Oct 19

This week we show color

I looked outside Saturday and saw many colors. I like the many colors. We do not go into the wilderness and write essays about it. Not like before. Now, we put on our shoes and, this time of year, check the thermostat to see the external temperature so that we can dress accordingly and then grab our phone and go take photographs. So I did:

It wasn’t cold. But that’s coming, and that right quick. Right now, in fact, the color of the Midwest is upon us: grey. That’ll be the default and unassuming look until, oh, April if we’re lucky. Sure, there will be a few blue-sky days, but you can no longer take those for granted. Sunday was a beautiful goodbye. The season of drear, with a dash of Cimmerian, is upon us. But not yesterday. Egads, yesterday was beautiful.

Just look at that sky over the same tree:

We took a bike ride and wound our way down to the lake, to see about the leaves down there. We took a few pictures. And this is now the wallpaper on my phone, because we make photobomb wallpapers around here:

Even the ground had a moment yesterday. I just shot this as I walked by a tree. How many colors are in there?

On the way back to the house, I sought out a road I discovered because of some random overwriting I was doing here on the site last month. Geese were flying overhead and I looked at their basic route and found the nearest pond and saw this road on Google Maps and thought, I should ride that one day.

And maybe I picked the most perfect day of the season to make this come true, I don’t know. I rode down it, a mile of shade and leaves and alternating beams of light and twists and turns and fun. At the end, where pavement turned into what I presume is a long gravel driveway I turned around and thought, I should record this. So I rode back up it, one handed, up the hill, and had a great time. Just here, when the light changed and I happened to be watching the road through the screen, and it lit up in a golden hue while the phone’s sensors tried to catch up to the circumstance. That was the moment, and the ride was worth it and I knew in that explosive refrain that it was, in fact, the day for this road. That moment was this moment:

You can see the whole road, slightly accelerated, here:

And here’s our view of the lake from down by the water’s edge:

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So a nice weekend, then.

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Oct 19

Let’s go ride bikes!

I’m more than a little disappointed in the HD quality of this upload, but it is a clip from a nice little bike ride this evening:

“My offseason goal,” The Yankee says, “is to perfect the cycling photobomb.”

I’m not sure if the deliberately done, on demand, photobomb is technically a photobomb, but that composition has style. Which is good since it also has some focal quality issues. I’m going to blame the one handed, barely breathing, back camera, keep-it-on-the-road nature of the moment. That’s where the authenticity is, by the way. That’s where the vulnerability is.

Anyway, it was a nice ride. Just using the little ring, thinking about high revolution more than speed. As I have neither, it was just a nice excuse to be outside with my best girl. The shadows are longer, the days are shorter, there’s a bit of different color in the sky, there was a chill in the air once the perspiration began, et cetera.

It made my Monday. What made yours?

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Sep 19

The exercise of the weekend

We did the Outrun Cancer fundraiser Saturday. It was a beautiful, warm, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, late summer, early autumn day. The sort you can’t take for granted. The kind you do. It’s more apogee than perigee, but definitely neither. It could go on forever, but you know it won’t. You wouldn’t mind if it did, though. You’re not that lucky and so don’t take it for granted, this warm sun, the sting of sunblock in your eyes, the sweat everywhere.

This run on Saturday was the third run on my current rehab tour. I taped up my foot that morning, added another layer and then considered what I’d done previously. On my first run, earlier this week, I did two miles on a 1:1 run-to-walk ratio. On the second run I did three miles, with a bit more running than walking. And easing back into this is important. So naturally I started this 5K with a solid one-mile run. OK, fine, a good jog. After that I walked about a third of the rest. Probably should have had another walk interval, but I was as bored as the rest of this paragraph.

On this particular 5K course around campus you take the last left, go down a little hill and then right back the other side of the next hill. You hang one more left and there’s probably a block or so to the finish line. On that last hill I saw The Yankee working her way up the left side of the road. So I found myself sprinting up the right side of the road and hanging that last, blissful left, to hit the finish line before she did so I could do this:

No matter the distance, finishing with a smile is a big deal in our house.

We walked back to the car in front of this going on in one giant parking lot:

I counted 25 air fans supporting the front of the bounce house, which is billed as the largest in the world. You wonder if there’s serious competition. And if the other guy has surreptitiously come to one of these events and measured the thing, and found it lacking. You wonder if that’s just a trademark, or if there’s something in China or Indiana or Washington state that is just as big or bigger.

You also wonder about why there were security guards in security t-shirts stationed inside the thing. You wonder about how much those people must hate their boss who made them wear the black one today. It was warm.

