Normandy Ride, Second Lunch, & Colored Pencil

Last Thursday, I again rode through Normandy, this time arriving by roads I’d not previously ridden.  On a bridge over the Duck River end of Normandy Lake under which I used to paddle fairly often, I stopped and snapped a couple of pictures. 

Grilled-Cajun-Chicken-Sandwich

Because I was hungry again by the time I got there, I stopped and ate a sort of second lunch at The River Café.  Even though I was wearing tight-fitting cycling apparel, dripping sweat, and doubtless stank, and offered to sit outside, the waitress told me I was welcome to sit inside the restaurant.  The day’s high temperature, oddly low for this time of year, was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  I’d hoped to get a bowl of chicken rice soup but that day the only soup on the menu was tomato basil.  Instead, I got a grilled Cajun chicken sandwich with a side of fries that tasted fantastic and was easy on my stomach when I continued my ride.  Also, got a water bottle refilled.  The friendly service and good food warrant return visits to The River Café.

GeeseMountain-View-Road

Green-FieldsDrive-Side-InToward-Duck-River-Ingress

I’ve written elsewhere about those lousy Kucharik cycling gloves I got last year; that they disintegrated within the first 90 days of use.  What I haven’t written about yet is what Kucharik does well, and that is make merino wool cycling jerseys.  Two Christmases ago, I received a bright orange Kucharik long-sleeve wool jersey.  I asked for and got an Extra Large, but a Large would have fit better – I’ve tried to shrink it a bit in the dryer, and it fits a little better, now.  My choice of orange has nothing to do with the University of Tennessee.  It’s a color I’ve liked since the mid-1980’s.  The jersey is comfortable, with sleeves pushed up, in temperatures to about 70 degrees, when worn with shorts, and is able to accommodate a base-layer for winter temperatures.  Additionally, the garment does not retain the stink of my sweat after a hard ride.  Highly recommended and can be purchased cheaper than elsewhere at Bike Tires Direct.  No, I don’t receive any compensation from Bike Tires Direct, but lacking a conveniently located bicycle shop here at Stepford, they’re a good source of reasonably priced bike stuff and their customer service is second to none.

Orange Kucharik Jersey

In regard to the color orange and, incidentally, Portland, Oregon, I recently emailed scans of a few small images to a friend who works at the unit where I completed my recent internship.  She’d been working on a fish painting for one of the rooms in her house, and I remarked that the fish I have depicted tend all to have an orange cast to them – that their souls, if they have souls, are orange in color.  The two larger images below are from or about my time in Portland. 

Angel of the Waters

The image of the mermaid, the fins or flukes of her tail behind her shoulders like the wings of a celestial being, I call The Angel of the Waters and she represents the Williamette River where the Fremont Bridge crosses over from North East to North West Portland – all of humanity is unaware of her as anything other than a body of water to be crossed or used.  Her only means of getting the attention of passersby is to rise up and harm them, but in this image she exercises patience, refraining from doing harm but not wholly content to be ignored.  Fish crownlike keep their places around her head – they are orange.  I gave the original of this drawing to my younger sister for a wedding gift, if memory serves.

Tall Grass Beside the Tree

When I lived at Portland, I had a series of strange, frightening, and semi-recurring dreams – for a couple of weeks most of my nights were troubled by dreams each resuming where the other had left off.  My second-floor apartment on North New York Avenue had a view of the Saint Johns Bridge.  The image wherein can be seen the Saint Johns Bridge (perspective all wrong, by the way), the yellow house, and the hamadryad depicts a scene from one of these dreams during which I, my dream self, remained hidden during the hours of daylight to elude discovery by those who inadvertently served the evil powers that roamed the streets by night.  As I sketched the image lightly in pencil, I realized the tree looked a little like a woman, so I developed that into the composition.  As to what is written below, the allusion is to that part of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome in the eighth chapter that talks about the fallen state of the created order in relation to the redemptive work of God in Christ.

And then, a few marginal scribbles made during one of many time-wasting trainings (these in about 2004) while employed by the State.  Fish – again fish – a recurring theme in my work.

