Thursday, February 20, 2014

Worsening Fantods and Urolagnia

I couldn't ride Tuesday because I had an 8:30 court appearance in Gretna, on the West Bank. Driving across the CCC1 it was so foggy the twin span carrying traffic back to the East Bank (which, only in New Orleans, right, heads not east but dead-on west) and which is, I don't know, about 100 feet away, was completely shrouded in, and obscured by, fog. This foggy Thursday morning it was a harrowing ride with Big Rich to Jefferson Playground on River Road, which was all but obliterated by thick fog and the darkness of night. I actually survived the hazardous trek unscathed but somewhat unsettled. Then we heard from Max and Ray2 (who ride to the start from Kenner) that the fog out there was much worse than Tuesday, and I became further dismayed.

The Fog Begins To Lift

My sense of unease wasn't helped a bit by the wind (due south at 12 mph), which I knew would make for a dicey crosswind, especially with a dozen riders and especially in the open east-west sections of the ride (e.g., Williams Blvd. to the Old End, the borrow pits in St. Charles Parish, and so forth, and so on.)

With the above in mind, you can certainly understand the last thing my smoldering case of the fantods needed at the start was to hear Max directly tell me he was worried I might have "a thing" about photographing people urinating. Please note there was nobody urinating on the levee this morning and while Max didn't elaborate I believe now, as I did then, he was referring to a rather innocuous photograph posted in the last edition of this blog of the straight-on rear view of an unidentified, slightly fleshy rider standing next to a telephone pole staring off into the marsh. Although I wasn't sure what Max could possibly be referring to by "a thing," it unnerved me and I decided to investigate the issue when I got home after the ride. I can now report the results of my research: Max was basically characterizing me as a urolagniac, which lumps me together, in the same boat so to speak, with the likes of Troughman, an Aussie whose claim to fame is his proclivity for lying down in busy trough urinals, Rockbitch, an over-the-top British band of not-so-nice women whose popular stage preformance of their tune "Piss and Roll"3 is not to be believed, and a porn actress, name of Annie Sprinkle.

So, burdened with all of the foregoing, nervous as a cat, I set off with 11 fellow cyclists toward the west, into the foggy night.

I know I said, "This is crazy," at least a dozen times before we passed the Florida Street pump tower in Kenner. At times visibility could not have been much more than 30 feet. Several times someone up the line screamed out an unintelligible warning, sometimes accompanied by the dull squeak of wet brakes, sometimes not. At one point we overtook an Orangeman, who latched onto my wheel -- I was on the back at the time. All of a sudden there was a rapid deceleration of the line with no warning. The orange-clad rider (I think it was Daniel) made a comment about the lack of warning and turned around.

I stayed in the rotation because that was by far the easiest alternative in the crosswind. When we got to the open area west of Williams, the rotation stopped, either someone ahead was shortcutting the line or whoever was pulling was staying put. I can't say which because I couldn't see the front of the line through the fog. At that point I was last rider and on Rich's wheel. Well, Big Rich (who, I feel compelled to note, has been bitching an inordinate amount lately about not getting any protection behind Triceps Dave, Randy, and me) was on Randy's wheel. As anyone who has ridden on the levee with Randy in a crosswind well knows, he can ride pretty close to the edge in order to try to get himself a draft, which he was doing this morning in spades. Rich is getting no draft. I'm getting less. Then I see Rich is increasingly riding on a little strip of grass that has encroached onto the path, where it needs edging, which grass couldn't really be distinguished in any manner from the grass that wasn't encroaching but was just grass on dirt. My fantods are now no longer smoldering, they're howling.

After a couple of more this-is-crazy comments, I decide to turn at the St. Charles Parish line, the so-called Old End. Then I see Rich pointing to a pothole in the middle of the path, which being within the six-foot range of visibility, I recognize as the hole that is two driveways west of the Old End. Apparently, I couldn't see enough in the fog to recognize the parish line when we crossed it. At that point, my anxiety outweighing any pleasure I was getting from the ride, I turned and rode in alone.

Mississippi River Batture
Because of the stressors which accompanied this morning's ride it was good to spend the trip in alone as it afforded me time to ponder the causes of the edginess as well as possible solutions. I've decided to rethink riding out to the start on River Road rather than driving and perhaps to not ride with a group at all in thick fog at night. And I definitely hope I have my camera next time Max needs a natural break.

A few miles after I began back toward town a single rider emerged from the fog just ahead. It was Keith, who as he passed gave me his most gravelly, "This is crazy."

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1. CCC is an acronym for the official name of the twin cantilevered bridges over the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The acronym was used herein rather than the full name because the third initial represents a word which cannot be used in this post cf. note 1 to my post of Monday, 17 February 2014.

