Thursday, October 15, 2009

Long Overdue as Usual

Apologies for the blog bummage- things have been a bit hectic around here. Our pals Sean and Simone moved back to D-town from New York a few weeks ago and Arik and Sean have started up a woodshop in Arik's parents' garage next door. They already have their first client! Despite the flurry of activity we've still made lots of time for biking and running.

We've been biking a ton the last few weeks. We've biked in pouring rain (wet but exhilarating), in total darkness (exhilarating but frightening), and lots in between. Lots of the biking happened during Oak Cliff's (and I'm pretty sure Dallas's too) first ever bike festival- Cyclosomatic. It featured 10 days of bike-centric activities, most of which happened right here in our 'hood. Amongst the stuff we participated in:
  • a historic ride that stopped at places important to musicians (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Wills, and others)
  • a ride to City Hall to celebrate its unveiling of the "Complete Streets" plan which hopes to strip Dallas of its unappealing "Worst City for Biking" designation with bike lanes and other initiatives
  • a ride to the Texas Theater to watch Beer Wars annnnnddddd
  • our favorite event of all- a block party that included stationary bike sprint races. Lonestar Goldsprints does these races mostly at bars all over Texas. 2 people get on stationary bikes, the crowd masses around the two riders and counts down 4...3...2...1...GO! and the riders pedal as fast as they can for max about 18 seconds. There's no resistance on the bikes so it's really just seeing how fast your legs can move before you pass out, and often, throw up. (See here to get the idea from a different race by the same organization: What really sweetened the experience was that two of our pals- Jeff and Kurt- raced. Both did well but Jeff was insane.
He started out around 4th in the qualifying rounds finishing in the high 12 second area. Still, he wasn't too optimistic about his chances b/c the top guy in the qualifiers posted a super fast time under 12 seconds, a feat no one else had matched. Jeff hopped on the bike for the first real race and won pretty easily, again with a time in the 12s. In the quarterfinals, he won again, despite a slow 13 something time. During the quarterfinals, things got serious. A fixie-riding kid from Denton strolled in and wowed the crowd with a time in the 11s- smoking the competition. Now we had two super fast guys to worry about!

In the semis, Jeff triumphed in a close race w/the owner of Oak Cliff Bicycle Company. This time, his time was back in the 12s (his glasses flew off from the effort), but still nowhere near as fast as the fixie kid or the other top guy. Those two battled it out in their semifinal match, with the fixie kid winning. After about 2 hours of racing (which included an excellent cameo by an overweight guy who raced (and won!) while smoking a cig and holding a cup of beer), the stage was set for the final: Our Oak Cliff-born 'n bred homie Jeff v. the fixie kid from Denton, who during his semifinal race donned a Spiderman mask and stripped to his boxers to mimic his spandex-wearing opponent.

Spidey- Photo from the Lonestar Goldsprints Facebook Page

Spidey's Semifinal Match- Photo from the Lonestar Goldsprints Facebook Page

Jeff was nervous and tired but we tried to pump him up and talk strategy. In his past races, he'd taken too long to get going- a faster start could give him a fighting chance. He and his opponent mounted their bikes and the crowd closed in around them. It was time. 4....3....2....1....GO!!!!! And they were off! Both riders were spinning furiously and we all looked up anxiously at the video screen behind them to see who was in the lead. We couldn't believe our eyes- not only had Jeff jumped out to a quick and sizeable lead, he was going over 60 MILES PER HOUR!!!! The fastest speed we'd seen had been around 53 so this was insane. We were all screaming and jumping and encouraging him, and it was working. Thanks to his strong start he was leading into the final seconds of the race. Then Spidey started slowly gaining on him- making up a little ground at a time. In hindsight we should've yelled about it to Jeff but he had no idea how he was doing and right at the end he let off- his speed plummeting all the way to 35 mph. Spidey passed him right at the finish line.

The crowd roared, his friends surrounded him, and he lifted his arms in victory. Jeff slowly dismounted and turned around to check his time. He'd ridden a blistering 11.76 second race. The winning time? 11.60. We gave Jeff high fives and hugs- we were so proud of him and it'd been an incredible race to watch. Spidey came over and shook his hand and said he couldn't believe Jeff had made it over 60 mph. Jeff was bummed he didn't win but was still stoked he'd broken the 12 second mark. He even got a sweet wall sculpture made out of bike parts for his troubles. We mingled for a bit, then Jeff climbed on his bike, wobbly sore legs and all, and rode off into the drizzly night.

