Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Road trip

Pictures are worth... 


MTB in Palo Duro Canyon and Abq foothills.

Wish you were here?

-- Sent from my Palm Pixi

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Speak and Spell

There is a theme here and it is not intentional. Or is it?  Anyway the first time I heard Depeche Mode was on a ski trip, but it was not a church trip, it was to a lodge in Colorado where families would ski and fellowship (Ok, Churchy but not an organized church trip).  We were in the game room playing pool and ping-pong, someone had a "boom box/ghetto blaster" and Speak and Spell was playing.  Now at this time I was used to "jamming out" to Twisted Sister and Ratt, so hearing Depeche Mode was not a big eye opening moment, but somewhere in my subconscious it left an indelible mark to be revisited later, much later.

Flash forward to 1990 and the spring of my freshmen year.  "Personal Jesus" hit college radio and I was in deep.  Had to get a ride into town and buy this single.  Things are a little slower in rural TX and by the time "Personal Jesus" was on the radio, the album was already out.  Decisions, decisions.  Do I buy the album or just the single?  I took the plunge, bought Violator and hurried to get the cassette out of the case and into the tape deck of a friends car.

"World in My Eyes" was the first track.  The first track to get my attention and then "Sweetest Perfection".  I already liked "Personal Jesus", then "Enjoy the Silence" and "Policy of Truth".  This album to me is the lynch pin of Depeche Mode's catalog.  It was dark compared to earlier albums and they were changing musically with this being their seventh album in a span of nine years.  Violator was nowhere near the the Speak and Spell that I had heard years earlier.

With Violator I became a fan, and started buying more, Music for the Masses was next for me, and imagine my surprise when I played the album for the first time and actually knew songs.  Wow, really?  Who knew.  A few years later my senior year, I picked up Songs of Faith and Devotion.  Once again David and Martin were keeping up with the times and put out an album that was different from the rest, but yet was still true to their craft.

Depeche Mode is one of the groups that I can always go back to and play.  And when I do click a little icon or push a button I am transported back to an earlier time when things were new and different.  A time of growing up, learning, pain and joy.  Girlfriends past, friends past, times past, listening brings it all back. Take something off the shelf that you have not listened to in a while, dust it off (so to speak, in this digital age) and see where it will take you.  Careful... music has sharp edges and can open old wounds, or it can be a beautiful thing.  Happy listening.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

motivation

I am struggling.  I have not been on the bike since the Thursday night trainer session, and before that a Monday torture session with James and Brown Bear.  The Holidays and weather have just not been helpful in getting me on a bike or doing anything.

I have spent quite a bit of time on the couch and have been giving the TV quite a workout.  I am logging hour after hour watching nothing.  I have a little issue with becoming sedate when it is cold and crappy outside.  Who likes to ride the rollers or trainer inside going no-where?  I don't, and I haven't.

I am having motivational issues.  I don't want to do anything.  I don't even want to write on the blog.  I haven't written or even felt like writing anything since Monday.  Could be I have nothing to say, well, when do I actually have anything to say?

What is motivation?  So I look up motivation, and it is defined as "the act of motivating".  Not much help there.  How about -"Desire to do, interest or drive" "incentive or inducement".  A little better.  Looking at what motivation means, I try to decide what "drives" me?  What is the crowbar that gets me off the computer, TV or couch?  I don't know?  I can't say that I know what force, what poster of a kitten, what image is my key to the shackles of my laziness.  It is a sheer act of violent nature that gets my body from the horizontal to the vertical plain.  Completely unexplainable, I can't tell you what makes me want to do what I do, I just do it.  -Sometimes I don't.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You've just been dropped

I rode with two of my favorite team riders today, both have similar styles.  If you consider bringing the pain style.  Brown Bear is a kid, I mean that in the best possible way.  He is all of 16 years of age.  With the way he brings the pain on a ride, some might call him a Punk, actually I do call him a punk.  If you find yourself on a ride sandwiched between James and Brown Bear, you had better have your big boy pants on. 

What was I thinking going on a ride with two of the team's cannibals?  I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so bring the pain.  Mission accomplished.  Brown Bear and James put it down after our rendezvous at the skatepark out 21st.  Avery saw Brown Bear pushing the pace into the mid 20s.  I went up front for a pull and felt good, James rotated to the sharp-end and pushed it into the high 20s low 30s on the short piece of HW51.  Thanks for that.

There is something about riding with guys that are stronger than you.  It can crush you, eat you up and spit you out, or it can elevate you to a different level.  I generally find myself in the company of riders that bring hammers in their jersey pockets.  As the saying goes "sometimes you are the hammer, sometimes you are the nail" and if you happen to ride with James and Brown Bear and you are the hammer, you will probably get dropped.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Soothes the Soul pt. 2

Violent Femmes first album is a must own.  If we did not have digital this and download that, it would be one of the albums that I would save if my house were on fire, after I got the dogs out.  You get my point.  I was introduced to Violent Femmes on a Church ski trip many many moons ago, by Becca Johnson.  She was two years older than me, and at the ripe ol' age of 13 that is a continental divide.  All the guys in the youth group worshiped at the alter that was Becca.  I was 13 and a little behind the "girls don't have cooties" power curve.  Anyway Becca and I were "buds" as she put it, because I could ski.  I could ski up to her ability and none of the other kids could.

So I'm sitting on the church bus headed to New Mexico in search of the pow pow, Walkman plugged into the ears and a suitcase full of tapes.  That's right, if you grew up in the '80s you know what I speak of.  Walkman=tapeplayer and a suitcase full of cassette tapes.  Your tape box was your pride and joy, sometimes alphabetized, arranged by genre, or just a mess.  I preferred alphabetized, but not completely, just the a's together b's together and so on.  Didn't want to look to anal.  Becca sits down next to me and checks out my catalog, pops open my player and slips a tape into it, and presses play.

I was introduced to the Violent Femmes with the track Add it up.  I would love to reprint the lyrics, but it is better served up by listening than by reading, experience it for the first time with your ears.  If you are familiar with this song then imagine what it did to a Texas farmboy at the golden age of 13.  I think at the time I was into the hair bands of the '80s, but after this I had a revelation and a coming of age in my musical taste.  If only at such a young age I would have know what it all meant.  Oh, well can't cry over milk that was never spilt.

This album became the soundtrack for my relationship life in middle and high school.  It may be a few decades old, but boys and girls and songs about their relationships will never lose its relevance.  I would have to say that it is timeless, yet has a nostalgic quality for me.  If I still had a Walkman and some tapes I would pop in the 'Femmes and listen to Gordon and crew.

*Warning* there are some explicit lyrics on this album -don't say I didn't warn you

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tron

No Spoiler

I saw Tron last night.  I'll give it 5 stars.  Out of ten.

Let's start with the good and I will finish it up with the bad, well on second thought let's finish on a positive.  Don't want anyone going home crying.

It was a little long, not in actual time length, but action loaded up front and then it took a Disney nosedive into slow motion no plot.  The plot, what plot?  It was good vs evil lame, no twists, no turns.  Classic Disney. The only thing it had going for it was visual.  Visually it was stunning, but not 3D.  The 3D was nonexistent.  DON'T WASTE your money on 3D.  The credits had better effects then the actual movie. 

Don't believe the hype, but don't get me wrong either.  Visually, this movie was stunning, beautiful, worth seeing on the big screen.  It's only redeeming quality was the visual, albeit non-3D, but eye candy galore.

The plot was thin at best, but when it looks this good who needs plot?  Kind of like people.  There was a little world-domination Hitler going on, not sure what that was about.  Walt would not have been happy with that.  Anyway, I should not have expected much, you could tell they were trying to make a good movie, but missed the mark.  You can turn the mind off when you see this one, but just enjoy the pretty pictures.  Don't worry about getting lost in this film, just get lost in it visually.

Go see this movie if only to see it, and only see it in 3D if you absolutely have to.

Bite the Hand

I thank my lucky stars that we have some sort of cycling coverage on TV.  I know it was not always like this and to get the latest info you had to have a VeloNews handy or call a phone number to get the latest pre-recorded race results.  So, yes we are privileged in the access that we have to races the world over.  Not to mention the world wide web.  Our savior for all things cycling.  So, here is my open letter to Versus.

Dear Versus,

I have some ideas that might help your cycling coverage.

1.  We are already watching your station, we don't need to know about the up coming PBR (pro bull riding) (I thought it was a tasty beverage) event in slow motion.  Spandex does not mix with chaps -well not in this crowd.  Your commercials alone are enough to get me to STOP watching

2.  I will most likely never drive a Cadillac or buy Michelob Ultra.  Please for the love of all things holy sell me something I can and will use.  If we are in front of the TV and watching cycling, you can reasonably assume that we are cyclists.  Beer commercials are good, and you need more of them.  I know, I know you are limited to commercials that the sponsors are buying.

