Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Not A Choice

I'm fed up with people who claim that sexual orientation is a "lifestyle" or a "choice." I'm going to tell you what I think about this, but first I need to ramble a bit about my own upbringing; I feel that I've got some unusual insight because of my background.

First of all, my mother didn't hold me as a baby, and my father was too busy as an undergraduate at a prestigious university to do much more than to mostly attend to my physical needs. I went to live with normal parents when I was about 30 months old, but in terms of emotional and cognitive development, child psychologists say this period is crucial.

I really do recall climbing on the kitchen counter, fetching a jar of baby food, and then carefully peering into the silverware drawer to find a spoon. I'm told that I would then carry the jar and spoon into another room and find an adult to feed me, because--of course--my hands had neither the strength nor the dexterity to deal with opening the jar or spooning the food out. (Ever since I've had my own place to live I've been obsessive about keeping knives in a separate drawer. I think it's because I was fearful when I was looking for that spoon.)

I'm not sharing this because I need your sympathy; I think I've turned out all right (mostly) in spite of this...setback. However, this early experience has made me different. In particular, social interaction has always been hard for me. I like to think of it as being on the outside looking in. As a child and an adolescent, I was unable to participate in the social niceties with my peers. As an adult, I can do a pretty good job of faking it, but it will never be natural for me.

Another quirk of my upbringing is that I do remember things from as early as two years of age. If you were to believe child psychologists, they'd say that such a thing is highly unlikely. I understand that, but please...these same psychologists say that we all develop different parts of our brain at different speeds and rates, so don't discount my experience. As for what I remember...well, let's say that a two year old's interests and concerns are pretty basic, so most of what happened at that age has been flushed from the wetware FIFO buffer.

So, anyway, here's my first point: I have been interested in girls ever since I knew there was a difference from boys (and possibly even earlier, but how would I be able to recognize that?), which was somewhere around the age of three or four. This was not a choice. This was not something I was taught. This is something that, for me, is completely innate.

Moving on to high school and college, a lot of people just assumed I was gay. I think this is a direct result of the "outside looking in", where I was not skilled enough to mimic the social interplay that my peers engaged in. (I think this is why drag queens are so much fun: as outsiders, they are sensitized to the social interplay and have learned to mimic and exaggerate it, much to our amusement.) I ended up with a lot of female friends, since I didn't emit the correct social signals when I was interested in them. I remember a class at Caltech of 25 students, including 5 women, who all chose to sit next to me in every class. I didn't understand why they did that at the time, but in hindsight I'm pretty sure it was because I was nice without emitting the horny-guy-hitting-on-you signal that most men give off literally without conscious effort. (The irony is exquisite; I thought being nice was the right way to win the girls. That works with adult women but is not a successful strategy with girls in their teens and twenties.)

It kinda follows with all of this that I got asked out by several gay men. (Following the "nice" theme, these men were a heck of a lot nicer to me than it seems that straight men were with the women they were trying to pick up. I still wonder if that's the reason so many normal straight men are put off by the idea of gay men hitting on them: they're afraid of being treated the way that most straight women are treated.)

My circle of gay friends and acquaintances has been fairly large over the years as well. Again, part of it is the social misfits hanging out together, but on the other hand, they didn't expect me to talk about football and smash beer cans on my forehead. Heck, one of my best friends in undergraduate school was an ex-Marine who outweighed me by about 20% and enjoyed going out to bars to pick fights with the rednecks. Dear Blanche--I'm sure that at the time she would have worn the moniker "diesel dyke" with pride.

The point I want to make is that except for a very small handful, these people are just plain folks like you and me. They didn't just decide that it would be A Cool Thing to choose something that is regarded with disgust, dismay, and outright disaprobation by most people. If they were a bit strange, well, I think their social adjustment problems were more likely a consequence of their sexual orientation, not a cause.

Let's think about that last part for a moment. This is the new idea that's been ringing around my head for the last few months. Now, I really don't have an appreciation for men, so for the purposes of a thought experiment, I've tried to consider how it would be if I had my current sexual orientation but I was born female....

I'm sure that as a young girl, I would have just gone with the flow. All of my girlfriends think the movie stars are dreamy hunks...oh, okay, I guess they're all right. (I think of Rita Mae Brown in Rubyfruit Jungle, who always liked the leading ladies. I'm inclined to believe that I wouldn't have been as certain.)

