31 March 2007

Dinger

Great day at South Mtn yesterday - 6+ hours up and around twice, first time straight up National, second via Mormon, return both times via Desert Classic. Second time was fun, with a fellow WORS refugee enjoying the 78 degree sun ...

Quite a bit of hike-a-bike on National, and it would have been good to have more than 4 in of travel. Only one major dinger, when I had to decide between my shin/knee and the rock wall, or falling 30 feet down a cliff. The wall won, and I was digging stones out of my shin 8 hours later ...

I got home just as the boys did, and we headed over to the bmx jumps on a vacant lot around the corner. It was awesome - I was able to teach them a little, and then Levi landed his first tabletop! He is all psyched to try some of the doubles over there this afternoon when I get back from Hawes and Usery.

Ok, it's granola time!

30 March 2007

My favorite day

Right now I'm enjoying one of my most favorite days of the year - sunrise is in 20 min and I am at Kelli's kitchen table enjoying a HUGE bowl of granola. Next, Gabe gets to help me build my bike before he heads to school and I begin a 6-hour assault on South Mtn. Oh, yeah.

Gabe left me a welcome note last night, since we got in after his bedtime ... How cute is that?!

29 March 2007

Should we just rename it "soma?"

Check out this interesting story from the Trib today:

Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee

28 March 2007

The countdown

There are days I love being Uncle Chris.

For the past few years, Kim and I have made an early spring trip to Arizona to visit her sister's family -- Kelli, her husband Troy, and our nephews Gabe and Levi. It's been pretty awesome to see them at least once a year, and get to enjoy some Arizona sunshine as the bleak Chicago winter draws to a close.

Of course, I pack my bike along -- until last year, getting in mondo 7-8 hour road rides through the Superstitions and even over to Fountain Hills. Last year I switched to a 'cross bike and began exploring trails -- this year, it's all fat-tire, all the time.

Anyway, this means that the kids have literally grown up with me on the bike. Our niece Kaylie sees it most often here in Chicago, and apparently it has left quite an impression on the boys as well. Last year we rode a couple of short rides together (Gabe was still a bit too little to really get going), which only served to really get them excited to ride!

So check this out: for the past couple of weeks, ever since Kelli, Troy and Gabe were here for the funeral a few weeks back, the boys have been working on their bikes. The flat tires are fixed, Levi has tricked out his ride to make it "custom," and they've been practicing in the back yard -- even riding through axle-deep mud at one point! Levi can even do some killer flatland tricks -- I can't wait to see them!

And in the "aw, shucks" category, 6-year-old Gabriel was given a calendar when they went back to Arizona. On it, he marked the day he got the calendar, and the day that Uncle Chris would be coming to visit and ride bikes. For several weeks now, he's been marking off each day, counting down until tomorrow ...

Man, I love being Uncle Chris.

26 March 2007

This is how we roll

Any day you can spend dressed like this is a good day. Especially when it's March -- check out the budding tan lines, and I haven't even left Chicago to ride!

90 minutes at lunch time, flatted as we reached the back door. Even better, we have tubes and a workbench, and it's already replaced.

Today is an awesome day.

Second verse, same as the first

What a long, strange trip it's been.

One year ago, I was coming off a solid winter of training, getting ready to enjoy another road season with an eye firmly on 'cross, and had just ridden my first trails ever only a month before. I showed up at the second Parkside race with little expectation other than the chance to blow out the cobwebs a bit. In the 30+ race, I managed to make the break, and we worked fairly well together until Scott Pearson snuck away with 3 laps remaining for the win. I held on and played sprinter for the day -- the only time I'll ever beat Rob Springer in a sprint, and managed to place second. In the 1/2s, I sat in, rolling with the field once it was clear the break was established and they weren't going to let me go after a couple of dead-leg attacks.

