Ladies of Leisure

I have to take a moment to digress from the Elephant In The Room — that I just bought a new bike with a completely different set-up 2.5 weeks from the actual 2-day ride — to discuss my gym.

I’ve changed gyms recently — I formerly lurked at the LA Fitness in Bellevue, but then between driving home, then to the school, acquiring my son, and driving back to Bellevue, and then driving home again, I was contributing needlessly to the oil crisis (and my budget) and therefore switched gyms at a $10 premium to the one by my house. That’s fine, I have the excel worksheet to prove I’m actually saving money.

I live in what I would call a “bubble”. This “bubble”, called Sammamish, is a neighborhood of privilege and McMansions, of 5-year-olds with cellphones and 16-year-olds with new cars. I know this because I grew up here in what is now the only 1970’s rambler that exists in Sammamish, when it was not Sammamish but was “Unincorporated King County”. In those days, the joke was that if you had an emergency you called Domino’s Pizza, because they’d get there faster than the King County sheriff. (And it was true.)

I do not fit in the bubble — or at least not from my point of view — but I live here for two reasons: 1. it’s the house I grew up in and I have configured it exactly the way I like it and it’s far enough from my neighbors that I can do what I like how I like when I like without worrying about what they will think; and 2. It is in an excellent school district, which is not something you monkey around with when you have a kiddo.

At any rate, I was at the gym this morning, applying makeup to face (this is a very necessary part of the morning regimen because if I don’t I scare people) and was noting the following:

1. One lady arrived at the gym, put all of her stuff in front of the nicest shower, and then went to work out. That is to say, she blocked the shower from use by anyone else for an hour. As I was applying makeup she came in and proceeded to go about her business as though this was perfectly okay, despite pointed looks from the rest of us. (This is all the more important when we note that there are only TWO showers in the ladies locker room).

2. Another lady was pitching her “Staging/Decorating” business. In the locker room. At full volume. She was very very carefully explaining to another lady that she didn’t do any organization, really, she just rearranged the furniture a client already has in order to optimize the functional space and/or make it ready for sale. She’s very good at it, and she charges $100 an hour. Figure it takes her 4-5 hours to do a standard house (that’s her figuring) but you know she doesn’t go through paperwork and all of that, that’s more of an Organizer (her friend does that) and they’re going to go into business together (but still keep their separate licenses) etc. etc. etc. And she has her card right there. So handy. During the course of the discussion, though, it was very apparent that her conversational partner could neither get a word in edgewise nor convince her that she understood the first time.

3. It is immediately evident which ladies work and which do not. Those of us who work are there to work out, get showered/changed/made up and are OUT the door. And it’s great that some ladies do not work and have that luxury, truly: just please do not block thoroughfares with your conversations. Move to the side. It’s a gym, ladies, Starbucks is a block away.

I wonder if they notice anyone or anything around them, I really do.

Troubleshot

Ok, so, first, I just have to get this off my chest: something I really really really really really really wanted, I got. I can’t talk about it just yet, but I got it, and I’m really happy about it, and no it’s not a pony.

Wow, I feel so much better. Don’t you? Ok now on to the real post:

You know when you are at the copy machine and you put your little papers in the feeder and you press the little green button and it goes “whrr…whrr..whrr” just fine and then it goes “splllllllltchunk”? You know that’s bad, right? This is when the copier has managed to take originals 2, 5, and 7 and accordion them quite neatly into some recess you didn’t know existed. You spend literally hours, HOURS, looking through all of the nooks and crannies of the machine, patiently following the screen’s unhelpful, generic tips.

“Lift flap A, remove paper”

(There is no paper under flap “A”).

“Lift partition “B”, remove paper”.

(There is no paper under flap “B”).

“Return all documents to the document feeder”

(You do that, but you ain’t buying it”)

“Whrr…whrrr…spltchunk!”

And you’re back to fiddling with flap “A”, again, aren’t you?

This is much like my back. I inherited my back from my father, along with my unibrow, an acerbic sense of humor, and an intolerance for bad italian food. My back does not do well with ordinary things.