In high school and college, I'm sure I would have had one or more relationships with men. Nice men. Good looking men. However, at some point, my visceral enthusiasm for women would finally become undeniable.

Can you imagine the kind of personal courage it takes someone to admit to themselves that no, they're not like everyone else? The basic assumption we all have as kids is that we all are having, basically, the same experience. What a sinking feeling, to one day realize that no, I can't be like the other girls.

Then comes the anguish, soul searching, and, finally emotional fortitude to say, "this is not for me, regardless of what other people may think." To have to try to accept the dreadful undeniable fact that I am a "queer."

The next step seems almost unthinkable: to act on that undeniable preference, and to even acknowledge it to family and friends? No wonder so many gays and lesbians stay "in the closet", or only "come out" much later in life. That's a heavy burden to put on an adolescent or young adult.

So--back to this notion that it's a "choice." (Who the hell would choose such a thing, given the slightest opportunity to avoid it?) If you are one of the few people for whom this really is a choice, then you're saying you have a significant attraction to your own sex. I've got news for you: as far as the majority of the straight and gay population is concerned, you are gay. If you aren't sending your family to PFLAG, you'd better go to their web site and try to figure out how to tell your family what you are. Oh, you're opposed to gay rights? Then you're the worst kind of gay: the kind that bashes gays publicly when you are one, just in the closet.

So there you have it: the Bible Belt is full of hypocritical closet-homosexual clergymen and politicians. Really, there is no other rational explanation. I'm not going to try to explain why these homosexuals oppose fair treatment for others of their own kind; you'll have to take that up with them.

This brings me to my last issue, which has to do with religion. What kind of religion discriminates against people for something out of their control? Oh, you lost your hand in an accident? You're tainted and corrupt. You have the wrong color of skin? You're not going to heaven!

Who would set up a religion that works like that? I've got news for you: if your religion teaches that homosexuals are bad/behave badly/need to be saved, your religion is being run by the Horned One With the Pitchfork.

If you're one of those fundamentalists who believes that your scripture is the literal word of the Deity and it condemns a homosexual sexual orientation, well, then, I guess you're obeying The Wrong Guy. Go ahead and say The Lord's Prayer backwards for all I care, but don't come in my house.

On the other hand, if you follow Thomas Aquinas's reasoning, that scripture is necessarily imperfect and incomplete because it is a human expression (thus inherently limited and imperfect) of a perfect and infinite G-d, well, then, isn't it clear The Bad Guy has corrupted your religion? What does that make you, to sit quietly by and to let Mr. Pitchfork's evil rhetoric be repeated as moral truth?

Finally, don't give me any of that hair splitting about loving the sinner but not his sins. First of all, most lay people aren't going to remember the distinction when their son or daughter comes out of the closet. Second, you're going to tell people that it's a sin for people to seek love and companionship in the way that G-d made them? That they are destined for a life of unhappiness because of the way that G-d made them? What a bunch of tripe.

In summary, I hope I've made it clear that I'm not gay. It's not even clear that I have close relatives who lean that way. It just outrages me that we would seek to persecute people for something over which they have no control. If you want to do that, why don't you just throw eggs at the next cripple you see in a wheelchair, why dontcha?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This Was a Tough Week...

So, Monday a week ago my best friend got laid off. Before Friday, two more friends lost their jobs as well.

On Thursday I found out that an old house mate of mine dropped dead in his tracks, age 52, apparently of an aneurysm.

Then, on Tuesday, I found out that a fellow who is probably the closest I've ever had as a mentor, one that worked with me on the Tektronix Smalltalk project, and the fellow whom I followed when he left Tek to go to another company--this guy is dying of cancer and probably has days or weeks to live.

And you may wonder what I've been up to.

In my copious (NOT!) free time I've also been busy as chairman of the BTC. Our community cycling center is open, which is both exciting and scary.

Anyway, to leave on a positive note, here's an article from today's Oregonian/Oregon Live. Only in Portland!

Judge clears nude bicyclist in Portland

by Aimee Green, The Oregonian
Wednesday November 12, 2008, 8:46 PM

A Multnomah County judge has cleared a Northeast Portland nude bicyclist of criminal indecent exposure charges, saying cycling naked has become a "well-established tradition" in Portland and understood as a form of "symbolic protest."

Judge Jerome LaBarre said the city's annual World Naked Bike Ride -- in which as many as 1,200 people cycled through Northwest and downtown Portland on June 14 -- has helped cement riding in the buff as a form of protest against cars and possibly even the nation's dependence on fossil fuels.

