Jul 20

Wednesday, right? Right? Right.

Just two Zoom calls today, which make something like 45 for the week. One was a big meeting where my task is to be a listener, and to make sure my microphone is muted. On the underside of that meeting is a Slack channel subtext, where my duty is to make the occasional bad joke.

I’m the right person for it.

My second call was after lunch, and for the life of me I thought it was set for next week. So calendar reminders saved me today. I’m still holding strong on days of the week, but I have to make direct efforts to keep the proper dates in mind. But the calendar reminded me that today was the day. This is an important tidbit for you to know!

I got to have a chat with an old friend about pedagogy and Zoom sessions, architecture and video. We are so meta! We might also back ourselves into some sort of project together. Who knows? That’d be fun.

He’s returning from sabbatical this term, so welcome back to him.

We went for a bike ride this evening. We went out easy and then I turned it up once.

This happens a lot. I say, I am going to ride in her pocket and not go out and do something silly. It was very humid and we agreed that our goal was to drink all the water on the ride. And then we got to a place where there was one of the sorts of short punchy hills I can get over pretty well and I created a gap. So we go on like that for a while, until she decides to drop me, which she does promptly.

I began ducking into curves and grinding through rollers and eventually I caught her wheel again. She let me pull for a while before coming around the left and settled into a high cadence. She dropped me for real. I was having a good ride, but she was enjoying a better one. Somehow, near the end, she caught me again. She’d taken a detour for fun and still found it in her catch back on as she doubled back. After a gentle two-mile ascent I got her wheel again.

She passed me, one last time, on the final hard 1,200 meters she was

I think she has a motor in her bicycle.

I’m riding in a hard gear and everything!

(That’s not a bad picture for shooting blind and trying to stay upright. But when you crop a tire it looks like a flat, which is a bad omen I’m always hoping to avoid.)

Jul 20

Cats! A ride! A run!

Well, it’s another Monday, so let’s check in on the management team. Phoebe has been lounging as comfortably as ever this week:

She’s good at finding the sun. And she’s intent on her naps:

Poseidon was supervising dinner from his overhead perch the other night:

But he was less interested in a weekend video chat:

We went for a nice little bike ride on Saturday. We are good at this route. We manage to time the hardest part of the route with the hottest part of the day. One particular stretch has a deceptive little hill to climb, and the critical part of those three miles there is no shade to enjoy. Also, the county put convection oven elements in the road’s asphalt through there, so you get baked from both directions.

After you finish the climb, though, you get a fun two-mile descent and you eventually find yourself looking at this view:

And then along came this boat. For a 20 mile per hour photo I guess it works out:

Today, today has been a perceptively slow day. And I’m not talking about my run, har-har. It was my first run in seven weeks. Mostly it was a deliberate choice. And then I slightly rolled an ankle trying to avoid a cat. It was a minor thing, but since no one is chasing me, it seemed wise to rest it. This weekend I guess I decided that I’d rested enough. So I set out for a little one-mile run today, because I want to go fast again.

I haven’t been fast since high school or so, and I never will be again, but I can set some baselines and goals. And my new one-mile baseline is slow enough that I can, hopefully, cut out big chunks at a time. So here’s to tomorrow.

Jul 20

‘And the chain tension in harmony with the correct gear’

Today, on the bicycle, I had an interesting ride. It was one of those days where I really understood gearing, anticipating shifts in all of the right places. It wasn’t la volupté, the voluptuousness, by any means. I seldom get that spare moment Jean Bobet described:

Its magic lies in its unexpectedness, its value in its rarity … It is more than a sensation because one’s emotions are involved as well as one’s actions.

The voluptuous pleasure that cycling can give you is delicate, intimate and ephemeral. It arrives, it takes hold of you, sweeps you up and then leaves you again. It is for you alone. It is a combination of speed and ease, force and grace. It is pure happiness.

I didn’t have that, but I was really in tune, understanding, anticipating, the shifting today. I really had it down in a fine and intimate way. One click here, push over the roller and two pops there. It was one of those days where I really understood it, until I completely and immediately forgot it all. One of those days.

(I really need a haircut.)

Probably it means I have been riding those particular roads too much recently. Indeed, as we see by today’s installment of the irregular feature of Barns by Bike:

As I am sure I’ve written here before, this road was also on the first bike route we rode here. We see it a lot. Do you ever wonder what’s inside people’s barns? You have time on a bike to think about such things.

Anyway, some roads are like that. Everyone has their regular routines. You have to work to escape them sometimes. You see la volupté a lot less frequently. Far too little, in fact. But it’s one of the reasons you keep going out there. Just one of them.

Jul 20

Back on campus today again

I had a tough bike ride on Saturday. This was my only photo, and I was basically back at the house and worn down and had pretty much given up on the whole thing for quite a while, anyway.

