Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is It Time For Mass?

A couple of months ago, someone mentioned to me about Critical Mass. This was a massive bike ride that takes over Houston on the last Friday of each month. When I say take over, they really take over. Red lights, smed be damned. Naturally, I was drinking and it appealed to me. Why wouldn't I mind doing a massive bike ride for my first group ride for an undisclosed amount of time around my city? There was beer involved. I mean it wouldn't be like this...


It would be high energy weaving throughout the city wondering if that car would just run us over.

By the way, if you haven't seen this 80s gem called Quicksilver, then do it now. This is movie was why I stayed away from that movie Rush.

So, now I have to find a I mean a friend to ride this crazy ride with me. Tag Evan, you are it. He's done it before and was happy to do it again. YAY! And bonus, he would pick me up and transport my bike. I haven't quite figured out how to do that with my bike in my car. I just don't think it would work.

I've told Evan that he needs to get a rack for next month's ride.
The meeting place was Market Square downtown. I have never really been there before (except passing it by to go to a bar), but it was quite a cool little place and very artistic. They had Niko Niko's there in which we both got some food before our big ride. Yummy. 

 I love finding these places around the city.

Check out my new helmet...oh yeah.

This is a wonderful 9/11 tribute fountain, which was serene and beautiful and mesmerizing.

A tree branch grows out of the water.

I saw some crazy things, while waiting. They actually had a TV set hooked up to a generator or a card or something, with plans to take that on the ride. 

Evan and I got new Dynamo glasses. They matched my shirt, but hard to see out of them.

Yeah, I'm rocking a biking skirt. 
This place just filled up with people. 

Oh am I sorry Evan, are you too cool to take a picture? 
I struggled with several things before the ride...whether to wear my sunglasses or bring my backpack. I chose not to wear either and it was only a mistake for my backpack. 

Finally, the race was called. It was really slow getting things started. I mean there were about a thousand riders. You basically use your foot on the ground to guide you along, but as soon as you get through a couple of intersections, you are good to go faster. This guy next to me had his music score playing loud and I swear I thought it was the soundtrack of my life in that moment. It was awesome. 

I noticed immediately that you could ride through the intersections even if the light was red. I can see why the cars hate this event, but I tried to be nice and wave to them instead of giving them the finger like one guy. 

We rode out of downtown, through Hermann Park (heard someone ran over a child, which wasn't cool), and to 288 on Old Spanish Trail (OST). We had a long break at OST waiting for the light to change. I turned to Evan and said, "I finally get out of my comfort zone to ride my bike in another area. And we are riding through my main riding area."

Evan and I waiting at OST and Cambridge.

It's just a sea of people.
We got to 288 in which I ran in to someone's tire, because he stopped quick. It wasn't bad, because I was slowing down to a stop anyways. 

I never ride on this side of 288, because it bumps up to one of the wards and it's generally not a nice area. I was wrong. Everyone was out on the streets waving to us and supporting us, which was totally cool. Or maybe they wanted to take picture of the crazy, circus bike people. They were more supportive than downtown. Then, we reached the biggest surprise of all. First, it was middle class suburbia homes and then it turned to a mini Riveroaks, with mansions along the Bray's Bayou. I have always rode my bike on the other side of the bayou for reasons stated above. As a solo female outdoor person, you have to always been on your guard and I didn't want the extra stress from an area with a really bad reputation. Again, I was wrong. This part of the bayou was so much prettier than my view of hospital buildings on the other side of 288. This was actually my favorite part of the ride and I wished had stayed there forever.

Then, it started to get darker and harder to see. I told Evan that we will have a codename Popsicle whenever we were separated and would finally catch up (I was always trying to catch up). There were massive bottlenecks on turns, because people were scared to just go. I almost wiped out when I took my eye off the groove in the street and thankfully, I survived. But Evan later on, didn't and wiped out badly. Then, the guy in front of him wiped out looking back to make sure Evan was okay. It was crazy. 

On a side note, people yell out, "MAN DOWN"  when someone goes down for a good reason. 

Popsicle worked like a charm, because we could tell who each other was amongst the many people yelling to their friends that they were on the left. 

We hit a steep bridge and then sped down fast only to have these four girls just standing there at the bottom. Evan almost hit them and luckily I saw them in plenty of time to slow down and move over. If you are going to stop at the bottom of a big downhill (this includes skiing), then get the hell out of the way. 

Then, it was time for our break at Kroger's. It was a massive amount of people doing their business and waiting. Some cars were surrounded, which happened during the ride that I didn't like. 

This doesn't even do it justice at Kroger's.
Evan cleaned himself up and we were off again. I hit a bump and then my bike seat unhinged. It went into a seated up and over position and would not stay still. It was rough. And for 45 minutes, I was miserable, because this hurt my back. I had to walk up the next steep bridge back in to the city. 

