Monday, December 29, 2008

I dont know... I might even go to bed bath and beyond...

So a few years ago I found myself cleaning out a dead guy's house for some money. Some money being the few thousand dollars that I needed to travel around for cross season and into the winter when I started cabbing. I wrote a bit about it here. It was basically cleaning up an entire guy's life.

Anyway, I found lots of stuff new in package that got returned. This left me with a $250 shopping spree at bed bath and beyond. This happened last night. Amy and I went and planned out what we wanted. It was all free. I still couldnt buy anything. Usually I think that I am too cheap to buy stuff, but this stuff was all FREE and I still didnt want anything.

I walked away with a coffee maker, 10 forks, bath towels and a shelf for the bathroom that isnt going to fit and will be returned and readded to the balance on the original receipt. Oh and little things to put on the new (free) couch legs to stop the floors from being scratched. (More on the floors later)

It is amazing that there is an entire box store filled with things that I did not want, even for free, and laughed at when I saw. Included in these items was an entire section dedicated to back scrubbers, another section dedicated to masks to shield your eyes while you sleep, and finally a staircase to help small dogs up onto a couch.

The world is at a point that people have a couch so big that their expensive dog that was bred in a way so it cant jump high, needs stairs to get onto the couch, and people are willing to shell out a bunch of money (1/4 a day's wage?) to get the dog on top of it. This is normal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So I was at Toys R Us Today.

I was shopping for a gender neutral, educational, toy for my 5 year old cousin. Boring. I ended up buying her tinker toys. Yeah seriously. I almost just bought her a slinky, but I had to spend like 30 bucks. Then I saw the best thing ever:

computrainer for 5 year olds. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008 is over. 504 miles of racing AT THE OVAL.

-------- cyclocross ---------17 races = 17 hours = 200++ car hours-----------
1)MAC #1 PSU 14th (UCI)
2)MAC #2 Charm City 3rd
3)MABRA #1 Lilypons 4th
4)MABRA #2 BCA 8th
5)MOM Grove City 1st
6)Iron Cross Lite 3rd
7)USGP #1 41st (UCI) lapped
8)USGP #2 27th (uci) NOT LAPPED
9)WVMBA Marilla 2nd
10)MAC#4 Beacon 11th
11)MAC#5 HPCX 13th (UCI)
12)USGP#3 dnf quit suck
13)USGP#4 37th (UCI)
14)Superior Cross 1st
15)Taccino Cross 3rd
16)Murrysville Cross 1st

17)Mac#9? Capital Cross 8th (UCI)
----- road races --- 860 miles------------
steel city showdown 12th 25 miles
kirkwood field 53 miles
Mingo 1 1st 37 miles
mingo 2 3rd 37 miles
Mt joy field 50 miles
Mingo 3 5th 37 miles
Race at the lake field 22 miles
RATL field 22 miles
Turkey hill 17th 80 miles
Wilkesville to wilkesville 1st 67 miles
union grove field 51 miles
Pmvc ITT 2nd 5 miles
Tour of ohio prolog dnf
Tour of Ohio day 1 35th 70 miles
Tour of Ohio day 2 dnf flat
Tour of Ohio day 3 Dnf crit
tour of ohio day 4 26 32 miles
UPMC Team Time Trial 1st 20 miles
Fort Cherry RR 6th 56 miles
Kinzua Classic 1st 62 miles

Cheyney RR 15thish 62 miles
Giro di coppi 17thish 72 miles

----------offroad races----459 miles---- all on mtb except iron cross-------------
wvmba big bear 12th (flat) 20 miles
Greenbrier 5th 20 miles
wvmba lost creek 5th 20 miles
mohican 100 15th 100 miles
wvmba moes 4th 20 miles
wilderness 101 11th 100 miles
Shennendoah 42nd 100 miles (30 minute mechanical)
Roaring run 3rd 17 miles
Iron cross 5th 62 miles

--------------oval races------------------------------ 504 miles
4.9.08 15 miles
4.16.08 20 mi
4.23.08 20 mi
4.30.08 20 mi
5.7.08 20 mi
5.14.08 20 mi
5.21.08 22 mi
5.28.08 22 mi
6.4.08 25 mi
6.11.08 25 mi
6.25.08 27 mi
7.1.08 17 mi
7.2.08 27
7.9.08 22 mi
7.16.08 25 mi
7.23.08 25 mi
7.30.08 25 mi
8.6.08 25 mmi
8.13.08 22 mi
8.20.08 23 mi
9.3.08 20 mi
9.10.08 17 mi
Miles raced = 1823 + 17 hours of cross
Days Raced = 70
Hours ridden in the 52 week 2008 season = 920.7 (hours ridden=trained/raced/recovered/spun/trainered... all time on bike)

Monday, December 08, 2008

UCI points were given away this weekend.

Points. Yes, like two. The season long cross goal, as low as it might have been, has been achieved. A top 10 in a UCI race. UCI points. After getting 11th at Reston 2 years in a row, I finally managed to get 9th. Very anti climactic.

I once went to a stage race alone. I bummed a car. Got a hotel. Raced the race. Drove home. It was depressing. The car had a tape player, and I had a Youth of Today tape that I listened to on repeat for like four days. That was not fun bike racing.

Bike racing should be a social thing. Cyclocross is a really social thing, which makes it one of the best forms a bike racing. There have been people all season standing on the other side of the tape yelling at me. They yell at the ohter racers too I am sure, but by the third lap, Im usually alone, working my way backwards, and they are yelling at me. This is awesome.

Now I have friends, some of whom are teammates, that I can bum rides from. I am lucky enough to have friends and acquaintances to stay with. Some acquaintances have morphed into friends, communication increases, bonds grow, friends become better friends. Awesome.

People stick around a few hours after their races to watch the depressingly small elite men's field. Freaking Gorski pitted for me when I flatted with a lap to go. His race was over for 2 hours and he had a 4 hour drive home. Do I expect it, no. Would I do it for him, totally. And so it goes. He does something for me, I do something for somebody else, that person does it for somebody else. I guess that is a community. Cyclocross totally has it. When I first raced cross FOUR YEARS AGO (time flies!)... I had heard people talk about the cross community. I read Fatmarc's blog about it. I hadnt experienced it though. Its there. Its awesome.

One other thing that I will also note as an example is a guy named Sean Gallagher. He is what I am talking about I think. He is a bike racer. He is fast. We battle each other. He has bad starts (I think)... I have bad everything after the starts. So he always passes me. Every time he does he says "come on lets go"... HE ENCOURAGES ME WHILE HE IS COMPETING AGAINST ME! That is awesome. Then he rides away from me. Yesterday after the race I was like "alright man... see you next year." It felt like the last day of school knowing that the summer was coming and you werent going to see or talk to people that you didnt go out of your way to do so. But I know they will be there next year and we will start up right where we left off.


A few quotes from the weekend:

"How many spots can you lose??!?!?!" As he heckled me from the sidelines.

"Is this Interpol?" Says the 11 year old girl about JOY DIVISION. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Next post = "the i finally kept track of all riding and racing for a whole year and am going to post the numbers" post. Should be very exciting stuff.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rainy monday after thanksgiving in Pittsburgh.

I cant wait to commute into town. People are going to be miserable today.

Awesome weekend though.

-Dirty Dozen. 146 people there. Hopefully it cheered the Chew man up some after his surgery. He has been off the bike for over a month now. I am sure it is hurting him. Hopefully this was a happy day to see something that he created turn into such a monster.

-Having the out of towners there. Colin, Miniturn, Turner (is he an out of towner?)

-Local cyclocross race. Team Freddie Fu put on a great muddy, cold, wet, rainy, cross race only 35 minutes from home. Awesome course. Awesome super fans. Awesome times. Awesome (and one super cute) officials. Well done race.

-Meeting somebody for the first time and having him tell me that he likes the blog. Super rad.

-Manager at Panera gave us FREE hot chocolate after the race. This is not machine stuff, this is foamed milk and all. Oh yes.

-Pulling up and seeing 3 Somali women trying to move a couch in the rain. All husbands were working. Helping them. Ok actually moving the thing 90% by myself. Having one of them say "steevo strong." Oh YES!!!!

-Getting home, showering, washing bike, doing laundry, listening to an entire Joy Division album all before I would usually get home from far races.

-Possible weekend Highlight: Helped Babik move an entertainment stand to his car. I start walking home and he yells that he needs help with one more thing. I walk in, ask what. He says filing cabinet. I picked it up and carry it to the car solo. Better hit the gym sprinter. SPAGHETTI ARMS!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The bike problem"

It has been about 7 years now of bike bike bike bike bike. That compounded with the fact that I dont like to throw anything away has become a huge problem. I am a cheap man, and when I get a deal on something (tubes for 2 dollars say) I buy A LOT of them. So every time a deal comes upon me, I buy stuff and store it away in the basement. The past few days I have been cleaning the basement and finding amazing things.

I found a case of tubes that I didnt know I had. I found no less than 20 cartridge brake pad replacements that are new in the box. 3-4 valve extenders, one new in bag. Three new in box bottom brackets (1 mega xo, 2 square fixed gear)....Close to twenty tire levers. Awesome. I found replacement pins for my Park tool chain breaker. Tons of stuff.

