Thursday, May 29, 2008
Jens Voigt doesn't read books. He simply attacks until the books relent and tell him everything he wants to know.
Waldo can't be found because Jens dropped him on a hill training ride... on K2.
Jens doesn't spin or mash the pedals... he kicks them into submission.
Jens Voigt puts the "laughter" in "Manslaughter."
Jens Voigt climbs so well for a big guy because he doesn't actually climb hills; the hills slink into the earth in fear as they see him approach.
If you are a UCI ProTour rider and you Google "Jens Voigt," the only result you get is "it's not to late to take up kickball, Fred."
Jens was a math prodigy in elementary school, putting "Attack!" in every blank space on all his tests. It would be the wrong answer for everybody else, but Jens is able to solve any problem by attacking.
Jens' testicles are bald because hair does not grow on a mixture of titanium, brass, steel, and cold, hard granite.
Some lucky horses are hung like Jens Voigt.
Eddy Merckx was actually a neo-pro at the same time as Jens, but Jens dropped him so hard that he shot backwards in time to the 1960's, where he became a great champion.
Jens once had a heart attack on the Tourmalet. Jens counterattacked repeatedly until he kicked its ass.
Jack was nimble, Jack was quick... and Jens still drove him to quit racing bikes and become an ice dancing commentator on Lifetime.
If Jens Voigt was a country, his principle exports would be Pain, Suffering, and Agony.
If Jens Voigt was a planet, he'd be the World of Hurt.
Jens Voigt doesn't know where you live, but he knows exactly where you will die.
Jens Voigt doesn't have a shadow because he dropped it repeatedly until it retired, climbing into the CSC team car and claiming a stomach ailment.
Jens Voigt visited the Virgin Islands last year. They are now The Islands.
Jens Voigt once challenged Lance Armstrong to a "who has more testicles" contest. Jens won... by five.
When you open a can of whoop-ass, Jens Voigt jumps out and attacks.
You are what you eat. Jens Voigt eats spring steel for breakfast, fire for lunch, and a mixture of titanium and carbon fiber for dinner. For between-meal snacks he eats men's souls, and downs it with a tall cool glass of The Milk of Human Suffering.
Jens Voigt believes it's not butter.
Jens Voigt can eat just one.
The first time man split the atom was when the atom tried to hold Jens Voigt's wheel, but cracked.
Jens Voigt is the new black.
Jens Voigt doesn't complain about what suffering does to him... but suffering constantly complains about getting picked on by Jens Voigt.
Jens Voigt can start a fire by rubbing two mud puddles together.
Guns kill a couple dozen people every day. Jens Voigt kills 150.
Jens's tears are so tough they could be the world heavyweight mixed-martial arts champion. Too bad Jens never cries.
Greg Lemond wasn't shot in the leg by his brother, as he claimed... those near-fatal wounds were from Jens Voigt, who accidentally spat on him during a training ride. Lemond only made up the story because Jens didn't want to scare all other bicyclists to death.
The Book of Revelations originally said "and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Jens Voigt." They changed "Jens Voigt" to "Death" because Jens doesn't want the world to end yet, not until he's reached deep into his suitcase of courage and punished the peloton a few more times.
God is Jens Voigt's co-pilot.
Jens Voigt rides so fast during attacks, that he could circle the globe, hold his own wheel, and ride in his own draft. At least as long as he didn't try to drop himself.
Jens Voigt nullified the periodic table because he doesn't believe in any element, other than the element of surprise.
The grass is always greener on the other side. Unless Jens Voigt has been riding on the other side in which case it's white with the salty, dried tears of all the riders whose souls he has crushed.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
- Italian TV, and European TV in general, sort of sucks. When a brother gets used to 1080i on the big screen, ESTC or whatever that crap European broadcast standard is just stinks. It's like watching TV through a bad case of conjunctivitis.
- Jens Voigt is the f***in man. In Monday's mountain stage #16, a brutal individual time trial at Plan di Corones that was just as ridiculous a climb as you could imagine, Voigt turned in one of the fastest times. He just hammered up the hill, and my goodness were the announcers surprised to see him come around the corner 1k out from the finish, head tipped, mouth wide open in a rictus of pain, eyes squinting, just pounding on the pedals. Voigt finished the stage in 11th, only 1:55 down on some serious climbers. While Phil Ligget's cliches have gotten a bit shopworn, the one that is always still fresh is when he refers to Voigt reaching deep into his suitcase of courage. For a guy who is allegedly a domestique, he wins a shitload of multi-day races and grand tour stages, and is always in the mix of every race, making things happen. He's also 36 and apparently a really good family man. I have a lot of respect for him.
- The Giro really is better racing than the other grand tours. In stage 15, which featured a mountain top finish after the second consecutive climbing stage, Danilo DiLuca wobbled across the line looking blown out. He looked really, really bad. This is news because DiLuca is the smoothest guy in the peloton since Cipo retired. He *never* looks bad. But at the end of stage 15, he looked like death. Yep, the Stage 16 hill ITT was brutal and unacceptable. The stages held in bad weather, that are too long, that feature nasty climbs too many days in a row and too many dangerous descents - these are all things the Tour de France lacks the balls to do, plain and simple. They stick to more or less hidebound tradition, which is lovely, but unsurprising. You won't often hear the riders in the TdF complain about the course because complaints aren't welcome, but also because the course is pretty much always the same. The riders know what to expect. Not so the Giro - it's like Forest Gump's box of chocolates, you just never know what you're going to get. Hey, check it out - three mountain stages in a row, no rest days, and we supposedly don't begin climbing until next week! Hey, here's Astana - thought they were on the beech! What's this... an American team in the Maglia Rosa for a couple days.
It's great stuff, even if the whole operatic Italian subtext does make David Millar throw his bike into the woods periodically.
Highlights? Well, Magnus Backstedt and Team Slipstream are coming with a fairly loaded team. They are talented, but built for stage racing, used to long days at 25-30 MPH, rather than 90 minutes at 38 with three sharp turns. We'll see how they do.
Rock Racing will be strong with the usual cast of characters, including last year's winner Bahati.
Kelly Benefits is bringing a fairly strong team, and Candelario, Gilbert, King orVeilleaux could challenge - all are strong crit racers.
Slipstream could challenge with Backstedt (more likely a leadout man), Tyler Farrar or Martin Maaskrant, who is an unknown in the U.S. but with a 4th place finish at Paris Roubaix, can bring some heat. Mike Friedman has better track palmares than road, but he's a national caliber scratch racer and sprinter, so he might be worth keeping an eye on. I expect them to contend for the win unless it's really hot out - the Europeans just haven't been riding in hot weather this year so they won't be acclimatized. I saw the toll that the heat took on the red-faced Team CSC last year, and think that weather could be a factor for this mid-pack ProTour team.
Toshiba's Frank Travieso is worth watching - he's been hot this year and in contention in a large number of regional events. So is Mark Hekman, who has been quietly putting together a heck of a 2008 season.
Right Aid's Clayton Barrows and Bobby Lea - a couple MABRA locals - could challenge for the win here. Bobby in particular is worth watching - he is an excellent rider in a number of cycling disciplines. (Though I have more fun watching his mother race, she is still beating up on elite racers half her age - as an older cyclist, I appreciate that).
High Road is bringing a strong team - if this were a one day classic or a short stage race. Not sure how they'll fare in this blistering hot, relatively flat crit - but if anybody shines through it should be Kiwi Greg Henderson, who has a strong crit and track pedigree.
