29 February 2008

Velorution

Check it out: Ripon College is starting a Velorution. Not only have they moved parking out to the edges of campus, next school year they are shutting down and green spacing the two main thoroughfares through campus AND providing a new bike to each first-year student who signs a pledge not to bring a vehicle to school. Oh! And they're launching a cycling team, the coach of which is a WORS and WCA racer (and top 50 Cheq finisher) ...

Program info: http://www.ripon.edu/velorution/

Bloggage: http://redhawkscycling.blogspot.com/

P*ssing contests

I've gotten pretty sick of all the b*tching and moaning on the road side of the sport, the he-said/she-said/they-said bickering that I thought we all outgrew when we were in 2nd grade. But it's kind of funny that we have some of the same going on in the endurance world (where there is a lot less $$ at stake) -- leave it to Laird to make it downright hilarious!

http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/news/article/galactic-mountain-bike-championships-for-moab-14645

Fog

As Jim can attest to, when you're neck deep in a training block, it becomes hard to think clearly about anything other than working out. I have just enough in reserve to function at work, but even then my best thinking comes when I'm on the bike, alone with no distractions. Poor Kim -- I did little more than grunt at her as I wolfed down my dinner last night.

(OK, it was more like growling, especially when she asked to have a bite of the last piece of purple bread. Sorry about that, sweetie!)

Last night on the path was beautiful -- the city lights reflecting off the snow were just enough to "light" up the night, and the lake and the sky were almost the same shade of deep blue/black -- the only way you could tell the horizon was from the ice floes. Very cool. And the path was mostly clear, so I didn't have to worry about focusing too much.

It may be 5 months away, but most of my ride-time thoughts revolve around 24-9. I'm keeping tabs on the guys I'll be up against, and the dialogue in my head is all around what I need to do to train smart enough to beat them. I haven't been this geed for an event since my first trip to 'Cross Natz, and I have never been this focused -- it's super-exciting to have a goal that is realistic but challenging, and that results in a medal!

28 February 2008

Inspiration

Siren Mary is getting ready for a pretty big adventure ... seeing photos of her from 24HOP is pretty inspiring. She's obviously going into this season on a mission, and it shows!

I like to think I'm on a "similar" path, rededicated this season to focusing a bit on racing. Work travel has calmed down, which gives me the luxury of being able to plan a bit better ... and damn it, I want that podium! I made the suggestion to Mary to check out Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes as part of her research. It's a fun read, more like a novel, but the real value is in the appendix, where Karnazes talks about his diet and training. He's an absolute nutter, but there are gems there that have helped me refocus for 2008.

I read the book just before 24-9 last year, and soon after changed my diet darn near completely. And here I am, seven months later, in better shape than I've been in 2-3 years, already 10lbs. down from this time last year (6-ish down from 24-9 weight), and ready to go. It's exciting to be this focused on a goal, and holy crap is this going to be a superfun year!

We're getting slammed with another cold snap, with snow-turning-to-rain expected tonigh. Looks like another weekend on the road, but if -- like me -- you're jonesing for some trail riding, there's always virtual reality! Go on, hit the bears, I dare you! (Thanks to Donny and the Punk Rock site for the link!)

27 February 2008

Random

Decent ride last night on the lakefront path, prolly the most random I've ever seen it cleared (or not cleared) in the years I've been riding it. One section would be fine, no problem, then out of nowhere would be 30 yards of ice/snow. It wasn't so bad in sections where the plow left a light layer of snow (traction!), but where it got down to the ice it was pretty sketchy. I stayed upright, fought the wind, and got my planned workout in without too much ado.

Lessee ... It's been pretty quiet otherwise, not much to report. I'm in the middle phase of a good sized training block, so energy is directed toward working, sleeping and eating when I'm not on the bike. The grilled cheese on purple bread was pretty awesome last night ...

26 February 2008

pSSSt ...

Siren love on the internet:

Todd is part of Team Siren, and rode his 55 hardtail to personal bests in all his races last year. I think he hasn't been so sure about the Song, but may be changing his mind ... I really like the way he describes the actuation of the suspension ... or the "lack" of it ...

