27 August 2008

Time out

Couple of things lately have made me realize that I'm off my game, at a time when I really need to be on. I need to focus a bit more, so it may be a while until I update. Until then ... I'm on a break!

26 August 2008

Upon further review

Every person who beat me on Saturday was better prepared than me. Better prepared physically, mentally, experientially. I consider trail knowledge to be a valuable piece of a racer's preparation, and go to great lengths to exploit that in my own racing. There is nothing wrong with identifying that a person has an advantage because he or she is on familiar ground. To me, it's the same as saying that a person has an advantage because of their physical capacities (as Goat identified with Ron) or mental strength.

I understand that my comment about Crystal Ridge may be understood to mean that Ron, James or Matt beat me solely because of circumstance -- just because of the fact that they live closer to the course than I do, and may or may not have raced there each week. That was not the intent of what I said, and if you believe I hold my fellow racers in such regard, then you do not know me very well. Every advantage they had on Saturday, they earned, through practice, hard work, and sacrifice.

Now I'm really done.


One other thing -- if my comments about trail familiarity belittled Ron or James, or the other racers out there in any way -- guys, I'm sorry. Not what I intended. Good ride, great job, and I'll see you on the next start line.

OK, I'm done.


My apologies to Matt Gissibl if it seemed as though my race report was demeaning to his effort on Saturday. Matt beat me, fair and square, to round out the podium, and if my question whether he was a CR regular seemed as though that belittled his effort, I'm sorry. It was meant more as a comment on my inability to ride well there -- CR is fun, but I feel like I haven't quite "gotten" it yet -- I need multiple exposures over time to really get a feel for any trails I ride. For the record, a search of the race results from the Wednesday night time trials at Crystal Ridge for the past three years does not reveal Matt's name.


Just a tease, no photos yet ... Brad's new ride is HOT. I think I made a comment when I got my 'cross bike a while back -- you have to be fast if you're riding a white bike. If that's the case, he's gonna' be screaming.

25 August 2008

Big smile

It was hard to wipe the HUGE smile off my face yesterday -- three-plus hours at Palos, my first time out there on the Siren, my first time out there this season, my "first" time on now-legal trails. Un-f-ing believable. It was so awesome!

Overall a great weekend -- slept in until 4:30 or so on Saturday, ate breakfast and went back to bed ... lazy morning re-Stansing and cleaning up before heading to Crystal Ridge for a late (3 p.m.) start. Quick warmup, line up halfway down the hill, countdown, go ... second to the bikes, third on the trail, lost time to Ron and James as soon as we hit the singletrack. Let's see ... third ride at Crystal Ridge vs. Ron-"I can do these trails in my sleep"-sta. Yeah.

Kept James in sight until the third lap, Matt from Hayes caught and passed me (another CR regular?), and I started cramping bad on lap 4. Goal was a solid 3 hour performance with six laps; never in doubt, and managed to pull it together on lap 6 for a decent finish in 4th. I lost about 2min per lap to Ron and 1 per lap to James -- just the sort of day it was. My riding wasn't podium-worthy, I was pretty tight, but it was good to get back out in a race situation again and I had fun. Isn't that all that matters?

Bed late, didn't sleep well -- good thing, as our 5 a.m. alarm was set for 5 p.m. Breakfast, quick gather, DD run and on to Palos ... solo but ran into a bunch of folks, and absolutely loved every minute of it. The Song is perfect out there -- I was riding stuff so fast I lost track of where I was a couple of times. So much fun. It was a bit crowded, so I headed off the island for a bit before finishing up with a loop of last year's race course. Stopped in at work to clean the bike, all is ready for the Blue Ridge this weekend. Finished out the day with a bit of laundry and a bit of cleaning followed by some Closing Ceremony action ... my new pillow couldn't have felt better ...

23 August 2008

A new life begins ...

CONGRATS to Ben and Julie!!!

