Thursday, December 23, 2010


My neighbor caught me playing outside last Sunday. He took the pictures through his front window, all sneaky like, then sent them to me as evidence of my adolescence.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

going up

I learned to ride up stairs last night.

Well, "learn" might be too strong a word. I decided I wasn't too chicken to try, thus discovering I could do it.

(My playground. Also the front of the building in which I work.)


Two Fridays ago I broke my Paragon. A crack half way around the seat tube just above the top tube weld (and when I say crack I mean a crevice wide enough to see seat post through). That's right where everyone told me the frame would break.

Frustrated (and emotionally blinded), I went right to the internet and pulled the trigger on a 2010 Superfly. It looks like this:

The frame had been built up, but not ridden. I love eBay.

Anyway, the new ride is (the frame is the only difference) is 470 grams leaner and probably orders of magnitude faster. I mean, GF did a fine job on that paint. And you know black, red, white is going to be way faster than the light blue of the '08 Paragons. I mean, you just know it.

The setup you see here plus a saddle bag with tube and multi-tool weighed in at 25.5 lbs on Merv's digital scale.

This bike makes me very happy.


Warrantied the Paragon at Gettysburg Bicycle. We'll see what Trek sends me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

cold weather lovely

(As I'm writing this I'm nibbling on almonds and sipping from a 12 ounce can of Dr. Pepper that had been sitting in my car all night, at around 20 degrees. This makes me exceptionally happy.)

I rode this morning for a couple of hours. When I left the house my thermometer read 21 degrees. reported a wind chill of nine degrees. I don't know anything about that, but it was windy. Gusty, really. So if wind chill is a function of wind velocity (it is), then in reality wind chill varied varied considerably during my two hours on the bike, perhaps averaging to around nine degrees.

Anyway, it was cold.

But I wasn't.

Each winter it takes me a few rides to get the particulars ironed out, but when I do, I can be downright comfortable on the bike, even for two hours or longer.

Yesterday I rode and didn't get it right. I came home with cold hands, frozen feet, and my body was wet with sweat. But today my hands stayed toasty, my feet were just beginning to get cool, and my base layer was only a bit damp in the usual sweat-prone areas.

I think I've mentioned all this before, but here's a short list of some of my favorite cold-weather riding gear:

ski goggles -- After riding with them, going out in sub-30 degree weather without seems pure torture. If you haven't tried goggles on the bike, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. You'll be amazed. Completely helmet compatible (helmet on first, strap around the back of your helmet--like you would do if snowmobiling or riding motocross).

the mysterious balaclava -- Amazing the effect a thin, almost inconsequential layer of fabric wrapped around your head has on one's overall riding experience. Especially when coupled with the goggles. If the wind is really intense, pull it up over your nose and under your goggles. Now not a bit of your skin is exposed.

Craft Windstopper base layer -- A couple of years ago I picked up this amazing short-sleeved, mock turtleneck base layer thing that has become an invaluable piece of my winter arsenal. The secret is the panel of Windstopper fabric sewn only on the front of the garment. Perfect.

winter riding shoes -- For me, the Shimano MW80s. When it's as cold as it is today, the shoe alone doesn't do it, but stretch a pair of neoprene booties over the top (in my case, neon green numbers from Performance I bought in 1990) and my feet stay cozy warm.

Another tip:

A perennial problem of cold-weather riding is how to keep your water bottles from freezing. For those that haven't experienced it, let me just tell you they freeze mighty quick on a bike in 20 degree weather. Yesterday, for instance, mine was frozen enough after 50 minutes as to be completely useless.

One option is to exchange bottles for a Camelbak (be sure to run the hose under your armpit rather than over your shoulder or the water will freeze in your tube), but then you have to deal with the consequences of a sweaty Camelbaks are kind of mountain bike ghetto, and who wants that...

And so a better option (and I'm ashamed it took me so long to think of it, when the solution seems painfully simple now) is to simply slip a bottle in the back pocket of your winter riding jacket or jersey. I tried it today and it worked perfectly. Not even a little bit of freezing around the mouthpiece.

So there you have it. Trainer be gone! The only riding worth doing is outside. (Mother Nature is a woman with few suitors...)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

rangel: really?

So I don't know how the phone Microsoft is peddling is going to solve any of the problems their ad agency does, frankly, a brilliant job of highlighting in this delightful commercial you've all no doubt seen already countless times...

...but I bring it up because, well, Rep. Rangel... Really?

(FBers, click here for video.)

This morning, while dropping Marian off at school, I caught a Morning Edition interview of Rep. Charlie Rangel.

After an effective enough folksy start, Rangel stumbles on the following question:

Morning Edition: There is an outside group that has been critical of you in the past. It is now criticizing you for the way that you paid for your legal defense, that you had money removed from a political action committee, that political donations were used to pay your lawyer fees. Is that accurate:

Charlie Rangel: No, it's not accurate, but anyone can make an accusation.

M.E.: I don't want to dwell on this, but I thought your office's position had been that your political action committee did help to pay your legal fees, but that you thought that was a legitimate use of those funds. Is that correct?

C.R.: I don't want to dwell long on anything, but all I know is that my lawyers have told me we haven't done a darn thing that deviates from the law.

Really? I mean, if it's true you haven't done anything "that deviates from the law," why lie about it?

What a douche bag.

I'm reminded of a RadioLab episode on deception. In it, there's a segment on pathological lairs...folks that can't seem to help but lie. Rangel seems to be that flavor of douche bag.

Harlem, surely you can do better.


In the spirit of bipartisanship bagging of douches, I'm floored by the conversation surrounding Don't Ask, Don't Tell as of late. All the top military folks seem very enthusiastic (urgent, even) about changing the law to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Well, good. I'm all for changes that correct the irrational with the rational.

But then there's Sen. John McCain, who inexplicably seems to know better than everyone else and therefore opposes any change to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. What seems particularly odd about his present opposition is that he has long said that he would follow the counsel of military leaders on the issue. Well, the military is speaking, and suddenly McCain knows better.

Unbelievable douchbaggery. Arizona, what's wrong with you? (America, how wise of you to have chosen better.)


A note on the video: my favorite parts are the raised eyebrows at 0:41 and the husband-wife scene at 0:19 and 0:44. Really more the later. Too true. I laugh out loud every time.

(I just realized I wrote--which is to say I did not abbreviate--laugh out loud. That's funny.)

(I don't think I've ever written LOL. Ever. Except now.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the new ship cycling

If you haven't seen it, mosey on over to the new Ship Cycling website.

(It's what I do to procrastinate what I should be doing.)

If you want to link to the site from your blog, website, or whatever, use the following url:

I used "Google Sites," Google's new website creation and hosting tool, to make it all. For free. And Google hosts all the files. Super awesome for html dummies like me who want just a super simple site.

An unexpected major advantage? Super easy to do team collaboration.

Actually, it took me a while to get the hang of it (much early frustration), but now that I'm done I sort of like it. The templates and options within the templates are limiting, but that's mostly ok for my needs, and I know just enough html to make it do things that the interface doesn't provide quick and easy tools for doing.

And like I said, easy-breezy for team collaboration. And free. :-)

more support of disclosure (and wikileaks)

An op-ed published yesterday on discussing an unrelated topic (trolling) offers additional support (I think) for WikiLeaks and the cause of full disclosure:

"Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity and morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges.

