28 November 2008

Yo quiero la suciedad

I don't even know if that's right -- Babelfish says it is. Spent 30 minutes on the Skokie Lagoons trails yesterday, first time out there in 2 years. It's been too long. While Lou dreams of snow, I dream of dirt ...

26 November 2008

Not so PRO

Someone just dumped a huge bag of Halloween candy on the conference room table. I haven't had an Almond Joy in a year. So I had one. And another. Then got a cup of tea and had one more. I may have snuck one more, plus a Crackle. Holy crap my tummy hurts, and it's not even Thanksgiving. Just 10 days to the off-season!

Traveling off-peak

Another Wednesday, another early-morning practice at Goose Poop Loop. Thanks to Hemme for keeping me honest -- this week felt better than last, but I'm so far gone from where I felt after Moab that it's pretty clear I'm on the downward slide. Heck, I even chose Mountain Bike Action over Cyclocross Magazine on the train ride home on Monday. Just 10 days to go.

Speaking of which ... The forecast this morning on WGN seemed to indicate a long dry spell on its way. But then weather.com had other thoughts. Part of me really wants to see that snow roll in on the 5th, mostly because I just don't have the power for a dry course at Montrose this year. But either way, I know Chris will put together an awesome course, and I'm looking forward to mixing it up on the 7th! ... well, maybe!

Couch potato ... Kim had a condo board meeting last night, so I flipped between Episode 3 and a neat little flick called Ride with the Devil. It came out in limited release the same year as Cider House Rules, which sort of explains how I missed it -- Tobey was getting a lot of press for Cider, not so much for Devil. Based on a novel of the same name, director Ang Lee does an admirable job of bringing the complexities of the situation in the Border States to life, including a very graphic and somewhat accurate portrayal of the raid on Lawrence. It's a bit slow but punctuated by horrible atrocities (much like the war it portrays) -- It's not Glory or Gettysburg, but Devil does a good job of telling the story of a little-known part of our War Between the States.

Wipe the chin: James Huang gets a ride on the Scott Addict CX. Having seen a couple around the office, I can confirm: it really is all that. But I still love my Colnago!

And finally: Shout out to Ernesto for this one. Click on the link, watch for 40 seconds. If you're not hooked from that point on, you're don't have a pulse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1wnOUH2jk8&e

25 November 2008

Check it

13th in the nation with just a couple of UCI weekends left ... just 9 points down from Katie and Katerina ... go Devon!


Crib sheet

Not that we'll use it for a couple of months (you start babies in a bassinet), but Sprout has a crib now. Kim's baby book rated it a "B+". I say anything that uses 4mm hex bolts is an "A" in my book -- it meant I got to use my bike tools to build it!

24 November 2008

Woodstock photos

Thanks to my dad ... back of the group ... the in-laws ... tough finish.

Comfort food

This weekend was all about comfort food. Saturday was fun -- a quick ride, then prepping for the in-laws with baked mostaccolli and a side of Pro-Link. Sunday was a kick in the pants -- full family out for the race, I go down hard in warmups when my extra-big Lake winter bootie catches on the first barrier. Those things are a full inch longer than my normal MTB shoes, and I paid for my mistake! Haven't had my bell rung like that in a long time, and I'm feeling the whiplash today pretty hard ...

Great start to the race -- probably my best, most aggressive ever -- but made a critical mistake early on when Lou, Chris and Eric went by Brian and got a gap as I sat on Brian's wheel. Worked my way past him and into the front group through two laps when it started to splinter. Eric and I tailed off Lou and Chris when Eric went down in the leaves, and then he dropped me for good in the same spot when he jumped past some lap traffic and I didn't. Huge finish for Lou, outsprinting Chris and handing him his first loss in several races. Big shout-out to the crew who put together an awesome, long course with a lot of fun ups-and-downs!

More comfort food with the in-laws in the form of Three Brothers restaurant, a big Belgium waffle with apples on it doused in syrup. Then it was off to Babies R Us to crib shop -- no luck in Algonquin (after spending nearly 2 hours there, at least we got a stroller!), but Schaumburg had what we wanted in stock. After hauling it up the stairs (I really thought lifting that thing would put Kim into labor), we knew cooking wasn't in the cards -- so Kim pulled out a gift certificate and we made our way to L. Woods over on Lincoln Ave. We fit right in with the 60+ crowd, her with her funky hips and me hobbling along with swelling knees ... Full crocks of French onion soup au gratin, pecan chicken and a cheeseburger, mashed potatoes all around, and a huge slice of key lime pie with a decaf espresso chaser, and all was right with the world.

