Friday, December 23, 2011

Eve of Christmas Eve

It's the day before Christmas Eve, or Christmas Eve's Eve.  It really should be on a Thursday, because Friday is the Christmas Eve of the Weekend, and we all know Thursday is just Friday's Eve.  Or, as I like to affectionately call it: Friday's bastard brother.  I like you and all, but you are not fooling anyone.  The 23rd of December is a Thursday to me.  So close yet so far away, as a child this is one of the longest days of waiting.  Waiting for that magical day to come with its surprises and disappointments.  Disappointment of getting socks or the wrong G.I. Joe without kung fu grip. 

I'm in an even bigger eve of sorts.  I am just days away from embarking on a trip out West.  I'm excited, super excited, but I am also concerned that the weather is not going to be conducive to what I want to do.  Ride MTBs in some of the best country for doing so on Earth.  I am so worried that I'm going to drag my MTB all the way to Utah and not get to make one pedal stroke in the holiest of holies.  I know that I should be happy about getting to go out West and see the mountains, hike in the snow, drink the best beer, eat the best food, and just basically live the life.  LIVIN'

Think good thoughts, be thankful for what you have...Ahhhhhhhh!  The suspense is killing me, I want Santa to come and put perfectly groomed singletrack under the tree with blue skies, and, and, and.  I am going to have a great time -why do I have to keep telling myself this?  I am that spoiled brat opening presents and not getting exactly what I asked.  Yeah, but I wanted the BLUE one!  What no batteries?  What were you thinking?  Slippers?  Ok, so I will admit...Some things people never change.  People being me. 

It's not that I set my expectations high, it's that I am not flexible with the things that I want.  It is getting everything you want, but it is not everything you want.  There is always more, bigger, better, awesomer.  It always seems that I come back to perspective.  I need new eyes to see the country that I have.  In a few days I will have new country to view, I pray that it is good enough.  I know it is more than I deserve, and I hope that I appreciate it for everything that it is worth.

Enjoy your time with family, your time away from work, eating too much, the bad gifts, horrible TV, and the wonderful Christmas spirit in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  Life is brief, enjoy your next ride -as if it were your last.  Advice is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, especially when it is your own.  I look forward to what is in store for me.  I will embrace the future, no matter the color or flavor.  As for you Christmas Eve's Eve, you will never be Christmas or the day before Christmas, but at least the procrastinators worship you as they are scrambling to grab that last or first gift.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Let's Ride

Dark is not the opposite of Light, it is the absence of Light.
  -Beastie Boys

Last night was the longest night of the year, or more importantly the shortest day of the year.  This is what we call the Start of Winter.  Which seems kinda crazy considering the temps outside have been Winter-like for some time now.  Welcome Winter, have a beer, but please keep your feet of the couch, and try not to overstay your welcome.  For me and my like minded outdoorsie people, this is a turning point with our battle that we wage with darkness.  From this day forward the Sun will begin to creep more toward the North and provide us with more daylight.  I just heard a slight cheer.  I give it a Heck Yeah!

I've been fighting the good fight -with lights, and with unemployment I have been taking advantage of the daylight hours.  I don't feel safe enough on the road to ride at night, but hitting up the Riverparks trail and Turkey instead.  Turkey at night is an interesting experience, especially if you are rolling alone.  Enough.  Buy a light and go use it, it is well worth the money.  That is unless you like bolting your bike into a mid-evil torture device, pain and suffering intervals, and cleaning up puddles of sweat.  Then by all means.  "I'm suffering for my art"  Something like that.

Not to brag, Ok maybe just a little, but I have been able to get some good rides in lately.  Outside.  The Good Dr. and I went for a little Riverparks spin on Tuesday.  One word...Under-dressed.  Not really, but I did not take gloves.  I was thinking that 50* is warm enough for naked digits.  It is well above the temps for frost bite, but I lost feeling in my hands and it made the bars feel like I was flexing them.  I could not figure what was under my finger, it was my other finger.  It was a little strange, next ride... Gloves... check.  There is a point here, no it is not wear your gloves. 

Sharing a ride with someone who, like yourself loves to be on a bike, will make any ride better.  No matter the condition.  Shared experience is best served with good company.  Speaking of good company, I rode with a teammate yesterday.  We will call him Seth (any resemblance to live or dead persons is a mere coincidence).  "Seth" and I met up on Riverparks and headed South.  Beautiful weather, slight wind with a little bit of a chill.  I have not been on the bike more than 90-100mins in the past two months.  Yesterday was a full three hours.  I don't know how I managed to be in the saddle that long?  I would have cracked at about 90mins in, except. Except the fact that I had good company to share my ride, this transcends the time-space continuum and enters the unexplained "fun zone".  Don't question it, it is real and if you have not experienced it you need to find someone like the Good Dr, or a "Seth" to share your ride with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Elfin' Christmas

Oh I love the holidays.  Let me count the ways.  Turn the scarcasim meter up to 11 for this one folks and prepare to be offended.  I'm sure I am going to step on a toe or two and will probably taste some shoe leather in the process.  Who cares it's the holidayz and anything goes.  Try finding a parking space without getting threatened.  Seriously, where did all of these horribly bad drivers come from?  Who flipped the switch to make everyone insanely rude and hostile?  Humanity is so lovely this time of year, middle-finger salute right back at ya.

It all starts with someone pulling pepper-spray and gassing a Wal-Mart on "black Friday", or a trampling and pummeling to death at a K-mart.  That is how we know the Christmas spirit is here among us.  The Romans may have crucified Jesus at Easter, but we are killing the baby Jesus with our commercialization and politically correctness.  Heaven forbid sorry I mean lovely place of afterlife of your respected religion, what is going on people?  If you are going to celebrate Christmas, Celebrate Christmas!  It's not a holiday... It's Christmas!  Stop ruining it for everyone by trying to make it something that it is not.

My family taught me that if you are going to do something do it right, no matter what that happens to be in life.  If it is a horrible job that kills your soul, do it and do it right.  What we do is not a reflection of who we are...It is how we do what we do, that is the window into who we are.  So taking what we know about what we know, we should apply this to Christmas.

Christmas is a religious celebration.  Look it up, that's right Google that.  Who knew?  It seems like in a few years that besides the Bible, the story of the "real" reason for Christmas will be a search on Google.  I am by no means a pillar in religion, but I do have respect.  Respect...find out what it means to me.  When did we stop teaching respect?  We instead preach tolerance.  Tolerance killed Respect.  Oh yeah, if this pisses you off, just remember that you have to tolerate me and my beliefs, just as long as I am not preaching Christianity.  

If we do not believe in Christmas don't celebrate Christmas, don't water it down with our half-arsed attempts to degrade a religious holiday that some hold sacred.  There are plenty of other quote-unquote holidays that we can wrap presents, give gift cards, and cook turkey. 

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Real" road riding

On my recent trip back to Texas to see my parents, and get some bike riding done.  I took the CX bike to take advantage of all the dirt road mileage that is available right out my parent's front door.  I was blessed with slightly damp to muddy conditions the first day.  This is a gauntlet thrown down my Mother Nature that could not be refused.  My Dad decided to load up his two dogs and be a follow vehicle.  He is an excellent moto-pacer, but today's course did not allow for speeding inches behind a farm truck.  Maybe next time.  We headed out on roads that I have driven tractors, combines, grain-trucks, cars, farm trucks, but never a bike.  This was a new and interesting way to see the country that I knew, or did I know?  Riding a bike is one of the most intimate ways to see country, and I was now seeing my home with new eyes.

Texas dirt roads, flat, straight, abundant
Old farmhouse owned by cousins
Farm Schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere


Me with a Texas "tree" in background


Dirt roads rock
My Team Car Truck

Monday, December 19, 2011

End of the beginning

Today was the Oklahoma State CX Championships.  I raced.  One, because I like to race.  Two, because it was on my home turf.  I watched the CX Champs last year from the other side of the tape.  It was cold and I had a blast watching, but I also felt drawn to this fantastic thing that we call Cyclo-cross.  It is not right taking a road bike and racing it off-road.  That is what mountain bikes are for, off-road.  Everything about CX is like a dare.  It is done off road, in horrible conditions, with an every-man-for-himself approach to racing, and this all happens at what we like to call "full-gas".

My first experience with racing the CX bike came at a practice race.  It hurt like nothing I had experienced in quite a while.  Something along the lines of riding a trainer and doing 40min super-high intensity, except this trainer was bumpy, dusty, hot and had riders in front and behind.  I questioned why I had to have a CX bike?  I did two more practice races and then drove to OKC with some friends for my first "real" race.  I made it a lap and almost a half when I had a flat.  Not the best start.  And that lap and a half hurt, it hurt a lot.  I was kind of glad that I got the flat and did not have to continue to suffer.  Yeah, don't tell anybody that, I have a rep to maintain.  Once again I questioned the validity of owning a CX bike.

