Monday, November 29, 2010
Full disclosure. Dave said the other week that if I wanted to keep the bike I could buy it at a demo discount price. I'm thinking about it... it's a nice bike. Now on to the review - in which I give my views that are not impacted either way by Dave's generous offer. I promise. Here's the truth as I see it.
I've ridden this bike on a bunch of rides now. Dave's basic setup doesn't suit me - he likes a setback seatpost and narrow bars, and short-for-my-freakishly-long upper body stem. But the basic cockpit is comfy, snug but room enough to ride efficiently. It's a damn race bike, not a Cadillac.
I rode with a really solid wheel setup, my Powertap / Ultegra Deep Vee set, with 700x25 Conti Gatorskins. These wheels are beyond stiff; they are a six-pack-0f-Viagra-and-cocaine-on-your-private-bits stiff. So however this frame rode, it was despite the wheels, not because of them.
So how did it ride, you ask?
Pretty damn awesome.
Dave told me that they went through roughly 50 possible build options, and went with the design they thought would be super stiff, with a reasonably tall head tube. Racy but comfortable, solid but keeping you in a reasonable posture for training, and racing everything from crits to Jeff Cup to Poolesville to Battenkill. The geometry isn't relaxed; it's more like traditional road race geometry, with wheelbase, rake & trail and set tube angles close to the Specialized Tarmac, a road bike with serious palmares and in wide usage. So the handling will be familiar to many of you.
But the ride characteristics set it apart. This bike feels a lot like a Cannondale CAAD 9 - that's a relatively inexpensive aluminum Crit Racer Special for those who aren't familiar with it - a bike that also offers major bang for the buck. But it has a little bit of extra give on the square-edged bumps that any 40-something roadie can tell you are the common indicators of whether a frame is truly "vertically compliant" as claimed in its ads. Yet the comfortable ride never compromises the stiffness of the bike. My back and confidence still aren't there yet to throw 1850 watt stomps - and the back may never be good enough to do *that* again. But I threw a bunch of 1450 watt stomps on this bike one day, and couldn't cause any serious bottom bracket flex. The massive conventional bottom bracket helps, but that can only get you so far; the flexy-flier vibe is absent because of how the tubes were constructed and put together. This bike is solid.
Did you hear me right in that last paragraph? Yes you did. I just told you that this bike absorbs the harsh jolts like the carbon bike you're familiar with, but transfers power like the stiffest commonly available aluminum road bike. It isn't as plush as my TCR, or a Tarmac, or "comfort" carbon bikes like the Specialized Roubaix. But all that means is that it doesn't have the slightly dead road feel that a lot of carbon bikes have, a feel that obscures feedback from the road surface that tells you about how much traction you have and what kind of cornering you can get away with. That makes the ride lively, like a good quality scandium frame, but without the bouncy flex of scandium. So it's stiffer under power than mass market carbon without being harsh; more responsive to the road surface than mass market carbon, without being nervous or transmitting jolts to your lower back.
This bike has made me think a bit about what the big manufacturers are doing with the "race bikes" that they are selling us. It's possible that some mass market race bikes are this stiff and responsive. I wouldn't know, I haven't been on too many $5k frames lately. Maybe the Colnago Extreme Power feels this way. But the production bikes available to most racers in the $2k - $4.5k retail price, the carbon bikes that us real workingman racers ride, don't feel like this at all. They tend to feel mushy in comparison, with a sort of dead, un-lively road feel that cushions all shocks, but which does not provide great road feedback and which flexes a bit when you step on it. Nice bikes, a world better than the aluminum or steel racers of 20 years ago, but not being all they could be.
Why wouldn't a racer prefer a taut, responsive, lively bike like this, to a slightly dead, nice-but-a-little-mushy "race bike"? Wouldn't you prefer a Porsche 9/11 turbo to a Corvette? Why don't all production carbon race bikes feel this way?
The November Bike makes me suspect that what is going on, is that a lot of the carbon bikes marketed to us as race bikes, are actually targeted at a broader market, rather than at actual racers. Who uses a mass market road racing bike anyhow? Twenty or thirty copies of the bike you ride, in Dura Ace or Red trim, may go to a ProTour team, along with a half dozen high end versions of the bike for the stars, or maybe even some high end custom bikes rebadged as a Tarmac or Madone or TCR. A bunch of continental teams will get a dozen or ten bikes each. A bunch of local race teams here, there and everywhere will get to buy some at a good discount, but nonetheless at a slight profit for the manufacturer. And then thousands will be sold at retail, a few to racers, a bunch to triathletes who don't know better, and tons to recreational riders who like to ride (or 'race') charity centuries or the local touring club rides or shop rides with a few friends, and even to the irritating guys who come out to try to crush you three times a year on the Cap Crescent or W&OD as you're limping home from Hains or the Goon Ride.
