31 March 2008

PHX Day 2: Phlogging "The Monster"

I'm sure I'm not the first person to string together Usery/Pass Mountain --> Twisted Sister (connector) --> Red Mountain/Mine Loop --> Twisted Sister (reverse) --> Usery/Blevins, and I'm sure I won't be the last. After all, when you can have this much fun for just $1 (at Usery, goes toward trail maintenance), what's not to love?!

The first objective of the day: Pass Mountain
They sure grow 'em big in Arizona!Say hello to my little friend ...No, really! Say hello to my little friend!
(I rode past this
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake on Friday and paused to snap this shot. On Sunday, however, I had to bunny hop him on a different part of the trail -- he wasn't too happy that time! Coiled and ready to strike, I had to warn off some equestrians and hikers, kind of freaky!)On top of the worldDefinitely a happy camper!Twisted Sister is an amazing trail, with more than 20 minutes of descending as you head westUp and over, and onto the Mine LoopThe view from the top was incredible! Just be careful around the open, abandoned shafts!The drop from the top ... trails as far as the eye can see!Back to Usery, and the Cholla Forest. "Jumping Cactus" they're called, for good reason! My right hand is still swollen from the one I punched on the way through!"Trail maintenance needed"What better way to finish off the day than a BOTTLE of Coke?And a bit of Wii!

30 March 2008

PHX Day 4: Dreams to Remember

Woke up at 4:30 this morning dreaming that mmt parents were making me clean my bedroomm instead of ride today. I was so mad that I dropped an f-bomb!

Back to Usery today for a bit before heading home. I'm so physically smoked that I can barely hold my head up!

29 March 2008

PHX Day 3: Pemberton Paradise

Headed up to McDowell Mtn today, planning to make sure I hit the long (15.5 mi) Pemberton loop in addition to the Competitive Tracks. 75 min later my face was cramping from the HUGE smile I had - more than an hour of rolling, super-fast, big ring heaven, with nearly 30 minutes of sustained climbing followed by a tailor-made Super D course ... Then it was over to the race loops, and back to Pemberton, and back to the race loops ... 7 hours later, I'm sunburned and exhausted!

Note on the NMBS next week - look for JHK on a 29er or Adam Craig on his Anthem to do well - the braking bumps are horrible right now, worse than they were in October after a lot of rain this winter. Poor Heather Irminger is going to get tossed around something fierce ...

PHX Day 2: The Monster

A most excellent day, 6-1/2 hours of Usery/Pass Mtn --> connector --> Hawes/Mine Loop --> connector --> Usery/Blevins. You can have South Mtn, I'll pay my $1 trail maintenance fee and ride all day, only repeating about 10min of trail! And did I mention that the trailhead is only a 15min ride from the house?

Today is over to McDowell, since the NMBS is in Fontucky. And speaking of pros, did you see who's wearing the first yellow and black jersey in the Cape Epic for women?! Woo Hoo!

Pics later. Go ride!

27 March 2008

PHX Day 1: South Mountain

First, heads up that The TODAY Show has postponed the segment again -- we're now on "tbd" status. Darn it!

And now onto some serious phlogging ... A return to South Mountain after last year's nasty leg puncture ... Mormon to National to Buena Vista to Telegraph Pass and then a few hours monkeying around on Desert Classic.

Oh, and did I mention that it was 83 DEGREES and sunny all day?
Trails as far as the eye can see ...
The top of the first climb
Looking back down the climb
Hard to believe you're within city limits
Look ma, no vehicles!
Well, except mine
Happy camper with trails like these!
And I think I forgot ... HAPPY EASTER!

26 March 2008

My new baby

Going ganbusters here trying to get everything done; just a few hours 'till liftoff. Got an awesome email from Brendan last night ... here's what he's working on this morning, how cool is that?!


Second star to the right, straight on 'till morning ... and off we go!!

24 March 2008

Update -- Today is Friday

Sorry folks, The TODAY Show is now scheduled for FRIDAY, MARCH 28. Tune in then!


