Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Wait five minutes

cactus in snowSince we moved to Colorado, people have been telling us that if we “don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”  While we were used to somewhat mercurial weather shifts in Oregon, I have to admit that the weather does swing rather abruptly here.   For example, on Thursday it was sunny and the high temperature was 70 degrees F, whereas today (Saturday) it’s around 32 and snowing.

We’re supposed to get up to 6 inches by tomorrow, and I hope we do.  I’ve got my cross-country skis all waxed and ready to go– up the street, to the loop around the park, and maybe even down the path to the creekside trails.  One has to be up pretty early to get to the paved bike paths before the parks department bobcat plow guy does.  He or she  seems to be awfully enthusiastic.  But maybe on a Sunday morning, the snow will stay on the paths a little longer than usual.


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I’m reading a book called Bicycle: The History by David Herlihy.  Having spent time around my share of bicycle enthusiasts, collectors, maniacs, and freaks, I’m familiar with those who wax romantic about this machine and its associates: the Tour de France, Breaking Away, the LeMond/Armstrong/Contador of the moment, the Women’s Mountain Biking and Tea Society (aka WoMBATS), the latest and greatest in innovation or craftsmanship.  But it’s not until recently that I’ve stopped seeing all bicycle enthusiasm as another ho-hum occasion to listen politely, appreciating but not really caring that much about bicycles or the sport of cycling.

Fort Collins Bike Library

Something has changed.  Maybe it was getting a new road bike last fall.  Maybe it was feeling how good it is to ride when my bike actually fits me.  Maybe it was stumbling upon a Bike Library this spring while I was in Fort Collins for a week on business and realizing how incredibly nice it is to have your own conveyance around a strange town without having to rent a car.

At any rate, I’m hooked.  Hence, the choice of reading material.  Hence, this blog post.In this photo, you can see the two bikes I owned while living in Dayville.  On the left is my mountain bike, a design tailored for small women by a female cyclist named Georgena Terry, and on the right is my road bike.  I bought the mountain bike in 1995 with extra money I earned by fighting fires in Utah and Colorado.  Terry bicyles were somewhat popular for awhile, but they either fizzled out, or were never popular in eastern and central Oregon.  I found this out while trying to buy tires and tubes that fit the bike.  When you scale down the size of a bicycle, you almost have to make the wheel size smaller (this is not always the case, but leaving the wheels at a standard size can lead to other problems, a subject of vigorous debate among cycling enthusiasts and one that I won’t get into here).  I finally got supremely fed up with the tube and tire problem one day in 2003 while trying to bicycle the ten miles to work and found myself at the side of the road with two pancake-flat tires, 2 miles from home and 8 miles from work.

happier days with the Terry

Within a few weeks, I found myself at a used sporting goods store in Bend, where I bought the road bike, a Peugeot.  I did lots of customizing: painting over in blue what I thought was a horribly ugly design of orange, red, and yellow on white; replacing the (awful!) white handlebar tape with black; installing a Terry women’s saddle where there used to be a (sinful!) white men’s seat; mounting new/used pedals and crank arms, gear shifters and brakes (okay, I admit, I didn’t do a lot of this work, but instead turned the steed over to my soon-to-be-ex-husband and other gear-heads who were thrilled to bequeath their old hardware to me).  I rode my first race on this bicycle– the 22-mile bike leg of Bend’s Pole Pedal Paddle event.  We didn’t win any mugs that year, but in subsequent efforts (2008 and 2009) it carried me through to a mug-worthy performance.

The G-Strings team, Pole Pedal Paddle 2005

I rode miles and miles around Dayville and Bend on this bike.  And then I moved to Crater Lake and Klamath Falls.  This was when I started to notice that it was really, really hard to climb up hills.  Since the bike had only two chain rings up front (medium and large), it was impossible to set the gearing to a really low resistance, which would allow me to pedal more easily up steep slopes.  Also, the bike was too large for me.  After five years, I was used to the size, but once I started trying on other bikes, I realized how much nicer it was to ride a smaller one.  I tried on more and more bikes, traveling to Bend, Eugene, Portland, and various websites to see what I wanted.