2. Also at the start were Randy, Danielle, Triceps Dave, Judd, Big Scott, and several people with whom I am unacquainted.

3. You can google rockbitch piss and roll video, for visuals, but I warn you it's not for the faint of heart.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Numinosity, Contiguity, Confusion

During the warmup on Sunday's Giro along Lakeshore Dr. considerable discussion was overheard about who was overdressed and who might be cold during the ride. A lack of consensus on such matters often means conditions are borderline at the start and will improve as the sun gets up. Indeed, the morning was singularly magnificent -- low humidity and 50ish degrees at the start with only the faintest wisp of wind detected.

By the time we reached the Seabrook Bridge there were about 22 in attendance. Waiting atop
the Casino Bridge was the One With No Handlebars (OWNHB), on a road bike, with handlebars -- his notable equipment choice perhaps a small concession to the safety concerns of the group on his first appearance at a Sunday Giro since he hit the concrete on Bullard in late January.

The pace going east was a fairly consistent  24 - 25 mph controlled by the seven or so riders rotating at the front. Near Lincoln Beach an Orangeman went on a flyer but he was chased down and passed by Brett before Paris, while the rest of the pack was content to quicken the pace only so much as necessary to afford a good view of the contest just ahead.

A couple of times during the ride out on Chef Hwy. one Orangeman or the other attacked, but a concerted effort by those working at the front quickly contained all such attempts to get away.

The most remarkable thing about the outbound leg of the ride for me was just how spectacular the day was, how pedaling along apace with 20 or so silent riders is exhilarating, how tuning into the low dulcet whir of hundreds of spokes knifing through air intermittently joined by the sweet rapid-fire monotonal chatter of the freehub is magical, how connecting with, really being in the present during, such moments makes one feel truly alive -- an almost numinous experience. Then I stopped with a bunch of other guys and peed next to a tree (or in some cases a pole).

On the way in two or three riders (the OWNHB, Brian B. not MD, and someone else, I think) started off ahead of the bunch, but we remained steady for a short while. Then an Orangeman goes off the front and a couple of people try to bridge up -- Eddy D., Brady, and maybe another. I told Rich this didn't looked good, the group would likely chase these guys. "Yep," he said. There began a incremental, constant uptick in the group's pace, which was fine, until HL did one of his signature +3.5 mph 15-second surges. Before he lurched left off the front and faded to the rear, he split a small group of about four or five riders. The gapped rider was two ahead of Rich. Rich went around in pursuit of the little group, and for some unknown reason about which I remain terribly confused and conflicted, I went too. It took the better part of a quarter of a mile for us to make contact with the group we were chasing. Please construe the phrase "we were chasing" in the broadest, most generous fashion because in truth Rich was chasing and I was hanging on, my chest heaving convulsively looking for more O. When we did make a connection I'm thinking, good, now I can settle in and try to reestablish a survivable heart rate. But the little group Rich and I caught was in pursuit of the group in front of it, and the pace just increased further. So now I'm thinking, congratulations, you made it. Now what, idiot. So I made a deal with myself to hang on if I could until the beginning of the Chevron sprint, which I decided to define as the instant I could even smell Vietnamese food.

As I approached the Chevron station, two Orangemen were about a block ahead of me, and about another block up the road was Rich. The leaders were disappearing into the service road. Shortly after the two in orange, Rich and I got onto the service road, the main group came up. There was plenty of muscle in the group and we proceeded at a good pace, finally catching the lead group just east of the Casino Bridge.

We were presented with a little mystery on the way in. It was the conundrum of finding HL with the leaders when we caught them near the base of the Casino Bridge. HL had been in the main group that caught Rich, the two Orangemen and me just onto the service road. It would be pure conjecture for me to propose some explanation for how he ended up with the front group. Yet another of life's perplexing enigmas.

On the way in along Lakeshore, I noticed a startled look on Big Rich's normally phlegmatic countenance. He pointed to Vinny and said, "He doesn't match." Rich was then observed in congenial confabulation with Vinny regarding the accountant's wardrobe choice. Rich isn't one to conceal his strongly held opinions on color coordination. Apparently red and Bicycle World orange are a fashion no-no. Vinny offered a spirited defense premised, I think, on the notion that conformity isn't always best.

In some circumstances any attempted construct of the English language is inadequate. Overcoming the limitations of language is impossible in any attempt to accurately describe certain images, which reveal themselves as far more valuable than even a thousand words. Such is the case with the following disturbing image for which I will venture no guess as to what is happening. What is intended to be conveyed by the subjects? What is connoted by the gestures? What is implied by posture and proximity? What meaning does their contiguousness hold? I must confess; I am confounded 1.

