30 April 2008

News of the day

Didn't we just see this episode on Spike? "CSI" co-star Gary Dourdan was arrested Monday for possession of narcotics and dangerous drugs, police said. The 41-year-old actor was found asleep in his car by the Palm Springs Police Department, authorities said.

Mmmm ... Ribs: A brake fire sparked a massive barbecue on Interstate Highway 80 near Hazel Crest overnight when a truck hauling 25 tons of beef ribs went up in flames, state police said.

Made the call to Priceline a hotel for Iola this weekend. Would rather camp, but with probable rain and temps in the 30s, I'll take comfort over cash this time around. Found a good deal in Stevens Point -- it's not the Holiday Inn Express, but isn't La Quinta Spanish for "cheap on Priceline?"

Attended an interesting media breakfast this morning. Multimedia is the wave of the future. SRAM and World Bicycle Relief are clearly ahead of the curve -- it's good to know we're on the right track. Now we just need to make the most of it!

28 April 2008

Arrival!

More boxes on their way today, we're staggering them a bit to not raise any curiosity -- we're not too worried, but better safe than sorry! I know I keep saying THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the clothing drive, but it's better to hear it from them ... check it out, and think about how you'd like to race for your dinner!


Sorry I'm late getting back to you with the confirmation just now but I just got back from Livingstone last nite after a 1200km Malaria Awareness Campaign Ride in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. Good training week. And hell yes send us the remaining boxes.

The box was picked up by my wife and I was able to distribute it on stage 3 from Lusaka to Choma. After two days and 500 kilometres, most of the participants were in serious need of clean kit. I personally was surprised at what great condition it was in terms of wear and the quality of the gear and oh yeah nice tight rolling technique for mailing. The riders were so appreciative of you and your fellow cyclists and clubs donations and have asked me to inquire on their behalf the contact names and addresses of all those who participated in this effort.

It was amazing to witness yet again how the Zambian riders have seen so few people, organizations, associations, federations, sports bodies etc. actually come through and deliver. Thanks so much for coming thru Chris---We all thank you.

Thursday May 1st is a holiday and the CAZ is promoting a cycling for all strategy similar to the UCI's efforts started last year and we will be having a tour\race on standard one-speed bicycles. Prizes are 50kg bags of mealie-meal, cooking oil, and this is the kicker: Chibuku Beer.

Ass over (tea) Kettle

Great weekend out at Kettle -- one advantage of having family spread out over the northern 'burbs is access! Kim's sister lives just 45min from John Muir, so Saturday it was up early, drop Aunt Kim and make a run for it.

Unfortunately, the trails were still closed, so I threw on the commuter tires and headed for Palmyra. Tamarack, Tower, and then fighting the wind down to Whitewater Lake; by the end of it I was feeling brutalized. In a random moment, saw Mrs. Klug out there running on the windiest stretch of road -- with me in town, there went the (new) neighborhood ...

Saturday night was Kay's dance recital, and she brought down the house! I'm sure I'm just a little biased, but she was the center of attention in a big way, and was a total ham up on the stage. She definitely knows how to work a crowd! Even the camera operator got in on it, shooting a couple of close-ups of her for the DVD. Very cool; very, very cute!

Sunday was up early to hear the magic words, "The trails at the Southern Unit are open!" (Well, except for the Blue Loop.) So I skipped the long drive to Rock Cut and headed north again ... I was the only car in the lot as I switched to knobbies and headed out -- DIRT! Sweet! Ran into Ronsta at Bluff Road, and we cruised the open section before hitting the connector back up to Emma Carlin. I was doing alright, marveling at his ability to clear even the biggest logs on his single speed, when I bounced my rear wheel off a downed tree and shoulder-planted. Ouch! Thankfully, we were in the pine trees and sand, so damage was minimal ...

Big kudos to Ron and the WORBA group for getting out there and cutting new trail. From what Ron says, a couple more weeks and John Muir will be even better than it's ever been ... and then it's over to Emma Carlin to, quote, "make it fun again." Sweet! I did OK up there, but for some reason I can never clear those water bars my first time out each year. I was climbing alright, just didn't have my rhythm quite lined up.

Ron and I split to do our own things, and I hit the connector for another loop, running into Mr. Klug this time and hearing Holly off in the woods. The weekend hours were starting to stack up, so it was good practice for the endurance circuit coming up ... concentration high, focus on, trying and cleaning stuff I've never been able to ride out there before. It could have been July, except for all the clothes ...