Fast-forward 12 months. New job, new team, new bike, spotty training, Parkside again just for fun. 'Cross season was great, and it was weird to realize that my last race was only 3 months ago. I was coming off my first solid training block with pretty tired legs, and on the drive to Kenosha I was feeling the butterflies ... I was more than a bit nervous at how I'd feel.

I felt horrible on the Saturday Judson ride, with literal pain in my quads at every gap-closing effort. I sat in the whole ride, but it was still an effort ... which meant Sunday may be really rough. Don't be fooled: the Masters 30+ guys are strong and fast. It is never an easy race.

Now, I know "it's only Parkside," but let's face it -- the first race of the year is always a litmus test, Parkside or not. And everyone who races road in the Midwest -- everyone (and some mountain bikers) -- pays attention to Parkside. You might say you don't, but be honest now ...

Waiting for the start, I saw my teammate Dr. Mike Jones take a well-fought win in the 40+ race. He went from the corner against a strong Macker into a headwind ... and held it! If we ever teach him to stand up in a sprint, this guy will be deadly ...

So that was a huge encouragement as we lined up for the 30+ race, with me and Bryan Rhuede starting our days, and Jones, Pete Rolewicz and a German named Ansver (I think?) all pulling the double. We got a front-row position -- I figured I'd at least have that going for me ...

Whistle blows, we go, and I settle into 4th or 5th wheel, hiding from the wind and getting used to the course again. A couple of early attacks go, but nothing's going to get away this soon. We cover, we hang, no big gaps opening ... until finally, this guy gets a bee in his bonnet and makes it stick. The black and green Mars kit looks awesome off the front, and he's rocking the gears ... a couple of guys make a half-hearted effort to bridge, but the pack pulls them back ... Jeremy is hanging out there, fighting the wind ... wait, he's losing steam ... coming back ... through turn two and into the headwind, and whew! There he is just before the hill. We got him.

Anticipating the counter, I move into the top 5. Sure enough, we crest the hill, and there it goes on the right -- I don't remember who it was exactly, but within seconds Pearson was bridging on my left, and before I knew it I was on his wheel. We hammered down the backside, impossibly getting a huge gap in the tailwind corner, and by the time we swung around again, it was me, Pearson, a North Brancher, a guy from Village -- and Rheude! Bryan made a huge effort to bridge just before the headwind. We saw 19 minutes on the board ... it was going to be a long day.

And that was the race! I'd like to report that we all worked well together and sped away, but -- well, it's Parkside. Pearson was his usual self, taking monster pulls and gapping us every time. Just like last year, I yelled at him, and just like last year, he told me to shut up. The Village guy didn't work, the North Brancher was pretty strong, and Bryan was unfortunately right on Pearson, which put him into difficulty a few times.

Finally, with 3 to go, Pearson had enough. In an exact repeat of last year, he took off solo, hammering up the hill and gapping us. Our small group was just being swallowed by a bunch of chasers, so it was a perfect move ... and he was gone for the win.

We were a bigger group this year, so I didn't want to leave it for the sprint. I watched a couple of guys try to attack, but it wasn't really happenning ... at the same time, everyone was getting scared for the sprint. Finally, with 2 to go, we came into the headwind with me hiding in 4th wheel. Bryan was on the front with North Branch right behind me ... I calculated the energy someone would have to overcome to catch me, and realized this was my chance. Bryan swung right on the hill, NB swung left, and I blasted up the middle, giving it all I had. It was timed perfectly -- by the time I looked back, I was halfway down the backstretch, and there was no going back. It was a hard couple of laps, but I made it stick, finally rolling in about 20 seconds behind Pearson on the line.

Bryan kept rolling for the Cat. 3 race later, and had a good showing until he cramped on the final laps. It was super-warm out -- and that first hot day can be killer with the fluids.

I chilled for a while, then warmed up for the 1/2s race. ABD had a huge contingent, so I knew I was on defense ... maybe a little too much, as the Swedish National Team (aka PCW/Hyundai) attacked the hell out of each other to establish a break with two of their guys and Mike Ebert from ABD, and when Pearson and another guy went, I just watched it happen. Eventually they were down to four, and we were racing for the last medal ...

