Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lyza's 2nd grade teacher sent a little postcard reminding her new student class to "practice counting money" along with reading over the summer. We've been doing the reading part......but we just started working on the concept of the good ol' American dolla tonight. The kid is smart enough to know which bill is a "Benjamin", and she practically discards anything less than a quarter because they aren't worth much even at grocery store coin-op gumball machines. It was interesting playing a game of "trade ya". I hand her a $5, $10, or a $20 and offer her a random denomination to see if she can add it up quickly and decide if she wants to trade. Let's just say we have some work to do as I fleeced a $20 off her for a ten and two ones.The sweet Buick Regal with the 24's (that will remind one reader of his glory days) is a Matchbox car she traded from from her pal Nate Dog. She gave up a little Ferrari - so again, we're working on the value of the dollar. We have two weeks before school starts, so I think we can get this thing nailed down. Posted by Picasa
2/3 of the way through the cycling season, and I'm in a slump. Evidence as follows: I was JRA (just riding along) a few days ago on a rough trail, but on a clean 20 yard section....relaxed the brain for 5 seconds and clipped a pedal on a rock - did a flying Superman into the soft, pine needle covered soil. Covered in dirt, ego fractured - but me, OK. My legs feel all right, but they seem to just have a heaviness to them all the time. I'm taking three days off this week to see if that helps. On a great note, I am developing some love for my new geared bike. Spinning the shorter gears has been welcome relief, but, the flow of a singlespeed you just can't get with gears. I'll keep it fo' sho' through the 24 Hours of Moab in October, and then it will be on E-Bay ready to go to a new home.

I'm thinkin' 'bout racquetball season, and playing all of the characters that make up the local club scene. Motormouth Mike, Punk-Ass Paul, Ken the Snowman, Lefty Mike, and so on.....Maybe I am ready for a change of pace sooner than I thought. The camaraderie at the racquetball court is laid back and competitive at the same time. Some of the guys mix in a few Corona's midway and it becomes a great social outlet as well. I'm usually one of the clowns who brings pre-mixed electrolyte drinks and Lara Bars in place of the Corona, but still - it's fun just to be there.

One race coming up in August. I got 2nd last year in sport, but this year I'm entering the Singlespeed category, and there are 5 guys in town that I'll just never beat over a 30 mile course. Ride for Pride....that sounds like some weak slogan doesn't it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Flagstaff is a fun-filled freak show downtown on Thursday nights. We sat outside eating trendy Pacific Rim cuisine for cheap $$, and D saw no less than 20 people she knew. Characters like ‘precious’, a dude who was AAA-5 Diamond rated by one of her girlfriends – but he’s got a new girl now, some uptight wives, and a borderline stalker/psycho who drove D nuts at her last job. Throw in the Euro-trash who we…well, trash because of their sense of fashion and hairdo’s, but we love them for their tourist $$, and toss in the screaming kids and barking dogs and it was one loud-ass mercurial concert of international habits and cultural stereotypes. We got on our bikes to ride home and one block out of downtown – it was pitch black and as quiet as it gets.

Up at the crack of smack this morning to ride – 5:30am departure from Chateau Bozzelmann to meet a teammate. NO SHOW. Ahhh well, I still got in a solid hour .5 on some Velcro-like soil as it rained late last night. You hear me complaining about an hour .5 on the bike? Neva. 45 minutes feels great sometimes. I had hoop-like dreams of a 3-hour lung burner with CW but he was sleeping as hard as his kids were.

Lyza the Bean Machine is back tomorrow. Yes! It’s been 3 weeks and I’m crawlin’ the walls not seeing her. A good weekend is on tap – I hope yours rocks the mic.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Posted by Picasa
Shallow thoughts and reality checks

One of the most stand-up guys I have ever met is on the cusp of putting himself in a casket. He’s worked himself to the bone for 30+ years and now he’s facing health problems that none of us would want. He’s one of the most generous guys out there, and he puts everyone else first. He works 14-16 hours per day and sleeps 3-4 hours a night because that’s all he knows. 56 years old and he’s looking at less than five more unless he walks away from the restaurant business……… like yesterday.

