Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting Ready

I'm halfway through my first week of being without a job and am feeling great about things. I've had a handful of interviews, meetings and calls this week, and there seems to be a fair bit of activity out there in my field. It may take time to find the right fit, but I'm optimistic and excited by much of what I'm seeing.

One of these meetings was in Cambridge. I like the opportunity a lot, at first blush, and am trying to figure out if the fit is right. I can say for sure that being in Cambridge elicited much of the same excitement that being in Boston had for me a couple of weeks back. Not just because of the decade I spent at Lotus in that same neighborhood, but because of the people -- the vibrancy of the area. I look at that today and find it hard to fathom why I ever moved 20 miles away from the action, or worked even farther away. But of course I know the answer -- it was a track. And I found or created plenty to hold dear on that track. But I'm pretty sure I need to frame those things differently now. And I'm working on it.

Anyway, back to my week. One of the things I'd hoped to do this week is park the car and largely bike my way through life. I can't say I've parked my car entirely, but I have logged nearly 30 miles on the Motobecane the past two days. I ran some errands yesterday, and grabbed lunch with my dad, all with the help of Le Mongre. And likewise, today I ran to a doctor's appointment, then did a quick workout loop while also managing to pop into my kids' schools during their after school program. I could get used to this biking thing -- practical biking, I mean, not just "doing loops" biking.

I've also been getting the Schwinn ready for its trip across the Atlantic to Tuscany. It now wears fenders, courtesy of my REI dividend, and three of the four bearings on the hubs have been lubed up. The last is hidden behind the freewheel, and will remain inaccessible until I get a bike shop to get it off. I shattered my vise trying to remove it -- which was both surprising and unwelcome, as you might imagine. On the up-side it shows what a little leverage can achieve!

I may actually need to get new wheels for the Schwinn, depending on how the rear wheel fares during the freewheel removal process. The eyelets on the old Mavic rims are also a little rusty, and I'm not sure heading on a 3-day tour on the old rims is necessarily a good idea. Fortunately Harris Cyclery has decent wheelsets at a relatively low price that would do the trick, should replacement prove necessary. In 27"/630, I should add -- my rear brake won't reach to a 700C/622, and I've already messed with the rear brake plenty this week, having trashed the threads on the rear mounting bolt trying to install the fender. I had to buy a metric tap and die set to re-thread it, and I bought a NOS bolt set to give me a backup.

Today I also ordered a pair of plastic water bottles, some toe clip straps and a large saddlebag from Rivendell. The water bottles shouldn't leach into the water in the sunlight like the Specialized bottles I have do, and won't rattle in the Schwinn's Velo-Orange cages like my Sigg bottles do. The saddlebag is the large Saddlesack -- a formal, square-rigged sort of bag in hunter green canvas, tan leather and brass. I already have a set of panniers, so I didn't want to buy a second set, just because they won't fit on the Schwinn's rack (their top hooks are non-adjustable and interfere with the rack's crossmembers). Also, I've been wanting to try life with a large saddlebag, and wasn't convinced I needed 50 liters of capacity. So I got Riv's biggest bag, and we'll see how that goes. I'm sure it'll be fine. The toe clip straps will secure the bottom of the bag to the rack -- or at least I hope they will -- and keep the bag positioned where it belongs on the bike.

Once I have the wheels situation settled, I'm going to ride the Schwinn exclusively for the next week or so, making sure it's been thoroughly shaken out and is ready for the trip. I'm not expecting any problems with it, but better safe than stranded on SS222 somewhere between Siena and Florence.

I've been in a pretty awful place, stress-wise, for months. On top of the good interviews and the activity in prep for the trip, this week's sunlight seems to have been bleaching away that stress, and I'm feeling great after only three short days of not working. Any doubts I've harbored about spending three days solo on a bike in another country are gone, and any questions about whether moving on from my last job was the right thing to do have been erased. I feel better than I have in months. Genuinely good. Right-minded. I'm even sleeping later every morning, and am hoping that I'm well on the way to reclaiming my normal sleep schedule.

It's going to be a good trip. I'll be ready. And open to whatever it brings.

All for now,


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