LaBarre then cleared Michael "Bobby" Hammond, 21, of any wrongdoing after two days of hearings that concluded Wednesday.

Hammond's legal troubles began June 26, when he stripped off all his clothes and hopped on his vintage 1970s 10-speed -- in an effort, he says, to make clear that nothing was powering his mode of transportation but his own unadulterated body.

Portland police, however, saw Hammond's two-minute ride through the Alberta Arts District as a stunt, not free speech. They arrested Hammond, citing city code that states it's illegal to expose genitalia in a public place in view of members of the opposite sex.

A bystander recorded the episode, which unfolded at 10:30 p.m. in front of Hammond's home at Northeast 15th Avenue and Alberta Street. The video was posted on the Web.

As Hammond pulls to a stop, police begin to question him.

"Who, me?" responds an apparently startled Hammond, adding that he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong. A woman can be heard yelling in the background that Oregon law allows nudity -- as long as it isn't done to sexually arouse oneself or others.

"Dude, look," says one of three officers who approach Hammond. "Go put on pants, or we're going to take you to jail. There's a city code that says you can't be naked in public. There are kids out here. You can't be riding around with your penis hanging out, OK? ..."

"I just want to ride my bike," Hammond says. "I'm wearing a helmet."

"That's fine," responds another officer. "You want to go to jail tonight? Either you get your pants on right now (and) you get off your bike ... or you're going to jail."

Hammond gets off his bike. He stands still, almost frozen for several seconds as an officer can be heard counting down from five. When the officer gets to one, the trio bring Hammond to the ground during a 10-second struggle, because Hammond continues to hang onto his bike. The officers handcuff him, laying him naked on the street.

Hammond said later that a bystander offered to get him some clothes but that there wasn't time before police pulled him to the ground.

Lesser charges

Police originally charged Hammond with felony assault of a public safety officer, among other charges. The district attorney's office, however, decided not to pursue that charge and instead sought misdemeanor convictions for resisting arrest, fourth-degree assault and indecent exposure.

Hammond, who works at the Black Cat Cafe and as a caregiver for people with developmental disabilities, testified that he moved here more than a year ago from New Mexico. He said he thought nudity was legal in Portland because he'd participated in his first World Naked Bike Ride without incident.

"If anyone here hasn't been, you have to go," Hammond testified. "It's one of the reasons I live in Portland. As far as you can see -- as far in front of you and behind -- it's naked people."

Twelve days after the event, Hammond, housemates and friends sat on the lawn of his home, passing out origami, selling art and playing music during the art district's Last Thursday event. They bemoaned the car traffic congesting Alberta Street, and Hammond and a friend, Walter Geis, decided to strip down and ride their bikes up and down the boulevard.

Hammond testified that he was expressing a message in support of bikes and against cars, foreign oil, the Iraq war and air pollution.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Lufkin argued that Hammond didn't carry any signs, pass out fliers or otherwise attempt to communicate his message to bystanders.

"He may have well thought he was doing this for a noble purpose, but there was no way to express that to a rational person," Lufkin said. "This was, by every definition of the word, streaking."

Lufkin told the judge that if he dismissed the charges against Hammond on free-speech grounds, he was in essence invalidating city code. Lufkin said anyone who'd been arrested for indecent exposure could argue they were exempt from the law because they were expressing speech.

A case-by-case issue

In 1985, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in City of Portland v. Gatewood that appearing nude in public can be a protected form of expression -- such as if it's done in political protest -- and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

LaBarre said Hammond's case qualified as protected expression.

"It's been well-known since Lady Godiva that the shock value of nudity can be a very important protest," LaBarre said, referring to the legend of a noblewoman who rode naked on a horse through the streets of Coventry in England to protest her husband's oppressive taxation of the people.

Hammond was all smiles as the judge issued his decision. He hugged his attorney, public defender Tiffany Harris, and friends and neighbors who came to watch. He expressed his relief that he wouldn't lose his job as a caregiver. He said his employer, Westside Community Focus, had told him he would be fired for liability reasons if he were convicted.

He also made plans for the future: Would he ever ride naked again?

"Oh, yeah," he said.

Aimee Green; aimeegreen@news.oregonian.com

Monday, September 29, 2008

LCI #2106

So, how does it feel to own a bicycle in a bicycle shortage? (That's 93 cars, by the way).