NBC's TODAY Show will air a segment about World Bicycle Relief and Zambia's fight with HIV/AIDS tomorrow, Tuesday, March 25. The show runs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern Time, with the story scheduled for approximately 8:50 a.m. Check your local listings for exact time and channel.

The piece, by correspondent John Larson, was filmed in Zambia, and includes footage of our work in the field. Many of you have had an opportunity to read Mr. Larson's blog regarding his trip: Hope, Loss, and Bicycles in Zambia. His beautiful story has touched so many people, and we anticipate that his story will have an equally dramatic effect.

As with so many popular news shows, there is no guarantee that the segment will run as scheduled. If it does not, we will keep you up to date about when it is scheduled to be broadcast. In the meantime, please forward this message to your family and friends, letting everyone know that The Power of Bicycles will be felt tomorrow on The TODAY Show, Tuesday, March 25!

P.S. The TODAY Show also archives its segments at its web site: http://today.msnbc.msn.com. Check back after tomorrow morning to watch Mr. Larson's story.

21 March 2008

No, I'm not kidding

Spring in Chicago. Ahhhh ... spring in Chicago.

Scary stuff

This is ugly stuff: Steroids in America: The Real Dope from Sports Illustrated. Interesting to note that not once is bicycle racing mentioned -- a reminder of just how small and fringe our world truly is ...
"In the rap business," says one well-placed music-industry source, "guys look at an athlete like LeBron James, who's built like a tank, and they say, 'I want to look like LeBron.' " And that's how the record companies want them to look. The source confirms that steroid and HGH use "is absolutely happening in the [rap] industry" and puts the percentage of users -- an educated guess, he admits -- at "about one third."
Adds a prominent Hollywood plastic surgeon, who requested anonymity because he has many clients in the industry, "If you're an actor in Hollywood and you're over 40, you are doing HGH. Period. Why wouldn't you? It makes your skin look better, your hair, your fingernails, everything."
It's uncertain whether hip-hop artists will find the irony amusing, but PEDs seem to be a part of life among the police as well. In a 2007 probe the names of 27 New York City officers and at least two dozen from the Jersey City force were found among those who purchased HGH or steroids. (None has been charged.) The prosecutor's office in Mercer County, New Jersey, is investigating a group of officers, mostly from Trenton, who are accused of illegally buying HGH.
In a story that would be humorous if it weren't so ugly, Florida's then secretary of prisons, over a two-year period beginning in 2006 fired 90 people, most of them guards, for infractions that included the importation and sale of steroids for the primary purpose of beefing up for interdepartmental softball games. There were also postgame orgies.
The Mayo Clinic has published information that one tenth of U.S. steroid users are teenagers, which by its estimate would put the figure at 300,000.

20 March 2008

Congrats Madcrossers!

Very awesome news on the 'cross front this morning: Jonathan Page will be riding for Planet Bike next year! And, to make things even more enticing, the Madison UCI weekend will now be the "Madcross Jonathan Page Planet Bike Cup." Big kudos to Bob Downs for his continued support of the sport at every level -- let's just hope he's budgeted a fair bit of cash for Jon to be able to afford color-safe bleach for his new white kit! I hear that Belgian mud just never comes out ...

(Planet Bike is so into advocacy -- 25% of profits donated each year -- that I just tried to go to planetbike.org instead of .com. That's how strong the association is in my mind. Go Bob!)

Guitar Ted first impressions: Famed 29er devotee Guitar Ted has the SSSong down in El Paso for some ride time ... and hey Mikey, I think he likes it! Check out his first review here. And the email from Brendan last night tells me that Todd and I are next ... yeah baby! (Ted's photos are killing me ... looks so much like Arizona ... just one week to go!)

On a personal note: I don't talk too specifically about my training here. But every once in a while, things just go right ... I'm in a small block of intensity right now to mix it up with the base I've been building, and the results from the first two days are pretty exciting. It's going to be a happy new year!

19 March 2008

F*ing groundhog

I know, I know, don't blame the messenger. But didn't he predict and EARLY spring?
The National Weather Service in Chicago has issued a Winter StormWatch... which is in effect from late Thursday night through Friday evening. .Snow is expected to overspread the area after midnight Thursday night and continue through the day Friday before diminishing early Friday evening. There is a potential for storm total snowfall accumulations of around 6 inches from late Thursday night through early Friday evening... with a potential for some higher amounts. A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations that may impact travel. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.

