Saturday, September 27, 2008

a view from behind (and below)

On Thursday, Marian and I went for a ride. The trailer doesn't get to ride behind the Tarmac, so I put my road wheels on the cross rig and hitched her up. We were out for about an hour and twenty minutes, easily Marian's longest ride (it's been a source of frustration to me that Marian hasn't taken to the trailer as I hoped she would).

Marian brought her camera, and these are some of her in-ride photos.

I'm pretty surprised at how good these pictures actually are. Every time I turned around to see how she was doing I saw her hand bouncing up and down as she tried to focus in on something. Plus, I ride like lightening so you have to expect the blur.

These next two pictures I didn't see her take, and I didn't prompt them at all. I guess she wanted to document the vehicle(s) she rode in.

Below, the last three pictures she took before we went inside.

The first may be my favorite shot of the trip. It's her most artsy. The second is a picture of bird's nest that the girls found somewhere and brought home and that will likely be sitting on our back porch until spring. The final shot Valerie's back-door bumper sticker.

On the ride, Marian let me know with her excited little voice every time she saw an Obama sign in a yard--and since this is south-central PA, that isn't often. But the excitement speaks to how malleable these little minds are, which is all the more reason not to vote Republican. Ever. ;-)

(In case you're wondering, her political excitement comes 100 percent from her mama, who is crazy stressed/distressed about this election. I rarely talk about anything political at home--I just can't get that worked up about it anymore--and when I do I think it's usually issue-oriented, not candidate or figure-oriented. Though I certainly could talk about candidates, if prodded.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

fall has fallen

I saw my breath when I left the house this morning--the weight of autumn descending like a dark cloud of impending doom.

Well, maybe not doom, but I wasn't too thrilled about it. I'm told by people who predict these sorts of things that PA is in for a hard winter with larger than average snowfalls. Let's hope that's true. Winter's redemption is snow. But if it's another blah winter with occasional snow skiffs and ice storms and continual gray skies...then crap.


A shot from the bike games last Saturday:

I'm amused by my expression in that photo. I suppose it captures the frustrated urgency of the moment--riding on a flat tire, too far behind the leaders...that sort of thing. Next time I'm going to stick out my tongue or something. One shouldn't take one's self so seriously.

Monday, September 22, 2008

08 PA BAR & nittany cross

You show up to the right races and those BAR results can look respectable. I only did two PA BAR races racing masters this year--the road and tt championships. (Double points for championships, right?) And races, incidentally, that no one else seemed to want to go to (though it may be worth pointing out that while there were few folks, I was at least the fastest cat 3 both days). So, pick the right races...


Well, the first cross race of my season has come and gone...and was a major disappointment. I had to stop four times for mechanicals. (1) A break that got lodged up under my rim after a sandpit crash. (2) A pit stop for a flat tire...though after screwing around in the pit for probably 30-40 seconds I didn't actually get a wheel. (3) A pit stop for the same flat tire on the next lap...this time I changed wheels. (4) A dropped chain in the sandpit. With all my stopping I passed some guys two or three times. Oh yeah, and the string on my shoes broke no more than five minutes before the start. I left my bike in the starting area amid the other cyclists and ran off to the parking lot to find someone with tape. A person in the third car I came to had tape...and while I'm super thankful for his generosity and my good luck in the face of exceedingly bad luck, I proceeded to wrap the tape so tight that halfway into the first lap I began to wonder if it's possible to lose my toes to a foot tourniquet within 45 minutes of bike racing. At the finish I ripped the tape off first thing and my foot kept hurting for a good hour afterward.

But even a crappy day at the races is better than a good day doing just about anything else.

The sad thing is that I think I felt pretty good fitness-wise. But I rode on a flat tire half the race. And had to stop a bunch of times. And missed my call-up while I was dinking around with some electrical tape and a broken shoe. So it's hard to know how I would have stacked up against the crowd had things gone a little better mechanically.

Next week... And on tubulars for the first time. With my luck, I'll roll a front tire within 400 yards of the start.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the tuesday night races

Yesterday I thought I was going to be in Bethesda having dinner with a friend...until at about 2pm I realized that is happening next weekend (someday I may condescend to using some kind of day planner--several years ago I showed up a week early to a conference...I booked my airfare, rented a car, flew from Nashville to Denver, and it wasn't until I showed up at the Marriot, then went to the other Marriot, then back to the original Marriot, that I finally realized I had arrived a week early--so someday I may condescend to using a day planner, but not yet). The evening being freed up allowed me time for some bike play.

My first racing experience (in 1988) came from a little mid-week event outside of Boise that we called the Tuesday Night Race. It was a 18-mile out-and-back affair on a dusty desert road where the wind always blew and always in the same direction and always HARD. One might say the wind blew with a vengence, and if one were to say that, I would excuse the absurdity of the metaphor (because why would the wind have a vendetta against anyone?) because the wind really did blow that hard.