Green Fish Dorsal AspectOrange Fish Dorsal Aspect

Fossil Fish

Thoughts on Meaninglessness and Belonging

Last Wednesday evening, I skipped a congregational meeting during which we’d planned to continue reading and discussing the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes.  Prior to joining (several years ago) the congregation of which I am now a member, I routinely skipped congregational meetings and almost never attended those scheduled midweek because I had a strong sense my contributions in terms of presence and participation were meaningless.  In turn, I experienced no learning from them save a growing dissatisfaction and unease when present with that group of people in its various activities.

Experience (although I don’t consciously seek “religious experience”) in the congregation of which I am currently part is vastly different from what I knew previously as a member of that other local church.  The congregation’s meetings serve as frameworks within which learning occurs as scriptures of Old and New Testaments are discussed, as opposed to a framework for upholding social and denominational norms..  Even in this setting, though, sometimes I observe a tendency toward groupthink – probably an unavoidable sociological condition.  I bridle against it because I am incapable of conforming my mind, nay, my self, to group norms that do not seem reasonable to me.  I cannot or will not color within lines that I haven’t drawn, myself, that don’t make sense to me, or weren’t drawn by an authority I recognize as greater than myself – the hand of God. 

This all sounds grandiose, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, it’s my honest evaluation. 

Think of a graph depicting multiple bell-shaped curves radially extending from a central point (think of an X or an asterisk drawn with squiggles) – on any of these bells (which may represent interests, enthusiasms, intelligence, aptitudes, personality styles, and so forth) most people fall between the lines which are defined by one standard deviation above and below the mean.  I would guess that most people can be “found” only on one or two of the radial arms.  I can be “found” well beyond the mean on most of the arms that serve to capture data pertaining to whatever it is that I am.  On some of those graph arms, I’m almost the only data point I can perceive.  All this to explain why I am incapable of conforming mind and self to group norms – while rules of ordinary decency and courtesy do apply to me, as do those laws that protect the rights of individuals from one another individually or in aggregate – most human-derived and agreed upon strictures and systems of meaning mean not much at all to me.  I don’t see the value in them nor can I affirm the ‘truth’ of the perceptions they for some serve to enshrine.

I think this is simply basic, rational understanding.  In other places, possibly even in a post here, I’ve remarked that the road to self-understanding is a dead end street because insight (about one’s self, others, circumstance, etc.)  does not always or even often provide of itself the power to alter or better what is understood of the self.

In practical terms, what this means for me is that I experience frustration when my insights and, to use a hackneyed term, the ‘box’s’ inability to contain my thought and those of my thoughts, themselves, are not understood (agreement is unimportant or without valued meaning – to me).  I feel this most intensely when that occurs while interacting with people who matter to me – like the people who are part of my congregation or the family of my birth.

A related problem I experience is when I join groups that form around shared interests in activities, such as kayaking or cycling.  What I find is that, while interested in, engaged in, and engaged in thought about the activity and things related to it, such as gear and conditions of use, other people are not interested in the same way that I am interested.  While in one sense, I have something in common with other club members, in practical terms, I really do not have much at all in common with them. 

In conjunction with (or it may arise from the foregoing) a social awkwardness you’d have to be me to understand, this makes any kind of participation in group activities potentially unpleasant for me.  Oddly enough, I haven’t experienced this unpleasantness in relation to my current congregation.  But I did experience it last Wednesday, the evening I skipped the usual congregational meeting for scriptural and theological reflection in favor of a cycling club activity.

That cycling club activity was a local Ride of Silence – a slow four mile or so ride through town on busy streets with police escort.  I wore normal street clothes because it was only a slow, four-mile ride, and showed up early.  That’s one way to manage social awkwardness – show up early and strike up conversation with one or two people I already know.  Also, being late means finding a place to park and possible difficulty hearing what’s going on.  I said hello to one guy I know slightly and he completely ignored my greeting – jackass? didn’t hear? preoccupied?  Who knows.  I didn’t really know anyone else and my attempts to converse all proved abortive.  I felt unpleasantly like the only one of my kind in the group, even though there were several club members present I genuinely like.

