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Friday, December 19

Things are about to get bulbous.

Firstly, Dahn Pahrs accused me of spending more time cleaning my bikes than riding them.  He's mostly wrong.

I sorta clean my bikes... when I get a package from my tire/sticker sponsor, Maxxis, makers of great bike race tires and the most adhesive decals ever.  Aside from that, I clean my bikes only when they are shit-nasty this time of year.  It's not that I don't got time for that.  I just don't got resolve to get out the door with a bucket and sponge when it's @ 30° out.

The DickStickel... still not half clean enough to receive the new and very improved Maxxis decal.

I realize a ProGold towel would do the job, but I'd still rather spend that time creating a custom shim so that my Spur Cycle Black Bell won't touch my brake lever.

Why clean a chain when you can just replace it?

Was so waiting to wear out that old KMC X9SL so I could replace it with the special edish Pink Lady.  Fish-eyed so no one can be sure if it's saggy or tight and leave comments regarding my oversight.  Trust me when I say that my shit is tight.

On to important things.  I did this about a month ago:

My Thomson Elite drooper yoinked off the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 for a couple reasons.

1. I wanted to save it from exposure to the elements in the off "season" in order to keep it tip-top come next April.

2. I needed to see if I could still ride this:

Things gleaned from this experiment so far...

1.  Who rides with these things?  I've been so spoiled, drooping ever since day three of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic until just recently.  I droop constantly EVERYWHERE I RIDE.  So many times over the last month I've gone "swing and a miss" with my left thumb, hoping to improve my ride... but nothing happens.

2.  I got used to riding a zero setback post.  Not that one was better than the other for me (to my knowledge), but it's different for sure.  I'm sure fit experts would argue... I wouldn't listen.

3.  The comfort of a ti post is a beautiful thing.  I miss it.    The simple sexy stick that it is.

4.  I'm not sure my rigid post skill set is still valid.  I mean, I never want to do any serious endurance race without a drooper, so why bother with a regular post at all?  I have an easier time swapping from a rigid crabon frok to a 150mm Pike than I do going from a regular post to a drooper.  It changes the whole riding experience that much.

Droopers, man.   I remember a time when I took pride in no longer have to stop and drop my saddle when riding the Pisgah (or Wilson's Creek) gnar.  It's still a great skill to have, but sorta pointless.

Sorta like using a fish eye lens.



Thursday, December 18

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Seven

Part Seven?  I know.  I'm amazed myself.

Weight loss.  It's often a part of getting ready for the "season."  There's lots of click-bait articles that get shared on Facebook and the like that offer tons of advice.  Most are worthless or just plain common sense (or both).  I'm going to share with you how I lose weight... for no real reason at all.  Not saying my methods are healthy, smart or something you should do.  Just how I get it done.

Keep in mind, my weight fluctuates almost as much as the stock market.  In a ten month period, I've been as low as 123.4lbs and as high as 145lbs+ (I say "plus" as I passed out before I could read to the right of the decimal point).  This would probably be considered unhealthy, but so is me staring at a monitor writing this and you staring at a monitor reading it as well.

Step one of the Team Dicky/Bad Idea Racing weight loss program (with other unnumbered steps to follow):

Prepare myself to be very sad.  For a long time. A very long time.

All that extra weight didn't settle in overnight.  It took months to gain it, and it will take months to lose it.  The sooner I get comfortable with the fact that life is going to suck, the better.  This is going to be a long term commitment, and the "one day at a time" mentality has to go.  I live in America, and food is all around me.  Opportunities for failure abound, and I just have to face it that food is no fun anymore.

One minute at a time.

Mornings.

I start with a thorough draining of my bladder and a weigh-in.  Knowing that I've improved or somehow screwed up is powerfully motivating either way it goes.   Stagnation is crushing though.  I do it anyways... partially because the fat monitoring aspect of my scale lets me know if I'm screwing up with my hydration levels.

Decreased weight + increase in fat % = thirsty 

One French press of coffee and two organic toaster pastries for breakfast at 6:30-7:00AM.

400 calories plus a little for the small amount of creamer I put in my first cup of poop juice.  Not the best way to start the day, but oatmeal doesn't do it for me anymore, toaster pastries taste good with coffee, and this might be the most irresponsible thing I allow myself to eat all day.

