Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just back from a dirt crit. With lights. It was 38 when we started at 5p. One flat each for CW and JB. Fast pace, no warm up. My kinda' night.

Happy Halloween

We’re headed to Phoenix for a couple of days of riding and trail running. Enjoy your Halloween.

Here’s a reprinted account of a ride I still think about nearly every month.

“Four years ago today, I rode out to Walnut Canyon for a night ride. Walnut Canyon has a lot of historical significance to it, primarily because it was home to many Native Americans. Cliff dwellings still exist, as well as sections of the canyon that you are not permitted to enter as they were/are sacred burial grounds.

I remember the night being warm, and I was riding fast, cutting through the darkness with an HID light that could pave the way for a car. It’s a 20 mile out and back ride, and I reached the half way mark after a twisty, technical drop into the mouth of Walnut Canyon. I stopped, turned off my light, looked at my watch – 10:55pm I distinctly remember, and took a couple of deep breaths and a look up at a moonless night and an abundance of stars. With shadowed 500 foot rock walls on two sides – it was sight I won’t forget.

‘ching ching’….’ching ching’. It was as if someone was maybe 50 yards away – in the darkness of the canyon – shaking chains in a semi-rhythmic pattern. ‘ching ching’…..’ching ching’……’ching ching’…… I tried to stay calm, and I did, but I had to work at it. I know full well that Walnut Canyon is less than five miles from two major freeways and local kids will drive out from town, hike down and party hard. But, it was late at night, on a schoolnight, and it’s a long way for someone to haul chains - so they could shake them………..and it was pitch freakin’ black.

‘ching ching….’ching ching’. It wasn’t stopping and it sounded like it was getting louder. My heartbeat got louder too. I turned my HID on, flipped 180 degrees and hammered up to the rim as fast as I could. A sign at the top indicated that a right would take me to the overlook and a left would take me home. I chose overlook, turned off my light, and walked carefully to the edge to surely catch a glimpse of the A-hole kids or transients who were messing with me. Darkness. Just the breeze blowing the trees. No chains. A million stars, but my heart was still racing and I remember feeling like I was being watched – from where though, I had no idea-just that sinking feeling that you're not alone.

Once again, I flipped it and was ready to wrap this ride up. ‘click’ the HID – ‘click’ again, and ‘click’ again….my light wouldn’t come on. ‘click’ again, no luck. OK – my mind is now one step away from melting down. I let my eyes adjust to the dark as much as possible, and pulled the battery and bulb connections – gave them a quick dust off – reconnect them…..’click’. The bulb came on, and I was in business. I glanced at my watch to see where I was at time-wise. 10:55pm? That was the time when I had stopped at the bottom of the canyon. My freakin’ watch had stopped?

Hauling ass, and headed for a shortcut back to town, I was ready to be home behind a locked door. I was apologizing to unknown Indians all the way home and cursing douchebag kids, when pffffffffffffffffft. Flat tire. I’m running Geax Sturdy 2.5 tires and I flat? Physically, I changed that tire calmly, but mentally I was looking over my shoulder the whole time. The winds calmly swayed the trees as I finished the repair, but no sounds of chains. I pounded the pedals home, got inside, locked the door, and told D what the hell had happened. She said off the cuff “that’s Indian Burial Ground out there”. I was explaining the part about the stop on the rim, and got a look at my watch. It said 12:05am. You gotta be kidding me. It was 25 minutes slow, but it was working again. 25 minutes was the time it usually takes me to climb out of the canyon.

Friends have offered invitations to group rides out there. Nahhh, no thanks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28th and it's snowing. The big stuff is hitting Colorado. For us, the first snow of the fall, and I hope we get 200+ inches this winter. Bring IT.

Back at NAU in the winter of 1989 - I think, the skies dumped 24+ inches over a 12 hour span. In college, classes cancelled, nothin' to do -wait. Rottenberg has an idea. So off we go to the Woodlands Village Apartment Complex where we find the car of one of our "brothers". About 45 minutes later we had the equivalent of eight parking spaces worth of snow piled on top of his car and around the front and back. It looked like a snowplow pushed 2 feet of snow for 100 yards and then dumped the load at the edge of the lot. We payed special attention to the front and back so he had to spend a lifetime digging the little Nissan out. That wasn't enough because we wanted him to see his expression when he saw it, but it was 1am.

