Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fucking tracks

The first thing one learns riding in San Francisco is how to be respectful and thoughtful of the cable car tracks on Market Street. Always approach them at a perpendicular angle, watch out when it has been raining. Such and so forth, etc etc etc.

Yesterday I left work early, full of celebration at the SCOTUS decision about DOMA and Prop 8. I was going to meet my friend, first stopping to look at some new jeans. I was riding behind a street sweeper and wanted to pull around them when they stopped behind a bus. I pulled into the left lane, carefully avoiding the TRACKS, pulled around and sped up. I realized there was a bus behind me and needed to scoot out of the way. I pulled in front of the parked bus and caught my wheel in the fucking tracks.

I keep replaying that shit in my head and it doesn't get any better so I'm not going to repeat it. Let's just say I am grateful that the only damage was to my knee and jeans.

Two really rad nurses were by the side of the road and helped me. They were asking me if I was ok and I was all, 'I'm not sure'. I could walk, my knee hurt, my bike seemed to be ok.

On the side of the road I checked my knee out, my jeans were ripped so I ripped them more so that I could take a look. Yuck. I saw things under my skin that from an art/anatomy perspective both fascinated and horrified me.

The hardest part of this was figuring out what to do. Ann, one of the nurses, stayed with me. She was amazing, she offered wipes and ideas about how to get to the hospital. I could not see getting on the bus with my bike and getting to St. Mary's. I eventually called my friend Jessica and she came over and dealt with my bike like a champ. She was clever and dropped off her bike at Huckleberry bikes, they checked out my bike in the meantime and straightened out the stem.

She then rode my bike to my house while I went to L'hospital in a cab. This is the first time I have been to the hospital since I was a kid. Thank goodness they make it easy. Everyone at St. Mary's was of course ├╝ber nice.

Jessica came back and hung out with me for which I have an overflowing amount of gratitude.
My rainbow flag! #marketstreettracksgotme
I got a vicodin, five stitches and X-rays. Nothing was broken. The irony here is that I was on the way to look for new jeans!
I consider this to be a pretty lucky accident. No cars or buses were involved. I lost a pair of jeans, but they have already been reconditioned into jortz (jean shorts). Jortz now (jean shorts)
Unfortunately this happens often enough that there is a tshirt, which will be here soon.
Earned this one!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oh hey...thoughts on consuming and making

Oh hey my brain. Always working non stop. Lately some of the thoughts have been if only I had clothes that fit me really well and looked really good, I would...

be happier?
have a great life?
like I don't have a great life?


I would like to have some money and time and luck to find some new jeans. Found 3 pair last fall and they are too big now and wearing out and fading. I could dye them I guess.

Edit: Due to my tangle with the Market Street tracks yesterday, I am down a pair!

The irony here is that I was on the way to look for new jeans!

Apparel Arts ended up being very fulfilling Monday. I finished my final two skirt exercises. I started these so long ago, like 4 weeks ago, and so much has happened since then that they really did feel like they took forever to make. I was happy to finish them and to start drafting patterns for my two final fashion skirts. I feel energized around doing something creative and making something. It was fun to sew this week at home and at Apparel Arts. I have made SIXTEEN skirts since January!

16 skirts done! #apparelarts

Jcrew box pleat skirt
The skirt on the right (JCrew fall 2013) is inspiration for one of my fashion skirts.

 marc jacobs skirt
Marc Jacobs I think Spring 2013 is the other inspiration.

It's been interesting to track my fashion whims through the spring of 2013. I had Big Fashion Plans at the beginning of the season, I think I was excited by the prospect of being in pattern drafting class and what I could do with it. I made lists of things that I wanted and trends that I was interested in. Then I kept track of all the things that I sold so that I could then buy...and return! During 3 months, Feb-April, I had THIRTY transactions from this list and the only thing I really held onto was a denim NOOWORKs dress and a yellow 60s Modcloth dress. Oh and I'm still really excited about is the custom kitten heels that Al's Attire is making.

Of course in Feb, March, April there was this idea that it was getting warmer and Summer was coming. I wanted dresses! Now in June, it tends to be cold and overcast in SF and jeans are the only reasonable answer to that chill. Dresses? Brrr.