Other things I had in the basement that should have been sent to sea a long time ago: about 15 chain ends (you know, the 3 links that are left when you cut yours), about 20 used chains, a cracked fuji frame from my messenger days, no less than 15 wheels that are pretty much done and I will never fix (track cog worn down to the point the teeth are falling off and the rim is bent... rims with holes worn through the braking surface)... tons of crap of no value to anybody except the scrap yard.

I am still deciding if I am sentimental or just lazy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

At war.

Last week was the first battle. Trying to live the American dream on the cheap has me filling contractor bags with building stuff. The city says you can on their website and on the letter that they sent out. The garbage man said he wouldnt take it, although it met all parameters set by the city.
"Dont tell me how to do my job..." - Garbage man to me in my pajamas.

A call to the city, an hour standing out with the foreman and it is all resolved. The garbage man wasted my time, but my garbage is gone. This is a draw. The foreman gave me the supervisor's number, told me to call it. I did not due to not wanting to get anybody in any trouble, I just wanted my garbage gone.

Today it became personal when they left a 20lb bag of plaster/drywall dust outside. Bring it.

What they dont know is that they started a war with somebody who:
- Has unlimited time.
- Is convinced that he is 100% right 99% of the time.
- Will be "fixing 'er up" until they retire.

Foreman is on his way right now.

When I am not arguing with garbage men or writing emails to starbucks telling them that they were out of (and apparently never carried???) honey at the target starbucks (hell within hell) on route 8 (hell) in an effort to try and get free coffee cards, I am a bike racer.

Speaking of bike racing, there is a PITTSBURGH CROSS RACE. Sunday after Thanksgiving. 9 Days from today.
Here is how it works. You sign up. You race. It is successful. It happens again next year. That one is successful. Fred says "bike racing is awesome, I am going to put on Murrysville again." (Click the link and look at 8th place.)

Below is an image by John S. Minturn of me in my pajamas: 3XL white sweatshirt that looks like a cloud, and polypro hiking tights. Taking it back to 03 or so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My trip to find Ray Brower.

Miniturn had a copy of Stand by me on VHS. My ride giver had never seen it. This blew my mind.

I remember 1987 or so, walking for miles to the "EZ shop," to the only place that rented movies on VHS in the area. Our family didnt have a VCR, but the older kids that I walked with did, and we watched it at their house. As a young kid the movie was just a good story with a bunch of cool scenes, and of course a Cory.

Looking back on it now as I have grown up some, the movie is a good indicator of life. You make a group of friends, have a shared experience, and move on. You find new friends, new hobbies, new subcultures, new spouses, and leave the old. I still call them friends and email them occasionally, but I dont have their addresses or phone numbers.

In my life I have moved through lots of groups of friends. I have had over 30 roommates, with whom I shared some of the best/most ridiculous times in my life. (Calling everybody on the "phone list" {houses used to have phone lists before everybody had cell phones with numbers listed in them} to have a Gorilla Biscuits cover band show in our living room at midnight.) Or the time we evicted the homeless guy who was storing "stuff" in our basement for months on end. Those are a whole other book.

Anyway, my coming of age, story was riding across the States with 5 best friends in 2001. I spent a total of 400 dollars over 2 months and a total of 6 dollars to sleep. It was a contest of who could be the most frugal, who could think of the most obscure movie quotes, who could hold an inside joke the longest. This pretty much alienated us from everybody we met, and drew us in closer to one another. We were a bunch of "men" that would swim naked anywhere we could. We would stop to throw rocks at trains when the headwinds were winning the fight. We had unlimited time for a finite trip. I dont think any of us wanted it to end.

We literally got rained on for the first 31 days straight. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but every single day. We left Pittsburgh and got rained on everyday until the day we left Fargo ND. Warm rain, cold rain, fun rain, drive you to suicide sleeping in a wet tent with a wet sleeping bag rain.

The trip made me love America more than I ever thought I could. The trip made me love human beings more than I ever thought I could. People would ask if we were afraid of strangers. Strangers let us sleep in their garages or guestrooms, bought us dinner, bought us coffee, adjusted our derailers, cooked us breakfast in their closed restaurants... We didnt ask for anything from anybody, but people just offered.

We got caught in a tornado in Minnesota and a woman FORCED us to come into her house because she thought we were going to die. We were taking pictures of ourselves in front of the green sky when she found us. I just remember carrying my camping spoon filled with peanut butter into her house. Some things never change. She offered us food and drinks. She was poor. Not like me being a bum poor, but like offering us roadkilled deer meat that the state gave to her in a welfare program for the poor. She had nothing and she offered it to us.

The low point was finding the rope swing at dickey lake. A teenager had told us about it hundreds of miles before. We would ask every teenager where the swimming holes were and where the rope swings were. This rope swing ripped open Cy's taint and caused 100+ stitches in a very sensitive area. Again, nice people did nice things and we took a week off while he healed. He stayed in Whitefish and we camped at the lake. After one week off, we did back to back to back to back to back centuries and hit the Washington Ocean in six days.

This is long. The point is that these guys are all nearly gone from my life now. People who I spent one of the best times of my life with are out of contact and have grown apart. One is in Chicago and I think might read this. We are facebook friends. One is in Mongolia, I think? One is in the far off land of Philadelphia. One is in Arizona and we occasionally email, but I forget to respond and he probably thinks I am jerk. Finally one married an ex girlfriend, which made things weird at the time, and we havent spoken in 4 or 5 years.

Time flies, life is short, love your friends.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So I finally bought a tubular for cross.

Lazy me has 2 pairs of tubular wheels sitting in the basement waiting for cross tires on them. This has been for 3 years.

This weekend, Gabe who runs race wheel rental dot com offered me a set of his newest tubulars. Brand new, like NEW. "Nobody rented them, go for it." Wow thanks man, that is so rad of you. Needless to say, they ruled and I was actually sold on using them the next day for a FEE!

Being the nice mooch that I am, I offered to take them back to my weekend house (minturn's apartment) and clean them for the next day. They didnt make it. They totally blew off the wheel mounts on the roof rack. Worse things have happened and I didnt actually freak out. Gabe took it well enough and I bought myself a wheel. If you are between bridgeton and philly, go look for it, it was a nice wheel. Of course it had to be the rear, so I bought myself a nice cassette too.

The other lowlight of the weekend was finding out that Bridgeton was Saturday and Highland park was Sunday. I hate bridgeton (aka beacon cyclocross). There is tons of sand, and when there is not sand it is like 30 miles per hour on packed sand. Then there is the Amplitheater of Pain, which is just totally not fun.

Sundays race would have ruled if it were 35 minutes or so. I would have gotten a UCI point or two. Instead I got 13th. Thats how it goes.

I got the following emotional text message from Miniturn on the way home:
"While I was driving back I was thinking about us driving back rocking out to wu-tang and how sweet life was. I do miss it. Tell Patty she is lucky."

That is John talking about us driving to and from races when I was racing the B's and his pedals would fall off during the A's in 2005. Man time flies.
Patty = new pittsburgher who I bummed a ride off of.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Somali Halloween Pictures.

Two years ago, Amy went to Burger King and took like 20 crowns and they decorated them to make costumes. This year the a group of Pitt tutors found them a bunch of awesome costumes and dressed the kids up. My little favorite guy was heard yelling "Hey spiderman, I am Batman... HI" to another kid.
Cute overload.

The expired food store had organic chocolates cheaper than snickers bars, so that is what the kids in Lawrenceville got. It is like covert gentrification, get them hooked on fancy candy and shortly there will be fancy chocolate stores here like the mall at east side.

How much sass can you handle??

Little Somalia Rages.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Danny Chew Article.

Much like my article in Cyclocross magazine on Hebe, I used somebody else's hard work and determination for an article in the new Urban Velo.

The subject: DANNY CHEW.

Issue 10 Download. I cant help but think of all the time I would save if all magazines were downloadable! I would never have to ride my lazy ass over to bookstore and sit there and read all of their magazines without actually buying any. That would be pretty nice.

Anyway, enjoy.

Coming up: Pictures of Somali Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dont buy a car if you cant put air in the tires.

Seriously. Yes it is true that at one point in my life I got a flat in a borrowed car and had to ride my bike back to Amy's house (pre cell phones) to get her to come change it for me. I was impressed by her skills. She also opens jars for me.

Anyway, Friday night we were driving to the USGP in KY. I was crammed into a shoebox in the back of Ed's car for the entire trip, but that is another story. We stopped at a gas station, and I didnt get out of the car because it was POURING COLD RAIN. We see Craig run out of the gas station and give us the "1 minute" gesture, as we prances toward a caravan. There is a mildly obese mid western woman following him (with umbrella). We watch Craig fill up this woman's tires in her freaking minivan (with license plate that says "WOW GOD".

We watch this from the inside of Ed's car. But not after we watch the woman get inside of her car, with her umbrella and leave Craig in the pouring rain to fill up her tires. We were like "maybe she is going to hand him the umbrella through the window.... Nope.

So where does this take us? People who NEED lights that indicate when they need to put air in their tires are morons?? People with umbrellas are selfish? (this is something that I have stuck to for years) People in Ohio love god? Craig is too nice? In her defense, apparently she offered Craig A DOLLAR as a thank you. "can you please use me AND insult me?"

