Sunday, August 31, 2008

182: calm before the storm

I live in a college town. I really enjoy all that living in a college town brings with it except for from time to time, the students. Monkey and I hit our favorite eatery last night to find a :45 minute wait. Admittedly, we have been spoiled all summer with no wait at all. If there was any doubt at all that the students had come back it was soon erased as Monkey and I drove down Cleveland Ave and saw kids everywhere enjoying cold beverages, beer pong, and welcoming the new students to school. The kids wrote on bed sheets and any old piece of plywood they could find messages such as:

"Freshman Drop Off"

"welcome freshman girls"

"thank you for your daughters"

"Don't worry your daughters are safe with us."

and perhaps the most blunt, "bring on the fresh meat"

Ah yes, the joys of academia.


It was suggested today that my young nephew who is just learning to ride his bike enter the kid's race at Granogue next month. I voiced my concern that despite the fact that he is doing very well on his bike, his inability to start on his own, effectively steer, or stop may present some additional challenges, and I would hate to see my young nephew become discouraged. Upon further reflection, those very same weakness have never seemed to deter or discourage me, so what the hell let it rip...



With many of the DCCoD off at the SM100 this weekend, I have been laying around the house with the feet up resting up. This will be one of the few weekends before the storm hits, I'll enjoy the calm and sanity while I can.

If you notice a white patch on the top of my head it because my wife is making my hair turn gray, it is not because she has Willy nilly changed the plan for the bathroom down stairs without any input from me, disregarding any effort I put into the project. Frankly, I should have just taken a nap.

Clearly she is making me go gray, that patch is not from me bumping my head on the ceiling while painting. It is clearly because of my wife. At least the bathroom is finished. Now I'll just go do what I am told and cut the grass or something.

evil little monkey and her instrument of destruction.
ah yes, the calm before the storm...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

181: to the back of the line sir...

So last weekend Diane and I stopped at the “big Y” which is a grocery store chain in New England. Frankly, I think that is an awful name for a grocery store, nothing like Super Fresh, Giant or Shop Rite. All of those names have you imagine you are at some grocery nirvana or something. Even a name like Genardi’s or Redner’s has you feeling like you are shopping at a family owned grocery. On the other hand the “Big Y” just has me feeling a bit confused…

But I digress, we were picking up a few items and headed for the express lane. Our Cart had 4 bottles of Jones Soda, 3 bottles of water, a bag of cookies and a chocolate bar. (road trip food)

Now I knew we were well under the “12 items or less” guideline for the express lane, but I was curious as to how Grocery math worked. Basically does this count as 4 items, or 9 items ? So I asked the kindly young woman who was checking us out, as Dianne was bagging. She looked me dead in the eye, and in a scary voice said to me, “ Honestly, I don’t care. I ring up what they put in front of me.”

Well, alrighty then. I paid the young lady, afraid at this point that she might jump across the check out lane and beat me to a pulp.

My brothers and sisters in the DCCOD did beat me to a pulp tonight. Three little efforts, and I basically got my ass kicked all night. You take the good with the bad. I could have done without spiking myself in the ground during the second effort. There I go again writing checks that neither my talent or my skills can cash. Lot of work to do, lot of work to do...
Perhaps more important was the DCCoD post practice meal at our favorite cross watering hole: El JEFE !
why yes that is Rotten ROBERT giving everyone the metal sign in the background.
Jeb takes the conservtive route with a burrito:
Rob also know as Scooter, never takes the conservative route when dealing with food.
His feats of eating are amazing and must been seen to be believed.





Monday, August 25, 2008

180: the motherland

No American crosser can dispute that while Portland may draw the largest crowds to it's wonderful races, that New England is the motherland of cross in this country. It is New England where the sport took it's roots, and spread region to region across the country. The history, the skill level, the respect for the game is just amazing in New England. I have gotten to make the pilgrimage to the mother land a number of times over the past few years. Having my brother and family smack dab in the middle of Western Massachusetts makes it really fun and easy to make a run up North. If you get a chance to get to New England for a race, I strongly encourage it, big, small it doesn't matter, it's a right of passage that all self respecting crossers need to take.

