...we had this pretty killer ice storm. I guess this sort of thing is normalish in PA, but it's new to me.
These pictures were all taken near Big Flat in Michaux. From the last picture you can perhaps see the precarious state of the riding conditions--one half inch of ice on all the smooth-ish surfaces. I rode to and from via roughish trail, which allowed a good deal more traction than would have the dirt roadways, but with all the fallen trees and branches even that was an abnormal adventure.
On the bike, notice the new front disc brake I recently installed. There's a new front wheel to go with it. That front wheel has a rear companion, but only after I had ordered everything and installed the front brake & wheel successfully did I notice my frame doesn't have mounts for a rear disc brake. Disheartening...
If you're interested in a perfectly new and unused rear wheel (FSA XC-300) and disc brake (Avid BB7) they're yours. Otherwise they go on eBay this spring.
The new goggles (it's hard to explain how good I feel about new goggles)...
...and the cold-weather digs:
Those neon green booties... I bought them in '89 or '90. I thought you'd like to know.
Monday, December 31, 2007
...we had this pretty killer ice storm. I guess this sort of thing is normalish in PA, but it's new to me.
Monday, December 10, 2007
There was snow last week.
Unfortunately, it wasn't cold enough today and the heavy rain ended all the fun.
Also, I took the silver medal in the PA cyclocross championships (B men). Didn't win it, just took it. (dumb joke)
It was a great race. Muddy, muddy, muddy. Went down hard on my hip walking down the steps on my way out to the car. Went down hard on my shoulder 200m from the line taking a corner too fast. Currently suffering two deep bruises.
But now the long season is finally over. And I can rest. And look forward to the long, casual rides of wintertime. And getting a lot of use out of my new goggles. New goggles which work surprisingly better than the ones I pulled out of a lost-and-found box some 11 years ago, and which also have the distinct advantage of not leaving a ring of decaying black foam around my eyes when I take them off. You know, it's the small things...
In unrelated news, I'm going to a chiropractor tomorrow for the first time ever. I'm hoping he'll be able to relieve some shoulder tension and help with my back pain. But I'm nervous. I can't imagine that I'll really be able to relax enough to let the voodoo witch doctors work their terrible magic.
at 3:20 AM
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
I was planning to take the easy way out Saturday and race the C event...but then flatted not halfway through the first lap and that was the end of that. I haven't got around to putting cross tires on a pair of old wheels yet. I need to do this.
Luckily, since the C race is first, I had plenty of time to fix my flat and register for the B race. Which I did. And my four points at Hagerstown were enough to earn me a call-up--so Saturday marked my first front-row start.
Three firsts, actually: First cross-related pinch-flat. First call-up. First front-row start. First time fully taking out a course fence post in a crash.
Never one to miss an opportunity to foil fortune, I squandered my opportunity for a great start, and after about 100 yards I was right where I'm used to starting--a few places from riding clean-up. After two laps, I had passed all those that were easily passed and spent the next three laps gaining and losing ground to a slowly disintegrating larger group ahead of me. Near the end of the final lap I made it around two more riders, one of which hung on my wheel and sprinted around me at the finish.
I finished 14th. The first and second place finishers had quite a gap on everyone else, but there was less than a minute between me and third place. So...how much time did I lose negotiating my way around slower riders during those first two laps? Man, I really suck at these cross starts. I'm going to spend a whole day this week practicing these starts.
Unless you chose to ride through the very long sand pit, the course had four dismounts per lap. That's a lot.
I felt fast over the barriers.
Despite several opinions to the contrary, I fail to see any reason to take off my water bottle cages. Perhaps if I were committed to the traditional CX carry method then I'd understand, but I see no wisdom, and only shoulder bruising, in that method. So until I'm convinced otherwise, I'm sticking with the cages. Living life as a resistance against the machine...
The course went through a horse stable.
My bike is pretty.
at 8:53 AM
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
A couple photos from MLKImages...this guy's shots are really nice:
Some others photos from elsewhere:
Sometimes I rode this and sometimes I ran it. It was certainly ridable, but I found getting off and sprinting it out was not only faster, but refreshing in a way...using the muscles in a little different way, I think.
A race within the race... The guy behind me here--the guy from Rutgers with the neon green bike--and I went back and forth quite a bit as we gobbled up stragglers. Despite a last lap surge on his part, however, I had a comfortable lead on him at the finish.
