He's ok if he's not the fastest on the block, but that doesn't lead him to treat cycling like an adult kickball league as so many do. Cycling is important. It's ok to train for it. It's ok to want to be faster, because that's actually more fun than sucking completely. At the same time, being fast doesn't make you better than anyone else, and he knows that, too.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
sweet twisting single track that folks from out of state can destroy.
you know if you build a trail system that any idiot can ride, they will.
fast climbs, friends throwing in "peach" attacks. Just great stuff.
and the reality that I can't say it's January and I refuse to ride indoors.
I am losing the battle of the bulge. I don't think there is a MAC Clydesdale Class.
And so this week I ride the trainer.
I ride the trainer with MSNBC on, with MP3 player on, and I forage ahead, never really going any farther than my living room. Such a soulless activity.
To break up the sheer monotony a stealth group of us did a little urban neighborhood ride last night. It looked like this. Nothing sadder than a pack of mtbers, scarying soccer moms in mini vans, while crusing around town.
I can't tell you who was all there, because it's a secret. But someone got a new GPS.
I can tell you that one rider, who I happen to be very close with forgot her helmet, brought the wrong shoes and had her tire blow off the rim. Needless to say, it was an early night for her. Any guesses?
This morning I put on one of my secret Henry's jerseys. I thought to myself, "self, this is a little snug. Perhaps I stretched on one of Monkey's jerseys by mistake."
I checked, and a tear welled up in my eye when it was clear that it's was in fact my jersey, not the monkeys.
time to pull out the old Xl jerseys...
here's hoping your miles are more entertaining than mine.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Thankfully I was blessed with great parents, and suffered none of the gut wrenching abuses that Bill faced. However, there were a couple of passages that he wrote that I felt like really hit home for me.
the first was this:
“He was some kind of engineer, built lasers or computer chips or something I couldn't understand, had a doctorate, and knew a lot. Naturally gifted athlete- he would have been one of the best if he rode as much as I did... Since I had gotten to know him there were a couple of times when I wanted to ask him that if someone like him- a normal, great guy, with an important job, and a pretty wife, a cute daughter, ever felt like I did almost everyday, as if you had to concentrate your entire being on hanging on, on staying sticky, not to win but to just avoid losing everything."
Now I know that he was talking about more than just cycling. There was definitely a time in Diane and my life where we applied the cardboard box theory of economics. Meaning, that every economic decision we made was based on the fact that failure meant we'd be living in a card board box in a matter of days.
Thankfully, that motivation, that fear of failure drove us to be in a much better place now, but I really related to that feeling that everything we did could be the ultimate unraveling of our lives.
I know that we continue to work hard and not take things for granted, because even now, 17 years in, nothing is guaranteed.
From a cycling perspective it also landed hard on me. I thought about the "normal" guys I get to ride with, how incredible they are. I am sometimes envious of those guys. I look at them and how they have so much balance in their lives, while I feel like it takes such concentration, such focus to be able to stay in the pack, or ride with my friends, to stay in this game.
I focus on how much I eat, my bike set up, how much I'm riding. I am obsessive by nature, I get that, it's who I am, but I often wonder what it would be like to be normal. Just show up for the ride, and ride, and not have to worry about calories, and how many beers I had.
What does a balanced life would look like. Maybe I'd see my family more? Look, I'm not complaining, I love my wife, I love my life- but Diane and I have often discussed whether or not we'd even be able to be happy with a more balanced, more normal life. Hell, we aren't even racing this spring, but our lives are filled with trying to squeeze rides in, watching or caloric in take, all so we can ride well in the fall.
the second passage that hit me was this one:
"there are all kinds of riders... the roleurs the tough cyclists who can turn the pedals at high speeds for miles and miles without cracking. There are the grimpeurs, the angels of the mountains, who fly up leg breaking slopes. There are the flahutes, who excel in mud and cobbles and cold. There are domestiques, whose sole job is to protect their leaders. Rarest of all are the campionissimo, the champions among champions- the immortals. I was the least glorious, the least noble, silliest named bike racer of them all. I was sticky. My only talent on a bike: I was hard to get rid of. Always there, never first. Great teammates, terrible leaders. We were tenacious failures... It means I'm not a winner- I'm not built to win, I'm built not to lose..."