Spidey sans mask celebrating his win- ck out Jeff's sweet time- Photo from Lonestar Goldsprints Fb Page

Arik and I were as amped up as we've ever been for a sporting event.

The Cyclosomatic fun continued yesterday- two events had been rained out during the week of the festival and were rescheduled for this weekend. The first was a bicycle photo scavenger hunt put on by Teams on bikes rode around Oak Cliff doing crazy stuff and taking pictures to prove it. Arik, Jeff, Kate and I got to Bishop Arts 15 minutes late but fortunately were still allowed to enter. Arik christened our team "The Unicorns," and we picked up the list of stuff to find. There were about 25 things to choose from, but each was worth a different number of points. The first team back with 200 points won. We were able to bang one out right away:

Bikes on a Wall- 5 points (all photos courtesy of our most excellent photographer, Arik "The Unicorn" Cardenas)

Arik ran across the street to the Soda Gallery and bought us a root beer with 4 straws so we could knock out the next one:

All Teammates Drinking One Drink From Straws- 10 points

Meanwhile Jeff ran into Eno's, retrieved his mug from their bar (you can buy a mug, decorate it, put your name on it, and keep it at the bar) and we'd finished item number 3:

Beer Mug with a Bike on It- 25 points

We decided we'd bike to Jeff's house to strategize and plan our route. On the way out of Bishop Arts, Kate spied another potential photo in an alley. It ended up working perfectly and we had 55 points before we'd even traveled 2 blocks:

Jeff and Mia Borrowing Materials


Success! Red Cube- 15 points

At Jeff's, we decided we'd go for the big money things on the list since we had to make up lost time. 2 of those involved getting wet so Jeff changed into his swim trunks. He also called his mom to see if she could pick up some shoe polish so we could knock another 3 things off the list. In the meantime, Arik plugged in Jeff's razor and unbuttoned his shirt- sacrificing his bod to the Unicorn cause:

Shave a Heart in a Teammate's Chest- 20 points

Then we were off! We raced down Colorado, then split up, with the boys going to Lake Cliff Park and Kate and I going to Walgreens to see if we could find some shoe polish. Our shoe polish mission was unsuccessful, but the boys bravely crossed one of the nastiest choices off the list:

Swim in Lake Cliff- 25 points- click this pic for a nice "whew lordy this water is stank!" face

Swimmin' in the Lake

Usain Bolt Tries Out Swimming

Next we headed to the Belmont hotel, a sweet, unique, bike-friendly hotel right here in the Cliff. The gate to the pool was locked so Jeff hopped the fence and let us in. He was able to wash off the Lake Cliff grime, warm up, and towel dry himself with some towels left on a housekeeping cart, all while getting us another big money list item!

Swim in the Belmont Pool- 25 points

Next up was a slightly eerie destination. We rode to the Western Heights Cemetery in search of Clyde Barrow's (of Bonnie & Clyde notoriety) grave. 2 bikers were already searching the headstones without any luck so we climbed over the chain at the entrance and started running amongst the graves. I muttered apologies to the disrespected bodies as I trampled the sod and hoped they would understand. A man cried out "Donna! Over here!" We waited for them to take their photo, then posed for ours:

Lay in Front of Clyde Barrow's Headstone- 25 points

It turns out Donna and her husband are both in their 70s and are big bike tourers. They were funny and sweet in that way only old people who've kept their sparkle are. Donna told us "We're not trying to win, but we think we have a good chance to take our age group!" We talked with them a little more as we got on our bikes. Her husband retired from the Dallas Fire Dept in 2002 and he enjoyed talking to Arik about Arik's firefighting dad (who will himself retire in about 2 years). We wished them well, then rode to Jeff's parents' house- they had the shoe polish.

Donna and her husband in their "all teammates drink from one drink" photo- from photopolus

We got the shoe polish, had a few blessed sips of Vitamin Water, then headed out again, this time in search of some storefront windows. We picked one that wasn't yet occupied, but still kept a watch out for cops- no wonder this one was worth 20 points- sheesh! At least it washes off with ease:

Shoe Polish "75208" on a Storefront Window or Street

We weren't too keen on doing two more shop windows, so we settled for the street outside Spiral Diner. A disgruntled but curious waiter asked us what we were doing and didn't seem too impressed by our response so we hightailed it outta there with haste...but not before crossing the last two items off our list!