3.  Paul and Phil, love 'em.  They need a third person in the booth to keep them on track.

4.  On the same lines as Paul and Phil.  They are given a quota of how many times they can mention Lance outside of the actual action.  If Lance is somewhere at the back of the peloton, we don't need a camera on him and 5 mins of commentary.  If he is at the front, bridging, attacking, etc... fell free to give him some love.  Seriously if you are in love with Lance, let him know move to Vermont and do the deed.

5.  I want a Brian Holm and Rolg Aldag show.  Mic these guys up and put 50 cameras on them.  If you haven't seen Chasing Legends you won't know what I am talking about.  These guys are awesome.

6.  Jens Voigt.  Give us Jens.  Lots and lots of Jens, mic him up and put a tracker on him so we know what he is doing at all times.

7.  How about introducing America to other cyclists other than Lance?  There are some legends out there, that many people have never heard of.  Throw us a freakin' bone.

8.  How about some coverage on the other jerseys in a Grand Tour?  Yes, we know the leaders jersey and the Sprint, but show the battles for the KOM and the Youth.

9.  Show the start of the race, interview some riders, show how the break formed.  I mean really show it, you have plenty of time, a five sec clip of two guys going off the front does not cut it.  Show feed zones, show the intermediate sprints, same thing here 5sec is not enough.  Show the peloton with the teams getting their riders in position to start the sprint.

10.  And by all means send me a bottle of wine so I can enjoy it with your cheese.

Thank you for your considerations, I am available for a position to help you with your production.  We will also need to get the rights to every ProTour race.  I have watched your programming, and it is not like you can't make the room for a little cycling.  Whacked Out Sports???? are you kidding me?  With me on board we can do much better.  Seriously MMA, PBR, NHL and Cycling on the same network?  How much are you drinking and smoking when programing?

Glenn Duh

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Fence

Who is the "they" who makes things the way things are?  I'm talking about offending.  Saying something and someone gets bent out of shape because of what was said.  I think it is sad.  It is sad that we have become so soft and everything is fluff.  You put a hard edge on something and oh boy somebody is gonna get hurt.  Hurt little feelers.  Buck up little campers, life is not all soccer and soft-ball trophies.

If I say that something is gay, I'm not trying to offend, poke fun or demean people of a lifestyle choice.  I don't use the word as a derogative toward someones sexual preference.  It has taken on a meaning that has nothing to do with the original meaning or the substitute meaning that the word now signifies.  Gay in it's original form meant fun, happy, whimsical.  I don't use it for it's first intended usage, that would be gay.  See how I used it there?  And I did not use it as a sexual preference slang. 

Words change, language changes, people define words in their own and unique way.  Case and point, I spent some time in the '80s, and the word bad changed it's meaning.  Bad became good, it was an uber positive word and a little overused or abused.  I am guilty as charged.  Dude became a standard and I have not gotten rid of it in my day-to-day vocabulary.  I call everyone dude, and have even had full conversations with people only using the word.  Dude -look it up in the dictionary, and tell me we don't change words.

Now for my favorite offencive word that I cannot stop using.  Retard, and it's other form, Retarded.  Hang around me long enough and you will hear it, more than once.  I laughed so hard in the Hangover when Allen pronounces it RA-tard.  "Ha ha classic."   I am by no means using the word to be offencive to people who are handicapped, mentally challenged, developmentally challenged, challenged challenged, etc.  I know this word it the one with the least amount of grey area, and I use it with reckless abandon.

I feel that no matter how guarded we are with our choice of verbiage, we will offend someone.  It is inevitable.  Once again, I think people should harden up, speak your mind.  -Respect your fellow human.  Dude, I might be retarded if I call something gay.  Get your pannies unbunched, a clean bowl of Post Toasties and enjoy life 'cause it's BAD.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Soothes the Soul pt.1

I was asked if I could only listen to one song what would it be.  I don't know how to answer that question.  I love music (country music excluded).  I would have to pick something classical, no not Classic Rock -Classical as in"Real Music".  I don't listen to classical, one -we don't have a good station here in "short bus radio land", two -I like classical, but its hard to look this cool rocking out to Bach.  Not that you cannot rock out to Bach.  You can.

I am a Wagner man.  That is some heavy stuff.  If you are not familiar, think helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now.  Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, and Ride of the Valkyries would be on my shortlist of "the one song". Yes I know it is not a song it is a Opera, so there I kind of circumnavigated the "one song" by choosing an opera.

This brings me to an interesting dilemma...  Most influential albums in my life, or must own albums.  It is easy to throw down albums on a list and let, you the reader wonder what they mean to me.  If you own the album or know the music, you know what it represents in your life, but not mine.

Off the top of my head... Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon  -How can you not own this album?  Aside from the fact that Money is overplayed to death.  It is a great song, but enough already.  This album is meant to be listened to as one work.  Put it in, press play and enjoy you can't listen to it out of order and by all means do not listen to just one song.  It is truly a work of art.  Not to mention the "Dark Side of the Rainbow", but you can play Wizard of Oz with DSotM as the sound track.  I've never done it, but heard about it.    ?????

I found DSotM later in my musical growth, I did have The Wall, and was introduced to it by the movie in the early '80s.  Oh '80s music.  Got to love it.  I cut my teeth on the "hair-bands" and then the "velvet" movement.  I started skateboarding and as a rite of passage had to listen to "punk".  I did own a Michel Jackson album in there somewhere, but who didn't.  Cast the first stone.

Up Next...
Violent Femmes
Depeche Mode
The Cure
Fugazi
U2
INXS
Joy Division/New Order
NIN

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shades of Wichita

I'm walking down a tree covered street checking over my shoulder looking for the ladies to come screaming off of the brick into a left-hander to where I am standing.  Here they come, I unconsciously hold my breath as they hit the apex, not wanting anyone to hit the deck.  I have positioned myself here in case anyone meets the tarmac I can help get them righted and on their way.  I am also here to coach yell at the ladies to stay off the front and not give anyone a free ride.

The first thing I see are the black and white kits.  Damn, already working... "get off the front, make them work".   It falls on deaf ears, next time around same thing black and white on the front just in a different order "what are you doing? Get off the front!!!"  Rinse and repeat, we do this for several more laps, until another team attacks out of the corner and spreads the group.  "Cover that Michelle" I yell stating the obvious with Michelle out of the saddle easily chasing the two off the front with Julie and Gina in tow.

Next lap is just like the first, "get off the front!" my frustration coming to a boil.  Gina looks at me and gives me an evil grin.  Oh so that is how it is going to be, I'm done trying to "help".  I walk the course to the team's camp, and some of us head to the start/finish to watch the end of the race.  Black and white still on the front.  Bell lap and Michelle attacked so violently that the field looked to be in slow motion as she drilled it into the first corner.  By the time anyone reacted, she was 10meters up the road and gaping the field.  A field that was now just individuals chasing but gaining nothing.

It was a lifetime before we saw the group come around the corner out of the trees, no black and white.  Michelle was caught somewhere on the backside Gina and Julie followed the two chasers.  Michelle's damage was done, a grenade had gone off and fragged everyone in the field(almost everyone).  Final uphill turn into the finish and Gina attacked from fourth wheel gained the inside with Julie.  A perfect slingshot pass and Julie and Gina go 1 - 2.  "Shake n Bake Cal"

I am a fan of cycling.  Bike racing is tactics -a group of individuals all competing for one place.  If you have teammates you all have the same goal.  Win the race.  You will never race a teammate for First, you will race with a teammate for First.  If you are new to bike racing this is a hard concept to wrap your head around, and what I saw on a summer day in Wichita was beautiful...the sacrifice of a teammate to win a race.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Will the real ....... please stand up?

Alex I'll take Team Tom's for 200....

I have friends on the team that are real characters that you cannot make up.  Truth is stranger than fiction, but in this case life is art and there is no imitation or artificial ingredients involved.  I am not going to use "real" names (to protect the guilty), and all people or persons can and should resemble actual people.  Please note that there were no animals harmed during the posting of this blog.

I ride bikes with a horse of a man, a draft horse that can run with the best of the thoroughbreds.  We will call him James.  I use draft horse, because James is all work.  It's not that he doesn't know better, he does.  He chooses to work.  There is no happiness greater than going to the front and working.  Working people over and pushing the pace all the way up to 11.  That's 11 on the volume, tell me that doesn't hurt. 

