Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I firmly believe in a balanced universe. Balance is everything. For every evil act, there is a good deed. For every jerk in traffic, there is someone that will let you over when you change lanes. When something bad happens, something good happens, whether we see it or not.

I was thinking today about some of the professional decisions I’ve made and how they worked out. The funny thing is when I made a decision solely based on what my family needed, it has worked out well. I left a job where I was promised advancement because the 12 to 16 hours days kept me away from my wife and newly born daughter when they needed me the most. That decision put me in a position where I had more opportunities than before. A recent decision to make a move, because my commute was taking too much time, and another little one is on the way, put me in a job where I have a great supervisor and a level of freedom I’ve never experienced.

I think I’m ready to apply this to my exercise regimen. It’s time to just get on the trainer, ignore the boredom, and suck it up. For my family. I’m ready to look at riding as fending off the genetic curse of heart disease. It’s time for me to get up a half-hour early and just start doing something. I figure this gives my family more time with me around and I get to lose my gut. That’s a fair balance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Looking for a DD Before Noon

I would have loved to have sat around this evening sipping a Guinness. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards anymore. I have to say I sort of miss the days of my early twenties when I could hang out with my friends and drink all day. Yes, all day. There was a bar in Dayton, Ohio called McGuffy’s, pretty close to where I worked, that opened at 6:00 am on St. Patrick’s Day. I worked midnight shift, so after riding around on my bike all night, it worked out well.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a very nice day. Not sure how I can sneak a ride in, since the daughter has ice skating lessons. Certainly want to go, though.

I’m waiting for the trails to dry out. My regular ride is Little Bennet Park in Montgomery County, which happens to be a regular equestrian destination, and the trails don’t hold up well when they’re wet. Good riding though. Not much longer…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Under the Gun

I’ve been under the gun lately. I’ve had a big deadline looming at work and my little girl has a lot to do and get to. On top of that, the weather’s been great, so I don’t have any excuses for doing the stuff on the house and in the yard that I’ve been putting off. So. The past week was pretty much all focused on trying to keep my life from going out of control. I’m sure everyone feels like that sometimes. I tell myself that I can’t control everything going on, and I have to put a priority level on things, or there will be consequences. Well, sometimes my self just doesn’t listen. That’s when my wife usually makes a subtle comment like, “Weren’t you going to go for a ride today?”

Riding is often like therapy for me, only my health insurance won’t cover my maintenance costs. (They keep denying my claims for bike parts.) I get time to work through my thoughts, followed by a couple excruciating climbs combined with a few good downhill runs. I can usually tell when I’ve worked things through when I start thinking about how much snot I might have on my jersey from the last snot rocket.

Sometimes I think it’s the chance to think that I like about riding, sometimes it’s the absence of thought. How great is it to not worry about anything. Not the pressures from work, not pressures from family, not even the stuff you have to do when you’re done with the ride. Your only concern is how much snot is on your jersey. And it’s going to get washed anyway.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day

After years of bouncing around from city to city, I wound up working in the Washington, DC area. Getting used to the area took a while. There is an air of self-importance about many people in and around DC. Don’t get me wrong… I have met a lot of nice people. I’ve also met a lot of other types. This post isn’t about the people, that’s just me rambling a bit. I took a job outside of DC a little while back, which was a blessing. Today, I was presented with a little gift. A snow day.

We got hit with a decent sized winter storm last night as March came roaring in. With it, it dumped a bunch of snow and my office was closed. I can’t even begin to express my disappointment. I think the best part of the deal was that it happened on a Monday. It’s a free three-day weekend. So, I kept my little girl, the Newtette, home with me and we got to play outside, followed by some shoveling of the driveway. A friend of mine had to leave town on short notice, and after checking his wife was OK on the driveway front, I realized I had a good day of general hanging-out ahead of me.

When you’re pushing 40 and have a family, the snow day is a bit different than it used to be. Sleeping in till noon isn’t an option when you have a living, breathing alarm clock living in your home. Likewise, you are limited to what you watch on TV during your free time. (A word of advice: The Big Lebowski has too many F-bombs in it to make it even remotely plausible for a family snow day.) What you can do though, is try to describe what would be an otherwise mundane day in a way that’s interesting to other people. Certainly not as entertaining as the Coen brothers classic, but it helps to get the brain cells firing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Really, A Dog?

