Monday, December 31, 2007

The gears are turning... in my head

On Friday I finally put together and posted my 2008/GamJams wish list of all things cycling. After posting I got to thinking, and then thinking some more until suddenly I was cruising around mtbr.com and numerous manufacturers’ websites looking at new mountain bikes. Then the next thing I knew my bicycle was listed on Craigslist and I was eyeing up some other items in my closet to sell for bicycle funding. So now I’m in the process of finding out about a deal on a KHS Tucson 29’er, which I’m thinking I’m probably going to be getting… Damn I move quickly sometimes (though not always considering it took me 4 years to get the pack I’d been eyeing).

So, hopefully someday soon I’ll be out cruising on my new 29’er in Patapsco and the other regional mountain trails. I’ll post pictures if I get it…


May not be the best spec'd out bike out there but damn that is a smooth lookin ride!

A near perfect weekend

What a great weekend! While I didn’t ride as much as I would have liked, I did get out for a decent 30 mile steady state ride Saturday late morning after a relaxing morning. On Friday I made a specific point of getting both my fixed gear and Cannondale home as I’d driven in to Hains Point and spun over from there in morning. Unfortunately today I am wishing I’d just left the fixed gear here at the office since I wussed out on riding in or even bringing it in because of the rain/mix being called for today. Now of course it is absolutely drop dead stunning outside and all I want to do is blow off the rest of the day and go cruise around the city. Ah well, I’m taking off early so I’ll head home and get out for a nice fixed spin around the ag center this afternoon instead.

The ride on Saturday was fantastic; just a nice double layer of gear and some reasonable gloves and I was doing great. I went out to Powder Mill and looped back around to Baltimore Ave and back to Edmonston before heading up Sunnyside to Rhode Island and stopping in Proteus bikes for a bit to check out their selection of 29’ers (I’ll talk more about that in a minute). From there I spun down RI and across the ped bridge to Lake Accotink and then down Cherryhill Lane back to Edmonston and back for another loop around the ag center land and up Research back home.

It felt great to be out on the bike and aside from being a little lonely at times on my own it was a perfect morning. I rode a very nice and steady speed and average a bit faster then I’d expected which was nice as well but really it was a sweet little zone 2/zone 3 spin. Unfortunately I never got out on the fixie like I’d planned so really there was no reason for me to bother bringing it home. Oh well.

Sunday I went on a great 2 hour hike in the woods across the street from my house with Sara, her dog and a dog she is watching for some relatives. It was perfect weather for a hike; a bit of a chill in the air but reasonable, although the ground was a bit wet for my taste. I’m always amazed though at how many different little trails there are back in the section of woods between my place and the Ag Center land. While we were probably no more then a mile or two from my house at any given time, we managed to spend a solid 2 hours straight on the trails, never hitting the same trail twice aside from one small section which I intentionally crossed back on just so we could get out to a big green field area (isn’t it supposed to be winter right now???).

I’ve figured out a good portion of the trails out there though it seems like every time I make it out there I find a new section of trails and spend at least a half hour wondering where the hell I am. Yesterday When I thought we’d over hiked the section that would spit us out right across from my place we still managed to pop out at one of the streets well ahead of that section. I could spend a full day in there and probably still not cover all of the trails it has to offer. I love Greenbelt!

After the hike I made my way over to REI to see about getting a rel pair of hiking boots and at least to get fitted for the pack I've been eyeing up for the past 4 years. I ended finding a great pair of backpacking boots by Merrel and actually ended up walking out with the pack and boots and a few pairs of smartwool socks to boot. Oops. The pack fit perfectly and since it was the last one of my size in stock I decided I may as well just go ahead and get it. So, I am now the proud new owner of an Osprey Atmos 50 pack and will hopefully being using said pack very soon. This weekend is looking somewhat perfect for a mild winter hike/camping trip though I think the logistics just aren't going to quite come together for it just yet.

While at REI the lady that helped me with my boots actually turned out to be a neighbor and invited me along with some other REI folks on a new years camping trip out to West Virginia. I so badly wish I could go! Maybe next year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My big fat CY08 Wish List

A while back, Mike from GamJams.net asked all the ambassadors for some ideas (basically a wish list) for products we’d like to gain access to through the sponsorship program. Me being on a working/non-biking sabbatical of sorts did not manage to put anything together for it, despite the fact I’d long before started to come up with some ideas of what I could use this off-season. Granted my list more revolved around how much everything would cost and ultimately how damn expensive cycling is, but in the end it really was my wish list for the year. So, without further ado, here is my official wish list for calendar year 2008:

First and foremost: an indoor trainer! I had borrowed one from Scott last year but living with someone else and riding it on the third floor of the apartment complex, I didn’t use it nearly as much as I should have. Mostly due to how loud it would be which probably went directly through the walls and vibrated through the whole building. Now, living in my own place on the ground floor I won’t feel as bad about breaking one out and putting in some good miles in my living room in front of the latest netflix movie. I should add here also a nice long pair of head phones or wireless head phones so I don’t have to blare the volume too loudly.

Next would be gels, goos, bars and drinks for training rides. I’ve only had limited experience with getting into these and have never actually bought a full box or jug of them though I understand they are very helpful and even important for longer and more serious training sessions. In my marathon training I made the greatest use of these and was very thankful to have them throughout the way. This year with my planned additional training I’d like to really invest in my nutritional goods.

My next big desire would be a new hard tail mountain rig. I know this is well outside the region of a gamjams ambassador sponsorship deal, but it is something I’d really like to look into for this coming season. At this point the majority of my racing for the season will likely be road, but I’ve recently made some rumblings about doing a 13 hour and a 24 hour team race plus I’d like to get out for Wednesdays at Wakefield again and maybe even do a couple of the cranky monkey series races. My current mt rig is a 97 or 98 Trek 6000; a big deal in my eyes back in 97/98 when I bought it brand new as my first suspension mt bike but a bit dated and low end now. The bike is in amazing condition considering the lack of care I’ve provided it, however the front shock needs to be serviced and more then likely replaced and I dream about disc brakes on a nightly basis. I’ve loved that bike for a long time and have sworn for years I’d never sell it, though now I’m beginning to feel differently about the whole thing.

Gloves, caps, socks…; I feel like you can never have enough of any of these. They all wear through relatively quickly and are all relatively important to cyclists. As for sponsorship, these are inexpensive to produce and probably couldn’t provide much of a loss to companies if they were to be, say given away for free… Sweet sock, gloves and especially cycling caps are great and visible options for advertising a brand.

Helmet: I only have one helmet and it doesn’t even match my kit! Kidding, sort of. I’m not sure there are too many helmets out there to match a lime green kit. It would however be nice to have more then one stinky helmet lying around. It’d also be good to keep one at work so I’m not always the idiot at Hains with out a helmet for the noon ride.