22 August 2008

Bones to pick

  • You may have noticed my tendancy to label fellow bicyclists according to their ride preference. I wasn't sure where it came from -- but now I have a hint. I've been a loyal subscriber to Road Bike Rider.com's e-mail newsletter since just about the beginning; Ed and Fred liberally use the term "Roadies" to make their readership feel included. The inference is that everyone else is, well, not a "Roadie." Then came this in the current newsletter, in their article by mechanic guru "Uncle Al:" "Once upon a time I was the support mechanic for a 2-day mountain bike event with 60 riders. Maybe you think I should be burned at the stake for an indiscretion like that ..."

    When I read that, it hit me: my tendancy to classify my fellow cyclists is thanks in part to the elitist attitude expressed by Uncle Al and his ilk. It's just sad when you knock on mountain bikers and their events in a lame attempt to appeal to your readership. But that seems to be the way of it ... unsubscribe me, please.
  • Not sure about you, but my commutes have sucked this week. The rides themselves have been fine, but there's something in the air -- I've been yelled at, at least once each day this week. And honked at three or four times -- mind you, most of my ride is on the Path. Thankfully (knock wood), no close calls and no crashes like last week, but people are on edge, and it's getting weird out there.
  • And then I saw this article in the Trib: "City to step up enforcement of bike laws." The story itself is actually fairly balanced, but it still feeds the machine that produces the donut-loving, Nissan driving man and his wife who yelled at me on Clark Street on Tuesday. The accompanying poll and quiz are pretty lame, and the photo caption as the lead story yesterday afternoon was just sad.
  • Even worse was the Bicycle Ambassadors on the path on Monday, standing in one of the most dangerous, highly trafficked corners on the Path. Find a better place to pull people over, PLEASE!

OK, I just needed to get those things off my chest. Whew.

21 August 2008

For Julie

The next few days are going to be crazy, so all three of us wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS to you and Ben!

20 August 2008


So The Fonz made it on WGN news this morning. So did Joanie -- stifling a huge yawn during the Brewers game. I really wanted to see Potsie racing the giant sausage, but no dice.

I realized today that I leave for Interbike in 33 days. Holy crap. My to-do list for the next month is stacked, with a "critical path" (see, I did learn something from my previous jobs!) that is just friggin' scary. The if-then scenarios aren't enough to keep me up at night, but that's only because I'm training again and flogging myself on the bike always makes me sleepy.

I'm up to my eyeballs in the Show, but thankfully steal a few minutes here and there for fun stuff too. The last couple of days have been focused on wheels -- a full bearing replacement on the WTB hub (which had, incidentally, a dented rim -- that's right, TWO of them from Ho Chi Minh), and a re-lace/new rim on the DT ceramic. I'm super-psyched -- now both my primary and secondary rear wheels are "pro"-level quality. Sweet. Full disclosure -- Craig did the bearing replacement ... he's the original bike geek, and decided that, heck, as long as it was apart, he'd clean out and re-grease the pawls in the hub body too. This after spending 10 minutes playing with the engagement mechanism using a small pick. (you have to know Craig)

I've heard from a couple of people that they're bummed I'm not 'crossing it up this year -- I appreciate hearing that, thank you. Unfortunately, the mental energy I would need to put into it just isn't there until after Moab, and come November I have a few other things to take care of pretty quickly. So the two races I could do would just be shoehorned in, and it just isn't worth it at this point.

(Besides the two-day Lamaze class in mid-November [the alternative to the 8-week class we're skipping], I have a ton of housework that I need to do -- I never finished up last March, and I owe Kim a couple of days of heavy-duty spackling before the baby comes. I admit that last "off-season" ended too quickly, and now is the time to make up for it!)

In the meantime, training is going well, and I'm super-excited about the numbers I'm seeing for these first couple of workouts. I'm not as lean as I need to be yet, but that will come (no riding during Interbike + sushi = danger zone), and more importantly I'm motivated with a capital "M" -- not sure where it's coming from, but I'll ride the wave while I can!

18 August 2008

Jumping the shark?