Pain is James' sidekick, he will bring him along wherever he goes.  Go on a recovery ride with James and he will introduce you.  James is very generous with his relationship with pain, he feels that everyone who he meets and rides or races with should meet his sidekick.  Comfortable is a word that is foreign to James and his friend, and they make sure that if you are around them that it is a word that you will never use as an adjective.

James is ADHD in the peloton, he can't just "sit in".  Sitting in is a death sentence, and weak.  Tactics be damned.  Full gas.  James has two speeds.  Drive the pace, and Attack.  Shelling half the field is a podium finish, seeing wrenched faces struggling is a joy.  Putting ones body in the red so that you can make other people suffer, is a job well done.

 James is an equal opportunity sadist, I've been personally "friendly fire" dropped by James not once -but several times.  If you get in a paceline with James, make sure he is not behind you.  James is magic.  He can make pacelines disappear.  If he is behind you in a paceline and when your turn is up, and you go to the back, it's gone. 
Vanished into thin air. 
You have just been dropped.

Monday, December 13, 2010

anticipation

I am leaving in the morning to take a short road trip to go mtbing with a friend, and there is a slight buzz.  An electricity of knowing what is coming, but an uncertainty of the spontaneity of mtbing.  I don't define myself as a mtbiker, but I ride a mtbike, and I think about riding.  I think about riding all the time and when I am not thinking about riding my subconscious is. 

I rail perfect turns on the sides of overpasses.  I've launched swiss precision wheelie drops from the BOK tower over the Mayo and landed on SWBoulevard.  I weave in and out of a traffic rock gardens, drop into a grassy median for a little road-gap action over a semi-truck.  I gapped the turnpike at least 27 times on Tuesday on the way to the City.  I've ridden my bike on millions of miles on untracked, unridden, unmarked trails. 

I've replayed trails over and over again, just like your friend in middle school that wore out a tape playing the same song that they first made-out to.  (sorry kids, probably wont get that reference)  I've ridden on every continent, the Moon, and even Mars.  When I am on the bike I think about riding more, more than the body will allow. 

I've pushed the body just to get "that feeling".  Legs are tired, back and arms are on fire, but must keep peddling just to have fun.  The smart play would be to stop or slow down, but the little devil on the shoulder is screaming for me to pin it, and the other little devil on my other shoulder is yelling "pin it, Nancy. Is that all you got?".  So what are you gonna do?

The bike is clean, chain is oiled and the drive-train adjusted (thanks Shimano).  Tools and gear are not packed but readied, it's like a military operation.  Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  Ride until you can't see straight, someone gets hurt, or you have equipment failure.  Roadtrips are conquests, you come home with your crew and you can't stop talking about what you just lived through.  That is LIVIN'.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brew Haus

Your two weeks are up, the specific gravity is perfect, right on the numbers.  Time to bottle.  Get out the sanitizer, bottles, capper, priming tank, ect, ect.  Home brew is work, but it is so much fun.  Exciting.  Don't forget...Rewarding. 

Bottling is fun.  Filling. Capping.  Putting the fruits of your labor into cases and then storing in a warm dark place.  Bottling also signals Job Done, all that there is left to do is wait, and then pop a top, pour, repeat. 

It is a simple process, once you have your beer fermented and you check the specific gravity, to see that fermentation is complete, you add sugar to the priming tank.  The sugar is a small amount that will activate the yeast again to produce CO2 to carbonate the beer.  This is what is known as "bottle conditioned".

I use 22oz bottles to cut back on a little of the labor, and since this is a pouring beer a 22 works out great.  I like to drink out of 12s, but pouring beers are nice in the 22s.  There is sediment in the bottom of bottle conditioned beers, and the constant tipping of the beer stirs up the sediment, so therefore pouring is cleaner.

Anyway, getting way to technical.  The Amber that I brewed is amazing (by my biased opinion) after all, all I did was follow directions, so I think I can say amazing and not be egotistical.  All patting oneself on the back aside I would like this beer even if I had no hand in it.  I like it so much I will be brewing it next, that is right after I get finished with my Honey Wheat.  That's right, got the kit in today along with a secondary fermenter.  So I will get the Amber in the mail and a week after I brew the Wheat I will transfer it to the secondary fermenter and brew the Amber and place it in the primary fermenter.  Bottle the Wheat and the Amber goes into the secondary.  Rinse and Repeat.

I think I might have a Brewing problem?  Hello, my name is Glenn Duh and I am a Brew-a-holic.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I've been a very good boy this year.  I got a new MTB back a few months ago and I love it, don't know if you can beat that, unless you have a Sram 2x10 X9 I can put on it.  A new Colnago M10 would be nice with Record 11, I don't need one...but those bikes are Sexy.  My IPA is going to be ready on Christmas day so I'm good there, please just let it be good.

Since I am pretty well covered how about sending Lance some more cash to give to his lawyers.  Alberto really needs some Texas beef, seems that the beef in his homeland is tainted.  That is a shame, that he got in trouble eating meat from his own country.  I would have at least blamed it on the French.  Speaking of the French, could you bring them a ProTour team with a license?  My friends Andy and Frank really need a name for their cycling team, got any laying around?  They say they have a sponsor, but it seems the sponsor/sponsors have no name.

Floyd "the tin man" really needs a brain.  Rasmussen needs a team, well more riders...there is no "one" in Team.  It takes two to have a team, at least his "team" has a name.  Cavendish would like a green jersey, so would Tyler, Thor, Andre.  I guess you could give them one and they can fight it out.  Andy wants a yellow jersey, but he wants to earn it.

There are some things that I really want, but I'm always afraid to ask.
1.  Crazy wet, cold, windy Paris-Roubaix
2.  UCI to pull their collective head out
3.  The ProTour get their act together and tell the UCI where to go
4.  Stop Doping
5.  No more Doping Scandals
6.  VS to provide better coverage
7.  Contodor should get what he deserves

Thank you,
Glenn Duh

P.S.  I don't have milk and cookies, but I will have a tasty IPA or two next to the fireplace

Friday, December 10, 2010

Entertain us

Apparently for some reason people (that would be you, if you are reading this) actually read what I write.  I don't know why, and I really don't care.  Ok, I do care that you read, otherwise this would be a big waste of my time.  Since you read it, it is probably a big waste of your time, but hopefully you do get some value out of this endeavor.

I was told by an anonymous source that I need to write more often.  I should.  I would like to write everyday, and I try.  Believe me I try.  I just don't have the talent to put words down everyday and "have something".  It is an ego boost to have my "reader" want more.  So I say "Thank You" for reading and enjoying what I have to say or not to say.

The year of 2010 is coming to a close, and by all accounts it was a good year, or was it?  How do you say "that was a good year?"  In 30 years from now will people raise their wine glass and say "2010 that was a good year".  Well, I had a good year.  I had an injury-free cycling year, that's a first.  Most recently I did have an unexplained illness that forced me to miss out on the Copper Triangle, and then had me off the bike for about a month.  "I'm feeling better now"

Not to dwell on the past, because it is history, history that cannot be changed.  The past is for learning from ones mistakes, and hope for a better, brighter future.  I'm looking forward to a new year.  Look at it this way, in a few short days we will have the first day of Winter.  That is the shortest day of the year, well sun lite short.  What does that mean for us cyclists?  The days will be getting longer, the sun will be staying out longer and before we know it, it will be spring.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WORK is a four letter word

What you do does not make you who you are. 
"...you're not how much money you've got in the bank. You're not your job. You're not your family, and you're not who you tell yourself.... You're not your name.... You're not your problems.... You're not your age.... You are not your hopes."  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 18
Work is a reflection of who you are, it is not what you are.

Monday, December 6, 2010

OK State CX Champs

If you are looking for the box score or the "race report" you came to the wrong place. I went to Chandler Park yesterday to heckle my teammates and hand-up some water bottles. Oh, and watch some CX racing. I pilfered these pictures from one of Seth Likens' pages on Facebook. Have you heard of him? Well if you haven't here is some of his work. Hate to say work, it is truly art. I am a little biased, he is on our team, and he has some really good pictures of the artist formerly known as Glenn Duh. You know the camera adds 10lbs, in my case that is a good thing. Heck yeah, it makes me look pretty good, well have to say Seth makes me look good on the bike.


Enough about me. What a race yesterday. First of all -Cold, would not be a CX race without some sort of crazy weather. Daniel raced the 123's and had some HR issues and retired early, no biggie he still had the Single Speed race coming up. Marty and Kevin raced the Cat 4 race. The Doctor was in the house, and made pain look good. Dude's got more style than any single human can handle, good thing he has a PHD. Cory was the lone wolf pack of one for the ladies of Team Tom's. Brown Bear lined up with an out-gunned junior field. "can't bring a knife to a gunfight"


At the time of press...I don't know the results of my people, Marty and Kevin finished in the top 15, Cory was 3rd or 4th????? Brown Bear came home with a new jersey. A State Champion's jersey.

