So when we were in Vermont outside of Brandon we stopped by the Yarn Barn, on our way up to Middlebury. Somehow I’d decided that if Zoe were to make me a handmade beanie it would likely improve my rock climbing prowess. In practice I have found our hypothesis to be true, in the two days since wearing my beanie my rock climbing has indeed gotten better. Zoe watched a bunch of YouTube videos of old ladies, several of them 20 minutes long, to learn the basic spiral crochet pattern for the beanie. So thank you Zoe for crocheting me such a nice beanie; it really is soft and warm.
In the middle of Central Park, just north of the 96th Street cross, there is a place called “The North Meadow Recreation Center“. Inside this small, magical place, there is a short bouldering wall. Here is a Google map that shows clearly its awkward location in the park. It is open approximately 6 hours a week, Tuesday & Thursday evenings, and Sunday afternoon. But that is not entirely true. The guys there like to climb, are quite good, and sometimes stay later than 8:30 PM. Unlike say MPHC the holds don’t seem to move, perhaps more like CATS in Boulder, CO. By having a dense number of holds there are more variations that can be created with routes. Also this forces climbers to create new challenging routes of their own rather then relying on pre-set routes by gym course setters. Sure the holds are not as clean. And there isn’t as much wall space. But it’s $100 dollars per year. And it’s solid, except for the sketchy crash pads that are basically useless. But in theory there are less people there climbing because it’s in the middle of Central Park on 96th Street for God’s sake. Also, it’s nice to have a little variety. That’s all I’m saying. So, throw down.
The Pickle Barrel in Killington had a number of artists last week, including a U2 – War album cover band and Snoop Dog. We are not sure what Snoop Dog is doing in Killington, VT during the middle of February, but God Bless him.
The Chevy/Daewoo Aveo was an amazing score. At 18$ per day perhaps as cheap as we’ll ever find in these Atlantic states. The little car screamed up 91 North from New Haven. We were in Rutland a little after 10 PM on Thursday. Sarah was a most gracious of host as we stayed at her amazing converted barn (sometimes Vermont is so Vermont, it hurts). In Killington we classic cross country skied at “The Meadows” and found the trails and conditions to be favorable with the exception of an insane wind blowing across the frozen lake. Zoe’s first day out involved a few spills but nothing too bad.
Brandon, Middlebury, a sweet yarn store, YouTube videos on how to crochet a skullcap beanie. This is what you do if you are in Vermont. We drove to Stowe on Sunday to the von Trapp Family Lodge. It was happening. Unfortunately it all happens, going uphill for like 10 kilometers, where upon you’ll reach a small cabin, where they will serve you zuppe and sandwich, and it will be very cold out, but warm inside. Then you go downhill, very quickly, on your stupid cross country skis. Dinner that night was at Sarducci’s in Montpelier with my buddy Aaron and his Caroline. The B&B we found in Barre, Maplecroft B&B, was nice cute and warm. We went to bed around 9pm in true Vermont style.
My buddy Ryan broke his ankle about 6 months ago in Connecticut at this crappy climbing gym we were frequenting while we were trapped in Stamford working on films. One surgery, a couple rods, and a lot of physical therapy he had his first day back at the MPHC climbing gym yesterday. We mostly bouldered. There was a competition that I didn’t go to a couple of weeks ago, because I had the bird-flu and didn’t want to hack all over the other climbers. The routes were all still up from the comp and Ryan did alright. He said his hands felt especially weak and soft, the plastic holds hurt. Just wait until we get on the real rock, I thought.
And that is New York, we are trapped but soft. I wonder how New York is really “toughening” me up. I looked at all these photos from the Handmade Bicycle Show in Portland. There are few bicycles you would comfortably lock up outside, anywhere. And New York is safer than it has ever been. But maybe that is just the nature of this sort of a show, exquisite pieces that barely get ridden, things that are too precious to lock up outside. Glass houses to display exquisite works that will never get ridden. It’s funny to think, at one small point in time, I had one bicycle that I rode up the Pacific coast with to Olympia, Washington so I could finish college, and pretty much from that point on I have just acquired things. Granted I did ride the hell out of that bicycle, until it finally broke, and things were perhaps simpler there for a while, but it feels like a dam you cannot hold back. Is that getting older? I know at some point these things all get thrown out in boxes, whether we’re here for them or not. I guess that’s the reality.