Most of the other riders wore what cyclists call their “kits” – matching lycra shorts and jerseys, etc.  Some, to be sure, rode from their homes, however distant, to the assembly point.  I wore the same pair of baggy shorts I wore the day I bought the Miyata 610 in Louisville two or three years ago, and a faded red Dickies t-shirt.  No sense in wearing Lycra and chamois for a four-mile ride – if my nads are so diseased as to go numb on a short, easy bike ride, there’s something bad wrong with them.   

The ride leader gave a short talk about Ride of Silence, the police sergeant’s SUV rolled out ahead of us and police on 29’ers brought up the rear.  I thought it was cool that the police chief, himself, rode along. 

I rode the Jamis Supernova, a cyclocross bike with heavy, slow commuter tires, because the tube I’d patched for the Miyata’s front tire didn’t hold air.  Mercifully, for me, the ride of silence is silent, so no conversation is expected or wanted.  Some of the guys on racing bikes in full kit ahead of me pointed (as is courteous to do on group rides) at gravel and road surface irregularities.  On a cyclocross bike equipped with Continental Tour Ride tires, I several times caught myself thinking, “That $#!+’z not a hazard for me.”  But I likewise pointed out the hazards for those behind.

When the ride was over, I pedaled right up to my car, loaded up the bike, and left immediately.  Back home, it felt good to sit on the livingroom couch with my wife and son.  In the warm embrace of my family, I felt wanted, accepted, understood – that I belonged.  Later, I sent an email to my friend, our congregation’s pastor: 

Hi Doros,
I guess I’m just not bikey enough; won’t skip another meeting for a cycling activity.  During the entire ride, I found myself thinking, "I could have been discussing Scripture with my favorite people."  The Ride of Silence had no emotional or spiritual impact on me and only served to remind me how little I have in common with most people, even cycling enthusiasts.
Cheers,
Chris

Returning to practical matters, how does one cope with one’s own awkwardness, being out of step with and occasionally feeling unpleasantly alone in when in the company of numerous others he might reasonably expect to have something in common?  A constellation of maladaptive strategies fueled by feelings of grief and anger are available to the sufferer, but I’d like to list here a few methods that have worked for me and enabled me to function in a world largely constructed by and for the masses:

  • I acknowledge my feelings identifying and categorizing them without feeling ashamed of having them, then make a conscious decision not to let them curdle my spirit and mind.  This is something that’s only occurred to me here in the past several months.  Difficult it is in the moment and when experiencing unpleasant emotion to become aware that the choice is one’s own whether to become overwhelmed by feelings of shame, anger, grief or to function in a way that does no harm to self or others and does not preclude positive interactions with others of the group at some future time.  There’s no sense in self-crippling by allowing oneself to become embittered and twisted.
  • Related to the foregoing is making a decision not to say anything unkind to others when experiencing unpleasant feelings.  In Alcoholic Anonymous the cliché This Too Shall Pass is used to remind the recovering alcohlic that the irritant of the moment or the difficult circumstance inhabited will change in time and with patience may be got through without resorting to use of drink. 
  • Complete the mission, accomplish the goal, carry out the task – if there’s no harm in it.  For instance, last Wednesday, although I felt like, “What the hell am I doing here?” the condition was one that could be got through by simply participating in the activity in which I’d come to participate and then leaving when it was over, as opposed to hitting the “Screw This” button and bugging out early.  I mean, really, unpleasant feelings are simply feelings and part of the human task is learning to master one’s feelings.
  • Think about the feelings – dissect them – their utility, what causes them, what they signify.  By intellectualizing one’s feelings, one can become attenuated from them and this can be a useful to prevent acting impulsively according to their dictates.  I don’t usually enjoy experiencing emotion, but it sometimes does serve to inform me that there is some problem in my circumstance that requires my attention.  Sometimes I experience pleasant emotions, such as those I experienced while I was sitting on the couch with my family after I got home last Wednesday, or those I experience when applying my mind to and discussing scripture and theology.
  • Don’t look down on those who are different – in their own ways, they may be well beyond the mean in ways you are not.  Take other people seriously and respect their mastery of or competence in what matters to them.  Ask intelligent questions and learn from people who are different.  Wish them well and try to take pleasure in their successes.
  • Recognize that most people experience in some instances something like the unpleasantness you’re experiencing.  Like you, they may be wondering, “What the hell am I doing here?
  • If circumstances warrant aborting the planned activity, feel free to leave.  Try to do it without making some kind of unkind, conclusive statement that may serve as a barrier to you in some unforeseen way, later on.  Leave quietly and draw as little attention to yourself as possible.  Unwanted attention is worse than that unpleasant aloneness you’re leaving behind when you leave the situation.
  • Remember what Christ said about casting pearls before swine – you don’t have to and should not share your insights, perceptions, values, thoughts, and self with those who are incapable of understanding or who are malicious twits who should simply be completely avoided.
  • Invest your time, effort, thought, love in people who matter to you.  Just one friend, even if he or she does not completely understand you, may provide an oasis of peace in what often seems a hostile universe.  Love your family, cultivate friends if there’re people with whom communication and understanding is possible.
  • The apostle, Paul, enjoined his readers somewhere the letter he wrote to the church at Rome, “So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”  That’s good advice.
  • Prioritize, although sometimes this takes trial and error (as I learned last Wednesday night), and participate in or expend effort in or for what matters to you to the degree that it makes sense to you.
  • Never stop learning

