Pedal Strike

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February 17th, 2010

snow pas

As much as I absolutely love my sweatpants, when uncertain about the appropriate dress code for an occasion or event, I err on the side of caution. I will always overdress.

Not to the point of looking absurd; just in a conservative sort of way. What can I say? I’m Japanese and come from a family in which being underdressed is simply a precursor to vocational suicide. So add that to the [long] list of things I’m completely anal about. Fun basically goes to die when it comes to throwing an outfit together for a professional event.

Fun does, however, come back in full force when I’m on the bike. Granted, it’s more of a “blind person who put together an ensemble” kind of fun, but for me, anything that doesn’t involve a black or gray suit = fun. And when it’s above 30F for once, I can get a little excited, and a little carried away.

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Which meant I was going for something cute with shorts over my leggings and only some flimsy legwarmers to protect my legs and knees from the elements yesterday. When it was snowing. We’re not talking about something like the lame sprinkling of “snow” we got last week; this was full blown “the sky looks white” Boston snow. But weather.com only predicted “1-2 inches” of snow. For Boston, that translates to “cloudy.” I plowed right on ahead, completely underdressed.

All that “fun” I had felt earlier that morning as I happily pulled on something less than 10 million layers melted into slight discomfort by mile 1. Then into irritating unpleasantness. My feet were soaked, as was…well, every single part of my goddamn body. Snow was stuck to everything and water was dripping into all the cracks that weren’t completely covered in waterproof material. And I was like wow, this is really fun…IN A COMPLETELY NOT FUN KIND OF WAY.

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I also did realize that I looked ridiculous, if not downright foolish. At that point, though, I was just trying to get to school without wiping out and/or getting mowed over by a car. Given the fact that I had trouble slowing down [much less stopping], my choice of attire and its disasterous consequences were quickly becoming unnecessary distractions. Drenched and cold, I finally made it, and by the entrance of the campus, a friend cheerfully waved from the cozy confines of her car. And my only thought was: well, fuck my life.

Which is exactly the thought I’m trying to avoid when I overdress. Yeah, I know; total snow pas. I’ve learned my lesson. Next time, the cute clothes are going into the Ortlieb, not on my legs to plow through a snowstorm.

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February 15th, 2010

of diamonds and ti

“She thinks I’m trying to incite something between you two,” a friend informed me.

Biting back the [completely inappropriate] urge to ask where the kiddie pool filled with KY was, I looked at my friend perplexed. “She” in this case was said friend’s fiancee that I had met for the second time the previous night. We had exchanged hellos, spoken briefly, and I had done the obligatory ogling of the engagement ring. And yet somehow it seemed as if I had sort of fucked up.

Busy debating if that KY comment was still inappropriate, I missed my chance to ask all the important questions like “why does she think that?,” “should I fear for my life?,” or “does she think I’m the asshole or just that you’re one?” before the conversation got derailed. Sort of weirded out by the whole thing, I promptly forgot about it. Until,

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“She thinks he’s trying to incite something between you guys.”

Okay, yeah, got it. And, um, no [pleasedon’tkillme].

Fear for my life aside, I can see why I might make an easy target. I rarely see another woman badgering bike mechanics and shop employees as much as I do, much less bombarding them with questions and listening to the responses with the kind of open-mouthed fascination usually only reserved for 5 year olds. I actually have yet to meet another girl who will shun bar-hopping and/or girls’ nights out to hang out with a bunch of dudes who like to talk about bikes. It probably doesn’t help that I have a decidedly inappropriate sense of humor that tends to offend the sensibilities of the fairer sex, either.

It’s a weird situation to be in if you buy into the philosophy that you never want to be “that girl.” You know, the one who only hangs out with guys, brings six-packs of beer to parties, won’t wear a dress, and for the most part avoids traveling in herds. I remember the first time I encountered the presumed collective disdain for the lone female. And even before I found myself in – gasp! – jeans, enlisting a male best friend to drag a keg out of the back of a truck, I thought that everything about that philosophy was sort of…retarded.

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To me, it honestly smacked of fear of the unfamiliar. It’s 2010, but women aren’t supposed to be capable of operating in male-saturated environments with any degree of comfort. We’re taught to seek each other out and stick together in the face of unfamiliar situations. Backstabbing might be involved, but apparently that’s a small price to pay if you don’t want to be left to the wolves [i.e., men]. Of course, choosing the path rarely taken in which most of your friends consist of members of the opposite sex flies in the face of all those unwritten yet established rules. And when fiancees and girlfriends of friends don’t get to see exactly how immature my interactions are with their significant others, it’s too easy for misunderstandings to bubble up.

The thing is, all my male friends see me as a dude. And being bike dorks, we’re all just happy that someone else will stand there and listen to us chatter excitedly about hubs or rims or whatever. I’m not hanging out with these guys because I want to hump their top tubes, and neither do they want to hump mine. We’re not obsessed with each other, just with a sport that a lot of people find somewhat silly.

Which I’m sure my friend’s fiancee knows, as they both jet off to a romantic vacay this week. And if she doesn’t, like they say, diamonds last forever. Or at least longer than carbon fiber or Ti.