Nothing was getting away, so I settled in and played pack tactics, getting used to riding in a group again. Finally, with 3 to go, a guy in red who had been attacking all day somehow managed to stick it -- it was a super slo-mo attack, but it worked, and he took someone with him for 5th and 6th. I went again through the start/finish with 2 to go, but was immediately brought back ... everyone was gassed, though, so when the two guys in front of me rubbed wheels on the hill, I saw my chance and took it, executing the same attack as the 30+ race, and rolling away for 7th. That last lap and a half was painful, and I was totally pedaling squares, but it worked!

So all in all, a good opening to the season -- if this year develops like last, it will be a fun summer! I'll let you know in a few months if Parkside does indeed predict the future!

23 March 2007

No wind!

Awesome morning on the way to work today -- no wind! I was cruising along at about 32kph with no problem -- very cool way to start a long weekend!

I think I've decided I need to stop reading other people's blogs. Especially this guy. I don't know that I've quite come to grips with the fact that I'm not riding/training nearly as much as I used to ... I suppose it all only matters when I line up and the gun goes off, but two hill climb workouts in a day? He's going to kick my ass at Geneva ...

Then again, I get to do a little world saving every day ... so it's not all bad.

Let's see ... commute home with a little extra tonight (weather dependent), maybe sit in on Judson tomorrow to get the miles but not tax the legs (weather dependent), and then hit out on Sunday at Parkside -- it's been a while since I've done a "fitness test," and what better place to do it than in a race that really doesn't count? Plus, Kim and I are going to try to hit Beat Kitchen for the show on Saturday afternoon -- the a/a scene is a bit young for us, but is probably a good way to introduce Kim to the non-arena world. I mean, let's face it -- she can probably kick the snot out of any snively little teenager in the place!

OH! BIG shout out to Lou and the gang (again!) -- I completely roached my PowerTap wheel last week after a year-plus of abuse ... Lou built a new one, and talked me into the ceramic upgrade ... it is so buttery ... I think it's worth at least 50 watts, right?

21 March 2007

Streaking

Well, I had a good streak going. Nearly 3 solid weeks of riding every day ... that all ended this evening, when the CTA and the heavens conspired to find me walking through a massive thunderstorm to get home. Oh, well -- a day off will do me good I suppose ... if only it weren't the day that my metabolism caught up to my riding, and I'm eating everything in sight!

So enforced rest day today, and then back at it tomorrow. My legs can use a break after a nice brick workout last night, and a triple day tomorrow should make up for any slacking. In fact, I'll probably turn this into a block -- four days through Sunday, then four days of easy riding, then four BIG days in AZ. Can't believe it's next week already!

20 March 2007

Site of the Day!

OK, I'm in a bit of a rush this morning after running a bit late with my workout ... check it out!http://www.velonews.com/news/fea/11805.0.html

19 March 2007

The route

Finished camp on a high note yesterday, with a great ride through bucolic cheesy countryside: Delevan straight north to Palmyra on an easy tailwind, then out via the Tamarack Road climb and east to East Troy via Bluff Road. Unfortunately, Pat broke a spoke somewhere near the top of Tamarack, so instead of the Spring Prairie-Lyons route back, we opted for the straight-on Alpine course/south route that served us well on Friday. Still fun, still challenging, and great to top it off with a fairly easy spin around Lake Delevan.

Lake Lawn turned out to be a great place to stage from -- now I'm half considering driving up to do an epic one-day monster: Delevan-Palmyra-East Troy-Alpine Valley-Spring Prairie-Lyons-Lake Geneva lake loop-Delevan lake loop. How viscious would that be? Jeremy, you in?

17 March 2007

Glowing

Sitting on the bed watching tennis/college dance teams/NCAA -- talk about counter-programming ... another 4 hours today, two hard loops around Lake Geneva and one small solo loop around Lake Delevan. System Six in full flight, SRAM Force dialed, legs starting to come around. Slightly less wind today, but many, many more ups and downs ... and today was a day to attack.

