Wednesday, May 30, 2007

thanks for the honk, asswipe.

Rode to work today. Total time including shower at work is 45 minutes. Showering at home and driving to work takes me 35. I should do this more often. If only it weren't for the avid cycling fans that love to support my morning commute with their horn usage. Thank you, really, I couldn't have done it without you.

Pictures from my trip to Austria are here: picasaweb.google.com/forty15/SeefeldAustria18May2007

They are limited, because a lot of the others had coworkers in the frame. I can't just go putting them all over the web.


How'd they have time to prepare a whole building for me?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

social event of the year...

Another century is in the bank. Actually a Century.1 - 110 miles. Pancake flat, from Newark, DE to Rock Hall, MD. 22 and a half mile per hour average. Not too shabby. I'd like to document this truly exciting event with a series of photos that really capture the spectacular scenery.

Mile 13: still feeling fresh.

Mile 29: fatmarc and disco-dave have a deep "meaning of life" talk.

Mile 41: all I want to do is skip a pull in the 23 mph paceline into the headwind.
but ego is a bitch.

Mile 57: this is why I ride. 600 calories ingested in under 4 minutes.

Mile 69: Mark pulls us home. at 22 mph. without assistance.

Mile 77: really pushing the technical skills.

Mile 84: Pit stop 2 in Galena. Surly Bob picks ice cream sandwich over beer and I am happy in 90 degree weather.

Mile 107: the scenery is truly spectacular.

My apologies to Tom McPapasmurf, who out of kindness waited for someone who was hurting badly and due to some confusion at the front, got dropped and left to ride the last 40 miles solo. That is not the way I'd want to finish a century and as a team mate, I feel like I really dropped the ball. Tom, I'm sorry.

Friday, May 25, 2007

many thanks...

and apologies.

Thanks for all of you who called me, emailed, texted, whatever, on my birthday. It was a lovely, necessary reminder that despite where I am in the world, my friends and family are the finest people I know. I love you all, despite how good or bad we are at keeping in touch. Apologies for the lack of response so far, I was in Austria for the week and had no email or phone - off the grid so to speak.

This weekend I am going to call you all, and I will try to post pictures and a story about my trip.

The quick and dirty facts:
  • I love Europe.
  • I love Europeans.
  • I love European women.
  • The Alps are fucking steep.
  • Full suspension bikes suck.
  • Gears suck.
  • Gears are OK in the Alps.
  • I love European women.
That is all for now.
Double-R out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Shots at Shaggy's? I'm in!

Bagged on the Hills from Hell ride tonight, and the Ride of Silence. A combination of bad weather and the fact that I folded my chainring on Monday kept me off the bike. Thankfully I had my codependent friends along to drag me to Deer Park for my favorite of the seven: Gluttony. I swear to the heavens above that between our conversation and our bottomless guts we will someday be banned from every eatery in the Mid Atlantic.

Been busy, and I'm going to keep this short, as I'm still finishing up my move into a new house. Living with E-Town and grad student named Sergiu should be pretty fun. Right on the edge of White Clay. I can't wait for my Spot 29er to be on the ground and rolling.

I posted pictures from my trip to Seneca here: picasaweb.google.com/forty15/SenecaRocks11May2007.