Finally, we made it to the new 8th Wonder Brewery. I wanted to stop there, but I was in pain and thirsty for a beer. We knew it would take awhile to get a beer since we got there later than the big crowd. I also knew that I would not want to get back on my bike to ride to The Flying Saucer where the car was parked. So, Evan and I just went there instead to have some cold beers and some food and some conversation with friends; this made for a much happy Kristi.

We rode a total of 24.5 miles in roughly 2.5 hours (with break), which is the most that I have ever done in my life. I had so much fun and I can't wait to do August's Critical Mass. Thank you Evan for going with me and helping me as much as you did.

On another side note, the biking skirt was freaking tight and hurt. 

Lessons Learned: Always be firm with what side you are going and telling it to that person. Also, don't be afraid to go alittle faster. Oh...and bring some beer. 
1. Have you ever done Critical Mass? Would you do it again? I am so ready for August's ride. 2. Have you ever done a biking event that encouraged drinking? I have done lots of running events, but this was my first biking event. 3. Did you ever find a place that was unexpected and wonderful, which blew your original preceptions of it? I once stayed away from this bar, because it looked shady. Finally, one day I went in and it turned out to be a really cool local Austin bar.

Friday, July 19, 2013


One of the best characters ever...besides Buffy, of course.

Last week, I talked about my super cool (okay, well, I felt freaking super cool) stairs challenge (see post here). I weirdly out of nowhere decided to walk down 15 flights of stairs. I was amazed to hear from people on how they were inspired to maybe take the stairs now or that they already do it. This really is a cheap, burn some freaking calories exercise (not at all easy). At the end of the post, I posted a challenge to myself that I would attempt going up the stairs this week.


This week, I walked down the 15 flight of stairs Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but plum forgot on Thursday. So, I knew that I would be doubling up today to make up for that missed exercise. Why not  make one of those the UP direction? I brought my lunch and really had no reason to go downstairs. Right before lunch, I got up from my desk and headed down the stairs...all the way down.

On a side a note, I noticed that the lights dim at the 9th floor. I always forget and think I'm about to pass out until I get to the 7th floor where they go back to full bright.

I got to the bottom and just stood there for a minute resting and basically talking myself in to doing this up thing. I sent Jim a text to tell him that if he doesn't hear from me in an hour, call someone. And then I was on my way...slowly...painfullly...grabbing both handrails to steady myself. I got to the 2nd floor and sent him another text telling him this already hurts.

My breathing was crazy. My face was flushed. My back was dripping with sweat. My heart was beating super fast as what I imagine a hummingbird heartbeat is like. I sent him a text at the 8th floor to tell him I'm over halfway there and then I rested for a couple of minutes. Mainly, I had to catch my breath. I kept on going and going, slowly and slowly.

But then, I finally made it to the 15th floor. Frak Yes! My legs were jelly and I could barely open the door, but I made it. And of course, someone had to stop me to ask a question as I'm white as a ghost, can barely speak over the breathing, and about to die. Typical. I'm finally just now feeling back to normal....somewhat. Although, I haven't tried to stand up yet from my chair.

Beers will be well deserved tonight, that's for sure.

Again, I pose this challenge to you. Get out there and take the stairs. Don't be afraid.

On another side note, I actually had two people at different times join me on the stairwell today, but only for one flight. It was weird to have people in there with me. You know, they could have been zombies. Next time, I will bring a weapon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Stairs Challenge

On Monday, I went out to lunch with my parents. I texted my mother to tell me when she was on the way. I did this for a reason. Sometime in the morning, I decided that it would be a swell idea to take the stairs down instead of the elevator. I'm not sure why I got that in to my head. I'm not sure why I thought that would be a swell idea. I'm not sure why I hate myself so much.

So, my parents texted me and I took the stairs. All of the stairs. ALL.OF.THE.STAIRS.

By now, you are asking, "What floor is your office?" I work on the 15th floor. Yes, you read that right. 15th floor.

I walked down 15 flights of stairs, which is actually more like 16 1/2 since there is a weird missing floor that you pass to get to the exit.

The next morning, my legs were sore. I didn't think anything of it since I had a kick my ass aqua fit class the night before (and I'm so loving this class). It wasn't until I got to work when I realized my legs (specifically my calves) hurt something awful, because I took 15 flights of stairs down.

And guess what, I did it again. In fact, I decided right then and there that I would walk down the 15 flights of stairs at least once a day during my work week (I have the Friday off).

Did I do my challenge? I'm happy to report that I did the stairs challenge once on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and twice on Wednesday. Go me! My calves are still freaking sore.

On a side note, around the 4th floor, it smells like old fish aquarium water. If you've ever had an fish tank, you know the smell. I don't know what it is or why, but I crinkle up my nose every time.

Next week, I'm going to attempt at least walking up the 15 flight of stairs to get to my office. I will continue walking down at least once a day though.

So, I pose this challenge to you. If I can do it, you can, too. Take the stairs instead of your elevator at least once next week. You can survive it.

They have little patches of red paint on the walls throughout the stairwell. Every time I see it, I think it's blood. And then, I think the zombies are alive and these were humans that didn't make it.