What I've learned is that whatever whim I have about buying something usually dies down if I put it on a 'hold' list and prioritize the things that I want to purchase. Some things stay on the list and remain a priority. Other things just never make it to the top of the list because there is a finite amount of money and it can't go everywhere!

I strive to make purchases for the long haul, things that stand the test of time because they are beautifully made. Sometimes sitting with a decision for a long time means that I come up with some creative solution, like making it or making an alteration that makes something work better or just fucking making do with what I already have.

Being creative is satisfying. (sometimes) :) Consuming is...complicated.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Things don't always work out

Oof. Yesterday's Populaire was supposed to be super fun, and it was for many folks. I was having fun up until my second flat of the day.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, temperatures were supposed to range from 50s to 80 in Fairfax. It was all blue sky and warm light (not warm) just the light was beautiful when I left my house at 6am. I rode with a fellow to the bridge who was up early to ride Hawk Hill before his newborn woke up. It was nice having a chat before even starting the main event.

I was relaxed, got to see and meet everyone at the start, people were happy. I started out strong, I felt quick and nimble, got to chat with some folks along the way.

Sf #randonneur summer populaire

I was on Sir Francis Drake and was looking forward to riding the bike path in Samuel P Taylor, when I thought that I had picked up a tree branch from the sound of it. Turns out it was an unfriendly staple. I got out my kit and got my shit in order and even had some company from Alfie and Lisa while I changed the flat.

This is where the trouble began. Piecing it all together I think this is what happened: I don't think I seated the wheel properly in the dropouts. (I think this happened because when I was on flat number 2-4 I had to push harder than I thought to get the wheel seated on one side, it's like the dropout was narrower on that side.) I left the back brake unconnected. I realized the brake problem after I started out following Alfie and Lisa on the tandem.

I knew that I wanted to turn into the path so I figured that I would stop there and reconnect it.

I made a couple of mistakes. I think I should have communicated more clearly to them that I was turning onto the path. I also think that I should have taken more time checking things after the flat. When I reconnected the brake, I didn't check its position. It must have rubbed the tired until bang, flat number two.

I wasn't too far into the path. I changed it again, patching my second tube and reusing it. Another flat. This time I noticed the slices in the tire. I panicked until I remembered Ian at Box Dog gave me a sticker boot. I'm pretty sure that I noticed the two slices at this point and booted it with the sticker AND a $5 bill. That was change number 3. I might have called Bill at this point for reassurance. Keeping an eye on the time, it was getting close to not being able to make the first control time and I was thinking through my options.

It's just not my day

It gets a little hazy at this point through the lens of frustration. At some point I decided to walk back out towards the road, and the swimming hole. Some folks had come to play in the swimming hole and it was more appealing than wallowing in the mire of my frustrated and annoyed brain and body.

I think I attempted two more changes on the side of the road. I have to say a bunch of well meaning and friendly folks came by and asked me if I was ok. Being a resourceful Randonneur I thought I was...ok.

I parked the bike at one point and walked down to the watering hole and chatted up the peeps and hung out with the dogs. At the point when I decided I was done, I called the SFR hotline, or at least I thought it was the SFR hotline and DNF'd. Sigh. Texted some folks who live closed by. Babycakes was making arrangements for cars from SF.

In the end, Jimmy, Christina and Bella the pup ended up rescuing me and delivering me home and we got to spend time with them, which was really really nice. Thanks everyone for all the help.

Lessons learned: 

You do indeed win some and lose some. I'm changing this. This is not about winning, it's about having patience and having fun.
Double check your repairs.
Spare tires. This is why people bring them.
Missing out on the fun never feels any better than it did as a kid. Still brings depressed feelings and embarrassment.
Expectations are a bitch. This was not to be another ALC.
I can sit with the discomfort, it will pass.
I changed the sad face

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stuff and things, post AIDS/LifeCycle

I have a lot of processing to do post ALC. As one would imagine, one learns a lot being on the road for 7 days with thousands of like minded people doing good in the world. Here is a random collection of thoughts.

In regard to training...smack me on the head but I finally see the benefit of pushing hard in training, so that one has fun on whatever the big thing is that one is working towards. I know, I know. This seems obvious. I just didn't really push before.

