Monday, December 19, 2011

Seriously one of the best cyclists ever. Most dont know him...

John Gadret.

Yesterday's world cup cyclocross race, Gadret is up there the whole time. This is a guy who half a year ago, I was cheering for during the Giro. He finished 10th.

Even the Universal guys dont know who he is. Very very well timed attack on a stage tailored to his climbing style.

And this is from one of the best days of bicycle racing during my lifetime...

@3:43 Vino looks like he might die.
@5:03 Chase group: Cuenego, Pinotti, Garzell... look who is dangling without mention.
@6:25 Hi we are the best bike racers on earth on the hardest day of bike racing EVAR... look who is in that group!
@10:30 Hey John, you have been standing for the whole 30 minute climb! You rule.

Part 4/5
Best Finish ever.

I remembered Bobke Strut always writing about Gadret, and I just clicked this and realized that my whole post is a summary of his.... but it deserves the attention...

Monday, December 12, 2011

coming of age. being an adult.

I think the last time that I had a major life adjustment was when I was done with college and started bumming around full time. It involved lots of travel, bike touring, adventures, and romantic notions of the world should be. I got into the bike racing thing for the second time in my life and went full throttle.

Now, I have complete my first year of real adulthood. A bit over a year ago, I knew I was making the leap and bought a brand new car and and Iphone. Since then, I have worked a real job, in an office. I have ironed my clothes (sometimes). I have gone by "Stephen." I am set to make in 2011 about the same as I did the previous 4 years combined. It is still not much money.

Its weird. I remember talking to an old Kraynicks teammate about growing up. He said he remembers going to a restaurant after getting a real job, and for once not ordering the cheapest thing on the menu. I can relate now. I have always been good with money, never overspent, and always had some in the bank. However sometimes this lead to things that needed fixing to be neglected. For instance, I dropped about 1200 dollars on dental work this year. It was actually probably more, I just didnt want to count.

As much as things change, they stay the same. Last night was Sunday night. Brett and I were driving home from a killer Mid Atlantic Cyclocross weekend. We drove a good 700 miles. We were raging to Aus-Rotten, when my finance manager called me. I turned it down and talked FHA vs Conventional loans and Seller Assist for about 6 minutes before hanging up and turning the music back up.

Having money doesnt change you as a person. Having a job does not take away fun. Life is what you make of it.

I was at the release show for this LP in 1995 or so. It really helped shape who I became as an adult.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pittsburgh hates pedestrians...

Pittsburgh has a problem as far as respect for walkers and cyclists goes. Im not going to rant about being on my bike, because that has been done a million times. However, I am going to share photos that I have been collecting. These are signs that go in crosswalks between the double yellow lines. They are put there to slow traffic down.
All of these are super fucked up, have been hit by a million cars, and are out of place and not able to be seen from the road. It is my understanding that the city police are literally not able to enforce the speed limit within the city for some reason.
I have been posting these photos and some other funny photos at my tumblr. Im so hip.

The last one is my favorite. It is 100 feet from the elementary school where my main man Ramazani goes!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bands that I did not see. AKA my first bike tour.

In the 90's a band named Fifteen was playing in Philadelphia with a band named Propaghandi. They were set to play some dump in philly that is now defunct, but was a legendary show space named the Stalag 13.

Anyway,Jason Angst (who is now like one of the best tattoo guys ever or something, click the link..) and I loaded up our overloaded road bikes with not enough stuff, no rain gear, backpacks, and a Delorme atlas. The plan was to ride to the Poconos so I could make out with a girl for a few days, then head down to Philly. Total of about 450 miles or so. Easy enough.

The first day was 70 miles in cold pouring rain. I think this was pretty defeating. We slept on the side of the road in the tent and froze. I just had a small blanket and we were in the Appalachian mountains. No ground pad. No sleeping bag. I remember just laying on the ground waiting for daybreak to pack up and try to warm up.

We rode the next few days, one of which was my first 100 mile day. It was exciting. We got to where we were going, and within a day my body shut down. I had some sort of fever, cold, exhaustion. Jason went down to philly without me. My romantic teenage plans of making out with a girl nonstop were turned into her making me soup and tea.

I missed the show and the band doesnt play anymore. I still love them. I am glad that my first bike touring experience didnt scare me away from doing all the subsequent tours, cause they have been some of the best times of my life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is a good guy...

This is a picture of Marty. He is an old dude that takes time to sweep the track that we race on every week. Today I was riding around in circles at the track and he was there with his push blower, clearing the fall debris off of the track. We are done racing there, but he knows that some people are down there working out, riding, or with their families enjoying traffic free cycling. Such a good guy.

