And I took so many photos during yesterday's ride that I will decorate this post with them although they are entirely unrelated to anything I'm talking about.

Slow and loose. Only time will tell how beneficial snow riding actually is. My feeling is that it can't help but improve all facets of your riding. It's a full body workout, more like doing core workouts on a Yoga ball than straight sit ups. You are constantly stabilizing the bike, using your arms and hips, while having to pedal powerfully and smoothly. Just staying upright is a challenge. Riding clear singletrack should seem like a cupcake walk after this crap.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Brain is Still Frozen

So the 600 photos I took during the ride will have to speak for me. The plan was to hit it on the fixed gear for a mellow three hour ride today. When I woke up there was snow everywhere - Plan B was in effect. What was plan B again? As long as it didn't in any way involve the trainer or the gym I was fine with whatever it was.

After several hours of procrastinating, crank swapping, seatpost and saddle swapping, cog swapping...I was ready to go.

I crossed Mystic Valley Parkway and tried to head up along the lakes again but the snow was way too deep, so I decided to cruise up to Arlington Center and see what was going on with the bike path. Turned out it was plowed almost to Lexington, beyond that it was impassable unless you had a Surly Pugsley.

I had to take a nature break and I wanted to check out a small hill which when not entirely snow covered has a couple decent rock drops on the descent. Getting to the drops was an exercise in awkwardness and futility. I did make it over them a couple times but the end result wasn't exactly X Games worthy. Hiking back up the hill between "runs" let me know just how out of shape I am.

Coming back down the path into Davis Square the plowing was spotty. Ride on the trodden bits and you got rumbled all over the place, go off on the side and you were in deep snow. It was only a matter of time before I went down...more than once.

"That doesn't look easy" a woman said as I passed by. She was right. I came home little kid tired and hit the couch for the remainder of the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here it is...

my Single Speed Worlds 2009 Registration Form art. I'm in, just like Ned Overend. I can't wait to add him to list of people I have "raced against". You know how cool Ned is? He's so cool that he had a big-honkin'-mustache before it was ironic to have one. That and he kicked a whole lotta ass back in the day and continues to do so to dudes less than half his age, and no one has ever called him a doper or a dick.

I had to get off my ass artistically and bust this thing out, it's been a while. Funny how the only thing that has motivated me to actually make art in about two years is my bike. "If you don't make your art, you won't be able to go ride bikes with your friends". It worked much better than the time my German instructor negotiated an arrangement with my parents wherein she'd get to hold my Skateboard hostage until I shaped up in her class.

I don't know if I ever told my parents that what actually happened was that I gave Frau Stewart a dummy skateboard - some old, clapped piece of crap that was just lying around. Then I went and rode the hell out of my real board. I pretty much flunked German. "Thomas, schlafst du?" is all I remember, I still have no idea what that means. I have suffered as a result of my disdain for German class - watching Wim Wenders and Herzog with subtitles has left me feeling empty.
So ya, I went to the gym for the first time in my life. That isn't a joke or an exaggeration of any kind. I got shown around by a personal trainer, I had my list of exercises I should be doing to help me suck less at riding my bike. I really had to force him to show me how to use the machines and reiterate repeatedly that I have never been to a gym in my life. The idea that someone could be as old as I am and have never gone to the gym was difficult for him to accept.

He was very concerned with what I was going to do for cardio. I told him I was all set with the weights and machines and whatnot "Ya, but if you do them like this you're going to get a good cardio workout". All set with the cardio dude. I did tell him I was a bike racer so he didn't give me a whole song and dance about what I needed to do to work my upper body.

I don't think I am going to like going to the gym. I do however like it more than riding the trainer. I rode it for as long as I could tolerate today (it was 11° outside) while watching a movie called "Jumper" (which was close to the worst thing ever). It was about a kid who could teleport wherever he wanted to go. It made me want to teleport away from my trainer, to another place where I would be performing some other, more desirable playing beach Fiji...wearing a wool suit lined with fiber glass insulation.

Below you will find my second attempt at making a video. You'll be glad I spent all this time editing my crappy commute into a crappier three minute short once I have some actually interesting footage to do something with, so glad you won't be able to deal. Keeping what could be an incredibly boring feature length film contained within a sub-three minute song is a good thing. Be happy that I don't run it uncut with some long-ass song by God Speed You Black Emperor or Spacemen 3 as the soundtrack.