Practicing has its benefits. Getting up at 4, 5, 6am for training rides was incredibly helpful for ALC. I already had a mental list of all the shit that needs to happen before a ride. What goes in the jersey and where, sunscreen, food, and the order of these things.

I understand what it is to pull your weight on a team and the benefits of being on one that truly cares as a whole about everyones' well being. I saw examples of wonderful humans. I would like to be like them.

Shit happens. As a resourceful human you deal with it. You take a mental break if needed and you move the fuck on to the next thing with gusto and confidence. (Moxie)

Meditation has taught me how to be non-reactive and slow down if things feel overwhelming.

I can sort of do anything that I set out to do. We all can really. This is both freeing and scary to let sink in.

We are all interconnected. Forming connections, having fun, supporting each other, smiling and meeting new people is truly wonderful.

California is beautiful. I want to see more. I also want to see more of the US/World on my bike.

I want to bring positive change to the world in whatever small way that I can.

I like riding my bike. Still. Plus I'm stronger now and so riding is super fun.

I wouldn't mind taking lots of things less seriously. Sometimes. I can get really caught up in researching things, reading about things, wanting things.

ALC folks had fun with their clothing, decorations, and bikes. After experiencing this, I immediately bought a license plate for the Pelican that says 'California Disco'. Because it is fun. And it's nice to have a conversation piece.

This isn't really an awesome example of not getting things. Of course I still want things. Well considered, well designed, lovely (if possible handmade) things that will last a lifetime. All of these things have a place I guess. It's a tightrope that I'll always likely walk, being an artist and appreciating things that people make. Whoa, not sure where this is going... :) It is an example of struggling to find peace with all of it I guess. In dharma talks this is about clinging and how that causes suffering.

I would like to pursue spending more time helping people. It's a great way to get out of my brain and reach out and connect to others.

I don't want these thoughts to be new shoulds or goals. I guess I'm writing this down so that I remember it all later.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

AIDS/LifeCycle Days 5-7. All my love.

Day 5. 42 miles. Santa Maria to Lompoc.

Day 5 was a special day on ALC. Originally people were asked to dress in red on Day 5, so that the ride looks like a red ribbon winding its way through the switchbacks and countryside. Of course the ALC community, at its very core being fabulous, evolved this into 'Red Dress Day'. I was going to go semi-practical and wear a red wool jersey, red shorts and a lacy underskirt but when I emerged from my tent to see 10 disco glittery red Annies I pretty much went back inside to see what else I had. Fortunately, I brought a red Esther Williams halter bathing suit. I asked my fashion consultant teammate Christopher which one I should do, and it was destined to be a bathing suit day.

Surrounded by glittery Annie's #alc2013 #teamunpopular

I checked in with bike tech and found Mark Ray, the wonderful guy who was going to go pick up my wheel. All was working in my favor today as I had plenty of charge on my phone, the package was in transit, I forwarded the UPS shipping email to Mark, and gave him my number. It was immensely reassuring to set out knowing that all of this was being taken care of and that I only needed to ride 40 miles on this wonky wheel.

Borrowed this from Uncle Larry:

Riding to the first rest stop was fun, I met up with John and we took this pin up photo in our bathing suits.

Res dress day

We had some climbing and descending into Rest Stop 2. Normally I would have enjoyed the shit out of these descents, they were fast and fun, but in my mind all I could think about was my wheel wobbling. Every little bump scared me a bit. Not to mention that it was overcast and cold. I was planning on skipping Rest Stop 2, until I saw some folks leaving with mylar blankets, and deciding to go in and get one to add some disco to my ensemble.

Club wear acquired, it was all uphill after that! Dangit. Mylar on, mylar off. Mylar balled up and stuffed into the back of my suit like Quasimodo. Since I didn't plan to wear the suit, I didn't bring a bag or anything to carry my stuff. My phone was also stuffed down the back. Note to future self, next time bring a purse or something. Ah, another good 'reason'  to purchase the small Alex Singer Berthoud. Hmmmm. This is how these things go.

