Monday, June 30, 2008

Windy 70.........and Pie

Even though there was a monumental trail work day going on at the Center I was previously committed to a little road riding with a college buddy, Matt, and his brother Sean. These guys are both good athletes and very lean. Matt runs somewhere around 25-30 miles a week and bikes when he's not running. Sean is a former bodybuilder and current adventure sports junkie. I know he runs the 801 Power Climb for (get this) fun. Anyway, I knew I'd be up for a physical challenge with these two sinewy (oh, yeah vocab) greyhound dawgs.

Matt and I met Sean at the Waukee trailhead of the Raccoon River Valley Trail. Sean rode out from Norwalk. We proceeded to ride into a stiff wind all the way to Adel. Probably averaging somewhere around a modest 16-17 mph. Matt had told me to expect somewhere in the 18-19 mph because Sean was going to ride his touring bike, with fully loaded saddlebags. When he said fully loaded he wasn't kidding. At Adel Sean pulls out a full coffee thermos with a ceramic coffee mug. Later he pulled a little bag chair outta his bag o tricks. He was clearly very prepared. While in Adel a group of very serious looking riders, on nice bikes and sporting full Livestrong gear pulled up and asked us where the Pieathlon was. Hmmmmm pie you say? Yes, apparently there was a rather widespread pie event in and around Adel. It was amusing to see these race-ready looking people looking for an event that reportedly focused on going to bars, getting some kind of stamp and eating pie.

When we got to Redfield it was clear the Pieathlon was in full swing. There were people walking down the trail eating pie.

While stopped there we saw a gentleman, I believe I heard someone say he is 80, on a nice carbon fiber Trek road bike. We would later see him 12 miles down the road in Panora, and he wasn't stopping there either. I should've got a picture of him. I hope I'm still turning the peddles at that age.

In Panora we also met the rider of this beauty. He was very friendly, talking to us about all his bike travels and how he gets 'adopted' every year by groups on RAGRABI. His bike, which he dubs Captain America, is decked out with every bit of gear you will ever need on a ride. He said it weighs 88 pounds. Sweet.

On our way back from Panora Matt took off fast. Sean and I were chatting about something and didn't notice right away we were being left in the dust. After a bit we decided to try catching him. I took off first but Sean quickly pulled ahead, but I was able to keep hooked up with him pretty well. We caught Matt right before Redfield. When Sean and Matt looked back I think they were both suprised to see me. "Whoo Hooo, Good Job Sheesley!" Sean hooted. That was a pretty nice compliment. He said he was working hard "to keep it above 30 mph". So we were flying pretty good.

The Pieathlon was still in full swing. Matt and Sean both decided to partake, I reluctantly passed. About halfway through their treat they starting lifting up their shirts, slapping their stomachs and mildly complaining about their "bellies" or "ponches". I can only assume they were talking about the small thin little layer of "fat" right around their bellybuttons. Matt said he can't get rid of his even though he's only 8% body fat. Sean said something similar. They both commented on weighing 160. Yep, me too, 160 ---- when I was in 9th grade. I resisted the urge to crush them both and passed on their little bowl-full-of-jelly game.

When we got back to Waukee we had about 56 miles in, so we decided to go a little further to get at least 63 - I think that's the "metric century" or 100k. We rode in the playground area in Greenwood Park and actually ended up doing 70.7 miles. The ride back to Waukee up a steady incline into 25-30 mph wind was definitely not a treat, but all in all it was a really good day. I am quite pleased with how I rode. Sorta wished I'd had me some pie though.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Yin, Mi Esposa, My Shamoopie

Fourteen years ago today at Park Avenue Christian Church I acquired the other (better) half of me.

When you've been married for 14 years and together for 21, things like anniversaries can slide by without much fanfare. I think it is as much a tribute to your comfort and security as it is an example of how we take, even the dearest, things for granted.

The first time I met Jackie my long-time friend Todd and I went to her house over the summer to pay our fees for an upcoming Swing Choir retreat (yes, that's right I was a dancin' and singin' fool in highschool). We didn't know her, but she was a grade older (sorry, Honey) and the Treasurer (whooooo) and a little hottie to boot. On our way over there Todd and I talked about how we might make a good first impression, envisioning some witty banter, "Oh, hey there, I've got a check for you, "check" it out. Hahaha." Ok, we didn't have that part quite worked out, but we thought we'd be pretty good at winging it. Workin' the audience, playin' off each other. Yeah, this will be cool, we thought.