BRONZE THE FONZ IS TOMORROW! Damn working for the man, I'm heading to Milwaukee! And Potsie is singing the National Anthem at the Brewer's Game!

MILWAUKEE — What’s a better way to honor “the King of Cool” than a day–long series of events being billed as a “Celebration of Cool?” The dedication of the life–size bronze statue of Fonzie, the “Happy Days” iconic character created by Henry Winkler will happen in Milwaukee, Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Winkler will return to Milwaukee for the dedication ceremonies and bring with him his friends and co–stars, including Marion Ross (Mrs. Cunningham), Tom Bosley (Mr. Cunningham), Erin Moran (Joanie), Don Most (Ralph Malph) and Anson Williams

Stars of the “Happy Days” spin–off, “Laverne & Shirley,” Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams (Laverne and Shirley respectively) are also expected to attend along with the show’s creator, director/producer Garry Marshall and “Happy Days” producer Bob Boyett.


16 August 2008

Moab training, day 1

What better way to start training for 24 hours in the Utah desert than riding lush Midwest singletrack with roots and trees? When it includes time with a cute 4 year old on her first mountain bike ride, there is none!

8 weeks to go!

15 August 2008

Athletic supporters

Fascinating feature today on Calvin Jones and the mechanics for the U.S. team at World and Olympic-level competition. Calvin is a super-stand-up guy, and his company, Park Tools, is the shiz when it comes to bike stuff. Very cool.

Schedule coming together, updates already taken care of. Eight weeks to go ... looks like 'cross isn't on the horizon this year, between Interbike and Moab and Lamaze and the due date I would get maybe three weekends of racing. Coming off of two 24s, the training for a one-hour sufferfest just wouldn't be there ... I have to say, I'm really looking forward to some autumn mountain bike rides!

Forgot one

I forgot a job -- contract municipal landscaper. Holy crap did that job suck -- I lasted about 4 weeks, was supposed to be the whole summer, and pretty much got fired. We specialized in landscaping new traffic signal installations, and every time I drive past some of them (thankfully WAY out in suburbia), I cringe when I think of how irresponsible I was and how much I hated that job.

14 August 2008

Tagged (again)

It looks like I've been tagged again, only this time with different questions. I'll play along in spirit, if not letter, so here's a bit more about me ...

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Let's see ... I had just run my first post-high school mile the week before, I was only 6 weeks removed from quitting smoking (and 4 weeks from backsliding horribly, just once), and I was starting to lose some weight. (Photo is 11 years old, but you get the idea!)

What are five non-work things on my to-do list today?
1. 10 minutes of tempo in my morning ride -- check
2 and 3. Watch the Air & Water Show practices -- check and check, from my bike and from the roof of our building
4. Contact Danielle regarding SM100 -- check
5. Pack for camping -- still to come

Snacks I enjoy
What snacks don't I enjoy? Did you look at the picture?

Things I would do if I were a billionaire
Hmmm ... bikes in Africa. Race endurance mountain bike races. Travel the world. Check, check, check.

Places I have lived
Corona and Escondido, California
Algonquin, Berwyn, Chicago and Evanston, Illinois
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Jobs I have had
Food service at a hospital
Food service in a dorm
Editor, writer, photog at the MU Tribune
Golf Reporter
Stringer for a newspaper and a wire service
Publications Coordinator
Graphics/Production Coordinator
Dot-com Managing Editor
Web Manager
Marketing Director
Communications Manager (the best so far!)

I guess I'm supposed to pass this on, but I just tagged a bunch of folks a few weeks ago. So I'm going to be lame ... if you want to jump in, feel free!

One more thing

I forgot -- why is it that the U.S. media is the only one to list medal counts by raw number earned, rather than by golds won? That is, the BBC and everyone else in the world lists the U.S. second to China, because China has won more golds. But U.S. media has -- since day one -- listed whomever has more medals overall, no matter the color. Whatever.

