Friday, June 30, 2006

I would test positive for Real Chili

The Tour de France Post-Lance starts tomorrow and in the last 24 hours everything has turned upside down due to the doping scandal out of Spain. Many, many favorites are out as result. Ullrich is out. Basso is out. Vinokourov is in but his team has been halved. Gorgeous George Hincapie is quickly looking to be a favorite, particularly considering his team (Discovery Channel) is not implicated in the scandal, and is also very strong. Its a wide open tour and since there is no clear favorite each day will bring random, exciting attacks. Go George and Go White Sox!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here is a Reason People Don't Like Me

Yesterday, at the top of his lungs and seemingly with all of his being, a man called me an asshole.

I’m sure many people probably agree with him. People that know me probably expected some degree of conflict between me and the hippy faction of Madison at some point. We still coexist happily in our own truce, but at time it seems we must clash. Driving down Williamson on Madison’s east side during rush hour yesterday I came across a man and woman attempting to cross the street. The were close to the middle of the road, oncoming traffic (in relation to me) was at a standstill, and he was waving a red flag in a strange, irritated, fencinglike manner. I had a 4 car gap ahead of me and no cars behind me. As I approached, going 30 mph, the intensity in which he shook his foil/flag increased to a strange, maddening pace. My Chicago radar went off and said, ‘maybe a crazy person, maybe not – just get past him and leave him behind.’ I just kept moving in a straight line at my normal speed. This apparently was a mortal sin, to say the least. As I just about passed the flag man he yelled loudly enough for the whole street to hear into my car that I was an asshole. At this moment my sin revealed itself when it all clicked in my head. I forgot about the cute little red flags and what they really mean to the good natured folk of Madison. It had been explained to me once and I chuckled and obviously filed it deeply away, next to Mr. Moriarty’s freshman Biology class. If you want cross the street, grab a flag from the receptacle on the sidewalk, hold it up, and start walking across the street like Moses. A decent idea, but I would argue unreasonable at times. If the stoplight (excuse me, ‘stop-and-go light’ in Wisconsinspeak) is only a block away and its rush hour, isn’t it a wiser idea to walk that block before crossing? I know the pedestrian always has the right of way, but don’t these flags foster a deadly sense of false security? Wouldn’t orange be better? Lets say I was visiting Madison for the first time yesterday and didn’t know any better – would I deserve to be called an asshole? I ultimately laughed at his righteous hatred in that moment – he was very mad and I could see him making faces at me in my rearview. Another Chicago truism popped into my head – words have a price. If you swear at strangers you should expect a fight sooner or later, probably sooner. That is why I don’t call strangers names. This hippie (he was obviously one, trust me – I’m not making a great assumption in the slightest) did not look like he was the fighting type, yet he seems to want to court that possibility. Maybe it flies in his neighborhood in Madison, but not in the rest of the world. So I guess I need to play ball and respect the cute red flag. I’ll do my part, but that man should also make a few changes and avoid his impending fistfight.

Other people also feel the red flag is misguided.

Part of being in a subculture (hardcore for example) that identifies itself through a style out of the mainstream that implies individuality, is that when you are gathered among many other individuals from this subculture you all look like you are wearing a uniform of sorts. It’s a reality, for better or worse. Here is a hilariously captioned flickr set exploring shoes at a gathering in Chicago.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lancelot Link

I try not to generate posts on this blog simply offering links to websites. Its not that creative but I'm going to break that rule today. 4 Star Courier, along with being a new bike messenger company in Chicago, threw this past years' well run Tour da Chicago. Here is an interesting Chicago Reader article about them. Its well worth a read.

Monday, June 19, 2006

There is a reason no one likes you

What to say regarding the wonderful canoe trip? I ended up with a 23" Northern Pike, many smaller Northern and Muskie, some Perch, and a clam. Yes, I caught a clam, and so did Tater for that matter. We were fishing the bottom with worms and ended up catching clams. Odd. I got the biggest fish with the Northern, but Tater easily won overall with a fat 16" Smallmouth and a nice 18" Walleye that we ate for a breakfast appetizer Saturday. We saw a few bald eagles as well, essentially completing a perfect trip. We shall return soon. My tent leaked from many, many places for the second trip in a row, which would explain why it was last seen leaning against a dumpster at the boat landing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. Perhaps some poor soul has the interest in resealing it and giving it another try. Not me. It was 10 years old and $50 to start with so I have no real argument with it, though we must now part ways. Its a sin to simply throw it away.

Also, no Sasquatch was afoot, at least from our research on the 1 acre island we slept on. We did see a sign in Philips, WI on our way declaring that "Sasquatch was sited 2.5 miles north." The hunt goes on.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Operation: Sasquatch Quest

This evening I'll be driving up to the north woods to crash with my Aunt and Uncle in Price County, before heading out for a canoe trip Friday morning. Its not a long trip (through Sunday) but should be excellent. There are many islands in the canoeing area we'll be in so aside from having the charm of camping on an island, we'll also be able to avoid hanging our food from a tree. I know bears can easily swim if they are so inclined, but we should be fine. Famous last words, huh. The area we'll be in is about 20 minutes north of this month's upcoming Bigfoot expedition. I thought Sasquatch mainly lived in the Pacific Northwest, but apparently he's also in Price County, Wisconsin. The trip is mainly about fishing and camping, but now Bigfoot is in the mix. As a child that literally devoured UFO and Bigfoot books at the West Lawn Public Library on the south side of Chicago, I am somewhat interested to say the least. If we run into these people and t shirts are involved I might bite.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Yet another thrilling Alleycat

This blog may not be about many things, but I would like to assert that it is about more than just alleycats. Not today though.