When I walked away from the Grand Hotel at age 26 I was 100% convinced that I had just worked as hard as I ever would in my lifetime. Ridiculous hours – occasionally racking up more than 112 per week, never ending stress, rapid weight gain/loss, and in the end – a hernia from physical exertion. And for what? Someone else’s profit margin, and a one way ticket out if the day came when I couldn’t perform anymore. After 4 years, that was it. I walked away and never looked back on the Island and that life.

Thanks to that experience, I seem to have figured out the work thing, and with it, balancing family and my needs pretty well. However there’s a price to pay for everything, and now I’m faced with a cap on my earning potential at a small property which translates to a long term savings account that will pay my expenses until the average life expectancy of a typical American -74 years old. So, I may have today dialed, but tomorrow? As Sammy Hagar says “F*ck tomorrow because tomorrow may not never come”. Sammy the wordsmith…..the fact that I can quote that is frightening and a testament to bad taste in music and not very conservative logic. F*ck it, that's who I am.

Back to my bud….He has a “come to Jesus” meeting with the doctor tomorrow that will surely dictate his short term decision making. Getting an old dog to change his ways will be tough.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday brought on the Taylor House benefit road ride. 95 miles, a great course, and we had fabu weather. 7:00am start, and we were off with a police escort through town. Within 10 miles I was at the back of the lead group of 25 riders. The other 100+ were out of sight behind us. Some of the faster riders in the lead group pulled over for a pee break 1 hour in and I just wasn't ready to make a stop for the call of nature. So I climbed onto the back of some rider from Phoenix and soft pedaled waiting for the fast guys, but then the ineveitable - I did have to stop for a pee break. I'm 1/2 way through my little break and the fast guys come by like a house on fire. Long story short, I tried to catch back on but never got closer than 3 minutes. I rode 50 miles solo, before latching on with Fireman Cory and some other dude. We drilled it back into town and hit the finish at 12:00pm on the dot. 95 miles, 5 hours at an average heart rate of 158, and 5000 calories burned. I'm hungry.

D is out at the Mountain Man Triathlon this morning offering massages to distressed athletes. This is a great event with hundreds of tri-geeks out there hammering away - today its cool and cloudy - optimal conditions for them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I was walking Jamocha last night in the moonlight which was casting a weird array of shadows across the landmarks of our neighborhood. Nothing jumped out at me, fer crissakes its Flagstaff – the only thing that jumps out at you is the eclectic mix of beaten and beautiful homes, and the sharp disparity between the “have’s” and the “just have enough’s” to stay and play here.

What stood out was the fact that my old girl, Jamocha, is winding it down. She’s almost 12, and you can see every ounce of her age reflected on the outside of her purebred body. She sleeps - a lot; the white fur on her jaw, paws, and eyebrows is slowly replacing the chocolate brown that she was born with. I know she’s OK today though. For she eats her food like she did from the day I got her – like it’s her last meal. We all feel that the day she doesn’t wake up with a voracious appetite is the day I’ll put her down.

I don’t know if this will be her last summer, but it feels like it based on how rudimentary her movements and reactions have become. I’m not ready for her to go because selfishly she’s a symbol of the last 12 years of my life. When I look at her, memories blast through my head like quick movie previews. Jamocha’s “career highlights” include almost dying from a lunch of D-Con rat poison, eating 20 pounds of dog food in an afternoon, three successful surgeries for random wounds, and a near-death experience from dehydration.

It goes without saying that my relationships with D, Lyza, family and friends far exceed any bond I have ever had with an animal. Jamocha though….she has a leash around me right now and I’m cool with that. Whatever that old girl needs – she gets.
Ricco Wins!

