Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back on track...

After my super angsty post the other day regarding my lack of initiative in saving the world, I took a step forward and contacted Urban Bike Project of Wilmington. They sound, in a lot of ways, very similar to Troy Bike Rescue. A non-profit aimed at promoting self-sufficiency in all things bike, they are currently looking for a place to call home. I am hoping to meet with them next week to get involved at some level.

In other news, the Euro Procycling season has begun with Boonen taking 2 stages in a row in the Tour of Qatar. There was also some pretty funny drama in yesterday's sprint finish. Graeme Brown took out Tom Steels with a swerve in the sprint. From cyclingnews.com:

According to Robert Förster of Gerolsteiner, Steels went up to Brown, showed him his broken collarbone and spoke his mind, calling the Australian, among other things "a Kamikaze." According to Sportwereld.be, Steels yelled at him, "You f**king idiot! It's always the same with you!"

"Brown didn't react," Förster wrote on his website, robert-foerster.de. "Steels was shouting as loud as he could, 'Go home!' At the same time another rider stood up, clapped and yelled, too, 'Go home!' Then the room went crazy, everybody stood up and yelled 'Go home!'"

Ahh, finally I can return to the sissy slap fight that is Euro-Pro. I was getting sick of reading nothing but fingerpointing, unsubstantiated rumors, and unprovable accusations of doping. Half of them are doped, half of them are clean. I don't even care anymore, but at least they are still humans - and our species loves to create drama.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo...

So back to my insular life - did a kickass donut ride today with E-town, Dan the man, Paul, Lisa, and Dennis. E-town and I rolled from Henry's to meet up with the crew. We rode, bullshitted, ate some fucking awesome donuts washed down with my patented cocoa-coffee blend, and rolled home. All in all close to 3 hours on the bike. This base is what I'll need for 12 hours of Lodi and SSWC07.

Speaking of, I've got tingles in my spine... it's coming.......... SSWC07:
@ cyclingedinburg.info
official site

I think I may be able to swing a biz trip to pay for the plane ticket. PIMP.

p.s. I got this coffee on sale at ACME a couple days ago: Brown Gold. I tried the two dark roasts - Simien Mountain Blend and South American Midnight. Both very tasty. Plus they are organic (though I saw no mention of Fair Trade). And they donate money to animal protection societies with every purchase.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I never wanted...

my story to be the typical one. I never wanted to be a corporate whore. I never wanted to be a yuppie - selfish, insular, uncaring about the world around me. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to be remembered, even if it was just by one person for one small act of selflessness that made a positive change in this world.

At times recently, I have felt like an unbelievable sell-out.

I am working a typical job: typical hours, typical ass kissing, typical work. I make a lot of money. I spend a lot of money. Almost all of it is on myself. I am not contributing to the world around me in any significant way. I ride my bike, I climb, I drink beer, I talk politics without taking any real action. I hang out with my friends. I have a fucking car payment. I travel and ski and race.

I love the things I do with my life. They are fun, and I really appreciate my friends, be they old or new, local or distant, I don't waste my time with people I don't truly love. However, I'm not working actively to make the world a more fair, more just, all around better place.

My ideals in college kept me from working for a lot of companies, because I did not want to design things that would kill people, or harm the environment. I have a good job, but it too is not helping our species evolve in a progressive manner. I miss the work I did helping get the Troy Bike Rescue off the ground and supporting its growth.

My only hope is that my job will allow me to do the following: pay off college loans which weigh heavily on me. It will give me the experience I need to function at a higher level in the future. It will give me freedom (at least somewhat) financially to do something larger with my life.

I don't need to be a hero, or a martyr, or a saint. But I've had it so good in so many ways. I want to give more of my neighbors on this planet the same opportunity.

I'm jealous of my r4L Cerissa, who has thrown caution to the wind and joined Americorps. Maybe I will start locally: Urban Bike Project.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I've come undone...

Saturday night marked the first annual Shitty Sweater party. It was a raging success. 40-50 people came through decked out in their finest winter apparel, and helped us kick a keg of PBR. The countless kegstands helped here, especially the kegstand of Jan himself. It was truly impressive.