1. Confounded is the 35th different word in this post beginning with con. I concede (36) this is probably excessive, but I am convinced (37) I can do better. I will confront (38) head on this troubling predilection and will continue (39) this practice no longer. In fact, I will contrive (40) to use no such words in my next post.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bland, Prosaic Sunday Giro

It was perfect weather for a ride with calm winds and temperatures in the low to mid 50s. This pleasant change from the recent run of wet, cold, windy rides could explain the largely tame pace. The downside was having to listen to Rich complain all morning that he wasn't getting a workout and would have to go to the gym later and could only eat one doughnut.

Swim Hole Sunrise

On the way in we stopped at the floodgates just east of Hwy 11 where an Orangeman had a flat. Rich gave him a CO2 cartridge in exchange for which Rich was called a fine gentleman and got an offer of  "a couple of dollars" (which he refused). Just after turning into the service road we saw Chip P., who had ridden off the front, fixing a flat. The group will often not stop for someone who rides ahead of it (e.g. Charlie "Ain't nobody gonna wait" D.), but six of us stopped with him. That was probably the best part of the morning because after fixing the flat we chased the group and actually got our heart rates going a little bit. We almost caught the bunch which was just over the crest of the Seabrook Bridge as we began its ascent.

Oh, and Vega made it both ways, but that may be attributable to his being on Racer X's fancy Pinarello.

So a bland, prosaic Giro makes for the same kind of blog post.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Wet, Cold, 1/2 HL

Observations from KMSY for 7 am were light drizzle and fog at 46° with winds almost due east at 8 mph. I can confirm the drizzle and fog, but the wind seemed brisker coming home. It was another ride without eyeglasses and eating whatever putrescent detritus the levee-top was serving up this am. It was too wet for photos, but here's one from the archives of a gardener's work-bike (he tows his mower with it):

The latest logistical tweaking of the Tues/Thurs levee ride was to try to start from the playground at 6:15 because of the extra time required at both ends of the ride due to the levee being closed downriver of Ochsner Hospital. I got to Rich's house about 10 minutes early and we rode out to Causeway without an automobile escort, which is probably just as well. I have this retina-burning blinky red überlight, which two people complained about, so I feel confident that if I do get flattened on River Road, it'll definitely be intentional.

At the start were Woody, Brian, Randy, Big Scott, HL's brother-in-law, Ray, Triceps Dave, and Max. The email notice about this most recent iteration of the start time was circulated by Randy late yesterday afternoon, and I noticed this morning that HL and Triceps Dave weren't on the addressee list (I think Randy must have used an old email for the message because it had Scott S. on it, who usually does not ride Tues/Thurs, but not HL and Dave). So I forwarded the email to them at 5:15 am. I know Dave got it and he showed up just after Rich and me. Apparently HL didn't get the email in time, and he and Judd were at the playground anticipating a regular start time. We waited several minutes, but people were getting cold and antsy. Woody and Brian rode off. The rest of us started slow-rolling west, until someone said HL and Judd were on, and then we went. After a couple of miles at an easy pace, I heard Randy say, "You know you all left Judd and Howard. I had to chase you." That was news to me, and I think to everyone else.

I had a flat just west of the country club and I expected HL and Judd to ride up, but they didn't. HL's brother-in-law had a flat in Kenner, but he said he lived nearby and was getting off the levee, so we kept going. Woody had ridden ahead to the Little Dip and passed us heading back to town. Triceps Dave turned at the Little Dip. Near the Big Dip, Pat F. joined us, expressing disbelief that there were people as crazy as he was to be riding in the crappy weather.

We turned at the Luling Bridge and HL and Judd, who were just behind us by then, turned with us. I tried to apologize to HL, telling him I thought he and Judd were with us, but he said, "I don't want to hear it." He was obviously angry, which I guess I understand but I truly don't think anyone thought they were not on when we left. When they didn't appear at the scene of my flat, we assumed they went home, as had Brian because he was cold.

So unfortunately HL was upset with us, which cast a certain pall over the ride home. But now at least I know how HL rides when he's mad: Exactly as he does when he's not.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday Giro Report From Guest Blogger Big Rich

I myself being largely unqualified1 to report the complete circumstances of Sunday's Giro, we turn to guest blogger, Big Rich2, who filed the following account in response to a far-flung request:

 -------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re:
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 14:43:23 -0700
From: Luke Ponseti <>
To: Richard B. Ehret <>
CC: <>

How was the ride?

