Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Buy Nothing Day

Oops, I forgot to post this last Friday. In the spirit of resource conservation, fiscal prudence, and consumer cleansing, National Buy Nothing Day occurs once a year on the Friday following Thanksgiving; a brilliant response to a day heretofore dedicated to celebrating extreme American materialism. Buy Nothing Day (BND) is the brain child of Canadian artist Ted Dave and was first celebrated in 1992. Since then Adbusters has been responsible for launching it as an annual event. Mark your calenders for next year!!!

American Gluttony

On the surface this photo may look like yet another one of Bush’s zany holiday antics; however, a closer appraisal will reveal that it is indeed a secret message from the government. It seems that they are trying to warn us of the dangers of American Gluttony wherein the turkey, symbolizing America’s insatiable appetite for power and money, is ultimately the source of our demise as it attempts to take Bush’s manhood. The writing is on the wall. Who will stop this train of American Gluttony from barreling through the walls of humanity?!!!!
(photo courtesy of politicalhumor.about.com)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans can often go awry…and so the story goes. I recently returned from The Netherlands where I was visiting my good friend Hieke. The last time we parted was about a year and a half ago in JFK airport. It’s always so exciting to see an old friend after an extended period of time. Once the rush of emotion had settled it was almost as though we picked up where we left our last conversation and never skipped a beat. Many of our original plans for this visit did not come to pass, but such is life. The palm tree can sustain hurricane force winds because it bends with the wind…and so too do Hieke and I when it comes to traveling.

To give a detailed account of our travels would take more time than I’m willing to invest in my humble blog….and more information than my devoted readers are willing to read. So, I will try to give you the Reader’s Digest version:

Upon my arrival in Amsterdam we took a train to her parent’s house outside the Friesen town of Leeuwarden. It was here that I finally got to meet her entire family (parents, 4 sisters and their boyfriends):

I entertained myself in Amsterdam on Monday while Hieke was at work:

We did a bit of sight seeing in Gouda and the Haag while on our way back up to Leeuwarden:

’s mother took us on a tour of Friesland….

We went to tour Castle de Haar…I forgot my camera….the tour sucked…Hieke complained and they gave us a free book.

Another day bee-bopping around Amsterdam while Hieke was at work…

The antithesis of the mini van....

A house warming party with Hieke’s closest friends…and a lot of Heineken, salami, and pickles.

Stopped of in Antwerp on our way to Gavere for a UCI CX race…

Cyclocross - Superprestige #3 Gavere, Belgium!!!!!!!
(unfortunately my camera wasn’t working so well and my photos aren’t so great)

Ode to a Belgian Cross Race

Entry tickets sold for 10 Euros.
Shuttle buses to transport the masses.
Entire families clad in warm clothes and muck boots.
Old ladies in fur coats proudly waving the flag of Flanders.
Red nosed old men vicariously living out the days of their youth.
Struggling through the crowds for a chance to join in the heckling.
Gaunt amateurs dreaming of their day to shine.
Drunken singing down the streets of Gavere.
Belgian cross racing at its finest.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Off to Amsterdam!!!

You may be wondering why I have been spelling things with a touch of euro flair lately (such as flavour, colour, labour) It is all part of the preparation for my upcoming trip to The Netherlands where I am to visit my good friend Hieke (other preparations include investing in some stylish dress up shoes and waxing my eye brows.)

Hieke and I became friends while living together in South Africa a few years ago. She was there doing HIV/AIDS research and I was doing my master's research in agroforestry (sustainable ag. stuff). True to her nation’s philanthropic legacy (which followed that nasty stint of raping and pillaging) she spent her weekends volunteering in a local AIDS orphanage, while I was the typical competitive, gas guzzling American and spent my weekends traveling to mountain bike races. My racing life and research life created an interesting juxtaposition as I was welcomed into two very different demographics, the white Afrikaners and the native South Africans. (patriotic condom photo courtesy of Hieke)

…where was I? Oh yes, so I’m off to see Hieke! Our schedule is loosely structured, but includes the following items:

- Watch the Charles Taylor Case (Liberian President) at the Hague
- Explore Amsterdam
- Short trip to Paris

Expect a full report upon my return on November 19!

Hieke being the philanthropic Dutch Woman:

Me being the competitive American:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Labour of Luv

After several months of research and planning my new mountain bike is a reality!!!! I took great time and care to consider all my options before hopping back into the mountain bike market. I am a lover of the aluminum hard tail and unfortunately this is no longer the focal point of most bike manufacturers. Today the big money is in things like full suspension, carbon, titanium, and tricked-out single speeds. To which I respond:

Full Suspension: too busy
Carbon: too fragile
Titanium: too expensive
Tricked-out Single Speeds: too Roman

Call me a Plain Jane, but I have a true appreciation for the simplicity of the aluminum hard tail. In my search for the perfect frame with an appealing color scheme my attention was drawn to the Kona Kula Supreme…which happens to be composed of scandium (located between calcium and titanium on the periodic table). It also happens to be incredibly light…which could prove to be a problem when I go bashing through my beloved rock gardens…I’ll be interested to see how it holds up. Once I made my frame selection it was time to make an inventory of those parts from my old bike that were salvageable. The list was as follows:

Old Parts to Harvest:

Seat Post

I then comprised a list of new parts to order. With Eric’s help I was able to find those parts that were both economically sensible as well as light and durable.

New Parts to Order:

Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT (the new shadow kind)
Crank Set: Truvative – team GXP
Cassette: Shimano XT
Chain: SRAM
Front Hub: WTB
Rear Hub: WTB
Rims: Velocity (Electric Blue)
Spokes: Whale Bone (just to see if you’re paying attention)
Cables and Housing

Eric Roman was kind enough to build up the wheels as well as combine this anthology of parts into what I have come to know as my NEW BIKE!!!! It was truly a labour (notice the euro spelling) of love. It is the perfect combination of style, sensibility, and durability (let’s hope!) I can’t wait to ride it! Stay tuned for updates on how thin scandium tubes holds up to east coast rock gardens!