Jackie answered the door, took our checks, said thanks and something like, "see you guys next week" then politely, but abruptly, closed the door in our stunned faces. I think we must've stood there in silence for a moment thinking, "that wasn't at all what we had planned". I think I blamed Todd for being too tall or something. I knew it certainly couldn't have been me. Now, I wish I could say I knew right then I was going to marry this girl, might not have been the first thing in my mind at the time.

This only goes to show how things that are meant to happen will still find a way. Now we are raising 2 daughters and teaching them (I hope) to politely, but abruptly, crush boys who may think they are clever.

She's a great wife, mother, friend and professional business woman I respect tremendously. She is also a fierce Wii Fit ski jumping and marble rolling competitor.

She's awesome. I love her.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I just have to accept it - my Mii is fat

The Sheesley family joined the Wii Nation on Sunday with a purchase of the Nintendo console along with the Wii Fit game pack and some other games. For those of you unfamiliar with this product --- how is living in a cave treating you? Well, even cave dwelling would be better with a Wii. So, I guess you better get a portable generator or a really long extension cord 'cuz you're gonna need one of these.

In the Wii you create your own character called a Mii. You can design him/her to look like anything you want really, but who can resist the urge to create your very own virtual you? We have created all the Sheesleys. Its funny, they all come trotting out, happy as can be, when you are ready to play the game. You can take your Mii and play the sports games that came with the console. For example you could have your virtual 9 year old daughter knock your virtual self to the canvas while playing boxing (I musta had a faulty controller or something).

The real fun (?) starts when you hook up the Wii Fit. Its controlled by a pressure sensitive platform that looks like a bathroom scale. In order to start the game you import your previously created Mii (which you thought was a pretty accurate representation of the real you) and send him/her into the Fit area. The first thing they ask you to do is a "body test" - Rut Ro Shaggy, you can see the trouble comin' can't ya?

Sure enough, after you enter your height and age and do some balance training it gives you a "Fit Age" and - here's the mean part - changes your character to (I suppose) a more accurate reflection of the authentic you. My poor little guy made this sound like - ballllooping and BOOM he's fat. He's looking down at his new girth like, "what the hell just happened to me?" How's that for motivation? Brilliant that's what. Then, when your motivation (or is it devastation?) is at its peak it asks you to set a fitness goal and marks the start date on the calendar for you. Another nice touch is when you step your wideload on the poor defenseless platform the very pleasant little computer voice let's out a sigh like you're hurting it. Alright wiseguy, that's enough outta you.

I can't help wondering what my Mii woulda looked like a couple of years ago before I dropped 45 pounds. He probably would've appeared, cheeseburger in one hand, tv remote in the other. He would've been masterful at finding excuses to not do any of the exercises. Eventually a virtual ambulance (or a hearse) would've pulled up and whisked him away.

As it is, I have stalled out a bit in my weight loss goals and could use the extra pep little Tubby is providing. I still want to drop between 30-40 more pounds. Obviously, it'll take more than just the Wii Fit to accomplish that, but I have to admit the exercises are more challenging than you think they will be.

When I do whittle down my Mii I'm going to take him to a Wii beach somewhere......and flex for all the Mii ladies.

Oh Yeah.

Dry Dirt

Corey and I went out on Sunday in search of dry central Iowa dirt trails. I am happy to report that we found them at Lake Ahquabi State Park and the nearby Annett Nature Center. Ahquabi - which I believe is Native American for "some steep hills"- is in great shape with the exception of 2-3 brief muddy patches along the way. Even the muddy patches have had plenty of wood chip thrown down on them and are not too bad. Here's one of the big hills taken with Katie's camera (shhh, she doesn't know I have it - mine is out for repair).

After making our way around the lake to the campground we decided to head up the road a bit to check out the Annett Nature Center. Its a nice facility complete with this anatomically correct (was that really necessary?) wire sculpture of a Bison.

We could see that there was some modest nature trail on the premises, but not wanting to be poor bike citizens we decided to ask if bikes were allowed before venturing in. The highschool/college kid at the visitor's center said, "Oh.....ah....yeah" when I asked if it would be okay. So, with this strong endorsement, we headed off toward the observation tower in the distance.

