Great Allegheny Passage

For years now I’ve wanted to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC.  I asked David if he’d like to do it for Thanksgiving break and he was down.  David’s a great biking partner, has lots of experience and has biked from Canada to Florida, and the West Coast of the US, multiple times.  He knows how to self-support tour, and bike maintenance– two things I don’t have.  I have ridden tours before but never carried my own gear.   It felt good to know I had a strong and experienced rider with me, as well as the best company.
We set out to do the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) and C&O but only did the GAP–and thank goodness for that.
If it hadn’t been for David encouraging that we (me) take our time, and enjoy the ride without worrying about the destination it would have been a less pleasurable ride.  We did
the hardest part of the ride (the GAP is uphill, the C&O is downhill) and still got to enjoy it.

David and Elena bike the GAP

We started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and biked out with our final ostentation being Cumberland, Maryland.
We had our first hiccup before we’d even made it out of the parking lot when David’s chain broke.  We got a new chain in the strip mall near the path and off we went again. A few miles in, David’s derailer cracked and fell off.  Within the first 15 miles of our ride we got to stop for two mechanicals.  After that we didn’t have any mechanical issues until about mile 140 of the GAP when I got a flat.  In total we did about 160 miles.  I am looking forward to doing it again but when the weather is warm.

Day 1
Munhall, PA to Connellsville, PA (approximately 52 miles)
-uphill, in freshly laid wet sand—slowed us down more than we’d anticipated.  Camped in Connellsville at a free site with an adirondack.  Fires weren’t permitted and the weather hovered in the low thirties.  Had pizza for dinner in Connellsville.

Day 2
Connellsville, PA to Rockwood, PA (approximately 46 miles)
-uphill no more wet sand–thank goodness! Weather was warm in the mid 50s, we even stopped at around 20 miles to take a walk down a foot path with a directional arrow that said “Gorge”.
Slept in a campground in Rockwood that charged $10 per person, provided firewood and newspaper as an igniter…but man it was freezing, in the twenties.   This was the night we realized that my sleeping bag was not for cold weather.

Day 3
Rockwood, PA to Cumberland, MD (approximately 45 miles)
Mostly uphill.  Got a flat tire and had to walk 5 miles before I got to a bike pump.
Got lost in Frostburg but also had the best meal of the trip at a little place David found, called SHiFT.  You can now see a pic of the two of us on their wall of cyclists.
From Frostburg to the Cumberland Amtrak was a super speedy downhill ride.

Day 4
Amtrak Station in Pittsburgh to Munhall, PA (approximately 10 miles)
I am not sure about calling this a full day, as we arrived at the station a little before midnight at the end of day 3 and only rode 10 miles to the car/where we started on the GAP.  It was an easy ride from station to car, although difficult to get on to the path from the station and we got a bit lost, the darkness and exhaustion also added to the adventure.

Act of Rebellion

There is a movie in theaters now “The Big Sick“. Short summary brown man and white woman fall in love and deal with cultural conflict.  I wasn’t interested in seeing it as the previews made it seem awful and racist.  However, while driving back from a road trip I got to hear part of an interview with the pseudo-autobiographical co-screenwriter  Kumail Nanjiani.  I felt connected to his story as he was talking about growing up the child of immigrants. Nanjiani spoke of how he hadn’t given his parents enough credit in their evolving and understanding of his culture, different from theirs.
Then the interviewer Terry Gross, asked pseudo-autobiographical co-screenwriter Emily V. Gordon (spouse of Nanjiani) what her family thought of her being with Nanjiani.  Gordon responded that her parents were used to her acts of rebellion they were just happy she found someone who was good to her.

I immediately cringed at Grdon’s gaze of Nanjiani as one of her acts of rebellion and that dreadful phrase “good to her”. Nanjiani then took over the conversation and spoke about how a “rebellious phase” was culturally very American but I was stuck on what Gordon had said.

I don’t ever want to be someone’s tool for rebellion.  Which in terms of gender in hetero relationships, as a Latina I am not a tool for rebellion but I have experienced exoticisation, fetishization, for temporary fun, just as a man of color is used as the act of rebellion in temporary fun.  I don’t think Gordon thought of this with any maliciousness when she spoke of her family being accustomed to her rebellion. That is part of the privilege for a white woman, that her perspective can be the conflict of dating a brown man as a temporary taboo.

Moving on to the phrase “good to her”– I ignorantly thought this wasn’t something that was regularly used as coded language but something that only I had experienced. I have been told before multiple times that phrase “I just hoped you would be with someone who is good to you”, “I wish you were with someone who could provide for you better”.  The racism and sexism were there and what they really wanted to ask was  “Why couldn’t I just date someone who was white man who’d take care of a girl?”  Recently, a Black man told me that he’d been with non-Black women who had been told “I really was hoping you’d be with someone who was better to you” I was dumbfounded at my naïvety  at thinking other people never heard the same things I did.  Again, I don’t think this is what Gordon was getting at with saying acts of rebellion and as long as he’s good to me, but her intent and the reality of how many of us experience interracial relationships as an attack on us and those we love–well both perspectives overlapped but not in understanding.

