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Thursday, January 02, 2014


I didn't get to ride Cranksgiving this year. I'd had a vasectomy five days before.

When the urologist who did the procedure on me told me to stay off the bike for a couple of weeks, I had to ask: are you telling me it'll be painful, or are you telling me it will be dangerous? These are different things, and while I don't subscribe to theories that pain is just fear leaving the body and other macho silliness, I really wanted to do Cranksgiving. Enough to maybe try it, I thought.

"You'd be amazed at how much blood a scrotum can hold," the doc said. He explained that other parts of the body, the tissue kind of holds stuff together so only so much blood can gather in one place before clotting takes hold. The scrotum, though, is totally loose.

"You end up with a big purple grapefruit by the time you get to the ER," he said. And with that, talked me out of it.

I took the money I was going to spend on the event and donated it to Gallmeyer in hopes of him winning heaviest load. It's a category he's won before, but before they had the inscribed trophy.

The cold weather really knocked down participation, but there were still dozens of riders who showed up in their winter gear. I think this is my favorite alleycat race for the very reason that you get urban cyclists and suburban roadie types alike. The latter group of rider pretty much never shows up for other alleycats.

Tandems, fatbikes, I even saw a Krampus, a Surly model of barely-fat bike I've been thinking might be a fun trail bike. Not as extreme as the Moonlander/Pugsly thing, but lots of cushion for tree roots and rocks, some extra stability on the loose stuff. I've never learned to really enjoy offroad biking, but in my mind I want to try. What better way than to pop $1500 to $2000 for a new bike?

That is the way a lot of bikes get sold, I know, but no I don't plan to throw that much money into seeing if I can learn to dig trails. Besides the fact that I still have a lot of heart surgery to pay for (having hit my maximum out of pocket for the year was in fact why the vasectomy now—I'd have done it years ago if it wasn't for the expense), I have a theory that spending more money on bikes tends to actually result in less bike riding. I don't fully understand the mechanism, but I have a dear friend, for instance, who rode a very nice racing style bike, but coveted the all carbon fiber Madone—and eventually talked herself into buying one. For whatever reason, instead of cycling more than ever, she dialed her attention more towards running. I've seen other instances similar to this, so even if I was solvent enough to run out and buy a Krampus, I might be inclined to hold back.

What I probably will spend some money on, though, is a better helmet. My friend Dr. Greg was riding with a POC model I'm keen on, except I don't think his was MIPS equipped. This is a technology being licensed to several helmet manufacturers that is supposed to reduce the risk of concussion from rotational forces on the brain in a crash. Given the hell my wife has gone through the past six months, with no certainty of full recovery or even an idea of how long recovery will take, a $220 helmet is looking more sensible than extravagant. Nothing's perfect, but we can't help but wonder what if she'd been rolling a MIPS when she cracked up.

She got off cheap, though, because Lazer is making children's sized helmets with MIPS that cost far, far less, and Corinna happens to fit those sizes. Me, I've found a Scott $120 model called the Lin, which might almost be big enough for me enormous melon, but I can't find anyone selling it; then there's the POC like Dr. Greg's that has MIPS that's $100 more expensive, comes in an Extra Large, and nobody local seems to be carrying it either. I have a local bike shop calling suppliers and making inquiries on these fronts—either way I want to try the sucker on before shelling out big bucks.

And I generally try to avoid buying bike stuff online anyway. I'm not mechanically gifted, so I need these shops with their mechanics on duty when I break down.

Back to Cranksgiving: the winner overall for speed was F.C. He credited his victory with the fact that last year's winner (and I think maybe the winner for two or three years running) was home with a baby.

Gallmeyer did indeed bring in the heaviest load by a wide margin, if memory serves over 80 pounds. That's right, folks, by bike, one trip.

I may have had my bike loaded that heavily once or twice, it's a very physical experience just trying to steer and brake, let alone climb hills.

I got to have fun hanging out at the finish soaking up free beer and shooting pictures.

The band was challenging to shoot, of course. One of their friends approached me to ask for photos to put on Facebook, and I commented that I'd do my best but they were in a cave. At which point the stage lights were turned on—to pretty much zero effect since they were all directly overhead.

It was an enjoyable band, varied in personnel with multiple guitarists and a couple of singers, playing old school R&B. Hard to go wrong with that material, pretty much everyone can enjoy it.

The Communists were even represented, and a lot of food and necessaries were raised for the church's food bank. All the more critically needed, we were told, for the fact that a lot of the benefits that have been getting people through the Great Recession has been getting shut off.

Oh, and since Julie asked me if it would kill me to have text that related to the photos from time to time, isn't this couple just too stinkin' cute? They rode the event on a tandem, if their snogging doesn't do it for you.

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