Monday, September 29, 2008

vegas still sucks...

As you may know, Dear Reader, my job allows me to dip my toes into the grungy edges of the bicycle industry without actually getting wet. This is advantageous in some ways - I get to go to interbike; but sucks in others - I have to work (almost) the whole time at interbike. Either way, it's fun to be around bikes.



Last Sunday I headed out to the City of Sin to pay penance for my shitty performance at Charm City Cross. I hate Las Vegas. Yes, you can have fun, but for the most part I see Vegas as a gigantic scam designed to make idiots feel like they are getting something for their money. That being said, it is fun to act like a big man-child in the streets with little fear of reprimand from the man after one gets out of work. This was my intention.

So in the spirit of Venn Diagrams, here are the goods and the bads from my interbike 2008 experience:

bad: 5 days of trade show work (14 hours of being "ON" and smiling and standing and schlepping and wanting to punch every asshat looking to score free shit from your booth)
good: getting a chance to sneak out and try to score free shit

bad: the dust at outdoor demo
good: getting a chance to ride for 2 hours at outdoor demo and borrowing a Spot Brand 29er singlespeed belt drive bike

bad: breaking the belt on a Spot Brand 29er singlespeed belt drive bike while climbing a steep hill and tearing your jersey as you crash due to belt breakage and feeling like an asshole for ever trusting Spot Brand again (no they did NOT have a good explanation for failure)
good: getting a free Dale's Pale Ale after crashing and hiding it in a coozie to drink while you work

bad: working hungover
good: drinking miller high life and offering dollar bill preems at cross vegas with Nathan

good: having my own big comfy bed at the end of the day
bad: having a drunk sleepwalker nicknamed "Mancandy" climbing into my bed at 4 am

good: getting George Hincapie's scrawl on my new copy of Paris-Roubaix: A Journey Through Hell and hearing first hand the story behind the picture
bad: George Hincapie not answering Mark Cavendish's phone call so he could keep chatting with me, seriously, what a dick.

good: Running into Brent from TwinSix who generally rocks and gave me his Miller High Life wrist band.
bad: Seriously, Brent is cool shit and TwinSix makes some really nice stuff.

I can't say for sure if I'm looking forward to interbike next year. Hopefully, my product survives another year and I have the choice. Realistically, I'm sure I'll be somewhere in the middle on whether or not another trip is a good thing.

Picture from PezCyclingNews.com

Friday, September 19, 2008

sentenced to death by cyclocross...

This has been an interesting year on the cycling stage for me, dear Reader. A spring packed with travel for fun and for work left me unmotivated to pursue any mountain bike races. I started to get back on the bike with some more volume in mid June and the legs started to feel a little more loved.

Long rides became the status quo, with 4-6 hour Saturday and Sunday rides helping make up for the loss of spring riding. With the slow-twitch muscles coming around, I decided to make good on my goal of completing the SM100 - a race / ride that was the most fun I've had all summer.

Now, however, as 'Cross is looming ever-closer on the horizon, I am not feeling the vibe as I have in the past 2 years. I'm signed up for the B race at Charm City, a course I really enjoy, but I feel a little like I'm overlooking the Gallows from my cell at sundown the day before my time is up. Dr. Destructo and Faticus have been flying, and they are on the B-list. I'm a dead man.

Right now I have a taste for super-long rides. We'll see how Sunday plays out. But come Monday, I may just slap some slicks and paniers on the cross bike and head out for some self-supported, multi-day rides.

A picture of things to come.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

coffee...

My favorite local coffee shop [chain], dear Reader, is Brew HaHa. I like their coffee, I like the vibe in most of their stores, soccer moms aside. My morning commute some days is a long haul. I like to get up as late as possible on these days, and thus I purchase my coffee en-route rather than brew it myself. Sadly, my commute's route does not pass by a Brew HaHA. It does, however, pass a Starbucks.

Merry Christmas! Psyche!!

I know there are a lot of Starbucks haters out there. And many of them have their reasons. As a former High School Punk Rock wannabe, I can relate to the intrinsic hatred of all things corporate. But, in a flash of not-so-unexpected irony, like many high-performing High School Punk Rock wannabe students, I ended up going to college and ending up as a cog in the working middle class. On a basic level I want to hate the corporations and "the man", but let's face it: to a lot of people, I am "the man".

All that aside, I've accepted that from time-to-time I will buy Starbucks coffee. I don't feel that bad about it either. As far as minimum-wage service jobs go, they take pretty good care of their employees. They have a good product - strong coffee. I still want to hate them, but here I am, twice a week, buying a coffee.

Starbucks is a pretty ridiculous place. There's a thousand of them. They are always pushing some offer on you. And the people there are so obviously commanded to make you feel like a Gen-Y-er - Everyone's a winner! Just believe you can do it, and it will happen!

But the thing that gets me the most is their cup-sizing convention. All I want is 16 goddamn ounces of their strongest, darkest, high-test coffee. 16 ounces happens to be the size of their middle-sized cup. But no, they have to call it "Grande" (which should really refer to the largest if you ask me, but no, that is Venti - I think - and what the hell does that mean?).

I know I'm not the first to complain about it. Why is the smallest called the Tall?

On top of silly cup-size names, every morning, they have 3 drip coffees on tap: a regular roast, a decaf, and a dark roast. Really, their dark roast is the same thing every morning, but they call it something different and moderately racist every day of the week - Komodo, Ivory Coast, West Philly Blend, etc.