Stupor Commuter Two - I Dig Everything from thom parsons on Vimeo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Video Killed (or at the very least maimed) The Guy Who Used to Update His Trog More Often

I'm editing video when I should be thinking up things that I think are funny and writing them in this space. My video is going to suck too, it's not like I'm out there doing this, I'm commuting in the snow. My grandmother and three people will either be impressed or completely terrified or just think I'm an idiot.

But wait! Don't walk away yet, I have something to tell you. I went out to ride my bike Sunday night. I went up and tried to ride in the didn't work, the snow was too deep. I turned around and wound up riding around the Mystic Lakes on a plowed path. For some reason they run a Bobcat plow up them sums-a-bitches. It was great, more like Crosscountry skiing or yogging, due to the sustained moderate effort and mild discomfort.

The path was basically glare ice with a couple inches of semi-packed snow on it. Fine if you kept up your cadence and rode smooth as Barry White's silk pajamas, but if you got choppy or dug in on a turn you would lay it down, and how. Which was fine, there was soft snow to either side...and the occasional tree or guardrail.

In my desperate scramble to get out the door I ended up throwing a 36 X 22 gear on the Ferrous, it looked ridiculous. It felt ridiculous too on the road. Once in the snow it was just fine.

I would talk about how I went to the Gym for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE last night, but there is only so much excitement to go around these days due to "The Interesting Crap Happening in My Life Recession" so I'll have to save that fascinating story for another day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Off Task, On Subject

While I'm working on more bicycle related material, hopefully something more substantial than me actually breaking down and riding the trainer (I'd rather use embrocation for chamois cream),
something like me hardening the fuck up and going outside in the 20° slushy weirdness, I will share this with you.

After a discussion pertaining to how I could possibly be unaware of the existence of the band MGMT, my good buddy Uri "The Technological Omniscient One" Halevi showed me this piece of shear, unadulterated brilliancy yesterday:

Uri has just started up a Blog. I can't believe it has taken him this long to get with the program. He is the type of person who should have a blog. He is full of improbable knowledge, crazy ideas, and bizarre facts, he has a lot to share, sometimes it is simply baffling...but always interesting. I linked to him above but here it is again, check it out:
...A Placeholder
The ellipsis is not mine (for once) it is actually in the title of the blog.

Check back monday for a sick helmet cam video of me riding the trainer, watching The Colbert Report and Top Gear.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I'm Living in The Ice Age...

Nothing will hold,
Nothing will fit,
Into the cold,
a smile on your lips

-Joy Division

What I want to talk about today is how old and lame I am, but first I will state briefly for the record (my own record - this blog serves as my only real training log. Web Log = "Blog", maybe Training Log = "Trog". I like The film Trog, at least I did when I was 8 years old. I like The Troggs and I like Les Troglodistes from the film Delicatessen, from now on I will refer to my BLAWG as my Trog) that I rode my Fix-Ed gear for almost two and a half hours today in the ice and the crap and the crud.

My road was shear ice but after surviving that the only real trouble I ran into was crossing over from Lincoln into Weston, the salt/no-salt line or the ice/no-ice line. I didn't go down but I did some fish-tailing while pedaling. Probably the highest my heart rate went the whole ride.

The woods were too icy to ride without studs so I hit the road

Old & Lame. So before my ride I notice my Facebook buddy Fatmarc has posted an interesting quote, it sounds like lyrics to a song, my curiosity is piqued, I Google them. What I find is that they are in fact song lyrics and they belong to a song called "Time to Pretend" by a band called MGMT (I'm not sure if the kids call them "Management", "M-G-M-T", or "Mug-muh-tuh", I'll probably never know). I "Youtube" them, listen to the song, and say to myself "Hey, that's pretty good, I think I'll download it and listen to it on my ride today".

I rode around on my fixed gear listening to MGMT, rockin' out, having a hell of a time. Sort of sounded like a combination of Ween, The Flaming Lips, and a less insane Daniel Johnston. Not bad things. When I got home I ran straight back to my laptop to see what incredible exciting-ness had happened on Facebook during my brief absence (which is what I do) and found that my Facebook buddy Sean Horita had posted a quote from Bike Snob NYC. It was a re-working of an old joke with a great new punchline,
you can scroll down and see it (it's actually an anonymous comment) in its original context here. Or just read it below:

"A hipster was strutting down Bedford one day when his bro, another hipster, rode up on an incredibly shiny new Pista. The first hipster was stunned by his friend's sweet whip and asked, "WOW! Where'd you score that sweet whip?" The second hipster replied, "Well, the other night I was walking home, listening to MGMT on my Ipod, when this breezy rode up to me on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, 'Take what you want!'" The second hipster nodded approvingly, "Good choice. And I see you took her pants, too."