21 November 2008

Peel me off the ceiling

More than enough coffee. Woodstock on the mind. Sporting the USGP staff shirt today. Lunch at Lalos. Too much to do before the in-laws come over tomorrow. Late night at work helping rebuild a couple of PRO 'cross bikes. Someone stop me before I hurt myself.

20 November 2008


This isn't a course map, but here's a view of the park for Sunday's race ... note the sand volleyball courts and the sledding hill(s) ... there are a couple of small sections of "singletrack" in there too, and plenty of pavement ...


It's a lot bigger than it looks here, and will have the feel of Roger Williams Park in Providence for those who went to Nationals a few years ago ... minus the bombogensis, I hope!

Gettin' close

Good news today from the quick check-up -- things are progressing, and are going well. Bummer is that we're in that stage that could go on for a while ... or could change in the blink of an eye. I'm thinking sooner rather than later -- Kim went into overdrive on Tuesday night, and any trace of pregnant lethargy is absolutely gone. Last night, I'm barely moving from a long day including 'cross practice, and she's on her hands and knees making lists and digging through magazines and books. This is "nesting?" At least we got "The Bag" packed.

(And I have even greater empathy for her than before -- now I know what it feels like to be around me on race mornings, with my coffee!)

It's funny -- Carpentersville is close, but Woodstock is about as home-court as it gets for me, other than Montrose. It's about 5 miles from Kim's parents' house. I've practiced out there. We take our niece and nephews sledding there. Hell, we even went there to play in the park between our wedding ceremony and the reception. Our families will be at the race, if the weather is OK. But I'm definitely going through a mind-shift ... (gasp!) there are just some things more important than 'cross. C'mon Sprout, I can't wait to meet you!

19 November 2008

Lansing video

I totally needed this as I sit here with legs still hurting from this morning's 'cross workout ... but why do I feel like I'm experiencing life through the eyes of a fish?


Roman, thanks -- it's awesome!

It's for work ... I swear!

I started a Facebook account about a year ago for what became an aborted attempt at connecting World Bicycle Relief to the social networking world. I didn't do anything with it until late this summer, when our U of I intern really got us into it, and we started building out a presence. We still have a ways to go, and it just takes time -- unfortunately, time that is spent elsewhere at the moment. (Are you part of our Cause?)

Meanwhile, I've gotten hooked, and have connected or re-connected with a whole bunch of people. It's such a weird, eclectic mix -- cyclists (of course), but also business associates (cyclists mostly) and more than a few people from that nebulous grey area known as "the past." I'm being cautious about some of those past connections, but there are quite a few that I am genuinely happy to hear from again, and to find out how they're doing. Call me nostalgic, but I care about how so-and-so turned out!

The flip side, of course, is that it exposes a bit more about myself than I may have otherwise ... like the wall conversation I just had with my friend Gina, who brought up the killer "Women of Doom" Def Leppard t-shirt I had back at church camp when I was like 14 years old. I even cut it up like Joe did for the Pour Some Sugar on Me video -- yeah, I was that kid. The mullet was absolutely fantastic, complete with curls at the end -- you can see a hint of what it looked like in my more recent 'cross photos. (Or in the photo I posted on Facebook.) It's fun thinking about those days, shotgunning Diet Cokes and pulling the tabs off Cherry 7-Up cans ...

Anyway, it's been cool to catch up with a few people with whom I can now have adult conversations. I'm headed out to lunch on Friday with a guy from my high school physics class -- we used to sit in the back and make fun of the cheerleaders, and I went to see his band at a show at MacGregors back in the day. Now, we're both expectant urban fathers with ink and he works in advertising -- not where I thought we'd be 20 years ago!

