Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back on the dirt

Total ballbuster day at work yesterday, putting out fires, and meeting with the big wigs. Fortunately, there is some really cool stuff that may come out of it all – but that’s work, time to let it go.

It’s hard to believe that our cycling season in Flag parallels that of my boys back in Wisconsin. Latitude, shamtitude – it’s all about elevation variance, really. Big Steve mentioned he was headed to his favorite place to ride last night for the ‘opening night’ at Beechwood (incidentally, that’s one of my favorite places to ride too), and not so ironically, our ‘opening night’ on the MTB trails was yesterday at Campbell Mesa on the East Side of Flagtown. Yup, the snow has melted on the flatter lands, and it’s time to get muddy again.

It’s more flat than rolling, and the trail was made years ago by somebody who was into following terrain contours and maximizing the mileage over a small area. You can ride cross or MTB and just rip it. Last night we had a small party of three, but we were joined by another friend, Mr. 30mph sustained wind. Once in the trees though, it wasn’t bad at all. We rode until past dusk, toasted with cans of Fat Tire in the lot, and called it a night.

4 days, 8 hours of saddle time. Nice.

I opened a copy of Sports Illustrated yesterday, and for the second week in a row, there’s a huge section in the middle of the magazine about Golf. Golf? What the hell is Golf doing in a national magazine about sports? As Josh B said, “If you can drink for the duration of an activity and still compete, it ain’t a sport.” Golf = curling = bocce = lawn darts, its just that for some reason golfers are idolized and overpaid – when will the Curlers get their just due?…….And another thing, if I see another 26.2 hat/decal/t-shirt I’m not liable for punching said person. I get it, you run marathons, or you ran a marathon, or you want to run a marathon – whatever. Now you joined an elite club of 10,000,000 other people who have run/walked that far.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday night
Belly full of chili. Time to ride.

Stuff just crossed my mind:

I think my tail light is bright enough. Man, the graded pavement between the bike lane and the car lanes is smooth on 29” mtb tires. My daughter’s school up there on the right, looks like a Cub Scouts meeting in the gym. Asshole, could you pass a little closer to me? Another mile, and I’m out of the traffic. I don’t know what the moon looks like where you’re at, but here, right now, it is incredibly bright. Big Steve will be here in a week – I better get that guest room ready. I can’t believe Ludacris is rapping on 14 year old Justin Bieber’s CD, what a f*cking commercial whore. Can't wait to take Lyza skiing again on Saturday. My bike feels solid - tight. Unzip this jacket baby, it’s at least 35 degrees out. I was transfixed on that new Erykah Badu video – love the EVOLVING tat across her shoulders…..aren’t we all, and what a great song.

Dude, keep your heart rate level, don’t go over 155. G’damn that moon is bright – it’s gorgeous out here. Keep your heart rate level, don’t go over 155. That stretch hurt. So did that. Keep your heart rate level. Josh is probably buying something on E-Bay right now. Ellen is probably painting right now to meet demand. Weezer on the MP3: So turn off the tv, cause that’s what other see, and movies are as bad eating chocolate ice cream – they only sicken me, don’t let me play football, I’ll sack the quarterback and jack the brother of the ball – I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker, doin’ things my own way and never givin’ up! Thanks for the room, Mr. Toyota truck driver. Another car? This one is coming up slow. A hottie brunette and a tri-colored Aussie Shepherd hanging out the back window. 1 more mile. Ouch. ½ mile. Push it to the line and finish this up. My toes are warm. There’s that car with that hottie brunette. Thanks D, for the ride back to town.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hodge and Podge

The sun was shinin’ even if it wasn’t exactly warm, and on Saturday a group of us managed a nice 3 hour ride on the wide shoulders of Lake Mary Road. 20mph sustained winds, and it was harsh in some places. We pushed it a bit, but not too hard, and it ended up being one of those efforts where you know you’re tired, but you don’t go fetal under the covers and fall asleep after a shot of espresso for 3-4 hours. Nope, this was more of a 45 minute recovery nap-type ride. Nice. Me and D had a shitty Thai dinner downtown….we have got to stop eating out, as the food is much better under he watch at home.

