Thursday, April 29, 2010

Florida on the Horizon

In 9 days, meeeeself and my girl D will be on a plane to Siesta Key, FL. For six days I don’t envision doing anything other than sitting in a kayak riding the surf, lying in the warm coke-fine white sand, and getting caught up on some good books. Maybe a run or two on the beach, who knows. My Dad scored a place down there about 10 years back, and he pretty much figured out that it’s a better place to live than Minnesota from November – May. Tough call there.

Until then, we have a nasty little cold front working its way into Flagstaff today through Sunday. High temps in the 40’s, wind, rain and snow. Maybe this is Old Man Winter’s last hurrah. Perfect MTB riding weather. As a big “Eff You” to Old Man Winter, me and the boyz went out last night and hit the singletrack on the south side of the mountains. 4 dudes, 4 singlespeeds, and about 2.5 hours of fun. Nobody was drillin’ it, and I was glad for that because I’m still a weeeee bit sore from Saturday’s effort. After several creek crossings – one that was nearly BB/Hub deep, my feet were soaked and cold when I hit the garage at dusk. Love it.

I have nary a single race on my calendar until October’s Tour of the White Mountains. There are some short term options though; The State Final MTB event is once again being held ¼ mile from my front door on May 22. A sweet Omnium road race that includes Snowbowl Road and Wupatki is the weekend of 6/12. A 104 mile MTB endurance event is the weekend of June 19th just west of town. It’s a good time to be in Flag. I’ve paid no entry fees, and have no commitments though. My back yard needs more attention than these events need my participation. So – I’ll probably skip 2 of 3, ride on my own time, and finish the yard. Don’t quote me on that, because as my Dad loves to remind me “Chris, you were never one who embraced landscaping your yard”. Sprinkle a few seeds, let the stuff grow, trim it every coupla’ years – keep the hot tub clean and go play. That’s my idea of yardwork.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

As I have mentioned before, open class racing is the best. No age groups, no ability categories, just put everyone in the mix at a mass start, and see who gets to the finish line first. The Whiskey 50 brings a wide range of riders in the southwest for a slugfest through the mountains of Central AZ. Pros who finish in 3:17 to Joes who death march the ride in 7 hours plus. I finished the 50 miles in 4:48 – 165th place out of 438 riders including men, women, gears, and single spinners.

Back in January I circled this event as my motivation for the winter. 14 times I rode the 2,000 foot climb up Snowbowl road between January and early March on snowy roads in the dark, getting used to climbing out of the saddle for 45-50 minutes straight in a big gear. I got used to riding the trainer inside, and running helped tremendously through February. By the time we finished the Dawn til’ Dusk event in early April, I felt ready to roll.

Race day came, and from early on I rode smart, managed my efforts on the steeps carefully, and rolled into the checkpoint at Skull Valley with a lot of energy left. I filled my pockets with food, turned around, looked up at the 3,000 foot climb, grinned knowing what was ahead, and started pedaling. The first 9 miles of the climb are at 4% - a mild grade and pretty easy to spin out on a singlespeed with a 32x20. The last 6 miles are at 7% - 10% with some 12% walls that had me completely folded over the handlebars pushing 4-5mph max. One by one, I picked off riders, maybe 50 or so over the course of the climb. At the top we were greeted with cowbells, music, and cheers – man that felt good. All I had left was another 40 minutes of mostly downhill singletrack.

As I rolled back to the finish line, I thought I might be close to the 5 hour benchmark I was hoping to reach. Maybe, maybe not, but I felt completely at ease because I was toast, but not toasted. There would be no cramps today, no puking in the park after, and a deep satisfaction in the reward of some hard work this winter. There it was – the clock read 4 hours, 48 minutes, and 12 seconds as my tire crossed the line. 37 minutes faster than my 2007 time on a geared bike. Shit man, I couldn’t stop smilin’!