18 November 2008

Date night

OK, the kid can come any time now. Kim and I had our last date night last night -- dinner at Bravo followed by 1 hour, 46 minutes of Bond, James Bond. Quantum of Solace isn't one of the best Bond outings, but not the worst. It's decent (maybe too decent, they didn't have much fun with it, given its plot themes). And it continues a 29-year streak for me -- I've seen every Bond in the theater since Moonraker, when I was six years old and my grandparents took me to see it. As Bond and Dr. Goodhead fly off into the solar system, I stood up and said, "Nana, where are they going?!"

Big birthday shout-out to Stephen Janes down in Asheville. Check out his blog for his ode to his biggest fan, very cool.

And ... that's it. Lots of stuff going on in the 'cross world, but I have some work to get done and some nesting to do here pretty quick. We're at the point where "any day" really means something!

17 November 2008

Feelin' it

Man, I can't tell you how good it felt to sit on the couch for 7+ hours yesterday, enjoying two of Coppola's masterworks in a row. I caught a bit of AMC's The Godfather marathon on Saturday, but willed myself to turn off the TV and go to bed, but Sunday night the tube came on (in almost the same spot), and once Appollonia made her appearance, I knew there was no going back. By the time Michael succeeded in finishing off Hyman Roth and brother Fredo, I was bleary-eyed and fried. But dang are those fantastic movies.

I didn't do myself any favors going into this weekend's racing, which I think just made it that much more fun. Three solid weeks of training, deciding to switch over my components late on Friday night, no Kim around to help out with packing the car, the first freezing cold weekend -- the recipe was there for disaster, but I made the most of it, and enjoyed myself.

Saturday was brutal -- very cold and windy, with two steep ride-ups, off-cambers, a run-up, a sandy beach (with a near-water line) -- everything you could want in a 'cross course, except the laps were only 3 minutes long! UWW made the most of the park, though, and it was a small but tough 30+ crowd ... Worked my way into the top four on the start, which became three, which became two ... Sean rode me off his wheel on the hills (his wife and kids were the most vocal cheering section out there -- they were awesome!), and I was doing OK in 2nd until a strong guy from the early group worked his way back and killed me. He had rolled his tubular, and with about 4 laps to go, I couldn't hang on his wheel. Not bad, though, 3rd on the day, and huge thanks to everyone cheering for me!

Saturday night was a bit late with the aforementioned appointment with the Corleones, and when the alarm went off Sunday morning I briefly contemplated sleeping in and racing Cat. 1/2. But then I was up, and before I knew it was flying down I-94 on my way to Lansing ... another course that made the most of what it had, a fun power course if I had anything left after Saturday.

Turns out, I didn't have quite as much as I wanted -- decent start, third into the sand when I completely ditched it, causing Lou to crash into me and run over my wheel, and causing us both to lose a bunch of spots. I made my way back to 5th while Lou kept going to fight it out for 2nd ... it wasn't that much fun being alone for a windy, open race, but I did what I could until it was clear Matt Silvia and Eric Sondag were bringing me back. They made the bridge with 5-ish to go, and we were together for a couple of laps -- Matt and I gapping Eric a bit in the sand, Eric clawing his way back in the power sections. With two to go, we caught a lapper in the sand and got a gap on Eric -- I was playing roadie and sitting on Matt in the wind. Eric caught us at the beginning of the last lap, and just after he did I made my move, attacking Matt into the wind after a long left-hand corner. I got a gap, and knew I was good for the last money spot if I could beat Eric through the sand ...

The gap was steady, but I was feeling it -- I almost made it. I blasted into the sand but with about 5 feet to go, got sideways ... just enough of a bobble to let Eric back into it. He sat on me to the last corner, then blew past me in the sprint, putting me into 6th with Matt 7th. Although it wasn't quite the result I wanted, it was super fun to have a tactical battle with these guys, and I can't wait to do it again next week in Woodstock.

Instead of heading home, I spent the rest of the day cheering my throat sore for the remaining racers. Hanging out at the "Sand Pit of Despair" with everyone as Roman built phallic sand sculptures complete with dollar bill "lubrication" is the best way to experience 'cross -- we had a ton of fun, and it made my side trip to Dunkin' Donuts for a warm cup of coffee and a toasted bagel with cream cheese that much more enticing ... it also made the hours on the couch justified as I "recovered" ...