That rang pretty hard with me. It reminded me of conversations I have had with
Wes about knowing how to win a race, and that I didn't know how. I thought about Charm City, where I was winning but felt like fate was going to give me a giant wedgie at any moment, and relagate me to a finishing position in line with my ablity. I thought about talking to Kurtee about having that killer instinct, about knowing when to attack, and racing to win.
Racing to win? What does that mean? I don't know that I've ever done that. Yup, over the 15 years or so of racing I have picked up a few wins, but they kinda just happened, I don't remember a point where I said, I'm going to win now.
"built not to lose" I thought about my best races ever, both where I flatted and battled from the back to get a podium spot. I have said to Diane, “I wonder how I would felt about those races if I didn't have to fight from DFL? or I didn't have to come back"
She encouraged me to build up tubulars for the simple reason, "that you gave away two maybe three races that you could have won, but you flatted instead..."
I know myself, I don't have a drive to be the best, but I want to be amongst them, I want to make their lives tough. I am a tenacious failure. Sometimes I think I like the fight more than the few wins that I have had.. Sometimes, I realize that for me, the racing isn't really about trying to win at all...
Maybe I need therapy…
Anyway, really good book. I recommend reading it. It made me very grateful for my parents, and my life, and was interesting to hear another guy who felt like he had to live it, breathe it everyday just to stay in the pack... that was cool.
These guys are cool.
Monday, February 18, 2008
It's probably a HUGE stretch to say I work for the man. Maybe the WOman...
"any guy and hold a girls had, but it takes an elite to hold her feet" I was thinking of something more like this.
I'll admit I'm not a creme brule expert like E-town. But this was good. Best of all, unlike most places which give you a tiny little portion, this was the real deal. No 3 spoonfuls and it's gone. This could have been a meal in of itself. Now that's what I want to see out of my desserts.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
hate when I try to buy cold advil, that I have to sign my life away. Isn't that some kind of privacy violation or something? They register my damn licence, and because I work in PA and live in MD, it took like 20 minutes.
damn meth heads. I feel bad for them, but damn, I just want some cold meds for you know my cold.
anyway. I'm just saying...
Sunday, February 10, 2008
These nice families dressed as girl scout cookies ask me, "Sir, would you like to buy some girl scout cookies?"
the first thing that pops into my shattered brain is, "do I look like someone who needs to buy cookies when I come out of the book store? You calling me portly or something?"
But alas gratefully my filter sort of kicked in, and my bonk took over as I responded, " Giant Girl Scout Cookies, I need to eat you!!!" Diane grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the car as she smiled and said, "he's already eaten his three boxes for the year, thanks..."
Holy Crap, I am so shattered. I was totally destroyed today.
I showed up to Fairhill today to meet some of the fellas : Todd (ex-prez), Buddy the Leg Breaker, BL Rich, Blair, Peaches, Jay Jay, Kurtee, K-Man, Alan the cleaner, EPI, and LEO the King. Right out the front door, I knew my legs were suspect from riding the fixed gear and fighting the wind on this ride Saturday:
Perhaps my heavy legs stemmed frmom one too many of the triple lindy belgiums from here. The MAC prom totally ruled, and unlike Anne Rock, I do drink, and lately I've been drinking a lot. Great to see so many friends from cross season. Such a good time.
But I digress, right out the front door I knew I was in for trouble. Legs just felt heavy, I tried to just get on good wheels, take smooth lines and stay near the front going into climbs so if I imploded I'd still be in the group.
Yeah, this was a mountain bike ride.
