Africa Night and Recent Stuff

I lost the beginning of this post somehow.  I’d saved it as a draft a few days ago and now it’s gone from WordPress.  It was a bad start, so I’m not too unhappy about the loss.  This, in my opinion, is a much better start: talking about a lost bad start.  Maybe not.

I’m just gonna go about this blog post with a structured day to day format in an effort to crack the facts and omit the shit so you guys don’t have to read 3,000 words.  You know, writing 3,000 words two or three times a week could have seen the completion of my novel by now, but my life is so much more interesting than fiction, at least I think so.  If it wasn’t, I’d probably watch a lot more tv than I do.  Though I’m not one to dispute the fact that I’m easily entertained, so maybe TV is actually too much thinking for me.

TV.  Good transition point.  I was going to stick to the day to day thing but time is irrelevant to thought and if I see a good transition for the taking, I takes it.  I moved to a new house the other day.  A house with a TV in my room facing the bed.  It has a DVD player and cable.  As you can imagine, the quality of my life has increased ten fold with these two devices.  I can lay in bed (I’m sleeping in a bed too now, not an old futon covered in dog hair) and watch TV and eat confiscated cereal from someone’s cabinet downstairs.  I hope they’re not reading this right now.  If you are, I’m just joking.  If you’re not, then I’m not joking.  The key is to eat a little from each box.

There’s something extremely soothing about coming home from a hard ride in the cold, confining yourself in a dark room, hiding under the blankets and letting your mind melt with a solid hour of South Park or a movie you’ve watched seven times before.  The thing about watching movies at home, for me, is that when I’m searching for a movie among a stack of DVDs, I only look for movies I’ve seen before and can recognize the title.  If I come across one that I don’t recognize, I usually don’t watch it unless I’m super desperate.  Instead, I go through the stack of DVDs like five times contemplating whether I’d be more bored watching Bad Boys II for a fifth time or Dances With Wolves for a sixth time.  Why don’t I try something new?  Why do I insist on re-watching the known when there’s a perfectly good unknown sitting there right in front of me in the form of Fried Green Tomatoes?  Maybe it’s because when I watch a movie at home all I really want to do is zone out and not think about anything too hard.  Unfortunately I’m not alone in this mindset, judging by the decreasing IQ of the general public.  The fact that they made a Bad Boys II is proof of this.

Are our lives too stressful for what our minds and bodies were designed for?  The hunter gatherer lifestyle was certainly more demanding physically, but mentally maybe not.  I for one perfer to deal with physical stress than mental anxiety like sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the post office, grocery store, or basically waiting in line for anything.  I hate waiting in line!  Can’t everyone see that I’m more important than them and have better things to be doing!  Why don’t they just get out of my way??!!

I assume most people’s lives are much more stressful than my own, since I don’t have a career or a family to look after.  When time for exercise is taken away and replaced with sitting in a car during rush hour, and time that was meant for socializing in a small group during a hunt is spent staring at a computer screen in a cubicle, damn it this sentence is too run on.  Anyways, when those important things we evolved to do are taken away and replaced with artificial stresses of the modern world, bad things happen to our brains.  The good chemicals are replaced with bad chemicals, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.  TV is a way to relax and escape the mundane and stressful situations of real life, unfortunately most people’s lives don’t have enough real stimulus as it is, and TV does not make up for stimulus.  And neither does stress.  The answer to all humanity’s problems? Reading my blog, which is both stimulating and relaxing at the same time.  Like a raspberry flavored popsicle on a hot summer evening, singing your tongue with tartly sweet cold shimmers after a long, hard day hiking in the wilderness, I mean at the cubicle.

Monday the 20th (I’m back on the day to day list format now because I know everyone wants to know the exact details of what I did every day this past week): I can’t remember what I did today.  I didn’t ride so therefore I have no recollection of the day’s events.  I’d just assume this day never existed since I can’t remember a single thing about it.  The only evidence of anything ever happening is if it’s inscribed on memory, which is why a tree falling in the woods is only heard if there’s a bear shitting there.