25 April 2008

Sea Otter phlog

The Ride
Each day, Brad and I were up before the sun to start our trek to the venue. We had two choices: a long, steady grade that was shorter but went past the explosives range, or the longer option that would blow up our legs at the end!



We opted for the later most often, and once we got through the venue and up to the XC course, were treated to views like this:

The first singletrack climb was super cool, and on the last day we had a strong tailwind up it. Report from the racers is that they had the same thing, and they all thought they were flying ... only to hit the wall when they came to the end of the course (and a block headwind) later!

Once up that climb you were on top of Sandstone Ridge, with an exposed fire road section into a wicked-fun drop down a sand pit -- off the brakes, surf's up!

(This is the view from the other side of the valley, once you climb back up -- yes, that singletrack is ALL sand!)

Throughout the course, you're treated to beautiful views -- was it Scotland or Monterey? Early in the mornings we saw cat tracks and scat from some animal -- turns out, they're still farming sheep out there!

Singletrack forever ...

The final section was exposed fire roads climbing up a ridge, after rolling through this super-fun valley. Then it was off into the sunrise ...





The Atmosphere
If you've never been to Sea Otter, the easiest way to think about it is as a trade show and mountain bike festival, with road racing thrown in for good luck. It's pretty fun, as long as the weather is good!

Our hotel was pretty close to the ocean, and the start of the bike trail ...


The first day was absolutely beautiful, and then came THE FOG.

And on the third day, God created WIND.
We did do quite a bit of work each day -- 9-ish hours on our feet. Brad was awesome, but I took all the glory with the BIG CHECK photo op with Cycles Lambert. Our other volunteers -- Karen, Diane and Tom -- made a huge difference in our presentation out there!


Meanwhile, over in the SRAM MTB pits, Clark Kent was wrenching alongside Neo and Billy Bob Thornton, with World Bicycle Relief on their shirts, and the logo on the truck fencing ...

And thankfully, the future of downhilling and BMX is secure!

Stimulation

The IRS says it will start direct depositing our "economic stimulus" packages next week. Yippee. I'm not an economist, but from my armchair it just seems like these gifts (the second one I can remember in the past few years) are just stopgaps that don't really help us curb the habits that got us into this mess to begin with. Ditto on the repeal of the gas tax a few years ago, which I think will make a return appearance by the end of the summer.

Not that I'm complaining -- morals aside, I will be spending this check as best I can, with a good piece of it going to finishing up the shipping of clothes to Zambia. There seems to be something incestuous about spending my "free" money with the Post Office, but take that, big government!

In other news, Brendan says the bike is being finished now, and then its off to be powder coated. Todd is trying his out at Vail Lake, after riding a Fifty-Five hardtail for a year, and let me tell you, the excitement is mounting here at Team World Bicycle Relief. The build kit is coming together, and can you say super pimp?

24 April 2008

Lost in translation

I love reading cyclingnews, if only for translation difficulties. On the course in Offenburg:
There is one sticky section but with the good forecast, this should dry out just fine for a fast race. The worst affected sections of uphill have also been treated to a top layer of hardcore to prevent damage.

Um, yeah, I think that's supposed to be "hardpack," not "hardcore!"

Congrats

By the way, HUGE congrats to the Scole Train family, now +1, and to Jim for 8 years of married bliss!

Gettin' 'cited

I love how little kids talk, always chopping words. It's cute.

So now I'm "Gettin' 'cited" for the season. I'm pretty much committed to Iola, hard to believe we're only a few days away. Then it's off for a weekend (Mother's Day/birthday celebration, always a weekend off), then Lake Geneva, then open up the endurance season at New Fane. That's going to be a heck of a race, with Ronsta, maybe Lee, and all the rest of the usual suspects. Yee-haw!

Hey, healing thoughts headed toward the northwest right now, if you would. Kim's dad is sick but doing OK, we want him to be healthy for Kaylie's dance recital on Saturday!

Photos from the Otter to come ...

23 April 2008

Digging out

Still recovering from Sea Otter -- Brad and I were able to turn it into a mini-training camp, riding 3-ish hours each day plus another 9 or so on our feet. The XC course was cool -- a ton of climbing, a lot of sand, and more wind than we have on the lakefront. The woops in the first part of the course were particularly exciting as you were going foward and flying sideways!