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Thirty miles in the wind.

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Sometimes it is like that. Some days you feel great. Great! And somedays are off. Or some days you just feel lousy about the whole thing. It is always better to have done it. That’s the constant. Even on the lousy rides, like this one on Saturday. I had a headache in the middle of the it, which might be a first for the thousands of miles and the few thousand hours I have spent staring down at handlebars.

But the speed was about … average for what I’ve come to expect lately. So call it an uneven evening ride of pushing through. I stayed with The Yankee for half of it, anyway. She took a different route and I just turned around at one point. She came in about 10 minutes and with an extra two miles or so. Hers was better than mine, which is always nice.

Which leads us nicely to the weekly cat pictures. This is perhaps the cutest one I took of Phoebe this week.

But it is not the best one I took of her. I’m saving that series for a rainy day.

Poseidon was very sleepy this weekend. When he wasn’t being demanding, challenging, loud, too aggressive or otherwise overbearing.

So normal cat stuff, I guess.


Back on campus today. We spent six hours in Studio 5 tearing down a set. Last year they built a set for an apartment for one of the production classes. Somewhere along the way it was decided that the set wasn’t sufficient. So, after many meetings, it was decided that this set was coming down.

So today we took ratchet to bolts and pry bars to nails and it all came down and the soundstage is a soundstage again.

People also balanced lights in suspension system hanging in the rafters and we tore down an ancient wall fixture which required brute force, which is why they keep me around.

Someone also put in an order for a dumpster for all the stuff that was due to be disposed of from the studio. We filled the loading dock with debris and it will go a long way toward filling the dumpster.

When it got down to the point of removing tape from the floor I knew it was time to leave … just as soon as the tape was cleaned up.

It was a productive Monday, I suppose. I stopped by the grocery store on the way to the house. I was intent to count the masks to no-masks, but gave up when it was 11-2, masks and I needed to find the most direct route to the areas of the store I needed with the fewest people between points A, B, C and D.

All of the products I wanted were there. I picked up all of the products I wanted. I breezed through the self-checkout and hustled outside, so I could go directly to the domicile in the most indirect route possible. There’s road work, you see. So I had to go through a neighborhood that we usually ride bikes through and I had to remind myself the car and the bike approach things differently. Also, the hills are much smaller with an internal-combustion engine at your disposal. The music is better, too.

Back inside, groceries put away, showered, snacked and then catching up on the day’s email and then dinner and, now, this. It wasn’t exactly a full day, but it was full enough. There were people and achievements and a place to sit down at the end of it, so full enough indeed.

Jul 20

Just some Wednesday stuff

We went for a bike ride today, which was nice. It was bright and sunny and that was nice. It was warm. It was hot, but not ridiculously, oppressively hot, which was nice. We rode over to campus to go up and down one of the hills over and over. And I won the day’s hill set, which was nice.

Here I am at the bottom after my last hill repeat and waiting on The Yankee to finish her last two rounds.

The actual hill disappears and wraps up to the right. So it doesn’t look like the biggest hill in the world, because its not, nor does it need to be. We’re just doing two minutes of consistent climbing right now. Also, to be fair, I only won because she pulled off to set up a camera shot and somehow that let me get well ahead of the game.

Across from our hill repeats there is a smaller hill — a nice single roller, really. It’s on a road that splits the softball and baseball fields from the tennis courts and the football field parking lots. After a softball game there last year I saw three guys fly over that hill on their bikes and thought, I can do that. So now when I am over there, I do that.

And today I went over it at in my next-to-hardest gear with ease and at a respectable speed. Well, I thought. Because my inner-monologue often features sentences without subjects or verbs and only interjections. So I went back around again, through a parking lot time trial segment, hanging a right and then weaving through some road construction barrels and then working back into the hard end of the cassette right away, turning left and hitting that roller one more time, in my smallest gear. And then I stood up. And I went over the hill.

I went over the hill slightly slower than I had just the time before. I could see it on the Garmin, right there in front of me.

And there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

The next hill after that was the first one on our way back to the house and it was the hardest hill on the route. Maybe we should do repeats on that one. (Let’s not. No one tell her that I even mentioned that.) Then you weave through the rest of the campus and the little side roads that get you back to where you want to be. It’s an easy ride because the hills you dread are out of the way. Sure there are some repeats in your legs, and those always feel and seem so slow, because I’m slow, but the rest of up and downs after that have some real flow.

And there’s a lesson in there somewhere, too.

Hey, did you see this yesterday? That interview played right into my hands, timing-wise, didn’t it?

What’s not to love about this? And, sure, this is a 43-minute video, but it’s a tight recap and all the action is in the first 28 minutes.

Plus it features a finish between two of the great Classics riders of the modern age and what else do you have going on tonight, anyway?