27 February 2009

For Steve. And Craig

Steve's comment reminded me that we owe him a photo ... yes, that's a dinosaur! ... thanks to Craig for the awesome outfit!


Out of retirement?

Prolly not, but this one has me thinking about building up my road bike again ...

Two of the races of the 2009 International Cycling Classic (Superweek,) a seventeen day series in the American Midwest, will be taken from the archives, both from Superweek's and the historic Midwest's races. First is the return of the Schlitz Park Classic, a longtime favorite pro race of the series. The second is the Elgin Cycling Classic, known earlier in the decade as the Four Bridges of Elgin, which was the only UCI espoir race in North America at the time.

The Elgin race will utilize the same road-style circuit which includes an out-and-back design down along the Fox River, with a short but steep climb at the far end. And in a nod to the espoir heritage of the course, a separate prize will be given to the top U23 rider in the Pro/1/2 field.

I could care less about Schlitz, but that Elgin course was super fun and represented one of my earliest goals in cycling ...

Edit: Come to think of it, it was the only race my grandmother ever got to see. Dang.

26 February 2009

Congrats!

HUGE congrats to Jeremiah and Erin Bishop! It's a boy!

http://jeremiahbishop.com/blog/index.htm

24 February 2009

Kate, Kate, and Kate!

Week 9 photos here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=92321&id=811368326&l=beefc

Week 10: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=92327&id=811368326&l=f76a8


Week 11, the day she lifted her head! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=92328&id=811368326&l=a70cd

Just real quick

NBC Channel 5 yesterday, WGN today. Art Norman was a trip, Anna Belaval is awesome, great to work with!

25 albums that have influenced me. Now there's a list I can get into. Too many soundtracks, and too many showtunes. And a whole lotta' schmaltz. I guess I am who I am, right?

Day 2 of Frostbike went well. Lots of support from QBP. I tracked down the Finish Line guy and got what I needed, and checked in with Crank Bros. Oh! And NiteRider -- their new HID is compatible with my existing batteries, time to make a switch!

Kate's been fighting her first daycare cold, and now Kim and I are battling right along with her. Green tea and honey all morning, decaf mint tea and honey all afternoon. Hopefully I can burn this thing out in time to work out tomorrow. Feeling OK, just know that it's there.

Too many things happening all at once, oh, and my bike made it home. Now I need to find time to unpack it!

21 February 2009

Frostbike Day 1

Great day at QBP's Frostbike today ... a lot of support for World Bicycle Relief through vendors donating to the silent auction, QBP employees and shops who know about us and are looking to support. Fantastic.

Abbi Tri is super-cute, and I was reminded time and again just how incredible the endurance MTB community is. Hanging with Scott and Adam after the show and through dinner was fun, and the speeches were inspirational. I'm exhausted, good thing Interbike is 7 months away ...

19 February 2009

Oh yes I did

Heading to Madison tonight on our way to Minneapolis for the first "trade" show of the year. Frostbike is a lot of fun, sort of like Interbike with a lot fewer promises and no cigarette smoke. QBP is a huge supporter of World Bicycle Relief, and I'm excited to get up there to represent. They're also one of the "greenest" warehouses in the world(? certainly the nation), and it's pretty cool to see composting and giant solar arrays in person.

The coming of Frostbike also means it's my first extended break from the bike in a while. I tried running the first year I was there and using the hotel gym the second ... this year, I'm just going to embrace my time off and enjoy the rest. I've been building pretty steadily for the past 4 weeks, so it's a good time for a break.

That said, so as to not completely blow myself out of the water come next Monday, I rode the trainer last evening. Just over an hour, focused workout while blasting Disturbed in my ears and watching 'cross Worlds on the tube. Kim was awesome to look after Kate while I mashed the pedals, but even so, she (Kate, not Kim) was able to break through David Draiman's voice with a bit of wailing of her own. That kid's got lung power to spare!

This morning was a rather chilly commute to work (14 degrees F for those keeping track), and after the ride home tonight it'll be time to load up and head out. Not sure I'll get a chance to post from Bloomington, so have a good weekend if I don't!

18 February 2009

The new phonebooks are here!

While Charly ponders whether he's somebody now ...


... I just found out for sure (ha, ha). Thanks to Carl and the Ride424 crew! For those of you just joining us, welcome ... I'll try to keep it entertaining as we head down the rabbit hole that is endurance/24 hour racing!

HIMYM

OK, I'll admit it: I'm a fan of How I Met Your Mother. Kim and I started watching season 1 last night -- I have seen most of the early episodes, and from the start, the writing was punchy and funny, and the aw-shucks factor was in full swing. That, and what guy can resist Alyson Hannigan talking dirty (even funnier because it's PG-13)?