Actual racers are a small chunk of the road riding population, and to the extent that a big manufacturer makes a "race bike," it's meant as a tool to sell lots of units to consumers, not just to be raced.
This probably entails some compromises. The "race bike" you buy is definitely very raceable, but then so's a Surly Crosscheck. That doesn't make it an ideal race tool. A mass market race bike has to hit a pretty fat sweet spot; Tom Boonen will ride it until they get him his special, no-flex carbon layup a few weeks before La Primavera. A bunch of guys on the Potomac Pedalers will ride them. Some guys on your local shop ride will have them, and your team, and so will the guy who only comes out onto the Capital Crescent a few times a year to try to crush you when he races you up the trail in his Discovery Team kit. The bike design is by necessity very compromised. It can't be otherwise, if you think about it.
But when a local guy designs a race bike, he doesn't have to compromise. He can tell the fabricator what he wants, and he'll get it. In this case, Mike and Dave went for nasty stiff, comfortable mid-range race geometry, and tubes that make it able to absorb big jolts without losing responsiveness, road feel and that important stiffness. The bike is responsive, snappy and sharp handling; a joy to ride and when you step on it, the thing just goes. It tracks straight and steady, but turns with just a subtle shift of weight on the pedals or on the handlebars. It goes like a scalded cat.
Because of the narrow focus, and the design choices that Dave and Mike were able to make, this bike will probably race better than a lot of bikes costing twice as much - you don't need as much tool, when the tool you are using is designed specifically for the job you're doing, right?
This is the kind of bike you'd design for yourself, if you had some time to think about it and you wanted to make a carbon race bike to meet your needs as a racer and hard core bike enthusiast, right down to the pricepoint that is friendly to those who sponsor their own racing efforts.
Am I going to buy it? Yeah, I think so. I'm starting a renovation project on the house but if I can scare up the scratch I think I'll go for it. This frame just rides too damn sweet to pass up, and I think it'll rock once I get it outfitted the way I like it.
Hit Dave up and ask him for a test ride if you're interested. I'm sure he'll oblige.
Friday, November 26, 2010
As my first ride in a couple weeks, I had a fun post-bronchitis blast of coughing and hacked up tons of an unidentified liquid that Sean figured was some turkey glaze that I'd been storing up. The legs were MIA, I was oh-so-weak, and I managed to eat my antibiotics pre-ride, which left me with a bad case of nausea and a feeling like a knife was lodged in my gut.
Did I mention this was the most fun I've had in weeks? It was. I capped off the day with a plate of Recovery Turkey. Brined that puppy overnight, lifted the breast skin up and lodged rolled up bits of bacon and a stick of butter in strategic locations under the skin, and cooked it just until it hit 180 degrees. It turned out *so* juicy and nice... going to remember that trick for next year. Thanks to the bum stomach I managed not to finish the whole plate and got through Turkey Day without the usual epic blast of overeating, so it wound up being a pretty good day and a great feast in spite of everything.
I hope you guys had a happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for my readers and friends and the folks I ride with.
Show of hands - who thought that exact same thing yesterday?
Monday, November 22, 2010
Even so I'm excited as hell to go do the traditional 100+ rider Patapsco Thanksgiving Day ride tomorrow. Been aching to ride the MTB again. My cross season is through; my MTB season is just getting started. As it always is. [UPDATE: Cancelled, rain. &#$%@!!!!!!]
The momentum of anti-doping efforts continues apace. You know, I can understand a pro reaching for the brass ring doing dope. I can understand an up and coming kid doing it. Those things make sense.
But when local racers dope? Lame. I don't care how grandiose your local team is. It's still lame.
And when some schlub masters racer does it to improve from 51st at the Tour of Nothingville, to 17th? That's fucking pathetic.
Dude, you're committing a federal felony, basically, so that you can beat *me*.
Seriously. That's so far below being pathetic there isn't even a good name for it. It's lower than whale shit. If your sense of self worth is that non-existent, if you are so lacking in self-respect that you'd do this, you don't need coaching; you need counseling.
