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Friday, August 28, 2009

Gary, an LA Metro guitar man

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Riding the LA rail to Long Beach to get some sleep after a little polo in North Hollywood, we caught Gary here busking in the middle of our car.

He slipped in just as the doors were closing, said, "Hi guys, it's me again," spread his short legs wide for balance and slung the strap over his neck.

Some were a little put off, but one kid with a guitar of his own was inspired enough to be the first to drop a buck in the hat.

piano move

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As a favor to our gracious hosts in Long Beach, we helped out with a fun little piano move. This photo is during, but I have a few more from both before, at Casey's house on East 4th, and after, at a warehouse on Cherry.

Listen to this recording for the complete experience. It begins in the back of the truck, with the piano already loaded. Just before the five-minute mark, there's a bit missing from the recording as we unloaded the mini grand from the bed. It picks up as we're shuffling it into the warehouse, where there were a bunch of ants.

PS- if you're reading this and know the name of this pianist or his band, please email me so I can link to the myspace or whatever. ahongo at gmail dot com.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Walter and Bennett

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Checking out Stigler with Bennett, we bumped into Walter and had a pretty typical exchange: where you from, where ya going, how come, etc. What made it special was his accent and manner.

Bill reviews our route

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Back in July, I was riding with a few others when one of us flatted. We took shelter from the sun in a random driveway and provided moral support while she changed her inner tube. As we stood around, Bill rolled up on his riding mower to see what was happening. After some initial BSing, he ended up taking a look at the day's cue sheet and, from the comfort of his Cub Cadet, provided some perspective on climbing the mighty Mount Nebo.

Gas station Jammin'

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Exploring the magical town of Marathon, Texas, I came upon a group of middle-aged, mixed-race men enjoying their Sunday afternoon drinking cheap beer, making fun of each other, and playing music. I hung out for a few.

The unfortunate Nick

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Nick, our (rationally) fearful leader, has the unfortunate responsibility of crafting the route for each day's ride and distributing directions, or "cue sheets." One especially unfortunate day in Arkansas, he discovered our destination was actually eight miles further than the cue sheet said, and he had to break the news to all the riders. He caught up to me at Subway, and I, preoccupied by my lunch, couldn't have cared less about a measly eight miles. Besides, by the time he broke the news, I had already become accustomed to the notion of "bonus miles" caused by getting lost, misroutings, detours, etc., and, to keep myself sane, had made a habit of mentally adding 10 to whatever number of miles the cue sheet claimed I'd be doing any given day.

George's Pugeot

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Hailing from Seminole, OK, George rides his Pugeot commuter with pride. He tells me it has 18 speeds, a basket, a bell, and a seat that's good for his "prostrate."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Biosphere 2

Mind totally blown today.

IMG_2004I missed a turn and ended up at the road to Biosphere 2. I asked the guy working on the sign what the deal was. He said it was just two miles off the 77, the tour started in 30 minutes, and it's well worth $20. I leaned on the bike, thought about it, checked my balance, and rode across the cattle guard to a date with science!

I'll post the best pictures here, but the flickr set tells the whole story properly. I like the slideshow option for sets like these.

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Waiting for the coffee shop to open before my tour, I checked out this nifty solar-powered, talking info box. The recording started out the same as the printed text, but had a surprise bonus paragraph at the end!

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A lot of headroom in the desert biome.

IMG_2033How many signs like this are there in the world? Also, pipes look cool in pictures.

IMG_2057During the first mission, the bionauts would regularly dive off the cliffs into the deep end of the ocean. Sometimes, they'd climb the scaffolding to jump.

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This is dreamlike: you leave a beach through a flimsy little door, climb a flight, and you're in a rainforest.

IMG_2061We had to hang out in a random airlock for ten minutes while they fixed a wiring problem that was setting off the fire alarm. Dudes were running around with radios, lights were flashing. A fun bonus, I thought.

IMG_2065The lung! An engineering marvel, it expands and contracts to keep air pressure constant as the sun heats the 'sphere during the day. Looks just like the center of the Death Star. I recorded Cat's rundown of the lung and some fun with echoes. You'll have to forgive my lazy sound editing--it's three clips sloppily glommed together.

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R. Buckminster Fuller
is all over the 'sphere's architecture. Check out Artsy's page on him for a bio, several of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Fuller exhibition listings.

IMG_2100Oh, and just in case I was starting to feel like this place were normal, I saw some cows grazing by the roadside on my way out.

All in all, I'd have to say this is the coolest thing in the world. It's its own little world.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

backwards half-sag FTW!

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So SAG stands for Support And Gear; thusly, the vans are also known as SAG wagons. If you get up in the morning and decide to spend the day in the van instead of on the bike, you're sagging. This is sometimes frowned upon if not scorned, and often prompts effusive excusion or unapologetic admission.

The half-sag is when you jump into the van partway into the ride. This happens when a rider has mechanical problems, simply runs out of juice, is fed up with the heat, tired of a road surface, or just wants to hang out with the other people in the van (which, honestly, is pretty dang fun, and may be the best reason overall). The downside is sitting around in sweaty spandex when you could be chillin in a tee and shorts, and for this reason is perhaps more frowned upon than the full-sag.

The backwards half-sag is something I thought of awhile back in the spirit of unabashed laziness, but only implemented today, out of inspired planning.

I called my dear mother Sunday and told her I'd be in Tucson Tuesday. She said she loves that down, and suggested I visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. But! The day's ride is a solid 75 miles, the museum is 15 miles west of town, and it closes at three in the afternoon. So I asked Judy, our talented and lovely manager, if I could chuck my steed in the van and sag to her support stop at the halfway point, jump out, and bike from there. By cutting off the first 40 miles, I would arrive in Tucson early enough to enjoy the museum, and the extra 30 to get there and back wouldn't turn the ride into a century.

It was such a Good Idea, Bayla came along, and I saw so much cool stuff that I overused the camera and ran out the battery in my phone. She let me use hers, so I'll post more pictures when I sync her Canon with my Mac.

So, in conclusion, the backwards-half-sag is full of win.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Miles vs. smiles

Sagged today. No longer see every day as an opportunity to "rack up the miles." After doing back-to-back-to-back centuries, I feel enough like a badass to take a day off whenever I damn well please. And it will please me to sag tomorrow, because it's eighty miles of straight interstate.

I actually asked a few other riders, "why ride tomorrow?" I didn't ask those that are riding every day, because they're on a mission altogether separate from the rest of us, which I respect, appreciate, and wholeheartedly observe. So, besides being able to say "I rode every day," why ride? There's nothing to see but signs, nothing to do but get a flat tire.

Doug pointed out we're crossing a state line. So that's a particularly rare sign, and makes a fun photo. This was the best reason anyone offered.

Speaking of photos, that's what I did while most people who rode today were napping. I pulled my bike out of the truck and rode around the sleepy town of Lordsburg, taking photos with Crihs and Doug. Watch their blogs for higher-quality photos of the same area.

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IMG_1893Car-door road-score. Got to shimmy under a barb-wire fence for this one.

IMG_1897A hole in the wall of a hole-in-the-wall.

IMG_1906Little empty pool in big empty pool.

For now, the bike's back in the truck. We leave the interstate Tuesday to ride into Tucson, and I'll likely be back in the saddle to cycle into the city. Hopefully, I'll get in early enough for a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

brief ride

Ten cool points for Northern Route. I'm going to ask my team to do this for Quartzsite->Blythe (just 30.2 miles).