Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ridin and Racin

What ‘jou have for breakfast? Froot Loops? Maybe some eggs and toast with a mug of coffee? Not me, baby. I had me a full plate of singletrack, served up nice and sweet. We’ve had rain for the better part of a week with a few spots of clearing in the AM and then again overnight. Soft trails – but not sticky satanic hell mud = great traction and a fook ton of fun. It’s been another long week at the sawmill so the am stress relief has been important.

Sunday is comin’ quick and with that marks the first time our team of “we know we’re not turning pro tomorrow so let’s have a good time riding” dudes is setting up the four CX barriers we scavenged last year on the NAU campus - and making a whoop-de-whirl CX course in and out of the woods/flats/parking lots etc. For some reason we have a few guys with hard-on’s for CX racing already. I borrowed a CX bike from a teammate and I’m going to give it a more serious go this year than last when I showed up on my old, small geared MTB for two races and hung with the leaders in the tech, but got absolutely dropped like a stone on the pavement. I finished pretty well, but I was more than a minute back from the winners so I figure an actual CX bike and some early practice could remedy that deficit.

Speaking of team stuff, its jersey reorder time so we’re tweaking the look and changing companies. Don’t order from ATAC unless you just want a cheap price. We learned that lesson the hard way as the material began to literally disintegrate while wearing it. The capper for me was about a month or so back at the road stage race: I was riding near max effort with a teammate on my wheel…out of nowhere he said “You know….what I….don’t….like about…..the kits?” I didn’t even respond because I couldn’t speak, grunt, or even blink at 180 beats per minute. He then said “The…..panel on…..the…back…….I can see…….I can see your ass crack”. Good thing I shaved that morning ;)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The hammer comes down

Outside of the state of Arizona, it’s hard to get a clear understanding of SB1070 – the immigration bill that passed the state legislature. Our Governor and infamous Senator McCain tell stories about beheadings at the border, drug smuggling children, and murdered American Ranchers. Drama and Lies – all of it. Fortunately, key aspects of that bill, which was to go into effect tomorrow, were shot down by a judge today. There was a line around the corner of people and even the US Justice Dept suing the state over it. Yeah baby – chop this law all the fuck up.

I’m ashamed to say that the majority of our residents support this bill. I’m not surprised though, particularly when I step outside of the democratic island I live on in Flagstaff.

Here’s where I’m coming from -

When everyone was getting rich out here from the mid 1990’s clear through the crash in 2008 – residential housing developments, commercial developments, and resorts/lodging/restaurants were thriving. Throw in all of the ‘extra’ services like car detailing, house cleaning services, and landscaping and this state was a big cash/credit whore with way to many people moving here for the lure of easy money in flipping houses. The wealthy peeps in our state needed immigrants from Mexico to cover the labor demand to keep these industries thriving. Not only did they need them, but many paid them under the table to ensure even more of a profit. Then, it all went away like a popped balloon in late 2008. All of a sudden, the wealthy people didn’t need the immigrants any more. That’s when the NASCAR crowd chimed into the game. “They are taking our social services”. “They ain’t payin’ taxes”. No shit Sherlock, that’s because business owners in this state, one of which probably employs your Jeff Gordon wanna be-ass, took the easy money path and enabled ‘em. If you were an immigrant, would you take a favor – a stroke of good luck – hell yeah you would. So what do you do now Jimmy Johnson? These immigrants have established places of residence, their kids are in your schools, and they have purchased assets like homes and cars.

So, rather than consider amnesty and a legitimate path to citizenship for those that are living/working here currently, our legislators bowed to the redneck pressure from the NASCAR audience and said “get ‘em out, and put the burden on the cops to do it”. Just the Mexicans though….the Canadians and Eurotrash can stay because they don’t fit the profile: Brown skin, dark hair, working class, drives a truck or an economy car.

The last time I advertised for housekeeping help and actually had Caucasians apply, said white chicks lasted 16 hours on the job and no called/no showed by Wednesday….and 5 out of 6 failed a background check anyway. One of the main claims of the general public is that the immigrants are taking jobs from unemployed Americans. My experience over the past 12 years shows that the general public doesn’t want unskilled labor – preferring to collect benefits from the government.