15 November 2008

Start 'em early

This kid is going to be so warped -- Welcome Home mix, November/December 2008

Good Morning: Bananas in Pajamas Theme/Humpty Dumpty/Here We Go Round * Mad World * And It Stoned Me * Blue Moon * Sweet Child O' Mine * Basket Case * Everybody Loves A Nut * Stadium Arcadium * The Sound of Silence * Don't Give Up * On the Turning Away * American Music * A Foul-Tempered Rabbit * Cry Baby * thank god I'm a country boy * California Dreamin' * Stand * Proud To Be Black * Welcome to the Jungle * 19th Nervous Breakdown * Under the Bridge * I'll Cover You * Here With Me * Head over Heels/Broken [Live] * The Rainbow Connection * Mother's Little Helper * I Am a Rock * I Got You Babe * Can't Help Falling In Love * Comfortably Numb * A Baby Just Like You * When the Children Cry * Here Comes The Sun * Baby Sitten Boogie * Learning to Fly * Solsbury Hill * Love Walks In * Total Eclipse Of The Heart * Glad Tidings * Linus And Lucy * Angel's Lullaby * America * Walking In Memphis * You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly! * Biko

Robbing Peter for Paul

I've come to the realization over the past couple of weeks that it's just silly to have a perfectly good road group on a fantastic handlebar just sitting there hanging from the wall. So much for "not committing mental energy" to this 'cross season!

Who knew cannibalization can be so much fun?

14 November 2008

Full term

Sweetheart, I love you more than you could ever know.
Thank you so much for everything over the past 37 weeks.
Sprout is going to have the best mom ever.
Love you!

13 November 2008

Drum roll please ...

Have you heard the news? Next year is going to be awesome ... Brad, Dan and I have officially joined forces with Todd, Craig, Mary and Brendan to form

Team World Bicycle Relief - Siren Bicycles

This new venture is the coming together of the passions of everyone involved -- The endurance scene has fully embraced the concept of the comprehensive bicycle programs that World Bicycle Relief provides, and having a team built around spreading the awareness of the programs and a super-incredible-fantastic endurance bike company will pay off huge dividends throughout the year.

Stay tuned for more information as we build sponsor relationships and develop our race calendars for 2009 ... suffice it to say that 2008 was just a prelude!

Flying blind

I got a virus when I opened up Guitar Ted's blog entry about SRAM XX -- so I can't view my own blog. Sorry folks, no fun posting until I can review what I write!

12 November 2008

You Could Be Mine

Big shout-out to the man. Thank you!

November Rain

What is it "The Deaner" says at the end of Transitions? "When the forecast says rain, the doctor says pain"? Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Practice again this morning at the Goose Poop Loop -- I rolled past at 6:30, and no one was there, so I went a bit further south, worked on dismounts and a few short run-ups, then tempoed down to the museum and back, finishing up on the Loop with a quick lap following Hemme around. Everything was wet and slick today from the rains yesterday, but I felt good and it definitely softened up the ground quite a bit. Has it really only been a week since Election Day and 76 degrees?

Kim's sister is coming into town today, I'm headed out to Rockford for a presentation to the Blackhawk Bicycle Club, and then it's full-on through Monday night for us. We're dividing and conquering this weekend -- while Kim does family stuff, I'm headed to Whitewater and Lansing. Have you seen the weather forecast? Yeah. It's 'cross season!

Of course, this is all predicated on Sprout -- as is everything right now. It's sort of strange, making plans and knowing they may never happen. But with at most 33 days to go, it's the way you gotta' live ...

Chinese Democracy

The iTunes New Music Tuesday e-mail is promising an instant download of the title track when you pre-order Chinese Democracy. Except that when you click on the link, you get this error message. Why am I not surprised?

10 November 2008

Am I back in high school?

Damn Facebook, really makes you feel special.

Mix tapes

I used to love making mix tapes. It's funny to listen to some of them now -- they're not half-bad, if I do say so myself. This weekend was mix-tape nostalgia in between Lamaze days -- first, reconstituting a tape I made for Kim in 1994 onto iTunes/CD, and then last night putting together a two-disc set for the L&D room, and one for recovery/homecoming. Holy cow.