I’m trying to understand how a cycling route twice as long, and with more climbs, can feel better than a route half as long. Today’s route:

All in all, this was a great ride, all things considered. You may notice the red arrow. That was where the a-hoe in the SUV pulled out in front of me while I was doing about 40 MPH. I guess I can’t be too angry with him. After all, he had his dog on his lap to worry about, and couldn’t be bothered with things like cross traffic.

Good legs today though. Sure would like to do that more often.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

...In a Heap of Polyester and Metal

Riding a bike can provide you with many things: fitness, a sanity break, some solitude, a new view of a familiar road, and entertainment. I’ve found much of the entertainment is from those you ride with. Really, when everything is said and done, and everyone is basically OK, is there anything funnier than a good crash? Especially when it’s not you?

One of the funnier crashes I saw was while I was at work. I was on a midnight shift and a cool early summer night with Cabana Boy and Gerber Baby, two co-workers. (Needless to say, Gerber Baby wasn’t very fond of his nickname.) Cabana Boy and I were riding behind some houses when we heard some passionate noises from an open bedroom window. In the true spirit of messing around, Cabana Boy and I found a spot in the shadows and called for Gerber Baby to meet us. Now, what we were expecting was for Gerber Baby to ride to where we were, hear the exchange and become slightly embarrassed. It worked out much better than that.

Gerber Baby’s bike skills weren’t the best and the bikes we rode were a little heavy. When Gerber Baby approached, he tried to hop a curb, and didn’t quite get the front wheel up high enough. I have to say, it was a pretty spectacular crash. Gerber Baby wasn’t going quite fast enough to go over the handle bars, but was going fast enough to get the rear wheel off the ground. He gave his best effort to recover, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Gerber Baby went down. Hard. And he wasn’t very quiet about it.

The tryst in the house stopped immediately, and the participants looked out the window to see a guy in shorts and a dark blue shirt with “Police” written across the back, wrestling with a bike and throwing out the occasional obscene word. Luckily, Cabana Boy and I had chosen a spot where we could quietly slip away…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Kid Riding His Bike in the Woods

Note from Newt: This post was meant to include some funny moments, but it didn’t turn out that way. I think I’ve been a little too tired while writing. There are a lot of great stories under the surface here and I’ll start posting those soon.

A little while back, Fat Cyclist was hosting guest contributions so Elden could tend to some more pressing issues. This is where I first read the work of Jim, the proprietor of the Unholy Roleur. In this post, Jim describes his foray in to mountain biking, and how he discovered a new, albeit brutal, love. See the post here. I’ve been a fan of Jim’s blog since, and would recommend it to anyone that’s in to cycling, food, and the occasional hilarious rant. Jim’s post made me think about my love for mountain biking and how it was once an obsession for me. (Of course, it probably would be again had I had the time to devote to it.) It also got me thinking about where this love began.

When I was twelve years old, in the early 1980’s, I moved to a new neighborhood, and quickly gravitated to a wooded area down the street. My new friends and I would spend hours exploring the singletrack trails in this undeveloped area. These forays into the patch of wilderness were an escape from an unpleasant and complicated home life, and gave me an opportunity to think about only me, my bike, and the good time I had with my friends. The use of a bike as a means of escape from the trials of life was a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, after another couple of moves and discovering the much different type of freedom afforded by a car, it was one of many that I choose to ignore until later.

I later served in the U. S. Air Force as a Security Policeman, and landed a spot on the bases bike patrol section. I initially joined the bike patrol because it allowed me to go to work in shorts, and kept me out of working at the base’s gates, a mind numbing assignment where you are totally dependent on whoever happens to be on patrol in your area. But mainly it was the ability to work in shorts. I didn’t have to iron my uniform every day and didn’t have to shine my shoes. Did I mention I can be a bit lazy? What I found in this job was much more than a more relaxed wardrobe. I found pleasure in my work. It certainly wasn’t because of the incidents I responded to, or the people I had to deal with day in and day out. I enjoyed my job because of the bike. It gave me a chance to be unnoticed while I was working, and allowed moments of escape after some particular trying times.

The bike made work fun. I don’t think there is a better way to explain it. There were several of us on the bike patrol, and I was again able to ride with my friends and this time, I got paid for it. Sure, we had to deal with the occasional dose of real life and respond to the odd incident, but even that could be made entertaining with an impromptu race.

Riding for work eventually led back to riding for fun, and many of my life’s decisions were made with riding in mind. More on that later…