Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A bicycle weekend

Winnie and me at yesterday's training ride in Tiburon.

I watched roller racing last evening at the Sports Basement near my house. The third guy back, adjusting his toe strap, took the fastest time they'd ever recorded - or so they said. The second guy back is wearing a Sheila Moon creation; as he was being introduced he raised his bra. (He came in last in that group.) The blue buckets were for barf. I was there two hours, they were late starting, and I didn't wait for the women's races.

Lauren was there, but no Velo Girls. I'll check her blog tomorrow, see how she did.

The crowd behind me was a very interesting mix of city bikers/messengers, club riders and, of course, the Bicycle Coalition.

Today we had the last of the Cinderella Classic training rides, this one on the peninsula. Afterwards we had lunch at Winnie's house, where some made their costumes for Saturday.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Checking off the to-do list

Yep, it must really be spring. I've started from the bottom of my to-do list (restoring my ancient cast iron skillets) as a way of working myself into the mood for overhauling my critical mess. Yesterday I checked off many little, easy items on the list and today I was ready to tackle my closet, drawers, and baskets of mostly crap clothes. That plastic bag with Sibyl sitting on it is Round One. It goes to the Salvation Army drop-off tomorrow.

See the rust? That's a good thing. When all the black is gone I can then remove the rust and re-season this small skillet. I have another 10 " square skillet inside a plastic bag being soaked for a few days in oven cleaner. Tomorrow I will tackle it. I got some lye-based oven cleaner yesterday for the next round. I also bought a new 10" round skillet for $14.00 at Soko Hardware. The cans of oven cleaner I'm using cost as much, or more. But the old Wagner Ware skillets will last another two lifetimes if I restore them and take better care, this time around.

And to get away from housecleaning I obsess over maps, planning bike routes for a progressive-mileage Velo Girls' training series.

Focused.

Monday, March 24, 2008

and then there was Sunday

I'm reminded of this Robert Creeley poem:

One day after another.
Perfect.
They all fit.

My ride yesterday was long, but I met some very strong, stoic women who made the unexpected 61 miles of a 52-mile ride in the southeast bay area a delight.

When I got home I found 45 snails in a container on my front porch. Barbara got my message asking if I could hunt them in her yard - and she was only too happy to provide me with more than ol' Hercules can possibly eat. I put the open container out there last night. Today, I don't see snails migrating anywhere else - yet. I hope they stay in my little yard. I did see Herc sunning himself and I think he will soon be a fat box turtle.

Barbara also left me some jelly beans, which didn't last long. I can never eat just one or two, and cycling shorts do show it all! Too bad.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday news

I got up too early and after a big breakfast, fellow team rider, Diane, got here and we loaded her bike onto my car for the drive to Menlo Park for today's training ride. It was a gorgeous spring day on the peninsula and a thoroughly enjoyable ride around Portola Valley and up Alpine. Afterwards, a few of us went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. I locked our bikes onto my rack with a skinny cable and padlock. (Next time: take bikes with us.) Again, the ride and the company was lovely.

When we got back to my house I could not find the padlock key. I tried to find a duplicate in my various stashes of keys, but no luck. Finally, a neighbor was able to cut through it and free our bikes. Phew!

I could see Hercules, partially hidden, but basking in the sun. He hadn't touched the food I left yesterday, but, on closer inspection, I found several empty snail shells and I'm 100% sure they were not there yesterday when I was weeding. It would seem he knows how to catch and break into a snail. This should not surprise me since turtles evolved their successful strategy for survival about 350 million years ago, give or take a few million. Still, I was pleased. Now, of course, I have to go snail hunting, since his little yard is barren. I left him some fresh blueberries and the next time I looked, they were gone.

Friday, March 21, 2008

He was lost

and now he's found.

Hercules!

Hercules was seen for several days in February, and then he disappeared again. I put out blueberries and sometimes they would be gone, but after not seeing him bask in the sun or soak in his little pond, I decided he must have gone looking for a mate, and that birds must have been taking the berries.

