Tuesday, August 28, 2007

my idea of hell

Is spending 70 hours surrounded by generator light toting randoneurs. They would tell you how your lights arent bright enough, or how your mud flaps should be longer or how you ride too fast, or should not use clip in pedals, or arent patriotic enough, or how you should grow a mustache or something, but Matt apparently likes mental torture and did Brest-Paris-Brest, which is like 1200k or something crazy. This is a few weeks after doing the Ironman Norway, which is apparently the hardest Iron distance Tri that there is. Ill see him this weekend for my Bro's wedding, which should be sweet.
Matt's blog about riding a lot, vegan food and hooking up with girls in my bed when im out of town.

A few years ago I lived on a street in south oakland named "joe hammer square." It was a total dump. I paid 165 dollars a month for a room with like 5 other people living there. One morning I got up and the entire shower was filled with ice cream cones that were found in a dumpster. The girl that lived there, sari, just showered on top of them.

A few months ago they were evicted, like 2 years too late. There was an awesome posting on the craigslist.org website's "for rent" section. It went on to describe how the tenants were "musicians" and "destroyed" the place. It said they were evicted and the place would be cleaned/fixed up and available for rent.

Today's Post-Gazette had a good article titled "Oakland housing takes turn for better."
"As he finished up the walk on Joe Hammer Square, Mr. Nordenberg said the get-tough strategy appears to be working. He said he has seen a "noticeable change" in conditions since last August."
Pretty funny.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

you vs you (five years ago)

Time flies, duh. But sometimes we are reminded of who we were or what we used to be like by shared memories with others. The G man moved into the house with me and amy this week to finish college. We dropped out together and lived in "punk houses" or whatever for a long time, sometimes together.

Memory #1. I didnt grocery shop. I had no food in the house except for a jar of vegenaise and bagels. The bagels came from a dumpster in squirrel hill at Chesapeake bagels, which is now out of business. I would ride there with my BOB trailer on my touring bike and take 2 garbage bags full of bagels. I had a loop of friends that I would deliver some to, and take the rest home. When Amy and I started dating, all I could ever offer her was a bagel.

Now. I love grocery shopping. This week alone, I have been to the strip, whole foods, trader joes, and am about to go to the local farmers market. I love finding deals and eating healthy, good, cheap, food.

Memory #2. I used to not have a bed. I had those foam packing crate things stacked up on top of cardboard and some other stuff. Amy called it "the rat's nest." My room had my bicycles in it, and no door. I am not sure if I had sheets, but winters were spent in a sleeping bag.

Now. Holy yuppiedom. I have to preface it all and say that this thing was free, but... I have a simmons beautyrest mattress. I think it retails for like 1800 dollars. This is stacked on top of a giant hardwood frame that stands like 5 feet tall. The top of the mattress is literally 3.5 feet off the ground. Then there is the matching Ikea pillowcases and sheets with a down comforter in the winter.

The list goes on and on, but the me of 5 years ago would probably spit on me and call me a yuppie or something, which is a shame because I do think that we have a lot in common. I see "the kids" hanging around town and they probably think this about me. I wish that I could have some sort of coolness resume attached to me so I could try and bro down. Like the kid doing the C races that is basically me when I was his age, do I tell him that I was at the firstaus rotten record release, or that I hung out with aaron cometbus at cleveland fest one time?
A take off the Pittsburgh Masters Velo Motto, I will summarize. The older we get, the cooler we were.

Total Jagbag

Mayhew and I were warming up before what came to be the wednesday night pile up, when this guy stopped to share his mind with us.

Him: honk
Us: come no go around us (honestly, no swearing, no fingers nothing)
Him: drives around screaming stuff and pulls over
Me: are you seriously going to fight us?
Him: that is what you want isnt it? riding like that?
mayhew: dude you are wearing sandals
him: put the shoe on the other F'n foot sometime you are going to have to f'n wait for somebody and then you see how it is
us: what?????????

he gets in his car and says f you one more time. sweet
Mayhew snapped a picture.
Im still not sure what this guy was mad about?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hotel New Hampshire

New Hampshire is far away. Like super far. North Eastern NH is even further, like 15 hours away.
The race math of riding up Mt Washington is bad. Like really bad. It is a mass start hill climb, so the better you do, the worse the race math. You are basically looking at 28 hours of driving for 1:20 of racing.

I wasnt signed up to race, I just cruised up with the Johnsons for the experience of it all, or maybe because I just had nothing else to do.