One thought

Like I said yesterday, your politics are your own. I appreciate the comments from the last post as a good discussion -- which is the point I was trying to make by posting part of the speech. As a nation, we need to deal with racism on all sides of the divide before we can move on and improve.

One thing keeps coming into my head: Many folks have made the point that Sen. Obama hasn't said much in the way of policy. I offer a piece of evidence: nobody has tried to turn his name into a policy stance. Obamanomics anyone?

Back to training this week. A small block of intensity to raise the game in the next couple of weeks, then a big block of base with some racing after Sea Donkey. We leave for Arizona in a week. Yeah!

18 March 2008

"Not this time"

It doesn't matter to me who you will vote for in the next election. Your political persuasion is your own. But please: Don't pass up this chance to take part in shaping our nation's future. Heed the call made by Sen. Obama today, in what may prove to be one of the most important speeches of our time.

At this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

Kind of like that

My response to people who ask me about domestic doping may surprise some folks. I'm clean. I've always raced clean. I always will race clean. I know I have raced guys who are doping. Some have gotten caught, most haven't. It sucks. But at the end of the day, if I'm racing a doper, it makes me faster because it challenges me that much more -- and there's nothing I can do to change their behavior.

In an interview with VeloNews, Bobby Julich has captured my feelings exactly:
The racing has been great, and far as that whole [doping] thing, I put that out of my head back in 2004, when I came to this [CSC] team, because I cannot be making excuses of why I am not riding my bike fast. I can’t be looking at the other guy and wondering what he’s doing. I need to concentrate on what I’m doing. I think the racing has been great. It’s unpredictable, you see changes, but you still see the same guys up there. When you have good days and you have bad days, that’s not the reason why.

17 March 2008

Strange days

Two full days at home again this weekend. No March trip to Kenosha ... for the first time in like 5 or 6 years. Cleaned the house, wrenched, rode, cleaned some more, rode some more. Met up with Brad yesterday as he came south from Waukegan, nice tailwind home from the fort. Rest weeks are double-edged. I felt great, but restless. Started organizing my tools and spare parts for the season. My first endurance race isn't for another 2+ months. Kim said it best: "I can't wait 'till next weekend, when you'll be tired again."

15 March 2008


Just got word from Zambia -- unfortunately, there were some health problems on the other end that prevented earlier shipment. We're ready to go now, and will be getting the first shipment off as quickly as we can, just in time for the season to start! YEAH!

Not the stud I thought I was

Easy morning today before heading out for a nice ride ... hit the magic number this morning, first time I've seen this weight since 2004-early 2006 ... thanks in part to this guy, I should be about 6kg lighter for 24-9 than I was last year ... that's SIX water bottles worth of excess weight I won't be carrying around ... woo-hoo!

Part of today will be spent de-studding wheels. I think it's time, although I'm sure we'll get at least one more snowstorm here before April really kicks in. Need to get set up for AZ so I can pack the Rush ... can't wait for that sonoran sunshine!

14 March 2008

More Siren love

Oh yeah!


For Ron

These are for Ronsta, from my ride home last night. NO GLOVES!!!


Sometimes it just takes a bit of perspective:
  1. Ride Palos on the Rush, my first time on it (except for Ray's) since 24-9. Notice that it has a distinct front-end bias compared to the hardtail. (Maybe that explains my endos?) Talk to Brendan about it, and notice that the hardtail has a set-back seatpost. The Rush does not.
  2. Go to change out the saddle on my pit 'cross bike to get it ready as a commuter/road bike. Saddle is frozen to the seatpost. I don't like that seatpost anyway, so I decide to replace it. I just happen to have a 27.2 in my spare parts bin, but it's a setback. Damn. Drop it in anyway just in time for the Judson ride.
  3. Work on both the Rush and the pit bike for two weeks, still trying to think about how to make the Rush fit more like the hardtail, which I have come to love.
  4. Get dressed to come to work today. Walk out in the hallway ... and DUH. The Rush is 27.2! Fifteen minutes later, the Rush has a setback, the 'cross bike doesn't. Problem solved, and the Rush feels great!