I did some practice riding of my own on Turkey Mountain.  I had a blast rocking the CX bike on mtb trails.  I took the rig to Texas with me and rode it from my parents house down to the Canyon.  This was so much fun.  During the ride down to the Canyon, I watched all the cars with their mtbs on racks headed to the same trails that I was going.  I actually was stopped in the Canyon by a couple that asked if I was "that guy riding the road down here?"  Yep, that was me.  Owning a CX bike was starting to be kinda cool.

More practicing, some racing and more rides.  I bought a helmet light to ride now that the sun is nowhere to be found after 5:00, and the first usage came in the rain one night and I reached for the CX.  This was fun, and I was starting to realize more and more what owning a CX bike meant to me.  It became the Swiss Army knife hanging in the garage, appropriately between the MTB and the Road Bike.  This is the bike that begs to be ridden in the mud, rocks, grass, sand, fire, brick-walls, German razor wire, snow, bullets, and pave. 

Today was the last CX race that I will do this season, but I do hope that it is not my last CX race.  I have struggled with the question of, "is racing Cross fun?"  I am not sure I can answer that.  What I can say is that it hurts.  I have grown to love riding my CX bike anywhere and everywhere.  Heck if this were easy, everyone would do it, and I probably would not want to do it anymore.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Illusions of

I was given a hall pass to go down to Texas to see my parents last week.  I always have big plans to do some sort of travel-blogage.  I have great ideas, I plan on taking all kinds of pictures and what not.  Seriously, I have written some great stuff, albeit in my head, but it's good stuff, it just never makes the page.  I swear that I have a great travel guide to Sprintingthebelllap's Texas Panhandle, it's awesome, now if I could only get it out of this vast empty expanse of a brain and cultivate words and sentences.  Is that too much to ask for?

I always get in a hurry to get down to see the parental units that it turns into a race, where nature breaks are timed and the one gas stop is handled with NASCAR precision.  This is no time to stop and smell the roses.  I'm at the Flying J yelling at the dogs to do their business, we're on a time schedule that they seem to not have received the memo.  "You smelled that spot like 20times, go already!"  I'm sure the locals look at me as if to say "that boy aint right".  I'm being crazy thinking that I am 5mins behind schedule.

I cant wait to get to the place of my birth and hang out with those people that me and one other person call Mom and Dad.  Crazy runs in the family, and this apple did not fall far from the tree.  So when I am with the family I seem to not have anytime to write.  There is a constant barrage of food.  OK, I get that I am not big, and some might say skinny, but I eat.  I eat a lot, but I will never be able to eat enough to satisfy my Mom and Dad's idea of the ideal caloric intake.  "You want your Mom to make you some eggs and bacon?" my Dad says as we are watching wrestling at 9:30 at night.  We just ate like an hour ago, and I'm already getting hit with the question of eating.  So, just to show what a trooper I am, I ate a bowl of cereal.  "Sure you don't want any eggs, or maybe a waffle?" Dad questions as I am finishing said bowl of cereal.  Right, and I've only just gotten here.

I really do wish and hope that I will be able to write when I am home sometime.  There is just something about being in the house that I grew up in around family.  On the family farm, with the history, and all the ghosts.  Ghosts of my past, that just seem to be more real when I am on their turf, in their 'hood.  They are the ghosts of Christmas past, something like the "Ghosts of Sprintingthebelllap's Past".  The connections are so much more visceral in the vicinity of the past.  Oh, if only to be able to tap at a keyboard with the flood of emotions, smells, and sights.  It truly would be a cathartic experience to capture some of what is elicited when visiting home.

Friday, December 9, 2011

She was the one

Unemployment has its benefits.  I get to do chores, I have a Master To Do list and then a Daily To Do list.  I've been pretty good so far knocking out this list one-by-one, and still managing to have plenty of "me"-time.  PRO-tip: Keep the TV off.  I have been using Evernote to sync my lists from my tablet to my phone.  This is awesome for a detailed grocery list.  I know that I am using this application in the most simple form, but it works for me.  I have to clean out the garage and the attic so that we can donate to AMVETS and reduce some of life's clutter while helping a good cause.

My first mtb frame is up in the attic, I am saving it to make an art project out of it that will eventually hang on a wall.  It is the bike that kicked off this insatiable appetite for two wheeled locomotion. There are two other mtbs up there along with a circa 1990's crt TV a set of old wheels lots of used tires.  Really?  What am I going to do with used tires?  My hockey bag and sticks.  Man haven't used that in well, forever.  At one time I played and coached hockey.  I doubt that I could even hockey-stop.  One of the hardest things I have ever learned in my life.  It looks so simple, take a metal edge and slide it sideways on ice to a stop.  Simple.

I have life reminders all around, things this body used to do and do fairly well.  I have a skateboard that is collecting dust, a reminder of several chapters in my life spanning more than half.  The time I spent riding skateboards was full of pain, suffering, and the pure joy of freedom.  I have scars from 20yrs ago, but to have the feeling of dropping into a ramp and carving a nice back-side five-0 didn't come easy.  It's in there somewhere, that feeling just like the hockey-stop.  It's there but gone.

The one love that I have tried to replace with bikes is the hardest loss.  Railing a bermed stretch of perfect single-track comes close to the feeling of carving fresh pow in the Utah backcountry, but it does not compare.  It's been ten plus years.  I've been on a board since, but it was only frustrating not to be at the level once considered normal.  It is a love lost, the one that got away.  You try to stay in touch, but it is too painful, the memories.  The truth, that you will never have what you once shared.  The only proper thing to do is self-medicate and find a replacement.  I cannot begin to explain the stoke one gets from being out in nature on the edge of "this could go seriously wrong" and having it go "so right".  Cheating death or the feeling of cheating death is a pure drug, and it is readily available.

I keep increasing my numeric value that people call age, and with this my ability to do the things that I love decreases.  I have my substitute, not the one from Mrs. Parker's class in fourth grade, but rather the bike.  It is not the equal to snowboarding that I would like it to be, but it works.  It is the drink to calm the nerves, it is the shot of adrenalin at flat-line. Fall and Winter is a tough time for me, it is a time when I have a feeling that I am not in the right place doing the right thing.  I love bikes, but I will always have a first love, that high school crush that got away. 



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sweat equity

Looking at all the posts in this here sea of social media and it is awash in talk about training, off-season, coaches, and trainers.  I think I am suffering from burn-out.  Burn-out from training.  I have no desire to clamp my perfectly capable bike into a stationary position, or pull the rollers out of the closet.  My power to weight ratio, my heart rate data, miles, or time have all become arbitrary.  Well time matters, I just want more of it, not necessarily attach a quantity to it.  I am more interested in quality time with the bike.  I could care less about my fitness right now, I just want to ride bikes.  I'm trained out, my desire is in the crapper.  I want to go mtb out West.  I want to race CX, don't care how I do, I just enjoy the process.  The team, friends, family and then cursing the pain of riding crosseyed for 40+mins.  The first sip of beer after killing yourself is indescribable.  I rode 30 miles this afternoon and yes that is not far at all, and you know...I don't care.  I had a great time just being on the bike, the road bike.  First time in a long time on the road and I must say I enjoyed myself.

I have self-diagnosed myself with ADHD, which means any amount of time on a trainer is well, torture.  I cannot fathom how you people can spend hours on trainers, I'm done before the warm-up is over.  Turn on a movie, listen to music, smash yourself in the head with a ball-peen hammer.  Trainers are not my cup of tea, and right now especially so.  I can't imagine myself with pools of sweat, fan blowing, Fugazi blaring, and watching Fight Club all the while doing intervals.  That right there is motivation enough to go outside and gamble with freezing to death or losing a fingertip or two.  That's right I'm a little ray of sunshine.

Just took a quick look at WKO+ from last year and I had only been on the trainer 3 times by this date last season.  So it could be worse.  It can always be worse.  I am going to fight training for all I'm worth.  In the back of my mind I know I am going to get killed next season, but I'm tired and I want the bike to be my escape.  My bikes are toys not tools.  I know this, I just have to remember this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the Frank and Andy show

Competitive Cyclist posted this on FB, I then tweeted it, I had to put it on the blog it's too funny

Excuse me, Do you have the...

Up late today, the wife loves the snooze button.  I don't see the point in it whatsoever.  It is useless and dead to me.  In fact I use a watch as my alarm, for two reasons. 1) battery powered. 2) no snooze.  I know what time I need to be up to get ready to be where I need to be.  Snooze just angers me.  I'm just about asleep again and WHAM! Time to wake up, again, and again, and again, and again.  Pointless, unless you want a bad mood version of me walking around half-dead.