The beauty of being old and lame is that I had no preconceptions about this music or this band, when apparently they are the pinnacle of cliched hipster rock (I still have no idea what a "Breezy" is). I could enjoy it for its artistic merit in the vacuum of my ignorance. I do remember a time when it was important to be up on the latest shit, to pretend that you'd been into a band before the album with their big hit single came out.

Example: art class, circa 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind is blowing up MTV, all over pop radio, people were freaking out because they'd never heard a band play really, really quiet then really, really loud before. Kids started coming into class with copies of their first album "Bleach" and talking about how they'd been "into Nirvana for a couple years". It was pretty easy to reach across the table and check to see if their copy of Bleach was a re-issue since it was statistically highly unlikely that a kid in Massa-freakin'-chusetts had a copy from the first run. Invariably it was. When called out they would claim that they had "worn through" their original copy.

You didn't need a degree in Animal Husbandry to know that was a whole bunch of Bull Crap.

My point is that I have, as a result of my advanced age, developed the ability to appreciate things for what they are. That's what this Trog is all about - deep, valuable life lessons.

Ow, the Arthur-itis in my head is acting up.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

You Wanna Look Pretty Though in My Video

It didn't end up taking me weeks or months to learn how to edit video...just weeks...and yes, maybe I didn't really "learn to edit video". I did learn how to take a 45 minute, incredibly boring , unwatchable helmet cam video of my commute, hack it into little rough edged bits, throw them haphazardly into a time line along with an audio track, and make it at least 12% less boring and unwatchable. Hey, it's a start god damnit.

Admittedly it is still pretty frickin' boring. Most of the excitement comes at the 2:10 mark. If you don't particularly care for me personally, my obnoxious antics, or my questionable sense of humor you might find that portion rather enjoyable.

The song is good anyway.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Random Thoughts...

not so much thoughts really, more things which fell out of my brain and were ally-ooped by my fingers to my keyboard without hesitation. Like monkeys using team tactics to throw poop.

I've been meaning to continue my writings on the specific stereotypes which I've developed regarding certain makes of cars. Volvo. To best convey my feelings toward the average Volvo driver (don't worry I'm not talking about you, above average Volvo driver who's reading this) I will describe an advertisement which I intend to create in an attempt to land the Volvo account.

We see a close shot of a World War II era Japanese Kamikaze pilot in the cockpit of his Zero (or whatever, don't get all historically accurate on it, just go with it). He's crazed, all wild-eyed, bearing down on a Battleship. We go to a wide, panoramic shot, he goes screaming into a dive, he slams into the ship, it explodes, both the plane and the ship are engulfed in flames. We go back to the cockpit in a wider shot, we see that the pilot is holding an iphone in one hand and a Starbucks Latte in the other. We pan out wider, he holds the phone away from his ear long enough to ask his children in the back (of his Zero wagon, go with it damnit) if the yellow lab in the way, way back is OK "Guys, GUYS! Is Prince alright? Seriously, gawd!" ( he goes back to his conversation) "What was that honey? I told you we should have gotten a Wii for the car too". We pan out wider as he waits for a cue from his GPS and then pulls away from the smoldering hunk of steel which was the battleship as it slips beneath the waves, his plane totally intact, no worse for wear.

Volvo - Safe On The Inside

I think they're gonna love it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hold on Tight Boys, The Bridge is Out

Having a camera strapped to your head is a great conversation piece, a great ice-breaker. You get into conversations with people who would normally never speak to you. For instance, I'm standing in line at Dunkin Donuts and this guy says to me "Hey, is that a camera on your head?" and I said " Yes, yes it is".

This would be what I would consider my first "training-type-ride" of the season. Headed out west on the fixed gear bicycle looking for adventure. Boy did I find it. I got out to Concord Center and decided that I would do the short "Smackdown Loop" and shoot up Monument to 225, I had no idea the bridge was out.