I just finished a very long weekend training to become a fledgling League Certified Instructor. I am now authorized to conduct classes on bicycling. My first classes I will need to have other instructors present.

Training consisted of 23 hours over Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. There were ten candidates and three LCI's in addition to the instructor.

Preparation included studying an entire textbook published by the League and a pretest on which we were required to achieve a passing score.

During the course of the weekend we were introduced to the principles of teaching and reaffirmed to the staff that we understood the material that we were supposed to be teaching. However, most of the time consisted of us modeling our role as teachers, giving both classroom and outside instruction to one another, covering all of the elements of "Road 1", the League's most common class.

We got to be evaluated by our peers as well as the senior LCI's. I'm still exhausted. You'll see me on my soapbox again soon

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctors Visit and RSVP

Yesterday I went to Portland to visit a doctor. As usual, I multi-moded: I rode to the train station, let the light rail haul me over the Tualatin Mountains into downtown, and then rode the last four blocks to the offices. After the visit I reversed the route, ran some errands in my neighborhood, then finished the day telecommuting from my house.

Since it was a pretty lousy day for August (temperature in the low 60's with occasional heavy showers), I wore more special clothing than I have lately. When the weather's perfect I've been getting away street clothes. However, yesterday called for a little less cotton and a bit more technical wear. That plus the obvious accoutrements (helmet, geek glasses, gloves, and the nearby bike on the train) made it clear that I was One of Them.

The interesting thing about this was that in the space of the hour and a half round trip and visit, I was accosted by three different people who wanted detailed technical advice on bike commuting. Not "Gee, I wish I could figure out a way to bike like you do." No, it was real questions, like "How do you pick your glasses?" "How do you ride in the rain?" "What do you do about getting your shoes wet?" "How do you keep from getting flats?"

On to other things. While I was sitting at the doctor's office, I heard a receptionist speaking to an older patient. She had the high-pitched slightly patronizing voice that I hear health care workers talking to patients who may be slightly...slow. "Mr XXXX, did you remember to take your heart medicine?" I looked up and saw a man, heavy set, mid 60's, stooped over and shuffling, wearing terry shorts and a T shirt, with a wet spot on the seat of his shorts.

My heart just fell. Here was a man who is beyond trying to retain dignity in public, who's just trying to stay alive. I was overwhelmed with a great sense of sadness at the thought of what it is for people to grow old and to slowly lose a grip on their quality of life as their body slowly fails them.


On to a lighter subject. I just finished a two day ride, the 2008 RSVP ("Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party). This ride is quickly becoming one of my favorite multi-day events. I think it's because the ride is structured in such a way that there really aren't any deadlines except for getting your bags on the truck in the morning. Since you ride through plenty of towns, you "live off the land" for your food. There are organized rest stops each day, but--again--it wouldn't be the end of the world if you even missed those since services are prevalent.

Anyway, since there's no pressure, I find myself not stressing about eating, sightseeing, taking pictures, and just overall plain enjoying the ride. I'm not the only one who's figured this out. This year they opened registration a month early but only for Cascade Bicycle Club members, and the ride sold out in two weeks. Yup, I belong to a Seattle bicycle club now.

Lynne (who is not my wife, my dear Clarkie likes for me to point out) and I rode it on Clifford the Tandem (as in Big and Red). As captain, I didn't get a lot of pictures, but Lynne got plenty in the back.

Thursday night we got to visit David and Claire again. They didn't do the ride this year. I think they were caught completely off guard by how quickly the ride filled up. I made it perfectly clear to them that I expect to see more of them next year! On the plus side I got to finally meet their younger daughter Emma, who's been shunted off to summer camp in years past. I was surprised to see that Crispin the Guinea Pig no longer lives there, but I was pleased to make friends with Luna.

The ride starts at the old Sand Point naval station north of UW and pretty much immediately sets north on the Burke-Gilman trail. (One of these days I want to ride the five miles between UW and Sand Point. STP starts at UW and heads south; if I ride that stretch I can say I've ridden the entire length between Portland and Vancouver BC.)

The Burke-Gilman is slowly getting more and more decrepit. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad they have a bike trail along there; it's just that they slapped asphalt down without any sort of road bed. Thus tree roots and other encroachments are slowly trashing the road surface. Combine that with slightly claustrophobic foliage and scores of riders who do not understand how to ride in groups, and I had one very stressed stoker. We took our time.