Colavita is bringing the heat with the excellent Lucas Sebastian Haedo (familiar sounding name, eh?) and Kyle Wamsley; I'd expect if they're in position for the sprint Wamsley (an excellent sprinter and MABRA boy made good) should lead out. This team has been *hot* lately, both on the men's and women's side, and I expect them to contend.
Jelly Belly is another team that is bringing what looks like a good roadracing team; if anybody challenges I'd expect it to be Brad Huff, but I'm not looking for much from them.
Healthnet-Maxxis is bringing the heat with a sprinter-heavy team this year. Rory Sutherland is always tough in any race, and Menzies, Pipp and Murphy are all capable of winning. Their roster is small, with only 6 riders, but I'd look for them to be involved in the race at the end.
Time Pro Cycling brings a fairly strong team with crit specialists Mike Stoop, Tom Soladay, Adam Hodges and Andy Baker. They should be in the running up until the end.
Local pro team Battley Harley is bringing a fairly strong team headlined by Jonathan Page and David Fuentes, back in pro cycling after serving out his doping ban. Russ Langley managed to stick around until the end of the race last year, and I expect he'll do the same this year. Page should contend for a top 10 spot and Dave Fuentes has been riding pretty strong, but I like Bryan Butts to manage a Top 10 finish. He's ridden strong here before.
Monday, May 26, 2008
As if to prove the theory, I went out on a Dawn Patrol ride with Chris, Jon and Trevor this morning. They very patiently put up with my wheezing and gasping on the climbs, and I in turn provided entertainment with wheezing and gasping on the climbs, and a beeping Hr monitor that sounded like something out of a Die Hard sequel was getting ready to blow. For the most part it was a great, great ride, I wound up getting in about three hours of sub- and supra-threshold riding, learned some more new skills, didn't have a major accident, and finished up just as my legs were blowing up bigtime - we're in moderate crampitude right now so I know it was a good ride that went right up to my admittedly limited limits.
That doesn't mean The Nystrom Index was invalidated. Oh no, far from it. Right after started the ride I failed to clear a pile of rocks and tipped over ignominiously. I dinged a knee on the rocks but kept riding, my knee warmers soaked up most of the blood. The pain, I just lived with - but when you're a fat novice mountain biker, that's what you have to do. Or as Chris put it in comments below, You Have to Pay Your Dues in order to get better.
Yeah, that's a #2 pencil eraser-sized hole just below the knee. Gotta go scrub it out with some Betadine.
It's a mark of how highly I esteem Chris, to know that I'm happy to ride with him even though I seem fated to give offerings to Tullio Campagnolo and Fausto Coppi ("The gods") every time we're on the same trail system at the same time. Is he my own personal mountain biking kryptonite?
So be it. On the positive side, this is a *lot* milder than knocking myself out running into some frickin' tree, so maybe The Nystrom Index, or perhaps The Chris Effect, is waning a bit. So at least I got that going for me. Which is nice.
Ps. I don't actually believe that The Nystrom Index is in play, in fact Chris offers tips that have probably saved me from some GINORMOUS endos. But I will confess, two or three more concussions, a couple more pints of blood, I'm going to start having some questions. Though the ride was so sublimely fun today that I think I would have still ridden, even at the cost of two or three more cuts like that. [One day, I'll look myself in the mirror and take responsibility for stacking it up all the time, until that day, I need some good natured scapegoats...]
Just kidding Chris. Thanks for the ride bro.
[Update: 5:30 PM: *Still* hasn't stopped bleeding. I guess I'll hit Nighttime Pediatrics and get some stitches put in. Bummer. Everybody says it, but that *will* in fact leave a mark.]
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Alas, in my case, it wasn't way too long.
The course was really beautiful in a way only mostly single track, technical, steep mountain bike terrain can be. It was a great course... if you're a mountain biker. Sadly, I'm still a roadie who occasionally rides a mountain bike. So I spent a lot of time on the first lap kind of picking my way through obstacles that real mountain bikers just cruise through. Jon and Trevor and the guys would have been pleased with my log hopping and ability to pick my way through steady rock-infested ground, and they'd (very charitably) have bitten their tongues at my clumsiness on the slimy, technical uphills - of which there were many. I had hoped to just kind of keep myself at a tempo/subthreshold level of effort. It just wasn't possible, and even with frequent hike-a-bikes, I was frickin' redlined, heartrate ticking over at about 162-163, which, last time I checked, was toward the high end of threshold.
Overall my riding was okay in light of my paucity of skills, but I need to do a lot more very technical stuff before I'm capable of riding in a manner that could accurately be described as "racing" on a course like this. While there were some fire road and farm trails worked in, on the whole the course resembled Lodi's demanding surfaces, overlaid on Patapsco's terrain - reduce the Waterbars to single track, add more slippery off-camber roots, and there you have it.
Still, I wasn't doing badly for a fat roadie novice MTB'er until about two thirds of the way through the first lap. Coming out of a fast field, a guy on a geared bike zipped past me. We went into this little dip together, and into the woods. There were a bunch of pink ribbons so I assumed danger. I was right, the guy in front of me wasn't right. He gassed it, but going into the woods there was a little dip and a water crossing, and an immediate hard left. Between the water and the turn - about 8 feet - was 4" deep loose mud ruts. The guy on the geared bike hit it, and went down tangled in his bike, grunting and making flipped crab motions. I was right on his wheel, and had a quick choice - run over him, or grab a handful of brake and cut into the bushes on the right. I chose to not be a dick, and went into the woods, thinking it was safe. Sadly, I failed to notice the big tree that the bushes were hiding. As I broke through the first layer of leaves the front wheel hit a big tree and I stopped dead, going head first into the tree with my head down. Bouncing off the tree, I landed back on the seat of the bike, basically doing a track stand. I hopped off the bike and took the helmet off - having taken quite a shot to the head I was drooling and my teeth were chattering. Now I know what it means when a football commentator describes a hit as a "slobberknocker." So I stood there drooling for a minute, noted that my helmet was cracked, re-organized myself, and when the traffic cleared got back on the bike and got going. As I rode along I felt twinges all the way down my spine for a minute - kind of like cracking your knuckles except it was the vertebra that did all the popping and stuff. Not a painful feeling, just weird.
Personally, I blame it on Chris Nystrom being involved in promoting the event at some level, and being present on the day. I've found on at least two occasions this year, there's a strong correlation between his presence on any given mountain bike ride involving me, and my attempts to headbutt trees into submission. It's possible that I subliminally miss playing rugby and just don't feel right until I've headbutted something and gotten a black eye in return, or that I'm just a suck-ass novice mountain biker - theories I've labeled as "Freudian/Jungian" and "The Truth," respectively, but I'm sticking with the Nystrom Index Theory for now.
Anyways, at that point I was in the hurt bucket - not quite concussed, exactly, all the colors were normal and I could think clearly enough - but shaken up and really stiff-necked. So I just kept pedaling and vowed to not run into any more trees. Eventually, I worked my way around until I was near the start/finish, managing to endo in some really technical rocks when a guy slowed down in front of me. Yep, that's how bad I stink, when a guy slows down 6 feet in front of me to navigate a really technical spot, I'm so short on situational awareness that I grab a handful of brake and do a front flip over the bars. That took a bunch of skin off my elbow and left my forearm looking like a raw leg of lamb, and it took away what morale I had left. At that point I resolved to just finish the lap and go home like a smart guy.