Good breakfast here at Lake Lawn Lodge, stuffed sourdough French toast with rasberry preserves, sourdough toast, decent coffee, OJ, chocolate milk. Seemed to serve me fairly well; tomorrow at the buffet I'm planning to hit the steel-cut oatmeal, and we'll see what else shakes out.

I guess I've hit that point in training where it's only about the rides and the food. Yeah.

Feeling the burn

Day one in the books, and now sitting here watching the CNN "war channel" post-breakfast, waiting for today's ride to start. Yesterday was great -- nasty north wind, a loooong loop from Delevan, around the south side of Lake Geneva, and then up the Lyons course to East Troy and beyond, back down past Alpine Valley. Not quite the 6+ hours of this guy; instead, 4-1/2 solid, decent weather, good company.

Today is lake loops, hard and fast, up and down. Tomorrow is the big day -- I've scoped out the course, and it's gonna hurt ... we will earn our stuffed french toast tomorrow!

16 March 2007

First day of camp

Today's entry is a shout out to anyone who has ever attended any sort of camp before ... Just a couple of hours from now, my teammate and I will be heading to beautiful Delavan, Wisconsin, for the first-ever MetLife/Pony Shop team camp. It won't be quite the fun in the sun that I remember from my Pilgrim Park days, but any time you can get away from reality for a while and play bike racer, it's got to be good. I even got selected as ride leader on Sunday -- the toughest day of camp. How's that for a gold star?

In a second shout-out to Stina, have a great St. Paddy's weekend -- tell Tom we've got the Murphys on right now, thinking of him ... read an awesome interview with Henry Rollins in the latest issue of Swindle magazine, very cool ... (also included a story on the first black punk band and a cool look back at the Bones Brigade -- "ripping style, holmes!")

I'll check in again by Monday ... I'll either be flying ... or dead ...

15 March 2007

Damn ides

I don't expect any assasination attempts today, but man -- this ides of March has really gotten off to a rough start.

First, I shear off a nipple ... no, I wasn't trying to shave my chest or anything -- I was trying to true my wheel for camp this weekend. Turns out, the nipples are pretty well corroded to the rim, and as I tried to twist one, it completely shattered. Crap.

Then, I have a fight with my new haircut, and spend way too long in front of the mirror trying to fix it. I hate my hair -- always have -- and the current incarnation isn't much better than the do-nothing look I had when I was 11 years old. Only this time, it's in vogue and I paid for it.

I really hope bad things only happen in threes, because when I got to work the elevator was still broken. My legs are a bit stuffed from so much riding lately, so crawling up to the 4th floor was a bit of a chore. (Remember, industrial 4th floor, not residential -- VERY tall floors.) My luck seemed to change, though, once I got upstairs -- the door was already opened, so I didn't need to dig out my keys!

OK, I'm done. Time to get this day going.

14 March 2007

Three-fer

So what do you do when it's mid-70s in March? RIDE, baby, RIDE!

Good ride into work yesterday on the new team bike, mid-50s and loving it. Form sprint day, so a couple of small efforts just to get back into the rhythm. Watch out -- a) this new bike is super-stiff; and b) I'm riding a lot with a pack on my back ... once it comes off, I hope to be flying!

So the temps go up and our office is super-warm. I check my e-mail: an offer to go on a lunch ride with Chris McNally, one of the team sponsors. Lunch ride? Hell yeah!

I've never been on one before, but let me tell you, it's awesome. I met Chris at Diversey and Halsted, and we took off for the lake path. I warned him about some glass I had discovered on my way in (prophetically, as it turned out), and then we were off and running. Such a beautiful day!

Unfortunately, Chris' day ended as we turned to go up past the Shedd ... busted chain. Ouch! He cabbed it home, I continued on, then turned around and headed back. The glass came back to haunt me -- flat at Oak Street, with a CO2 dispenser that just didn't want to work. It took about 5 minutes just to get enough gas to ride on, and my rear was a bit squishy on the final stretch ...