Tuesday the 21st: PANCAKE DAY.  You already know about this.  Get ready to re-live it with Waffle Day on March 25th.

Wednesday the 22nd: 2 hours on the trainer since it was so windy I couldn’t ride on the road.  The old oak tree beside me that I was riding the trainer next to was bending so badly I moved the trainer four times to try and find the safest spot in case the tree fell down.  Since the tree covered the entire back yard and there was no safe place to go, I ended up deciding that the tree probably wouldn’t blow over and if it did I’d just jump off the trainer real quick.  If no easy solution presents itself, just have faith.  The restaurant was busy tonight.

Thursday the 23rd: more easy trainer riding. (The first half of this week was a mini rest week).  The restaurant was busy again.  I’m guessing the wind is blowing people into our parking lot and they can’t leave, so they get hungry and have to come in and eat to build up their strength before attempting to ride away again.  Then I remember they’re in cars and the wind doesn’t affect their transportation plans.

Friday the 24th: Long intervals.  The first one went well.  The second one did not.  I finished it hard anyways.  I was wrecked the rest of the day.

Saturday the 25th: Gateway group ride!  AND Africa Night!  Finally!  I’d been salivating about this day for the past week.  It was going to be over 50 degrees, I was ready for some good suffering, and the Africa Night was going to be an awesome event filled with drumming, good food, and maybe–just maybe–I’d be allowed to try one of the Ethiopian beers I always describe in detail to the customers with phrases like, “The Bedele is a slightly sweater, fruiter lagger while the St. George is a bit heavier and definitely a lot more stout,” but then I have to follow it up with, “Well, actually I’ve never tried either of them so I don’t really know, but that’s what I’ve heard.  And I don’t really know anything about the wines either.  They all just taste like wine to me, and I don’t like wine unless I’m already drunk.”

On Saturday morning I woke up on time, ate breakfast on time, drank my coffee on time, pumped up my tires on time, put oil on my chain, got all my ride food ready (who am I kidding, this is the first thing I did after breakfast), got dressed, then sat around on the internet for half an hour until I realized I was going to be late.  But not to worry, for last week I’d shown up at 9:55 and had to wait around in the cold for 15 minutes before everyone was ready to go.  So today I’d done my waiting inside and would show up just before 10:10 with a few minutes to spare before we rolled out.

I got to the Gateway parking lot on the outskirts of town and no one was there.  I went into a terror.  I LIVED for this day.  This entire last week had solely been about waiting for the group ride to happen.  I started riding hard in the direction they went, hoping I’d catch them.  After a few minutes I thought that maybe they just hadn’t arrived yet.  After all, maybe they were all taking their time to get ready and ride over late like I did, not wanting to wait in the cold for all those idiots who show up late at 10:10.  I went back to the parking lot and waited for 10 minutes, slowly realizing that it was A) daylights savings or B) that I’d missed the ride.

Mad at myself a little, but mainly at them for leaving on time, I rode out to meet them at the half way point.  After an hour and a half of riding I saw the group coming towards me at last and finally convinced myself that it wasn’t daylights savings and that I’d just shown up late.  I did a U turn, joined the front and started taking pulls in the pace-line.  The group was smaller than the 150 starters they’d begun with, but it still needed some trimming to shed the fat.  Luckily the horsepower was there today to do just that, with four or five Optum KB guys, a handful of other pros, and some local cat 1 heroes.  Within a short amount of time we’d detonated the field.  The crosswinds had picked up and we were echeloning over into the yellow lines at times, yelling “car up” just in time to swerve over into the right lane.  It wasn’t safe or legal, though neither is having sex with a prostitute, but someone’s got to do it.