The reality, though, is that results can always get broken down so that you feel better about your effort. Considering one cog on my bike, and 42 years, I did pretty damn well. However, before I get all full of myself, the first place finisher was 1:30 (that's 1 hour and 30 minutes) ahead of me – on my best day even. Finishing in the 62nd percentile is a stark reminder that beating local teammates to stop signs in February doesn’t necessarily translate to beating the best of the best in the southwest come April. Ya mo be there again in 2011, why don't ya come join me?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Little baby a brewin' back in the Northland

It's a big weekend in Wisconsin. This local pal may already be a daddy now. How sweet it will be - after three months of sleep deprivation, of course. Good luck JB and Amy - I hope all goes as planned

Me and my sweet D are headed to Prescott to stay with her good friend tonight. I'll be headed out early to self-thrash myself for 5 hours at the Whiskey 50, and then we'll drive home after I puke on the lawn in the park. I am looking forward to the ride very much - but I just started reading Shutter Island, and I'm hooked after 30 pages. MUST.. GET... HOME... AND... READ...about crazy f'ckers at the asylum in the '50's after the race.

Anway, after a couple of days of light snow and rain, the sun is shinin' and temps are headed back into the low 60's. Yeah yeah!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fixie Douche

I just read a local craigslist ad where a downtown assclown listed his fixie for sale. He said the bike doesn’t come with brakes because “brakes are for fakes”. Our burgeoning town has a small fixie group….Rocketing from stop light to stop light sans helmets, their little straight cut rolled up jeans, color coordinated wheelsets with straight bars about as wide as a stick of gum, Patagonia messenger bags, pro-style track stands (like that’s hard on a fixie), and a sloppy mix of dread heads and clean cuts. They work so hard to be so cool, that they should really have their own reality show or some shit like that.

After a road ride, a small group of us will roll into downtown on our way home – pretty spent, and more or less saying adios, catch ya next week…..invariably, some clown on a fixie will come rocketing past us, just drilling the pace up the big hill towards the Hospital. Sometimes I just let the ‘tard go. Other times, it’s on. I’ll chase, catch, sit on his big pink wheelset for a while, and then come around the patchouli-smellin’ scum sucker with a flippant “have a nice ride” followed by a shit-eating grin. The typical response from said dirtbag is “enjoy your gears”. I will, thank you very much. The fixie douche sums me up as ‘Mr. gear needing lycra-clad dork, middle age man, settled, ingrained in the establishment, sellout, diapers in the landfill, negative carbon footprint asshole’. Yup, that’s me. I’m looking forward to a hot shower in my house without 11 roommates, driving to work on Monday with satellite radio, and pulling the disc hand brake on my bike with one finger – the middle finger – when I see that fixie douche attempting a lame track stand at a stoplight.

Monday, April 19, 2010


On Saturday, before I knew it, I was sitting in a pew at a Catholic Church attending a full Mass and watching people take their first communion. My daughter was one of them. She wore a black suit, with a white clip-on tie, and red Vans. She wasn’t joking, that’s her style. I haven’t been to church in a long time, and the cynical comments were flying. “A building of blind faith and cash collection” was my favorite. I found it to be funny that the name was St. Pious…oh wait, did I spell that wrong? Hey, I know it's easier to pick an establishment apart than to believe in it, so we got our respectful schwerve on and rallied out of respect for the Priest and his kool-aid drinking, somebody please stop me.

Post ceremony, D and I skipped out on the Lake Road for a 2 hour road ride. Ahhhh, that’s the religious experience I enjoy. Nature, baby.

Wake up Sunday morning feeling ready to hit it. I found a Danish speaking live feed of the Amstel Gold race at 6:15am and watched the last 45K. Matched the live video feed with the live text feed on Velonews, and I was dialed. Nice win on the final climb for one of my fave riders, Philippe Gilbert. Antagonist, protagonist, whatever – the kid drops the hammer and you can’t accuse him of “sitting in”. That set the tone for the day. Mission – clean house.

