Cyclists still get the best parking spots

ImageSkyline College in San Bruno, California, is located at the top of a 200 meter hill (about 666 feet for those of you with a conspiratorial bent), which explains why it isn’t popular with commuters who prefer people powered vehicles.  On the other hand, unless the student is willing to get to campus early in the morning, parking a car can be problematic.

Still, the bike racks are few and lonely.

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Slogging up Sharp Park Road

So cyclists, you think you’re pretty good on hills? Take a look at this short video. This is during the 2012 Giro di Pacifica, near the top of Sharp Park Road. This is after it flattens out a bit, right after the steepest part of the 1.5 mile route between Highway 1 and Skyline Drive, where it goes from hellish to merely difficult. I have suppressed the audio because it’s mostly the sound of my huffing and puffing, driving the recumbent up the hill, with the GoPro attached to my helmet.

At the 27 second mark I get passed by a young father pulling a toddler in a trailer. I don’t know what happened to mom. She was with them when they started the ride, and she was with them later at the rest stop. #400 isn’t mom, just another rider.

The two guys standing on the right – I thought they stopped to check directions, though it seemed like an odd spot to do so. We were chatting after the ride and they told me, “You didn’t stop on Sharp Park Road, did you? You did the whole thing without stopping.” They had simply spent themselves climbing the grade and had to catch their breath at that point. And they weren’t towing children.

Perhaps not surprisingly, SPR was easier the second time. I’m either getting stronger, or I’m hauling less fat. Fifty-one percent of my Labor Day Goal. Woot!

Update July 31: Upon review of the full video, I see that the mom passed me at about the 1/3 mark going up SPR.

Archery Fever

It started with The Hunger Games, and fortunately the movie was so well hyped that we had plenty of warning.  We all remember what happened when Lord of the Rings and Robin Hood were released.

Archery fever.

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This is about a third of the people who showed up one Sunday for our archery public outreach

On the first and third Sunday of every month (except December and January), we invite the public to join us for a morning of archery instruction.  They come from all walks of life, with a heavy emphasis on families.  For a five dollar donation, we put a bow in their hand and an arrow in the other.  We check them for left-right eye dominance, we show them how to load the bow, how to stand, how to draw and many of the other minutiae of archery.

On an average day, we’ll see about thirty or forty people, with an even mix of ages and genders.

Then we noticed an increase in teenage girls, and one of the instructors told the rest of us about the books by Susanne Collins.

“This is going to get ugly,” somebody said, though we all smiled.  Like any other addicts, we love to get more newbies.

No sooner did we adjust to the increase caused by The Hunger Games then we were hit with fans of The Avengers.  Then, the final blow, Brave.

We split our normal three hour session into two sessions of one and half hours, bought more equipment and convinced more members to help out with instruction.

And we still had to turn people away.  I hate turning people away.  People started showing up forty minutes early in order to be insured a spot.  Our scorekeeper showed up to register people and give them numbers.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love.  We get a kick out of it when newbies finally put it all together and start hitting the target more than they miss.

Then we bring out The Balloons. Balloons have a magical quality.  You would be amazed at how much a student’s aim improves when there’s a balloon out there, laughing at you with every miss.  Yes, balloons can laugh.  Put one on a target next time you go to the range, and you’ll hear its shrill, mocking laughter every time an arrow doesn’t end its inflated existence.

Finally, it’s noon, and all the students leave and the instructors meet in the clubhouse for the after-action debriefing.  We talk about the students who shined the students who nearly shot their parents, the students who asked about club membership.

We know that Archery Fever will eventually burn itself out, even if the sport at the London Olympics it does enjoy a brief renaissance of popularity.  Eventually, we’ll be able to go back to sane Sundays, when only thirty or forty people show up.

Then somebody – I don’t remember who – mentioned that there’s a new television show this fall which has received a lot of publicity and seems to be very popular.  Revolution. A world with no electricity, and the inhabitants revert to archery.

“We’re doomed,” somebody said with a laugh.

Recumbent Bicycles: Laid back riding

It occurred to me the other day that, along with the Esperanto, archery and movie/book reviews, I have yet to post anything about another of my favorite activities in the entire universe – bicycling.

The thought occurred to me because suddenly the BICYCLES circle at Google Plus has a boatload of people in it, 94% of whom I have never met.  The circle had only two people in it for over a year.  Compare this to the ESPERANTO circle which has several dozen, and the ARCHERY circle which has about a dozen people.  (No overlaps.)