I’m appalled at the fact that our Governor backed this law and rode it to re-election. The good news is – it ain’t going into law, not like she wanted it. Now it’s time for Congress to put this to bed with a national policy to deal with immigration. Screw you Arizona lawmakers – you just got what you deserved because you got rich off immigrants, dumped ‘em when you didn’t need ‘em anymore, and then jumped on an issue to gain re-election.

2011 preview

2011 is looking great: LA will be retired and on the tri circuit, Cancellara and Contador on the same freakin' team led by Riis - nice! The creepy Schleck brothers will drive some Luxembourg squad in the classics and Le Tour, and Floyd will still be racing in a grey t-shirt and black Performance shorts at your local criterium sprinting for beer preems. Oh I can't wait for the madness!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Training Camp Time

8:47pm – I’m sittin’ at my desk livin’ the dream listenin’ to the Scorpions singing “ARIZONA” from the older than dirt album titled Blackout. Great song. What did you expect?

We had a scavenger hunt at the mall for my daughter’s 9th birthday this morning. I should get a Parental Medal of Honor for escorting 4 young girls around the mall on a mission to collect paper toilet seat covers, credit card apps, 50% off signage, a piece of pepperoni, nametags, business cards, and a clothes hanger. With 15 minutes left, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel – cashed a $5 bill and handed out quarters for video games at the arcade next to Sears. Yeah, we got smoked in the scavenger hunt but the girls said I was the coolest. F’n A right kids. Once the festivities were over, we took Lyza over to get her all-world, all-time, greatest-ever present – a working cell phone. Text messaging, extra memory for music, and yeah I bought the $6 month insurance policy. The over/under on the first day it gets lost is around 8 days. Get your bets in now.

Until the UCI Worlds and then the fall classics in cycling it’s all about….FOOTBALL for me baby. The Cardinals are in camp this weekend and Flagstaff is primo for viewing these well-paid dudes. They are extremely fan/kid friendly and Lyza is just jacked to go watch – me too. I don’t really give a rats ass about how they do because once a Viking fan, always a Viking fan but it is cool to have NFL training camp scrimmages 2 miles from my driveway. Poverty with a View baby; you gotta soak up the good while its all good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Growin' on up

After about 20 minutes I realized that I was just sorta sprawled out on the grass watching, a little too intensely of course, the action in front of me. My not so little, soon to be nine year old was in the middle of the U-10 soccer club team scrimmage holding her own against a group of pretty talented girls. I’m not the “Kicking and Screaming” starring Will Ferrell type of parent, but for some reason I am really watching the process of this developing team closely. The skills, the plays – not so much. I’m closely watching how Lyza interacts with the girls and vice versa. It’s my baby girl’s first time playing on a single gender team and for a 100% certifiable tom boy, it’s an adjustment. I don’t think it matters what team sport you play – if you can play and include your teammates, you’ll be accepted and that’s important for Lyza right now considering she’s 3 inches taller than most, has a boy haircut, and talks like a British sailor whenever she can. I’m responsible for introducing her to the word FOOK. As in a Youtube replay from a pre-tour sprint that went a little something like this: “Awwwwww look at Cavendish come through that gap, he knocked the FOOK out of Haussler just there!”….Lyza got it, started laughing, and immediately passed it on to her dear friends. “You know what the British word is for the F-word”? Great.
Speaking of great, she’s doing great, and she’s gonna’ shine out there soon once her teammates accept and begin looking for her when the turds fly.

All of that left my head when I walked out the door at 5:30 this mornin’ to shred some fresh singletrack. It rained lightly for about 4 hours last night and by the time I hit it, it was ripe. Not a track in sight, and with am fog hanging over the peaks, it was fookin’ gorgeous. I stayed out a little longer than I had planned just because I got out early enough to have that option. The downhill was borderline obnoxious as I was leaning so hard and low into the tacky banked corners that it felt comic-like.