Under normal circumstances I would have probably thought these "trails" weren't worth the time but hey, these aren't normal circumstances and beggars can't be choosers. It's a combination of crushed gravel utility road, mowed grass doubletrack with some dirt doubletrack thrown in for good measure. There were some decent hills in probably 1-2 miles of trail. After a decent climb to the tower I, for some unknown reason, I dropped my bike and proceeded to sprint (ok sprint might be stretching it) up the stairs to the top. After 4 flights up my quads were definitely burning. Here's the view from the top looking at the Visitor's Center. From up here we spotted some more "trail" and went exploring. On this run we found some unmowed stuff including a downhill section that hides a waterbar that appears quite quickly out of nowhere. I should've taken a picture of it. I bailed out the front door scoring a nice save against my main man Gravity - Ha! 1-0. I forget what the overall match score is between us.

On our ride down from the tower hill I scared the pate out of a huge grey goose. That was kinda fun, he waddled along in the trail for a bit before he could get his well-fed rump off the ground.

After a short break in their little flower garden and washing my face and neck off in their fountain we were back to Ahquabi to reverse our loop. We figured the distance to be somewhere around 14 hilly miles. It was mucho grande fun. Between that and the time I been putting in riding and doing some trailwork at Easter I have been the lucky recipient of quite a bit of dirt under the tires this week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Bike, but Hike

I went for a hike with me mutt on the two sections of the Center trails that are not currently underwater. Rollercoaster is in really pretty good shape considering everything - that is until you get toward the southern most creek crossing, then the sloppy river mud takes over. Mostiquitos are the number one problem. They are thick as thieves everywhere. I think we should coordinate a nuclear shock and awe attack of industrial mostiquito bombs or something. It's BAD.

I didn't do too much hiking on Hillside, because my lard-butt dog was pretty outta gas - and the mostiquitos were starting to chew through my second layer of Deep Woods Off.

I will leave you with this. I noticed a funky new rock formation as I was leaving Rollercoaster. It looked like these mystic little rock towers we saw in place around Hawaii.

Only this one was bigger.....and I don't think its a rock tower. I wonder if it is still good luck. You'll haveta click on it blow it up.

The jury is in - I love my cyclocross bike

I've only taken her out twice, but I am thoroughly pleased with the new addition to my stable. There are plenty of good gravel roads around my house (when its not flooded) so the Poprad is not going to be hurtin' for dirt. I even found a sketchy B level service road close to home.

Deep ruts, sahweet.

I also discovered quicksand's special needs cousin, quickmud.

My shoe, my beautiful shoe.

I think I'm going to upgrade the canti brakes to some V's. A little more stopping power is always a good thing, especially given my recent history with Old Man Gravity.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Riding in Defiance of Rain

Sunday we were originally supposed to put some finishing touches on the new trail at Banner, but the Middle River had other ideas. I had planned on riding to Banner, mostly via gravel roads, so Saturday I drove out to do a little scouting. Found water over 140th and these fancy chickens. I think they're called Peacocks. It was quite odd seeing exotic birds traipsing down an Iowa back road.

Sunday, my friend Corey and I were determined to ride - in the dern rain if we must. The day clearly called for an urban assault of downtown. So, we rode from Corey's place which is just south of DT to the Capitol. It quickly became clear that Corey was a bit of a urban expert, knowing lots of little drops and cut throughs. We trucked behind the police station and stopped to talk to a nice round officer about the bevy of bikes chained up and rusting in the rain. He was a very nice fellow talking to us about the auctions and such. He told me they have thought about just giving the bikes away to kids, since they "don't make much on most of these." I told him I thought that was a pretty good idea and told him about the Bike Collective.

They've done a lot of work to the Capitol grounds.

We then cruised over to the Judicial Building on Court and bombed down the big sledding hill. Remember when Governor Brandstad broke his jaw sledding on this mama? Yeah, well in defense of his jaw, it is a big hill with two rises toward the bottom, perfect for grabbing air on a sled, or a bike, and breaking a mandible. That new Fox shock on the front of the Trek really wants to hug the ground, so over the first rise it did just that, popping the rear into the air a bit. I thought about trying to launch off the second rise, but there wasn't much time for calculations, so I just rolled it, trying to get my weight back a little further. The rear rose again, this time higher and a little off camber. Whew! I survived. Bike handling skills 1, Gravity 0.

From there we cruised through DT, exploring various alleyways and staircases. We came to the Nationwide Insurance parking garage and decided to do some climbing. At 8 stories, this has to be one of the taller garages in town. I am the KING of this parking structure. Death to all those who oppose me.