He is a retired laborer, so I guess he has some free time. Last year when I went to Kraynicks to clean up some bikes for the "give poor kids bikes" program, he was there. We talked a bunch. He apparently was in the shop most days fixing bikes for kids.

Little known fact: Marty was the 1974 ACA club champion. When I started racing at the oval in 2003, he was still in pretty good shape, and could whip up a decent sprint for a 60 something year old guy. The world needs more people like Marty.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Google searches that bring people here

So I have a tracker thing for this blog. I sometimes check it to see what brings people
here or who links to me. Its neat to see. Anyway, this is the best I have gotten yet.

Going to "" to ask "Who uses"

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

An awesome story that I can now tell..

So our team was driving down to the Tour of Washington County awhile ago. I was checking my email en route cause I am a high ballin' real estate agent. I found this:


Please reply to this email to confirm that I have your address right. If so, I will send out an electronic draft of an agreement for your review.

Thanks, xxxx
xxxxxxxx Ph.D.
Continuum Sports LLC | BMC Racing Team
1825 Ferdinand Ct., Unit B
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Ok, so somebody wants me to race for BMC? Oh no wait, he meant to contact the real bike racing Stephen Cummings. He is the younger, more bald, faster bike racer. So I respond with:

Hey I bet you didn't know that there is a crappy cat 1 in Pennsylvania also named steve Cummings. If you need somebody to fill a spot let me know.
This email is amazing.

Dude is probably not stoked, this is like super top secret info that I now have.


I'm very sorry for the mistaken email address. I have the correct email now. If you wouldn't mind simply deleting my mistaken email to you and not distributing it anywhere, it would be much appreciated.

Best regards and thanks, xxxxx

Not that easy BRO!

I understand the situation and will keep it quiet.
However I did get third in the Ohio state road championship last weekend and was once ranked 358th in the world at cyclocross. I will delete the email but keep your contact info in case I pull out a sick result at the local stagerace this weekend.
Seriously though you don't have to worry about me leaking this. Can I get a pair of socks or something?

Holding out for the contract still... but I got the socks

Cummings signs for BMC

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interbike expedition

I made the pilgrimage to Vegas for interbike. I am still able to go because I have written articles for Urban Velo. Sweet.

Here is a picture of an elite athlete who stayed up for 40 hours straight and drank for 38 of them.

The dirt demo was fun. I rode a moots YBB. I would buy one if I had cash and needed a new mountain bike. We went way out into the desert. You can see Stubna pushing his bike cause he snapped his through axle.

My coach had me riding like 90 minutes each day. I rode a bit more than that, and then rode the pump track for seriously 3 hours. I wish I had a bigger yard.

Ernie called me and was like "dude you are on the cover of the interbike magazine"... they seriously photoshopped my arms.

Then I ran into a GIANT Bill Elliston.

I as a cheap vegetarian went to an expensive steak house. Like 200 dollar steaks. I had a beet salad. It was actually delicious.

7 dudes and I didnt really eat anything.

Certain establishments will pick you up in a limo in las vegas. This was at like 3 am Vegas time after getting lapped 65 times at cross vegas.

Chicago from my window seat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bands I have seen that were amazing take 1

I was reading VELO on the way home from interbike. There was a "what are you listening to" section. I quickly realized that bike racers (mostly) like really crappy music. I am glad that I spent a lot of time in the 90's going to shows and buying records.

Here is Leatherface. I saw them in 1999 maybe in Pittsburgh. I think that Hot Water Music opened for them or something. They are probably one of the longest playing bands that you have not heard of. They are also super good at playing music.

Whatever... since I mentioned them... Here is Hot Water Music. They were probably the tightest band I ever saw, each time that I saw them (10? or so times)... They closed with "turnstile" a lot. They always had a TON of energy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One of the times I got escorted out of a bank...

I was recently reminded of this, and it makes for a funny story. I think that I have been kicked out of 3 banks in my life. All similar stories.

This probably took place in the year 2001. I was buying stuff for my cross country bicycle adventure. I had to get like 400 dollars cash to the bike shop in order to pick up a bunch of stuff. My friend had a car for the day and was willing to drive me. This all was going to work out great. I think this is when ATM cards were just for ATM's and were not actually debit cards.

I rode my bicycle up to my bank. It was Mellon at the time, but I think they changed their name to Citizens. Anyway, it was a Saturday. I knew that they were open because they had a banner and signs everywhere that said "OPEN SATURDAY." So I ride my bike up, and go inside. The doors are open, but the women inside say that only the drive through is open for banking. This is when you could not get more than like 200 or 300 dollars out of an ATM in a 24 hour period. I needed to talk to a teller.