Ride to work.  Roughly 6 miles, 1.5 of it being a shit stain urban sprawl, going mostly downhill and holding back The Fastest Bike in the World at the 7,000 intersections and driveways while looking over my shoulder.  Hardly building fitness or burning calories, but it's the off-"season," and I'm not building fitness.  I'm just getting to work.

I'm at work.  Some days, I ride a lot.  Some days, hardly any.  I can never predict how much I will ride or how many calories I will burn.  Whatever.   I try to stay hydrated no matter what.  Either water or diluted Gatorade... more than a quart but not more than two.  Hydration is key, especially if I'm still factoring beer consumption into all this weight loss stuff.

I postpone "lunch" as long as I can, somewhat comfortably.  I can usually make it until 12-1:00PM.  When I do eat, it's a cup of Greek yogurt.  Not much more than 100 calories, but a whopping serving of protein... because those toaster pastries weren't filled with steak.   Then that's it.  Of course, Greek yogurt is killing the earth.  Nothing good comes without a price.

Around 2-3:00PM, the sads set in.  I'm hungry, but I like to think of it as a form of meditation.   Deep breaths and think about something else until the ride home at 5:02PM... which is 7+ miles... I like this way home better than the other options, so yes, it's longer than my way in.

Then things get difficult.  If I'm helping with meal prep, the desire to nibble is strong.  Also, I like to drink beer when I'm using a knife to cut things.  Starting with beer at 5:45PM is a sure way to drink more beer more later.  I just have to say "no" to all the things... some of my favorite things.

Meal time.  Whatever The Pie and I have made together (or she made before I got home) will be something I like... dare I say "love?"  Our dinners usually lean towards healthy, one of the benefits of living with a vegetarian.  I'll still want to eat all the things until there are no more things, and I'm perfectly capable of doing so.  It's my modus operandi, but I can't let it happen.

I need to think it out when I dish out my serving.

"What would a normal person put on this plate?"

I end up with a serving that looks like Red Pollard's plate in Seabiscuit when he decides to starve himself for his comeback.

Then I have to make the food last... chewing and stuff.  Looking up from the plate, making eye contact, talking to my family.  Civil, normal people stuff.  Generally not my forte.

And when that plate is empty, that's it.  No "one for me, one for the Tupperware" spoonfuls as I deal with the leftovers... assuming there is any.   No "what else is in the cupboards?"  Nothing.

Then I have to think about beer.  Do I want one?  Two?  How bad?

I'm smart enough to know that each and every beer is gonna be @200 calories.  It's also gonna slow down my metabolism, dehydrate me, and mess with my REM sleep.   I can (and do) ignore these downsides on a regular basis, but hopefully all the forced suffering I've done throughout the day adds just enough guilt to make me feel invested enough in the effort to turn around and walk away from the fridge empty handed.

Before I head to bed, I should be feeling the "meditative state" (hunger) coming on again.  This is a sign that I made it through a whole day without screwing up... at least that's what I tell myself to feel better about what I'm doing to my body.

During this entire period of weight loss, junk food just has to be ignored.  I can't eat "just one" cookie or a handful of chips.  I'm an all-or-nothing kinda guy, so the only option here is nothing.  Sucks, but since I prepared myself to be sad, it's a bit easier than normal.

I don't consider beer an absolute, goal-crushing enemy, but I have to be less cavalier than normal with my consumption.  I'm not going all-or-nothing when it comes to drinking beer.  I pick something between the all or nothing once in a while without too much guilt.  A man can live without cookies and chips, but I think I saw something on the Discovery Channel that said a man can only live without beer for three days.  That mighta been on Facebook.  Whatever.  Science.

Weekends are the worst.  Without structure and things to keep me busy, my successes may be limited by my personal proximity to the kitchen.  Worse still, a planned four hour ride in Pisgah might turn into a five hour day in the woods with two and a half hours of actual riding followed by a burrito the size of my head that I refuse to only eat half of and save the rest for later due to my issues with styrofoam and my own lack of planning (bring Tupperware, dumb ass).  Add in a pleasant game of "I bet we can stay ahead of the delivery of tortilla chips until our food comes," and one bad weekend can ruin a week's worth of efforts.