So the hills on red dress day are not listed in the brochure, nor do they have names like the infamous Quadbuster or Evil Twins. But they are no joke. It was overcast and cool, whereas last year it was scorching hot, so we had that going for us. But it was nice rolling into camp pretty early so that we had time to do things.

Lompoc camp #alc2013

Camp in Lompoc was really pretty. There was a lake with ducks and happy birds. I dropped off my bike at bike tech when I arrived, confirmed that Mark Ray had the wheel, and also dropped off my shoes for new cleats. ALC has no mercy for the yellow stuff on road cleats, I couldn't clip in by the end of Day 5.

Camping for 7 days was interesting. I bought the big 36" split duffle that the packing clinics recommended, when it arrived I was going to send it back because I thought it was too big. It was bigger than anything that I could ever conceivably travel with. Too big to handle even. Then I started packing and talking to people and my cycle rep told me that it is nice to have extra room when packing up your crap in the morning. And boy was he right. Everything grew.

Morning were like this: 4:30 rise and shine, breakfast, maybe a quick foam roll or stretch at Chiro. Get dressed, pack up sleeping bag, Thermarest, 2 pillows (highly recommend!), attempt to jam all my other shit back into my HUGE GIGANTIC SHRINKING bag. The first couple of days were very stressful, on Day 5 I Fedexed some dirty clothes home, and that saved me.

Good morning campers! #alc2013

Our Team Captain, Jesse James. So much love.

A couple of notes about Rock Star Jesse. Jesse is a wonderful designer, he made Team Unpopular look good. We had awesome tent cards with our names, amazing kits, and team profile photos.

My team profile photo...

OMG. I'm not even done with Day 5. We arrived early to camp, got some shit done, and headed out early for Day 6. I really wanted some time with the Pelican before I got on the road. The new wheel was glorious, I spun it around, checked everything out and felt confident again. Which was good because Lorri Jean had me a little scared about Gaviota Pass, the descent into the LA basin. It's a 17% grade, with big trucks and there have been some major accidents during ALC on this stretch of road. I'm trying to find a video of Lorri Jean squealing out 'Hello riiiiders, Hello roadieeeees'. Maybe later.

Day 6. 84.3 miles. Lompoc to Ventura
We rolled out of Lompoc with overcast skies on barren hay filled roads. Rest Stop 1 was generally about ten miles from camp, this one was right before the Gaviota Pass. I knew that I didn't want to spend too long here as I need to keep my confidence up about the descent. My camera does not capture how massive these Rest Stops look from the road.


Right on the other side of the climb was the descent of a lifetime. I felt very confident on the Gaviota Pass, I made sure to leave myself plenty of room in front and behind me. This strategy will be good on future rides. Passing slower folks is not the most fun for either rider.

I sailed down this mountain, and when the trucks were all gone, it was silent. And beautiful. And the emotion came bubbling up and out of me. It's hard to describe what this ride did to me. I felt immersed in a welcoming and loving community, I was told many times that we were heroes. I rode for my teammates who are HIV positive. I rode for the people who felt the stigma of this disease and who tried to keep it a secret and died shrouded in mystery (Freddie). This ride offers a safe place for many with HIV/AIDS, it shows that positive people are not defined by their disease, they are strong and healthy. I learned about the services that the SF AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center offer: free mental health, doctors, and substance abuse programs for people of all walks of life. Straight, gay, homeless, addicted, you name it, everyone is welcome.

And I rode for me. Now I know that I can do this.
Gaviota Pass

Another highlight of Day 6 was riding though Santa Barbara and having ice cream. As our director, Greg Sroda, was fond of saying the 'Santa Barb-arians' had an unofficial official ice cream stop for us. I took this photo for one of my donors, Barbara Evans, who is a Santa Barbarian.

Santa Barbara ice cream stop! #alc2013

We rolled onto the beach camp in Ventura. It was a bittersweet night as it was our last night. There was a candlelight silent vigil on the beach to honor everyone who has died from AIDS.

Day 7. 60.7 miles. Ventura to the city of Angels.
I arrived at the Hustle bike parking to find Chris leaving as well. Joy!

Rolled out this morning with Chris #alc2013

And to find that the Chicken Lady and her minions had visited everyone over the night. We had eggs strapped to our seats with these inspiring messages.