Miscellany & Spring Rides Photos

As mentioned in my previous post, last week my mental focus was blurred as I was little worried about a medical procedure I was scheduled to undergo last Thursday at the local outpatient surgery center.  Better than the local hospital, I’d say, but then it’s likely Pizza Hut is better than the hospital at Stepford.

On 5/15/15, though, the day after anesthesia and semi-surgical probing, I did manage a 15 mile ride (although 35 miles would have accounted for all the dates digits, as abbreviated, and better served my fitness needs).  One of the reasons I rode no further Friday is that I had mowing to do before rain set in.  The other reason is that, for the first time, I rode wearing a pair of Keen closed-toed sandals.  They have stiffer soles than my current pair of New Balance trail runners, which I’ve been wearing when riding platform pedals sans toeclips.  I wear the sandals around town and when paddling canoe or kayak in warm weather without problem or discomfort.  While riding the Jamis, however, the same lower extremity that was injured in September 2013 and again in December 2014 went numb.  Adjusting the sandal’s tightness didn’t alleviate the problem, so I don’t think I’ll be wearing them again to cycle.

5-10 Guide TennieBikeTiresDirect Team Jersey

I’ve ordered some 5-10 shoes to replace the New Balance shoes I’ve had for the past maybe three years.  I also ordered a Bike Tires Direct cycling jersey on clearance to replace the torn Ireland Harp jersey.  The BTD jersey is a pretty loud advertisement for the company, but because Stepford has no nearby bike shop, Bike Tires Direct serves that function.  So, I feel only a little odd about wearing the jersey.  It’s a “race-fit” cut, but in Extra Large it fits okay.  I’ve worn it a couple of times this week and, except for its full-length zipper in front that fastens on the wrong side, I like it.

George S. Patton Jr.

This week, I finished reading Killing Patton, a volume I think was largely ghostwritten in the “voice” of Fox News anchorman Bill O’Reilly and researched by one Martin Dugard who may also have done the ghostwriting.  Written at about a sixth grade reading level, Killing Patton: the Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General presents the reader with the usual biographic mosaic consisting of disparate event narratives related to the work’s central theme.  I would have preferred something better written, like the work of William Manchester or even Barbara Tuchman, but overall, once I got past the dumbed-down writing style, I enjoyed the factual material.  I don’t recommend spending money to read this book, but if your library or a friend has a copy, borrow it and give it back.