 

All Photos without Seth Likens permission 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Psycho Cross

What would prompt someone to take a perfectly good road bike and pilot it off-road?  And, what would compel normal people to come out and stand by barriers, course tape, in wheel pits and freeze extremities?  Belgians, blame it on the cycling mad hordes of Belgians.

Somehow we have imported waffles, beer, cycling, and craziness from a country in Northern Europe.  It has taken us quite a while to get to where we are with CX, don't get me wrong we are no where near the stature of our drunken forefathers.  We have come a long way baby, and the road is long and paved with cobbles, mud, sand, barriers, off-camber turns, stairs, and sand.

CX is blowing up all over the country.  CX in the states has been an odd assortment of MTB racers and Roadies that had bastard children.  We are talking about a freakshow of which no one wanted to claim.  Now that CX is becoming "mainstream" (as mainstream as it can be), people (MTB & Roadies) actually claim to race CX.  We even have an American racing in the mud in Europe.  Jonathan Page.  Represent.

Today I found myself standing on the side of a CX course yelling insults, heckling, and passing up water bottles to racing teammates.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it was 35 degrees?  Why?  Because I am crazy for CX, and I love to support my teammates and this growing sport we call Cyclo-Cross.

Early Christmas

Ask my wife, I'm a child.  I'm a child with ADHD...want to go ride bikes?  I can't wait, can't wait in line, can't wait for packages to show up, can't wait for my beer to be done.  So I did it.  I opened one three days early, and the world as we know it is still here. 

I am officially or technically supposed to open it on Monday, but I had to see how my baby was doing.  I grabbed one of the three 12oz beers that I have and I reached for the bottle opener.  The cap came off and the carbonation brought the beer to life.  I took a sniff of the longneck, and it smelled... smelled like beer... good beer.  I poured said beer into my favorite glassware and the perfect head crowned the beer like frothy royalty. 

First sip was a little scary, all that time, energy, THE WAITING was over and for what?  Great beer (by my standards) and brewed by my own hands, with my ability to follow directions and a recipe (thank you Mrs. Miller 4th grade who said I would never amount to anything).

I brewed Beer

Friday, December 3, 2010

r.e.s.p.e.c.t, find out what...

Why is a cardinal sin to wear a Pro kit?  The World Champ's Ranbow Strips?  Le Grimpeur's Dots?  The Maillot Jaune?  Every other sport in the world shows respect to players, clubs, sports, teams, and leagues by adorning a jersey, a hat, jackets, you name it, emblems and numbers, names and advertisements are on anything conceivable.  Why is it that we look upon someone as a poseur when they wear a Radioshack jersey to a practice crit or on a group ride?

I played hockey for a few years and you can wear a Gretzky 99 jersey and nobody will say a word, now wear 99 as your number on your club team and you will get heckled.  It seems to be a way of honoring the "greatness" of a hero by wearing "their" jersey, but not their number.  Other ways to honor your hero is to wear their number or a combo of that number, just don't do it with 99.  Teams will retire numbers to show the highest of honor, and that protects that number from another player wearing it.

Cycling is a sport based on "earning".  You have to earn everything in cycling.  You pay for fitness by training and putting countless miles into the legs.  Pain is a currency that cyclist use to gain what they have.  For a cyclist you cannot wear Rainbow stripes unless you earn them, so to see someone in the "stripes"  is a form of disrespect even though the intent was most likely the opposite.  Even in the club team ranks you have to earn your jersey.  Yes, I know...there are some clubs that allow anyone to join as long as they pay dues.  There are teams that will invite you to join, thus requiring you to "earn" your spot.

I see it as an honor to wear a ProTour kit, but if I saw someone wearing my team kit I would not be honored, I would be P!$$ed.  They did not earn it and do not have the right to be in the colors that I pay for every time I turn a pedal over.  It is disrespect to my teammates who have labored with me in the heat, cold, wind, rain, through road trips, and road rash.  That's fine buy your ProTour kit, and put it in a shadow box and hang it in your office, over the mantel, in the living room.  Just don't wear it out on a club ride, save that for NASCAR.

If you want to wear something to show your allegiance to your team, buy a euro cycling cap and proudly wear it under your helmet.  Find a team t-shirt, or a cool track jacket and wear it to the local pub.  I love the KOM competitions in the Grands, I wanted to start a collection of as many jerseys that I could.  I have the KOM from the first California, and I have the Dots from le Tour.  I would wear these out on rides, but now I straddle the fence as to what is acceptable fashion.  I want to honor these jerseys, the people who have worn them and the riders that vie for them, but I do not want to appear to have something that I did not earn.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

measure

How do you quantify pain, how do you explain suffering?

What words do you use to describe what it feels like to do intervals on a trainer, indoors staring at a wall or the sweat puddled floor?  You don't have to say words or try and explain what it is or how it feels to someone who has experienced a trainer interval.  You do have to find words to tell your mystified co-workers around the cubical, what it means to drain your existence out with every pedal stroke.  To tell another cyclist is easy.  We have all been there, the over-used "pain cave".  "Dude, I was in the 'pain cave' last night"  It's getting lame the way we over use words, I mean ridiculous how everyone says "it's ridiculous".

Time seems to go slower when the effort is compounded to the point that you can count the seconds it takes for one second to the next.  At what pedal RPM and Wattage does the average cyclist unravel the space time continuum and time slows down?  It might even go in reverse a little?   I counted the swirls of the woodgrain in the floor, I stared holes into the clock on the wall, I blacked out and tried to go to a "happy place" but ended up in the porta-john of misery.  You have been there it's like the pain cave but worse, it's stinky, hot, and nobody replaced the toilet paper.  Once you get to a certain level of physical self-abuse your senses become heightened.   I think that I was able to see the different cells in my epidermal layer in my right thigh while doing a 10min threshold interval last night.  I could hear every valve in my heart open and close, I could even see stars through the walls and ceiling.

"Words all fail the magic prize.."  There really is no good way to paint a picture of how one feels during an extreme bout of physical self loathing.  Someone once told me that racing bikes is "pain management" the more pain that you can handle the better you will be.  The longer you race and train the more pain becomes a friend or more like a relative that has overstayed their welcome, but you get used to the suffering.  And just when you think you have this whole "pain cave" thing under control...Pain brings his friends fatigue and injury over for a party.  Yeah!

Remember:  when you are sitting on the couch there is some crazy pain junkie out there on a trainer doing intervals.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Recently

I took a mtb road trip to Stillwater to ride at McMurtry with several guys from the team.  Most of us are roadies and mtb is a foreign activity that only the insane take part.  I cut my teeth on the mtb, so I know my way around the kitchen so to speak.  We were a mixed bag of riders, from the new to off-road to the fat tire fiend.  This made for a wide range of skill level, but we all had a great time.  I think the guys that were new to the dirt were the ones that really had an eye opening experience.

Lake McMurtry is a great place to ride mtb, because it is fast flowie and not too technical.  And it is hard to get lost being that it consists of four loops and great signage.  The trails were in great condition, except for all of the leaves just waiting to steal your traction in a high-speed corner, or conceal a stump, hole, or rocks.  The temps were great and the weather was in the perfect range.  We had nine guys total and for the most part we kept the group together and did not lose anyone or cause any bodily damage that a beer could not fix.

I've said it time and again.  I ride mtb for fun, not fitness, not to train, and not to race.  I love to get a nice section of singletrack that flows and just rail, allowing the mind to shut off and the body and bike to meld together until I am flying through the trees, railing turns, and going weight-less over berms.  This is where it is at for me, the freedom that riding a bike can give...but at a different level transcending mere transportation/sport and becoming a lifestyle.

You have probably heard or seen "Live to Ride, Ride to Live".  I know what that means, I can't say that that is my mantra, but it would be a dream to be able to live by those words.  We talk about Pros and what it means to be Pro.  Getting paid to race bikes, How cool is that?  Think about that for a second, now think about getting paid just to ride your bike.  There is a very small percentage of mtb riders that get paid to ride.  It's no cake walk, these guys have to launch off of cliffs, ride crazy stunts 20' in the air, and do a contest or two.  All in all these guys get paid to ride their bikes have someone take video and pictures of them for their sponsors to sell their products.  Lucky.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Amber is the color

Just a quick little update on the Bell Lap Brewing.