'I am part of all that I have met' - Tennyson 'what did we ride for? If it was not to make life difficult for the ones we live, then we rode in the memory of the ones we lost.' Love, chicken lady, ALC 12  #alc2013 #teamunpopular


I know I'm not done with Day 6, but I need to give a shout out to so many characters from this event. Team Slow Poke. The Chicken Lady. The woman from Team Dilly Dally who 1) flashed her boobs at me 2) played the theme from Rocky as we climbed Quadbuster 3) had on a penguin suit and a walker as we climbed some other god forsaken mountain. Lorri Jean and her inspiring, tear wrenching stories. Each and every member of Team Unpopular. People who I danced with up and down rollers. Kids who wrote us letters of encouragement. The people of Bradley who cooked for us. The people who stood along our route and cheered and held up signs of loved ones who have died of AIDs. Maybe also I just don't want Day 7 to end. sigh.

At lunch, Team Unpopular met up to ride the final stretch together. I got to ride with Tall Guy, whose legs are lean and long and who was usually in the fasty-fast group. A memorable quote from the day. I shared that my sash had Freddie Mercury on it and two of my teammates said that Freddie showed them how to be gay. So much love.

We rode through parts of So Cal that had been burned and that looked like Mars.
Rest stop 1#alc2013

My teammate Shelley fell before lunch. Nothing was broken but she hit a rock and fell on her hip and has a huge 'leg baby' (her words) of a hematoma on her leg.

Aaaaaand this happened :( #alc2013 #teamunpopular

And then this happened. Photos courtesy of Mike Schmitt.

Mike Schmitt 1 Mike Schmitt 2Mike Schmitt 3Mike Schmitt 4

SF to LA. Done!

SF to LA. Done!

Whew, that was a 545 miles long blog posting. The video below sums up a bit of what we experienced. Also more photos here:

I highly recommend doing this ride, it will change you in so many ways. It's not just a 545 mile ride, it's a loving community. I heard many people say that they joined AIDS/LifeCycle in the beginning for the physical challenge but come back every year because their lives changed. They were affected in some way by the disease and it meant even more to them.

I'm keeping my bike number on the Pelican for a while. Number 3166 says 'You belong here'. Thank you to every cheerleader and donor. This wouldn't be possible without you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

AIDS/LifeCycle Days 1-4

Day 1. 82.5 miles. Cow Palace to Santa Cruz. My neighbor Raf and I arrived at the Cow Palace at 5am. Dropped off our gear at the trucks, wandered inside and found a spot near the Popcorn Stand. Team mates and people that I recognized slowly began to arrive. I visited my bike to drop off water bottles and check my helmet. At 6am they let us into the auditorium. We found out at Opening Ceremonies that we had broken a record and made 14.2 million dollars with 2200 riders and 552 Roadies. We stretched and started towards our bikes. It was challenging to wait for all my team mates and get out the door, we got separated pretty quickly. It felt wonderful to ride out to all the cheering. I can barely remember but I know that we had fog, and it was cold and wet. We made our way South to 92, and getting to the top of that climb yielded the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Roma and Taint a Virgin. They fed us strawberries. My heart is big with the memories and love.
After Half Moon Bay we started to see some sunshine, we reached sandy red cliffs late in the afternoon as we got closer to Santa Cruz. My team mates and I were flying down the coast with strong tail winds. We had a great time.

Hwy 1

We landed that night in Santa Cruz. I can't remember what camp looked like, I vaguely remember eating dinner with Tia. My legs and thumb cramped badly that night, I had a terrible night's sleep. I ran into my friend and veteran Alfie at some point during the night or morning and he gave me some good advice.

I was challenged by waiting for my team to get out of the gate together. He said to not worry about it, that there were so many people to meet on the ride we didn't need to all stick together. After that, I felt free to do what I needed to do. And I did meet a ton of people. I chatted people up left and right and it was wonderful.

Day 2. 109.2 miles. Santa Cruz to King City. I woke up early, met John and a woman named Martha in line for breakfast. I wanted to roll out early because it was a long day. It took a long time to get out of Santa Cruz. I remember riding by canals and stopping a lot in single file. It was overcast by the time we made it out to the fields. I ran into Babs from Box Dog on her Pelican and we rode together and chatted and made it to the unofficial official artichoke stop where we were able to take cute pictures.

