Friday, June 25, 2010

Off to MN

Where is it written that you turn 18, go to college, get a real job, get married, buy a house, have kids, then work until you retire and live happily ever after? It’s not; it’s just what nearly everybody does. Let me tell ya, I am sick of taking care of my house right now, and I can’t imagine placing all of my chips on a bet that I’ll be healthy when I retire. I’d rather place a bet on having a good time today. Time for some vaca.

Leavin’ on a jet plane tomorrow for a trip back home to Minnesota. D is holding down the fort while Lyza and I are gone, and I will miss her. We have an action packed week planned – loaded with roller coasters, water parks, canoeing, hikes, baseball games, and a few Grain Belt’s to keep it all in perspective. I’m sure I’ll throw a leg over one of my parents’ bikes a few times and ride the rail trails. They are flatter than my second girlfriend’s chest, but you can still have fun with them – right? I’m going straight to hell, I know, and I’m fine with that.

D will miss me too, but not that much because she just got a new baby – A fresh built Specialized Ruby with an Ultegra Group, compact crankset – 10speed cassette, accented with Dura Ace carbon clinchers, and Ritchey WCS bar/stem/seatpost. It’s light, it’s stealth, it’s sweet and it doesn’t talk back or cry. That’s my kind of baby, baby.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

u can keep yer eyephone

Pulled into the driveway last night on two wheels – quick change into the costume, and out the door for a road ride at 5:45pm….I get to Lake Mary Road and it’s aglow with fresh tar that was laid down earlier in the day. A few peeps were stopped on the side of the road lamenting the fact that they might get their bikes dirty…..not me – I had two hours to ride and I wasn’t stopping, Red Rock Racing coming through. Once that oil built up on my tires, it was fine. It was like riding a trainer with resistance from the sticky oil on the road, with a few oil balls sticking to the frame and my legs. Nothing that wouldn’t just flick off later or wipe off with some Simple Green. Ladies, Jesus – take your skirts off and just PEDAL YOUR BIKE. A road full of water would have been much worse on a bottom bracket/gruppo than a little fresh oil was on my frame and body. Conduro Future.

So – this morning…

Rather than stand in a line at a cell phone store at 4am – tweeting about my “experience” in the line waiting to get the latest I-Phone, I opted to head out with the Hardman and shred up the Kelly Canyon area south of town. My old fashioned cell phone calls people, receives calls, and I can…..ta da! text message too. You, you, and you Lieutenant Weinberg can keep your pretty boy applications, your data plan, and your I-Tunes.

Kelly Canyon is pretty raw, but it’s getting more attention from trail builders. Ladders, log roll off’s, and well built climbs/drops in and out of the dry creek bed left me wanting more time than the 2 hours we had today. I rode my old 26” hardtail because WTB makes shitty rims and I taco’d the front one on my single speed again last week…..riding the 1997 old reliable DBR was fun and challenging, especially on the ladders and roll off’s. I hopped on the Hardman’s 29” Ventana El Capitan for a couple of sections and WOW – that bike f’n rules. Lightweight aluminum, and he has it set up with wicked light components and wheels. Just a joy to ride. I could get used to that baby. We said our goodbye’s, and it was back to reality pretty quickly.

I hauled ass into work – sh*t, shower, shave, and at my desk by 9:45am. The Italians are out of the World Cup? That crazy Wimbledon match ended after 11 hours? Obama accepted the resignation from that box of rocks General for mouthing off? The wildfire in Flag is 20% contained at 14,000 acres? Oil is still spilling at a stupid rate into the Gulf? 4G I-Phones are sold out in Japan? The world keeps turnin’ doesn’t it – even when I feel completely disconnected from it on a new trail in the woods. Love me some mountain biking.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Round of 16

Nothin' like hearing the National Anthem at 7am - with the US team ready to rock in South Africa. Well, Landon Donovan's goal in injury time............YEAH! USA USA USA USA USA! Love me some World Cup.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gamblin' Man