Zoe has never seen the Terminator movies. However, due to the large amount of free time I’ve had lately, we’ve started to watch the Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox, which is a serialized version of the 2nd Terminator film, as John Connor grows up and moves around with his mother as they try to prevent computers and machines from starting the apocalypse and taking over the world. This is the link to the show in HD, online streaming, via the Fox on-demand player, free and clear.
So the moral is, robots and computers may take over our planet eventually, but right now, it seems the internet is taking over television, as all the networks are scrambling to post their best shows online in high definition for free viewing. Lost in HD? Yup. It’s still not on my cellphone. It’s just as easy and painless to watch it on my laptop as the TV. All I really care about is John Connor and his mom blowing stuff up. They travel through time, they have a reprogrammed Terminator fembot who protects John. They’re just an average family, a single mother worrying about her only son, and a hot female bodyguard robot trying to prevent the worlds destruction.
Sarah Connor: [voiceover] Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator wouldn’t stop, it would never leave him. It would never hurt him or shout at him or get drunk and hit him or say it was too busy to spend time with him. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers that came over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only thing that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.
Yes indeed Sarah, yes indeed.
So the 3rd edition of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show happens in Portland, Oregon this weekend. Needless to say there will be a lot of dudes with facial hair, woolen garments, and probably Brooks leather saddles, hanging out at the pubs in between events. I guess frame building is a dream deferred of mine. Portland has kind of “blown up” since I left, not that it wasn’t known in 2002 as a cycling mecca, just that since then, hipsters and the internet conspire to make cyclo-cross, riding fixed gears, and wearing natural fiber knickers (aka man capris) the thing to do. I moved to Germany, then to DC, and then to New York. I gave up on Ecotopia. I didn’t want to have a car. Because the dirty little secret the Northwest always had, I felt, was that unless you like getting rained on 8+ months of the year, it’s nice to have a car to drive to Bend, Oregon and go sun at the desert mountain. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure there are plenty of anarchists still in Portland without motorized vehicles, soaking wet, with moldy underwear, and sweet tattoos, drinking fair trade coffee at The Fresh Pot on Mississippi. They however do not have access to a 24 hour subway system. Nor can they take Metro North anywhere up the Hudson. You cannot even take a train from Portland to Hood River. The bus runs like once a day. It’s not tenable.
Ancillary to the NAHBS show there is an art gallery showing called Teams of Portland. By far my favorite of the “teams” is the Team Super Relax Concept where apparently they merge crazy Japanese graphics with the ultra-relaxed “don’t be a dick” Portland style. In cities everywhere across the world there are many road cyclists who are dicks, this being one of Portland’s answers. An artist friend of mine in New York, Jess, moved out to Oregon last year. It was sad to see her go but I imagine she too is living the slightly damp moldy dream.
The last time I was in Portland was a year and a half ago, in the Fall, it had just started to rain. And boy did it rain. It rained like a foot. The rivers were flooding. Amtrak wasn’t running. All I wanted to do was climb rocks in the desert and truth be told that is all I still want to do. I ended up stranded in Hood River because Jared’s old Subaru’s windshield wiper had self-destructed and the Greyhound was like 4 hours late. I called Becca, as I was worried I wouldn’t get to see her. We went out to dinner with Christopher and Lesley. Becca’s former next door neighbor ran a new popular blog called Bike Portland [typically, as every single person there has a blog, I am sure of it] . You see, it’s a blog about Portland and bicycles. And maybe that’s where the idealism, on one hand utterly cloying, is at least earnest. Sure people drive cars. But no one wants to. Everyone in Portland wants to ride bikes everywhere, all the time. So yes. The idealism is real. In New York you will just get run over by a taxi. Plain and simple. And no one cares. That’s the thing I’ve learned living here. No one cares. So yes, maybe the hard dense city life has made me a bit more cynical. I left my idealism back there in the Northwest. It’s fine I suppose, ultimately it’s where it belongs.
So I guess Sheldon Brown recently passed away. His rec.bicycles.tech presence, as well as all the information he assembled on his site, was indispensable to me over the years learning about and working on bikes. It is sad, as he came down with a rare form of MS these past few years, and all you can really hope for is that he went in peace. I know that a guy like that will always have a place in my heart. And besides Sheldon, who else has ever sold a portable rear cassette removal tool for bicycle touring? I mean seriously, he had everything you could need.Rest in peace Sheldon.