Does this mean it's spring? I had a bpw go all super-commuter on me last night after I yelled at him for running a stop-sign in a quiet, narrow, residential area. I had stopped, but he blew through and almost caused the poor Hispanic woman in the blue Sentra to crap her pants. So I gave chase, and gave him a piece of my mind. He justified his action by telling me that he rides the path every day, and had never seen me out there before. And then he threatened me ... he was ready to throw down. WTF? Can you just imagine two bike weenies bitch-slapping each other in the middle of Rogers Park?

(And for the record, I was running late this morning so I had to ride streets to work. Drew? You listening?)

Always check 'em: Strangest thing on my ride this morning, I kept hearing metalic pinging as I rolled the Rush to work. I figured it was just the retainer on my CrossMax wheels, no big deal. Until I got to Addison (mind you, more than halfway to work), and I reached down to feel my front rotor ... completely loose. EVERY ... SINGLE ... BOLT. WTF?? I have no idea when I loosened them, unless it was way back when we got home from Arizona. In November.

Speaking of Brendan: Lots of Siren love out there today. Talked to Brendan this week, looks like delivery date will be around tax day -- he's got a ton of orders, and I'm not in a particular hurry. It's going to be sweeeeeet. "Unlike anything I've ever ridden," he says. Oh, yeah. And check it: Guitar Ted is on his way to El Paso (hopefully!), taking two bikes with him. One of them is the SSSong that's out there. Talk about a review-by-fire for Brendan and Mary, GTed will definitely speak his mind. Oh, and check out his post about converting to tubeless ... sort of reminds me of me last year ...

12 March 2008

Stage 1

Outline and black shading. Color to come April 2. Picture doesn't do it justice.

Shoulda' kept the 'burns

In other news ...

One more thing

I'm sure it's complete coincidence, but I trimmed the 'burns today and my weight almost hit the magic -10 from 24-9. I need a haircut ... that's gotta' be worth a pound or two.

Look ma, NO LIGHTS!

Two rides in a row with no lights. And NO BOOTIES! Holy crap this winter has been long, I can't tell you the last time it felt this good to roll again in the sunlight.

Now it's my turn. Photo looks good, but it's even better in person. And yes, trainers suck.

Pics later, prolly tonight.

11 March 2008

And oh yeah

I signed up ... just in time. Whew. Sold out March 11. Ouch. See ya' there!


Crazy day. Presentation this morning. Worked with Brad on some volunteer stuff. Quick meeting with the boss. Off to see Harlan -- it's gonna' be sweet, and totally different than what I planned. Rachael is there now. Another meeting at 5. Then a call from Brendan about 8. Good stuff all around, can't wait to get it all going.

10 March 2008

Sort of like this

Saturday's ride was kind of like this:

Snow and slick north of Highland Park, just in time for the workout part to start. Managed a few hours, but wasn't feeling the love by the end. Spent the rest of the day cleaning the "shop" (read: bike/dining room) and picking up the last of the clothes for Zambia from Turin. Shipping soon!

Yesterday, on the other hand, was awesome. Met up with Brad from Team WBR for a long midday jaunt -- enough time to wash the rides in the morning, followed by a light cross/headwind all the way down to Indiana ... and back. Gotta' love Chicago! Dry the whole way, looped out on Northerly Island, perfect ride. Rolled up to the front door in sunshine and warming temps, called Kim from downstairs, headed back out for a bit. Stopped at The Pony Shop for water, finished the ride cruising around town. What was going through my head? Two things:

Motivation is a powerful tool! Rest, work, and ink this week, then a huge block just in time for the temps to moderate ... including our escape to sonoran sunshine!

07 March 2008

I was a pre-teen nerd

As surprising as it may seem to many of you, I was a geek when I was a kid. In fact, I've always been a geek. (Fortunately, bike geeks get to be in really good physical shape, so it's not as obvious to the casual observer.)