A note about the Cascade Bicycle Club riders. I understand that when you're the largest bicycle club in the country that you have to expect a greater incidence of accidents. However, I was dismayed to see hundreds of cyclists wearing ear buds while riding. This is against Washington law (and should be illegal everywhere, IMNSHO). Again, I am amazed at how many people think that just because they know how to brake, steer, pedal (and drive a motor vehicle), that they know how to safely operate a bicycle. It's kind of like young males who think that their Y chromosome gives them an instinctive understanding on how to ride a motorcycle. It just ain't so.

There were numerous route adjustments this year. The first big change I noticed was before Woodinville, where it seemed that we remained on the bike trail for much longer, presumably to bypass some construction on the normal route. I liked this change; the roads at this point are still far too urban for any real enjoyment.

After our obligatory Second Breakfast at the Buzz Inn in Snohomish, we started on the Centennial Trail with the infamous Bollards of Death. I've had enough apologizing, thank you very much, so we avoided any excitement here. Lynne and I felt as though we stayed on this bike path longer than last year as well. Again, this is a lot less stressful and a bit prettier than the semi-urban roads that the old route took us.

In Arlington we stopped for lunch at the Blue Bird Cafe. (Did I mention we eat like hobbits on this ride? First Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevenses...) I asked the store owner as we were paying if she got any warning about the swarm of locusts descending on her establishment. "Oh, I call and find out when it is now." Smart woman!

By the time we left Arlington, I definitely felt like we were running towards the rear of the pack. There was yet another route change on the climb ohere. Again, it seemed to take a lesser traveled route. It may have been slightly more climbing, but I think it was a bit more scenic. Around this time it was starting to get warm. We started seeing bicyclists lying in any available shade at the side of the road, kind of like roadkill. Lynne and I kept riding: "dropped on our heads too often as a child" she explained to one prone cyclist as we passed. It kept getting hotter and hotter. We just kept drinking water and riding.

A bit past Mount Vernon we entered the Skagit Valley. As usual, this part of the route included massive headwinds. Usually I just hunker down and bear it (though I really can't complain, being on a tandem.) This time though, I was truly grateful. Why? Can you say "onshore flow"? There, I knew you could. The air temperature was truly about twenty degrees cooler than it was on the climb out of Arlington!

I'm not sure if it was because of the cooler air temperatures or the fact that we weren't trying to kill ourselves, but the Chuckanut Drive climb seemed much easier than in years past. We made the obligatory stops at the overlooks and took the tourist pictures, made the Pink Lemonade Stop (Micaiah is a high school sophomore now, can you believe it?), and dropped down into Bellingham.

Lynne got us lost getting to the dorms and put us on this vile little street called Liberty Street that heads straight up Sehome Hill. I should have realized something was wrong when I saw the horizontal ridges on this street to provide traction.

We walked down to Boundary Bay to have dinner. I'm a little annoyed at them now and will probably pick a different place for dinner next year. When they said there was a 45 minute wait, we told the hostess we would wait in the beer garden. She took our name and my physical description, and we went down and had a pint. An hour and a half later Lynne went to check, and the new hostess said, "Oh, we skipped over your name because we don't go to the beer garden to fetch guests." Right. There are other places to eat, thank you very much.

As usual, the second day's ride is more about the destination than the scenery. Don't get me wrong; there are some great views, especially in the morning, including Wiser Lake and Mount Baker.

It's still fun to show up at an international border crossing on a bicycle.

Also, the ferry crossing was a bit faster than usual. The ferry man has figured out how to manage our crowd a bit better, I think.

We managed to get onto the "Pitt River Dike Trail Option" this year. It's a bit easy to miss, but Lynne was insistent that we give it a go. On the plus side, it avoids the truly atrocious traffic on 224th and Dewdney Trunk Road leading up to the Pitt River Bridge. It's also much more scenic.

On the down side, we're talking pea gravel with occasional divots in the road surface. Captain is vewwy vewwy busy. There isn't much coasting due to rolling resistance and the need to maintain stability mountain-bike style. The 700x28 tires on the tandem were quite sufficient to the task, by the way. Stoker is busy taking pictures.

By the time we reached Port Moody it was starting to get hot. Lynne was regaling me with fantasies of sprinklers and ice cream. I could really relate (well, not the ice cream; I'm lactose intolerant), but I was ready to stretch and rehydrate. I probably downed a quart of liquid while we were there. As we launched from the rest stop, I felt a sickening snap as I shifted gears. A quick analysis showed that my front shifter broke! We were left without our large chain ring for the last twenty miles. If you're going to lose a gear, that's probably the one to lose.