Here are a few photos from rides taken during the past couple of weeks:

House-Done-Gone

Image above from a ride I’ve taken a number of times, but this time a farmhouse had been removed from its foundation.  I thought the method of constructing the porch, at right, was interesting.

Miyata-610-Abandoned-Picnic-Area

Abandoned-Picnic-Area-1Abandoned-Picnic-Area-2Abandoned-Picnic-Area-3

Abandoned-Beach-1Abandoned-Beach-2Abandoned-Beach-3

The images above are from an abandoned and off-limits recreational beach on a nearby lake.

Super-Nova-Dry-Lake

Dry-Lake-Toward-DamSuper-Nova-Gary-2-Bars-RearDry-Lake-Sign-Down

This small lake is usually choked this time of year with lily pads, and they can be seen in the images laying atop the exposed mud.  My guess is the lake was drained to do some work on the dam – workman appeared to be taking a break on the dam as I stopped to snap a couple of pictures.

Super-Nova-Dam-NormandySuper-Nova-Dam-Boatramp

Our-Hospitality-Lean

The images above are from my ride Sunday afternoon.  The house and fence in the sepia-toned image reminded me of Buster Keaton’s film Our Hospitality, probably because Keaton’s character rides a push-bike in the movie’s opening sequences and the house pictured reminds me of the Old South.

Country-RoadMagellan-Cyclo-505-MappingCyclo-505-Mapping-Screen-Detail

I turned to the Cyclo 505 dashboard mapping screen because I was a little uncertain about my next turn, although I’d ridden this way once before.  Worked fine.  I used the mapping feature later in the day while riding along an overgrown path in the woods I’d previously ridden almost two years ago (I think it was).

Super-Nova-Explorer-Lean

Overgrown-Path-1Overgrown-Path-2Overgrown-Path-3

Crossing-UpstreamCreek-Crossing-1Crossing-Downstream

Out-of-the-Woods-HereUp-&-OutBack-to-Pavement

I decided to ride through the woods for a few miles to break up the monotony of travel.  The path I chose is one my friend, Adrian, and I tried on our Bridgestone’s – MB-6 and MB-4, respectively – maybe two and a half years ago.  We rode on a rainy day in very early Spring, and it was pretty cold out.  When we got to the running creek’s ford, pictured above, the rushing water was about knee deep.  I got about halfway across carrying my bike when Adrian persuaded me to turn back.  We eventually found an alternate route. 

This time, although it had rained the day before, water was only a little more than ankle deep and I easily carried the Jamis Super Nova across (although I’d earlier ridden through a smaller, less rocky-bottomed stream).  I was glad to have the Cyclo 505’s mapping feature during this part of the ride.  I was glad I’d used a cloud of bug spray before I left the house, too.  The path I chose came out on a gravel road by a power plant, but I rode out of the area on the overgrown track above center.  I’m happy to say the Jamis Super Nova cyclocross bike, its Dura Ace components, and its Continental Tour Ride tires seem equal to most of the conditions I’m willing to ride.

C10-Kompact'O-&-BTD-Jersey

That’s me wearing my third Catlike Kompact’O helmet and my new Bike Tires Direct jersey.  I’m hoping the new Kompact’O holds up better than the previous two helmets, and that the new jersey (har) holds up better than that Ireland Harp jersey.

Mid-Week Daze

This morning I got through a minor surgical ordeal that was far less horrible than I imagined it would be, but I’ve felt pretty spacey all day.  A nap this afternoon helped. 

Yesterday, Wednesday 13 May, a few hours before I had to begin the preparation process for today’s unpleasantness, I suited up in my torn Ireland Harp jersey and slightly too large Sugoi (sp?) bib shorts for a ride.  I chose the Miyata 610 and planned just a quick 10 to 12 mile neighborhood ride.  Got about four miles into the ride and realized the front tire was almost flat; I stopped and pumped it back up and was miraculously able to ride again at normal speeds.  For about a mile, I rode normally until the tube again leaked so much air its lower volume would have alarmed even the serious alternative cyclists at Rivendell Bike Works.  Feeling disappointed, I pulled off the roadway onto the bike path and rode carefully to within a half mile of the house.  From there, I walked the bike.   Probably, I’ll repair or replace the tube tomorrow.