A couple of Johann in the retro kit:
at 7:53 AM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Drove to Delaware Saturday for the big UCI C1 Granogue Cross. You can read a CyclingNews write-up on the elite races here and a VeloNews write-up here. I entered the B field, and I didn't win. In fact, I didn't even come close, finishing 28th of about 85. I was disappointed, but doubly so because by the time I finished I had convinced myself I was in the top 20, maybe around 15th. Fortunately, I think I only told two people (sorry Johann and Mark) I did that well, but still embarrassing.
The race unfolded as is now to be expected. I staged on the last row (staging was done by order registered), started out not as fast as I would have liked, and then spent the rest of the race picking off riders by ones and twos.
The course was amazing. A lot of elevation and terrain change. We went from paved road to a wooded dirt trail which gave way to farm-mowed grass, back to pavement, more dirt/mud... It was a really cool course.
I stayed around for a bit afterwards to watch the elite women. There are better pics here, but I took some too--a warning: lens auto-focus broken.
This part of the course was so sketchy and crowded the first time around that some riders decided to dismount and just run the course. On the downhills I probably brake-checked every time down. I've got to work on that.
Kerry Barnholt (eventual winner--she was in the front, by herself, all day) tackling the run-up.
Others chose to push.
Kerry Barnholt, your winner.
at 8:20 AM
In response to this post, Sean asked:
Out of curiosity, since most of these cyclocross races appear to be taking place in public parks and our organization has occasionally been asked to be the named sponsor on application to Metro parks for cyclocross races and our board has been concerned about environmental damage in terms of ripped up grass, etc..., how much wear occurs on the course between the beginning of the event and the end?
And I responded:
Of the three race I've done so far, one was at a fairgrounds (where there was grass, but the kind of grass you might lead your overflow parking to), one was at a YMCA camp up in the woods (where the grass was that kind of woodsy grass-clump stuff), and the other was on a private estate (where the grass was weed control, not aesthetic).
But no, it's not so easy on the grass. I mean, I'm sure the grass will recover, but it's not something you'd want to do to a really nice park or that you'd want to do to it every weekend.
In Nashville, I think Shelby/Shelby Bottoms would be a great place for a cross race. My experience is limited, but I think the best courses have mixed terrain--some dirt road, some asphalt, some grass, some sand, some single/double track...
at 8:18 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Yesterday afternoon I spent three hours riding this route. Forty-three miles, 22 of which was on dirt road. I'd say 3,000-4,000 feet of climbing. A really, really delightful ride. I love my new bike.
And speaking of loving my new bike... I have never felt so comfortable descending, on the road, as I do on my Specialized. I feel so much safer and more secure. My Fetish isn't bad, but for some reason I'm almost always nervous descending with any speed. It just seems less stable in the front end, whereas my cross bike feels like riding on rails.
I suppose those who know what I'm talking about will know what I'm talking about and those who don't just won't, but I mention this all just to say that my Specialized is winning me over. Perhaps there will be one of these in my future.
at 3:05 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I just spent the morning getting my car inspected, arguing a traffic citation with a judge, paying bills, retrieving a user name and password for a rarely used credit card, disputing charges on same credit card (unsuccessfully) with a customer service person, disputing charges (successfully) on my Comcast bill with another customer service person, arguing with Comcast tech support over whose fault it is that my new Comcast Digital Voice doesn't work as promised and who's going to pay to fix it, and paying numerous bills the charges on which I can't contest, but feel no better about them for it.
The sham of it all has put me in the foulest of moods.
at 10:17 AM
Monday, October 15, 2007
I wish I could have ran Iron Cross V on Sunday, but Iron Cross Lite was a satisfactory substitute.
I entered only one field this time--Men's B--and had a truly awful start. Halfway through the first lap I was in dead last place. Things improved from there, fortunately. I found a comfortable rhythm and began picking off riders by ones and twos. With two laps to go I was in third place and bearing down on second...then I went down hard through a gravel corner. I bloodied up my elbow and knee some, but the wreck also left my handlebars bent way out of whack. The time it took to get up, straighten my handlebars, and get rolling again was enough to allow two riders to catch up, and I guess the shock of the pounding was enough to knock the rest of my get-up-and-go out too. I finished a disappointing fifth place.
