walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Also, Mi-i-gra-tion Time! Come on!

After long -- perhaps even excessive -- ponderings, I have decided to migrate to Wordpress.  I have another, non-bike-related 'blog there (mostly recipes and philosophizations and whatnot), but I've decided I like the WP interface better, and WP also has an awesome client for posting from my tablet PC.  I shall post the link once I've got it all the way up and running.

Here it is:

I shall continue fiddling with the theme until I find one I absolutely love, but the basics are in place.

Mo-ti-va-tion Time, Come On!

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting much this semester.  I also haven't been riding all that much (sad, I know), so I haven't had much to report.  To some extent, I have been struggling with questions of motivation: specifically, I seem only to possess so much of it at any given time, and lately that hasn't been much at all, and much of the motivation on hand has been poured into other things.

I didn't hit a single 'cross race this year -- first I had mono, then the Creeping Crud (AKA the Head & Chest Cold from H*ll) that seems to have hit literally everyone I know pretty hard, and then the madness of Thanksgiving and exams, including one exam that I turned in on Thanksgiving morning (aced it, thank God -- there were two versions of that exam posted, so I was stressing hard about whether or not I had even done the correct exam).  I've also had a couple of bouts of pretty serious insomnia, including one this week that has torpedoed an entire week's worth of plans.  I am, however, slowly getting back on track now.

Suffice it to say that I'll be gladgladglad when this semester is over, even though the next one is going to be even busier, since I will be up on campus all the time being a proto-music major.  I have officially sent in my application to become a Real Music Major, with long-term plans of doing a master's in Organ and Sacred Music at the Jacobs in Bloomington (Hi, Michael!), but will not complete the audition process until the middle/end of next semester.

It is, however, likely next semester will involve a bit less writing.  I haven't done so much writing since my senior year in High School, when I was taking an AP English class and was also a writing major in a very challenging arts-magnet program.  I love writing, so on one hand it's great -- but on the other hand, it does take up a lot of time.

I suppose there is one more month of 'cross season left, with King's Cross scheduled for December, so if I really get motivated like RIGHT NOW I could race, but I think I'm going to skip it entirely.  First, I really don't have a suitable bike (though I could ride the road bike if conditions are dry).  Second, though my bike may be at least somewhat raceworthy, I am absolutely not right now.  A proper 'cross bike -- which will also pull duty as a Denis bike, a bad-weather warrior, and a grocery-getter -- will be my sole major purchase next semester.

However, I haven't been entirely slug-like.  I have actually felt more or less like a human being -- albeit an emotionally-volatile human being, since the grey and sunless weather knocked me flat on my tuchas pretty much immediately -- for the past couple of weeks (even my organ prof commented on the fact that I look better).  Better still, I have found a strategy that mostly keeps my left crankarm in line: I simply unclip on the and stand on the left foot instead of on the right at stoplights.

Thus, I am riding more happily than I have in quite a long time.  I still can't pop it in the big ring without having to tighten things up, since that also seems to stress the cranks in such a way as to loosen the bolt, but in a way that's kind of a good thing: it forces me to relax, and I think being a more relaxed rider will also make me a better rider.

It feels weird to unclip on the left, but it means that when I get going again, the lateral stress of the remount/first-pedal-stroke is on the drive side instead of the non-drive side, which seems to prevent everything from falling apart (at least for now; who knows what kind of untold damage I'm inflicting on my poor crankset in so doing).  I also try not to do the 'cowboy dismount' (AKA the Cyclocross-Commuter Dismount) that I so enjoy, for the same reason -- I don't like to do the cowboy-dismount-to-the-right unless I absolutely must (rabid alligators on left of bike, or whatever), for fear of hanging up parts of my body in my drive train.  To paraphrase, "Flesh heals; not Shimano."

The whole point is that I can rather enjoy riding again, finally, and also that I can now feel comfortable delaying a new crankset purchase until Spring semester.  I am disturbed that it took me this freaking long to hit on so simple a strategy for keeping the bike together, but I suppose that's not really important. 

Yesterday I clocked 35ish minutes riding up to my therapist's office -- 11 minutes slower than my best time (I did hit every possible light, though), but almost 10 minutes faster than has been my average during the time that I've had to stop repeatedly to fix my bike.  I picked a slightly longer route from there to church (for an evensong with bell choir), but it's still only about a 10-minute ride unless I intentionally go way out of my way.

