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.