There were awards given out for some of the shittiest sweaters. The patented applause-o-meter was used in all judgements. The winners were as follows:
Unsweatered Award (least shitty sweater) - Paul with the "this sweater has a story" zip up sweater.
Most Ill Fitting Award - Mike with the Thanksgiving themed atrocity with acorns for buttons.
Most Tattered Award - Julie with the torn neck "Breakfast Club" 80s special.
Best Ensemble Award - Cooper with the golf pants and TWO sweaters. No one was so bold as to use 2 sweaters, besides this champion.
Feline Fury Award (most shit dangling from sweater) - Dana with the tassled pastel number.

And the coveted Shittiest Sweater Overall Award went to JF with the Saved by the Bell opening theme sweater. This was a showdown against Lisa's Gramma Teddy Bear sweater, but the joy was only seen on the champion's face.

The night progressed, and sadly my memory becomes hazy at best. But I did find a leopard thong on my bedroom floor Sunday morning. Which led me to ask some defining questions. The truth of the matter is that I made a special appearance in said thong late in the night. JF tried to do the crowd a favor by getting rid of me, but the damage was done.

The next morning, I was parked in by a responsible adult who opted for a ride home the night before. In trying to call the driver of the vehicle, I realized my phone was missing and realized it had been in the pocket of the pants lost when the thong came out. After a 45 minute search for the phone and pants left us frustrated and empty handed, my roommate and I locked eyes in the kitchen, then looked at the fridge, then looked back at each other.

The freezer door was pulled open, and the mystery was solved. After some thawing, the phone lit right up. Only the greatest parties end with misplaced pants.

more pictures here: picasaweb.google.com/forty15/ShittySweaterParty2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

P.J.'s Astrological Love Lounge

I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of my love for music. In a lot of ways, I think this was a good thing, because my brain was already working at a high enough level to appreciate what I was listening to... which was rarely the radio.

The following eleven albums have been in my CD rotation from the day the were introduced to me. The bands included in the list shaped my music taste, my youth, and in a lot of ways my ideals. While much of my music taste has moved on - I no longer listen to bands like Phish or Weird Al (though he puts on one of the best shows I've ever seen) - these bands remain close to my heart.

I attribute, to some degree, my liberalism, my fear of conformity (boy, this could fill a couple blog entries), my appreciation for irony, my hatred for hypocrisy in this world, and my sense of humor to the seeds planted by these bands and albums.

In addition, as my music tastes change and evolve, punk rock still holds a special place in my aural heart. I could list a lot of older school bands that I really like, but I didn't start enjoying until later in life. I would not have explored those musical roots had it not been for these albums. My distaste for a lot of mainstream music is also rooted in these albums. Without further ado:

They Might Be Giants - Apollo 18 (1992): TMBG reminds me that music does not have a formula. A band does not have to pump out the same album every year with a new title to maintain a fan base. And I love the obscure lyrics that keep you thinking about deeper meaning.

Suicide Machines - Destruction by Definition (1996): the Suicide Machines were the first band I saw live. Amazing. So much energy and passion behind their music. They touch on every aspect of life from the mundane to the painful. Their albums have also showed an impressive evolution, but this one still hits on every level.

Catch 22 - Keasbey Nights (1998): First band I discovered on Napster. Probably one of the best live bands I've ever seen - the reason I've seen them 6+ times. Also full of energy and passion. The album feels like it was made out of a necessity to put this music into existence, not to pay the bills.

Anti-Flag - Die for the government (1996): AF lost me along the way because of their hypocrisy. The "never sell out" band of the decade that sold out. I don't mind if a band sells out as long as they never swore not to do so. However, this album is politically charged, and further left off the map than me, but I still like that it keeps one thinking.

Operation Ivy - Self Titled (1991): Energy, passion, great lyrics. One of the original newer generation punk bands that kept the "old" spirit alive.



Dead Milkmen - Death Rides a Pale Cow (1997): A compilation of earlier work. Tongue in cheek humor, biting sarcasm, catchy music, and very sing-able.


Dropkick Murphys - The Gang's All Here (1999): Working class Irish punk rock. Sure I was a middle-class kid from French and German heritage, but this made me wish my dad was in a union. and his dad's dad etc. Also great to see live.

Bouncing Souls - Hopeless Romantic (1999): I don't even know what to say. The Bouncing Souls are one of my favorite all time bands. This was just the first one of theirs that I owned. Their new one - the Gold Record - still rocks my socks.

the Queers - Later days and better Lays (1999): More sarcasm, self-depricating humor, and classic shitty 3-chord punk riffs. What's not to like?


