Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hump Day Fo Sho

Folkerinos, it's Hump Day here in Old Cootafornia. I think hump is the word of the day (or days) in several respects. Allow me to expand...

Hump Day

I think we all know that Wednesday is traditionally Hump Day. It's the middle of the work week (or school week for you Readerinos out there getting your edumacation on) and once you crest that hump, you're home free.

During the summer, Hump Day coincides with Free Concert and Cheap Race Day 'round these parts. First, the free concert series runs from July til the end of August. Each week they have a new band, typically local, and it's a good chance to get out, use your lawn chair, see some friends and listen to music. It's right on the lake, so boaters come out in droves as well to get their groove on.

I always enjoy listening to boaters complain about how long it takes to get off the water afterward. There's only one boat launch which I believe can accommodate two boats, assuming sober/capable Captains and dozens of boats trying to get out. What a shame it must be to have to sit out on the boat in the water on a warm summer night.

Hump Week

Believe it or not, it's mid July here and everywhere. It's funny how the winter is so long, yet the summer is so short. Maybe it's all a matter of perception or maybe it's that I live in New England and our winters last forEVER. Whatever the case, we have half of July left.

While I always feel like I've wasted the summer, this year I have an excuse: it rained all of June. Now that we're in the meat of the season, I've been taking full advantage. So far I've biked, run, camped, and kayaked (only once, boo). If I can get my ass in gear, I'll have some clothes out on the line tonight drying in the warm, dry summer air.

Humping It

I'll use this term in a number of ways here. First of all, I've been humping it to work on my bike every day since some time in May. Aside from a few thunderstorms and my current flat tire, it's been a very painless activity. Even the thunderstorms have been cooperative and held off until the ride home.

Not only have I been saving gas, but I haven't been making all of those little trips I used to make to "just pick up (fill in the blank)". Those trips not only fill my house with crap, but they also drain my wallet. Oh, and the morning ride through the dirt road I've dubbed "Coney Expressway" is fantastic. The sun shining on the mountains and tall grasses is fantastic. The coneys must still be babies at this point and they're everywhere on the road, darting in and out of the grass on the sides. They're so cute you just want to pinch their cheeks.

Busting My Hump

I haven't been riding my bike as much as I'd like, but when I have ridden I've busted my hump. Last night was a casual 28-miler turned high-intensity 40-miler. The ride itself was only 28 miles, but I wasn't going to drive to the meeting spot, and that added the 12 miles I needed to round it off to an even 40.

We started off innocently enough, but soon it became one challenge after another. If we weren't busting a hump up a hill or over rolling hills, we were pushing it on the flats.

Unlike the regular rides where we might cruise at 18 MPH on the flats, last night we were routinely busting out stretches in the mid 20s. For you non-cyclists, that might not seem like a lot but 24 MPH is 33% faster than 18, and your average John Q BikeTrailRider is humming along at a mediocre 8-10 MPH. For you nerdy non-cyclists, keep in mind that force required to overcome wind resistance (including drag) increases with the square of speed.

I'll point out here that to keep their own energy expenditure down, the guys pushing the pace were comfortably nestled in my draft. One guy even had the nerve to start singing while I was pulling him up a hill at a cool 20 MPH! Oh well, when I'm gracing the cover of Bicycling Magazine they'll be chasing me down for an autograph.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I *heart* LLBean

HO LEE CRAP! It's been a longylong time since I last hollered at you. My sincerest apologies, but I just didn't much feel like blogging. I was in a funk-rut but for the last couple of days I've been thinking "Hey, I need to blog this" so here I am, blogging "this".

LLBean, more like LLBomb

For those of you out there in Readerland who order stuff from LLBean, you may be familiar with the benefits of using their credit card. First of all, you get free shipping, free monogramming and every once in a while they send you gift cards and so on. Well, as of July 1st, their old card is no good and you have to get the new card, with the added benefit of free return shipping. Booyeah!

So first thing in the morning on July 1st I sat down at my trusty computerator and signed up for the new card. I was itching to make my first purchase on it, and had something that I not only wanted, but absolutely needed. This is an item I literally would not be able to continue living without. I practically had a prescription for it I need it so badly. "What is it?" you may ask. The answer, a bug screen tent for camping, so mosquitoes don't bite me while I'm eating.

