Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

So I decided to head out for some Santa Searching today and take advantage of the empty roads.  While I did not find Santa I did have a blast hitting some favorite climbs between Newcastle and Auburn.  
I climbed up Sierra College Drive and turned towards Lincoln.
While the roads feeding Lincoln were packed I think I found two cars on the road from Fowlers to Ophir.
Auburn was a ghost town today.  It's usually crawling with people in old town and it was super empty.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Crying of Lot 49

So I found a new obsession last week with my discovery of The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.  It's one of those books that infects your mind.  You listen to the news and hear Pynchon's commentary reaching across the 1960's to today's world.  It is probably the most relevant book to modern times I have ever read.

So if you're wondering what makes it such a profound work just imagine watching the first two seasons of lost and discovering everything in that show is real...

I am going to post my verbal essay for class below.  It is attempting to answer the mystery behind Pynchon's use of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and basically managed to get everyone in the class laughing--including my professor.

According to the website Wikipedia:

 “The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible.”  

Of course that definition comes with a few other terms that have to be defined like entropy and thermodynamic equilibrium.  The same website states thermodynamic equilibrium is:

“In thermodynamics, a thermodynamic system is in thermodynamic equilibrium when it is in thermal equilibrium, mechanical equilibrium, radiative equilibrium, and chemical equilibrium. Equilibrium means a state of balance. In a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, there are no net flows of matter or of energy, no phase changes, and no unbalanced potentials (or driving forces), within the system. A system that is in thermodynamic equilibrium experiences no changes when it is isolated from its surroundings.”

 And finally as if it is not confusing and scientific jargon laden enough, entropy is defined as: 

“In thermodynamics, entropy is a measure of the number of specific ways in which a thermodynamic system may be arranged, often taken to be a measure of disorder, or a measure of progressing towards thermodynamic equilibrium. The entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium, which is the state of maximum entropy.”  

I find the standard definition of the Second Law of Thermodynamics kind of humorous when coupled with The Crying of Lot 49 as the beginning is extremely complicated with a little statement almost randomly tossed in about perpetual motion machines.  It’s also slightly funny to look at entropy and thermodynamic equilibrium’s definitions because—when paired with this novel—they sound a lot like sorting mail.  While entropy is pushing everything towards chaos the second law of thermodynamics states that you cannot side step entropy—which is what all this business is really about.  It’s almost like Pynchon wrote a book about sorting mail to poke fun at physicists.  So how does all this stuff relate to the novel?

Within the book Oedipa finds a clue in a bathroom stall at the Scope with the symbol of a muted post horn with WASTE written below it.  Later in the novel when she is touring the Yoyodine plant she stumbles onto Stanley Kotex drawling the same symbol on a pad of paper.  She engages Kotex and he offers her attempts to persuade her as a “stock holder” to change the company’s ownership of intellectual property.  Oedipa ironically offers Thomas Edison as the last person to really invent anything of value and Kotex  explains James Clark Maxwell and John Nefastis inventions.  Kotex tells her about Nefastis’s perpetual motion machine based on Maxwell’s the Demon. 

 And here I have to offer a side note…James Clark Maxwell was real.  He did some crazy stuff like event electromagnetic theory and influenced Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.  So it would be really funny if the demon was real…right.  It’s real.  Wikipedia shows two boxes full of little molecules and a green demon sitting on top of them opening a trap door between the two. 

Okay, so Kotex explains Nefastis’s Demon working by a sensitive taking the place of the demon and staring at a picture of Clark Maxwell.  Kotex explains it doesn’t really violate the Second law of Thermodynamics because “It’s mental work but not work in the thermodynamic sense,” (p. 80).  Almost sounding like the Remedious Varios painting described by Dr. Madden last class Oedipa wonders if she is a sensitive and thinks to herself, “Shall I project the world?” (p. 81).  While it is funny to think of a man who majorly influenced the modern world making a machine with a demon operating it the bigger question should be why would Maxwell care so much about sorting molecules?  The big reason Maxwell creates his Demon is resisting the forces of the universe that is propelling us all to our inevitable death—entropy.  If one can stop entropy couldn’t they live forever?  

When Oedipa finds John Nefastis in Oakland she tries to operate his demon machine to see if she is a sensitive.  Nefastis expands on how the demon connects with entropy and the Second Law:

“ Entropy is a figure of speech, then,’” sighed Nefastis, ‘a metaphor. It connects the world of thermodynamics to the world of information flow.  The machine uses both. The demon makes the metaphor not only verbally graceful, but also objectively true,’” (101). 