Anyway there were only 3 highlights to the weekend.

1) Talking to Todd Wells about bmx and it turns out that he came down to Pittsburgh from NY and RODE OUR TRAILS a few times over the years. What a crazy small world that he was like "oh Pittsburgh, did you ever ride PUSH?" and I was like "yeah dude that was like 5 years of my life."

When he lapped me 2 hours later I wanted to be like "Hey dude, we are bmx bros."

2) Going to dinner with the Pittsburgh guys. 7 dudes hanging out who would probably not talk to each other if it werent for bike racing. Best part of the conversation was when 2 dudes were telling Marine boot camp stories and then Euro Mike chimes in with "I was listening to NPR the other day..." Then Angry Andy talking about Obama taking away his guns or whatever, then Mike talking about going on a zen retreat for 10 days and not talking the entire time all while Pflugger is probably thinking up some crazy shit he can do to make is mountain bike faster or more unique.

Andy confirmed that the Dumbass who tried making the 15224 look ill totally made it up. This could be highlight 2.5 cause I was really happy to hear that it wasnt true. I am going to star the rumor right now that the police pulled over Santonio Holmes because he fit the description of the attacker (tall black dude.. who else?) So Ms Ashley Todd, not only did you lose any credibility you might ever have in your entire life, you made the Steelers lose too.
Andy yes, 15224 and Pittsburgh hate you.

I am going to make that an entire weekend highlight, upping it to 4.

4) Not getting lapped Sunday and feeling pretty good riding a cross bike with a bunch of REALLY fast dudes. Elliston, the Pabst guys, and I were looking around on the line and the PA guys were the only ones without carbon tubulars. Bill and I are from Steel towns, so we are holding it down with METAL RIMS!!!! The philly dudes are probably just drunk.

Below is a video from 1997 that I may have posted before, but I dont care cause these were the freaking glory days. Pennsylvania trails used to rule. If I paid more than 12/month of internet maybe I would be able to watch it too? Fast forward to 8minutes and 6 seconds in

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New non UCI cyclocross callup rules.

For non UCI races, apparently some promoters have been using to establish a start order, but I would like to recommend promoters follow these new rules.

1) First row is reserved for cyclists who have blogs in which they refer to themselves as "pro" bike racers. Yes they are posting from their day jobs as bike mechanics and computer geeks, but because they get lapped by Ryan Trebon twice a year they are now "pro." The front row is for these fine people.

2) Depth of wheels. The next row is reserved for those man enough to rock the 60mm rims, the trispokes, the disc wheels (seen it),( the Rev-x's dont count due to the extreme risk factor and social suicide of riding them) etc. Obviously if you are willing to put 3000 dollar wheels on the line, you are training harder than the most euro cross racers.

3) Smell. This is easy enough. The more liniment you rub all over your body, the more euro you look, and the faster you will go. You can be smelled from the last row by the official with the whistle. Move up.

4) Skinsuit to temperature ratio: The more inappropriate your skinsuit is for the weather, the further up you go. Long sleeves with a feed zone in the race because it is so hot? Move up. Shorts in KC in December. Move up. There is usually a direct correlation between the liniment and skinsuit rule.

5) Style off the bike. Can you be mistaken for (what people think) a not at work bike messenger (looks like) when you are not racing? Visible tattoos and piercings? Cycling caps and Chrome bags? Again, the final call ups are for you.

Tie breakers go straight to the hottness of the girlfriend which you brought to the race to cheer/pickup your jacket from the start grid. (Just realized that I usually have Mayhew or Ed, lose and lose again.)

Compound any of these for a guaranteed front row start.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New stuff = fun.

Logistic nightmare: Bum ride down from the Rowley's. Meet up with hebe after race, bum place to stay (thanks as always) and a ride back to race venue sunday. Hope to see Andy Gorski to bum ride home after race sunday. Have backup plan of mailing stuff home and doing a 180 mile single day ride on tuesday, chew style.

Iron cross lite. Old stuff. I have done it before and it is a regular cross race. Good times, but old stuff. Got dropped from the leaders, Hammakers chain got dropped from his gears and simonson won with flat bars.

Iron Cross regular = new stuff. The iron cross was the same amount of fun, the same ups and downs, the same pain and glory as an 8 hour race, but in half the time! That cannot be beat.

I decided last week that if I want to be a serious bike racer, I should get a Co2 thinger. I hate buying disposable stuff. It is like bottled water, you are paying a per fee use each time. I could have just carried a pump, but I would have lost like 3 more minutes. ughhh. Randy hooked me up with one that he won, and I was on my way. On my way to a freaking flat.

Long story short: Flatted 5 miles in. Picked my way through people for an hour. I am guessing around 120 people or so. Started being told I was in the top 20. Worked with Gorski a ton to work our way through people. Flatted agin, but right at an aid station and changed it with a floor pump. Finally found my way to 8th placish overall, 5th in the "senior men" category. Gunnar beat me on a single speed, and a couple of old guys finished ahead of me. It was hard going from the back to the front, but I got to ride my own ride and push myself instead of having my pace dictated by faster dudes, which may have resulted badly considering that we were bombing dirt roads at like 45 mph all day.

I wish there were more races like this.

Chew update: he hasnt eaten in 4 days and has lost 16lbs. Total body cleanse

Monday, October 06, 2008

6 Spinergy Rev X wheels spotted this weekend.

2 Saturday at the Hagarstown race.
4 Sunday at the Month of Mud race in grove city. 2 of those were in our car.
The Rev x's were rumored to have catastrophic failures, but chew has gotten 20,000 miles out of a pair, and Babik couldnt put the finishing blows on a pair during our "as many people ride as the low temperature" rides (ok it was really 8 degrees 4 people).

Anyway... One would think that racing the same people over and over every weekend would get boring. You can pretty much look at results and figure about where you would be in a cross race. If you cant do that, will literally do it for you, letting you put the bikereg preregistered list into it and they give the results of the race in advance.

This is all based on "math" and "logic" or whatever. Every once in awhile though, you have a good race, and somebody has a bad race and it works the other way. Last year, I remember a race where the dude who was supposed to win got dropped and a dude who was on a borrowed bike beat me in a sprint. Cross results wouldnt have predicted that.

Yesterday was similar. Poor ruggs tried some rocky IV type stuff and moved to remote Warren PA for super secret training and bachelor life. Something like that anyway. So of course we have done much battle in the past few years as we have become faster dudes together. Everytime it is awesome and fun to race somebody, even if you have raced them dozens and dozens of times before. It never gets old.

Speaking of getting old:
The nutella I had expired in 2008 despite everybody in the car trying to convince me that it was 2003. I bought it at the expired food store, and the first jar I had you couldnt tell the last number. I checked the second jar when I got home and can confirm it was only a few months expired, not a half a decade.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

financial realization.

There was a Target commercial on the TV the other night that was actually kind of right on. They know that most people are financially hosed right now, and a smart advertising person sold them a good idea: sell people things they need cause they arent buying things that they want.

So it is basically like "things you are going to pay a reoccurring fee for, just buy once and do it yourself." "gym membership" - shows a guy riding a bike. "hair cut" shows somebody cutting their own hair. Etc.

This is a great way to save money for sure. Those of us that are cheap enough to have gotten by for years doing these things (I have paid for 2 haircuts in the past 15 years, one of which was at "THE STRAIGHT EDGE BARBER" the other was 16 cents at a czech barber college) know how financially beneficial they are. (5 grand over 15 years?)

Honestly though, as one of the cheapest people ever, I feel threatened by this. If the average Target shoppers are hurting so badly that they need to live like my barely working self, does that mean that I am going to have to start working a lot more to continue to meet my low standard of living? This might be a true sign of the times.

Imagine going to work 40 hours a week at a job that you hate, paying 4 bucks a gallon for gasoline to get there, only to come home and not be able to afford the things that jobs are supposed to afford you. Wow, glad I came home from working all day to eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, after eating them for lunch, followed by eating peanut butter french toast for breakfast.

That scenario is like one step lower than what they are currently advocating.

PS. target if you read this (that one post the GM dude seriously read)... please pay me to film me walking around my house this winter wearing a parka and 3 pairs of long underwear and explain that you only need to buy these items once in exchange for 10 degrees on the thermostat at a reoccurring monthly bill.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another night another town another gig...

Those are lyrics to an old punk song about driving around the country in a shitty van and playing gigs and just generally being a bum. Sounds good to me.

Cyclocross is here, and it looks like at least one race every weekend until Mid December.

This past weekend was the Ed Sanders memorial cross race. This was my second time doing it, and the formality at the beginning was the similar to last year. The "elite" men took our helmets off and had a moment of silence for a man who was apparently killed while riding 6ish years ago. The race benefits his son who is now a barley a teenager, and is put on by his old club. Heavy.

So they call us up and the announcer says similar things to what he said last year. Until that moment, I forgot how emotional I got last year. I fidgeted with my brakes and glasses and skewers, in an effort to not get too choked up. I couldnt imagine if I were on the line and I had known him. It was one of those sad/happy moments where you take the good from the bad and think of cliches about how his memory lives on, but it really does.

