Do I actually have too much material?

My big complain while writing (and my favorite excuse for not writing more) has been that the whole thing is getting repetitive. Now I find myself in a situation with plenty to write and not enough time to do it. Well, OK, I probably do have the time, but I have to tear myself away from searching the web for good deals on dehumidifiers and plans for glass block showers.

To address recent events, it seems all I had to do to smooth out the house-buying process was complain about it more. Since I wrote that last post about constant crises, it’s been smooth sailing. I hope I didn’t just jynx that by writing about it. What if I have magical blog?

It seems like I NEVER win the darn lottery. Just once, I’d like that $100 million to fall in my lap. (Better safe than sorry.)

The point is, it seems as though that portion of things is back on track. I need a bit of paperwork from the bank to wrap up some details on the financing, but that’s out of my hands at the moment. We’ve actually been able to move on to the getting-excited-about-a-new-house stage. This mostly involves repeated exclamations of “Ooh, look at this!” as my wife surfs landscaping websites. Me, I’m just constantly revising an enormous shopping list for Home Depot. Keep your fingers crossed, folks… we might get through this thing yet.

Well, that’s enough for now, but there’s more to come.

Crisis du Jour

Lloyd: Excuse me, miss, what’s the soup du jour?
Waitress: The soup of the day.
Lloyd: Mmmm… sounds good, think I’ll have that.

I may have mentioned that my wife and I are in the middle of buying a house. If I haven’t mentioned it, it’s probably because my brain is rebelling against being forced to continuously deal with that. I knew this would be a big deal. I didn’t realize that we would be overwhelmed with tiny details and unforeseen problems. [OK, unforeseen problems are, by definition, unforeseen. But there’s unforeseen and then there’s oh-my-god-I-thought-we-settled-that-why-can’t-they-leave-us-alone.] I don’t think we’ve had 24 hours in the last six weeks without some sort of unpleasant surprise.

So, here I sit, waiting to find out what today’s issue will be. The calls usually start a little after 11:00, so it could be any minute now. Or, maybe it’ll stay quiet just long enough that we’ll start thinking that it’ll all be OK.

I’m afraid this whole process might be turning me into a negative person. People who work with me will find the humor in that.

You see, I feel really good about this house. I like the house. The house is in good condition. Heck, the house is in amazingly fantastic condition. It’s smaller than we wanted, but there’s plenty of room for expansion. The basement is perfect for me. I want this to go right. I want to order address labels and know they’ll run out before we move again. I want to decorate for us, not for resale value.

Most of all, I want to describe the entire experience in the past tense.

Must be getting old.

I keep writing these rambling posts that go nowhere, ending with some vague implication that there’s more to be told. What am I, 90? Must focus.

I write 90% of this stuff at work, generally to fend off mind-numbing boredom. The problem is that my mind is already numb when I start. Somewhere in there is the kernel of a good story, but it gets lost as I try to spark my brain into action. 200 words later, I’m not even interested anymore. I can only imagine how it feels to read it. If someone reads it. Does anyone read it?

To finish that last story: I rode my bike a lot. My legs (and ass) hurt afterwards. The end. Time for a new story. I’ll get back to you on that.

Still telling that same old story?

Well, yes, I’m still wrapping up that cycling story. If you’re here reading this, you don’t have a ton of room to complain about the choice in material.

Anyway, so I set myself a short-term goal and I made it. Woohoo. I realized that I had done it with the brakes rubbing most of the way. Woohoo.

Truing a wheel is beyond my capabilities, so on Sunday, we loaded up the truck and took the bike down to Erik’s for a little help. it was raining, so it wasn’t like we’d be riding any time soon. I figured that was it for me for the rest of the holiday weekend.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Erik’s kicks ass. They got the wheel trued, cleaned up the bike a bit, lubed it and tweaked the shifters, all by noon the next day.

So, my wife drove me back down there to pick it up. It was a nice day and the truck was full of gear, so I thought rather than deal with loading the bike up, I’d just ride it home. Five, maybe six miles, tops.

Not so. Remember that lucky break on the counter-clockwise trip around the lakes? Yeah, I forgot all about that. Went the wrong way home. Looped most of the lakes on the long side. Ended up doing another 12 miles or so, partly due to wrong turns, partly because it became somewhat amusing.

It gets better.

Where was I?

Let’s see… Grand Rounds… summer… ah, yes.