Feeling like a condemned man as I considered the prospect of today’s outpatient procedure, late Tuesday afternoon I rode the Jamis Supernova from Stepford to Pixley and back again.  Only about 25 miles, but I made good time – about 15.3 mph average until getting back in to Stepford on the return leg due to stops for traffic.  I was surprised at the speed I made on the Continental Tour Ride tires.  For Christmas, I got a new cassette for the Jamis that’s got 32 teeth on the big ring, which makes a big difference on the hills hereabouts; got it installed about three weeks ago at Woody’s.  The mechanic was able to install the cassette very cheaply while I waited and then corrected a problem with the right STI shifter that’d been caused by the use of brake cable housing for the shift cable.  Getting the work done while I waited and was able to talk bike stuff with someone more knowledgeable than I was pleasant.

Back in Stepford, on the way home Tuesday, I got to visit with a couple of old friends at two stops, and that was also pleasant.  At the house, again, my son and I played catch, played with toy lightsabers, and played a lot of catch.  All in all, a good day.

Lately, especially since one reader reached out to me information about one, I have been hoping to find a serviceable and inexpensive folding kayak to replace the E68 I gave to my friend Eric back in 2013.  Right now, the only boats I’ve got are the behemoth, heavy Pouch RZ96 and the 17’ Grumman aluminum canoe.  Neither is much good for solo paddling.  Yes, it is about time to get my son in a boat, but he’s still much too small to assist much with assembling and moving Poucher Boote.

Harp Ireland Cycling Jersey Review

Harp Ireland Cycling Jersey Front

Last July or August, I bought a Harp Ireland Cycling Jersey from a Celtic-themed coffee shop.  I liked the look of the jersey – both colors and graphic elements.  I liked the no-zipper collar; if you sweat like I do, a zipper offers no appreciable relief in a short-sleeve, warm weather jersey.  Gold and brownish-black with red and green highlights, as well as white lettering.  Looks really good, and, in Extra-Large, it looks really good on me. 

Additionally, I’m not just a Celtic poseur – my late, unlamented wicked Irish paternal grandmother was an Ahern, for what that’s worth.

Right away, one thing I didn’t like was that the jersey has only two pockets in back.  That’s irksome, as my Miyata 610 bicycle has only one water bottle cage, and no bosses (I think they’re called) for attachment of a second cage, unlike the legendary Miyata 1000 tourer that came with not only down-tube shifters, but two bottle cages and a model specific rear rack.  What’s my point?  Most jerseys have three pockets in back, the central pocket being an easy, balanced, symmetrical place to carry an extra water bottle.  The two pockets on the Ireland Harp jersey are too wide to carry a water bottle, even if one were to try to carry two bottles back there.

Besides the (to me) excellent collar sans zipper, the other odd feature to this jersey is that its sleeves are considerably longer than those of a typical short sleeve cycling jersey.  Although they’re elasticized at the hems, they are about as long on the upper arm, when riding, as those of a normal short sleeve t-shirt.  Doesn’t bother me at all, but does produce dueling tan lines over against my Castelli jersey.

Up until last week, this was my favorite jersey, in spite of the fact that it wants a third, central pocket.  That said, it’s a pocket problem that’s made the jersey barely usable.  As I was setting out on what I’d intended to be an easy 17 miler (but became an easy-ish but longer than anticipated 34 mile ride), I realized my wallet was poking through a hole in the left most pocket as I got my keys out to clip them into my seatbag.  I put wallet, keys, and cell-phone all in the seatbag and transferred my PowerBar protein-candy-‘nutrition’ to my right pocket along with my camera.  Glad I found the problem before I lost anything.