And it's not a full review, but bikefix.net got hold of the SSong 29 at 24HOP (I think it's the same bike?) and took it for a quick spin ...

Can you tell I'm getting excited?!?!?!

25 February 2008

An offer I couldn't refuse

Quick update with some happier news from this weekend ...

Palos: Managed a couple of hours at Palos on Saturday with some sub-threshold work. The snow was packed down alright but really beat up with ruts, and a thin layer of snow over solid ice meant I was running my Kenda Klondikes and still spinning out in a few places. Only dabbed twice, both on 3 Ravines (trying to get up the other sides), and at least it felt like trail riding again. Ironically, the best trails were the fall-line stuff, where the water had flowed before freezing and was super-smooth. We're expecting 6-8" more tonight after rain today, so they should be pretty trashed by next week. Damn.

Passport woes: The government can't seem to get its act together. Three different Post Offices, and three different answers to whether we'll get our passports back in time for a possible trip in a couple of weeks. Here's a tip: if you have a choice, go to the PO in more affluent neighborhoods. They're more helpful.

An offer I couldn't refuse: Peyton Olivia was baptised on Sunday, and I was the Godfather! She is SUCH a cute kid, all big blue eyes and smiles! I seriously have never seen a happier baby -- the only time she cried was when I was holding her. Older bro CJ was adorable as ever as well, and it was fun to be with the family all morning and into the afternoon. I even got a chance to continue my Uncle Chris brainwashing technique ... when the nieces and nephews are asleep, I wisper to them about how much I love them ...

A lot of Bull: A nice south wind, a ton of sunshine, dry roads and a trip to the 'burbs can only mean one thing ... Bull Valley! I headed out from brunch and hit the hills, doing a couple of loops of the Valley including hitting "The Wall" a couple of times and "The Mini Wall" (which was potholed and horrible) too. Can you say motivation? Felt OK on the climbs, not great, but suprised myself with some strong riding over the tops. Now I just need the snow to go away so I can start building hours ...


21 February 2008

Biofeedback

So the dry rides lasted for a day. We got some light snow yesterday morning, so the hardtail is a salty mess again. More light snow on the way in this morning -- almost like riding in a snow globe, except that the wind chill was down toward minus-10 so it wasn't as much fun.

The good news about all this cold and snow is that I finally have my winter riding garb dialed. I've always said 20 degrees is my limit (and last year it was 30) for riding outside, but thanks to all the practice I've gotten this year (and a serious aversion to sitting on the trainer anymore), even the 5 to 10 degree weather we've had lately doesn't bother me. Sure, it takes me 20 minutes or so to dress/undress for each ride, but I'm getting my exercise, right?

One unintended side affect, though, is that all those layers create a very strange disconnect as I ride. Especially when the wind is blowing, I'm running two layers on the bottom and three up top, with double head coverings, a face mask and glasses. This means I have absolutely no exposed skin -- which is great for avoiding frostbite, but absolutely sucks to get any feedback on your ride!

So here I am, chugging along the lakefront, heart rate 10-15 beats above where it "should" be, and because I'm so wrapped up, I can't tell that I'm riding into a headwind. All I know is that I feel like I'm moving way too slow for the effort I'm putting out, but with no breeze in my hair, or even on my face, it feels surreal.

So that got me thinking: which is better? Feeling no breeze but riding outside, or faking the breeze from a fan and a trainer?

20 February 2008

Oh YEAH!!!!

He's still not decompressed from Old Pueblo, but I got an e-mail from Brendan today ... it's time to BUILD!!!! Geometry and colors ... oh, man this is going to be SWEET!

Plus, it sounds like the event went well -- "Siren City" on the course and demo bikes in the expo generating some big buzz in AZ. Woo-hoo!

19 February 2008

Cold snap

You know what the best part of this cold snap is? It's DRY. I rode home last night, and while I had to dodge a few ice patches on the path, I don't need to clean my bike. Man, that's awesome.

Scheduling

As many of you readers know, getting in to see Harlan can take some time, sometimes. I'm scheduled for March 12, after he gets back from vacation ... and then I get this email today:

"I had you scheduled to start this morning. Call me."