After hanging out a bit we decided to head on. I told Corey, "I'm going to descend this sucka." He said, "Be careful, its wet in places." Yeah, whatever. I will have plenty of room to widely arc the turns. Well, about the 3rd floor down Gravity evens up the score 1 all. The concrete was only a little wet and I wasn't really leaning into the turn. I figured I'd be fine on the wider mountain bike tire, but someone (like me) didn't take into account the rubberized car tire grime mixed with the water. Boom goes the dynamite, rider down. I mostly caught myself, so there were no injuries save a little scrape on my knee. Oh and my camera, which apparently didn't like kissing pavement any more than I did. Jackie, in her infinite wisdom, thinks (hopes) she purchased the full mamba jamba accident coverage plan for the camera, so I might be able to go get a shiny new one to eventually (re)destroy. I think its possible that I might be riding too aggressively.

After eating a tasty but 'spensive chicken gyro at the Gateway Cafe, and realizing I was way too smelly to be in such a trendy little bistro, we headed over to the Woodland Cemetery. Man, what a neat - and spooky - place. Many old mausoleums and impressive monuments. They just don't commemorate like they used to. We were very careful to maintain reverence and be respectful. I certainly didn't need any bad karma entering my even-up contest with Gravity. In one area we found an engraved stone saying the first Bishop of Iowa had established a cemetery south of town in 1880 (something), but that it was rather quickly abandoned. Then, closer to the turn of the century, another clergyman had the bodies exhumed and moved to this spot. All around were the resting places of many holy men. Including a very impressive Celtic cross marking the final resting place of the priest (for 41 years) of St. Ambrose. Very cool. I would've taken a lot of pictures in the cemetery, gum it.

Seeing the storm clouds roll back in, we thought it wise to head back to the east end of downtown and closer to Corey's homebase. We got over by the new Science Center and it just opened up. We quickly retreated to the little parking garage next door. When the rains let up we made a break for it. Almost on cue it opened up again just as we got to where the trail passes under the 7th street bridge. Like drowned rats we scurried up the embankment (which was slick as snot) and hid out underneath. After another short respite it was only a short jaunt to Corey's and done for the day. All told only about 12 miles of riding in about 4 hours (how's that for some killer mph?) but enjoyable because it was done in absolute defiance of Mother Nature. Ha!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wooo Hoooo! What could be better than....another bike

Today is my birthday!..........ok, so that's not exactly true.
Um, today is Father's Day!.........Yeah, fine, that's not quite here either.
Ultimately, today needs no other occasion because today is New Bike Day! (is it here yet? is it here yet?)
I've been really good this year. I'm getting all my homework done and eating my vegetables. All want in return is a new bike (or bikeS). I have been feeling the need to add to my stable; so I've been doing research, fretting over this and that, trying to craft the perfect gameplan.

Earlier this year (think winter) I nearly pulled the trigger on a sweet deal for a full suspension, carbon fiber Scott Spark 20. It was a demo bike, meaning it had been ridden ~ 10 times at little events and was basically new. Man, it was a sweet deal, but I didn't have the scratch right in hand so I drug my feet a little and it got sold right out underneath me. What kind of sicko buys a bike when there's still a ton of snow on the ground? Some people.

So then I've been thinking about joining the 29er crowd. For those that don't know - the standard mountain bike wheel is 26 inches. A relatively recent "movement" has people riding bikes with a little larger wheel. 29ers reportedly roller better over obstacles, have better traction when climbing and are generally a bit faster - depending on the conditions. People just rave about them. Count me curious. I almost pulled the trigger on a great carbon fiber 29er frame the other day on ebay, but I hesitated too long (1 day) again and it was gone.

Grrrrrr. Me want bike.
At the same time I have been keeping my eyes open for a cyclocross bike. These are like traditional road bikes but with clearance for a wider, knobby tire. People race them in a fashion similar to cross country mountain bike races, only with little hurdle obstacles mixed in, meaning the rider will have to dismount, hop over and remount the bike - all in one fluid motion. Its pretty cool.
Bottom line is these bikes are extremely versatile. They are great for commuting, gravel road rides and bad weather (think winter) conditions and also be great for touring rides, like RAGBRAI. The right cyclocross bike could probably also hang on faster group rides like the Ritual (really, its all about the motor anyway).
I didn't want to spend a ton of money on a cyclocross bike because I still have a 29er in mind and I may get the chance to get another demo Spark, so I had been looking at more reasonably (reasonable for me which is completely unreasonable for non cyclists) priced bikes. Most of them are aluminum, which can be a bit of a harsh ride for cyclocross, transferring a lot of the vibrations straight to the rider. Because of that I was starting to lean toward steel. Steel is smooth but the trade off is they can be heavy. I had been looking at a Surly Cross Check, which is a great bike at a good price, but they are a little chunky (or is it just big-boned?). The Surly's stock components are pretty basic, so that could always be upgraded (and really that's half the fun). So, I was thinking I would hold off until fall and get a Cross Check to brave the winter cold. Well, then there's this thing called ebay, you may have heard of it. While perusing there I came across another steel bike, a Lemond Poprad.

