Stuff

I have some good story ideas for either a blog or something longer, like a book which my mom suggested I start working on, but instead, I’ll just tell you what my average days are like here. Because that’s much easier.

I wake up before 8:30, because I would lose Warrior points otherwise, and eat about a cup of steel cut oats. Sometimes a little more or a little less. I soak them the night before so I don’t have to boil them on the stove. If you soak them overnight in water, you can just pop em in the microwave for 2 minutes and they’re done. While those are in the microwave, I cut up about four or five big mushrooms and start cooking them in a pan, and later add 2 eggs. By now the oats are finished cooking, so I take them out and cut up a banana in them. If we’re out of bananas, which has happened a couple times now, I use brown sugar–but I prefer a banana. While all this has been happening, I’ve drunk a few big glasses of water. Are you still with me? Now’s when it gets complicated. Everything has been cooked and put in bowls. I take the ketchup out of the refrigerator and douse the eggs/mushrooms. I don’t use hot sauce in the morning just in case it might upset my stomach while riding. After I’ve applied the ketchup, I take the eggs, oats, and a glass of water (I prefer the big mason jar). We only have one big one, and it’s always in my room but I can never remember where it is so I usually have to spend a good while searching for it. Anyways, I take all those three things over to the lazy boy in the living room, open up the shades because our stupid landlord guy always closes them, and eat breakfast in the chair. I know, this morning routine seems long and strenuous, but it has to be done.

If I can get through all the food without having to poop, I do so. But that usually is not the case. So after a brief intermission while I sit on the toilet and read “What’s your poop telling you”–a book my brother got me for Christmas–, I return to the chair and finish eating. I don’t like to rush things, so I usually sit there for another 20-60 minutes doing just about nothing. Staring at a wall is a good way to pass the time, and sometimes I use my computer to search Velonews and Facebook. Neither are very entertaining as there are no cool races to read about right now and everyone on Facebook is super lame, except me.

After my sit period, I cook dinner. This is almost always a combo of quinoa, rice, chicken or some other meat, and some vegetables. Once that’s done, I do some maintenance on my bike and get ready for my ride. I ride five days a week, each ride between 4 and 6.5 hours. My favorite ride is Mt. Lemmon, doing two tempo climbs up to 9 miles and back. Lemmon is great because there aren’t a ton of cars (technically there are), it’s beautiful, and I see a lot of people I know up there. Once a week I do some short intervals on Lemmon combined with some tempo, another two times during the week I ride the TT bike somewhere flatter (just started doing this, though, so it really isn’t a routine yet). And of course, there’s Saturday. The day my important routine has to take a break, because the Shootout starts at 7:30. You wouldn’t think that I would need to look forward to the weekend, but I do–because of the Shootout on Saturday and usually another group ride or at least a ride with other people on Sunday.

Saturdays–Wake up at 6:00 and eat the same breakfast, minus the mushrooms, as other days. Plus I only eat 2/3 cups of oats on saturdays because of time and appetite. I guess I could get up five minutes earlier and have plenty of time to eat another 1/3 cup of oats, but that isn’t going to happen. I leave the house at 6:30 while it’s still dark (something you guys probably have to do every day since it’s dark up there in the north until noon). And then I ride to campus to meet up for the shootout, which I did today.

When I get home from the shootout, I have pretty much all day to sit around since I get home at 11:30. I’ll make some food and watch two episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation on VHS. On saturdays, for my post-ride meal I make more eggs and mushrooms, and if I have any tortillas left I make it into breakfast burritos. Exciting, I know. After the first episode of star trek, I take my compression tights off and do the foam roller and stretch for about an hour. Then I have some more to eat. If it’s sunny outside, I’ll go lie in the sun and read. If not, I’ll read inside or maybe watch some movies all day long. Damn, I sound lazy. If Chris has time, we’ll play a game of chess, which can take hours since he spends 20 minutes moving each piece. I think it’s a distraction method he uses on me, because I start daydreaming and eventually go and eat something from the kitchen while he’s planning his move. By the time it’s my turn, I’ve completely forgotten what’s going on in the game.