Anywho, after days and days of waiting for my approved card to arrive in the mail I said "Fuck it, I'll just order it and hope for the best". I placed the order and sho-nuff did not receive free shipping. I hopped on my mobile telephony device and spoke with one of the nicest customer service people on the earth. They come from Maine, The Way Life Should Be, and I swear it's like calling your mom (your own mom, not like when you call someone else's mom, except of course you mom's mom). They know exactly what you're talking about, have access to your entire account and then start making suggestions like:

"Would it be okay if I just waived the shipping fee and credited your account?
"How about we refund your money for that, sir? And I'd like to send you a $10 coupon for your troubles."
"That bag your mom gave you in 3rd grade has a scuff on the bottom? That won't do. Don't bother sending it back we'll just put a replacement in today's mail for you. Which color would you prefer?"

You get my drift. The customer service mother has the power to solve all of your LLBean related problems right then and there. The woman I spoke with told me my order wasn't showing up yet but that she'd keep an eye out for it and credit me the shipping when she saw it. There was no need for me to stay on the line. I believed her and you know what? She came through.

You get off the phone and think "Damn, that woman was nice as hell", then feel guilty for cursing, or even thinking curse words.

LLBean's Shipping Policy

As if free shipping wasn't already the bee's knees, the shit is quick to boot. My order was processed yesterday at 4:49PM (Eastern Time, of course) and at 6:00AM this morning the thing was on the truck and out for delivery. Keep in mind that I don't live in Maine. Here's my theory...

You place an order and it's assigned to a customer service mom. She sets down her knitting, stokes the fire real quick, and has one of her order processing children take care of it right away if they want some of that pie she has cooling on the window sill. She watches out the window of her log cabin customer service cubicle and makes sure her order processing child does in fact put your order on the truck immediately. Her oldest son drives the UPS truck and he wants to be back for supper too, so he hurries my order off to the next UPS distribution center along with some of yesterday's blackberry pie to bribe the UPS guys there.

After supper (undoubtedly a stew of some sort), the children are rewarded with some of the fresh baked apple pie, topped with vanilla ice cream made in one of those ice cream making balls that they sell in their catalog. Customer service mom smiles in approval as all is well in her world.

In conclusion, I am thrilled with LLBean and the way they treat their customers. Camping this weekend is supposed to be rain-free, but if it isn't we'll have a nice tent to keep us dry while we eat hot dogs and play cards.

If all goes well, my blog hiatus will be over and I'll start posting regularly again. Of course, tomorrow I'll be camping so you may have to wait until Monday or Sunday night.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 19, 2008

All Wrapped Up

This past weekend I set to work on a book I started reading last summer. I bought it to take on my trip to Japan, and have been slowly pecking away at it until this past weekend, when I attacked it full force. Tonight I just put the damn thing to bed.

The Stand

Last summer a friend recommended Stephen King's The Stand as an easy read for a vacation. I rushed right out and bought it in all of it's unabridged, re-released splendor. That splendor spanned more than 1100 thinner than air pages, that seemed to have negative thickness as I slowly plodded through the story.

I would spend hours at a time reading, taking on the experiences of the characters as if I were right there with them. I would celebrate their victories and share in their defeats, and when the afternoon was over - SHIT, that's as far as I got?!? 1/32"? Four hours for 1/32 of an inch!?!

Well, this past weekend I put a 300 page hurting on that book. Tonight I sat down with it hoping to make another dent in the paltry 200-ish pages I had left. As the hours rolled by I found myself unable to set the book down until I finally turned the last page. I wanted to read the little blip about the author but fuck that shit, I had enough. Plus it's not like Stephen King is some obscure author that I can learn about and then tell others.

Now, I'm creeped the hell out. At 11:45PM I went out to get my clothes from the clothes line when an ant stepped on a leaf and I almost crapped my pants. A little on edge? Methinks so.

And now I shall try to sleep.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This Weekend in Review

The weather is getting nicer, the nature is getting greener (or otherwise more colorful) and the hours are still growing longer. What a time to be tapering for a race.

One Week Away

I gotta tell you I've never been this worked up for a race before, with the exception of The Josh, and I'm getting antsy. I had a nightmare the other night where we couldn't find the start of the race and when we did I had forgotten to wear a shirt. The first two miles of my dream-race were substantially slower than my goal pace, to the point that I'd never be able to make up the time. I woke up in a panic.