Have you ever lost 9 hands in a row at a blackjack table? I have, so I think that says two things….first, I got on a bad roll and second, I’ve played the game enough to have that happen to me, twice. It’s a shitty ride, capped with a sucker punch to your psyche when you either run out of money or walk away from the table with a small handful or chips. The fact that I could make a choice to continue pissing money away either out of spite or ignorance still amazes me. Unfortunately, it would take logic, self-control, and the ability to act on my gut instinct to walk away before bottoming out. Gamblers lack all 3 of those attributes…….. or they wouldn’t be gamblers. I know, because I’ve been there – fortunately, only for low stakes.

Floyd Landis sure took a gamble last month. Dude’s got no proof, and he’s calling out the former Boss of the Peloton. I have no proof if he’s lying, telling partial truths, or spot-on. Floyd can’t walk away from the sport even after losing the equivalent of 10,000 hands of blackjack in a row. The relationships are gone, the house is toast, the car is re-po’d, and the worst part……his credibility as a person is next to nothing. The fact that he was racing last weekend in an off the rack microbrewery jersey (Arrogant Bastard Ale) with black shorts cemented the fact that the guy has fallen far, far down the ladder even if he did take 4th place in a national race.

Gamblers are compulsive. Floyd’s compulsion is racing bikes, and he lied, cheated and stole to accomplish just that. Here’s the thing though – I don’t think he’s lying, I just think he’s 2 years late and millions of dollars short. Actually, he’s more like 4 years late, and an a-hole for taking money from the general public for his lie-filled defense.

I want to see Armstrong go down like a house-a-fire – similar to nearly every one of his competitors during his reign over one bike race in France every year. If you look at the list of riders he beat from 1999 – 2005, more than 90% of the general classification top 10 from those years have either been busted for doping, admitted to doping, retired from the sport for doping, or died from doping and other non-performance enhancing drugs. He was just smart enough, had the financial resources, and the business acumen to get away with it. If you believe Armstrong never doped, then I ask that you take a look at the video/reasoning of him chasing down Filippo Simeoni in 2004, then pull your head out of the sand and see what daylight is.

Word yesterday is that Lance is officially entered into that race in France starting in 11 days. I think for the second year in a row, drama will be kept to a minimum at the 3-week circus and with his very strong team, he’ll surely finish in the top 10. It’ll take a bit for the investigators to really dig into the real drama – the circus that was the US Postal Team from 1999 - 2004.

In the meantime, Floyd will continue to show up for local races in generic jerseys and black shorts hoping to get signed by a continental team while the rest of the world watches Le Tour. Floyd Who? Exactly – sad, really. It’s a huge fall for a gifted athlete who got caught up in the game and, well, got caught. He gambled to win, and he lost like all gamblers eventually do. LA’s time will come.

Monday, June 21, 2010

fire fire and more fire

Well so far our house has been spared by the three wildfires that have sprung up on the outskirts of Flagtown. Jesus Focker, you'd think the gates of Hades were being opened up with all of the smoke and flames that you can see on the hillsides. It's just a stark reminder that there's a big price to pay (besides few jobs, poverty, a broken social scene, and no upward mobility) for living on an island (because the recreation is superb) in the desert southwest. Phoenix sucks, but Phoenix doesn't burn unless you count the silicone and botox in the women. Flagstaff is great, but Flag could burn down tomorrow.

This would be the view from the top of Arizona - Mt. Humphreys. Big Steve has been there up around 12,000 feet. Them be smoke plumes on the north side.

This is the view looking Northeast, past the inner basin's snow filled coulouirs, and that smokestack was up to 75 miles long by mid-day according to NOAA.