While staring at Clark Maxwell’s image she sees he could be holding something in hands that have been cropped out of the picture.  She wonders what was in his hands and I think it could have been a muted post horn or an upside down dead badger?  Maybe Maxwell’s machine works and expands the mystery of Tristero even further?  Could he be one man moving through the pages of history?  Who is that mysterious bidder?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bottom to the Top

I spent the day riding around Folsom Lake. It was spectacular. It was so beautiful out that I rode just a  tiny bit slower and took my time to watch all the fall colors.  I realized something as I watched the swirling world of orange and yellow vanish underneath my wheels--this is the best year of my life.

It did not exactly begin that way and looked to really be miserable.  I started the year off with stress, followed by more stress with the eventual demise of my marriage and divorce.  But, what looked like an awful chapter in my life turned out to be the beginning of the best chapter.  And, I guess you have to realize what you really had going on when you see it in someone else to fully understand where you are...

So Saturday I went on the group ride and shifted my chain off the big ring.  I had to stop, and managed to get lost at "Left turn on unnamed street."  When I found the second group I ended up riding with a new guy to the group.  Now the ride had a lot of climbing which always means a lot of decending.  I rode along with this dude and we hit a pretty steep downhill.  I did what I always do when I'm with people and hitting thirty plus...I hit the brakes.  I drifted back about twenty feet when I watched him start fish tailing and miss the turn.  So there's one problem when you miss a turn on a turning run out of road.  To my horror I watch as he hit a barbed wire fence at full speed.  He tumbled over the fence and his bike ejected from his body.

Luckily he got up with only a long shallow cut on his leg and some bumps and bruises.  You would think he would simply be happy to be standing--as I was really glad to see him moving--but he was only concerned his wife would tell him to stay off the bike!  I understand his pain, as that was once was a slave to my spouse too.  But guess what?  I'm not.  I actually enjoy doing the exact opposite of what she wants in almost every situation. It's really liberating.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Surviving the semester

Well, college is a strange experience.  In some classes it does not matter what you do-your professor just does not like what you have to say or write.  Oh course, this is the same professor that assigns 500 pages of reading in five days (no exaggeration).  So now I just do not care.  I throw out all my random ideas about the text and simply smile.  I know...he is only badgering us along to say what he discovered and that exact answer is very obvious...but where the fun there?  I'm going to bomb this class, so I might as well do it in style.  Also, I've never really bombed a class where I do all the reading in advance and show up every single day...but I guess there is a first for everything.

Secondly, I have decided to spend a year reconnecting with myself.  I would like to point out that my self-discovery year is not actually a year of planned selfishness even though it might sound like one.  I still have a child so I am only half selfish.  Well, I'm incredibly selfish every other day.  I am going to reconnect with the lost aspect of my life and find what I really have been missing. least I'm going to ride my bike a fucking ton of miles.  And I'm going to probably race a lot.  Maybe I'll even buy a CX bike and race all fall and winter too.

Oh...and my year of self absorption just began by not even touching the Edith Wharton novel in my backpack and blogging away my Starbucks buzz.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Burning at both ends...

Being a single parent is hard.  Being a student and a single parent is almost impossible.  I have quickly realized why young parents are statistically inclined towards poverty.  It is so hard just to get to campus--and doing homework, keeping up with my 1,000 pages a week and papers is almost impossible.  Aida was sick.  Ashley had her...but I still have to be her parent.  As the semester gets harder and deeper I'm watching my custody sky rocket well above 50/50 while my workload grows.  Last semester, I would have never imagined doing school work all night, all day, all weekend--but here I am trying to finish 100 pages before work of the most depressing and boring book ever writen. Apparently graduation really means you can edure some unique tortures in addition to jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fragmented me or I cannot ignore reality...

I would like to think if anyone ever were to write the story of my life it would be me...or atleast the guy who wrote Obama's autobiography.  Well, if The Bell Jar could have been written by a man it would be called The End of the Road--and it's not exactly a happy tale.  Apparently this is where I should stop writing because it's about to get very personal--and probably random and vague.

I have a rule about making life decisions.  If I am swimming in a sea of confusion I do not make any choices.  I just freeze all decisions of all magnitude except for the ones that are immediate for day-to-day living.  However, let's just postulate that this mantra is not always effective.  I once wanted to break up with someone and I decided to wait until after the holidays...and now look at me, divorced seven years later.  Was it the right decision?  Was it a calculated decision?  Would my life look like it does now with allowing the more dangerous and careless aspect of my personality do a little bit of driving?  I'm really not sure.  I know that I am happy.  I know that the dangerous place in my mind that acts without thinking does not take any crap from anyone.  I know that I am not going to deal with being treated poorly--maybe it is the solution.