So I go outside, get on my bike and ride up to the window in the drive through. The woman (that I just saw inside) was there. She said that she could not help me, that the drive through was for cars only. I ride on and go back inside to the woman. Now this is the THIRD time that I have seen her at this point. She asks if she can help me, as if she does not know who I am. She is on a twisty seat, and is literally the same person operating the drive through.
"I need to make a withdrawal"
"You can only do that in the drive through"
"But you are the same person doing that. Why is this even open?"
"I can only do transactions in the drive through. We are open for people opening new accounts."
"But you are right there, you could just do it... You have a giant sign that says OPEN SATURDAY"
"If you need to go INTO a bank, the Squirrel Hill branch is open for another 20 minutes... its a 10 minute drive to get there..."

At this point the security guard was standing very close to me. He asked me if the police needed to be called and asked me to leave.

This was one of the many times in my life I honestly felt like I was taking crazy pills. Why couldnt the woman just help me out?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Hipster Redux. AKA bikesnobpgh. AKA dude wearing TT helmet in town.

So Amy and I were in the car yesterday and she was like "is that dude wearing a time trial helmet?" So like an old couple in a national park that had just spotted a deer, we pulled over. Sure enough this dude was rolling down Friendship Ave rocking a TT helmet with built windscreen. Lucky for us, he had to take a phone call (have you ever seen somebody in a TT helmet talk on a cell phone? NOW YOU HAVE)...

Amy said that I was not allowed to post it to FB/Twitter/Blog. She is maybe the nicest person alive and would feel bad if somebody was made fun of in public. However, I am going to post it, and tell the dude to own it. There is a guy who rides around with a bike helmet that he turned into a Devo helmet, which I freaking love. So if this dude wants to be known as the dude with the LAS aero helmet with tinted visor, I am simply helping his cause without passing judgement.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I like cyclocross. This morning was the first morning that I could see the steam coming off of my coffee in my kitchen. Its like fall.

Team this year is C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes. They are a rad group of dudes (dude is a non gendered term). I think that I will fit in well there. I know that I will, since I am buddies with them already. I am excited to race with them.

Bikes this year, I am going to race on a Blue Norcross again. This is rad, cause I got one last year and it is a rad bike. Stoked. This year I will have two. We are going to be running Specialized shoes and helmets, which rules because it is what I have already chosen to ride.

I am getting coached by Chris Mayhew at JBV coaching. He has has been a source of advice and g since I was a Cat V, but this year I have a plan. Last year he advised me a lot, but instead of ramping into cross, I did a 1000 mile bike trip with Stubna during August. It is going to be a REALLY long year, and I hope to have a lot left for nationals, so I think a third party strategy is going to be key.

The MAC has rerouted their schedule, putting the Killer B race right after the A race. I will finally have the chance to pay back Brody and Mayhew by actually pitting for them. THE PIT THE PIT THE PIT THE PIT (ill see you) IN THE PIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

50 kids. 100 miles. Lots of rain.

So Amy does some work with her old full time employer, the MGR foundation. They are into doing good stuff for kids or whatever. Pittsburgh public schools got stimulus money to put on summer programs the past two years. Anyway, I got roped into helping again this year. The trip was WAY longer and had WAY more kids.

The plan: Take 50 inner city kids on a 50 mile bike ride Saturday. Camp out. Ride home 50 miles Sunday. Kids are all 11-14 years old from what I could tell. A lot of the kids live in a housing project that is literally surrounded by barbed wire fencing and has a gate to enter/exit.

Day 1: Roll out of Pittsburgh. It is drizzling from the start, but the kids are stoked. They all are on comfort bikes with 21 or so gears, huge saddles, grip shifting and V brakes. As we approached our lunch stop (30 miles), the drizzling turned into torrential down pouring. I could not see out of my glasses. Morale was low. Like real low. I think maybe 6 kids did not finish Day 1. Most of those 6 made it 30 miles.

The last 20 miles were a muddy (crushed lime stone mud) 1.5% uphill grade. We started riding at 8am, and I think the last finishers got to camp around 5 or 6pm. This includes some stops.

Luckily, the later afternoon was great. After spending up to 8 hours to finish the 50 miles, the kids could swim in a pool, in the river, catch cray fish, shower, snack, etc. The rain let up and it was hot. The kids had fun. Dinner was catered pasta, followed by Smores and hotdogs on the fire.

4am. FLOODING rain. I heard kids talking, and I went to speak to them about keeping it down. As I approached their tent, I realized that the whole area was a puddle. I heard a kid say:
"I think the river came up to us," talking about the river 100 yards from the camp site. They were totally submerged. It kept raining.

Woke up at 6:15 to more rain. A lot of "I aint riding." We did breakfast / motivational speech under a pavilion. There was 2-3" of standing water in the pavilion. THE RAIN LET UP! The kids shredded their way home. I think all but 2 or 3 finished the 50 miles the second day.