Anyway, it got me thinking about Kim and I, and now Kate, as I made my way to work this morning. Kim didn't sign up for this -- when we got married, I was -- quite literally -- a different person. And now, nearly 13 years later, we have ahead of us the monumental task of raising and nurturing a whole new person. There's no one I'd rather share that responsibility with.

So that got me thinking about my own "triangle theory," that life for me is balanced between family, athletics and work, and that at any given time there's a bit of an imbalance in one area, that two can go well but one will not be. Then I read the Cyclocross Magazine article about Adam Myerson, which mentions sport psychologist Steve Edwards' "Edwards Big Two Theory," which pretty much says the same thing. For Myerson, that led to a divorce as he rededicated himself to racing and his business (not to mention his role with the UCI). That, of course, led to thinking about Dave Wiens' recent interview in which he says his life's priorities are 1) Family; 2) Being active and outdoors; and 3) Career. (With enough perspective, I realize now that my triangle is very much skewed toward 1 and 2, and especially so during difficult times like during my last job. It's a fine line to continue that today, considering how much World Bicycle Relief means to the people of developing nations.)

So all this is going through my head already, when I flip over to Todd's blog. He just finished on the podium at 24HOP, kicking off the World Bicycle Relief-Siren 24-hour season in a big way. And I read this:

A huge thanks to [my wife] Bonnie for getting me there, in more ways than just drive to Tucson. This 24 hour racing thing has grown into something neither of us would have expected years ago. This is a lifestyle choice we've had to make together, as a family. I love it and I love you. Thank you!

Wow. Todd sums it up in a way that encapsulates everything: the early mornings, the late nights, the missed family time, the bike parts hanging from the dining room walls.

Trying to keep it all in balance -- and in perspective -- is going to be a monumental task in the coming weeks and months. Things are not always going to be easy, but I know Kim and I can work through it. And somewhere, deep down, I know part of what keeps me going is that I'm really looking forward to is sitting Kate down on the couch and telling her the really awesome story of how I met your mother.

17 February 2009

Has it really come to this?

Blech. We finished ... should I say endured? ... Spider Man 3 last night. I like Tobey McGuire. I like Topher Grace. I really like Kirsten Dunst. But oh. my. gosh. That movie was crap.

That's the good and bad with Netflix, I suppose. You throw stuff on your Queue that you might not otherwise get, because, well, it's "free." We've seen some pretty good stuff that we wouldn't have. But then you get a blockbuster that's a real dud. Thankfully we didn't pay Blockbuster for the waste of 2 hours of our lives.

Today marks 11 weeks for little miss sunshine. She's getting more active and alert every day, and talking up a storm. Photos soon, just need to track them down. Today's block photo even had a smile!

16 February 2009

Is Topher Grace the next Neil Patrick Harris?

Something's been stuck in my craw all day: Is Topher Grace the next Neil Patrick Harris (or, NPH to his admirers)?

Kim and I are working our way through Spider Man 3 right now ... blech, but that's all I have to say about that ... and it occured to me that Topher just may well be on the same trajectory as NPH, albeit a bit later in life. Maybe it's the hairdo from Spider Man?

Might there be a Topher Grace comic re-entry to the sitcom world in a few years, after not making it on the big screen, playing some sort of lovable "bad" guy instead of a lovable clean-cut "good" guy? Or a cameo turn in a forthcoming Harold and Kumar Storm the Bastille?

Whew. Just had to get that off my chest. That's all.

Weekend

Word is the first outing went well: "Podium or bust," according to the crew. Todd finishing 5th, 16 laps and just 17 minutes behind 4th place. Sweet!

Other friends of World Bicycle Relief fared well: Mary finished 3rd in the women's solo, and Sean Palmer looks like he ran into the witching hour and waited it out a bit. Rough way to start your first 24, no news on what transpired.

Speaking of no news, any word on Mas O Menos?

Back to 24HOP: The definition of "pro" has been on my mind a bit lately, largely due to USA Cycling's category changes. I sometimes get this feeling there's a bias toward XC riders being seen as truly "pro," whereas endurance racers, as I read in a Bicycling magazine feature recently, are thought of as "just being good at staying awake."

Some of that is the Olympic connection (XC being the only distance MTB event); some of it is the fact that a few more XC riders can scratch out a living on the World Cup or domestic circuits as part of factory teams. (How many endurance pros make a living at it, without any secondary income? Two? Three? Not many more than that.)

So it was with great interest that I watched the results of Erik Tonkin this weekend. I admit, a part of me expected him to show up and just crush everyone in his first solo 24: Here's a guy who has raced XC for years, has done multiple Euro 'cross trips, and is just a stud in the mud in every way.

But that didn't happen. He had a good start, not crushing the field, but he was up there. Then, before midnight, something changed. I don't know what, but Erik dropped out. That's never good to see, and I hope it was nothing serious.