OK, so thanks to the emergency personnel who fly the copters and planes that dump water and flame retardant down there....that plane looks like a speck against the smoke plumes. All photos courtesy of a local dude who was on the mountain when the shit hit the fan.
Time to lighten the mood with my daughter's new favorite word - Douche. She says it like Doooouccccccccccchhhhhhhhheeeeeeeee and smiles when she says it. D called somebody a douche bag the other day and since it's so much fun to say the word douche, Lyza picked it up like a $100 bill lying in the street. She's not buying the explanation that it means 'dirt bag' because as she said: "Then you would say dirt bag, not dooooooouuuuuuuucccccccchhhhhhhe". She's is nine on 7/27. I don't even know how to get out of this other than draw a d-bag pictionary style and explain it - or, go to the source...Wikipedia, and let her read the description with me cracking up next to her. It's bad.

So the Omnium results finally came in and I finished in 2nd place overall. I was beaten, and I mean BEATEN by the first place guy (master of the obvious) who's racing age is.......17. I remember seeing him in the road race right next to me, and he looked awfully fresh when we hit steeps. He also looked smaller than my soon to be 9 year old doouuucchhhheeeee talkin' daughter. Then, I didn't see him again until the finish. If I hadn't kicked him to the curb in the crit, I wouldn't have been even close. Ahhh well. Youth is king, and I'm just an old timer looking for an occasional victory. That kid has a future in the sport. It'll be fun to watch him when he gets his Cat II license next year.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

4 my D

Four years ago today, I stood in a grassy meadow in front of a tight-knit group and married my sweet D. She’s complicated finesse, and I’m a shallow, blunt object……..sometimes it barely works. However, I’d totally jump on a bee for her, and I know she would do the same for me.

This weekend we’re headed to the desert to sit by the pool, eat well, and do about 32 minutes of shopping. She and I both deserve it.

So – to my wife. The woman, who begrudgingly embraced a child that wasn’t hers, has become a wonderful friend to my daughter. The woman who effectively manages me, while I’m managing her; The woman who keeps herself fit, sassy, and sexy; The woman who is uncompromising in her beliefs; The woman who few understand. The woman who makes me a better man; Sweet D, I love you. Happy Anniversary my love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Omnium Stage 3

Sunday’s road race - an out and back - started at the top of Sunset Crater and dropped down into Wupatki National Monument and then….right back up. The course profile isn’t severe, but dropping 2,300 feet and then climbing right back up made for a predictable race. Because of the Omnium format, anyone can enter one, two, or all three of the races – and be eligible to win individual events or the overall points category. With that being said, there were some very fresh looking faces that I had not seen at the hillclimb or the criterium so I knew the pace was going to be fast on the climb back up. The only strategy I had on the day was to watch the guy in front of me in total points, and try to beat him to the line. Problem was, I didn’t know who he was. There were no call-ups, and our race numbers weren’t on the results postings. I guess the $65 entry fee was cheap for a reason.

8:04am - Go….notice the lack of explanation mark after the word Go? It was far from a mountain bike race start as we had a neutral roll out for 5 miles since we were passing through park campground roads with trailheads and such. We started going downhill, fast, closing in on 47mph at a couple of points riding in a pack of 40+. I had a guy put his shifter hood in my right butt cheek, but I didn’t panic and he didn’t either so no carnage there. Nobody tried a break on the descent because it was just too fast. I was nearly spun out in my 53x11 the whole way down, so there was no point in trying to get away.

The turnaround surprised me, and unfortunately I was sitting mid-pack when we hit it…..a single orange cone in the middle of a two lane road that forced us to ride single file around it. The first guy through looked at the rest of us in line and said “Bye bye suckers!” I took my turn around the cone and had to burn a half pack of matches just to get back on the ass end of the lead group. Full gas, all out – whatever you call it, and that my friends, was THE break. For the 20 guys that missed it, their race was over, and unfortunately I had two teammates in that second group who ended up crossing the finish line more than 5 minutes back as they slogged up the climb with no organization or really strong guys to pull them along.