I made "Missing Box Turtle" fliers to put around the neighborhood. I even went to the animal shelter this morning and posted a flier there before getting more made at Office Depot. I was on my way to staple them to telephone poles and stick them in mailboxes when I decided to search the outer, big yard some more.

I realized there is no way he could have gotten out of that yard. (A big raccoon might have been able to carry him off, but seemed unlikely.) So I stopped what I was doing and started weeding his little yard some more.

And I was brutal, pulling out those plants along the wall. Finally, when I got to the back wall, there he was. I do think he'd reburied himself after his brief appearance in February, but I can't be sure.

I brought him in to weigh and to soak in the sink. I think he drank, but he snubbed his food, and then made a circuit of his yard before hiding himself again.

I found some snails for him in the neighbor's plants; his yard had none.

I'm probably the only person you know who searches for snails to bring IN to their yard. I don't even know if he eats them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sewer pipes & other sights


I've been visiting my cousin, Al, and his wife, Christy, in Lincoln all week (he's my only Link relative; we're the end of our particular line).

Lincoln, though pancake-flat, is in the Sierra foothills not far from Auburn, and we did a fair amount of bike riding and exploring in the area. It is very green and lovely this time of year.

One day, after wandering through the many bike paths around his neighborhood, Al and I ended up at the Gladding, Mc Bean factory, where they make large clay sewer pipes, as well as architectural terra cota facades for large buildings. I asked the gatehouse guard if I could take photos and he let us in to the storage yard, but not the factory. Great place.

They have a beautiful home, full of interesting still-lifes.

Christy took me for a drive on Tuesday. I don't know why, but someone thought they should plant tall palms on the roads around Penryn. There would be long rows of dead bare-topped palms on one side of the road and on the other, another long row, like above, still alive if not flourishing. They appear to be very old trees. (Wikipedia has a long entry about this town and when I get caught up I will read it and perhaps learn when, why and who made these palm-lined roads.

(Here's the pertinent, though unsatisfying - why palms? - Wikipedia reference: Joel Parker Whitney owned thousands of acres of land in the Penryn area in the late 1800s. In the early 1890s, about 1,000 California fan palms were planted along the boundaries of Whitney's Placer County Citrus Colony citrus farming venture, and many still stand along English Colony Road. These palm trees, otherwise out of place among the native Sierra foothill oak forest, are a signature of the area.)

I took Sibyl with me this time. It meant schlepping my stuff, my bike and bike-riding stuff, and parrot-stuff. I missed my Vanagon. But Sibyl was a wonderful traveler and a not-bad house guest. She laid another egg, but was otherwise so busy being vigilant that she wasn't a pest.

Yesterday, I met high school friends, Tom and Tim, in Carmichael to ride part of the American River Parkway. They like to ride fast and hard and I was at a distinct disadvantage on my Bike Friday. I couldn't even pull the age-card, they're probably a year older than me. Tom hikes and snowshoes, Tim is a competitive rower. On the small climbs, I didn't have a prayer - I'm geared low for hill-climbing fully loaded - for touring - and so the flats weren't any better. Maybe I'd of been faster on the Cannondale. Sigh. But it was fun and I can see why they never ride busy roads, it is very beautiful around there, especially this time of year before it gets hot, though they tell me it's quite cool in the morning, all year.

Sibyl actually flew toward her sleep cage -not gaining height, but trying - ready to roost way before sundown. I think she was pooped. I'm quite energized, ready for a weekend of riding with the Velo Girls.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sunday


Well, it didn't rain on us the entire day - though there was hail and lightning according to the evening news - and we were almost always in a magic bubble of sunshine.

It looked very threatening early, and thunder storms were predicted, so the turnout for the Mellow Velo was small, but included Lorri (club founder/coach), and that was nice - we took an extra spin around some Woodside back roads, but the total ride was only 20 easy miles.