Once a week, we’ll have some other cyclists over for some Poker or dinner or something. Earlier, when I had a friend in town, I’d go hang out with her once in a while, but she’s gone. Another cool thing we do here is go shopping. It’s also become a routine. John, our weird landlord, drives us to Costco and then across the street to Sunflower–a cheap version of Whole Foods. He has four cars (something Chris and I openly despise) and he takes us in the Cadillac or his limo. Yes he owns a limo for some reason. When we go to Costco, we usually get some pizza and a frozen yogurt. Then at Sunflower, I sample the bulk food section to keep the hunger at bay. Between the two stores, I’ve eaten enough to get me home.

Once I’ve gotten back from a non-saturday ride, I watch two episodes of Start Trek while I eat my quinoa and do the foam roller/stretching. By then, it’s time to eat some more and maybe go shopping for food.

On my rest days, I do the exact same thing as other days, except I only ride 30 minutes–usually in the ”washes.” Washes are the concrete creek things for water to drain into. They’re everywhere down here, and are great for recovery rides.

Hmm, what more? Like I wrote about earlier, we’ve gone hunting across the street a number of times. That’s about it. I’d like to say I’m keeping my mind fresh by reading and playing chess, but all I can think about is cycling. That’s probably a good thing. I’m still enjoying all my time on the bike and am very grateful for being able to live this monkish lifestyle. It may sound boring, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Except maybe the exact same life but only I had lazer vision. And could fly. And I could control what my farts smelled like. Can you imagine being able to fart the smell of almonds? Or even the strong stench of clean gravel????? Now that would be insane!

Breakfast burritos. Round #1

Poker. I went out first. Both games by going ”all in” too many times. I HATE this stupid game.

Chris drove a mile to give me a new tire. I had gotten too stingy with the amount of tread I had left and it wore through. Classic mistake that you have to make at least twice a year.

Me

Mt. Lemmon was closed due to snow so we road back into town and ate a humungous pizza instead. Stupid auto spelling doesn’t know that I’m trying to spell humungous, so I’m going to just leave it spelled as it is.

After each eating six pounds of pizza, we road to the base of “A Mountain” in town and raced up for some dumb reason. That’s Spencer on the left, Swiss Chris from Switzerland in the middle, and me on the right.

Swollen Eye

There’s always something going wrong with my body. Sometimes my ears itch like crazy and build up lots of wax. Earlier this fall my right wrist was really sore for about two months. Then it got better, only to leave me with a sore left wrist and then an even sorer back. I’ll go for weeks with a slight cough, a bad cough, a runny nose, an aching toe, or just a bad set of chapped lips. Right now it’s my right eye. The skin on my upper eyelid swelled up one night. I don’t know why, and of course it’s still here, coming and going day by day. It’s not bad. It’s just a tiny but swollen, nothing you’d even notice if you didn’t look at me up close. Who knows what it is, and like everything else, as mysteriously as it appeared, it will vanish in another week. My guess for all of these nagging break downs is that the more you use something, the more it falls apart. Take my computer, powertap, and bike for example–the main three things I use. My computer just broke down a few days ago. But before that the number ”3” key was being troublesome for a few months, but then got better on its own. Likewise, about a month ago the keyboard was being crazy and typing letters I hadn’t pressed. My powertap: in the last month or two the hub was being weird, the CPU had to be replaced, it wouldn’t turn on for a few days for some reason, and just recently all the batteries died, were replaced, then they all died again a week and a half later. I won’t even get into all the minor problems my bike has had.

My point? Well I didn’t have one when I first started typing, but I do now. When you’re training hard/working hard/doing anything hard or in excess, everything breaks down, even with proper maintenance. You just better be prepared to take rest days, since they’re the only thing that’s keeping my slightly swollen eye from completely falling out in a rotting pile of decayed flesh.