The hardest part about the couple of weeks leading up to this race is that I'm supposed to be tapering, meaning running fewer, easier miles. At this point there's nothing to gain by running hard so you're just maintaining and trying not to get hurt. After busting your hump for months it's awful to try and hold back. Just today when we finished 8 miles up and over a mountain, or at least some wicked steep trails, with a two to three mile ass-hauling at the end, I felt like I could have done it again. I had to use great restraint to get in the car and drive home. The last thing I want is to run my race a week early.

Out for a Spin

Yesterday I was scheduled for an easy 3-miler. The weather was perfect (despite the predictions) and I had just stopped to buy a new hat, some shorts and a shirt for the race when I got a call regarding a bike ride. Technically a bike ride is considered cross-training so I opted for that over the run. Plus my road bike was fresh back from surgery where she had a new crankset installed.

I made my purchases, passing up the race shorts with the 3/4" inseam (which I will be returning to buy after all) and was on my way. The ride went into the wind in both directions (figure that out) and we met a couple of interesting folks.

The first was a young woman out cruising the Berkshire countryside checking out roofs for her upcoming roofing project. We rode with her to a coffee shop slightly outside the range of our initial ride route, and headed back when she went to meet up with a friend.

On the way back, we ran into a guy who liked to ride fast. My counterpart doesn't have her summer biking legs on yet and we kept dropping her on the climbs. He didn't seem to care and just kept on pedaling. I should have let him go instead of leaving my friend behind, but I couldn't come up with a polite way to drop off. Don't worry, I felt plenty bad.

We stopped at another friend's house to admire his firewood pile (as instructed) which was not the 30' tower we were promised. I'd give it 15', but it was a letdown. I slithered through the post and rail fence to steal some logs while my partner in crime watched the horses (oh yeah, there were horses) to make sure they didn't come after me. For the record, animals larger than cats (and many the size of cats) scare me to death.

After leaving a note written in logs and placing a few on the lawn as a sign (and a close call with the big horse) we started to make our getaway when I noticed I had a flat. SHIT! We were going to get caught for sure. I had the tube replaced and tire almost back on the bike when the woman of the house showed up, busting us right there by the road. DAMN THAT FLAT! She was clueless to our intentions though, so I think we're fine.

Unbroke My Brakes

Remember how my folding bike showed up with a broken brake? Well yesterday the new set of brake calipers showed up. It's a good thing the guy on the phone asked me what color mine were, because he made sure to send me a different color. Either way, these are way better than the original ones, being made of metal and all.

Last night I installed the new brakes, tweaked the rear ones that had been squeaking, swapped my mountain bike seat onto the folding bike, oiled the chain and called it a night.

If you haven't ridden a bike much, you should know that big fat wide cushy saddles (what cyclists call seats) are the worst. They're fine for a couple of miles, but after that they tear you up. Being used to a skinny, hard saddle I found the fat saddle rubbing me the wrong way. The mountain bike saddle is an improvement, and I hope it does the trick.

Well, I guess I had more to say than I thought. I could go on, but I'm sure I've already lost a lot of you. Peace out, y'alls.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lit Up from the Tit Up

Coot fans, I am sad to tell you that my trademark red hat is gone. I was riding to my Thursday Night Run last night and it blew off my bike rack. I should have known better than to not attach it better but it seemed so secure I didn't give it a second thought. When I arrived at the park it was no longer on the bike. I didn't just give up though...

The Quest for the Cap

The entire ride home from the park I kept my eyes peeled for my hat. The first few miles were on a quiet back road, so I was able to really give it a good look. But once I hit the main road it was a different story. Riding with traffic kept me on the other side of the road, so finding it was a bit of a stretch since it very easily could have blown off into the bushes on the side.

This afternoon I went back out and ran the section of my road where I felt it was most likely to have ended up, which was also the section where I couldn't give it a good look-see from the bike. I ran out and back along the same side and looked as best as I could, to no avail. I have to concede that the hat is gone forever.

Tomorrow I'm going to head over to the local Sporting Goods Chain Store to procure a new one and treat myself to some new shorts for next weekend's race.


What I didn't mention about today's run/quest for the hat, is that it was raining. I wore a vest that mostly shielded me from the rain, but it's not really waterproof so I still got wet.

With about 2 miles to go I started to get that familiar nagging in the breastal region. I probably covered one of those miles with my shirt held away from my chest, but it was futile and the damage had already been done.

If you couldn't tell from the photograph, my nipple chafed a little more than what I would consider to be trivial. I've never had it bleed through the shirt before, but I guess there's a first time for everything. The only remaining question: Why only one nipple?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...
"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre