Category Archives: Megan

Wintersday

Here we are at the end of a year, staring down the long, black barrel of another.  I hope 2012 didn’t take your feet out from under you too often.

The wife-type and I purchased (mortgaged to the hilt) a house last February.  That was stressful, but it happened more or less uneventfully.  We live on a dead-end street with, ahem, interesting neighbors.  Two of them are fairly sane.  One is bat poop crazy.  One has barking dogs.  They bark.  And bark and bark bark bark bark bark bark.  They really bark at the bike.  If I’m on a bike with a bell I try to start ringing it before I turn the corner.  That really gets them wound up.

Bike miles.  I put more miles on the bikes in 2012 than the previous two years combined.  My counting method varied from the GPS on the phone, to the DeLorme, to one of those computers that counts wheel revolutions, to don’t-give-a-fuck-let’s-just-ride.  In other words, I’m not entirely sure how far I went, but I’d guess it’s north of 1,500 miles.  July saw 540-something miles, including my first ever metric century.

Today is Christmas.  Christie gave me a Garmin Edge 200.  I’m going to track every last 2013 mile on it so that I can give the curious masses an accurate number a year from now.

Speaking of 2013, resolutions.

More S24O.  I think I did 3 during 2012.  This year the overnights will be themed.  Feel free to ride along.  Bring a tent; mine is too small to share.

  1. S24O on every bike I own at least once.  Right now I have the MB-2, High Plains, Collegiate, Pacer, 550 and I think something else maybe.  That’s at least 6 overnights.
  2. One should be a bikepacking adventure.  Gravel, single track, no racks, strap the crap right to the frame.
  3. Return to Pine Grove Furnace.  30-ish miles from home.  Doc discovered a super secret spot in the State Forest on the ridge east of the park.  It’s a bit of a climb, but coasting down the hill in the morning is a good way to wake up.  There are hiker showers near the lake.
  4. A fully loaded S24O.  Front and rear panniers.  Bring way too much stuff.  Go slow.
  5. Credit card S24O.  Ride one of the road bikes to a B&B.
  6. Not strictly S24O, but do another micro-tour.  2012’s was a big, fat winner.

Ride with the girls more.  I think the Megan is big enough to do an overnight on the bike.  The important part is just having time together.  They jabber.  Don’t believe me?  Find a kid you like and go for a ride.  They will talk your ear off.  It’s a blast and we don’t do it enough.

I’m sure there’s more, but I have bikes on the brain and can’t bring myself to bore you anymore.  Here’s hoping your 2013 brings you less bad and more good than 2012.  Peace, love and go ride your bike.

Megan’s Adventures in Radio Land. Episode One. The Snake.

The Megan’s science curriculum is currently all about sound, and the very first lesson is learning about identifying sounds.  One of the examples they use is old time radio sound effects.  We made our own 10 second radio show.  Enjoy.

Rattlesnake <-this is the stupid WMA file.

Rattlesnake <- this is the gooder MP3 file.

Who’s your Daddy?

Today I rode up 9th and Allen to the top of the hill where it intersects with 7th.  But today’s death ride was accompanied by Molly, who is three, and the trailer she rides in.  That’s right, folks.  I pulled a freakin’ 50 pound trailer up that hill.  I muttered something like “Who’s your Daddy” when we got to the top and Molly instantly replied with “Daddy, you’re my Daddy.”  I guess I had that one coming.

We rolled down the hill faster than we should have and stopped at the school to pick up the Megan.  She wanted me to pull them both back up to the top.  Considering I could barely stand I opted to not.  Maybe next time.

On the serious side, I found out what my lactate threshold feels like.  The lungs usually give out long before the legs, but not today.  This has got to be a side effect of not smoking.  I need a bigger hill.

Who’s the King, baby?

Breakfast in bed

Chuck and Rose gave her a cook book for her 6th birthday.  The book is written for children assisted by parents.  We try to cook something from it once a week or so, but simple recipes are really meant for simpler palettes, and we can only take so much.  This morning she bypassed the “assisted by parents” requirement, probably because the parents were still sleeping, and made breakfast.  Sliced apples on skewers.  Except there weren’t any skewers, so she used chopsticks.  On a tray.  With little teacups of water.  She carried the tray upstairs, spilling nary a drop, and placed it at the foot of our bed.  Hearts burst.  Smiles cracked.  Pride welled.  Maybe we’re doing OK at this parenting stuff.

The hat

I have a hat.  It’s a Mad Bomber hat lined with bunny fur.  It’s warm and comfy and I wear it a lot.

The bicycle took me, and my hat, to school yesterday to pick up the big one.  When we got home she started asking about the hat.  She has seen the hat many times before, has probably tried it on, and I know she’s tossed it around the living room a few times, so I’m not sure why she picked yesterday to ask the question.