I saw the movie Avatar in 3D a few days ago. I was very impressed for a number of different reasons. Visually, it was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. The plot was great. I enjoyed the story. But it was the moral that I thought was really interesting. It’s basically an extremely simple moral too. It’s been recreated thousands of times in movies , TV shows, and books over the last 15 years of my consciousness: Pollution is bad, greed is bad, nature should be cherished.

As I was watching the movie, I wondered if the story was making anyone else feel guilty and out of place. Nope. Like the main character, everyone else in the theatre was living their Avatar life, disconnected from the real world by a pair of plastic 3D glasses that would be thrown in the trash on the way to the parking lot. The woman behind me was so involved in the movie that every time something scary or exciting happened on screen, she would nervously kick the back of my seat. It was the only thing that was keeping me from forgetting my place, keeping me in reality. But she was so into the movie, I don’t think she heard or saw me each of the three times I politely turned around to tell her to stop kicking my seat. She was in the fantasy, living with the characters, climbing trees with them, flying, running through the forest. She was at least sixty years old, obese, with a large Coke and a bag of popcorn in her lap. Her husband was identical. This movie was about escapism and it was apparent the audience was too far gone to even control their own limbs. I have to admit it worked on me too. Throughout the entire two and a half hours, I only thought about food once or twice in the first half hour. After that, I was pretty much gone.

When the movie ended, I came out of my daze as I walked through the parking lot to our car. We passed a Walmart as we drove out of the lot and I told John, the guy Chris and I are living with down here, that I did NOT want to get into an argument about cars right now. A moment earlier, I had made a few comments as we got in the car, pointing out the irony of what we were doing after just watching the movie, and he made some stupid comment about people simply needing to do better upkeep on their cars to maintain good fuel efficiency. Apparently the irony that was so obvious to me was lost on him. And I’m guessing it was lost on everyone else too.

What bothers me is that it doesn’t bother anyone that we come into contact with plastic more than grass or dirt. I’m no different. Here I am typing away on a plastic keyboard while it’s a sunny day outside. What the hell am I doing in here? Taking a rest day. But why am I taking a rest day? I only need to do something that unnatural because of the way I choose to spend my life: doing something so alien to what I was designed to do that it causes my body to decay, muscles to deteriorate, thousands of unnecessary calories to be consumed, and ”rest” days to be spent being a recluse. It isn’t natural to spend five hours a day sitting on a moving piece of plastic and rubber on a 24-foot wide oil slick. I don’t spend time with nature, I spend time on something that cuts through it, sending up ugly power lines on either side–a place of engine fumes, dead animals, blown out truck tires, glass, and trash. I spend my days on the intersection where humans destroy nature. Clear cut forests, new housing developments tearing into the earth, and miles upon miles of pesticide-infested farm land. And what do I do about it?

Even if everyone in that theatre came away with the same thing I did, it won’t matter. Because not even I will go out and throw stones at Walmart, chain myself to old-growth trees, or eat a diet that doesn’t include animal products or produce exclusively from my region.

The earth is being overtrained. Like a cyclist doing too many miles, it has too many humans. Warning signs aren’t scaring us. We stubbornly ignore the facts. I mean, come on, there’s no reason to stop riding this week. It’s just a minor cold. I can do intervals today, my knee doesn’t hurt that bad. Yeah right. Without a break, it will collapse.

It’s on my mind, but it’s not the first thing on my mind. I have a goal, which takes precedence over everything else. Just like most people, I think about my own needs and desires first. This circle of selfishness can extend to family members and friends, but how often do we think about strangers, people in other countries, or even our unamed neighbor living next door? Answer: #1 I hope that A-hole gets what he deserves and ends up dead in a ditch on the side of the road. #2 We aught to nuke those evil terrotists (and take their oil). #3 I wish that lazy bastard would trim his damn over-hangnig tree limb. If we don’t care about each other, of course we’re not going to care about that strange idea of ”nature.” Maybe it’s what nature deserves. After all, it’s what made us like this. Competition between and among species is the basis for evolution. When life sprung up on this planet, it would have been much wiser for it to work as a unit, instead of against itself. If life can only happen at the expense of another’s death, eventually we’re all screwed.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got to go apply some ointment to my swollen eye. Hopefully that will kill anything that’s messing with it.