Sunday I was workin’ for the man, but I managed to sneak out before Sunset and spin half way up Snowbowl. D called it ‘active recovery’. I liked that term, since my usual recovery is shining the faux leather seat at work with my ass. My goal this week is 10 hours in the saddle before Friday. I’ve got five and ½ hours to go between today and Friday morning. Better hop to it.

I’m glad I didn’t waste my weekend at any one of the nationwide “Tea Parties”. The one in Searchlight, Nevada featured the motivational speaker known as Sarah Palin. As much as I’d love to see exactly what diarrhea of the mouth looks like in person, it ain’t worth the trip to Searchlight unless I get a comp room overlooking the fountain at the Bellagio in Vegas, free sushi, and a Mustang Shelby to drive out and back. There was a little Tea Party gathering in my hometown yesterday. It featured a nice gathering of handmade suits, and flannel sportin’ good old boys, with a touch of cowgirl/boy gear. My ultra-chic, very-used Patagonia/North Face wardrobe would have been rejected at the door – g’damn liberal.

Holy crap is my NCAA bracket broken all to hell. I have the Dukies making it to the finals, so if I can get that win, I receive a pittance of $60 because everyone in the pool has their titlist eliminated. Hey – that’ll pay for a friend’s race fee at the D2D in 12 days. Big Steve Nej will be flying in representin’ Wisconsin. I may even have his bike tuned and ready upon arrival, all pro-style and shit. We’ll probably stay in a Motel 6 in Gallup – not pro-style, but it’s better than a sleeping in a bag in 19 degree temps. Only the best for Big Steve.

Friday, March 26, 2010

rider down, again

Hey, guess what? Levi Leipheimer took the yellow jersey at the 2008 California. Sheeeet, I can tell you anything you want to know about this race because I’ve been spinning in my garage for saddle time watching it all week. After tomorrow’s road ride, I’ll have 9 hours in this week – not bad for March, huh?

An event shook me pretty hard this week, and reminded me that just being able to ride is a beautiful thing – never mind racing, and training – just being able to ride a bike. A very popular valley rider – chick – got whacked yesterday morning in Phoenix by a 16 year old driver. Here’s the thread. Riding a road bike is similar to riding a motorcycle in a lot of ways, as eventually, you’re going to be scrubbing tar out of your skin with a nylon brush – or worse.

The roadie scene up here is OK. We have one weekly “town” ride, and it brings out the Pros to the Joes. The reasons I rarely attend these rides – 1) Time….it leaves at 10:00am on Saturday and not to sound like a commercial for the military, but I’m usually done with breakfast/riding/housework by 10:00am on Saturdays. 2) There are always a handful of aggro skinny dudes who act as though our group has right of way while leaving town – at stoplights, stop signs, whatever. I’ve seen these clowns yell at drivers. There’s a lot of animosity between cyclists and motorists in our town, and I’ve seen why first-hand.

All I know is, the last time I had a motorcycle license, I had to take a defensive driving course, as a reminder that even if you are right in a traffic conflict, you are going to lose to a 3,000 pound vehicle every time – thus you better be the one to apply the brakes early and to check your sightlines twice/thrice. You can be right all you want in a hospital bed, but it ain’t worth it.

Just another reason to ride your mountain bike.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I’m being punished for something – must be. Maybe its for my crush on Nancy Pelosi, or...who knows. The last three nights have been spent on my trainer, in the garage,, watching passe' stages of the Tour of California while sweating in the balmy 45 degree temps at 10:15pm. Guess what, Levi Leipheimer wins again on his home course - what a surprise! Yeah, I always hoped I’d be doing this when I was talkin’ shit about how great I’d be back when I was 14, 18, and 22.