Me and D hit it for about 3 hours, and Lyza pitched in with an effort only matched by that of a cat learning how to fetch. In other words, a few minutes of effort followed by a lot of “am I done yet”. Hey – at least she picked up the dog poop, swept the deck, cleaned her room, and called relatives who gave her communion gifts.

Apres the cleaning fest, it was soccer time. Lyza and her mates kicked the crap out of the opposition which Big Steve would find hard to believe considering he witnessed our first game last week. It was largely because two slug kids didn’t show, and I recruited Lyza’s best friend Nate – the next Steve Nash – to play on her team. He’s like a buzzing bee of activity, a fantastic athlete, and he brought the whole team up to his frenzied state. By the end, I had to pull him off the field because the opposing kids were getting frustrated with him on the field. Before our second game, this kid on the other team was asked by one of our kids “do we play you next?” – his response was “Yeah you do, so get ready to lose”. The kid is 8. WTF?! I know he went home mad because Nate said to him after the game “you better rethink that because you LOST!” Crazy to see the shit talk going down in micro soccer games. Then again, the glamorization of NFL and NBA trash talking funnels down to kids. I probably don’t help either, because I dish it hard too.

Finally, it was all about me. 2.5 hours on the MTB was just right. I made it up to 8,000 feet in elevation before running into more snow banks than trail. However, the riding was fantastic. Stream crossings, creek crossings, mud, slick rocks and roots, followed by dry stretches and into the garage with a mud covered frame and legs as the sun was setting. It was one of those rides that sticks in your head for a while after – I didn’t want it to end. Shorts, short sleeve jersey, spring riding. Yeah, just right.

Whiskey dreams mean sleepless nights ahead this week. I hope to be celebratin' Saturday 'round 2pm.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Up next... the Whiskey 50. I'm feelin' oh so much better about it than I was a month ago. After 8 hours solo in Gallup, NM, 5 hours solo in Prescott shouldn't be too bad so long as I start steady. Weather looks cool with highs in the 60's - right up this Northern Boy's alley. After that will be a switch back to weights/running/riding/racquetball - time for some cross training after working pretty hard this winter for these spring races.

LB's soccer team will take some time out of my weeks starting tonight, and we have some work to do. I've got two kids who have never kicked a ball, and two kids who are really good. I guess teachers work with these kinds of disparities all the time, but balancing a practice for these kids will take some planning. Fortunately, I'm not coaching LB's flag football team. For that one, I can pack a chair, bring a tasty beverage, and kick back on the sidelines. She's the only girl in the league, but she is so excited about playing the game. I give her a lot of credit for taking these boys on because many of them are three years older than her.

Big Steve rolled out of town today. We had a great visit. I think he got to ride his/my bike 5 times in 8 days + a hike in Sedona. That should be a nice springboard for him heading back to Wisconsin as his riding season is now underway. He doesn't know it yet, but I unpacked his sweet Salsa Dos Niner, and inserted my old DBR in his bike box. That'll be a surprise come Monday. OK, I thought about doing it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Well, I Galloped on over to Gallup on Saturday. Rode 78 miles in 8 hours flat. Didn't win. Didn't matter - I pushed myself to the point where it was all fun, and when it wasn't fun anymore, I stopped and had a coupla' brews and relaxed in a chair. No crashes, no cramps, patient riding, perfect gearing, and I am feeling really fucking ready for the Whiskey 50 next week. All o' them cold weather rides are paying dividends about now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stoved up

After you’re done riding your bike…. isn’t it a great feeling when your legs are just cooked? If you’re a meat head, it’s similar to the just post-workout, post pumped up, exhausted euphoria you feel when you can’t turn your steering wheel leaving the gym parking lot. I haven’t lifted a weight in a long time, but I have been riding a fuck-ton considering the 40-hour/week schedule I work around, and it feels great. It seems to go in spurts. 3 days on, two days off. 4 days on, two days off. No free lunch rides either – it’s been great having teammates show up for most sessions and make sure that I’m putting in a legit effort. If you pedal like an Alice or a Nancy, you’re gonna’ hear about it. I give as much as I take from these guys, and hey – that’s what teammates are for.