The quick and dirty on that trip:
  • Leave work on Thursday, pack, and jump in the car for a 5 hour drive to WV.
  • Rain starts coming down hard when we are an hour away - seems to be a recurring theme when climbing with JF (www.forty15.com/blog/2006/07/meanwhile.html).
  • Thankfully, rain stops and we camp out without issue.
  • Friday, up early, 6ish, grab a Hot 'n Ready (don't get me started) breakfast sandwich and head to the approach.
  • On rock by 8 am.
  • 12 hours and 7 pitches later, we hit up the fine dining in town where we drink some fine beer and eat some fine lamb sandwiches.
  • Sleep, and repeat - hitting the rocks early Saturday and get in 2 pitches before we have to head home.
  • In the car and rolling by noon, so Andy can pick up his family at BWI 4 hours away.
  • Get stuck behind a line painting truck for 5 miles, doing 5 mph.
  • He finally pulls off, Andy goes to pass 4 cars in front of us on an open stretch, in a legal passing zone.
  • Truck #2 (a Dodge Ram) in line goes to pass #1 right as we are passing #2.
  • #2 sideswipes the front quarter panel of Andy's wife's Saab as I see my life flash in front of my eyes. Andy keeps us on the road.
  • Redneck driver won't take the responsibility for crash so we drive to a WVSP station - "sorry, we only do accident reports at the scene of the crash." Mind you there is no cell phone service for 50 miles around. Great. No one was hurt, except the Redneck's dog, who appeared to have some cancerous growth on his johnson. Gross.
All in all, a great trip. Climbing with a lot of exposure is a different game. I admit I was on a climb 2 grades easier than I usually get on, and I was shaking like Shakira. I had to do a gut check 20 feet above the tree canopy, get my head on straight, and climb on. What a way to spend a Friday, sure beats work.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

more to come...

16 hours of multipitch trad climbing.
12 beers.
10 hours of driving.
1 redneck car accident.
0 clouds in the sky.

There aren't enough vacation days.

Andy and John at the entrance to Seneca Rocks.

John belays me up Crispy Critter.

Ambiguously gay?

John belays 150 feet up.

There's a bulge in my pants.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

want to make babies?

then save the ovaries.

internet friend Sam is an ovarian cancer survivor. she is a badass climber, bike commuter, good person, cancer fighter, member of Team Bury the Dragon, and the world without her would be a darker place. Thanks to cancer fighting techniques that have been developed at great cost, Sam (and tough cookie Liz) are still here to show me how it's done.

Here are three ways you can help support more advances in cancer research - in this case ovarian cancer.
  1. Race your mountain bike at Escape from Granogue May 20th. A portion of entry fees will go to the HERA Foundation for Women's Cancer Research.
  2. Enter this raffle to win some rad bike stuff - an IF Fork, T-shirts, tires, jerseys, shorts, singlespeed shit... the list goes on and on.
  3. Donate directly to HERA.

Monday, May 07, 2007

With a little help from my friends...

Saturday, 10 AM, Marc, Diane, Fitzy, Bob, and I hit the road for Fredericksburg VA, home of the 9th annual 12 Hours of Lodi Farm. This year's plan, throw down big with 2 trio teams, 2 duo teams, and 3 solo riders. Sadly, JF and Chris couldn't make it after John sprained his ankle.

Bummer, man.

2 PM. We arrive at the venue to find Tom (Papa Smurf) with Unkle Mike, Matt (run Forest), and iPaul(c) and the trailer in tow. They have already started unloading the trailer so we all set to work putting up our base camp. Yeah, imagine a refugee compound but with all the luxuries - electricity, coffee maker, microwave, stoves, grill, and so on - and you have some idea. I think we had a bigger footprint than the race promoters.

Refugee camp?

6 PM. We have been joined by E-town, Meghan (Smurfette), FFAmy and we throw together our team dinner - pasta, sauce, grilled chicken, caesar salad, and huge chocolate chip cookies with nutella spread on top. A few of us even enjoyed some Magic Hat HI.P.A. (damn that may be a top 3 beer for my IPA list).

Fatmarc actually carries a semi-pro license in eating. Bob, Fitzy, and Diane give him a run for the money.

6 PM to 11:30 PM. The usual trash talk, laughter, and BS that follows the DCCofD anywhere is filling the air. Teammates come and go from their cars or chairs trying to get some sleep, or trying to throw together final preparations for the midnight race start. The midnight start takes the gloves off of a tough 12 hour race, one that would already work you like Tyson on a heavy bag regardless of the start time. Throughout this entire time, the rain was coming and going, heavy at times. Not a single one of us even blinked an eye at the rain, knowing that if anything, it would improve our chances because fate favors the prepared.

E-town and Smurfette tossing some salad.

