Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cuttin' the Cat

After 15 years with a buzz cut, I started growing a full-scale cat on my head last June. I'm lucky - no bald spots, and a fuck-ton of hair, but it was getting out of control and I was starting to look like my Dad with combed, conservative hair. I love my Dad, but that hair.....that is not the direction I want to go.

Enter, Christopher. My wife's stylist who is, for lack of a better definition, "en fuego". After an hour and 15 minutes I walked out of his shop with newfound knowledge of him smoking doobies with Jen Aniston in Hollywood, awareness that there are $650 haircuts you can get in New York from some lady - I can't remember her name now - who tells you what your hair will do, not what you want done to your hair, and a $58 tab inclusive of a jar of trendy hair product and his tip. He asked me how much time I want to spend on my hair in the morning and I said "2 minutes or less". He cackled, and said "put this in your hair, open up your sun roof or window and in 2 minutes you'll have a super look that works for work". I think I got in 11 words, and a full 30 minutes of non-stop laughter to his 34,389 words over the course of an hour.

So, I thought I would have a hard time justifying $58 on one cut considering I spent $20 on a pair of hairclippers that worked for 15 years. No way man.....not only did I get a great cut, but the guy put on the equivalent of a one-man Las Vegas show. I'd call it a bargain.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is it April yet?

Big Steve e-mailed me this weekend, and it looks like we will be graced with his presence in early April. The plan is to go race this ultra fun 13 mile singletrack loop. Unless you are a medical professional, or a Route 66 junkie, this race is the only reason Gallup, NM should be on your radar of places to visit.

Thinkin’ back today….About this time last year I was walking around with a little version of a broken wing. A head-first crash off of the Damifino trail in Sedona took me down pretty hard. I was lucky not to end up sliding down to the bottom of a 50+ foot ravine. As a result, I spent a lot of time on the road bike with a hand splint for the whole month of February while my mountain bike waited on the rack – clean, ready, and able, but going nowhere.

After a misdiagnosis from a local physician who recommended surgery to repair torn ligaments, I went for a second opinion. I pushed and squeezed into an appointment with the top dawg wrist surgeon in town. An MRI, a few external pushes and pulls…..and he smiled. I lit up like the 4th when he said – “You’ve got tendonitis”. He plunked a needle in my wrist, loaded me up with steroids, prescribed a bucket of 600mg ibuprofen tabs, and some PT and I was out the door. Within 48 hours, that steroid shot reduced the swelling in the tendon sheath and I was back in business. Unfortunately, it took me until early June to get back into racing shape.

I’ve had a good winter season of riding, and forcing myself to run on pavement gives me reason to believe that I truly do give a crap about my results at Dawn til’ Dusk and the Whiskey 50 in April. I’ve suffered hard at the Whiskey, going to that dark place that you go when all systems are shutting down. First, the adrenaline runs out, anger storms in, then sarcastic laughter takes over, followed by a ray of hope which is quashed by severe cramps. Depression, like a storm cloud, and then, maybe…..a slight lift or smile crossing the finish line. Nausea/Vomiting ensues as soon as the 30 seconds of euphoria wear off. Yuck. That’s the experience of an undertrained me pushing too hard, and I want to avoid that this year.

Thinkin’ about April….Big Steve will likely be here soon. Watch out Gallup, here we come.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Led Zep

Listening to Led Zepp play 'Houses of the Holy' reminds me that there are nuggets of greatness in the world. Of late:

Flowing red dirt/slickrock singletrack in Sedona. Lauganitas IPA. Sashimi. Infrared space heaters. Eccentric bottom brackets. Powder days. The floor of the Grand Canyon. Outdoor ice rinks. High modulus carbon fiber. Vegas. Family. Prodeal codes. True friends. Breaking a fever. Winning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stars and sh*t

Four crazy motherf*ckers showed up last night for the Monday night hill climb. Actually, it was quite warm with the temp reading 34 and balmy at the start. Once again, MG took off with freshly-embrocated legs and it took me about 3.5 miles of the 6 mile climb to reel him in. I still have not gone down the path of embrocating my legs before riding, but based on the way he launched himself out of the gate, it may be worth a try. We rode to the top together, of course, sprinting it out to the line. That seems crazy in February, but it’s all about fun and pushing yourself ‘till you can’t breathe no’ mo’. We regrouped with CW and BH, put on some layers, and dropped by Braille back to the bottom. The moon was out a bit, so the road was pretty easy to follow at high speed, but a few dark spots on shade covered curves kept us honest.