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February 12th, 2010

pink baby doll

Apparently, no matter how hard I try, it’s not going to go away. And everyone’s buzzing about it anyway. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

Yeah, that’s right Valentine’s Day; you’re getting an undeserved shout-out. Happy now you fucked up, poor excuse for a holiday?

Now, now, don’t say I’m bitter, BECAUSE I’M NOT. No, really, I’m not. But judging by the sheer number of newspaper articles [whether this is really newsworthy is a completely different question, of course] advising the masochistic boyfriend on how to appease the Valentine-zilla that girlfriends tend to morph into come February 14th, the “holiday” consistently degenerates into the absurd well in advance of its celebration. Attached girls scramble to buy lace contraptions that will simultaenously push up and together while their single counterparts buy gallons of ice cream and too many cheesy movies on-demand. Meanwhile boyfriends try to devise ways not to get the life squeezed out of their balls, knowing full well that most things they do won’t cut it.

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Why can’t this weekend be like any other? More importantly, why in God’s name did I have to choose this cursed holiday as the day I put down payment on my track bike frame almost a year ago?

And then I had to go with the pink cranks and rims. As if I needed another reminder of that one Valentine’s Day when – armed with courage that can only be derived from a persuasive best friend – I somehow ended up in a Victoria’s Secret dressing room in a pink, lacy babydoll. Patches of reason and logic did seep through from time to time [“what in the world am I doing?”], but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Yeah, I know. How many bad frat boy stories have you heard that started with that line?

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I suppose it applies quite well to my track bike, too. It seemed a good idea at the time to choose one gear over 21. It seemed a good idea at the time to spend too much on pink anchors for rims and a powdercoated front brake that’s just going to come off when the bike hits the track. It all seemed like a good idea at the time. Which is just another way of saying now that I think about it, what kind of drugs was I on?

Maybe a little bit of stupid, and a little bit of crazy. Or a lot of both, given the fact that I’m probably looking at a good year – two, if I stick to what I want – until I can afford to buy a solid road bike. But it was Valentine’s Day, and while I might think it’s ridiculous, no one said I was immune.

Besides, unlike that pink babydoll, I’m going to keep squeezing every drop of my investment out of that track bike. At least until knee failure.

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February 10th, 2010

perpetual bonk

On the verge of an academic bonk, I was guzzling an Americano at 5pm while he was sticking to tea at our weekly meeting, when he said,

“Keep to what you can manage, you know? Otherwise, you just end up looking like an idiot.”

We weren’t talking about me, or even him, really, but the gears in my brain finally started turning. Shit, I thought, maybe I’ve been doing this completely wrong. Maybe spending huge chunks of time wishing my stem was a pillow was actually not normal. Maybe being exhausted was something that should be happening after I get off the bike, not before. Huh.

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I understand this is old news, but I’m going to point to childhood trauma on this one. My Asian parents beat into me the philosophy that if you suck at something – other than math, that didn’t get through to me – you just have to try harder. Put in twice the effort as normal people. Never mind that I probably have a VO2max of 2; push the pedals hard enough and maybe I’ll be able to go faster than 20mph one day. Maybe even sprint for more than 30 seconds. And if that effort wasn’t enough, try three times as hard.

Yeah, I really shouldn’t have applied a philosophy that my parents only intended to apply to academia to bicycles, but I never said they taught me common sense [the fact that I don’t have one is a total genetic fluke, not due to a failing of theirs, though]. So instead of taking off days, alternating between cycling and running/strength training, I was trying to do it all. At once. And while I am somewhat multi-talented – as in I can wash the dishes and talk on the phone at the same time – I am not quite that adept.

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That didn’t keep me from trying, of course, but it only resulted in me bonking in pretty much every area of life. I was tired all the time. I wasn’t eating enough and sometimes I hated more than just the first five minutes on the rollers. I barely had time to write, much less design. I was starting to get apathetic about class. Things were either not getting done or else going into the shitter. Awesome.

Small wonder, then, that when my trusted confidante snorted and made that statement, the lightbulb in my head sputtered and blinked and I thought, “I am such an idiot.” In my eagerness to be somewhat competent on a bicycle come spring, I was essentially demolishing myself. Worse, immersed in my newbie status, I forgot to look to the pros for guidance. Because even Victoria Pendleton has a rest day. In fact, her training regimen consists of lifting, riding on the track, avoiding hilly routes on outdoor rides, never running, and minimizing even standing on her off days. And while I’ll never be a world champ, that sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.

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So yesterday, I resisted. Even as my bike seemed to stare back at me in hopeful anticipation of being ridden, I kept my butt planted on my chair. And while the complete lack of physical activity involving massive amounts of sweat was foreign enough to induce a slight level of paranoia, when my sister asked how “Perez,” my “flaming, gay, pink bike,” was, it didn’t seem like so much of a lie when I said, “oh, good,” in response.

I may not have ridden “Perez” yesterday but I’m pretty sure we’re both the better for it. And of course, there’s always today.

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February 8th, 2010

girl crush

Embrocation Monday, again.

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You know where to go.

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