Friday, June 17, 2011


To those in the know, FnF is an initialism* (as opposed to an acronym - get it straight) for a nickname ascribed to a certain power blogger and local bike racer

So, in a loose homage to FnF, in addition to a stated appreciation of the female form by another blogger of note, I've decided to institute what I hope will be a somewhat-regular feature of The Zen Of Cycling in lieu of H.N.T.  - Fully Naked Friday:

During one of my regularly scheduled Bike Porn meta-searches (whether I need it or not) I happened upon a photo series of fully naked women in an off-road'competition'. I'm guessing this would be some sort of "cyclocross porn". Actually, I only included the term "cyclocross porn" in an attempt to see how many search engine hits I get for "cyclocross porn". Of course, I realize that repeating "cyclocross porn" in this post won't get me any more hits than if I simply typed "cyclocross porn" once, but since "cyclocross porn" isn't a term in common usage even in cycling circles (as opposed to "bike porn"), then I think typing "cyclocross porn" repeatedly wouldn't constitute making "cyclocross porn" cliche.

This cyclocross porn photo series was published originally in Escort magazine, the british print media version, circa ~1985.

Enjoy (click to enlarge)....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Last Ride

(Right click here and open in a new window, then come back and read this with the music as a soundtrack)

I took my last ride to work this morning. I'm starting a new job next week, and tomorrow is my last day at this one. I'll need to drive to work tomorrow to carry out my personal effects, so riding isn't really practical.

I'm going to miss this aspect of my old job, the commute, that is. I live 10 miles from work, and my daily commute takes me through the bucolic idyll of Boxford and North Andover, as well as the frenetic schizophrenia of downtown haverhill. I can even put together a 50 mile ride that zigzags through north andover, boxford, georgetown, groveland, and haverhill.

I will be able to ride to work at my new job, though with a distance of 28 miles doing the full commute every day would rapidly invoke the law of diminishing returns. The hiring manager is actually the same engineer that hired me into the last company I worked at before where I am now, and did so with full knowledge of my _need_ to ride. He said "I know the commute by bike would be difficult, but you could do the park-n-ride thing like you did before". When I worked with him before, I would drive to a commuter lot, then ride the rest of the way. He was one of the few people that appreciated that and even encouraged it at my last job.

My new boss called me out of the blue a few weeks ago, and asked me if I was interested in a change of scenery. I replied "sure, when do you want to set up an interview?". His response was "We don't need an interview, you're the person I want. If you want the job, you can start when you're ready". He and I got along very well when we worked together, both personally and professionally. He's been putting together an engineering team for his department with people he knows and trusts. There will be four other people in his new group that I've already worked with.

With the new commute I'll have the thrill of commuting through the heart of Nashua, as well as the rural towns of hudson, pelham, and windham. When I _do_ ride the whole 28 miles It will involve Salem and the rural section of haverhill as well. As of now, a full week of commuting miles (and no other riding) is 100 miles. With the new job that will be around 250, if I can manage three full commutes during the week. Typically though, it will be around 150. I've tried riding a full commute week at that distance before. That's tough. No, riding 30 miles each way isn't hard, but couple that with a week of trying to actually work 8 hours in between, and by the time thursday afternoon rolls around, swinging a leg over the toptube is a chore. It is for me, at least. I know guys that do it now, and the have my admiration.

Notice how I haven't really written about the job? I won't miss it. I'll miss the commute and the convenience more than anything. Truthfully, this job has been a forgettable experience. There is little camaraderie here (never has been), the technology is boring, and with the recent acquisition of the company by an international conglomerate the morale is low (yes, "the writing is on the wall", as they say). It says a lot about your job when the thing you'll miss most is the short commute. The new job has a much broader scope of responsibility, with more interesting technology.

Don't get me wrong. There are quite a few people here I like, and a few I'll genuinely miss. Generally speaking, my co-workers are nice and friendly people. However, by and large, I can't really say I'm more than a friendly acquaintance to more than a few people, and even the closest relationships have never progressed to the point where people have their co-workers over for cookouts, or even go out for drinks after work. In the past 5 years, I've stopped by the local watering holes on a friday after work, and only once have I seen a group of co-workers - they were senior managers from a different department. Not exactly the type of people that would have me as a drinkin' buddy. Nonetheless, There are no doubt people here that will utter Good Riddance upon the knowledge of my departure.