What a great way to spend my lunch hour though! Definitely will do it again soon ... nothing can compare to getting out and just riding. The ride home was awesome too, three rides in one day, woo-hoo!

Today is another three-fer -- morning ride with 2x threshold, lunch run (weather coming in), then ride home in the rain. Tomorrow rest up ... camp is on the horizon!

12 March 2007

The places I've been

OK, this is just friggin' weird.

Most of my friends have heard my theory about how "the world revolves around me." Not in a conceited, I'm-all-that sort of way -- more in the wow, isn't that a weird coincidence sort of way. It's usually little things -- I'll get turned onto something that will then appear in my life in another way. Or I'll talk about a person I haven't seen in 10 years or so, and that person will then suddenly appear on the street one day. Only thing is, I don't believe in coincidences.

And this takes the cake.

I'm convinced -- have been for a long time -- that the Chicago Tribune travel section and I have some sort of twisted mindshare going on. Race in St. Louis over Labor Day? Sure enough, a story in the Trib about the virtues of our southern neighbor later that week. Travel to Iowa for Memorial Day? Yup, they covered the Quad Cities area in late May a year or two ago. Paris? Check. Munich, within days. Business trip to London? Yes. Even one-off trips aren't immune ... our visit to Toronto -- during a cold Thanksgiving a few years ago, mind you! -- somehow generated the obligatory Tribune "coverage."

I want out.

The latest happened this morning, and it's gotten to the point that it's really freaking me out. See, Pat and Chris McNally, the organizers of the MetLife team, have put together a training camp this weekend in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Five days of rural Wisconsin roads and hills (I'll be there for two, Saturday and Sunday) is the perfect way to jump-start early season fitness that will carry through to August and beyond.

So yesterday, Pat sends out an e-mail with a training schedule and lodging information. Seems he's found a nice little place in nearby Delavan with full buffet and decent rooms. The name? Lake Lawn Resort. Sounds nice enough, right?

Well, you guessed it ... A new-look rustic at Wisconsin resort appeared on the front page when I checked chicagotribune.com this morning. Now you tell me -- really, what are the chances that the Trib picks the middle of March to publish a story about an out-of-the-way resort in a po-dunk Wisconsin town? The place where I'll be in 5 days?

Can it really be just a coincidence?

10 March 2007

Strike a pose

It seems Shannon is experiencing withdrawal since it's been so long since 'cross season, so this one's for her ...

Actually, this was taken before the Judson ride this morning, in anticipation of posting it ... man, this ride is sweet. 2x10 at threshold-plus in the midst of a group ride ... they're only as hard as you make them ...

09 March 2007

The future is now

Big shout out to Lou, Chris and John at the Shop -- the new ride went from zero to hero in just two days, with an another added on for tweaks ... and it is sweet. Rode it this morning for the first time on the "spin" ride -- basically, everything is new, and almost dialed already. I've made the leap -- 10sp and new shifting, will be fun when I actually need to shift on a ride.

Day 7 and counting ... it's great to be riding again.

07 March 2007

I have seen the future

Got a glimpse of the future last night -- not in a hand-holding, candle-burning kum-ba-yah sort of way, nor in a neutron-bomb, burning fields sort of way -- but just the sort of vision I needed after 5 months of Chicago winter: my team bike is almost done.

I picked up my Snoopy clothes last weekend, and last night got to see my ride nearly completed at the Shop ... if it ever stops snowing, I just may turn into a roadie again.

Nah.

Pics and specs coming soon. Patience!

05 March 2007

Not yet ready for prime time

It's Monday, at least I think it's Monday -- I'll be honest, I'm not sure right now. Rather than try to force a post, I've been laying off the blog recently -- Kim and I have been taking care of some family stuff, and the motivation just hasn't been there. At least it's sunny out, finally.