Monday meant cleaning all of the mudgrasscrap off of my bike. I downloaded an old album (that I have on purple vinyl 1st pressing) to listen to while cleaning. The song I wanted to hear ends: "there's no "Shangri-La" and it don't get any better than right where you are"

Speaking of living life. Matt is doing a 508 mile race solo this weekend. Chew claims that when you do things like that, you experience MORE life due to no work/sleep/downtime. Each day you do an event like that and you are doing it for 24 hours, so its really like 1.5 or 1.75 days of real life.

Its like time travel man.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Apparently you have to know english to work the system.

9 am knock on the door. It is a Somali neighbor. She has a letter stating that her Access (food stamps) benefits are going to be terminated if she does not renew them. It is a 10 page document that after reading, I had a bit of trouble understanding all of.

She looks inside the house.
"Ladder." She says, proud of her vocabulary.

Great, now if only she could tell me the "the cause of denial for the most recent application for unemployment compensation benefits."

I invite her in to look at all of the paperwork. I call her caseworker. I can picture the woman on the other side of the phone. She is not an native English speaker, and I imagine that she has a reputation for being hard nosed.

"She has been here for three years, she should be able to call for herself." This woman says. She then lists the mountains of paperwork needed to refile. She needs a letter from her previous employer stating why and when she was laid off. "She should have this, and should have it filed." She needs all bills, all bank accounts, a copy of her lease, etc etc.

We got to her house to look at the paperwork she has kept. She hands me a pile of things that look important. Some junk mail has slipped in as well as some routine letters from her kids'school. There are some personal items and pin numbers that nobody should know but her scribbled on the papers. These are the things she has kept, thinking that she may need them later. She shows me her bank statement and her unemployment numbers and tells me the balance in her bank account to the penny.

No Unemployment letter. No layoff notice.

I call the PA unemployment center. It is ironic that the unemployment office is understaffed, I bet they can find some out of work people no? I wait 20 minutes and talk to a really awesome guy.
"Hi, I am calling for my neighbor blah blah"
"I need to speak directly to her."
"OK" and hand her the phone.
"Yes I do" and gives her social security number, proudly having remembered it.
"78. Yes. Yes, 19. Yes. 19 ... .. 78."
Long pause.
"I do not know..." I know exactly what is being asked, her date of birth. She doesnt have one. Much like immigration botching all of our ancestors' last names, they just gave all these people 1/1/year birthdays.
"January 1."

I get all of her paperwork together and tell her the final thing that she needs, the letter of termination from her last employer. She has 3 kids all at school right now, all less than 10 year old. It is unbelievable to me that had she not come over, she might have not had any money for food in October. What happens then? Her kids get taken away?

The "case worker" at welfare was so uncaring and callous it was pretty crazy. She gave me the wrong answers as to whom should be helping this woman. Her attitude was "its not my job..." She acted like her job was to fill in blanks on a computer screen rather than help people, which is supposed to be her freaking job.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guess who has a freaking blog?

Not Miniturn. Its gone.
Not Stubna.He was worried that the man might find it.
Not LIFSON, despite wishing he had one to brag about his big finish in DC on Sunday.

But rather Amy. She has taken the spare bedroom hostage and decided to dedicate more time to crafting. She makes stuff and sells it pretty cheaply. Not sure if it is one of those things like old men with metal detectors that comb the beach and average like a dollar a day, or if it is going to be my retirement fund.

Check it out and keep it on the RSS. Christmas is coming and everybody needs to buy stuff then, even Chew. There are some neat things, like the picture of the praying mantis we all saw before Jake and I had killer races.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bagels, Squagels, and Schmagelz. And Cyclocross

Bagels - you know them and love them
Squagels (watch it) - dont be oppressed by the tyranny of round.
Schmagel- what sheets calls a bagel for some reason. They have machines that you order from, so you dont have to actually say the word out loud. This is good, because adults shouldnt have to say words like "schmagel."

We did all three this weekend.

Leave at 7ish with Soupie and Brody for philly. We are to meet up with Miniturn and stay at his house. Unfortunately when we get there, we realized that Manyunk is the crappiest place ever, and there is LITERALLY not a usable parking spot within a 20 minute walk of his house. I call him (he was at a party until 3 am)

"Dude just park in front of a hydrant and move it at 5 am."
That was seriously the solution.

So when he comes home at 3 or whatever and I am sleeping in his bed, he wakes me up and we move the car. Miniturn's apartment was at max cap. 5 dudes in a 2 room place. Up at 7, coffee, coffee, coffee, squagel drive. Holy shit the race is 20 feet from where I busted my face on that chain!

Brett and soupie race and finshed mid pack. I raced and finished mid pack. I got dropped out of the group that was "my group." The group that if I had not raced, but instead only looked at the results I would be like "oh that is where I would have been." I got dropped from that group. UCI races pay like 40 people deep. Awesome.

Get in car. Drive to Bmore (the land of the wire). We took the stupid tunnel under the water twice because google maps was wrong. 2 bucks each way. Google - you owe me 4 dollars. Actually 1/3 of 4 dollars, and you owe Brett and Soupie the other money. I just want my money.

We eat and meet up with Jim, Pittsburgh punk guy who is also a bike racer / high energy full time spanish teacher part time bike shop guy who is just stoked all the time and now lives in Baltimore. He was once at a triathlon and randomly chatted up another dude there with lots of tattoos (if he were a Chinese teacher he could have been like "yo that Chinese character for TOFU that takes up your whole leg is pretty awesome,") and that is how he met Matt! Small world.

Asleep. Awake. Bagel. 10 minute drive to the course. The drive was long due to the fact that THEY CLOSED THE HIGHWAY FOR PEOPLE TO RIDE BIKES ON IT. I83 was closed for half of the day so pepole could ride/roller blade/jog or whatever on it. That is awesome.

Hey it is 100 degrees out, lets race cross. I remember last year hanging out with Fergie and talking about how our boogers were going to be black for a week from the dust. Same thing this year. Oh hey, they have FREE WATER, FREE VITAMIN WATER AND FREE REDBULL. I was freaking hydrated. Seriously though, the organizers of the race really have it together and put on one of the best races I have ever done.

I pitted the B race and the Elite masters race. Pitting is basically sitting in the grass and yelling. Other people seem to be better at it, and they "hold the bikes" or whatever, but I was just kind of sitting in the grass.

My race was awesome, small field, good finish, lots of people yelling. At one point I look up and see that somebody is standing there with a cardboard sign with name on it. Apparently TJ sent his protege with a sign telling me that I should be trying a lot harder (in different words).

After being dropped and catching back on, then losing the Circle a dude (after sitting on him cause I was blown a few laps before) the battle of the sub 135 lb dudes ensued as Bad Andy and I duked it for a few laps for the final podium spot. Andy was riding really really well, it was impressive. We kept trying to shake each other. I guess this is me describing a bike race, which is like... watching a bike race. Anyway, at one point I sprinted up a hill as hard as I could to try and shake him, and HE CAME AROUND ME! Gnarly. I won the sprint and stopped C3 from Domo'ing the race.

Sheetz in Breezwood = schmagel.

I never have pictures of bike races, but this is sweet. I cant believe Ben was there and just happened to take it! I am the most non aggressive dude in the race I think. I back off easily and am intimidated. Its just not worth being a jerk, or crashing. However yesterday I was coming up on this dude and he was moving over. I think it was all chance, but I let him know I was there for sure. Minturn would be proud.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My coach is telling people my numbers...

People kill me sometimes. I had to slog my way back to the cars after (kind of barely) finishing the Giro de Coppi road race. I found my way to the water cooler and plunked myself down on a chair next to the free water. There are two guys talking. Guy #1 is the future of cycling... he knows how many watts/kilo he is putting out even while standing and talking. Guy #2 is everybody else, he just didnt seem to get it.

Guy #1 is certain of his future as a cyclist.. based on his numbers and what his coach is telling him. He is asking about teams for the next year, and all but bragging about "his numbers." If you are a DS of an elite team, his coach may be calling you right now telling YOU his numbers.

We have all heard this before, but numbers are not a determining factor of success. Think about intelligence, think about the smartest person that you went to high school with. Is that person now also the RICHEST person that you went to high school with? I am guessing 9/10 times he or she is not. One is not an indicator of the other. This also brings up the point of entitlement. A person is not entitled to results based on power numbers, if this were the case we could save money on gas and race computrainers. (Except maybe time trials? that dude that flatted seemed to be able to calculate his "would have" time.)

Have you seen zoolander? Is a cyclist standing around talking about his power numbers the same as models standing around talking about how handsome they are? When I played chess, I dont remember people sitting around talking about their IQ's or their GRE scores or anything. Why do people think it is socially acceptable to underhandedly brag about their power numbers? By the way, the dudes who rode away from us and crushed the race, I didnt hear any of them talking about their numbers afterward.

Maybe I am harshing on this guy, I dont know him and I am judging him based on 5 minutes of conversation he had. I am just kind of tired people looking at that chart and deciding they should all be domestic pro's based on their 20 minute time trial numbers.