Mike Friedman was a beast.  He pretty much single-handedly soloed to the last sprint of the day with about 10k to go.  One guy was with him but it was basically just Mike pulling with the other dude hanging on for dear life.  Mike is going to win some races this year, and soon too.  Like in the next couple weeks.  The remaining group of us, around 8-10 guys at this point, rolled through the sprint sign 10 seconds after him and the hard part of the group ride concluded with Zirbel flatting a rear tire.  None of the other guys had a pump longer than 3 inches, so I got out the floor pump I strap to my top tube and pumped his tire, resulting in me getting a free cup of coffee half an hour later when we stopped at a cafe for re-charging.  This was the second day in a row I’d helped someone with a flat tire, significantly decreasing my own chances of flatting during races (flat tire karma).  Yesterday I stopped on my way up Sunshine after my intervals were done to help a guy who looked like he needed help.  He’d flatted, changed the flat, and then the valve on his spare tube had broken off.  No patch kit.  No one ever carries a patch kit for some reason.  Anyways, I gave him a tube and pumped his tire for him.  He was lawyer and I was hoping he’d offer me a job doing something at his law firm but I think I bragged too much about how good my team was and he must have assumed that I didn’t need a job doing lawyer stuff since he didn’t offer me one.

After the coffee break, Lachlan and the Optum guys and I headed to the mountains to do some “hard but not all out climbing.”  Turned out we were going a bit harder than that, and alhough the power meter didn’t say it was that hard, after four hours of ride time the two climbs we did were basically threshold efforts.  Since I was the only non-pro in the group, my ego couldn’t afford to be dropped and I made sure to go to the front to increase the pace just before we got to the top.  Pro…I mean amateur.

The second climb on Flagstaff hurt even more than the one on Sunshine.  I rode on my own after that and ended the day with a very solid five hours in my legs.  Time to go eat and lie in bed for the rest of the afternoon.  Except not.  I got home, rushed into my work clothes and rode to work, 10 minutes late with a tub of pre-made oats in my Shimano shoe string back pack calling my name as I sprinted through yellow lights on my way to Ras Kassa’s African Night.  I wouldn’t get home until 2:15 am.  Curse you Africa Night!!!

Rolling and cutting the still-warm fresh Injera.  One on the cutting board, one in my mouth.  One on the cutting board, two in my mouth…

I can’t remember her name since I’ve never worked with her before, but I think she’s one of Tsehay’s relatives.  Tsehay wasn’t here today.

Abesha and Malang getting ready.  Malang organized Africa Night, made the food, and performed on the drums.

Some of the stews we serve.  Yellow split peas, spicy red lentils, collard greens.

Trunkis.  Not sure if the spelling is correct on that one.

Abesha warming up the drums.

Malang.

Abesha making some goat cheese dip.  I’ve been temporarily banned from making it because I used way too many hot chilies last time.

Goat cheese dip is GOOD.

I made the hummus.  I got in trouble for adding too much chili last time I made this too.  (In actuality I’m the shit at making hummus and goat cheese dip.  I have the magic touch).

Malang about to make the BEST cabbage dish I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Seriously, this was amazing.  I took home a huge box of it when I went home.

Jason bar-tending.  The girls: “Why is he taking pictures of us?  Jason: “Oh don’t worry about him.”

Some break dancing broke out before everyone got up to dance for the rest of the night.

The drumming was amazing.  Loud, long, and trance-inducing.  Unfortunately I wasted all my camera’s space on video instead of pictures.  And my camera takes horrible video.

