Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

10.19.2009

Sometimes 90 degrees is all you want, and a dozen friends is all you need...

...to get your shed in the right place on your yard!


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Thanks to everybody who made shed moving 2009 such a great success!  The invite to come move heavy stuff went out thursday:


And these brave souls (plus at least a half dozen not pictured) came out to make it happen:



Kate's mom made an emergency english muffin and charcoal run to the store.   Kate's mom and my mom both made apple crisp, I made breakfast and hot cider, Kate's brother Ben documented the event, and my dad plus a bunch of other guys and myself picked this behemoth of a structure up and rotated it into place.   Ryan brought beers to wash down our celebratory smoked ribs with (I got up at 4am to start the grill for those!) and Jack even brought one of his own personal army (hi oldest boy of four!) up to witness the fun.

There's something really great about putting your hands on to something that was so heavy you couldn't budge it alone, only to feel it lift and move, light as a feather, under the hands of all of your friends.  There's a metaphor in there somewhere. 

Guys, I'll come help each and every one of you move the heavy things in your lives, anytime.  

10.14.2009

The Last Dahlia




















The Last Dahlia

The last dahlia of the season,
unbroken, not frosted and not
dragged away with the trees cut down
is out of place.

As it opened the world went gray
and blew away, the soft air hardened.

I brought it inside, to grace the backporch
with the peppers and rosemary, the muddy gloves
and rubber boots. But even here at my desk
such a flower is out of place, browning
in our frugal office air.

And then back out to dig, to pull the rustic corm
to set aside summer in a brown paper
basement bag,
a seasonal migration
across the geography of home
settled in a concrete corner.

Promising.
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10.12.2009

An Ebay Mystery- the Bicycle Rollers of Ball State University



I've been thinking about my bike training options for this winter. Although I intend to ride outside as much as possible through the cold months, I know that I'll want to supplement that with some indoor training as well.  I have a fluid trainer that I used some last year, but a couple of nights in the basement led me to a couple of conclusions:

1. My saddle is poorly adjusted.
2. Riding a stationary trainer is really, really boring.
3. A combination of boredom and numbness is no way to go through the winter.

I think I solved the saddle problem with some careful adjustment last year, but the boredom problem is less easily fixed. I have been wanting to try out rollers, though. With rollers, both wheels of the bike are moving and you have to work to stay balanced on them. 

One problem: rollers are not cheap (in this, cycling is like boating: nothing is cheap).  With that in mind, I went looking on Ebay, followed a couple of auctions to get a feel for what prices were, and abandoned the whole idea for a lack of funds. Then this auction came along


A seller named gobybike has a lot of 18 or so sets of rollers up for sale, 99 bucks each and 20 bucks to ship.  A fair price, it seems, but "used" is a condition to be pondered when the item bearing that status has parts that can break down over time, moving parts like the rollers themselves,  and a rubber drive belt that can stretch out or become brittle.  There was precious little in the seller's description that indicated how much these rollers had been used.

A closer look at the photos in the listing revealed a scrawled inscription "PEFWL 1995 #10."  Hmm. I Googled the acronym and found the page for the Physical Education Fitness: Wellness program at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana.  The seller is shipping from Marion, Indiana, not far away.  I've got a little more information now. I post a question on the Ebay page: "Hi, it looks like these rollers were originally purchased by Ball State University for the Physical Education program, in 1995.  Do you know how much use they got and if they were stored with the belts off of the rollers when not in use?"


I figured it was worth a shot. A week later, there was no answer.  I looked up the Ball State University cycling club to see if they had any idea. I dropped a question on their web form and got back a prompt response from John Callahan at the club:

Matt,

The only rollers that the cycling club owns are Cyclops. These Giant brand rollers were owned by the university, and apparently they didn't think we as a club needed any. I have no idea what shape they're in, but thanks for letting me in on the sale.

I would assume that they weren't used much, if that helps.

John


Bummer for the club.  You'd think if the school was unloading a fleet of cycling equipment they might have offered it up to the cycling club first!  If I was John I'd probably get over the head office at PEFWL and make a stink! 

There's over a week left in this auction, but I'm still on the fence about these. The seller wants 120 bucks shipped for rollers that are 14 years old and have seen something between no use and daily use.  The seller has a "best offer" button set up, but neither of my offers were accepted.  The seller must want something pretty close to full price.

Meanwhile, new rollers from Nashbar or Performance can be had for about $150 shipped, if you hit the right sale day.  I'm not sure if they are as good as these were when they were new in 1995, but with the seller not taking lower offers and not answering questions, I'm inclined to pass on this auction for now.  If anybody sees this and bites on the auction, I'd love to hear how it goes.   

10.04.2009

A Winter Bike in Fall

Kate and I had a great ride this afternoon along Lake Champlain in Charlotte and Shelburne. Since dirt roads were on the menu and the Scattante is on a hook in the basement with a bum wheel, I've been riding the winter bike. After last winter, I put taller, wider bars and bar ends on it, which has made it a perfect commuter and well-mannered dirt-road explorer.



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10.03.2009

New White Whale and thoughts on writing and the choices we make.

I got my first actual poem up on White Whale last night, which felt good.  I had given the source pages a really good read, made a bunch of notes, thought a fair amount about what Melville was saying in those pages.  For over a week there was no poem in my head at all.  Writing poetry again is a challenge- I haven't done it seriously enough since college nor have I done it often enough that the fear of writing a bad poem or two has gone away.  When I sat down last night to write it ended up just kind of coming out, imperfect, actually not very good at all.  It didn't matter.  What mattered was writing again and getting the rush I felt from doing so back.

In college, I convinced myself fairly early on that I needed to do something that challenged me and that I might have a career future in.  I knew I wanted to do Environmental Studies, though I'm not sure why I was so certain in that either, but I wasn't as sure on a minor course of study.  I ended up doing a bunch of geology, which became my concentration.  English and writing, where every course I took held me rapt and where good grades came relatively easy, was pushed off to the side. In fact, although I minored in English writing, I didn't know I was doing so until the end of my senior year, when I added up the credits and went over to Richardson Hall for a sit-down with a professor I had never met before and a handshake.  "You're on the list."  An English minor without ever really meaning to get one.  I didn't see the path that was there- major in English, write constantly, read constantly, graduate degree, PhD, professor somewhere, writer for life and for a living.  I had no idea I could have maybe done that. 

Looking back, I could have chucked all the other coursework and spent my life in Richardson and the library.  I loved my English classes but had relegated them to the "fun" part of my college experience.  One night in 1999, I went to the library to write a poem.  Six hours later I came out, with a poem in hand and feeling like not only had hose six hours slipped past like nothing, I felt like I had been on vacation, or if you do yoga from time to time, I felt like I had just done and hour of yoga- relaxed, centered, fulfilled.  Schoolwork had never made me feel that way. 

10 years later, here I am. I'm not a writer by trade, but in this little house in Vermont, Kate and I have carved out a room for writing with a view of the garden.  I may not have written a great work last night, but the hour it took flew by like those hours so long ago and the feeling at the end as  popped the paper into the scanner was the same.  And if it's bad poetry, hey, there are worse indulgences.

















 

If the poems come as slowly as this, I think I'll continue post them here and use this main blog space to write about the writing a bit.  White Whale itself will be just the poems.