Sunday, October 22, 2006

Granogue/Wiss double header

An awesome weekend of racing is now behind me, and my love for cyclocross continues to grow.

Saturday - Granogue.

It was a long day. We showed up at 7 a.m. to find the course tape ripped to shreds by the previous day's windy storm. By 8, we had everything back in order and the 10 a.m. racers got suited up and started warming the legs on the course. All of the lines felt pretty good, though the muddy section leading into the run up was a little messier than during practice.

Anyway, I get to staging a little late and end up in the 4th row of 75-ish racers. The gun fires, and I would say we were off, but the guy next to me misses his clip-in to the pedal and swerves into me. My wheel is lodged between his chainstay and crankarm and we are wrestling to get free. He kicks me to the curb, and I gather myself in time to see the last of the C-men riding away. I drop the hammer and pass probably half the field on the asphalt leading to the grass.

My legs feel great, I know the course from practice, so I am attacking every chance I get. I spend all 5 laps picking off riders one by one and end up finishing around 15th. It wasn't what I hoped for - especially with my legs feeling so good - but after being sent to the ground, I'm happy I made it so far up from the back of the field.

The DCCofD showed some serious grits yet again, and I was proud to call myself part of such a cross dominating crowd. Paul I. pulled off second in the master B race, Rick 2nd in the Master Elite race; Marc and Ethan 8th and 9th in the Killer B field, and of course Nat'l Champ Katie Compton owned the Elite women's race. Everyone else pedaled so hard and it was a great pleasure seeing so much self-indulgent suffering.

Sunday - Wissahickon.

Never having raced 2 days in a row, I was unsure how I would do at Wissahickon. It was a really fast course, much more suited to my talents than the more fun Granogue (read: not as much climbing as Granogue). The field start was a bit of a clusterfuck - they started the Master B men and the C men at the same time, with the C men in the back. The whole race was very confusing, and it was very difficult to see who you were chasing.

None-the-less, I felt very good and managed to chew my way through the Master B field pretty well. The race was a too-short 24 minutes (3 laps), but I finished 8th out of 50. I felt so good and wish I could have done one more lap just for the experience. I can't speak to the results of the rest of the DCCofD because I had to leave early, but I know James was tearing up the Master B field - so props to him.

Tomorrow I leave for Taiwan, then San Francisco. A lot of travel and too much time off the bike, but I am looking forward to seeing some new places and eating some crazy food. And really looking forward to seeing my SF friends. I've got my compression stockings ready...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Granogue is going to hurt...

I decided to do both races this weekend. Saturday is Granogue, Sunday is Wissahickon. Registered for the latter after the following conversation on the DCCofD email listserv:

ME: Does anyone have experience with long travel directly after racing? I have 22 hours of sitting on a plane on Monday, and was considering not racing Sunday. The thinking being my legs would be so shot after 2 days of racing that sitting on a plane for that long would not be good...

Paul I: Suck it up...race as hard as you can...and suffer much.
You'll be fine.

Tom McD: Yeah race you big pansy. It's cross - it's supposed to hurt.

Feel the love?

And of course there was some advice on using "support hose." Use your imagination to think where that one went...

much love

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

truly lucky...

JF and I carpooled up to the Philly rock gym today as we do most Tuesday nights. During the ride home we started discussing our respective futures. Both of us have similar philosophies: do what you love to do, commit as much to it as you possibly can, and when a hard decision comes your way - just pull the trigger - nothing is permanent if you pick the wrong road in the fork.

This got me thinking about my future - and about how truly priveleged I really am. But back to the first point. There are two things I really love to do with my free time. #1 is easy - it's pretty much all I blog about, and lately, all I've been doing with my weekends - riding my fuckin' bike. #2 is a close second: climbing. This past year or so I've really split my time between the two, and as a result, have not really grown by leaps and bounds in either. As long as I have this sordid love affair, I'll never find true nirvana.