Climbing the Barnett Highway felt really hot, though I always get a kick out of the huge piles of sulfur down at the port. At the last part of the highway when I could see the top, I called for us to stand ("Arf!" stoker says.) Passing the prone cyclists in the shade we got cheers ("Look at them go!") Again, Lynne: "We were dropped on our heads as small children."

They've significantly improved the Frances/Union bicycle boulevard this year. Whereas before there have been interminable stop signs, they've been replaced this year with traffic roundabouts. Not only is this easier and safer for the cyclist, it made the Really Important Stop much more obvious (it's a very busy cross street that needs one's full attention.).

On the Adanac bike boulevard (Adanac is Canada backwards, get it?), we started to get a huge school of pilot fish as people realized someone was traveling with two hands free and calling out ride sheet cues. Lynne gets really popular at this point of the ride every year!

After settling in our hotel rooms, we had a quiet dinner at a local Japanese restaurant. The waitress looked slightly helpless as I asked for two pieces of octopus. Tako, I amended. She gave me a big grin. Hey, I only know six Japanese words, but sometimes I can get it right!

As usual, Sunday was spent making it back to Stumptown. It didn't take us long to get past immigration. The immigration officer didn't even look at our passports. Similarly, we didn't have a long wait back at Sand Point for our bicycles. I guess they didn't have to saw the bicycles apart and look for drugs this year like they did last year, where the bicycles didn't arrive for hours after us.

Like I said, my stoker got most of the pictures; browse them here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You've Been Tagged...

OK, I guess I've been tagged...my turn...

Q. If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?

A: Stronger than the Incredible Hulk, lighter than a gnat's fart, carves corners like butter, steadier on the flats than a Harley chopper, cheap enough I can park it in front of WinCo, smoother than a baby's butt, stiffer than a ummm...what kind of bike would give me all of that?

Seriously, since I ride my bike over 300 days a year, I can't just settle on some sort of toy. I need one that I can use for commuting and grocery shopping: one that can withstand the mud, the rain, the grit, the just plain abuse a bike takes when you ride it year-round.

Q. Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?
A. Oh, a dream bike. You know, my LeMond Carbon-Ti is a pretty sweet ride. See my previous answer, though. The tooth-rattling stiffness makes it an awesome speed machine, but an English century's worth of chip seal leaves me craving my 35 year old steel commuter.

Q. If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
A: How about this year's Race Across Oregon? With 535 miles, there's enough that I might not get bored. Note also that at 535 miles in length, I could ride all day long :-)

Q. What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride to to do for the rest of her/his life?
A. Someone who likes writing questionnaires.

Q. Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrowminded?
A. 99% of my riding is road riding. Yes, I have a mountain bike. Some day after I win the lottery I'll be able to give it the attention it deserves. Good mountain bike riding requires significant skills that I haven't yet developed. I enjoy extremely non-technical mountain bike riding (Banks-Vernonia Linear Park, Forest Park, etc.) I also appreciate mountain bike riding in the winter when you just can't stay outside as long. However, I'm really more of a put-the-miles-behind-you zone-out-to-the-next-town kind of rider, not a ohmygodimgonnadie kind of adrenalin freak that seems to be the kind of person who's attracted to mountain biking.

Q. Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent?
A. I've never had the opportunity, but I'm completely receptive to the notion. Many people report that as their spine becomes less flexible with age that they've been very happy on a recumbent. Personally, I'll stick with my "wedgie" for another ten or twenty years.

Q. Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?
A. No. Every time I consider it, I remember I have an urgent date to floss my cat's teeth. Seriously, I have a real problem with swimming. My neurotic nurturing female-type parent forced me into serious swimming lessons at the Y when I was a kid; she was deathly afraid I was going to drown. Finally, my freshman year in college that made me jump three stories from the rafters into the swimming pool, fully clothed. Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? The result is that it's totally killed any enjoyment I have of being in the water. I fall in the water, I swim to the side and get out; no problem, no enjoyment. Perhaps I'll try a duathlon one day.

Q. Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?
A. Well, duh: ice cream, of course. I'm lactose intolerant!

Q. What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it. What size of shoes do you wear?
A. "How many bikes do you own, and how many bikes do you really need?"
A2: Five: commuter, racing, fixie, mountain, tandem. And who says that need enters into it at all?

Q. You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?
A. Leave. Quickly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008