Shoe Polish "Cyclosomatic" on a Storefront Window or Street (note smiling but disgruntled waiter)

Shoe Polish "" on a Storefront Window or Street

We were done! Now we just had to print those suckers and motor back to Bishop Arts. We rode to Walgreens, expecting to find a line of bikers ahead of us, but instead one else! In fact, the photo dude told us we were the first ones in. To save time, we just printed out all 60 photos we'd taken, figuring it'd be faster to pick out the good ones once they were printed. Even though we were first at Walgreens, we'd seen people with Polaroids and also figured people would be printing at home or at the nearby CVS. Still, there was hope! The photo dude handed us the pix as they printed, so we were able to write on the backs pretty quickly. While thus occupied, a guy came in wearing a sweet "I Bike Dallas" tshirt, ready to print his pix. He said he thought the only team we'd have to beat was one that was printing their photos at home. Sweet!

We got all the pix, raced out of Walgreens, and tried to ride like the wind back to Bishop Arts. Trouble was, we'd been biking for 2 hours and none of us had eaten anything all day. Not the best combo, and our legs were protesting. Plus a nice stiff headwind decided it was a good time to make an appearance- hooray! Finally we made it to Eno's and ran to the back. We were breathless and excited and happy and tired and.......second. 2 guys stood at the judges' table high fiving each other as they turned in their photos. Argh! A bit bummed but hopeful something would happen, we sat down at a table outside to rest. While there, I overhead the guys talking to one of the judges, saying, "So, does that mean we get 2nd?" Aha! We moseyed over to them to see what was going on. Turns out they'd forgotten to write on the back of the photos- one of the rules. The judges weren't sure what they'd do- split first place? Ignore the rule? Give us first? Oh well, at least now we had a chance!

We headed over to Hunky's to finally eat. It was a little past 2pm and the other bikers didn't have to be back until 3 so we had some time to kill. A somewhat disappointing black bean burger was rescued by delishus tots and a huge root beer. Our bellies full, we went back to Eno's to watch the Cowboys game and wait until 4, when the results would be announced at the Oktoberfest going on in the back. 4 came and the judges took the mic to render their decision: "The riders had to be back by 3pm. The first place team arrived here at 2:08. The third place team also arrived at 2:08 but forgot to write on the back of their photos...." Hooray!!!!! That meant..."First place goes to- The Unicorns!" I can't help it- we're competitive, and we were pretty stoked to win.

Goofy Unicorns- one guy thought we were doing loser "L"s on our foreheads- doh!- from the bfoc site

We each won a supasoft photopolus tshirt along with 3 beers each. Pretty sweet. They also gave out awards for other photos- Donna and her husband ended up winning Funniest Photo. One of the items on the list was to take a picture of all the teammates sitting in a pew in a church, with extra points if church was in service. The pair found a church in service and got a great photo with church members surrounding them as they all smiled and held hymnals. We rode by a baptist church and considered going in but nixed it when we saw some very dressed up, fancy hat wearing, severe women in the parking lot. Also amusing- another item on the list was "walk a really old lady across the street." The guys who got 3rd did that one- and the lucky old lady was our pal Donna! Dunno how she felt about being deemed a really old lady, but she was a good sport about it.

Donna and husband- funniest photo winner- from photopolus

We broke some laws (defacing public property, (washable) graffiti, and even some public urination come to mind :) ), did a lot of biking, and had a lot of fun- a most excellent Sunday!

Victorious Unicorns! - from photopolus

As for running, our new shoes didn't immediately cure my knee troubles. After a nice spell of running 4 miles every day, my knee started twinging and I cut way back. I read up on knee troubles and decided if I could focus on my stride, the pain would go away. So Arik and I set up the camera at a park across the street and videoed our strides. I ran fast and had zero knee pain. Turns out neither of us was as bad as we thought:

Mia Running Toward Cam

Mia Running Away

Arik Profile Run

In fact, my stride is pretty good in the videos. Trouble is, I can't keep up the pace I ran to attain that stride for anything longer than a few blocks. The good thing is, now that I've seen how I should and can run, if I just make a point of remembering what my stride should be while I run, I should be in good shape. I'm also learning from Arik- he can run forever w/o any pain and his stride is different from mine (shorter steps, less kick back, less time in the air). We plan on getting a run in this afternoon, so I'll report back with the results.

So what's up next? The Lake Whitney ride got postponed, no plans yet for the Austin tour, but we do have some good stuff in the works: We'll be running the Turkey Trot (hopefully the 8 mile but we'll see) and will do the Turkey Roll bike ride the week before. Other than that, just enjoying the best October we've had in 4 years.

Be well,

Arik and Mia

ps- Arik's finished photoshopping the tour pix- they'll be up shortly!