The stars……wow, people pay admission to IMAX theatres to catch a miniature version of what was out last night. Orion, Cassiopeia, just a bunch of freakin’ constellations that were so bright and wide. I barely passed Astronomy, so I don’t even know what the hell I’m talkin’ about – all I know is that it was gorgeous.

It was a nice capper to a great weekend. Even though I spent Sunday at work, thing were smooth as butter. I think the warm temps and sun just put a great vibe on every guest. We had some memorable family time, capped by Lyza drawing a valentine of Me, D, and her that said “One big happy family!” I don’t forget that stuff because it reminds me that we’re doing some things right, and she is beaming with self confidence. I know that her self confidence is as important as academics right now.

One of my closest friends going back to NAU days, Topper, just quit his 6-fig job because if he didn’t he would either have a heart attack, or an emotional breakdown. He’s headed for a lifestyle change that may pay the bills, and not leave a lot left for discretionary spending. He’ll be riding his bike 4 times a week instead of traveling overseas 2 weeks a month. He gets to raise his kids, and see his wife. I’d call him a grade ‘A’ stud for getting off the gerbil wheel during a recession and making a change. That’s the kind of news I love hearing about.

Numerous racing opps this weekend – crits and MTB races down south. Or, just ride in Sedona and enjoy the tacky singletrack? Me love me some late February time in AZ baby.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bright Stars

Ahhh, my little girl. Conferences were today and she really is a chip of the old block. In short, she tests well all the while sandbagging in some subjects so she doesn't have to work too hard. I'm going to have to head her off at the pass - with help from her Mom - and see if we can get her to step it up. She's no prodigy, but she's far from average, and I just want her to have opportunities. Exchange programs maybe? A shot at a better college than I went to? Hell yeah. I'd love for her to travel as a teenager and in her 20's before not knowing any better and buying into the 'Murkan Dream. In the meantime, she's as bright as Beetlejuice in my eyes and we're gonna mix a lot of fun in with achievement.

Speaking of fun and achievement, I managed to squeeze in a fanfuckingtastic ride in Sedona yesterday with old-time local pal Craig C. All of the washes are trickling with water, the red dirt is tacky tacky sweet, and my big ol' wheels love the tech drops and climbs. I didn't want to leave, but the light got low, and my body was getting tired. I think I'm ready to race bikes again. MBAA Race #3 is the following weekend on a course that features at least 1-2 riders each year who come out with broken wings. It's technical, sharp, nasty, and not scenic at all because the course is right next to a freakin' NASCAR track. What's uglier than a NASCAR track? It's fans.

Still, I'm gonna try and be there.

Me and my D had a nice Valentine's dinner last night. She just lights me up too. I'm a lucky it's time to go pay some bills. Have a good weekend y'all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One by One

Restless night, so I got up at the crack o' smack. I was thinking about work - making payroll in a crappy month - giving a person with a misdemeanor a chance - short staffed, finances - taxes - when to file, Lyza B's ever growing schedule and needs, D's always evolving life and needs, keeping up my training to race bikes, getting new tires after driving in a snowstorm yesterday - what kind and how much? - and closing out my facebook account because USA Today ran a story on that topic, and I'm missing the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo for the second straight year....... Stop. Stop. Stop the madness

I get to go riding after work today - red dirt in Sedona, 54 degrees, tacky soil. How great is that? Motherf*ckin' great. Even better, I get to take my valentine out to dinner for an early celebration tonight. She has a cooking class on V-Day, so we'll celebrate early.

The old sports cliche holds true if I want to keep my sanity. "We'll take it one game at a time".