Yesterday I threw my back out, for instance, whilst removing items from the clothes dryer. My clothes dryer is actually on a six-inch platform so this was even less strain than the average person has to subject themselves to. And I was only removing a load of sheets, not a load of lead weights. It is never when I am moving 50-pound pots of roses or helping move sofabeds that I throw my back out. No, I throw it out doing laundry.

This morning I woke up twice as stiff and in need of something to make it go away, so naturally I went to the gym and got on the bike. I usually see a chiropractor and a massage therapist for the back, but they are both out of town, and I am left wishing that I had even the crappy guidelines most copy machines give you in order to fix my back.

I Mutter the Body Eclectic

This is a perfect example of the sort of conversations one’s body parts get in to when one does things that one doesn’t normally. Our ride last Saturday was in 13mph headwinds. I looked it up — each 5mph is equal to an additional 1% grade (in terms of effort) and will take your normal pace down 7%. So, yeah! It sucked.

THE SCENE:

A girl (ok, ok, woman) runs frenetically through her house, having loaded her bike into the back of her car she is doing the needful, e.g., filling water bottles and packing Cliff bars.

BACK: Uh-uh, no way, I am *not* doing this. See? *TWEAK*

ME: OW! What’s that for?!? All I was doing was filling a water bottle.

BACK: (smugly) Now you can’t go.

ME: Oh yeah? (grabs Ibuprofen bottle) Think again, punkin! I have 800mgs of ibuprofen that is going to chill you out. (takes ibuprofen and washes it down with water, and then more coffee).

Fifteen minutes in the car and BACK is silent.

ME: Oh yeah! Who’s the man (well, not me). 

(Gets on bike)

THE SCENE:

It is 22 miles into the ride. Somehow, in a 36 mile course that is a U-shape along the top of the lake and back, we have succeeded in riding into HEADWINDS the entire way. This is disheartening and some of the constituency is starting to complain.

KNEES: Damn, we are sore! Where is that ibuprofen the doctor told you to take when you do this?

ME: I took it. All 4. I was good, but I can’t take any more for like 6 hours.

BACK: I commandeered it. I have the higher need you know: spinal column and all that.

KNEES: Oh no you Di-int! That was mine, beyotch! I have doctor’s orders!

BACK: Oh yes I di-id. I make this body function, punkin, so don’t give me your “oh I’m so important” routine. Nothing’s more important than the BACK!

BRAIN and HEART (in unison): Um…

BACK: well at least KNEES aren’t.

KNEES: STFU! I am the one that keeps you mobile, which the doctor also said is GOOD FOR YOU. You wanna hog my drugs, fine, but at least half of that should’ve been shared and now I’m going to show you just how hard *your* life gets when I don’t share.

BACK: Bring it!

ME: HEY WAIT! WAIT! I did what I was supposed to and..

KNEES: Tough cookies, sister. (KNEES start to ache petulantly)

STOMACH: I’m hungry.

ME: Now, BACK and KNEES you guys really need to… what?

STOMACH: I’m hungry.

ME: You just ate a Cliff Bar. Technically you’ve eaten 1.5 Cliff Bars.

STOMACH: And…?

ME: That’s enough food for you.

STOMACH: Look, apparently the BACK is the appreciated person here, and I’m not, I get that. Especially as it was ME who had to sort out that ibuprofen on not perhaps the most comfortably full stomach. So I’d appreciate it if YOU’D back off and feed me. Mkay?

ME: Ok, ok. Fine. Here’s the other half of the Cliff Bar.

KNEES: OH, I GET IT NOW. All I have to do is bitch properly, is that it? Well fine (KNEES  start to really ache)

BACK: FINE! I’m tired of being the scapegoat. I’ll show you what it’s like when the ibuprofen wears out. (BACK starts to tweak and ache)

BUTT: I’d just like to say…

KNEES, BACK, STOMACH, BRAIN, HEART, ME (in unison): SHUT UP!