So, I made the break but I could tell that it was just a question of how long I could stay on. Surge, sag, surge, sag, all the way across the false flats until we hit some steps and two tough guys started really started turning the screws. I was close to falling off several times, but I managed to hang until the 10K mark where I just could not keep up, and was forced to ride my own race. One teammate, Mark W, was hurting like I was so we dropped off, shared a laugh, recovered, traded pulls for the last six miles, and finished in much better shape than we were in when we were left off the back end of the lead group. Preliminary results said I came in 6th, with Mark W. right behind me in 7th. We don’t have the final Omnium standings yet so I’m not sure where I finished in the overall. Again, the $65 entry fee was cheap for a reason.

That was one of the most enjoyable weekends of racing I have ever had. Racing locally meant I could do friend/family stuff in between races. D hooked me up with key food items and a massage on Saturday night. Lyza got to see the final stage, and I got to clean the house on Sunday afternoon – how was that a bonus? Great courses meant excellent competition. Good results and no injures were the icing on the weekend.

Here's the crew that was causing all of the shenanigans at the crit event. Pulling, blocking, yelling, and MG in the back with the white helmet and black glasses even went for a cyclocross tour of grass/dirt after blowing the 3rd to last corner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Omnium Stage 2

Stage two was a fast crit course with 5 left hand turns on brand new pavement with two covered wooden bridges to fly over – fun stuff. 40 guys started, and I think only 4 or 5 were pulled, so it was elbow to elbow for 40 minutes in a good sized pack. I freakin’ LOVE this kind of racing – diving into turns, chasing, recovering, chasing, thinking you’re about to die, and finding a reserve at the end……….sometimes.

…So I got into that break because there was a guy off the front who looked like he could motor and with 3 laps to go, I wanted to give it a go. As we came around the start/finish and headed into the wind, I took a dig and got onto his wheel after about 45 seconds of chasing. He was going fast, and I couldn’t pull through even though he shouted at me to go go go! No no no I said, give me 20 seconds to recover. We traded pulls, but he was doing more work than me and with one and a half laps left we had just about 50 yards on the group. My teammates were doing their best to sit on the front and not chase, but the pack was restless and I could see the gap coming down. We both knew we were toast, so I sat up to catch a breath and lost about 12 places in 10 seconds. I climbed back in, hung on for 2 miles, and managed to get back near the front going into the last two turns where it’s tough to pass.

I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to overcome my body’s lack of strength to go for the win, so I rolled across at the back of the lead group in 6th place, happier than a frat guy sitting between two Kardashians at the Ghost Bar drinking on Lamar Odom’s tab until 3am. All of the guys on the team finished in the front half of the bunch, so we had a good day on the bike with no crashes, or rashes. I got a nice handful of points for that finish which put me in second place going into the Sunday road race.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Omnium Stage 1

I didn’t sleep well on Friday night, thinkin’ about the self-imposed pressure of racing with six teammates in the same category. Bragging rights may not last as long as cheap medals and plaques, but acutely speaking, if you suck ass, then your teammates will be there to remind you of your middling performance for years and years. F*ck the medals, that peer pressure is what drives me.

The first stage was a warm-up of sorts – a short 6.5 mile 2000’ climb up Snowbowl road. Nothing I haven’t done a crap-ton of times this winter and spring, but I haven’t done it at race pace in a long while. I wish we could race down it someday, but that would be a liability nightmare – there would be carnage all over the middle of the descent.

Anyway, it was a beautiful, cool morning with temps in the 40’s. I wanted to do Masters 40+, but there were few entrants there and our group of six guys range in age from 26-47, so we opted to slug it out in Cat IV / V. 36 of us took off at 7:06am. I snapped off the back of the lead group after about 1.5 miles in and settled into my groove. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, - 15 riders later I ran out of riders to catch, and legs to push, with the exception of one guy who I got by a half wheel at the line. Ellsie had the cowbell clangin’ at 200 meters and I was glad to finish in a bit over 36 minutes. It was a personal record for me, and I could feel the effort. Won me a small medal for 3rd place that I didn’t stick around to get, but even more important… I got me some solid omnium points and bragging rights over 4 teammates. Mark W. was 30 seconds ahead of me so he took the team lead after stage 1.

