Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2008?

Already thinking about 2008.

Some tentative goals:
Of course my job will probably interfere and blow this to shreds, but it's something to keep me motivated through the winter.

Who wants in?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

singlespeed worlds revisited...

Buddy told me about this while we were out at Middle Run today.



Worth a watch. If you wanna see how the camera adds 10 pounds to a fatass like me, scroll to 8:10.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

one for the ladies...

Found this on the family computer at home in Maine.

And to think I was thinking about growing out my hair again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

fakesgiving...

The annual Fakesgiving Feast has passed. It is a time to eat, drink, drink, eat, and laugh laugh laugh.

Darren stuffs some chips down with the wood-spoon-seasoned queso sauce; Game Guru Tim destroys me at Settlers of Catan, and that wine joined at least a gallon more in my gut.

While I have made some great friends in the Mid-Atlantic, people I hate to go even a week without seeing; the friends I got to see this past weekend are life-long, and I'm reminded that friendship knows not of time nor distance. This is not to say the Mid-Atlantic folk are not life long; it's just easier to know what you're missing when it's gone.

I got to give Rosie her new bike!

I don't think I've laughed that hard since last Fakesgiving. And I certainly have not made myself nauseous with food since then. My ribs ache and my stomach is churning, and I'm already looking forward to our next reunion

Will and I on the merry-go-round of death. Steve Timmenson found the secret to propulsion that seriously made it impossible to hang on to that thing.

It's hard to believe that we are all "adults". We still act like kids. Laugh like idiots. Tempt fate like the invincible 18 year-olds we used to be. We're not old... far from it, but we're definitely not growing up yet... not succumbing to the inevitable.

Clean plates.

I stole this from Tough Cookie's blog, but I'm sure she stole it too, so it's ok: "hand me the world on a silver platter and what good would it be with no one to share with... no one who truly cares for me?"

Scotty Don't has a killer beard. I am humbled and a little jealous.

All pictures taken from Rosie.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

We just had a near-life experience...

How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?
Me, I'm not a fighter. Truth be told, I've never been in a fight. I guess once my brother and I had it out: a puberty-fueled, fist-flying, knock down, blood-for-blood, eye-for-eye battle over who had rights to use the TV. It ended when my mom grabbed me off of him by the scruff of the neck. I felt that maternal hand on the neck and my body went limp - knowing full well that an accidental errant fist making contact with her would have surely ended my life. I don't think it truly counts as a fight, but I digress...
A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood.
For me, and I think for a lot of the amateur bike racing scene cross is our Fight Club. We gather several times a week. We push each other harder and harder each minute. We battle for the perfect line; we bury ourselves to get the first shot at the barriers or the sand; we'll lick our opponent's plate clean before we start in on our own dinner. Together, we dive deep into the pain cave and come out the other side purified. Hell, we even have a set of rules negating their own existence.
When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. We all felt saved.
My good friend JF always said to me, "Racing is good for the soul." There are very few things that teach you to train, focus, persevere, suffer, fight, and test your physical/mental/emotional constitution like racing. Fighting for the top of the podium, or even just fighting to finish a race is a reminder that you can suffer for an end purpose. The lessons learned on the bike transfer to the rest of life.
Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic.
I ended my mountain bike season this year in great shape, ready to attack the cross season with good fitness and a new challenge - the B Men field. I knew it would be hard, after the previous season's series of top 5 finishes in the C Men, to willingly become a mid-pack rider fighting for a top 20 or top 15 finish. But the prospect was exciting - no guts, no glory - a top 10 or 5 finish in the B field would be amazingly satisfying.

This fall, cyclocross has felt, at times, like a bit of a burden. Things have not played out ideally. My work schedule has required a painful amount of travel. Travel like this disrupts training and racing like you wouldn't believe. You get no consistency in your diet, your bedtime, your training, your routine. It's near impossible to focus. Your fitness fades. My results this year reflect this.
After fighting, everything else in your life got the volume turned down.
At the same time I have finished every race I started, regardless of the amount of pain experienced. I have fought for 25th, 30th, DFL. Why? Why do we sacrifice our week's alloted free time? our money on race entry fees? countless hours on the road commuting to races?
Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space.
After a trip to Houston this past week, I raced Beacon yesterday. Fun, fast course. I hung with the 2nd chase group of 8 for the first 4 laps, then stacked it up in the barriers the second to last lap. Caught my foot on the 2nd barrier and did a nice laid-out Superman in front of the crowd. No physical injury, but my ego was bruised and my focus was shattered. I sat up and rode the last lap tempo tempo. 30th out of 60 or so riders. But it's no longer about the result.