I bottled my Amber Ale on Monday and it will be ready to consume in two weeks, so sometime after Dec 6th.  So far so good, I tasted the beer before bottling just to see if it had gone South and turned nasty on me.  It did not.  It has good flavor and is nice and hoppy, but flat at the moment.  I added priming sugar and began the bottling process.  I purchased a case of 22oz bottles that way I had less bottles to deal with.  I am still working on my 12oz collection.  Silly me I bought some Boulevard and it is twist-off.  I need to check a little better next time, oh well, it is good beer.  One of the best micros that is somewhat close (KC), in my opinion for what it is worth.

If my amber is drinkable I am going to dub it One to Go Amber Ale, technically it is someone else's recipe so not sure if I have naming rights?  Lawyers?  Still working on a good name for the IPA.  Some ideas...Bridging the Gap IPA,  Soloing IPA,  Going Rouge IPA, I Sat in Gum IPA.  Anyway probably putting the cart before the horse.

Some day I will publish great works, and brew great libations.  -Gotta have dreams, Right?

-Who's got next round?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Being thankful

What do I have to be thankful for?

I am thankful for all of the things that I take for granted.  Everyday stuff that I don't give a seconds notice.  It is the small things that we bypass and feel entitled.  I am guilty, guilty for thinking that everything that I can do is because I can.  It's the American way, I am owed my abilities.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no superstar, but I can walk, talk, see and hear.  I use these everyday and take no notice of them.  I'm lucky to be able to do the things that some people can't.

Give thanks that you have these abilities, give thanks that you can take your abilities and push them to a higher level, just because you feel like it.

I also take the people in my life for granted.  Family that is always there for me, friends that are family, and the people that I rely on at work to make my life easy.  I feel that my parents are a constant like gravity and have treated them as such.  Unlike gravity, I will not always have my parents to keep me grounded (pun intended).  I am thankful that I had parents crazy enough to allow me to live, and then foster my own version of insanity.  Oh, yeah my sister could have taken me out many times over and make it look like an accident, but she took me under her wing and made me one of her own. (I still have flashbacks of "make-over" time)  If it wasn't for you big sis I would be listening to George Strait and driving a 1/2ton with trucker mudflaps.

I give thanks for the people in my life that have enriched it and have changed me and helped form what I am today.  That goes for all of you people crazy enough to hang out with me and call me a friend.  It would take me forever and a day to list every way you have touched my life and changed me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

all apologies

Sorry, please forgive me for not writing, calling, texting, emailing.  No, it's not you... it's me, I just think it would be better if we saw other people for awhile.... Sorry, thought this was my email, it's my blog...

I would like to say that I have no excuses as to why I have not been writing.  Well I have been watching a great deal of TV, not really an excuse, more like truth.  I suck at watching TV, or is it that I am really good at it?

I won the lottery and it was like a billion thousand zillion dollars, might be pesos not sure, I'll have to check on that and get back to you.  So I am buying a ProTour Team, or better yet I am building a ProTour Team.  My first contract is with Jens Voigt, with this amount of money I have to have Jens.  I don't care if he even races for me, I just want him on my team.  Stuy O'Grady.  I will let him drink during a Grand, just as long as he gets the job done.  That'a boy Stuy.  I will have to have Gilbert, he is the hardman's hardman.  He is crazy fast when it is hard, hard day in the saddle, hard course, hard conditions.  He's my man. 

I'm going to cherry-pick Andre Greipel from Lotto.  I want to see the German Gorilla go head to head with Cav.  Greipel took races this season and made them his         .  Now, he was racing some second tier races, so I really can't wait to see what he can do racing in the bigs.  I'm going to pick up Sylvain Chavanel, because this guy will not quit, he will get into break after break after break.  Two years ago he was in a break, at le Tour, that turned into a solo for something close to the whole race, and was caught with 75m left.  Total heartbreak.  I did not know who he was until that moment, I had heard his name but did not know him.  That effort and accompanying heartbreak put him on the map for me.  The defining moment of Chavanel was the stage a few days later that he "found" himself in the break, once again it turned into a solo, and he stuck it with the peloton just 150m back.  Define what a Man is...

I'm going to have to have Big George, got to have George.  Enough said.  For another rider close to home...Chris Horner.  What can you say about Horner?  What can you not say about Horner?  He is as hard as an anvil, and as tough as barbed wire.   Stijn Devolder two time Belgian champ, and Flanders winner, good enough for me.  Another Belgian Bj√∂rn Leukemans was 6th in Roubaix and 4th in Flanders and he rides for Vacansoleil a Continental Pro team.  He had a little run-in with doping control back in 2008, so his chances of gaining a ProTour spot was not looking good until Vacansoleil gained their license for 2011.  He will still make my roster because of his hardman status.

To round it all out I will buy out Spartacus' contract, and my team will destroy every classic on the calendar in 2011.  No other team will stand a chance on the cobbles, in the rain, when the pain comes.  I just need to come up with a good name for my team, get some cool team cars.  Maybe I will call up Michel Ball and get his opinions and then do the exact opposite.  Yeah that's the ticket.  Since I have insane amounts of money left over I will have to build a Grands Team...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

what the...

Does anyone know what is going on in cycling?

I've been trying to keep up with what is going on and I don't have a clue.  I usually get my news from Velonews and Cyclingnews, and right now there is not much going on.  Contador is trying to get his meat out of the news, Armstrong is having his dirty laundry aired in Congress or a Shriners convention.  You can tell I really care alot...  The Schlecks have dismantled Saxo Bank and moved everyone to Luxembourg with or without a sponsor, or a sponsor to be named or not named.

Saxo is all screwed up now that Albert's cheese meat is hanging in the wind, Riis went out and bought all of Astana that will ride for el Pistolera to the point that it is now going to be called Saxtana.  The Aussies had trouble with their paperwork for ProTour license and now will have to settle for Continental Pro, what the heck is Pegasus anyway?  This is Fly V all growed up right?

Bob Stapelton is playing hardball with Cav, and will not re-negotiated his contract.  Good move?  Smart move?  Where is Cav going to go?  Right now HTC is not a Grand Tour contender team, and they will work to get the Green, move to a team that only wants the Leader's jersey and your stats might look a little different.  Sure, he can get more money on a different team.  Bob is smart.  Cav has to have an awesome season or no other team will touch him when his contract is up.  When his contract is up Bob will pay him what he is worth.  Beautiful.

Garmin is now Garmvelo and they will have the newly crowned World Champ the God of Thunder Thor "leading out" Tyler.  Really?  Who really believes this?  Two very fierce competitors are supposed to work together?  Was this really a good idea?  OK, I'm the World Champ and a kick a$s sprinter in my own right, and I now have the JOB of working for someone else?  Really Thor?  I know I have given Thor a hard time in the past when Cav sticks it to him, but I just don't see one of the best Sprinters/Classics rider working for someone else.  Someone should be working for him.  I don't know how I will feel seeing the Rainbow Jersey leading out. ?????  That just aint right, I don't care who you are.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pale rider

No, that is not my nickname during the winter months.  I'm talking about Pale Ales, and IPAs, that kind of Pale.  I know this time of year I should be at the liquor store buying seasonal "fall/Autumn" style beers, but I just cannot quite my love affair for the hoppy hopped up Ales.  Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the Porter, the Stout and of course the Amber Ale, and this time of year the Oktoberfest seasonal.

I just rode the fixie over to the liquor store and picked up Avery Brewing's IPA.  Avery is out of Boulder, Co and have been brewing what they call "eccentric ales and lagers that defy styles or categories" since 1993.  I don't know what it is about the craft beers that come out of Colorado, but there is something special about them, at least for me.  It might be the Northeast for you or the Northwest, but give me a good craft beer out of Colorado and I am a happy man.

Avery's IPA by the numbers:  6.5% ABV 69 IBU's  So for you that know what those mean, pat yourself on the back.  For the rest of us, it means that this beer has twice the alcohol that an Oklahoman beer has, and it is a fairly bitter beer.  The Bud Light drinker should change the channel at this point, if you made it this far.  This IPA has four varieties of hops Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial.  I believe, (correct me if I am wrong. to lazy to google this right now) that these varieties are all from the West and Northwest.  With the four hops going into this beer you will experience a very hoppy beer -go figure.  The flavors and aroma are very complex with citrus and floral overtones.  Even with the complexity of the hops, this beer is an exceptionally smooth beer, for an IPA mind you.

As the label on the bottle says "Our IPA demands to be poured into your favorite glass to truly appreciate the citrusy, floral bouquet..."  In a glass you notice the smell right off, a crisp sharp clean jab to the nostril, that changes once the IPA hits your tongue.  The hops come alive while you take a sip, and you are left with a subtle but not overly bitter finish.  This is a complicated beer that is masquerading as a simple "have a few" beer.  I had a nice pasta dinner with bologease sauce lots of garlic salt and some Parmesan cheese, and I could taste the differences that this beer has to offer.  It was three different beers, the before meal, during, and after dinner dessert.