Shoes: My road shoes are a bit tight to be layering anything underneath them for cold weather riding. What can I say I got them on sale. Hopefully somewhat soon I’ll get my hands (or feet really) on a decent pair that’s maybe a half size too big so I can layer up the sock s and stop loosing feeling in my feet every time I step outside to ride.

Tires: I’m sort of partial to my Michelin Race Pro 2’s and my Specialized Armadillos on the fixie, though that’s probably due to the fact that they’re the only tires I’ve really ever ridden. That said, the damn things a f’in expensive when it comes down to it. Even just replacing them every year is tough to squeeze especially when I add in the rest of the upgrades, nutrition and new bikes etc… Plus I should add tubes here… once again something you can never have enough of and go through like water.

Wheels: I NEED spare wheel sets. I’ve finally bought my first wheel set which was for my cross bike and I’ll probably use them as spares for my season but it’d be nice to get a nice pair of racing wheels. These though will probably be the last thing I choose to blow my cash on.

Finally, Saddles: I’d like to outfit all my rides with my choice of saddle. This means $100+ per bike generally. For road we’re looking at the Specialized Toupe Gel saddle, while my mountain seat of choice is the Specialized mountain equivalent. I actually tested it when I bought the Cannondale and felt like I was riding in a Cadillac or something; a bit much for a road bike but perfect for a mountain rig where weight is of much less concern.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. I'm hoping to land a new Cross bike for next season to hopefully help motivate my butt to race more cross!

Well there you go; I already sent it to Santa who blew me off this year, so now I’ll just go ahead and throw it out here. Anyone? Anyone?

Oh well, it was worth a try…

Rolling along... for starters at least

Alright, I’m on a roll! I’ve been on my bike now 2 days in a row. Granted, today doesn’t really count considering all I did was ride from hains point to my office, though it’s still better then nothing. This morning I finally switched the pedals on the track/fixed gear to my SPD’s so I can use it to get places again. I love riding it with the Speedplays but then I’ve always get to have an extra pair of shoes for when I get where I’m going since you can’t get Speedplay MTB shoes. Ah well.

Lunch today I’ve unfortunately made plans to eat with a co-worker so there will be no noon ride for me, but tonight I plan to bring both bikes home so I can try and get in some solid miles over the weekend. I need to build some fitness back up so I can start going out and joining the weekend group rides and start getting some real training. At this point I’d likely be dropped within the first 30 minutes of most of the rides.

This morning by the way was quite possibly the easiest drive to Hains I've ever had. 295 was slowed up a total of once and 395 I hardly hit the breaks before the exit to Hains. I may drive in Monday also just to take advantage of it while it's there!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Overcoming the slug

I’ve finally done it! Today I squeezed myself (my rounded, softened self) back into my knickers and riding gear and spun down to hains point with Scott to pretend to do the noon ride. I most certainly didn’t expect to do too much and only hung in the group for 2 laps, one of which was the easy rolling warm up, but it just felt great to get back out on the bike, get used to things again and spend some time in the sun. Interestingly enough, I actually felt relatively strong on the bike but I just don’t have any kind of endurance whatsoever. Some nice long steady rides will need to be in my training regiment over the next few weeks. Hopefully now that the need to be somewhere everyday after work is over I’ll be able to start commuting in and out again as well.

The holiday was excellent as usual, even if a bit different the usual. My folks sold their house and now live in a 2 bedroom apartment about the same size as my place and my sister’s. So, Christmas was spent at my sister’s place, though only the afternoon and dinner. The morning of I made my father’s famous family pancake for a certain someone and relaxed. It was great to have Monday off too as it made the weekend the perfect stress free time off that I needed. Now if only things would pick up here at work so I wouldn’t be so damned bored!

Oh, and I got the REI Half Dome 2 person tent along with an MSR backpackers stove and cooking set... sweeeet...

Hopefully you all had as relaxing and comfortable a holiday as I did.

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Elf's Lament

Talk about a loss of fitness! I think at the rate I’ve been going here I’ve lost not only my physical fitness but also any possible blogger fitness as well. Over the last 3 or so weeks I’ve been on a bike once and that was in my work clothes spinning across town to drop something off with a friend. Ouch. Hopefully after Christmas that will change.

Work has been super busy with both work related projects and some inner-office shifting going on that have had me polishing the old resume and blowing smoke up my ass as I write answers to the governmental KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Ability questions). The good news here is that I could come out of this high stress holiday with a new government job as opposed to the contract position I currently hold. On top of all that I’ve been putting in a few hours selling Christmas trees out in Chevy Chase for some holiday cash which nearly been a second full time on top of things. My bicycles don’t like me too much right now. (Apparently as a fed you get holiday bonuses! There goes any need to work a second job for a few extra dollars next year…)

Hopefully along with the freeing up of my spare time and the slowing of the office pre-holiday crunch I’ll be back out on the bike attempting to rebuild the measly base I might have had before my three weeks of fitness sloth.

On a less sour note, Merry Christmas all! I hope your holiday brings you to what matters most this season (and I don’t mean more miles on the road).

Monday, November 19, 2007

A deeper look into the sport

Being still new to cycling I often forget how little I know about the sport; both current and even more so historically. I never followed professional cycling even remotely up until five years ago when a college girlfriend got me into the Tour. Even then though I only watched the tour and still had no idea about the world of pro riding aside from what Phil or one of the other announcers said about it; I checked my overall standings on Yahoo Sports for pete’s sake! I can’t really say that that has changed too much now either, though I do like to get a peak in on what’s going on in the world of the greats and definitely never pass up an opportunity to watch any cycling event on screen. I can’t really say this bothers me too much though either; I’ve never been a huge stat junky and aside from following up on my college sports teams here and there I don’t stress too much about the world of professional sports in general.

Occasionally though, something is brought to my attention that makes me question my lack of enthusiasm for the inner workings of the sport. While right now things are tainted by the doping scandals and bad publicity I am certain there are still a number of underlying sub-plots and emotional stories to go along with the great riders. Today reading the last two posts from BKW was one of those occasions. The two points of view are starkly different, though in the end they both portray the same sense of awe and inspiration on the inner clock-work of the sport of cycling. In my eyes it’s these kinds of accounts that make all the other shit worth it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My next mountain bike

Will without a doubt be a Gary Fisher! I LOVE this!

Fatty Requests a bike...


Fatty gets a bike...

Travis may be my favorite bike brand manager ever! (Also really the only one I have knowledge of but whose counting?)

In reality I'm a long way off on a new mountain bike, but I can dream can't I?

Peer pressure

Kyle at Pedal’n Around wrote a post recently that caught my attention. He talked about how the other blogger/racers are motivating him to get out training and riding. I really need to start blog reading more cause my motivation and training is pretty much zilch at this point. Over the weekend I thought I’d at least get a ride in but nothing panned out and then Sunday I spent the whole day helping the folks and didn’t end up going to Race Pace Cross after all. On top of that I’ve taken on a little part time seasonal gig to pick up some extra cash for the holidays and such as well so that’ll probably take away from the QT with the bike as well. Well, hopefully I’ll manage to get some motivation going here, though I’m a bit worried that the PT work may keep me out of as many cross races as I’d like to be doing. We’ll see.