Every one of my teammates manages to find time to ride, you know, when the sun freakin’ shines. I don’t get it, man. Work up to my eyeballs, Lyza has a project on Volcanoes due soon, my old dog is falling apart like a rusted out Pinto, and for fuck’s sake there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t even have a TV, nor do I read anything more than the mail. What the hell? If I had my way, I’d win the lottery, quit work, take Lyza to the Big Island to see a freakin’ volcano, buy Dana a lifetime scholarship at every holistic institute in Amurka, and find the fountain of youth for my old sweetie Jamocha. The old girl is 14.5 years – for a purebred chocolate lab, that’s gotta be damn near a Guinness record. Oh yeah, I’d do some volunteer work too………right after I got back from Morocco, Spain, the Cayman Islands, Greece, Caracas, Fiji, Alaska, and after I bought a 700 acre ranch and remodeled the whole thing, and after I bought a coffee plantation on Kauai and lived/worked there for 12 years.

So what the hell am I on the trainer for? 1) Sanity. I have a chemical imbalance if I go more than 72 hours without a hard aerobic effort. Bitchy, short, snappy, short-fused…you know, really fun to be around. 2) I’m afraid of failing at the Whiskey 50. I don’t know why, because nobody is paying me to ride. I know why – it’s because I can recall every feeling of crossing the line back in 2007 to the point where I know my brain isn’t embellishing the dehydration, cramps, nausea, and the fact that my ass felt like it was hit with a belt sander. That ride was on a full suspension, geared bike….this year it’ll be a one gear hardtail. Goddamn, I can’t wait until this is over. 3) We have some youth on our race team this year, and I want to stomp those late 20’s dudes to the curb, crush their skulls, take their pink slips, father children with their wives, rob their parents, and burn their houses down. In other words, I'm not in any way shape or form ready to lose a step. 4) I quit running until the trails, under 4 feet of snow, are clear.

There you go. I guess I do know what the punishment is for, so I can still love me some Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Way to go Nanc!

The passage of health care will certainly rank as one of the major political achievements of recent decades.

Legislation that will eventually extend health care coverage to more than 30 million more Americans, greatly expand the number of options that citizens have when purchasing health care, bring healthy citizens into the pool of the insured and thus lower costs and create important regulations on health care companies will be remembered as one of the biggest domestic policy changes since the Great Society of the 1960s.

While most attention will focus on President Obama for pulling off a Herculean task that eluded many of our great presidents, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerges from this battle as the real powerhouse in Washington. She has pursued a clear ideological agenda but through pragmatic political tactics. Like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, she stands for something, yet knows how to round up votes.

Since the 2008 election, Pelosi has been the most reliable leader Democrats have had. She has delivered on almost all of the legislation that the White House sent to Congress, even as her colleagues found themselves frustrated by a Senate that seemed incapable of governance.
At three critical points in the health care debate, Pelosi delivered.

First, she assembled a center-left coalition around the original House bill in November by pushing through a controversial amendment related to abortion that brought moderate Democrats on board with the legislation.

Second, when many Democrats, including top presidential advisers such as Rahm Emanuel, contemplated breaking up the bill after the Massachusetts election, Pelosi stood firm and defended holistic reform. She "kept the steel in the President's back," Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo told Politico.

Finally, in the past week she displayed the kind of vote-gathering skills that have been displayed by legendary figures such as Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas. From the start of Obama's presidency, Pelosi has argued that Democrats should focus on maintaining partisan unity rather than on achieving bipartisan coalitions. She has implored her colleagues to act with confidence rather than out of fear. Her goal has always been to find ways to keep Democrats together rather than bringing Republicans on board.

In an era where partisan polarization makes true bipartisanship impossible, this is the most effective and realistic approach for Democrats. Her philosophy echoes the beliefs of another powerful leader who said: "Show me a nation without partisanship, and I'll show you a tyranny. For all its faults, it is partisanship, based on core principles, that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders." That was from a farewell statement by Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Although Americans tend to focus on the presidency and give credit to the office for what does or does not happen, we often ignore the central role that Congress plays. During the 1930s and 1960s, legislators were essential to the success of the New Deal and Great Society, often pushing Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson in directions they were too scared to take.