The weekend with my Brother's family was amazing. Saturday we worked the Grange Fair, which is basically a fund raiser for a local service organization. The Smith Family BBQ has been drawing crowds and raising funds for almost 30 years. As Craig married in, he has become a key part of the BBQ team.

There were many other attractions like the pocket lady, who I admit made me feel a little scared.

and the hula lady who I have to admit made me feel... well a little pervy.
yeah, pervy, can't think of any other way to say it. I'm going to change the subject now.

Saturday Night we got together with a bunch of the family friends for a good old horseshoe tournament. Thankfully my partner was lights out, as I pretty much suck at horseshoes.

Sunday, Monkey and I headed out to Blunt Park in Springfield, Ma for our first cross race of the year. The weather was beautiful, the course was very technical and fun. Lots of logs, and being in New England the level of cross was high, despite being an early and small race.

On the drive home, Monkey and I commented how much fun racing cross was. It was even better than we remembered and talked about on the trip up. We admitted it was a little weird because we didn't really know anyone, where as in the Mid Atlantic we have lots of folks around us. That was a little like Bizzaro world for sure, but still the racing was so good, the people were so nice, man what a great time.

Both Monkey and I took the hole shots in our races respectively. I relinquished the lead when I dropped my chain bunny hopping a log. I went back to 10th place before fighting my way back to 3rd with 3 to go. Of course, I dropped my chain again falling back to 5th before finally clawing my way back 3rd on the last half of the final lap. The winners were pretty bad ass, I would like to think I could have ridden with them save for the time given away dropping my chain, but maybe not. I was pleased with my result, but also know I have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. ( you knew that was coming right?)

Monkey rode a very solid race. I was super proud of her. She battled in and out of groups before finishing up in 7th place. She was all grins coming across the finish line, very satisfied with her ride, but like myself knowing she has a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. (you knew right?)

Having Craig, Beth Carter, and Taylor on hand and cheering was awesome.

Yeah, that's a four pack of barriers. Sometimes when you are the Motherland that means you can say "F-you USA Cycling, and your only 2 barriers rule too. We like 4 packs of barriers because they are fun!" First time in 4-5 years I got to run barriers like that, super duper fun. Thank you for that treat Motherland...

seeing JD and Mega is always an added bonus for us when making these pilgrimages.

Much love and respect to the Motherland of Cross: New England.

Much love and respect to the Pocket Lady of the Grange Fair,
thanks to her, everyone is a winner.

Much love to the Hula Girl for making me feel like a dirty old man.

What a great weekend.


It was nice to meet so many kind folks. I am blown away by how great this weekend was.

Friday, August 22, 2008

179: we're not talking about practice

The other morning I headed to the trail head for my run. It was six o'clock in the morning and the sun was just peaking up. Fairhill in the early morning is a beautiful place. Running is a vile thing, and should be avoided at all costs, that being said the truth is I was at Fairhill at six o'clock in the morning to do a run.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw two cars. My first thought was that someone must have broken down. Then as I got out of my car and saw the fogged up windows, and the driver quickly roll up his, I knew we had something else going on altogether.
good to them.
From my perspective Sex in the morning is always a good thing. My only question was this: So were they here all night? found a quick area to be left alone after last call at the bar? Or were they on the way to work and decided to have a quick shag? I asked the woman who pulled into the parking lot with 3 labs after me that very question : late night or early morning? She just smiled at me confused.
The Delaware Cyclocross Coalition of Delaware had it's first practice the other night. I can't really tell you too much about it, as that would be a violation of rules #1 and #2, and I might get called before the Jedi Council for disciplinary hearings. That could result in me being kicked off the DCCoD list, in the same manner I was removed from the MABRA promoters list. So I had better be careful.
Mr. Shark sent me this. I need a tougher bike, this might help. You will smile.
Troop- the Belgian work horse, looked great. So freaking powerful.