There were a couple walkers coming out from around the fence blockading the road letting me know that passage was possible if I wanted to hike-a-bike a bit. What's a good road ride without a little hike-a-bike? After scaling over a small snowbank I hopped back on the bike and started pedaling, just as I thought to myself "My tires are slicing through the snow so nicely" (I think things like that) I hit a bump, then another bump, then my bike flew out from underneath me like I was a cat with overgrown claws on a wet tile floor.

As I tried to get up I realized that what I was riding on was four inches or so of snow on top of ice-covered steel plates held together with 2 X 4s (the bumps). The odds of staying upright were not in my favor. I walked across the rest of the bridge.

When I first saw the above left photo I thought the helmet cam had actually captured my flailing hand as I fell, but no, the snow on my glove tells me that it was after the fall as I picked myself up.

After the fall...reminds me of "Legends of The Fall", Somehow I'd made it through my life without ever having seen that film until very recently. If you haven't seen it, don't bother, go to the animal shelter and watch them euthanize puppies for two and a half hours instead, you'll feel better.

The above photos are the first in a totally groundbreaking series entitled "Is This Thing On?". In most of them I'm riding no-handed while holding my helmet. My glasses are in my mouth because I am an outside the helmet strap with the glasses kinda guy. Maybe someday I'll crash while holding my helmet and adjusting my camera. The images captured will serve as my black box recording.

I like the last photo, it looks like that classic image of the sweaty, white Ninja smoking a pipe.

Brunch plans were put in jeopardy when I encountered my second closed bridge. I was right on schedule, my stomach was growling, I had left the house on empty, I needed to get food in my mouth as quickly as possible, but this bridge was all crazy and impassable looking. I jumped over a barricade to assess the situation. There were footprints (from small animals) in the snow on either side. The only thing between me and the other side (where my home fries were waiting) was an eight inch wide I-Beam spanning an icy river.

No one has ever accused me of being a genius. I picked up my bike, placed my snow-covered hard plastic soled shoes on the beam and scampered across. My stomach thanked me.

Miriam with her own take on the "Is This Thing On?" project

My phone rang as I rolled up Chicken Hill in Lexington, I pulled it out of my pocket as I came through the center, Miriam had called. Thinking she had important, brunch-related news, I called her back immediately. I was riding no-handed, pulling my ear bud out, jamming the phone under my balaklava, Miriam picks up, says "Hang on a second" , I'm looking ahead going "What the hell is this cyclist in front of me doing? Now there's a yogger taking the wide line around the cyclist, what a cluster-fuck", I put my hand back on my bar as I swerve around the mess and realize that the cyclist is none other than Miriam.

Oops gotta wrap this up. Spent all night coloring my entry form for SSWC09, got to get that thing in the mail stat.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Toy for Xmas

Over the past couple days I've been trying out the new toy Miriam got me for Xmas; the Go Pro Helmet Hero Wide Wearable Video Camera. Since I am a technological moron it may take me weeks or months to learn to edit video. In the meantime I've been experimenting with the "One photo every two seconds" mode. It takes some crazy shots with its 170° wide angle lens, I like the idea that it takes the shots at random. If I let it run with fully charged batteries and an empty 2GB SD card it would take about 1700 photos over the course of the 50 minute ride. The editing process might be a frickin' nightmare.

This morning was the first real cold one of the year, about 12° (feels like Argh, Guh, Crap!). After a good week of being back on the bike I'm acclimated at least. It was a tough transition, getting sick just before The Ice Weasels put me off the bike for what would end up being two weeks. That after some pretty spotty time in the saddle over the past month or so. Usually when you're riding every day it doesn't sneak up on you like this, I was off the bike then the bad weather hit all at once. It was a bitch jumping back into the "fire". I've heard of "boiling a frog", does "freezing a frog" work the same way?

The Ferrous has reinvigorated my interest in commuting, I'm loving the fact that I can go anywhere and do anything. The base miles will come easier this way. Out of desire, not out of shear necessity...or whatever it is that drives me to ride through the winter.

Riding the rail trail behind Alewife for a mile in nine inches of snow is the biggest workout I've had in at least two months. Riding through deep snow has got to be one of the best things for your form and bike handling. You gotta stay loose, let the bike go where it wants, keep your pedal stroke smooth and apply power evenly or you'll lose it. Sometimes you do lose it, but it's snow so it's alright.

It's going to be a long winter. Wicked.