I did exactly that (except for grabbing a Pabst handup just before the big hill - not a smart guy move but thanks anyhow, well done, Mark!), checking in with the medical tent to get a confirmation from the doc - his verdict: "your day is over. Stop riding."
So that was it. One glorious, middling - then - real - slow lap at Granogue. I wish I could say it was nice while it lasted, but it wasn't. It kicked my ass like Kimbo Slice in a street fight. Fat Marc will probably have photographic evidence of it posted later.
It was a nice enough race, well organized event in a beautiful venue. I feel bad for having shit the bed and have resolved to head back to Granogue next year, schedule permitting, to try to make good there.
Meanwhile, I need to start thinking about getting ready for that bastard cyclocross race Marc and his buddies host there in the fall - also a tremendous, wonderful event, also a total ass-kicker.
Many thanks to Marc and his pals for putting on a great race. Props also to Sue Estes who was out there kickin' butt, when last I saw her (passing me and heading up a hill).
Friday, May 23, 2008
The nice thing about the Giro d’Italia coverage, besides the constant broadcasting of hot chicks, babies and interesting things like the Ferrari test track, is that they show the interesting little things that make up the race. For instance, an Astana rider cruising through the feed zone, and having a game of trying to pelt the Soigneur with a water bottle. Or following Danilo DiLuca as he car surfs up through the support train after getting a bike change from the LPR team car. Or the Moto chatting with the riders as he cruises through the peloton. Interesting stuff you don’t get on Versus.
I’m pretty chuffed about it and am reminded again that Italy is a pretty interesting place.
It’s a rest week and I just did a nice loosening up ride with Jon and Kyle and Kid, but have got nothing really interesting to say about anything right now. Yet, we’re on the downslide into a long weekend, so you should have something nice to take away with you into your weekend by way of thanks for stopping by. So for all you aspiring Stollers and Enricos and Cipos out there, here’s my two favorite renditions of Il Barbeiro di Sevilla. I suspect you’ll like one or the other.
And as a double added bonus, here's the second prettiest song in all of opera, right behind Nessun Dorma.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
- Had a nice fairly easy ride this morning with Beppo. We spun out to Reston. My legs felt really dead so I went up the hill on Hunter Station Road - the power climb that goes from mildly steep to a wall to mildly steep - fairly hard to try to open my legs up. It worked out. In the process I managed to set a personal best critical power for everything from 34 seconds, to 1:48. This is a good thing because where I got killed in 'cross last year was on efforts where I had to crank for 1-2 minutes at a time repeatedly. I'm hoping that the improved 1-2 minute power helps out in 'cross races - the idea is if I can put out more 1-2 minute peak power, then I can carry the speed I need using less-than-full-tilt 1-2 minute power, and get through those sticky sections with a bit of gas left in the tank. We'll see - odds are I will have fixed that problem only to encounter some other miserable, ridiculously-hard-to-beat problem. Or maybe I'll just find some other way to crap the bed. That's the nature of racing tho - it ain't necessarily about the succeeding it's about the racing.
- I bit the bullet and signed up for the Escape from Granogue MTB race. I'm doing the Single Speed Endurance class, a four hour race. That should be a lot of fun. Yeah, I'm going to get myself pounded by the guys who are seriously fast - a fair percentage of single speed riders are just insanely fast experts. I don't care though. I'm going to ride hard and see if I can beat myself, and maybe a few others along the way.
- Picked up the 29'er today, with its new Rock Shox Reba. Wooooooo hooooooo! That thing looks badazzz, and in an extremely brief ride it seemed real smooth. We'll find out on Saturday if it really helps. I suspect it will - the rigid fork was *killing* me at Lodi, so this should smooth things out. It's tough to admit I'm not as hardcore as I was when I was 25 and first mountain biking, years and years ago, but there it is.
- Just got RAI added to the cable. So I'm DVR'ing tomorrow's Giro stage. Sweeeeeetness. It will be my luck that the riders take it real easy after all of today's debacles. Oh well. At least we have some good mountain stages to look forward to. And a mountain time trial... what sort of fresh hell is that?
Monday, May 19, 2008
In that spirit, I decided to try to remember what goes through my mind during a bike commute / training ride from the office. It was sort of a moderate effort day today, so no entertaining stories about blowing chunks during intervals. Anyhow...
- Shut and lock the office door. Pull down the blinds. Can't have all the people in the next building gazing in at me. If I was really good looking, that would lead to an affair, breakup of my marriage, and me ultimately becoming a beach bum somewhere, probably in Key West housesitting for Jimmy Buffet while he's on tour. Since I'm not really good looking, it would probably lead to an indecent exposure arrest, being branded a sex offender, loss of marriage and job, and me winding up a beach bum somewhere, probably in Somalia, picking up unexploded ordnance off the beach. Better to shut the blinds...
- Pull on the shorts, thankfully dried from the morning ride. I wonder what kind of hell-broth of bacteria are growing in these. Oh well, that which does not kill us, merely makes us itch like hell.
- Spalm up with a generous splatter of Chamois Butter. Be careful it doesn't splurt out on the desk. The nozzle gets half-plugged with dried goop, and you have to squeeze real hard to get the stuff out, and it only shoots out in a big blast like you'd see in a film about... well, you know. volcanos. Lotta potential for a "Something About Mary" kind of moment here.
- Zip on the jersey. Do I look fat? Shit yeah. It's okay though. Chicks dig confident guys. That's what I keep telling myself anyhow, and if you layer on self-delusion thick enough, it's like an emotional/cognitive coat of armor.
- Pack the crap in the messenger bag, double check for keys (locking them in the office would suck, big time) push the bike out into the hall, lock the door and go. Do people think it's weird that I keep my bike in the office? Yeah, I guess so. But once you buy into the $3500 bike and kit, the rest of it sort of makes sense. It's like if a guy who thinks he's Napoleon stabs his neighbor, whom he thinks is Wellington. While stabbing is wrong and all, if you think the Napoleon routine is reasonable, well, the stabbing kinda makes sense.
- Get on the elevator. Try to ignore the funny looks (I know I smell bad) and the more funny looks (I know I look goofy) and the nasty looks (I know *you* are *really* fat, Civilian Fat, and think I'm an unctuous exercise junky. Maybe I am but I don't give a shit what you think. Can't wait to get off this descending little box.)
- Push out, gloves on, mount up, click the Powertap on, and off down Eye Street. Left on 13th, right on New York, and past the White House. Geeze, I hope the Secret Service guys don't jump me and knock me down some day... Lotta guys with guns standing around, for it being the center of the Free World and all.
- Crap, what's up with this wind? It's like 25 MPH today. I'm pulling 350 watts to go 12 MPH. Something wrong with that. Why the hell am I riding today? Oh yeah, that's right, rain all day tomorrow. Okay.
- Messenger passes me on the left. He's having to do a standing effort to go faster than me. Must be quitting time for him, I've never seen a messenger at work pedal that hard.
- A bunch of cars are blocking the intersection at 17th and Pennsylvania. Jerks! Don't Block the F***in Box! So I haul butt up the oncoming side of Pennsylvania, so I don't get caught in the morass. Yeah, there's something that makes you feel really alive, when you are riding 20 MPH into oncoming traffic. There's something about it that makes you feel really, really stupid too.