My cyclocross races to date have reminded me too much of high school cross country--start out way slower than everyone else, but keep a steady pace and pick off runners as I go. The trouble with this strategy (I call it a strategy, when in actuality it's nothing intentional, it just happens) in cyclocross is twofold. First, tight, twisty and sometimes singletrack terrain keeps you from passing at will and, second, one would prefer to sit on the wheel of the faster riders and not have to expend energy catching them alone. In this race Saturday, for instance, I'm sure I could have comfortably sat on the wheel of the first or second place finisher, ridden their pace, etc., had I started out on their wheel in the beginning instead of at the back of the pack. The moral of the story? I've got to improve my starting position and the speed and strength of my starting move.
I had a nice cheering section for this one--Val and the girls, plus Paul, Justin, Megan, the twins, Lane, and Elise. Thanks all for coming.
Anyway, a few pictures from the race, all coming through the death spiral.
Speaking of which, I was a little surprised how slowly some were riding the Spiral. For the most part, the turns were swoopy enough to go through with a full head of steam, but few really attacked them.
I say "for the most part," because on several occasions I had to brake strongly to keep from soaring through the barrier tape. I'm sure I will do this before long--at this point, my strength far exceeds my skill. As I begin to take more risks, I'm sure I'll suffer more dire consequences--like going down hard in a gravel turn, for instance.
I thought it a nice touch that at Iron Cross the tape poles were plastic, rather than the metal fencepost style they used at Hagerstown. Those metal poles seem like a very bad idea.
By the way, my new bike rules. My only complaint was the saddle, but that complaint was quickly resolved by throwing on the SLR from my road bike.
Yes, my tongue is flapping about like a dog's in that last picture.
at 4:14 PM
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
I finally fixed my PowerTap.
I couldn't get the hub cover off with a traditional wrench or a strap wrench, finally called Saris to figure out what's up and ended up ordering their special tool. When the tool arrived I immediately recognized it as the funny little black thing that I remember coming with my wheel but, since I had no idea what it was, had either thrown away or discarded into some dark corner of my basement laundry/cycling gear repository room. Anyway, with the proper tool, getting the cover off was a snap.
Batteries now changed, the PowerTap is working perfectly. And so I rode for 160 minutes over two Michaux passes and rolling Franklin County hills to reacquaint myself the quantitative value of work.
at 6:43 PM
Monday, October 8, 2007
Sometimes when my eyes are red
I go up on top of the RCA Building
and gaze at my world, Manhattan--
my buildings, streets I've done feats in,
lofts, beds, coldwater flats
--on Fifth Ave below which I also bear in mind,
its ant cars, little yellow taxis, men
walking the size of specks of wool--
Panorama of the bridges, sunrise over Brooklyn machine,
sun go down over new Jersey where I was born
& Paterson where I played with ants--
my later loves on 15th Street,
my greater loves of Lower East Side,
my once fabulous amours in the Bronx
paths crossing in these hidden streets,
my history summed up, my absences
and ecstasies in Harlem--
-- sun shining down on all I own
in one eyeblink to the horizon
in my last eternity--
matter is water.
I take the elevator and go
and walk on the pavements staring into all man's
questioning after who loves,
and stop, bemused
in front of an automobile shopwindow
standing lost in calm thought,
traffic moving up & down 5th Avenue blocks behind me
waiting for a moment when . . .
Time to go home & cook supper & listen to
the romantic war news on the radio
. . . all movement stops
& I walk in the timeless sadness of existence,
tenderness flowing thru the buildings,
my fingertips touching reality's face,
my own face streaked with tears in the mirror
of some window--at dusk--
where I have no desire--
for bonbons--or to own the dresses or Japanese
lampshades of intellection--
Confused by the spectacle around me,
Man struggling up the street
with packages, newspapers,
ties, beautiful suits
toward his desire
Man, woman, streaming over the pavements
red lights clocking hurried watches &
movements at the curb--
And all these streets leading
so crosswise, honking, lengthily,
stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums
thru such halting traffic
screaming cars and engines
so painfully to this
countryside, this graveyard
on deathbed or mountain
never regained or desired
in the mind to come
where all Manhattan that I've seen must disappear.