I am uninspired to write anything worth reading, so if you want to stop now I understand and don't want to waste anymore of your time.  Otherwise, if you need to kill a little time...by all means please continue.  Be my guest.

Time, it's a funny thing, we invented it, and we are obsessed with it.  Age is a unit of measure that explains how many trips one has made around the big glowing orb.  I believe that the Native Americans used the Moon, or is this just history provided by Hollywood?  Look that up for me, I'm currently lazy with facts.  Society places worth to these trips, we categorize each other with this measurement and place social restrictions.  We constructed what we call Time, everything correlates to some measure of time.  Man created this?  The Romans changed the calendar, the Mayans stopped it in 2012.  Of course they disappeared, has to be the Aliens who have no concept of Time.  Saw it on TV and read it on the interweb...has to be true.

For a people so obsessed with time, we sure waste it as if it were endless.  Time is a construct of man so it is a linear thought, but time or whatever one wants to call it is not linear.  There is no start and there is no finish, time is not point A to point B.  It is for man because we have a birth and a death, but time is not born nor does it die.  We are born we live our lives and then we are no more.  The debate, a debate I will not get into, is what happens after?  What happens after depends on what flavor of cool-aid you drink.

Life is short.  I love Fox Riders Co. saying that they put on some of their clothing.  Live Fast Ride Hard.  I interpret it as life is short, live it to the fullest.  Don't waste your time, enjoy life, love what you do and do what you love.  No matter what you find yourself doing do it to your fullest.

Live Fast Ride Hard -Fox

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Baby it's cold...

I wanted to title this post Holy F its cold, but in reality it is not that cold.  It is freezing, but to be in perspective it is not like the Great White North.  I was in shorts just a week and a half ago, so to be fair it is colder than what this hairless ape is accustomed.  I just need to deal.  All this being said, a conversation was had this morning about the willingness to go forth into the cold and its direct correlation to age.

The older we get the less resistant to cold.  ????  Do you have any scientific evidence other than all the shut-ins that freeze to death in the winter?  I am not sold on the resistance to cold theory, although it does have validity, I subscribe to the knowledge of cold, and age is supposed to give one more knowledge.  I call this theory the been-there-done-that theory.  I am by no means saying that I am old or young, or that I have knowledge.  I know from experience that when I was a few years younger I wore a lot less clothing in the relative cold.  Now that I am adding years to my time on this planet, I seem to be adding layers to my body when venturing out-of-doors.  I also find that I tend to do my riding indoors more and more. 

I hate cold hands and cold feet.  I have poor circulation to my extremities, therefore making my problem a problem.  The other nail in my cold activity coffin, is the fact that my hands and feet sweat -a lot.  Moisture + Cold wind = Miserable.  As I type this my fingers are little icicles, my toes and feet are sweating in my wool slippers.  This condition can be a match made in hell when out on a long ride.  Thank God for sheep and the lovely wool that they provide my feet.  Ewe Rock! 

I don't do many PSA's on my blog, because the two of you who read this probably already know what I can teach, but the best thing for cold weather activities is:  Know your limiters.  Cold hands?  Cold feet?  Cold head/face?  What limits you from getting out in the cold?  Cover your skin.  Keep your core warm -this means your chest and kidney area, especially your kidney area.  How do I do this?  Keep the wind off your skin, don't let air into your jacket, secure sleeves at the cuffs.  Collar -wear something that will not allow air/wind down your collar mainly down your back.  No gaps, no air leaks, and you will be toasty.  Do Not Overdress.  Overdress and you will sweat, you will get wet and then you will freeze to death, or pretty close to death, or you will wish you were dead.  Ok, sorry for that.  I know you don't come here for my vast knowledge of the way to ride bikes.  You come here for the witty repartee.  Oh, yeah you do.

I'm not going to talk about motivation to get out in the cold, because I know nothing about motivation.  I know all about cable TV and the couch when it is cold outside.  What I do know, is that people will do things with other people that they would normally not do alone.  Group mentality, or should we call it peer pressure is step one and then group mentality takes over?  "I'll go, if you go."  -ever been in on a conversation like that?  I don't think it is peer pressure or group mentality.  I call it the Mutual Dare.  You do it, I'll do it, we will be stupid together, and together we are stronger than our weaker counterparts.  That's right, Damn the Torpedoes let's go spit in nature's face...   Together.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Day Uno

Ok, I know that now I am temporarily unemployed that I need to write more.  I know this, so stop complaining about "I don't have anything to read on the toilet" "why don't you have a new post?".  I'm not saying it's going to be good, but at least I will provide you with a small distraction for your day.  You are welcome.  Not thanks necessary, just tell your friends how awesome it is to read, and they will tell their friends and then I will have four people reading this blog.  Livin' the High Life, or just drinking it.

*Not a Race Recap*
I donated some money to suffer in the cold, which turned out to not be that cold, and participated in a timed group ride.  It was good to get out and ride with friends that I have not seen in a while.  Good times, as the kids say.  I was hoping for some CX weather, which means mud and crud.  Saturday would have been nice and sloppy and a little warmer, but Sunday was almost perfect temps for a CX race.  It is amazing how fast you forget how bad it feels to run the engine in the red for 40mins.  I had my memory fade and decided to register for the 4 and the 3/4.  Needless to say that after the 4, I decided that drinking beer was a better option than "riding" another race.  20lbs gets really heavy after a few laps, and the barriers seem to grow out of the ground.

I am recovering quite nicely with my coffee and thinking of all the tasty treats that I can make for breakfast.  Waffles?  Omelette?  Oatmeal?  Cereal?  Coffee?  Already working on the coffee, dang how many cups was that?  There goes my data for my scientific research.  No grant for me.  Maybe tomorrow I will discover the "Too Much" and the precise quantity to reach said limit.  Today will just be a blind dress rehearsal. I should get a lot of cleaning done, and my list of chores will vanish.  ADHD + Caffeine makes for strange bedfellows.  Who wants to go ride bikes?

Check out the What I'm Listening To section of my blog.  I'm hitting up some 80's and 90's today.  The dogs are thrilled that I am a stay at home dad, we are going to hang out and have a good ole time.  Anyway, starting to lose my train of thought, short and sweet.  Enjoy your day, and if you are in the Greater Tulsa Area hit me up if you need someone to go ride with.  Road or MTB or CX, I'm multi-cycle.  As my sister says -Ciao for now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Thankful Cyclist

I am thankful for...
Eddy Merckx for being Eddy Merckx



Tullio Campagnolo for quick release skewers, and the derailleur


Johan Museeuw for being the Lion of Flanders


Gino Bartali for battling Coppi and creating what we know as epic











Bernard Hinault for being the Badger and his rivalry with LeMond

Laurent Fignon for being the Professor and elevating the sport

Greg LeMond for getting back on the bike after getting shot -and winning

Jacques Anquetil first to count to five using his Tour victories
Miguel Indurain for five straight





La Madonna del Ghisallo for her protection

Jens Voigt for showing us the art of the breakaway and being 10 x harder than diamonds










Andy Hampsten for his being a bdass climber and winning on le Alpe D'Huez

Mario Cipollini for more style than any human is capable

Stuart O'Grady HTFU


*all photos poached off the interweb sorry for not crediting*

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Many moons ago when I was a wee lad we made turkeys out of a tracing of our hand.  Dressed up an outline of a Pilgrim with a big hat and buckles on his shoes.  We put feathers on a native American (formerly known as Indian).  We learned how thankful and sharing everyone was back in the day, and then we had time off to eat turkey with our families.  We got to travel to relatives who would say "the last time I saw you, you were this tall".  Ok, so now that I am not such a wee lad, we know that Columbus was not a Pilgrim, extorted money from the Spanish for a boat ride -because he was just a crazy drunk sailor.  He most likely did not even set foot in what we consider the good ole USofA.  Vikings, not the ones from Minnesota, probably discovered this here place, but just did not like being away from home -so they left.  Of course the "Indians" (native Americans) were already here and had been for sometime.  They just did things differently, so we took over.  We all know that the aliens were here long ago -saw it on the History channel, has to be true.


As Robert said "Ramble On".  I am not sure any of us can be certain what or how Thanksgiving came about, nor do we really care.  Turns out that thanksgiving is a time of rest and nourishment for the upcoming battle to be waged on the following Black Friday.  We all watch TV, eat and store up as many calories humanly possible and try to rest and relax.  We know the following day that we will not have time to eat for fear of missing that big deal, we will need our strength to fight for a parking space.  We need our rest to make that midnight opening, or if you are weak that 4 o'clock doorbuster.  [yes, spellchecker doorbuster is a word, take your little red squiggly line and shove it] 

That's right Col. Kurtz "The horror...the horror".  What have we done?  What have we done with our time of thanksgiving?  Black Friday is turning into a black hole and it is going to suck Thanksgiving down with it.  Say no, spend your time wisely, do something you like to do...if it happens to be shopping then good on ya.  Seriously spend your time like it is all you have.  Time. 