I'll post more when I get a chance -- Blogger seems to be choking on photos right now, so it may take a day or so.

17 April 2008

This one's for my dad ...

When it comes to the Otter, SRAM has it dialed ... this is the view from our hotel balcony ...

My dad was stationed in Monterey at the language school here. It's his favorite place in the world, and I can see why!

Brad and I are off to Starbucks in a few minutes (drive-thru is 24 hours, doors open at 5), then on the bikes for the 8 mile uphill trek to the venue. So far, weather looks awesome!




15 April 2008

This one's for Joey2Wheels ...

A perfect morning for commuting in the Windy City. Joe, we miss you!



Strange moment on the South Side, when a dude raises The Fist to me as I pass by in my SRAM kit ... not sure if that's the true meaning of Black Power!

14 April 2008

Didn't we just leave this party?

Spike TV running Star Wars all weekend. What more could you want?

Yesterday I sort of felt like Luke, Leah, Han and Chewy as they tried to get to the Millenium Falcon on the Death Star. Sort of like, hey, haven't I been here before? From warming up on the bike path along the river (site of the "Rage in the Cage" on Memorial Day) to the outcome, it was all too familiar.

Line up next to the Lalondes. You know you're not in Wisconsin anymore when the promoter looks at Jesse and says "You're going to have a tough time in the Expert race on singlespeeds." Ha. Yeah, right.

Whistle blows, 20 of us roll, I forgot how friggin' fast these starts are, get elbowed out of the way, am probably 10th or 11th into the singletrack. Not great, not bad. Settle in for the technical roller coaster, watching the pack disintegrate ahead of me and just finding my rhythm.

Discover that I'm feeling great, and have good fitness -- push super strong on the few straights, catch fun air on the multitude of woops. Am happy with where I'm at, but not satisfied.

Lap two, catch two, get passed by one. The familiar face was, in fact, Ryan Nenninger. Damn. Haven't seen him in a dog's age.

Together but apart, we're in 8th and 9th, with 5-6-7th up there not too far away. Ryan is gliding over stuff on his 29er, this is a great course if you know how to roll the big hoops. By contrast, I loose momentum in places, but have the fitness to make it up. Damn, this is FUN!

Lap three, we're closing. I'm chasing him and we're getting closer. Up, over, around, up, down, around, fly, turn, fly, jump ... this is a fun place to ride. Status quo, but we close a bit on the front straight -- I figure that with 5 laps still to go, their fitness with wane and we'll have them. I'm still feeling good, although the guy behind me seems to get a bit closer, and did I sort of start to feel my legs on that little rise?

Up, around, watch out for Smiley and craptheresarockinmylinecrap ... pssssssttttttt. Half-inch gash in my new tire. Stans isn't closing it, Big Air wasted trying to seal it. The guy behind me wasn't closing after all, still had some room, but then it's all over for me anyway. Hike it out, change the wheel, spin on the bike path.

So 2008 starts just like 2007 ended, with a rear flat because I can't get my big butt out of the way of sharp rocks. I'm frustrated, but also pretty happy at how I rode, even if it wasn't for quite half the race. I felt good, definitely more technically apt than I was a year ago (this course would have scared the heck out of me a year ago!), and was actually doing and thinking in the race, rather than having the race think for me. I'm secretly hoping Rock Cut gets postponed, and if it does maybe excise some demons on home turf?!?!?!

11 April 2008

Tour de ... French Toast

You can't make this stuff up ... working from home today, flip on the news and see an advertisement with speeding bicyclists and IHOP ... two of my favorite things in the whole world! Turns out the Tour de French Toast is on, for a limited time only!

Torn

Cyclingnews this morning includes the "official" announcement of the Chicago Criterium, slated for Sunday, July 27. I've been pretty ho-hum about this (it is a road event, after all), and then I saw a map of the course -- will I ever have a chance to race down Michigan Avenue in a pro race again in my lifetime? Wow -- even I could get into that.

BUT, and it's a big but -- it's the week before 24 Nats. Six days before, actually. I'll most likely race that day (Alterra) as a way to keep the legs open, but I'm pretty sure it won't make sense for me to jump into a big-time crit as my only road race of the year, the week before Nats. Everything between now and then is geared toward August 2. Sacrifices ... WWCED?

10 April 2008

C'mon get happy!

