Thursday, November 26, 2009

Workin' at the Grand Hotel back in the early 90's, I cherished the holidays. Not for food/drink/friends, but for a chance to work without phone calls and get to the fuck-ton of papers on my desk that needed to get the hell off my desk. 7am-7pm was like the best cleansing I could imagine and I always walked away feeling "caught up". Even if I was 25 pounds underweight from the stress, it still felt good.

What a joke. You were never caught up at the Grand, only less behind. I've never worked so hard for so little in my life.

This morning's commute was a reminder of those times. Driving down to cover the front desk this morning, there was one car on the road. It'll be a quiet day - I can get "caught up" on some past due stuff, and my staff is home with their kids - and that feels OK to me because they appreciate it. I'll be home 'round 3pm so it's not a lost cause. In fact, me and D have a pretty sweet dinner + walk with the doggies planned.

And then, Black Friday? Screw that, I'll be on the trails tomorrow morning while the masses scramble for that $248 32" Emerson tv at Wal-Douche-Mart. Although I do have my eye on a $199 ping pong table at a local store for the garage......I'll crush you in ping pong ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Better than Christmas

Health, family, and friends come to mind this time of the year. Followed by some good food on turkey day, and a colossal mtb ride in Sedona on Saturday. The kind of ride that leaves you with an appetite for a emergency nap, not food......... ‘cept maybe two hours later when a 1 pound burrito looks like an appetizer. Happy T-Day everyone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


On the second of our two crits last night, with a lap and a half to go, C-dub kinda’ drifted off the front – further and further and further. Nobody was chasing – maybe because it was 44 degrees - but it was looking like he was going to take the win. Coming towards the last turn with maybe 200 yards to go he had a 30 yard lead. I went around JB, hit the gas with everything I had, and beat C-Dub to the line. The look on his face was priceless because he had me and everyone else beat.

Just as I lunged across the line, an ‘urp’ of barf came up, filled my mouth, and I swallowed it back down for fear of burning off the paint on my top tube. The gag reflex kicked in but I held off what felt like a whole hella’ lunch coming up, and I wasn’t gonna eat that entire turkey sandwich with pesto mayo twice – one bite was enough. Man – it’s hard to get that stench and acid out of your tastebuds. That was pretty much me’self telling me’self that was as hard as I could go.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The new 2010 Rig. I just got myself the "frame only" as a replacement for my completely beaten 2006 version. It cracked, legitimately. After a couple of inquiries from Fisher about how it broke - they were insinuating that I had crashed, hard - they shipped a new frame my way.

It's all pretty and shit, tempting to build up, but it's pretty ridiculous to have steel and aluminum singlespeedspeeds. Kinda defeats the point of one bike, one gear, and only one way to rock n roll.

My buddy Joel spotted the obvious crack when he was considering buying it from me...I would have never seen it because I don't look for shit like that - though now I do. One of three scenarios would have happened:

a.) I would have kept riding it from time to time and would have had an accident at some point.

b.) I would have sold it on E-Bay, shipped it to Toledo - and had somebody call me a week later with a shattered face, or if I was lucky - telling me that the frame was cracked and he wanted his money back. Either way, I lose, and a shattered face would have been a nightmare.

c.) The bike would have gone to a friend locally who wouldn't spot the crack either and it would have been lights out for him.

Lose, lose, lose. Joel's keen eye was a blessing.

Joel was the dude who broke his pelvis in two places in August. I was right on his tail when he went down, and I've never seen someone go from 25mph to -5mph in a tenth of a second. It was scary and it made me realize how small the contact patch is between your tire and the ground when you're haulin' ass. I've noticed on the last several rides I've been slowing it down a notch on the descents. Hell - it's the climbing where you win/lose xc races anyway, so maybe this is some tonic I need to ingest too. He gimped around for a week because of no insurance and finally had to go to the ER because it wasn't getting any better. 2K later, he's on the mend and should be riding again in March or April.

Selfishly, I'm excited to see his face when I drop it off with a red bow on it 'round Christmastime.

