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I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

the plague of the u-grads

today, monday the 21st of august, marks the first day the u-grads return to campus. these undergrads may pay monies to the university that ultimately pay my salary and tuition, but they create plenty of problems too. wandering around aimlessly with confused looks on their faces, they travel in packs and at least for this week are sporting surly looks and parents in tow. they move like schools of fish or spooked rabbits, darting this way and that and have utterly no concept of the idea of a bicycle path.

this rant, in case you haven't guessed it already, is brought on the the two bloody knees and scuffed right palm i suffered at the hands (and wheels) of an oblivious student rider mere minutes ago.

leaving the office today i was zipping through campus on the bike path... moderating my speed when necessary, but also trying to escape the tangles of 18 year olds and parents before i was overtaken like a character in a cheap zombie flick. near the freshman dorms i came upon a fairly common scene; a pedestrian was (wisely) walking up the far left (my left) side of the path ahead... a biker was coming up from behind them (and towards me) and gave the pedestrian an extremely wide berth... so wide that she was in my lane. i, being used to the bike-paths and the fact that most people in boulder are extremely used to and comfortable with bikes, decided to avoid the oncoming biker and pedestrian by taking the only open path available to me... through the middle. i adjusted my line with ample room (read about 50-60 feet) for the other people involved to realize they were totally fine, as long as they stayed moving as they were... in a straight line along their respective paths. oh no... too easy! as i closed the gap between us to about 15 feet, the biker passed the pedestrian and cut directly into my path, cutting off the pedestrian and generally buggering the whole deal.

I set my brakes and threw the bike into a sideways skid, using a little body english to adjust the line of the skid so that i might go wide and avoid the oncoming biker, who was now coming to a halting stop directly in the middle of my path.

if any of you saw the crash in stage 16 of the tour this year (the one that ended in a fractured femur, broken clavicle, and masses of torn flesh) which sent three riders flying either over or into a guard rail, you would have seen basically how this whole thing ended. by the time i reached the other biker they had positioned their very sturdy mountain-bike in such a way that when i slid into its wheel my bike stopped dead and i went essentially ass-over-tea-kettle, over the bars of my very light road-bike, and landed behind them. my first thoughts were, "ok... don't explode... maybe this person really is clueless..." which was quickly replaced by, "jeez, this is the second time i've crashed with my laptop strung across my back... i hope it's still fine" (it is) and then, "damn... now i probably have to talk to this person for a few seconds".

the discussion was short... basically:

other biker: "sorry, are you ok?"
me: "i appear to be... "
other biker: - blank stare -
me: "... i was a little confused when you cut across.."
other biker: - blank stare -

... i just got back up, brushed myself off and left.

the moral? pay some attention to the other people on the path. learn the rules and etiquette of the paths... and for god's sake, when you pass a pedestrian, be aware of oncoming traffic, and if you can't wait to pass (or make it around that person before oncoming bikes reach you) leave enough room in the oncoming lane to allow the other rider to pass. it's identically analagous to passing traffic in a car. if the same thing had happened in cars, we'd both probably be dead. i think i'm going to ride my mountain bike tomorrow.


tails from the butte

below is my account of the saddle-snapping i eluded to in the previous post. I got an email from a concerned family member/reader/rider and so i clarified... i thought i'd share.

yeah... the saddle snapping experience was one of those life-flashing-before-your-eyes moments. basically it played out like this:

we rode a trail called, simply, "401". the ride to the trail starts with a 6 mile climb from one of the valleys leading out from town, up to about 11300 feet. then some steep single-track leads to the crest of the actual 401 trail. the next 6-7 miles is a hair-raising, death-defying and all too fun descent along an 8-12 inch wide single-track that sort of skirts the side of the mountain. the trail occasionally crosses small drainages... and it was at one of these drainages where the trail took a small series of three turns around the miniature gorge and gully where i happened to be carrying a little too much speed through the corner. on the last left hand corner (the exit was actually up a little lip or jump-shaped ramp. the slope dropped off to the righthand side) i unwittingly launched my ride into space. expecting the trail after the lip of the ramp to continue in the same line (it didn't), i realized my mistake mid-air and pulled the bike back towards the trail as much as possible, and as soon as my front wheel missed the trail i exited the cockpit post-haste, in what the only witness to this mishap described as, "probably the most well executed front-flip / rolling fall in a dangerous situation" he had ever seen. essentially i flipped off the bike and landed basically ass/feet first on the very steep and (thankfully) well vegetated slope immediately preceding the rocky and precitous drop into the drainage gully, and slid about 10-15 feet down-slope with my arms spread out behind me to stabilize and steer myself. my bike (since i had flipped over the front of it) came down behind in a fairly controlled manner and i was actually able to grab it and stop it from finishing the ride without me.