So we called his house and Rottenberg acted like the father of his girlfriend - demanding to speak to her. He bought it. Hook...line....sinker. When we started laughing and said we were outside he peeked out and was a full 11 on the 1-10 scale of the pissed-off-o'meter. We thought it was funnier than he did, of course, and we ended the morning out hiking in the snow convinced we were going to find the lava tube caves, 1/2 crocked on Schlitz Malt Liquor and freezing in jeans and lame jackets. We never found them, and when we went back after the snow melted we realized we were hiking about 2 miles away near volcanic cinder pits. Wrong turn, or two. Good thing DUI's weren't real big then.

Monday, October 26, 2009

cx #1

Ahhh, I totally wussed out on the cutoffs and goofball outfit for the cross race on Saturday. D reminded me of the worst word in cycling that rhymes with ‘racing’. Yup, ‘chafing’. With all the on/off/on/off involved, 30 minutes of pain could have turned into 72 hours of hell in a handbasket. So, I donned the spandex costume and looked like just another Joe racer boy at the start ‘cept for the mountain bike I was riding. Cat 4 mens – big field of riders at all kinds of levels.

3, 2, 1 GO! Heart rate went from a slightly nervous 90 to 170+ and stayed there for 30 minutes. Three ringers rode off the front immediately and I spent the whole time in a chase group of four, working our asses of for what….bragging rights or something like that? My old mountain bike did it’s job on the singletrack, but I was getting dropped when the course looped through the high school parking lot. Dropped, chase back on, dropped, chase back on until the fifth and final lap when teammate CW made a strong move on the pave’ and I just couldn’t match it. He nailed 4th and I came in about 20 seconds back in 7th. Yup – lotsa’ traffic, lotsa’ racing, and although I wasn’t nauseated at the finish, I was dizzy for about a minute until my head cleared. Then the layer of silicone jizz you get in your mouth and nose – yum – that cleared.

I think I’d be sold on cx racing in Wisco, or Portland, or back east. Out here – not so much. 65 degree temps. One cowbell, no chicks in bikinis, and nobody with beer handups. I think the cross vibe out here just ain’t what it is in the colder climates.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Barriers and Run-ups?

It’s been just over a year since the crapola hit the fan in the tourism industry down here in the sunny southwest. Working on the 2010 budget - so much fun – shows me just how much things fell off when Lehman Bros. went in the tank last fall. What a clusterfuck, and now that we’re a year away and the drama has subsided, it’s given me a chance to realize just how screwed up things were, are, and will be for a while. I certainly don’t need Glenn Beck to tell me about it. Can someone “lose” him, permanently?

Financial institutions and ‘Murkan car manufacturers aren’t the only ones that struggle. For f*cks sake, we can barely run a social cycling team without getting into it with various members from time to time. It always comes down to what’s in it for me, and what will our jerseys look like. Take those two elements out of the picture and running the team would be a breeze. Potential cash sponsors have eschewed me out of their offices/e-mail in boxes faster than hair bands left the 80’s. So – onward with a smaller budget, and the best part is that the whiners are almost gone. Afterall, when they can’t put a finger on their tangible benefits, they suddenly lose interest.

On the agenda is my first cross race - ever - this weekend. I’ve never practiced, and the only quick dismounts I do are crashes on mountain bikes. I watched a Youtube video of a cross race today, so I’m sure I’m ready to go (said with 100% sarcasm). I just want to be out competing on a sunny October day on a local course ‘cause that equals good times. So with that, I’m going to take the race as seriously as I am about preparing for it: No tighty lycra cycling costume – instead it’ll be cutoffs, t-shirt, old helmet…but with matching shades, and high socks. No cross bike either, unless I can scam one on race day. Yup, I’ll be “that guy”.

NAU homecoming is this weekend so the scene in downtown Flag will be drunks, drunks, and more drunks. I think Lyza and I will take in the football game, and call it an early evening with D after she gets home from a costume par-tay/fundraiser. Bring on the weekend, baby!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keepin' the fire lit

I used to hate everybody else’s kids until I had a daughter of my own. It changes you, or it might change you, and I’m glad it changed me. Patience is the #1 thing I’ve learned from the experience, and the value I place on family changed exponentially.

So I’ve been patient for 8+ years as my baby girl has evolved into the complex animal that she is now. I put a lot of racing and training goals on hold, without regret, in place of doing what I knew was right – taking care of my family when they needed me.

All of a sudden - and I mean all of a sudden, I have a daughter that digs on staying home alone for 1.5 hours while I ride or run. She enjoys going to races and hanging out with other friends and their kids, giving me an opportunity to ride with the boys – not worrying about her safety one bit. She helps race organizers with food/drinks/timing while I get to compete stress-free. The change in her mental makeup between age 7 and 8 may be subtle on the surface and complex underneath, but the change for me is monumental.