I see the top level of my favorite sport as 100% pure entertainment and that's it. There are no heroes, and everything you see that seems impossible - really is. Ricardo Ricco, one of the best climbers in the world tested positive for a sweet new EPO based cocktail - essentially an anemia drug that he probably thought wouldn't be detected.

The deets are here..

That's a big fish that just got caught. When does the biggest fish of all finally get caught? Lance will get ratted out. His time is coming.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Movin’ On -
After nearly two years it was time to step down from the Board of Directors of our little local cycling team. Nobody is being left high and dry, and ‘at the end of the day’ it’s just a social club of people that like to ride. What forced me to wrap up my involvement is the fact that I enjoy riding my bike, a lot….and the politics of even running just a small-town, small-time team have, from time to time, taken their toll on my enjoyment of the sport. I’m not looking for another team, rather, I’m looking for more time to ride and this decision will help me get there.

Keepin It Real -
Coldplay......I keep finding more of their fans.......but they still suck

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2 days of "big Business" as one L. Cleary would say when I thought I had a big convention at the Stinkin' Grand Hotel many years ago....I was such a poser with the slicked back hair, an office on "Mahogany Row" and clothes that never fit because I weighed about 160 in the summer season, and 190 in the winter. Yeah - that was a ridiculous lifestyle that would have killed me before I reached 40.

2 days of business meetings at my property just concluded and I'm pretty toasted. So - the ultimate cure is a ride. Quick change into the lycra clown suit, and out into the woods. Flag had about 2 inches of rain this afternoon so everything was wet, but not a quagmire. The soil - always desperate for water - drains quickly so I had sticky trails, and as usual a whole lotta fun. I needed to purge cliches outta my head, Mission Statements were left in the muddy puddles, and our Corporate Culture - - that pretty much took a back seat to what was in front of my face coming down Schultz Creek......a sweet path that does anything but follow a straight line.

The people in our group are genuine, caring, and all take their jobs with the same degree of seriousness that I do. As a team - we do well together when the subject is work. The problem was that the majority of them are borderline raging Republicans. Three of them had crossed party lines in prior elections - so we had a good discussion about the upcoming election. The other six were pretty much convinced that Obama is a Muslim and he'll "bring America to its knees". Wow -I did my best to keep my Apple Pie down seeing as how they were looking at me and wondering how could I even LIKE Apple Pie. I'd already spouted off about how I don't eat Hot Dogs often and that I only like watching the MN Twins and that other baseball games are boring. In fact, if McCarthyism were still around I think I'd have been pegged right there as a liberal commie.

An old friend just tracked me down via this blog on Google and that's scary, because this blog is supposed to be private. I guess if I even think that anything I write and publish on the net is private then I need my head examined. Jenner - keep in touch and get that blog going so I can leave tasteless and completely random comments.


Friday, July 11, 2008

5:50am out the door
The Rig was my weapon of choice this morning. 4.25 hours of ride time. Then, a one billion calorie burrito from the Burrito Bar, 32oz of a sugar-infested recovery drink (read – Pepsi), 2 liters of water, a bag of trail mix – and I feel fine. The ol’ knees are a bit sore, but that will subside by the time I wake up tomorrow.

I didn’t GPS the ride because I don’t have one. But if I had to guess, it was roughly 35-40 miles, 5,000+ feet of climbing, 20 or so different trails with about 3 miles of doubletrack, and thank you KARMA for no freakin’ mechanicals. One thing I thought about on the ride – a lot - is ‘Mountain bike races feature too many racing categories’.

Here’s my point:
At races, it always cracks me up when amateur racers brag about their class results, when in fact they were 46 minutes, and 156 places behind the top riders on a 15 mile course. Nice job slick, here’s your medal, now go back to your bike shop and demand discounts because you are “sick fast” in the Men’s 19-29, Rigid Single speed Category with 14 other competitors. What the F*ck Eva’. What happened to survival of the fittest? What happened to aspiring to running with the big dogs, but at the end of the race that you just lost by 46 minutes – taking solace in knowing that you are really just another rider who is there because you love to ride. Isn’t that enough? Glory is for the Olympics, not your local race scene.

