Bike Expo: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Acts 7:55-56 (context)

Funny thing; Day 2 of Bike Expo felt essentially the same as Day 1. I woke up so achingly sore from Day 1 that I could hardly stand up, let alone walk around. Conceding to my tired muscles, I agreed to have Ian drop me off and pick me up. Good thing I did; he dropped me off about 2 miles from the Expo venue, and even riding that flat, short distance took serious effort. I think I’m having a difficult time adjusting my mindset from Artemis — a fairly fast, zippy, titanium bike — to Charlotte — a very slow, very rugged, very utilitarian bike. It’s hard for me to shift from pushing to go a certain speed to just enjoying the ride and taking my time.

Anyway, for Bike Expo, Sunday did feel slower overall than Saturday, and we never got the kind of overwhelming rush of people that we had to deal with on Saturday. I’m glad, because by Sunday I had started feeling really, really worn out, and at the urging of miscellaneous coworkers (I think at one point 3 of the 6 people urged me to take time off after Bike Expo), I’m taking today off.

Here are a couple pictures of our booth during a lull time on Saturday:
Bike Expo Booth 1

Bike Expo Booth 2

Saturday I didn’t have time to take in any of the entertainment — I basically only left the booth to go to the bathroom, which, handily for me, was all the way across the building. That meant that I could legitimately meander through all the different stalls and areas on my way to or from the bathroom. However, I probably spent 30 total minutes out of the 9 hours going to/from the bathroom and incidentally looking at booths and vendors. On Sunday things were slower, and on one trip to the bathroom I happened to have my camera. The trip coincided most fortunately with the incredible display of bicycle gymnastics put on by the world-famous German cyclists:

German Acrobatic Cyclists 12

German Acrobatic Cyclists 5

German Acrobatic Cyclists 1

German Acrobatic Cyclists 2

Seeing those people in action made the weekend for me. I spent the entire demonstration in awe.

Actually, I think what really made the weekend for me was receiving the People’s Choice award for our booth. The volunteers who were there, including the President of the Board, attributed the nomination to my enthusiasm and friendliness, and said so to the Executive Director, who was also there. The Board President said something along the lines of, “The booth may have won, but it wouldn’t have without Katie.” I felt very gratified to hear that, and to know that people who passed through our booth actually remembered us and remembered us positively as a result of my hard work.

Bike Expo: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Acts 6:7

Today I spent 9 hours at the Bicycle Alliance booth at Bike Expo, handing out maps — hundreds of maps — and Share the Road postcards, Bicycle Alliance brochures, and even more maps. My throat is sore and my voice croaky after an entire long day of basically hollering at people over the noise of the crowd. Actually, the space where our booth is located is not overly loud at all, but the sound of hundreds of people talking all at once just adds up after a while. Also, standing on a concrete floor for all those hours started taking its toll by the end, and my legs and back feel quite sore now, too.

Some of that I may have to attribute to riding the Xtracycle 26 miles, well loaded, into a headwind, up gentle but endless inclines. That was hard work, no question, and I was proud it only took 2 hours all told. As you commenters have pointed out, it’s not about speed on an Xtracycle, and that’s something I like about it. However, when I really just want to get to my destination in as short a time as possible, it’s not the bike for me. I did get a lot of compliments on the bike, though, and it did a fabulous job hauling and holding my food, changes of clothes, cable and U-lock, SLR camera, and extra bike clothes. Ian rescued me this evening by picking me up and taking me to Kidd Valley for dinner, where I got a veggie burger with bacon. The strange looks were so worth it, seriously.

Anyway, I have lots of pictures, but I’m totally wiped out and I have another 6 hours to do tomorrow. I’ll just say that I got to see lots of friends and people I knew from all over the place: Dean from Pedal Dynamics; Neil Jander, a guy I grew up with; John Whitlow, my dad’s cousin and on the Board of the Bicycle Alliance; Jean from KDOG; a number of Cascade staff people, which makes sense since they run Bike Expo; Jon, an AmeriCorps member; Leo, from the LCI Seminar class I helped co-teach; and a selection of Bicycle Alliance volunteers and supporters. I talked to probably hundreds of people today (I’m horrible at estimating how many people I talked to, but if you say 20 an hour, which would probably be conservative, we’re still over 100) and I think I managed to stay cheerful and enthusiastic the entire time.

I enjoyed myself for certain, but I have to admit I’m utterly exhausted. If you define an “introvert” as somebody who finds social interactions draining, and an “extrovert” as somebody who finds social interactions energizing, I’d fall firmly in the “introvert” category. It doesn’t mean I dislike talking with all sorts of different people — I’m finding that to be quite enjoyable, actually. I’m just so tired at the end of it all.

Real Work

Day’s Verse:
The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name.
Acts 5:41 (context)

Real work is riding the Xtracycle. I thought my commute was difficult and slow on Artemis, but that’s before I rode all the way to work on Charlotte yesterday. Goodness, it gave me a whole new perspective on “difficult and slow.” I crept up the hills at 6 mph and was working hard at it the entire way. I must’ve burned twice the calories I usually burn riding to work. The bike just feels like a beast!

That said, I’m delighted to be back in the saddle. I’m tired and sore, and that feels so good compared to bruised and battered.

This weekend is Bike Expo, and I’ll spend all day Saturday and Sunday tabling for the Bicycle Alliance there. I hope to sneak away long enough to see the German bicycle gymnasts, at the very least.

Somebody’s a Comedian

Day’s Verse:
“Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it.”