The reason I mention this is that Gary Gygax died this week. Holy crap, that's a name I hadn't heard in more than 20 years -- ever since my dad came storming into the Algonquin Public Library right about this time of year in 1986, a mid-term failure report from 7th grade pre-algebra in hand, and put an end to my Dungeons & Dragons career. I still remember the car ride home, the subsequent packing up of all the D&D gear, and the long hours studying math that followed.

I just donated my D&D books a couple of weeks ago, part of the massive housecleaning Kim and I have undertaken this spring. I also tossed my dice, although I think I kept the 8-sided blue one for good luck, and as a reminder that the world is not always six-sided.

It's fair to say that Gary Gygax changed my life, challenging me to see the world through different eyes. Sure, I disavowed all knowledge of Paladins, elves and Wizards after that fateful Saturday morning game, but deep down I knew that sometimes if you roll the dice, you can inflict damage on a ogre and escape underneath a cloak of invisibility.

Joel Stein of the L.A. Times has captured my feelings about the game perfectly in this great column. "Usually, though I was a magic-user. I was such a nerd that my nerd fantasy was simply to be an even bigger nerd." And I'm not afraid to admit it.

06 March 2008

UPS love -- Day 4!

Remote UPS love today from Kari, with a revised Christmas gift. That's FOUR days in a row! YIPPEE!!!

Ripon revisited

In response to Dave's question about Ripon's Velorution, I got a response from Ric Damm, head of the project. Their approach is twofold: 1) they are going to encourage ridesharing as much as possible for students to get home [and presumably will find ways to enable that]; and 2) they are increasing their weekend programming to try to keep kids on campus. They want to build up Ripon as "home," and I think their commitment will have that effect!


I'd like to think that someone's death -- no matter how illegal the circumstances -- can serve as a touchpoint for a rational dialogue about safety and community. But this is Chicago, and the recent events surrounding the "Tour da Chicago" alleycat have instead inspired the media to pounce and the message board trolls to come out of hiding. Top story (with photo) on chicagotribune.com this morning:

Proposed ordinance against endangering bicyclists moves to Chicago City Council

I normally avoid the message boards, but have been reading some of the comments surrounding this story, mostly in an attempt to understand the mindset of drivers whom I face every day on my commute. And, unfortunately, this is what some of them think:
bicyclists are the most arrogant, annoying people i come across. if your that stupid to ride a bike down a busy street filled with cars your luck is bound to run out sometime. keep passing laws to inconvenience the masses while protecting the few. only in chicago.

Be careful out there. Be safe, be smart.

"Race" ism

I know it's stereotyping, but I'm having a hard time getting over all the pent-up roadie angst I've experienced this week. There's a reflective song from Avenue Q called "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" that sort of sums it up:
Everyone's a little bit racist/Sometimes.
Doesn't mean we go Around committing/hate crimes.
Look around and you will find
No one's really color blind.
Maybe it's a fact/We all should face
Everyone makes judgments/Based on race.
Take our own very small subculture: based on what you race, you are either a "roadie" or a "mountain biker." ('Crossers and trackies are there too, but they're just f*ed up in the head.) The stereotypes are that roadies are mean and elitist, and mountain bikers are longhaired hicks who smoke a lot of pot, which makes them stupid. On a road group ride, the object is to shell the group so that by the end, there is no one left, so you can be the first into the coffee house. On mountain bike group rides, you beat each other up in the singletrack, but stop at strategic points to regroup, and share a beer afterward at the trailhead.

The reason I bring this up is the reaction I've gotten from the two groups to two articles from the Fat Cyclist. I'm not usually one to send around links, but these caught my eye:

Humour: Time management for cyclists

Humour: Leg shaving advice for cyclists

Now, I sent the first one to a bunch of mountain bikers, and they all sent me back funny replies. When I sent the second one to a bunch of roadies, I got the opposite: derisive emails and stony stares. Do we really take ourselves that seriously?