Rather than the cartoonish caricature that Republicans often use of Pelosi as a left coast, left-wing fanatic, she is something much more powerful -- and threatening to their party. When Kennedy died, many Democrats wondered who would take his place as the party's deal-maker. Now they have their answer.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Julian Zelizer - (and me)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Skiing

Well I'd pretty much been chained to the resort for all of Spring Break, but, I got a furlough on Friday and made the most of it.....

First, a road ride in the sun - completely clear roads, and no traffic. I'm still feeling under the gun to get ready for the Whiskey 50 at the end of April, so any chance I can get to squeeze a few hours of riding in, I'll take it. Quick change, lunch, then pick up Lyza and drive the ridiculously short 13 miles to the base of the ski resort. Total bluebird afternoon at 10,000 feet, with soft snow, not a cloud in the sky, and we skied until 6pm on the easy-peasy greens as Lyza worked on mastering the beginner hills. We had so much fun, we went right back this morning and hit it from open to close. I never thought I could spend 10 hours on beginner runs, but seeing Lyza progress was the highlight of both days - and by the last few runs today, all she wanted to do was "bomb it". Crackin' me up - that's for sure because that's just how I learned.....speed before finesse and style. Just gun it baby!
After 11+ feet of snow in town, and over 25 feet on the mountain, the skiing is great in spite of warm days lately. Closing day at the Bowl is 4/11. I think this was the last hurrah for me.....I've got singlespeed fever and so do my friends.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pious Round #2

Driving back from Phoenix last week, I saw a Toyota Pious with no less than 15 bumper stickers all alluding to the driver being a "Socially aware vegan cutting down on carbon emissions and you should be too, but you can't because you're not elite enough to be aware". I wanted to put my left front quarter panel into her right rear quarter panel and spin the bitch into the ditch.

The deep, dark side of me wishes that while every Toyota Pious owner sleeps tonight, his/her Pious will suddenly accelerate itself over the nearest 50 foot dropoff. Thus ending round 1 of the "I'm socially, economically, and morally elite" social segment that was hatched by Toyota's marketing team.

Then, I want to buy an F-350 Super Duty, and run over every one of 'em Monster Truck Style. Then, I want to sell the batteries to small-time inventors who can come up with something a hell of a lot better than the way overrated Pious.

I think I need to go for a bike ride.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sedona Superstars

Got a call from Big Steve yesterday reminding me that Wisconsin went on Daylight Savings - and that he was about to start a neighborhood crit loop after work. That was inspiration enough.

I got to the sawmill at 6:45am, so after his call, I packed it up at 3:15, and drove north. Changed into the silly costume, and rode out and back on the rolling pave' called Lake Mary Road. 2 hours and change later, and I was feeling great. The sun was down, and it was cold at the finish, but damn if a nice 2 hour blowout doesn't feel great. I rode for an hour in warmup mode into the wind at around 19mph, flipped it, and went full Eddy Merckx time trial style back at around 24mph. I love Merckx style time skinsuits, no aero-helmets - just ride in your drops as fast as you can until failure.

It's been the week of Superstars so far. Pro MTB'ers Koerber and Rockwell on Sunday, followed by checking out This Guy yesterday. World Series MVP - pretty sweet. Before that it was this guy, with an absolute hottie on his arm, and before that it was her. No lie. She wasn't wearing that, though. You never know who's gonna walk through the door in a resort town sometimes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The “dinner” at Chase Field last Thursday was pretty damn cool. They had the food portion set up on the lower level of the ball park, and all the speeches were on the field using the mother f*cking scoreboard for visual aids. The food was a joke, as they served hot dogs and sweet-smelling BBQ pork on enriched white flour buns. I skipped the food, and went for a Miller High Life – in the can. At least those ingredients won’t kill you.

