Saturday, December 31, 2016

F*** it. I'm hanging with the king


Serious question:

Burger King is offering a $4.00 value meal with a whopper jr., nuggets, fries and a soft drink. Assuming that you take a full-strength (not diet) drink, that's around 1,100 calories (including nugget sauce and ketchup). 

I'm not picking on Burger King, other chains offer similar deals, I just keep seeing their commercial and it makes me think about stuff. 


So, here's the question. Can you name another source of 1,100 calories that tastes that good for $4.00? 

You couldn't buy the ingredients to make this meal at a grocery store yourself for $4. 


That's 4/10 of a cent per calorie. It's hard to buy any food that cheaply. Maybe if you drank straight veggie oil. 


Nevermind nutrition, if you're going for bang for the buck, why wouldn't you eat this? 

Assuming a 2,000 calorie diet, and eating this 365 days per year, that's 730,000 calories per year. Or, 664 $4 value meals. That means it would cost you $2,654 to eat all year. Or $7.27 per day. Or, save even more by eating one $4 meal (1,100 calories) for lunch and then 2 packs of top ramen and a coke (520 calories, $1.50) for another meal. Boom. Out the door for $5.50 per day. 


Can you beat that? And I don't mean with plain rice or oatmeal. I mean with a flavorful meal with a drink. 

Check this site out if you really want some calorie bang for your buck. Although I don't recommend eating straight flour. 


Be brave, and eat a whopper. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Burning the candle at four ends


Before we get started today, a word of warning. This post has very little to do with bikes and isn't very funny. Read at your own peril. 

Red Green famously said that "if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."

I am neither handsome or handy. Instead, I am always occupied. 

I work a busy job. When I'm not working, I'm volunteering for COMBO. And I'm a captain of my race team. Oh, and there's this blog, and the Dirt Rag column. And training and racing. Did I mention the three teenage kids?


I don't have to do all of this. If I was wired differently, I could quit some or all of it.  Might be nice to read a book or watch a game of sportsball sometime. But I can't. 

Instead, I burn the candle at four ends at all times.

It's always been that way. When I was younger, I filled my days with whatever hobby crossed my path. Cars, cards, concerts, cooking, tattoos, gaming, drinking, whatever.

Perhaps I'm still doing the same, though at least now my distractions are healthy and productive. 


But it's not getting better; it's getting worse. In the last couple of months, many friends and colleagues have remarked repeatedly that I look tired. I suppose I am. So what?

(Do I look tired to you?)

I don't expect a long and uneventful life. Never have. The hottest fires burn out the quickest. Again, so what?

Case in point: right now, I'm on vacation in Florida. (By the way the photos on this post are of weird stuff I saw in Florida). It's beautiful, clear and sunny. Unseasonably warm. Or, at least historically unseasonable. 

 (Don't swim with diarrea, please)

My kids and wife are relaxing. They're at the beach, at the pool. But they're eyeing me uneasily. 

They know that I can't just rest. They know me and they know I can't. I think that's why they are so easygoing about all the stuff I do. It's probably exhausting to be around me and a relief to let me go do things without them.

But it is my vacation, so I'm trying to rest. Yesterday, I went for a bike ride on the beach. Bikes usually clear my head. 


Mountain biking in particular stops my brain from spinning. If you aren't paying attention to your environment at every moment on the trail, you're gonna wreck and it's gonna hurt. Beach biking, not so much. I had time to think. Dammit. 


As I rode along, it dawned on me that my interaction with the beach was different than most peoples'. Whereas I was riding along parallel to the tide, on the hard sand near the water, most other beachgoers were moving perpendicular to the tide, from their beach towels to the water. Across my path. Or perhaps, I was crossing their path. 

In any event, I didn't mind. I was being attentive and I was happy to stop and wait for someone who toddled in front of me. 

Most of them were indeed toddlers. Or sun-baked middle-aged drunks. If they noticed me at all, my smiling gaze was usually met with an open-mouthed stare. That's to be expected of the very young or the very drunk. 