Even though its namesake is a bit of a jerkface, this one is already upgraded and very light for a steel. It weighs about the same as my all carbon fiber road bike. That's pretty impressive. Not wanting to have the same bikecus-interruptus problem as before, I snapped it up - effectively making today New Bike Day. Woo Hooo!

I've gotta go now. I'm going to set up shop on my front porch and wait for the UPS man to arrive.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hi Everybody, My Name is Brian - and my dog is crazy

So its been awhile since I did a loony dog update. Forgive me, I just haven't had the strength to face it; to face the fact that my dog is a few fleas shy of a circus (or a mart).

When we last left our intrepid hero he had decimated 2 cages and their subsequent repairs and fortifications. Oh, and he was sorry - can't forget the sorry part. He had forced our hand and we called down the heavy duty cage known in our home only as Alcatraz. Captain, can you smell what the Rock is cookin'? (get it?) Oh, yes I think you can.

He actually sat down and let us build it around him.

Although he clearly didn't like it, he would get in. You could hear him whimpering before we would leave. You just knew it wasn't going to work - and it didn't. He chewed a little on the sides, but concentrated his work on the top which is made of slightly lighter steel. Is that smart, or lucky or is he channelling some unknown force from beyond? How did he know to do that?Anyway, once I saw that he had some success with one bar I knew he'd just keep working on it until he could pop out the top like a Jack(off) in the Box.

Jackie took the pictures of his escape project in progress to the Vet. He was impressed by his fortitude and the durability of his choppers. The good doctor recommended doggie Prozac. So, we're doing that now. What else you gonna do? We thought about getting a doggie friend for him, but I, for one, have seen too many Dog Whisperer episodes where the family thinks if they just get another dog everything will be better.......and then it isn't.
Katie wants a hamster. I'm not sure her strategic pet acquisition plan has taken into account the fact that we have a evil genius mouser in the house, our cat - the devil. In the southern hemisphere she is known as El Diablo.
On the other hand, why not? A dead hamster would round out the klan nicely - evil cat, crazy dog and dead rodent. That's a pretty good start if you ask me.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A (dam) scientific breakthrough

I have made a discovery.

After countless hours of carefully crafted, randomized, placebo-controlled experiments I have been able to determine that crashing your bike does indeed suck. I will be submitting the abstract and executive summary of my findings to the appropriate scientific journals shortly.

My latest observational study took place Saturday morning - dam early. After significant debate with the academic advisory committee inside my head on whether to perform this trial, beginning at frickin' 5:30 a.m., it was determined (to everyone's surprise) that participation would be prudent. I arrived at the lab (DSM City Hall parking lot) at the prescribed time to find other mad scientists (or members of the Des Moines Cycle Club, if you prefer) to be surprisingly chipper given the hour.

The experiment's design called for this group to ride to Saylorville to send off the Dam to Dam runners. The leader of the group stated that the "faster" riders - anyone above 15 mph - should depart first. I didn't think 15+ qualified as "faster", but who was I to quibble? I was happy to take the faster designation and took off - you know, on account of being all-fast-and-stuff - with the first group.

A mere 2-3 miles into the ride we were heading down the sidewalk just north of Birdland park when some low hanging branches necessitated me moving over to the right (here comes the "randomized" part of the methodology). It just so happens that I was merging where there was a vertical seem in the concrete. As physics would have it, a skinny tire will occasionally not want to roll over a ridge and instead skirts along it in a phenomenon sometimes known as "plowing". This occurs when you and your bike are still generally heading in a straight line, while your front tire is offset at - say - a 20 degree angle. So, this begins my 2 hours (or was it 2 seconds?) of trigonometry calculations - you know sines, cosines, tangents and all that funky stuff. As it fate would have it, this researcher sucks at trigonometry because - well, its math. And so, all my calculations having failed me, I succumbed to gravity.....relatively hard. I say "relatively" because I did land in the grassy bit between the sidewalk and the street, which was nice, but not nearly as nice as if I had been - oh I don't know - STILL IN BED. Oh, Gravity, why must you be so cruel? I know it wasn't exactly Sir Isaac Newton's fault, but - ya know - if he'd been there I probably would have kicked him in the apples just the same.