On another note, I gotta give it up to Trek/Gary Fisher. They definately own up to their products. I loved my old Rig, and would probably dig this one too, but I'm just too darn happy with my new Marin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Madden 2007

I picked up an old X-box off of E-Bay for $20 a couple of years back. It came with Madden 2007. Back in the day, I was unstoppable at Madden. Yesterday night, Lyza kicked my ass despite faking every extra point because she thinks they are boring. Who wants one point when you can get two? She has this play where she just bombs it down the left sideline and I can't defend it. Then, a power sweep that gets at least 15 yards per play.

Fuck. How many years before she beats me up Snowbowl on a road bike, or down Snowbowl on a snowboard?

I gotta go practice some Madden when she goes to bed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FB part two

As I mentioned back in August, I got sucked into the world of Facebook once we migrated our team’s communication hub to FB. Here are the stats after a couple of months:

-One message from an old-time fraternity brother who busted my chops for showing up on FB after blasting it last year on this blog site – thanks JVC, you’re like a tape recorder of my life and always there to play back to stupid sh#t I said even 20+ years ago.
-I’m up to around 55+ “friends”, about five of which I could actually call for a no questions asked ride home from a jail cell at 2:30am on a Tuesday.
-I’ve cut links to five people without regret.
-Haven’t got the desire to write on my own page yet – That feels like walking on stage at the local karaoke bar and trying to pull off Abba’s “Dancing Queen”. I’d much rather throw it on this semi-private blog with virtually no audience whatsoever – more like walking into my living room half naked with one blind accidentally open….nothing too shocking for me and certainly not for my lesbian neighbor.
-Not one person from HS has found me, nor have I found them. It completely validates the fact that I was like a black, jagged, asteroid in a galaxy of 2,400 high school stars. Wandering aimlessly down the halls, wanting anonymity in a time when most everyone else wanted notoriety. If they had HS shootings then, I’d have been profiled to and from school just in case.
-My wife and I aren’t FB friends. We socialize with two completely different crowds. We already knew that though.

It doesn’t have me hooked, but it sure has made communication for our team a lot quicker and clearer. For that reason alone, I’m in until the next “must be on” social network comes along.

A few peeps I have run across have something like 750 friends. My wife told me about a dude on her network that has over 2,000 friends. How the? What the? If they had a clue they would hire an agent and sell their accounts to Proctor & Gamble, or Nestle, and get some kind of payback for shamelessly “friending” every molecule on the planet that they cross paths with. Friending – awesome that those nine letters became a freakin’ verb.

Hey Ellen Jo – “Your pal Celine needs friended”.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The new ride, D laying it out at the line, me and the squirt at the races....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

straight on

After a solid six week run of crit races on Monday nights, we are probably coming to the end of the line for 2009. Daylight = nonexistent after 5:45pm, and temps are dippin' into the "your muscles will hate you" range of sub 45 degrees. By the last race, last night, I felt like our core group has developed into a fairly tactic-savvy group of riders and I would love to bring 'em all to the crit races in Phoenix........soon.

I have 60 days until the AZ mountain bike race calendar starts, and that seems a bit ridiculous considering we've been riding pretty hard since March of this year. I've never been one to participate much in these early season races, but I'm feeling more compelled this year because of my personal investment in our revamped cycling team. We've never had such a strong semblance of comaraderie and having a group of guys/gals who push you on each ride is really, really fun. Age be damned, the bike is an incredible equalizer so we have dudes and chix from 25 - 60, all riding together, learning from each other, and having a good time doing it.

Last summer, after racing with JB and Big Steve, I went to their informal weekly gathering of riders on a Tuesday night in Wisconsin. The bugs were harsh, the humidity was comical, but the people were great, the riding was a blast, the brats were hot on the bonfire-like grill, and everyone chipped in to make "it" happen. It being the food, the peeps, the trail, the healthy competition, the conversation, and the good times. It stuck with me like glue. I wanted that same vibe for our team back home.

