Monday, March 30, 2009

Cool, Sunny Drags

I got some workouts in last week, but I felt fat and sluggish. I did stairs Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and on Tuesday my Night Train was finished getting new forward controls, so I picked it up and then rode my bicycle over to the shop to get my car. I wouldn't consider the six mile ride an intense workout, but it was enough to break a sweat. On Friday I finally managed to watch the finale of Battlestar Galactica. I had mixed thoughts about it, but at least it was a definitive ending, not some ambiguous cop-out or launch pad for a movie or spinoff (Caprica notwithstanding).

When I woke up Saturday morning, the heater was running, so I knew it had to be cold outside. I left wearing a lot more gear than I was expecting to, but I should have had more. I wore my chaps, but just my mid-weight jacket and gloves. I would have been better with my leather jacket, but I really wished I had worn my heavy gauntlet gloves. When I stopped for gas in Sealy, my hands were so cold I could barely operate my zipper or buttons. I toughed it out, and made it to Baytown at 11, when I hit heavy race traffic. I sat there waiting in it, rather than being a dick and going around and squeezing in at the last second. It took more than an hour to go the last mile. It did allow me to warm up some, but it was really windy, so I was still bundled up and a bit chilled. Since the traffic was moving some, albeit very slowly, I couldn't get to my lunch or do anything useful. Once I finally got parked some time after noon, I then had to wait in line for ages to get tickets. Somehow I managed to get in the slowest line, and it was 1 o'clock by the time I finally got through the gate. I had missed the entirety of the third qualifying session of pro stock and top fuel, and got a seat in the grandstand in the midst of funny car qualifying. I stayed on the spectator side for alcohol and sportsman racing, mostly in the stands, but also wandering a little bit. Because I foolishly decided to sit near the top of the stands, where the wind was the worst, I never really warmed up, and seeing people walking around in shorts and short sleeve shirts didn't help. After the final pro qualifying, I went over to the pits. I wandered around for about an hour, checking out the work and picking up driver "hero" cards. Around 6:30 I was hungry so I left the track (which fortunately didn't take long) and went into Baytown for dinner at Outback. It was on the early side when I got there, so it was kind of dead. I had dinner and stuck around for a while. As I was getting ready to leave, a guy wearing a team shirt sat down next to me. I asked him about it, and it turned out he was rookie driver Matt Hagan. I chatted with him for a little while before I left and went to check into my hotel a few miles down the road. I stayed at the Holiday Inn, and when I checked in about 9:30 I could hear karaoke going on in the bar. I got my stuff into my room, and then went down to check out the bar. It wasn't such a bad place, so I stuck around for a while, and even did one karaoke song. It was about midnight when I went to sleep.