For me, though, this is the best part of the whole experience. The team mates, the jokes, the ball-busting, the cameraderie, the preparation, the gluttony - it enriches an experience that is already unique and challenging. Hell we could have lived for a week or two off of what we brought for an overnight bike race. And there was enough trash talk in that tent to break a normal man's spirt 3 times over. And this is one of the reasons I will probably not ride an endurance race solo again. As much as I really appreciated the support I received between laps, I missed being able to rest up, talk strategy, and eat in good company. All things that you get to do in the team format. Anyway, back to the race report...

The only reason to race is this part: sitting on your ass with your friends and a cold beer.

Sunday 12AM (Midnight). No LeMans start this year, just a short parade lap to get the field a little strung out before the race start. E-town, Matt (run forest), FFAmy, Blair, Fitzy, and myself lined up at the start for our respective teams. And the race begun. The rain held off the rest of the night, but the trail was still pretty wet. The roots were still soaked, keeping the riding plenty technical. My first lap was dismal. My plan for my solo attempt was slow and steady wins the race. Just go out there and start the next lap regardless of how shitty things were feeling.
Well after 30 minutes of racing, I still had not found my rhythm. I was not getting through the technical portions very cleanly, and I was banging up my body with small crashes here and there. I was really regretting signing up for this thing.

Marc demonstrates (with shorts on) why his dog is such an avid licker. It's peanut butter. On his crotch. You do the math.

1AM - 5AM. At this point I have no idea how the rest of the crew was doing, so I'll speak to my experience. I start to settle into a rhythm. My legs are coming around, and though my back is a little sore, it is nothing I can't push through. I start to have hope that I can make it. I am managing to keep my pit stops under 5 minutes and the support from Papa Smurf and Smurfette was beautiful. They calmed me down, got me to take a breath, fed me, hydrated me, massaged me, cleaned my bike, and gave my ass a slap as they pushed me back out into the course.

FFAmy and I rode a really nice lap together in the middle of the night.
Nothing like a chick's ass in front of you to keep you motivated.

5AM - 7AM. The last night lap is always the hardest. Especially because this is when you normally get out of bed. Your brain is fried, you've been racing for 5 hours already - more than a regular ride - and it's still dark out. The first daylight always brings motivation, but I came into camp between laps 6 and 7 feeling a little crappy. I figured it was time for a clothing change, the only one I had planned for the race. This was a long rest b/w laps. Everything just seemed to take longer working on no sleep and 6 hours of bike riding. But I got changed, ate some food, and tried to hit the port-o-potty to address some race gut to no avail. Stepping out of the john, Marc tells me that I just dropped from 2nd to 3rd b/c of my long break. Motivation is rekindled - the podium is in sight.

Matt (run forest) loving every minute.

7AM - 11AM. Just keep the legs turning and 3rd place is mine. 1st and 2nd and me all had the same number of laps, and we were at least half a lap up on everyone else. Still hoping that maybe #2 will crack and I can take back the time I lost. A loose chain started popping off my bike during lap 7 but a calm, collected support crew had it fixed in no time after I ran the end of the lap. I started lap 9 around 10:15. Feeling OK, like I can do it, and knowing that if I get back within an hour, I can start lap 10 and clinch 3rd.

Papa Smurf.

Well shit hit the fan. About 20 minutes into lap 9, the lights went out. Like someone snapped their fingers. Suddenly I couldn't think, couldn't pedal, couldn't pull the brake levers. Hell, it was near impossible to get off the bike and push it. I start worrying that I might not even be able to walk myself back to camp. Apparently iPaul(c) and Matt both passed me during this point and tried to pep me up - I have no memory of this. After my longest lap of the whole day 1:25 or so compared to my normal 1:00 to 1:05 laps, I get back to camp and collapse in a chair shivering.

Papa Smurf diagnoses me with an electrolyte crash and for the next 1/2 hour, he and Smurfette nurse me back to sanity with gatorade. I get up from my chair long enough to turn in my baton - my race is over. Final standing: 5th out of 12 starters. Not great, but not bad for a first (and probably last) solo 12 hour race. I'm glad I did it, but I think the team format is more my bag. It's easier to push through the pain when someone else is counting on you, plus you can throw down and have more fun during the laps when you know you have rest coming.