Be thankful for what you are thankful for.  What does that mean?  It means stop taking everything for granted, like life is owed to you.  It is not.  Life is not owed, life is given.  Like a present, take it and be thankful for it, be thankful for every moment that you draw breath.  The good book says that "life is but a vapor".  It is here today and gone tomorrow.  No matter where you are in your life you have something to be thankful.  I like to talk about perspective, and this is where perspective comes into play. 

The Real Voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having NEW EYES ~Mary Engelbreit

To be cheesy I would like to list all the things that I am Thankful, but I will spare you.  I am very thankful and I will try not to take life for granted.  After reading this think of something that you consider insignificant and be thankful for it in your life.

I'm thankful that one of you read this...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pulling the trigger

It was just a short while ago that I was forced into a life altering career move.  Seems like forever, but it really has not been that long.  April.  I guess it is a long time if you are stuck on a desert island.  Not to be confused with deserted island which might not be a bad thing.  Now desert island sounds like it might not be very fun.  Dessert island sounds like a good ole time to me, 450lbs later.  Time is as time does.  The time for me is now, at least it feels like the time is now.  Crape Diem, Right?  Seize the day?  Life is too short not to take a risk or two.  Life is wasted when dreams become regrets.  Yes, I am trying to squeeze as many cliches into this paragraph before I become nauseous.  Ok I'm done.

I have been given the opportunity to do something I have always wanted.  I have been handed the keys to a lifestyle that I was born for.  It is not without it's drawbacks, but the Pro's column outweighs the Con's.  In my opinion, yeah but what do I know?  I know what I like, and I am going to do what I like because I am a spoiled brat.  There I said it.  Life should be an adventure, and adventure is not safe, so therefor I chose to not be safe (really kids you should wear your helmets) in life.  I can't stop writing cheesy lines tonight, don't know what my problem is?  Oh well, probably should stop while I still have my two readers out there.

Anyway the whole idea was to "blog" about what is going on and what is in store for my future, and quite possibly your future if you happen to ride bikes in the Greater Tulsa area.  Is your interest peaked?  Most of you probably know what my new endeavor is going to be, but some of you may not know.  So, stay tuned to this here interweb of knowledge, follow me on twitter, and if you must hit me up on the fb.  If you have not guessed, it involves me (no kidding) and bikes (double no kidding).  How cool is that?  If you like bikes and you can tolerate me you just might get to see me in person -professionally speaking of course!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm too sexy...

When I say "style" what comes to mind?

Fashion right? 

Maybe, but I think of style as the aspect of how one carries oneself in life.  It is how you live, how you handle yourself.  There are many styles of life and livin' but it is sometimes easy to pigeonhole people into categories, doing this is the absence of style.  True style has no name no label.  I am writing this thinking of my "Style role models".  No! I don't look to the magazines for my input, I look to the people in my life who make me who/what I am.  Real people, and I mean Real, not just flesh and blood, but Real.  And if I must define Real for you then just stop reading now.  I have a hammer for you, just send a S.A.S.E. to the belllap.

I can't help but think of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club while writing.  Style is deeper than what we see on the surface, "you are not your job, you are not the contents of your wallet, you are not your f______ khakis".  I'm going to point fingers now, but there are so many people who live their jobs, cars, houses, and contents of their wallets.  They may be "high fashion" but they are low on style.  Get real, be real.  "Is that what a real man looks like?"  This is of course my opinion and not a guide to live your life.

Here it comes, the point in the program where I tie this into riding bikes.  Cycling is Vogue.  It is "high fashion".  We are all guilty and should go to the Madonna del Ghisallo and ask for forgiveness.  We judge.  We berate.  We ostracize.  We are as bad as an Opra book club.  "Did you see his bartape?  It didn't match his saddle!"  No, but really?  This is not the point that I want to make, although it is a big part of what we do.  Style on the bike and off the bike relates to life.  Art imitates life and life imitates Art.  How one handles oneself on the bike is a true reflection of the person, even during the heat of battle in a race. 

The bike is a window into ones soul.  It has the ability to strip one down to their core no matter the ability or status.  The butcher, baker, and candlestick maker can all ride side-by-side with the doctor, lawyer and accountant.  Ones style is dictated by who you are on the bike, how you handle yourself on the bike, and how you treat your fellow cyclists.  Style is a lost Art, but it is not dead.  You can't buy it, but you can earn it and learn it.  Next group ride you are on, look for the style.  It will be there, it has always been there, style is timeless.

My goal in cycling is not to win races, but to bare the torch for future generations to follow.  I would like to thank my Roll Models that are Real.  I hope to one day turn the crank with 1/2 as much style as you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can I get some cheese w/ that?

Stop reading now if you don't want to listen to me complain or make excuses for why make Dyson vacuums look weak.

I donated money so that I could pin a number on and go around in very painful circles last night, on a golf driving range no less.  No, people were not hitting balls at us, but thanks for asking.  I was not amused by the course last night.  I'm not saying it was a bad course, because it was not.  It was super long and really cool with all the little features.  It was just super hard being mostly flat with a ton of little elevation changes thrown in for extra crispy pain.  My legs ached and were shot, and at one point "trying" to get over the up-hill barriers I thought I was going to go into a full leg/body cramp.  In slow-motion of course.  And the wind...  I was all alone on the backside wallowing slowly, when I thought to myself "if I went any slower would I fall over or just go backwards".  Ok, so awesome course, just not for me.  I sucked it up just like that aforementioned Dyson.

The quote for me for the night: "I spent 38mins of a 40min race trying to come up with a good enough excuse to quit. Then I finished.  Amazingly still alive, hurting but alive."

That brings us to today's race.  What a ball-buster of a course, one of the most fun CX courses ever.  'Nuff said.  This course was so hard, almost 100' of climbing per 1.25mile lap.  Stairs, twists, turns, through the woods, a few rad downhills, a run-up *the king of run-ups*, and a fast tarmac section.  Oh, yeah it was even "pretty" with two ponds, woods and tons of landscaping.  Like I said it had everything.  Free beer and a porta-john on the course, yes right on the course -it was inside the tape.  On the Pain-O-meter this course was probably 55% harder than last night's course, but since it was fun to ride and because it was just so cool it hurt less.  Maybe?  Maybe it's the beer talking.

So here is the debate (talk amongst yourselves) because I liked the course today was I more apt to push myself further into the red -verses- not liking the course last night, therefor I wussed out?  Yesterday was a TT, and you all know I hate TT and don't do well at them.  Today was more of a Crit with climbs.  Don't forget the fact that I basically am weak when you talk this problem out at the water cooler on Monday.  Ok Go.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big Legged Woman...

You know what I love about cycling?

Everything

What do you love about cycling, is it love or is it just a junior high crush, maybe you are just friends.  Does it encompass your day, hour, second, or is it your world?  Can you stop at any moment?  Is it a habit, a past time, or does it define you?  What does it mean to you, can you live without it?

I live cycling.  I can't begin to explain what a ride on a bicycle means to me.  The bike is a tool, a toy, but more importantly it is an extension of oneself.  I'm thinking about bikes right now, perfectly groomed single-track weaving in and out of Aspen trees.  I can't help it.  I'm an addict and there is no cure, and I'm not going to stop.  So, save your intervention for someone with a glue sniffing habit.  I'm good here move along.

I have had the privilege to ride with a lot of people, whether it be racing or just a bike trail stroll, people either "get it" or they don't.  The "it" is something that no amount of training, miles, wins, or time will be possible to attain.  There is no magic formula, no coaching, and no book will help you find the holy grail.  Just riding your bike helps, but that is not the answer.  The answer is Zen, it lies within. You, the bike, the cycling community. 

What is it that makes us slip on shoe covers, gloves, and long tights to go out and ride in freezing drizzle?  Do you do this because you have to?  Gotta get in the miles, coach said I have to do..., everyone else is doing it, or do we get out there because it is raw?  Man and machine vs Nature.  The base layer of the cycling lifestyle.  Pain.  We want it difficult.  Heck if it were easy everyone would do it, and why would you want to do something everyone else is doing?  That is just stupid.  Cycling is a dare unfulfilled, a self loathing one-up-yourself.  How can you truly feel if you do not know Pain?

I would dare say that most bike riders do not see the "beautiful" side of cycling.  Like I said before there is no map to find your way, but you will know it when you get there.  Cycling is a cold beer at the end of a salt crusted calf cramping town-sprint ride to the parking lot.  It is the nod of the head to a fellow in a different kit on the starting line.  It is the sweaty handshake or the pat on the back of the guy who just piped you at the line.  It is the thanks given for pulling across a titanic gap.  It is...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Got it bad?