We’ve got a benefit ride on Saturday – one of those Tour de __________ (insert cause) type-things. The ones where peeps show up with aero bars, helmet mounted mirrors are everywhere, and in general – assclowns abound. You just need to stay up front so you don’t get involved in a crash. Hey – I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a great thing that people ride bikes and the more the better, but I prefer to keep my skin thank you very much. We’re gonna just pull the paceline for 20 miles and peel off for a total of 40 miles out and back.…I got a patio to finally finish this weekend and then – stain the deck, and re-landscape another section. Then, I gots to get my little big girl to pick out some more slightly girly clothes for school. Middle class life man, I always thought it would be this fookin’ great ;)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer of '09

Now that Alberto and Andy have kissed and madeup with the common courtesy of a youtube video and certainly a reacharound, we can get on with the rest of the world. Raymond Poulidor - a Merckx rival from the 70's coined it best by saying: “If riders have to wait for punctures, falls, pipi breaks or Andy’s nail varnish to dry, it’s not racing anymore. In my days I was attacked when I had a mechanical.” Thank you Raymond. If I heard one more "Alberto should respect the yellow jersey" comment I was going to barf. Respect what? The fact that 90+% of tour leaders that have worn the yellow jersey since systematic team doping began in 1994 have been doped to the gills? Yeah, that is a great example of fairness and winning respectfully. Time to move on to what should be a nice fight up the Tourmalet come Thursday.

Hey man, I got me the chance to ride this mornin' at a bit before 6 and it was brilliant. The air was a cool 50 degrees, the soil was a smidge tacky, and me big brown bike rode like it wanted to race. I made the turn downhill and home with regret, but I'll be back out tomorrow. About this time last year I was gettin' ready to win the 24 hour duo with Josh B at Granny Gear's first and only stab at the 24 hours of nine mile forest. A year later - Granny Gear is down to one event that I raced in 2008 and is colossally overrated (24 hours of Moab), and I'm crusin' through a soft stretch in my little old man amateur racing calendar. Other than missing a visit to Beechwood, riding with Josh B and the old/new Big Ring crew, and hanging at Big Steve's cabin on the bay, I don't miss it at all. So, what that means is I miss every minute of that trip last year - good times that I hopefully won't ever forget.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My wife called me a f*cker...

....because I had caught her on the climb, patted her ass, and forced her riding companion to chase me to the top - leaving her :30 seconds in arrears at the finish. Competitive? Yes she is. Fun to ride with? Hells yeah. She came in 3rd in our little local team ride up the mountain on Sunday leaving a couple of dudes in her wake. Love it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

pretty much, that's why i ride

As I was driving home last night I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the community criterium, aka the night at the races. Work has been a big fat hole that is sucking me in deeper and deeper, but ya know what? I’m OK with that because I still have the flexibility I need to not turn into an ugly, bitter beer face Keystone drinkin’ man.

That’s 4 weeks in a row that I’ve missed the road races. But ‘cha know what? That’s the last thing I needed on Tuesday night. Somebody on Drunk Cyclist said that road racing isn’t about who’s the best/fast/strongest, it’s all about who can fuck over the rest the best. If there is a better metaphor for American life – then tell me because I don’t know what could top that random comment on DC.

That’s why I ride mountain bikes………and I ride ‘em into the ground until the frames are broken and the parts are shattered because it’s better than me falling apart.

Last night I needed time alone riding in the woods. A cool breeze, hard packed trails from monsoon rain, riding my own pace and my own crazy trails to clear the junk from my cabeza. I left the garage on a mission, and no-dabbed Lower Oldham in a 32x19 gear. That doesn’t mean crap to you, but to no-dab Lower Oldham is a good day on the bike for me. It’s actually a great day because it wasn’t even hard. The rains had rid the trail of dust and so traction was as good as it is in November. I felt fit, and rode smooth through the tech. But I wasn’t done.

Riding across Rocky Ridge gave me a chance to just put my brain in pure MTB mode – because the trail is an up/down fiesta of tech and the crapola at workola disappeared like it always does. Gone. What fire ban that could impact group business? What immigration law that could decimate my staff in two weeks? So what about the fact that my job description is expanding like the oil spill in the Gulf? Gone…..G O N E, gone.

That’s why I ride mountain bikes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Someone like you

My taste in music could and would be predominantly viewed by educated people as – less than cool. So as my soon-to-be 9-year old daughter relentlessly listens to the local pop music station, I find myself getting used to Ke$ha – Justin Bieber – Myley Cyrus – Fergie – Paramore, while at the same time introducing her to the Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil in between the pop drivel. Hearing her sing “But what’s puzzlin’ you is the nature of my game!” all the way to soccer practice is inspiring. There is good music out there little lady, you just need your Daddy to help you find it. Eventually, I’ll leave my mark on her musical tastes when she shows up at Stanford in the fall of 2019 with vinyl copies of Exile on Main Street, Kiss Double Live Platinum - and a map on her I-phone13 showing her how to get to UCSB because she definately made a wrong turn in Barstow, CA.