Words are fun to play with when trying to describe something that needs no words to describe.  Take a drink and you will come up with your own opinion of Avery's IPA.  My opinion plus $4.00 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  But a trip to your local liquor store and $8.00 will get you a six pack of one of my favorite IPAs.  I know it is not IPA season, but this pale rider is hooked on the Pale Ales.

Waiting, Wanting

Tomorrow will be week number 1 of my brewing experience.  I'm working real hard doing nothing.  I have one more week before I test the final gravity and go to bottle.  It has been killing me to wait not knowing how this is going to turn out.  I want it in the bottle ready to pop a cap.

I have decided to brew an IPA as soon as I bottle next week I will start the brewing process for my next batch.  Plus, if the first batch goes South I will have a back-up waiting in the wings.  I went to the Liquor store last night to get a sixer of Pale Ale and have some bottles to recycle for my beer.  I assumed all micro brews used non-twist off caps, yeah they don't, and I just so happened to get ones that twist off and I can't use them.

The beer was good, can't complain there.  Hood River, Oregon's own Full Sail Pale Ale.  It is a nicely hopped Pale with what drinks like an alcohol content on the lower side for Pale Ales.  Even though it clocks in at 5.4% it does not overwhelm the flavor.   It is not overly hopped, but just the right amount and a nice woodsy flavor, not on the minty or floral side.  Not that I don't like minty or floral.  I would say for a Pale Ale it is an uncomplicated straight forward double or triple hopped Ale, with a flavor that begs for you to enjoy more than one in a siting.  Bet you just can't have one.  So, all of this makes up for the fact that the bottles are twist off.

If you like Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale, check out Full Sail and be prepared to add a new favorite to the "will buy again" list.  If for some reason you find that you cannot enjoy, let me know and I will send a disposal unit to your doorstep free of charge.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In the cave

Last week was the dreaded time change.  The only good thing about the change was that we got an extra hour of whatever you happen to be doing at the time, my hour just happened to be sleep.  The downside to the whole time change and this "wintertime" is the absence of light.  I'm talking about the Sun.  It comes up doesn't warm up much and then disappears before you know it.

This makes for a short time to do things outdoors.  By the time most of us get off work it is already dark, oh yeah, and that goes for you kiddos in school.  All day spent indoors while the sun is out.  What a waste.  The only thing to do is get bundled up charge the lights and hit the trail (the road is just too flippin' dangerous in the dark) or hop on the rollers or trainer.  Kill me now.

Our team started trainer sessions on Tuesday and what a suffer fest that is.  It just kills having to ride a bike that goes nowhere.  If it was not for the fitness gain, then what is the point?  You are taking a vehicle of freedom and shackling it immobile.  It is a perverted act that happens over and over again.  This does not make it right, it is WRONG.  Bikes were not meant to be caged animals, and the people who ride them are supposed to be free.

I guess to some extent "you gotta do what you gotta do".  I don't like it, I won't stand for it, and I will never condone indoor training.  It should be something that we do but do not talk about.  In cycling circles indoor training should be done, but only when absolutely necessary.  And...if you enjoy indoor training keep it to yourself you sick-o.  Trainers/rollers are wrong and you should never admit to using or owning them. 

See you at the next trainer session. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you

I saw a bumper sticker that read "If you can read this, Thank a Teacher.  If it is in English, Thank a Veteran."

I am by nature a lover not a fighter, and I am not a warmonger by any means, but I do believe in having a military.  I have no problem paying taxes so that we can support the men and women who serve our country.  I don't know the politics behind our conflicts, and I don't need to know as long as they are to protect this country.  I want to feel safe at night, and really do not have to know who or what is keeping me safe.  If you disagree with this, thank a veteran for the freedom to disagree.

The men and women who make the choice to serve our country are Heroes in my book.  I made the choice not to serve, and I am thankful for those who have taken up my slack and have served, and are serving on my behalf.  To those who have family members in the military and sacrifice their time for our country I say "Thank you".  This is an often overlooked area of the military...the military wives and families, their sacrifice is immeasurable.  And, they do it every day.

We should feel fortunate everyday that we wake up and are able to experience the Freedoms that we are used to.  We take it for granted that people have paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the history of this country.  So, take the time today and Thank a Veteran,  know why you are thanking them... Your Freedom, not just freedom...but Freedoms.    The next time you see someone in uniform let them know that you are proud of them and thank them for their service.

If you are reading this and you are serving, or have served in the military... Thank You. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day One

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  If everything goes as planned I will, in 28 days, drink my first beer created by me.  That is a long time to wait in this instant gratification world that we live in.  Drive-thru this, instant that, zap it, micro-wave it, give it to me yesterday.  I can't stand to wait, I have to have it now.

It's killing me that water takes so long to boil.  Do you know how long it takes to boil 4 gallons of water?  I don't, but I am starting to understand.  Yes, that is just the initial boil to get the water boiling, then it takes a full hour to boil the "wort" or un-fermented beer.  I have some time to kill.  Time to check the pot again.

The malt pouch and the first of the hops have been added.  Now just more time, more waiting, all the while thinking that I might screw something up and destroy all of this time that I am putting into this little bottled bundle of joy.  Just checked and I am half-way through my boil.

Fast forward a little and I have chilled the wort and I transferred it into the fermentation tank.  Now the real waiting comes.  In two weeks I will check the specific gravity of my beer to see if fermentation is done.  If it is, then I will get to transfer it to the priming tank and we will go for bottle.

I was a little worried about the mess of brewing, but the smell was more of a concern.  Thought the wife would freak out and kick me to the curb.  The hops smell great and the house smells better than cooking bacon, I know I love bacon to.  Man do those hops smell good.  Hey, this aint Bud Light.  This process did take a little longer than I expected, but now I know what I am in for the next brew cycle.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beer of Failure

Alright,  here is the deal.  I decided to do something that I have wanted to do for about 13years, but just have not been able to pull the trigger.  I'm not getting any younger, and that whole thing about getting wiser -that's a myth, and I decided that this is as good a time as any.  I purchased a home brew kit.

I love a good beer.  I like to cook and I can follow a recipe, that has to be a no-brainer.  Right?  Just boil some water, throw in some grains, a little yeast, some sugar, voila... you've got beer.  How cool will it be to drink beer that you made with your own hands?  I mean we are not talking scratch here, but pretty darn close.  My only fear, and I do emphasise FEAR, is that I go through the process and wait the time and pop open a wonderful hand crafted 22oz of joy and it is total crap.  Talk about a complete nightmare... "so there I am getting it on with this perfect female body and... but with the head of Abraham Lincoln. With the hat and the beard, everything."  -Tony from  Dazed and Confused  Yeah, kinda like that.

The fear of failure has kept me from attaining a dream of mine for 13 years, and now when the kit arrives I will have about 4-5weeks of nervous anticipation, anticipation of the probability of failure.  Oh the horror, to put in that kind of time and energy only to have something just turn into undrinkable swill.  I don't know if I can stand it.  Well, on the bright side of life, if the stars align and everything just happens to go "right", I will have beer.  My beer.  Beer created by my ability to follow directions and boil water.  Well at least this process will give me something else to post about.  Besides, you cannot fail unless you try.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On the day of my birth

Opening Shot: 

Me standing on a stage akin to an awards ceremony behind a podium holding a shinny platinum colored numeral 1.

"I'd like to thank my parents, for making this all possible."

The crowd chuckles but does not erupt in laughter

"My Mom, for having me, Dad for trying to show me what it means to be a man."  "My sister for allowing me to live, and giving me the true definition of cool."  "We, as a family put the Fun in dysfunctional."

The crowd erupts in laughter

"Thanks to everyone in my life that has been there for me this last year."  "Here is to another trip around the sun."

The lights go down

A birthday should be a celebration of the past year that you just completed, and a toast to the future year that you have to look forward.  My parents and my sister were responsible for making me who I am today, good or evil.  Yes, I have been able to make my own choices, but my family made an impression on me in my formable years.  I swore that I would never be like my parents, now that I know better I want to be my parents.  Sure, they have their faults...who doesn't?  I've got some water for you to walk on. 

Life is crazy how it sneaks up on you and turns you into a card carrying adult.  It's a hit and run and your are left wondering how you got so old, and those darn kids and their loud music.  I think it is just a number, it's not that I feel older, I just have more memories.  Remember when I couldn't 'member?