Also does anyone think I only posted a post about dirt roads to make a little bit of space between two posts?  I'm sure it does not look like that, right?

Dirt roads

Turning down my first dirt road on my new bike was some kind of undiscovered and illicit pleasure that I have never really understood.  I found myself stuck between two points staring at a path that I thought was paved...and in my mind it was covered in asphalt, but in reality was nothing but a dirt road.  I debated finding some kind of alternate route as I did not really want to ride the new bike off road, but I caved into my desire to get home before the rain.  As I gingerly rolled down the trail and watched the mountain bikers and runners pass by I found out it's actually fun.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and...

Alright, let's just get into this one.  If there was a singlular subject I should not post on the internet on my secret blog (that only serves to give me some amusement), it would be the beginning of a new relationship.  I mean, let's face it--it's kind of a delicate issue.  In April I swore I would never do this relationship thing ever again...but here I am, writing about one.  So what should I say?  One thing I will say is in order for me to be excited about spending time with another person they must be pretty spectacular.  And wonderful in a fashion that is like an increase in powers from ten-to-the-one to ten-to-the-sixth because that is what it would take for me to love someone.

What I did not expect was to see someone and be speechless.  What I did not expect was to find myself in the middle of some kind of fairytale romance.  I never dreamed that I would dream again, but life is surprising.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hello sharp tan lines, good bye spin class!

I have decided that buying a new bike is much better than paying for your cheating spouse's tuition! I ended up getting the Trek Madone 5.2.  I demoed a BMC TMR01 and it is like the TMR01, but it rips up hills!  It's so stiff that it took about five miles to adjust the force of each peddle stroke pushing the bike around!  It's not the Madone 6 series I have been eyeing, but honestly...I would be afraid to ride anything lighter than this bike.  I'm actually a little bit scared of it right now.  I did not realize how light it was until I lifted the bike and it felt like it floated into the air like a balloon.

So tonight I'll sleep well eagerly waiting for morning and a nice long ride to get my legs and my bad tan lines back.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Let's be honest...

So I have been dating.  It is much different than I remember it being.  In the mid 2000's it was pretty fun to go on a date.  Yeah, you might not be completely compatible with the person, but people remained courteous to each other until the end of the date.  Now...I go on dates and if that person is not perfect I still remain polite until the end of the date.  I will still text and say I had a nice time, etcetera.  Only in this modern time all the old rules are out the window.  For example, you could possibly go on a date with someone that is completely unattractive -- from the magic of ten-year-old photography and a lifetime of facebook selfies-- and that person will have the audacity to be rude to you!  

Not subtly rude, but overert and direct towards you obvious dissappointment.  So I have made a list of things to not mention on dates out of fear of twenty minutes of uncomfortable-forced conversation...or having to fight the urge to excape through a fire exit:

Being a parent: yes, they say they want kids...but what they really mean is they do not want to look like a selfish person avoiding responsibility.

What being a parent, or having children is really like: if you don't know then you really don't know...

Money: almost completely unavoidable.  If they do not straightout ask you they will size you up by the car you drive or the lack of a peace sign on your key chain.

Your Ex: Repeat after me, "we are still great friends." Yeah...she cheated on my with an old dude, told me what his reproductive organs looked like and how unsatisfying it was, blackmailed me, extorted me with our daughter, and now currently uses her a hostage to keep a small trickle of income rolling in every month...but you just love her.

All that stuff after "We are friends": No one wants the damaged goods that you are! You're previously owned now and you do not want to stick the carfacts to the windshield, unless it's a good carfacts--which is impossible because you are divorced.

Friday, August 16, 2013

What am I running from?

So I was offered an interesting question in response to my love affair with my bicycle: "what are you running from?"  Well the truth is-I am running from a lot.  Most importantly I am running from myself.  I am running from all the demons in my ear.  I am running from the little voice inside me that doubts I can do it.  I am running from my seething anger - and rage - resulting from my slightly predictable but not so fun divorce.  I am running from the bottle.  I am running from the ice cream.  I am running from work stress.  I am running from my love life or lack there of.  I am running from my doubtful self.  I am literally running from a little bottle of pills that turns off my personality but would probably prove to be quite nice right now.  I turn the cranks to my bike and all the noise shuts off.  I point the wheels and forget about all of it for as long as I can and enjoy the ride.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Moving on... I haven't even touched a bike in over a month and I'm sitting here picking out races.  What. Is. Wrong. With. Me. Really though, I am really out of shape and I'm trying to figure out how many days I'll need to atleast survive.  Of course I'll be racing against riders with an entire summer and race season in their legs.  So what is that word again...huberis? Yeah, totally an appropriate thing to be doing.   Oh well, it's not like I really care if I get spit out the back of the field.  I'll just pretend that I have been riding 130+ miles a week and maybe my legs will fall for it.  Instead of "shut up legs" it'll be "trust me legs, I've been here all summer."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

No post card envy...