I am, however, rather grateful for my ongoing crankarm problem.  Because I have the personality of an addle-pated border collie, I tend to fixate on things, and for a while I was very much fixated on performance, speed, and all that jazz. I suppose there's nothing wrong with performance, speed, and so forth -- but it's also nice to ride with a little less focus and a little more enjoyment.

Tonight, I'll be riding up to church again for bells rehearsal.  I'm thinking about leaving early and taking the long way 'round -- all the way downtown, then back up via the bike route that leads to the Beargrass Creek Trail and so forth.  That, however, ultimately depends on whether or not I'm organized enough to get my butt out the door on time.  Right now, organization is not my strong suit.

I hope also to actually remember to turn my GPS tracker on today, as I've been forgetting it on every single ride of late, which seems very silly indeed as it collects all manner of nifty data and doubles as a cyclometer.

In other news, I purchased a pair of Planet Bike's Speedez -- road-bike friendly fenders with quick-n-easy attachments -- a couple of weeks back.  I am, in short, delighted with them.  They're light, they really are quick and easy to install, and they work.

Plus, they look pretty slick:

From MyBikes
...so I'm happy. 

I do need to adjust them just a hair, as right now I'm experiencing some intermittent rubbing on the rear tire, but that's easy enough to fix.

Speaking of 'inter-mitten-t' issues, if any of you have a sugggestion for a really workable cold/wet-weather glove/mitten solution, I'm all ears.  So far, my proposed answer pretty much involves buying a bunch of grippy waterproof gloves (like the chem-resistant military ones) and wearing them on top of woolies when it rains or when the roads are slushy, but of course it would be nice to find something a little less ... well ... kludgy.

I intend to actually ride a bit more through the winter break, and I will definitely be riding more once Spring semester begins, as I plan to at least ride to the bus stop for the #72 three days a week.  I also plan to ride from campus to one of the other Indiana-side buses or all the way home after class except when there's ice on the roads or when visibility is very poor, as my last class on Tuesday and Thursday ends at 5:30 and the next bus doesn't get around to arriving for an hour and a half after my class gets out, and I could quite frankly ride all the way home in an hour and a half under normal conditions (not sure how long it would take me with bridge repairs ongoing).  When conditions are bad, I'll just hang around the library or the coffee shop (which is in the library) 'til the Express bus comes at 6:06.

As conditions improve in the spring, of course, I'll be ramping it up to doing the whole ride as often as possible.  I hope this will mean that I will be super-fit by the time late spring rolls around with its promise of long rides in beautiful weather, but I am also super-lazy of late, so we'll see.

And now I must turtle down again and go practice the organ, as I have been quite delinquent for the past two days and must-must-must nail down two more pieces solidly before juries at the end of ... eek, the week after next???

As such, I leave you with this inspiring image of my bestest-best* friend, the inimitable Robert Holland, sysop and programmer extraordinaire:
*Excepting DD, of course.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sunny Wednesday Solo Ride

On Wednesday, I rolled out to retrieve my bank card from the bank (I left it in the ATM on Monday) and, since it was grey and rainy and about darned time, to hit the shop for some fenders. 

After hanging out at Fourth Street with Tony and installing a pair of Planet Bike Speedez (review to come, but in short, my legs are dry, and -- perhaps more importantly -- so is my butt!), I headed to Rite-Aid to buy some cough medicine, then stopped at Dairy Queen for lunch.  While I was dining, the sun came out, the clouds rolled away, and I realized that it was turning into the kind of day on which not riding the bike just for fun would be a sin.

So, predictably, I went home, dropped off my cough medicine and my now-unnecessary (and highly wind-catching) rain jacket -- there was a fierce headwind on the homestretch! -- then headed back out for a jaunt around the neighborhood.

Perhaps predictably, my jaunt took me up to Iroquois Park.  I didn't turn on iMapMyRide+, and I stopped a bunch of times to take pictures -- so I have no idea what my average speed was or anything like that (I did ride a pretty nice pace up the hill, though, just for fun).  Surprisingly, for someone who hasn't done any serious riding in a couple of weeks, I felt really strong.