-- Allen Ginsberg, New York, October 1958
at 7:07 PM
First (two) cross race(s). Results here.
I started out near the back in a field of ~55, but quickly began passing. I heard the announcer say there was one rider way off the front, so I knew I needed to get busy quick.
There wasn't much pack riding in this field. Ability levels too disparate, I suppose.
This little rise on the back stretch was fun. I did most my passing on the flat stretches and gradual uphill sections.
But right after the little rise came this big rise--the ride-able run-up. I was slow up this beast. I lost ground to whomever I was riding with every time up this thing, but I seemed to recover much faster, and was usually able to put in a monster effort on the flat section just following the wall. I passed a lot of people just after this section.
The course was very dry, which led me to wonder what it would have been like had it been wet, or really wet.
Though it was a foggy morning, there was no precipitation.
Valerie and the girls were there. That was cool on its own, but Val also aided the effort by calling out my placing each time around. Eighth after one lap. Fifth after two laps. At the beginning of the final lap there were only three of us and we were riding together.
This is the last run up the wall on the final lap. I had made my move against my two riding companions some time before this. Looking back, this may have been a mistake. This guy caught me just below the wall and passed me on the way up. The other guy caught me soon after and put a gap on me with far superior cornering skills. I closed the gap on the final straightaway, but he held me off. By less than an inch.
I won a six-pack of beer and a case of one of those super-caffeinated sports drinks. Who drinks that stuff?
Ninety minutes later I lined up in the Men's B field. The field wasn't as big, maybe 30 riders, but clearly more experienced and savvy. Through the first lap I felt awful and could just barely manage to hang on near the rear. Gradually, I started feeling better and began moving up. I found a group of five to ride with, and did so steadily for about two laps, but when I sensed they were beginning to fade, I moved to the front and dropped them all. I picked off one more rider and then chased 11th place the whole last lap. He beat me by a bike length.
at 6:49 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The other day Audrey (9) asked me what makes a poem a poem and not a story or just a bunch of words. She likes poetry to rhyme, but of course not everything that people call poetry rhymes, so she was understandably confused.
Aren't we all.
I suggested we call Matt, a friend of ours who teaches High School English. "Why? Is Matt a poet?"
Later I posed the question to Matt in an email. He said it's a hard question. Like asking what makes art art. Then asked her to read this, posing the question of whether it is poetry, or just a note to Mrs. Williams.
THIS IS JUST TO SAY
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
-William Carlos Williams
She read it, puzzled over it a bit, then said, through a chuckle, "I guess it's a poem because it has a title."
I think it's great that she said it as a joke, then got serious. Kind of like the modus operandi of a Hollywood Stars actor. Make a joke, then act serious.
Ultimately, she decided that she couldn't decide. "It's not a poem, but it's not a note, a story, or a letter either." Then, throwing her hands up in exasperation, "I don't know what it is."
For me, the first answer is the best. George Costanza, when asked by the NBC president why people will be watching the show he and Jerry were pitching, responded, "Because it's on TV."
So, if it's in a museum it's art. If it's in a book of poetry it's a poem. Good enough for me.
at 7:15 AM
Friday, September 21, 2007
Everyone's talking about the Landis decision.
Cycling News. ESPN. The New York Times. Neil. Douche bags. But if you're going to read any of it, try the commentary by Bonnie Ford and, by far the most thoughtful news coverage of the decision, the Velo News article, which includes the full text of the 2:1 majority decision, as well as the dissent.
Without offering an opinion as to guilt, what strikes me as particularly odd, frustrating, and potentially sinister about this plot line are the vagaries and ambiguities that you and I, the cycling fan public, are left to digest. Take this for instance, from the Velo News article:
The majority of the panel found that while the initial testosterone-epitestosterone test was not "established in accordance with the WADA International Standard for Laboratories," the more precise and expensive carbon-isotope ratio analysis (IRMS), performed as a follow-up was accurate. As a result, "an anti-doping rule violation is established," said the majority....
The finding means that Landis was cleared of the initial positive T/E violation, but now faces a two-year suspension because the IRMS test did show the presence of exogenous testosterone.