Speaking of true Americans - I just saw a trailer for a remake of True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. It's directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. Yeah, that's right. A Coen Bros remake of a classic cowboy flick. It's The Big Le Cowski. Holy crap, it looks good. I normally don't get stoked about going to the theater to see movies, but I'm stoked about this. If I had to bet it, I’d bet right now it will turn out to be one of the greatest westerns ever, a Top 10. I call that pretty bold talk for a one-eyed fat man, man.
I love LSU football. I don't know why, sometimes a team just makes you sorta happy to watch. Always have loved dem tigers. Les Miles is also the most scatterbrained coach this side of Woody Hayes on the day he punched out Charlie Bauman. Salvador Dali was better at keeping the game clock straight, and Miles has let time run out on would-be winning drives three or four times in the last two years with simple stupid mismanagement. Stranger yet, he actually managed to win some of those games due to penalties, do-overs, extra downs, whatever. Just crazy weird ways to win (and sometimes lose) games. So LSU needs some points on Saturday, they have the ball with about 2-3 minutes left, and they're driving. The announcer says, "LSU is in great shape here. They have 3 timeouts." Here I am thinking Sam Kinison is dead, when it turns out he's been announcing football for ESPN all these years. True confession: one of the things on my bucket list is to go to an LSU night game and drink my face off from noon onwards. Oh yeah, and LSU won Saturday. They're about to screw up the BCS picture too. Goofy team. Love 'em. Looks like they're playing at Arkansas this Saturday... it'll be interesting to see how they screw this game up, then pull it out.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
* Good news at the doc's today. Bronchitis, not pnuemonia. And probably a sinus infection. And the flu. But at least my STD test came back negative! The truth: I didn't take an STD test.
* Ever take the little blow test at the doctor's? I had to today. It's like a Powertap for your lungs. You think you'll do better... yet there are the numbers staring you in the face. The truth: just like the Powertap, you will start making excuses for your performance. "I have pneumonia. I haven't trained for this. It's my "C" priority test."
* I could barely breathe. The doc was a little panicky because I looked a little cyanotic. I blew a 450 - which apparently is pretty close to what a normal human blows. The doc looked less stressed. Then I explained I'm competitive cyclist and that's about a third of my normal result. Then she got real nervous again. The Truth: docs aren't used to dealing with athletes. They haven't a clue what's going on with us. Even weekend warriors.
* I blew like 1100 on the blow tester after an albuterol treatment. It felt like I could breathe better too - and well I should have, it was a 200% improvement in lung capacity. The Truth: once you start paying attention to the meter, you will probably start ignoring the reason you're metering things to begin with.
I was listening to a lot of old school hip hop tonight. None of this is safe work so check your volume level before you start blasting this across the office.
Let's start with a little Ice Cube - Check Yourself. A classic hip hop track that has aged pretty damn well. "You betta check yo self before ya wreck yo self."
Along the same lines... the Wu Tang Clan urges you to protect your neck. You think they mean you should wear sunscreen?
No, me neither.
That's nice. But along with urging greater thoracic protection, Wu Tang frequently brings the ruckus, as well as bringing the mother****in ruckus too. It's nice when all sorts of ruckuses are brought in equal proportions.
Don't forget about Dre, either...
It's cool seeing Eminem rapping with Dre, but Dre is only old school if you are real young. Real old school is stuff like Grandmaster Mel Melle and the Furious Five.
I think that holds up better than anything Kanye or 50 Cent are doing today will hold up. This one by A Tribe Called Quest seems to have aged pretty well too:
I like how Ice T holds up too. It's a bit ironic that he recorded Cop Killer, then went on to make his living portraying an NYPD cop in a police procedural drama...
Then there's this:
Guess I'll wrap this up with Ice Cube again, Today Was a Good Day.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I have been suffering from a knock-down, drag-out case of the flu. The knock-down part is what it's done to me. I've been bedridden - not ridden in bed but stuck in bed, or on the sofa - since Saturday night. The drag-out portion is the stuff getting dragged out of both ends, not good stuff like poesy dripping from my ruby red lips but bad stuff like half chewed up cold pizza and whatever stuff I can cram down for a brief stay in the mid-range Bed & Breakfast formerly known as My Stomach.
Thankfully, the throwing up ended pretty quickly, we just had a single big blast of that, and it may actually have been the result of inadvertently looking up my season profile on Crossresults.com rather than being caused by the flue.