Perhaps I'm experiencing the post-off season boomerang effect that I've noticed a couple of times before; perhaps it's just that I was having fun and not worrying about statistics at all, since 'cross season is a non-starter for me this year and it isn't really time to seriously train for 2012 road season by a long shot.  I pushed a little here and there, and slacked off a little in other spots, and I felt as good on the bike as I've felt in months and months.  I also didn't cough much, though I've been coughing my brains out since I got home -- I seem to cough less outside.

Uppill Road is now closed to auto traffic for the season (except for folks dropping off their leaves), so I had a nice quite ride, sharing the road with a few walkers and dog-walkers and two other bikes.  The roads in the park past the tennis courts atop Iroquois Hill were strewn with leaves that still smelled crisp and new.  I had fun sailing through them, and I rode slower because of them, which made it impossible to skip the step of stopping for pictures (please forgive the grey lines on these guys; they're artifacts of the fact that I interrupted the upload process by mistake -- I'll fix 'em later).

The overlook was actually pretty impressive today:

...and even the airport managed to look idyllic:

This pine, meanwhile, looked serene -- very Japanese-- with its black bark and graceful limbs and the golden leaves of the deciduous trees scattered at its feet:

On the backside of Toppill Road, I felt like I could've been all alone in the middle of nowhere:

...Nothing but me, the grass, the trees, and the wind.

Oh, and the dog poop. Apparently, once they close the Hill for the season, people stop picking up after their dogs.  Meh.  It's all good.  I made a point of not rolling through any of it.  Don't want to have to scrape the tires before I bring the bike in and stick it on the trainer!

As I was banging out the last stretch of the climb, I even saw an dashing young white-tailed buck who bounded, leaping, across the road and disappeared on the far side. He had a nice pair of two- or three-point antlers and looked strong and healthy. I never really get over spotting deer in Iroquois Park!

Unfortunately, I am far too slow with the Inspire-Cam to grab pix of deer. Maybe I should get a helmet cam?

There are a million reasons I absolutely love the fall.  I hope these pictures make at least some of them clear :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

My New Bicycle*

Last week, while out shopping, I picked up a new bicycle for only $15.00.

It's a fixed-gear model with a lightweight aluminum folding frame, no brakes, unique chain-free drive technology, and cool high-tech solid-state thermoplastic wheels with integrated tubeless tires.  Like my road bikes, it's decked out in a stylish, minimalist silver-and-black 'colorway.'  It's also designed specifically for hauling groceries.

The only problem is, I can't figure out where I'm supposed to sit or, for that matter, how to pedal the thing.

Here's a picture of a similar model:
wait for it ...




....Does anyone have any idea how to ride one of these?

P.S. This thing really is brilliant for hauling groceries home on foot.  Mine is deeper than the model pictured, with a folding shelf and a padded grip which will, I predict, eventually be replaced with bar tape because I am super nerdy like that and also because the padded grip is made out of some cheap foam stuff that won't last.

When I told DD I couldn't figure out why I never got around to buying one of these before, he said (without missing a beat), "Because you're not a little old lady.  I mean, it's kind of a Little Old Lady Cart."

And thus I have christened my new toy: "LOLcart."


PPS -- I ordered my trainer last night (yay!).  It's an inexpensive model from Amazon.  I could have ordered one from the shop, I suppose, but I missed the most recent ordering window and I didn't want to wait.  Yes, I suck.  I am looking forward to installing a bike in the living room, where I can pedal to my heart's content while watching movies on the projector.

...Sometimes I whine about my life, and then I realize I am able to actually do things like ride a bike, indoors, while watching movies on a nifty projector system.  I'm extra-lucky because I originally planned to put my trainer in the basement, but DD said, "You should put it in the living room so you'll use it more."  I'm not making this up!  I should probably never complain about anything again (though undoubtedly I will!).  My life is actually pretty darned awesome.

*Well, technically, it is a bicycle -- it does have two wheels, after all!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Frustrating Machine

I think you've probably heard some of Hg's Crankarm Saga -- the one that induced me to spend a ridiculous sum of money on a ceramic bottom bracket (okay, so I could've just bought a normal bottom bracket, but sometimes the bike-shop-employee discount induces madness, and when the stars align correctly I do have to admit that the ceramic BB feels awesome and works beautifully and it's supposed to be more durable and ) that we hoped would solve the crankarm-coming-loose problem.