Give me more than four words

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject:     Re:
Date:     Sun, 2 Feb 2014 15:49:10 -0600
From:     Richard B. Ehret <>
To:     Luke Ponseti <>
CC:     <>

Wet dirty orange fast 2 flats

Richard B Ehret

= = =

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:     Here's a pic
Date:     Sun, 2 Feb 2014 10:47:31 -0600
From:     Richard B. Ehret <>
To:     David L'Hoste <>

= = =

= =
1. From the very start the wet-and-wild ride was bad going on worse for me. I should have taken heed of the dark omen of almost rolling over Tricep Dave's Garmin as it skipped up the Bayou St. John Bridge. After stopping to retrieve the computer, it only took me a couple of blocks to chase back to the slow-rolling pack but it looked like Triceps Dave wasn't closing the gap back to the group very expeditiously and I never saw him east of the bridges. That's not to say he didn't make it back to the group or onto Hayne, but after the pack got onto Hayne I spent most of the rest of the morning quite literally blind. Blind, not because my useless eyeglasses were in my jersey (my myopia is rather mild), but blind as a result of my eyeballs being unceasingly pummeled with all manner of  microbial fauna suspended in a soupy mix of petrochemical byproduct, industrial waste, oily, noxious bits of road debris ground to microscopic and not so microscopic particles of fetid, putrid leakage from a thousand landfill trucks, all of it flung up off of the road and into my squinting eyes and slavering maw by the copious, greasy rooster tail of whomever's wheel.

There is no doubt my view of yesterday's ride is different, in an antipodal, diametrical sort of way, from those held by the handful of Orangemen and numerous other Gen-Yers who were trading pulls with Brett, Woody, et alii at the front. Even on glorious, windless, sunshiny days much of my Giro experience is spent near the very limit of effort. And while I am happy to have successfully survived, my 61-year-old ticker intact, numerous recent Giros, it doesn't take much unusual stress to nudge me over the anaerobic brink. And it didn't take long yesterday on Hayne, beating it at 28 mph into a SE cross-headwind with much of the drawn-out line of riders at or over the centerline, blind, for me to start mulling over the possibility that just such an over-the-brink nudging was in my not-so-distant future. I should have done less mulling and admitted sooner that enough was indeed enough rather than finally resigning myself to such fact ten or so blocks east of the Bullard shortcut. So after backtracking to Bullard and fighting the headwind to the Chef, I turned east onto the notoriously dangerous highway in the fog/rain/mist, alone, while I dug a kind of oleaginous goop out of my eyes.

As I passed under I-510 I saw a lone rider in a black kit on a TT bike, big guy, (who I mistakenly took for V.J.) heading west, and I knew I hadn't beat the group to Chef. Near Little Vietnam I saw Keith McD. and another rider who, even with my fiercest squint, I couldn't identify from across the rainy road, heading back toward town. Farther along I came upon Lenny riding west against traffic, on the shoulder next to me, who yelled something about a broken spoke as he passed. Near Textron I found a young rider in a greenish kit who had been left marshside to change a flat alone. He was just finishing and I proceeded east with him. Then I saw HL laboring hard at the chase of an unidentified Herring Gas kit. Just east of that unusual scene, riding toward town, was Vega (he had made it to Chef before the group). I turned with Vega, but asked him to stop while I dug out and tried to clean my glasses. All I was doing was pushing the oily smear around the lenses, so I gave up just as Graffagnini rode by and told us the group would be about three minutes behind him because V.J. was changing a flat. Then HL came up from the west complaining that Novak wouldn't wait for him. So HL, Vega, and I rode to where the group was waiting on V.J.

The ride in on Chef was plenty fast with my low-tech computer reporting 32 mph at a couple of points. I was happy to have survived to the Chevron station, but traffic at the intersection there split the group up and nobody was slowing down going into the service road. I found myself puffing hard in the last group of three on the wheel of an orange-kitted youngster with Big Scott on my wheel. Soon the Orangeman gives me an elbow, which, if I could have spared the breath, and with all due respect, I would have laughed at audibly, but just ignored instead. Then he's giving me a quick, double chicken wing, one-two, and a little peek over the shoulder, which is, I must say, harder to ignore. Since I needed 100% of the available oxygen to stay conscious, none being handy with which to explain to the young rider the utter futility of my attempting to go around him, and since it looked, from where I sat, like we weren't making it back to the groups ahead, and since we were nearing Lake Forest Ave. and I was thinking about checking out the condition of the Eastover golf course, I did the stupid thing and went around him.

I emerged from the shortcut through Eastover (the golf course remains overgrown and closed) onto Bullard in perfect time to meet HL (who had asked me at the Chevron station where Vega was and then sat up) pulling Vega and a visiting Ohioan toward Hayne. The four of us were caught by the group at the base of the Seabrook Bridge, and we all rode in on Leon C. Simon instead of Lakeshore because of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. I complained to Rich along the way of getting no "pitchas" due to the weather.

Hence, I leave the reportage of the Giro of 2 February 2014, to guest blogger, Big Rich, whose five-word, one-number description, profile, and submitted image (see above), are as accurate as anything I could offer from my shortened-ride perspective.

Guest Blogger Big Rich Recently Celebrating His Birthday

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]