So one more year piled on the heap, and a clean slate for a new chapter in this grand saga we call life, or whatever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Off

Why is it so hard to take a day off?  I always end up having to take a day when the weather is perfect.  Call it my impeccable timing.  I was off the bike for nine days when I went to ATL for work, and when I got home all I have wanted to do is ride my bike.  I mean, there is nothing wrong with that, now is there?  Well, except for the small fact that, that is the only thing I want to do.  One might say that I have a problem, I don't go to "meetings" so therefore I do not have a problem.  Right?

Back to taking time off the bike...I rode myself silly this last week, Sunday to Sunday everyday, and even two days on the mountain bike.  Right around 18hrs in eight days.  That might qualify as a habit, but I call it a hobby.  So here I sit writing about not riding; because I wanted to go ride the mountain bike today, but the body said that I should probably do something a little less active.  TV it is, thank you Netflix.  I put some new bartape on the Ridley, changed out my 12-25 to an 11-23 on the powertap.  The Giant got a good cleaning and some new Candys.  The rain bike got some love and I have it in the bull pen for the next ride.

It is difficult to stop, to say to yourself that a day off is the right thing to do.  It is like trying to ride slow when the legs are feeling good.  Most of the time when the legs are screaming, it is to stop, but every now and then they are screaming to go...go...go.  Discipline is no fun, and telling yourself to go slow can be harder than pushing an insane amount of watts with the HR in the red and the legs are cursing.  Don't you love it when you are on a recovery day and you are chill on your local bike path and you get buzzed.  Buzzed by the Pathelete, you know that guy, the one who drills the bike path like it is a Worlds TT, or the bell lap on the Champs.  It takes every fiber to control your "chase instinct" and not bury said Pathelete. 

I'm trying, I'm trying to enjoy my time off the bike.  I did get to watch a movie today, got some much needed bike maintenance done, did a little post on the blog, and still feel like I missed out on something.  Now that sounds like a problem.  Until I find a "meeting" for my problem I guess I will just have to go the local Wednesday Night Ride, Tuesday Night Crit, and weekend team rides. 

Call it what it is

Monday, November 1, 2010

Transitions

It is that time of year when the race season is over, unless you are running through sand and jumping over barriers, and it is time to start thinking about transition. Riding should just be for fun, not that it is ever for anything else (intervals). Wattage and Heart rate mean nothing. Time spent on the bike is only time spent on a bike, hopefully it is with friends.  It is all about the ride and enjoying being outdoors while the weather is still warm.

This is one of the reasons that I love to mountain bike so much, because it affords me the ability to just go out and enjoy biking and there is no agenda involved. Unless, the agenda is to have a good time and rail some wicked fast berms. The mtb is pure to me, because I do not race it, therefore I do not train on it, which in turn means that time spent in the saddle is pure. Pure fun. The mtb is a perfect tool for transition, I'm not looking at HR, I don't care about time (except when I want more), and wattage on a mtb is a little overboard -even for me.

Transition is a good time of year to slow down and enjoy life on two wheels, or enjoy another activity that gets pushed by the wayside because of your racing and training habit. You might even get to spend some quality time with a significant other, catch up on some projects, or just ride even more now that time and distance are irrelevant. Whatever you do with this space on the calendar, use it for good not evil. Unwind, decompress, heal, chill, or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't hate Embrocate

One thing that is OK to hate is cold weather.  I love the cool fall and spring riding, to start out a ride with arm warmers and a vest.  I've said it before and I will continue to say it, this has to be the best time of year to ride.  That being said, it can also be the most clothing confusing time of the year.  Too much  and you are uncomfortable, too little and you are done.  Just remember that you can always take it off, but if you don't have it, you can't put it on.  You hear it everywhere...layer, layer, layer.  I did a post on base layers a few days ago, check it out.

Arm warmers have to be one of the best cool/cold weather pieces of clothing that you can own.  It is a must have.  Arm warmers are the most versatile element of a kit.  They are easy to take off while riding and stuff neatly into a rear pocket or in a bib strap at the waistline.  Not all arm warmers are lined, so make sure when you are buying a pair that you know what you are getting, also check to see what type of materials they are made of.  Cotton is a "NO, NO".  Fit is a big issue with arm warmers, well it is for me due to the fact that I am bicep-challenged.  12 oz curls just don't get the job done in this area.  I guess you could have the opposite problem if you are all Hans and Fransed out -most cycling specific kit is tailored to the lithe frame.

To cover or not to cover?   That is the question.  I'm talking about knees.  What do you do with your knees, is a great question?  They are horribly constructed for warmth, especially if you are bony, it's like the blood just passes through the joint on its way somewhere else.  No stopping no standing around, no protection from the elements.  So what to do?  Knee warmers, tights?  Yes and yes depending on the temperature and how well you handle being cold.  I use embrocation on the cool to cold days.  "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?"  Embrocation is a liniment that you massage onto your legs to anger them into feeling warm.  It will have some kind of essential oil in it that will heat up the skin and make your legs feel warm.  It will also have a wax for wind and water protection.  I'm a huge fan of Mad Alchemy. (shamless plug)

Knickers are also awesome for the cold weather, and tights are great for when it is freezing out there.  Of course, this is all depending on how well your body handles the cold weather.  Wind stopping fabric is always great for cutting the cold out, check to see if your tights or knickers have it built in for that extra layer of protection and warmth.  Hope this keeps you warm and doesn't get you all hot and bothered.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Base, how low can you go

What do I know about base, bass, Basso, base layers? Not much. I know what I like and what I use for the next-to-the-skin layer. There are some considerations that you should use when thinking about wearing and purchasing a base layer.

Fit, trust me on this one. You can have the most technologically advanced fabric known to man and if it does not fit you right, you might as well wear a plastic sack under your jersey. It might do a better job -I've done this for disposable warmth. Don't laugh it freaking works, why do you think the Pros put newspaper under their jerseys on a descent? Wind. Make sure that, whatever you are considering putting on first, make sure it fits. You don't want the sleeves to bunch under your jersey, you don't want the layer to be too long so that it bunches in your bibs. Base layers should fit tight, but not restrictive or constrictive.

Season, warm in the cold, cool in hot. I don't wear a base layer in the summer, some people do, Pros do-Pros don't. It is like any choice, it all comes down to personal preference. The good stuff is season specific and the premium brands have premium price tags, but they do their job. With style I might add. Not all base layers are created equal, so be sure to do your homework before buying; especially if you are going to shell out some serious cash. There is an economical route: Compression gear from any local department store or discount athletic store.

Materials, after fit is the next most important quality of your base layer. Cotton is a great renewable resource, but makes for a horrible base layer. Stay away from cotton, even if it is a very small percentage of the layer. Don't do it. Anything synthetic, but look for blends 50-50, 60-40, ect-ect. If you hate the fact that petroleum was harmed in the construction of your base layer, you can always look for manufactures that use recycled goods in their base layers. You may also want to look in to Wool. Yes, Wool. Not the itchy Christmas sweater with the bears on it, but the new skin-friendly wool and wool blends. These rock, they are a little pricey, but work, and work like a Copperfield magic trick.

There you have it. Base layers in 1,000 words or less. If you already knew all of this, then good on ya' pal. If I missed something drop me a comment -help a brother out.

"Excuse me stewardess, I speak jive" -the late Barbra Billingsley from Airplane

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Words cannot begin to explain  how good it feels to get back on the bike after being absent for so long (9 days).  And yes, it is just like riding a bike.  The body had no problem remembering what to do, it was automatic; a body function like breathing.  One leg over the top tube and the instant connection was made, plug and play.

I thought after the days of debauchery, working crazy hours, eating bad, and smoke friendly establishments, that I would suffer.  I thought that I would suffer more so than normal; we all know that riding bikes is all about suffering.  To be honest I felt pretty good and the body was not too far off target even with an extra 7lbs of beer weight.

I really missed the pain and suffering that one goes through on the bike.  Today is the first time I really "felt" my legs in a long time.  You take that burn and the soreness that follows for granted.  You have to hurt to really feel.  Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails said it in his song Hurt: 
I hurt myself today


To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real
I'm sure that he had a different meaning for those lyrics, but for a cyclist once you are off the bike for a while these lyrics actually will mean something for you.  How good does it feel after a ride when you have "stretched the elastic"?  I missed that feeling.


The best part about getting back is the family, the family that I have been away from for a short time that seemed like forever.  I did not realize how much I missed talking shop with everyone about racing, the off season, CX races, other teammates, and not having to act interested in football is a plus.  It is so good to be among like minded people.  I missed my family, I don't know if they missed me, but they made me feel like I had been gone forever and they seemed to be glad to see me as much as I was to see them.  Thanks guys for making coming back feel like coming home.  It's good to be...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pink

October is breast cancer awareness month.  Support the Find a Cure by donating or buying products that give money to foundations that donate or are involved in awareness.  The statistic that is thrown around is 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  That is a staggering number to wrap your head around.  Think of eight women that you know, and pick one at random.  -That is breast cancer, except for the seriousness associated with actually getting cancer.  Chances are that you know someone who has breast cancer or you know someone who survived breast cancer.