Now, ordinarily, I’d be especially excited about a bounce house. But the amount of perspiration would only create even more flesh-on-plastic stickiness.

There was a ball pit, and I missed out on it. I had my fill working at Chuck’s in high school, but this ball pit wasn’t like that. The bounce house was so large that for scale the ball pit was filled with beach balls.

They’d be even more demanding to clean after the inevitable accident, I’m sure.

On Sunday we went for a bike ride in the afternoon. It was a nice 20-miler on another Chamber of Commerce day. I got out front early, because I figured if I could hang on through at least two of the pre-planned turnarounds first she’d give me a big smile when we met one another. (She’d do this if she was in front of me, too, but that somehow didn’t occur to me when I was breathing hard.) At one point I probably had about a minute on her and three guys from one of the Little 500 teams picked me up. I stayed on their wheel for a few miles until their route differed from ours, but mostly answered my lingering question: yes, they are faster than me. And younger, too, what’s more.

So through the first turnaround I had the lead, down by the house with the big drive just before the side road rejoined the bigger state road. And then, at the second turnaround, on the quiet little neighborhood road that feels like a private drive, I saw her again. Closer this time. So now I have to pedal harder and faster, because the next section of road favored The Yankee’s strengths, but after that was the one sorta-hill, which favors me a little bit more, somehow. And after that big hill was the third turnaround. And if I got there then that’d mean three smiles!

And that’s how you trick yourself to going a little harder than you think you could. After that it’s hang a left, two rollers, then a right and down to the second of the big hills. Two more quick turns and then you’re back in the neighborhood and through that area I know there’s not going to be an opportunity for her to catch me. Great! I can do the gentlemanly thing and open the door for her.

As I got back to the house I remembered: She had the key.

Sep 19

A fast race

It’s difficult to put a full day of racing, and the many weeks of training beforehand, into less than 60 seconds that you shot on a phone. So I won’t try. But this, nevertheless, was Saturday, a half Iron. That’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile ride and a 13.1-mile run to you and me:

The Yankee won her age group, cause she’s awesome:

Her goggles broke in the water, so she swam with one eye, and was the fifth woman out of the water. Her knee was aggravating her on the run so she wisely took it easy. What we’re saying here is that she can go faster if she needs to.

Sep 19

Ancient Greek Wikipedia, not as accurate as today’s

I have a late-ish night in the studio, which means there was time for a bike ride this morning. So I set out on a casual 20-miler that featured my first dropped chain in quite some time.

It was no problem. Cruise to a safe stop, hop off, slip a finger inside the chain to move it off the drive train and then line it all back up on the gearing. It meant maybe 30 seconds to stop, a greasy finger or two and a nice little, funny embarrassment. How do you drop a chain going downhill, anyway?

Who cares? No one cares. I don’t either. It was a bike ride. You get quiet little moments like this:

And you get … not exactly the sunrise, but that moment after the inevitability of planetary rotation when the sun says “No, really, I mean it.” The part that’s more about the tree line than a primal miracle.

Some Hellenistic astronomer, Eratosthenes maybe, figured this stuff out 2,260 years ago. He calculated the planet’s circumference based on shadows. He figured out the earth’s axis and had some early Leap Day ideas. He created the first map of the known world. He was a mathematician, a geographer, a poet and music theorist. He was the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria and pretty much invented geography.

You wonder what he would have done if he had the Internet.

We have this simplistic image in our heads about people who didn’t know about the earth orbiting the sun and the rotation of the planet finding the sun chasing the moon across the sky, and the terror of each night: What if it doesn’t come back? And you can find out all about the Greeks and the scholars who followed them refining and revising the data. Today you just accept what your favorite weather app tells you will be the precise sun up and sun down moments. (Time is a construct.)

But spare a thought for those first regular people, after Erathosthenes and his math friends figured this stuff out. Imagine how they felt, what they must have thought, when they heard the “news.”

And that’s just the Greeks. There’s another 93 gods and goddesses related to the sun on Wikipedia alone.

We have this simplistic image in our heads about people who don’t know that Wikipedia is still incomplete and the terror of actual research: What if I have to go to a non-crowd sourced site? You wonder what Erathothenes would have done with Wikipedia. He died in his 80s. A common version of the story is that he’d gone blind, so he couldn’t read and see the world behind him and so he starved himself to death in his depression. But we don’t really know. Wikipedia is quite certain about it. So maybe its a good thing he didn’t have a dial up modem.