I am starting to feel that without the bike I have no life.  When people talk about caffeine they say dependent rather than addicted.  So, using that logic I would say that I am bike dependent.  Addiction is a harsh word, so let's "church it up" and call it something more palatable. You know, that is what we do.  We put a "good face" on everything.  This is what I call the "PC effect" that came about in the late '80s and early '90s.  Let's be a kinder and gentler nation.  A nation of tolerance, that will not tolerate intolerance.  Politically Correct.  I think that Politically Correct sounds like and oxymoron, with heavy emphasis on moron.  I should care about your feelings more than my own.  Really?  But only when it meets a criteria set by the "whiny baby" society.  HTFU.  Being mean and telling the truth live on a fine line that should not be taken lightly, but come on people use your tiny t-rex brains and be real with each other.  Offence is offensive to me.  Free speech is not an open license to be an A-hole, grow some skin and learn to live life without crying foul.  Yeah, some people are just going to be on the wrong side of the "line" and some will never be able to tell the difference.

Yes, I have a little angst built up that needs to be flushed out of the soul.  I've got a fever, a fever for some bike riding.  Give me more bike.  Really people stop being so soft, soft minded and soft bodied.  If this downward spiral continues we will have no ass to kick, it will just be a humongous glob of fleshy waste.  Get out of the house and enjoy, fight for life, Live.

I'm pretty much feeling sorry for myself, because I can't ride my bike.  Boo whaaaa.  There could be like a million things worse out there, and here I am crying a river.  I am bike dependent, my life revolves around riding bikes.  At work I dream of riding my bike.  I see the world as either paved or off-road trails.  Driving around this little corner of the world selling coffee I see lots of places that I would love to ride my road bike, and I also see places that would make for some excellent single track.  I dream that I am riding my bike, and then I watch the clock to see when I will be home to ride my bike.  When you talk to me and it is not about bikes, I am thinking about bikes, or how I can work bikes into the current conversation.

The world for me revolves around bikes.  The Earth does not rotate about its axis, it is propelled by the action of cyclists pushing against it with pedal and crank.  I wear my cycling socks to work.  I drink recovery drinks to help hang-overs or when I am sick.  I check people for tan lines, shaved legs, and road rash scars.  Porn for me is bike catalogs, and pictures from Interbike, thank you highspeed interweb.  I will break my neck looking at every bike that I pass just to see what kind it is, it does not matter if it is a kid or a homeless person riding.

I am bike dependent, admittance is the first step. 

Right?

Screw it.

I am helpless.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Freedoms

I love riding bikes.  I love the feeling that a bike can elicit.  I come home after work grab a bike off the wall and hit the street, the trails or both.  I've got the tools of the trade, I'm fortunate to have a "quiver".  I have a bike to suit my fancy, and even though I have a plethora, I always want more.  N+1 is life.

Yesterday was 11.11.11.  Pretty cool.  But.  More importantly it was Veteran's Day.  A day to honor the people who serve/served our country (that means you and me).  There are these people out there that took an oath to protect us, with their lives if necessary.  I ask myself why?  Why would someone do this?  What type of person does this?  And, why would they do it for me?  I made a choice to not serve my country, but I respect the choices our men and women in the military have made...for me.  To protect me, to give me my freedoms.  At any cost.

This takes a different breed of person.  A breed above all else.  It goes against everything we are taught.  Stay away from danger, be safe, don't do that you will get hurt, but yet these people run into the heart of danger without self, but with purpose.  They have been doing it for years and years, and we the non-militarized society reap the benefits. 

I take it for granted that I can come home, jump on my bike and go anywhere I want.  I can dress the way I like, I can say what I want, I can own land, I am free.  I can never say "Thank You" enough for the freedoms that I enjoy.  This great country was built on the backs of our military, our government came from the military, our expansion came from the military, our safety comes from the military.

To those that came before and those that will follow,
Thank You.

Freedom is not Free

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Now is good

It's getting to be that time again, no not another reference to fall, but time for me to post some meaningless words put together to waste your time.  So I've been forced off the bike and have been riding the couch for the last several days and I'm about to go crazy.  I'm sure my fitness has headed South for the winter, oh great!

Ok, screw fitness I just want to ride my bike.  Even though I'm racing CX, I really do not care about fitness this time of year.  I make my annual transition to dirt and really enjoy riding the bike.  CX is just a reason to get out, hang out, and ride with friends. Plus getting to enjoy a post ride/race man soda is always a favorite of mine. Or two.  CX for me is also a time to race without purpose, not worrying about doing well, or feeling bad when I can't help out a teammate win. 

Just Ride.  There is nothing better.  It is so basic, the freedom of pedaling a bike making your own locomotion.  It's the purity of being a living breathing machine.  I can't get enough of that flying feeling, railing a corner or out of the saddle sprinting.  When you ride for the ride's sake you can turn off the "have to" and turn on the "want to".  This time of year is I don't want to have to ride, I want to want to ride.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adjust this...

Man this day started off like any other day, just like Bill Murray hitting the alarm clock in Groundhog's Day.  Routine is as routine does.  Potty and feed the dogs, make coffee, eat cereal, stretch, make/pack lunch, dress (put clothes on, not wear) head out the door, check -work phone personal phone keys, drive to work.  Etc...  Today was a day that was supposed to be easy and fast, and with my leftover time I would work on Thursday's and Friday's route, you know just to have it done.  BS...I want to leave early on Thursday and Friday.  It was going so well right out of the gate that I thought it was Thursday and I was happy down in my soul and then I realized it was still only Wednesday, but happy it was Wednesday 'cause Wednesday kills compared to Monday. 

'It hit the fan at stop number three today.  Then on the way to my next stop, we will call it stop number four, my work truck died.  Tits up at 65mph on the Creek Turnpike in the left hand lane.  Oops.  Put it in N and tried to restart, nothing.  Checked traffic and signaled to pull off the road, again tried to restart.  Nothing.  Dead.  If it were a horse I would have pulled out my gun and put it out of its misery.  Routine just became a missing person on the 10 o'clock news.

Long story short, Good day became crappy day became #&^%$@^%#$!!!!!!!  I became a clock watcher and began to calculate at what point I would have to quit running route drive back to the shop get my car drive home and still have some daylight left for a ride.  Priorities!  I made it, got into my car and was about six or seven mins into my drive home when to paraphrase Chicken Little the bottom dropped out.  Seriously?  So now it is raining, and my mtb ride is just a work day dream that was being washed into the gutter.  Turn the soul crusher to 11, break out the whine and cheese, I think I'm gonna cry.

Got home.  Was about to put on some Joy Division lay on the couch in the dark and create a black hole of depression the likes of which have not been seen or recorded by man or machine.  I looked at my phone for some reason and saw that it was 65* and raining.  No ____ Sherlock.  Wait a min, 65* is warm.  So if you add rain, 65* is now cool, not cold, but cool.  My work induced rage coma is starting to wear off and I realize that I can ride my bike in the rain, and 65* is well within my manufacturer's tolerances.  Oh, what's that?  I have a CX bike?  A bike that is just begging to be ridden in the harshest of conditions that I am probably not man enough to dish out. 

Quick look at the clock said that I had better hurry if I wanted to be back before the dark had a dual-fisted hold on the earth.  Leg over the saddle, clipped in, drilling it down the block.  Oh crap, might want to let off the gas on this corner with all this liquid on the ground, yeah whetevez... I laugh at the rain, the wet grass, the mud, the leaves on the ground, and all the jealous fools in their metal coffins trying to kill me in a fit of vehicular homicide.  Slow it down there Git-r-done dude.

Hate, Rage, Fury, Anger, Madness flowed in my veins.  With every pedal-stroke they were broken down into the most enjoyable smooth flowing calm.  A calm that can only be gained from the distillation of the negative chased out of the body with the magical powers of the bi-wheeled contraption that we like to call a bike.

Monday, October 31, 2011

That time of the...

It's fall and the weather is so nice... I wish it would stay like this for about six months.  The leaves are turning and starting to layer the silky single track.  I'm a big fan of this time of year, is it the weather, is it the feeling that the winter snows are just around the corner, or is it the dreaded off-season?  That's right, the off-season.  Is it dreaded or is it welcomed?  Burn out, injury, or just plain old tired is looking for a cure and the off-season is exactly what the bartender poured.  Taking some time off in the off-season can re-energize the cycling soul.  Soul that is stretched, bruised, broken, rashed, and strained during the season.

I actually have a love hate relationship with the off-season.  I look forward to the time that I can spend just riding.  Riding by myself or with others, but without any pressure for time, distance or intensity.  Just ride.  For fun.  Ok, but I also miss the road racing, the crits, the time trials, and the beers in the hotels after races.  I miss yelling at teammates to cover a break, I miss "sitting in gum", I miss team rides that hurt worse than racing.  It is a duplicity that is hard to wrap my head around.