Saturday brought the 2nd running of the Tour de Cure in north Phoenix - Diabetes fundraiser. I left the house at 5:00am – and made it just in time for the start. The gun went off with around 300 riders at 7:30am, and damn if the front of the pack didn’t treat it like a race……. I worked pretty hard over the first 5 miles, made a sweeping left turn with the group I was in, and caught a glimpse of the back of the lead group about ¼ mile up the road. T’was go time. It took me one huuuuge effort to catch on – an all out, legs screaming, heart pounding + one blown yellowish/redish light effort. Once I was on, I recovered, and sat in for the next 55+ miles. Enjoyed the views, the temps, the sun on my skin – ahhhhhh. I didn’t take a single pull in the pack of 25 because there were five or so dudes who wanted to show how strong they were. Fine by me – it’s March, and I haven’t been on a bike in two weeks. I was the definition of a wheel sucking pack rider. We finished the metric in a hair over 2 hours and 45 minutes – a nice pace of 23.5mph through the rolling hills.

Sunday – hiking in Sedona. Total bluebird day – not a cloud in the sky. We took the trails the tourists don’t know and didn’t see more than a handful of MTB’ers over the course of two hours. Water was trickling through the washes, and the red rocks were just spectacular. We stopped by the local hippie joint for some quality eats and ran into some chick with Daisy Duke shorts, but absolutely ripped legs that put Daisy Duke to shame. Her Brad Pitt boyfriend played the part well too. Spiked bangs, trendy clothes, stupid-expensive sunglasses, buff, the whole 9 yards. She walked to her car in the parking lot and it was a Gary Fisher/Subaru team Subaru WRX with a Superfly on the top. Turns out, Dana roomed with her at Sea Otter about 10 years ago when she was just breaking into the Pro game – but she didn’t recognize her at the sandwich shop. World class talent indeed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


My daughter walked out her room this morning at 7:18, looked at me with a bit of a Deer in the headlights look….I said “2 hour delay, you don’t have to be to the bus stop until 10:00am”. She wearily asked to call her friend to come over, and I relayed the PG version of “no fucking way – it’s not even 8am”. I calmly asked her to just take a few minutes to eat, finish a page of her homework, get dressed, and brush her teeth …then she could call her pal after eight o clock to play until school starts. She gave me one of those ‘completely disappointed female scowls’ and sauntered down to her room in full bitch mode. About three minutes later she walked back into the kitchen, and out of nowhere said “Sorry Dad”. I just gave her a hug and thought – holy shit, there’s more of this coming in the next few years.

Got a few cool events coming up. There’s a Thursday night big-wig tourism dinner in the outfield of Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play. I don’t know any of the highbrows at these things, but it’ll be cool to dine on the floor of a billion seat retractable roof stadium. Saturday morning is the Diabetes metric century tour through some nice desert roads north of Phoenix. I haven’t been riding much lately, but that little loop will be a nice stretch for the legs. If I can find a good group to paceline with, then I’ll get to keep my heart rate down, have plenty of time to look at saguaros, check out the desert green, and best of all - it’ll go quick and easy peasy. Police at the intersections, low traffic, temps in the 70’s. Me love me some road riding this weekend.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shawshank Saturday

Remember the scene in the Shawshank Redemption where Tim Robbins straddles the main sewer line for the prison, and cracks a hole in it when the thunder strikes - and then gets in it and rides the liquids and solids for 200 yards to freedom?

Off the side of my house - where the dogs get out to the yard - was an icebank that was two and a half feet thick and about 15 yards long. It gets very little sun as it sits between our fence and our house. The dogs had carved out a path over the winter so they could get to the back yard. The problem is/was that my old Labrador can't get too far on that ice bank. So - since mid-December that stretch of ice has become a doggie shitstorm, a dumping ground, a brown and yellow pile of nastiness that they began tracking in the house. Imagine, if you will, a giant fecal snowcone. There ya go.

So, armed with an immune system that's got me all full of anitbodies while fighting a cold last week, I went out in my sorels, crappy old clothes, a garden hose, a spade, and a shovel. Plunging the spade into the snow was bad enough as remnants from November/December/January and February past flew into the air. It was actually like cutting a dog shit cake. Plunge the spade a few times, cut a section, switch to the shovel, and remove a brick of shitty snow to the back yard. Walk back, repeat, and repeat. 2.5 hours later, I was down to the flagstone. The garden hose washed the bottom layer away, and by 3pm, voila - clean and dry.

Meanwhile, Dana was at a 3-day nutrition conference in San Diego and Lyza was playing hoops with friends. Is it me, or does all the shit fall back on the dude in the house??