There's all sorts of stuff leaking out of the other end, however, and the problems down there are a bit more persistent, in a number of respects. It's not a pretty picture, to put it mildly.
I started to feel bad - Real Bad, Hannibal, as a wise man once said - on Saturday night. So I convinced myself that I just needed a nice easy Sunday comprised of football watching and a little nap.
So I turned on the pre-game at 8:00 AM, and took a little nap. Until it was bedtime.
In between, I watched football for the 7 minutes I was awake. And I farted. Lots.
Any man who tells you that he doesn't enjoy a good puerile attack of the farts is either lying to you, or you're a woman in which case he's telling the God's honest truth, we don't enjoy farting like crazy honey, and whoever told you that is just wrong and lying and deceiving you about our true nature.
So anyways, after realizing how I'd been blessed with a comedy goldmine, I found this endlessly amusing. The Wife of and Son of were mostly out of the house during the day, so nobody was endangered by the risk of methane suffocation but me and the pets. Yet surprisingly, the small community of humans and domesticated animals that lives in my house didn't find my airborne blasts the least bit amusing; rather, "shared sense of dread" seems to capture the feelings they enjoyed, at least based on the cats running from the room after one particular WMD attack.
Not like I care; the cats start paying the damn mortgage, they can make a rule about "no farts but licking your ass all day is permitted." Until then, my house, my rules.
And oh, what a variety of comedic flattus we had.
There was my old friend Squeaky Pete. And his big hollering buddy, Flattus Eructatus. There was the Firecracker, the Pinwheel, and my old favorite, the Searing Hindquarters Heebie Jeebies. One after the other they came, spent a couple minutes in the livingroom stinking it up worse than the Giants, then departed without fanfare, like the Redskins's Superbowl hopes every year in mid-October.
How bad was it? You know it's bad when you pass gas, and the dog walks over and stares at you. I thought about pretending I was a Spartan in 300, and shouting, "This is FARTA!" each time. But like the Persians, there were just so many of them, and they just kept coming... So I just sat there being a typical puerile dude, watching football, farting, napping a bit, scratching myself a little, and wishing I felt well enough to drink a couple beers.
Unless you're one of my female readers in which case I spent the afternoon meditating, and getting in touch with my feelings, and *not even thinking* about farting on the nice sofa.
Anyhow, little did I know, that these sonic stylings were not the Trumpets of Juvenile Male Humor; no, they were the official Heralds of Doom.
Around halfway through a nice Sunday dinner - roast beef, if you must know - I felt a little tingling in the mid-parts. "Ahhh," I thought. "I recognize that... it's the White Sands Nuclear Device Test alarm." Excusing myself rather than making everybody at the table feel as nauseous as you do now, I hied myself to the powder room, and, just in case, took a seat on the throne of repose.
Good thing too, since the cork fell out and everything I've eaten since 1989 basically just dropped out. How'd that handkerchief get in there? Criminy... I'd inadvertently Released the Kraken!
That started a long run of, well, the runs. Every 20 minutes or so for the last three days, I released the Kraken. There was a little vomiting Sunday night, but no matter how big the blast, if it ends in one or two episodes, it has to be little, so the vomiting was minor. Same thing with the fever that comes and goes along with some delirium, and the irritating cough. Minor stuff.
The other stuff... well, it's been constant and it's only now easing up.
I'm told that the biggest problem if you have the trots is dehydration, which can kill you, because, as it happens, diarrhea is the most efficient way for squeezing water out of a person this side of a mortgage closing.
So I drank lots of water, chicken broth, downed lots of Gatorade, and did all the other things said to be good for stopping the trots like nibbling bits of bread and Graham crackers and so forth. Yet I kept erupting, like Old Faithful.
On Monday, I thought that things were settled. Things had been quiet from mid-day onwards, and as dinner approached, I decided to go to an old standby that worked when I had suffered from dysentery previously: extra cheese pizza. For real. Pizza plugs things up quicker than a Republican Senate filibuster, and you could use it to stop up an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. So I gave that a shot.
It took about 20 minutes for that stuff to blast through there. It even came out in whole wedges, ferchrissakes. I'd released the Kraken yet again! Woe unto me!
So I was up all night again, hitting the crapper every 20 minutes when I'd wake up with a twinge.
Now here's the really terrible part.