For now, Kyle will continue to make me feel bad about myself. Thanks Kyle!

GamJams.net Ambassadors Peloton

Well, I’ve really done it now. Breaking with historical Racing Union practices I’ve gone and actively sought out sponsorship as a bicycle racer (I use that term “bicycle racer” lightly of course and really I should say as a blogger who races bikes). Well, ok so not really but I’ve joined the GamJams.net Ambassadors Peloton and can’t wait to see where it takes us. The group is surprisingly large; I’m not sure I realized how many other racers in the area had blogs, currently the group stands at 22 members. Not too shabby if you ask me.

In all reality this is more of a grassroots “sponsorship” idea then what is typical and is actually a really great idea. In creating the group Mike May of GamJams.net is looking to bring the big name cycling companies and sponsors to the local racing community where their products are most often being bought and used. When I questioned my teams acceptance of me joining the group Mike responded with a great explanation of the program as can be seen below.

We're a bunch of racers who make our own media. We ought to be rewarded for it.

There's an altruistic angle to it also. The other part of the program is what sponsors must couple with the offers to the Ambassadors. In addition to the promotion they make available to all of you, they're also required to run a promotion for all GamJams.net readers. So they won't just be running ads, they'll be offering something of value to the entire regional racing community. Maybe it's not a huge value - a free water bottle with purchase of a 60-serving canister of some recovery drink, for example. Or a free bike fit through a regional fit pro with the purchase of a new frame. Or a 10% discount to the masses instead of the 60% or whatever they give you. Something that shows they're supporting racing at the local level, not just sponsoring high-profile riders. I'm not letting them just make an offer to you - they have to make an offer to everyone, blog or no blog.

I'm hoping that this translates what the Ambassadors are doing into value for everyone around, which is very different than the current model for sponsored riders, which benefits the rider and the sponsor, often at the expense of the rest of the market (ie, we pay extra markup to cover marketing and advertising expenses). I'm hoping to create some sort of symbiotic ecosphere here, where the economics of sponsorship actually improve with scale, not diminish.

Maybe if you position it like that to your comrades, they won't razz you so much for supporting a capitalist model.


So, there you have it. The GamJams.net Ambassadors Peloton.

I’ll be updating the blog with links to my fellow Ambassadors as well as some cool banners for GamJams.net. Be sure to check back soon for the changes.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Haha, Now I REALLY want to race this weekend!

From The Wrob

"Cross is a really fun way to get a kick in the balls"

No cross for the weekend

Well, it looks like I’m going to bail on the Race Pace Cross race in Sykesville, despite the close proximity to my folks house where I’ll likely be lending a hand (and pick-up truck) this weekend. I missed pre-reg which I figured ended to day but it was last night and on top of it I still haven’t even replaced the tire on the cross rig. I spent the week on the fixed gear and Cannondale and each evening when I got home it was either too late or I was too tired to work on it. I also need to do some serious adjustments on the cross bike including taking the drive train apart and cleaning the gunk out that has already accumulated.

I’m a little disappointed here with myself but at the same time I’ve got a laundry list of things to get done this weekend and with my folks moving over the next few weeks and relying on me and my truck for a large portion of help there I feel like I should really be spending my time more productively. This means no races for two weekends in a row; that’s a suck. On the other hand I’ve got plans to go hike the Old Rag trail out near Luray on Monday so the weekend won’t be a total waste. Can’t wait to get out there finally!

Maybe instead of the race I can get myself out on a long ride out in Columbia early Sunday morning while my folks use my truck and then I can lend a hand afterwards. Didn’t ride in today after my legs are feeling completely burned out from this week, but hopefully if I take things easy tomorrow come Sunday I’ll be feeling good again. Good luck to any and all that might be racing this weekend whether at Race Pace or somewhere else!

Or maybe I'll go back on my word here and show up and race anyway. As I'm posting this I'm regretting this idea more; we'll see.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dear Leader's Valiant Effort

One thing I forgot to mention about Sunday’s race was that it was officially Dear Leader’s 2007 cross coming out party followed by his son Ben’s with the little Belgians. No, they’re not batting for the other team or anything (kidding folks) but they both did their first cross races of the 2007 season at Tacchino. The results couldn’t have been much better for them both. Ben actually spent the 2 hours leading up to his race practicing on the course, proclaiming himself to have much skill in the cycling and more importantly cross arenas. He also was not shy in letting me and anyone else around whose butt he was going to be whopping at any given moment. That kid is going to be one hell of a competitor that is for sure. He’s already got my work ethic beat on the grounds of practicing.

On top of all that he refused to go watch his old man race despite hearing his name over the load speaker countless times.

Too funny;

Ben: "Hey, Gibbons is my last name!"

Me: "I know, they're talking about you're old man! Let's go watch him and cheer him on!"

Ben: "He's not old!"

Me: "Oh, sorry. You're right... We should should go cheer him on and help him win!"

Ben: "No, I need to practice."

Me: "Oh, ok."

Ben: "I told him this morning to get in 3rd place." (at this point Gibbons is in 3rd)

Me: "That's cool."

Ben: "Yeah, I told him something else too."

Me: "Oh yeah? What was that?"

Ben: "I'm really good!"

(Can you tell I'm really good with kids?)

Gibbons on the other hand showed that experience and race smarts can trump all else in his tremendous 2nd place podium (which he missed) finish in the 35 + race (either that or direct orders from your 6 year old are definitely NOT to be taken lightly). Talking to him afterwards I felt like I had been racing in a completely different sport; my mind focused on finishing the race or the pain I was in. Race tactics were the last thing on my mind aside from the tactic of keeping my bike on two wheels. I have so much to learn about bicycle racing in general and I can only hope one day to have half the racing smarts and heart these top riders have in their little pinkies.

One final Huzzah! To Dear Leader bringing Glory to the Cause! HUZZAH!

Tacchino Cicli-Kick-My-Ass-Cross

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and state I M-F’in hate (love) cross! Actually what I meant to say was Tacchino Cicli-Cross was flippin’ hard! I’d say it was quite a bit tougher then the DCCX due to the lack of open road sections and the constant grinding and bumping of the agonizing hill sections. The course felt like it was entirely up hill aside from the super fast section on the back where if you didn’t brake at least a little you risked washing out into the woods at what would likely be 30+ miles an hour. Add to that that many of the hill sections weren't just smooth dirt or grass but were like riding miniature moguls were you didn't know whether to sit or stand for the best traction and it seemed which ever you chose was wrong as you bounced along at a painfully slow (and painful) pace up the hills praying for the life of you for some downhill. Not complaining, just saying, this race totally kicked my butt.