Really, this time of year is great, but I am not looking forward to the frozen toes and fingers.  The time spent indoors sweating pools under the trainer.  The sun setting at 5pm.  Getting dizzy and on the verge of nausea at the end of a set of intervals.  These are not a few of my favorite things.  I vow to enjoy this time before the fridged temps keep me house bound and riding the couch.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Racing 'Cross -fun?

This is not a race report.

Since I built up my frame and turned my first laps at practice I have been undecided about my feelings toward cyclo-cross.  I think it has to do with not having the intensity in my legs that I have in the past, and not being used to the pain and suffering.  As if you ever get used to pain and suffering.  I have a good enough imagination and knack for words that I could probably come up with about 200+ excuses for why I can't, why I don't, or why I'm so freaking slow.  I'm not going to insult your intelligence.

'Cross requires an engine that has to be run in the red all the time.  I do not have that kind of engine.  You know what, I don't really care that much.  This time of year I am in chill mode, which means railing single-track on the mtb and just riding for fun.  Not like I have a training program that I follow, but especially this time of year it is only riding.  Now that I have thrown 'cross into the ring there is this temptation to get all crazy into racing and training.  I don't want to lose sight of what the big picture is, and it is after all...to have fun.

I have great teammates and friends that keep me with my head on straight.  No, they really don't, but what they do...is make sure I am having fun.  That is why we are on a team and that is why we ride bikes together.  Do my teammates care if I win or if I come in last.  Yes, they care that I have a good time.  I like to do good, don't get me wrong I would like to win a race, but winning is not my motivation.  The process is better than the end result.  Riding a bike with friends and teammates is more important than the podium.

Standing on the podium is brief, but the process that gets one to that position is what matters.  My teammate destroyed the field and stood on the top step today.  He deserved it.  I have been struggling with 'cross, and today was no different.  Suffering, pain, and fun.  That's right I had fun today, I lined up dead last 1) because I am learning 2) I wanted to see how many people I could pick off.  In the process I suffered, I felt pain, I had fun, and I got to race with my teammates.  And this folks is what it is all about.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gettin learned

I'm about knee deep into this craze that we affectionately  call 'Cross Racing.

I raced my first race a few weeks ago and flatted in the middle of the second lap.  With no wheels in the pit I was done for the day.  I am not sure if this was a blessing or just bad luck.  I will say it again, but when you watch something don't ever fool yourself into thinking you can do it.  Oh yeah I can do that... it looks easy.  And, never ever try and use your brain to come to the conclusion that you can do it.  Me talking to my brain:  I can race road bikes, I can ride a mountain bike, and this looks so easy.  Do it man, you will kick @s$!!! Yeah, I will do it, and I will kick @S$!!!  Another thing of note, I usually had a man soda in my hand while watching 'Cross racing, and several others safe inside my belly.  Not a good combo when common sense should be used.

I hate Time Trials, because they are hard and I suck at them, No, really.  I'm the guy at a TT that is there to make the winners times look so good.  'Cross racing is all the pain of a TT, but with the added bonus, or bonuses of having to jump over barriers, mount and dismount a moving bike, sand, mud, rain, grass, gravel, corners, off-camber turns, 180*s, and just basic Pain turned up to 11, because 10 would just be too easy. 

I understand why it is appropriate to heckle at a 'Cross race.  If you have made the wise decision to race 'Cross, you deserve the beratement.  'Cross is not right.  And those of us who have chosen this path are either brilliant or completely deranged.  It is a fine line.

So far I have learned that flat prevention is a must, I will no longer have unprotected tires.  I decided to go super low budget and throw some Stan's in the tubes.  So far so good.  Maybe if I am really good I will get an upgrade for my birthday.  Tubeless.  I will never be sold on tubular, well not until or if someone would like to sponsor me.  If you would like to sponsor me send me an email and shloads of cash or product.

I know now that I just need to get out my Big Chief Tablet and get ready for some school.  I have two #2 pencils sharpened and ready to go.  I just hope some of these lessons are learned from experience gained and not from failure.  Well not too many from failure.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paris - Tours 2011

What is not to love about the Fall Classics?

If you did not catch this monument, you must at least find and watch the last 20km.  Do your homework you will thank me. Google it, find it, watch it, enjoy.  Most importantly be amazed by the awesomeness that is a Classic.  I wish I had talent to express in words what was played out on the French roads today.

I was utterly glued to the tablet watching the last 20km, a bomb could have gone off and I would have been unfazed.  FDJ had Gerard looking comfortable up front after he attacked the breakaway, but then Van Avermaet and Marcato went for the chase.  When the pair caught Gerard he looked like he had the boat anchor out and was headed backwards.  Van Avermaet and Marcato went full gas to the finish and ended it in a one up sprint.  Like I said, I lack the words to paint a picture.

Like many of us in the "Western World", and I'm not talking west of the Mississippi.  I'm talking about 'mericans.  We were all scratching our heads thinking who is Greg Van Avermaet?  While the whole nation of Belgium probably has trading cards of the young lad.  Some of his accomplishments include the U23 National Champ of Belgium '06, he was picked up by Lotto and raced for them until 2011 when he signed with BMC.  Greg is a workhorse and a true hardman of the cycling world.  His second year Pro he won the Points Classification in the Vuelta, and was 8th at Ronde van Vlaanderen.  In '09 he just missed the podium at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Het Volk).  These are not easy races, these are not races that you can just sit in and enjoy the weather and the conversation.  They are the heart and soul of the Belgian Classics.  When BMC added him to the roster, I felt like they had made an excellent choice for a Rouleur and for the future campaigns for the Classics.  I'm gonna get Boo'ed here, but Greg has a better chance at Roubaix than George.  Hey I have much love and respect for George, and would be in awe if he hoisted the famous sett.

What the heck is going on at BMC with Thor, Van Avermaet, and Gilbert? Just to name a few. Seems like the stable is a little full of horses.  Where does George fit into the plan with all of these cannibals?  If anyone knows what they are doing with all this firepower it has to be Jim Ochowicz.  What an awesome move to get Cadel to sign onto a team that looked to be in a very early building stage, who knew that they would be a force at le Tour?  I will be watching this team very closely.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Psycho Cross

So, there is this thing.

I've watched a lot of cross, and it looks like so much fun.  Heckling from the "other" side of the tape is so much fun.  The craziest thing happened... all my friends were getting Cross rigs and gearing up to race Cross this season.  Not to be outdone, and lord let's not forget peer pressure (real or conceived).  I broke down and bought a frame, cannibalized my race bike and now I have a full on CX race machine.  A no excuse race machine.  Yeah!  I'm totally set.

What the ____ was I thinking? Cross is hard. Period. I'm talking kick to the crotch pain. It starts off like it's not gonna hurt, but then it slowly builds into an agonizing body death that can only be cured by a mass quantity of brewed man soda.  Cross is full gas from the hole shot.  The only time you can rest is when you come to the line at the finish or when you spend some time on the ground after a failed dismount over a barrier.

People Pros make things look easier than they are, make sure you know what you are doing before you sink time and money into a soul crushing body destroying good time.  Don't get me wrong, Cross is awesome.  Cross is tough, full on, and it requires time to perfect. 

I'm watching Superprestige Rudervoorde on the interweb right now and it seriously looks like so much fun and they make it look so darn easy.  Like another sport that I used to play, Hockey.  Watching Pros play hockey is so beautiful, graceful, and it looks so easy.  Yeah, now go out and try and ice skate, now try and hockey stop -both sides.  Not so easy is it?  Now try to stick handle, shoot, pass, and try not getting knocked on your backside.  Yet it looks so easy.  Now go ride your bike in the mud. Sand. Grass.  Barriers?  Stairs?  Really?

Now that looks like fun, and it has to be easy right? 

Crossing the tape (no pun intended) from spectator to participant seemed like such an easy thing.  Buy a bike, ride the bike, race the bike.  Oh, no!  Once you commit you are committed...for good or evil. 

I always wondered why Cross racers wore skinsuits?  Answer:  it is the next closest thing to a straight jacket that the cycling world has to offer.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What do you want?

I have recently found myself in a recession, not unlike the one the world economy has found itself mired.  A little background info on my situation:  I am a horrible money manager, if I have it I spend it, if I don't have it I spend it.  The latter is not a good combo I hear, I hear from my wife all the time.  I try, but I have a problem similar to drinking or drugs or sex or food or yes please!  OK, enough time on the couch talking about my problems.  I, like many of you, am a consumer, I want I want and then again I want.  I want so much that they eventually become need.  ADDICTION -when your wants become needs.  I no longer want I need, Give it to me yesterday.  When FedEx comes up with time-travel shipping I'm in, I'll pay for it.