- Some fakenger on a fixed gear passes me doing a standing effort on flat old Pennsylvania Ave. He then cuts through a red light, nearly getting hit. What a jackass. Dude, aren't you supposed to be ironically detached and all that? Well, sweating and puffing real hard is *so* not hip, and getting a shattered femur, with pins in it... mmmmm... back to the mailroom with you, boy. You're totally going to lose your black jeans for this bro.
- Washington Circle... major nervousness. Cripes, one day, I'm getting run over right here. Mark it down. The day is coming.
- I pass the fakenger back. Man, he looks spent. Looozzzzer. If you're going to make a point of dropping somebody, they should stay dropped.
- In Georgetown, under the bridge, a woman turns left in front of me with no turn signal - damn near nails me. No big deal, except for she does it out of the middle (non-turning) oncoming lane. I drop a few choice words on her, culminating in "it's called a turn signal you stupid beotch" - which gets a nice crowd of onlookers staring at me. It's possible I shot her a one fingered salute.
- There are a lot of riders on the trail today. Most of them seem more or less sentient. But WTF is up with the fools not wearing helmets? I don't remember seeing this many people without helmets ever. Just like there's a correlation between crashing without a helmet and subsequent brain deficiencies, there's a correlation between initial brain deficiency and subsequent not wearing a helmet.
- Does being stupid cause you to ride without a helmet, or does riding without a helmet ultimately do things to you that make you stupid? It's a real chicken-or-egg conundrum, that.
- A girl dismounts to walk her nice little Bianchi through the gravel oxbow in the trail. (C'mon, you can ride through that.)
- There's a tree down over the trail, extending from one embankment to the other, at about 6' high. I cycle under it, thinking, "man, it would hurt to hit your head on that." And, "I guess the wind really is frickin' strong today."
- Bumped into Cindy and ride with her from the tunnel. She's a nice lady, early middle age-ish, has a daughter in college. I've chatted with her a number of times, she's a seriously hard core commuter, goes pretty fast when she sets her mind to it. She had a leg brace on - hurt her leg reffing a LAX game, apparently. Finished the game, she said. Tough lady. I respect that. I wouldn't mess with her. I don't chat with people on the commute a whole lot but I think we got to talking riding up to Bethesda one day during really bad weather or something. So now we at least say hello.
- God, I hate the road crossings on the Cap Crescent. You're totally at the mercy of the drivers. Came through the second one, nearest Bethesda, and this one guy grudgingly comes to a stop in his red (with Shelby racing stripes) Dodge Charger. We ride past and he peels out to get to the red light 50 yards down the road. I laughed out loud - he really showed us not to mess with him...
- On the gravel Georgetown Branch trail, a couple toddlers were playing on the edge and their mother tried to keep them off the trail. You won't understand this unless / until you have kids, but I *adore* my own kid, and have a soft spot for most other kids. The really young ones, under 6 or 7 years old, are innocent and lovely little humans. They have their moments, they're people too... but there's just something wonderful about young kids. I slowed down as I passed and took in the scene, it reminded me of my own wife and son. Mommies are really special people too, at least the good ones. They have a really important job, and mothering doesn't get the credit it deserves. Seeing how important my wife is to my son's growth, I'm blown away by that. I feel my spirits lifting when I see an obviously loving mother with her young child. Can't explain it, I guess.
- Ahh, here's the truck now. Time to pack up the bike, turn on Sports Talk radio, and drive the last half of the way home. What a nice ride. Not as interesting as Frischkorn being tormented by Cofidis, but it had its moments. Nothing in that ride was serious, it was just 40 minutes of not-anything-else, which is exactly what I needed.
What the hell. You've been great sitting through that shit. Here, have one of my favorite vids as a reward:
Sunday, May 18, 2008
This work built up a powerful hunger that a couple brats boiled in beer and onions didn't fix. Plus, the Giro was on this afternoon, with Benatti tearing it up and edging out Sainted Wife's fave, Paolo Bettini, for the stage win. I needed something hearty but not totally unhealthy for dinner.
Mussels steamed in white wine sauce it was. Here's an easy recipe.
Get 3-5 pounds of mussels. Put them in a big pot filled with ice water, and stir in a half cup of corn meal. Let it sit 3-4 hours. (They eat the meal and spit out sand... better texture when you eat 'em).
Finely chop, and keep in separate piles on a big plate:
- Half an onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- a baseball-sized clump of parsley
- a celery stalk
- a half teaspoon of dried, crushed thyme, or if fresh, 2-3 sprigs
- a half teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
- two whole bay leaves
- a pinch of salt
- 300 ml of white wine (a bit more than a cup. I used a Marini pinot grigio perennial, though any white with character will do)
- 200 ml of cream, or milk (2% works okay, cream is ritcher)
1. Clean the mussels really well, get any beards off.
2. Sautee the onions and celery and garlic in a big stock pot with about 2 tablespoons of butter, don't brown them just cook until soft.
3. Throw in the remainder of the dry ingredients, except for the black pepper and half the parsley. Slide the mussels in. Stir everything well.
4. Pour in the white wine, cover the pot, and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, let it boil ("steam") for 3-3.5 minutes.
5. In the last minute, throw in the milk and black pepper. Stir.
6. Remove any mussels that didn't open.
7. Serve in great big bowls - broth and mussels.
8. Eat with a nice spicy Belgian beer (Qwak or McChouffe would be ideal) and some crusty French bread.
9. Watch some bike racing, and consider how damned good your life really is.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Let's look at the U.S. commitment to civil rights. We care about civil rights, and even in spite of the doomsaying, there's been progress. And just look at who we've had as chairs of our Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - extremely distinguished, professional attorneys who have done a good and workmanlike job of enforcing workplace anti-discrimination laws.
Under the Democrats - the distinguished Ida Castro.
Under the Republicans - the Honorable Naomi Earp.
And who runs the Italian government equivalent of the EEOC? Why, the Hon. Mara Carfagna, of course.
Hah, you probably think I'm joking, but I'm not.
Man, Dave Stoller was right about the Italians. They got it goin' on. Don't get me wrong, the U.S. is a *great* freakin' country. I've been a lot of other places and there's no other place I'd rather call home. And, were I a gambling man, I'd stack up the credentials of our EO Chairs against the Italian EO minister's any day. If I needed a lawyer in an employment case, I know who I'm calling.
But still, you have to give the Italians major credit here - they sure as hell know how to do things with a panache we simple and straightforward Americans will never posses. Good or bad, to hell with that - they have *style* in a way I can only barely appreciate, much less imitate.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today's prescribed workout was 5x6 minutes at just a hair under threshold, a hard ride, so the HON ride, the Wednesday hill ride, while in practice a bit harder than threshold in many parts, was close to perfect for that chart. I rode aerobic tempo (L3) for about 10 miles getting into DC, then I rode up Lee Highway, a 5 minute climb, at threshold or a bit above, kind of hammering because I was sure I'd miss the ride start. By the time I got to the top of the hill it was too late to go to the coffee shop so I hammered it down the Custis Trail to Lorcom, then up Military and up the first major climb on the HON ride, a hill that just murders me because it has two walls in the middle of it. I waited at the top for everybody to arrive, did some stretches for 5-8 minutes, and only Scott showed, so we rode the rest of the ride more or less together. I pulled subthreshold down Glebe and hammering the downhill on Military, then tried to lead or hang with Scott until I popped on each uphill. I kept in contact with Scott for about 2/3ds of each hill, which is sort of miraculous compared to where I've been, then I just suffered my ass off up the remainder of each hill. Going into the last hill, my legs just flat gave out going up Military and I told him I was skipping out, all the matches were gone. I struggled to pedal back into DC and I wasn't even nearly fully recovered until I was riding through Georgetown. Seriously, I had trouble maintaining L3 power for 20 minutes after I blew up. It was baaaaddd.