Maybe it's because racing for 24 hours is what I love to do, and maybe it's partly because of the company I keep [who also love racing for 24 hours], but I think I sometimes lose perspective on what it means to be an endurance pro, particularly a 24-hour racer. When I see a very well-respected, very strong, veteran XC pro take on an event like 24HOP and not finish, I have to take it as an opportunity to reassess what I'm doing, and to recommit myself to the coming season. Going out and racing for 100 miles, or 12 hours, or 24 is not easy, and it's my responsibility to give each event -- each ride -- the respect it's due.

Now let's ride. ;-)

13 February 2009

Our time at Ray's

Didn't realize they were filming Brad and me that day:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiYpM2XGbbg

And so begins, begins our odyssey

(Recognize the blog heading? Title music from Transitions II: 'Cross the Pond. It's been a while since I mentioned 'cross, had to throw that one in there.)

And so it begins. Stephen has been ripping it up out East in early-season TTs, but this weekend is the kickoff to the endurance madness: Mas o Menos in Texas and -- featuring the official 24-hour debut of World Bicycle Relief-Siren -- 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Huge props out to teammate Todd and friend of World Bicycle Relief Mountain Bike Mary. And a big shout to Sean Palmer (no, not that Sean Palmer), in his first-ever solo 24. Kill it!

Word is, cold with some snow on the ground, but I think dry overnight. The crew is stacked, but so is the field -- also making his first 24 appearance is Kenda XC and 'cross homeboy Eric Tonkin. I was once told that beards don't make you fast -- he proves that Uncle Gary's theory is full of crap.

Closer to home, the mechanical challenges that started Saturday continue. This morning I pulled the male part of the plug on my Niterider MOAB light out of the head unit, exposing wires and causing a nice flashing strobe. A phone call to San Diego is in order here in a few minutes.

Other than that? A quick swing by home on the way back to work, and all was good -- smiles and giggles to start the day. What could be better?

12 February 2009

We have no idea

The power of art: a small group of us went to see Congo/Women yesterday at Columbia. The DRC is one messed up place -- always has been* -- and it's just scary, sobering and thought-provoking to see images of what happens to women in this war-torn region of the world. Our headlines are dominated by Zimbabwe and the Sudan (Darfur); the DRC only gets mentioned when one army or another decides to invade or attack. The plight of women there is a relentless, heartless, shameful crime against humanity. That. Happens. Every. Day.

I knew it would be tough. But because of our beautiful little girl, these photos mean more to me now than they would have 10 weeks ago.

It's at Columbia through Saturday, right on Michigan Avenue. Not exactly a Valentine's Day destination, but go see it if you can. The end-game of the tour is the U.N. Headquarters lobby this fall ...

* If you are interested in a bit of history, check out King Leopold's Ghost. It's unconscionable what the King of Belgium [not the Belgian people themselves] did to rape and plunder the Congo. Conrad only scratched the surface.

11 February 2009

Artwork sign-off

Can't say enough about Louis Garneau and their custom design team. And, can't wait to see these in action!

I forgot

I forgot -- I did take two photos this weekend, with my phone.

The first is the view from Pass Mountain, looking south toward Apache Junction as the sun came up. The trail climbs (or descends, if you do it the more fun way) a long rock garden on the hills to the right, swoops some singletrack, then caps out on some cool slickrock, then heads north around this peak on even better singletrack to curve around the mountain and back down on the Usery Pass side. What a way to start a morning!



And the second speaks for itself. You can't tell it, but her eyes are SO blue! And yes, this is now my screensaver on my phone!

10 February 2009

It's official

Velonews:

24 Hour Nats for Moab
USA Cycling will hold the 2009 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championship at the 24-Hours of Moab in Moab, Utah on Oct. 10-11, 2009.

The 2010 24-Hour nationals will then be held in conjunction with the 24-Hours of Big Bear in Hazelton, W.Va., June 12-13, 2010.

Originally slated to be held in Arizona, the USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships were re-scheduled due to schedule and location conflicts.

The event will now be run through Granny Gear Productions for the next two years.
The national championship competition in Moab will be open to American riders only. The 24-Hours of Moab event however will offer more than 20 divisions open to various age groups, skill, levels and team sizes.

The 24-Hours of Moab, run for 14 years, draws more than 4,000 racers, support
members and spectators.

Feel the burn

I read an interesting comparison the other day:

Racing pro means training as much as you did when you were an amateur. We all know how completely wiped out you get doing that. Only then, go out and train that much again.

66 degrees today in Chicago. You can bet I'm not taking a rest day.

09 February 2009

Sublime

No, not "Two Joints" Sublime, although they're on the iPod too.