Afterwards, I got lunch and spent some time in the San Carlos R.E.I., and then drove to Foothill College in Los Altos, where hundreds of cyclists were gathering for the Matt Peterson and Kristy Gough memorial ride. The Velo Girls, all in team or club kit, rode together most of the time. Sheriff's deputies had the roads closed while we went through, so we had southbound Foothill Expressway to ourselves for many miles. There was a helicopter hovering the whole time, which was sometimes annoying, and lots of news coverage. I saw the evening news report on two stations and they did a good, respectful job. It felt like we were riding in memory of all our fallen mates, and like any wake, there was a lot of socializing with old friends - and then silence at the crash site. That part was hard. Some, close to Kristy and Matt, were overcome with their anguish and grief. We went past it slowly and then formed a return column, standing together until everyone had passed the site. The ride back went more quickly and it was freezing when the sun went behind a cloud.

Had the wayward car gone right instead of left it would have hit a guardrail, maybe gone over a cliff, but at the very least it would have jerked the driver to awareness and perhaps a different outcome. Seeing where it happened, you knew it was as inexplicable, as random, as a lightning strike.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Critical Mess

It's now to the point of pushing piles around to make a small space in order to eat a meal at my kitchen table. This is not good.

But, so what?! Really, when the time is right and the stars are aligned, I will clean up my mess. In the meantime, I do creative work (so to speak) and get out and RIDE.

This week I rode four different bikes on four different days. I like that.

Sibyl is probably about to drop another egg. The first one was last Thursday and I expected the second two days later, so not sure what her long-term pattern will be (or even if there will be a long-term pattern) and she is driving me nuts. Up until today, between eggs, she'd been her non-laying playful sweet self, today she whines and wants to make me her mate.

This morning I rode to the Presidio to meet Carol for lunch in the Commons dining room at the Lucas Letterman campus (or whatever it's called). Nice. We had a good visit.

On my way there I stopped to try for a better angle on the Serra sculptures, this time in the morning light. The buildings around it are mostly very mediocre, shoddy looking. I can't see the place improving with time. (The orange tower in the center is the not-as-bad UCSF building.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sad day

Tommy
Yesterday, when I wrote about my weekend - all about the bike - I hadn't heard about the two cyclists killed on the road. We've all ridden that same road in the south bay.

Now, even thinking about how such a thing could and does happen gives me chills. But ever since I watched Tom, my 15 year old brother die of a head injury when I was just 18, I've known we can be snuffed out in an instant, never even knowing what hit us, and I try to live each day accordingly.

Still, it's so very sad.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pay off

This weekend has been all about the bike. Yesterday the Velo Girls sponsored the Menlo Park Grand Prix, a series of criteriums for all racing levels, and I went down to help marshal. My spot was on the quiet back straight-away so I just enjoyed an afternoon in the sun, watching the guys zip by me. I was sorry all the women raced in the early morning, but I was out late the night before and had to miss them this time.

Tattoo-guy was telling me about his work in progress. (There will be exhaust pipes/vents up his thigh.)

Today I got up at what was still 04:30 to me (we moved our clocks ahead an hour last night) to get to the start of today's training ride. Diane picked me up at 07:30 and we drove an hour south on Hwy 101 to someplace near Morgan Hill to ride the Three Reservoirs. I think my two Interval days made a big difference - not that anyone but me would notice, I still slow down to climb - but I felt better.

I read in the paper last week that there are now 47 billionaires living in the bay area. We were on roads I've never been on before, mostly rural, with lush green rolling hills, fields of intensely yellow mustard, blossoming orchards and dormant grapevines, and then we hit Ostentationville on our way into Morgan Hill. This huge house was not uncommon. I've seen smaller college campuses.