That doesn't tell you how hard I rode. What would tell you about it is that I arrived at my desk before 8:00 AM, and had the shakes until 9:15. I was also loopy and a little lightheaded until about noon. That's pretty common for me after the HON if I ride it right, I spend a shitload of time at VO2 / L6 power levels, and it leaves me woozy, my brain swimming in a pond of lactic acid. I drank a bottle of Accellerade and ate half a Clif bar and a few apples around 9:45, but had mild stomach cramps and felt totally blown out, just physically useless, until an hour after lunch. Even at 9:00 PM tonight, my legs are feeling this morning's ride. Now *that* was a workout.
*That* is also how I'm getting better at riding. On the hard days, I ride really f***ing hard. On the easy days, the BikeTrailGuys can usually dust me. The riding power and stamina are coming along nicely, I'm still seeing good improvements, though I need to lose weight and gain skill, no matter which discipline I'm looking at. I've gotten compliments on the improvement at climbing; they're a little backhanded of course and always will be - I will never be able to hang with a 140 pound climber no matter what I do, but I'm not a total charity case on hilly rides any more and that's a good feeling. It's especially good because I know the improvement is earned. I'm not tapping into some deep well of hidden cycling talent that is easy to reach; I'm busting my ass.
Do *you* have to ride that hard to improve? I don't know. Maybe you do, maybe you don't, it's hard for me to gauge how much others are putting out so I just don't know.
I have some limiters I'm trying harder than ever to beat, and maybe you don't have them. And maybe you're more inherently talented at this kind of thing than I am. I don't know. But what I do know is that for me to improve I need two things - high volumes of low intensity riding, and hard days where I ride like Optimus Prime was chasing my ass for stealing his WD-40.
I've found the way to ride this hard is to focus on building up to the really big efforts, winding up the engine like a big diesel. The surest way for me to blow up quickly is to do a half dozen thousand-watt-plus efforts on little or no rest. That will pretty much cure me of feeling froggy in about 5 minutes - I'm sitting there perfectly in control of my faculties, but stuck with blown legs.
On the other hand, if I just wind up the engine, even up to twice threshold levels, I can spend a whole lot of time in the red zone, really tax all the body's systems, and hammer myself into the ground until my vision starts to go gray and I start seeing spots. I can do much more net work by powering up a little slower. Simply put if I power up the diesel gradually, just ramp up the power to get up hills, close gaps and so forth, I can do tons and tons of work, maybe a half hour of that level of work over the course of a 45 minute ride, breaking up the work with short recovery periods (as if in a race). But if I do a bunch of quick near-all-out efforts, I go underwater so fast that Jacques Cousteau would be taken aback. The volume of work completed is much, much lower.
So how hard was it?
Not hard enough. Next time I'm going to try to get a little more out of myself on each of those walls.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Another funny thing was seeing Beth Mason down there for a noon ride. She's moving tomorrow and apparently needed a dose of high-estrogen riding with some other *very* fast women and the usual bunch of Tuesday folk. She rode well and her perspective on the local scene will be missed; we all wish her well.
Another odd thing I did was ride at or near the front the whole time. Riding at the front doing the warmup lap at 22-23 was dumb, I just looked at the power file and that was 7-8 minutes tooling along into a headwind at threshold/subthreshold levels. It was pretty cool to lose a few spots then bridge up, close a gap or two, drive real hard in the drops for a while. I hung in for the warmup and about three hot laps, and dropped off when I started getting crampy. It had something to do with letting myself get real dehydrated between last night (couple drinks at the Team dinner) and not hydrating this morning, unless you count two mondo coffees and three or four 20 ounce Diet Cokes as hydrating. I had meetings all morning so I was following an unusual, kidney-destroying hydration regime here...
Anyhow, the real oddness came when I was riding. The wind was whipping along from the left at one point, I was stuck in an echelon on the left, and people were passing on the right in the gutter. I had this enormous brain-draining snot I needed to blow out and couldn't do it, so put my jersey sleeve and glove to an alternate use - huge snot rag. This got me to thinking, what other unorthodox uses could you put bike kit to? It didn't take long for my fertile brain to crank out some ideas (maybe I had the 493 milligrams of caffeine to thank for that...)
- Bike helmet - this is the ultimate product testing tool for all those clean air, odor-reducing devices that upscale gear stores sell to over-moneyed yuppies. I don't care if they are negative ion air cleaners, HEPA filters, or a bunch of illegal day laborers hired by shady subcontractors to Clean Air Americans Won't Clean. Put the cleaner in a room with my helmet, shut the door, and come back an hour later. Two men enter, one man leaves. If your cleaner doesn't break down in a cloud of smoke and tears, it's market-worthy, and you can make those outlandish claims about how it eliminates all odors. But if it doesn't hold up, or my helmet stank overpowers it... get it out of here. And don't even bring that weakass car mirror pine tree air freshener crap 'round here.
- Inner tube - as others have noted, the primary use of an old tube is to amuse your kids. You let them blow it up, tie off the ends when it shreds, blow it up, and repeat several times. Total howls of laughter ensue. The alternate alternate use is scaring the bejeezus out of the dog, who now hates tubes perhaps more than he hates vacuum cleaners, and bro, he hates him some vacuum cleaners.
- Chamois butter - Oh yeah, there's an alternate use for this too. Oh, jeebus, you pervert. I was just going to say it's wonderful for dry, cracked skin. It's a good substitute for Norwegian Formula. Great stuff. And you can use if for *that* I guess, you big freak. By "that," of course, the perverted use, I'm referring to frying up Spam in a light greasing of Chamois Butter to make fried Spam sandwiches... mmmm... Spam... is there anything it can't do?
- Gu - if you need to animate your kid in the morning, a packet of Gu with normal caffeine will do the trick. You have to watch out to ensure he doesn't have "KidBonk" after an hour or so - that's where they crash out wherever they happen to be, even if it's standing in the middle of a busy street holding a running chainsaw in one hand and a beehive in the other - but otherwise it seems pretty safe. I'd recommend avoiding the Double Caffeine Espresso Love Gu. I haven't tried it, but sometimes in life we can make a good educated guess about what type of abject disaster will ensue if we do something we know we shouldn't, and when we get that feeling, it's usually spot-on. I call it the "Dating That Redheaded Girl" instinct, though some others have called it the "Law of Ingestion of the Marginal Tequila Shot," which involves drinking one last tequila shot. As any economist can tell you, it doesn't pay to consume marginal goods, the cost is simply too high at the margins...
Monday, May 12, 2008
(5 times daily) ritual prayer, a true Masilem.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Of course being a Romanoff, with all the affiliated problems with hemophilia, I'm betting he had hella problems with road rash.
Scarlett Johansen, bicycle race, tight jeans. Need I say more?
So you know all about Team Slipstream winning the Team Time Trial, and American Christian VandeVelde wearing the Giro d'Italia's Maglia Rosa for a day, right? You don't? Well, that's actually a good thing. Time was, an American wearing a grand tour leader's jersey would be enormous news. It's kind of a big deal still, but one of the effects of Andy Hampsten, Greg Lemond, Hincapie, Landis, Armstrong and Zabriskie is that it isn't a world breaking story. It's not Sly Stallone's Allies beating the Nazis in "Victory," it's just another day in the pro peloton, a little unusual but not the kind of thing to stop the presses over. It was a great thing for Slipstream to win, and great for U.S. cycling and the Giro to see an American in the leader's jersey.