Here's something I have learned about myself from other observational trials on bicycle collision: I enter this sort of autonomic state in which I pop back up, hop back on the bike and leave the scene with minimal damage assessment. Don't ask, don't tell seems to be the policy here. This is usually amid a very half-hearted campaign to convince observers that I am actually constructed of a space-age polymer that exhibits amazing properties of flexibility and shock absorption. Keeping to form I popped up, quickly answered that I am "fine" (another relative term) retrieved my splayed waterbottles and set to peddling off mostly just wishing to minimize the number of witnesses to my experiment. A buh bye.

I rode, with purpose, away from the crash witnesses and rejoined the lead group only to notice, a few miles down the trail, that my sunglasses that were hanging in my jersey collar were no longer with me. Crap, another casualty of science I guess. When we got to the dam I finally stopped to assess myself. Not too bad, my shoulder and thigh hurt a little and there was some minor road rash on my shins (and as I would later discover my thigh). The main insult was to the newly healed wound from Arkansas on my left shin. To the existing vertical gash I have added a horizontal one. I think it really rounds out the piece, giving it a depth and character that were sorely (get it?) lacking. Oh, and of course my eviscerated PRIDE.

A very nice rider approached me cautiously and asked if I was "the guy that crashed". Ah, yeppers that's me, thanks for noticing. "Somebody has your glasses and your phone." I hadn't even missed my phone, so someone picking up my impromptu yard sale was the best news I had since the cognitive committee had met the night before. So, thanks to the kindness of fellow (more upright and stable) cyclists I was spared shelling out money for a new phone and glasses.

After watching the dam runners depart (dam, there was alot of them) most of the riders went back from whence they came. I had always planned on getting some good miles in so I decided to continue on and take the trail out to Big Creek. About 1-2 miles in you come to a nice rollercoaster section of blacktop ending with a little climb into a lefthand hairpin turn. I was taking things easy, still warming back up, and that was a good thing. When I got to the top of the climb there were two bikers heading the opposite direction, one of them completely on my side of the trail. He must have been spacing off or something. Why you would be on the wrong side of a blind downhill curve is a mystery to me. I had to yell "heads up", lock up the brakes and slightly skid the rear wheel before he hopped over to his side of the curve. After the danger had past the my internal advisory committee quickly convened and unanimously determined that if this Dillweed had wrecked me it would have almost certainly been "ON" - I guess even the egghead academic types have their limit.

So anyways, I made it out to Big Creek sans another incident, and I made it in pretty good time too. Not at all surprising given the fact I'm 15+ mph fast like-that. On my way back I stood on the peddles to climb and felt the front wheel flex big time. Whoa, what was that? Running some quick diagnostics I determined that low psi in the front tire might be the culprit even though it didn't really look flat. I was nearing the Visitor's Center and planned on stopping there anyway, so I figured I'd check it there. Shortly thereafter, I arrive at the same hairpin where the near-miss had occurred. I took it slow, figuring a low front tire could cause problems. Sure enough the wheel starting plowing again. Eeek, I backed way off and saved myself the trouble of eating pavement. Back at the Visitor's Center I got off the bike and checked the front tire. I could sink my thumb into it almost to the rim. Superb. I believe I may have identified the key variable in my aforementioned experiment. I had pumped up the tires the night before because I knew it would be so dam early, but I didn't re-check it before leaving the lab. I have been having trouble with pinch flating in the front and I have checked inside the tire, so there must be something with the rim and/or rimstrip. Needless to say, I will be sure to check that out before the next time out.

Anywho, I was able to pump up the tire and I made it back home all-told with 50 miles under my belt and only minus some pride and epidermis.

My conclusions from this experiment are as follows:

1. 5:30 is dam early
2. grass is softer than concrete
3. I should've paid more attention in math class
4. gravity is not to be trifled with
5. even internal academic committees can be provoked
6. proper tire inflation is important
7. I'm kinda stoopid
8. crashing a bike sucks
9. I don't like it
10. It would be better to stay seated and in the upright position at all times