Sunday, July 6, 2008

the things you hear on group rides...

Overheard at the start of Worlds, a local Sunday morning group ride

girl 1 "I can't believe how lame professors are"
girl 2 "yeah, they sure don't do much"
girl 1 "I can't believe they don't even show up for their own exams! I mean, at least have the nerve to show up for your own exam! We have to show up!"
girl 2 "yeah"

At that point, I started chuckling, and stopped paying much attention. I was plotting a witty comeback, but then I got distracted. It was a bike ride, after all, and I started having fun playing around, and stopped wondering about it. I started thinking about it again on the way back, after the sprint, but I looked around for those girls, and they were gone. Too late...

I guess people really do think all we do is teach a class now and then and just sit around...when in fact the teaching is such a miniscule part of the job, it's actually laughable! Sure, sometimes we don't show up for final exams. But that is becuase we have worked our travel schedule so that we fly out AFTER the last day of instruction, so that we WON'T miss student time, to go to conferences, or to meet with research collaborators, or to recruit new graduate students, or to serve on national committees or proposal reviews, or meet with program managers who fund our research.

Oh...and to any UCSB students who might read this blog: Sometimes your professors race their bikes, AND show up on group rides! :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Ok, so I was feeling like I had pretty rotten luck today. But in context of a bigger world, my life isn't really so bad. I went on a 60+mile bike ride, my house is not burning down, I didn't have to evacuate, and I even found some clean air to breathe! And I'm at my house, and already thinking about my bike ride tomorrow....but when reflecting on it, my bike ride today was sort of a funny story, so I'll try to tell it with some sort of brevity (fat chance).

This morning I went on the 8am group ride. It was speedy on the way out, as is often the case, but I was having fun. I got dropped on the climbs, as I often do, but I wasn't last, and I was feeling surprisingly good, so I decided to go with the group around the Lake. It was a fun ride. I didn't just sit on the back, I rotated through, and successfully reached 'really-tired-but-not-bonking'. I was pretty sure I could at least hang on until the freeway, but then I got a reprieve when someone got a flat. In contrast to the guy in front of me, who was saying "damn, damn damn" under his breath, probably because we were no longer going to break some sort of speed record back to town...or because he had to be back at 11...or...well, who really knows. But I, was secretly kind of happy for the little break and time for my heart rate to drop below 180 (just a guess...I wasn't wearing any sort of data measuring device). Someone actually said I was riding well, and that made me kind of happy to hear :-). Anyway, I decided in the interest of not holding folks up, that I would ride on ahead while the flat was being changed (it was taking a LOOOONG time), and then they would catch me in a couple minutes. The only problem with that plan was that I got a flat myself, not a minute after leaving! My tire had a big cut, but I managed to boot it with a dollar and put it back together quickly (quicker than the other flat of the ride)...thus not making the group who had by then caught up to me, wait very long. All seemed well, and we got on the freeway. I tried to do everything I need to in order to stay attached when the hammering begins: Start up near the front, don't let a gap form, if you are going to blow up, at least have the sense to lead the guy behind up to close the gap you're about to make, etc. I did all these things...but when I did finally have to get out of the paceline or die, I rotated to the back, and just as I was catching back onto the forward line, the tire boot failed and I flatted again. The only problem was, that we were on the freeway, so my yelling went unheeded, and since i was the last one in line, fastly becoming the DROPPED one in line, no one heard me. So there I was, on the freeway with no way to change my tire (i.e. note to self--why don't you carry TWO tubes and cartridges...). Oops. So I made a couple of phone calls, but of course no one heard them because THEY WERE ON THE FREEWAY and it was loud. So I decided to ride the rim until the next exit. It wasn't that far, maybe 1.5 miles or so. I did that, and then when I got off the freeway, I realized that 1. I have no friends or 2. All of my friends are out doing fun things like riding their bikes and not answering their cell phones. I hope it's #2! I decided I would ride on the rim to the nearest town and go to a bike shop. That was going to be about 5 miles....and I had resigned myself to the fact I might trash my rim by then. I also was rather hopeful I would flag someone down. Although that plan wasn't working. Two cyclists passed me when I was thump thump thumping up the road, and I actually yelled and asked if they had any tubes, and they looked at me like I wasn't speaking english! Hmmm...Note to self: Continue your practice of asking people who look in trouble if they actually are. (maybe I look normal riding a flat tire?) Finally, my friend Olivia came to the rescue, when she got done with her bike ride and got my message. I applaud her for actually driving 20 miles to come get me, after listening to my rather irate message :-).

So a few hours later, one iced coffee, one veggie breakfast burrito, a little tire swapping, an attitude adjustment, and I'm feeling significantly better. I can even see the humor in all this.

Strangely enough, though, this is the thought that keeps running through my little mind: If you were a little bit faster, and not hanging on for dear life at the back, maybe they would have heard you and averted all this... The problem is, unlike fixing a flat(when you have the supplies), writing too-long blog posts, and inventing things, getting faster isn't quite so easy!

I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it!?
I'll be out again tomorrow morning in endless pursuit of my quest to become faster.


PS. And I'll be hoping that the weather cooperates and the fire can be brought under control. Speaking of which, I better post this soon, before the nightly power outage kicks in (the past 3 nights the power has gone out right around now..)