Action packed.
- Wednesday, leave Pittsburgh at 5 pm
- Thursday, arrive NH at 8 am, ride 50 miles with Turner to the base of the mountain.
- Friday, eat some sweet pancakes, ride 100 miles in 5:20 with 3 passes involved, including the Kancamanagus Pass eat some sweet pasta for dinner
- Saturday is the big day! Turner and I drive up to the top of the mountain to drive the J, and Ed back down. It was the most insane weather I have ever experienced. Im not exaggerating. I opened my car door and couldnt close it again because of the wind. There was about 10 feet of visibility, and the temperature was 34 degrees. The wind was apparently 70 miles per hour.
Race canceled. No seriously, done, over, like not happening. No refund (300 bucks), no anything. Maybe a meek apology. The definition of "not sweet."
So we head back to our rental house and head out for a sweet ride over HURRICANE MOUNTAIN ROAD, which was like 3 miles at 20%. More passes and notches than I can remember. Basically just super beautiful riding. 77 miles.
- Sunday, we woke up and packed and cleaned and rode over bear mountain, then turned around and rode back over bear mountain. Awesome. 67 miles.
Leave NH at 4pm and arrive home at 8am Monday.

So much stuff happened that I dont really remember it all.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fergie doesnt do well at stage races.

But he will do a cyclocross omnium, and will crush it pretty hard. Rewind for a minute.

Wednesday, Friedman came down to the oval and really put the hurt on us. I was in a move with Ruggs when I turn around and see Friedman coming up to us. He basically towed us around, shredded our legs, I couldnt pull thorugh anymore, but Ruggs had some in the tank left. Then he just dropped back to the field. It was like being behind a motorcycle.

Thursday, Mayhew and I met up with Kirby (former member of Kraynick cycling), who is recovering from a bad crash (bad = life flight). We did Stig's loop (the hardest ride ever) after that. Halfway through we see the sky turn emerald green. It reminded me of when I was in Minnesota and we literally saw a tornado, same color. 3 inches of rain in the 40 minutes led to us riding road bikes as if they were mountain bikes when the rain slowed enough for us to get out from under our cover. Heroic! Middle road had washouts that covered the entire road with softball sized rocks.

Friday I decided to do the cross race in jersey on saturday, because I thought my ribs were feeling a bit better. Cross racing isnt that hard on you is it?

Saturday Soupie and caroline pick me up at 8am for the 6 hour drive to Jersey. We stop at the super sheets and are amazed as usual. We saw the Mayor of Fizz city, I think he removed Docsnides from his mayorship in a coup. He had no sleeves and a 52oz thermos that costs 89 cents to fill up. God bless America.

The cross racing. Soupie's first race, he drops his chain. He still finishes despite having to flip his bike over to unwrap the thing from the square taper. It seemed to be everything short of getting a chain tool out and then pulling the cranks off.

The elite men had like 60 events. I was only signed up for the actual race. There was an elimination thing that worked almost like bmx. There were heats, then quarter finals, then semi finals, then finals. 4 men enter 2 men go on. It was fun to watch, but I thought our race was at 6 and it was actually at like 8:20.

7:30pm the bunnyhopping contest was pretty intense. I tied for 4th at 14". I want another go at 16 inches, I think I can do it if I practice for a few minutes. Doing double barriers is all the more impressive to me now. When I was doing it, the announcer was like "this guy is here all the way from Pittsburgh PA" and then I immediately heard "THE STEELERS SUCK" from a audience member. Awesome.

The race. Not sure how many starters, Im thinking around 25ish. The course was fast and tight, with a few weird rollers, 1 runup/rundown and a set of barriers. Lap times were no more than 1:45. That is crazy fast compared to most cross courses at around 7 minutes. I really thought the shorter lap length would ensure me getting lapped by at least 1 guy.

We're off and Im sitting in a good place, there is a bit of tangle and somebody goes down to my right. We roll the berm pretty smooth and do a lap or two almost as a group with a few stragglers. Maybe 3 laps into it Im sitting 5th wheel, Donahue from Nerac, Mike Cody, Eneas Freye from Target training, Fergie, then myself. Good spot.

Then all of the sudden heading into the runup/rundown somebody is coming up on my left.
My thought process: "I feel good, but I know Im not going to ride away from this lead group, so I will stay where I am and watch attacks. I wont try to go around Fergie because I know he wont let gaps open up, and he will keep it smooth. Who is this passing me? Ill just go back around him on the barriers, what a jagoff."

The Navigator wachtung D Bag behind me's thought process:
"Im going to pass this dude in front of me on the run up... yeah, sweet now Im going to jam my back wheel in front of him so he cant come back around me, because Im passing him on the outside, which is like 5 feet longer... ok now Im going down the rundown and jumping on my bike.... OH MY GOD WHERE DID THESE BARRIERS COME FROM? WERE THEY HERE THE FIRST 500 LAPS THAT I RODE THIS COURSE? OUCH LAYING ON MY FACE HURTS.. ..." and so on.

The vaginator totally stacked it in the barriers, I fell on top of him, which created a gap between me and the 4 leaders mentioned above. I got up and worked my way back through a few guys who passed me while I was down and end up in a 3 man group with an Indy Fab guy and a Verge Test Pilot. I like the verge socks, he was wearing them and I must say they are really stylish. Anyway, the Indyfab guy was all about rubbing elbows and I was all about not crashing twice in a race, which forced me to whine to him about being aggressive. Whatever.

