Titles: Useless Constructs of Western Literature

Happy New Year!

We're all going to die.

How do I know this? Well, it's not because I subscribe to that Mayan Calendar nonsense. According to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar the world is going to end in December 2012, but I refuse to believe in any calendar that doesn't even include Arbor Day:

(Where the fuck is Arbor Day!?!)

Sure, they got Lincoln's Birthday right, but how am I supposed to entrust my doomsday predictions to a culture who couldn't even foresee the advent of America's preeminent tree-themed holiday? This is the sort of gross oversight that casts doubt over their entire chronology.

No, the reason I know we're all going to die is because while vacationing last week in an undisclosed location I uncovered another primitive calendar that is clearly more accurate. Firstly, it was made by the ancient Egyptians, who were to calendars what the Swiss are to watches, or what the Canadians are to maple syrup. Secondly, it has cute puppies on it, and any calendar with cute puppies on it is eminently trustworthy:

In this calendar, which I found while recovering from a blow to the taint (more on that later), the End of Days is clearly marked, and is slated for this coming Friday:

Any residual doubt is allayed by the fact that they also correctly predicted the exact date of the "Ragin' Cajuns" reality TV show premiere on the Discovery Channel. Here's how Discovery describes the show:

Discovery Channel’s brand new series RAGIN’ CAJUNS premiering on Tuesday, January 17th at 10pm ET/PT, takes a trip down the Mississippi deep into the Louisiana Bayou for the start of their 3-month long white shrimp season. It may sound like fun in the sun, but life in the bayou ain’t no day at the beach.

How could the Ancient Egyptians have even know there would be a Discovery Channel, much less a shrimping industry? The answer is that they couldn't--unless they were possessed of an uncanny ability to look into the future, which clearly they were. Either that, or the aliens who built the pyramids for them simply told them when the world was going to end (and when "Ragin' Cajuns" was going to premiere, though due to the post-Apocalyptic time slot this could very well be the most poorly-timed premiere in television history). In any case, live every moment like it's your last, because come Friday it's all over. However, you do have one last shot at redemption, because if you act now and give generously to the Lobster God that I worship then The Mighty Genderless Crustacean may see fit to spare you. Just send your soon-to-be worthless (or, if you're on the Euro, already worthless) life savings to this Paypal address, and I'll send you a fully-faired recumbent inside of which you can survive the End of Days:

Fire and brimstone are no match for neon green tiger print.

Speaking of mortality, The New Yorker recently included the following cartoon in its "caption contest:"

I'm already cringing pending the announcement of the finalists since I'm sure at least one of them will be "helment"-themed, and I refuse to acknowledge any winning caption unless it is this one:

Either way, it's good to see that the New Yorker is finally adding dead cyclists to its exalted canon of cartoon characters that sort of almost make you laugh but ultimately don't, right alongside cavemen, executives in boardrooms, and talking dogs.

Anyway, earlier I mentioned my vacation, and while I generally prefer not to molest people with the mundane details of my comings and goings, I'm going to do so anyway because this blog is ostensibly about bikes and I operated bicycles on my vacation in a manner that was enjoyable to me.

At this point you may be wondering, "What the hell does a bike blogger have to take a vacation from anyway?," and all I'll say to that is if you've never spent 19 minutes a day between naps typing scranus jokes while wearing yesterday's underpants then you'll never understand just how truly difficult a full-time blogging career can be. Also, it goes without saying that "full-time blogger" is a synonym for "utter douchebag," and as an utter douchebag I needed plenty of time to enjoy my two (2) custom-made bicycles

See, until I became a custom-made bicycle owner I thought that cycling was something that one could enjoy even on a stock bicycle. How wrong I was! As it turns out, you don't really understand cycling until someone (preferably with a booth at NAHBS) makes you a bicycle frame completely by hand. Granted, this does lead to some confusion, since to all outward appearances I and other custom bicycle owners still completely suck at riding bikes. However, what you need to understand is that when you easily pass me on a moderate incline or see me writhing on the side of a trail cradling my "pants yabbies" and howling in agony, what I'm actually doing is savoring a higher plane of cycling enjoyment the likes of which you couldn't possibly imagine.

In fact, I'm savoring it so intensely that I need to stop every few miles and rest:

When you look at this bike, it's amazing to think that somebody actually made it for me, since taking the time to make me a bike is like cooking a five-course meal for the dog.

As for where I went on my vacation, I wanted to go someplace where I could ride on pavement as well as on dirt. Also, I wanted to see cows occasionally, but I get nervous in most places that have cows because I'm deathly afraid of "rural folk." Plus, when I'm traveling with my family I like to be near a natural boundary of some kind--preferably an ocean--because it greatly reduces the possibility that we'll be sacked by visigoths. So I found a place that had both ocean and the occasional cow, as well as the sorts of gentle gradients over which even I can struggle:

You can't see them, but I fucking swear there were cows down there:

(The natural camouflage of the domesticated Bovinae allows them to blend seamlessly into the landscape.)

When I wasn't making "epic" Rapha faces on my custom road bike while looking out for cow sightings and struggling up gradients roughly the percentage of the fat content of skim milk, I was in the wilderness on my mountain bicycle putting pennies on the train tracks:

I suck at riding mountain bikes just as badly as I do at riding road bikes, but the manner in which this sucking manifests itself is completely different on both. On a road bike I suck for the simple reason that I'm extremely slow. On a mountain bike I suck because the forest confuses and disorients me, I get hopelessly lost in about nine minutes, and finally wind up sobbing in a comfy patch of something that inevitably turns out to be poison ivy.

This is another reason I appreciate being near large bodies of water, since they make it nearly impossible for an idiot like me to get lost. Usually in a place like this I'd have a snot bubble the size of a cue ball coming out of my nose as I pedaled frantically in search of anything remotely familiar and shouted at all the trees for looking exactly alike:

Though in this case I needn't have worried, since the trails were clearly marked:

But even if they hadn't been marked it wouldn't have mattered, since no matter which direction I chose I'd eventually wind up someplace like this:

See, even I'm smart enough to know to bear left.

The seaside location also offered various pleasing backdrops, from this:

To this:

To this:

And while not what one might call "technical," there was plenty to pose a challenge so a rider as sucky as I am. For example, sometimes the trees would be close together, and I'd clip one end of my epic-ly wide cockpit:

In fact, it was while attempting to pass through this very gap at high speed (well, high speed for me anyway) that I clipped the tree, veered off course, and sustained the aforementioned taintal injury. My only consolation is that, judging from the marks on the trees, I'm not the first person to have done this. Also, the pile of skeletons clutching their "pants yabbies" would further support this theory, though I suppose they may also have been victims of the Blair Witch.

In the end, it was a lovely excursion in that I was able to reconnect with my inner suckiness, and I will attempt not to lose sight of it again for the remaining three days of 2012.

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