Friday, October 31, 2008

cultural jackass

Not sure if I did anything wrong here, but it seems highly feasible.

I just got done shooting a portrait of a man from Finland. His English was pretty good, but I still found myself making a lot of hand gestures, including the dreaded "thumb's up".

The first time I flashed the awful thumb, my subject startled a bit- as though I had flipped him the bird. I instantly realized my faux pas: many a hand signal means something else in other cultures. (Such as our "OK" symbol basically means "asshole" in certain Asian countries.) I do not know if a thumb's up is offensive in Finland or not, but it seems very possible that it could mean "up yours, shit tooth".

I never, ever use the "thumb's up". I know it's totally lame. So it's baffling that it was my instinctive first move with this guy.

But more horrifying is the fact that I continued to use it. I must've flashed my thumb half a dozen times, including as I walked him out. "Okay, thanks! See you later! Up yours, shit tooth."

I'm an asshole.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

sideways flying corn trash

So, last Sunday the DICE Women's Team (i.e.: Lindsay and myself) made it over to Des Moines for day two of the Spooky CX races.

The course was a little above what I have come to expect from some CX race courses. There. I said it. You know you're all thinking it anyway! Someone once said that adventure is one part poor judgment and two parts persistance, anyway. This race was at Living History Farms, and included some rolling forest trail (sweet), a murky field trail ending in a face-planting muddy ditch (dumb), a short but steep-ish gravel/asphalt hill (sweet), grass switchbacks with one more-than-180- degree left-hand downhill switchback (dumb), and a long, steady, grinding hill with a few low barricades (tough, but sweet). There was also and inexplicable double-mound of mulch. Weird.

The Women's Open field consisted of 9 riders, including me & Lindsay, Sydney Brown (I wonder who's going to win?), Brittany from ICCC, a couple of DesMoines riders and a few others I didn't recognize. Considering the weather, I consider this to be a pretty solid turnout. Speaking of the weather, did I mention the wind?

Iowans/Illinoians/ Nebraskans who are not in caves (and probably those in caves as well) experienced Sunday's winds: 32mph steady, gusting up to 54mph. There is no reason I should be able to see the side of my wheel like that while racing! The good news is, this leveled the playing field a bit. The field spread out pretty much from the gun, but that's to be expected in a Women's Open. The wind did keep us Cat 4's from getting lapped, though. I spent most of the race leap-frogging with Michelle from DMOS-- which was nice because I was able to sit on her wheel in a brutal headwind section for two of the four laps. She's a tough chick- she face planted in the ditch on lap one, successfully tried again on lap two, wrecked in the same spot on lap three, and made it on lap four. I have to say that after watching her face plant the first time, I decided to make this section a personal mandatory dismount. And you know what? The five to ten seconds lost for a dismount was definitely worth it. (With an honest assessment of my bike handling in mud, a wreck would have been inevitable.) I later found out that Lindsay had used the same tactic.

On the last lap, I sat up a bit in the tailwind section for a boost, and got away. Michelle stayed within sight of me for the entire lap, but didn't quite catch back on. I ended up 7th. Lindsay ended up third, but you can read about that on her blog:

All in all, a good workout.

On to Vandecross!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Just a quick anecdote from the bike path.

Last night I was going to take the CX bike out for a few hours~ the path to Devil's Glen, out towards Scott Co. Park and into some gravel. Got to the path and realized it was about 15 degF cooler than expected, so changed my plans on the fly. I decided to ride the path to the Riverdale end, then back towards a park where I could do some mount/dismount/carry practice.

Got really cold, headed into D'port a bit, and decided to turn around after about an hour of jacking around on different grassy knolls. As I was passing through the softball complex area, I saw a man. A man with a bike and a lot of bags. I assumed that he was homeless.

I should mention here that while vagrants in general do not frighten me, I do believe that in order to be a vagrant in an area such as the Quad Cities, there must be at least a small degree of mental illness.

That said, I gave the obligatory nod and kept riding.

He yelled something after me about how I should have a spare tire.

I kept riding.

Crazy Hobo: "Hey! You can't ride that fast!"

(I should mention here that I was traveling at maybe 16 mph.)

I kept riding.

CH: "I'm gonna whip yer ass!"

Me (under breath): "Grand."

I have never been good with threats anyway, whether they are idle or not. But when I heard the clicking of gears on the Crazy Hobo's bike and glanced over my shoulder to see him gaining, I must admit I kind of freaked. Fuck! This circus sideshow had legs. He was loaded down like a pack mule and rolling at about 24 mph on an ancient Schwinn Collegiate. Did I mention that he was missing a shoe? Nothing like a crazed derelict to start some forced interval training! I dropped into my biggest gear and got the fuck out of there. He chased me for a while, giving the occasional hoot, literally: "Whoo hoooo!!!". I lost him for sure around Duck Creek golf course when I opted off the path for the roads, where I felt much, much safer.

I know that he was probably just an old cyclist who had said "Enough!" to society, as many of us dream of doing. But the situation was this: I'm female, smallish (in comparison), it's getting dark, and the path was unpopulated. In these parameters I have to give a resounding "fuck that!"

Fuck, man! Where do these people come from? And why are they so attracted to me?