Tough Cookie
and I hit up Homegrown last night before a viewing of American Gangster. I went to bed early, feeling kind of crappy and woke up with a sore throat, congestion, and a little cough. I'm coming down with a cold. So I slept in, and my $25 entry fee for HPCX is now a donation to the Rutgers Cycling Team. But on the bright side, thanks to Zayne B., I now have telemark boots and was able to mount my bindings - mama, I'll be a free-heeler soon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

heckletron 5000...

This year a couple of the guys from the FiordiFruitta Cycling Team stayed at my house during the Granogue/Wissahickon double header. Toby Marzot joined Matt White and Jamey Driscoll, who have stayed with me in the past. Great guys, glad to have them.

Jamey... sans mullet. (photo courtesy of Mike Kirk)

Jamey had this to say in his race report on the FiordiFruitta website:
A group of 2 were just up the road and another 2 weren’t too far behind us, so the pressure was on. Not to mention, our host was cheering on the sidelines that if I didn’t beat my teammate Matt White, I’d have to sleep on the floor. None the less it made me slip up the greasy run-up even faster every lap. I managed to hold on to 8th overall and 1st for U23, while Matt rolled in a 13th, and Toby was 23rd.
Yeah. Guess who got the futon. I'm a man of my word.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

bros before hos...

The brother's visit was a success. He showed up late Thursday after 8+ hours on the road, and we downed a few cold ones before getting some shuteye.

After introducing him to some of my coworkers on Friday, we hit the climbing gym. Eric is probably the most natural athlete among the Thomas brothers, and since I've started climbing and riding, I've started to challenge his standing. Mind you, if he were to apply himself to climbing or cycling at the same level as I, there'd be no contest. But in the short term, I enjoy being able to lay the smackdown on the bike or on the rocks.

Then he broke out his longboard. Turns out the little bastard has been carving the streets of Dayton Ohio ever since he moved out there. He is smooth like butter on that thing, carving all the hills around my neighborhood with grace and consistency. I tried one big hill and had to bail on the board and run it out after I got way too much speed.

During the first Beers on Gears since JF left, Eric and I hit up Main St. NewArk for some drinking. We were keeping it even-steven until we ran into some friends of mine at Grotto's (the worst place on the planet but they have cheap beer). The table was really friendly and we ended up drinking 6 or 7 rounds, after only paying for 2. I'm surprised we made it home in one piece on the bikes.

My intention was to race Fair Hill Cross on Saturday, but waking up in a cloud of hangover, I was unsure I'd make the race. Turns out we made the race, and Gloucester aside, it was my finest race of the season. All of my bitching and moaning is for naught - I felt like I was actually racing my bike. I made the the primary chase group during the first lap after 2 guys got off the front.

The Fair Hill course was the 2nd most fun of the season.

I was still feeling pretty nauseous, wondering if I would even finish, when fatmarc flatted halfway to the pit. I made it my goal to slow the pace until he could get back on. I drilled it to the front of the chase group and just sat up, marking every move that came from the back. Marc got a bike change, and with the rage that accompanies his material issues, he was able to get back on, and steamroll through for a podium finish. It made me feel useful, and I finished 13th despite burning a lot of matches early on.

The rest of Saturday was spent relaxing, watching movies, eating. All in all, a fine weekend. Good to see family, good to race, good to drink and remember why it's not always fun to get really fucked up.

And Liz. She is my hero. Seriously. She completed one lap of Fair Hill in 45 degree weather with ridiculous winds and nasty sandpits only 1 year after being diagnosed with LUNG CANCER. With half a lung less than the average human, she has twice the heart. She is filled with hope, determination, grit, humor, and she really just kicks ass.