BUTT: Oh, it’s all fine for you to have an opinion, I get it. But last I checked, I don’t get a special doctor. KNEES gets the Sports Medicine guy, and BACK gets Dr. Cat and Massages, and all I get is wedged on this hard plastic seat.

KNEES: Well you should be used to that, what with work and all.

BUTT: Hey, it’s not my choice that they sit on me, okay? It’s just what I do. And I try to do it without complaint. I’m just saying I’m feeling a little sensitive now and would appreciate some of the ibuprofen next time, is all.

BACK: Oh yes we get it, it is *SO HARD* to just sit around all day.

KNEES (to BACK): That’s pretty much all you do, BACK, except vertically.

BACK: SHUT UP! I’M MORE IMPORTANT AND I WILL TAKE YOU DOWN!

KNEES: BRING IT!

HEADWIND: SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU! Guess what, I’m going to ramp up a few miles an hour because I’m the freaking WIND and I can’t hear myself think for all of your complaining. KNEES, you’re going to have to concentrate on what you’re doing because this is going to be like one long hill. BACK, you’re going to have to use yourself more and crouch forward because otherwise the BODY will make no progress. And if EITHER of you want to see the comfy inside of the car today (and possibly a nice hot shower) then everybody needs to SHUT IT and get to work, mkay?

ME: (to HEADWIND): I kind of hate you, and love you, for that.

Inappropriate Bike Humor

Last Saturday was 46 miles in 4.5 hours (not including breaks) from REI over the Burke Gilman to Montlake and then back the same way. Getting up at 6AM to meet your bike cohorts is difficult, realizing it’s actually 5am because your supposed 7am meeting time is 7am on the day the time changes — that’s kinda brutal. So as the sun poked out above the leafless trees in the RTC parking lot, the three of us took off.

It could have been the cold.

It could have been the fog.

It could have been the sunnyness of the day.

I personally suspect it was because we all have twisted senses of humor.

It started with Duncan talking about his screw. For his cleat. You see, clippie shoes (they are actually called clipless systems, riddle me that?) have screws that attach them to your shoe. There are usually at least 2 and sometimes 3, and they keep the clip in place so when you shift your foot to the side it takes the cleat with it and separate it from your pedal resulting in your ability to keep yourself from going bonk.

At any rate, Duncan was missing a screw. He talked a great deal about his missing screw, and then we started joking about how he should get a screw by some random shop along the road.

Then there was the discussion of which person had the bigger cog. Your cog size, you see, determines how far a rotation can go on your bike. More cogs = more power, right? Duncan and Bryce got into it but apparently Duncan’s cog is bigger. I did not wish to compare my cogs, as I was busy dealing with cycling legwarmers.

These are not the 1980’s flashdance legwarmers: they are not soft, they are not scrunched, they are not hot pink. They are black lycra and quite tight, and look a bit like they should be kept on you with a garter belt. Verily, they look like cycling fetishwear, and consequently I spent an inordinate amount of time adjusting them as we cycled along. Ever try to look professional while pulling up lycra legwarmers already wearing an impossibly curve-hugging costume? No, I didn’t think so. The jokes trended back toward my bike S&M gear (complete with full length black gloves) and the cogs were momentarily forgotten.

Until I pointed out I was trying to match them stroke for stroke. You see, when Bryce and Duncan take off, they *take off*. Like my new nickname is Waldo and I’m getting a red and white striped bike shirt. And so I played with my gears and attempted to match theirs, and then attempted to match pedal rotation frequency (e.g., stroke). And even though I was attempting to do that, I was not succeeding. So I whined about it at the next break.

Whining to two men who were comparing cog sizes, and one of which talking of his needed screw, while adjusting my black lycra, was probably not the most prudent thing to do.

Fortunately, we found a local bike shop where Duncan got his screw. It was literally by the side of the road, rather quick, and very cheap. But it does the trick; he’s still satisfied with it, as far as I know.

The bike shop guys were alternately freaked out or laughing uncontrollably. We’re… not sure which.