Finally, I think we're on that path. A few people's ego's were shattered when we told them we wouldn't pay them to race anymore because afterall.....we're "amateurs". A few sponsors dropped out because of the politics. And, we're better for it.

So, here it is November 10th and my usual turning point is left - towards backing off the riding, and taking it easy until it warms up in February. This year, I'm going to go straight on - and keep the throttle down for a bit to see if this new-found team camaraderie and energy dynamic can push me to a better level of fitness in January. Now that we're all in it for the right reasons, we've created our own bonfire in AZ, Wisconsin style.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bluewater Tri

Headed out west sucker, because I wanna be a cowboy, baby! The little red Kia rolled into Parker on Saturday after 4 hours on the road. My Styx-like Grand Illusion took a blow when I parked in the lot of a complete POS casino located on a strip of land that belongs to the Colorado Indian Reservation. Concrete, concrete, and more concrete, plus a casino floor the size of a HS gym, and rooms that – while inexpensive – need some love. Every woman had at least one tat, and every dude had at least nine. You could pick the real tri-athletes out of the crowd like you could pick Pee Wee Herman out of a police lineup. Thin, tan, ripped, with sporty logo clothing on. I had the thin part and the logo T-shirt down pat.

I hooked up with A-man and the rest of the gang, and we caught up at the blackjack table where I lost 7 out of 8 hands in four minutes and walked away with half as much as I started with. Nice. I violated rule 1.4-6 of my casino code: NEVER play against a six deck shoe in an Indian casino with a Caucasian dealer. Then we ate a horseshit dinner at one of the two food outlets, and climbed into bed. Couldn’t sleep. They had the swim buoys out when we arrived and they looked way further out than anything I had trained for. Then I kept thinking I was short on food for breakfast, where were my socks? The wetsuit is too tight, maybe? I didn’t being enough Accelerade! and then I couldn’t get Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” out of my mind. Why? Jesus, I remember my Dad telling me about a panic attack he had when he was around 40’ish – just froze up in the car and couldn’t drive. Heredity is a beyotch, and I sat there in bed, wide awake, until the alarm went off at 5:30.

Over to the transition area at 6:00am where I saw more carbon and disc wheels than at a Tour De France stage. We picked our spots and I laid out all my little needs on a towel and then had to force feed myself some breakfast all the while swallowing the anxiety that came with pre-race jitters. Finally it was time to put on the wetsuit, swim cap and goggles and hit it. “GO!” Jitters/anxiety/stress – instantly gone.

In 96th place after the swim out of 130 racers in the long course, I was setting a blistering pace. Hop on the bike, and back in my element - I was passing a lot of people and that felt good, coming into the final transition in around 45th. Then, the run. 9 minute miles over a 5 mile course doesn’t do anything but get you a nice view of the tan and ripped people who just passed you. I saw some great tri-suits, and counted at least seven pairs of really nice Solomon running shoes. I just couldn’t go any faster, so I crossed the line around 75th overall. I felt pretty good, so I know I didn’t leave it all out there – but I just couldn’t figure out where to leave it….does that even make sense? I was worried about working too hard on the bike so I backed off, and then I remember feeling a bit claustrophobic in the wetsuit – and not being able to see the marina in the glaring sun, ahhh it’s all just excuses.

One thing that was Colonel Jessup style Crystal Clear was the fact that the peeps who succeed at these races are incredibly regimented with their training and gear - everyone had watches 'cept for prolly' me, and no less than 20 people asked me for my split times. Split times? Oh I get it, the swim time, bike time, and run time. No - I don't get it actually.

I’ve got a couple of options.