The options are obvious if not easy to consider.
  1. Give up climbing, at least for the most part, and just ride ride ride. This season has been a stake in the ground. After leaving the road racing scene, I've embarked in both endurance mountain bike racing and cyclocross - and I'm deeply enamoured with both. I know that if I replaced climbing time with riding time, and really took advantage of the depth of talent in this area, I could really start to show some solid results. Plus I love the scene. So much support, love, ball-busting, and beer... how can I even consider #2:
  2. Dedicate to climbing. I know if I put the amount of commitment into climbing that I have been giving to cycling these last couple years, I could be sending 12s in no time. This would kick ass except for the fact that I'm on the flattest part of the East Coast known to man - a flat part with a kick ass bike scene (see #1). This option only seems truly plausible if I were to pull the trigger and find a way to move west - something most of you know has been on my mind on and off for the last 2 years.
Right now I'm inclined to stick with #1. Bikes have always been there for me and will always continue to turn a shitty day golden. Plus there's so much love and respect for the midatlantic bike scene. But this brings me back to my original point #2 - being priveleged.

As I said to JF (who is having similar east coast/west coast dilemmas) in the car... how fucking lucky are we to have our hardest decision be: bike or climb?? There are people in this world, in this country, in the neighborhood next to mine and yours, that would give anything just to work their fingers to the bone to feed the family. There are people with failing health and failing bodies and failing minds and failing lives.

and then here I am. Sitting here blogging on a $1300 piece of shit computer with fingers sore from fake rock and legs stinging from pedaling. and it all feels so good.

Monday, October 16, 2006

dirty politics

Typically, I avoid political issues on here, but this morning I had a discussion with a Republican coworker that has me fired up. I'm registered as a Democrat in the state of DE. Is it the perfect party? No, but my values, morals, beliefs, etc. are about as far from conservative as Ann Coulter is from rational.

Anyway, the discussion started around the little rubber charity bracelets (think liveSTRONG). Republican Coworker (call her RC) was bitching about how much money the US spend on AIDS in Africa when we have so many domestic issues. This led to bitching about how much money we've spent on Katrina victims. In her view, RC thinks that all "those people" had the chance to get out of there and it's "their fault" that they were in New Orleans when the shit hit the fan.

Direct quote: "You give those people welfare money, insurance money, any charity; they'll just go spend it on porn, drugs... crime is all they're good for. Look at me: I don't spend any of the government's money, I'm self sufficient, why should my money go to the criminals?!.... My parents [who by the way put her through college and own a beach house] lost everything in a fire once, and they didn't go begging!! Everyone has the chance to pull themselves up by the bootstraps - there are no excuses." Her arguments continued along these lines. Typical bullshit you hear from advantaged, priveleged (typically white) people.

What I tried (and failed to get across) to explain to her was the systematic injustice imposed on the less fortunate portion of the US (and world) population. That sure, she's worked hard for everything she has, but she also was given every opportunity. Sure her parents had a housefire, but they could also afford homeowner's insurance that would cover it in the long run. They had savings that covered them in the short term. This was met by her argument that "plenty of people come from nothing and become wealthy and successful!" That is just plain bullshit. Those VERY, VERY few that come from nothing are used as anti-scapegoats by the truly advantaged to hide the real issues plaguing the lower classes. She complains that they aren't disadvantaged because they can get limitless housing and welfare and increase their state-funded income by "having another child.... Why not say 'You get no more welfare if you aren't actively pursuing employment, and if you are on welfare you can't have any more kids?'"

This bullshit makes me sick because it's so difficult to quantify the hurdles the lower classes have to clear to make it in this world. It's hard because it's less about blatent disadvantages and more about unfair advantages given to the upper classes. The tax breaks and social networks that let the rich get richer make the chasm even wider. And it's hard to explain this to priveleged people because if you were to tax them at the same rate as the rest of the population, they feel like you are stealing from them. As RC said, "well, there's nothing I can do about [the tax breaks to the rich]." Yet here she is saying we should kill welfare and anything that helps improve the situation of the poor in this country.

This article about the Duke lacrosse players who are accused of raping a stripper really pushed me over the top: www.nytimes.com/2006/10/16/sports/sportsspecial1/16duke.html. These pricks think the world owes them everything because that's all they've ever gotten from mom and dad. I don't know if they are guilty or not; it's just as possible that the stripper made the whole thing up thinking it was her lottery ticket.