He stacked it in a turn and I didnt really attack but just rode away from him and the verge dude. I was hurting but kept it steady enough for 5th place, just a few seconds off of 4th, who was just a few seconds off of 3rd. I think 1 or 2 more laps, I could have caught them, or maybe I looked just as spent as they did? 1 or 2 more laps and I think I would have gotten lapped as well, so its a tradeoff!

Race was over and after a ride in the ferris wheel for soup and caroline, we hit the road at 1030. 3 hours later, we were back at the super sheets in altoona, and 3 hours after that, it was 5 am and I was laying down to go to sleep.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The 101..

Last year I saw the Wilderness 101 and thought that it could be something cool to do. I decided this year to go for it, worst case scenario not finish, best case, podium for the Single Speed class.

Mountain bike racing is pretty cool because camping out the night before is socially acceptable and totally condoned! Imagine showing up at the registration for Altoona and asking where people are setting up tents. When I got to the park at about 7pm, there were at least 100 people there already to camp.

I talked to the Butler dudes for awhile before bed. Justin had gotten 9th the year before and gave me a heads up about some of the course. Eric said that there were going to be downhills that I would want to walk.

Some dude walks around with a gong at 5am to get everybody up. I percolated some espresso and had a peanut butter bagel. I talked to gunner about tire pressure, suspension and hydration. He did well the year before.

250 people line up and we are off. It was nice, not like a road race where everybody is jockeying for the first climb. I guess some people woke up and said "Im going for a 12 hour bike ride today." I was hoping for about 9.

On the first climb, the field strung out. I got to tell Tinker that Danny Chew is a big fan of his. Tinker big ringed most of america during RAAM. He didnt go into the little ring until West Virginia.

We were whittled down to a group of like 25 by the first feed, we blew through it and around a gate, up a double track climb. I stuck with the lead group of 8. I was feeling pretty good until the descent. I got dropped hard. This led into some single track with a bunch of rocks and bridges and stuff. I saw Von Leecher and he asked why I was riding a rigid bike. Because it is all that I have.

Out of the single track, Andy Gorski appeared behind me. I thought it was Gerry Pflug for some reason, but he had already flatted. I climbed at my pace, and put some time into Andy before the descent. This seemed to be the formula for the day: Climb a dirty road, descend on SUPER GNARLY single track with tons of rocks.

Andy made the time back on me and we worked together going into Aid station #2. He was riding really well, real smooth. I would draft off of him and pull on all the uphills, otherwise I was pretty much spun out.

We rolled into station number 2 and I filled my bottles, grabbed a few bars and headed out, eating as I started the next dirt climb. Andy had some special drink in his drop bag that made him go fast all day, so he was mixing that together.

After 20 minutes of climbing I ran into Von Leecher again. He dumped ice water on me. It was one of the best feelings ever. He said I was in 7th place. He said there was a technical descent coming up.

This is where the story goes bad. I passed up the turn for the singletrack. I rode right past it. Up until that point, and following that point every turn had caution tape across the road where you had to turn in. I went all the way to the bottom of the hill, didnt see any arrows or signs of a bike race. I knew I had passed it up. Part of me wanted to quit, part wanted to cry, and part was pissed at spending 160 dollars to enter a race and not being given a fair chance at seeing how I would do.
I climbed the 20 minutes back up the hill and turned into the singletrack.

Nate passed me, I flatted, I was frustrated and pissed and pretty much rode the rest of the day to finish. I flatted 2 more times, for a total of 3. I also managed to crash pretty good at one point as well.

During the tour of Ohio, Minturn had a plan to get away and hide, then jump back into the pack and let people think he was away the whole time. As far as I know, Wes thought that I was away. My prediction is that he would have passed me in the singletrack after feed number 3. That stuff was awful. At that point, my upper body was really really hurting. My chest of all things started feeling like I had broken ribs. It hurt to breath really deep, and my arms were just exhausted.

At the begining of the day, when I put my sportsbalm chamois cream on, I thought about how my ass was going to be whooped, but it turns out that I was out of the saddle on 90% of the singletrack. My arms are mad sore today, but my butt feels fine.

When I finally rolled into the finish, not knowing what place/time I was in, I saw Andy Gorski and he had a relieved look on his face. He never passed me, and I didnt finish in front of him, and he was worried about me. That is a good guy. From feed station #2 where I left him, until the end, the only person to beat him was Wes. He ended up 8th I think. Impressive.

Afterward, I ate 3 veggie burgers and hung out with the Western PA/West virginia people. Gunnar called Ibprofin "vitimin I" I must be getting old, because I have taken it maybe 3 times in the last 10 years, 2 of them in the last 2 weeks. I feel like I did when I rode BMX, I constantly have a sore or an ache or a bad this or that. Oh well.