It didn't -- and, as before, said problem has grown worse, slowly, over time.

This led to the purchase of a tube of Locktite XTREEEM! or whatever it's called -- the vibration-resistant, high-and-low-temperature resistant, big bad brother of everybody's favorite threadlocker (curiously, regular Locktite was not available at the World-O-Wally store where I bought the Locktite XTREMEZOMGWFTBBQ!).

That worked for a couple of days -- which is to say, it worked for two days of very easy riding on the flat.  The minute I put it to the test hammering my way up a hill, I found myself feeling quite grateful that I'd had the foresight to leave my hex wrench set in my seatpost bag.  Did I mention that it was also raining on that day?

Anyway, it's been a while since I've been able to ride for more than, say, 15 minutes at a stretch without stopping, dismounting, screwing the darned bike back together, and then having to elbow my way back into traffic (which is more convenient in some places than in others).

Needless to say, for someone who enjoys riding the bike rather more than fixing the bike, this has become ... well ... frustrating.

As such, I've decided that the beginning of Spring semester will bring with it a new crankset for Hg, at which point Hg will be -- outside of routine maintenance -- 'finished' for the time being, or at least until I get a hankering for a nifty new saddle or something like that.  Certainly, I will be done making expensive Hg-related purchases until such time as he should require new wheels or something like that. 

I am, on the balance, extremely happy with Hg, who is now my go-to bike for everything, since I ganked the wheels off of Quicksilver and Swift's bottom bracket has seized.  Flipping the stem solved the last of my fit conundra, and it's awesome to have a stiff, light, fast bike that you're not afraid to simply ride everywhere, to everything, in all conditions, for any and all reasons or none at all.  I am in every way looking forward to resolving the crankarm problem for good, so I can enjoy riding Hg even more.

Moreover -- shock of shocks -- I am rather considering going compact (gasp!).

The advantages to compact gearing are -- well, frankly, I think we all know what they are.  Simply put, compact gearing allows those of us who are less than godlike to feel more awesome on the hills. (Admittedly, when Hg is actually working and I am actually healthy, I often feel pretty awesome riding up the hill in Iroquois park -- but that is a long, steady, not-very-steep climb: the kind I seem to like next-best after big rollers -- and on a long, steep climb, standard road gearing can be a bastard). 

Likewise, compact gearing allows those of us whose health is -- err -- shall we say 'inconsistent?' -- to ride a little more effectively when we're feeling just a hair under the weather.

This decision owes in part to the fact that, thus far, I have spent this entire semester feeling at least a hair under the weather -- just as I was starting to really feel like myself again after that whole mono thing, I caught the Cold From Hell, which is remarkable primarily for its doggedly tenacious cough and bizarre, itchy throat sensation, and which has plagued me for the past eight days.  I think I'm recovering from that now, thankfully.  Once I'm well and truly ... er ... well, I plan to go get a Flu shot and a Pneumonia shot.  I'm done screwing around with my health.  But, anyway, feeling puny makes the standard double seem a little daunting, sometimes.  There are days that I know I have to go somewhere, and I know I have to go uphill to get there, and I look at Hg's chainrings and cluster and think, "Why do I punish myself this way?" and dream of a grocery-getter with 36/50 up front and 12-32 in the back (or at least 12-28).

The downside, of course, is that I'd have to move and adjust my front derailleur, which currently works like a charm.  The other downside is that my self-respect as a Mighty Conquerer of Hills would take a hit, and that I would have to make up for the topmost of my toppity-top gears with sheer awesomeness.  I'm not sure I actually have that much awesomeness in the first place, and frankly I'm absolutely certain I don't have very much awesomeness at all right now.

That said, I might be lying through my teeth, and I might not go compact at all.  I might, with spring looming around the corner and the days beginning to grow longer, smell racing season in the water and harbor delusions that I could actually get around to putting together a team at IUS and doing a little collegiate racing, or actually manage to make it to the Five-Spot Crit series, since I'll be in Indiana all the danged time anyway in the Spring (the era of cushy two-days-a-week scheduling has been great -- but it had to end some time).