Bikes are an obsession, which is a fancied-up word for addiction.  I subscribe to the n+1 theory, whereas n is equal to the number of bikes owned.  So no matter how many owned you always need +1.  I recently +1ed with the addition of a new Cross bike, everyone was doing it.  So, I needed to do it.  (see what I did there NEEDED, not wanted)  I did not want to be left out of the cool kid group.  So, here is where the train comes off the tracks.  I had the money for the +1, but in my money spending stupor, I failed to recognize that I did not have the funds to race, drink man sodas, sushi happy-hour, more man sodas, frozen pizza, brewing man sodas, and everything else not related to the +1 or everything related to the +1.

I am a consumer, I consume.  I am not a generator, I am not an earner.

I am in the process of a mid-life transitional period.  A big part of me just wants to "walk the Earth".  I realize that something has to change so that I can do the things that I want to do, but yet still fulfill the need to do.  I have been adding up the need column and it is pretty small compared to the ginormous want column.  What is important to me and what is necessary are so far from each other that I have a lot of work ahead of me to get things right.

Right now what I really want, is to go ride a bike.  Or, do I need to go ride a bike?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Turn off tune out

I think that some of my best rides are the ones where I can truly turn my brain off and just feel.  I don't meditate so the prospect of flipping that proverbial switch to neutral is not an easy task for me.  Sometimes the odd rare occasion will occur and it happens...I go blank, the trees become a blur and it feels like I am a passenger along for the ride.  I know my bike has a mind of its own, usually for the good but sometimes for the bad.  When the brain takes a vacation my body and bike meld into one organic machine that lives breathes and rails.  I try not to have work, family, people, or world issues invade my inner-sanctum when I am out for a ride, it does happen, but when I can keep the thoughts at bay, that is when the real soul of cycle locomotion is in control.

This happened tonight. It is sometimes hard to find the words that can describe the feeling that can be produced by riding a bike on a dirt trail over rocks and through trees.  We used to call this "Souled-Out" back in the day when I was snowboarding.  It's a transcendence that generally finds the recipient speechless, yet with a heightened awareness and super-human powers that makes one impervious to gravity.  Not really, but it sometimes feels like it.

I will always come back to the central point, the point that we are riding toys.  Yes, bikes are transportation, vocation, but most importantly they are recreation.  Kids love bikes because they are fun.  Adults love bikes because they are fun.  The two wheeled time machine.  Throw a leg over a bike and you will be transported (no pun intended) to a different time, a time where you are happy.  Happy to be on a bike with your freedom.  A perfect union of machine and human power, that creates life...or enhances life.  Ride a bike...Live

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Talk show

Hope this doesn't turn out to sound like some forced BS, because this is exactly what I am doing.  I am forcing myself to write something in the smallest of hopes that I will actually generate a thought that I just might be able to share, well, I am going to share it good or bad.  You are just going to have to live with whatever I decide to put out there, which is kind of a free flow of me just thinking and typing.  Lucky you.  I had better not unlock any of the closets for fear of skeletons coming out and appearing in print.  Yeah it would probably make for good reading, like watching a train wreck, but then I most likely would not be able to look some of you in the eye.

What's new with you?  Work did not totally suck the life out of me today, or did it?  I had no motivation to do anything other than watch a replay of an English Premier League match.  My motivation had to work late so my mtb ride went out the window, as if it were going to materialize in the first place.  Got "stood up" yesterday, but had the motivation to get in a ride none the less.  Did not feel it today.  Would really like to get in a ride tomorrow, or is it I really need to get in a ride tomorrow?  Not talking about need to for my fitness or training plan -cause I don't have either.  I'm talking about getting in a ride so that I don't fall further down the rabbit hole, the one where TV is life support and the couch is the next best thing since, oh...sliced bread.

Did I mention that I baked a loaf of fresh bread?  I have a bread machine and it totally rocks, that is when I use it.  Not like it is hard, just put the ingredients in and press a few buttons, wait a few hours and viola, Fresh Baked Bread.  Butter Baby.  French toast kills with homemade bread, oh now you want to sleep over.  That ship has sailed.

Yeah, that pretty much went where I thought it would...nowhere.  OK, I've got to look at the positive...I am practicing my typing skills.  Speaking of skills, thank Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for instant spell check, is that not like the coolest thing ever?  Predictive typing or whatever you industry people call it is pretty darn annoying, yeah turn that crap off.  I have swype on my phone and it works pretty good, except when I have no idea how to spell the word in the first place, then it is I who sucks.

P.S.  I just thought of an excellent gadget for my blog... I need to put a little indicator of how many beers that I consumed for the post down at the bottom of said post.  Just for the record, 0 beers were harmed during the making of this post.  If anyone knows how to make gadgets, that would be super cool. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Whats Love got to do...

Love is so overused, I am guilty as charged.  I love cheese, I love beer, I love bacon, I Really love bacon.  I love to ride bikes, I love mtb, I love road, and I hope to love cx.  Man, I'm a lover not a fighter.

Love
-noun. tender, passionate affection
    strong personal liking
    person toward whom love is felt
-verb. to have love (for)

The Julie always says that she loves me, and I feel that it is a little much, I know she loves me because she puts up with me putting the ice cream in the refrigerator, leaving empty boxes in the pantry, and several idiosyncrasies, way too many to list.  Snoring.  I think that she should limit it to maybe every other phone call, I feel that just saying it, like an end to a conversation degrades the meaning.  I love my new shoes.  When I say I Love You -I mean it -when I say it.  I love lasagna.  The love that I have for my family and the love that I have for bacon is on two different planets, nowhere near the same ballpark.  I love you man.

Passion for things is easily expressed with the big L-word, but using it for strong personal liking drops it down a notch.  I love fall.  We like things strongly, but we don't love them.  If you love it why don't you marry it?  Really, I would need to become a Mormon and practice polygamy with all the loves in my life. I love tacos.

I love to ride bikes, is it the same love that I have for the Julie?  No, of course not, but is it the same love that I share for beer?  How about the love that I have for my new shirt?  No.  The passion level, if there is a level is very high for bikes, and the Julie would probably argue that it sometimes eclipses her stature on the Love list.  Sometimes I love the bike because it does not argue with me, or ask me to do the dishes.  OK, Really I do love the Julie, because I put up with her and her ability to put up with me.  I do have the better "deal", she puts up with a great deal of my crap.  I know this, and I love her for it.

I for the most part I will probably not be able to break myself of the habit of saying that I love things.  Saying that I like things strongly sounds a little on the stupid side of dialog, but maybe I can just LIKE things or I can  Really Like things.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Perspective..or something like that

Someone always has it better than you, and someone always has it worse than you.  I'm a glass is half empty kind of guy, always looking for the negative.  Don't judge, it's easy to be on the team of the not so positive, it takes a true hardas$ to be positive even in the face of failure.  I am not.  Admittance is the first step, it's the second step -the one where you actually start the change is the hard part.  I don't see myself changing into a lollipop kid and seeing the good in everything anytime soon.

I have a good life, I do (not bragging) sometimes I just don't see the trees for the darn forest.  My job is trying my sanity, I swear that this job is going to kill my soul.  I don't love what I do, and it is just a means to and end.  It is a rare thing that one loves their vocation.  I'm just going through the motions as best I can.  What I'm really trying to say and to convince myself is...is that I don't have it that bad.  In fact I have it pretty good in the grand scheme of things.  It could always be worse, Right?

Looking at ones life from a different set of eyes alters the view.  When life hands you a lemon say "what else you got?" and be glad you have a lemon, 'cause the guy next to you was just handed a pile of manure. 

I'm trying to break this absence of words, so I apologize for the nature of my writing and I hope that it does not bring you down, but helps you look at your situation from a different vantage point.  I figure, at this point, that writing anything is better than writing nothing at all.  This is a self induced therapy aimed to cure the brain to keyboard mandatory black out that has occurred.

Did you click on to read something about cycling?  I rode a bike today, Did you?  I was about to melt into the couch of oblivion when "The Julie" called and said she was coming home and wanted to go mtb.  Savior.  We rode in some light rain and chilly weather until we were on the trails up at Turkey.  I let Julie lead the ride and I shut off my mind and focused on her rear tire, so much so that at one point I was lost and had to look for landmarks to reorient myself.  Much needed.  I am so lacking in the motivation department, don't you dare call it burn-out.  It is not.  I love to ride and I need to ride like a junkie needs a fix.  There is a black hole of time right after work that if I cannot make it out, I will not do anything but dive deep into a vegetative state.  This has nothing to do with burn-out, I have the desire to ride, I just don't have the motivation to change clothes, fill bottles/camelbak, and go ride.  TV is just too easy, and beer is just too tasty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don't call it a comeback

Writer's block?  I don't think so?  I don't know what my problem is?  Issues?  Issues are supposed to be good fodder for writing, Right?  My issues are unequivocally boring, nothing that would merit prose or lyric.  Oh the days of boy meets girl boy looses girl.  Now, there is a goldmine in that, too bad it was like 20 some odd years ago. 