“Daddy, what kind of fur is that?”

“Bunny fur.”

“Does it come from rabbits?”

I know where this is going.  I’m not ready to explain it to a 5 year old.  “Yes, rabbits.”

She screws her face up real tight.  “Does the rabbit have to die so you can have a hat?”

My heart sank.   “Yes, honey, it does.”

“And they peel the skin off?”

I saw the concern on her ever-tightening face.  Visions of PETA danced in my head.  “Yes.”  I stared at the future vegan.

Silence.  The awkward kind one has on a blind date, never knowing what to say.  Then her face relaxed a bit.  Her eyes showed a revelation taking place and the sad concern suddenly vanished.

“Cool.”  And off she went to play while I made lunch.

Killing Trees for Baby Jesus

This morning we took our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas tree farm, so we could pretend we were walking in the neatly planted rows of the forest. We just happened to see several trees that were suitable. The first, which I pointed out to the Megan, was thick with branches from the ground up. But it had one fatal flaw.

“Do you like this one, Megan?”

“No. There’s no room for presents underneath.”

Alrighty then. I hacked down another small tree with the farm-supplied saw and dragged it back to the shed where they bundle them up with plastic netting, just like the kind you find in the forest, and tossed it up on top of the X. We drove home, looking forward to tangled strings of lights and broken glass ornaments. This is, in fact, my favorite of all the holidays.

Not.

I despise Christmas. Loved it when I was a kid, mostly for the presents. Today I tolerate it and try to look happy about it. Mostly for the benefit of my little girls. In reality it’s a headache. Traffic is bad, gas is expensive, we always end up traveling somewhere for something, and too much money is spent on gifts that aren’t needed or appreciated. It’s stressful and I’d rather just have some quiet time and a nap. Bah. Humbug. The girls take the edge off. Smiling, giggling, laughing, tearing open wrapping paper to unveil some coveted treasure beneath. That part is priceless and worth every penny we didn’t have but spent anyway on the toys and candy canes.

Thanksgiving is nice. The traveling, which we almost always undertake, sucks, but it’s otherwise low key. Good food, family and friends, no expectations of materialism. I have a lot to be thankful for and more holidays should be like Thanksgiving.

The tree is lighted. When the girls wake from their naps we’ll photograph the Megan placing the star on top and commence to decorating. The title of this entry is “Killing Trees for Baby Jesus”. I didn’t really go anywhere with it, but the words have been stuck in my head for a couple days. Today they morphed into “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, ‘long as I have my plastic Jesus….”

I leave you with this. (And the chords, so jam on.) Have a Holly Jolly.

“Plastic Jesus” by George Cromarty and Ed Rush

I don't care if it rains or freezes
'Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far

/ D - / G - / D - A - / 1st, 2nd / D A D - /

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   I'm afraid He'll have to go
   His magnets ruin my radio
   And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar

   / D - - - / - - A - / D - / G - / D A D - /

Riding down a thoroughfare
With His nose up in the air
A wreck may be ahead, but He don't mind
Trouble coming He don't see
He just keeps His eye on me
And any other thing that lies behind

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Though the sunshine on His back
   Make Him peel, chip and crack
   A little patching keeps Him up to par

When I'm in a traffic jam
He don't care if I say "damn"
I can let all my curses roll
Plastic Jesus doesn't hear
'Cause he has a plastic ear
The man who invented plastic saved my soul

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Once His robe was snowy white
   Now it isn't quite so bright
   Stained by the smoke of my cigar

If I weave around at night
And policemen think I'm tight
They never find my bottle, though they ask
Plastic Jesus shelters me
For His head comes off, you see
He's hollow, and I use Him for a flask

   Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
   Riding on the dashboard of my car
   Ride with me and have a dram
   Of the blood of the Lamb
   Plastic Jesus is a holy bar

Yet another Continental update

SUV’d my way over to the LBS yesterday with both of my girls. Kept a tight grip on the Molly and told the Megan not to touch anything. They were surprisingly good, only picking up a few pink and purple helmets. They even put them back (in the right spots!) without being asked. The guys working had a few stories about kids and bikes and dominoes. Ouch. I’m sure glad mine were in “good behavior” mode.

On to that bikey thing. Got a pair of Vittoria Randonneur tires, tubes, brake cables and housing, ferrules, some bar tape and a pair of old Compe brake levers. And a wrench. Came out to $91 and change after sales tax. Subtracting $6 for the wrench puts me at $85. Add that to the $100 I’ve already spent and we’re at $185, which is less than the self-imposed $187 limit. Sweet.

Yet another plug for the Pedal Pusher in Harrisburg, PA. Ted and Jim are stand up guys who deserve your business. There are several bike shops in the area. I’ve been to four, and three of them aren’t worth the hassle. The Pedal Pusher, however, is simply a nice experience. Someone remind me to bring beer the next time I go.