E-town was sporting a very legal beard. I like shaggy Ethan.

Wes, Monkey and I debate the virtues of tacos versus burritos from El Hefe.

This is BennydaJewlar, he along with Rob "scooter" Collins are going to shock a lot of people this year. Both are riding very well, and every time they touch a cross bike get better at it. You know how every year someone comes out of the woodwork and just kills it? You now have my two candidates for that title this year. wait and see...

I love this shot of Monkey.

Rotten Robert after an evening of fun and hard work. I laid down next to him and spooned in the next shot.

Thanks to Dennis for the great shots.

off to eat donuts!



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

178: chasing layla

Rode my bicycle over to my parent's house the other night. Mom was having some issues with her computer and I said I'd take a look at it. I'm far from IT savvy, but I figured I'd try my best. She won't tell me so, but I think I made it worse. Sorry Mom.

Riding home I cut through a little rough part of Elkton. A group of teenagers were doing what teenagers do: sitting on a stoop heckling people that came by. I rode by and they yelled at me, "look it's Lance Armstrong! Go Lance Go!" they all laughed. I responded by yelling back, "look it's dirty wife beater t-shirt guy! Go dirty wife beater T-shirt guy!!"

The leader of the pack puckered up his face somewhat confused. His peers laughed a hesitant and unexpected laugh. I don't think they expected a quick re-tort from me. Perhaps not my most clever work, but it was effective.

Did some corner drills on my new tubies. Monkey assures me they are supposed to feel weird in the corners. I'm not sure my 175lb - okay 178lb ass is supposed to be running 25lbs of air pressure. I have been assured everything will be fine, but they feel weird, and in the fastest corners tonight, I admit I was timid. I'm guessing it will come around. Plenty of time to get comfortable with that. I mean, it's August, who's racing cross now anyway ?
Silly Fools.
PS: thanks for all the kind words about Layla. She is doing much better. Today is her first day back to normal food. Never spent so much time chasing a dog around the back yard to look at their crap. I think Riley was getting jealous. I can imagine him thinking something like this: "look man, my crap is twice as big as hers, but all you do is walk around trying to watch her crap, hey I'm over here, I'm crapping, Come on man! Look at this pile! it's huge ! "
Must love dogs. - UGH

Sunday, August 17, 2008

177:garlic, doritos, and black coffee

My disdain for the dentist has been well documented. My battle with the hygienist who I bit when I was 10, and who in the subsequent 25 years later has reminded me that I bit her,
has been well documented. My normal routine of garlic, Doritos, and a large black coffee before my visits has been my subtle rebellion and my way of leveling the playing field. If you’re gonna jam me, at least you can work in a place that smells like death.
My latest dental visit was no exception. I went to the dentist for my 4:00 appointment, as advised by my wife. Only there was some sort of communication error. My appointment was not the day I had arrived, but for the next day.

Shocked at this scheduling gaff, I tell the woman at the head desk, I’ll have to reschedule. She says, “you know I bet we could squeeze you in” So here I am with my garlic, Dorito, coffee breath, full on ready for battle with the hygienist who has tortured me since I bit her when I was ten, and now they are going to squeeze me in. I feel a rush of blush in the face. I repay their kindness and flexibility with death breath. Beautiful.

Sure enough, the receptionist finds a hygienist who can help me , despite my appointment being the next day. The hygienist is cute and nice! Not that I’m in the market, but here I am with breath smelling like a garbage dump, and a kindly, cute hygienist, who by all rights would be on her way home, is staying late to help out my now disgustingly smelling mouth. I admit I felt a bit embarrassed.

I sat quietly and had my teeth cleaned, all the while knowing how bad my breath must have smelled. Perhaps I need to adopt a different attitude toward my dental visits in the future.

The weekend did not progress as expected. Layla became very ill Friday, projectile vomiting and shooting shit across the room. Additionally, her BM was covered in blood. Needless to say we were quite concerned.