There are some downsides, to be sure. The TdF has so eclipsed all other bike races that the Giro has become a bit of a backwater; several alleged ProTour teams have sent notably weak teams, placeholders, to the race. For another thing, while anything can't happen on any day at the TdF - the big teams are packed with top riders and strategy is charted out months in advance - the Giro is much more of a racer's race. There aren't a lot of surprises day-to-day, and the racers don't seem to mind if a camera catches the peloton cruising along at 17 MPH for several hours at a time if the roads are rough, the weather is a bit bad, or the pack feels a bit tired. A casual fan wouldn't get the touring pace, but a racer or serious tifoso would smile and enjoy the 'piano piano.' Fans can enjoy just chilling and watching the race in the background, and racers can have a chance to ride themselves into shape, have a rest day in the middle of 20 days of utter pounding, and eat lots, look at the sights, and get ready for the toughest mountain stages this side of La Ruta de de los Conquistadores. Then when they get down to really racing, it's totally unpredictable, because all the Italians ride as if the devil himself were chasing them. So you never know who is going to win in the mountain stages - it will be whoever doesn't abjectly blow up. It is amazing to see a dozen or twenty pros ride up hills and blow up. Sure, in the TdF you'll see the lieutenants peel off as their legs get burnt out, but they still keep chugging up the hill pretty well, and the leaders may lose a little pace but they rarely blow. They ride to limit the damage. It doesn't seem to happen that way in the Giro - the mountain stages look more like they are raced for the win. They seem to ride more desperately, kind of like the French in the TdF except the Italians usually stand a chance of winning. So you can see many of the riders push way past their limits. How does a guy like 'il Falco' Savodelli win twice? By killing himself to stay in contact on the climbs, then risking his life on the descents. Racing to win. Eddy Mazzoleni absolutely murdered himself last year, riding some great mountain stages, and clearly blowing himself up a couple times, then hanging on by his teeth to finish decently in the stages where that happened, blown legs notwithstanding. You could see him, riding strong, riding strong, riding strong.... wobbling, then trying to chug in recovery mode. He'd be at or off the front, then all of a sudden he'd be going 5 MPH, struggling to stay upright, just punishing himself. *Great* racing. And oh, by the way, Americans are capable of doing okay at it.
Ultimately the Giro will suffer vis a vis American participation. While it's a purist's race, it doesn't have the marketing impact that the TdF does. American teams typically aren't in it for the beauty of the race, but to make money, and if you want to make money, you need to focus on winning The Big Game. Which is a shame, because American cycling would find itself accorded a seat at the table if its teams and riders would grab more of the working man's palmares - and the Americans aren't the only ones who know about The Big Game compromise. Several ProTour teams are stinking it up, saving their riders' legs for the Tour de. Oddly enough, I don't think it hurts the Euro teams all that much to skimp here, because nobody questions whether Francais de Jeaux deserves a seat at the big boys table. The American teams and riders - oh sure, they can win the TdF, but the monuments, the other two grand tours, the smaller tours - but US cycling doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of Europeans, even in spite of how impossibly hard many Euro pros find our NRC crits.
For now... VandeVelde had the Maglia Rosa for one day, now the irrepressible young Ricardo Rico - Rico Suave -has the stage and Pellozotti wears the jersey.
And I'm about to subscribe to RAI, the Italian ESPN which carries *all* the bicycle races. Seems it's available through Verizon FIOS so Sainted Wife is checking on the subscription price this morning. Guess I'm going to have to brush up on my Italian gibberish to watch that - you got your linguine, your fettucini, your zucchini...
Small but nice victories all around this weekend I guess.
Hells no, you're going to man the f*** up and go for a ride. Here's 6 tips to help you do it, based on what I've learned the very hard way.
1. Fenders. You know I'm an incorrigible Fenderphile, but you don't have to go whole hog with full fenders. A pair of SKS Raceblades, Planet Bike SpeedEz or similar clip-on partial fenders do a good job at the critical tasks - keeping a blast of spray from shooting off the front wheel, up between your legs, and keeping a similar blast off the back wheel from painting a skunk stripe up your back, and muddying your riding partner's face. They attach to the forks and rear seatstays by means of simple rubber straps, and take about a minute to install both. ~$30 - $50.
2. A cheap plastic rain jacket. Now check this out - it seems you can actually get rained on, and you won't melt. Yeah, I know, whodda thunkit? It's true though. So a rain jacket may actually be unnecessary if it's warm enough out. And here's another oddity - if you ride with a cheap plastic rain jacket, you'll probably be as wet at the end of the ride, as if you hadn't. The wet will be from your sweat (eeeeewwww). The difference is you won't be hypothermic - a constant flow of cool rain will chill you like nothing else. You can live with a little sweat pooling under the jacket and making you clammy; four hours of icy spew from God's Garden Hose, on the other hand, will have you crying for mommy. I find if it's about 65 or cooler when the rain hits, that I prefer to have the rain jacket on. ~$10 - $25
3. Remember to drink. You probably don't need to drink quite as much in the rain, since you will likely be cooler than you would be in warm weather. However, you still need the calories from your sports drink, and in all likelihood you will still be sweating and getting dehydrated - it's just that you won't notice it because the rainwater dripping from your nose dilutes the sweat.
4. Remember those old road shoes you were about to throw away? Don't. The biggest aggro I've found from rain rides is trying to dry out my shoes. When nice new shoes spend four hours in the dunking tank, the aggravation of waiting for them to dry is coupled with worries that prolonged immersion damaged the insole or the leather. Avoid the worries, and keep the old pair around for rainy days. When you return from you ride, hose them off, undo all the fasteners, remove the insole, lift the tongue, and let them air out to dry. You can ball up some newspaper in them for a few hours, this will help draw some of the moisture out of the leather. You can also put them in front of a fan overnight, which will get them mostly dry. Cost: free.
5. Immediate cleanup. The best thing about riding in the rain, other than the fact it beats not riding, is that wet dirt washes off your bike much easier than dried-on dirt, which is colloquially known as "cement." As soon as you end your ride, take the garden hose to your bike. Pay special attention to the parts that rub other parts. Rinse off the pedals and chain/chainring/cassette really well. Loosen the quick releases and spray in between the QR and the dropouts - grit always gets in there somehow, no matter how tight you had the QR. Get under the seat, and underneath the bottom bracket, where your derailleur cable probably runs. One cautionary note - don't spray high pressure water into areas that have bearings and/or seals of dubious quality. So don't jet water directly at your headset, at the cones on your hub, directly into the bottom bracket seals, etc. Use a sponge or cloth to remove that dirt then rinse. Same thing with your shoes and helmet - rinse them off right away, and if you're feeling particularly froggy, wear the helmet in the shower and use this as an opportunity to shampoo the pads and the straps.