Sunday’s WMD Choose Your Own Adventure alleycat was thrown by Jonny of Jonny Cycles fame, and was as excellent as a race could be. For $5 you got a veggie burrito at the start, coffee, beer at the end, and a race. Quite a deal. The theme was a weapons of mass destruction hunt styled upon a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You are the weapons inspector! We were only told the first stop, where we were then given a piece of paper with 3 choices/locations on it , 2 of which were incorrect. This continued for about 6 stops. Each piece of paper would have some discussion about the lead up to the Iraq war with 3 courses of action. At first I wasn’t sure if the correct location was the answer stating what should have happened, or what actually happened. It ended up being what actually happened, with politics and jokes thrown on top of the verbage of course. I’m not the fastest rider, but I ended up getting every answer correct the first time, which was an accomplishment considering most people made a few errors at least (Its funny that I got so many correct considering my politics are very different from most of what the race focused on). There was even a time trial in the middle, unexpectedly no less so as to take advantage of tired legs. I ended up foolishly waiting till the end to get a bunch of WMD components -- an inflated balloon, yellow cake(very tasty), a paper airplane (which needed to be thrown a certain distance), and an aluminum can (ie ‘tube’) – so my correct decision making earlier in the race ended up getting sacrificed towards the end of the race. I did finish in time and made all the stops, which is better than many people did, so I’m happy. Three hours on a track bike is long when you’re racing so I ended up sleeping soon after getting home. I’ll be up north camping this weekend otherwise I’d be at this weekend’s alleycat. Its almost ridiculous, but how can you complain? I’ll make the inevitable dozen or so more races planned before summer drifts away again.

Melissa at allbuttonedupyayportlanditrainstoomuch sent me some excellent b+w pictures of the Uptown Theatre that will soon be hanging on my wall, classing up the sparse dojo I live in.. Hopefully the theatre’s restoration will see fruition. With the rapid gentrification of Uptown I suspect the odds are very good. Thanks again to Melissa for the art – even though I never lived in Uptown I’m a sucker for Chicago history and loved the movie Backdraft more than I should admit.

Friday, June 09, 2006

At the race last Sunday the prequel event was the "Lip Gloss Paper Toss." The bike I'm riding here had "Lip Gloss" decals all over it with sparkles and other shiny things. It also had full suspension. The game was to throw the papers you see hanging off the front of the handlebars ala Paperboy. You were not allowed to cross the chalked line while throwing papers at boxes. I did poorly, but it was just as silly and fun as it looks. More pictures here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June is Alleycat Month in Madison



Though I much prefer the sound of Sheer Terror, Joe Coffee’s softer (relative to Sheer Terror) style is well worth listening to and since the lyrics are written and howled by the Rev. Paul Bearer, it’s a winner. They only have an EP out right now but supposedly a full length is on its way come fall. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to tour much beyond NYC but Paul keeps writing the best heartbroken songs around so I’ll happily keep buying them and hoping for that Midwest show. Paul always has something nice to say that is worth listening to.

. . .

There is a ridiculous amount of alleycats here in Madison. An excellent Choose Your Own Adventure styled race will be coming up this Saturday, and another one the weekend after that. All $5, and most offering some degree of food/beer. What a deal, specifically if you’re like me and you know that you have no chance of winning.

Sunday night was the start of alleycat month (apparently) here in Madison with the Tracks race. You had 2 hours to visit multiple east side bars and record the name of the song for your manifest’s given disc/track in the jukebox -- “Tracks” you see. Everyone pretty much headed to Paradise first, and so did I. It’s a great dive bar right off the capital square, deep within a nest of one way streets. I ended up being the second rider there, but due to barreling down the street alongside the capitol in the wrong direction and then burning a red right in front of a cop to cut down a one way street going the wrong way, I was pulled over by said cop with the lights and everything. He gave me a hard time about legally being a car and riding safely and obeying traffic laws and what not. I apologized and said that I only rode that way because it was Sunday and the capitol is dead. I was very polite. He never asked me about the 20+ bikers behind me racing and stumbling down the sidewalk to drop their bikes and go running into the bar. A little annoying, but I earned it and the race didn’t get busted and I didn’t get a ticket(though it was threatened) so no worries, though my chance to place highly as the dark horse import from Illinois was sullied as I was one of the last ones to get in the bar and fill in my manifest. I made all the stops, met some people, and didn’t finish last by any stretch. And since its Wisconsin, there were brats at the finish line. A very fun time and well run.

Madison has a fair amount of fixed gear bikes, but they are mostly conversions – not too many pure track bikes. And very few seem to be without a front brake. Smart people. I am not smart.