Kim may think I'm nuts, but I think Sprout has "dropped." That means any time in the next 2-4 weeks we'll be headed back to the hospital. We're holding out hope that we get at least 8 days from today -- that way Kim can have her baby shower and hang out with her little sister, and we can have our last "date night" next Monday. I haven't missed a James Bond flick in the theater since Moonraker!

Enough for now -- need to find out how Northbrook/Toronto/Iceman went this weekend!

09 November 2008


Holy crap, another last-row-to-the-front-and-dominate performance from Katie Compton. And this one not against a domestic peloton. Dang.

Learned today that the standard of care for late induction is not 2 weeks post due-date, it's just 10 days. And that we're full term as of this coming Friday. So sometime in the next 35 days, Sprout will sprout. Holy cow.

Can't wait to hear how Northbrook went!

07 November 2008

Rah rah!

Huge good luck vibes to Ben & Julie, Team Pony Shop, Scott and Danielle and the rest of the Iceman crew, and everyone else heading out this weekend to slog it out in the 'coss weather that is finally upon us. Kick some ass out there!

Had lunch today with a high school acquantaince that I reconnected with via Facebook (thanks to Joe, of all people!). It was so refreshing to have a conversation with someone from "back then" without it devolving into a bitch session about high school. Very cool.

Lamaze, bike work and chilling out this weekend. 36 weeks today. We're in the home stretch. Maverick's got the ball.

06 November 2008

Gettin' close

Wow. Visited Sprout's daycare this morning. Holy cow. Those kids are so cute -- I want one! ;-)

Kim is so super-nonchalant, I tease her that she'll be like 9cm dialated and having the worst contractions in the world before she'll call me to meet her at the hospital. Just sort of the way she is. Why do I think that? Episodes like last night, when I'm putting my road tires on my bike and she goes, "Yeah, I think I've started having Braxton-Hicks contractions." Me: "What? WTF?"

If you've ever seen any movie or TV show with a pregnant lady, you probably know them better as "false labor." Nothing to do, but it's still a little weird for an expectant father, especially when you wife just sort of throws it out there. Well, according to The Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy (yeah, really), they should be known as "practice contractions," since they're normal and it's just a sign that a woman's body is getting ready.

No matter what, it's one more sign that we're getting close. Really close.

Big thanks to Velosnaps for the shots -- very cool! I love the quintuplet of me chasing down Lyle from work on the run-up. Sort of gives me bragging rights! ;-)

And since CROSS IS HERE, here's your obligatory 'cross content for the day -- check it out!

05 November 2008

Campton -- the Masters!

Dang it was great to be back. Campton 'Cross is one of my favorite events, great venue that always delivers, good fields, lots of fun. And holy cow was the crowd AMAZING -- hearing the supportive energy from every corner of the race was so super-cool. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on -- I may not be able to acknowledge you as I drown in lactic acid, but I hear you!

Big thanks to Kim for the snaps -- start - barriers - run-up - finish. Enjoy!

Wednesday morning

More later, too much to catch up on this morning. Not such a great practice this AM, an hour of 10mph headwind down to McCormick Place, then getting schooled by Hemme and Klug on their home course. Hell, I wasn't even really riding with them. Two hard days had me seeing stars, and I think I even managed a bike throw in there one time when I got super-frustrated with the barriers. A few laps later and all was good, even did a few run-ups on the sled hill, trying out my new shouldering technique.

Now I'm dead. Ouch.

Edit, 11:15 a.m.: This from JPow's latest VeloNews diary. Perfect:

So the lesson to take from this entry is this, no matter how sick you are, how bad you crash or crappy you feel before your race, you can still pull off the podiums and the big win! As you see here, Timmy J was showing me some of the skills on this hotel bench before his win at Sunday’s race and I happened to have my camera. So, no excuses

Further edit, 12:10 p.m.: I realized this makes me sound like a whiney racer. Sorry. Kevin and Mike have put together a great course on the South Side, funny how courses take on the "feel" of where they're located -- it was very different than James Park in Evanston. They're both riding well, Mike on his way up and Kevin holding strong in a way that just makes me jealous. Good stuff and they were very gracious to let me try to hold their wheels for a while! I just didn't have my game face on, and it showed. Next week ...