After you've crapped for about the 50th time, certain parts of the body just stop working. They just don't care. It's like when that irritating colleague asks for your stapler, and you only give it over reluctantly knowing you'll have to go pester him to get it back. Eventually, you stop asking for it back, because it's more hassle than it's worth and you'd rather just go get a new one. You just give up because it's not even worth trying.
So too with my butt, the part that exercises, um, good judgment, about when the coast is clear. You know, when it's safe to fart. I think the medical term is a disambigulator or something. You've heard about this anatomical part - it's at the heart of the great sonnet, "Here I sit, broken hearted, try to poop but only farted; the other day I took a chance, tried to fart but shart my pants." The part that prevents *that* from happening is what quit on me.
It just quit working without two weeks notice or anything. I swear there was an "I resign" script tattooed on my ass by 2:00 AM Tuesday morning, though that may have been from my bike's seat from earlier in the summer when I was doing a lot of base miles.
This presented me with a terrible dilemma. No, really. Some times I'm not amused by my own farting or talking about poo. Hard to believe, but it's actually somewhat true.
I would awaken from a semi-doze every 20 minutes or so, and feel a sense of urgency. But I was sooooo tired, and getting up, going to the crapper to release the Kraken again, or maybe just some disappointing huge fart*... that would take 5 minutes, I'd get back into bed and be more sore, more tired, and I'd be coughing again...
*Wait. Did I say "disappointing huge fart"? No such thing. But it would be a fart that I didn't need to get out of bed for.
Yet there was no way of knowing what was coming. No way to predict, since the missing valve was AWOL, exhausted from the weekend the way a tollbooth attendant on the Jersey 'Pike is worn out by July 7th. Just tired of all the traffic and not wanting to hear about any more shit from any more assholes...
So I had to spend the night gambling, only for some reason it wasn't as fun as Vegas usually is and there were no comp drinks or strippers, though I did wake up with a lingering sense of regret and a feeling I'd done something very wrong. Anyhow...
It was a clear choice: Fart or Shart. Pick one.
Pick right, and you win, and get to go back to sleep with minimal disruption, particularly if you pick "Fart" and you win. But like a red/black bet in roulette, the house always wins, and it's going to be a Shart more often than not. With a little luck, you can trigger the Emergency Lockdown Procedure and not soil anything.
But does anything about this sad tale of dissipation make you think that I have had any luck recently? No. Of course not.
It was like using a Mossberg 10 gauge magnum goose hunting shotgun to trim fingernails. Solid tool, but not calibrated correctly for the job. There were some... um... difficulties implementing proper industrial safety cutoff valve procedures.
I'm not going to get into the nauseating details. It wasn't pretty.
I am feeling better today. But my cats are now looking at me with a look that says, "Dude... you're a complete pig. Don't even talk to me." And my dog gives me this sad gaze that says, "you'd hit me on the nose with a newspaper for doing that."
Mercifully, Wife of the Rouleur slept through most of this drama. She is probably wondering why I was up early yesterday doing a big underwear wash, and she will no doubt be alarmed when she finds out how depleted our Domestic Reserve of Soft Toilet Paper has become, and "what happened to that big bottle of Chlorox?" Big disasters were avoided, but really, is ten little disasters that add up collectively to one big one any better than just having a single big one?
For the life of me, I don't know why I didn't just go up to Rite Aid, buy a box of Depends, and just lie in my own filth, not worry about it, and get a decent night's sleep.
That, or spend my waking hours joining a Barcalounger to a terlet to create a potty that you can sleep on comfortably without falling forward off and knocking yourself out on the Italianate bathroom tile.
Eventually, I got with the Immodium, figuring that anything that needed to get out would be pushed out by 48 hours of steady expulsive (explosive?) efforts. It took a few hours to work and that seemed to bring a little stability to the situation, though like the Middle East Peace Process, I have this nagging feeling that the progress is illusory and it's about to blow apart at any second. Just to be safe, I'm going to pass on Wednesday Taco Night at the Rouleur household, at least for this week.
But there is a silver lining amongst the brown clouds. That leftover tube of baby diaper creme that the Son of Rouleur no longer needed when he moved over to BigBoy Underwear? Daddy has now put it to productive use. It's so much nicer for the environment when we can recycle, don't you think?
Friday, November 12, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
So each race gets turned into a moment for us, at least as we view the race in passing. All Hallows last year was a hard crash on the roots in the rain, and hunching there bent over, pulling on my finger and trying to figure out what to do next. Granogue last year was offering Wicks a whisky handup, and making him laugh. Granogue this year was a hard endo. Reston last year was bombing down the icy hill and making the crowd cheer because I was fearless (or maybe brainless).