My advice to this guy was going to be "talking about your power numbers is only going to make people notice that you are a braggart, getting race results will get you noticed as a cyclist." I have raced with dudes who were CRAZY strong, but not smart, and visa versa. Try to get your race smarts as high as your power numbers and see where you end up.

Speaking of racing smart, I did not do this yesterday at Coppi. A good rule of thumb is "know the course before you attack." Halfway through the first lap, I was redlined trying to get up to the initial break. The course was relentless and it took me like 2 more laps after being caught to recover from that. Ouch.

Last lap our "field" split into two and I tried too hard to bring it back. There were teams with more than one guy, and I was doing too much work. I got gapped on a climb and they sure as hell didnt wait up. I had to do a last slow lap to show up on the results (possibly as last place).

THE LAST LAP WAS LIKE A BATTLEFIELD. Ramon and I passed 2 freaking guys on the side of the road that looked dead. They both cramped and had to just lie down. That is crazy. It is fitting that the last road race of the year was also one of the hardest.

Next weekend = 2 uci cross races.
Oh man.

Monday, September 08, 2008

So if you have any guilt about your multiple 10,000 dollar bicycles.

If you are at all like me, you sometimes look at your bikes and wonder how you could spend so much money on "stuff." The Somali parents laughed when I told them that my bike cost a few HUNDRED dollars. They thought it was hilarious. They lived off of pennies worth of food per family per day for years on end. It is also hypocritical of me to criticize people for having air conditioned couches or whatever when I have carbon fiber wheels with disposable tires.

Well I have let the guilt go. There are people doing stupider things than bike racing and WASTING MORE MONEY DOING SO!

I present:
Altitude tents for dogs.

This isnt a joke.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Miniturn (aka john of john forgot to turn off his own Ipod) got a PRO contract.

After years of toiling on the verge, miniturn finally stepped up his game and got a pro contract. PRO teacher that is. He will be teaching Math to like 8th graders or something. You have made Rudy and your parents proud.

Little did he know, he was about to jump into my "fab 5." The five people that I can call for free during normal hours. With his new life, he will be "working," and unable to take my calls.

First Stubna, now Miniturn. Who is next ... .. CHEW?!?!

BUSTED FACE (teeth always like that)

Fixed with super glue (the bottom cut I could shoot peroxide through)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shenandoah 100. Long Long Day. Trip Stats

Matt and I got to the venue at 4ish Saturday. We took a 45 minute cruise, checked out the first hill, then ate some free dinner.

Asleep at 945pm.
Awake at 1030pm. Pouring rain. Buckets. Lots of rain.
Awake again at 445am.
Bucket of coffee. Peanut butter, bagel, air pressure etc.
The line up at 615.
No gun, no announcements. Just "Go"
Insanity ensues as 500 people fly down double track.
First climb goes ok. I make the group of "mortals" and watch the fast dudes ride away. They are so fast it is insane.

Second climb is singletrack and like 99 miles long. I realize that I am as wet as I would be if I had gone swimming. Humid to say the least. I push. No literally push, like off of my bike. People around me push too. Crazy descent. Get passed.

Third climb is a dirt road. It is so crazy long. I cant explain how steep and long it was. Like 8% for an hour or something.

Spk Speedgoat guys specialize in flatting then beating me, so Gorski comes up on me after changing his flat and rides through me.

We crest the climb strung out, but all in sight. I flat on the descent.

My arms were too tired to change the flat. It literally takes me 20 minutes to change it. 20 f'ing minutes to get the tire back on. My fingers wouldnt work, and my arms cramped when I pushed on the bead. Yes I had levers too.

It was really neat to see the difference between the group I was in and the group 20 minutes back. I suck at descending. With the new hole in my lip, I was especially cautious. I was riding through guys. Weird.

5 miles of pavement. Just picking guys off.

4th climb was long singletrack. I was taking it easy, being chatty and just riding my own ride.

An hour later we start the 16 mile climb. "The LAST FIVE MILES are steep" was what everybody would say. That is a ridiculous statement. I just went at my own pace and caught a good 15 people or so, including the race promoter who got to participate, which is awesome for him.

The 16 mile climb was the easiest. It was awesome. The aid station at the top had coke. I was stoked.

I rode with some of the WV guys, of whom at least 1 flatted, we cruising along and picked people off.

More GNARLY descending. Not stoked. Pushed it a bit too much.

Caught a few more guys at the last aid station. 1 climb to go. I ride my own pace and come in for 42nd or something.
Ride time 8:40
Clock time 9:10
That sucks.

Cannonball run home to get Matt to the airport. 5 hours, 1 stop.


1300 miles driven.
56.3 mpg average for them all.
93 dollars in gas for 1300 miles. That would be like 225 dollars cross country.
PA, NJ, MD, WV, VA, all touched.
Right around 26 hours of good riding in 8 days.

Places hit in order:
Roaring run, Bavington State Game lands, Frick Park, Tussey Mountain ridge, Rothrock State forest, Salisbury State park, Jacobsburg state park, Shennendoah.

Apparently Krall has a redline conquest scandium cross bike for me in his apartment to race around in circles in the fall. Awesome.

Iron Cross Long: yes

Pics coming when matt uploads them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cyanoacrylate. aka super glue.

Matt said that it defined our generation.

I flipped over the bars, put my teeth through my upper lip. Teeth are fine. Everything is cool, just a hole and some blood.

We go home and think what to do. Stitches? Not sure if they can even stitch a lip this close to my mouth.

I do lots of internerd research and come up with "Dermabond." It is made by johnson and johnson, is used in hospitals instead of stitches, and seems like what I want.
Oh its like 400 dollars and you can only buy it online.

More internerd research leads me tothis...

Cyanoacrylate is the generic name for cyanoacrylate based fast-acting glues such as ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate (commonly sold under trade names like Superglue and Krazy Glue), n-butyl-cyanoacrylate (used in the veterinary glue LiquiVet), and 2-octyl cyanoacrylate (used in medical glues such as Indermil, Histoacryl, Dermabond, Nexaband, and Traumaseal). Cyanoacrylate adhesives are sometimes known as "instant glues". The acronym "CA" is quite commonly used for industrial grades.

So Super Glue and Dermabond are nearly the same thing, one is just FDA approved and has "2-octa" in front of it. I have no idea what that means. Standard Super Glue was used in Vietnam to seal guys up quickly.

The procedure took about 5 minutes. I cleaned the cut (again), pinched my lips together how I want them to look for the rest of my life, and then applied glue. 12 hours later, it still looks good. The glue hardened and turned white, which looks gross, but it is still holding.

Hopefully it doesnt kill me. "At least I will leave a beautiful corpse" - Otto from the simpsons.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bromance. Road Trip.

Broing down hard the last bunch of days.
Limited internerd time is a good thing. Maximum ride time is a good thing.

Matt flew in Friday night.

Saturday we rode roaring run. We swam naked under a waterfall. I got attacked by a snake and had to shimmy up a rope to avoid it circling around me while my "friends" laughed and didnt chase it away. We hit a gnarly restaurant in Apollo and got more food for 50 dollars than I could buy at KML (expired food store where I shop).

Sunday we met up with pROwley at Bavington for a crazy fast fun ride. Drove back to the Burgh on fumes with the gas light on (sorry amy), ate food and headed to frick for an evening ride. Frick is rad, but gets super boring alone. It was funny seeing how stoked matt was on it. It made me restoked for it.

Monday we headed to State college in the afternoon and rode Tussey Mountain. We stopped by nitanny wheelworks where the dude printed out a map for us. We hooked up with BAR warrior Straub and roached beds off of him.

Tuesday was Rothrock. Tons of rad stuff. Way more my style than the Tussey stuff. Twisty turny singletrack with isolated rock gardens. Rad long ride.
We drove back to State College in time to ride the Tuesday shorttrack ride/race thing. Some dude who runs it was CRAZY fast through these woods. You could only pedal one time before another turn hit you. It was hard and fun. LONG day.

Weds was traveling to the Lehigh Valley where Matt is from. We hung with his friends and went out with another former BMX guy for some trail riding, but flats and darkness prevented it. We turned it into bunnyhopping stuff and sprinting around Allentown for a bit.

Today we rode Salisbury trails in Bethlehem. A dude met up with us and led the ride. He was on an "all mountain" specialized and could ride over boulders downhill at like 50. It was a rad trail system. Tonight we will head to the trails behind Lehigh university.

-The prius is averaging 56.6 mpg.
-All of Matt's childhood friends have hand, neck, or face tattoos
-Said friends also own crazy businesses and are more successful than most

Pennsyvlania Mountain Bike Tour 2009 is 1/2 over.
Matt has a non analog camera, so pictures are coming. Rad.

Friday, August 22, 2008

So I am an old man.

In 1 day I wrote the following letters.

- Post-Gazette: telling them that the shooting on mine and babik's street was in Bloomfield, not Lawrenceville as the title of the article stated. They really cant seem to get it right.

- Whole foods: telling them that their peanut butter has gone up 60 cents per 18/oz in the last 6 months while Trader Joe's has only gone up a dime. I dont understand how that is possible.