Diversion

I have two blogs: this is my public one. Yes, there is a whole other blog out there, one that has been carefully crafted (ok, not all that carefully) and maintained (although not terribly faithfully) for five years (okay, four and a half). That is the blog I usually dish about life and love and romance and sex and coworkers and occasionally religious derivatives and chemistry and biology and movies. Sometimes really weird combinations of them.

That blog is not this blog. This blog is usually about workouts and work, more the former than the latter, because it’s my public blog and as such it shouldn’t mention all of the things one avoids discussing in public (e.g., sex, politics, religion, and money. Or having sex with a politician for money in a church. Or something.)

Therefore, the urge to write on this blog of things not appropriate to it is, on occasion, overwhelming. For example, I’d like to blog about how I haven’t yet participated in the Rides of March (aka Taxes). I’d like to blog about the atrocious parking at the Braevern, the happy hour fare and fair to be found at John Howies Steakhouse, the simply staggeringly awful week I’ve had at work, the other job I’m applying for, the angst-ridden time I’m having attempting to find a simple pearl grey dress to satisfy two weddings. I would totally blog about it… but not here.

No, here you are to hear of my workouts, of which I have not done one today. I went to spin class  yesterday (and did some endurance riding the day before) and have this to say of my gym:

People appear to be leaving it.

It started with the Hottie and the regular Spin Class Lanky dude. Those two have been missing for over a week and someone else has taken the Hottie’s bike and is now staring at herself in Hottie-like fashion. Two other regulars have dropped out and all that are left are the old lady with the bike on her ankle, the Napoleonic guy with longish hair (ok, so he cut it but it’s still somehow long and yet not long enough for a ponytail), the elderly man who has more musculature in his little finger than I posses in my entirety, and the bellevue housewifey with the bandana hairdo. The rest of them are new, people wafting in and out of the class who clearly cannot appreciate what Hot Teacher Eric means when he says we are going to to “jumps” today.

Other things are happening too: I was able to get a regular cardio bike of a Tuesday at 5pm. This NEVER happens. Clearly, the New Years’ Resoluters are irresolute and have waned, leaving me free to watch CNBC in peace. I hope it lasts through the summer, you get better service and less stink at an unfull gym. Also, I needs must check out the pool: chances are if they’ve cleaned it lately I can swim in it again and not be reminded of Puget Sound’s visibility. That is to say, you don’t want to go swimming in a pool that belongs to a frequently crowded gym.

We have a long bike ride planned this weekend — 46 miles and mostly flattish terrain; I’m not intimidated but I am reluctant. We are entering the phase of training where I feel inept, like I can’t possibly do as well as I need to. That’s okay, I feel like that at work lately so it’s nice to know there’s a consistent theme. Despite all of this exertion I continue to eat slightly under my own mass in chocolate and so I haven’t lost weight, although my mother noticed a shift (“Oh! You’ve lost weight!” she exclaimed at dinner the other night. I hadn’t. I then promptly gained 2 pounds).  In my experience this exercise in apathy will end sometime around May where I will realize that I have but five weeks to go and decide that this is proof that I can fight aging.

Which brings me back to the discussion I want to have on the difficulties of finding a simple grey dress for a wedding. But I can’t blog about that here.

A Letter to Burke Gilman Trail Users

Dear good people on the Burke Gilman trail, I bring to you enlightenment and knowledge. I bring to you advice as only I can, for we have been on it together now for some weeks and I couldn’t help but notice you need guidance.

FOR THE PEDESTRIANS:

  • It is a lovely day, isn’t it? It is. It truly is. And Scrappy the wunderdog is a happy lil’ fellow, isn’t he? Yes. But could you please keep Scrappy on a leash under, say, 150 feet?  My brakes are fine but Scrappy can move faster than my brakes. And I don’t want to scrap Scrappy.
  • For that matter, I don’t want to scrap you. So when I call out, “on your left” when I’m 20 feet behind you, that means I’m going to pass you… on your left. Get it? Makes sense. This means you should not, you know, walk farther out to your left.
  • Or move to the left after your co-walker figured it out and moved right. S/he wasn’t asking to switch places, s/he was trying not to end up as so much muck on my wheels.
  • Little Jimmie and Janie love their playdates… in their strollers… staring blankly ahead but *right next* to each other. Awesome! Just please have them give up the convenience of their side-by-side solitaire while we use the trail next to you. In seven feet of trail width, your two strollers take up five feet, leaving two feet for me. That’s fine, but I’m big boned, and I’m nervous as a hooker in church on a bike. Just sayin’.