If you do any surfing on the internet you might have come across Fat Cyclist.  This blog started out as a way for one man to loose weight and comically chronicled his journey.  It turned out to be much more than that.  His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and he chronicled her five year fight.  Eldon's post on her passing was one of the hardest things I have ever read.  All of this from someone I have never met, and definitely something that I would never want to deal with personally with someone that I know. 

Breast cancer is something that with the statistics out there, it will probably touch our lives.  So, to all the guys out there do your part in awareness and wear some pink (not because it is fashionable), but in support of the women in your life.  Everyone has them.  To all the women out there, please get screened.  Learn about your chances, and fight.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

While I was out

Here are a few pictures that I thought I would share with you so that you might understand what I do when I am not on a bike or typing on this keyboard.
in line for take-off





rows and rows of money
I was asked to go to Atlanta, GA to the regional airport PDK know as Peachtree Dekalb.  My company has a location there that was hosting the NBAA.  There were almost one hundred static display aircraft on the ramp.  It was my job to move and fuel aircraft, transport passengers and luggage, and do anything that needed to be done.  We also had to service all of the aircraft that came in to attend the event.  Eventhough I was unable to ride my bike the whole time that I was in Georgia, it was a great experience and I had a great time,.  The people that I worked with were very different from me (non-cyclists), but we all had aviation in common, which pretty much makes us all crazy. 
About 50 aircraft waiting to take-off
Airbus business jet conversion, think of a really nice apartment with wings, and then double the size.

Phone camera, no zoom. From the opposite side of the airport looking at the static display area.


Routine

We go to work, eat sleep, go to school. Routines are a safety net, our Linus blankie. We get used to doing something and it becomes safe, it gets ingrained into our lives. Soon it is your life, you are on autopilot. Then something out of the norm happens and your routine changes, the proverbial monkey wrench. We are by instinct creatures of habit, and when change occurs we fight it tooth and nail, but eventually the new habit becomes habitual...life.



I have been out of town working, I mean working, and it has totally thrown my life into a turmoil of sorts, or out of sorts, however you look at it. I changed my routine to fit my schedule my life changed to accommodate my new surroundings. Get up, work out (pending hangover) get coffee, get ride to work, work, eat, work, eat, work, work, work, go to hotel, clean up, meet coworkers in hotel bar, pickle liver, sleep, and repeat. Six days of this and then catch a flight home. Try to get back into the routine once home.

Life is just a routine that follows a new routine that turns into the old routine. Change, we feel is a negative, but it can be an enormous positive as long as you are able to learn something new with the change. We fight change because it is not part of our routine, it is not safe/easy to change. The benefit lies in the lessons that we gain from our change in routine. The new people, the new knowledge, the growth that we gain by changing ourselves to fit into a new routine, no matter how significant or how minuscule it might be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Work trip

Sitting at 30,000' is probably the last place one should be thinking about riding, but with a trip to Atlanta in my future, that is all I can think about. Well, that and "what an emergency exit procedure would look like..." I'm thinking that the next seven days I will be bike-less and this can't suck any more than it already does. Traveling is pointless unless it is for a good reason like a trip to go ride, ski, but for work?


So I find myself in the company of several people who have no idea what a peloton is or what the word even looks like. I know that I am sounding one dimensional, and I am. I find it very hard to identify with these people I am sharing a drink. The next seven days are going to be a chore. It is difficult to relate to people who do not share similar interests even when you are in the same industry. This is a personal fault of mine that I hope to work on in the next several days. Right now culture shock is full gas and I am adjusting to the locals.

I hope that the stationary trainer in the fitness center will be enough for me not to get DT's. The weather is perfect here and I would love to go explore what Atlanta has to offer by bike. Lucky for me I am sleeping well and there is no chance that my Tyler Durden will surface, but I will try to make the best out of my "single serving friends".

I don't know how many more nights I will be able to go out with these guys and drink like champions. This is a true sport that is unrecognized by any regulatory body other than the police. Somebody please help me, I am merely a boy and a mans sport. I know my way around a beer tap, but this is criminal.

By the way the weather is beautiful, and it is killing me. I am going to fake an injury to get out of here and back on the bike. Food is good and the people are awesome. Not much more to say, other than I am having a little better time with my co-workers. Must not be so tired.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More to life

I'm starting to slip with my posting duties. I've been working some crazy shifts. We had a little down turn in business and we had to eliminate two positions, which means that I get to "help out" a little more than usual. "Letting someone go" is not an easy task when it is someone that is a good worker and someone you enjoy working alongside day to day. Such was the case for my employees. I have asked employees to leave on a permanent basis before, but it was good for both parties. This last situation was not good for anyone involved except maybe the bottom line.


Life is a strange and interesting tale, where we make of it what we can. Sometimes I just want a motivational poster that says "F it". I don't like being a "grown-up" with responsibilities. Just ask my wife, we don't need kids, she has to put up with me. The whole Lemons-to-Lemonade is probably supposed to be an example of making the best out of a bad situation. I'm no juice drink expert, but it sounds like work to me. Maybe if you are given lemons you could try and sell them, throw them at that ahole who just cut you off in traffic, using a 3-man sling shot you could launch them at your overly loud neighbors house. I believe there are more options than just lemonade.

Of course, the best thing to do when life hands you lemons is to say no thanks and go ride your bike. Sounds overly simple. It is. Just go for a ride, no computer, no phone, no direction. Ride. It might not solve your problem, but for that one brief moment you can free yourself. If that doesn't work go out and do intervals 'til you puke.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend Pass

My wife went with a group of ladies to Chicago to run the Chicago Marathon over the weekend. I told her that they could go to Chicago, just to shop, they did not have to use "running a marathon" as an excuse. Anyway, with the wife gone that pretty much gave me the weekend pass to do what I wanted. Oh, the thought of a pants-free weekend, dishes piling up, empty pizza boxes and bottles. Sounds like a solo weekend dream. No, I loaded up the kids dogs my road and mtbike and just enough clothes that I had to double up on shirts. Note: I had one extra cycling kit that did not get used. I was in AMA Texas in 5.5hrs. Twelve hours after that I found myself railing some sweet Texas singletrack.




Palo Duro Canyon is Texas' replica of the Grand Canyon. It is just a hole in the ground, but with some excellent singletrack to be had. I think there is about 18-20miles of trail that has everything you could ask for in fast flowing trails. If you find yourself in the Amarillo TX area it is a must. $5 a person for the State Parks entry fee for the full day -well worth it. My Mom accompanied me to the park and she read in the car while I proceeded to destroy all the trails in a looped frenzy. It is a different style of ride than what I get here at Turkey Mnt, and I didn't want to let off the gas. I wasted myself in the name of speed and flow, when the dust settled I had just under 18miles in an hour and a half, and some very tired dirty legs. My stomach was ready for something more substantial than a Clif bar.



Post ride nutrition is best had at Country Pride restaurant just outside Amarillo. It has been a family eatery tradition since before I was born. I recommend anything that they cook. It is as hole-in-the-wall, greasy spoon, country as they come. Do not pass it up. The Tex-Mex is more Tex than Mex, but the enchiladas are to die for, really too many of them and you will have a blockage. Besides being a giant truckstop I do not know what the industry is in Amarillo? What I do know...everyone goes out to eat, and the restaurants in and out of town are great, top that off with Texas beef raised just miles from your plate and you have a winning combo. (not a good place to be vegan, sorry friends much respect to you, but I love my cow, on a plate that is) Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of the food from south of the border, then you are in luck. Tex-Mex is super good, don't go to a chain for Mex-food, go to the little local places, it is unlike anything you have ever had.



Sunday morning I took the Belgian workhorse out for a little jaunt on the Texas Farm to Market roads for my second ever road ride in my home town. I had tired legs so I started into the wind, but when I turned and had the tailwind I crushed. Power dropped, HR dropped, Speed showed me numbers I get when going downhill. A Texas tailwind is worth about 5-7mph avg with about half the power. Check that again, it is not a misprint, and it is no BS. Now, it is no fun working in the headwind, but once you earn it, the tailwind is without words. Fast. I was very surprised at how fast and smooth the roads are, even out in the middle-of-no-where-country-farmland. Of course the Ridley does have a little to do with the smoothness, but the roads are in great shape. I have not seen cleaner shoulders, not even in Kansas. Now I am back in the land of potholes, glass, cracks and rocks....... and that's the good roads.