At the start I was bit nervous after not having the chance to pre-ride the course and feeling a bit sluggish but after a lap I felt fine aside from the still chilled fingers. I managed to get a spot somewhere around the fifth row, a substantial improvement from dead last at DCCX, though it really didn’t help me out too much when it came down to it. I ended up racing for somewhere between 20th and 25th again, and going into the last lap I was probably right around 20, but after the tough s-turn followed by the run-up I felt my rear tire going squishy. I’m guessing I just hit too hard after jumping a small ditch on the course, but with no spare parts in my collection as of yet I found myself pulling out, throwing down my bike and helmet in frustration and mumbling obscenities that I’m sure all of the fans with small children gathering around at the finish were very grateful to hear. The thought of shouldering the bike and running the final lap occurred to me, but with almost the entire lap to go and a face full of snot and spit I decided to bitch it. It’d probably have taken me 20 minutes to do so anyway and I wasn’t interested in a sudden DFL.

I’m guessing with the way I was dieing John on his single speed would have caught and passed me for the second race in a row and I would have ended up somewhere closer to 25th, but at least I would have finished. Anyway, now I want to spend more money on this god forsaken sport and get some pit wheels. Actually I really want to get a new bike preferably built by someone other then myself that won’t rattle and bang like it’s going to fall apart at any second; then I’d have a pit bike… I need a second job.

Can’t wait to see any pictures that may surface from the race, though with the amount of snot and spittle covering my face you may not be able to recognize me aside from the RU kit. Yum...

Oh and before I forget, three cheers to Squadra Coppi for a tremendous event on a totally brutal and sweet course!

HUZZAH!



HUZZAH!



HUZZAH!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Three Cheers for Beards

I’ve partaken in and witnessed a number of conversations lately revolving around facial hair, specifically mustachios and mutton chops. A friend and I both went the mustache routes separate of one another for our Halloween costumes and now apparently it appears that November is a big month for growing facial hair. The latest talk on DCFixed.com pegs it as No Shave Month where everyone is supposed to shave the night of the 31st of October and then not shave for the entire month of November. Now on top of that some other folks are using their mustachio abilities to help raise money for a good cause this month.

It seems crazy to me to know nothing of these types of things as I’m quite experienced in the world of facial hair growth. Aside from a few misdirected razor accidents


I’ve rocked at least a goatee since I was in 8th grade (I was that kid who rolled with heavy peach fuzz on his chin) and in between the growths have ranged from a bushwhackers birds nest beard

to the John B chin strap

to my buddy Mike’s favorite, the goatee with monster chops. Yeah I rocked that sometime around my junior year of high school for a while, though no good digital pics.

So, now I’m kind of itchin’ to do something else, to change things up for the month of the beard. Only question is, what should I do? I kind of wanted to do the chops and handle bar drops stache for my Halloween costume, but I’d been keeping the beard a little to skinny for that. Now as I’m growing in nearly the full cheeks I could probably go ahead and rock that pretty easily. Not that I haven’t done it before but chops are always a good time.

Any thoughts? I thought about trying out a mustachio with the curly-q ends but that’d take too long to grow out. Maybe Halloween next year…

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Disconnected Crisis

It's weird how disconnected you can feel these days when you're not right next to a television or even more so the internet. Last night as I was biking home I heard dozens of sirens blaring in the near distance, including a number of police vehicles speeding past on a nearby street and noticed a helicopter circling above. Obviously something major was going on, though I must admit this is not completely out of the ordinary for my commutes home. Last night however the sirens did seem a bit heavier then the norm.

A lot of times, especially lately without internet or cable at home, my over active mind starts to wander remembering 9/11 and the feelings and everything from the day. I start to wonder if something similar has happened and if so how would I know. My family would likely call, if they found out, though on my bike I'd likely miss the call if they were even able to get through. More then likely I would ride the remainder of the way home and go about my usual business, making dinner doing some laundry and maybe watching a movie while I ate.

Anyway, last night as it turns out there was something going on, though far from the national crisis of 9/11. A few blocks away from where I was riding a police chase, followed by a hostage situation and then a shot criminal was all going down. I'm thankful I was no where near the situation but even more so, I'm glad I continue to choose to ride the trails as opposed to fighting the traffic on Rhode Island Ave. You never know what you'll have have to deal with out there.

Hopefully when the next national crisis occurs I'll manage to be connected enough to know what's going on. On top of that if I happen to be at work, like the Freewheeling Spirit* sure hope I have my bike with me. Then I can avoid pretty much all of the ensuing panic and gridlock that'll go with it. That of course is assuming that whatever might be meant for the Capital doesn't get us at DOL a few hundred yards away.

(*Sorry, I can't access Freewheel blog outside of bloglines to find the post where he discusses his no bicycle dilemma from 9/11 and plans to be sure to have one if something happens again. I'm guess the office doesn't approve of the beautiful women he posts about on occasion, despite the certain approval of his adoring fans ;-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

CycloCrossism

CycloCrossism – The act of continual post-regular-season (see road or mountain biking) self abuse carried out over a mixture of grass, pavement and everything in between with the goal of being able to down multiple beers without completely destroying an entire season of training and riding before winter. This beer consumption also serves to replenish lost bodily fluids due to post race cookie tossing, aka grocery shouting. Often considered a form of self mutilation Cyclocrossism appears to be reaching near cult like status throughout the US bike racing community as serious racers and weekend warriors alike turn out in full force to take on what ever conditions mother nature chooses to throw their way.


I LOVE Cyclocross! I did the DCCX race this past weekend in DC organized by the DCMTB team and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. I had a vague idea of what things would be like; a bit of a festive atmosphere with some pain, pleasure and glory mixed in along the way. What I got though was a shit ton of pain, very little glory and more pleasure then a leisure suit larry with the disco fever.

I started in the very back of the pack after forgetting the unwritten rules of race starts and having to get Chris to re-pin my number on the correct side of my jersey within 5 minutes of the start whistle. The first lap I went out hard, determined to pass as many of the bunch as I possibly could before settling in at a solid race pace. Of course I don’t know what that is it being my first race and all but I gave it what I had and tried to hold off the riders who quickly began creeping up on me. Unfortunately in practice the longest I’ve probably ridden cross was two laps at the UMD course which I think is a bit over 1 mile so the 40+ minute race was a bit more then I was prepared for.

At one point a friend watching the race said they counted me somewhere in the top fifteen but I ended up at 22nd crossing in the top 1/3 of finishers for the C race. I believe I can do better, though during the race I didn’t really even think I was in the top 30 so maybe my motivation at points might have been a bit lower then they should have been. A long stretch heading into a solid headwind after the second set of barriers had me riding so slow I might as well have been cheering on the riders behind me as they worked to pick me off.

This weekend is the Squadra Coppi’s produced Tacchino Cross out in Leesburg, VA so hopefully I’ll manage to pull out a more consistent performance in my second cross showing. If the last Coppi’s produced race was any indication however I may have to forget about a top 20 finish and just hope that I can hang in to the finish!