04 November 2008

One more

Aw geez, I forgot the most important post of the day!



Wednesday practice

Dang, four posts already today and I haven't even put up photos from Sunday? Yikes!

Since DST was Sunday, we're all trying to figure out when and where to practice tomorrow. Word is, Evanston is still on until they turn out the lights, I've heard Montrose is still on as well (same deal with the lights), and there's now a new option on the south side: 6:30 a.m. just south of McCormick place. Big thanks to Michael Hemme for having a life that means he needs to do morning workouts.

You may have to work your way past Election-night hangovers on your way down, but there's a few of us on board already ... See you then!


It says a lot when you look at the Cannondale 'Cross bike -- geometry and frame touches haven't changed, but it's obvious that this is a 'cross-specific racer vs. the all-arounder I have from a few years ago that sports fender mounting hardware and dropouts ...


Early call

Note from Adam today:

If you're headed to 'cross nationals:http://stevetilford%20.com/2008/%2011/02/kc-%20cyclocross-%20nationals-%20course-preview-%20race-boss-cross/

There's a Youtube video at the bottom of the post. Looks like a big grassroad race right now, nearly featureless, tailor made for Trebon. Hard to saywhat it might be like with a little weather. Start motorpacing.

Watch: perfect weather, open course this year. Oh, well -- some things are more important!

Community relations

One of the reasons 'cross is so awesome -- and Sunday at Campton was a prime example -- is because of the incredible community it fosters. The races are short, the courses are crowd friendly, the people are awesome, and from the 4-bs to the 50-plusers to the Cat. 1 almost-pro, we all get to hang out and cheer each other on, week after week. It's such a great atmosphere to be a part of!

As far as Chicago goes, I give a lot of credit for our current community relations to Lou at the Pony Shop. Not only was he bit big-time by the bug a few years ago, but he's put his money where his mouth is, sponsoring teams for several years and growing the Wednesday practices in Evanston. I've been around a lot of "team" environments in the near-decade since I started racing, and I've got to say, Lou has gotten it right, which in turn helps build the sport in our area.

I was reminded of that this morning. I can remember back, not too long ago, when we'd have a total of 5 guys line up for the "A" category at any given race. Flash forward to 2008: Kim and I are standing in line to vote, and Lou and then Mark ride by. We're walking home, and we see Marek on the street. I go to leave for work, and Ernie is getting into his car. All this before I even get to the path, where I see at least 8 other guys I know by face but not by name, all on 'cross rigs. So cool.

Free Starbucks for voting today ...

03 November 2008

Kletzsch play

Holy cow I had forgotten how much fun 'cross is. Per usual, woke up at 3:50 a.m. on Saturday and had trouble getting back to sleep. Finally moved to the couch until the alarm went off, popped in Transitions 2 'Cross the Pond, and got breakfast going.

Dropped Kim off at yoga, hit Starbucks, read Issue 4 of Cyclocross Magazine while I waited. Sven Nys is an animal. Spaghetti, no sauce for pre-race. Spaghetti, with sauce, after. Damn he's fast.

The drive to Milwaukee was fast, and before I knew it, we were rolling up to the line. Word was, and pre-ride confirmed it, that this was a super-fun course with a killer run-up. Aw yeah.

Not a great start, but not horrible -- here I am about five places back from Goat, just past Ronsta. I was going well until the top of the hill on the first run-up, when I went to jump back on my bike and missed -- thank goodness Sprout is already on the way!

The rest of the race was awesome. Clearing the barriers, bungling the run-up, feeling like I was at home. Not the best result I've ever had -- the run-up assured that -- but definitely the best sensations. It's taken me 6 years, but I finally felt like I knew how to race a 'cross bike at my limits. Sounds dumb, but that's what I got.

I managed to pull back a few spots, and more importantly just had a ton of fun out there. HUGE thanks to the Polska folks on the run-up, and for everyone around the course calling my name -- it was so much fun to be back. Ron turned it on mid-race, while Goat and Jerry talked afterward of better days. Kletzsch was an awesome course, and the Polska team put on a great event.
Hanging out afterward was a blast, getting to catch up with JPE and Michele, and Dave and Renee. Has it really been 11 months since Kansas City?