And what of promoting this year's Tacchino? What will I remember?
It won't be the runaway horse that got onto the course and started racing between Scott Thompson and Jon Seibold, necessitating a field neutralization and restart.
It won't be the Cat 4 who endoed so hard on the first lap that I almost - almost mind you - regretted putting in a log barrier.
It won't be the other Cat 4 who hit the first log so hard with his carbon wheel that the noise made my head hurt.
Nor will it be watching Joe Dombrowski miss his start, casually appear before the officials, take off his jacket, start a couple minutes late, then catch up to crush the field. Yeah, I'll be telling *that* story for years to come...
It won't even be my excellent teammates who kicked ass and did all the work, or my friends and literally hundreds of racing acquaintances who joined us on the day and knocked it out of the park.
It's going to be that stupid tandem race which had us laughing so damn hard that even the Turkey stopped slapping people, and just stood there shaking his gizzard. RickyD and JoeP were in these Tigger & Piglet costumes, another tandem had a Gorilla stoker and Banana driver, Ken & Jean rode with a "Baby on Board" sign, Dave & Brigitta Tambeaux unleashed their massive trivia talent and snapped a chain - something even Blair & Driscoll couldn't match, two guys from WWVC looked like they'd been practicing it, they were so smooth, Phil & Sheri were cruising well, a really big dude and a really small dude who looked like a mismatch were running in 3rd or 4th out of maybe 16 or 18, and Todd & Dave... well, they probably were thinking they could go faster if only the tandem was a singlespeed.
I sat with Lindsey howling at the tandems down on the finishing straight, then I stood with a big crew by the barriers laughing my ass off, then I was over with some other folks at the log barriers watching people negotiate them - including Pat & Adam's remarkably smooth efforts.
I don't know if the tandem class is going to stay as much fun as it is right now. It just *slayed* me yesterday though, and even in a day of $50 turkey slaps and "Horse on the course... I think he's in 10th" this was enough to pull a stomach muscle. As a community we should think about doing more fun, hard racing, that *doesn't necessarily* matter for series points. It's cool to be goal oriented but perhaps one of the fun things we can do is try to carve out a space that is more about the fun and pure joy of racing, than it is about hitting particular goals, like Cross Crusade (which values good racing better than absolute order of finish) or grass roots MTB racing, which encourages unique race classes. Starting the race on a long runup? A whoop-dee-doo section?
You see, there's a couple ways to win, and one of them is to laugh harder and finish the day with the most fun.
Promoting sucks much of the time. It is a management & marketing job and the reason you do it is partly out of duty. A lot of people really bust ass to give us good races and fun times, so when you get a chance to pay them back, you step up. The other reason you do it, is that it can be damn fun. Put on a good course that you'd like to ride, try to have fun with the crowd and solving problems and giving stuff away, and then find 15 minutes to be a good kind of vampire, a vampire that lives by drinking in other people's fun.
The fun I had yesterday will keep me powered and enthusiastic about my riding and promoting races for quite a while. I have to give huge props to my management team of Dave W., Geoff H. and Tom O. as well as setup wizzards Jeff Trinh, Andrew Welch and Scott Thompson, who I could point at a spot and say "put in some turns here," and rely upon to come up with something really, really sweet to ride. And thanks to everybody who helped with that by working, refing, spectating, or most of all racing.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
One for the You Learn Something New Every Day file... "Drank" is codeine mixed with Mountain Dew and Jolly Ranchers.
Yeah, they're not singing about Grape Kool Aid there.
While we're doing oddball music... a great man once said, "If it's not Scottish, it's Crap!"
That may be true. But as your Phil 101 Formal Logic professor would remind you, just because it's Scottish, doesn't mean that it isn't crap.
That's awful bad, but not bad enough to be good in an awful sort of way. Care for some good music? (Alternate intro sentence... "Speaking of good SCOTS..."
Love me some Scots.
Love me some Slayer too, because this song pretty much sums up the mood I'm in a day or so before my race...
But, life can't all be raining blood. Sometimes... sometimes it's just like an emo country song.
And sometimes it's like an Ike Reilly song, when you're promoting a cross race.
Why isn't Ike Reilly more popular? I don't get it at all.