Oh and I have a new headset coming in that I'll hopefully have by tomorrow so here’s to shutting up the chatter box that is my current rig.

A parting kiss to leave you with. I must say that I should have won either the prettiest or ugliest title (not really sure which one) on the day hands down though apparently most folks were too busy concentrating on racing their bikes to be distracted by my flowing locks of golden brown hair. As I was passing one woman though she did tell me she was trying to beat me since she thought I was another woman. I've gotta say, that makes me lean toward title of the prettiest racer...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Batimore Half Marathon

This past Saturday I mounted my scaled down attack on the streets of Baltimore in the Baltimore Running Festival. Unfortunately my training regiment over the past few months did not allow me to compete in the actual marathon as I had hoped but I didn’t want to just not take part so I managed to just sneak in off the waitlist for the ½ marathon. What a great race! The half joined up with the marathon at about the half way point and basically ran the second half of the race with them. Not sure that was the greatest experience for the marathoners but for us in the half it sure was cool.

I had what I felt were reasonable expectations of myself for the race and figured I’d clock somewhere around 8 minute miles for a modest finish that’d be slightly better then my marathon time back in March. The weather was perfect and I was feeling pretty good so I took off at a moderate pace from the start line. By the two mile mark (I missed the first mile marker) I realized I was cruising along at a bit under 7:30/mile and was feeling just fine though I figured I’d slow up a bit later in the race. A bit later came and I was still running strong, encouraging the folks with full stickers on their backs (full marathon runners) every time I got the chance.

When I crossed the finish line I looked down at my watch and realized I’d shattered my expectations for myself in the race. My brain was a bit too fried to figure out any details but crossing the line in 1 hour 36 minutes and 3 seconds was far better then hour forty-five I had expected, and a full 40 seconds per mile faster. What was even better is I still felt great. I obviously only did half the distance, but if I could manage a full marathon at this pace I should probably even be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon (my new next running goal!).

Check me out cheesing for the camera with two thumbs up. MarathonFoto was at the event and took more pictures of me then I've ever seen for a race.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An interesting point of view

That I tend to agree with this view more often then not. Don't get me wrong I love my gadets and goods as much as anyone else, but when it comes right down to it the most important things in life to me are not the material things but the people I enjoy them with. Shoot, I entertain the idea of moving to the rural mountains of Eastern PA simply because my family is moving there. Imagine the kind of job I'd get and money I'd make out that way...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Blessed be thou puppy

October 4th is the day of the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment and in celebration the National Cathedral held their annual blessing of the animals ceremony on the church steps. The Washington Animal Rescue League was bringing a group of dogs over to be blessed and to be held by important people (aka senators) and had requested volunteers for the event so I went to lend a hand. I got a great little terrier mix named Trudy who loved to cuddle and spent a nice evening surrounded by way to many cameras and a bunch of great dogs and dog lovers.

The whole event was a bit a of a spectacle but it was good to see the dogs and their owners getting out to and socializing with each other. I had a nice moment in the lone interview I did early on when the journalist asked me about my feelings about chushes getting involved in animal outreach programs as opposed to human outreach. My “Duhhrrrrr” moment was short sweet and too the point… Duhhhrrrrr. Ah well, maybe I’ll get my name in a paper.

The congressman who was going to hold Trudy during the ceremony never showed up so I ended up holding her the entire time and taking her to get her blessed. I didn’t hear much of what was said and didn’t really participate in the religious aspect of it but it was fun to be there with all the dogs and spend some extra time with a great shelter dog. Hopefully this will lead to more dogs being adopted from WARL and people won’t take my ramblings as anything to judge the shelter by.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cross campus cross racing

Last night I joined in on my first Cross practice with some riders from Proteus and the Bike Rack out around the UMD College Park campus. I got there a bit late and watched as the group finished up the first warm up lap, a bit in awe as the dismounted picked up their bikes and ran and then hopped right back on again, one after another in a line. I’d never tried remounting again and had only dismounted a couple of times so I was pretty nervous about the whole thing and watching them do it so flawlessly didn’t help.

Photo by Jim Wilson

I joined in for another warm up lap completing my first dismount/mount combos with more ease then I expected which really just means it was easier not to bust my balls then I thought it would be. I was not graceful by any means of the word and only got maybe two or three really clean mounts throughout the night but I definitely feel a bit better about doing it then a day previous.

Practice was fun (aka hard as hell) and I think I did alright but we did only do one lap each time before resting for a good 5 to 10 minutes so I’m not sure how this would translate to an actual race. When finishing the laps it was all I could do to make it up the massive hill next to the Comcast center where the unofficial finish line was so I can’t even imagine what it’d be like if we had to continue and do 5 or 10 more laps after that. The physical exhaustion of cross is quickly becoming apparent to me though and I can’t wait to get out there and try to race it.

Riding on the UMD campus was pretty fun also and the course Jim laid out was pretty tight. There were plenty of extra "obstacles" to handle including people and vehicles so it added a little spice to the riding. A few times I almost was taken out by a car but it was really not much different then riding around DC. Can't make it out next week, but I definitely plan on making this a regular ride while it lasts.

Turtle Power: Can it stop the ICC?

According to this article in the Washington Post this morning construction on the Intercounty Connector (ICC) was supposed to begin on October 16th. As most people who care probably already know, the project has been delayed by multiple concerns including (I think) most notably concerns on the effects of the new four lane toll road on the environment. I say I think mostly because other then seeing a few things in the news and on blogs here and there it’s never really caught my attention too much before moving out to Greenbelt for somewhat obvious reasons. As a DC resident and car free individual it really didn’t affect me at all and I really didn’t care one way or the other.

Image may be found here.

Obviously my situation has changed pretty drastically over the past couple of months. I’m now in a decent position to benefit from this ICC deal; Greenbelt is just South of Laurel and a connection out to 270 would be pretty easy. That said, I doubt I’d ever really use it much; for one there would be a toll and with 495 right down the road I may as well save my $2 and use 495 like I always do. But when I thought about it aside from my general feelings that more roads accomplish nothing but more traffic I didn’t really take an opinion on the matter, even after I saw an article in the Greenbelt Co-Op newspaper that stated the community’s lack of support for the road.

Yesterday morning reading a bit of a random article in the Washington Post, I finally took an opinion on the project and the reason for my swing vote selection was a bit surprising. The intro included in the email from the article included in my daily email pulled me in when it mentioned short tails wagging and when I clicked over and read on a bit I was somewhat surprised reading on about the turtle activists. Passionate turtle lovers are not something I typically think about when I think about activists and most certainly not when I think about proposed highways.

But, here it was, an article in the Washington Post talking about turtles, turtle activists and the ICC. Reading on the article explains that the path the ICC is proposed to cut through is a solid habitat for turtles and that when the construction would likely be taking place the turtles would be in hibernation underneath the leaves and brush. If nothing was done the would be crushed by the heavy trucks and equipment or buried alive. Yes, they are “just” turtles but at what point do we become so much more important then the rest of the planet’s ecology that we can do something like this? I realize that this delves further into our society as a whole then this and further then I am going to go here but sometimes we should really be sitting back and thinking about the effects of these actions of ours have on our surroundings.