Of course, all of this would be much easier if I could sense the tangible and very direct relationship from the impulse of the moment to meeting some kind of goal in the long term.  I don't do that very well, probably because I lack the "goal" part of the equation.  Some years, I can pull it off, but others...

I can start every day with great intentions only to convince myself that tomorrow would be a better day to start this insanity... and that's how I come into late March at least ten pounds heavier than I want to be, trying to add saddle time and still drop weight (and stay healthy).

The Keith Bontrager 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that when one wants three things, one can only have 66.6% of those things... because... burrito.

"Train hard, lose weight, stay healthy...  Pick two." ~ Keith Bontrager: Nutrition Scientist/Burrito Engineer

So maybe I should not worry about weight at all, but it does give me something to fixate on... you can only buy so many crabon widgets for your bike.

Anyways...

Take all that for what it's worth, which is very little, but still redeemable for a Wendy's Frosty.*

And just in case Selene made it this far:



*At participating locations

Tuesday, December 16

Frokken

So yeah, I got the ENVE MTN frok.   What about it?

I got it for a real reason, not just whimsical lustiness.  That reason being the Maxxis Chronicle's existence on this planet.  I wanted to be able to run it whenever I want to and not worry about mud and rocks.  The clearance on the Niner crabon frok?

There was not so much of that.  Being that this fork was created long before 29+ was even a thing, it's hard to fault the lack of foresight on that one.  ENVE boasts 3.46" (88mm) of clearance.  I measured it very inaccurately, and I would concur.

It looks like less but it is more.

Yes, I'm running the fender and not the clips.  Why?  Because everybody was asking me where the fender was... so I put it on.

What do I think of the frok?

I've ridden it a handful of times, nothing Pisgah gnarly, but very trail'esque.  I originally set the thru-axle flip chips to the 52mm offset.  There were many reasons to do this, but the biggest one being that since it was an option, why not try it?  It felt a little like poo, so I flopped the flip chips to the 44mm (1mm less than the Niner) setting, and it feels much more like my bike again.

The only disadvantage of running it with the 44mm offset is the necessity of two spacers for the brake mount that then require longer bolts which means I can't use the super awesome sexy time ti bolts that came with the new XTR brakes.

I'm hoping that I can get the bike out this weekend somewhere that speed and roots are available in order to have a molar bettar opinion on the handling... oh, and the lateral stiffness and vertical compliance.

And I did get an ENVE bar as well... not just because the gloss Niner RDO bar didn't match.

I ran my Thomson bar about 20mm longer than the Niner one that was on there.  I liked it, but the 3° less sweep might have been an issue.  I coulda went with a shorter stem, but I just put the Niner bar back on there and was done with it... but I missed the extra width when climbing.

I can only go so wide with bars.  With my hands too far out, there's too much pressure on my hand-crotch.... but I can climb more comfortably with wider bars and keep my levers the same distance apart (as before) for descending.  So far, so good.

What more can I really say about a rigid frok and a handlebar?   How do people even review these things?

I mean this guy reviewed the ENVE frok before he even rode it:


So at least I got it dirty it before I put finger to keyboard.

What's really going to standout performance-wise on a pretty standard crabon bar of frok?   Surely they both offer some form of comfort, but most happy times on a rigid bike come from tire selection/volume/pressure, body position, and handlebar grip choice.  The small amount of compliance that crabon bars and froks are known for... it's there, I guess.

I can see the frok flex fore and aft with heavy braking and when taking hits (when I can actually take my eye off of where I'm going and look).

I'm a bit bummed about this thru-axle system though.

I just spent all that time/effort/money getting these ultra-hot DT Swiss sküers for the Vertigo Meatplow V.7.

I contacted ENVE and asked about QR thru-axle systems.

"Hi Rich. Thanks for the inquiry. That fork is also compatible with the RockShox Maxle for tool-free usability."

I ordered a DT Swiss 15mm thru-axle sküer, but apparently it's made for some Salsa road bike or something.  It was about an inch too short. 

AND...

DT Swiss had this to say when I asked them about a compatibru sküer:

"Thru-axles are not interchangeable. You need to use the one that Enve includes with their fork. As far as we know, our RWS thru-axle is not compatible on other forks."

So last night I tried to stick my Rock Shox Maxle Lite 15mm sküer in there... no go.