I have been on the bike, or should I say bikes?  About two weeks ago I dusted off the mtb and put some Stans in the tires to make it road mountain ready.  It is nice to be back out on the dirt, rocks and roots.  Roots, yeah that is where my cycling comes from, the fat side of the family.  Tires that is.  I've been rocking the off-road cycle since 1999, you do the math -I've been drinking.  So, now I find myself coming full-circle or semi-circle and taking the road bike to the dirt.  I've been misquoted as saying that I would never race Cyclocross.  I'm pretty sure that what I was trying to say was that I would never race cyclocross as a Pro.  Just needed to clear that up so as to avoid confusion when you see me struggling to mount and dismount.

Yes, I have a CX frame sitting in the shop waiting for brakes and a bottom bracket, and to be built.  Minor details.  I am going to pretend to race CX this season so that I can add yet another bike to the stable of bikes that I already own.  Pretty sneaky of me don't you think?  Very Very Sneaky. 

You have probably heard of "hold my beer and watch this"?  Well, I am going to race CX with a slightly different mantra... I will proudly be flying the flag of "Hand me a beer and watch this".  That's right anything worth doing, well or not well should involve the consumption of liquid courage.  Being my heritage is of the Germanic nature, I therefore should honor that heritage as best as possible.  I will be drinking ales, lagers, and stouts to name a few.  Oh, you thought with my background I would be invading and occupying countries, that comes later -but keep it on the DL.

Let the CX experiment begin. I highly encourage you to heckle at a race or at a practice, it is very cathartic experience and much appreciated.  Please, and I mean please be creative with your hurled insults, the crazier the better.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, use it. Keep the swears to a minimum when there are Clergy or children present. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fragile

Have you ever held a 39 tooth chain ring in your hand?  It weighs next to nothing, and feels like you might bend it by accident.  It's small.  Ones brain cannot comprehend the importance such a frail piece of machined metal has on the locomotion of the bike.  How much force can this actually handle?  How many miles have I used this ring to propel me up hills or the occasional mountain pass.  How many chains has this dainty ring stretched to the point of replacement?

Only weighing a few grams, this chain ring is the life blood of a bicycle's drivetrain.  Taken by itself this small circular bit of metal is insignificant, but as a part of the drivetrain it is invaluable.  When it comes to the small chain ring, dynamite is packaged small.  Think of your favorite cruz gear, is it a 39 X 17?  This is where the chain is almost in a perfect straight line.  Your cadence is high, but almost effortless. Oh, the little 39 tooth chain ring.  On your next ride pay homage to little guy when the road gets steep or you just feel like a cruz.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Silly Season

Seriously, it's starting to get crazy and it is only going to get worse or is it better?  It is Transfer season, no not that kind of transfer where you have to drive to the start of a race.  I am talking about teams merging, riders changing teams and the all around hysterics that follow.  Rumors Rumors Rumors.

Cavendish says he has a team, but he is not talking.  What are the odds on favorite that it is Sky?  Not like that is a stab in the dark.  $$$$$$$.  HTC is hemorrhaging riders, come on Bob get a sponsor before it is just you and some old kits hanging in the bus.  The brothers Velits jumped ship to QuickStep or the entity that it will become once the marriage with Omega is consummated.  This holiest of unions of Belgian Superpowers has a very large question mark hanging over it like the sword of Damocles.  Where is Gilbert going to go?  Lotto, after it's divorce with Omega Pharma is hooking up with Ridley Bikes to form a new team or something like that.  I could not get the translator to work, so I have no idea other than the hook-up?  Is there a possible three way with Vacansoleil?  Hard to tell at this point.

How can Bob Stapleton just watch his empire that was the glorious T-Mobile-HighRoad-Columbia-HTC crumble at his feet?  This makes no sense to me whatsoever, Stapleton has to be one of the best in the business of cycling and it looks as though it is over for the superpower.  What a dark day for US cycling and the Euro peloton.  OK, I know it's not a done deal but it looks bad, real bad.  I'm talking ICU call in the Priest, bad.  Pull it together man, get a new sponsor and continue to dominate, with or without Cav.

That is one of the awesome aspects of this sport, riders are motivated by money, but they are also motivated by the desire to win.  Of course winning does equal money, so it is kind of a win win.  Or would that be a Win $?

Monday, August 1, 2011

No News

Le Tour is over and everyone is suffering from post Tour induced TV coverage black out.  I will turn on the TV just to have it on, I'm sick like that.  Don't blame me it's not my fault, my wife bought a beautiful piece of equipment that screams for me to use it.  Turn me on, turn me on, you know you want to, 999 channels and nothing on, so just push my buttons and turn me on.  Getting a little carried away, but it is a sexy TV and I a sucker for a pretty sleek sexy gal.  What can I say I'm a big dumb animal?

So where is all the doping scandals?  Did anyone pop positive at le Tour?  It's been a week and I have not heard anything.  Contador got to race despite my personal hunger strike against brussel sprouts, so I guess that went under rug swept.  There must be a new drug or a new masking agent that has not been detected yet, because the doping scene is pretty dead.  Don't get me wrong I would love to put this all to bed and pretend that everyone is clean, or is actually clean.  Please be clean, stop breaking my heart, or I'll come after you front wheel in hand a la Barredo.

The Belgian Tri-Color has been on the podium 13 times and has never looked better.  Gilbert is a force of nature that cannot be stopped.  I'm such a huge fan.  You gotta love the way this guy takes control of finishes.  One thing that we don't talk about it the Omega Pharma team that has been winning all of these races.  Let's face it even with the larger-than-life Gilbert, there has to be a strong team backing him up.  There are the two Jurgens.  Van de Walle and Roelandts, these two are b'dass and can break the hardmen in the peloton.  Vanendert, Willems, Veikkanen, Aerts are all able to hold their own over the cobbles or in a Grand Tour.  So there you have it the unsung supporting cast that "helps" carry the water for Gilbert.

So who is Gilbert going to ride for next year?  Who would not want to have Gilbert on their roster?  If I were a DS I would beg borrow steal kill and possibly maim to have Gilbert ride for me.  Rumor has it that Vacansoleil and Omega Pharma were going to combine sponsor forces, but now it is looking like Vacansoleil is out and QuickStep is the new partner.  For real or is it just another rumor?  I will wait and see.  Tom Boonen and Gilbert on the same team?  Is that possible?  Tom will have to work for Phil no doubt, but would he?  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fail

Well as the kids say, I pretty much failed at TdF race recaps, which I was supposed to be "good" at doing.  It looks as though I have been having a problem putting pen to paper, or should I say fingertip to key?  I, like most Americans want to blame my issue/problems on something other than myself, I mean really self-accountability is for dead people.  I am alive and well in the Nintendo-Xbox-PS2 world that we have created, so my problem is, shall we say watching too much TV?  Sounds good to me, tune in turn the brain off and tune out.  Bam! no head injury required to become a self-induced vegetable, and wearing your helmet does not work.  -Tried it, even used foil to no avail.

I really do enjoy writing, but lately and for quite sometime I have been unable to produce anything worth a darn.  Plus, you actually have to write something to have something to critique.  It's not like I haven't had any ideas, I've had plenty, but they just did not want to jump onto the page, or should I say screen?  Back to blaming outside forces that I have no control over, like TV and work.  Yes I would like to take this commercial break and blame my work for robbing me of my artistic creativity.  Once again it could not be me who is actually blocked or that I am just not taking the time to sit down and put some letters into words into sentences into paragraphs.  I can not be held accountable for my actions, I was not hugged enough as a child, it's GIJoes fault that I am violent and it is the Smurfs fault that I dig chicks with a blueish complexion.  Damn you TV.

One thing that would never be a problem for me or for my life would be the amount of time I spend on a bike.  It's not a problem, I can handle my bike riding, I don't need to do it, I just like to do it, I can stop at anytime.  Yeah, no problem/issue there folks just move along nothing to see here.  I will not admit that I have a problem, because I don't.  It is everyone who doesn't understand bikes that has a problem, they are the sick ones, they are the ones who need help and support groups.  I'm fine thanks for asking, what's your problem?

Boy, that was a lot of work.  I think I need a man soda and some quality time with the couch and the remote control.  I would go ride a bike if I was not already blown out from the last couple of days, oh but there is always tomorrow.  Sitting watching the clock waiting for it to tell me it is time to go ride.  Already planning my rides for the weekend.  Scheduling my life around a child's toy.  I don't have a problem, just some killer tan lines, shaved legs, and an affinity for Lycra.