Maybe people need to be rewarded to stay interested. Maybe race organizers feel that classes are necessary so that groups of people with similarities should compete against each other so that they get the same “experience” that the Pros get. I could be sold on arguments for both of those points to some degree.

I digress, it’s time for the weekend……One Tecate, two Tecate, three Tecate - MORE!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Construction has been going on outside our house beginning at 6:30am for two weeks straight now. Not that I really notice that much since I’ve been out riding by 6:15 and then home later from work in the evening, but…..who the hell invented the beeper for trucks that are backing up? I know it’s a safety issue, but g’damn I think I’m hearing that sound in my sleep now.

Coming up next Monday is a “big business” corporate retreat for our management group – at my resort/hotel. For f*ck’s sake, that means I have to do a sissy little welcome letter, a creative little froo-froo welcome amenity, and undoubtedly somebody attending the event will complain about a lack of air conditioning even though these are fellow employees staying COMP for a mandatory event. Big Steve told me about a good team building event he hosted a few months back, and ours is going to be a ropes course strung across the creek – Tyrolean style. It’s almost cliché the way these retreats are done nowadays: Icebreaker event, followed by diving into an agenda, then a big working lunch, followed by an afternoon team building event. Ahhh well, it could be worse as us Minnesotan’s say.

I’ve morphed into a comfort zone of 3.5 – 5 hours on the bike. I’m trying hard to keep weight on by eating huge lunches so I don’t shrivel up like a skinny roadie in Le Tour de France. Yes, I realize that I could go faster if I dropped 10-15 pounds, but then you’d be calling me Skeletor and I would have zero self-confidence resulting in a horrific slide into depression, alcoholism and undoubtedly a rock bottom crash after intervention. I know that might be fun to watch, but I’m not up for it. Upcoming events are largely unconfirmed as fuel prices and time from work resemble a NASCAR restrictor plate on my decision making, and I despise NASCAR. There is a benefit social ride – 95 mile road ride – for which I was able to get a sponsor to pay my entry fee, plus the ride starts 2 blocks from my front door. I’m trying to arrange carpooling for the remainder of the fall events. Word outta the AZ event organizers mouths is that racing attendance is down 25% and we all know why.

Tomorrow? 4.5 hour ride around the peaks, then work, then home ‘round 9:30pm. Oh, and on the way to work I’m picking up a new to me but used bike I just bought from a local dude. Pics and Deets will be released once I have her tuned and dialed in. Let’s just say it’s the least expensive bike I’ve bought since my first mountain bike – a Paramount 20 which Big Steve will remember. This new/used ride will give me a reason not to skip races since it has gears, a hard tail, and 29” wheels.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Coldplay is the only man-made disaster that matches the Bush Administration with regards to the question: “How the hell are they still around?”. Would somebody post a comment here and educate me as to why Coldplay sells records? I can’t even get my mind around the phenomenon that is Coldplay. I thought their last album buried them underground so deep that they would be playing Bar Mitzvah’s and Casinos for the next 20 years. I have a friend, AJ McShef who professes a love for Coldplay – and I’m considering an intervention to help him through these tough times.

Nothing new here – still working for the man, riding 2 out of every 3 days, and loving the cool temps and afternoon rains in Flagtown. I never did hook up with Skinsuit Tim on Saturday, instead opting for a mountain bike ride in the mud versus riding wet roads. D and I are headed out road riding tomorrow as I get the day off since I worked most of the 4th.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The owner of the restaurant at Junipine said to her 18 year old son: "If you want to drink, go into the woods or something....just don't drive". Not really into camping, she didn't think much of her comment.
This week he showed up with a car full of camping gear and a crew of guys and girls that are heading to Escalante for a 4th of July camping trip. We spotted something unusual in a pocket on one of the packs.....Limes......Limes mean tequila. Have a safe 4th boyz.
Le Tour De France commences tomorrow morning. I know 99.5% of the American public could give a rats ass, but for me, I'm stoked. It finishes just before the Olympics, followed by football season. Could there be a better time for a sportsfan like me???