So: Like 40 kids did all 100 miles. Like 45 did at least 80 miles. Sick.

Awesome quotes:

Some random 12 year old girl that I told could not shower Sunday AM cause she took too long to pack up her sleeping bag:

"That half bald guy is always grumpy."

My man Moleek after I told him that he could not have coffee cause it could stunt his growth (he is in 7th grade and was like 5'11 and like 180 lbs)

"Is that why you stopped growing?"


Kids this age can eat anything. Like if you put a buffet in front of them, it will be gone. Its just a matter of how long.

Some college kids look like middle school kids.

Some middle school kids look like college kids.

If you are reading this, you probably ride. Imagine doing an 8 hour ride on a 30lb hybrid in the pouring rain on a dirt trail. Imagine putting in back to back 8 hour days wearing jean shorts (they were told to wear gym clothes but I dont think some had them).

My girl Lakin would sprint at 15 mph for 20 seconds then coast for 45... she did this for about 100 miles.

My man Moleek on the far right. Dude was huge.

Kids eat nonstop.

This is not a professional bike fit.

Friday, August 05, 2011

These are the people in charge of the city in which I live

This has nothing to do with bike racing or is even political. Its just insane that these people are in charge of a city that is pretty big and kind of successful.

This is Darlene Harris swearing into something or another. She pretty much embodies Pittsburgh. Kind of old. Kind of overweight. I see like a million people like her daily sitting in their cars, with their windows rolled up, smoking cigarettes, and just being miserable.
I dont know her personally. I DO know that she didnt approve funding for a public school band to get lunches bought for them when they played in front of the president like a decade ago. She thought that was a waste of money, make them pack lunches right? HOWEVER she did buy herself an air purifier so she could smoke in her office with city money. Good for you Dar!

This is the Mayor of Pittsburgh. His name is Luke Ravenstahl. He is younger than me. He first became Mayor when a freshly elected one suddenly passed away. He won an election because the city is crazy divided. When the Steelers went to the superbowl a few years ago, he changed his name to "Steelerstahl" because the local team was playing against the Baltimore Ravens. This essentially translates to "steelersteel."

Here is a picture of Luke with his buddy Ben. This is a huge parade downtown after the Super Bowl. Ben won it. Luke happened to be the mayor of the city in which the team plays that happened to pay Ben. In Luke's mind, this makes him one of the cool kids and he gets to ride along and celebrate.
Remember when Ben like raped a couple of women?
I am not sure if you can tell from this photo, but Luke is a fucking douchebag.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Wilderness 101....

I would not have thought about doing the 101 this year if a bunch of fun, cool guys were not up to it. Eddy Krall, Says, and Geronimo all had a room and Eddy gave me a ride up, so what the heck.

Rode hard, its hot, no bad luck, best finish ever.

Registered on Thursday, got my stuff together Friday.

The usual prerace craziness / nervousness was all around. Somehow I ended up being the experienced guy in the room. That was kind of nuts to me. Geronimo has been racing forever, but has somehow never done a hundred mile mtb race. His second is going to be Leadville. Haha.

-Up at 5am. Walk to the gas station for hot water for my french press. Cant stomach any food.


-Race starts. Good pace on the first climb.

-First descent, some dude elbows me off the road. I make it back on. Dude is a dickhead. I facebook stalked the dude when I got home. He is a conservative christian and is into christian rap and christian contemporary rock. Yet he had no issues bumping me off a wheel at 35+ mph. I guess it is kind of ironic being that I would never do that in a million years and I have listened to little other than Venom for the week leading into the race. I seriously hate bike racers sometimes.

-Stay with front group until the third climb. There was a bottleneck that I was last out of and I never saw them again.

-Rode with freaking Mark McCormack for 20 miles. He was pulling like a freight train. We slowly dropped the companions of our group. I had to announce to the whole group that he is the only dude who has won USPRO and Cross nats. Duh. He had a frame pump! A FRAME PUMP! I told him about how my friend beat his brother for a preme in a crit where mark led his bro out. "impressive." was all he said. It ruled.

-Had to say goodbye to mark on the big climb. From this point on, I was on my own. I manged to catch 2 or 3 more dudes and just go through them. I figured that I was in 12 place or so. I based this on the fact that I am usually around 12th place.

I rolled in, cleaned up, swam, ate, drank and signed up for a massage before I checked to learn that I got 6th. I was stoked.

I must say that the 101 was one of the best put on races that I have ever done. At one point I simply rode up to an aid station, people put bottles in my cages, and food in my pockets. Seriously the best volunteers ever. I highly recommend this event to anybody looking for a sick adventure or a rad race.