The PR for me meant I went a weeee bit too hard. Actually, way too hard. I couldn’t eat solid food all that well when I got home, so D concocted a 1,500+ calorie shake including fruit, peanut butter, milk etc that got me back on track. Just in time, thankfully for stage 2 that was at 4:00pm Saturday afternoon. Here’s a pic of me leading solo break with two laps left.

OK, this is really the break of 2 with me out front and 3.8 miles to ya think I took the win?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday wake up call

I've held off on posting this for 9 months. It's a photo of a 7 year old girl at a funeral in Texas. She's looking at her parents being buried. They died while riding a tandem bike. Hit by a truck.
Please. Leave your I-Pod out of your ears when you're near traffic. You need every sense you have, including the common sense of defensive riding to be safer these days. I look at Kylie and I think of my daughter and my wife and just about lose it every time. And...I think of my friends and family. It's just too easy to lose a battle with a vehicle. Stay safe, and remember that others are counting on you to be there for them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The gist....

…of last night’s criterium comes down to:

-20+ peeps showed up
-Total mixed bag comprised of racers from the college cycling team, 40+ masters guys, Cat V riders of all ages, one Junior, and two dudes on singlespeed road bikes.
-The masters guys powered the train, but I didn’t like the pace because they were just controlling the tempo and not racing. I instigated the attacks and 10 minutes later 17 riders were off the back, and five of us rode the final two laps. One lap to go and the two masters guys had a plan. One attacked, and the other one waited. I bit. I had to, because the other two dudes were spent and couldn’t catch on. I chased full gas. Once I caught the first guy, he took another dig and I barely matched it. He wisely swung off and let me fly by well ahead of the line. His teammate was on my wheel in a nice draft the whole time. They used/abused me like a Dodge Neon rental car, and sprinted past my toasted ass so efficiently in the last 100 meters that I just hung my head and coasted in for 3rd. They are extremely fit, accomplished, tactically sound racers. I am pretty fit, severely lacking in palmares, and tactically sound from an armchair, watching pros race with the aid of expert European commentary……..but, I tried as hard as I could.
-The two guys who left me for dead in the first race left early, and we held a second race with 15 guys. I pushed the pace the whole time and took it by ½ a wheel.

When I got home I remember sitting in a dining room chair, smiling, and chuckling about how spent/satisfied I felt. My head fell forward, my shoulders sank I closed my eyes, and I looked at the kitchen clock again. 12 minutes had gone by. That was fast. I think I fell asleep for a bit. That 2.25 hours of riding was the one time of the day that everything on my plate was forgotten. Absolutely everything. I know that’s why I love Tuesdays. It’s like a mid-week adrenaline rush reset button.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Got my ass handed to me this past weekend. I dug a 10’x10’ish ditch only 3-5” deep and ended up with sore hammy’s and a lower back that felt like I had been riding for 3+ hours. Doesn’t sound like much but considering the dirt out here is as hard as concrete….it was a lot for this old d-bag. WTF? I’ll tell you what it is….The only strength I have is completely sports specific. Pedaling, running….there you go. Ask me to help you install a deck, and I’ll perform like a superstar on day 1. Day 2? I won’t even show up because I’d be laid up on ibuprofen watching world cup soccer wishing I could move, and lamenting the fact that I’ll miss three rides. This brings up a good point.

Make sure your pool of friends is diverse. If everyone is an over the hill mid-pack has been athlete – or worse, a legit athlete, then you’ll make 10 calls and get zero replies next time you want to construct a chicken coop. “Dude, I’d be there, but I gotta get 5 more hours on the bike before the end of the week”. “Sure man, love to help, but I’ve got this race coming up and I don’t want to mess up my back putting that lumber together.” My bud Ellsie is reconstructing his house and he knows I’m not only worthless as far as committing to help, but helpless if I do get there. Hey, it is what it is. The only thing my Dad taught me about construction was how to construct a retirement account, and I have completely failed at that - unless my daughter is considered my retirement package. She doesn’t know I’m moving in with her if I’m still alive at 71. I might surprise her.