When I was in my mid-30’s, older friends spoke of their kids being grown enough to take care of themselves, and I just looked at them with tired eyes wondering how and when that happens. Sleep deprivation dulled everything for me and I just saw the vision they painted with words as a mirage. So, I rode at midnight after staying awake with a sick girl until she fell asleep. I ran at dawn so I could be back by 7:30am to give my wife a break. I showed up to many races knowing that I was a step slower and knowing I had no chance, but I kept the fire of competing front and center by….showing up.

Now I’ve got several peeps out there that are having kids soon – the 30something crowd. My friends I will pass on what was shared with me. Be patient, don’t worry about missing a training ride/run or two, take your lumps at the races and take your time with your family. Know that you’ll be back when the time is right. Rested, motivated, and with a new understanding of the importance of taking care of your body like we all didn’t when we were young.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tool Cool for School

Trails and Ales

Ahhh, I sure got a big laugh out of hearing that Blowhard Limbaugh got whacked from the principals that are making a bid to buy the Rams. As defiant as he was on Wednesday morning about being a “pioneer” and how he wouldn’t step down from the opportunity, it all ended rather quickly. It’s about time that his words closed a door for him. Don’t let it hit you in your ass, Rush. I just can’t get my brain around feeling sorry for rich, obnoxious bigots who blame everyone else for their failures and shortcomings.

Sedona pal JD made the drive up to Flag on Wednesday and we hit the singletrack for 3.5 hours. Actually, I rode for 3:20 and Jeff rode for 3:40 after making a left turn when I went right. I thought he was right behind me at the junction, but that wasn’t the case and he rode off down the mountain with me, realizing he went the wrong way, chasing him from about three minutes back. His 5” travel f/r Titus Super Moto is built for tech descents and JD can peg the speed so I was in a losing battle from the get go. Hiker #1 said “Yeah – the guy you’re talking about went by a few minutes ago”. Hiker #2 hated either me or bikes in general and didn’t offer the time of day much less any info on JD. JD probably knocked her doublewide ass and her bitter beer face off the trail without knowing it. So I chased, and chased, and chased, and never caught him. I took social trails home, showered, shaved, dressed, and was ready to walk out when he walked in. I was about to leave a note on his car saying “Went to work – I’m sure you’re OK, right?” I’d have never lived that one down, so we had a few laughs about it and that was that. I think we climbed over 3,000 feet and I was feeling it all over again Thursday morning.

No races until next weekend when AZ Cyclocross #1 and #2 happen. Until then - hit the trails, and drink some ales.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


After one black and tan, I was fuggin’ blotto. I drove to Collins’ straight from our Monday night Crit and having put in a few max efforts, I was low on everything…, food, warmth – and that beer went right to my brain. 20 minutes later I was fine, but damn, that crit done gone and kicked the sh*t outta me. Most of the crew are talking about this Carmichael Training System program that emphasizes shorter, more intense workouts. As an old man with a job, family, and other interests, I love it. Cross, crits, short track MTB anaerobic hell – love it all….once it’s over.

My Sedona boyz JD and the Racyz were camping up in Flag and they coaxed me into that stop at Collins’ Irish Pub. The place has something like 25 hi def 32+ inch tv’s and I’ve never seen so few people conversing in a bar – rather, focusing all their energy on the clear imagery of a lame game. The cocktail Betty’s all wear these little, but classy, “Collins Girl” black cropped T’s. Game, what game?

… I was fired up from racing bikes, and talking shit to JD and Racyz who are died in the wool Packer fans was just the ticket. JD said “Nice 5-0 start for the Vikes” I said “Ahhh, they haven’t played anybody yet”. Racyz gave me a shot on the shoulder and said “They played the Pack!” I chimed back, “Like I said…”….and on and on and on and on and on. Good times all around that made the first day of the workweek seem pretty damn fine.

Friday, October 9, 2009


5:45 pre-dawn start on familiar singletrack so I don’t need lights
26 degrees
Toes warm, fingers = ouch
Light wraps around the mountain
Climb = warm
Top = happy
Twisty descent = happiest
Home = coffee, food, one last spelling test for Lyza B, kiss the D, out the door
Work is calling, it’s October = fall colors = busy
Twins win tonight? I hope
F*ck the Yankees

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Box Seats

One of the great things about AZ is the completely f’d up sports fan base. Nearly everyone who lives here grew up somewhere else, so it’s quite easy to get tickets to any of the pro sports franchise events. The icing on the cake is that pro sports out here is strictly entertainment – not a religion like it is with, say, Ohio State Football, Packer Football, Celtics B-Ball, or Detroit Hockey. As a result, I scored lower level seats to a Coyotes game for $25 per ticket. That seat would cost $200 at The Joe, or $300+ at MSG. I bought four, sold two, and am stoked to take Lyza there on Saturday night. Now if this week would just hurry the heck up, we’ll be near the glass watching the 2-0 ‘Yotes take on the Blue Jackets. I don’t even care who wins ‘cause I’m a Stars fan, but hey – it’s just entertainment out here.