I woke up briefly at 6 Sunday morning, but went back to sleep until 7. I packed up, checked out, and headed back toward the track. I stopped for gas, a soda and some McDonald's to go, and continued on to the track. Traffic was fortunately quite light since it was still early. I parked and sat there eating my breakfast before going in and back to the pits. I wandered around for a while, checking out the preparations for raceday. About 10:30 I went back to the grandstands to get a seat for the last of pre-race stuff before the first engines fired at 11. The second pair out, Urs Erbacher had a massive engine explosion. It was so spectacular it was almost worth the half hour plus of cleanup. Another oildown in funny car caused another delay, and it was after 1 by the time the first round of pro eliminations was over. I ran to the bike to get my lunch afterward. I should have put on more sun screen, as it turns out, since I'm pretty red in the face today. I got a drink and went back to the grandstand to eat lunch and watch some sportsman racing before the second round of professionals. After the second round was over, I went into the pits, then back to the grandstand for the semifinals, back to the pits, watched final round, and then went to check out the winning cars in the staging lanes. I was pretty tired after all the standing and walking, and then I had to get on the bike and ride home. I left just wearing a t-shirt, anticipating getting overheated from a long delay to get out of the parking lot. Fortunately traffic moved, and it only took about 20 minutes to get to the interstate. I was a little on the cool side, but I didn't want to stop, so I kept on going, until the sun was getting pretty low and it really started cooling off. It was pretty hard to see, heading west, straight into the sun, but I certainly didn't let that hold me to the posted speed limit. After getting gas, a drink, and a snack, I put on my jacket and my clears and continued home, getting in about 9:45. I leafed through the paper a little before going to bed, exhausted.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I woke up at 4 Saturday morning. I tried to get back to sleep for a while, but at 5 I got up and went downstairs to watch TV. It was then that I found out my crappy DVR hadn't recorded the finale of Battlestar Galactica. I hadn't noticed earlier because I'd been over at Jimmy's Friday night and didn't turn the TV on when I got home. I was pretty pissed. I watched other stuff for a while, then had breakfast and finished getting ready for my short trip to Shreveport/Bossier City. I left the house about 8, waiting for the sun to come up and start warming things up. I realized I had forgotten something half a block from the house, but waited until I got gas to check if I had indeed forgotten it to go back home and get it. After running back into the house I was finally actually under way at about 8:30. It was a pretty uneventful ride. The day warmed up as I went on, but not so much I had to take my jacket off, just open the vents. I got to the Shreveport convention center about 2, got a photographer to take my picture in front of the ABCs sign, and then parked. The downtown area looked pretty boring, and the HOG rally looked pretty much like every other one. I would have walked through the vendor area, but it was only for registered rallygoers, and was certainly not worth my $40. I looked for a place to have lunch on my phone, and decided on what turned out to be a glorified open-air shopping mall with a few midscale restaurants. I was going to eat at Saltgrass, but it was too crowded and I ate at Hooters. After lunch I went and checked into my hotel, which required going through a stupid traffic bottleneck. I laid down for a little while, talked to my parents, and then went riding again, stashing my jacket in my bag still on the bike. It was about 4 at that point, and instead of trying to go to both Harley shops, I just went to the Bossier City one, bought a t-shirt, and continued east toward the state highpoint. The access to the highpoint was from a church parking lot about 10 miles from the highway. The actual highpoint was further from the parking lot than I would have expected, about 0.8 miles one way. I set out at a good pace and got to the highpoint, marked by a bench and a signpost in a clearing in the woods. I set my camera on the bench to get a couple of pictures of myself standing next to the sign. I looked around a little bit, then headed back to my bike. I passed three college-age-looking people going the other way. I was pretty disappointed with how sweaty I was when I got back to the bike. I thought at this point I'd be in good enough hiking shape not to be phased by an easy mile and a half in less than an hour. I blame it on the heat and humidity. Getting back in the wind cooled me off quickly. When I got back to Shreveport, I went in search of a brewpub that Google showed, but definitely doesn't exist, as far as I can tell. I went back to the same mall to try Saltgrass again, but was again denied. I decided to go to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner, a decision I almost went back on a couple of times before I actually ordered a beer. After I was sitting there for a while, a woman came up and for no reason I could discern, moved a stool over right next to mine, so that she was almost in my lap. At first I thought she had a speech impediment, but after a few minutes I was pretty convinced it was just that she was drunk. We talked a bit, but mostly I was trying to focus on reading stuff on the internet. I had shrimp for dinner, which was okay but not great. It would have been a lot better deveined, since the ones I didn't devein myself were gritty. I got back to my dive of a motel about 10, and pretty soon thereafter fell asleep reading the newspaper.

I didn't sleep well, I woke up every hour from 4 to 7, but still felt reasonably rested. I ate a waffle at the lackluster continental breakfast, packed up and was on the road a little after 8. The ride home took a lot longer than I was anticipating, as it was a lot more circuitous than the ride out (and ~70 miles longer). I stopped a few times for some ABCs pictures. The ride through Texas took me through 5 new counties- Sabine, San Augustine, Polk, Trinity, and Walker. It also added one Louisiana Parish, Sabine. One stretch of road toward the end- TX 21 from Bryan to Bastrop- was pretty treacherous, since it was a high-speed 4-lane undivided highway with moderate traffic, made all the worse by strong winds. I got home about 4:45 and collapsed on the floor and watched TV for over an hour, then went over to Jimmy's for dinner. I got back home about 10 and fell asleep in front of the TV.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back to Bicycling

After work on Wednesday I did some stair climbing in the office building. I did less than before surgery, only 5 times up and down in 20 minutes with no added weight. I went to Jimmy's for dinner and as usual we stayed up too late telling lies. I rode the Night Train in to work on Thursday and went to bike night at Twin Peaks afterward. I rode in to work again on Friday and went downtown afterward and saw Spike and Mike at the Alamo. I liked it, but it wasn't as outrageous or absurdly funny as some years past. The audience wasn't all that rowdy either. There was one French piece that had a written joke (in French) that I was probably one of the only ones to get. I went home straight after the show and watched TV, then went to sleep.