Now the cycle circle has about thirty people in it.  It started when I started up a conversation with a man in Florida and it dominoed from there.

I would like to introduce you to my two bikes.  Neither of them is a standard bicycle.  Would you have expected anything else from me?

To the right is my alternate a Montague folding bike.  If you compare it to the Imagemodels shown at the company’s website the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks nothing like the current models.  That’s because I purchased it back in the 90’s, when I was doing a lot of flying between southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.  It was annoying to land at an airport which is 15 miles from town, like the Double Eagle II Airport outside Albuquerque, and have to either rent a very expensive cab or beg a ride from the waitress to get to a motel.  When folded, this bike fits nicely behind the pilot’s seat of a Piper Cherokee and voilà! No more stuck at the airport!

At the time, we lived on a dirt road in the Mojave Desert of southern California, in a home that was a quarter mile from the paved road, so this little hybrid number was just the ticket.

Why is the Montague an alternate?  Glad you asked!  This is my main gal, the Haluzak Horizon.  Actually, this isn’t my bike but a stock photo.  Mine is the same color blue as the Montague.  The Haluzak is a recumbent bike, or as the riders like to call it, a ‘bent.  Thus we are “bent riders.” Get it? Yeah.

The rider sits in the semi-reposed position and powers it like the LifeCycles at the gym, except that you actually go somewhere.  The handlebars are under the seat and the rider’s arms are at her side in a very natural postion.  The shift handles are thumb shifts, making it about as easy as it can get.

And!  At the end of a long riding day, my butt doesn’t hurt.  My wrists don’t hurt.  My back doesn’t hurt.  My neck isn’t sore from bending it at a near 90° angle for hours at a time.

People on the street ask, “Isn’t that hard to ride?” No. It rides the same as a standard upright bike.  However, I feel like I should list a few caveats.

There’s a bit of a learning curve, mostly in learning to start from a dead stop.  You can’t put your weight into it, so you have to put your back into it, which also means training yourself to stop so that the pedals are in a good position for a strong push when the lights are red.  The angle of incline of the seat can make a huge difference in facilitating this, so some experimentation will be necessary.

The other drawback is going up hills.  Again, because you can’t put your weight on the pedals.  The design compensates for this by giving you some additional gear-inches.  Starting from a dead stop while pointing uphill is not for wussies.

The last drawback about a recumbent is riders of upright bicycles.  For inexplicable reasons, some are intimidated by the recumbent, or perhaps they feel it’s tantamount to cheating – that it isn’t really a bicycle unless it involves discomfort.  After all, one should hurt for one’s passion, right?  About once a week, some kid on an upright (yes, it’s a kid almost every time) will make a comment while passing, “That’s not a bike! That’s a lawn chair with wheels!”

Perhaps.  But it’s also a lawn chair with pedals, and I just slogged up the same hill you did, and the difference between us is that I’m going dancing tonight, and you’re not invited, kid.

That is not to say that there are not also comments of, “Hey! Kewl bike!”  Plenty of those, too!

House of Ghosts

ImageChristopher R. Mihm’s new retro-horror movie, House of Ghosts, is now available.  It’s a flashback to the horror movies of old, written, directed and filmed in the same manner, as the B science fiction/horror movies we saw at the drive-in cinemas.

Due to the magic of modern technology, though, you can watch the movie voiced in Esperanto.  And if you do, please look for my name in the credits as one of the translators.

I also helped translate Mihm’s earlier work, Attack of the Moon Zombies, but this one was more difficult as we were asked to give translations that had the same number of syllables as the original English so that the English speaking actors didn’t look like they had some pre-existing brain trauma.  A major difference between the two languages is that English is awash with single syllable words, and Esperanto has very few.  We did a lot of verbal abbreviations.  It was a challenging task, but I think we came through!

I’m not going to give you a synopsis or review. I’m sure you’ll be able to easily predict most of the story line.  The value of the movie is in the presentation.

There’s got to be a music joke in here somewhere.

Today’s post comes in the form of a question.

Back in the day when garage bands were all the rage, there was this rock and roll group called Theseus’ Ship. However, due to artistic disagreements, the members of the band were fired and replaced frequently until the number of ex-band members outnumbered the current band members and, indeed, none of the original band members were in the current band.  So the ex-band members formed their own group, also calling it Theseus’ Ship, they toured at the same time, and both groups claimed to be the original, legitimate band.

Who was right?

Plastic nocks and Elves

Proof that elves invented plastic nocks.