This is about shuffling your iPod -- sometimes the mix is just, well, sublime.

I only listen to music on the bike in Phoenix. Great sight lines, little traffic and no animals means you don't have to worry about running anyone or anything over.

Halfway through the Hawes loop on Friday: Pink Floyd "In The Flesh" (So you/thought you/might like to/go to the show) straight into the theme for "The Mickey Mouse Club."

Surreal.

Quick post

Todd made an observation at lunch last week that there's an inverse relationship between the number of photos from a ride and the ride's intensity.

Phoenix was awesome. And there are no photos. ;-)

Wednesday you know about.

Thursday was down in Tucson, hanging at Siren HQ, hitting the Tucson Mtns, and drinking bubble tea with Matt and coffee with Steve

Friday I tried to run The Monster with the end loops in reverse -- good ride, but definitely more flow the "right" way.

Saturday was unbelievable. Usery to the lower slopes of Pass Mtn, then playing at Hawes for an endless morning. The Song can handle just about anything I throw at it, and I was cleaning stuff I haven't been able to touch after 3 years of trying. So. Incredible. Flow coming out of my ears! ... and to cap it off, an hour ride on the Blevins trail with my nephews, so great!

Then ... it rained! Overnight Saturday, just the second time I've seen rain in Phoenix in 8 years of travels. I made the most of it, heading up the road toward Tortilla Flats on Sunday morning, an hour uphill before turning and cruising back into town. Funny thing: cold is cold, whether you're in Phoenix or Chicago. Hmmm.

Through it all, Kate was awesome, she is quite the traveler! Our niece was great as well, and it was SO much fun to hang with our nephews, and of course Kim's sister and her husband, and her aunt. Our trip to the Mexican restaurant on Saturday night was quite the family outing!

And as of today, it's all different: Kim is back to work, and Kate started day care. How time flies ...

04 February 2009

Appetizer

Meridian to Cat's Peak to lower Pass Mtn. to road to connector to Twisted Sister to the top of the Mine Loop. And back, via Moon Rock. 80 degrees and sunny. I'm not sure I'm ever coming home.

The Song is amazing on this singletrack.

Saw it here first

I'd just like to say, for once, I was ahead of the curve.

First it was me.

Then Bender (who has since modified it).

Now Philips.

Never thought I'd be a trendsetter.

03 February 2009

Why I will never ski

Renee has this to say:
The other thing with classic events beyond just the need to be a good skier is that you need to be a good ski waxer. I've had plenty of experience waxing for good glide but waxing for good kick is a much trickier matter. At first it was seeming to be easy with predicted highs in the low 20s but, of course, that wasn't to be. The warmer it gets the trickier it is to kick wax. Once you get to the upper 20s and into the 30s there is a different kick wax for every one or two degrees.

A different wax for every degree? WTF? This is why I quit track racing -- too many gear options. I just want to have fun ... pick a setting and go.

So. Ready.


So what if they're predicting rain on Saturday night? By then I'll have put in so many hours on the trails that a Sunday ride is more or less gravy anyway. And it's only a 30% chance. And it's Arizona, so it may not happen at all.
Logged my rides for January last night. 2009 is going to be an awesome year.
Stepped on the scale this morning. 2009 is going to be an awesome year.
Leaving for Arizona at 4:30 tomorrow morning. 2009 is going to be ... awesome.
Lunch with World Bicycle Relief-Siren teammates Brad and Todd today.
Riding Usery Pass to Twisted Sister tomorrow.
Riding McDowell the next day.
Visiting Brendan and riding in Tucson (first time ever!) on Friday.
Riding The Monster on Saturday: Usery - Pass Mtn. - Twisted Sister - Hawes Mine Loop - Twisted Sister (uphill) - Usery. (Have I mentioned? The trailhead is a 15 min bike ride from our front door, just $1 to use the park all day. Awesome.)
Riding Usery Pass to Twisted Sister if it's dry on Sunday; if not, riding Usery Pass or up toward Tortilla Flats on the road.
In between, hanging with my neice and nephews and my daughter, eating lots of Mexican food, and trying to not bring home a Giro tan on my head.
Have I mentioned? 2009 is going to be an awesome year.

02 February 2009

Strizzout














I could never figure out why the guys at the Shop call me Strizzout. Now I think I get it: it's a play on "Stressed out" and my last name. Duh!
I'm on the ground for roughly 40 more hours. I have so much to do I can't even begin to think straight. Right now I need to hit Publish, close blogger, not go for a lunch ride, and pick up something little for Kim's birthday (Sunday, hint hint!).
Kate is 2 months old today. She got shot twice at the doctor, poor kid. She's growing, and growing, and growing -- smiles every morning now, and sleeping longer. Dang she's cute.
Happy Groundhog's Day!