- Trader Joes: telling them the same thing, also saying that their bagels have gone from 1.99 to 2.29 in the last week. I used to buy their crappyish bagels for 2 bucks, but now they are almost the same price as day old Brueggers bagels, which are better and have 1.5 times as many calories!!!

- Called 311 (mayor's non emergency complaint line) to complain about the debris in the yard of the crackhouse across the street. They dont really care about crack dealing apparently, but when I complain about debris the landlords show up to clean it up.

- Post-Gazette: 2 letters in one day. This one got published. THEY PUT BLOOMFIELD IN THE ADDRESS!!!!! I swear they did it just to screw with me. Oh well at least the angry yizner mobs will be off by at least 1 block when looking for me.

Last night I was eating spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar when babik texted me and said he and Rob were doing Dirty Dozen hills. Weird.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What did you do at school today?

"Ate Cheese."

That was the answer that my man Ramazani (link is story about him crapping on my floor) gave me one day. He is my favorite of my 30 or so Somali neighbors. Amy says it is unfair to have favorites, but its my life and Im going to live it my way.

Anyway, the Trib did an article on how the kids are fitting in. (article online here)It is a fluff piece. There is actually a lot of strife between the Somalis and the American blacks. There are groups trying to bring them together and doing stuff about it, which is great. That is not why I am writing this. I am writing to show you my main man, in the newspaper with his shirt pulled over his head, eating a grilled cheese.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gas pumps hate us.

I have been watching the olympics. The trade off for having short commercial breaks is the frequency in which they have them. I have been stuck watching lots of commercials, or rather, the same commercials over and over. Being somebody who doesn't really buy anything, and who doesn't really aspire to own much of anything, they are all lost on me. Amy gets to hear my ranting about most of them, but the worst of them all is the new Chevy commercials, and it is so bad that I will rant here.

If you have not seen it yet, you aren't missing much. Some overpaid "creative" type thought about who would benefit the least from a few extra MPG's attached to these cars. Not the evil gas corporations who are posting record profits, not the death squads that shell hires to kill the natives (not being dramatic), this person came up with gas pumps. Assigning feelings to an inanimate object... funny, cute quirky.

Anyway, I just thought they were dumb until I saw the one about the Chevy Tahoe, then I became somewhat outraged. GM is bragging that the Tahoe gets 20mpg HIGHWAY. According to it gets 14mpg city. They are bragging about this. They are taking something really bad and calling it good, and then trying to sell it to people. Are people so dumb that they are believing it? Maybe the person that I made fun of above is actually a genius and knows exactly how to get people to believe total bullshit. Maybe I have too much faith in the average car buyer's IQ.

"Hey look 19mpg is REALLY BAD, but 20 is AWESOME. Forget about the fact that cars made 20 years ago were getting 40mpg highway (9er the whiner's ford escort from the 90's recently did this, as does Chew's mom's geo metro from the 80's), forget that you could have double this, buy the one that gets 1 mpg extra and feel like you have won something."

Just to check myself I looked at the 89 geo metro at 51 highway and 43 city. I guess progress is making something 3 times as big and only halving its gas mileage.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The jig is up. The news is out.

Jake came up with a new story this weekend about his first concert ever.
"I went to see Styx play. I had no idea what the concept of an encore was, and they finished and left the stage. I was like "What... they arent going to play Renegade?!?!?!"
The sad thing is, I think he was like 18 or so in 1984 when this all happened. My math might be off.

Babik got 2nd in a 62 mile road race with like 5000 feet of climbing. FREAKY!

Dan Chew is finishing up back to back to back 1000+ mile weeks this week. Yes that is 3 weeks.

First Spanish cyclist tested positive for EPO. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!!?!?!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Olympics... Road trip... Bike racing....

This site has a good listing of olympic cycling.

I had been looking for awhile and really couldnt find anything. Hope this helps.

There is nothing new under the sun. Cyclocross is like 4 weeks away. That is crazy. Elite nationals are like this week, whoops guess I missed the ball on that one! My quote to Turner, "Yeah dude you can take my bike box, I can drive to Ohio to get dropped, I dont need to fly to Orange County." Have fun.

In a few weeks, my buddy Matt and I are going on "tour." In the 90's, anybody who was remotely cool in the world of BMX would go on "tour." It basically meant driving around for a few weeks during the summer and hitting as many trails as possible. It was maybe 1995 when Matt and Cory Muth and I drove around for a bit, riding trails and hitting "jams." A jam was when kids at local trails decided to have people from other trails come visit them and just ride all day, BBQ, give away prizes for cool tricks or hard crashes.

My destination was "the fat house," a place in Ft Wayne, Indiana that was filled up with dirty BMX dudes. They paid like 80 bucks a month in rent, rode nonstop and ate free bread from the goodwill 2 blocks away. The backyard had a 5' mini ramp (this was before every freaking neighborhood had a skatepark), there were good trails a few miles away, and there was lots of riding to be had. We would get up at noon, ride to the trails, ride the trails, ride home, eat mac and cheese and sit on the porch all night. The ghetto of Ft. Wayne provided nonstop entertainment. This may have been the last time Matt had a 40, when he was 16 with a FULL BEARD and bought it without an ID.

I basically spent two weeks trying to be older than I was, riding a ton, and trying to hook up with girls 5 years my senior. Matt and I will spend a bit over a week trying to be younger than we actually are, riding a ton, and checking in with our ladyloves as much as possible. Some things have changed, some never will.

We will head from Pittsburgh to State College to ride the trails there, then head to the Lehigh valley, where Matt grew up. We will ride some there before heading to the Shennendoah 100. We should be super fresh for the 100 mile race from driving/riding/camping a ton.

Matt is going to head home and do the Furnace creek 508. Solo. 508 miles solo = not fun.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Wilderness 101. Lead in, Race, Follow up.

Last weekend there was a sweet road race in SWPA. It was hot and windy and we all got beat up on by a fast guy. When I got there, the schaf-dog said "dude why are you limping?"

Sunday night I fell asleep on the futon. Dont worry, I dont actually have a futon frame or furniture or anything, but just a futon mattress on the ground in the living room. By living room I mean the 3rd bedroom because the living room is filled with building debris. Anyway, Im lying on the futon mattress on the ground after I wake up from the nap. My back is killing me. Not like "oh I am sore, this sucks" type of pain, but more like a "who do I know that can get me illegal drugs to stop this" type of pain. I took ibprofin for the 2nd time in like 10 years and tried going to sleep. I couldnt walk, move, roll over, or do anything for the next 36 hours or so. I quickly contacted anybody who I thought could give me guidance.

I avoided all guidance and did the oval Wednesday and felt ok. 3 hour ride Thursday and felt fine.

I committed to not backing out of the 101 and took my bike to the bike shop and paid for tons of crap. New tires, cables, chain, hanger, hub bearings and cones in the rear.. I dont even remember what all was done. Randy at Trek of Pittsburgh did a awesome job and put me on top of the priority list. Rad.

4 people, 1 truck, 3.5 hours of driving and we are in Coburn PA.

5:45 am came quickly. I joked about getting on rollers for a warm up. I freaking should have. My logic and plan were this: "You got dropped by the leaders last year on a descent because you had a singlespeed. Stay with the leaders as long as you can this year because you have gears."
That lasted 8 minutes or so until the lead group freaking dropped me. A gap opened on the first climb and I just didnt think I should try to close it.

I fell into the group that I should have been in. I will call it "the group of mortals." A bunch of guys with real jobs, and me, places 9ish though 17thish. In this group I sat for the next 7 hours and 36 minutes for 11th place. The end.

-Wes stopping on a singletrack descent to move a tree that could have killed somebody. I was like "call out when you want to pass" and he caught up like 2 minutes later but only like 50 feet later, on a descent, cause I was going so freaking slow.

-Attacking guys on the road after bridging back up to them after they dropped me on singletrack downhills. I was totally joking, but I stealthily bridged back up to a few guys who thought I was gone and pretended to attack them when I got there. It was funny, to me at least.

-Not being the fastest, but being the most polite. If there was an podium for it, I would be ON TOP OF IT. Every aid station, I was so freaking nice. I went so far out of my way to thank everybody and called them all sir and mam. Each time I left an aid station I would say "you guys are the best, thank you SO much!!" Although I didnt hear it, Im sure some jagbag yelled at them, so hopefully I offset it a notch. Oh wait, maybe not this isn't a road race.

-No flats, no real mechanicals (my chain wrapped around my cranks and maybe my wheels or something crazy on one descent, I thought my race was over, but it was fine after I chilled out and fixed it), no crashes.

-Remember how shitty I felt at certain points last year and comparing those feelings to this year and thinking "man disc breaks are cool" or "the extra 2lbs of this shock fork thing really are worth it"

-Lying (again) in the ice cold creek after the race, and the gluttony that ensued.

-Finally beating Gunnar at a mountain bike race. I mean it mathematically had to happen eventually right?

-Hanging out with fun people after the race and camping out again. The last two 100 milers that I did, I cannonball run'ed it straight home.

Good quotes
-"Im not going to yell at you, this isnt a road race." -Pflug after I buzzed his wheel with mine on a climb

-"I sat on their wheel." Nicoll referring to the couple on the tandem. He attacked them in the last 300 meters.