The real issue to me is more that these douchebags are bitching about their future being ruined. Fuck that. First off, they will be fine because their families and their whole social network will still be there to tell them they can do no wrong. But more importantly, when will they realize they should be held accountable simply for putting themselves in a questionable situation in the first place?? THEY WERE BINGE DRINKING AND HIRING STRIPPERS. Now typically I support both of those activities, combined or separate. But they are going to a prestigious university on scholarship (that could have gone to a smart, non-athletic, poor kid displaced from New Orleans during Katrina). If they want the high level of advantage, should they not be held to an equivalently high standard?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Double-bag it...

Yesterday's race was at Michaux State Forest in PA. About a 2.5 hour drive, so the DCCofD met up at 6 am to head out there convoy style. Staring at the outdoor temperature display on the dashboard, all I could think was, "Please god, let it be more than 34 degrees out when I'm changing into my skinsuit." No such luck.

I double-bagged all my limbs for safety, and just like they tell you in health class, that's actually not a great idea. I really should have stripped down to one layer at the start line after warming up, because of course the sun came out during the race and I got hotter than balls.

Anyway, it was a fun course: long grindy dirt climb that got real steep at the end, a "death spiral" that was confusing but some good recovery because you just couldn't go that fast, and a fast, technical descent through some rooty singletrack.

I had a great start, sitting in 5th wheel or so up the first climb and was able to cover all of the attacks that lap and close down the remaining gaps on the technical descent. 2nd lap I got gapped in the steep part of the climb, but managed to close it on the downhill. 3rd lap, my gut decides to lock up tighter than a chastity belt, and every hard effort makes me feel like something's going to come out of one or both ends of my digestive track. So now, I can't cover the attacks on the climbs and 5 riders start putting good time into me.

Ended up in 6th place, not what I had hoped for, but not terrible. Right now I'm sitting 4th overall for points in the Men's Category C for the MABRAcross series. This finish should move me up into 3rd at least, but we'll see... The DCCofD still represented big: Slick Rick still undefeated in Masters, E-town coming up with a solid 8th in Men's B, Lisa with 4th in Women's A, and Wes with 3rd in Men's A. Fatmarc didn't fare so well, but it was good seeing him laughing after taking one on the noggin - I'm sure we'll all see him back in fine form at Granogue.

This week at practice, I'm going to show off my new training tool. Purpose: learn how to let the guy in front of you do all the work.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Good vs. Evil

Good:
  • Upcoming trip to Taiwan.
  • Layover/weekend in San Francisco with some of my favorite people on this planet.
  • Burritos after cross practice.
Evil:
  • My body at cross practice not cooperating with me.
  • Wooden legs.
  • Lots of time on planes.
Good:
  • the DCCofD.
  • Working hard between 8 and 5 but not a lick more.
  • Freshly shaved legs and clean sheets.
Evil:
  • Installing old-school Ride On bike cables.
  • Getting up early to clean muddy cross bike.
  • This guy (see www.bikerfox.com):

Sunday, October 08, 2006

good friends, good teammates

I have so much respect and love for my friends and teammates. Rosie came to visit this weekend, and she cheered for me at my race. It was really good to see her, and it meant a lot to me to have such a good friend motivating me.

Anyway, the DCCofD rocked out in Hagerstown MD. Needless to say, the boys and girls of Northern Delaware seem to know how to get it done. Pictures here: www.forty15.com/photo/hagerstown_cross/index.html.

Slick Rick (left) gets it done.

Slick Rick remains undefeated in the MABRA series, and the DCCofD had 2 spots on the podium in the C race (my category for the uninformed). It went down a little like this for me.

I managed to squeeze into the front line at the start and was able to go into the first turn in 2nd wheel. The leader pushed hard into turn 2 - a nasty off-camber beast, and I pursued hard. I pushed hard to close the gap to the leader halfway through the first lap. Two chasers were coming hard after our 2-man break.

Hot barrier action.

I stupidly lift the pace a little more and drop the former leader - I am completely alone by 3/4 through the lap. I stomp on the pedals through the steep run up and come across the S/F line with a sizeable gap - trying to tell my self to relax and settle into a rhythm. Coming by the pit, I hear the DCCofD gents telling me to ease up... "find your rhythm!!" They are right, if I keep this up, I'll implode and blow the race.