The Ireland Harp cycling jersey is manufactured in Pakistan by a company called Dolmen Clothing.  I’m not sure the pocket can be repaired.  This is the kind of garment failure I’d expect from a $15 Canari product.  For my $47, I got a cool looking jersey that fit well and felt good when worn, but apparently wore out after only a few months of use.  Bummer. 

I recommend you look elsewhere for an ethnic Irish jersey.

Ireland-Jersey-CollarMade-in-Pak

Ireland-Jersey-BackLeft-Pocket-Tear-1Left-Pocket-Tear-2

Review, Review, Review

Having a little unaccustomed free time this past week, I wrote three reviews for products I purchased from Bike Tires Direct, the Portland, Oregon based online retailer that’s become my go-to source of bike stuff.  This, in large measure, is due the fact that Lovely Stepford is located at least 45 minutes from the nearest bike shop.  Informing my choice of online retailer, however, is the stellar customer service provided by Bike Tires Direct in addition to their bonus points accrual system that renders many items enticingly affordable to the budget-minded cyclist.  Some motivation for writing the reviews was provided by Bike Tires Direct in the form of a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for writing reviews of products purchased through their website.

Catlike Kompact’O Helmet

The Catlike Kompact’O helmet was the first product I reviewed as it is the one I’ve had the longest (besides the 27” Continental Gatorskins I’ve got on the Miyata 610).  I had previously reviewed the Kompact’O on this blog twice – here and a follow up review here.  The first Catlike helmet, in matte black finish, failed within a couple of months of purchase (read about that failure at the second of the links above), and Bike Tires Direct shipped me a replacement the day I contacted their customer service department.  The replacement helmet, in blinding white, had served me very well since.  The review I wrote for Bike Tires Direct can be found in the reviews tab on their Catlike Kompact’O page

Until yesterday, that review written earlier this week was my final word on the subject.  That was until I’d fitted panniers to the Miyata 610, strapped on the Kompact’O and found the adjustment wheel, although it made ratcheting sounds when turned, failed completely to tighten the helmet’s retention system at occiput.  Color me irked. I cursed twice – once when removing the helmet, and once when removing the bike’s panniers and tossing them onto the grass beside the garage.  I should have better control of my anger, but the thought of several days without a riding for exercise in addition to having to drive the green ‘98 to the store irked my arse.  Not a very good excuse, but there it is.

Feeling a little like an idiot (after having so recently posted a review of the product on their website), I phoned up Bike Tires Direct customer service.  I spoke with Dennis requesting that the company send out a replacement retention system, but while talking about it, noticed that retention system is listed as compatible only with Catlike’s more expensive helmet models.  Dennis asked if it would be okay if he checked into the matter and called me back.  No problem.  I drove to the store and on my return, Dennis called back informing me that he and another BTD employee had determined that the Kompact’O retention system cannot be replaced and that they would ship me another helmet.  In his confirmation email, Dennis told me they’d send me a new helmet before day’s end and email me a prepaid return shipping label.  The new helmet will be here next Tuesday, 12 May. 

I wish I had a spare helmet, but free replacement is good.

Continental Tour Ride Tires

The second review I wrote and posted this week at Bike Tires Direct was for the Continental Tour Ride (look under the Reviews tab) tires I bought last Fall for my Craigslist Jamis Supernova – my compromise bike bridging the gap between upright freezer and Orbea Starship superbike.  I’ve written about the Continental Tour Ride tires on this blog here with a  follow up review here.  In addition to these two Tour Ride specific posts, a number of others also refer to the tires and may be found using the search feature on this blog or by simply googling “christov10” and “continental tour ride”.  They’re such a good, all around tire, that I’m having a hard time working up an expense justification for their replacement with a set of Clement X’plor USH tires for Spring, Summer, and Fall rides.