Garmin File (I think the GPS has trouble in the trees)

Maybe I should listen to some christian rock if I wanted to turn into some sort of homicidal asshole.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our day in court

Suburban Court

Forgive me. I am typing this from my iPhone while sitting at an open house.

So Amy and I got married. That post was a few months ago. There is a picture on that post of how we had the north park lodge set up. We had rope lighting and doilies hanging to give it a cool vibe. We rented it out Friday to set up for the wedding Saturday. At one point the grounds keeper for north park stopped past and told us that it looked beautiful.

Anyway the lodge is a big wooden building with wooden beams and walls. Each beam has about 2000 staples and 50 nails in it from 90 years of birthday and graduation parties. We continued this and used a staple gun to put up decorations.

Friday night, after 12 hours of setting up, before leaving for a snack/drink thing for friends and family, we got a call from our friend who was running the kitchen. She said that the police were there to lock up and freaked out because of the staples. He told her that he was maybe going to pull our permit for the next day because of the damage that we did to the property.

So we went to bed hoping that we would have a wedding the next day. I woke up early and the kitchen help called me shortly thereafter. She said the police were back and were taking photos. They would not speak to her. I sat on the phone with her while they walked around the lodge and inspected it. Well there goes our wedding and most of my money. Awesome.

The cops finally come out and are willing to speak to me, as I held the permit. He asked how I was doing. I told him that I was scared. He said that they would not pull the permit but he was going to cite me for destruction. This was good news.

The whole wedding when I told people the story, they literally didn't believe me. I had to sternly say " I am NOT joking". This is because the lodge basically looks like a shooting target for staples.

Anyway we get the citation a few weeks later. 375 dollars. In the grand scheme it was just another wedding cost. However I was kind of upset that this was so blown out of proportion. I plead innocent and waited for the court date.

Going into court I figured that it would be pretty obvious that we had no ill intentions, that we followed the norm that had been set by users before us, and that nowhere were we told that staples were unacceptable. Also hedged bets on the cop maybe not showing up.

I took photos of the thousands of staples in place. I took a photo of the giant sign telling users that confetti is forbidden. I brought a lawyer friend. I was ready to go. Amy and I both took the day off of work. I figured that we could go and it would be a non issue to a non partial judge.

We didn't get to see a judge. We went to a magistrate. This is basically an elected person who takes a three month class and can put people in jail. The office was in a strip mall behind a kfc in suburban hell. We got there and the cop was hanging out with the nonjudge in his chambers.
It basically went like this: they have the burden of proof. We did what everybody else did. The photos didn't show our actual staples and we did reuse some hooks and nails already in place. We were not told not to use staples.

The cop was a moron. It was unreal that somebody so dumb has the power that he has. He literally said at one point "there aren't any signs saying that you can't use a jackhammer bun you didn't do that," and the winning statement "there are not any signs that you can't launch a missile". Wow.

Anyway the judge berated us and told us that we have no common sense. I can't image how shitty he would have been if we didnt have a lawyer with us.

Before he gave his ruling or judgement or whatever I said " no matter how this ends up, I would really like to see the people in the park office tell people not to use staples, so this situation can be avoided in the future."

At the point the non judge yells at me again saying that I have no common sense and I should not have to be told not to (do something thousands of others have done?!??!) At this point I just gave up and realized that us being there had nothing to do with preserving the lodge, as the cop stated, but was just about power and authority.

The non judge then said "I am going to knock 200 dollars off of your fine in hopes that you go away. I am SURE (shitty smarmy voice) your lawyer will tell you that you can appeal this."

Fuck you strip mall judge.

Add in: "you can die at their hands, but not at your own"

Monday, July 18, 2011

6 hours of power. 6hop.

So I couldnt sleep cause I could not get comfortable cause my body hurts. Apparently people are awake and all walk dogs at 6:30 am. What a world.

Six hours of power: Ride around an 8 mile mountain bike loop as many times as you can in six hours. If you get in before 6:00, you go out again.

We prerode Friday. We took it easy on the first (and longest) climb. This made the rest of the course seem REALLY easy. However, when racing up the first climb, the rest of the course is hard.

I went solo. I was just hoping for no mechanicals and I figured I had a chance. Ernie from Ohio was there. I had read his blog last week and he hinted at an upcoming enduro. He is good at the long stuff and I figured it would be between us, unless some ringer showed up.

I dont know who invented the "le mans" style start, but it is horrible. This is in mountain bike racing all the racers run for a bit before getting to their bikes. I seriously think that I am super sore from the run and not the racing.

Lap 1: World cup start up the climb. Like crazy fast. There are solo's and team racers all mixed in together. By mid lap I was on my own, with Ernie a few seconds down.