I was proud of my team mates, however, and proud to be a part of a ragingly successful DCCofD / Spot Brand collective. Marc, Matt, and Bob cinced the overall and single speed trio victories with 15 laps. E-town, Unkle Mike (aka Jan), and iPaul took first in the sport trio class. FFAmy and Diane won the women's duo (as the only team) but also were 5th over all in the open duo (no small task) with 10 laps. Blair took 3rd in the solo men's open - impressive given the number of times I saw him stopping to take a leak.

Bob, Matt, Marc victorious.

Fitzy finished right behind me in the singlespeed solo in 6th place with the same number of laps. I think I may have won the battle, but he won the war. His experience in solo attempts combined with his level head and specific training for solo endurance really paid off. Even with the same number of laps and complete lack of sleep, he was still functional after the race. I was useless. I fell asleep over and over - sitting on E-town's bumper, waiting for food at the post race restaurant. Well done Fitz.

Fitzy finishes up his 9th and final lap.

I have to shout out a lot of love, respect, admiration, and thanks to my friends and team mates. They not only threw down and seized victory, but they were all there for me throughout my race. I call it a solo attempt, but I would not have been able to get as far as I did without the constant support of the Smurfs and the other racers. Fixing me and my bike so I could rest for even 5 minutes is a huge advantage - and a team effort. That is another reason I would like to return to endurance racing as part of a team. I want to be able to contribute on and off the bike.

Unkle Mike, E-town, Paul. Victorious.

And I have to say thanks for lunch - the winnings from the victories went into a pot to buy some Mexican food. I just wished I was awake enough to enjoy it.

Diane and Amy also kicked ass.

Friday, May 04, 2007

pulling through...

Went to see the Doc today; figured it'd be good to get myself established with a general practitioner in the area. Aside from the annoyance I got from the to-be-expected ridiculous wait in the lobby, it was a pretty standard visit. I was amazed at how busy a doc's office is. So many of the people look so unhealthy.

And for the most part it looks like preventable stuff - most of it related to (you guessed it) obesity. It is depressing how out of control some people let their obesity become. The health toll is ridiculous - diabetes, heart disease, cancer - three top killers all of it linked to fat. And it's expensive for everyone. It is sad because I know it is tied in so many ways to income and class. The cheapest food is often the unhealthiest in the supermarket (see: www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/magazine/
22wwlnlede.t.html?ex=1178424000&en=
821e48a9626565b9&ei=5070).

I think the general population have their priorities wrong. I would guess a lot of these overweight, lower class types live in debt and skimp on getting good food to afford cable TV and a big car. American ideals that only help perpetuate the situation. That still does not forgive the fact that there is not a better federal minimum wage, or better school lunches, etc.

Granted I am a fat bastard for a cyclist, but I am glad I have my health. And I try to take care of myself. Last night at the DE Rock Gym, JF - a marathon runner and fellow healthy human - sprained his ankle on a nasty fall from the bouldering wall. He still has his health, but it is easy to see how quickly one can be forced to the sidelines. He can't ride 12 hours of Lodi Farm now. But such is life.

Climbing has been progressing for me. I've finally wrapped up a bunch of problems I've been working on for a while. Pulled through a few V3s, a V4, and a V5. There is still one elusive V4 that is escaping me. But it will have to wait for a while.

V5 (red circles) starts on the arete - crux is going to the yellow hold near the top.
V3 (blue circles) goes up the steep roof dihedral.


V4 that dangles you along the edge of the roof of the cave with crimpers and slopers before you have to pull off the big yellow bucket, with no feet, to the orange and red holds near the top.

The elusive crimp-fest V4 that I want to nail more than your mom.
The last move from the yellow hold near the top is all that's missing.

Now it is time to prepare for my first ever solo attempt at a 12 hour race.