So I'm at the liquor store tonight, the excellent Staples Corner Liquors, with its amazing supply of craft brews, vintage motorcycles on the wine racks, cheap growlers... I'm waiting to check out while this superhero of a bitch, let's call her Geometrically Challenged Woman because all superheroes need a superhero name... Geometrically Challenged Woman is screaming at the liquor store clerk, "THAT ain't no Fifth... it's a different shape... smaller!" She goes back and forth a bit with the clerk, he's polite but insistent that the thing he handed her is a fifth, and finally she asks where the fuck the fuckin' fifths of Crown Royal are kept, not them tiny ones like they got behind the counter, and he points her to the far wall, probably as a diversion so he could get me out of there. We chat as he's ringing me up, and he goes, "yeah, I work at a liquor store... how would I know what a fifth of whiskey looks like?" We both laughed and as I left out the door Geometrically Challenged Woman came back to give him another piece of her mind, presumably a tiny one since she didn't have much to spare. SO I get into my truck, I'm about to back out and I realize that Girlfriend of Geometrically Challenged Woman is sitting in the passenger seat of the running car behind me and completely blocking me in - just in the fire lane, chillin' out, along with Kid 1 and Kid 2 and maybe Kid 3 or perhaps Canine 1 of Geometrically Challenged Woman. After GCW chews the ear off the clerk for another 5 minutes or so, Geometrically Challenged Woman struts by me in my running truck, with the window down and the Tony Kornheiser Show 7:00 PM rerun cranked up to 110 decibels like P.Diddy, because the chicks all dig a guy with a boomin' system, and Kornheiser thumpin... She doesn't even look at me, doesn't look down, nothing, does the thousand-yard-stare as she walks past, gets in her car and then fucking sits there for 2 or 3 minutes bitching at her girlfriend before she finally moves, and I sat there the whole time getting closer and closer to getting out of the truck and busting out her fucking window as karmic punishment for her selfish, narcissistic and utterly oblivious stupidity. And I went so far as to remember that I had the BFH (Big Freakin' Hammer) in the back of the truck, which I will use to drive stakes tomorrow while setting up the cross course. And I thought about it but decided that if one more minute went by I'd first get out and go over and scream at her like a guy with rabies and give her a chance to flee first, before going back into the truck for a hammer to smash her windows out. It's a good example of why you probably don't want to be drunk stupid and rude around strangers because you really don't know when you're dealing with a stranger who is in a bad mood. Sure, it wouldn't be cool to hit a woman but Geometrically Challenged Woman had probably 40 pounds on me so it would have been a fair fight more or less.
For what it's worth, the small bottle of Crown is in fact a fifth, despite the fact that it's little curves make it look somehow smaller. If you look at the milliters listed on the bottle, it's the same as the normal fifth...You know, just in case you were thinking about going ape shit on some liquor store clerk about it.
Anyhow... probably going to radio silence until after the race. Try to avoid Geometrically Challenged Woman, Girlfriend of-, Kids 1, 2, and 3 and/or Canine 1 if you can help it. Instead, put a little love in it...
See you on race day.
Close, but no cigar Kevin!
Pre-reg for the Tacchino closes today at noon. Last chance to save $10. The weather is supposed to be dry, sunny, and in the mid-50's. Pretty damn good cross weather.
FWIW, Duvel/Ommegang dropped around $1500 worth of swag and product on me last night, including a case of a limited edition, $25/bottle vintage and trinkets for all the racers, not just the top 7. I cannot believe the degree to which AHTBM, Contes, Duvel and the other worthies are underwriting our race. The sponsors have been so generous to us, that it's now getting a little embarrassing and Swagmaster D and I are considering door prizes, because you can't ask a skinny top level racer to carry 50 pounds of swag. Time to share the wealth with the less fortunate, and spread the weight around...
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The difference between doing one cross race in a weekend and two is that if you did two on the weekend it takes until about Wednesday to get the railroad spikes out of your quadriceps. If you do one it takes until Tuesday to get the finishing nails out. You don't realize this until you stagger across the room at a big meeting, making important colleagues think you are drunk.
Did I say drunk? Don't mind if I do. Martini, 4.5:1, with a couple olives. Biiiiig freaking glass. I'm not upset about a bunch of Republicans being elected to Congress. I'm upset about 535 human beings getting elected to Congress. I'm an issues guy, not a party guy, and I expect the new crew to foul things up as badly as the last crew, only mostly in wholly different (but occasionally exactly the same) ways. As long as we are governed by men, then we should not place our faith in government for men are inherently flawed. Women too, but don't tell my wife I said that. At the end of the day, what really matters most, is that this martini is delicious. I'd offer to make you one if you were here.