Jeremiah 5:22

Unsalted Packing Peanuts

Somebody here at the Bike Alliance has a sense of humor. Must be a coping mechanism for dealing with the stress and chaos.

Out of Context

Day’s Verse:
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
Acts 1:7 (context)

Back when I converted my Specialized Hard Rock into an Xtracycle, I posted a picture on Flickr of my solution to the super-long-chain sagging issue. This is the picture:

TerraCycle Idler for an Xtracycle

At the time, I received a number of questions from other Xtracycle riders asking what that thing was and where to get one (it’s an idler, by the way, custom made by TerraCycle in Portland, and it’s the single most expensive part on my Specialized). One of the people who asked about this was a guy named Matthew, who lived in Tacoma, wrote a blog called Tacoma Bike Ranch, and rode his Xtracycle on the 3-day, 3-mountain-pass-surmounting Courage Classic. Pretty unique guy.

Last week, I did a tabling event in Tacoma. By chance I encountered a guy also tabling there, representing the Harmon Bike Club and touting the Courage Classic. He rode up on an Xtracycle and his name tag read, “Matt.” It took me most of the evening to realize that this was the same Matthew with whom I had exchanged emails over a year ago when I still lived in Massachusetts. When I told him that, he exclaimed, “My world just got a lot smaller!”

If his world just got smaller, mine’s shrinking too rapidly to measure, because this has happened a few more times since that encounter: First, I was riding the Sound Transit 550 Express from Seattle to the Bellevue Transit Center yesterday afternoon and the bus driver looked incredibly familiar. Finally, after staring (fairly obviously, as it turns out) and wracking my brains, it came to me. He had volunteered at the Bicycle Alliance Volunteer Work Party the previous Thursday, and much of the volunteers’ discussion had centered around his experience as a Metro bus driver. I’d sat and chatted with the volunteers for long enough to remember his face, but (alas) not his name. Just before my stop, I walked up to the front of the bus and said, “Were you at the Bike Alliance Volunteer Work Party last week?” and sure enough, yep. We had a nice little conversation before I got off.

Then, today a third random encounter — this time very brief — occurred on the bike trail. I was riding home on the Burke-Gilman Trail as usual, and as I came up on the turn you take to go to the Cascade Bike Club offices, an approaching cyclist caught my eye. She wore a long, pale blue-green pea coat (if pea coats can be pale blue-green; they may by definition be black. I’m not sure. I never wore one) and it had long tails that flew out to the sides as she rode along. It was quite eye-catching. As I passed, I glanced at her face and thought she looked familiar — a feeling I’m getting comfortable with, as you can imagine. A second later I realized she was Robin Randels, the Cascade Bike Club Classes Coordinator who had organized and assisted at the LCI Seminar that I assistant taught at a couple weeks ago. I shouted, “Robin!” and she shouted something else that clearly indicated I was right and she had (probably) recognized me, and I shouted “Hey!” That’s about the extent of the conversation you can have when two people are traveling at 15+ mph in opposite directions.

On a slightly different but similar vein, I met an AmeriCorps intern at Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia back in January. She’s interning at the Cascade Bike Club, but not through the Northwest Service Academy. Anyway, we got to talking, and it turns out that she’s really good friends with Jon, one of the AmeriCorps interns in my group/pod/whatever. Another “small world” connection.

I’m just waiting to see what happens next. Who else will I meet and recognize out of context? It could be anybody!

Volunteer Miscommunication

Day’s Verse:
“All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations…”

Isaiah 65:2

Today I pretended to be an HR manager and wrote drafts of 18 job descriptions for activities we want volunteers to do. This is somewhat amusing, since I have no experience or qualification that makes me the right person for this task. Occasionally I will be doing something on the volunteer program and suddenly feel completely overwhelmed. Often this happens when I’m trying to talk to one of the staff people (not a specific one) and getting the sense that we really aren’t speaking the same language at all.

For example, during my presentation of the overall volunteer program, I specifically said, “I’m envisioning having the Volunteer Coordinator [me] function as an HR manager: I’ll write job descriptions, recruit volunteers for the positions, interview them, and train them. Then I’ll pass them off to the appropriate staff member to manage and schedule the volunteer’s efforts.” Yet afterward, all the staff people I’ve talked with still envisions me as the single point for volunteers, and themselves as magically benefiting from volunteer work without interacting with volunteers.

Take this hypothetical conversation for example:

Me: We’ll need to have volunteers report to the staff person who’s in charge of that type of task. So if you’re the staff person in charge of the newsletter, volunteer reporters would report to you.
Staff person: What’s happened in the past is that nobody on the staff wants to be responsible for volunteers. It’s not in their job description.
Me: Right. And in the future we’ll need to have staff people think of working with volunteers as part of their jobs. It’s not free having volunteers — we have to spend time away from our assigned tasks to manage volunteers.
Staff person: Sure, but the difficulty is that nobody has time to work with volunteers and also do all their own work, which is why we need just one person [me] to do it.
Me: [Giving up on trying to explain that I need the staff people to be managers of volunteers too] So on this next task…

It’s times like those I start wondering if I’m in some pipe dream, and my whole role of “creating a volunteer program” will just fade away when I’m gone. Nobody wants responsibility for volunteers, even though the staff says they want to have volunteers. There’s plenty for volunteers to do, but again, nobody to manage them.

Sometimes I just feel so tired when I think of the remainder of my AmeriCorps tenure stretching out ahead of me.