Hello, world, here's a SONG that we're singin'
C'mon get happy!
A whole lotta lovin' is what we'll be bringin'
We'll make you happy!

09 April 2008

ROCK THE VOTE

Check it: http://chicago.metromix.com/

Go here. Vote for s.t. monroe. That is all.

Lunch

On the menu today:

The Power of Now

I'm trying to work my way through Oprah Book Club recommendation The Power of Now. Essentially, it's a self-help book about focusing on "the now" and not letting all the garbage we all think about unconsciously, all the time, muck us up.

One of the interesting ideas is that the only "time" that exists is NOW. There is no future, there is no past (at least according to Rent!). So the mind-game fantasies and emotional memories are more damaging to your psyche than they are constructive.

But I can't help myself: In 35 years, when Peyton is my age, I'll be a 70-year-old grandpa with a tattoo of a hydraulic disc brake rotor and roses on his wrinkly, saggy-ass shoulder. Yeah, I'm going to be a cool old guy.

08 April 2008

Holy Week

I know I'm pretty well out of the road scene, but Holy Week is still pretty cool. Flanders on Sunday (my favorite), G-W on Wednesday, P-R on Sunday. And Devolder winning in the Belgian jersey? Priceless.

Extra dose of Munali this morning before my last VO2 workout. This should be it for a couple of weeks (ihopeihopeihopeihope), as my mini-block of intensity comes to a close and I use the fitness to get in a bit more base. Good news is, numbers are good and weight is holding steady, so I'm pretty psyched. Sunday is looking more and more like a dress rehearsal, as we're now looking at Lalonde x2, Eppen (probably), and Unwin just announced. Bring it!

Sea Donkey next week. No racing, but Brad and I are going to get some rides in. That will be fun, let's hope the epic weather doesn't roll in (again).

I must still be pretty brain dead. This was not the post I was going to write. Oh, well.

07 April 2008

Six days

There are few events on the road calendar that capture my imagination. This is one of them:

http://www.valentiadv.com/masterlinkfilms/R2R_Trailer.html

Monday

A bunch of people at work look like half-zombies after putting in their first big miles of the year this weekend. Coffee is flowing.

I hit the group ride on my road bike(!) both days, got the workouts I wanted and didn't get into anything with anyone, well, except that Lake County Sherriff, but that one wasn't my fault. The one in Lake Forest would have been, sorry. Be careful out there.

Family time yesterday, helping my bro move a massive swing set/fort. Dump trucks are awesome. I also picked up his old Gary Fisher as my next "project bike," very cool.

Man, I'm brain dead. There was something I was going to blog about, now I can't remember.

04 April 2008

More signs!

A long, long while ago, I posted a couple of signs seen at my dentist's office restroom. Seems the management company is at it again, and again gets the point across without quite getting it right ...

I'm not a cow, but ...

Interesting column, albeit a bit strange, on VeloNews.com this morning. It starts by telling riders that happy cows produce more milk, and thankfully gets to the main point fairly quickly ...

I found this quote to pretty much sum up my entire racing career (emphasis mine):
It takes a motivated athlete to produce consistent long-term results. The greatest talent still needs the drive to push through season after season. A semi-talented athlete, with only mediocre numbers, can still achieve great success with perseverance and hard work, both qualities empowered by the central nervous system.

03 April 2008

02 April 2008

Still Christmas

Oh yeah -- color today, pic tonight or tomorrow, and just got word that I received my requested WORS series number. Woo-hoo!

Christmas in April!

Here at home, it's still cold enough for winter riding jackets that just arrived ...

Meanwhile, out in Sirenland, the Song is starting to be sung!






01 April 2008

PHX Day 4: Phlogging the finish

My traditional last day is a short run back up to Usery, this time over to Twisted Sister and up the back side to the top of the Mine Loop. Technical climb, technical descent ... and I ran out of mental energy right at the turnaround. There were moments I wasn't sure I was going to make it back ...

Just like the other days, chased geckos and quail along the trail all day, and off in the distance was the rumble of black helicopters ... no, really!




The shooting range is thankfully across the street from the trail system


Moon Rock Trail through the Cholla Forest







Daddy, what's a Flower Trail? With rock gardens like these, who needs Blue Mounds?





We definitely enjoyed our stay!





And who did we see at the airport?







Great trip, great weather, wasn't quite ready for the re-entry to winter that awaited us here! Happy trails ...