Magellan Cyclo 505

The third of the reviews I completed and posted to Bike Tires Direct’s product pages this week was for the Magellan Cyclo 505 GPS (look under the Reviews tab) navigation and cycling computer I bought back in March.  I must have used too many words making a detailed report of what I liked, disliked, and what didn’t matter to me about the unit before concluding that the unit is overkill for my approach to incorporating cycling as an exercise and recreational activity into my every day life.  The Bike Tires Direct review cuts me off in the middle of Dislike No. 3:

“3. The Magellan Cyclo operating system is, in the manner in which it organizes and repor”

Sadly, I didn’t keep a copy of the review before submitting it, and don’t remember the rest of my sentence.  Trust me, though, it was worth reading.  Now, you’ll have to buy a Magellan Cyclo and decide for yourself what you dislike about it and which features don’t matter to you.  If you can get a deal on one, as I said in my initial review on this blog, that’s more than a hundred dollars off usual retail, get it.

Happy Friday to you all

Finishing Up and Other Stuff

Fairweather-Ride

In February of 2014, I left a government job in order to complete a Master of Education degree specializing in clinical mental health counseling.  Because I took my coursework piecemeal, as I got my classes paid for by my former employer, when I left the job to address those remaining degree requirements, some of the courses I needed were not available.  It’s taken me until now to complete my degree work.  Other requirements remain to be met in order to obtain licensure, but the degree work is done and I graduated yesterday.

I didn’t walk in the graduation ceremony because I’d left it too late (early March) to reserve a room in a local hotel (mine was a distance-learning course of study) and all the acceptable hotels in that city were fully booked.  What I did, instead, was take a bike ride in the morning through some of Stepford’s better neighborhoods.  My wife and son had gone strawberry picking at a nearby farm, so I had the morning to myself.  In the late morning, I again rode out to the soccer fields across town to watch my son play in the local youth league.  He scored two goals in the game.

Supernova at Soccer Game

Jamis Supernova at Saturday’s soccer game.

Friday before last, 24 April, I finished up my internship at a locked geriatric psychiatry unit in a nearby town’s hospital.  I’d worked there from 5 December 2014 to complete two sections of internship, all that I lacked to complete my degree program.  Oddly enough, the unit has no true mental health counseling program.  Instead, it has social workers who (and they work, constantly) provide any counseling; they are primarily concerned, however, with discharge planning.  While on the unit, where I served a 100 hour practicum during Fall 2014 semester, then carried on, more or less straight through the new year to the end of this semester, I also assisted with discharge planning as well as administering a depression scale for older adults and conducting fairly extensive background interviews with patients and family, as well as facilitating group sessions and providing individual therapy.  Although not initially a fan of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (finding it extremely formulaic), I found that persons whose dementing process had progressed to the point where they cannot tell the day, their age, or even where they are can very frequently respond appropriately and meaningfully to SFBT stimulus queries.

Already, I miss the social workers and nursing staff on the unit – they treated me like a valued colleague and taught me much that will be of use in other work, the patients, the unit’s doctor and the unit’s psychiatrist.  They all contributed to my education in ways I value.  Now the great task is finding remunerative employment and obtaining licensure.

Also, during April, I lost an older cousin to lung cancer, but misread the email detailing his funeral arrangements and missed the service.

During the month of April, I continued to carry on as the Solitary Cyclist of Stepford.  Here are a few of the photos I took on my rides –  a number of these pictures were snapped with my super-cheap cellular flip-phone.  The first row of pictures is from a ride I took through some of Stepford’s older districts, exploring some waste places.

Supernova-Alley-Lean Bike-Lean-No-TrespassBehind-the-Building

This second row is from a ride in the country on the King of Bicycles, my beautiful Miyata 610 – Fairweather.  I asked the octogenarian farmer repairing the barn whether he minded if I took a picture of my bike leaned up against it and he said, half-smiling, “I don’t care.”

Miyata-Old-Barn-LeanMiyata-610-Electric-Fence-&-Pole

The next row of phots is from another ride around lovely Stepford’s largely unknown waste places, this time on the Jamis Supernova.

Jamis-Apache-Grill-LeanGreen-Apache-3-Quarter-JamisRe-Leveled-Drops

Industrial-Road

And finally, from a ride to a scenic spot with the Supernova –

Green-Shady-ViewBronze-Bather-SupernovaFalls-from-Statue

Bronze-Bather-Detail