Look, Ma! No hands!

So last weekend the Megan insisted I take the training wheels off her bike again. We tried this a couple months ago and it didn’t work out so well. But she was persistent and I’m a softy. Bike, sans training wheels, over my shoulder, we headed across the street and down the alley to the parking lot by the Catholic Church. It’s often empty and it’s flat and the Megan likes to ride there. I figured it was probably the best place to try this (less likely that I’ll have to fix someone’s paint job if there aren’t any cars for her to run into).

The last time we tried this I held on to her saddle. Teaching a 4 year old to ride like this is quite literally a pain in the back (and neck and butt and legs and parts I didn’t know I had). A little research led me to Sheldon Brown’s wonderful site and a useful article titled Teaching Kids to Ride. He suggests holding their shoulders instead of the saddle. This benefits the child, with a better understanding of balance, and the Daddy, with a reduced dependence on narcotics to kill the back pain.

Running in a squat, legs spread to clear the rear tire and spinning crank arms, was surely a laughable event for anyone watching. And while better than holding the saddle, it still hurt. After 10 minutes, several breaks to stretch, and endlessly trying to explain how to counter the lean of the bike, she got mad. “Daddy! You’re making me lean the wrong waaaaay! Why don’t you just let goooooo?!?!?” I was dumbstruck, thinking “this little runt could probably use a trip to the pavement”. “Ok, Megan,” I said, “I’ll get you going and then let go. I’m not going to catch you if you start to fall.” I didn’t really mean that last part. The retort, “Fine!” So I got her started and let go. And she kept going. Riding circles around me. Through the ear to ear grin and the erupting belly laugh I managed to get out a shout to Christie, who was off a ways trying to get Molly to pedal a tricycle. I think I heard her chin scraping the pavement. This was a most proud moment for us. Alas, no camera. After a few laps, Megan came to a wobbly stop, managing to keep it shiny side up.

Through her expression of elation and adrenaline infused excitement, I could tell she was thinking “I told you so.”

Training log (or, butt whuppin’ at the hands of a four year old)

 Last night was the Wednesday Wander ride with the Harrisburg Bicycle Club.  The Wednesday night ride is slow.  It should never exceed an average of 10mph.  It typically lasts about an hour.  And no one gets dropped.  No one.  The eight year old on the 20″ BMX doesn’t get dropped.  The old lady who insists on keeping her gears small-small and won’t travel more than 6.2mph doesn’t get dropped.  The fat guy who can’t ride up the little hill doesn’t get dropped.  And I, pulling a 20lb trailer with a 40lb girl inside last night, didn’t get dropped.

I actually felt pretty good.  Winded, but energetic.  I kept up with the group so as to not cause them to slow down.  Ross knew I was bringing the Megan along so he brought his Bob cargo trailer, with a stuffed pink pig strapped to it, along for the ride.  I wish I had brought a camera.  The pig was bigger than Megan, and the whole time we were out he got lots of comments.  Megan, on the other hand, who usually gets the comments, got nothing.

So we finished the ride and headed home, about 11 miles in an hour and a half.  Not too bad, and I felt pretty good.  Until I got off the bike.  The fatigue was unreal.  I fell asleep on the couch in my clothes.  My body is exhausted today.  I haven’t felt like this since boot camp.  There are no specific aches or sore muscles.  I don’t feel like I need to sleep.  The old muscles just don’t want to move.

Which leads me to believe….I need to bring her along for every ride.  Masochism.  Plain and simple.  Megan, for some strange reason, seems fine.  Damn kids.

The bike is done(ish)

The completed Schwinn world

For the two of you who actually read this crap, this is a picture of my primary means of transportation. The bike was a Salvation Army find. $30 with a broken fork and in need of some serious TLC. After about $150 worth of parts and tools, plus a Brooks saddle (whee) from my Mom and Dad, she’s about as good as I’m going to get her.

Couple of nifty features that I’m rather proud of: Suntour barcons. These things rock. Cork tape. A nifty Schwinn bottle cage that Christie found at Target. Pedals with clips. New gears in the back! Shimano mega range freewheel 13-34 and a mega range dérailleur. These are mountain bike components, but when I’m dragging an 80lb trailer with a 40 tooth chain ring, they really save my knees. And, of course, the caboose. The girls love it.

From today’s ride to school: I usually put my left foot in the clip and ride the bottom of the right pedal until I can coast fast enough to fiddle with getting my right foot in its clip. Megan wasn’t having any of that this morning. Two cranks on the pedals. Not even out of the driveway. “Daddy, put your other foot in the clip!” Where the heck did she learn that?

Bonus! Taken with a Pentax K10D!