Boysetsfire - After the Eulogy (2001): My introduction to hardcore music, though hardcore is debatable in some of their stuff. They are amazing live, their lyrics are deeply moving and personal. And turns out they are from Newark, DE... who knew?

Weezer - Blue Album (1994): OK OK everyone in my generation likes this album. And it's certainly not deep or funny or cutting edge. But it was original. And EVERY song rocks. I know the lyrics and guitar solos better than I know how to breathe. Also the first album I ever owned - I still have the tape.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

One year...

I was saving a post like this for 2 weeks from now, when I have officially been a Delaware resident for one year. However, today's ride cemented the words in my head, and I lay them out here for you to read.

A.I. DuPont High School found E-town, FatMarc, Diane, Chuck, Jan, Paul I., Lisa (big deal), Dan, Jeff C. (to whom I never actually introduced myself at DCCofD practices, which is a shame), and myself chamois-ing up for a fixed gear road ride. Actually only Paul, Lisa, Jeff, and myself were on fixies, but who's counting. In true DCCofD fashion, we can't just ride the road like normal folk, but we have to head to an orchard to eat cider donuts and drink coffee. It was a nice, relaxed ride with some delicious fatty donuts, and some fancy pizza afterwards. Damn it felt good to ride Ghetto Prom again. Though the bulge in the front tire made for a bumpy ride.

Anyway, the point of my story is this: these friends, this community, these roads and trails, have allowed me to start growing roots in this new area. My move, initially to Wilmington, from upstate NY was a bit of a shake up. I was leaving behind a place I loved, saying goodbye to my best friends (who also dispersed around the country), adjusting to life outside of college, and moving relatively alone to a completely new place. I had the short term company of Cerissa (r4L), but was essentially starting fresh.

Four days into DE life, I met the Northern DE mountain bike / cross community through a random email to a now defunct road club. We did the Icicle loop every Saturday through March. That was my introduction to what has become the DCCofD . Through the summer, work and climbing kept me from riding as much with this crew, who was hitting the mountain bike racing season hard.

Outside of biking, I had only met people through work. I do not dislike these people, but they see the world differently than I. They spend every weekend drunk and inactive, a very boring, sheltered way of life. I was unhappy. I missed college, best friends, and my family in Maine. I tried to ride, but did so relatively alone.

Then, mid summer, things changed. 12 hours of Allamuchy threw me into the company of some of the DCCofD. Also, JF and I were riding and climbing together more often, and I moved to Newark. Now, I was closer to work, closer to some awesome riding, and closer to some work friends that were more active than the Wilmington crowd. Life was looking good.
Cross season, however, really made me feel at home. I set a goal of 10 races in a discipline to which I was new. I had a goal, I trained as hard as work would allow, and saw some pretty decent results. More importantly, I had a lot of fun, and met some great people.

I still miss my now transcontinental best friends, and being 10 hours from Maine is not a piece of cake, but I have started to grow roots in a place I initially thought I would hate forever. Between climbing friends and cycling friends and friends and family I can visit, life is good.

People make the difference, so be good to those around you. Here's to a even better 2007 - my second year in the mid Atlantic.

PS - Blue Mountain is NOT skiing.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cigarette Butts

On my way home from work today (yes the earlier post was from work), I tried to make a difference.

I hate litter. It disgusts me enough that so much unnecessary waste ends up in a landfill, a result of our over-consuming lifestyle. But at least it is contained and accounted for. Pending the occasional leak into the ground water or the gas from burning methane, landfills are the best we can do without changing our ways as a society. Littering is just unnecessary, and is a sign of laziness, disregard for anyone but one's own self, and a sign of complete disrespect for the world in which we have to survive.

Worst of all litter is the cigarette butt. It is insidious. It is everywhere. Street gutters, outside the entrance of your office... I bet you could find one in your front yard. They could be so easily taken care of, as EVERY CAR has an ashtray. But no, they are ALWAYS flicked out of the car window. I've even seen cops do it. Throwing a Happy Meal bag out of one's car almost seems more justified, because it's big, bulky, and greasy, and it doesn't fit in the ashtray. There is just no excuse for the cigarette butt.