-"I was hoping you would stick with me and share the work." Pflug after the race referring to when he dropped me super hard up this gnarly climb as if me being dropped was totally out of his control or something.

And for when you REALLY have nothing to do, like Johnturn, you can go offroading in your Euro car through corn fields in Iowa and get it stuck.

Sorry so crappy, I am tired.

Maybe some good can come from the bad.

I got an email from Ruggs today.

A friend of his has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has since gone blind from it.
Joe is riding the 7 springs solo race to raise money for his friend's family.
Maybe Joe can raise enough money to ease a fraction of the burden on the family.
The link has a lot more information including easy ways to donate (100% will go directly to the family). This could happen to anybody reading this or anybody you love. Life is really hard sometimes, and it is easy to ignore hard times that others go through.

I have seen some "elite bike racers" who have paypal donation things on their blogs for people to help them out with race entries and travel. That is ridiculous. However if everybody who reads this post tomorrow (it seems blog traffic goes up Mondays when everybody goes back to work and wants to read about the previous weekend's bike racing) donates 1 single dollar, it will be close to 200 bucks and we can all feel good about ourselves.

I will post about the wilderness 101 later.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Local 'elite athlete' cannot mow his own lawn."

Pittsburgh, PA

Lawrenceville resident Stephen Cummings is having trouble with grass. "We bought the house and thought the yard was a bonus, but cutting it has been really strenuous." Cummings is an "elite level cyclist," commonly competing against current and past professionals. He trains somewhere between 13-20 hours per week, teaches exercise classes for money, and tries to eat a healthy vegetarian diet. The yard in question is roughly 300 sq feet, or the size of an decent living room.

"We won the team time trial on Saturday, averaging 27.8 mph for 20 miles, and then I did a hard four hour training ride on Sunday. I felt really good riding on Sunday, and should have probably driven to the mountain bike race that I was looking at." Instead, after the ride, Cummings took on his yard. "Its just unbearable, the sun beats down on me, the grass is super high, and my heart rate is spiked by the time I get to the far end, and then I have to come back and then do that like five more times. I am thinking of paying the little Somali kids to cut it with scissors or something, cause it is seriously wiping me out."

Cummings concluded with "It still isnt as bad as the time Amy went on vacation and I let it go for two months and we got a letter from the city, it must have taken me a month to recover from that effort."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So I won a writing contest...

No I didnt apply for a Fulbright, Stubna.

A few months ago, a woman came up to us at a bike race with a petition for building a velodrome in Cleveland. She asked if we could "give support." I said, "I have a lot of support, I have very little money." And that was the truth. A lot of people go out of their way to do things to make the world a better place. A lot of people do this thanklessly. Bike race promoters do a lot of work for very little in return. Actually, it seems most lose money.


I entered the "promote your favorite promoter" contest at cyclocross magazine. I emailed Mr. Hebe today, and in my inability to ever be serious I just said "Hey man, hope you dont mind, I just wanted the brakes." (prize for the contest)
Of course this was total BS. I wrote the article because when I saw it, I could only think of him. The guy puts so much freaking time and energy into it all, he must absolutely love it more than most people can comprehend, or else he wouldnt be doing it any longer. I honestly thought they would get more than one submission about him. Hell, maybe they did.

I cant give much in return for people's efforts. I can give thanks. I can give support.

Thanks Hebe for putting on races.
Thanks for picking me and giving me sweet brakes and cables!

Cyclocross Magazine Contest Winners Announced Here

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Maybe one of the most depressing things ever.

While riding her bike across the country in 2005, Amy met a man who gave her the best advice anybody could give a cross country cyclist. "People are going to ask you if you are afraid of strangers. People are going to ask you if you are carrying a gun. People are not your enemies, cars are. Be very careful of cars."

And so it goes. A father with his partner and two children, all riding across Canada to raise money for diabetes were all hit by a car. The adults died, and the kids were injured.

Their blog, which was apparently being hosted by national geographic Canada said the following:
"[H]e and his family are making the Ride of a Lifetime, a cross-Canada fundraising bike trip to raise $500,000 for diabetes research and to show that diabetes doesn’t have to stop people from living an active lifestyle."

... Neither should fear of cars goddamn it.

Their blog.

So many things happen and you make note of them, then you forget.

Sometimes stuff happens and I make a mental note hoping to blog about it. I usually forget. Yesterday and the day before had so many.

Last night, Amy and I walked to the Lawrenceville Independence day celebration. We took some of the Somalis and met up with more there. Im guessing the total was about 30 kids. The mother of some of the kids, Ruekia, was communicating with Amy as we grabbed the kids. I say communicating because she has the vocabulary of a 4 or 5 year old.

"Go to doctor. You have no baby. Go to doctor."

Its funny, because she is actually the mother of one of the only children I have ever been around that has made me actually want kids of my own. RAMAZANI! He and I bro'ed down pretty hard last night. I was there for his questions. For a 4 year old, they were pretty good.
- "Will the fireworks hit the moon?"
- "Can airplanes go to the moon?"
- "Do rockets go to the moon?"
- "are rockets airplanes?" (I see a lawyer in the future.)
- "Is it going to rain (after fireworks) because of the clouds (smoke)?"
- "are you going to sleep after the fire works?"
- "did you ride baskeelee (bicycle) here?"

There were about 2 million other questions that just made no sense. They mostly revolved around fear of lightening bugs, how Frisbees work, how lightening bugs work, why mosquitoes drink blood, how mosquitoes see at night without lights etc.

BIKE RACING - One of the most inversely proportional things as far as doing to reading about goes. (Except live coverage and Tim Krabbe novels)

WVMBA race to little Moe's place.
Crazy fast start. No warm up for us, as we got there 30 minutes prior to start. I had 5 hours in my legs from Friday, which isnt an excuse, I think I would have finished in the same spot if I hadnt, it just made it harder.

It was so freaking muddy, it was like riding in a fun house. You had to steer left to go right. It was like being drunk in a fun house made of LSD, while being blindfolded and occasionally the floor drops out from under you.

Thought process: "Dont dab, damnit be cool, cyclocross remount. ok now you are rolling. damnit cyclocross remount. dont throw your bike. stop being a baby. how was gunnar riding with his bike perpendicular to the trail? seriously, off camber muddy rock gardens? I hate running. I hate walking up hill. I hate my plantars warts. I should have done the MASS race. how long until Justin P catches me? 2 laps would have been way more awesome. you are blown, just quit. I hate the heat. I hate sweating. How come I cant suffer like this on the road anymore? "

4th place. Dick spot. (This is the first place to not get money... anybody need a Deore rear derailer... I know a guy with one)

I also want to make a note to the woman in the pink jersey. I was racing along in my 22x32, anaerobically spinning up a climb that was muddy as hell, had rocks sticking out, was off camber, I think there were elves shooting arrows at me too.

I muster out a "left." It might not have sounded like anything more than a grunt.
She is walking her bike, already a bit off the trail. I pass her.
It was seriously like 4 minutes earlier that I had considered throwing my bike. It was one of the most frustrating races ever. Until her, most of my passing had been on the flats and consisted of "left, thanks bro" or "left, thanks a ton man." etc. I was riding, she was walking, so by RULES she had to yield to me AND she was a lap or two down. I wanted a reason to quit, and considered turning around to go back and tell her what I really thought of her and her attitude.

Instead, I will just write it here. We are all frustrated in the mud. Being mean to others does not dry the trails. Being mean to people who are better than you as they pass makes you look super insecure and jealous. You are one or two laps down, maybe watch how the people passing you are taking lines and learn to ride a bike better rather than being so negative and bringing down the entire vibe of the race.
Or if you want to continue to be a total dick, start (or go back to) road racing. ZING!

Towards the end, I saw the fast dudes about to win, and was happy they hadnt finished yet, cause I had figured they were going to beat me by like 9 minutes. Maybe they did.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

some pretty amazing quotes from the past week.

"Dude... do you know how to cook broccoli?" - Minturn

"Gotlieb is kind of the Erik Zabel of the Pittsburgh peloton... he has been around forever, can sprint, can make the front group and races smart." - Lifson

"I am going to sit in today" - Decanio (most agressive racer ever)pre Tour of Ohio Crit.

"Lets chase down that mother f'ing yellow jersey" - Same Decanio, no more than 25 minutes later

"why are your teeth so big?" - Ramazani to me

"and then I was telling the stripper about my girlfriend and she said to bring her to the club sometime" - I will leave this anonymous

"Man, why aint you racin in the tour of pennsylvania man? you got the outfit man. you look sharp, I like that outfit man." - neighborhood crackhead / wino who might not know what year it is, but does know that there is an elite bike race happening right now. This goes to show how well they did with the advertising.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Well after my crap day,all that was left of the TofOH was just a crit and a RR, which I finished or whatever. Oh well.

Some amazing things from the week:

- The tour of Ohio was an ABR race. This means non USA Cycling. ABR is grassroots midwest bike racing. The joke the entire week was that there were "no rules." It all came to fruition during the start of the Crit when the Chief official officially announced that there were indeed "no rules" regarding stage race times, and we would default to the USAC equation for dropped riders. No rules!