I woke up at 4 Saturday morning. I read until I finished my book at 5, and fortunately I was able to get back to sleep. I didn't sleep very well, I woke up several times, but it was better than nothing. I got out of bed about 7:30, and did my usual puttering until about 10 when I went for a bicycle ride. I rode to Alamo Lamar to see Watchmen, and when I got there at 10:50 for the 11:30 show there was a line of people waiting to get in. The line got moving pretty soon after I got there and managed to get a decent seat. I really enjoyed the movie, even having never read the comic. It was long, especially since my bladder was pretty full for the second half. I thought a couple of the actors' performances were not as good as others', but not completely distracting. After the movie I rode to REI to pick up a backpack and pants I'd ordered online. I put the backpack I already had and the shell pants into the new enormous 83L pack and headed home after a quick stop in BookPeople. I stopped for a cookie and Dr Pepper on the way, and was pretty well spent by the time I got home. I watched some TV and a DVD and went to bed.

I thought about it, but didn't wind up doing anything productive Sunday morning. Around 12:30 I rode over to the dealership for a chapter photo. I don't think I would have known about it other than being told in the Road Captains meeting, and apparently a lot of members were the same way, since not that many general members showed up. After group photos the took photos of the officers and road captains on their bikes. Afterward a lot of people headed to either the Roadhouse or Twin Peaks. I went to Twin Peaks along with Dave and Troy and a couple of other guys. There were a number of members there sitting at a long table. We sat at a table next to them, drank some beer and ate some food. Dave and Troy invited me to join them for a beer at a place near the property they both live on. That place turned out to be closed, so we went over to "the compound." After hanging out for a while, Dave decided to get on his tractor and play around with a pile of broken asphalt. I decided to help out and get a bit of a workout by breaking up the asphalt with a sledgehammer. That didn't last all that long since I started getting blisters almost immediately. I stayed longer than I probably should have, the time change making it not feel as late as it was. I left after 7 and the sun was starting to go down. I fell asleep watching TV about 10, but got up and went to bed. I woke up at 12:30 overheated and sweating. I got up and turned the fan on and eventually went back to sleep.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Walking Again

I went to my doctor's for a follow-up on Tuesday. A nurse removed the bandages and all the staples, I think there were 7 on the inside and 15 on the outside. Instead of a regular bandage, she put on a bunch of strips that will eventually fall off. The doctor came in, looked at my surgical wounds, gave me some instructions about recovery. He told me to keep using the crutches for another few days, but I was sick of them at that point and haven't used them since I got home that day. I was limping really badly on Wednesday, but not all that badly on Thursday. I even rode the Fat Boy to bike night Thursday night, and I rode the Night Train to work on Friday. After work on Friday I went to the Gingerman and had a couple of beers, then went home and watched TV until I could barely keep my eyes open.
Saturday I rode the Night Train over to the Harley shop to spend some of my 2008 bonus, now that I finally received it, on new aftermarket forward controls. A cold front had come in overnight, dropping Friday's 90 degrees to the low 60s and bringing a lot of wind. After making my order, I had a long lunch at TX Roadhouse, sitting and reading for a while. I went back home for a while, then drove over to Jimmy's for tacos.
I woke up about 6 on Sunday for no apparent reason. I read and watched TV all morning, nothing productive. I was dozing on the couch about noon when Jimmy came by to go for a bicycle ride. I figured with my ankle still sore and stiff it would be the only time he would be able to keep up with me. We started with a loop through the neighborhood, and Jimmy was already red in the face and feeling it in his legs. He stuck with it and we left my neighborhood, crossed the street and went into some other neighborhoods. We stopped for a while at a park. I'd never been to this park before, even though it's just a couple of blocks off of Slaughter. It was a pretty nice park with a pond and a whole bunch of ducks and geese. Jimmy survived the ride back to my house without keeling over, although he was complaining about his legs for the rest of the afternoon. Altogether, we rode about 5 miles, which wasn't enough for me to break a sweat (at least not at the pace we were going), but it was enough to make my ankle pretty sore. We drove to a Chinese buffet place for lunch, where I gorged myself. Jimmy went home with my mountain bike vowing to do some more riding on his own.