Anyway, on the way home, the passenger in a car in front of me, one lane over, flicked her butt out the window and rolled it back up. With a green light, I sped up next to them and stared her down. She smiled at first, then I shook my head disapprovingly. The smile disappeared. I took two fingers to my lips, pantomiming a puff on a cig, then flicked the imaginary filter out my car window. I shook my head one more time and then looked back to the road.

I hope she got the point.

www.cigarettelitter.org

A short one...

Went for the first night ride in a while last night with fatmarc and Etown. It's a lot of fun riding at night, but last night I was feeling all sorts of jammed up. My lower back was still (is still) really tight from the amount of post-drinking riding at Fair Hill on Sunday.

As much as I'm sorry that marc is suffering through his 10 day diet, I was glad he couldn't put the hurt on last night. And E-town's failing freewheel put an early end to the ride. I was happy for the excuse to stop. I know that's not the attitude of someone who wants to ride well this next season, yet there I was toast after 1 hour. Totally disappointed with myself.

Afterwards I went to JF's house to play hearts and drink some fine beer. A bottle of Smuttynose IPA (one of my top 3 beers) and a Chicory Stout from Dogfish head. I will have to try that one again, but early reports from the tastebuds are positive. This is why I didn't resolve to not drink beer during the week for the New Year. Plus, Buddy does it, and he's an animal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mouth like a corporate whore...

Before I set into my rant, let me just say I met internet friend Sam (slockwoo) at Go Vertical last night. I was fascinated by the whole meet-someone-through-the-blog-world-and-then-meet-them-in-person thing. Sam is Elk's girlfriend, Elk rides mountain bikes with FatMarc; Sam is also a frequenter of Chunky Monkey's blog. Sam is a cancer survivor, is a damn good climber, and so far I think she is pretty cool in blog life and real life. Nathan had a post similar to this when he moved to Flagstaff, sadly his archives are messed up so I can not find it... Word Nate.

Now, the rant. Today I snapped on this whole corporate jargon thing. I know it's just part of corporate culture and as long as I'm the man's bitch, I have to suck it up, but this term was the breaking-straw: Bio Break. We can no longer say, "I gotta drop off the kids at the pool" or "I gotta hit the little boys room" (which is almost as annoying). We have to say BIO BREAK. It makes me want to scream. EVERYONE POOPS. GET OVER IT. If you gotta take a piss or drop a deuce, just say so.

Here are some other gems - with definitions - that really ruffle my feathers:
  • Action item - a task you get to do because someone else is too lazy.
  • Bandwidth - the amount of time you spend fucking around on the internet reading blogs that could be dedicated to action items (see above).
  • Best practice - the way to do something if you don't want someone giving you shit about the way you do your job.
  • Low hanging fruit - action items for lazy people. They are justified because they are "easy money".
  • Offline - as in "Let's take this offline." Read: you're pissing me off and I don't want to snap at you in front of this conference room full of people.
  • Path forward - a list of petty action items that usually get dumped on the newest guy.
  • Pipeline - magical, invisible tube that feeds you more menial action items.
  • Table - the place for shitty ideas, can be a substitute for offline. "Table that idea for now, it's not low hanging fruit."
There are plenty more of these, and it turns out that others have started cataloging them with their own definitions here: corporatejargon.com. Also see wikipedia's entry.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ouch.

New Year's Resolution #3: Stop sucking at mountain bike handling. This will be accomplished by getting my ass kicked by the Tuesday Night Titans at Middle Run/White Clay. I will know I have succeeded when I can hang with Todd, Marc, Buddy et al at Fair Hill. Timetable: by SSWC07.

Yesterday met up with a bunch of the DCCofD at Marc and Diane's house for a fixed gear road ride. I brought Ghetto Prom and my road bike in case the 40 x 15 gearing on GP was too low. Turns out it was just right, but when I went to adjust my seat height, I sheared the rusted out seatpost clamp bolt. Looks like it was road ride for me while all the fixies got to have all the fun. It was a good ride, a little dirty, but fun nonetheless.

Ghetto Prom now has 38c tires and a new seatpost clamp bolt.

I headed home afterward to get some chores done - namely installing more RideOn cable prototypes and a little cleaning. But then headed back over to DCCofD end o' year party. There was lots of good food, an amazing spread of good beer, and great people. I got pretty tipsy, and crashed on marc and diane's couch.