D'oh! Just a small mix-up, and good thing too, since it gave me the push I needed to decide on the design direction. So now when I see him on the 12th I'm ready. Whew!

18 February 2008

The story of my life

Thanks to Joe for the link ... I present to you the story of my life:

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/humour-so-you-want-to-be-a-mountain-biker-14501

(damn. I want to know how he figured out my tattoos too?)

Racing news

Po-didlium: Congrats to Mary, Brad and Todd, gracing the podium out at Old Pueblo! Word is, weather was tough, with 13 hours of darkness, rain, cold, and snow the day before the race. I'm sure that made for long days for Brendan over in the expo area, but what a day it had to be to see your wife, friends, and bikes on the podium. And thanks to Brad, World Bicycle Relief's first podium of the year! Congrats!

Tipping point: I was looking through the results from the weekend, and encountered a strange changing of the guard: I know and have raced against more guys who are racing the Tour of California than I do racing Valley of the Sun. This is a pretty big change for me, as the guys racing in Cali are the same ones who were at VoS a couple of years back -- back when I was bumping bars against them at Superweek, St. Louis events, and here at home. It's great to see familiar names going up against the likes of Olympic and World champions, Tour de France stage winners, and other living legends of the road race world, but it's indicative of the level-set of bike racing, and the constantly morphing state of the peloton, that I know more pros who race internationally than I do domestic guys. (And, it goes without saying, that I wouldn't have a chance at either event, even against guys I have raced in the past!!)

Get over yourself: I'll make just one comment about Michael Ball and Rock Racing. When you send a star rider to a press conference and tell him to keep his shades on, you have a serious need to get over yourself. Please go away.

The battle has been joined: While Brad and the Siren crew were killing it out in Arizona, other endurance folks were in Texas for Mas o Menos ... 100k might as well be a cross country race, and a 4:05 winning time from Sager sure makes it seem that way. The enduro season is now in full swing, good timing for my training to start kicking in, in earnest!

Meanwhile, out in a Belgian field: I haven't posted much 'cross news this year. Niels Albert won the last two races of the season this weekend, and now 'cross goes into official hybernation for a few months. I dunno', but for some reason the news out of Europe just didn't excite me the way it has in the past. All the crap with Jon Baker (and his teammate), Sven not feeling it all year (and telling us about it), too much talking going on -- I know 'cross is just a big soap opera, but I didn't have the patience for it this season, and it started to sound a lot like road racing. Ah, well -- August 20 is on the calendar, can't wait for 'cross practice to begin!

14 February 2008

This one's for Brad II (and Mary and Todd)

Kick some a$$ this weekend, and have fun!

This one's for Brad

(29 @ 32, 3x = 764) + (26 @ 32, 3x = 774) = 1.538

I SWEAR I'm not a weight weenie, but damn that's pretty sexy.

13 February 2008

At least it will be warmer!

As a follow-up to my last post, here's a quick run-down on what's going on with the CTA:

Basically, they're rebuilding track. Which is a good thing. To do so, they have to shut down stretches -- to begin with, they closed a northbound track between Fullerton and Belmont, meaning that to go home, my trains have to share tracks with two other lines. So there's backups.

To accomodate all the equipment, they have halved the service on the Purple Line -- only half the trains run express to downtown; the other half stop at Howard. So instead of the usual 5-7 minute wait in the morning, sometimes it's more lik 10-15 (or more), and the evening wait has been as long as 45 minutes at times.

Well, the northbound work is almost done. As soon as I hit Publish Post, I flipped to the Trib and saw this: CTA construction to switch tracks on North Side in April. Which means my morning commute is about to get ugly, even as the trip home gets easier. Which wouldn't be a big deal, if I could ride to work every day like I want to!

Riding

I was thinking about Goat's comment this morning as I once again boarded the L for the trip to work. And it occured to me: I'm doing alright getting my workouts in, despite being sick last week. What I really miss is riding to work.

Sure, I turn my commutes into training. But what really sucks about this winter isn't the lack of intervals, it's the lack of riding as transportation. The CTA is a mess right now, CTA riders are getting more and more rude by the day, and I miss the freedom of spinning down the lakefront, on my own (regular) timetable, cold wind in my face. That's what's really bothering me.