Sunday: I went out for a five hour ride but ended up only doing two since I was beat from the night before.  In replace of the long ride I went to Alfalfa’s grocery store to use the internet, drink decaf coffee, and start writing this blog post.  I decided to bring some of the leftovers I had from last night to one of the homeless people that populate the corner of Broadway and Baseline.  I found the skinniest-looking one of them, named Howard, and gave him the box of Ras Kassa’s.  He asked if it was warm, I said no but suggested he come with me to Alfalfa’s a block away and use their microwave.  I ended up getting him a coffee too and he began talking about some crazy things, thoroughly entertaining me for the next hour as people tripped over his backpack in the cafe area.  A girl told me that I was doing a really nice thing.  I thanked her, but I disagree.  I had already eaten one box of Ras Kassa’s leftovers earlier that day and didn’t need the extra calories of the second box.  And I didn’t want the food tempting me later that night, and throwing it away was not an option, since I hate seeing good food go to waste.  So it was really my own selfishness and dislike of food-wasting that brought dinner to Howard’s stomach, not kindness.  Helping someone out with the intent of feeling good about oneself is not philanthropic.  True kindness for strangers is a rare thing, for even Mother Teresa thought she was going to Heaven.

Monday: Intervals.

Tuesday: MORE intervals.  These ones might have been the most epic set of intervals I’ve ever done.  I started the ride feeling decent, but not great.  After a 50 minute warm up I headed up my designated 6-minute interval hill.  I hammered out the first one with legs of lead and lungs of laringitis.  Was I really going to be able to do five more of these?  Wise guru coach Sam Johnson was only allowing 2 to 2.5 minutes of rest.  This was going to hurt.  I summoned the courage for the second.  I did it but was now dying.  The third.  I was dead.  The fourth.  I was rudely awakened from the peaceful slumbers of death to be whipped in the eyeballs with barbed wire soaked in lemon juice and salt.  The fifth.  It began snowing, increasing the hard man points I was currently earning.  The added adversity and distraction of the snow gave me strength.  I reached the top of the hill and unclipped (it’s really steep and I’m always too out of it to look over my shoulder for cars and make a U turn in the middle of the road so I just stop and unclip for a second).  I headed down the hill and the snow turned into a blizzard.  I got to the bottom and turned around, my short rest was over, Rob Zombie was blaring, the snow was coming down so hard I couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of me.  The wind was forcing it sideways to the right, then suddenly it would change direction going to the left now.  I started the interval, going harder and harder, pumping out 30 more watts than any of the other intervals.  I went into a trance, the sideways snow, the cold wind, and the Vo2 effort forcing my eyes crossed.  With a minute to go I hammered all out in sprint, harder and harder as the road’s gradient increased and my imaginary finish line came into view.  I crushed Peter Sagan in a desperate, all out sprint and bike throw to the top of the hill at Big Bear during stage 6 of the Tour of California and I collapsed over my bars at the end with slobber and snow covering my face and a terrible side cramp that had been growing worse and worse since my third interval.  I was extremely pleased with my effort.  I took a picture when I got home:

Some people try to capture themselves in their best light and deceive us with a non-ugly picture of themselves.  I’m all about looking my worst in the pictures I take of myself (just as long as I don’t look fat).  That way, after seeing a bunch of ugly pictures of me, when someone sees me in person they’ll think I’m better looking than I really am and because of that, offer me food or other services (because that’s what inferior-looking people are supposed to do for better-looking people, or so the movies tells me.)

In this picture I’m sure you’ll note the excessive load of snot in my nose, which is not to be confused with the bits of soft boiled egg on my chin.  I made a bunch of soft boiled eggs the other day and the entire batch came out extremely hard to peal.  I did some interneting and found a way to peal hard boiled (not soft boiled) eggs without having to do any pealing at all! Imagine that!  World saved!!! I have my doubts if it works as well as they claim, but what you do is soak the already cooked eggs in cold water with baking soda, break off the two ends of the egg, then blow hard on one side and the egg pops right out of its shell.  It’s on youtube.  I only had patience to soak the eggs for 10 seconds since I’d just come home from a ride and was hungry, and then I tried the blowing trick with one of my soft boiled eggs.  I blew extra hard, to make up for the lack of time the egg soaked in the baking soda water.  Imagine someone having projectile diarrhea, except that their diarrhea is actually soft boiled egg.  It went everywhere, all over the wall, across the kitchen counter, on the stove…  So I ate the next two eggs with a spoon, which proved almost equally as messy since they were really soft, soft boiled eggs.  Like barely cooked.

