Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jinx? Or Guardian Angel?

Remember a few weeks ago when I stumbled onto an accident? Well it happened again. Some graphic description follows, but as far as I know the guy was fine.

We did a ride along the river trail this weekend. On the return trip, I stopped by Wilderness Park to use the restroom and refill my water bottles. As I was leaving, I saw guy try to make the turn off the bike trail into the park, but he hit the dirt, crashed into the chain-link fence and fell off his bike. My first thought was of course "what a spaz", but as I got closer to him I asked the standard "are you OK?" He waved me off, probably more embarrassed than injured. But his shirt was covered in blood. Like, gunshot wound to the chest, soaked. I told the guy "No, you are not OK" and got off my bike.

He stood up and was holding his neck as if he twisted it or something, and I asked him where he cut himself. He showed me his neck. Oh... My... God... There was a gash probably three inches long. It was not a cut, it was a deep, flesh-splitting gash. His neck was split apart and I could see underneath his skin. It looked like he was wearing a Halloween mask. Apparently one of the wires from the fence was sticking out and his neck caught it as he fell off his bike. Ye-ouch. Now here's an odd fact about me: I spend so much time stressing out about little things - God forbid they only have Diet Mountain Dew at the 7-Eleven - that when a real crisis comes up I have no stress left over and can actually keep my cool. I told the guy "I don't want to worry you, but your cut is very deep and you need to go sit down in the shade."

I had him move under a tree, and wanted to give him some sort of cloth to hold against the wound. Side note: I have a very large brain, and need a very large forehead to hold it all in (i.e., I am going bald). When going for bike rides, I often get striped sunburn on the top of my head through the vents in my helmet. I've started wearing a bandana under my helmet and it does a good job of protecting my scalp. So here's my dilemma: I still had 20 miles to go on the bike ride and it was in the upper 90s; I'd have to finish the ride unprotected. Sunburn scalp - guy bleeding to death on the ground - sunburn scalp - guy bleeding to death on the ground... (maybe not quite bleeding to death yet.)

I decided to give my bandana to the guy. My water bottles were freshly filled so I did my best to wash it out first. I gave him one of my bottles to drink, but frankly I think if he tried to take a sip the water would have just leaked out of his neck anyway.

By this time his friend showed up. I told him to call 911 and said that I would find a park employee. Wilderness Park is rather small, but I wasn't sure how much running around I would have to do. Here's dilemma #2: it's hard to run in bike shoes, but I was wearing good tri socks. Grass stains - man bleeding to death on the ground - grass stains - man bleeding to death on the ground. Fine, I took off my shoes. I ran and found a park worker who called the paramedics. There must have been a firehouse nearby because two trucks showed up within 5 minutes.

I don't think the guy ever knew how bad his neck was. He was pretty calm throughout the whole thing, which is for the best. I left when the paramedics got there, forgetting to refill my water bottles. Curses!

So I don't know if I'm good to have around, or bad to have around, but accidents seem to find me. Befriend me at your own risk.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wedgie Labs: Aqua Sphere Kaiman

I do not pretend to be an expert swimmer. Not even a good swimmer. But I DO have a LOT of experience with goggles. I am very neurotic about my goggle-fit and have gone through many, many shapes and styles to find a good pair.

I got a new pair from Bicycle John's to try out (See? I told you they were a lot more than just a bike shop!). The Aqua Sphere Kaiman.

The first thing I noticed about the goggles is that they were difficult to resize. Their advertising claims they have an "Easy-adjust buckle system" but I thought it was clumsy to use. However, this is not entirely a bad thing. Because once I got the right fit, the goggles stayed that way. And yes, I have had other pairs of goggles where the strap slips a little bit after repeated use but with the Kaiman I have the exact same fit every time.

And it's a very comfortable fit. I do not know the exact weight, but they definitely feel very light and soft on the face. However, right on the package it says the Kaiman is "Leak-Free"; I have yet to find a completely leak-proof goggle, and the Kaiman is no better or worse than others I've tried. Maybe I just have an odd-shaped face, but some water gets inside the goggles.

So the Kaiman has an Easy Adjust Buckle that isn't, and is leak-Free but it does. What else do they promise? "180 degree Panoramic Vision". OK, I have to give them this one. The clarity is by far the best I have ever seen. The goggles have a low-profile shape, bringing the lenses close to the eyes so there is virtually no tunnel vision. In fact you have to go out of your way to see the edges of the goggles. The lenses haven't scratched or fogged up yet. I can't stress this enough: my vision in the Kaimans is so good that I might start wearing them to work and while driving.

I do have one very odd complaint about the goggles however. I do not think that I have particularly long or luxurious eyelashes. But because the Kaiman lenses are so close to my face, my eyelashes brush against the plastic every time I blink. Weird, right? It sounds like a minor problem, but after 45 minutes or so my eyes are noticeably irritated by that little bit of rubbing. I am willing to shave my legs for a triathlon, but I will NOT pluck my eyelashes. Is it a deal-breaker? No. But I have yet to do a 90-minute swim and that's what I need to do for Ironman in September. 90 minutes of eyelash rubbing could be a problem. I suppose it will just encourage me swim that much faster.