Friday, March 5, 2010

After this weekend, I should have my taxes done, my MTB steerer tube cut to fit the new stem, brake lines shortened accordingly, and my profile removed from Facebook. I'm just not a 'book or 'tweet kind of guy. Call it a failed experiment.

Listening to NPR this morning really got me in a bummed out mood. I'm trying to remember if, in the 80's and '90's, our polotical woes were as bad as they are made out to be now? Was there always this much strive between Dems and White Guys in Suits? I have to believe that a lot of the sensitivity now is attributable to the vast "improvement" in technology with regards to media. Everything a politician says is scrutinized, homogenized, digitized, and politicized to the nth degree.

That would be an awful profession if you're in it for the right reasons. Unless you are in it for personal/financial gain, it'd be difficult to make decisions based on your principles and stay in office for very long

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday night’s hillclimb resumed this week. It was close to 30 degrees, we had a full moon, and almost a completely clear road to the top. Normally these would be ideal conditions to put down a nice time, right? Wrong. I started out OK, and then things just got worse. I felt weak, my heart rate was too high, and I got stone cold dropped by MG on the steepest section about 4 miles in. It wasn’t even that painful, I just didn’t have the horsepower to compete – so I just found a rhythm and ground out the last two miles. I’ve eaten enough crow in this sport to feel comfortable with that scenario, and sometimes just finishing feels OK.

Home, shower, chowed some grub, and D looked at me and said “you look horrible”. I didn’t feel all that bad, but I guess I looked the part. So, I went to bed, and woke up at 5am – that’s pretty much when I felt horrible and matched the look from the night before. Ahhh, I was greeted with a nice low grade fever, cramps, and the same level of headache as a person on day 3 of caffeine withdrawl. I was working from home anyway because the road to work is closed for landslide repairs – so that worked out great. I have a feeling I picked up this crud from either my niece or my nephew down in Tucson.

I think I’ll dust this little cold pretty quick, but I had to calm myself down this AM as I looked at the calendar and the number of days decreasing between now and the race on April 24th. I need mileage, mileage, and hours on the bike – and this cold is just getting in the way right now.

Taking the long way to work today, a 3 hour round trip commute – sucks. However, it gave me a chance to listen to an album that still gets it done. Van Halen’s 1984. “Hot for Teacher”, “I’ll Wait”, “Panama”, “Drop Dead Legs”, “Top Jimmy”, and even “Jump” still rock hard. I remember buying that cassette at Target 26 some years ago, and it sounds as good today as it did then.

“I think of all the education that I missed
But then my homework was never quite like this!
I got it made, got it made, got it made
I’m hot for teacher!”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Down south 4 the weekend

With D on injured reserve due to an f'd up hip, who's gonna run the dog? You? You Lieutanant Weinberg?

Nope, me.

So I've become a consistent runner. 3 miles here, 6 miles there - hovering around 20 per week, and a ride every now and then just for fun. Since the rides consist of, lately anyway, one a week + two trainer sessions, I've been choosing to push a 32x17 with 29 inch wheels in Sedona, and nothing but huge gears for the spin sessions. It's workin. Strength is coming along, and the running seems to be maintaining my cardio fitness. Plus, I love seeing the look on my little fur friend's face when I don the running shoes and grab his leash. He give me the "Oh yeah, let's GO!" The down side is that all of the spin sessions and runs are falling between 7pm and 10pm, but WTF ya gonna do? Oh do I wish for longer days.

Paid for this, and paid for this. I'm committed, and that feels good, but I reserve the right to be afraid of the Whiskey 5o until the gun goes off. I think about that race at least every other day.

We spent the weekend in Tucson, and had some great family time. Tucson rodeo on Saturday, wrestling with kids, a solid run, and more wrestling with Lyza and my nephew. My sis turned 39 and she looks almost as good as me at 42. Hot tubs, and $2 cold plunge bets into 54 degree pools. That stuff never gets old. Long live bets, dares, and ibuprofin + sleepin' on fold out mattresses to recover.