Shit fuck shit.

So as of right now, I need a 6mm allen for wheel removal and my senses of symmetry and order are all out of whack.  I just stepped away from bolt-on sküers for the first time in years this past March, and now I'm halfway back to where I started.

Friday, December 12

See-through

Sigh.  I'm facing a weekend with no plans... except sleeping in.  A chance to breathe air and such.   Stay in my home.  Avoid humanity.

This time of year.

I'm exposed to too many people and their agendas.  My life, outside of dealing with increased contact with homo sapiens, stays the same.  The holidays do little to change my day to day on a personal choice level, aside from a few four day weekends that occur at a time of year that I'd rather not have four day weekends.

At work, much silliness.  Stress from the most unimportant things (to me) that are somehow important to others.  And then after work, the people are all about and in the way, mouths slack open.  Driving to and fro, visiting, shopping, celebrating.  Not paying attention to the road, as their minds are elsewhere, forcing me to be even more vigilant than normal as I ride home in the dark.  Just last night, a close call that stupefied me.  As if the driver who wanted to turn left across my path of travel didn't even see the lumens spewing from the light I just bought to increase my visibility to this degree:

Slack-jaw asshole meet curmudgeon.

All I wanna do is ride my bike in the woods at a slower pace than I was riding just a few months ago.  More trailside conversations, more post-ride beers, more of all the good things that aren't just more miles.

Nine more days until the only holiday I most like to celebrate (The Great Turnaround) and then three more days after that before 80% of the nonsense goes away.  Jesus Christ's birthday.   Yeah.  I don't get it.

And with 2015 sweeping in shortly after that, it will be time to refocus... which actually means just dig in for a couple more months of shitty weather and morning layering up and colder/wetter rides home and the only thing really changing is the kitty calendar on the kitchen wall.  So actually, a few more months and then refocus.  Until then, cookies.

At least this is close enough on the horizon that I can see its sails:

The Icycle (bike race and beer drink party).  Sure to be fun and more than likely to be regrettable.  The most I can hope for is that I'm not going into it hacking up lungs like I was two years ago.  That sucked balls.  I anticipate much funs and fewer sads than last time, and I plan on staying sober enough to maybe even make use of my new lights and have a semi-competitive run in the Hard Ass (rigid class) in the night downhill race.

And since I'm talking about racing in 2015, I might as well mention that I signed up for the 2015 King of Pisgah yesterday.

A good idea?  I dunno.  Will I finish like I did last year or bail like I did in 2013?  We'll see.

It would be fair of me to warn THE PEOPLE OF PLANET EARTH that King of Pisgah entries get you into PMBAR guaranteed, so no worries about it selling out from under you (it happens).

So many reasons to keep my head up and look through the forest of humanity to see the trees of happy fun times.

Thursday, December 11

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Six

You might think this doesn't belong in Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays), but this is my blog, so whatever.  I'm gonna give you two Christmas shopping suggestions, assuming you're someone who wants to buy something for that special cyclist in your life (or if you're the cyclist making a list to hand to your significant other).

Last year, this came into my life:

The ALP-X 2.0 WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell Zip-Off Jacket came into my world by accident.  I wanted something else, but I got this... I kept it anyway.  I figured it would be a great coat for work (delivering things on a bicycle).  I was wrong.

Whuh?

It was too much coat for the job.

Napoleon pocket in front for phones and such, two rear zip pockets plus a jersey-type mesh pocket in the center, removable sleeves...

The stretchy windproof part was awesome.  The sleeves were the right length and the internal cuffs sealed out the wind.  But after a winter's worth of use, I discovered that:

1. My messenger bag was wearing through some of the reflective piping from swinging it front to back.

2. Sometimes the bag would grab the zippers on the removable sleeves and unzip them just a bit.

3. I hardly ever took the sleeves off.

4. Rear pockets are kinda irrelevant when you're wearing a messenger bag all day, and the Napoleon pocket sits under the strap (Napoleon must not have been a messenger).

5. It was too perfect for what it was intended for, so I didn't want to wear it out at work.

I love this coat for actual cycling.   Days that start cold but warm up hours later?  Pull the sleeves off and store them in the pockets.  Of course, do the reverse when conditions are the exact opposite.