FOR THE AUTOMOBILES

  • Chances are if you’re one of the many cars we encounter, you are coming in to or going out of a driveway. The chances are good, then, that you live on the BG trail. Possibly it was a selling point when you purchased the house? You know, when you walked through with the spouse you looked at each other and talked about how you’d take little Jimmie and Janie out for walks, along with Scrappy. Great! That is just what the trail is for. It’s also for cyclists, though, and so when you park your car in the intersection of the trail, some of us have to brake rather suddenly. Doing this and unclipping ones shoes is not an easy feat, so please don’t give me the dirty look when I come inches from your door. Trust me, your door will do more damage to me than I will to it.
  • On those unfortunate bits where the trail is side by side with you in traffic — I know, right? Totally rude of them to do that — please do not stalk me. If you are driving your car at my speed, and not passing me, reminding me with every little rev that you have 2 tons of something that will render me into the svelte shape (although, not the same type of svelte shape) I’ve discussed wanting, you are stalking me. It’s not funny, and I’m calling you many rude names in three languages. Four, if I can remember to.
  • Also, please pass me. Please please pass me. When there is space to. Passing me such that I can tell you purchased the carbon-grey-metallic paint instead of regular grey-metallic paint, or passing me such that I can tell what Prada purse you have in the passenger’s seat (you may want to pick up that lost earring on your floormat) is a little too close for comfort. I think it’s cute that you also have a “Share the Road” sticker on your car.

FOR OTHER CYCLISTS:

That’s us: the crack elite team. They made the trail for us; aren’t you glad I told those pesky pedestrians and drivers off for you? Let me tell you though, you guys can be assholes too.

There, I said it.

What do you mean, what? Let me spell it out for you, bro:

  • When you pass me, please use “On Your Left”… or even “Left” or use your bike bell. But don’t scream it at me as you are ACTUALLY on my left. How about saying it a little ahead of time, so I’m not hearing it as I’m checking out your new Pearl Izumi thighwarmers? There is this thing called the “Doppler Effect“, and it is not a 1980’s new wave band.
  • If you don’t use the “On Your Left” or “Left” or bike bell, please do not have the gall to tsk-tsk me as you fly by. I get it: you go faster than I do. That is so awesome for you! But speed does not equal an asshole-ectomy.
  • That two by two rule that I ragged on the pedestrians about? Yeah? That goes for you too. I’m talking to you, the guy in the blue and orange two weeks back who saw me oncoming, pointed to me to his buddy, and then firmly and fastidiously stayed two by two — on the I90 bridge deck — with pedestrians and other cyclists. That was totally uncool, and those thighwarmers make you look fat.

Completely Unnecessary Spin Class Update

You guys! you guys!!!

So the hottie wasn’ there — no! And the jock she’s usually with (sort of– they sit at opposite ends) spent the entire time in class looking at the floor. I figured it out! He looks in the mirror, so he can watch her! Neat, huh?

Ooh. I hope they didn’t have a spat. Cuz that would suck.

Spin class continues to be only mildly entertaining. It’s about 20% regulars and even I am less enchanted with Eric the Hot Instructor than I once was. I will note his music is still good and there were actual droplets of sweat involved in this last workout. I will also note I’m the only one who shows up to class with visible bruises (mine are from the weekend rides). I am wondering how long before one of the other class members comes to ask me if he beats me because he loves me.

This week I plan to add running back in as well as another half mile in the pool, as I have just committed to do the Danskin Triathlon in August (or is it September?). At any rate: I shall be in front of my machine at 9am sharp on 9-March to enroll. Go me!

