June 3, 2002
Snapshot of My Weekend

1. Tootsie Pop Red Helmet.

You know how it is: you go out and buy a couple of new pillows for the living room sofa (on sale at Target for $12.98 each), and all of a sudden the drapes/the carpeting/the wallpaper/the living room furniture look "all wrong."  The next thing you know you're ringing up another $456.89 on your Visa, springing for a complete wall-to-ceiling remodel.

That's how I feel about the Tootsie Pop Red Helmet.

It looked great with the little red Schwinn -- bright/happy/sturdy/ever-so-slightly-nerdy -- but now that I'm riding this hot, happenin' new bike, I don't want to be wearing a big red lollipop on my head anymore.

I want to be wearing a big BLUE lollipop.

(Preferably one of those weird misshapen lollipops that look like they've been melted in the microwave.)

2. Sloppy/Casual Bike-Riding *Ensemble.*

If I had known that I was going to have my picture taken for posterity today, I would be wearing the Ultra-Snooty Fluorescent Unicorns Cycling Jersey, a pair of thermal-activated inflatable bike shorts and stiff ugly uncomfortable cycling shoes that cost more than the average college education, instead of an off-the-rack T-shirt, smelly Sugoi knickers (still caked with blood from last weekend's tragic *Oh Shidt* Moment) and beat-up Reeboks that are older than some of my readers, probably.

But then again, that's the difference between a "snapshot" and a "portrait," isn't it?

3. Affectedly Casual Expression.

That's right. I'm cool.

See how cool I am?

I'll bet that *you* wish you were as cool as *me*!

(Except that I've got twenty or thirty ounces of Gatorade Orange Ice sloshing around in my lower mid-section right now -- my bladder feels like a pontoon -- and the nearest bathroom is another 32 minutes down the trail. Plus my sunscreen is melting into my eyes, one of my shoes is untied again, and four seconds after the shutter clicks I'm going to sneeze a big wet one into the wind ... with unspeakable results.)

But other than that, I'm pretty cool. Don't you think?

4. My Butt (On The Butt-D-Luxe).

I've been riding the new bike for about a month now, and I am pleased (and incredibly vindicated) to report that I haven't experienced so much as a millisecond of derierre discomfort, thanks to my big cushy unfashionable Butt-D-Luxe saddle.

5. On The *Other Hand* ...

... I can't seem to ride for more than twenty minutes at a stretch without my hands going numb. (Notice I'm not wearing my gloves?) This wasn't a problem with the other bikes -- at least, never to this degree -- and David and I are baffled. We know it's probably related to carpal tunnel syndrome, and that there are things I can do to help alleviate it (exercises, braces, bike adjustments, changing wrist position more frequently, whining on my website, guilting my employer into a new ergonomically-correct workstation, blah blah blah). But so far nothing seems to help much.

If anyone out there has suggestions/comments/solutions, please feel free to drop me a line. 

In the meantime, we're dealing with the problem the old-fashioned way: the moment I feel my hands beginning to tingle again, we pull off the trail and David gives me a brisk hand massage. He takes my hand between his and rubs it with deep, deliberate pressure, starting at the center of my palm and radiating outward ... flexing my wrist back and forth, gently squeezing each finger individually from base to tip, kneading the muscles and tendons until the numbness has receded, circulation has been restored, and I have been reduced to a pile of quivering, gibbering goo.

(On second thought: hold off on those suggestions for just a little while longer, OK?)

6. Toe Clips.

It's definitely still a love/hate relationship where the toe clips are concerned.

I love the extra power and oomph I get from riding with them, especially in hilly or windy conditions. You dig in your heels -- literally! -- and the toe clips do half the work for you. What I can't seem to get used to is being locked into place from the ankles down. I daydream a lot while I'm riding -- usually I'm daydreaming about mushroom avocado cheeseburgers and chocolate milkshakes -- and I forget that my feet are strapped into these stoopid seatbelts-for-feet until the millisecond before I plow into the squirrel/the pothole/the cluster of Stride-For-Life charity joggers.

But I'm working on it.

7. The World's Most Incredibly Groovy Bike.

Her name is either Max or Maddie. Or Veronica. Or Baxter. ("Bax" for short.)

I still haven't decided.

She lives in our kitchen, parked right next to the Ugly Pink Stove. It's annoying and uncomfortable and inconvenient as hell, having a bike parked in our microscopic kitchen again. But after what happened the last time we tried to leave my bike outside, you'd better believe we've learned our lesson. (And if we ever DO find ourselves in a situation where she needs to be left outdoors, we've already purchased a $43,897,621 Kryptonite lock and a couple of Pinkertons, just for that purpose.)

She squeaks a little when she brakes. She rides better in the "tall gears," especially when we're going over the bike bridge. She doesn't like sand, mud puddles or railroad tracks. She would prefer you not hang your wet pantyhose on her handlebars, thankyouverymuch. She makes a really cool whistling noise when we're coasting down a long hill.

And she is, without a doubt, my very most favorite bike ever ... mostly, I think, because she's The Little Bike That *FootNotes* Bought.

8. The Iron Horse Trail.

I rode thirty miles on this trail this past weekend. I rode 40 miles on this trail the weekend before that, 34.8 miles the weekend before that, and 31.25 the weekend before that. I think it's safe to say that I've pretty much got the Iron Horse Trail 'rememberized,' as The Tots used to say. I know where to find the cleanest bathrooms (Ralph's Supermarket in San Ramon; the train station museum in Danville) and the best place to refill your water bottle (the Lenore Schermer Memorial Fountain). I know the nicest spot to stop and eat a Luna bar (under the big tree, just past Bishop Ranch), and I know where the bumpiest, most hazardous stretch of trail runs (under 680 heading south). Basically, I know where every bridge, bench, historical marker and poop-scoop station is located.

Furthermore, I'm actually starting to recognize some of the people on the trail. (Look! It's Unhealthily-Tanned Rollerblade Lady again! )

The best thing about riding the Iron Horse Trail every weekend is that it's allowing us to knock off a big chunk of those 2,002 miles in a hurry. We can ride from Alamo to the Pleasanton BART Station and back in three hours, give or take a hand-massage-break. That's thirty miles right there ... forty, if we decide to ride up to Walnut Creek for a Jamba Juice afterwards. And considering that it's June already and we're not even halfway to our goal yet, every mile counts. And if the trail is starting to seem ... I don't know ... a little stale, maybe, or overly-familiar, or lacking in challenge? That's OK. You're not going to hear me complain. I figure there will be time enough for more 'challenging' rides next year, after we've met our goal. Right now it's all about building strength, building confidence, racking up mileage, getting comfortable on MaddieMaxVeronicaBax ...

... and EARNING that new Melted Lollipop Helmet.

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good luck tomorrow, chriss