Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worlds in Geelong

The World Championship Elite Road Cycling race takes place in Melbourne/Geelong this weekend. I’m not sure if it will run live on Saturday or Sunday considering the date line/time change, but use this link if you want to find out and then scroll down to find a free link to watch it. You’ll get great British commentators who make Paul/Phil sound like masters of the obvious – which is what they pretty much are. Or, you’ll get French commentators and you’ll just have to really pay attention to the video feed – or simultaneously read Velonews’ live ticker.

Sources say 7pm EST on SAT in the US. It's a long race, so don't get there too early.

Imma be riding in Pine Top this weekend. Race report on Monday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

September Sun

A few weeks back I was creeping close to really feeling ready for the Tour of the White Mountains. Jump forward to now, and I’m feelin’ like it’s gonna’ be more of a Tour rather than the race pace I was hoping to do. Riding has been scaled back lately as the sun has been setting too early on my late summer parade. Soccer duties, and work have filled in the free time gaps.

No matter. 5-6 hours of singletrack in 75 degrees, riding with teammates at a tour pace sounds really freakin' good right now. I was lying in bed this morning awake at 6:00am fighting the urge to stay warm and skip a ride. 20 minutes later I was kitted up and cutting through the 35 degree overnight temp. Ouch it was cold, but that’s because I’m a fu*king Alice, and not used to it yet. It’ll take a few frozen toes to get me in fall/winter riding mode.

The trails had been soaked on Wednesday with nearly an inch of rain. They were still primo this morning, and I did the most I could with 50 minutes of time. Up up up and back down down down to town. 50 minutes, lots of technical fun, and I was ready to dump the leg warmers as the sun came over the ridgeline on the way back.

This weekend brings a wedding in Prescott, two rides, Field Marshaling for a soccer tournament, Lyza’s back from Phoenix on Sunday afternoon, and boom….it’ll be Monday. What's that line by Green Day "Wake me up, when September ends"? Its been more like "I need a f*cking nap, when September ends".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I went to a funeral today on behalf of one of my employees. I didn't know his mother - who by the way, died of a massive stroke last Friday. It was a small funeral home in a small town with a small crowd. 14 people were there. She was 84 and had been stricken with Alzheimers for the last five years of her life - which turned into a living hell for those around her.

14 people? Then I 84 years she probably outlived most of her friends, and would she even have any left after dealing with that wretched disease? 14 photos were on the wall of her - from birth in 1926, married in '46, a college degree in '54, and so on. A woman spoke, and told of her memories of being the daughter. It was ponies and rainbows. Pink lemonade, sunshine and sparkles. It sounded opaque, shallow, and contrived. The bitch didn't thank her brother once. Saving the details - let's just say she was more concerned with the will than her family.

Her son - the person who works for me - stood up, visibly strong but shaken, and told what I thought was a brutally honest account of what it took to take care of his mother. He was committed to not putting her in a nursing home - no matter the cost. He didn't share any memories of when he was young, or the things they did together before she got sick. Nada. Oh he was sad for her death, but it was clear that the weight of caring for her was gone, and it gave a newfound strength. It was powerful. It was then that I realized I was surrounded by her caregivers. Nurses, specialists, and an ambulance driver who had all too often taken to and from the local hospital.

Unceremoniously, it was over in 38 minutes, and I haven't even processed what any of this symbolizes. I was on my way back to work thinking about D, Lyza, work, my family, and sneaking a ride in before goes on.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

soccer sunday

So, there I was, on the sideline of the girls U-10 championship game on Sunday playing the role of soccer dad. Man, I couldn’t have been happier watching my baby girl’s team play. The games were 1000x more gripping, to me anyway, than watching any pro team in any pro sport.

I made a pact with myself early on that I would never, ever, ever critique her play unless she asked me to. That’s up to her coach, and she’s fortunate to have a great leader filling that role for her this year. She’s the newest member of the team, and with that comes some confusion about where to be, and when to use her energy. It would be easy to stand up and shout instructions, but, I won’t. My Mom handled it right by providing encouragement and letting the coaches do the coaching – and not letting me quit when I wanted to. If my head got big she ignored it, and when I was feeling overmatched she let me work through it. There’s a lot more to playing a team sport at this age than winning games.