Thankfully, Elden has some suggestions to fit in: Humour: Tips for becoming a roadie

I like to think of myself as a renaissance cyclist, having competed in each major category save BMX. I have fun switching things up, going both ways, even 'cross dressing when appropriate. And I have met a lot of really nice roadies, and a few mean mountain bikers. Unfortunately, though, there are times when the stereotypes hold true, and I find myself making judgements based on what someone races. Can't we all just get along?

05 March 2008

Three days in a row!

Unfortunately I'm not the only one waiting on backorder to complete the mission ...

Bootie call

A few items on the docket today:
  • Does anyone have a good recommendation for heavy-duty winter booties? I have destroyed my beloved Pearl Izumi Typhoons this winter with salt and constant use, and need to replace them for next year. I'm leaning toward the Pearl Mountain Booties, but does anyone have any experience with something else?

    (I know, I know. Lake winter shoes are the best. They're also the most costly option!)
  • Sort-of singletrack: I actually rode "singletrack" yesterday! There's a stretch of about 200 meters right along Lake Shore Drive that is hardpacked and rideable. Especially heading south, with a 20mph+ tailwind, it was SO much fun! This is what we've been missing!!
  • I called it: I predicted this one more than a year ago, but then rejected the idea thinking that whoever won the Dem's nomination would need to find a balancer for veep in order to win the general. Now I'm not so sure ... I will say this: you have to admire Obama's strategists. No matter what happens this time around, he's the big winner ... he may win outright; if Hillary wins, he's either veep or a voice in the Senate that can't be ignored -- and either way is poised to run in 8 years with more experience having already been through the wringer; if McCain wins, he's a voice that can't be ignored and poised to run in 4 years. It's going to be an interesting summer ...
  • Just one week to go!!

04 March 2008


UPS love two days in a row!!

Counting down

I realized this morning that I'm in countdown mode right now. I have one more weekday "workout," two more weekday rides and the weekend until a planned rest week. DST starts in five days. Then there's one more week until I meet with Harlan, and 8 days until I face the needle again. And just 23 days until I'm rolling through the sonoran desert, no more leg warmers and long sleeves ... at least for a couple of days!

03 March 2008

Siren love ...

... in the mail today. Get yours here ...

Thanks Brendan, getting psyched for the ride!

Eye candy

Forgot one thing -- beware ungroomed trails. One thing CAMBR and other such organizations do for you that goes almost unnoticed (and mostly unthanked) is to groom back overgrowth on the trail. It's most noticable after a strong growing season, but you also get it during the winter, when branches and bushes jump out at you and try to take you out ... like the blown-over branch that almost claimed my left eye on Saturday morning. Up a log crossing and BAM, right at eye level, just where I couldn't see it because of my helmet/glasses. Stop, stunned, still can see ... whew. Be careful out there.

Weekend wrap

Still in a fog from not enough sleep on Saturday night. This weekend went way too fast:
  • Palos was crusty/snowy but ridable on Saturday. Best bet was to follow the one icy track that had been laid down, probably some time on Friday. Unfortunately, as so many of you know, following one track is not exactly my strong suit!
  • Finally replaced the stem and handlebars on the Cannondale 'cross bike, just in time to make it my commuter for the upcoming spring. (Spring is coming, right?!) Not content to just do a swap, I pulled everything except the bb off, rebuilt the headset (who puts bearings in super-flexi plastic cages?) and stayed up way too late.
  • Up very early on Sunday to get some quality solo time before my first Judson group ride of the season. It was beautiful, and I can't wait until the temps reach 40 again sometime. Did too much work on Judson, but turned early to be home in time to leave again. Felt awesome on the 'cross bike, this is going to be a great season!
  • Headed up to Milwaukee to meet my parents for the closing show of Avenue Q at the PAC. I normally have trouble staying awake during shows in March (which always seem to follow a long group ride), but with songs like "What Do You Do With a BA in English" (the opening act), "It Sucks to Be Me", "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet (is for Porn)", plus of course gratuitous puppet sex, I was rolling in the aisle with laughter. Incredibly well written, very well acted (Brian was the only weak link in the ensemble), this first national tour is fantastic. It doesn't come to Chicago until May, and I may just have to take some training time out to go see it again ... presale starts this morning ...