So, it’s all me on this project. I got the hole dug. D gave me a sweet hamstring rubdown on her table Saturday night and I was feelin’ mucho better by Sunday morning. Next up, mortar sand – gotta compact that shit by hand with a heavy-ass metal pile driver. Then….get the stone delivered and start cutting. 10 more days, and it’ll be done. If it comes out within 80% my expectations, I’ll be smiling for a month.

In the meantime its: work-eat-sleep-play-vacation-walk the dogs-play more with D and Lyz-ride hard and avoid any further construction projects. Summer summer.

Friday, June 4, 2010


The weatherheads are saying 110 in the wasteland called Phoenix this Sunday, which translates to a high of 87 in our neck of the woods up north. 87 degrees at 7,000 feet – the sun feels like it’s burning a hole in your skin even though it isn’t really all that hot out. SPF 50, baby. The highest temp I can remember in Flagstaff was 92 back when I was in school ‘round 20 years back. That translated to 118 in Phoenix. I spent one summer in Satan’s Lair down south, and when it’s that hot, you just go to the mall, go to the movies, go to the pool, or sit your air conditioned bubble at home until the sun goes down. Even then, the high is freakin’ 90 at night. The summer league basketball games are awesome – you sweat like a mother givin’ birth under the lights, and it’s 10:00 at night.

So this-a-weekend we’ll be riding at 7:00am on Sat, and 5:00pm on Sunday after I put in 8 hours for THE MAN. Mix the riding and work in with stage three of our patio construction – and it’ll be Miller Time all weekend. Got me a road bike 3-stage race a week from tomorrow here in town, and thankfully, it’ll be 10 degrees cooler. One race up Snowbowl road, a second circuit race/crit that afternoon, and then the following day a road race through the high desert. I’ve been riding well on the MTB the past 10 days, and I hope I can keep that mo’ going through next weekend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jim Jones

I can’t believe that terrorists and other anti-US infiltrators haven’t figured it out. If you want to f*ck up this country, then spike the Starbucks coffee shipments. With the amount of white cup (with matching hot-cup sleeves) holding lemmings that walk out of those cookie cutter stores each day, you could very effectively wipe out the majority of ‘Murkans before 10:00am on a Monday. I, however, would lead the counter attack since I don’t drink that corporate whore swill – and then I’d take your house, your YBB and your Tall Boy since you won’t be using them ever again. You just got Jim Jones’ed.

Seriously…people, get over your Starbucks fixation. You can make better coffee at home for 1/5th of the price, and you won’t be part of the inevitable Monday Morning Massacre. Unless of course you want to strap that Macchiatto around your waist daily and try to work it off later, thanks for driving up the cost of healthcare while you’re at it.

Woke up pre-dawn today and put on the spandex costume – didn’t even need leg warmers as it was high 40’s. I rode out and up towards the peaks. Across Buffalo Park I pedaled up on a group of Moms in their “boot camp” sweat outfits. Cool. Stay fit ladies, because it ain’t all about your kids and you obviously know that. Into the woods and I came across several local running studs who were flying across the rocky ridges like gazelles. I have never, ever, ever seen another mountain biker on a weekday morning dawn patrol ride. Just runners and peeps out with their dogs. Bombing back down home, and I bottomed out the back rim once – then twice. Better bump the psi up to 30 for tomorrow’s ride – twas a little low today, but I climbed like a spider with that 2.3 tire all smashed out on the dirt. Love me some climbing.

Rolled into the garage at 6:20, and made myself a latte with some fresh roasted beans from our local roaster for around .79 cents including electricity and the estimated depreciation on my Gaggia espresso machine. $4.00 with tip for a Starbucks hot drink? Dude, I may have graduated from party school NAU – but I can still figure that one out. Support your local roaster/shop por favor.