I figured out what my problem has been the last month or two - I still live with my exwife.  I am moving out Thursday and all of a sudden I'm normal again.  Totally normal.  I have a personality that is not some strange immitation of what I think I typically sound like.  I feel happy.  I smile.  When people ask me how I'm doing - I tell the truth, and I think they even believe me!

So I was planning on moving to a land far far away.  Basically, out of the county and at least twenty minutes away from the former wife, but something happened.  I started feeling really sad about leaving Folsom.  I know I have been through some serious stuff there, but every where I look I am only reminded of my bicycle.  Yes, I think I did stuff with my ex wife, but then I rode my bike through there too...and that's all I remember.  Did I go to dinner at Chicago Fire with her, and it was all awkward because she was cheating on me...probably.  But all I remember is being really hungry from the three and a half hours of bike riding I did immediately before the dinner.  In fact, I was so famished that I really think my blood sugar was too low to even store memories.

Okay, so I ended up moving to the next building over.  It's in a totally different condo development and I have zero intention of giving her the address.  And, will never EVER reveal the secret gate code to her! Well, it ended up being a little bit different than I planned it.  So let's get on with this life stuff.  All that divorce/being married business is over and now I can just focus on my daughter and making new memories in a nutritionally depleted state.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let me live that fantasy...

I turned in my final paperwork and it got real.  I know - how was it not real already?  I have no idea?  I guess I hoped it was all a really bad dream and I would wake up.  In a way I think I am waking up, but now I am finding my life prior to the divorce was the nightmeare.  I think I had to see what was really going on when I dropped that huge packet of paper in the the box.  What was shocking to me was the sadness that came with my submission.  I thought I would be happy or feel free...but it was basically the exact opposite.  

I had kind of started dating and all that business done.  I really am getting divorced and I need to take a significant amount of time to figure out what I really want from life.  You know, besides riding Napa, Mount. Baldy, Santa Barbara, Mount. Diablo and randomly setting out for crazy rides.  I should want more than that, right?

Confession of a Tour de France addict...

I am not watching the 100th Edition of the Tour de France.  I have watched most of le Tour since 2003 and followed it closely since 2000.  This year - nada.  Nothing. Zero minutes of Phil and Paul talking about Chateau blah blah blah and the Romans building this road or that aquaduct.  I am boycotting the race for the maillot jaune because I have watched this race already.  I watched a texan known as The Boss attack in the mountains day after day - and win.  I watched a rider that has never had a chance in hell of winning the tour as a lieutenant tear out and win it all - and then need a "fairness fund." I watched a certain spaniard win every grand tour he entered until he had one stripped away.  Last year I saw Froome tear away from Wiggo and thought that guy could have won the race.  And that race was the race I wanted to watch!

Only now that rider is back without Wiggo on his team and I cannot bear to watch anymore.  It looks so Armstrongesque that there might as well be Jan Ulrich chasing him instead of the 200 or so remaining riders.  At least during Big Tex's rein everyone was doped out of their mind so there was still a race to watch.  Now, only two riders are capable of attacking with super human powers, and it just is unbearable to watch because they are on the same team.  Not obvious at all...

It's sad when the flat stages contain the only real racing in a twenty-one-day bike race.  Hopefully Peter Sagan will pop some more wheelies...

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Running is kind of like riding a bike.  It's just really slow and very hot.  The one thing I've found while crawling down the street and up the hills is there are no distractions.  No cars, pot holes, off camber turns, traffic lights or even other runners.  It's just me and my mind.  It starts to get warm and I think about the last few years of my life without emotional attachment.  Particularly I remember the beginning of my relationship with my wife - which at the time I thought was great - but now I view differently.  I know, EXWIFE!  I'm practicing that one.  It'll take a while...

One thing that stands out when I examine the early years of our life together is a lot of chaos.  Things just were always happening to that girl and eventually they were happening to me as well.  A lot of my not-so-close friends had seemed to cross some kind of invisible line with her.  Hmmmmm...nothing unusual there, right?!?  And then there was the incident of the alledged stalker.  Totally normal.  Followed by her revolving door of lost jobs and non-existent family I should have known to get out.  I was warned by EVERYONE I knew to just drop her - but I stuck around.