So what's the final verdict? The Kaimans are my favorite swim goggle.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

BAD ride

My bike group has a ride every Tuesday morning from 6:30-8:00. I am working a Summer Hours schedule and have to be at work by 8:00, so I've been skipping the rides. Today I decided it would be better to join them for 45 minutes than not at all, so I went.

The rides are in Griffith Park, which is adjacent to Forest Lawn Cemetey. Which is where the King of Pop is having a memorial service this morning. I chose to skip the intervals or whatever silly training the group was doing and ride over to Forest Lawn. I just wanted to see the madhouse that was forming there. I knew the roads would be closed to automobiles, but I figured a harmless guy on a bicycle could ride through.

No such luck. There was an army if police officers blocking the final road to Forest Lawn. I climbed up Trash Truck hill hoping to get a view from the top, but the way the road winds around the hills I couldn't see anything.

It wasn't a total loss however. At Travel Town, where the police were turning people away, I saw a huge floral arrangement. The banner read "I miss you Michael - Love, Paris Hilton".

Now then, am I to believe that Paris Hilton had flowers delivered to the side of the road by Travel Town? Really? I suppose it's possible the delivery guy wasn't allowed to get any closer and just tried to make the best of the situation. But it just seems a little too surreal to me.

Monday, July 06, 2009

People who know people

Here's a nice little feel-good story about my otherwise stressful bike shopping.

I am a little nervous and uncomfortable looking at bikes. I don't know the lingo or the stats on all the brands and components and when a salesguy starts rattling off a bunch of information it just goes right over me. I went to "Velo Pasadena" yesterday and the conversation started off very awkward. For starters, I thought they were a Scott dealership so I was asking for bikes they didn't carry. The guy asked me what components I wanted on the bike. I didn't know. He asked what was on my current bike. I didn't know (I checked afterwards, it's the 105 set and I know now I want to step up.) It was just one question after another and I was feeling like a moron.

I told him I did triathlons, and he asked if I was in the Pasadena Tri Club. I told him no, I was with Disney. He said he knew "Stephanie" from the Disney Tri Team. STEPHANIE? Of course I know her. She's doing Arizona in November. And I did Coeur d'Alene with her husband Rich last year. And it turns out the salesguy used to go on training rides with Rich and was their neighbor for a while.

Once we made that connection, suddenly the ice was broken and our bike discussions were much more relaxed. We stopped talking about bike specs and just chatted about different rides and races (and a little about what a quiet animal Rich is on the bike.) I felt much more comfortable and actually enjoyed taking the bikes out for some spins.

So Stephanie and Rich, thanks for letting me get to know you!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Not Going Solo

My tri team is made up with the most un-helpful people you'd ever want to meet.*

I am still shopping for a shiny new bicycle. I have pretty much accepted that I will get a road bike rather than a tri-bike. We do a lot of hill rides, and unless you're a really strong cyclist, a tri-bike isn't going to be great at climbing. It has been suggested (over, and over, and over) that since I already have a road bike, I should get a tri-bike for races and keep my current bike for doing hills. Here's the problem: I DO NOT OWN A GOOD ROAD BIKE. It is made out of Uranium and molasses. It is big and heavy, and I may not be a speed demon but I have outgrown the bike. I want (deserve?) something decent.

Here's where my well-intentioned-but-delusional tri team comes in. I have been told - repeatedly by several people - "Oh, just get a Soloist, it can be a tri bike or a road bike." Here is their logic, and I swear they actually say this with a straight face: "You could buy a $3000 tri bike for races and another $3000 road bike for hills, or you could just spend $5000 on a Soloist. So you're SAVING money!" This makes sense to them; I'm saving money by spending $5000 on a bike. Funny thing, the sales guy at Triathlon Lab told me the same thing. Yeah, I bet he would love to have the commission on a Soloist. Suck it up, Joe Isuzu... ain't gonna happen.

I tested a few bikes today. Tried the Specialized Roubaix, and although anything and everything from France is spectacular, I don't like the name and I didn't like the way it rode. I also tried the Specialized Tarmac. A MUCH better bike, but also more expensive. Rode the Look 566 Origin. Again, pretty good. The Trek Madone 5.2 was by far the smoothest bike I rode, but like the Tarmac was a little out of price range. But the one bike that I keep thinking about is the Felt F4 SL. I don't have the vocabulary to explain the pros and cons of the bikes, but I just liked it, ya know?

There is a wildcard at play as well... The Kuota Kharma. It's about $1000 cheaper than the Felt, has great reviews, and I think it looks really cool. Kuota is a smaller name so it's harder to find physical stores that carry them, but if I can get my hands on one to test I might be ready to buy.

* In the interest of full-disclosure, once I explain to my Soloist-loving teammates that they're a few teeth short of a sprocket, they often offer more realistic advice.