Sadly, one day the decision was made for me.  As you can see in the first photo, I was in the habit of transporting my bicycles on the roof of my car.  One day, shortly after moving to my current house, which has a GARAGE… well, maybe you can imagine what happened.  The Peugeot wasn’t completely ruined, but the collision with the garage door frame bent it enough to no longer be safe for long rides up and down the hills of Crater Lake and Klamath Falls.  It now sits in the living room hooked up to a wind resistance trainer, a stationary bike peacefully looking out a window facing Klamath Lake and the mountains around Crater Lake (reflecting on its former glory days, I imagine).  Enter my new bike, the Motobecane.  There is no love-at-first-sight story for this bike, no surprise greeting at a used sporting goods store.  Indeed, on my first ride, the chain broke, ruining part of the rear derailleur and the rim of the rear wheel and tossing me off onto the road shoulder.  But after a long, cold winter, we became reacquainted, and I’ve cycled more this spring and summer than in any other year recently.  It has a 42 cm frame (as opposed to the whopping 53 cm Peugeot) and three chain rings up front, so I can pedal up even the most stubbornly steep hills at Crater Lake without standing up from the saddle.  And its weight– so light!

I rode it in the Pole Pedal Paddle race this year, and now I’m planning to compete in my first triathlon in September.  I have yet to pedal all the way around Crater Lake… but stay tuned.

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The Tuffs 2010We surpassed ourselves this year!  After skiing, cycling, running, and paddling our hearts out, The Tuffs discovered our efforts were rewarded with a FIRST PLACE in our age category!  Not only that, but we were a good five minutes faster than all the other female teams close to us in age.

My prize mug is more beautiful than those from other years, and every day as I sip coffee, I’ll be thinking about our great performance, but more important, how much fun we had!  Way to go, Tuffs!

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We don’t have TV, so watching the big game at home was out of the question.  This was too bad, since having a party and inviting people over is about the only reason I would have the game on in the first place, but of course, that wouldn’t work if we couldn’t show the game.  I haven’t followed football at all this year.  In fact, I haven’t followed football for such a long time that each year I’m surprised by at least one of the teams that will be competing in the Superbowl.  Really?? I think.  How can that team be good enough to play in the championship game?

photo by Jesus Solana from Madrid, Spain, downloaded from WikiMedia Commons

So, the biggest sporting event of the year did not play a role in our decision about what to do on Sunday, February 7th.  Instead, we loaded up the car with my new cross-country skis and set out for Ashland, a little more than an hour’s drive west.  After a quick stop at Costco in Medford to load up on bulk groceries, gasoline, and a gigantic slice of pizza for Bo, we headed to Ashland, where we dropped off the skis at the nearly empty outdoor store, wandered around the nearly deserted streets of downtown and stuck our heads in at the few nearly abandoned shops that were open that day.  By then, I was getting hungry, so we went in the Black Sheep pub, a British style establishment that proved that there were people in Ashland that day that were not only alive and awake, but also not really watching the big game.

We settled into a table next to the blazing fireplace and where we had a good view of the musicians in the back corner.  Bo chose the chair underneath the muted television set, perfect for me to keep an eye on the game without having it intrude on our conversation too much.  At the same time, we could both hear the music played by the group playing fiddle, mandolin, tin whistle, and other traditional celtic instruments.

Before too long, a few people in the large group sitting at the two tables next to the band started to get up and dance.  A few couples decked out in colorful clothing (bright natural-dyed purple shirt and forest green pants, a bright pink gauzy dress over velvet hot pink pants, dark blue mini-skirt paired with peplum jacket, just to name a few outfits) started with a regular two-step.  This quickly led to a group of clogging women, and by the time we left, three or more couples were doing a full-scale contra-dance.

photo by tanakawho in Tokyo, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons

I wish we could have stayed for the whole dance, or game, or both.  But other errands were calling, and the impending sunset hastened our retreat back over the mountains to Klamath Falls.  At some point while we were driving through the dark woods in a snow flurry, the Saints pulled ahead of the Colts for an exciting win.  We missed that, but not really.  We can find footage of the Superbowl and endless commentary online anytime.  What we really did miss, though, is what the game is about for many Americans– gathering with other people to experience an event together.  As with so many other Superbowls of years past, I’ll remember this one for all the external circumstances– the music, the cider, the clogging and other dancing.

*note on the images: while sitting in the Black Sheep pub, I reminded myself to take a picture after getting out to the street.  Of course, I forgot, and in my efforts to be an upstanding citizen and librarian, I found that all the online photographs I could find of the pub were under some sort of copyright restriction.  So, I give you some Creative Commons photos that illustrate my point just as well, if not better, than a shot of the pub itself.

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