Let me explain what I think this means. Remember that doping charges were first brought to bear against Landis for having an elevated T/E ratio after his amazing stage 17 ride. Eleven to one, if I remember correctly, far above the four to one limit. The ruling by the panel of three arbitrators cleared Landis of this charge, citing unreliable testing procedures by the French lab that preformed the tests.
However, after the initial test and--importantly--because of the results of the first test, additional tests were conducted to determine if the elevated T/E ratio was due to the presence of an artificial testosterone, which would be corroborating evidence of doping. The panel of three arbitrators, while also citing problems with the lab's work in performing this analysis, upheld the validity of the results to this second test.
Now, the extent of my legal training is essentially Law & Order 101, but I would think that in a regular American court evidence that is obtained as a direct result of other evidence that was later determined to have been obtained through procedural error or negligence would have to be held in serious question. And that the defense would then have a reasonable argument for the dismissal of the entire case.
In other words, there are two pieces of evidence against Landis, piece of evidence A and piece of evidence B. B was only obtained because of A. Had A not appeared, no one would have thought to or wanted to check for B. So when you determine that A can't be trusted due to a botched, unreliable process, don't you then have a strong argument against incrimination by B?
Perhaps you're shrugging your shoulders and thinking, "I don't know." Well, you're not alone. But this is where the real madness begins. With all these ambiguities, and a 2:1 decision that, while upholding the doping charge, castigates the reliability of the testing procedures, how does Pat McQuaid, the president of the UCI, get off saying things like this:
He has been found guilty. It proves that the system works no matter who you are.
First, a guilty finding proves the system works? What?! Digesting this stretch of logic makes my head spin.
Second, if there's anything to conclude from this it is that the system is a rattle-trap jalopy of an excuse for justice--it may or may not get us to the truth, but if it does, it is only slowly (a decision, now, 13 1/2 months after the initial charge), inefficiently, and in a manner which inspires little confidence.
Then you have Travis Tygart, USADA CEO, saying:
Today's ruling is a victory for all clean athletes and everyone who values fair and honest competition.
I don't know what the decision says for fair and honest competition, but it most certainly is not a victory for fair and honest judicial procedures for athletes accused of doping.
at 6:42 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Yesterday. Oh man...
So yesterday starts early. I wake up at 5:55. I didn't mean to. The alarm is set for 6:30. And there's time built in for at least one snooze. But I wake up at 5:55. I decide to go for a run.
I have a sorted relationship with running--more on that later, perhaps--but running has become a fall cross-training tradition of sorts and, with the cyclocross season pending, I figured I ought to start sooner than later. After 20 minutes I'm not tired, but I can tell I'm going to feel the effort in my legs later.
Fast forward half the day. It's 2:45 and I'm out the door for a ride. I haven't been out the prior two days so I'd like to ride long. Something hilly. For three hours. At least.
I can feel the run in my legs. Forty-five minutes in I reach down to feel my calves and they're like rocks. But after about 90 minutes they feel better. Loosened up. The weather is beautiful. It's a good day to be on a bike ride.
Then, disaster. My dérailleur hanger snaps in two.
I'm about a mile southeast of here. No cell phone coverage. A car passes by about every five minutes. I of course don't have any tools so I can't get the dérailleur off the chain. I can't ride, so I start walking. I figured if I went south I wouldn't find a phone until Big Flat. So I went north. Downhill.
But of course I didn't want to have to walk. Walking in cycling shoes is awful, so I took my shoes off and walked in my socks. But on chip-sealed roads that's no picnic either. So I try to thumb a ride. I didn't think it would take long. I've done a bit of hitch-hiking and my experience has been positive. Especially in the mountains, with gear. People see you with gear and figure you're just out recreating, not hoboing, and they give you rides. I've given people rides. But yesterday I WALKED FOR ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES before someone stopped to pick me up. Unbelievable.
Finally, I got to somewhere that I could use my cell phone (Mt. Holly Springs*) and I called a friend (thank you, Lane) to come get me. While I waited, I put down an order of Moo Gai Pan from a Chinese take-out place and called my sister to wish her happy birthday. I finally got home just after 8:00.
*How I ended up in Mt. Holly Springs from where I was is another story. It clearly would have been better to be picked up by someone going the other direction, or someone willing to make the quick jaunt over the hill on 233, but when someone finally stopped, I wasn't going to get particular about where they were going.
at 11:38 AM