So I rode in slowly this morning. It was a nice morning - a bit cooler than I like, a bit more wind than I like - but still pleasant. I've often taken a slower ride just to appreciate the ride either to or from work though, so it isn't like I didn't already appreciate it, just that today held the melancholy of finality as well.

So this afternoon will be my last commute from this job. It's a nice day, I think I'll take the long way home.

(you didn't seriously think I'd let you go out with fucking violins, did you?)

Friday, June 3, 2011

You're Not In Kansas Anymore, Dorothy

Those of you who don't live local to me may or may not have heard about a tornado that touched down in Massachusetts this week.

I don't live in fucking kansas. I don't want to live in fucking kansas. I don't like the climate, the terrain, or the political atmosphere. We have our blizzards and the occasional hurricane, and they have their tornadoes. I like it like that.

My bike team is based in the areas where the tornado hit. I actually live about 100 miles away, and we pretty much just got a few winds gusts and some spits of rain. However, I know several of my teammates live in the swath of the tempest. I was concerned for their safety, but had the common sense not to call or email them during the event. Instead, I waited until the next morning and sent out an email to the club list asking if anyone had any info. I didn't anticipate anyone who actually was exposed to the fury would reply. This is what I got back (names changed to initials):


From: zen
Subject: You're not in kansas anymore, Dorothy

Did everyone make it through the storms ok last night?

JR wrote:
everyone is ok...but (JP's) neighborhood is trashed, still no power. (MN) escaped unscathed, but still no power. his town, monson, apparently got hit really hard. (DM) has no power. i was only a few miles from the initial tornado, but somehow no damage or problems in our town.

MS wrote:
(my wife's) school which is that neighborhood is probably done for the year. I guess it missing huge sections of roof. Also heard that Cathedral school is done. Probably a rumor but its structurally unsound and may need to be razed and rebuilt.

GP wrote:
I'm in the same neighborhood as (JP). Trees and power lines down everywhere. I don't expect power for 3-4 days. A tree came down in my back yard and a branch went through the roof into the dining room. The Nat'l guard is here. The noise was just incredible. I could hear it approaching, then wham and trees were going over. Just 3-4 minutes, then it was gone. Then there was torrential rain. No one hurt in our area, fortunately.

(MN) wrote:
what a wild ride last night was. first the hail (damage the cars), then the tornado, then another tornado jump right over us. then the lighting. 5 to 6 straights at a time. not your normal lighting. after all said and done. no power. lots of damage in Monson. talk to some people about their dealing. 1 lady was sucked out of her house. She ended up with lots of cut to her face and body. one house was lifted and thrown over to the next lot upside down leaving only the basement. The pastor went to their basement just in time to see the house collapsed around him and he had to hang on while the storm try to suck him out feet first.

MD wrote:
No power in this thing.......just a little wind, nothing major. NOT!

Hope everyone got through safe.

(ed. note - I embedded the video from the link in the email)

MN wrote:
I had a front seat view of the whole thing. my cars only have hail damage. the tornado pass within 200 yards from my house. Very loud.


Now, this was no Joplin, but in terms of what we're used to, it was significant and substantial. It helps to put things in perspective, like the loss of lives and property in the Joplin storms, and how much more powerful that was that what we were hit with. Tornadoes rarely touchdown in new england, so when we had not only a sighting, but a sustained tornado 'event' that caused appreciable damage, it was an event worthy of the local news stations preempting the entire evening of regularly scheduled programming with almost 18 hours of regurgitated video footage and phone conversations with locals who really had nothing to say (opening them up for the inevitable Howard Stern prank call). I'm not minimizing the significance or seriousness of the event, just that the irony of a television newscaster telling people who had probably lost all venues of communication media that they should take cover and leave their TVs on for up-to-date information seemed somewhat lost on the television newscasters.

Hey, at least they had the sense to realize it was more important than going on about Weiner's weiner.