Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, Same Goals

2010 was one of those crazy years in this place we call Ithaca, NY. I ended up homeless for a short while, then found my way back into a couple of different roommate situations, neither of which panned out, and one that turned sour very quickly. I started working for Gimme! coffee on Cayuga street and soon found myself working for Cornell as an assistant curator with a three year contract. I almost didn't end up living here, pointing my nose in the direction of Northern California and the Pacific North West, but Ithaca, small as it is, is a beautiful spot if you can find a job that allows you to enjoy it beyond the draw of Cornell or IC.

The riding was spectacular this year, and in August I went back toward my home state of Massachusetts to do the HooRWA benefit ride. This was one of the most spectacular rides I've ever done. 75 miles through the states of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. HooRWA stands for the Hoosic River Watershed Association. The cost of our jerseys and entry went to helping support the conservation and health of the watershead and the people, animals, and plants that live there. The watershed itself is home to some of the most beautiful New England and New York scenery. Mountains, farms, rivers, and beautiful small towns were all a part of the eye-popping beauty that we explored on bicycle.

I was consistent in riding and exploring until my second roommate situation soured and I had to put my focus into finding a new place and moving for the fourth time that year. Before that I had an amazing commute from Freeville, NY to Ithaca. Roughly 20 miles of riding a day. I had a chance to explore more back roads on the eastern side of Cayuga Lake, and found spectacular views with the help of fellow cyclists who, through the FLCC, had wonderful suggestions on routes...all of which I modified to suite my need for discovery. Every weekend I found myself doing a 50 to 80 mile ride, and with most days providing me with a 20 to 30 mile ride I was in excellent shape and really enjoying the world around me. Unfortunately, the last move forced me out of riding for nearly a month and a half, and with that I lost a lot of my stamina for the 100 mile Ride for Life.

The RFL was, however, awesome. I didn't do it as fast as I would have liked, but I did the first 50 miles with little issue and no break. Little did I know that I did have a "break" of sorts. During the ride I thought I threw a rock with my tire, hearing a loud "ping!!" as I was riding. Turns out out blew a spoke. I didn't realize it until after the ride was over, but my whole rear wheel was warped. I figure I rode 50 to 60 miles like that and, perhaps, that's what slowed me down a bit. This was the first year I rode with Team Gimme! and, while it was a lot of fun, I was bummed that they didn't do more training rides. I offered many times, often showing up to no riders for simple 20 miles rides. The few time riders did show up, it was a close friend or two and they were pleasant rides, with a brutal hill here and there. But always the reward of a beautiful view across the Cayuga Lake valley or some other place.

The new year has brought new goals along with the rehashing of old. The three year contract I've scored with Cornell means I'll live as simply and poor as possible to try and pay off as much of my college loans as possible. I have also decided that this 5th year will be my last, for a while, riding in the Ride for Life to raise money. I bought a motorcycle recently and may volunteer as a helper, but in the near future I'll be riding it for pleasure only. New goals have arisen, I need to get the GRE's out of the way, and I need to do well at my current job and move on to whatever comes next. Grad school or a job that is more permanent, deciding research goals, and getting to be a better naturalist all top the list of educational goals. I want to continue to explore Ithaca and surrounding areas, and I want to push myself physically and be better at riding while getting my hiking and running legs under me. I'm also trying to make music a bigger part of my life and hope to have my own little recording studio someday, with lessons for instruments planned for the short-term. Artistically I'm also planning on getting more tattoos this year, some of which will be designed by me, and others designed by my brother if I can twist his arm into doing it.

Of course, it would be nice to have someone to share all this with, but discussion on that is the topic of another blog...still it is a goal and should be mentioned here.

And finally, I want my work at the CUP to be highly successful and, if I don't get a permanent job at Cornell, I'd like to make sure I have great references and add to my CV for future projects. One of the huge goals associated with that is the McLean project: A biodiversity study I started in 2006 with a local Naturalist that needs to be completed. With some help I should get a publication out of it. But it's slow going.

I don't know what the future holds, and I know there's a lot of craziness out there that we as humans keep perpetuating, but I hope that your little circle of life is full of good people and good times. Maybe if we shoot high enough with our goals, the ones we actually achieve will still make life sweet. Good luck with the New Year!!