I settle down and get my heart rate down from 99% to maybe 87% and try to recover. I went too hard there, and Jan and some other guy catch me. I hang with Jan for a while and he jumps to cover the gap when the other guy goes. I can't hold on - too much spent on that stupid first lap (at least it was cool to hear my name on the loudspeakers). Jan works over the next laps and catches the leader. They slowly open more of a gap on me, and Jan ends up taking the guy in the last lap when he drops a chain or something. Jan wins (score for the DCCofD!) and I come across alone in third.

DCCofD warmup/shit-talking/staging area. Keep a wide berth when passing.

Podiums feel good. I just want to keep working hard, racing smart, and having fun. I can't stress enough how much respect I have for Slick Rick, fatmarc, e-town, Jan, Fort James, Diane, Dan - all the DCCofD. Some of them kill me in practice and own their races - they inherently force me to train hard. And some of them just work hard and refuse to quit and continute to improve - let me tell you: it's motivating.

Saw the day's real winner on the way home. Welcome to Cecil County baby.

Friday, October 06, 2006

On one gear:

Carl Decker is a pro mountain biker... and a good one at that. He likes to ride singlespeed, especially in Short Track XC races, which is badass given the speed at which they occur. He pushes "-1" (i.e. 2 to 3 teeth bigger gearing than fatass me). All this is cool but somewhat unexciting.

Here is why I really like Carl Decker - in order to ride singlespeed on his Giant team bike with vertical dropouts, he MacGyverizes the shit out of it:
"I cut the derailleur hangers off. My magic system for getting the right chain tension involves starting with a handful of [used] chains with different stretches and a bunch of chainrings. To get that perfect tension without any of those little do-hickeys and with these non-horizontal dropouts, you just have to take the hour or two hours to find the perfect combination. I've done it a bunch of times."
Read the article here, and see his sweet, retarded-light bike below:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The liver...

is the only organ that can regenerate itself. This is of great importance to me as I spent the last week beating on my liver like it owed me money.

As it turns out, Interbike is awesome and makes me wish I was independently wealthy. Vegas is Disneyworld for adults, with strippers in place of Mickey. I am generally an idiot for not remembering my camera. Lucky for you Nathan Friedman did, and soon he should have pictures like this one posted:

Let me enlighten you on some highlights:
  • Arrived in Vegas Tuesday night at nine and had dinner with a business associate. Decided to go to bed at 11.30 to prepare for a long work day Wednesday. Phone call from FFA tells me otherwise, and head to the Doubledown Saloon for a Pedro's party. Leave for a strip bar around 1. Lap dances and drinking continues until 3.30 am when I decide to head home.
  • Wednesday work all day, then had dinner with them at Tao where we saw Dennis Rodman in a dress.

  • Thursday morning headed to the show for more meetings until 2. Then the fun begins. Meet up with Nathan and FFA to walk the show and get lots of free schwag.
  • Meet George Hincapie, who signs a photo - I then take the photo to Phil Liggett to get him to make a crack about GH's Paris-Roubaix crash and sign it.
  • We start the festivities at the SRAM booth where a Chippendale's dude is serving up cold Sierra Nevada on draght.
  • Nathan and I head to the Kona/IMBA fundraising bowling tourney with the crew from AZ Bikes and throw down for 24 MGDs to start off the night right. We break the bowling lane so many times that the dudes at the alley have to show us how to fix it (see photo above).
  • A bunch of us head to Nine Fine Irishmen at NY NY casino and drink a lot of Guinness.
  • A race vs. Nathan up a down-escalator leaves my knee bleeding and swollen.
  • I stay up until my 6 am flight and head to Philly to head to Troy for RPI recruiting.
  • Total sleep for 3 nights in Vegas: 10 hours.
My visit to RPI was also fun. I went to the Ruck and the Irish Mist with some of my greatest friends: Rosie, Will and Steph, Darren, and JOla. The career fair was awesome... a lot of work but fun to be on the other side of the fence. All these kids are so nervous and I just want them to do well. We did meet a lot of solid students with whom I wouldn't mind working.

Saturday night partied with my favorite homewreckers at 1105-2. It was so good to see everyone, I wish I could shrink the distance between us all.

Now it's back into the swing... Cross practice felt great tonight, really cheered me up. Hopefully the race this weekend will go well.