So, I’m trying to build up to cycle the length of the Grand Rounds. Now, those of you more familiar might be thingking “What’s the bid deal? It’s 50 miles, not a trip across North Dakota!” Well, that’s true. But, I’m a big fat guy with a little more than a year on the bike trying to get into shape. This seemed like a nice goal to shoot for.

Armed with my trusty bike map, I plotted a course that would cover a good chunk of the GR but abridged on the north end where it gets all windy and doesn’t quite connect. I chose to cut straight across Portland as a nice alternative to finish the loop, leaving me with about 30–35 miles in the loop. Not a bad day’s ride, and easily my longest to date. I had intended to get moving early and avoid some of the heat, but as usual, it took me a little while to get going. I hit the trail around noon, heading west to catch the GR at Lake Calhoun. I hit the lakes and turned south to start a counter-clockwise loop. Quite inadvertantly, I realized that I had chosen the correct direction. With the one-way trails around the lakes, a clockwise path would have been significantly longer. Lucky break, I suppose.

Generally speaking, the ride was uneventful. The weather turned out quite pleasant, warm but not hot, sunny but not blinding, breezy but not windy. I stopped at Minnehaha to catch my breath, drink some water and enjoy a Clif Shot.

Clif Shots are kinda nasty, but they do the trick.

It was at this point that I realized that something was not quite right with my rear tire. I gave it a once-over, but couldn’t spot any trouble. I tightened the brakes a bit as long as I was stopped. Knowing that I could stop the circuit at any time and catch a bus/cab/ride from my wife, I wasn’t horribly concerned and continued on my way.

From Minnehaha, the trail turns north and follows the river up to downtown. I was cruising along nicely, as that section of the trail is esentially one long, slow downhill run. Although it wasn’t too far, I stopped again at Boom Island. This was my last chance to turn around and shorten the trip. Once I moved north of downtown, it became a toss-up as to whether it would be better to continue or turn back. Still feeling pretty good, I decided to continue.

Turning west onto Portland, I was leaving the bike trail and moving into traffic so I turned off the music and proceeded without headphones. Something was still not right with my rear tire, but I was having such a good day, I didn’t care, I just kept going.

Another happy accident: Portland has a bike lane for most of it’s length where it slices across the GR. I have to remember that in the future. It’s not an overly nice ride, as there is very little scenery and a fair bit of traffic, but it’s only a couple miles and a convenient short cut.

Where Portland runs into Theo Wirth, the GR resumes. At this point, I’m definitely starting to feel a little worse for the wear, so I stop for another little break. Something was still not right with my rear tire. Oh, I see. It’s out of true. Which means the brakes are rubbing EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME the tire turns. Well, crap. I’m well past the point of no return now, might as well keep going. So I loosen the brakes a bit to minimize the effect (but still keep a little stopping power) and I continue on my merry way.

Now I’m definitely starting to drag. I think the discovery of the rear tire being out of true was more demoralizing than an actual problem, but the effect is the same: I’m ready to be done. Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can hear it loud as thunder, so I turn up the music and plunge forward. A little mix-up at the intersection of Cedar Lake Parkway and Cedar Lake Trail adds another mile or so to my trip that I did not need. No matter, I’m getting close now. I’m back to the Chain of Lakes, which means I’m almost home.

Finally, a little over three hours since I left, I drag my butt into the garage. I should clean my bike up, but with the rear tire messed up, I just don’t care. I squirt a little degreaser on and hit it with the hose to knock off the big chunks—good enough for now. With a trail of clothing down the hallway, I climb into a nice, hot shower and just stand there for a while.

I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I know I’m gonna be sore, but I made it.

I (almost) did it.

OK, this is long overdue, but I made a promise that I wouldn’t be back until I had a topic, and I really try to keep my promises.

I set a goal for myself earlier this year that by the end of the cycling season, I would make a full circuit of the Grand Rounds in a single day. For those of you not in the know, read more about the Grand Rounds here: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/grandrounds. Anyway, this seemed like a very reasonable goal, one that I could build up to throughout the summer.

Unfortunately, this summer has not allowed for nearly as much cycling as I’d hoped. A new band, selling our home, buying a new home and a heat wave seriously cropped my time on two wheels.

Well, crap. I sit here at work for NINE HOURS with nothing to do. Literally. I start writing this entry and POW, now I have to work. I’ll be back later.