1:30 am Saturday morning, we read our credit card number to the folks at the emergency vet, and the better part of 1,500 clams was gone. Ouchie. Late Saturday evening we picked her up. The doctor's were unable to determine the cause of our poor pups illness, but stabilized her, and gave her IV fluids as she had become very dehydrated. Saturday night was a rough one as I was up and down checking on her, and taking her out, just in case she might get explosive diarrhea again. Layla, who is generally very energetic and frankly spastic, is still a little lethargic, but looking much better. Thankfully she is looking up.

Grass track has been the secret focus of my entire season. Today I had a pretty good day. The efforts were all a bit longer as (i)Paul was feeling extra mean, and 8-9 lap efforts were the norm.

In the final event of the day we had a pretty horrific crash as Epi rolled a tubular, and slid out, as JAY-Z hit him at full speed launching himself into orbit. Re-entering the atmosphere is always tougher than the launch, or so I here. As the race was a handicap race, the lead group had no idea of the crash, and plowed into the two downed riders at full speed. It looked ugly, Epi's bike looked uglier, but JayZ took the worst of it with a broken arm. Ouch, that totally sucks. Jay would continue to do his 4 lap ITT, putting up his best time of the year, with what turned out to be a broken elbow.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Anne Rock won that event.


Noah took some video of my barrier work. I'm not getting back on the bike as smoothly as I'd like, feel like I'm taking too many steps. Hopefully I can get this worked out a bit better...

Finally, I have always been a huge fan of the Challenge clinchers. When I say that Jan usually follows up with a comment like, "how many flats did you have last year?" To answer that question I had four, four flats last year. So like the time I finally had to give up my "members only jacket" I have had a set of tubular wheels built up. They are Rick built wheels, and as always, he did a phenomenal job.

Grass track was my first effort on said tubular wheel set. Wow, this is how the other half lives !? You mean to tell me the world isn't flat!? Who knew?

90% of the DCCoD is who knew, as I think I was the last clincher hold out. Really wow.

be safe out there kids.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

176: karma police

Monkey and I met the Leaches the other night and we headed out to the Radiohead show. I’ll be honest, I have always been a fan of Radiohead, but never would I list them as one of my favorite bands. I was fortunate enough to see them in the early 90’s in a small venue, and despite them not really being one of my favorite bands, that show is scorched into my memory as one of the best shows I had ever seen.
The other night was a much larger venue. My experience teaches me that a larger venue is never as good as a smaller venue. That being said, Radiohead was again outstanding. They played a incredibly tight set, highlighting the In Rainbows Album, but through a long set, and 2 encores, they touched on some of the old favorites from Pablo honey, OK computer and Kid A. No they didn’t play Creep. In short I was pretty blown away. My camera really doesn't do the sound justice. But that's okay, I dig the clips anyway.

At one point in the show Kathleen looked at me strangely, she must have been worried about me. I soothed her fears letting her know that the difference between my dancing and me having an epileptic seizure, was that if I was dancing I’d be on my feet, if I was having a seizure, I’d be laying on the ground.
I’m not usually one caught up in light shows, but if I did have epilepsy, I’m sure that the light show would have tripped it faster than sonic the hedgehog. Trippy to say the least.
All in all , a great show.
The other day my buddy Mark the Shark sent one of those “get to know you” emails to me. I usually like that stuff, but had little time to answer. The one question that intrigued me was:
How do you want your friends to think of you: I didn’t answer there, but I will here:

“a kind and supportive husband, has fun, works hard at his craft, gives back, funny in a jackass kind of way, gets it…”
Cross is coming soon, I better get my but in gear and do something besides grass track. I mean seriously, I’m gonna have a sweet 2 minutes, but the other 43 minutes of the race are going to be ugly…

More rock and roll.


Monday, August 11, 2008

175: It's not the fucking Doors

I love the Olympics. After watching the women's road race today I have a serious question. Does USA cycling try to have the ugliest kit in the Olympics?

Seriously, this makes the "spiderman" kit from a couple of years ago look really good.