There were a couple of attacks, a broken chain, and lots of fun. Never was I so happy for someone to break a freakin' chain, because it meant I could rest. (thank you Blair) and BLRich your flat could have been 10 minutes later, but I wasn't complaining at all.
Near the end of the ride, I peeled off the group and headed up 5 bridges. I swear I almost sat down on the side of the trail to get my shit toghether for the ride home. I was so wrecked. This is one for the bank for shizzle.
Good ride. I was in way over my head, but it hurt really good. If you know what I mean? Man, I have a lot of work to do. I'm guessing eating a 4th box of girl scout cookies isn't going to help...
And Jebbager, no matter what they say about your hair...
I think it looks great.
have I mentioned my legs hurt?
Friday, February 8, 2008
Sponsorship to me has always been representing sponsors whose goals and idea of cycling are similar to my own. I want to be associated with folks “who play the game right”, in short who get it.
I have always taken it as a great responsibility if a bike shop or company thought enough of me to support my riding and racing. I mean, I am just some dude. And before I had a blog, and a pink helmet, I was just some dude know one ever heard of.
When I got on Spot Brand, I was so stoked. I had submitted resumes to a few companies looking to take my racing in a different direction. Believe it or not, the some dude who never won an expert race got three pretty fine offers. Talking to the owners of Spot, Jessica and Michael, I felt pretty quickly that this was going to be the team for me. Thus the Spot Brand Whore was born.
I was proud to represent them; I respected their approach to business, what they believed in. Over the next 3 and half years, I built a strong relationship with them. Although we were on opposite coasts, I felt like we got what each of us was looking for...
For me it didn't get any better.
Frankly, it was the sponsorship dream of a life time, punk rock couple, building single speed bikes, with a grassroots love of the game. It was never about results, it was about having a good time, about being there, about riding a lot. After two years of a very successful relationship, I made a proposal to expand the team. Michael and Jessica loved the idea and thus the whores were in full force.
About a year later, I got the call.
I loved Spot, and the opportunity they had provided me, if Jessica said it was good, I would soldier on. I sent a couple of emails to the new owner and weeks went by before I heard anything.
I’ll admit on one hand the wind was pretty much taken out of my sails. On the other hand in the face of two folks I held is super high regard getting a divorce, my little worries didn’t seem like too much. I am after all just some dude on a grassroots team.
I decided that it was my job to try and build a rapport with the new owner. Emails were sent, race reports sent, and weeks would go by with no word. We had a few conversations about what the team was, and what each party’s responsibility was. It was cordial, very professional, but at the end, no relationship.
At the begining of the 2007 season the new owner sent us a round of t-shirts, which we were all stoked to have. We continued to represent and do what we do: Ride hard, Race our guts out and have fun. We continued to email race reports, and pictures, only now, unlike in the past when we’d get a reply, and acknowlegement, a joke from Michael and Jessica, we'd get only silence.
As the year progressed, anytime we needed something, Spot held up their end of the deal, and gave us homie hook up prices. This was appreciated. But there was no relationship.
The past few seasons cross has become more important to me, and frankly is the basket that I now lay all my eggs. With that I did not push Spot for any additional commitment for 2008. My guess is that if one of the whores or I called up Spot, they’d still give us the homie hook up, as they did for Peaches last fall.
Last week Spot Brand re-launched their website, and all reference to the Mighty Spot Brand team, was removed. Much like a marriage without communication, our relationship had withered and as I see it now- ended. On one hand I am very sad by this, my time with Spot was very important to me. I feel guilty because many of my friends followed me from strong local programs to live the Spot dream with me, and now they are kinda high and dry. I feel bad, because for a while we really had something going.
As I said at the outset of this entry, this is really far more cathartic than anything else, and I harbor no ill will to the new owners. I am sad, that what we did for Spot was undervalued by the new owners and that in the end the relationship that we worked so hard to build was allowed to wither and die.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
(notice it's dark in two pictures as we are going to a race...)
6. Wear more clothes...
10. when in doubt leave it out.