Olympic thoughts

Yes, I've been caught up in Olympic fever. I'm usually more of a Winter Games fan, but this year the inexorable march of Michael Phelps, the awe-inspiring backdrops of central Beijing and the hours and hours of nonstop coverage have conspired to draw me in. Truth be told, I'm all about the more esoteric sports -- trap shooting and badminton come to mind (and curling in the winter) -- but even the marquee matchups at the Water Cube and on the beach volleyball court have provided many hours of entertainment. Too many, in fact -- we've had to force ourselves to go to sleep each night!

It's pretty awesome watching people at the pinnacle of their sport, even if that sport is kind of odd. I love learning the ins and outs of each event, although I have to admit to falling asleep every time sculling comes on. We've gotten pretty good at judging synchro diving, for instance, and it's fun to see Kim shouting at the television during gymnastics.

All that said, I have a few thoughts on the Games ...

  1. NBC's Mary Carillo is an absolute embarassment. It went from bad to worse to absolutely horrifying in the past three nights, as she first covered China's man-made wonders, then panda bears and last night food. Each one was a horrible disservice to the host country, full of stupid jokes and lame attempts at innuendo. Please, someone fire her. (I'm not the only one who doesn't like what he sees, albeit for different reasons.)
  2. NBC is committed to showing Kerri Walsh's butt-slap of Misty May at the conclusion of the Athens gold-medal match every night they play. This is sad, especially so when the announcer actually comments on it as a "defining moment from Athens," as he did last night. Give it up already, there are so many other shots to show -- a block, a dig ... pick one!
  3. Al Trautwig has proven to be as inept at reporting gymnastics as he is with cycling. Stop trying so hard to build the tension -- if you're a viewer, you can already feel the emotion. Shut up and let us watch, or at least make the comments relavent!
  4. Speaking of Bob Costas, what was that thing with President Bush? I disagree with the Washington Post -- Costas is a sports guy, and his attempts at skewering Bush over Georgia came across as a "Pro vs. Joe" moment ... and he was Joe. If you're going to have Junior on the set, don't do the interview from the anchor desk, and don't have Bob do it -- maybe Mary Carillo has more cajones?
  5. Does it really qualify as in-depth coverage or human interest to learn that Michael Phelp's days are taken up by -- GASP! -- sleeping, eating and swimming? Like, DUH. At least tell us what's on the iPod!
  6. Interesting piece on cyclingnews.com today about the London mountain bike venue. I wonder if the "changes" to the rules to make the event more technical will bother Chicago? After all, the only climbing at Palos is up one side of a capped nuclear reactor and down the other ... I wonder if the athletes will show up in radiation suits as a protest?
  7. I've been comparing a potential Chicago Games with what we're seeing in Beijing ... I don't think we stand a chance. Sure, Madrid didn't do itself any favors with the squinty-eyed advertisement featuring the basketball teams, but Chicago suffers from the same problem every U.S. Olympic bid does -- we need private funding. If there's one thing Beijing is showing the world, it's that it won't hesitate to spend and spend and spend government money to create a show. Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., just can't compete. (That said, I'll continue to ride the wave as long as I can until we lose the bid ... do you really think there will be a Palos Meltdown race in 2010 if we don't get it?)

We're headed to Rock Cut this weekend for camping, so we're going to miss most of the upcoming action. It's been fun to have prime-time viewing of finals events, though -- even if that means the athletes are competing at 9 a.m. in Beijing. Spending time with the Ks is much more important!

13 August 2008

Rim strip

Turns out my rim strip wasn't centered, and the tube was getting pinched into the nipple hole. Problem solved, big thanks to Damian at the bike repair/rental concession over by the tennis courts just south of Irving Park. Damian's a good guy, rides for MetLife, and is seriously making hay while the sun shines ... literally! Cool to see him doing so well, although I seriously felt like a noob making the stop there.