so, all in all it was a near tragedy that was averted through tuck-and-roll reflexes and a whole lot of luck. i did hurt my calf muscle in when i smashed it into either a rock or hit it on the bike during my ejection, and my ultralight hundred dollar saddle suffered from a snapped nose, but those are acceptable consequences considering what could have happened.

i haven't really gone on a serious ride on that bike since then, mostly because i don't have a saddle on it anymore... but i'm looking forward to replacing it very soon and getting back out on the trail.


full house

hey all..

so my new house is once again full. chris just got back from field work in the sierras on saturday night and balance among the sexes in the house has been restored. no other time was this more evident than last night when kristen and erin were watching gymnastics on tv. their show finished and then chris and i sat down to watch a some action sci-fi flick with robots and guns. see? yin and yang.

figure revisions should be more or less finished, so this week looks like it'll be a push to try to get my sections finished, or at least (most?) start on writing my abstracts for a.g.u. so that i can present some findings in december when i go to the meeting in san francisco.

i need to get out on my mtn bike again soon... ever since i snapped my saddle in crested butte i've been riding road exclusively. not that i don't love my road bikes, but the dirt is calling. a new saddle, some tlc and i should be back out on the trails.

still no pics of the new bike, but soon!

ps: i think it's obvious that i haven't been doing much that's really exciting or new recently... the tone of this blog has steered very far from the earlier writings during my stint in taiwan... i'll see if i can't try to pull back towards that type of experiential writing soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

thank modem




yes.. i finally got the internet connection set up at our new house and as such, this post is coming to you from the cushy comfort of our livingroom couch. the tv and all its many (many) channels is radiating warm mind-numbing rays from the corner.

this week so far has been rush rush... figures for a new paper need to be revisited and new data needs to be considered... and whose job is it to add new data and analyze it and then integrate it into the existing figures?? yep... mine.

when i'm avoiding work however, i'm making great strides in my fixed gear bike project. over the last few afternoons i've built the wheels and today i finally got the whole thing together. so it's all in one piece, but not totally done. still to be worked on: wheels need to be finish-trued and dished, and re-spaced for chain-line. other than that and a few dabs of grease, i should be all set! pictures soon.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

sweet disarray

mmm.... still getting over the move. finally back in the office on a regular basis after what felt like a month of absence. it was only about four days, but for all the hassle and murgatroid that i dealt with....

lessee... the uhaul location we went to in order to rent a medium size (14') truck to move was out of medium trucks that day. i ended up driving a monstrous 26' diesel behemoth... which also happened to have a manual transmission. then our roomate also had a 26' container parked at our house. we all moved these two truck-loads of stuff into the garage into what was essentially a huge pile of shite. the next several days were spent painting and cleaning and moving stuff from the garage into the house and our respective rooms.

this weekend was just more of the same. moving, arranging, getting things like trashbags and dish-soap. hopefully this week will be less stressful and all-consuming than last.

I'm starting the fixed gear project bike now... paint so far looks amazing (final color choice? - gold flake and pepto pink!)


Friday, August 04, 2006

stupidity personified

yep... that's me. i just moved... i have no access to internet in my home (this post coming to you from the patio at cafe roma) and no land line, so my cell phonw was my only method of reliable communication. then my battery died in the middle of a conversation, and then it dawned on me that i had packed my cell phone's charger................. somewhere.

i searched and i searched again, but i'm confident that i will not find it until i can really spread things around and put stuff away. ...so i may be incommunicado for a little while.