Wednesday, November 29, 2006

i'm movin'

Hey folks--those of you who've stuck through my dry writing spell--I'm moving. C got us a domain a while back, with the intention of, well, just having a webplace for links and pictures and various other wonders that the internets make possible. And I'm moving erratica on over there--I've already moved the files, although (sorry, oV) none of the pictures made the jump--I guess they're not as nimble as text when jumping 'cross virtual gorges. I'll be on wordpress over there, which I like (so far), and I think/hope that I'll be able to avoid the frequent interruptions that I've encountered on blogger. Plus, I can do categories over there (I probably could over here, too, but I never took the time to figure it out, since I would often seem to "time out" of blogger before I got anywhere). So those of you who come here to read bike stuff but get bored by the family stuff, or those friends and members of my family who check up on me here but couldn't tell a gear ratio from a cantilever brake (and are happy that way), can all filter out their respective "noise." And for those of you who read it all--you're my kind of people, and you're welcome, too.

Please note that the site is still a work in progress (certainly not ready for prime time), and it's here: chabriessmith.com/erratica.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

fixin' it...

Alert: Bike talk ahead.

In comments to the last post, tjl says "I've got serious fixed gear envy today. "


Why would he say this to me? Cuz I've got a fixie, as of last Friday evening!

More specifically, I got a new Bianchi San Jose this weekend, and rode fixie both Saturday and Sunday. The bike comes with a flip-flop hub, and I expected it to come with a freewheel, since the specs say so. Generally, I was looking for a relatively inexpensive single-speed bike that I could take to the grocery store (and feel comfortable locking outside) and train on through the winter. Ultimately, this is a cost-saving move: spend a little now on a bike designed to a) limit use of my "good" bikes in foul weather and on fouled winter roads (do not ask what it cost to get my good CX bike back on its feet after I rode it all last winter--oy), and b) reduce short-distance car errands. But it came with the fixed cog, which was like getting a whole other bike. And instead of saying, "Hey--I thought this bike came with the freewheel--gimme the freewheel!" I decided to try out the fixie, and buy the freewheel in a few days.

Granted, buying an all-new single-speed flip-flop fixie-free Binky doesn't quite mesh with the whole hipster d.i.y. scrounge-it-together single-speed ethos. So I won't get a lot of points when I'm hanging out wherever the hipster d.i.y-ers hang out (see, I'm so square I don't even know where to go!). Plus, I figure the big baby-carrying monstrosity that'll be clipped onto the hub for most of the next five or so years won't do much for me, either. In my defense (see, deep down I sometimes really do wish I could be a hipster, but that's a whole other post--or a book), I looked around a bit, and the SJ is priced nice, even nicer since it comes from my LBS. And it's kinda sporty lookin', I think.

And you know what? After 4 hours of riding the bike this weekend, I can say that riding fixed is great, and I think it's only going to get better as I get better at reading the bike, reacting to it, and learning its quirks.

And tjl, if it makes you feel any better, I'm really sore! Regular fixed gear riders know this, but reverse pedaling to reduce momentum or come to a stop uses muscles most cyclists don't even know they've got--but I do!

Monday, November 20, 2006

First day, rest of life, blah blah blah…

It’s true—I am (as of 5pm Friday) gainfully unemployed, a home economist, a poor sap in need of health coverage, a….stay-at-home-father. Apparently, this is common enough that the initials SAHD are acceptable shorthand—who knew?

And today’s the first day of the new job—well, half-day, since we’re easing into the whole transition. No jumping straight into the deep end for us—no, thanks! We prefer to dip our toes carefully. Half-day today, rest of week off, half-days next week. Come early December, though—watch out!

How’s it going, you ask? Well, it’s 9am, the wee bairn 'n' I've been on our own for 1 ½ hours, the baby has made sobbing noises I’ve never heard in nature before, I’ve soothed her to sleep three separate times, and she’s already used up the emergency bottle. The good news is that right now she’s sound asleep, wrapped in a blanket and looking beatific. Did I mention that the vacuum is running? Good times!

Anyway, all this change in my life over the past three months has got me thinking a lot about—well, change. And the changes in our lives. And while I’ve been thinking about change, I’ve also had occasion to think about Gilby’s post a while back on “feeling old.” And then Gilby comes along and comments on this here little erratic and increasingly infrequent blog! It’s like a sign! A sign from above, or at least from LGR!

So here’s what I’ve been thinking: first, I was thinking, “my god, I am old—Gilby was 12 or 13 when Cobain died, and I was…umm…shit, a little more than twice that. Holy cow, Cobain's been dead that long? Hey, what the hell is she doing thinking that she’s old—what the hell does that make me? Methusalah?” Well, probably. But then, after a few moments of thinking about those days of reacting to Cobain’s death, as well as what exactly I remember from the time I was 12 or 13 (Iran hostage crisis, Ted Koppel’s hair’s debut, the Pittsburgh Pirates and “We Are Family,” “Rapper’s Delight” (no, not really, at least not in 1979, when it came out—I was more likely to be scouring my little AM transistor to hear that big hit of 1976, Hall & Oates’s “Rich Girl”), incredible insecurity, etc.), I realized that feeling old is all about being able to look back at different versions of yourself. You know, there’s that 12 or 13-year-old with homely-ass glasses and braces and gawky limbs and a tendency to hide away with books, there’s the 28-year-old grad student with shoulder-length hair (a bad idea, but I had to try it) and a tendency to hide a way with books, and most recently there’s the 40-year-old new father who likes to race bikes and doesn’t have any time to read, dammit. And a thousand selves between, all connected by this damn frontal lobe and the memory that strings us along—I mean, together—strings us together. And we look back, and we say, man was I different then, cuz I thought a pair of Levi's (instead of those off-brand Sears jeans) would make those other kids like me more--I was so young then. And not to get all corny on you, but then we occasionally get to start something new, like picking up bike racing on the cusp of your 40th birthday, or leaving a job you weren't cut out for from the beginning, or sitting at a desk typing while the vacuum (still) runs to create white noise to keep your 12-week-old daughter asleep for just that little bit longer, and it's a little bit like feeling young again. Except for the vacuum part--that just feels desperate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

my promotion

First of all, there's a long article in the New Yorker, which is worth taking a look at if you've got a little time and are interested in cycling as transportation, cycling as lifestyle, cycling as political position. There's a lot I take issue with, but it's a serious consideration of the plight and passion of urban cycling. My favorite line, and one that I've echoed (presaged? paralleled?) frequently in my efforts to explain to others my love of the two-wheeled human-powered conveyance, comes from the founder of "Transportation Alternatives": the bicycle is “mankind’s greatest invention.” I have a bunch of least favorite lines, but the indiscretion of zealotry makes for those kinds of things. I mean, I think sustainable transportation and acceptance of the bicycle are essential for our future (or our offsprings' future), but it's of a lesser magnitude than some of the interviewees make it out to be.

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In other news, I officially gave notice at my job this week. Yesss.


What am I going to be doing next? Hmmmm....

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As I write, I'm listening to Mark Kennedy concede. Yesss.