"That mythical ring gave its owner the power of invisibility, and Plato observed that even a habitually just man who possessed such a ring would become a thief, knowing that he couldn’t be caught. Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly."

A hard truth. Who has ears to hear?

Monday, November 29, 2010

wikileaks: I'm on their side

So WikiLeaks is headlining the day's news. Again. The New York Times reports a quarter million diplomatic cables have been released to various news organizations. The talking heads on the various TV news outlets are up in arms. "Down with WikiLeaks," they cry. "It's espionage. A threat to national security."

I don't buy it.

Clearly, I've the unfathomable advantage of not having a stake in any of it. Which is to say that no secrets revealed are going to embarrass me. But it also seems clear that those clamoring the loudest against the leaks are those with the most to lose; those with a personal stake it.

Consider this from The White House:

"By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information."

Maybe. But maybe it's just desserts for those who traffic in shadowy deception and manipulation. Need our government officials employs nakedly Machiavellian tactics to promote the interests of its citizens? I doubt it. It's the easy way, of course. A seductive means of control for the power elite. But a police state would be an easier way to govern, and I'm not keen on that either.

Also, I'm reminded of the frantic prophetic ravings of my beloved white-haired poets.

"I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations...and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation..."

The implication is that stuff done secretly is bad, and that those who persist in secretive interactions, well, they'll get theirs. Generally, I'd say that's a pretty good rule of thumb. To the extend that there is a morality to method, openness = good, deception = bad.


In the struggle between the powerful and the powerless, I rarely find myself empathizing with the powerful.

Go WikiLeaks. Free Pfc. Manning.


On a completely different note, when reading about all this on this morning I found myself hopelessly distracted by this advertisement:

I can't figure out why this women, excitedly peddling Harry Winston's gaudy blood diamonds, is eating a sandwich. If it wasn't so obvious that the image has been digitally distorted, Dove evolution style (the neck is the give-away), I would think she took the advertisement's tag line, "Live the Moment," to heart, the poor woman having starved herself for months prior to the shoot in order to fit into that dress.

Seriously, though, is she really holding a sandwich?!


If you haven't, I recommend a visit to the WikiLeaks site, just to see what all the hubbub is about. As of now, there's nothing on the site regarding this latest bit. What's more, the site appears all but unusable. Perhaps that's due to heavy internet traffic, or perhaps there's something more nefarious afoot. I'm interested to see where this all goes in the coming weeks, months, and years...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


(FB'ers, you'll have to visit the blog to watch the video.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

summer dreaming

From sometime last June. A crit in Hagerstown.

It was a fun little course that had riders careening through a neighborhood in north Hagerstown, and sometimes careening over curbs and whatnot as well. What looked like a simple four-corner crit had enough curves in the straightaways to keep the field pretty strung out. The race was fast. I felt flat. But I had enough to pull out a nice little move to win a prime.

Yah for races with primes. Go AVC.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what I do to stay warm in the winter

It hasn't really gotten cold yet in south-central pee-aay, but it's a 'coming...and so are the questions on how to stay warm.

Yesterday, I got a note from a friend asking how I keep my package warm when it gets cold--bibs and tights, just tights, two pairs of tights? I figured I'd share my response, along with some other cold-weather riding tips and just what-I-do sorts of things.

Everyone has to figure out what works for them, which is to say there won't be a universal right way to stay warm, but I think it's helpful to learn what those who have ridden through more than a few winters have learned.


On keeping male genitalia warm when cold-weather riding...

To start, I don’t have any padded tights. I always wear bib shorts under everything. When it’s cold enough to warrant, I pull on a pair of tights over them. Except that I cut all my tights off mid-shin, so I guess that makes them knickers.

I have two pair of knickers—one that’s not that warm, which I wear when it’s about 35-45 degrees out, and another that I wear when it’s colder. If it’s REALLY cold, like less than 25 degrees, I wear a modified pair of hiking pants over whatever else.

When it gets to freezing or below, I don’t leave home without my anatomically trimmed patch of fleece. I cut it from some old fabric I had lying around and, when it’s cold, I just stuff it down my shorts, wrapping my package in the warm, soft, comfy texture of 200 weight fleece.

It’s really the best solution I’ve found. My genitals never get cold when I have that thing in place.

There are other possible solutions. Craft makes a brief with a WindStopper patch on the front that you supposedly wear under everything. I think that would work ok, but I don’t like wearing underwear under my shorts in the winter not so much because of discomfort (though that's a concern), but because the extra fabric makes my butt all sweaty. And sweat, when it’s cold, should be avoided when possible. So if the fleece patch doesn’t appeal to you, I’d consider taking a look at the Craft brief. (Craft makes super stellar winter wear. IMO, Craft, Icebreaker, and maybe Patagonia are THE top-of-the-line in respect to cold-weather athletic wear.)

On keeping legs warm when cold-weather riding...

I'm a dedicated knee-warmer fan. Such a great piece of cold weather gear. If it's under 65 and cloudy, I've probably got my knee-warmers on. If it's under 60, they're on. When it’s cold enough to put my knickers on, it’s over the knee warmers. And I have several pair—those that are just lycra, and others that are fleece-lined.

As I said above, I always wear a pair of bib shorts under everything. When it gets down to about 45, I pull my lightweight knickers on over my bibs and thin knee warmers. When it gets cold enough that I want my shins covered (35 degrees or so), I wear tall socks.

My leg-covering strategy by approximate temperature ranges:

55-65: bibs + thin knee-warmers

48-55: bibs + fleece-lined knee-warmers

38-48: bibs + thin knee-warmers + thin knickers

20-35: bibs + thin knee-warmers (sometimes fleece-lined warmers) + warm knickers + tall socks

under 32: everything else + fleece genital cozy

under 20: everything else + specially modified hiking pants

On keeping feet warm when cold-weather riding...

Shoe covers are of course critical when the temperature drops down into the 40s. Sometimes they also make sense even when it's a bit warmer. Nice neoprene numbers are the best because they're waterproof.

However, the single best cold-weather gear purchase I’ve made in the past five years are my winter riding shoes. I have the Shimano MW80s. Such. A. Good. Idea.

I got mtb (as opposed to road) winter shoes because they’re much more versatile. They work well when mountain biking, obviously, but if I want to wear them on my road bike I just move my pedals over. Mine are a size bigger than my usual riding shoe size so I can wear a thicker sock and still have a little room in there. A too-tight shoe makes for blood circulation problems which accentuates cold-weather feet-warming issues.

If it’s really cold (less than 25 degrees), and I’m going to be out for more than two hours, I’ll put shoe covers over them. But really, I’ve found the problem with keeping feet warm on a bike in the really cold is the negative heat transfer from your cold metal crank and pedal to the sole of your shoe. Shoe covers do nothing to solve that issue. So if my feet get cold in 20 degree weather I find I just need to get off and walk a few minutes and they’ll warm right back up. This is of course easier in mtb shoes than in road shoes.

On keeping the torso warm when cold-weather riding...

Keeping your torso warm is a good deal about managing sweat and wind. I've found that when heading out for a long winter ride I'm going to sweat a lot more in the first, say, 60-90 minutes than I am the rest of the ride. So I like to bring along a spare base layer. After 90 minutes or so I strip off my sweaty wet one and put on the fresh dry one. Or just take the sweaty base layer off and then put everything else back on. Makes all the difference in the world.

Bulking up with extra layers is less important than making sure you've got a good wind shield in the front. So a good wind vest with rear ventilation is critical.

I've found that with our new (last year) Shippensburg jackets that it's so warm I don't want to put it on until the temperature drops well below 40 degrees, and then with just a base layer under. But I always bring along a vest, and if I get cold later, I either swap out base layers (for a dry one) or put on my vest under the jacket, or both. I can go a long way in 30 degree weather using this strategy.

On keeping your head warm during cold-weather riding...

When it gets down to 50 or so I like to throw on a thin hat or ear-covering thing (actually, I used to do the ear-covering thing, but now I only do hats). I have low tolerance for cold ears, so I keep them covered.

When it gets below freezing, you might benefit from wearing a balaclava. I find, however, that keeping a nice full beard does the job and balaclavas often leave me over-heated.

When it’s under 30 degrees I usually wear ski goggles right over my helmet. This works surprisingly well. I've found goggles make an amazing difference in keeping your entire face/head warm. A skullcap + goggles keeps my head much more comfortable than a balaclava + sunglasses, but I generally pack along an extra balaclava when it's cold just in case. Goggles + balaclava makes your head virtually impenetrable to cold, which I've found advantageous when it's cold, the wind is blowing, and, if that wasn't enough, it starts to snow.

On keeping your hands warm during cold-weather riding...

This one is easy: wear gloves.

Really, it's that easy. If your hands are cold your gloves aren't thick enough. Ski gloves work best.

I've also found leather work gloves to work really, really well until about 32 degrees. And leather work gloves are an awful lot more economical than fancy full-fingered winter cycling gloves.

Now, if your hands do get cold when you're out riding, it helps to windmill your arms several times really fast to push the blood out to your finger tips. When people first see this trick they're generally skeptical, but then they try it and they believe. Trust me, it works.


Well, I think that about covers it. Have your own cold-weather riding tip? Post away if you're not afraid...

Friday, November 12, 2010

a walk in the woods

Yesterday, hiked ~23 miles along the AT and various other trails/fire roads. (Total walking time, 10 hours w/ breaks.)

Today, little muscles on the outside of my legs--about six inches up from my ankles--hurt so bad I'm left hobbling around. Everything else: fine. Weird.


Ten years ago the idea of hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. Not so much anymore. During my walk yesterday I kept thinking how much I'd rather be on a bike. Load me down with gear and set me off to do 100+ miles a day on a bike and I'd be all enthusiastic about it. I think on the trail, doing ~20 miles a day, I could go about a week and I'd be done. Just. Not. Interesting.

I might, though, feel different about hiking the high mountains in the West-Is-The-Best. More challenge. More diversity of terrain and scenery. Potentially more danger. These eastern mountains, I love them, but oh my how they are monotonous...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'10 worlds


What a great race. I was on pins and needles. And the camera
work didn't help... I mean, had I known that the Cadel chase group was just about to be swallowed by the peloton (maybe they didn't know either) then maybe I wouldn't have gotten all worked up about it, but I seriously thought Gilbert was going to take it. And I didn't know until I was watching that chase, but I was totally cheering for a Cuddles repeat. How awesome would have that been?

But how awesome was it?! I mean, this dude IS a champion!!

Anyway... So glad I was awake at 1:00 am Sunday morning and found a video feed so that I could watch the last lap or so of the race. Action-packed and super exciting.

Gilbert's a stud. He deserved the win. I hope he gets one eventually. But Cuddles put in a tremendous effort as well. I wish everyone raced as hard as he does. I mean, do you remember this?

(A hint: 2010 Giro, Stage 7.)

Let's hope Hushovd brings as much honor to the rainbow stripes with standout performances on the cobbles come April.

2010 has been a good year to be a pro cycling fan. Long live the hard men and the races that make them.

(As always, the best race photos are on cyclingtips. I don't know how that dude gets his pics, but they're amazing. Thanks, dude.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the tenth inning

I'm entranced by Ken Burn's The Tenth Inning.

And I'm not afraid to admit that I teared up at several points when watching the last two nights. I am a sports fan. Long live sport.


My favorite bit last night was the Ichiro spotlight. And my favorite part of that segment the quote from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in response to his amazing throw from right field, catching the A's Terrance Long trying to take third (watch here, at 0:51):

"That throw needs to be framed and hung on the wall at the Louve, next to the Mona Lisa."

An awkward expression of the poignant beauty of sporting excellence. Yessir. I concur.


Speaking of sporting excellence and poignant beauty, how about The Big Swiss Time Machine...


(If FC joins that Luxembourger team and ends up on a Trek next year I'm going to puke. Anything, please... Anything but a Trek.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

the good

It felt good to be a bike racer today. Results not terrific, but I felt good. Empowered. And that feeling--I'm pretty sure that's why I race bikes in the first place.

(And I haven't raced in over two months, so there's that.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the summer's massive adventure

I've spent much too little effort chronically the events of our massive summer road trip as it was happening. There was so much goodness. But here's a little taste. At least it's a little taste of the riding, but even a banquet of riding stories would be just an appetizer of the grander Goatish fun of the trip. (What'd ya think of that last sentence? A little too much?)

The Goatmobile (our new swagger wagon) prepped for the trip. The two small wheels at the front of that heap atop the roof are the back wheels of our jogger stroller. The box is loaded with camping gear. The back is loaded with all the crap a family of five needs for a six-week road trip. And seats will soon be loaded with the five of us: N (36), V (36), A (12), M (8), and R (1).

Our first night was spent in a mosqueto-infested swamp on the shore of Lake Michigan, the second with dear friends in Rochchester, MN. Then the Badlands (a pre-dawn ride through Badlands NP remains a trip highlight), and the next day at Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. An early morning ride through Custer State Park was interrupted by a full-on buffalo orgy spilling out over the highway. I counted 65 buffs, but there could have easily been double that number.

After spending nine or ten days in Idaho Falls, which included a wonderfully adventurous 72-mile road ride (30 some miles of which was over unpaved USFS road), and an mtb misadventure where I fell (sort of head/shoulders first) down an eight-foot embankment into essentially a trough of cow dung, we made it to Boise. At dawn the next day I rode across town and up the gravel road to Table Rock, a table-like bluff situated prominently in the foothills just east of the city.

A favorite ride for Boise folk is the 16-mile jaunt from the city to the base of Bogus Basin Ski Resort, a climb of about 3500'. As I climbed the road I got to wondering if there was an all-dirt way to get to the ski station; not just the lower lodge, where we ride our road bikes, but all the way to the 7,500' peak of Shaffer Butte. A few days later I found it. An estimated 4800' net elevation gain in a more or less steady climb. On the day, probably more like 6000' gross elevation. It was a dee-light-full ride. (Punctuated with the obligatory shot of my ride atop the summit.)

After a week in Boise, we were back in Idaho Falls, then to Utah for a week in and around the Wasatch Front. A friend took me on a lovely five-hour mtb ride; a true loop, we never rode the same trail twice. I wish I knew the names of all the trails. We started high in Millcreek Canyon, crossed the ridge into the Canyons Resort, meandered south near the 8000' line into Park City Resort, then climbed back up the ridge at Guardsman's Pass (Big Cottonwood Canyon), rode north along a section of the Great Western Trail, and then eventually descended back to the upper Millcreek trail head. Those Wasatch trails are such a pleasure. I'm very, very jealous.

There was other great mountain biking in Utah--the Draper foothill trails, Strawberry Reservoir, the Snow Basin area above Ogden--but I had to pull the road bike from the quiver once more in Utah Co., my sense of nostalgia for the dense aspen forests of the Alpine Loop being too strong to resist. (Also, last time I mountain biked in American Fork Canyon--three years ago--I broke my collarbone. So I chose the road this time...)

On the way home we made stops in both Grand Junction and Colorado Springs, Co. (two Colorado towns whose names those in-the-know shorten with casual non-proper noun type appellations--"The Junction" and "The Springs"...and now you know). In The Springs, after a morning mtb jaunt through Palmer Park, a friend took me up "The Incline." Fifteen years of visiting Colorado Springs and I had no idea this existed. But it's awesome. Two thousand feet of elevation over an average grade of 41% (max grade 68%). There used to be rails, apparently, and a cable car-style car that took people to some kind of lookout/resort atop the hill. But that closed in 1990, and now people (including me) illegally access and climb the old rail line. Apparently the Incline is a favorite winter training playground for Olympic athletes, presumably when there's no snow.

I enjoyed my walk up. I even ran the last 50 feet or so. But I took the trail down.

But school's started and the summer is over.

And its September.

But September means cross.

And cross is boss.

So get excited! (My excitement has led to extravagantly placing an order for a new Specialized Crux S-Works. I'm excited! But not brave enough to tell my wife. Yet.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

sense prevails

California's "Proposition 8" has been overturned. You can read about it lots of places, this is one of them.

The article I linked above reports the judge to have written in his decision:

"...Proposition 8 fails to possess even a rational basis... Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs' objective as 'the right to same-sex marriage' would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy--namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages."


I sincerely hope the opposition will finally stand down. It's just so much wasted energy. Wasted negative energy. Bad for the soul. Bad karma.

But you know, I'm pretty sure that in the years to come those who presently are given to hating will look back and realize it wasn't such a big deal after all. Well, most of them anyway. (I'm an optimist.)

Folks, I promise, the world will not come to an end because boys are marrying boys and girls are marrying girls. So just get over it.

Live and let live...

bogus fat tire

After returning to a favorite climb of yesteryear last Saturday--Bogus Basin Rd--and extending the usual lower parking lot finishing area to the upper lodge, and then up the cat track / double-track below Superior Chair on the road bike, I was inspired to find an all dirt path from Boise to Shafer Butte today.

I started at Camel's Back Park, at an elevation of approximately 2,800', proceeded up Hull's Gulch, Corral's Trail (I think), then Scott's Trail (though I mistakenly thought I was on Hard Guy's trail, for those that know what I'm talking about) until getting to the USFS road that 8th Street becomes. Then I just climbed, climbed, climbed. A slow grind up the road, past areas of pending development and majestic views to the left of the foothills, valley, and Bogus Basin Rd, and breathtaking views to the right of mountain ridge after mountain ridge into the Great Beyond. I passed two bear cubs scurrying up trees on my route. I didn't wait to see if their mother was around.

Finally, the road dumps out at the top of Chair #1. Pinesomethingorother Chair. From there I followed the cat tracks to skier's right around the ridge and up to Superior Chair, Deercreek Chair, and finally to the Shafer Butte summit, 7,600' above sea level.

That's a net elevation gain of 4,800', but with all the ups and downs along the way, surely closer to 5,500'. With the bit of climbing still to do in descending the mountain (because of time constraints, on the paved road, unfortunately) I grossed I'm sure well over 6,000' for the day.

Anyway, the climb to the summit took just under three hours...and was absolutely fabulous. A lovely, lovely three hours. So much fun I'd love to jump right back in the saddle and do it again. Today. Right now. My soul is capable of so much more saddle time than either my poor body or lifestyle can sustain, but what time I get to ride (which, relatively speaking, is quite a lot, I'm aware) is a blessed treasure.

Friday, July 2, 2010

do bears bark?

Baby bears do. At least, that's what I heard.

I encountered my first Michaux State Forest black bears yesterday. Three. Mama bear and two cubs.

Riding up a heavily wooded ravine I noticed a little movement up the trail. In that moment prior to recognition, prior to anything that can appropriately be described as thinking, I thought it was another rider. Movement. (Click-whirr.) Human. No, dog. No...bear!

I stopped immediately. She only glanced at me. Dismissively. But then her cubs saw me and they went flying into the woods, barking. Not sharp and distinct like a dog's bark, but sort of a sore throat, muffled bark. I didn't see them until they started moving. When I left them they were both 15 feet up trees.

I would have loved to have stayed and watched them, but it was one of those moments you're reminded of your own puniness before lady nature. I headed out. Quickly.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

do the deaf dance?

This has me fascinated. And jealous.

I love that her signing is a kind of dance. Awesome.


In other news, I've been playing a little tennis lately, which has prompted me to buy a racquet. It came today: Wilson BLX Surge.

As it turns out, the racquet led me to YouTube...because, you know, racquet = guitar...and I needed something inspiring to play.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the practical non-relative nature of time

The longest day of the year and the sun set by 8:30. Something I can't quite get used to about living on the East Coast.

Monday, June 21, 2010

four reasons why soccer is dumb (and I like soccer)

Yup, I like soccer. A lot. But it's a sport that, for whatever reason (and I don't know the history), has rules seemingly intended to make it as dumb as possible.

So, four reasons why soccer is dumb, listed in increasing level of importance:

(4) There are no clock stoppages. I mean, really... It's the 21st century. Surely FIFA can manage to put a competent thumb on a stopwatch and, when the ball goes out or play stops for whatever other reason, the clock stops too. How novel. Then both the players and fans will know when the game is over.

(3) Only one referee. Or official. Or whatever he's called. This is crazy dumb. You don't want so many officials running around that they're getting in the way, but surely there's room for more. Compare soccer to basketball. In basketball, there are ten players on a tiny little court and, at the professional level, three officials. They still miss stuff. They still get calls wrong. Ya just need more than one pair of eyes. Letting the side judges call and weigh in on fouls would be a nice start, but really they need another couple dudes out there too. At least.

(2) Only three substitutions per game. At least, I think that's the rule. And it's dumb. Why not unlimited substitutions? Why not let players come out and go back in? It would keep the players fresher, which would speed up play, which would make the match more exciting and likely result in more goals.

(1) The offsides rule. So dumb. I can't even imagine the absurd logic that resulted in this rule. People say the offsides rule prevents cherry-picking. I say, what's wrong with cherry-picking? (If it's a concern, throw a defender back there on the would-be fruit-lover.) People say there's elegance to offensive strategy because of the offsides rule. No doubt. And discarding the rule would call for new strategies, but would they be less elegant? Can you imagine basketball with an offsides rule?

So there you have it, FIFA, MLA, whoever wants them. Make these changes and your sport will be so much better. So much. Fix #4 and there's room for TV breaks. Maybe you don't think that's such a good thing, but if television were able to peddle advertising slots in the traditional (American) way, it's likely there would be more television coverage, which would increase fan interest. Win-win. Fix #3 and the conspiracy element associated with officiating would be much reduced. Perceptions of fairness would increase dramatically. Fix #2 and #1 and you'll have a game with more scoring, which is of course more exciting, but will likely also significantly reduce the chances of a draw, which is the lay person's most voiced complaint about soccer.

However, even for that I have a recommendation. After 90 minutes, if the score is tied, the teams enter a series of 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods where in each consecutive period teams must give up one player, starting with the keeper. Goals will be scored.

You're welcome very much.

Friday, June 11, 2010

elna baker

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir

I can't remember when I first heard of it, but I decided to read the book after it created a small uproar in a Nashville book club among friends.

I just finished.

If you're a Moth or TAL listener you've likely heard Elna's voice and a couple of her stories before. They're funny. I liked her when I heard her. Elna's an actress-turned-comedienne, and I think she's a good performer. At least on radio; I've never seen her perform in person.

Anyway, I'm not going to give a synopsis of the book or anything, just share a few thoughts. Though, I should start by saying that I understood the book to be about Mormon single life in the Big City. Pop sociology dressed up as a memoir. That's not really what the book turned out to be (though that's a book I'd like to read).

At the beginning, I found Elna to be a sympathetic character. I found myself cheering for her. I liked her. She was funny. I laughed a lot. I liked her more with each chapter.

Midway through the book, I started to rethink Elna a bit. She’d make me cringe a little. For one, I can’t believe she’d actually share all that with the whole world... At times, just too much information. I was relieved she wasn't my sister, because wow--embarrassing. And I felt for her family. I kept wondering how much of this she cleared with them and what their reaction was to having it published. (I also wondered if she was really telling the truth.) I especially felt bad for her mom.

I also started to think Elna may not be as smart and clever as I thought she was. She began to reveal herself as being insecure in a way that to say she’s very insecure doesn’t quite cover it. And she turns out to be kind of a snot. Superficial, with not as much texture as I had expected.

(Hmm... Maybe that's too harsh.)

By the end, I was mad at Elna. I didn’t like her very much anymore. She kind of gave me the willies. I would be empathetic about her feelings towards Mormonism if she wasn’t so dumb about it. And the end of the book wasn’t nearly as funny as the beginning.

Now that I've finished, I struggle to put my finger on what the book was actually about. Sometimes Elna seemed to be making making a point about the difficulty of trying to live two lives. I liked that. I think it's a universally important topic. Something a lot of readers, not just Mormon readers, can relate to. But in the end she doesn’t seem to do anything with it, which I found disappointing. Sometimes the book is about change. Personal change. But for the book to really be about that, she would need to address why the change. If left to draw my own conclusions from inference, I'm back to the conclusion of superficiality. I don't really want to be there--it seems so uncharitable--but that's all she's given me.

So...maybe it was intentional, but I felt like the book just ended and I wasn’t left with anything. And its not that I demand a resolution or whatever, but maybe a well formulated question. A...something. Even from a comedian. Because if someone asked me what the book was about I wouldn’t know what to say. It’s not about being Mormon and single in New York. It’s not really a coming-of-age story. It's not about looking for love (not really). It’s not about weight loss. It’s not about sex. It’s not about religion. It’s not even really about identity.

I guess it’s just about Elna. And Elna, it seems, is a me-monster.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 killington stage race

I've been meaning to post a report on Killington, but, well, whatever... I mean to do a lot of things.

The whole thing ended up a bit of a disappointment, and when I think too much about it I get all riled up and it takes me a while to calm I guess maybe I've just been trying not to think about it.

Anyway, Killington... Three days, three stages.

Since everyone that I was counting on going bailed on me, I offered myself up as a teammate to John Landino, the only other person whose name I recognized on the pre-reg list. He thought that idea was pretty cool, which makes him pretty cool, so I found myself "guest riding" for DeathRow Velo for the weekend. In the end, I didn't prove myself very useful as a teammate, but it was cool to have a compatriot in the field anyway.

Stage One. Four laps around an 18 mile circuit. (I wish some of the circuit races around here ran on 18-mile circuits.) A fun course. I didn't like the downhill finish much, but all-in-all a nice course.

I rode a decent race. I was active on the climb every lap but the first, trying to get into breaks and that sort of thing, but nothing came of much and I finished with the lead group of 50-60 riders, luckily dodging a spill within the last kilometer of that crazy downhill finish.

I considered going for some KOM points, but it didn't really work out. Looking back, I wish I'd tried a bit harder.

Stage Two. A brutal 11-mile time trial. All uphill, but not enough uphill to be called a hill-climb or anything. Just a long slog against false-flats and shortish climbs with no downhill recovery sections. And, as it turned out, fighting a fairly stiff wind.

Day two is where the race turned crappy. For me.

Audrey and I headed out early to the race hotel to find my TT start time. I wasn't listed. We went through the sheet three or four times. No 326. No Goatesauce.

Then I saw a little hand-written note on the GC sheet. "#326 disqualified." What?!

There was no one around the race hotel, so back in the car for a 15-mile drive to the start of the TT. I found an official, who pointed me to another official, who told me I'd have to wait for yet another official, who was out on her motorcycle. Finally, I'm told I was disqualified for removing my helmet during the race.

That's true. I did take off my helmet.

It was raining at the beginning of Saturday's race so I threw on a cycling cap under my helmet. But then the sun came out, dried up all the rain, leaving me with an uncomfortable wet cap sliding down over my eyes. I drifted to the back of the field, gave myself a cushion of a few bicycle lengths, then quickly took my helmet off, stuffed cap in pocket, and then replaced my helmet. Apparently that's enough to get you disqualified from a race.

According to the chief referee (to whom I have no kind feelings), what I should have done was gone back to the commissaire's car (I didn't know we were being followed by a commissaire), told them of my issue, and then they would have instructed me to stop aside the road, remove my cap, and then proceed. And I'll just zip right back up to the group like nothing. Yeah, right.

It took about a half hour, but I got back in the race. The kicker? I was relegated to the position of the last-placed finisher, 33 MINUTES DOWN! And I have to pay a $20 fine.

So stupid.

Oh well, so now I'm racing again, I have a start time, and I finish a respectable-but-personally-disappointing 11th, 1:12 off the pace of the winner, but 47 seconds off the pace of second place.

I had said if I didn't finish in the top 10 I'd be disappointed. I was aiming for top five. I needed to go 34 seconds faster for fifth place.

It was one of those races where I was never able to really get in the groove. There was only one section, for about two miles after the sky bridge, where I really felt on. The rest of the course I was just struggling to turn the pedals. It's too bad. I so wanted to do well in that TT.

Stage Three. A monster 61-mile loop with two big climbs and lots of broken tarmac. One sprint line. Three (I think) KOM lines.

Since I had nothing to lose, John suggested that I start the stage attacking from the gun. So I did.

About 1/2 mile in I rode off the front and was soon joined by a few others. Disorganization. Nothing came of it. Along Route 100 I tried to get away a couple more times. No dice. But then around mile 17 or so we caught a two-man break that had been away since the first climb. I launched a perfectly-timed attack and rode right away from the field. The problem was that no one came with me.

Whatever. I just kept at it. It's one of those things that you know is crazy. There's no way I'd be able to stay away. Still so much riding. A lot of climbing. A few folks pretty keen on picking up KOM points. But I went for it anyway. It felt good. And I was able to avoid all the potholes that I'd be blindly smashing into were I tucked in the pack.

I'd get time checks from the moto official. First, 20 seconds. Then 25. Up to 30.

So I kept it up. I held off a chase group of four or five motivated by the sprint line at about mile 23 or so. Max sprint points for me. A small victory. (I wish there'd been a prime to with them.)

When the sprinters caught me they didn't want to work to stay away, so I left them behind and soldiered on by myself. But when I hit the lower slopes of the climb, at mile 25 or 26, the field was bearing down on me heavily. I wasn't a half-mile into the climb before I was swallowed up. Another half-mile and I was off the back.

I figured my day was done, but some 10 miles later or so a group of about 20 came from behind with a well-organized chase. I jumped in, and by mile 47 or so we'd caught the leaders. I let them tow me to the finishing climb, and then just Sunday-strolled it to the finish, crossing the line in 48th place, nearly nine minutes behind the winner.

And that's it.

It's hard to say what could have been... I'd been in 11th place on GC after the TT without the relegation. And had I been in 11th place on GC, I would have sat in through the third stage. I wouldn't have burned my matches on the solo break. I wouldn't have been dropped on the first climb. But it's hard to know how I would have fared at the finish. That was a tough climb, and much steeper in places than what I usually do well on. A top 20 would have been great, but I doubt I'd been able to finish in the money. Just too tough a climb for this fat man.

But I'm still burning a little over that DQ.

A euro-style good luck charm, felted by Mrs. Goatesauce on the drive. (It's a dragonfly.)

the edgar soto

I've been thinking a lot lately--since Killington, I suppose--about the short-lived Edgar Soto. Man, that race was a lot of fun. The inaugural event, in 2006, when I was still living in Nashville racing as a Cat 4 (2006 was my first year really back into racing since, oh, 1992), is I think still my very favorite experience racing a bicycle. A four-day, four-stage stage race. We had a strong, close-knit team. We won the sprint competition. We won the team competition. We felt like "real" bike racers. And I think three of us finished in the money.

Anyhoo, I chanced upon some photos from stage three of the 2007 Edgar Soto and thought I'd post 'em.

Tangentially, the bike I'm riding there, though broken later that year, has just been fixed. E found a guy in Shippensburg that doesn't know you're not supposed to be able to repair by weld heat-treated aluminum bicycle frames. So he patched up the broken chain stay. I haven't ridden it since the repair, but E had one of his bikes repaired too, and its already been ridden long and hard with no problems.

If I could find a (very) cheap but functional 8, 9, or 10 speed gruppo and a pair of hoops, I know just who I'd put on this rig.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

my racist lawnmower

Yesterday, my racist lawnmower stopped mid-way through the job. It was done. Wouldn't work.

After walking away for a couple of hours (things like this are prone to throw me into fits of rage which, later, are embarassing), I confronted the lawnmower with a fist full of tools. And this is the important part:

I took it apart, diagnosed the problem, fixed the problem, and put it back together. It started on the second pull.

This pencil-necked PhD may make a living at the chalk and key boards, but I can also fix a lawnmower.

Yes. Yes, I can. (Even a racist one.)

Friday, May 21, 2010


Everyone's talking about it, and so must I...

So my favorite take on all the hullabaloo thus far has been from Adam Myerson. Which is interesting, to me, because after Transitions (if you've seen the trailer, and liked it, don't spoil the good feeling by watching the whole film), I walked away thinking this guy was a complete douche--wouldn't even want to have dinner with the dude.

But his take on this mess I find utterly refreshing. I hate to put too fine a point on it, but, really, this is about as deep and insightful as you're going to get in the world of pro bicycle racing commentary. (Which, personally, is of course a little troubling because it's forcing me to rethink my opinion of Myerson.)

For your reading pleasure, I've reprinted most of his post here:

Pretty Boy Floyd

So by now, I'm sure you've heard about Floyd's confession. The Wall Street Journal broke the story, apparently, and there's an excellent follow up on I'll let you get caught up rather than recap it here, because I want to get at what I think is the heart of the matter. Before I could even write it myself, Floyd said it to ESPN:

"I don't feel guilty at all about having doped. I did what I did because that's what we [cyclists] did and it was a choice I had to make after 10 years or 12 years of hard work to get there, and that was a decision I had to make to make the next step. My choices were, do it and see if I can win, or don't do it and I tell people I just don't want to do that, and I decided to do it."

I've actually had a blog entry about Floyd percolating for a while. I've been racing with him a lot over the past two seasons since he came back. And much like Tyler, Floyd was (is) always really nice to me. Says hi, smiles, is friendly. He doesn't ride around with an attitude, he doesn't yell at guys in the races, and when he has legs, he works hard. There was definitely a lot of "parade riding" in his first year back where he seemed to just be showing up, going to the bar at night, and not putting a lot of effort into the races. But when his form came back around, he was always willing to work for his teammates.

And so just as I did with Tyler, I struggled when Floyd was nice to me. He was not the same guy I raced with back in the day, when he was a mountain biker dabbling in the road races, or on Mercury after that. I wanted to spit on him. If he was near me in the pack, I made a point of not giving him room. If he was coming back from an attack or I was passing him in a turn, maybe I turned a little wider than I needed to. You can't make room for someone you consider invisible, or a pariah, right?

Well, that kind of negativity eats at you, too. It doesn't feel good to go out of your way to fuck with someone, and it takes something away from you. Eventually I got over it, and tried to just treat Floyd as a human who deserved a certain amount of consideration and respect. All we really want to do is race our bikes. I needed to let Floyd do that, too.

Late last season, I started to turn the corner even further on Floyd. Maybe it was the collection of Sunday nights at the bar, watching him buy people drinks after races and just generally being a funny, friendly, approachable guy. Maybe it was him saying hi in the elevators at race hotels, shyly, but with that mischievous smirk on his face. Maybe it was just watching how he kept his head down in the races, was just happy to be racing his bike - I dunno, but at some point I decided I liked Floyd Landis. And I didn't really know what to do with that.

At the same time, at no point did I think Landis was innocent, or that he hadn't been doping. But every time I'd see him talk about it, I felt like he was always winking while he did it. My understanding of Floyd's position went something like this: "Oh fuck yes I doped. I doped just like everyone else did. I did not invent doping, and I understood that at the level I was at, it was part of my job description, like Lance, like George. So why should I be the only one who goes down for it?" I saw Landis fighting the charges not because he hadn't doped, because like all his peers, he had. I saw him fighting it because he thought the system was fucked up, and I mean the whole system. The team he was on that encouraged him to dope, the labs that didn't follow their own rules, the UCI that had its own interests to protect. Why would any of us expect Floyd to "do the right thing" here, and in his mind, take the fall or be the scapegoat for a system he participated in by choice, but that he sure didn't invent?

And honestly, why should Landis have confessed at that point? Why shouldn't he fight the charges, if the mindset of the guys at the top level is that doping is part of the job? To understand this, you have to think about doping as the equivalent of slashing or crosschecking in hockey, or traveling in basketball - essentially any kind of play that's subject to a penalty. When someone gets called for crosschecking, you don't think of them as a cheater, do you? But of course, they're breaking the rules. They are absolutely cheating. But it's part of the game, and absolutely mandatory to be successful at the game, to hook or slash or crosscheck as much as you can, while still getting away with it. The point is not to NOT slash or hook. The point is to not get caught. In the previous generations of pro cycling at the highest level, this was the mindset. It's not about morals or fair play. It's just a game. It's not real life, and this is how the game was played.

On another hand, you have to also consider doping in the mindset of rider health. It may sound backward, when we're told that doping has long lasting, negative health effects. But when you train and race at that level, you literally make yourself sick with training. Hematocrit is suppressed, hormone levels drop, and the doctor comes in to bring you back up to normal health. The biggest risks appear to come when you go over the top, and try to turn your mule into a race horse. But for those guys, they have mechanics to tune the bikes, so why not doctors to monitor their health? In their insular, narrow world, it doesn't even appear to be an unethical choice. Ethics aren't even on the table. You're just in, or out.

You see the difference after guys come back, and you presume they're racing clean. Tyler and Floyd, when they were racing in the US were good, top level. They were both obviously, always talented. But it was always strange to be racing crits and being competitive with guys who won Olympic gold medals and the Tour. I found it ironic that after all they'd been through, they were right back riding in circles in America with me, like we were ten years earlier. Of course there were plenty of guys who DID say no. Danny Pate, Mike Creed, Tim Johnson - for me those are the glaring examples of guys who had a chance to be pros in Europe (Pate and Creed on Saeco, Tim on Saunier Duval) at a time when doping was still de rigueur, but unlike Floyd and Tyler, just said no and came home. And now, in a cleaner era, you see them competing at the highest level of the sport. I believe in those guys, and I think they're representative of the other path that was available to Tyler and Floyd.

Landis' defense wasn't about whether he was guilty or not. Of course he was guilty of doping. He knew it, and he knew you knew it. His defense was against being the scapegoat, being the one who took the fall. His defense was an attack on the hypocrisy of the system. So why finally come out with it now, during the TOC and Giro? Why the fuck not now? If you're Landis, and you know that despite serving your suspension and being free to race, you'll never be allowed back in at the top level, why not burn the whole fucking thing down? Why should Lance get to be an international star and hero to the world, when he's guilty of all the same crimes as Landis? Landis clearly loves bike racing and just wants to race his bike. If he can't play, then who can blame him for calling bullshit on the whole thing?

So burn down Babylon. Burn pro cycling down. There will still be racing, there will still be races. Burn it down, so we can build it up again new. I condemn Landis' original decision to participate in a corrupt, immoral system. But I'll stand in front of the flames with him and watch it burn.

I'll shake his smokey hand the next time I see him.


I don't think there's any question that Landis is a little bit crazy. Maybe even a lot bit crazy. And maybe even a snake. But he's also painfully simple. There's nothing sophisticated or cosmopolitan about that dude. He'd probably score around 450 on the SAT (well, that may not be fair...he uses a reference to scarlet letters appropriately in an interview, and that's saying something). He just likes to ride his bike. Drink. Watch stupid movies. And hang out with other dudes that do the same sort of thing.

But I'm just as confident that Lance is every bit the charlatan that his critics make him out to be. He's just really, really good at the deceit. And he has money. And he's terribly charismatic. That the media, in reporting Landis' comments, doesn't even mention past evidence against Armstrong (a bunch of it, now six years old(!), is summarized neatly here, and that doesn't even include Franie Andreu or Greg LeMond's testimony, of which the former is especially damning), speaks to the power Armstrong wields. But the cards will come tumbling down eventually. I'm sure of it.

I mean, listen to this (and watch the body language). He so clearly does have something to hide. A lot of something. Clearly.

UPDATE: Something else worth reading on the matter (in case you missed it):

Kimmage: Landis allegations will decide the sport’s future



Now, for a complete change of subject:

Specialized give California an American Flyers feel.

Are you kidding me?! I'm practically dying of awesomeness! You have no idea how I want one of those red SL3s... And the t-shirt... And the stupid cowboy hat... And the red van...

And watching stupid Andy Schleck get to have all the fun is almost too much. I mean, what could a Luxenburger know of the coolness of the layers of American irony that are wrapped up in that whole thing?

Oh, the awesomeness actually hurts...

Monday, May 17, 2010


I've three (really cool) items on eBay right now. In case I've any readers are interested...

A crazy awesome long-sleeved black and white (plain--no custom logos or anything) Cervelo skinsuit. Turned out it was too big for me.

A super-sleek 3T Funda Pro fork. Red. The kind Cervelo puts on all its bikes.

And a 2008 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2, 58 cm. Sick naked carbon finish. The same bike that's featured in the little picture on the top right-hand corner of this blog, actually. (That picture is now going to have to be updated, come to think of it.)


I think my eBay item descriptions are pretty great, and I don't mind saying so. And I don't mind saying either that 95 percent of eBay item descriptions are an abomination.

People, there's no excuse for not at least trying to write well, regardless of the medium.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

five summits

Rather than post pictures of routes and elevation profiles (that's so yesterday), I'm going to try something new and spiffy (facebookers, y'all are probably gonna have to visit the blog to see the something-new-and-spiffy).

(Click here for a much bigger map that's easier to follow.)

Anyway... This is a variation on my favorite training ride. And I think I like this variation better than the original, so I guess that makes this my new favorite training ride.

Forty-six miles. Forty-six hundred feet of climbing. (Bikely said 4200 ft. So who knows. But I like the sound of 4600, because I like the symmetry of averaging 100 ft elevation gain per mile.)

When I come back from a ride like this it's hard to imagine a better way of spending two and a half hours. Beautiful terrain. A wonderfully performing bicycle. Pleasant weather. It's good to be a cyclist.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


(Facebookers, go here for the video.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

the cultural artifacts of rural pee-aay

When you see "HOOK UP OR SHUT UP" hand painted on the tailgate of a 25 year-old Chevy pickup belching smoke from modified, upright exhaust pipes and the stars-and-bars where a front license plate would be, what does it mean?

Friday, May 7, 2010

the alure of what is "classic"

Of the several loose frames I have lying around in the basement there are:

(1) 1990 Specialized Allez Epic (58 cm)

(2) 2008 Specialized Tarmac SL2 (58 cm)

The second I'm trying to sell. The first I never will.

For those not in the know, the first, that Allez Epic, was a pretty hot frame in its day. Companies like Kestrel and Trek (do you remember the Trek 5000?--link is to a picture...and, tangentially, a case study in how to make a pretty bike truly grotesque through douchbaggery--the strap-on pump? the saddlebag the size of a doghouse? the stem angle and patchwork handlebar tape? and is that a spare tire behind the seatpost? ugh...) were blazing virgin territory with their monocoque carbon fiber frame designs, but those frames were crazy expensive. And in the case of the Trek, not very reliable. But others (Trek included), like Calfee and Specialized, were making bicycle frames out of carbon fiber in the traditional way that bicycles are made--eight tubes bonded together at their various junctions in some manner. The Epic was one of these frames. In 1990, it was one of the hottest things around. And I had one.

The second bike--I'm just going to say it--was the hottest thing around two years ago. (Since then, Specialized has introduced the SL3, and that makes the SL2 merely the second hottest thing around. Yup, still cooler than all those poser Cervelos, Madones, SystemSixes, etc. There might be a Ridley that's on par, but until Cervelo updates its S2s and S3s, that's as far as I'm willing to go.)


A fun little game I've been playing lately is to invite people to my basement and put in each of their hands one of these frames. The state-of-the-art 20 years ago. The state-of-the-art today. The difference is astonishing, even to those that are expecting it.


So now that I have my dream build...*

(Apologies for the weird in-and-out-of-focus photo. Blame it on the iPhone. I wish I could blame forgetting to put the chain on the big ring on my phone as well. Yikes. It's kind of like forgetting to comb your hair on picture day. Notice the snazzy WickWerks rings.)