6. I don't recommend riding in insanely heavy rain on a nice bike. I've done this and it takes a complete disassembly and cleaning to get all the grit out. If you're planning on doing that kind of riding regularly it merits investment in a dedicated ratty rain bike or cheap fixie, which are, respectively, beyond worrying about, or much easier to clean. But if you do a long ride in a downpour, in seriously heavy rain, you may have water inside your rims, and inside the bottom bracket. You get this from rolling through puddles with deep water, e.g. regular trips through 2"+ deep puddles, or from being out for a while in a torrential downpour. If that's the case you need to take off your tires & tubes, turn the rim so that the stem hole is downward, and let the water drain out. You might want to leave the wheel in that state until the rim tape dries as well. Some older styles of bottom brackets or bottom bracket shells may need to be drained out as well, and as long as you're going this far, you might as well check out the hubs to make sure there's no water in there, especially if you had to pedal through some hub-deep water. Doesn't that cheap fixie sound better now? Performance sells one for about $300, though your LBS would be happy to set you up on something much more stylish and with nicer quality components for not much more than that.
Those are just some things I've learned by riding in the rain. It's not hard, as long as you're not talking about a downpour. When do I skip rain rides? On days like today, for instance, where it's absolutely pelting down. There is a puddle outside my window, and one raindrop per second lands in each square inch of that puddle. That's way too much rain. But the moderate drizzle we had yesterday? No problem. It was 75 outside, fairly calm, a little overcast, and all the trees have just turned green. The weather was too nice to not ride, and I wasn't going to let just a little rain stop me. Nor should you.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
- I'm still sore from Lodi. Roadracing sometimes leaves me really fatigued. Mountain biking leaves me sore, as if I'd been in a fistfight. And lost.
- Jon ordered me a new set of forks today, some Rock Shox Rebas. Somewhere in the darkness early Saturday morning, I figured out that at my skill level, I could probably go a lot faster over rough ground with a suspension fork, which would permit more instantaneous line choices. And maybe just bashing over rocks and roots rather than having to carefully pick my spots.
- The best day in a cyclist's life is when he orders new bling. The second best day is when he installs it. The third is when he first rides it. A close fourth is when he sells it to recoup some money, to buy more bling.
- The world's most dangerous drivers, bar none, are 25 to 40 year-old women commuting and talking on their cellphones. Several of these nearly caused me to crash out today. And I was in my car! It was like some kind of death match or something. It used to be diplomatic plates and Jersey plates gave me the willies; from now on it's any car driven by a yakking woman. Oh yeah, guys in BMWs talking on cellphones rate a close second. And Volvos. I think a lot of Volvo owners see ad copy claiming that Volvos are tested and proven to be the safest cars on the road, and take that as a bet challenging them to test and prove the cars' crashworthyness. Seriously, it was my worst driving commute in ages. This one woman nearly crashed me out about three times just driving up Benning Road. She was just talking on the phone, waving her arms, and veering into my lane. I resolved that if she crashed into me, I was going to take a tire iron to her car. Fortunately that didn't happen, because it would be tough to blog from jail.
- I'm just wrapping up my second rest day this week. There are things that are worse than rest days, I just can't think of any right now.
- Here's a good website to check out - a little group blog people with some hard ridin' MFs. Bikecentric, where the scorchin' RickyD blogs alongside some other people with a unique take on mountain biking and riding generally.
- Oh goody... 5 x 6 at CP 90 tomorrow. What does that mean? 5 fairly hard intervals on the road bike, sprinkled like little rainbow colored candies on a 90 minute to 2 hour ride. Can't wait to do them.
Oh yeah, that was like 7, maybe 7.5 thoughts. That's because this site is under new mismanagement, and we just want you to know that you get more than what you pay for. That's why you're getting 1 - 1.5 more thoughts in this blog post than were originally advertised. It's part of the blog's new plan to offer ever more pleasing goodness to our readers.
Tomorrow's improvement: we split the same old shit into 4 different entries. Sure, it's the same old shit, but now you'll be getting 400% more of it! Some might call that some sort of capitalist swindle, but I'll believe that when I start making actual cash off the operation of this here website. For now, I'm just another one of you plebeian schmucks trying to figure out how to make things better, just one of the guys.
Now hold still while I hit that golf ball off your mouth.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I know there was nothing wrong with me; I'm supposed to feel fatigue for several days after an effort like Lodi. Still, I couldn't help but feel like my training is falling off track.
On the one hand, I don't feel insecure about how slow I was riding and how awful I felt. I *know* I'm a racer. On the other hand, it felt like oil was leaking out of my engine, and here I was all posed up, unaware of the growing puddle underneath my wheels.
It felt like I was pedaling the bike underwater, but I stuck with it and after a hour and a half, I was finished. That felt good.
Now it's getting late - 8:00 PM, maybe not so late unless you're exhausted like me - and I'm going to go to bed.
I need some rack time, and will stay off the bike tomorrow, then ride easy again on Thursday.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Here's Jon Seibold, Family Bikes LBS owner and expert MTB racer, finishing up what must have been his 4th lap, something in the neighborhood of a very fast 51. He's securing the lead for the Family Bikes team, right before Tom McKay, AKA Young Buck, soon to be Eagle Scout Tom, goes out and drives the final nail in the coffin. It was a superlative performance from Jon, Trevor Miller and Tom - just steady fast laps, hard work, and high intensity. They won the Single Speed class against some tough competition, and finished third overall, plus they put up with three Coppis, NooBs to the MTB endurance scene, in their little compound on the campsite/field. Well done, and thanks gents.
Yeah, that's me. Man, I'm tired. Fat too. No, that's not a ham on the end of my forearm, that's my fist. I was pretty happy to be wrapping up this lap. If I look tired it's because I flatted on this lap, finally figured out how to climb steep hills with many roots on them (it takes really hard work, FWIW) and because my brakes failed causing me to try many innovative methods of slowing myself, including hopping off the bike and running down steep hills, Bizarro Cyclocross Style, and grabbing trees to slow myself on turns. *That* hurt. I was also suffering from pretty bad racer gut - I burn upwards of 1000 calories an hour on intense rides, and can't keep anywhere near hydrated, so I eat and drink just about everything I can cram into my mouth. It results in the aesthetically pleasing phenomenon of a bloated stomach that pushes my beer / powerlifter gut even further out. I wish I could say that I'd lose weight and it would go away but let's be honest about this - even if I get ripped I'm still going to be an endomorphic stocky bastard who can't take in enough calories or water during races. So I'm doomed. But I could stand to get lighter and faster on the hills. You may notice the forearm pump BTW. That comes from riding rigid, and from having to pull on the bars a lot on the uphills to keep moving. I can handle one or the other. Rather than getting gears, for now, I'm going to try getting a fork and slinging that on there. I'll let you know how it goes.
Yeah, that was a tough ass race. It was really fun, a serious challenge. I think I'm going to do a bunch more MTB races this summer. Mainly it's going to be for fun, but also because it has enormous training benefit, and the fun factor makes it beat the hell out of interval sessions at Hains. They also have their place, but if you can get in a VO2 workout or a hard tempo ride and have fun, it will keep your mind and soul fresh for race season; intervals tend to only wear you down, with the only immediate reward coming on those days when you hit a personal best power output, or maybe get an exceptionally good post-ride espresso. There's nothing wrong with that, but those are Calvinistic pleasures, sparse fun made pleasureful only by their contrast to abundant suffering. (Okay, the espresso is always good, but the interval riding is not). It's fine, that's the roadie way and I love it. But if there are several training methods that will Git 'er Done, why stint on the fun? Cross season starts in 120 days plus two weeks, so right now, 4 months out, it's time for me to get with the PROgram, as Padraig puts it in an excellent post, reminding us "Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight." I'm going to fight hard with the intervals, but I've gotten strong enough that I could stand to mix in some fun training too.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Art, Dave B and I formed Squadra Sporcizia (Team Dirt) for the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm MTB race; we took third in our class.