Image may be found here.

The article highlights what the state is doing to protect these turtles; finding and tagging them with locating devices so they can find them again later if the project goes through and move them to safety. While I am glad they are taking these things into consideration and making the effort, this has also swayed my opinion against the ICC. It would be very likely that the turtles would not survive in the area since during their lives they don’t travel more then a few miles within a given area and moving them away would take them further from their initial habitats then they’d ever be on their own. It also shows just how much of an impact this road really would have on the environment by shedding light on an issue that I never would have even imagined.

As my thoughts and opinions about our interactions with our environment have developed over the past few years one thing that I’ve come to believe is important is that we limit our impact where we can. Building the ICC could pose a near devastating impact on the environment and would only promote further damage to the environment by encouraging people to drive instead of finding other modes of transportation, drive further distances and in the end produce only more traffic causing even greater damage to our surroundings.

I personally don’t view myself or my commute as important enough to justify that much more damage to the same environment my children and grandchildren will have to grow up in.

Logging miles

A bunch of cycling blogs I frequent like to include their mileage on occasion for the day, month and year. I’m sure it’s more of a personal reference point for themselves and helps them keep track of things, though maybe it’s a “hey I’ve ridden this much, what about you” type of statement; doubt it though. One thing I have no idea about is my cycling mileage and running mileage for that matter. Only one of my bikes includes a cyclometer and I long ago stopped logging my running miles so really I have no idea where I stand on this front.

Out of my own curiosity I’d like to start tracking this information, and maybe in the future when the motivation starts to lag tracking and posting it here will get me motivated again and help get back out there. So, I’ll start with October 1st and try and go from there. I’d like to track both my running and my biking, though since neither of them will be officially measured these are gmaps pedometer estimates and general estimates of distances.

October 1:
Commuted to and from work: 32 miles biking
Lunch time mall run: 4 miles running

October 2:
Rest Day

October 3:
Commuted to and from work: 32 miles biking
Cross practice at UMD: 5 miles (missed the first warm up lap)
Lunch time mall run: 4 miles running

October 4:
Ride from Haines Point to work: 2 miles biking

October Totals:
Biking: 71 Miles
Running: 8 Miles

*A quick side observation here just for shits and giggles; my cycling log will be substantially different then if I had started this while I lived in Adams Morgan a couple of months ago since I’ve racked up over 60 miles already just in commuting 2 days. Those numbers would likely be somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 for commuting, 30 or so overall since my commute was only 3.5 miles each way then (though I would likely be doing it everyday).

Monday, October 01, 2007

A losing weekend

No, I didn't race (though that'd likely be the title if I had as well); but everything else at least felt like a loss aside from my one major victory of a mechanical variety. Not only did the Ravens lose badly yesterday, the Orioles lost the final game of the season in a trouncing by the Yankees; a game I sat through with a bit of dismay despite the beautiful weather. It really looked like the players just wanted to be finished from the start of the game; even though the normal started weren’t playing nobody looked like they cared. Innings lasted forever, runs were walked in, pop flies were dropped and O’s managed to go out with not even a slightest hint of a fizzle; more like the final bit of air squeezed out from a slow leak.

The night before SC barely eked out their 3 point win over Washington; a team that when they played their best the offense could pick apart as shown towards the end of the 1st half, though too many dropped ball, bad passes and mental mistakes led to a game that was much closer then it should have been. In reality I should be glad they won, though they apparently showed enough people their weaknesses to drop to 2nd in the coaches poll to LSU despite the win.

Enough of the loser talk now though, on to the best news from the weekend; I finished building up my cross bike! Everything came together well and I commuted in on it this morning and even felt relatively safe riding it! Aside from the headset and the wheels I built the entire thing from the ground up which I’ve got to say is a pretty good feeling. The only real work I’ve even done has been on the fixed gear which seemed like nothing compared to everything that’s involved in building a full geared bike. Amazingly the bike shifts perfectly and feels solid; though I need to do some more adjusting to the saddle before I get much further with anything. It's probably a tiny bit big at 57cm for me for cross racing, but it doesn't feel awkward or anything I feel like I've got adequate control for cross riding. Hopefully the larger size doesn't mean more ball busting though.

In the end I ran the cables, installed and adjusted the derailleurs (ok, so the front was already clamped on the frame as well), ran and adjusted the brake lines and brakes and finished it all off with some slick looking grey and black cammo bar tape. It looks pretty slick actually; not at all like the thrown together franken bike I expected. I even love the way the red and black saddle (that came with my fuji track bike) looks on the bike; the bit of red really makes it look pretty sharp.

Unfortunately the flash drive solution I came up with for transferring pictures to post online didn’t work out when this morning my computer won’t recognize the memory stick. Hopefully I’ll figure something else out soon and get some shots of the bike up along with everything else I want to get up there.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bike build 101

Now for the bike related post of the day (past month). Managed to pick up a used cross frame (an older aluminum Redline Conquest Cyclo-X) and parts and got the majority of the necessary items for my build in last night. Still need some rim tape, stem spacers and a new stem since the two stems I got from the guy with the frame 1 1/8” and the fork is 1”. Once I get that tonight after work though I should be set to build it all up. Hopefully I’d screw anything up since this will be my first official full build, though not having deal with the headset was probably the biggest blessing in my eyes (I’m clueless and scared of this).

The frame looks just like this one. Nothing flashy and definitely used, but it'll certainly do the trick.

Last night I got the bottom bracket and cranks installed, added a new Deore LX rear derailleur and got the cassette all set up on the Mavic CXP22’s. Tonight hopefully I’ll be able to pull the rest together and have it ready for a ride tomorrow. I’m likely going to need to change out the chainrings when I get to racing but for now I’ve got a 53/38 with I believe a 12/25 on the cassette. Definitely WAY too heavy for cross racing.

The rest is all pretty basic, used Ultegra from derailleur, basic 144 or so bars, used (borrowed) shifters/breaks, a pair of tektro brake levers for the flat bar section and the old seat off my Fuji Track bike for now. The Ritchey Pro Logic cranks probably weigh more then the bike itself but changes will come in time. For now though I’ve spend more then enough money on bike stuff, its time to start putting some into the house instead.

I’m hoping that if I can get the cross rig built up tonight or tomorrow I’ll get out and spend some time on it though I’m also really itching to get out on the mountain bike. I had so much fun the last time I went (which was a while ago) I just wish I could get out all the time. I was going to try and go early last Sunday and then watch the Charm City Cross and cheer on some friends and teammates but ended up doing a dump run and yard work with my brother in law instead. The cowbells will have to wait a little longer. Sunday instead of going to the Ed Sandor Memorial cross race I’ll be heading to Baltimore with the family for the final home game for the O’s against the Yanks. I kind of hate going to those games since there are always more Yankees fans then O’s fans; it’s a little embarrassing.