Much like my estranged spouse my life has turned full circle again.  I am back in school and now running every day to make sure I sleep every night. While I watch her cycle of distruction begin again I realize I am different.  I keep expecting to fall to pieces but it's not happening.  I'm not even dating to try and distract myself from the truth.  When I look at her now I just feel happy to be out of my marriage (well, two months and twenty days from out) and I know her misery will continue on for someone else now.  Good luck to that poor guy.  Good luck!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Warranty waiting...

Well, all I can say is thank God for spin class.  So it's been a few weeks since the demise of my beloved 2006 Trek and I'm hurting a little bit.  I have been filling the void with spin class followed by weight lifting which is not exactly the same - but probably as close to the real thing as it gets.  The good news is it has been too hot to get a decent workout regardless, so I'm not missing much with the staggering Sacramento heat.  The other good news I found was I managed to get my original proof of purchase from Sierra Cyclesmith!  Got to love a bike shop that knows you just need to ride and still takes care of you when you've left their jurisdiction!

On the subject of bicycles I was shocked to see the aluminum sections of my bike deterorate and eventiually fail while the carbon fibre portions looked brand new.  I always worried the fork or rear triangle would give way when it turned out the be the metal that died.  I think I have converted to carbon now...

I am most definitely going to buy another Trek if they come through on the warranty.  The rumour my mechanic told me is they will either replace the frame with something similar or...give me a carrot to purchase a nicer and better bike.  I'm eyeing the Madone 5.2.  I guess it just depends on what they are willing to knock off and how long I can hold out without riding.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eulogy for an Old Friend

My frame cracked Saturday. Not just little baby crack - a look down and watch the rear triangle fishtail crack.  My bike sheparded me through some tough times. It took me out and reminded me to breathe when I shut down my business. It carried me across thirty miles at 5 am through the rain, heat and snow when I could not afford car to get to work. It kept me grounded when I was entrenched in post-partum depression. It followed me to California and made sure I never forgot the person I was inside. It also carried me through many more tough times. It was with me when I went to Nevada City on a 125 mile whim and lost five miles from home.

It's last moments were glorious as we pretended to attack three times before casually sprinting to the town limit sign against a much faster rider.  It will be missed as will I sit inside at spin class and devise a plan to find a replacement.

Thank you for the many Saturday mornings we chased through the heat and rain. You will not be easily replaced...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It started here...

I was standing in the living room.  It was 5 pm on a Monday evening and I knew my world was about to change.  My wife was telling me something but I could not hear the words coming from her lips.  It was as if they dissolved into nothing as they left her mouth and traveled to my ears.  I stood there and watched the muscles on her face twist and twitch.  Her cheeks contorted and attempted to coverup the truth her eyes were telling me.  Her eyes looked at me as if they rebelled from the rest of her body and screamed out in defiance.  I did not know what was coming at me - only that it would alter the direction of the rest of my life.

Three weeks later I sat on my bicycle heading through Lincoln, California on the way from Folsom to Camp Far West.  I was barely hanging on to the group and far above my thresh hold.  I was digging deeper into the empty spaces in my mind and pulling fragments out of the darkness.  My father's parents lived in Lincoln and on this day-on this ride-my mind was releasing them from the blackness.  I remembered so many though times that were locked away and stared at the half-inch-long target my body screamed to let escape.  I watched the cadence of the rider in front of me and looked at the chain on his bike jump from gear to gear across the cassette of his bike.  Each shift was like a screw twisting tighter inside my mind and forcing open the gates of my past.  I ripped my feet around as the speed increased beyond thirty miles per hour and I knew I had the strength to do what I needed to do when I climbed off the bike.

I walked up to the door and stared up the stairs from the garage to the first floor of the condo.  I walked into the living room and gave my daughter a kiss on the head and told her I loved her.  To the right I saw my wife in the bathroom.  I walked in and closed the door.  She was in the shower and I turned off the water.  I took my ring off and set it down.

"I know.  I know everything.  I know what you've been doing and who you've been with.  I want a divorce."  I think I had a lot more planned but all I remember was an explosion of grief and anger in my chest.  I turned and made it out the front door.  It all came down when that door closed.  It all came crashing down like the last few years of my life I turned into a big-dark cloud that hovered and threatened to rain.  My phone rang and rang.  I listen to text after text come through and I drove to an empty parking lot and tried to decide what to do next.  What I did not know was at that moment I decided to live again.

I woke up from the nightmare.