Like farting around town all afternoon with the sleeves stored away until you need them on the cold ride home from a party much, much later.  Keep in mind, this is not a "wispy thin wear it with some thicker layers and shove it all in a jersey pocket when the temps climb" kinda jacket.  This thing adds some warmth, and there's no storing the whole thing away tidy-like unless you're wearing a pack (nerd).

The few times that I've worn it the actual way it was intended, it was brilliant.  This is the perfect coat for people who just ride bikes like normal people do.

In determining that this coat wasn't perfect for work, I went looking for a new coat.  I ordered this from Twin Six:

The Twin Six Standard Tech Jacket.

Black.  Simple.  Wind resistant, fleece lined, tall necked, long sleeves... perfect.

Well, except that....

I want to wear it all the time now.  Not just at work, but whenever I leave the house.  It has sweet pockets in the front, so I have a place to put my hands when I'm standing around (no more wondering what to do with my hands).

Zippered pocket in the back so I can keep my phone and money secure at all times (and I'll verify that every seven minutes regardless).

And ventilation in the pits, which is probably a good and a bad thing, considering I'm sweating this jacket up a little at work and then wearing it in casual situations when others may not want to smell my underarms.

I love this coat enough I want two of them so I can wear one to work and one everywhere else... except when I go on those rides that the Gore-Tex coat WAS MADE FOR.

So if you are a cyclist (or you love one) there's no going wrong here, unless you order the wrong coat for the right person or the right coat for the wrong person.  They're easily the best coats I've ever owned for the specific purposes I'm using them for...

and they're both at a price point that says "I love you... like a lot.  Don't expect much else this year."

Tuesday, December 9

Hoodventures and Jubilations

Sunday also happened.  I wasn't sure I could convince myself to leave the house again.  I was exposed to a certain amount of people on Saturday that made me not want to see more any time soon.

But somehow with The Pie and Nia headed out to do good, I didn't want to be home alone.  I called Zac.  He was heading out on a hoodventure.  I prepped my bike and headed north to meet up with him.  Basically riding most of the 2014 Tour duh Charlotte route, with small tweaks and twists.

I love when the leaves fall from the trees and bullets are tossed from open car windows:

Bullets.  In the street.  Never found one before.  Sunday, I found two.

So many off the beaten path... ummm... paths.

A park I'd never seen before and a covered bridge for no reason.

I need to talk about this Gore-Tex coat/vest at some point...

Zac takes care of his trails.   They are his baby. 

They are also a jewel in Charlotte that almost nobody else takes pleasure in.  Not the most thrilling, but nice to leave a car out of the equation and see things most people don't even know exist.

And bullets.

We rode into the darkness and back towards things and stuff.  Responsibilities for him.  The Bike Source Christmas party for me.  All 3,000 employees were there, and conversations were had in rooms, near fires that were eyebrow melting, and in the Handy Shack.


I pretty much forgot I had a camera on my phone until way late, and when this happened, it was time to leave anyways.

Dip 'n Spray always provides the best motivation to ghost out of a party.  Nobody wants to end up with a Hot Pocket.

Monday, December 8

The 1st Annual Trip to Greensboro for No Reason

Wake up Friday morning... whenever.  I don't have to go to work and everyone else has to.  This feels good.  I think I can do this forever... for about five minutes.  I randomly pack some things and when it feels like I have enough things, I quit.  Wait until 10:15AM to leave the house.

Construction on the way to Bill Nye's house.  Too many left hand turns.  A stop to pick up The (no longer) Oldest Dog in the World's ashes because they're on the way.  Maggie's going on one more road trip.  Pick up Bill Nye... in the drizzle.  Hit the highway.  The rain starts.  How much rain?  We see a driver who has prepared his SUV to go amphibious.

The rain stays over us, and according to weather-type apps, it follows us fervently.  We get to Revolution Cycles on time, which is whenever we get there.  Watts is out... making a "deposit."  I don't know what that means.  He comes back without succeeding in making a "deposit," and I start doing what I do in bikes shops.  Touching things.

I don't know what that means.

I know what that means.

I used to own this:

And these.  They were on my Yokota road bike back in 1991.  I used to rest my hungover head on them when the YSU Penguin Flyers cycling team would wait at stop signs for even slower team members.

