Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sitting.

This week I’ve been helping some friends. Catrina is laid up for a few days and Jeff is unable to get time off of work, so I was asked to help out. Help around the house, help with the cooking, the gardening, and help with the kids! That’s right, two of them, age (almost) 4 and 5.
From It's your birthday!
From It's your birthday!
It has been quite a learning experience. Not the housework, I’ve done that before. And not the cooking, although I’ve been cooking more than one meal a day and that is a bit of a change for me. And I made my first ever grilled cheese last week. No complaints at all.
From It's your birthday!
Taking care of the kids, now that is a new experience for me. First time in my life that I’ve picked anyone up at day care or made chicken nuggets for dinner more than two nights in a row.
From It's your birthday!
Cooking dinner for 3 and 5 year olds is a learning experience too. For instance, I know that fruit and vegetables are a good and healthy snack for the girls, but they have other preferences. We discussed it and I have to admit, their arguments and opinions were quite persuasive and hit close to home. So, as I’ve personally done many times, we had double-stuffed Oreos for dinner. World’s Greatest Baby Sitter nominee YEAH!!

And the question everyone wants to know: after a week of this, do I want one of my own now? Heck yeah. I might even have the entire six-pack.

Wait, are we talking about the same thing?
From Michigan 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Bike!

I brought home a new bike this week. Not a light-weight racer like I work on lately, but a beast of a bike: 38 lbs of steel and rubber.


From new bike


These really fat-tires were developed for snow and I hope to try it in the snow soon, but for now, it works on any other surface just as well. Though the rack on the back will carry quite a bit of luggage, for this weekend trip I loaded just a little.

From new bike
Three of us set out for a short one-night exposure to the joy of mountain bike touring. No high speeds, no trailers, no luxuries: Just the bare necessities. We road from Harrisville, MI, to the Negwegon State Park where we were able to camp on the shore of Thunder Bay.
Nick:
From new bike
Paul:
From new bike
Me:
From new bike
From new bike
From new bike
From new bike
From new bike
Please submit your own caption to this one:
From new bike
The view from our campsite:
From new bike
From new bike
The wind was whipping, all the tents had to be staked down, and there was little hope of a campfire. The wind did keep the mosquitoes at bay though. Once the sun went down, the wind died down, and it was just seconds till we were scrambling for our individual tents.

Scrambling for shelter from the mosquitoes.
From new bike
In the morning we packed it all up and road back to Harrisville. The new bike is a champ, the big tires rolled easily through sandy patches that had the others walking, and on the road I had no problem keeping up. Total miles for the two days was around 62. All three of us look forward to the next chance to go.

Paul readies his bike for the next trip:
From new bike

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jack's Bike Shop

No, Jack does not sell hot dogs.
From Michigan 2010


Here’s where I got it:
From Michigan 2010

So I’ve been in Michigan for a couple weeks. I always enjoy being in Michigan, so many good friends to see. One in particular is Jack, owner of Jack’s Bicycle Shop. Jack opened his store in his garage in 1979, but I didn’t start buying parts and bikes there till around 1993. He used to work by himself, but lately he shares the hours with two grandsons and a granddaughter.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Jack. Jack was the one who suggested that Paul and I ride together. Later we raced together, and Paul was the one who pointed me toward the USA Cycling mechanic’s course and helped me get connected with the Kenda Team. But it all started with Jack’s suggestion.

So it was nice to see him again, and buy another bicycle from him (more on that later). The shop, opened in 1979, is still in his garage. Hang out there for a day and you’ll see a long line of regular customers coming by, not all at once, but if Jack’s isn’t open for some reason, they’ll come back by later rather than go somewhere else.
From Michigan 2010

From Michigan 2010

If you’re a regular customer (and a mechanic), you get to do your own work.
From Michigan 2010

Jack landed on Omaha beach on D-Day. Not your average resume…
From Michigan 2010

The Captain in his chair.
From Michigan 2010


Upcoming blog posts will include “New bicycle” and “Updating my resume to include nanny and home-care nurse.”


Friday, July 9, 2010

Homeless

What do you think of when I mention that? Images of someone sleeping in a park, pan-handling for change, dirty, unshaven… not unlikely. Technically, I think I qualify as “homeless” but it is different somehow. I don’t live in a park (unless you count National Parks), I don’t pan-handle for change. I have gone a week without a shower, but it was on a bicycle-camping trip, and there were no showers available. And shaving is purely optional for me, though I still prefer “no beard.”

From Texas

But after several weeks living on the racing team’s dime, I am finally at home. Not home in the traditional sense, but in the place I have come to think of as home. Sure, I could have an apartment somewhere and that would fit the description better, but the van is home to me. I sleep on top of it like Snoopy on his dog house (hey, it’s home for him), and it’s… comfortable. It doesn’t matter to me where it is; it has become home to me.
From a day in the life

I guess in a broad definition of the word, I would qualify as homeless. I have met many people who have no fixed residence, instead they choose to live in RVs year round. Are they homeless too? My RV is slightly (okay a lot) less luxurious than others. And I move around a lot more than other people. I spend a week in a national forest, while other people will spend 6 months in one location. But I have luxuries that others do not. Traveling lightly is a joy many people will never know. Sure, the van looks stuffed to the gills with motorcycles and bicycles. But as it’s loaded, it weighs about the same as a new Chevy Suburban. And by “light,” I’m talking about being able to camp almost anywhere, being able to change my plans on a whim, change direction, change my heading, my destination.…
From a day in the life

So is this homelessness bad? In my case, I think it isn’t (obviously, or I would change the situation). Not everyone else thinks its bad either, though some people turn their nose at the word “homeless” despite all the disclaimers that follow. The people that listen beyond that word, I find, are the ones who have the most character to offer in return. And I have met a lot of people that listened beyond and they have always lived up to expectations.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fitchburg, Mass

Quick update. I'm in Fitchburg for a four-day stage race. I'm not racing, just the mechanic. It's been a busy week but I still love being part of a racing effort. Maybe next month I'll try some racing myself. Meanwhile, here are some pictures from this weekend.


From racing photos


Working till the sun goes down to build these bikes for Sunday's race.

From racing photos


Me, the racers, and Paul. What a great team we all make.

From racing photos