…… parents didn’t adapt to the pop/rock music we listened to as kids. They can’t be saved now, and they have obviously faded into oblivion with their relentless thirst for Celine Dion and Bluegrass tunes. Bluegrass is funny to me, funny like a sad clown. Depression, starvation, prison time, lost loves, broken down trucks, disloyal pets, lost fortunes, missed opportunities and occasionally, and I mean occasionally, mixed with the optimism of a new start/new day or a pretty face. My Dad eats this stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and, well….you can tell.

My wife listens to really deep meaningful multi-cultural stuff that can’t even possibly be turned off and on in between stops to the hardware store and the dry cleaners - it cheapens the music. With great power comes great responsibility and I’m clearly not responsible enough to listen to her collection of chants, cello solos, and evocative South American rhythms. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll realize that she’s on to something great and I’ll have a lot of catching up to do.

Shallow as a kiddie pool yes I am, but, smart enough to not get washed down into a current on the River of Schmaltz they call Adult Oriented Radio featuring drivel from Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Train, and Wilco. You know what’s next on your float trip to the Muzak headquarters? The Celine Dion rapids are straight ahead for your listening pleasure at age 50 – enjoy!

Ohhh, I just saw a new Judas Priest collection on Napster – better go get me some.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stage 8

Every rider has shown some sense of vulnerability, particularly one old rider. The outrageous performances in years gone by (spurned by drugs/testosterone/bloodwork) have been limited to 1-day efforts by riders like Chavanel, and Cancellara - only to watch those efforts sap said rider to mediocrity the following day. The cheats, it seems, appear to be a thing of the past. It's exciting, it's real, it's unpredictable. Shleck, Contador, Evans, Gesink, Wiggins, and on and on - they all have faults and they all have bad days, and you'd be crazy to bet on any of them.

For so many years Big Tex and his team resembled everything great about America. Dedication, preparation, determination, and incredible organization. Unfortunately, those years are unraveling in parallel to Lance's 2010 Tour. I watched Lance blow up yesterday with mixed emotions. A proven champion falling victim not to his competitors, but to his own failings. He's too old, and karma is a bitch.

So, enough with the Lance stories as there will be plenty of that crap to read this winter when a new book is written about US Postal. For now, let's get on with the racing because it's, well....brilliant.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Our new baby is through her period of jaundice, and is healthy and ready to hit the road. D had a quality bike fit done, and her new to her Ruby fits better than OJ's glove. 50 miles tomorrow out at Wupatki National. Just her and Me. Me and her. It should be stellar. We may get a huge monsoon during the ride - and we'd be smilin' the whole way through it unless of course it becomes golf ball hail.

Sunday will be schweet, unless I have to work. On tap at 7am is the first mountain stage in Le Tour, followed by the World Cup Final at 11:30am. If you don't care about the World Cup final, then you were probably watching Le Bron's hour of Narcissism on Thursday night. Who cares where LBJ goes; he can't hold MJ's jock and never will. King James? Dude, what have you won besides the game of Money?

Three cheers for World Champ Cadel Evans this weekend - Just keep your lead through the Alps baby.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Home and Home

Flew into Minnesota like a wave of El Nino
Kicked off the bumpercars at Valleyfair
The walk of shame with my daughter past 50 other bumpercar-ers
3 days on the north side of Lake Superior
Remote beaches, untamed rivers, geologic heaven
Croquet, fireworks, games, and fish'n
Off to Northwest Wisconsin
Running rapids in a canoe
Dumping said canoe and my daughter 3x
Smiles in spite of the missing paddle and cooler and camera and and and...
Great times
Just great
Spent the 4th of July swimmin’
Talkin’ with family
Eatin grilled treats
Drinkin’ LaBatts Blue
Joined 1000 other boats
Fireworks over the bay
Hattie, Juan, Pops, Tomke and the Fam
Thanks for a great time!
We’ll be back

But I'm back home. Back in Flag. Back where I belong. Changed 4 tires on Monday night, and got my bikes ready to roll - left 'em both kind of beat when I left. 55 minutes on the trail before work this morning Yup, I'm back.