Riders self-selected into A, B, and C groups and began the race at one to two minute intervals with the slower riders leaving first. Because of the handicap, the groups would come together at about the turnaround, then everyone was together for the race back. The way out, with the wind at our backs, was fast, fun, and comfortable for 14 year-old beginners like me. The way back was murder. The fast group would catch up, and with it the intensity, and by the time we'd made our way back to the two or three ball-breaking rollers near the finish I'd be toast. The weekly goal was to stay with the pack until the first of those hills. A MAJOR accomplishment was to stay with the pack until the finish. I'm not sure I ever did, though Mark may have. A couple years later the course was moved, the hills weren't as bad, I got stronger, and the whole dynamic changed.

So yesterday (Tuesday) I relived all that as I tagged along with the end-of-season Pine Grove duke-out between South Mountain Velo (those guys on the other side of the mountain) and Yellow Breeches Racing. A 22-mile out-and-back over the undulating Pine Grove Furnace Road.

Now, this isn't Wednesday Worlds or the DC Goon Ride, but a race is a race. Don't get me wrong, some of these guys can throw down, but some of these guys are nearly twice my age too. I mean, my being there probably dropped the average rider age three or four years.

Anyway...I flatted about five miles in. Fixed it. Rode on, then turned around when the main group came back past. On both kickers right there by the park I dropped the hammer and openned a decent gap between myself and the field both times. But both times within about a kilometer I was caught. A final attack in the last mile proved fruitless and I coasted over the line at the back of the field.

Good fun. I love the bike games...even when it's all unofficial and there's nothing really at stake.

Recently, reporters ask Floyd Landis why he wants to continue racing after having been disgraced and out of the sport for two years. The answer--obvious to me--is that he just loves racing his bicycle. So do I.

Monday, September 15, 2008

of nomads and reindeer

In terms of labels, being a professor of management can be tricky. The dilemma, simply put, is this: is my responsibility to teach (profess) how to manage or to teach how managers manage?

The question is weighty, not in small part because, though seemingly a philosophical point, it's one that directs very practical questions such as what I should talk about in class, what sort of assignments I should give, how I should grade those assignments, and, more generally, what does the curriculum of a business school actually look like.

Consider this piece in the Sept/Oct '08 issue of Orion, where Rebecca Solnit asks us to reflect on our servitude of the automobile, and our government's servidtude of the oil industry.

While Solnit's questions are profound in the context she defines, the article gives me pause as I (re)consider my role in the service of management (italicized to highlight its institutional status--the institution being whatever this thing is that I study and teach). Is my role as a professor of management to serve the institution--providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to play the game on the terms the institution has set--or is it to serve the interest of enlightenment--to explain, critique, and deconstruct the institution; to help students diagnose the unreality of the shadows on the wall?

On the one hand, I might reason that whether students know what they're getting into or not, they've made the choice to align themselves with the instutition, so my responsibility is to help them best survive in it.

On the other hand, there's this from Wendell Berry:

Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry subsidized research. its proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible.



In other news, time trials are boring.

Rode the masters state championship time trial on Saturday. Finished 4th in the 30+ with the 12th best time of the day (out of 63). That's not much to brag about, but I'm pleased that despite the Lyme Disease, despite not racing much this summer, despite a bazillion other excuses that riders both love to give (about themselves) and hate to hear (from others), I finished 45 seconds faster than I did on the same course two years ago (at the end of a very successful season).

But time trials are still boring...and I'm so excited for cyclocross. In cyclocross you can finish dead last and still have a lot of fun. In a time trial, no one has fun.


Finally (let's see how many I can offend here...), people who drive fancy trucks suck. (No, I couldn't be more absurdly general.) The whole truck-as-luxury-car thing I don't get. I don't want to get. And I don't want to be around people who do get.

Trucks are utility vehicles. If you're afraid to load the back of your pickup with a pile of cow manure then you shouldn't own a truck. And a corralary to this rule, if you don't regularly need to load the back of your pickup with a pile of cow manure (think of "cow manure" metaphorically), then you shouldn't buy a truck.

You also shouldn't care when a kid (not me, but I witnessed it) overcooks a turn on his bike and puts a ding in the side of your pickup. A real truck owner wouldn't notice the dent because the side of his truck is already littered with dents, or soon will be. A pansy truck owner gets out and, ignoring the bloody mass of kid on the assphalt, throws a fit over the damage to his "baby" and belows out such profundities as "who's going to pay for the damage?" in accusational tones.

Damage. Whatever. A real truck owner would appreciate the makeover for what it is: value-added.

So lame...

Pansy truck owners, I frown in your general direction.