It kicked off at on Saturday and ran through to about today. We raced Beginner 3-man class, a relay style class. Dave and I hadn’t raced MTB before so I don’t think we were sandbagging, though the Sport class beckons. The course was incredibly tight, twisty single track, and extremely climby - imagine the rougher trails at Patapsco, only half the width, with a hairpin every 50 or 100 yards, and you'll have a good idea. I rode the single speed rigid 29'er. Dave rode his for part of the race then went geared, Art was on a geared, full-suspended magic carpet bike. I don’t know the details of what Dave did, we were too tired to sit there re-hashing everything, but I know that somewhere in the dark around 2:30 AM, when the rear wheel was falling off his bike and his light failed, he was cursing my name for having entered us. Art was solid, turning in workmanlike-laps. The report on Art from a guy on another team was "it looked like he was working *really* hard out there." That’s high praise. Art and Dave came through like studs. As of or so, we were in last place in our class. Everybody just kept grinding along though, riding harder in the daylight, and starting to pick people off. By we finished in third in our class. I'm *extremely* proud of my teammates, it was tough out there and they did great, Art was steady as all hell and I'm going to call Dave Tenacious D from now on.
I can't really share race details with you because it's a miasma of suffering and disorientation, struggling to spot lines in the dark, a flat and a complete loss of brakes on my last lap (that made it interesting) and a visit I made to some dark psychological places during my night laps. The details would bore you and you wouldn't really understand anyhow, you had to be there. It was really f***ing hard, physically the hardest ride I've ever been on, and I feel like I played in a rugby tournament over the weekend. I went into the pain cave and brought a lawn chair and a cooler filled with tall boys of ice cold hurt, and proceeded to drinkin'.
How bad did it get? On my first lap in the middle of the night, I crested a whoop that had a big root on it, lofted the front wheel, and dropped it right down into a root on the downward side, crashing hard, going Superman over the bars. 90 minutes later, at the exact same spot, I decided I needed to carry more speed, so I hit it really fast… and crashed really f***ing hard. This time I went Superman over the bars, total lunchbox, but managed to stick my leg through the frame, pin it in place with the handlebars, and to be laying there face down on the ground, unable to move. I was really shook up from the crash, and on the way back into the camp, kept repeating to myself, “Superman yardsale, Wonder Woman’s lunch pail.” Yeah, I was sort of f***ed in the head at that point. I openly admit this.
It wasn't all hell - I found my daylight lap pleasant, actually had a good rhythm going, and not withstanding a flat tire and total loss of brakes (that was interesting) got into a good flow and cleared almost all the hills, which was significant since the climbing was *so* technical and doing it on a single speed took huge neuromuscular power and VO2 efforts. Did you ever do big ring intervals on hills? This ride pushed me so far out of my comfort zone physically and skills-wise that it was constant "improve or die" moments, and I managed to pick up a lot of new skills. I have to give more credit to my teammates than to myself. My lap times sucked. At night, the reason for this was pretty simple. As a big guy I rely on carrying speed. I couldn't do that on a tight, twisty course at night. Then my day lap - when I actually got into a really rockin' rhythm, went to hell when I flatted and lost my brakes. The boys carried the day though.
Funny things did happen, but it was mostly about finding unique ways to crash, run into trees, or fall off the bike. This kind of MTB racing is aptly named "endurance" racing. It's not the kind of race that you get on top of, take a strategy into and kick the race's butt; it's about "enduring," just eating your suffering for hours at a time, outlasting the other guys and the course. Our comeback in the morning hours, when the others in our class were weakening illustrates what you can take away from this kind of racing - it teaches suffering and perseverance, keeping on when it would be easier to quit. It's amazing what you're capable of when you just decide you're going to stick it out. Add in some other rewarding aspects - hanging out with your teammates, a genuinely warm and quirky MTB racing atmosphere, and it's the kind of experience I'd like to repeat, though a suspension fork may be in the cards.
Other highlights - we set up a compound with the Family Bike Shop guys, including Jon Seibold (Cat 3 Road, MTB Expert), Trevor Miller, and Tom McKay (ABRT Junior, Jeff Cup winner). On metal single speeds they took first in the Single Speed class, 3d overall behind two teams comprised of local pro-level experts riding geared full suspension $5 - $7k carbon fiber rigs. Keep an eye out for Tom - he is in his first 12 months of real racing, and he has exceptional talent. Joel Gwadz ("Gwadzilla" blogger and bike advocate) was also there and while he's good on a cross bike, you should see him hammering on a single speed MTB - he is 6'4" 230 and he flies, throwing dirt and rocks like a rolling avalanche as he hammers around. Also present were some MORE stalwarts like Ricky DiLeo, he won the Fixed Gear Solo class (yep...) completing as many laps on his Matt Chester rigid Ti rig as we completed as a team... an impossibly difficult task on a fixed gear. I can't comprehend it - it would be like riding a roadbike on a skating rink.
Bottom line is there's supposed to be some huge rivalry between road and MTB riders. While we sometimes enjoy joking with each other I can't help but have enormous respect when I see the skill level and fitness of the guys who are really committed to riding dirty. It refreshes my love for the bike to be around them.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
You eat fish, swim, eventually you'll hook up with a nice lady Emperor Penguin, have an egg together, walk a lot, throw up into your kid's mouth, then go eat fish and swim some more. Good times, good times...
But for today, you're walking around on a rocky island, cheeping at your buddies, enjoying the sun, and
OH NO! IS THAT WHAT I THINK IT IS? AAAAARRRRGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!! AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!
That's right. You're an Emperor Penguin, and you've just been raped by a seal.
Making matters worse, some South African scientists got it on film.
What next... I suppose they'll post it on the internet, right? Y'know, so everybody can get a sick, perverted kick out of the de-humanizing violence and intimidation that was visited on you. And they'll get their giggles, claiming it's "for science."
Naaah, nobody would be that awful and mean.
That's exactly what they did!
They even made fun of the penguin's O-Face, saying "at first glimpse, we thought the seal was killing the penguin." Um, okay, Professor Frink, [Glayvin!] I guess you've never seen that look ["la petit mort"] on anybody's face before so it's probably a forgivable error. But still, isn't it in poor taste to post this kind of smut on the intar-webs?
Read all about the seal-on-penguin assault right here, you sick bastards.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Cycling Quotient - team rankings and other good factual stuff about roadracing.
Podium Cafe - a blog so into pro cycling, that they actually cover Cycling Fantasy Leagues. Yeah, ESPN on two Zipps, basically.
The Racing Bicycle - a website with the finest interface 1994 had to offer, tracing the history of Bike Degeneracy. Lots of nice pictures.
Graham Watson.com - More eye candy than the Playboy mansion. The really titillating stuff is for sale too.
Bummed that the Search for Extraterrestrial Life has turned up nothing so far? Don't be. In fact, be very glad for a simple logical reason.
Finally - best for last. If you have even a sliver of rudimentary knowledge about capital markets, stocks, bonds, commercial paper, mortgages or accounting, any sort of big bidness - this website will give you hours of laughter. I'm not kidding. It's so good, it's getting blogrolled and getting a new category - off topic. It's the funniest damn thing I've seen in years. Scroll down, check out the links, have a laugh. Then cry yourself to sleep when you realize how exactly democratic capitalism - our system, and the best there is to date - actually operates. It ain't pretty, but damn, it's funny.