I needed to make a purchase of knee warmers for work related activities.  I pulled out my binder-clipped wad and...

I've had that clip since '98 or '99.  The same one.  It lasted this long.  Why did it break at Watts' shop?  Because Watts. 

With the rain still coming down, Watts suggests we go a Mexican restaurant and wait the rain out while we eat tacos made from something other than animal tongues.  After clearing Watts' rock collection from the passenger seat of his Ford Windstar minivan (he swears it was just left in the Revolution Cycles parking lot with the keys in it)...

I hop in and start digging around under the seat.

It's missing tape #3, so I do not ask to borrow it.

We make as many left turns as possible on the way, and Watts stops to make his deposit.  It's at an actual bank, so I guess it's legit.  He winks at all the tellers and walks out of the bank with a little more wiggle in his step then one normally gets to see.  We get to the restaurant, order some things after a few failed attempts to make a selection, and eat as the rain slows to a miserable dribble.

RIDE BIKES (maybe), DRINK BEER (later), EAT MEXICAN (now).

Back to Watts' house to get ready.  His dog Mango finally likes me enough to sit on my chest while I wait for Bill Nye to gel his hair.

Everyone ready, we hop in yet another vehicle and head nine miles sort of north of where we were before.  Seventeen left turns later, we're in the parking lot at County Park at @3:45.

Another car pulls in, a guy gets out, puts on his knee pads, and hops on his full suspension Scott with no helmet.  Must be dirt jumps out there... or not.

Trail, trail, trail, berms and surprisingly a lot of traction despite the leaves and moisture.  And then a greeenway to link up to another trail system.

"I don't really know where I'm going.  Did you bring lights?" ~ Watts

Greenway moments.

We end up at Owl's Roost.  I've been here before, but maybe ten years ago.  We continue riding further from where we started, neighborhoods, greenways, bike paths, and parking lots away.  It's getting dark, but I assume Watts knows what we're doing.  At some point, I realize my assumptions are off.  We're going to die out here.

Watts doesn't seem anxious.  I try to feed off that positivity and stay on his wheel.  It's getting dark, almost stupid dark.  I look back occasionally to see if Bill Nye has been eaten by wolves yet.

And then it is officially stupid dark.  We get out just before pitch fucking black settles in and ride blindly down the greenway back towards the Adventure Wagon.  A sweet bike path with occasional poles right in the middle to keep vehicles from driving down it and to take out idiot mountain bikers with no headlights.

Watts makes a call and finds out that people are waiting at the shop for us.  Apparently they decided to show up to the "party" that isn't really much of a thing at all, and they brought their expectations that we would actually show up.

We pick up the pace, weave our way around the death poles, and survive the day...

and then forget that we are in a hurry.



 Then remember that we're in a hurry, load up...

Back to Watts' house where Bill Nye and Watts bathe and I decide bathing is not something I want to do.  Due to some lack of foresight and organization, Bill Nye's tarck bike is already at the shop.  He ends up with Dorothy's bike and helmet and makes it look good.

Finally where we are supposed to be.

Shop party for no real reason at all.  People are there.  I get to hear about the history of Volkswagen.

A conversation of beer, vaporizers, and strip clubs and wives that work in them... with a man who may have a brain tattooed on his neck.

Every once in a while, check in with Bill Nye to make sure he's okay, as he's better with inanimate objects like beakers and pocket protectors than people.

The shop closes.  We remain.  It's good to know people.  We stay until our last beers are down and then head to downtown Greensboro (I guess).  We end up at a strange brewery, made stranger by the presence of Tyler "Toolbag" Benedict of Bike Rumor (in)fame.

"Strange" in that adults are playing board games at various tables.  No tables open for us, we steal chairs and make a place to be in the middle of nothing.  We play our own game of Drink Beer and everybody wins.

And that's when the haze settled in.  Brewery to a restaurant for an after-midnight hamburger that ended up in front of me and things I can't explain.



And then the long ride back home to more Mango moments and bed.

At least that's what probably happened based on the fact that I woke up in a bed on Saturday and was still Mango's best friend.

Good times and even better use of paid time off. The 1st Annual Trip to Greensboro for No Reason is a success in that we made it there, despite a thousand left turns against traffic, and back in one piece.