Scheduling

Dear, sweet, hot, well-music’d Eric was back again tonight, and the lovers seem to have made up, and the music was one of my favorite tracks, and so all is well in the Spin Class world. Naturally, this will be short-lived.

The boychild has Little League, that uniquely American rite of passage, starting in two weeks and practices are at the same time as Spin Class With Hot Eric. I shall therefore have to change my Spin Class schedule, and have it likely with someone who is Not Hot Eric, and that makes it all the more bittersweet. I have two more weeks of Hot Eric and then it shall end until June.

My schedule is usually convoluted, what with the 50% single-mom-ness and all. I have a very very wonderful and understanding set of bosses, which is awesome, but when it comes time to compound work/school schedules with gym and sports and events (hey, I’m now the Moss Bay Dive Club secretary! That takes time!) you end up getting nights like tonight where I am running code, figuring out how to make another process work, and cooking my dinner (the boy had his before Spin Class; I can’t eat before it because I’ll throw up and that is just not lovely at all) at 8:30pm.

That’s how they do it in Geneva, I’ll bet.

Taking a Page from NPR

I’m here to talk to you about your Bobbie services. Think about it, you tune in to Bobbie on a daily, or at least weekly basis; you trust Bobbie to tell you about all things Bobbie and keep you more informed on the things you like to know about, such as Spin Class Social Studies and Things Not To Do With Data. When was the last time you were standing around the water cooler and the conversation turned to something you heard from Bobbie, and were able to participate in the discussion?

Now is the time to show Bobbie that you appreciate her, that you understand that this Bobbie service isn’t something that should go unrecognized. For just pennies a day you could sponsor Bobbie for $30 in the RtCC. Or think about your daily latte expenditure: what does that come to, $3? Maybe $5 if you get that pastry or roll? How much do you value that latte versus your Bobbie experience: for just a fraction of your daily latte habit you could sponsor Bobbie for $50.

Don’t forget, your Bobbie RtCC donation is absolutely tax deductible.

And then you can drive in your car, and go about your work day, knowing that you’ve done your part in supporting the Bobbie. You then have that bond, with other sponsors of the Bobbie, knowing that because of your financial support you will have access to the Bobbie and all of the Bobbie expectations you’ve come to enjoy.

There are also wonderful pledge gifts for your support of the Bobbie. At the $25 level, you will receive an authentic thank you email from the Bobbie, personally addressed and containing some personal reference or relevant piece of information. At the $50 level, you will not only receive the thank you email but are likely to get your data faster (cough). At the $100 level and above, you will have the opportunity to sign the Helmet of the Bobbie for yourself or in honor of someone you know as she plummets down the backroads from Vancouver, BC to Seattle.

At the $250 level, you will be able to access the Bobbie’s personal blog, which is actually quite racy and includes all sorts of gossip, back to when Bobbie started blogging in October of 2005. Alternately, if you already have access to the blog, the Bobbie will show up at your house and do your laundry for you each week for two months. And if you already have *that*, you are Bobbie’s boyfriend and should be donating just because you use up more of the Bobbie’s time than anyone, except the Boychild, who doesn’t need the tax credit.

Once again, you can donate to the Bobbie’s fundraiser (The Ride to Conquer Cancerhere and thank you for your support.

Keeping the Gordita Honest

I’m in Zihuatanejo, Mexico which means that what with sun and surf and sand and great food I’m just not really biking, at all. However, I *have* run two days — one at my fastest pace ever (1 mi in 7.5 minutes, which even amazed me) — and try keeping up with a 7-year old who’s discovered the joy of getting thrown into the waves. My arms are totally buff now.

Fundraising seems to have slowed down on the Ride to Conquer Cancer, so I will be sending out an email shortly to beg for money. If you have any other fundraising ideas (bake sale?) please forward!

PS — I have an awesomely splotchy burn that I hope to even out before I’m clad in naught but bike shorts and similar skimpy active wear for 2 days.

PPS – I have procured clippy shoes and appropriate pedals, and the bike is fixed — won’t get out for another 2 weeks (thanks to schedule) but still: clippies!