After dinner I fell asleep on the couch and feel a bit wasted and groggy now. I have to get our next series of training rides on the Velo Girls calendar this week - they start next Saturday! - getting ready for Strawberry Fields Forever in May. I'd like to put today's ride on our schedule - it was really wonderful.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Waterfront sprints

O.K. I took off this morning determined to continue my program of Intervals. I warmed up for a mile or so and then started sprinting along China Basin, recovered around the ball park and then charged up The Embarcadero, chugga-chugga-chugga.


When I got to the end I was again reminded of the World We Live In Now. Years ago I could go around the back of Fort Point and be almost under the bridge; no more.

I guess runners have always planted their hands at whatever was at The End, and I've been seeing some sort of hand prints for years, but it wasn't until Judy told me the story of Hopper's Hands (now with a formal metal plaque) that I knew there was a story behind them.

A bridge ironworker named Ken Hopper, who takes suicide calls, had the sign made after noticing the runners (and even a runner's dog) hit the fence at the turn-around. Scott Ostler wrote his, and the other ironworker's, very moving story in the Chronicle. Do read it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More art

Enormous, 8-story high Richard Serra steel slabs lean against the space between mediocre buildings on the UCSF Mission Bay campus; they will catch the wind. I think they are wonderful, if perhaps misplaced. They will not be easily moved, and so the space will need to accomodate them - somehow.

The rust bleeds into the shoddy concrete paving.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Fatigue & flowers

Today was free-day at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. About 2-3 times a year I try to go and see what's in bloom that might make an interesting photograph, though I find pictures of flowers pretty boring (but they do hold still inside a glass house). It's good practice.

There were more people than flowers today. Next time I get the urge to do flowers I will pay admission. (Really, I thought some folks might get pushed into the lily pond!)

I did do Intervals. I charged up 9th Street, sprinting my heart out, and wouldn't you know, I made all the lights and had to just decide it was time to back off for the Recovery phase (and Oh yes, I was so ready for recovery!). When I figured, yeah, I'll probably live, I did it again.

I didn't die. (At my age this is a crap shoot.) I got very sleepy in class, but my friends said I didn't stink. This is good.

When I left school I had a long, long down hill run back to Potrero Hill, where I have to climb back home; today I did it at a sprint almost the whole way and managed to only stop for two red lights in 5 miles. Tomorrow I will ride the Brompton at a leisurely pace. (Recovery.)

Watch out, Thursday, another Interval day.

Feels really good.

So far.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Intervals

I know, most of you who read this think an interval is the time between dinner and your bedtime snack, but I'm thinking about upping my fitness by doing some Intervals.

An Interval (I use the capital with respect) is doing something so hard, like an all-out sprint on the bicycle, that you not just think, you know you're going to die, and then not doing the so-hard-you-could-die thing for an Interval, called Recovery, oh yeah! and then repeating the, yes-this-time-I-know-it's-the-end-for-sure, I-will-now-die thing again. Oh, and then you do it a few more times.

That's doing intervals.

There are losing-fat intervals, building-muscles intervals, and speed-training intervals, etc., etc., etc.

I plan to sprint between red lights on 7th Street, on my way to school. If I haven't dropped dead by Market (it's a slight grade, to boot), I will slowly recover and then sprint that last climb up Golden Gate to U.S.F.

You probably won't want to sit next to me in class.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

No tulips, yet


. . . but they're definitely on the way.


I stopped at the Beach Chalet to use the restroom and because I've already done the murals, this time I watched the people as they discovered them


(or just played, as did this boy).


This is the first time this house on Scott St. hasn't had a big truck in front of it. Every time I go by it, I'm pleased that someone would paint their house purple and have a fuchsia door. Someone else, unfortunately, thought it a good canvas for their graffitti, which I've almost hidden behind that tree.

Of course, most of the tree blossoms are long gone - it's finally March, spring is definitely almost here.

Golden Gate Park

Today I will ride my littlest bike, my Brompton, take my big camera on my back, and see what I see in the park. Will there be tulips? Are the cherry blossoms already gone?