Thursday, January 17, 2008

The power of the interwebs...

Saw the article yesterday in the Post in the Muslim high schooler disqualified from her regional track meet for her body covering custom track suit.

Pretty bogus I'd say; I actually was contemplating writing a letter to the county about it. Though I think the publicity it's now getting should do more then I could possibly do with a letter...

Front and center this morning on Yahoo News...

I hope she gets an invite anyway to the New Balance Collegiate Invitational despite not being able to qualify officially since she didn't get the opportunity to compete here.

And this little bit ""What she needs to do is get some religious documentation saying it's part of her heritage and bring it with her to every meet," said Jim Vollmer, the commissioner of track for Montgomery County public schools." is a load of horse shit if you ask me.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beautiful Bentonville

Awesome trip! The weather worked perfectly for me and my first solo winter backcountry camping trip went smoothly. I got to the trail head right at 1pm like I'd planned though unfortunately there was nowhere to get a camping permit and I had to head back to Skyline drive so I left my truck at 2. I was a bit nervous about setting up camp before dark so I basically trucked it right through to about 4:30 or so when I found a good spot. As you can see I was working hard, though I did stop to enjoy the views along the way...

The "tallest waterfall" in the park was a little less then incredible but still pretty cool. Had I not been worried about time I'd probably have tried to get down to it to check out the trail looking bit that appears to go behind it.

The campsite was pretty great; nice and flat with a couple inches of natural leaf bedding underneath my sleeping pad with a nice view of the sunset. Heard plenty of animals roaming around after heading to bed, though the screaming animal sounding like it was being attacked by wolves a bit before bedtime made me a little uneasy. My imagination told me a heard a bear in the middle of the night as well though it was probably some small furry creature, but wheres the drama in that?

Day two was pretty nice; woke to a large number of deer passing my tent; they stared as I got out of my tent. Breakfast of cheesy eggs, packed my tent and made my way back to the trail for a more leisurely trip back to the truck. Saw a great swimming hole area I'll have to come back and try out in the right time.

All in all I'd say my trip was a whopping success. Cheers to 2008!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm off

Pilates kinda sucked...

Off to Shenandoah National Park! I'm doing the Thompson Hollow Beecher Ridge Trip, from the suggested one night winter list; should be pretty decent!

Friday, January 11, 2008

This just in!

Just wanted to say that I FINALLY got internet access with Verizon Wireless, through their broadband USB modem! Tight!

Alternative methods

Last night I went to a free yoga class held at a spa in Greenbelt Center. There is a small studio attached and they are offering free classes this entire week to draw people in. So, last night I took my first hour long free yoga class. While I’m not quite feeling the spirituality of the practice, the stretching and body relaxation was pretty good. I was amazed at how flexible I still am and the general relaxation felt great. When I left the studio I felt much more relaxed and calm then when I went in. I think I’ll probably buy one of the passes and try it a few more times.

Saturday morning there is a free Pilates class from 9 to 10 that I’m planning on going to. I’ve heard good things about Pilates as a core strengthening program so we’ll see how that goes. After that I’m planning on hopping in the truck and heading out to Shenandoah National Park for a quick one night backpacking trip to try out the new gear. I can’t wait to get out there, though hopefully the forecasted Sunday rain holds off until later in the day, after I’m out of the park. I’m heading to REI this evening to pick up the last of the essentials such as fuel for my stove and the footprint for my tent so I should be all good to go. Not too sure about bears right now as I’m assuming they’ll all be in hibernation, though I could see the unseasonably warm weather causing them to come out of their burrows for a little midwinter snack. I’ll hang my food just in case.

I had been hoping to hit the mountain bike trails in Patapsco this Saturday but with all the rain and no freezing temps in sight they'll be too muddy to ride without tearing things up too badly. One of these days I'll get out there and hit the trails again. In other news, while I’m still forcing myself to hold off on getting a dog for a bit longer, there has been a proposal at the shelter for a weekend foster care program for animals that need home environment exposure. If that were to go through I’d be able to pick up a dog on Friday’s to take care of over the weekend but then wouldn’t have to leave it alone in the house for 10+ hours everyday during the week. Awesome! Still not the same as my own dog, but awesome.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bday spinnin'