Sadly, my martini isn't like this at all:
It's more like this:
You see that raggedy assed mallet there? That's what I used to crush the ice for my shaker. Yeah. A manly man doesn't mind mixing up martinis on his workbench. Sheee-it. What do you think paint shakers are for? Mixing chartreuse and lavender for the perfect bathroom tint? Hells no! Shaken not stirred, bitches! Super shaken, in fact. FWIW, that drill press, when you stick a 2" wood borer bit, makes the perfect margarita mixer. It's pretty good at shaving ice, too. The 3 horsepower motor and belt drive is probably a bit much, but hey, that thing ain't going to give out on you at a Jimmy Buffet concert, now, is it? You see the glue in the back? That's Titebond. It's no good at all for huffing, so don't even think about it. But it is good for gluing wood together if you actually need to the wood to stay stuck. Imagine Elmers wood glue (not the white stuff, the brown stuff). Now imagine it with a turbocharger, on crystal meth with a bad steroid habit. That's how good Titebond is. It's really the only stuff to use for serious woodworking. Or gluing your finger to a home improvement project. Don't ask how I know that.
Long day. I think I managed to piss off pretty much everybody I know. More of the same tomorrow. Nothing major to sweat for the race now, just a shitload of stuff to execute on. And maybe an announcement or two. Heading out to the park very early in the AM to coach the "staff" - all one of him - on where we need the grass cut. Should be fun.
Monday, November 01, 2010
What the hell am I doing giving away trophies that are so fanciful? This is serious! This is racing!
Well, yes it is serious in a way. But I have a secret.
Most of us aren't pros. This isn't a life or death gig. Young Joe Dombrowski may go on to be a great pro. He's going to be a stagiare next year. And I wish him well! But the rest of us aren't.
We're professionals and blue collar workers, a couple independently wealthy men and women of leisure, and a few bike bums... but all of us are amateurs.
Sometimes in our haste to make our mark, we forget why we do this. We do it to feel the keen sting of competition, to test ourselves, to make friends who value good clean competition as much as we do. We do it for the hell of it, for the fun of it, to feel more alive than we do for the rest of the week. We do it for the simple joy that a 5 year old feels by running across a field as fast as his legs will carry him. We do it for the approval of a couple peers and friends we are close to. We do it just because.
People who forget this and make it about external validation, go astray. The terminal domestic pro who is good but not great so he dopes, the kid trying to make Cat 1 (who hasn't realized that if he can't make Cat 1 without doping he'll never really make it as a pro anyhow) Cat 3 masters racer who dopes - all these have forgotten the reason we race. We non-doping amateurs who are all unhappy about our racing are making the same mistake as the dopers, only to a much lesser degree.
Yes, we race to win, or to place higher than last week. But it is ultimately for pleasure and you should get great pleasure from a good finish, but if the only pleasure you get is from a win, you're in the wrong sport. Even the greatest racers "lose" the vast majority of races they enter. This isn't boxing where a racer could retire 63-1-1. If you put too much emphasis on a single day's results, then you've missed the point, which is the sheer joy of competition.
I'm just the custodian of a great race, the Tacchino. It was one of the early grass roots cross races in MABRA, and near as I can tell has been going on for around 15 years. Maybe 12 or 13. Hell if I know. But I have a chance to leave a little mark on the local scene. I sometimes think about that - what kind of message am I trying to send with this race?
It's pretty simple, really. I hope you will race your balls off (or race your ovaries out, as appropriate to the situation) and that you will have absolutely as much fun as possible during the day, racing, cheering, maybe having a nicely hopped Belgian malt beverage.
Racing hard doesn't have to be a grim job. In fact, I think we're getting it wrong if we're missing out on the joy of putting everything into a race. We're also missing out if we fail to celebrate the fact we have a chance to do this, that we're doing it with cool people, and that we usually do a pretty good job of leaving it all out there. We should be happy... so celebrate already!
Register for the race. Bring a first or second time racer friend out or somebody who was just sitting on the sofa bemoaning the end of road season. Register for a second race, or race up in a class you normally don't race in...
It doesn't matter.
Life is short. The person wins, who has the most fun. You want to be that guy.
This race ain't no uphill. It's a downhill, as far as I'm concerned, and I know how to descend. All y'all are going to have to go pretty damn hard to out-fun me this Sunday. Good luck on that.