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

climbing in the sky

We met at the base of the mountain – me and the Goldman. 8pm. Temp was a balmy 30, and it was light flurries. As we pedaled up, the roads went from a little slop, to frozen, to powder. Just about 1.5-2 inches of really light, fluffy powder. Our tires cut through it like air. Goldman went out pretty hard, so I followed his red tail light for 3+ miles, inching closer, then falling back, inching closer, and slowly coming around him – then leading the rest of the way to the top. Being in front felt like complete solitude with no lights, cutting fresh tracks on the road, and not a hint of wildlife. As we were getting closer to the top, we could see the glow of the ski lodge, and a few snow cats out grooming the slopes for the next day. At least for me anyway, I put in a hard effort, and got to the top with the Goldman only a short distance back in a good time. The lights at the ski lodge completely took our night vision away, and after buttoning up on winter gear for the ride down, it took a few minutes to get used to the pitch black again. I dropped the psi in my tires to around 15, and let ‘er rip on the descent. I could feel both wheels floating when I’d get over 20mph, and it’s about as close to surfing as I can get on land. We stopped half way down – away from the lights of the ski lodge – and just looked at the stars. There were as bright as I have ever seen between streaks of clouds that were lit up by the city lights over the other side of the mountain. 20 minutes later we were down, shivering, packing up to go hom. Goldman’s fingers were frozen as he was clutching cantilever brakes on his cx bike the whole way down. My ss has hydraulic brakes and huge ass tires, so I was able to coast more and just tap the brakes – no frozen fingers here – but a frozen torso. We spent about 1 minute talking about the ride, cranked up our cars, checked the temp which was a now much colder feeling 24 degrees, and we were outta’ there. Ffffreeezing.

The momentum is building for this ride, as we have three committed next week. It was just me the first week, two peeps this week, and three on board the next? Shit, we’ll have 25 dudes by mid-summer at this rate. My legs have that ‘good sore’ feel to them that I can’t seem to get from running or sitting on a trainer. Glutes, hams, calves, quads – all equally saying “thanks man, good times out there….” Plus, the demons in my head are dormant for another day or two.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

8 going on 18

Every other Friday, I usually take Lyza to her bus stop as a special treat since she's headed back to her Mom's for the week. This morning, I pulled right up to where the bus stops, put 'er in park - turned off the engine and we had this exchange:

Me: "When your bus pulls up, I'm gonna peel out"
Lyza: Smiling - "Dad, don't, that's stupid:
Me: Smiling - "All the kids will know how fast my car is. They'll talk about 'Lyza's Dad' at school"
Lyza: Laughing - "Nooooo....Let me out, and I'll just wait, you go to work"
Me: "No, I'm totally peeling out"
Lyza: Laughing - "Nooooo, drop me off, and go park over there so you know I'm safe and so no one sees you".

Her friend Nate Dawg walked up, and she was OUT of the car faster than I could tell her I'll miss her. She did a 180, came back and said "see you in a week - I love you Dad". Man - I'll be thinkin' about that till she comes back next Friday. Youth is king, and kids rule.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Old Man Winter

Here we are, just over a month into the winter and I’ve got my snowboard on loan to a friend for the rest of the winter. He offered up his Volkl’s in return for my trip to Durango in three weeks, but man, all I can think about is riding bikes. As the Hardman said, ‘winter sounds good in November, but we’re all ready for the trails to open in February’. True ‘dat.

I seem to have a stronger than usual pull towards two wheels this early in the year, and maybe it’s because I don’t see a whole lot of 50+ racers on the MTB circuit out here. The 19-39 Cat 1 group has 40 racers, the 40-49 group has around 20, and the 50+ goes maybe 10 deep. There isn’t even a 60+ cat.

The thing that is eating at me is the fact that I’m riding better/faster/stronger now than I ever have, and what I am afraid of is reaching that breaking point, where I start to lose speed and skill. It’s gonna’ hit me like a ton of bricks, much more so than any typical mid-life crisis that involves mistresses or red Corvette’s. This will be my mid-life crisis – the day I can’t go as fast as I did the day before. I don’t even think I’ll go down swinging, rather, I’ll probably crumble emotionally like a ton of bricks.