Today, as a bit of a bday present to myself I slept in and didn’t even get to work until around 11am. Then, despite the crap of a cold I’ve developed due to this beautiful but erratic weather, I went out to Hains Point on the Fuji for an “easy” spin. The greatest part about it was that I was in shorts and a short sleeve jersey. That and finally getting to check out Chris’s new single speed/fixed gear IRO. Wow! What a beautiful bike! Tear drop tubes, FSA solid chain ring, just an overall smooth and clean looking bike. While my Fuji brings in the flash facter, his IRO goes more along the slick route. What a beauty! (Don’t worry I haven’t decided I need a new fixed gear because of it… yet…)

This week so far has been my first reasonable week training wise of the season. Monday morning Chris, Michael R-P and I did some LT riding at hains, yesterday Scott and I finally got back to the gym for lifting and today an “easy” recover spin day. Unfortunately I say easy with quotation due to the massive headwind coming up the point again so recover riding was limited to the down side of the point, and said recover was more recover from the efforts of getting up the other side. Sadly this likely means my legs will still be shot (and more so due to delayed muscle fatigue after the first gym session in months) so I may take tomorrow off and enjoy with weather with a co-worker who has been talking about getting out for lunch for weeks now.

The weekend is shaping up pretty nicely at this point with the most exciting prospect being hitting up Patapsco for some Mt Biking on Sunday morning. Saturday morning I’m going to check out a free Pilates class at Greenbelt Center and see if it’s worth doing on a regular basis for some core and flexibility work. One thing yesterday’s gym session showed me was that I NEED to do some serious stretching. The rest of the weekend will hopefully include some road miles out around the Ag Center, some hiking and dinner with the family.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goals: Wave One

A blog can sometimes be a pretty good self motivation tool; really, in a number of ways. First by reading other rider’s posts about all the hard training and suffering they’ve been enduring I can motivate myself to get out and do some work. On that same note, I am motivated to train and suffer so that I can write about it as well. More importantly though is the follow through pressure that goes along with posting goals and intentions. See Kyle at Pedal’n Around for example. That fool’s gonna have a lot of people to give him a hard time if he doesn’t bust his ass this season! Oh, and of course should he arrive to a group ride or race on a new bike or sporting some new fancy gear, there will be an audible tsk, tsk from the pack around him for the obvious disregard for goal number 2 ;) (This is also a personal goal of mine for the year and I will hopefully be welcoming at least one new ride to my stable this year…)

While things don’t always work out the way we intend despite this extra motivator it is at least one more little thing that just may help us to get off the couch on that cold rainy Saturday morning and complete the 4 hour base ride we’ve talked about all week. Some of the things I’ve done in the past using this blog have been my goals for races. A lot of the ones I mentioned (and often proclaimed loudly my intentions of completing) often fell through for one reason or another, but in the end the blog mixed with my desire and quite possibly stupidity tend to lead to a completion of my goals.

Without further ado, I set forth my first and second goals for the 2008 season:

Compete in the 24 Hours of Big Bear mountain bike race in West Virginia: I’m already signed up on a team of four, though we’ve currently only got three of us. (Anyone want to join) Nothing to serious here as we’re signed up as just for fun and none of us knows exactly what to expect, but it’s still a 24 hour race and if nothing else should be loads of fun.

The other is to complete the Leesburg Baker’s Dozen mountain bike race: Also, already signed up (I think) on a tem of three. Also should be a blast.

The rest of the season and year’s goals have yet to be established but I do have plans to race a good number of times. I don’t have any illusions of catting up this season as I’ve got too much other stuff I want to do this year, but experience and more importantly I plan to have fun and hopefully help propel some teammates to strong finishes where possible. Chris in particular is aiming straight at a very solid season with probably the best pure training mindset on the team at the moment.

I do plan to race as much of the Greenbelt series as possible since it is just down the road from my place, so maybe a B race win will enter into the fray at some point, but I won’t hold my breath at this point.

Personally, I need to finish paying off some unnecessary debt and then get started on house stuff. I’m itchin’ to get to work on the kitchen but I want to clear out the other debt before I put myself even deeper in debt with a home improvement loan. I’d also like to finally get away for a real vacation; even if it’s just a week hiking the Appalachian Trail, I need to get away for an extended period of time.

Anyway, I know I said I don’t resolute, and so I claim these are not resolutions; year goals yes but not resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken and these goals are meant to be kept. Here’s to a solid year of fun and excitement, both on the bike and off it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Warning... Politics Inside...

Overall political leanings aside, this most certainly will not help Hillary's campaign.