Lap 2: Suffer fest to build a gap. I was out of sight. I was trying to kill the climbs and rail the the parts where I thought he would put time on me on his fancy soft tail bike.

Lap 3: Felt like quitting

Lap 4: Told myself that if I did not quit I would not have to do the 101 in two weeks.

Lap 5: Realized I would have to do 8 laps.

Lap 6: Finally got an accurate time split and had a good gap. Every other time, it was "5 or 6 minutes."

Lap 7: cruise control. Dont flat, dont crash.

Lap 8: I was not sure if Ernie made the cut off (if you do 7 laps in 6 hours you go out for an 8th), so I still had to race. Cramps. Pain. Etc.

This was my first enduro that was not a 100 mile race. The 100 milers generally have a lot more dirt roads. This was probably 90% singletrack.
This was the first mountain bike race that I won since like 2007, which was on Gary's bike. Garmin file.

Thanks to Bret and Nicol for handing me bottles every lap, despite the fact that they were also racing their duo category. Thanks to Bret and Probikes for sealing up my tires tubeless with Stans. They are sick.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Great story. Free socks. Race rut.

A few weeks ago I got an amazing email. I have sworn not to share any parts of it for awhile. I got a pair of sweet socks though. I cant wait to tell!!!

Race Rut: I realized that I have been racing for awhile now. Like I can remember doing the same races over and over and over. This is kind of monotonous. I enjoyed the Hilly Billy as something new. This weekend I tried racing mountain bikes to shake it up a bit. I made it 40 minutes until my tires would not hold air. Then I hiked through freaking vietnam to get out of the woods. It was 95 degrees and humid as hell. Then I swam naked in the river. I drove 5 hours to race 40 minutes and swim in a river. Hell.

In my ideal life, I would just race mountain bikes a ton. The races are hilly, there is no wheel sucking, and its not just power to weight that determines who wins. I like that. So every year I buy a mountain bike that is light and fancy. This year Probikes found me a carbon specialized 29'er. Its fast and light and awesome. However, every year I freaking break stuff and then hate mountain biking. I think it was last year a rotor ripped off of my hub. This weekend I flatted twice. I honestly dont think that I have ever finished a WVMBA mountain bike race (without a mechanical)? That sucks.

This is a song from the 90's. They were a great band. I saw them like 20 times over 4 or 5 years. One of my best memories is watching my best friend watch them. He was barely able to stand cause he was so drunk. It was a month or so after getting stabbed a bunch of times to save my life. My memory is pretty crappy, but that has stuck with me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

73 miles of new "roads". AKA hilly billy.

73 mile Dirt Road race. West Virginia. 7000' of climbing. 4th overall.

So I had no idea what to expect. All roads are supposedly West Virginia "state roads."

I got my bike cleaned up at the bike shop, new cables, new hanger, new rear derailer.
I figured it was an early jump on the cross season... right?

Then somebody was like "yeah until it is wrecked again at the end of the day." I didnt believe that it would be super gnarly.

The race basically unfolded like a horror movie. There were like 8 of us, then the course grabbed a few and killed them. Some dude stacked it crazy hard through the mud, and Gunnar flatted. Then we kept running. Then Pflug cracked his rim on a gnarly hole, and flatted. We kept running. My shifting broke and they kept running. Gorski flatted and the two leaders (Mihalik and Ruggs) rode away. I hope they have some sort of survivor's guilt.

The race was super well done. Of all endurance events I have done, I believe it was the best marked (coming from a dude who gets lost a fair amount). The Iron Cross is a close second, but I remember there being a panic moment during that race where I was convinced that I was lost.

Everybody should check the event out, its pretty rad.

Garmin File / Map

My bike before. Muddy and needing lots of work.

My bike after. Muddy and needing lots of work.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bike racing ruins everything

So we got this washer when we bought the house. There is just two of us, and I have been a dirtball until I got a real job this year, so the washer gets minimal use.

However, between cyclocross, mountain bike racing other bike related stuff, I think it is getting pretty beat up. Here is a photo of everything I found at the bottom of the washer after doing a load from this weekend's Tour of Washington County stage race. How the eff did I not use that hammer flask during the race? How was it still in my pocket? It seemed good to go, so I will just reuse it this weekend. I hope that doesnt cause me to die or anything.

I dont know where the other wrappers come from. I freaking check every pocket and sure enough with each load there are more clif shots and hammer packets than I remember eating during the race.

My mind is playing tricks on me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

probably the best day of my life...

So I got married on Saturday. The day started with an awesome 17 person group ride. My bro went on his group first ride, which was awesome. I would say he is a strong cat 4. He didnt fall off until the pace got upped hard like 30 miles into it.

Amy has been busy planning our wedding for the past six months or so. When asked about it, I often responded rudely with "its a formality at this point..." due to the fact that we have been together for 10 years. The big day came and is now gone.

