Monday, November 15, 2010

Stranded on Venus

If men are from Mars and wimmen from Venus, I am an astronaut who has crash landed and is surrounded.

My house = Wife + 2 daughters + (usually) some # of daughter’s BFF’s.

It looks like this:

My workplace = Me + approximately one million wimmens

It looks like this:

Even on the Des Moines Register Lifestyle Blogger page, its all chicks and one dude (me). These lovely ladies bake, sew, shop and do crafty things. I talk about bike crashes and squirrel eating owls.

It looks like this:

I guess I’m a little sensitive right now (ironic) because a long time guy friend and co-worker recently took another job. He was basically the only other guy in the office. We were two dudes afloat in the Estrogen Ocean of the health and human services field. He just up and left, and it was clearly a violation of the Bro Code.

Some of the more sympathetic ladies at work offered to “talk football” and “other guy stuff” with me.

"Awesome, so what did you think of Texas trying to defend Iowa State’s zone read running game with 4-2-5 as their base defense?"


“Well….I like those football pants.”

“Yeah, good talkin’to ya. Thanks.”

While we’re at it gals, here’s a couple others keys to my personal version of guy talk:

1.Any clothes I am wearing today (or will ever wear) do NOT constitute an “outfit”. I think I wore an outfit once….when I was in 1st grade.

2. My car nor my bike(s) nor any other thing I own is “cute”. At least I hope not. If I knew it was "cute" I wouldn't have bought it.

3.I have way fewer colors than y’all. No magenta or mauve, its just your basics with an option for an “ish” or “y” modifier if absolutely necessary ie bluish or yellowy. Additions of "light" and "dark" are acceptable, as are basic combinations such as blue-green.

4.A social gathering where you pressure your friends and/or acquaintances into buying candles or jewelry or kitchenware or make-up isn’t a “party”. It just isn’t. Call it something else.

5.A coupon? A cou-pon. Are you joking? That ain’t happening. Ever.

6.I’m probably not listening anyway.

“Brian to Mars Base, Come in Mars Base! I’ve crash landed and am stranded on Venus. So far the natives are friendly, but we both know that can change in an instant. I need evacuation.”

“Please hurry, I overheard them talking about remodeling kitchens and I think I saw someone with color swatches.”

“Yes! Swatches man! This ain’t no game! All those freakin’ ishy colors with stupid names, hundreds of them.”

“They’re gonna make me look at everyone of them! They’re gonna want an opinion, man! They ain’t settling for saying ‘I don’t care’ or 'they're all nice' this time.”

“Do you read?! I said they’ve got swatches man!”


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bike Meets Tree: A (no) Love Story

One day, under most unexpected circumstances, Bike met Tree. Their attraction was undeniable. Sadly, just like these star-crossed couples before them -

Romeo and Juliet,
Lancelot and Guinevere,
Bert and Ernie (c’mon now, you know it)

- their relationship was not meant to be. Bike’s parents forbid him to see Tree. Tree’s friends thought Bike wasn’t good enough for her. Joanie Loves Chachi it certainly wasn’t.

Why couldn’t they make it work?!


Well, because Bike and Tree come from such drastically different worlds. Bike is cold steel, rubber, spokes and all manner of whirring, blingy bits. Tree is solid, warm wood, an earthy, country type. Bike is unpredictable, prone to flights of fancy, destined to roll on from place to place; Tree is dependable, stern and stationary, content to silently keep vigil over the timber.

Their budding relationship ended abruptly and violently, just as it began, with a kiss that left Bike broken and Tree forever scarred….

So….anyways….you know that new jump at the Center?

The one with the rutted out landing patch?

Yeah, the one you’d better get your front tire up for on the landing….

Well… on last week’s Taco ride I hit the jump too slow, I didn’t get the front tire up enough and landed with the front tire in the rut. Bike bucked forward, this might have been manageable except I came unclipped from both peddles at the same time. Now I’m shuffling down the trail, in comical fast-forward, with my front wheel almost directly underneath me. Bike had essentially turned himself into a bucking bronco of a unicycle. That Bike, he can be a real @#$% sometimes. At least this circus clown spectacle was ended quickly by introducing Bike to nearby Tree. Bike kissed Tree with his handlebar, but she firmly rejected his advances.

As for me, I did a wonderful matador OLE’! move and spun out of the way with only the very upper part of my thigh contacting Tree. I am happy to say that, while the upper thigh sustained some minor damage, my downtown district was completely unscathed.