(Sometimes I like to think of what my 16 year-old self would of thought of this bike...I might have short-circuited something if I knew that one day I'd get to ride this thing. Any time I want.)

(But Oh! how I'm materialistic. I probably deserve a public slapping for liking a thing so much. But then I remind myself, as a way of putting perspective on it and/or as naked rationalization, that there are people who shamelessly own and drive Hummers and Cadillac SUVs and think nothing of it. They deserve to be slapped three times, then tried for crimes against humanity. I just like to ride bicycles.)

...I can't help but look to the past. To dream bikes, if you will, from yesteryear.

There are two bikes in which I'm particularly interested. As showpieces. Art. I want to hang them in my living room (Val will give me space for a time).

The first, a Vitus 979 (or possibly a 992) from the late 80s. Something like these:

(Interestingly, I recognize the rims in this picture as being the same as I laced up in my first wheel build project last summer.)

The second, an early generation Kestrel 4000. A really early one, with an aluminum fork:

(Once in my possession, I would take decent photographs of them and post them on the internets in such a way that people looking for a picture of one through the pipes could find them easily.)

If I built them up, I would do it with period-correct Dura-Ace (on one) and C-Record complete with Delta brakes (on the other). If I could find it, SunTour Superbe Pro. Or I might leave them as frames only. Either way, they would be beautiful, and I might charge admission for people to look at them. But probably not. Because beauty should be shared. Freely.

*To me, a "dream build" is one where you can't really imagine doing anything else to it; no desire to upgrade a single piece or component, even if money wasn't an issue. This one is pretty much there (especially after I replaced the setback S-Works seatpost with a zero-setback Easton EC90). However, I'm far from my "dream build" in the tt, mtb, and cross categories. And my wheel quiver feels far too light. So there's plenty of work yet to do. And, of course, there's this.

Monday, May 3, 2010

turkey hill 2010

I've ran this race three times, which is as much as I've run any single weekend course in my odd little cycling career (I'm thinking the only other course I've raced that many times is the one I did in Ontario, Oregon every spring when I was in high school), and every time it's kicked my butt.

Turkey Hill: my Pennsylvania cycling bugaboo.

In 2007, Carney (a teammate) was off the front alone for about half the race. We caught him on the rollers leading into the finish and I remember (1) how mad he was at all of us (teammates) for not attacking immediately after he was caught and (2) how completely toasted I was at that point and how completely impossible it would have been to attack.

In 2009, I felt great all the way through, and was poised to have a nice finish, but rather than choose the smart tactic and take my good feelings on the attack in the last couple of miles, I tried to find a good position for the sprint and ended up getting pushed off the road and crashing at 30+ mph with about 1K to go.

And in 2010... The big mistake was hydration. Or lack of it. I'm usually peeing clear and with great volume right before a race. Saturday, nothing. It was already over 80 degrees an hour before start time, and I was harried with registration, getting the kids settled, putting up their sun shelter and folding chairs, making sure Audrey had backup coverage in watching Reuben, and then trying to get in a hurried warm-up. What a ridiculous way to get prepped for a race.

But a few laps in and I was feeling fine. I initiated a nice little attack just before the finish line for props from the announcer and to show off for Mrs. Goatesauce (who was officiating--awesome). And I felt good enough to attack again in the same place with two laps to go, an effort which resulted in a half-lap solo bridge effort (there were a couple up the road at this point). When I was caught the second time, I was just 1/4 the way into my second bottle of the day. At that point we'd been riding for about two hours. I had drank, up until then, just one and one quarter bottles. Such foolishness...

So I chilled at the back of the field for the next bit. Picked up a fresh bottle in the feedzone to start the final lap, and then, after that last turn, trying to bring Jon up to the front on those finishing rollers, it all just sort of fell apart. I got out of the saddle and my thighs cramped like I've never felt them cramp before. I sat down, downshifted, tried to pedal hard, but I was just completely out of gas. Such a shame...

Such an embarrassment, really. The results show I finished 45th of 48 (finishers). What they don't show is that 52 people were either pulled or dropped out. It was a tough, hot day. And given the weather we've had lately I think that caught a lot of people off guard. But it's still embarrassing.

And the thing is, while Turkey Hill is a well-run event with fun start/finish area stuff going on during the race, the course is really quite dull. It's just a dumb little circuit with a bunch of unremarkable rollers, and yet it beats me up every year. So silly...

So, I'll see you next year, Turkey Hill... I'll see you next year...

Friday, April 23, 2010

facebook is weird

Or, I suppose, Facebook makes me weird.

I spent too long today Facebook-stalking. Mostly high school classmates.

I'm really weirded out thinking about folks from high school. Though this isn't quite true, it seems now that there wasn't much difference between us then. Less still for those kids I knew from elementary school on. And now, as I peer into their family rooms through the window they left open on Facebook, they just seem so, so different from me. In a way I find excruciatingly painful. (And the fact that it bothers me so, well, that bothers me even more.)

The part that troubles me most, oddly, is that I don't think I would very much care for most of them. They strike me as exceptionally boring people. Formulaic. Caricatures of one sort of middle-aged, middle-class life or another. Suburbanites. People who drive mini-vans, shuttle their kids to dance, watch TV in the evenings, and pour over the pages of IKEA catalogs. And yet, I do all those same things. That is my life, but somehow my life seems worlds away from theirs. Is it? And so I'm left wondering if I'm just as boring. (Though at least I'm not the sort of knee-jerk political conservative an alarming number of these people appear to have become. I mean, in ninth or tenth grade I though the Rush Limbaugh crowd and their politics--if you can call them that--were just terrific. I really did. Then I grew up. What happened to everyone else?)

Even while so many strike me as mind-numbingly uninteresting, you look at these pictures, especially those with families, and they usually look so happy. Their kids look great. Beautiful. Bright. Eager. And so I can't help being happy for them. The kids... Those stinking smiling kids never fail to melt my heart. And if those beautiful, bright, eager children think their parents are the greatest ever, who am I to opine otherwise?

But of course it would be naive to believe they're all happy. Tragedy comes in its various guises. Its experience is ubiquitous, as I often say. "All happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," a passage which I've always taken to be Tolstoy's way of debunking of the myth of happiness (the rest of the novel seems to support that conclusion).

Tolstoy was an interesting person. I think I would have liked to pass some time with that dude.

So I want to talk to these people. People who I don't really know; I only knew the person these people were 18 years ago, and then not well. I want to talk to them either to confirm my hunch (I think) or, joyfully, discover that I'm quite wrong. And why them? Something to do with common experience, I think. They're family, in a sense. So they should understand without explanation. If not really.

On the other hand, I'm too shy, awkward, and judgmental to do it. And of course it just feels ridiculous.

So, because I choose not to act, I'm left only with my thoughts. My fears. And wondering when I'll next get to sit down to the chocolate mousse of a stimulating conversation with engaging people that understand me. Like years ago. When Val and I would sit on the floor, way too late at night, with friends, engrossed in the art of...talking. With no thought of "What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" The world was beautiful in those moments. Even in its tragedy it was breathtakingly beautiful. God was in it. In the words. In the connection between us. In the being overwhelmed with the frightening grandness of it all.

All this, from stupid Facebook. Ai ai ai...