I recognize I'm no fashion guru, but WTF we couldn't spring for something a little better? I mean who designed that thing? The guy that did the team High Road stuff?

which is so bad it, I believe that a first grade art class can do better. I was so stoked Columbia sponsored these guys, if nothing else to be rid of that ugly kit.

Back to the Olympics Team Jersey, we really couldn't do better? What was wrong with this jersey?

Simple, classic, clean. If only....

We had a wonderful weekend in State College. Buddy and Rachael are perhaps my two of my favorite traveling companions. Wes , Scott and Regan were great hosts. A little riding but mostly lots of rock climbing and hanging out. My entire body hurts. Wes the conqueror used all my favorite pictures, so I'll direct you there for more pictures...

Back to the grass track today. I felt a little better, even if my omnium results don't reflect them.

It was fun. I finally took an event, which felt good. E-town, Jeb and Jan set the pace and the bar pretty damn high today. Bilson, Epi, and Troop were keeping everyone honest. Benny da jewlar continues to dominate the 800 meter TT. Monkey hung tough in traffic. Tom rolled a tubular taking down Bilson, and Jeb with him. Luckily pride was the biggest injury. L-Web, Dan Ryan, (i)Paul, Sanford, and Dennisbike rounded out the group. Afterwards a bunch of us hit homegrown for brunch. I had the world's greatest BTL. Seriously, it's really good. Jan uses more salt than I do.



Friday, August 8, 2008

174: pretty

"They have nothing. There was not a single piece of evidence produced from all those search warrants and all those affidavits. He was a weird, bookish, nerdy kind of man. He was an open, caring, honest man with a great sense of humor who was beloved by his friends and family."

Okay, my attempts at being a super villain and world domination are pretty fruitless. I guess I'm just too nice of a guy.

Sometimes when I have a specific work out to do, as prescribed by this guy, I'll ride with my MP3 player. I enjoy the music, and I find it pumps me up a bit.

Funny thing though, when the effort starts, everything gets really quiet. I can't hear the music anymore. All I hear is my rapid breathing, and the only thing I am aware of is how hard I am pushing.

I'd like to say I was thinking about my rivals, or the mabra promoters who hate me, or even Tom McDaniel who will talk trash to me all cross season and at every cross practice. I mean do you know how many times I have answered the phone at work the morning of cross practice to have Tom yelling at me?

ME:" thanks for calling the clog factory, this is Marc speaking..."


All that bound up antagonism, all that bulletin board stuff, but I don't think about it. It's just breathing, and suffering, and as soon as the effort is over, I can hear my music again- loud and clear.

kinda weird, but kinda cool too.

Maybe I'll never be a super villain, but I'm keeping my doomsday device:



Sunday, August 3, 2008

173: four silver, one black

"on the way to the tower the Gentleman and Bezerker had taken down six heroes a piece, before I even had a chance to engage one. Never underestimate the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. My first battle was with Studly Agent. Truthfully he bored me even during his prime. All he had was some super strength and an inordinate sense of pride, that was his entire story. Through the tight corner, we muscled each other for position, using my supreme Faticus carcass and my doomsday machine, I held my ground, raising my right elbow to make sure he knew I was there. I pushed outside knowing I could have kept the corner closer to the inside post. This forced him into the tape. He let out a sad little roar as he crashed into a step stake breaking through the tape and tumbling to the ground. Time for me to join my peers... "

Diane and I stood in the Star Wars section of Toys R Us. We were shopping for my niece and nephew's birthday party. Diane and I are debating over the Imperial Cruiser and the AT-AP Walker :

FM: "we should totally get the cruiser. It's got dudes. It's sweet"

Monkey: "you're crazy, this has dude's too, two storm troopers"

FM: "Mine has three dudes, a storm trooper, and battle damaged Darth Vader !"

Monkey: "The walker is cooler. we're getting it."

she picks it up off the shelf and begins to walk away.

FM: " Battle Damaged Darth Vader ! How can you turn your back on Battle Damaged Darth Vader!?"