(OK, that plus the lack of lunch rides, which are another victim of the snow and super-cold weather.)

Unfortunately, skis won't help much there. One guy did ski into the office last week, but from where we're at it just couldn't be done, unless you time the next snowstorm just right. I suppose I could drag myself out of bed before dawn to do some quality time on the skinnies, but damn those flannel sheets feel good right now ...

12 February 2008

Startin' to freak

I know it's only February, but March is only 2 weeks away, and I've been off the bike way too much lately. Compared to last year, January was pretty good for training, but these snow/cold/snow/cold cycles are getting really old. Took the L again today because of the ice -- I swear, one of these days I'll ride outside again. (Stood at Belmont for more than 40 minutes last night waiting for a train. God bless the CTA; at least it was 17 degrees and not 3.)

Chest is still rattling a bit, clearing out the last of the crap from last week. One more really good night of sleep and I'll be good. I ended up only missing two "real" workouts, although I'll have another three days off the bike this weekend because of work too. Back to full training next week, but will the weather cooperate?

In the meantime, teammates are off to Old Pueblo this week. Brad is going for a Grand Slam this year -- four 24s. (OP, Boyne, 24-9, Moab or DINO -- not like he picked easy ones!) And Dan is crewing and getting a sorely needed bike fit up in Colorado. Brendan is expo-ing, and debuting the Song. All this bike stuff going on, and I'm not turning any pedals ...

11 February 2008

Shipping news!

Thanks again to EVERYONE who donated clothing to the Zambian Cycling Federation! The final tally isn't in yet, but we've got pounds and pounds of clothing to send over -- everything from jerseys and shorts to shoes and even helmets! We're sorting and boxing the stuff this week, and will look to get it out by early next. Big shout-outs to Pony Shop, Turin, Brazen Dropouts and every single individual who donated -- you know who you are! THANK YOU!!!!

(This means that the clothing drive is officially over for now. Thank you for participating, but hang onto your stuff until the next time, as I'm afraid I don't have any way to store it! Cheers!)

Ray's

Wow. Ray's was awesome. Totally lived up to the hype that I've built up in my head since I first heard about it three years ago. Brad and I put 2+ hours in each day, looping together a sport stunt, the xc loop, a beginner stunt, a beginner skinny, and back to the xc loop to climb up into the rafters before dropping back down to the sport park. We kept it fairly mellow, but even so I stacked it in the beginner room on a log. The best part was cleaning stunts on Sunday morning that had foiled us all weekend. Scratch that -- the best part was clearing the tabletops on the xc loop. No, wait, the best part was railing the berms and nose-wheelying the whoop-de-doos. OK, whatever, the whole place was a blast!

Ray was a super-cool guy, and the B-I-K-E event was fun to watch. It's kind of amazing to see what you can do on a bike when you're not so concerned about going forward as fast as you can. Inspiration? Sure. But I don't see myself strapping on body armor any time soon.

Drive home was a bit white-knuckle -- a few minutes of whiteout, and 6 hours of 30mph+ headwinds. The air was so cold going into the car that the thermostat never moved from "C." That was kind of nerve-wracking.

Overall, a great weekend, and I heartily recommend a trip to Cleveland to beat your winter blahs!

08 February 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM!

Happy birthday to the best! Have a good one!

(I'm off to Ray's ...)

07 February 2008

Voices of our youth

Back in the day, I was quite the news hound, a wanna-be Edward R. Murrow completely plugged in to the events of the day, when "plugged in" meant you had to dig for your news. Back then, there were three television news outlets, and my worldview was shaped day in and day out by Peter Jennings and his ABC News team of crack reporters. Between their coverage of events around the globe and the fantasy life of Murphy Brown, my path to J school was set.

So it's with great sadness that I read today of the passing of John McWethy, who died yesterday after crashing into a tree while skiing in his adopted home state of Colorado. McWethy was ABC's chief national security correspondent, which basically guaranteed him airtime night after night for many years, always delivering the latest news "From the Pentagon" in his distinctive, serious tone. He was a great reporter on a great newscast, and it's not unrealistic to say there will never be another like him.