At any rate, one way or another, I am rather tired of dealing with frustrating crankarm issues, so I plan to resolve them shortly.  The end of fall semester will probably find me riding on the trainer a lot, where it probably won't kill me to stop every now and then to tighten up the crankarm.  Of course, I'll still be using the bike to go to and from various places, but I plan to couple it with the bus as much as possible.  It's simply too frustrating to ride in traffic while worrying about the crankarm.  I also plan to determine how salvageable Swift is at this point, and to acquire (if necessary) a replacement grocery-getter.

In other news, the house is now winterized (insofar as we winterize -- we have pulled the air conditioners from the windows and cleaned them, done the once-every-five-years recaulking thing, and turned the furnace on to make sure it still works), school is going well, I'm exploring new and challenging pieces on the organ, and even after eight days with very little exercise I'm sitting at 172.6.

That said, I should probably go finish painting the trim so we'll really feel like we're done.

And then it's time to find a trainer and enjoy riding the bike while watching movies until it's time to buy a new crankset.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday Weigh-In (on Thursday); A Few More Thoughts on Weight

In a comment on my last entry, Apertome noted that I might be a little too paranoid about my weight :)  After thinking about it a bit, I've decided he might be right.

Now, this isn't to say I don't still think I could stand to lose a few pounds.  Excepting, perhaps, my legs (I figure I must have some pretty solid leg bones; something has to hold all that muscle together!), I'm pretty fine-boned.  Meanwhile, my body distributes fat pretty evenly -- so instead of developing a hefty gut or turning pear-shaped, I just sort of expand, bit by bit, in all my dimensions.  Thus, between being small-boned and distributing fat evenly, I tend to look relatively slim even when I have a bunch of superfluous fat hanging around.

That being said, though, I do think my conception of 'normal' may be a little skewed.  Until a few years ago, 'normal' for me meant 135 pounds or less.  I can look back at pictures of myself from when I was my current height and only 120 pounds and see that I was actually a bit too far on the side of 'scrawny' -- I feel less sure about pictures from when I weighed 135.

Moreover, where racing is concerned, I suppose one needs to consider health as well as weight: bike racing is all about weight-to-power ratio, so the challenge is figuring out at what weight your body reaches its optimum balance.  I figure that rather than setting an agressive goal (like 135 pounds) and working towards it without further consideration, it might be wiser to set an absolute floor (that is, to say, "I will weigh no less than 135 pounds, because I think that would be unhealthy for me") and to set 'check points' along the way.  Then, at each check point, one can ask one's self, "Do I feel healthier than I did at the last checkpoint, or less healthy?  Do I have more energy, or less energy?  Am I actually faster at this weight, or have I reached a point at which my body has nothing left to lose but muscle?"

Likewise, I think it's important for me to bear in mind that there's more to my life than bikes and bike racing -- so if the changes I'm making in an effort to make myself a more efficient cyclist begin to make the rest of my life less fun or less happy, I really need to take that into account.

It's entirely possible that I'll reach a weight of 160 pounds, decide that's where I need to be, and stop.  After a post-mono uptick to 178, I'm now sitting at 172.4 -- which is the lowest I've been since I started weighing in again.  I am definitely feeling a bit better, and I am starting to like the way I look a bit more.

The challenge, for me, will be not getting caught up in the sense of achievement that comes with losing weight.  There are other, better things to achieve in day-to-day life.  Ultimately, weight loss should be considered part of the means to optimal health (a phrase that will mean different things for different people), and making it an end in itself is probably not terribly healthy.

In other news, I am greatly enjoying the cooler weather (Yay!  Sweater Weather!) and noticing, as I always do, how good it feels to be out on the bike when it's cool.  I'm planning to purchase a new wheelset for Swift (who currently has Quicksilver's wheels) that will take a 35mm tire for winter riding, or at least a new rear wheel (it may be possible to fit a 35mm tire on his current wheels -- the tires on there now are 28s -- but the rear has some serious issues and needs to be replaced).  I think a basic, inexpensive aluminum wheel should do the trick.  I will probably also add a new rear cluster, since I'm running Swift as a 1x7 setup right now with a 12-21 range in back -- not ideal for hauling 50 pounds of groceries!  Likewise, I'm still thinking about popping QS's crankset on Swift, since Swift's is heavy and worn-out and QS is probably about ready to retire.