I wonder does Gordon spend her time worrying about Nanjiani when he flies that he will be harmed or arrested? Have people told Gordon that the person she loves isn’t as good as any other white guy? Has she wondered what her presence says when she is next to him? What risks she puts him in by being with her?  Hearing Gordon’s perspective only affirmed my desire not to see this movie.

Good Sunday

This morning I participated in The Broke Man’s Half Marathon with Sandra. We signed up for the 1/2 Marathon but because of missing a turn we only ran 10 miles—which I was happy for because that meant I could make it on time to brunch with lovely ladies of color from graduate school—none in my program.  I ordered two breakfasts and a bloody mary because yes.  Went home constructed some furniture for a neighbor.  Then headed to an hour and a half relaxation yoga class with Neil.  It was a good, wonderful, Sunday to be concluded with some reading of Memorias de Mamá Blanca.

competitions

It has been awhile since I posted and this is mostly so I can keep slight track of what I’ve been doing (I was much better about blogging and keeping a nice spreadsheet of my meets/times before—I’ll need to get back on that for 2015).

OSU 4 miler

OSU 4 miler

OSU 4 Miler  Sept. 21 2014:    Lordy, this race was difficult.  Not because of the distance or weather but because I did it with one of my students.  She was not used to running and it became more of a Fartlek training where she would sprint as hard as she could for about 20 seconds then come to a dead stop, wait until she felt completely normal and then sprint has hard as she could for another 20 seconds—we did this for all 4 miles and it took us nearly an hour to finish.  I think I have felt less tired after Olympic distance triathlons then I did after this race.

Broke Man’s 1/2 Marathon  October 5th:  I loved this race!  It was a no-thrills race–I think it was a $10 entry, and I took it easy.  I did it with my friends Jessica B. and Sandra E.  I  walked a lot of it, enjoying the day and did it in about 3 hours (there was no timing).

Buckeye Barbell Club Push-Pull competition  October 26th:  This was my first power-lifting competition and was lots of fun!  I had great encouragement from strangers and friends, Amber, John, Norm, and Suzanne.  I had no idea how much I could actually lift and had never practiced.  My buddy John didn’t tell me what he put down on my third deadlift and just told me to get out there and try…and I lifted it…later finding out it was 185lbs.  I’d like to lift 200+ by the end of 2014.  Video (elenamary deadlift) was taken by Amber doing the 185 deadlift.  Warning I say a vulgarity.

Amish 1/2 Marathon November 29th:  By the time I finished the race I hadn’t slept in 30+ hours, I had driven to the race straight from work and only when I arrived there did I realize I also hadn’t eaten since the previous day.  I remembered I had a slice of Hounddogs Pizza (i should get them to sponsor me) in my gym bag.  I stood surrounded by competitors waiting for the race to begin while eating my slice.  There were tons of hills, I was exhausted and hallucinated an ocean.  I had hoped to finish at about 2 hours…I finished in 2:53.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou’s

Phenomenal Woman

Many women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Columbus World Naked Bike Ride

Four years ago I rode in Columbus’ first World Naked Bike Ride.  We started at the bike co-op.  Unlike later years Pedal Instead wasn’t there to valet our bikes, we didn’t have a real planned path, or too much planned anything. Having not felt comfortable being nude on High Street, I wore a bathing suit bottom and sports bra, and had body paint around my abdomen and back that was supposed to look like animal print.   It rained while we rode and was invigorating. I came home high on adrenaline.

This year, I’ve struggled with whether to go or not.  I talked to my friend and journalist Aaron Cynic who covered the Chicago World Naked Bike Ride last weekend.   I sought advice from him as he enjoyed the ride and kept a journalistic arms length distance.  I love the World Naked Bike Rides but here in Columbus they have become associated with a group  that I fear has encouraged gentrification with all the negative connotations.  A group that participates in both institutionalized and overt class warfare.

Here in Columbus the ride is starting and ending at the same site that held the paint yourself as an Indian with small pox and drink whiskey at a “thanksgiving” party a few years ago.  My objections to the party never gained apologies I was only ostracized as the dick who takes things too seriously.  These same people throw up their arms in protest in “a hey can’t we just have fun” argument?  Hells yeah we can have fun, but can we not do it at the cost of ousting a community or at least maybe have a discussion about it?  Trust me I want to ride in the streets in my swimsuit and enjoy the carnival attitude of it all, but I can’t do it when it is hosted by a group of people who are racists.  By racists I mean people who have done racist things, been called out on it, and continue to do it.

After much deliberation, I’ll reluctantly be bowing out from this year’s ride.  Maybe you all need a talk with Andrew Ti.

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