Unfortunately, while she may be a great leader and may have the experience and the ideas to go in and make some things happen as president, I believe there are enough people out there that truly hate her that despite what she says she is the least electable democratic candidate out there. Edwards is probably the most just because he could probably pull in more Southerners' votes for sadly obvious reasons, though Barack would probably not have a problem getting in simply due to his energizing of America's youth.

People love his message of change and one of the major blows leveled on him by his competition probably will do more to help them harm his chances. The fact that he isn't entrenched in the Washington political scene makes him seem like a fresh (and lets face it, less corrupt) face; something that is very appealing at this point to Americans. While people weren't that thrilled with Bush, Kerry was a very weak candidate for the Democrats and he most certainly couldn't motivate people to vote who don't normally. Barack on the other hand has the potential to draw record numbers of young people as well as others fed up with the American political scene out to vote. In '04 the only things energizing these people was a general hatred of Bush and his foreign policies, apparently not enough to elect a minor hack like Kerry.

That'll about do it for my political ranting, I was just moved by the Clinton article. Not sure what possessed her to cry for a national audience, though I guarantee no one is voting for her on that out of pity. As for Barack, I joined a Facebook (c'mon, I'm young like that) group a couple of years ago before he was even considering running (at least publicly) called, "Barack Obama for President (If only...)"

That's about all I'm going to say about my vote.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Frigid riding

I have never been happier with myself for being lazy. Yesterday morning I decided to not ride the bike to work but instead drive to hains point and ride over from there. When I got to the garage on my bike I felt like I’d been outside for an hour already, even though it was just a quick 2 mile spin that took maybe 10 or 15 minutes. I could feel my breath freezing in my beard, though for that matter I’m glad I’ve got the big bushy beard right now…

Did the noon ride at hains with Gibbons, Gould and R-P which was decent aside from the ridiculous headwind coming back up from the point. We had a pretty solid rotation going on and once I got used to riding in a pack again I felt like I did alright. There was some squirrelly riding though the wind what it was I don’t think it was much of a surprise. I felt pretty good through the majority of the ride and was having no trouble not only staying in the pack but also working through the rotation the whole way through, though I got a nice little jolt back to reality in the last lap. The pace just kept picking up on the non-wind side and the two guys in front of me as well as myself were each sort of dangling off the back of our respective wheels. The rest of the riders behind us came up and around and when I failed to catch the last rider’s wheel I finally just dropped off and packed it in. All in all though not too bad I’d say, the numbness in my toes didn’t go away until it was time to head home but hey, it’s supposed to be back up in the 60’s next week...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A new year, a new you?

Happy New Year!

Nothing too new this year for me. To celebrate yesterday I spent 90% of the day on the couch in front of the television watching bowl games and parades. What sloth! Actually I did manage to get out for an hour or two hiking across the street again. As if I haven’t said it before, those trails are incredible! I managed to find another entire area I had no idea was there and realized what I though was Beaver Dam Road was far from it. There is just so much space out there it blows my mind.

Monday, after cutting out of work early around noon I went home and hopped on the fixed gear for a nice 2 + hour spin. I actually started by riding the first half of my commute but instead of cutting off the Northwest Branch Trail just after the NW/NE trails meet up I stayed on it and rode it all the way to the end of the trail. I’d never been up that way so it was nice to see where it led.

I actually was quite surprised when I came out to Greenbelt Road by the Splash Park and then when I hit the end of the trail and found myself in a random neighborhood was pleasantly surprised to find New Hampshire Ave right near the beltway within a couple of blocks. Headed down to Adelphi then to Metzerot to Greenbelt Rd (which was one of the most unnerving sections of road I’ve ever ridden despite the bike lane) onto Rhode Island and finally back through the Ag Center Roads and home.

This time I road the Fuji Track and felt great. It was probably about 30 to 35 miles of moderate steady state riding similar to Saturday’s ride which is exactly what I think I should be doing right now. Over the next month or two I’ll probably spend a majority of time doing this type of riding along with some slightly faster group rides before getting into more lactate threshold and sprinting drills closer to the season.

At some point here I’ll try and figure out my season goals and get them up here for all to see (and hopefully hold me to a little bit). Kyle is inspiring me lately with all his talk of goals and what not. I will however not set any New Years resolutions as I don’t believe in them. Goals for the year? Yes, resolutions? Not so much.