Between now and then, I need to retrieve my clipless/flat pedals from our friend JL, who lent me the awesome mountain bike I rode for a while this fall, so I will feel happier riding Swift (I now feel really weird going clipless-less, LOL!).  I think I will also snag a set of north-road style bars and drop 'em in; that will make a much nicer ride for DD and, I hope, provide room for a front basket that won't interfere with the brake levers and so forth.

In other, other news, I made a really easy sausage, asparagus, and cheese quiche the other night, and it's awesome!  I think it's great bike fuel, and since it's high in protein and low in carbs, it keeps you feeling full for a while.  Perhaps most importantly, two quiches (one to eat for dinner, one to freeze) used up 12 of the 28 CSA eggs that were hanging around in our fridge :D

I'll try to post a recipe (and pix) here in the next couple of days.

Current Weight: 172.4
Distance to Mid-Point Goal (160 lbs): 12.4 pounds!  OMG!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Starting Over ... Again

When I started this blog, I was living an entirely different life.

Back then, I worked full-time in software development for a large bank (and hated my job), was single (and lonely), wanted to be back in school but hadn't yet figured out how to make that happen (and was annoyed with myself about that), lived in a nice apartment in the Highlands (and -- okay, I loved that apartment and the neighborhood, actually).

Now, I barely work at all (and I'm happy about that), spend most of my time being homemaker-ly (and I'm happy about that, too), am happily engaged (and no longer lonely -- my circle of friends is also much broader), I'm halfway through my first semester as a Junior (still carrying a 4.0 GPA, booyah!), and I live in a cute little house in the South end, near Iroquois park. 

I am in the bizarre position of having achieved most of my life goals within a very short span of time (Husband?  Check [okay, so we're technically still engaged, but that seems moot at this point].  Regular house of worship?  Check.  Friends?  Check.  House?  Check.  School?  Check.  Time to write [both in the literary and musical senses]?  Check.  Horse?  Not quite yet ;D).  That's a startling place to be.  Admittedly, my life goals aren't terribly ambitious, and many of them were highly interdependent anyway -- but it feels a little weird to be my age and to have pretty much checked off the big, permanent items on your life list in 'one swell foop,' as a friend of mine used to say.  Thus, my life is no longer geared towards seeking those goals, but towards figuring out what the next set of goals is.

Moreover, even some of my remaining goals have changed.

When I started this blog, I was operating under the assumption that I would pursue a career in large animal medicine; now, I'm a psych major with no real definite career goals beyond wanting to continue to have plenty of time to devote to making my home a happy place to be (many people can swing a full-time career and managing their homes; I'm not one of them).  I used to think I would probably never race; I have done a couple of races now, enjoyed the experience, and will probably give it a go again in the future.  For a while, racing a lot was a major goal; now, that goal has faded into the background for the time being.  When I started writing this blog, I was planning on riding a full brevet series at some point; now, I'm not entirely sure I'll ever do that.  I like the idea, but it's not a goal I'm pursuing with great fervor.  I certainly hope to ride more populaires, and would love to do a 200k this coming year, but beyond that, I'm just planning to, you know, follow my bliss.

Between those lives, a few threads remain: I still love bikes and riding.  I still love music.  I'm still playing handbells at Saint Andrew's, though I'm having a rougher time with choir (mono made singing impossible; now that I'm feeling mostly better, a momentary bout of insomnia is making getting up at 8 AM on Sunday -- or any day, for that matter -- impossible).

Of late, I've been reflecting on those changes a bit.  I realize there's still something in me that's deeply resistant to change, especially in myself.  That part of me had a lot of trouble letting go of my racing plans for fall, but having done so, I've found that another long-standing desire has suddenly become possible financially -- specifically, the surgical correction of gynecomastia that resulted from my natural hormonal profile (which is pathetic due to a condition called hypogonadism)and an anticonvulsant drug I took when I was in high school.

 This will mean holding off on buying a 'cross bike, and indeed on a couple other big bike-related purchases I'd been hoping to swing, but it will also allow me to be a lot more comfortable in my own skin, and to pick up a few pursuits I've been putting off because I feel awkward about my body.

It's funny how letting go of one dream for a while sometimes lets you pursue another -- one, in this case, that's arguably a lot more important to my overall quality of life.