Double pelicans all the way! #alc2013 #boxdogbikes #pelican

We had to get back on the road pretty quickly because the sweep was behind us. Babs attempted to eat her fried artichokes on the route and ended up getting a warning from one of the safety guys. Whoopsie. Babs had the small Berthoud bag on the front of her bike and it was the perfect size for this event. Not too big, it holds just enough. Of course I have a list of things I want post ride and this is one of them. Her team, Team Wino, was very funny and very San Francisco. Misfits and rogues, the whole lot of them. So much love.
Action shot!

I met up with John, Tia, Shelley at Rest Stop 4: the Otter Pop and Cookie Lady stop. We rode together the last part of the ride. We had a ton of fun and some pretty strong tailwinds close to camp, it was a brilliantly fast ride all the way into King City. Completely exhilarating. I found myself recharged.

Day 3 good morning 2200 riders!

Day 3. 66.7 Miles. King City to Paso Robles. We started the day with Quadbuster, a long slow climb. No biggie, I just took it slow and chatted and sang all the way up. I felt great, though at the next rest stop I was uncomfortable. My legs felt bad and I was hot and grumpy. Highlight of the day for me was buying a jar of kosher dill pickles at the B52s Love Shack rest stop to share with my team mates. Then meeting up with and riding with Chris through most of the second half of the day. Riding the last 10 miles to camp was really difficult and I was out of sorts. My butt hurt, hands hurt, I was hot and 'I was going through it'. I did get some great photos of my team.

John cavallini aka summer clearance #teamunpopular #alc2013
John Cavallini aka Summer Clearance

More team! #alc2013 #teamunpopular
L: Uncle Larry R: Chad
Hey #teamunpopular #alc2013
L -->R Uncle Larry, Chad, Shelley, Tyler

Day 4. 97.7 miles. Paso Robles to Santa Maria. As I was putting air in my tires in the morning I noticed that my back wheel was out of true so I decided that I would have it checked at the first rest stop. Kelly Ann and I rode there together, we chatted about Dr Sketchy's and Delirium, where she tends bar. Some friends of mine DJ there on Thursday nights, so of course she and I had a lot to chat about. We arrived at Rest Stop 1, I got in line and when the cute tech dude put my bike up in the stand, I noticed why my wheel was out of true.

Aaaaaaand this happened #alc2013 box dog bikes is saving my ride. Thanks  @olgrumpy !!!

The mechanic trued the wheel and took some tension off of this spoke, he assured me that he would ride on it, and that I would feel it when/if it went so I left the rest stop with the instructions to go to the Cannondale truck at lunch and order a new wheel. Of course I am special and have a special wheel size so when I arrived at lunch this ended up being quite a task. But I'm getting ahead of myself because we had yet to climb the Evil Twins! Once we got here it was all Halfway to LA!

Halfway to LA happened #alc2013 #teamunpopular

I love love love this photo. I feel like it's alternating between Washington crossing the Delaware

and Joan of Arc.

We rolled into lunch pretty late after all the photo ops and I had to take care of this wheel issue.

Thanks to Mark from Insync Cycles and Gabe of Box Dog Bikes in SF for making everything happen. It was quite the perfect storm, 1% battery left on my phone, calling Box Dog to coordinate getting a new back wheel, using Mark's phone, getting an address so that Box Dog could ship the wheel out for pickup the next day. I was a little mentally fried by the time everything was done.

Also, descending that fucking mountain on a wheel that I didn't believe in was no fun. John Cavallini was very sweet and stuck with me the whole way to make sure that I was ok. Long story short, I had ten minutes to pee, eat, and sunscreen before getting swept so I decided that getting on the road in that state of mind was no good. I sagged the rest of that day. I'm of course disappointed that I didn't ride the entire way, but grateful that I have the mindfulness to know what's best for me.

Also the sag bus was fun, I got into camp in time to get some chiropractic adjustments and self care and I chatted with some awesome folks. So I got to experience everything!

I'll do another installment for Days 5-7 and I'll also attempt to upwell what this experience taught me. I'm a changed woman.