Amy has been stockpiling string lights and antique dishes for the past six months. The wedding turned out exactly as she planned. About 200 people showed up to be with us. I wish I could have invited more, but the lodge only held so many.

We rented out a large barn in the county park 10 miles north of the city. It came with nothing. We got the beer from East End brewing, a local microbrewery. We got the wine from a Trader Joes in Ohio (cant get it in PA) and from the state store (where you buy booze in PA).

Our friends and families helped set everything up on Friday. A dozen people or so put in a 12 hour day getting everything ready. A great friend made a photo booth, and we had a room in which to put it. A friend made Amy's dress. So many people did so much for us in the weeks leading into the event that I will probably feel indebted for the rest of my life.

Our friends and families made the food, the cakes and the cookies. We had pierogies, sleek, seitan, grilled veggies, pasta, asian vinegar slaw. Everything was vegetarian, and all but the pasta and the cheese pierogies were vegan.

It has rained like everyday for the past two months. Saturday was the sunniest nicest day that I can remember in so long. We set up a small stage under a tree. We had an isle lined with mason jars filled with flowers. Amy's best friends played the live music walked down the isle to, which was "stand by me." Jenne has a beautiful voice. I started crying as soon as she started singing and didnt stop until the end.

This was kind of awkward because we were doing a self uniting ceremony, which is legal in Pennsylvania. So Amy read her vows first, because we thought she would be crying too hard if I went first. Wrong. She read hers, which just made me cry more. I babbled through my vows, wishing that I had brought a handkerchief the entire time. I regret not looking at Amy more because she looked so beautiful, but every time I would look at her, I would just start crying more.

We did the photo thing and the mingling. I saw people that I had not seen in 10 years. Some people that I have had some of the best memories of my life with were there. Everybody there helped make my new best memory possible. It was so freaking amazing. I never thought that it would be so great, and so emotional.

We ate. We danced. Little Somalia showed up. We had like 30 cakes on a cake table that our friends and families all helped make. I wish I could have eaten some of each of them.

We had to pack up the entire shindig by 1am. So many friends and family helped. I seriously did not think that it was going to happen. I pictured the county police fining me tons of money for going past the permit time. About 30 people stayed until after 1am helping pack our Uhaul with all the wedding stuff, which is now back in our dining room (does anybody need china and wine glasses?) ... That was one of the most amazing things, having so many people work at the end of a long day.

It felt so nice to be so loved.

Other Highlights:

- I was in charge of the introduction when we got on the stage. I said "thank you for coming, this is a self uniting ceremony, we are going to wed ourselves." .. which basically everybody thought I said that "we are going to wet ourselves."

- Dude wearing an Iron Maiden T shirt at my wedding. Amazing.

- One of maybe five days in Pittsburgh where the majority of people are wearing sunglasses. So rare to have that much sun. So awesome.

- Wearing old school vans (gorilla biscuits limited run) shoes at my wedding.

Hippies, Crust Punks, Hipsters, Old people.

Photo booth photo.

A friend owns a screen printing place and made us mugs that say "you are totally awesome" on them. They all had little flags that said guests names on one side and table number on the ohter.

Eddy Krall's flag.

The inside of the lodge all made up. A friend hand sewed all of the doilies to string to hang.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Grand Torino....

I saw this movie a few years ago. It was ok.

Yesterday I was getting out of the car to hang up a "sold" sign outside of a house that my brother and I have listed. The neighbor immediately said hello. He was an older guy, he thought that I was Justin... I introduced myself and shook his hand.
"So its sold?"
"What color are they? ... We have a problem with that around here..."

This guy doesn't know me from anybody. Crazy.
I wanted to say "purple."

Its 2011.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Turkey Hill bicycle race.

Turkey Hill cycling classic. 10 times up "the wall" this year.
I drove Ed down. Road had Eddy taking the win, so the pressure was on for him.

We drove the Fit.

I told ed that since his Hummer only gets 14 mph, he should just pay all the gas, since its the same amount he would have paid if he had driven. Right?

For any cyclists looking for nutrition strategy, our waitress at the Kountry Kitchen in Manheim asked how long the race was, and said that my oatmeal, eggs and toast would probably be enough. Solid.

Some guy fell down in front of me going like 34 mph. I had to skid a bunch. This is what a good tire looks like with a bad spot.

Best thing about Turkey Hill: Cupon for free scream and a free t shirt. Oh yes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Somolia was raging today.

Little Somalia was out and about today. They have no school due to spring break. For those not in the know, there are like 40 or so people within a block of me that are Somali refugees. They rule.