A lost connection

A slow and quiet Friday to close out fiscal 07; seems like the perfect time to lay out some thoughts on the long neglected journal I call a blog. Writing is tough lately due to my complete lack of internet access away from work, though hopefully that will change sometime in the relatively near future. It’s amazing how much I really have relied on the internet for information and entertainment over the years. My current set-up of no internet and no cable makes me more productive with getting things done, but it is also pretty tough to handle sometimes. Road maps and the yellow book have once again become permanent allies over the past few weeks.

The backyard ivy patch surrounding a tree. This whole section is now mulched as well as the strip down the left fence.

The house is coming along pretty well, despite the hazardous shape I left it in this morning. I spent the entire past weekend doing house work; ripping out the huge patch of ivy in the back and disposing of it at the dump, spreading two full truck loads of mulch in the back yard, peeling the faux bricks from my bedroom wall and spending a number of hours scraping the remaining glue and multiple layers of paint off the same wall so that eventually I’ll be able to prime and paint it. Hopefully with a couple more hours of work I’ll have the entire wall scraped clean and can start with the primer this weekend.

The bedroom (yes it is peach and HAD a floral border wall paper. You can sort of make out the "bricks" on the left wall there. Those are gone and now there is paint and glue remnants instead. I'll try and get the pics up from my cell camera.

Painting has become my top priority as I’ve started to eye colors from the Home Depot paint samples. I think that will be a great place to start for me since it can be done relatively inexpensively and will keep me busy for a good bit of time. The more expensive and extensive projects will have to wait until more finances are available. Hopefully I’ll post some pictures up soon, though without internet at home my photo uploading capabilities are limited as well. Ah, some pre-move in photos will give some basic ideas of what I’ve been working on.

The dining area is also surrounded by faux bricks although these have not been painted over and look somewhat decent in my eyes. The wall to the right is also covered will basic wall paneling. Despite the fact that I don't think they look terrible these walls will once again be painted drywall when I've finished with some of the other areas. My tastes just don't match the 70's. You should see the kitchen...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The joys of "suburban" commuting?

As I’ve likely mentioned before my new commute is pretty great. So far I’ve done it twice on the fixed gear and once on the Cannondale so I’m getting the full effect of the ride. I really love doing it on the fixed gear as that is some of the longer fixed gear riding I’ve done.

Before the move most of my fixed riding was to and from locations in the city with my commute only being 3 ½ miles, barely enough to break a real sweat. Now I can really get into the flow on the bike and get a rhythm going in the pedals. That said I’m really hoping to be able to fix up the old Schwinn Traveler I picked up off a friend into a reliable commuter. Fixed everyday with my overly tight legs just won’t continue to fly. For the time being though the rear wheel is beyond repair and a search is being carried out for a used replacement.

I also LOVE the first parts of the commute. Once I get down across 193 I jump onto the bike trails for probably about 5 or 6 miles where everything is quite and peaceful and no cars come flying by, frustrated by the cyclist going under/near the speed LIMIT. This morning I saw a handful of other cyclists and said hello or gave a wave to each of them. Some were commuters while some were just riding; all the same to me though, as long as they’re on a bike.

One guy that I’ve seen twice now is a really large guy riding an old mountain bike probably from target or something. He kind of swerves back and forth and you can tell he is really working hard on the bike but all the same I was really happy to see him this morning for the second time in three days of riding. He’s very courteous and moves well to the right when I announce on your left and just fact that he’s out there giving it a try is awesome. I hope he sees some really positive results from his bike commuting time and continues it for a long time.

The times they are a' changin'

Over the course of the last week or two so much has happened. I’ve bought a house and moved in, started commuting 4x’s farther then I used to, bought a pick up truck, made numerous trips to Ikea, Target and the Home Depot and basically have taken up a whole new lifestyle as a homeowner. Things from here on out will be very different for me, especially now that I own a car and live outside the city, but on the other hand, Old-Town Greenbelt is very accessible both by foot and bike and I can and will continue to ride to the town center for small grocery trips, meals and even to see a movie at the old theater.

I’ll continue to commute by bike as much as possible, even if last week I only did it two days, though two other days I biked to the metro as well. Yesterday in an attempt to hit the MVA and transfer my residency over to MD, I ended up driving in to Fort Totten since I’d be going there to the animal rescue league after work anyway, though I doubt that will become a regular thing.

Anyway, lifestyle changes abound for me at the moment though I’d like to continue to keep things very simple and easy. The simplicity of my life since moving into DC has been one of my favorite things with stress taking a back seat to all of the fun I’ve been having with everything else. There will likely be more stress now with the house and everything, but then at the same time the house work I can do will be a good stress relief as well. I’ve got big plans for the place and have begun getting a lot of small things done throughout the house. The front and back yards both look tremendously better after a small amount of work and a few lawn bags filled. I can’t wait to get to work on all the window and door trim.

Home Depot is likely to become a very good friend of mine over the coming months and years. It’s sort of strange doing all this shopping there after spending three years in college working at one. Don’t want to be that guy that tells the employee they’re wrong, though so far some have been less helpful then I remember being in my days.

Oh and another new developement; the dog I fell for that went to foster and supposed adoption appears to now be available again. Greta the weimaraner with the one bad eye may be finding a new home in Greenbelt very soon. I need to read a little more on her file as she apparently has a bit of trouble getting along with other animals, but I said if she was available when I got my house... I LOVE this dog!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Downtown drag racing

At the end of my commute this morning I drag raced a big box truck. The passenger loved it and was laughing and yelling. I turned and flashed a big grin after I won (he had to slow down for traffic in front of him) and zipped between some cars and the curb. That was fun. My legs are thrashed today and I didn’t even race last night. I did pick up the new (used) pick up. It’s nice. I’m still commuting by bike though.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The new digs

It’s official; I’m a homeowner! I made my first Home Depot run Sunday morning as a home owner and did my first bit of yard work too. I even grilled out on the BBQ for the first time Sunday night. Put up some curtains, swept the walk, drilled some holes; you know, homeowner stuff…

My folks are pretty excited about it as well; my Dad maybe even more so then me. He helped me out more then I could’ve asked over the weekend including all day Saturday with moving and took me on my Sunday morning Home Depot run. Don’t have a car yet though so it was very good to have the help. He even helped me get the motorcycle in to a repair shop to get it fixed up.

I currently don’t have internet or cable and have no plans to change that so I probably won’t be posting much from home. Hopefully though I’ll start spending some time in Microsoft Word writing posts instead of surfing the interwebs aimlessly and channel surfing when I’m bored. More books would be good too, though probably the best thing that should come of this is more motivation to do things around the house with less other options to distract myself with. Need to go check out the fitness center soon and get signed up for some classes there.