It was cool after work yesterday, but I grabbed Bodhi and ran a relaxed pace for about an hour on the trails. A decent ride was not an option because of time, but now that I have a couple of months of mileage on my running shoes, this running crap isn’t so bad. Half of the trees have already turned, and once the sun hit the horizon it went from 60 to 50 like the snap of your fingers. D has a race, THE race actually, on Saturday morning. It’s the most competitive running race in Flag and all the top dawg runners show up – that’s definitely one reason why I’m not racing. Lyza and I are headed out for support/cheering at the start, mid-way, and finish – then off to the desert to see the ‘Yotes. Weekend – here we come!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shallow thoughts on autumn

I'm not much of a quote guy, but this one speaks volumes to me as the days grow shorter, the nights are colder, and training is just plain harder:

The pain of atrophy is far worse than the pain of exhaustion

Night rides, pre-dawn hikes, lung burning cold, layers, sweat, dumping layers, cold so harsh you can't stand it, but you do stand it because when you sit your ass back on your couch and the pain subsides you know you did yourself right. Of course, if your significant offers dinner, a little massage, and a happy ending - then, well, that quote doesn't mean shit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My daughter brought home a cross with what appeared to be Jesus drawn on it from her Catholic School religious education class last night. My Jewish wife picked it up and said something to the tune of “whoooo, my Mom would freak out at this”. Mr. agnostic here, looked at it and thought it would be good for kindling because it was super-thin balsa wood and it was f*ckin’ cold last night, but then I realized I’d be burning a hand drawn Jesus on a cross in my stove and nothing good can really come from that.

Before all o’ dat, I met the boys at the race track for the Monday night crit. It was cold, so the pace was down a bit – averaging about 24.5mph per lap with a fierce headwind on the homestretch, plus there were only five of us to drive the pace. Work sucked on Monday with personnel issues, but after 40+ minutes at a high heart rate, all was forgotten. I can’t think of a better way to wash away work anxiety/pressure. We’re all getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so strategy is playing a big part in how we finish. Me and JB escaped during the last lap of the second crit, I led him out with a 2 sec lead and he took it to the line. That was a nice way to finish the evening.

Well, actually, Brett Favre’s 3-TD performance against the Pack was the capper. Brett could be on his way to a Disney Movie ending to his career. Man, I’ve waited my whole life for a Vikes Super Bowl win, and so far – so good.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Peaks and Valleys

I had not done squat since Monday night’s crit ride ‘cept for work, work, and more work. It seems to come and go in bunches lately. What’s the cliché my homeboy Fish loves?....”peaks and valleys CB”. Fish – you’re right.

With that in mind, I pulled my carcass out of bed just after sunrise, put on the Red Rock spandex clown kit, and opened the garage door to the coldest fucking air I have breathed since…….March? 27 degrees felt like seven degrees. Fortunately, it’s all uphill at the start of nearly any ride in Flagstaff. Fork locked out, standing and swaying – 20 minutes later my two middle toes came back to life, and at the top of today’s climb, my fingers were half warm too. Fortunately, the sun had cleared the side of the mountain by then and it was pretty nice the rest of the way. My new ride was tight, and I rolled it until I had to ride home to get to work on time. Bummer….I was feelin’ good this morning.

The gears are moving on our 2010 season for our cycling team. Sponsors are coming together, new kits are shaping up, we douched the d-bags from the team, and picked up some happy, willing, and fast new riders. I think it’s gonna’ be a good year. I’ll be 43, but I’m faster now than when I was 25. Here’s to keepin’ that goin’. Several weekend rides are on the docket, including one with D on her new Marin bike, as well as me providing support for a mountain scramble run on Sunday morning. That consists of driving to the top of Mt. Elden in somebody’s suburban, handing out drinks and food, and driving back down. Plus I get a cool PBR-like t-shirt for volunteering. Then the Monday night crit with two new riders. Oh, and I hope Favre lights the Cheeseheads up for 3 TD's and a rushing TD to boot. Just livin’ the dream baby.