As a regular customer, I expect I should be able to just get my coffee and get the hell out of there with no headache. But I refuse to go along with their naming convention. I order a medium dark roast every morning. And I feel a little guilty, as the employee is required to use the stupid naming convention. So the exchange is like this:
Me: "Medium dark roast, please [satisfied, subtle grin]."
[she winces]
Her: "Ok! [huge toothy smile] One Grande Burundi Kayanza coming up!"
I am then barraged by offers for 1/2 off iced drinks after 4 p.m. This would normally annoy me, but typically I'm satisfied by my ordering victory - every day I successfully get my coffee without uttering a word of their pseudo-language.

"Save your receipt and get $2 off an iced drink after 4 pm!"

Today was a little different. I ordered using the English language - one medium dark roast - only to see the Barista (???) pouring me a cup of the regular blend. I corrected her to say I'd like the dark roast, and she worked really hard to not drop the smile as she said "Anniversary blend? Ok." and grabbed a new cup. As she rang me up at the register, she stated, "Our default is the regular blend - Pike Place. If you want something else, you need to specify." I smiled and said, "Oh, ok!"

I was taking solace in the fact that at least Starbucks ruffles a few feathers by remaining staunchly anti-Christian.

Hilarious!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

shenandoah mountain 100...

This past Sunday marked the 10th Annual Shenandoah Mountain 100. The SHT / DCCofD had a small entourage making the trek down to Stokesville, Virginia to partake in the fun. I was no exception, dear reader, but I made the trip with a little apprehension. You see, this race would be my longest mountain bike ride to date - the next longest being my solo attempt at the 2007 12 hours of Lodi Farm. And we all know how that ended...

Never-the-less, I hopped into Peaches' truck with the Keg Breaker and Tough Cookie, and we left a trail of plaid as we followed Papa Smurf, L-Web, and Jeb in Spaceball One. On the ride down, we were treated to the Howard Stern and the Losers version of Court of the Crimson King, and my worries began to melt away. "This will be fun" I told myself, and I didn't know how right I would be.

Registration. I mean Camp.

We set up camp, which as usual, was mistaken several times as registration. I guess that's what happens when you have a VW Crafter pulling an Airstream with matching awnings opening to a giant EZ-Up tent with 2 generators powering enough light to put the Luxor to shame. Did a little warm-up ride with Peaches, Jeb, and Buddy. Had an awesome dinner of spaghetti, meatballs, and PBR - now my 2nd favorite hipster beer after Miller High Life.

Sunset over the mountains.

Nick and Katie, and their friend John showed up as well, making out camp 10 deep. We all went to bed as a storm was approaching. The rain came down hard for an hour and a half only to relent to a tent full of yapping teenage girls and a barking dog. There would not be much sleep in camp that night.

At the start, racers jumped the gun and surrounded the lead moto that was supposed to pace the peloton to the first dirt road.

The next morning we awoke to a soggy camp, made some coffee and drained the bowels in the Airstream's luxurious facilities. We lined up, and the bearer of the bullhorn inadvertantly let us off the line. 500 racers jockeying for the holeshot in a 100 mile race - hilarious and unnecessary.

L-Web beat all of the SHT dudes after fearing she wouldn't be up to the race at all.

After a mile or two, I found myself next to No-Nickname-Nick. We talked it out and decided to ride together as long as possible. Turns out this was huge for me as I bent my chain at mile 18 and NNN helped me jury-rig it to make it to the checkpoint at mile 30 for a chain replacement. We both lost a little time to L-Web, Buddy, and Peaches who were riding together as it took about 20 minutes to get the whole thing sorted out.

Peaches finished well despite some flats.

But along we went. I was smiling a good portion of the time. Save for the bench-cut climb at mile 50 to the descent to Breyley's pond. That was a nice hike a bike and possibly the warmest it got that day. A nice descent brought us to Papa Smurf and Katie at CP#4. A Coke and a PopTart later, and we were rolling, ready to tackle the 20 mile climb to CP#5.

Crossing the line with No-Nickname-Nick.

iPaul(c) took care of me at CP#5 and we were ready to tackle the last 25 miles of the day. Rolled into camp 11 hours and 32 minutes after leaving that morning. Nick and I shook hands as we crossed. I know I was smiling as Tough Cookie had an ice cold beer waiting for me.

Post race beer.

This race was amazing. In many ways easier than I expected, though still demanding. I'd love to do it again and shoot for a better time. 11:32 included the broken chain and a little bit of waiting. 10.5 hour seems do-able. Sub 10 with a little more fitness. On top of that, major props to Chris Scott and his crew who put on the best event I have ever attended. It clicked like clockwork; all you had to do was ride your bike and eat their food.

The DCCofD / SHT had a great showing. Blair finished 11th overall, Jeb finished sub 10 hours. L-Web beat all of the men. We all finished and it was beautiful.

rock...

I wouldn't condone cocaine use, but Tom Boonen is a rockstar. From cyclingnews.com:

... on April 24 where he was clocked doing 129 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. The report claims Boonen did not deny speeding and that he was aware of his error. He received a 412.50 euro fine and 31 day licence suspension.

The second offense occurred several weeks later. The report claims he was traveling 180 km/h in a 90 km/h zone when the police clocked him on the ring road around Mol, Belgium on June 3.

In addition to holding his mobile phone while driving, Boonen allegedly returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.75, the result of four glasses of champagne he had drunk earlier in the evening.

I like Boonen, but he sure is setting a bad example by talking on his cell while driving.