For a long time, I hemmed and hawed about this because I felt like I was choosing to trade an annoying but not potentially-life-threatening condition for a potentially-life-threatening procedure.  Then, I realized that being alive is important, but so is quality of life.  There are a lot of things I don't do right now, or that I do differently than I otherwise might, because I feel uncomfortable in my own skin.   I love swimming, but I do so very rarely, and with big, loose t-shirts on, because I don't want people to see me.  I would love to get back into ballet, but serious ballet teachers expect male students to wear fairly form-fitting clothes, and that's out of the question for me right now.  Even just walking down the street, I feel uncomfortable.

It will be nice to be able to feel comfortable swimming in public, or to be able to wear a trimly-tailored shirt without feeling self-conscious.  It will be really nice to feel less awkward in bike jerseys, or to be able to simply unzip my jersey when it's ridiculously hot in the middle of July. I don't know that I will ever be someone who makes a habit of going around in public without a shirt -- as I see it, my body is for Denis' eyes only -- but I delight in the idea of being able to wear a form-fitting tank top or rash guard or whatever while playing in the water.

A whole bunch of other changes have flowed from this one decision.

First, I've set a new weight-loss goal, or rather, I've revised my existing goal in a more aggressive direction -- I will (WILL) weigh 150 - 155 pounds by the end of December.  The closer I am to my ultimate goal weight of 135 - 145 by the time I have the surgery, the less likely it will be that I'll wind up needing a 'revision' surgery.  So far, I'm sticking with the plan, though I won't know how it's going officially 'til I do my Wednesday weigh-in.

Second, I've decided I am going to revamp my wardrobe.  I've spent the last few years using clothes as camouflage -- not just hiding my 'moobs,' but also hiding the fat that makes me so violently uncomfortable.  Prior to that, I pretty much wore whatever I thought my boyfriend at the time would like, or simply worked the Harry Potter look (my permanent default Hallowe'en costume, LOL). 

The time I spent as a Buddhist makes me laugh at myself about it, but I've decided that I'm going to decide what image I want to project to the world, and I'm going to update my wardrobe accordingly.  It will be nice to have to the freedom to choose, and I don't think I'll choose quite the same kind of image I've been projecting for the past few years (that is: dorky fat boy).

Third, I am going to take up ballet again once I'm sufficiently recovered from the surgery.  I'd actually really love to learn some of the circus arts, but I'm not sure there's anywhere around here to do that.

Fourth, I'm going to try to be less retiring.  I bitch about wanting to ride with people more often, but I don't actually follow through.  I know plenty of folks who ride, especially the awesome guys from River City Cycling Society, but I don't make myself get out of bed so I can ride with them.  I put the miles in, but I put them in alone, in the afternoons, when everyone else is at work.  Likewise, I keep talking about getting a bike club going at school, but I don't because I don't know anyone at school who's into bikes -- which, I'm sure, is at least in part due to the fact that we don't have a bike club.  If we did, bike peeps at IUS would have a way to meet, right?  I joined some national leadership society thing that school nominated me for, so I think maybe I will make getting a bike club going a project under that umbrella, or something.

I realized not that long ago that although I'm an introvert, I need a social life as well.  It's kind of like how cars work: you need to put fuel in a car, but you also need to run the engine, or it gets all gummed up and breaks down.  Thus, I fuel up by being alone, but I need to better respect my need to 'run my engine' by getting together with friends.  Riding with people more is a good way to do that.  So is getting more involved on campus.

Last, I think I'm done being closeted about my body.  I have an intersex condition, and I was lucky enough to escape the usual fate of intersexed kids in the US (surgery as infants, with lifelong repercussions).  For a while, I was very much an outgoing poster-boy for the IS movement; then I went 'stealth' completely (largely, I think, as a function of being afraid that no gay man on earth would want to marry an un-'corrected' IS boy).  Now, I'm finding myself in places and positions where I have an opportunity to talk about who and what I am and to maybe do some good for other people like me -- so I think I'm going to get back to doing that, though not, perhaps, on the same level I used to.

Anyway, this is already way longer than I intended it to be.  I'll try to post some updated goals in list form at some point in the near future :)  Right now, I'm going to go hop on the bike and buy a chicken and some stuff for dinner.

More soon!