Unfortunately, the troubles continued this morning, as I swerved to avoid a car, got into the opposite lane, made the left onto Rogers and found myself sliding across the intersection in the slick remnants of the street cleaning machine. I'm all for street cleaning, but judging by the mark on my shorts and the grime on my arm, the cleaners don't do a very good job!

But it was a wet fall, so just a raspberry -- no big deal, until my knee started acting up on my way into work. This is my "good" knee, and is responsible for much of the anguish from the middle of the night at 24-9 -- I figured it was just a race-day thing, but have now been proved otherwise. A couple of easy days on the horizon, hopefully good to go early next week ...

Argh. Not complaining, still feeling good otherwise. In fact, we even stayed up late last night to see Phelps make history ... holy crap, he's that good.

12 August 2008

Feeling flat

AKA: Eight is enough.

Eight flats in seven rides. It started the Wednesday before 24-9, front flat on the way home. Rear flat the next day. Although it flashed through my mind, for once I didn't let jamais deux sans trois worry me. Maybe I should have.

Flat three times during the race, with another softening tire discovered when I unpacked. Take a week off. Clear the demons.

Ride to work yesterday: flat. Ride home last night: flat. WTF?

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad except that I'm riding super-deep rims with a valve extender that doesn't agree with my pump, nor with my CO2 head. So every flat is a 10-minute battle. I'll swap out the offending tire today (there was a piece of metal embedded in such a way that I couldn't feel it with my fingers) and hope for the best on the way home.

Any takers on the over/under whether I make it home?

08 August 2008


Enjoying the week "off." Intern's last day today, chocolate cupcakes all around. Pizza last night for dinner. And soda. And that amazing Starbuck's chocolate chip cookie on Sunday. And plenty of Komodo + the new berry stella ... yummy.

Rock Cut Trail Crew meeting last night, presenting World Bicycle Relief. Really cool crowd, great to get out there and talk about what we're doing. It's been a while since I've done a presentation; they were a very receptive crowd, and we made some good connections. Funny how small the world is -- I haven't been out there since trail work days in June, but I've seen a couple of the folks around (like at 9 Mile last weekend).

Oh, and the night ride was awesome. Legs are twitching to get back into it full-time.

05 August 2008


Want to know the best part of my weekend? 5:30 a.m. Saturday, before the race, laying in bed with my arm on Kim's belly, Sprout started kicking me. It was so awesome -- it was the first time I felt Sprout move. Holy cow!

04 August 2008

Damage control

Just unpacked the car ... 3 flat tires, another that isn't holding air, a bent rim and a broken saddle. Did I mention how much I loved this year's course? It was awesome, but so, so tough ... all of the above mechanical issues happened in the same place on the course. Crazy!

Quick update

Just woke up from a nap convinced that this weekend hadn't happened yet. Very strange and more than a bit disconcerting!

By now you've probably seen the results, or you saw me -- shell-shocked -- sitting in my pit before dawn on Sunday morning, or you passed me sometime between 12:15 and 2:15 on the trail, either walking or barely able to turn the pedals. Sorry if I didn't get out of your way in time -- I could barely get out of my own!

I rode well for the first 12 hours on Saturday, on track to hit my lap goal and put myself solidly on the podium. But I was also at my limit, I don't think I was eating enough, and when things started to go wrong I imploded. I was OK after the first flat (that also dented my rear wheel), but after the second and third, and then problems with my lights, I fell apart. Two, two-hour laps in a row was too much for me mentally, and I sat down about 2:15 and gave up. My goal was out of reach, and emotionally I couldn't handle it.

This is where I have to say thank you in a deeply profound way to my crew. I made a concession speech about 12:15, after the first 2-hour lap, and they still sent me out on my way with encouragement. And when I completely broke down two hours later, unable to even get off my bike, they were there to catch me. Most of all, Kim was there with a steady hand and a soft shoulder, and somehow managed to put me back together again with enough room to salvage my mind and my spirit. I'll be back out there fighting again soon, and I owe it all to them. THANK YOU.