Wilkens thrashed me last night on the dry mesa. He had a cross bike, and I was riding MTB. I’d catch him on the tech sections, and he’d gap me on the smooth dirt. Catch, gap, catch, gap. I felt like I was chasing a suitcase of $100 bills in an early morning dream, and I could never quite grasp the handle. This was day three of a tough set of windy/cold rides that left me lying in bed last night feeling….done. I love riding with Wilkens because he brings it. No chitty chat about wives, beer, and snowboarding tricks – just “hey, ready to go?”…..and then he throws it down.

Two rest days before Big Steve, Joel and I head to New Mexico. It looks like race day will be graced with 25mph winds, sun, and temps near 70. My goal is 6-7 laps. At least I know about what I’ll feel like come Saturday night. Toasted cheese, indeed......with a big smile on my face!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

End of the Ski Season

The spring ski season has been fantastic. Me and the little B spent the day up on the mountain Saturday, and somehow I ended up with a reverse red neck. Front side cooked, back side white as snow. Nice - way to apply the sun screen. Lyza had her first yard sale, and this was a good one. Both skis flying, faceplant with goggles headed in another direction. She shook it off, and we kept at it. I'm already looking forward to next year - as the bowl closes in a week on 4/11.

Out for a ride today. 3 dudes. A lot of wind. I'm worked. But, it's always better than work. Big Steve will be here in 4 days, and then off to Gallup. Good times ahead.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Sundays in April - my favorite. This Sunday its the Ronde van Vlaanderen - aka Tour of Flanders. Check it live here, or a delayed broadcast on Versus here. My preference is the live feed on RAS with the race called in Italian - it makes ya focus a bit more on the video feed. The Versus feed will likely have more commercials than racing.

40 degrees, 70% chance of rain, slick cobbled climbs and drops. The hard men of the sport. Even Mr. Armstrong is lining up, although he's just getting used to the cobbles as the first couple of stages of the TDF feature 'em. No way he'll be relevant in this race.

Man, it sure would be cool to see George Hincapie podium.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Old Peeps

I got my ass handed to me yesterday. A mid-sixties couple came into my office and talked to me about their small Texas town. A local entrepreneur had developed a vision for a wellness center for the community, and this older couple had become involved on the ground floor. They helped with fundraising, and assisting in the conceptual development of the services that would be provided to the community. Six years later, they have a facility that exemplifies the modern definition of wellness, meaning a fusion of medicinal/holistic/prevention/therapy - all available at an affordable cost in this tiny town in Texas. Think of a forward thinking YMCA……..yeah, I’d join that.

It took me about 48 hours to completely digest their story, and realize that getting all wrapped up in national politics only produces two things for me: High blood pressure, and anger. Mon frère, Sr. Ells, volunteered last night to take fundraising phone calls for KNAU, our local affiliate for National Public Radio. I bet he felt great about doing it, and it made a difference in his/my town.

So, once again, an older and wiser couple took me to school without much more than telling me a story in a manner that allowed me to really digest what they were saying. Now I realize why they closed with “what do you like to do for your town?” My lame answer involved attending occasional Chamber mixers, and being sure to shop/dine locally – even though I can be an E-Bay whore. I was about to joke that I even pick up my dog’s poop too, but that was about when their point started to sink in. I’m a f*ckin’ taker.

I get sucked into’s headlines, and before I know it, I’m looking solely at big-picture issues. As a hotel GM, that’s what I do all day – address big picture issues….leave the details for the crew. I don’t even see what’s going on around me most of the time because it’s all just…..details. What’s that bumper sticker I’ve seen a million times – “Think globally, act locally”…OK, OK I get it.

Working hard, raising LB, evolving my relationship with D, caring for two dogs, and finding time to ride hard seem to consume 16 hours of every day. Hmmm. How’s this gonna work?