This morning 21 of us regrouped and headed out for a 2 hour ride in Fair Hill. Lets just say it's the reason I have 3rd resolution. E-town, Paul, and myself got the worst of it, we were so shattered by the end of the ride that we walked the last climb. Fuck going to 2:1 gearing. That can wait. It was worth it to hear a nameless angry German roadie try to ride the more technical stuff on his mountain bike.

What a great weekend. I love this community.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Resolve

Everyone else is doing it: the New Year's Resolutions. I f-ing hate resolutions because most of the time they are bullshit. Unattainable, ridiculous goals that people make because they hold out hope that they can merely WILL self improvement. I'm just as guilty, especially when there are donuts, cheesecake, or copious amounts of delicious beer put in front of me.

That's why this year, I'm taking a note from corporate jargonism, and setting a SMART goal. That's right, SMART. That's
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

The old, stupid me would say: "I want to eat healthier, lose weight, and train more." NO. Not anymore. The SMART me has laid forth these 2 goals thus far:
  1. Do not eat any food that I do not specifically bring with me to work. This means no donuts, no leftover pizza from a lunch meeting, no candy from the candy bowls. I bring exactly what I need for lunch every day, so there's no reason to eat any more than that. Especially when it's the trash that sits around my office.
  2. No more picking the cuticles of my nails. This silly, unnecessary habit leads to really beat up looking hands, and my hands allow me to do most everything I enjoy. Climbing, riding, building shit, scratching the hairier parts of my body. This may not seem like a SMART goal, but look a little closer. It is when you look at your cuticles. It's amazing how fast they heal, and how much healthier my hands look. That alone makes this a measurable, specific goal.
If you see me breaking either of these call me on it like Blondie. I want to add a couple more goals pertaining to creating something (see this post), and training for biking and climbing. But these need some definition. They need to be attainable and specific so I will know when I have succeeded.

My one ridiculous goal that is in the real spirit of things is to cut down on the mid-week drinking. It's not that I drink heavily, but 1 or 2 drinks a night adds up. Suddenly it's Friday and I'm thinking, man this is my 10th, 11th beer this week. I love beer and margaritas and gin and tonics. I don't love the empty calories and dehydration. I look to blog-friend (maybe sometime climbing friend) Slockwoo for support, as I saw her post about a similar goal.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I love you man's returned...

Not to turn this whole Mid-Atlantic bike blog scene into a Hugh Grant film, but there is one award that went unmentioned in this year's Fatmarc Grammys.

Leader of the Year Award

I don't think he would call himself the leader of the DCCofD, and the very same 'Cult of Rik' is certainly not named for him, but I can't think of anyone that has kept the DCCofD on track as much as fatmarc. I'm speaking for myself, but I'd wager that my words could just as easily come from a majority of Delaware / MidAtlantic Riders.


It's not just the hope that he'll make you infamous in the pages of his blog. It's not that he is the strongest rider in the area. It's not the hope that a gust of wind will blow the changing poncho around in an enticing manner.

Marc leads by example. He gives 110% at practice, 125% at races. He leaves his guts on the ground during competition. He supports his teammates with some of the most boisterous, sometimes expletive peppered cheers during races. He works for what he gets.

Seeing someone put themselves as far in the basement as FM does to finish in the top ten of a MAC killer B race is the definition of motivation. There are no huge trophies, no cash prizes, no exogenous testosterone, no staring into the void of Bob Roll's diastema, no podium girls. There is only the love for riding, the satisfaction that comes with perseverance, and the fulfillment derived from small improvements in self performance. I admire Marc's tenacity, intensity, love for his wife, friends, and teammates, and skills on two wheels.

A small anecdote to wrap this up: at 12 O'Muchy this year, my teammate and I were severely under prepared for the torrential rains and knee deep mud. Not only did Tom McD (Den Mother of the Year award) and the Spot Brand Whores take us under their wing, but they destroyed the 2 - Man team field for a Winning Tie. My clearest memory was pedaling squares through some hub-deep peanut butter to have FatMarc and Matt come flying by. I was thinking that I was moving as fast as I could, but seeing them push through and suffer lit a fire under my fat ass. I was only able to hang with them for a mile and a half, but that was my fastest lap of the day.