Next we ventured to Kid's Gap, which is a scam. But as soon as we walked in we heard a song playing, and the chorus was "ROBOT MONKEY HEAD, ROBOT MONKEY HEAD" Perhaps this is the place for us.

We looked but couldn't quite decide, we picked up a cute shirt and then the most adorable kid ran up in front of us looked us in the eye. At the top of her probably not 4 year old lungs, she shouted, "MONKEY, MONKEY, MONKEY, MONKEY, MONKEY !" She held up the stuffed Monkey she was holding. Just as suddenly as the encounter began, she looked away, spotted her mother and raced across the store. We knew we found what we were looking for at that point.

My niece got some Little Miss Giggles T-shirts and items.

DCCoD held it's first meeting of 2008. We called it Grass Track.

After a few 1 lap sprints to open things up we had 6 races on the slate.

Grass track is (i)Paul's genius plan, which is silly fun, and reminds you just how hard racing on the grass is. (i)Paul set up a slate of 6 tough races for the group: Dennisbike, Troop the Belgian workhorse, Jan, Scooter, Bad Andy, CZ, Benny da jewlar, Papa Smurf, Linda, EPI and myself.

Bady Andy took the omnium for the day, ripping my heart out and throwing it on the ground in a bike throw sprint for the win on the third event, a win and out. Curses foiled by a librarian.

The racing was fun, and a great effort. I'm still pretty shattered. I got my ass handed to me pretty good today, any illusions that I held about how strong I was, or how much work I have to do dissipated on the field today. I found myself fighting to keep my coffee in my stomach and not on my top tube. Luckily my goal is to be strong in fall, not on August 3rd.

a couple of clips from our 9 lap points race:



my cross/mountain bike shoes smell so bad, they were stinking up my entire car. I don't even like driving with them. They will no longer be stored in my bag. They live in the garage now.

47 days until cross season. I am so fucked.


Friday, August 1, 2008

172: foiled again

"The way people talk about it, you'd think anyone could build a doomsday device or promote a cross race. Like it's not a power at all. But you have to remember everything, catalog everything and realize how to fit it together in a new way, a way that solves or destroys or takes everything apart. Does the course flow, is registration quick and easy, do you fit into the guidelines of your series? Who is your audience? I offered my fellow scientists fellowship, brotherhood if you will. I shared my experiences, tried to help them see the ways of the world. My intentions were truly good. And for my efforts, what is my reward ? They just Banish me from the Mabra promoter list. Ha. You know if it were so damn easy, they would have figured out what I'm doing by now. "


At least, at least I have grass track this weekend to make me forget my latest defeat. Yes, a sunday of grass track racing will help me rinse way the sadness. Yes, that's it, my newest master plan for world domination. Grass Track Racing Laser Eyed Robots, I like the ring of that...

Due to the extreme heat I was out before work today to do a little ride on my bike. I was over at white clay doing a few loops around one of the fields. Mind you, this is 6:00 in the morning. I come around the corner and see a Asian man, wearing nothing but a pair of bright orange running shorts. He was doing yoga standing in the middle of the trail. I’ll be honest I think he was as startled to see me, dressed in my cycling super villain kit, as I was to see him in his little orange shorts.

I greeted him, and continued on my loop, and then as I circled back, I past him again, he was still doing yoga. This time I think I kinda recognized him.

In fact, I think I wrestled him back in school. I continue my ride, and pretty much convinced myself that in fact this was a dude that I wrestled in school.

As I whipped around the park on my bicycle, decked out in my black kit, I wondered about stopping and asking him if he was who I thought he was. Then I got weirded out, and couldn’t do it.

I mean 6:30 in the morning, dude dressed in black lycra, rolls up to young Asian man wearing nothing but little orange running shorts doing yoga in the park and asks him, “Do I know you from somewhere?” or better yet, “you look familiar, did I wrestle you back in the late 80’s?”

I hope you can see my dilemma.

When I looped through again, he was gone….

Left and Kevin one week into training:



sideburns are key to any super villain's plan or doomsday device.