So, they won the tourney. The final game could have gone either way and even the girls knew it. Lyza played in the shadow of better teammates, and stepped out occasionally to make good plays from time to time. Rightfully, she was on the bench more than the better players. Riding pine can do more for you than being the star.

Now, her days of equal playing time, ribbons just for finishing, and not keeping score are long gone. So goes the innocence, too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Usually, when you get one of these, it's only a matter of time. Usually. I'm just sayin', not accusin', just sayin'.

Believe Tyler
Believe Floyd
Believe Vino
Believe Ullrich
Believe Heras
Believe Valverde
Believe Kohl
Believe Pantani
Believe Virenque
Believe Riis
Believe Ricco
Believe Mancebo
Believe Mazzolini
Believe Millar
Believe Basso
Believe Kazechekin
Believe Armstrong?

At the end of the day, who really cares.
So we're riding up the mountain on Saturday and as the pitch gets steeper, she keeps her pace and I want to fall back a bit - but I can't. I get pulled by her through the crux and onto what amounts to a long false flat. She's still going good, so I step it up a notch but it hurts. Sweat is pouring down my grille, and I'm not seeing anything besides handlebars and pavement just past my front wheel. Three deer pop up on the right just ahead and it slows us down as we let them pass - for her it was a cute interlude, for me it was a 20 second rest from the gates of aerobic hell. Game back on as the deer disappear.

I'd had enough. I needed some space. I don't like it when somebody else dictates my pace, especially a chick. So, I put what I had left into my pedalstroke and got the 20 second gap I needed to mentally adjust into a good place. The 6.2 mile mark came up and I stopped near the ski lift and relaxed for the first time in 40+ minutes.

She rode up, circled around and stopped next to me.

Me: Fucker
Wife: - laughing -
Me: You were drillin' it on the steeps
Wife: No, I was just keeping a steady pace
Me: That hurt
Wife: I couldn't hang on that last pitch, why did you go that hard?
Me: I just needed some space. I couldn't stand seeing your wheel any longer
Wife: - laughing - I thought you were sandbagging?!
Me: -sweat pouring out of helmet - Does this look like sandbagging?
Wife: -laughing more now -
Me: That was fun
Wife: Weren't those deer cute?

Friday, September 10, 2010

As of this coming Monday, I am steppin’ down from my little position on our little cycling team’s little board of directors. Two words for you: Term Limits. There’s a reason they are important in any sort of position where you represent a group of people. There’s fresh, hungry, young blood on the team and – we need to capitalize on that. The good news – nobody will really care. Being on a little team in a little town with a little budget….means there’s little fallout. It won’t change my riding pals; it’ll just alleviate a few headaches associated with managing the egos of a few team members who can’t seem to get along with the rest.

We’re still going to crank out one last kit by early November. Call it jersey b. Call it the black option. Call it, our best work to date. That’s a good way to go out the door, me thinks.

Monday, September 6, 2010

mmmmm, so define 'epic'?

Man, I’m always hesitant about using the term ‘epic’ for rides because it’s become cliché in the cycling world. I guess it means different things to different people, and that’s cool, but for me it means a near outer body experience either physically, mentally or both when riding. In short, something goes so wrong or something goes so right that it becomes something you don’t ever forget. I’ve chased the White Minivan before, and other things quite like it, and my guess is that you may have too.

There was nothing epic about this weekend’s rides, but the two rides I did do were Grade motherfuckin’ A. Saturday me and D zipped up snowbowl on the roadies in a good time amidst 75 degree temps and surprisingly light traffic considering the holiday weekend. She will always be my #1 riding partner because there’s just something incredibly cool about pedaling stroke for stroke with my wife who on a good day can make me hurt – more than a bit. It’s a bond we have always shared since 2003 when she ripped my legs off on the way up this very climb, twice. I was 8+ minutes in arrears. Our times have more or less flipped since then since D does other things besides ride unlike my hopeless self, but when we pick that pace that falls between our abilities, and just ride up together, it’s one of my all time favorite rides.