The truck I got transferred from SC got into the Carmax on Friday or Saturday and should be ready to go by tomorrow, a whole week earlier then they said. Hopefully by tomorrow night I’ll be cruising to the Home Depot on my own set of wheels. I know this seems like an abrupt change and I’ll try and explain it in a future post. I don’t plan on using it that much, especially during the week so things won’t really change a whole lot. With the move to a less public transport friendly area though and not flexcar nearby a personal car seems like the way to go. On top of that with the likelihood that my folks will be moving to PA entirely and starting a embroidery franchise up there a flaxcar just won’t do the trick.

I'll try and get some pictures posted of the place soon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Racing Crash: The 1st Edition

It’s been a while coming for me but last night it finally happened; I popped my cherry of bike racing crashes at Greenbelt last night. It was a pretty large crash in the number of guys that went down and were ultimately affected by it as the initial crasher was in the very middle of the pack when he went down. Apparently he crossed wheels with a rear wheel in front of him and couldn’t regain his balance from there. There was basically a road wide fall out of riders with a large group having to stop behind the crash group. No one was terribly hurt and even more remarkably it looked like all of the bikes got out relatively unscathed a well.

Aside from a sore ass and wrist and a small scrap on my knee I am fine as well. The body of course was sore this morning and I stuck to the sheets ever so slightly last night but otherwise I’m good as new. Unfortunately I still didn’t sleep well due to my anxiety and excitement for the big day tomorrow. The WaPo is certainly not helping with the anxiety part.

The race itself was going really well and we at least three guys well positioned at all times leading up to the crash. Michael, Joe and I each had good long breakaways that helped keep the pace a bit higher this week then last week. I managed to get upfront to try and help Joe’s breakaway survive which was pretty fun and we were actively discussing things going on in the race as well. After my near lap long time off the front I took a couple of laps to recover and was beginning to feel good again and was actively moving back up to th front of the pack when the crash occurred.

I was naturally pretty disappointed after the crash especially considering that I was feeling pretty decent and felt I had a good chance for a strong finish. In stead I took a couple of laps out and then jumped back in to try and help pull back a rider who took advantage of a pack slow down after the crash to allow riders to get back into the pack and put in a hard attack. I think I helped close the gap quite a bit before being and attacked and then subsequently shelled after that. All the better though at that point, I pulled off and watched the rest of the race from the sidelines.

The remaining two Union riders at the finish, Joe and Chris managed very respectable 11th and 12th place finishes respectively in probably one of the largest fields of the year at this race so all was certainly not lost.

This pic was from before the Greenbelt race last week, Joe, Mikhail, Chris and me. As you can see I like to dream. Have a few more which I thought I got loaded but apparently not. I will put those up when I get a chance as well.

Next week will hopefully have a different outcome for the final Greenbelt race of the season. We should have a strong Union force once again in the B race though.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Link laughter

I've found myself highly entertained by a couple of posts today that do a little bit to touch on the ridiculous nature of the sport of amature cycling and the awful things which we cyclists will do to ourselves for our sport. I believe you will as well.

Mike May laments the loss of a life (even if it was the life of a family man which we all know is in reality no life) due to his hateful coach's latest workout regiment.

The Unholy Rouleur provides a telling description of how to train for cyclo-cross season. This may be my favorite Unholy post yet!

My Squad(s) of the Year

I’ve been putting off this post for a while now; not because I don’t want to write it but instead because I want to write it well and actually put some thought into it (hard as that may be for me). I’ll likely still fail but at least I’ll have given it some effort here. The post is one going around the local racing community as requested by Mike over at GamJams.net and asks guys to state their favorite local team aside from their own and to say a few things about them. A sort of “spread the love”, let’s gather around the campfire, sing songs, hold hands and pat each other on the back sort of post.

So far I’ve seen some great (if maybe a bit tail kissing… ;-) posts by some well respected riders. The Unholy Rouleur loves everyone. My teammate Chris gets misty eyed for a few clubs and a couple of other guys spread the love as well. So far it seems Artemis is a fan (competitor) favorite with a shout out from three of the four responses I’ve seen so far. I almost wonder if the guys over at Artemis should view this as a wake up call and need to jump up the training after this; I mean if all their competitors like them they must not be winning enough, right?

I not even going to go into describing my favorite team of all, Racing Union as I believe the originality, popularity and judgmentally damning nature of my communist squad speaks for itself. On the other hand, I like Chris and Jim cannot really single out a single club that I like head and shoulders above the rest. For one thing, I haven’t been riding seriously for even a whole year yet so my knowledge of the local teams is limited. I’ve really only met a handful of racers out there and pretty much all of them have come across as great people.

In my brief racing career one club that has always stood out to me (and I’m not sure if that’s because of the purple team kits or because they’re always there) is the “club of the moment”, Artemis. Some of the first guys apart from my own teammates I spoke with at my early races were guys from Artimis. They’ve always been friendly and approachable and seem to make racing bikes at this level the type of camaraderie building events that they should be. Plus, they’ve got Mike May who runs gamjams and provides my blog with more traffic in a day then I would get in a month. How could I not like Artemis.

Next up is Jim’s squad, Squadra Coppi. Some of the first non-Union riders I met were Coppi riders and after a fixed spin down at hains a group of us including Jim and Eric went out for drinks at Gordon Birsch, getting drenched in a sudden downpour on the way and sporting our classy cycling gear to boot; quite the GB style of clientele I might add. The Coppi riders I have spoken with and ridden with since have always been friendly and gracious riders; one even going so far as to offer a few words of encouragement following my disappointing performance at Giro di Coppi. Plus, how can you not love those powder blue kits; many with the matching powder blue bikes.

I’ll leave my “favorites” at that for now, simply because these two were the two that stood out to me first. As I’ve continued racing throughout the year, I’ve met a number of other great riders and witnessed a few excellent team outings that could lead to new favorites but for now my clubs of the year are Artemis and Squadra Coppi.

Mike, will there be awards for this doled out at the end of the season?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Farewell AdMo

My last official weekend in Adams Morgan and what a great weekend it was. I didn’t do what one might expect and go out and get drunk but instead went out for a couple of drinks Friday night before spending Saturday packing and preparing more for the move. Sunday morning I joined The Bike Rack 8:45 am ride with fellow Racing Union teammate Joe and had a pretty fun time. The ride seems to be a mostly easy paced ride following the typical out and back route featured in the Lanterne Rouge-esq ride we did a few times earlier this year and a few others I’ve done along the way.

I think Joe and I might have cause the pace to be a little higher then it normally would have been, but everyone stayed to together for the most part and overall I’d say it was a pretty great ride. When I first showed up to the shop I got a little nervous seeing a guy on a Bike Friday foldable bike but he managed to do pretty well on it for the majority of the ride and the pace was quick enough that I felt good about the ride afterwards. I’m going to need to do a lot more of these types of rides this off-season to build up my base better then it’s been this year. Luckily I’ll have plenty of good roads out near me to work on that as well.