This was very good news for the residents of downtown as they are rather sensitive to being smashed with a tree.

Being pleased with my survival, I dusted myself off, hoped back on Bike and peddled off to finish the rest of the Squirrel’s Nest trail. About halfway through Nest I noticed my front brake had been spun down and behind the bar. That was an easy, twist it back into place, fix and we were off again. Next up was the Rhythm trail; we rounded the corner and started into the rough stuff when my left grip snapped off in my hand.

Carbon fiber doesn’t dent like aluminum or steel, it cracks and snaps, often times with no warning. This was one of those times. Truth is I got really lucky that it snapped when it did instead of any number of places I had just ridden, including a teeter totter stunt (don’t tell my wife).

Being damn-near Grizzly Adams, I did what any mountain man would do and (with the help of Bart and Nick) fashioned a stick splint for my handlebar.

Our Jeremiah Johnson handy work was good enough to get me back to the shop and to the local watering hole for many well-earned barley sodas.

Bike, my advice to you is forget Tree. She’s no good for you man.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Buy My Bike Stuff: It Will Make You Manlier

Everyone knows mountain biking is manly. You get dirty, stinky....hurt. You drink beer, leer and cuss at stuff.

Don't get your aprons all in an uproar, Ladies. You can be "manly" too, heck the last part of the word "woman" is MAN isn't it? In fact, I have mucho respectamundo for mountain bike ladies and badass chicks in general (just ask my wife).

So, if mountain biking is manly, it logically follows that biking in the ice and snow is manlier by a factor of about 50. Just think about how quickly those bonus points will fill up your man (or woMAN) card.

First up is a brand new set of Continental Nordic Spike cyclocross/touring tires. These have 240 studs of owl-talon gripping power. The icy trail will whimper beneath your tread. Perfect for commuting. They sell for around $85-90 bucks a piece before taxes or/shipping. $140 takes 'em

Second up is a lightly used set of 26 inch Nokian Extreme mountain bike tires. The 294 carbide studs will allow you to hunt seals, with a crossbow, on a glacier. They only have 5-6 rides on them, well under 40 total miles. They sell new for around $90 each, but are hard to find due to their extremeness. $125 takes 'em.

Either set of these tires will come in handy when marauding bands of cannibals rule the post apocalyptic American landscape starting in 2012.

Last up is a White Brothers Rock Solid 29er rigid fork. Some of you might think this isn't so manly because its light, blingy carbon fiber, a favorite material of leg-shaving roadies. Allow me to assure you, this fork is quite manly. First off, its rigid and not some softy, plushy suspension fork. Second, its beefy. It has a star nut and crown race installed. If you don't know what that means, then this fork is not for you. The steer tube is cut to 7.5 inches. Its nearly mint with only some minor scuffs. It probably has somewhere around 100 miles on it. They go for around $275 new, save big and get this one for $175.

Conan the Barbarian would love riding these tires and/or fork over the skulls of his fallen foes. Han Solo would jump to hyperspace to grab these hot deals. Hugh Heffner would throw a special theme party, in the grotto, to celebrate his purchase of these fine parts.

Its all true; and its all very manly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spooky Woods: The Night of a Thousand Stories

Rob Zombie can have his House of 1,000 Corpses...

Spooky Woods Ride is a night of 1,000 stories

There were some wins (of unknown origins)

A few wins have to be classified as inevitable. For example, Elaine won the costume contest, even though there wasn't exactly a costume contest to win.

The mini bike races were an epic tale all on their own.

Cruella Deville is as good at mini bike racing as she is at snuffing out puppies

she could've given Bart a few tips

Teri's tale is a tail..and its on backwards....or is it?

The sweater brigade was small but dedicated and highly effective (Brother-in-Arms, Rick not pictured here).

Here's Rick. You don't get the full sweater majesty from this pic, but trust me, it was a sweater vest. As you probably already know, the vest part increases the sweater's awesomeness by a factor of ten.

Sammy, Sammy, can't take him anywhere.

Here begins Bart's final chapter. Sadly his pals have already rode off into the night without him. He is chanting the mantra of "red rims, red rims". This is not to be confused with "red rum" from The Shining. Instead he is referring to his fancy-schamancy red rims on his mountain bike. He seemed confident that their redness would help him navigate the dark woods. Perhaps they were infra-red (har, har)

Big thanks to Mary for most of these pics and huge props to Squirrel and Jordan for all the work they put in getting the party set up.

I'm already looking forward to next year and another 1,000 stories.