- The last stage had some "weather warnings" which turned into 50 mph winds and lightening strikes all around. We could literally see the lightening strikes and the thunder was close enough to feel it in my chest. I watched at least one dude get BLOWN in to the ditch on the side of the road.

-Decanio is maybe the most aggressive rider ever. Without knowing the course at all, he attacked the neutral roll out of the road stage, and attacked and attacked and attacked and then probably realized how bad of an idea it was around the 4th or 5th KOM. He also attacked the breakaway that he was in. All of this enforced the enigma that he is and was compounded by the Joe Papp trash talk on his website. We pretty much spent the entire weekend google stalking him and waiting for website updates.

- If you have ever taken your car to a junk yard thinking that it was dead, it probably was then taken to Ohio and is still being driven today. Duct tape is ok for windows and bumpers are optional. ABR probably runs the DMV too.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Stage three of the tour of ohio. The tour of the land of duct tape windows. The tour of a place where it is legal to ride a dune buggy with license plates down the highway.

The stage looked to be pretty hard. 60 miles according to the race bible. 68 miles according to the Garmin on Rowley's brother's bike. It was a lolipop state, heading out to a town then doing a loop, then coming back.

Early into the race, I had some shifting troubles, then some pedaling troubles. Turns out my lockring was stripped. I turn around to get a neutral wheel from Shimano, and they are like a quarter mile back switching out another dude's wheel. They come up to me, we do the change. The field is gone. I hold onto their truck going about 55 for maybe 3 minutes before I decide that it is not worth dying to get same time on GC.

I turn around and ride home to watch the finish.
The finish had a chicane and then a 1k climb that was steep. Apparently in true bike race fashion, there was a huge crash right before the turn. Everybody got the same time despite time splits. The group had like 80 guys in it.

The sprint that the winner had left was pretty impressive after that climb.

The dude who came in second was swearing a ton going across the finish line for one reason or another. They relegated him. Whoops.

Today is a crit and tomorrow is a circuit race. I just hope my luck doesnt get worse.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tour of Ohio post #1

Two stages in, three to go.
Yesterday's crit was a joke. It was 1/2 mile with 120 guys on it. If you werent in the top 30 after 3 laps, you werent going to be. Then they pulled you. Oh well.

Today was an epic 70ish mile road race. 5 kings of the "hill." Lots of fast rollers and fast dudes. The move was made in the exact same spot as the year before, and again I missed it. I blew way too much energy trying to get into the move once it was gone. I cant believe some teams have literally 8 or 9 guys and werent lining it up at the front to bring them back. They were only a minute down.

Going into the last climb, I was in the 7th place - 20th place group and the "field" caught us. I then got dropped on the last KOM. Holy hell was it hard today. Dudes who were dropped before that hung on to the group for a top 10. Oh well, bike racing.

I cant believe how hilly it was today. The finish time was about the same as last year, but I felt way worse. It was cooler. I vurped all over my face at one point, that was the first time I have ever done that. Not fun. I really thought I was going good right now, but I cant seem to go, even on the hills. There are a few HARD stages left, so hopefully I can pull something out.

Lancaster Ohio is America. There is a town, and 3 miles out of the town there is the shopping district. People drive their trucks to the walmart and mcdonalds to do the shopping, then drive back to town. Walmarts in Pittsburgh are pretty scary, but in rural Ohio, it was astounding how poor and gnarly the people were. Johnturn and I were trying to decide on a pasta sauce, and a random woman who told us "the cheapest is always on the bottom" as if she was sure that is what we were searching for. So poor.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

JULY 20th Fort Cherry Road Race announcement

Please come out to the Pittsburgh area for the 1st annual Fort Cherry Road Race.
There is no TM after the name. Nobody is trying to get rich off of it. We are just trying to have a nice cycling scene here in Western PA.

56 miles for the 1/2/3 race.
1500 dollars total prize money.
Beautiful course a bit west of Pittsburgh.

July 20th 2008.
Register at BikeReg

When was the last time there was a 50 mile race in Pittsburgh?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

1985 CoreStates US PRO championship interview.

After reading all about Philly week and the Liberty classic, I called the Chewman and talked to him before he left for RAAM, to write not race.

"You were just 5 years old when I was racing my first US PRO!"

I talked to The Chew Man for over an hour today about his first, and THE first US Pro championships. Being relatively new to cycling, it blows my mind that the 1984 Olympic team was all amateur. A doped up Alexi Grewal took the gold medal and the amateurs were all pushed to turn professional the following year apparently. A race was created for PROs only, in Philadelphia, and would crown the United States Professional Champion.

A 23 year old Dan Chew headed out of Pittsburgh and rode the 100 miles to Bedford PA the Thursday before the race. His late father drove the van to pick him up and take him the rest of the way.

This would be the first of 7 times Chew started the race. Being PRO in 1985 was a lot different than now apparently. I asked him how he did it and he said "I was a strong rider and I sent the money in for a PRO card." A PRO without a team? A free agent.

Chew claims that only 70 - 80 starters began the 156 mile road race. He knew that he would have an advantage over a lot of the domestic racers, due to their lack of endurance strength, and lack of long road race experience. A lead group got away containing "Heiden (7-11), Rasowski, Shuler(7-11, who won in 1987), and two foreign guys." (I have never heard of 2nd name, so the spelling is wrong of course)

2/3rds of the way through the race, Phinney and Kiefel (both 7-11) attacked. Chew said that the pack didnt react, so he figured that they were blown. He solo bridged up to the two on Kelly drive and caught them by the Manayunk wall. Chew described this effort as "hellish." When Chew arrived, the two became content to let the lead group get away. More from the field started showing up: Tom Prem (sp?), Chris Carmichael, Andy Hampsten, Jeff Rutter (who is still fast?!?!!), and Dan Chew.

A true breakaway artist, Chew got last in his group. He said they could see the lead riders right off the front. Heiden, one of those superhumans, won it. He is now a Doctor. He also has tons of gold medals in speed skating. I think he can levitate and turn water and into wine too.

Chew got 900 dollars for his effort, which he is probably still living off of today.

In 1986, Chew was in a group that battled for 7th place, but he botched it and ended up 16th. In 1987 he was the first person to ever race a nonsteel frame in US Pro history. It was a Cannondale and looked "freaky" compared to the standard 1" tubes of a steel bike. This bike is still in the Chew basement, standing as one of the only bikes he was unable to break, with over 90,000 miles on it. Yes 90,000.

Bike racing has come a long way.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

GDMBR image dump # 2 Wyoming Idaho

Redrock national forest or something.

We met luke on the road where the GDMBR crosses the Transamerican trail. He was 19 years old and 2500 miles into a 5000 mile bike trip. Awesome kid.

This was the first picture he had ever taken with a NON DIGITAL camera. Matt and I realize that he probably thinks that we are old men.

This couple runs a "bike hostel" along the way, right where the two routes seperate.
We were prepared to shell out 30 bucks to sleep inside, shower, eat, drink espresso...

and use the BATHROOM (yes this is the inside of the bathroom that they had built)...
And when we tried paying, they told us its actually free and they just enjoy the company.

We rode off into the rain, and up a 5 mile climb or so. You can see the road below that we switched back from.

At one point, Cowboys kicked us off the road.

As they shuffled cattle from one point in the middle of nowhere to another.

This is Matt in the middle of the Great divide basin. It was like 180 miles without food/water/people. Kind of insane gnarly.
Heading out of a town and into the basin, we hit 35 - 40 degree thunder storms that didnt stop for hours. I had a TFO (total freak out) cause I couldnt feel my hands enough to open my panniers to put on the last bit of clothing that I didnt have on. Matt and I chilled under a tarp to try and avoid hypothermia.

I had a similar TFO yesterday when Amy pointed out that I had bought 1% milk and not skim. I am now very soft.

If you click this, you will see wild antelope running. We also so wild stallions running in the divide. Not wyld stylions but actual untamed horses running free.


9.10.06 Middle of Divide Basin WY - Teton Reservoir WY
111 miles

Got up at camp and made oatmeal and coffee with most of the water we had left. On the road by 8:30. It started out kind of rough - washboard roads and slow sand. We reached a creek on our map in 12 miles, and of course it was dry. Fuck. We rode over the divide, the views were amazing the whole time. Right before the reservoir we saw wild horses running. We scared them into running the opposite direction. All hope was that the reservoir had water in it, or else it was going to be over 90 miles with 3/4 of a bottle. We climbed up and saw a mucky puddle and our hearts sank, but below was a giant pool. It looked like a mirage. We must have sat and filtered/drank water for an hour before heading further south to Rawlins.

From the reservoir we had tailwinds pushing us towards the highway. We could see the highway from over 15 miles out. We had to climb on pavement for the second divide crossing of the day, and Matt and I both big ringed it, which was funny.

All downhill into Rawlins. Shit town. Had to ride across it twice to find groceries. Wanted to call Amy, but didnt want to end up riding at night. The town sucked, and thankfully we decided to push on to the Bureau Land Management campground at a lake 10 miles south of town. It is beautiful. There are men fishing for what might be dinner on their way home from work. Free camping too. We saw lightening during dinner. I hope it holds off.

No services tomorrow for 84 miles.

Can you tell that we are approaching the Colorado border? What is this green stuff?