Food, folks and fun

Fun day yesterday helping Brad get his ride dialed for Old Pueblo, and then hanging out with Todd, Brad n' Nancy and Craig at dinner last evening. That's the beauty of endurance racing -- how often do three of the top 8 riders in a national championship race hang out and plan training rides for June, when the the snow is still flying and it's 30 degrees outside? And considering we were missing Dan, it could have been more like half the top 8?

Be sure to check out BKW today ... some serious Jose lovin' to one of the best of the best on the neutral race support circuit!

06 February 2008

Dates

Mark the calendars: April 20 for Do the Rock, Sept. 27-28 for Madison UCI 'Cross weekend.

Careful what you wish for: I love my job, but will miss both of these, Sea Otter in April, Interbike in September. Ouch!

31 hours

I have slept 31 hours of the past 48. Cold or flu? Doesn't matter at this point. Snuck up on me out of nowhere, knocked me for a major loop. It's a rest week anyway, but wow this one is nasty.

04 February 2008

Name game

Oh! I forgot to mention. We have a name -- the photo of the baby below (the kid, not the bike) is Ty Matthew. Welcome to the world kiddo!

Blog roll

Monday morning. Felt the burn this weekend -- two rides on the Lakefront path, not too exciting but got the workouts I needed. Especially yesterday, when I added a super-secret piece to my Lakefront path training. Otherwise, a near-perfect weekend -- Saturday's ride was followed by a guys night out at Chuck E Cheese with friend Sean and son Ian (the girls were at The Little Mermaid), and Sunday was all bike work, all day. Only one bike to go, and since it looks like a trainer week this week, everything will be clean and shiny for Ray's!

You may have noticed a raft of updates on Friday -- I've been meaning to add to the blog linkage for a while now, and finally got my butt in gear. Welcome a bunch of WORS and WEMS folks, a coworker, and a couple of other friends. I'm still playing with the structure a bit -- right now, it's sort of broken down by organizations/other, mountain bikers, roadies, and folks who go both ways. Definitely be sure to check out Brendan's Siren shop blog -- sexy sexy!

01 February 2008

Hearing the Song

Greg got it right, nice job! I was born in Corona, California, and my family is still all out that way in Riverside County ... we used to go up to San Jacinto State Park, just up the road from Idyllwild ... home of Siren Biycles!



I met Brendan and his wife/muse/endurance racing inspiration Mary last year when they were in town before 24-9. They came into SRAM to see their friend Craig, a super-nice, cool guy who works here. It was one of Mary's first 24s (if not her first?) and my first, so we bonded over the challenges we dreamed we'd face. In the end, she got on the box, taking a well-earned 5th place!



In the meantime, Brendan was pitting for both Mary and his other racer/friend Todd, also killing it on a Siren Fifty-Five hardtail. "Team Siren" was also the base camp for their friends Brad and Dan, and Dan, Brad and Todd moved past me in the early morning hours to finish 5th through 7th.



So in the past 5 months, both Dan and Brad have put in a ton of time for World Bicycle Relief, Brendan and Mary have continued to build their wonderful bikes and their presence on the endurance scene, and Craig kept telling me how awesome Siren bikes are. Brendan even linked over to World Bicycle Relief on his blog. So when I got down to business thinking about a new ride in '08, let's just say I heard the Song!


One call to Brendan was all it took. I like the Fifty-Five platform, and am eager to try it out racing. I was hesitant about a softail, coming at it from the full suspension mindset, but Brendan likened it to "a hardtail with the edge taken off." I was sold! Since then, he's been very patient with me, answering a million questions and walking me through the first steps to riding bliss. I still have a ton of decisions to make, but there seems to be a consensus on the colors ...


So let's see ... 29er up front, 26 in the rear. 1.5 inches of dampening, ti bracing, aluminum tubes. I will customize the geometry, tubes and color, and am seriously pimping this baby out -- building my own wheels this winter (with Craig's help!), selling off body parts, and digging deep to find that podium spot. I figure even with the Reba 29er, this baby will build up only just slightly heavier than a hardtail. BRING IT ON!