…unless it’s self-inflicted.

The Hunt

I looked up to the sky, scanning for vultures or any signs overhead that could lead me to my prey.  Nothing but the blistering sun.  A typical day in the Arizona desert.  Sand, cactus, and sharp bushes on the ground, blue sky above.  A few lizards scattered from their warming rock as I crept forward, ever so slowly and ever so quietly.  I heard something to my left.  I squinted my eyes against the bright sun, trying to make something out off in the distance.  Yep, there they were.  I whole pack of them.

“Mark.  Chris,” I excitedly whispered.

My two hunting partners saw where I was pointing and we all changed direction, fanning out–three across.  Hunched down, hands gripping our weapons, licking our lips at the bounty not 80 meters in front of us.  The Raven Spirit had guided us well.  Thanks would be given after the kill.  Our people were starving back at camp, but the massive amount of meat we were stalking could change all that.  Game had been scarce this fall and winter.  Months of famine had weakened me.  My legs were weary from countless miles spent treading across the endless saguaro desert.  But I thought of the elders back in camp, growing weaker every day as they approached their slow starvation into death. I thought of the young ones forced to go without their mother’s milk, their cheeks gaunt and their ribs poking through thin skin.  A strength suddenly spread throughout my body and an electric energy awakened all of my senses.  My thoughts focused. I took a deep breath in through my nostrils and released the dry air through my mouth. I was one with the earth, one with the game, and one with myself.

As we formed a half circle around the prey, I knew this was do or die.  Our people, as well as us, wouldn’t last another week without meat.  This was a matter of necessity, and there was no room for error.  We had to be successful.  I signaled for Mark to take the first shot.  He gave a sullen nod and took aim.  I saw a glimmer of fear in his eye as he focused on his target.  He knew the necessity the situation called for.  A single bead of sweat ran down his forehead and landed in the dust by his feet.  He was crouched low, peering through some branches between him and his prey. Him and…his destiny.  He took aim.  Silence.  POP.  POP. POP!!

“Damn it!” he yelled.

He missed.  He kept on firing as the quails scurried off.  I ran after them and chucked a few rocks in front of them in some bushes to make them turn around and come back to us.  It didn’t really work.  Mark kept firing until the pistol ran out of BBs.  Chris walked somewhat quickly over to him, but not really, with the zip-lock bag full of BBs and re-loaded the gun.

“My turn,” he said as he took the plastic gun from Mark (our next door neighbor).

Chris walked towards the quails, which had kind of scattered in different directions, but were making a pretty bad get-away effort.  Maybe they knew we weren’t prepared to break a slow jog in our pursuit.  Or maybe they knew that the BB gun we were shooting shot crooked.  And that we also shot crooked.  Chris missed all 8 shots the BB gun held, then it was my turn.  But Chris was being a d bag and took an extra turn.  By now the co2 cartridge was getting low and the BBs were practically falling out of the gun’s barrel onto the ground.  We all swore as the birds got away once again. We were a couple blocks away from our culdesac, out in the bushes behind a golf course.

“You guys wanna go home and eat? I’m getting hungry.”

Mark called our landlord/roommate, John, and he came and picked us up in his limousine and drove us home.

It’s a rest week for Chris and I.  I’m only riding about 15 hours, which leaves a lot of time for eating, resting and lying in the sun.  And also a lot of time for earning Warrior Points and raising our Chi.  And let me tell ‘yall, there’s not many things that can raise your Chi more than a couple bacon-wrapped, bird jalepeno poppers.

Preparing the feast. Over the course of about five hours, we caught two doves and a quail. Mark is on the left. Anthony, a friend of his came over to help make the bird meat jalapeno poppers. Ingredients: jalapenos, cream cheese, dove or quail breast, bacon.

Chris, vegetarian for five years of his life, earned 5 Warrior Points since he shot two of the birds. I earned zero since Mark got the other bird, which now puts the Warrior Competition between Chris and I at -2 to 33. He better start killing birds by the ton if he thinks he has any chance at all.