1.) Either commit to the tri lifestyle and hit it to compete with the upper end of my age group
2.) Ride/race bikes, run a bit with D for fun, board in the winter, play tackle football with Lyza and her friends, and swim while I’m on vacation to catch waves

#2 it is. I'll have my little Tri-suit on E-Bay tonight. There's no taint in it, so it's 'like new'.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Holy Grail of the Middle Aged Man

I talked to the wife of a college buddy I hadn’t communicated with in 20 years the other day. She said proudly: “Darrell is running his first marathon this fall”. That’s great, I knew Darrell in college and I know he’ll do a great job finishing in 2,347th place somewhere between four and five hours at the “Rock n’ Roll Marathon” in Phoenix this winter. The truth is, any jag-off with some semblance of health and a commitment to punishing themselves slowly can finish a marathon. In an effort to slow the pending spike in Orthopedic artificial knee and hip product sales, thus lining the pockets of a former neighbor of mine I can’t FREAKIN’ stand - and since every 40+ year old I know seems to have targeted the Marathon as the holy f*ckin grail of middle age athletic achievement, I have a suggestion.

Try staying at a more comfortable distance of around a 10K, and work on being………competitive. Consider making a real effort to be relevant to the race results, rather than being just another Joe who walks away with a T-shirt and a sore knee. I guarantee that the physical benefits of training hard and purposefully for a reasonable distance run will far outweigh the physical benefits/injuries that result from training moderately for an over-attended death march, all for the price of a ridiculous entry fee, an event T-shirt, a cheesy medal, and a picture for your office of you with a half-ass smile crossing the finish line in 899th place within your age group. The top 100 racers have already showered, had lunch, and caught a plane back home.

Then throw in another variable, the close or distant friend who signs up for the “team in training” marathon/walking event and solicits you for a donation to a major charity. Ahhh shit. I mean, I want to donate, I really do, and I want to support your effort, well sorta’ anyway. These big events get exposure for their causes – I know. F*ck. I just got like three of these requests from friends via national charities that fight Leukemia, Lymphoma, and heart disease. I waste time thinking about this stuff instead of just donating $15, or hitting DELETE. Instead, I lament. I must be stopped.

I know, I know, you’ll hate on me because it’s much more PC to encourage people to take on big challenges….I get it, be positive and be supportive blah blah blah blah. For some people, finishing an endurance event can change their lives for the better. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.

However, I just can’t help feeling that competing makes you stronger in many ways than just finishing, and you can put a stamp on that $25 check you got for 3rd place in Women’s 40-49 category and mail that sucker to the Leukemia Society for good measure – without $15 of that check going to an event promoter. That’s a win-win in my book.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Take me to the river, drop me in the water

Phoenix was warm. We ran too far on Saturday and I wasn’t exactly 100% due to dinner the night before that kept ‘urping’ up. After around 8 or 9 miles we stopped, had a lunch, and then I set out on my SS for some desert shreddin’ while D kicked back in 82 degrees of warmth. About an hour in, I got tired, then I got sloppy, then I stacked it on a twisty drop off a ridge. Front wheel = f*cked. I rode it back, but its gonna have to be replaced. A mechanic did his best to true it, but how am I gonna’ trust a rim that’s been nearly taco’d? No way, no how. I got mouths to feed.

Sunday was 87 – screw that, back to Flag for an afternoon ride in the high 60’s – and off to a B-day party. Good weekend, all around and it was even better when I saw that Favre played like the Purple Jesus that he is, in Lambeau. Hey Packer fans – you did a beautiful job of adding to the entertainment factor. It’s just business, money, fame, and a love of the game for a guy like Favre. There isn’t any loyalty anymore in pro sports, and how didn’t you get that memo? It’s about entertainment, and that game delivered the goods.

So, it’s a Monday night crit tonight, followed by a very short run on Wednesday. That’s all I have to do this week because the Bluewater Triathlon is on Sunday. Got my little 2-piece tri-suit that's going back on E-Bay next Monday, a wetsuit - so I don’t drown on the first leg, and I think I’m good to go. The water will be 72, and the air will be 82. Plus we’re staying at a Casino on the Colorado River. So how does that situation get any better? Race in the AM with absolutely no expectations – done by 10:30am, kick it on the beach in the afternoon, watch some NFL in the evening and play $2 blackjack in flip-flops. Dude…I’m all in.