The few sober adults that didn't see me coming had one of two reactions. Some smiled and waved at me. Maybe even asked about my "big tires."  They weren't bothered by me. They seemed to enjoy the fact that I was enjoying myself on the beach too. 

Others were angry with me. They scowled and glared. Why would I use with the beach in a manner different than theirs? I must be nuts. How could I occupy the same space as them, if even briefly? I must be incredibly entitled. How could I expect them to stop their march to the water for me? I must be selfish, rude, and greedy. 


This got me thinking philosophically. So many dimensions in these interactions came to mind. 

On one hand, it's a classic "tragedy of the commons." This theory explains that mutual gain can be quickly diminished when a person with rights to a common space withdraws his consent to share. 


Or, maybe it's an illustration of the American system of property rights, inherited from the British. Property rights are among the oldest, and most unchanged legal foundations of our country, although the system of private ownership is little discussed or questioned. But I have questions. 

When does someone have the right to put up a fence, or a beach towel, to the exclusion of others? And do our settler private property rights inform the walker's feelings about the biker? Does he have a better right to the linear path to the surf than I have to the lateral path of the coast? Is there a border there that he must defend? Can he zone me out? Regulate me away? Criminalize my behavior? 

Or, maybe it's just a question of individual experience. Perhaps the walker has never been on a bike, but has heard that cyclists are rude and lawbreakers. Maybe he had an unpleasant brush with a cyclist in traffic last week. Maybe he just didn't like my tattoos. 

These personal experiences spill into every encounter and decision. That's why the toddler stared at me - he had formed no bias about cyclists yet, he was just observing. Forming future biases. 

I smiled and waited for him. See kid, bikes are nice! Same with the drunk. His cognition was impaired beyond the ability to accessing bias and process a reaction. His few remaining brain functions were working full-steam on staying upright. 


Or maybe too, it's a matter of self-interest. Perhaps the walker felt entitled to this strip of beach and is unwilling to share. This beach time was a precious resource, bought at the expense of his travel costs and a week off work. And there I was, encroaching on his limited free time and license to the beach. 

Whatever the case, I can't help thinking about it. And wondering what role my own bias plays. 

If I'm being honest, i haven't always reacted kindly when someone intrudes into a space that I am entitled to. I keep trying though. 

(Except for birds. I hate birds). 

In my reasoned view, the beach is nice and bikes are nice. Walking is also nice and so is swimming. I'm not in a hurry and I have no reason to hurry. So, I choose to wait on others, to share, to be kind, to smile. At least, I try to do so. 

But what do I know?

By the way, I'm writing this post on the beach. I took a couple tall boys of PBR and started walking. When the first was finished, I stopped, cracked the second and sat in the shade. Am I resting? I can't tell. 


Be brave and burn out. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You take the good, you take the bad,


You take them both and there you have the facts of life, the facts of life ...

Well, in matters not in any way relating to a teenage boarding school, I have had to take the good and take the bad. 

Last night, I went out for a ride. It didn't end well. 


Seems I broke a rib. 

My friend Tom summarized the story for me, and he did a better job that I will, so, here it is:


In any event, the worst part of the wreck was the three miles back to the car.  In the dark.  At 20 degrees.  I was moaning and cursing so much that, if anybody was listening, it probably sounded like Sasquatch sex. 

The ER doctor said "riding mountain bikes in the dark in the snow? That's crazy." 

But, as I told Christy, doctors don't know shit about mountain bikes.  Unless they ride mountain bikes. But this doctor didn't ride mountain bikes.  So he didn't know shit.  Except about doctoring. Pshhhht.

Anyhow, it could be worse. At least the weather forecast looks like this:


So I probably won't be hitting any trails soon anyway. Which is kinda why I was out there last night in the first place. 

But let's move on from pain to something pleasant. 

See, I wrote a piece about my trip to the IMBA Summit and the accompanying road trip. It's up on Dirt Rag's page. I discuss the finer points of th (mini) Van Life. You can find it here.

Check it out. You can find out whether Chuck is thinking about murder. 


In any event, it beats a broken rib. 

Be brave, and take your pain meds. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

'Tis the Off-season


Kittens keep it real. 