I don’t podium more than once or twice over an entire season, and I sure as hell don’t make any sort of paycheck riding a bike, so my contemplative thoughts don’t even register on the radar as to what a top level athlete must go through when they no longer can compete in the Olympics, or the NFL. That must be a devastating blow. That must be one significant reason why so many athletes make comeback attempts well past their peak.

Getting back to me, because that’s what this blog is about, I’m on a good roll so far this winter with running mileage under my belt, night rides in the cold, multiple way-too-long early season marathon races completed and scheduled, and training with ambitious teammates will surely will prevent any sort of slowdown from happening. Surely, Shirley. Besides, I still have safety valves in place should I begin to slow down a notch. I can always start riding a bike with gears – that’ll buy me at least a couple of years. Full suspension will add another year too. Time to turn off my brain, and go ride.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rust Never Sleeps... I said to myself "get out there you lazy piece of shit".

Wife working on diet plans for clients, daughter done with homework and now onto a bath and the bed. I was out the door at 8:00 with my SS for a 6 mile climb up to Snowbowl. Pitch black, warmer than I thought at 27 degrees, and I saw all of one car - a Coconino County Sheriff - the entire way. The climb was great. All I could hear was my own breathing and the cinders as my tires ran across them. 2000 feet up, touched the Agassiz Lodge, and flipped it back down. The descent was brutally cold. So cold that it gave me "Ice Cream Head", but the kind that takes 5 minutes to go away.

Back to the car, crank the heat, home, unload into the garage, crank the shower, shotgun a beer to calm the hell down because I'm so amped from the descent, and BAM....asleep.

Screw the indoor trainer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I used to ride bikes..

We left Flag on Friday afternoon – my buddy Joel, and two kids in tow. The goals were as follows:
-Soak up as much 70 degree sun as possible
-Give the kids a great camping experience by placing them in an environment that would allow them to entertain themselves in nature for 48 hours.
-Ride a bunch of miles on desert dirt
-Run a few miles of Sonoran singletrack
-Provide support/handups for the Red Rock Racers who were competing
-Eat great food and drink really expensive IPA

Missions all handily accomplished, with a twist or two.

On Saturday I woke up and felt pretty good about not having to cram food down my hatch in time for an 8:34am start. We slept in, cooked up breakfast burritos, and took photos of the wave starts. Good times. Of course, I got “racing envy” and wanted to be out there too, but it faded as the sun got warmer, and racers faces were showing the pain of the multiple loops. Once the bottles were handed up, the awards were done, and the sound system was turned off, I hopped on my bike for a couple of loops on the course. 3 miles in on a 6 mile loop and I punctured my tire on something that left a hole the size of a pen cap. No amount of Stan’s would seal that, so I hop – skip – jumped – ran back to camp…..3 miles in bike shoes. So much fun. I put in a tube behind a piece of cardboard, even though I could see through the rubber of the tire, I hit it again thinking I could carefully ride the tech sections. Within 100 yards of that first flat, flat #2. I knew better, I just wanted to ride. 3 mile run back to camp again. A Lauganitas IPA took the sting away, and since I seem to be a better runner than rider lately, I was OK with the fiasco.

Day two brought beautiful, warm sun, and after a great hike with the kids to a little desert waterfall and pool, I strapped on the running shoes and hit 7 miles of desert singletrack that I never would have seen on a bike since it’s desert wilderness. I felt great, had a good workout, but got back and looked at my flat tired bike and thought – damn, I wish I were riding. Even my best run doesn’t hold a candle to my shittiest ride. I LOVE BIKES.

So, that’s it. No more of this 20 miles per week running shit like Josh. I’m backing it down to two 30 minute runs just so I can do LeMans style starts at bike races with respectability, and I’m either getting on a trainer, going to spin class, or just riding outdoors. This is becoming embarrassing – I can’t even call myself a bike rider right now. Shame and horror, oh the shame of flirting with running! I don’t even deserve my sweet porter colored Marin. I hope she’ll take me back. I’ve been bad, but I’m ready to come home to her.