After the egg eatings I moved out of the place I’ve been living in for the past four months because I didn’t want to pay rent while I was away in California during March, and I also didn’t like living with my former roommate since he is a slug.  I packed most of my belongings in two bike boxes, borrowed a car, and made two trips across town to unload my junk in a friend’s room (Kim) who will be away housesitting during March and therefor I’ll have the room to myself.  The room has a gigantic bed and what I believe to be memory foam pillows and bed cover.  Standing four feet high, the bed is situated at an altitude, unlike my futon, which does not requires crouching down to the ground to get into bed.  Even better, it doesn’t require doing a squat every time I get out of bed.  And sleeping up off the ground is a good 10 degrees warmer too.  I believe these are some of the reasons bed frames were invented: to reduce squats, to reduce crouching, to increase warmth, and to live above the fleas from house pets.  Here at the new house there are no footsteps above my room to wake me up early in the morning, no barking dogs, no roommate coughing loudly from emphysema, and no futon crease in the arch of my back all night.  I slept in till 11:44 this morning.  A solid night’s sleep indeed.

Wednesday: I rode 5 hours.  Six times up to the top of Flagstaff in celebration of the Tour of Colorado’s decision to end the Stage 5 Golden to Boulder route on Flagstaff.  Unfortunately they didn’t want the racers to have too tired of legs for the final day’s time trial in Denver so they ended Stage 5’s climb at the amphitheater, which, as all Boulderites know, is NOT the top of Flagstaff, just barely half way up.  And it skips the hardest part of Flagstaff which is at the top.  This final section of the climb would have been awesome for both the spectators and the racers to do battle on (literally: as in the racers weakly and comically punching the spectators out of the way as they ran drunkenly next to them, or more likely walked next to them–it’s really steep.  There’s nothing more annoying than seeing those stupid sumo wrestlers almost knock over the GC winner during an attack.  Actually, having herpes is probably more annoying.  I Rode With GPS’ed the Golden to Boulder route here: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/967916

100 miles and 11,300 ft of climbing aint bad.  Although, I did 13,000 ft today.

Thursday: Having a complete rest day meant that I completely forgot to go to work.  I’d been lazing around watching a movie when it dawned on me that it was Thursday, 5pm and I was supposed to be somewhere half an hour ago.  I ran downstairs, put my plans of making French toast on hold, pulled my pants of of the washing machine, and rode to work with them wet and freezing against my legs.

Friday: Finally up to date.  I rode easy today and ate an entire box of Panda Puffs peanut butter flavored corn cereal, part of the EnviroKidz line.  It’s gluten free so therefore it’s healthy and can be marketed as such to dumb parents who think that anything in the organic section is health food.

I finish up this final week of hard training with two more big rides on Saturday (the Gateway ride that I’ll be on time for tomorrow) and Sunday: a long sloberfest of intervals, sprints, and climbs.  Then it’s a bunch of rest days before team camp, where I’m going to “keep it holstered” in the hills.  Ha.  Whoops that was over 4,000 words.  Did anyone read all of this?

5 thoughts on “Africa Night and Recent Stuff

  1. It took me three days but I did make it all the way through. I got hung up on a couple of grammar errors. But then I’m never sure when you do them on purpose. Usually your grammar is excellent, as is your spelling. Do you have self correcting word spell, if that is what it is called? Forget testing me. I’d flunk it even if I had read every word. Gramma C

  2. Yeah I like to do occasional ironic mispells once in a while. As an added bonus, it helps confuse people as to when I’m doing it on purpose or on accident, since I do make mistakes. I have spell check but it doesn’t pick up everything. I’ll have to go back and find whatever grammatical errors you found and change them since I hate makeing them.

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