So Kim did what she could to put me back on my bike, but in the end I told her no. I curled up on a cot in our tent, she put a sleeping bag over me, and three hours later it was dawn. (Apparently she checked on me after an hour and I told her I was cramping, but I don't remember it!) After hearing Todd and then Brad leave for their laps from the safety of the tent, I got up, and then sat in a chair feeling sorry for myself ... Kim let me for a few minutes, and then talked me into trying a test run to see if I could pedal. We were only 20 hours into this thing, and after all, it's a 24-hour race, right? Down Main Street and back, and before I knew it I was through the chute and clocking in ...

I went through a high period at first, telling myself that I could get three more laps if I tried. But then I hit a low, and told myself I wanted no more part of this -- just one lap was enough to prove I could do it. I rolled into the pit less than 90 minutes later, and realized that I could do two more, and that I really wanted my parents to see me finish strong rather than broken. So for them -- and Kim, and my crew, and me -- I headed back out. I caught up to Brad just past Red Bud, and we rolled in together at 9 a.m. With an hour left in the race, we rolled out together, and spent the next lap as we have all summer, taking the lead when one of us was strong, and supporting the other when we weren't. It wasn't the finish we had envisioned when we started 24 hours before, but it was a fitting end to a hard-fought battle, and there's no question that we both left everything we had out on the course.

I suppose when you're chasing the jersey, that's all you can do.

(HUGE congrats to Scott and everyone who finished out there. By all accounts, this was the hardest-fought 24-Hour Solo National Championship ever, and it was awesome seeing Scole Train up on the podium, a well-earned place in history. Way to go!)

02 August 2008

By the numbers

Thanks to Blogger functionality, I'm writing this to be published at the exact moment we start to run ...

It's been a long path from the Golden State Theater in Monterey, through Nationals last year, to arrive at the start line in Wausau. With that in mind, some inspiration:

3,825,000+ pedal revolutions since Nationals 2007

750+ hours of on-bike training

80+ hours of off-bike training

100+ sets of core exercises

52 (and a half) weeks

32 minutes separating fourth through eighth place in 2007

24 hours to make it happen

12 pounds of body weight lost

2-1/2 pounds of bike weight lost

1 National Championship

It's go time.

01 August 2008

The List

No matter what happens in the next 48 hours, I have some serious thanking to do. For the past 53 weeks, I've been on a single-minded mission to explore the boundaries of what's possible, and there are a more than a few people who have made it all happen:
  • My teammates Brad and Dan. First, they passed me after dawn, then they had to go and be really awesome guys, volunteering for World Bicycle Relief and pushing me mentally to places I didn't dare go. It's been a hell of a journey.
  • My coach, Steve Weller of CycleSmart. His perspective and understanding has been a valuable tool in my arsenal, and I'm in the best shape of my life because of it.
  • Brendan and Mary of Siren Bicycles. I'm a better rider because of my Song, and I'm proud to be associated with them as they travel on their incredible journeys.
  • Craig, Chris, John and the staff at SRAM. Sure, it's where I work, but they've also taught me a ton, and I'm happy to be riding the best equipment in the world.
  • Goat, Jerry, Rachael, Scott, Mark, Amy, Ben, Julie, Mike, Todd, Justin and the rest of the folks on the right-hand side of this blog -- it's been great riding with you, hanging out, and learning from you. I love the fact that we have this crazy, goofy, supportive community.
  • Lou and the guys at The Pony Shop. Lou, you got me into this!
  • My pit crew: this year, my parents and Ian, and the other folks we'll pick up along the way. Thanks for joining me on this escapade, I couldn't do it without you! Oh, and Ian -- this is all your fault!
  • Last but not least, a double thank-you: to Kim and Sprout. Kim, you have totally made this happen for me, and I appreciate everything you sacrifice on my behalf. It's been a long, long year, and I arrive at this point only because of your incredible support. You're the best, and I look forward to hanging out with both of you on Monday!

(Thanks to Amy for the photo!)

24 hours to go.