Leave it to Patrick O'Grady to sum it up for me:
"So I’ll be following Le Tour once again this year, just as I have since I first discovered there was such a thing as the Tour. But not on TV. Signing up for premium cable to watch bike racing is like joining Weight Watchers for the hot chicks."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I get an e-mail yesterday from my teammate RH – one of Flagstaff’s elite level slackers. Late 40’s, working an hourly wage despite his education, and more or less living to ride his bikes. RH represents a measurable but not dominant portion of the population in Flagstaff….cyclists, skiers, and river runners who won’t give up the life for 9-5. I have a lot of respect for these guys in a certain way, but man, at some point when do you look in the mirror and say “I’ve had a great time, but WTF – where did the time go, and how much don’t I have in savings?”

Anyway, RH said he’s heading out on a favorite road ride of ours called the Wupatki loop. 50 miles, a big descent, and a 16 mile climb back up to around 8,000 feet. Bonus – no cars. He also said he is going with “Skinsuit Tim” – he calls him that because he’s the only guy he knows who wears a skinsuit on training rides. I can’t WAIT to see this guy on Saturday. Wupatki is a hot ride – as temps can easily get into the mid 90’s. Who wears a skinsuit on a training ride? I guess Tim does. I’ll get some pics and post them on Monday – I hope he wears a time trial helmet and sports aero bars too on this 81 kilometer time trial with over 4,000 feet of climbing.

Got out again this morning for an hour at sunrise. I wish I could DVR these days and replay them in the winter when the days are short and the trails are covered in snow. Two more days of hard riding, and I’m taking a break on Sunday. I’ll be here tomorrow, but happy 4th to all o’ you who will be playin.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Feelin' it

4 rides in 5 days
My legs are feeling good again,
barely breathin’
Early morning sunrise
Welcome the day
Done before the heat sweeps in

Summer monsoon
Forest floor is damp
Tires cut a swath
I’m on rails
I don’t want to come back

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A long day of playing catch up at work involved calming several employees down who seem to develop “entitlementitis” when I’m gone. My “kids” at work may need a daycare director next time I leave as it never ceases to amaze me how 50 and 60 year old adults can get all up under each other’s skin. The thing that makes the older gen set harder to manage than kids is that they are set in their ways and they know too damn much about life so you can’t trick them or teach them to act appropriately. Kids are easy to motivate, guide, and keep happy.

Speaking of which, we had the Red Headed Temper Tantrum and Nate Dawg over last night as guests of Lyza. Dana tricked one into thinking he all of a sudden liked bean and veggie burritos with asparagus – the seven year old dude never eats and here he was wolfing down an unfathomable amount of food. His heavily augmented (front side bolt on plus 2’s), severely unhappy, semi-trophy Mom who I went to college with 20 years ago played it off like “oh he always eats veggies”. Nate Dawg has a crush on Lyza partially because she wrestles him and his friends to the ground. Let’s just say its not because of skills its because she’s about 8 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Nate Dawg. At the end of the night it was me, D, Nate Dawg and Lyza on the front step just yapping it up – kid talk of course. Lyza said some rhyme about how some boys are hot….Nate was looking at her with glazed eyes.

Here we go – she’s going into second grade and I’m already sizing Nate Dawg and his family up…..Nate is a great athlete, his Mom was a teacher and his dad is a dentist. They are bible thumpers, but in a keep it to themselves way. I can live with all that unless he brings her home after 8pm from their bike ride around the park.

I snuck out for a quick hour ride this morning at 6:00am. Warm air, the quiet forest…..60 minutes of singletrack always puts a smile on my face.