Sunday brought out the boys ride. We started with five, and finished with three. 3.5 hours of flat-out killin’ it. Jesus – no warmup, just full throttle from the gun. Why?! The first guy to drop out was toasted cheese about 2.5 hours in - we got him on a safe fire road home, and the second guy had a legitimate mechanical unlike Andy ‘I can’t shift my bike’ Schleck. We dumped him at a nearby road where his wife could pick his ass up after puncturing his sidewall on Gumpy’s Gully - a XXX gnar gnar descent. 50% of what we rode was fresh cut singletrack that I had never ridden, and we climbed near the roof of AZ.

I wasn’t torched from either ride. Just a good tired feeling. That is a good sign. If I can add 45minutes to an hour of endurance at that pace, then this will be really fookin’ fun to compete in. Maybe even, dare I say, an epic ride? I hope not, because I don’t want it. I don’t want to see the White Minivan again anytime soon, but if it happens….well, I gotta’ chase.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

holdin' on

I can count on two hands, and maybe one foot, how many times I wake up nervous or am nervous at some point over the course of any given year. Our Annual Meeting for work in front of 50 shareholders always raises the hair on my neck, and part of the reason I race bikes is just so that I keep myself in that scared place every month or two. It’s good for me, or I get soft and complacent. The great businessman Harvey McKay said in his book Swimming with the Sharks: “It’s better to wake up scared than content”. I don’t think I could handle nervous/scared every day, but one thing I do know……… is the elation of getting past the point of nervousness/fear – it feels reallllly good and makes me crave more.

Last night surprised me a bit. I dropped my little big girl off at soccer practice, and went with AA to go hammer singletrack for an hour – making sure to get back for her scrimmage against the U10 boys team. The singletrack was outstanding, but the game….it blew me away. I sat comfortably watching for the first 5 minutes, then found myself standing and yelling out words of encouragement, followed by that feeling of watching your favorite pro team coming down the field in the 4th quarter to possibly win the game – the team that you’ve followed since you were old enough to understand the game. These girls were up 2-1 on the boys with 3 minutes left and I thought “holy shit, these girls can WIN this!” They did. The last 3 minutes were torture, and lasted what felt like 30. Lyza had some great moments, and some frustrating moments, but she was so jacked up from the win I practically had to tie her down to her bed at 9pm to go to sleep. She crashed 2 minutes after she hit the mattress.

Back to the singletrack – we hammered along the base of Mt. Elden on a very technical trail called forces of nature. It’ll keep you honest the second you get cocky. I was leading around a corner that was hard to see with tall grasses still hiding the back side, and had to pull a back and front brake lockup surf-move sideways right into a 2 foot tall wall of rock that I had no time to get my front wheel over….fortunately coming to a complete stop before going Superman OTB. AA came up and said ‘you didn’t miss that, did you?! Gotta love your MTB buddies, they make sure you know your place in this world.

Anyway - after the game, one of the other parents told me how they are on the edge of their seat for the games, and how they lose sleep over tournaments. Its 7:17pm and Lyza hasn’t even been home since 8am to work on homework or just to get some downtime. 3 nights a week. Is this the way it’s going to be until she goes to college? Damn – time to hang on for the ride.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

5:20am departure yesterday and although it was cold, that sharp cold that only comes from the change in season wasn't there. It didn' take long to warm up, and I just had a grand ol' time out there shreddin', climbin', and carvin'. Anytime I can get out before work is a great time. These days are shrinkin' fast and very soon it'll be a start time closer to 6:00am - which means I'll have to stay at work until 6pm. Give and take, peaks and valleys, and as Rob Wilbur said "roll with the punches"...whatever that meant. Somebody swingin' at me, I'm swingin' back.

I need some roadwork this weekend. Long mileage kinda thing. The October 2nd race deadline is now just a month away and I can go for 3 hours nice and fast, but I can't go for 5 hours at race pace. One more ramp up for the fall, and I'll be done until December - unless of course I get hooked on the CX bug.

Arizona cross is just hard to get stoked for. The first two races are in Flagstaff and have potential for CX weather. One race is in Phoenix under the lights - CrossVegas style minus the talented pro field, and thousands of spectators - so it's pretty much the same minus a few key components. But the other races are down south, with warm days and you couldn't find mud unless it's man-made.

Me thinks it's time to get back into a racquetball tourney. My racquet has been looking at me sullenly - play me, play me! It's be best way to kill someone without going to jail. Hmmm.