Anyhoo, it's the off-season and I'm busy getting fat (again). The good news is that I'm only a few pounds away from racing Clydesdale next season, so there's that. 


That's me between the kiddos. 

It's also almost Christmas, so I thought I'd give you some gift ideas for me, just in case you haven't gotten me anything yet. 

"Go in Peazizzle" St. Broadus, Patron Saint of Long Beach. 


For those cold nights on Hoth

I just need this, okay?

But if you're done with your shopping, could you do me a favor?

Stop in at COMBO's annual meeting and celebration  It's on December 19 at Lineage from 7:00 to 9:00. 

I will be presiding over the event until someone tells me I've had too many of Lineage's delicious beers and takes the mic from my hand. So, you know, get there early. 


You can hear about the threats to local mountain biking and what COMBO's doing about it. Plus, you get to mix and mingle with luminaries like Ed Braunbeck and James Knott. 

What else you got to do, eat Christmas cookies? 

It's gonna be a good time, fo' shizzle. 

Be brave in the off season. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Nothing is set in stone

Most kittens dream of murder. This one dreams of mountain biking. I dream of mountain biking, when I'm not having nightmares about being naked in high school. But right now, I'm thinking about blogging. 

You ever think about blogging? I mean, not the idea of it, but the work of it? How to produce interesting content? How to grow your audience? 

Well, let's peek behind the curtain. 

So, I have been writing this blog for a while now. And, as an aside, I hate the word "blogging." Maybe because it is pronounced like blah-ging. Or maybe it's because I just don't like the way the word sounds. It's an awful mashup of the worst sounds in English. BL-AW-G-GING. 

But I digress. What I really want to say is that nothing is set in stone. Except for Mt. Rushmore. And the pyramids. Also, things that are set in stone, like railings and stairs. Ok, a lot of things are set in stone. 


What's not set in stone is how I post on this here blog. 

See, things have changed some. I used to post weekly or more. Then every two weeks or so. I tried to have a theme and work out that theme while discussing something bike related. These posts take a while to write. I have to soak in the theme, like bath water, until it starts to get dirty and cold and then I know it's time to commit the ideas to paper, so to speak. 

Or sometimes I just post pictures of cats and unicorns. 

Unicorn skull. It's real. 

Over time, my audience was growing, although slowly. 

Then I started doing an online column for Dirt Rag. I love doing this column. And it has gotten my writing out to a bigger audience. 

But, in the meantime, my blog's traffic has withered and died. 

What to do? Well, that begs the question. Why have a blog at all? Why worry about the traffic?

The answer is part selfish and part not. I like to post. I'm not normally a talker. Usually, if a bunch of people are talking in a group, like at a bar or in a car or a meeting, I don't say much. I mostly just listen. 

So, this here's a place that I can run my mouth. And post pictures of kittens and unicorns. And Mr. Rogers. 


Besides that, I like biking. I care about it. So I like to advocate. And I like to promote the good stuff going on in my community. 

You want me to promote your race, sure. Your cat's bat mitzvah? Just holler. 


So, I like to talk and I like to talk about bikes. But it's pointless if I'm just talking into the void. I need an audience. So, I can't let the blog just die. 

Well, the obvious answer is to post more. 

Now, I can't do long, thematic posts more often. I have a job and a family. Plus, I'd rather ride bikes in my free time than post blogs. 

So I'm gonna try something new. I'm going to do a couple quickie posts a week, like this one, with a simple story or some local events. 

Here's one event that combines two things I really care about: building local trails and getting kids on bikes: 


This Saturday (December 3) at 8:30 am, COMBO is having a trail work day at the beginner trail at Alum Creek Phase One. Here's a link to the event:

You like riding trails? How about paying it back with a couple hours of sweat equity? As a bonus, you'll be helping fix up the beginner trail, which is used by a lot of kids, families, and new riders. And isn't that what it's all about?  

Go do it, you won't regret it. I smile every time I ride on a section of trail that I helped build or repair. Don't you?

That's it for now. Be brave a couple times a week.