Anyway. I was playing ball with my little buddies for about a minute before I was like "dude what stinks like fish?"
Ramazani, my little 7 year old buddy was like "fish."
And I am like "yeah fish."
At which point Ramadude was like "fish!" and points to their weird sidelot that is
cement surrounded by chainlink fence.

Sure enough there was fish sitting on the fence. Like a ton of it. At which point Wawu (matriarch of the fam) pops her head out the window and is like "sharkfish... you like... its good."

It was drying on a fence. Ive seen them eat intestine for breakfast. For reals, with bananas

4-17-03 Journal. The longest day of the trip.

This is a long time ago now. This is from when my girlfriend at the time, now futurewife and I
hopped on a plane and rode our bicycles around Europe for 9 weeks. I knew she was the one for me on this trip. Time flies. Live life. Have fun, etc...

4-17-03 Leaving a campground in Rural Luxembourg just over the border from Belgium
30 degrees C and warm and sunny.

We left our little town and campground (town was about 12 buildings on a giant hill in a provincial park) early. We rode down the valleys that we had seen painted on the over sized park maps at the campground. Finishing yesterday with a long climb meant descending at the start today. We planned on riding 10 miles or so and finding a grocery store to eat. We rode and rode. Luxembourg is beautiful. We dropped into a town, looked around, and climbed back out after seeing no signs of food...

At the top of the climb, we split our last breakfast bar. We flew down a two mile descent into the river valley on brand new fast roads. We rode across a spectacular tdam and desscended some more before coming across old castle ruins. We made hte turns towards a signed for "steep hill." We climbed and climbed. There was an old church halfway up the climb that was empty, it must have been hundreds of years old. According to the maps it was 2 miles at 10%. Amy rode at her own pace, and at the top she looked pretty defeated. I felt helpless seeing her trying so hard. We were starving. We descended into the next town looking for food. Nothing. It was some sort of weird new construction Luxembourgian suburban sprawl. Just a bunch of new houses.

We came into another town, after riding for hours and hours. We found a Lotto store. It sold paper and magazines, but no food. Not even coke. Nothing. We sat outside and scraped peanut butter from the jar. Everything is closed in Luxembourg on a Sunday. Also, when cycling on the road less traveled, there is little help. We asked in the lotto store where to find food, and were told that on a Sunday its 25KM out of the way to another town...

We rode on in the direction we were headed. We came across some tourist place. There were castle ruins and a GIFT SHOP! We bought pastries and chocolate and coffees and cokes...

Leaving town I almost got killed by the crosswinds. Two trucks passed each other and coupled with my panniers and the wind, it almost knocked me off my bike. Amy had the same experience. We stopped at small places for croissants and cokes. It seemed to be all we could find available since no stores were open.

We descended down a long hill into Luxembourg (city). We were supposed to see a campground. Nothing. We rode around aimlessly in rush hour looking for it. Nothing. This was the first big city that we were in since Amsterdam, and rush hour was really crazy and dangerous. We said screw it and decided to go into the city center to find the youth hostel.

It turns out that it was not ordinary traffic, and that the city was shut down for some sort of "demonstration." I think it was a union protest or something. The streets were corralled with barb wire fences,there was tons of glass everywhere, bus stations were all smashed. There was tons of new graffiti everywhere, and every plant holder was somehow in the middle of the street and smashed to pieces. I found a bolt the size of my bicycle helmet that appeared to have been thrown through a bus stop window.

We rode along, looking at the riot police, trying to find our way to the hostel. We found it. Of course it was on top of a hill. Of course we had to carry our panniers and bikes up 3 stories to where we got a room. Of course the person working did not know where to get ANY food.

Then we met another bike touring couple. They were also looking for food. We walked for an hour in search of anything. Amy was crumbling. I was exhausted. The dude from the couple spoke several languages and every person that he asked had a different answer. After over an hour of walking, we came to a gas station. We bought SO MUCH FOOD at the gas station, before walking back, eating and passing out.

We had ridden over 8 hours. Walked over an hour, and didnt have much of anything to eat all day. In rural Luxembourg on a Sunday, plan in advance.

Monday, April 04, 2011

yes this is a race report.

2011 race season has began.

This is personal and boring, sorry. Unlike my young teammate's recount of the race, this will include zero power data or training methodology.

Going into the race I was really hesitant. The fire was not burning. I was not stoked on racing. I have a brand new bike, new kit, new shoes. Ready to roll. I was just not stoked. I have worked more in the past four months than in the five years preceding. I had lots of reservations.

Anyway, there was snow on the ground 20 minutes before the start.

Five minutes into the race I was so stoked. The ice cold water puddling on the ground was getting sprayed into my face and chest. At one point I thought about the last time I did a post race ear cleaning where there was so much grime and grit in my ears that I was disgusted.

I was stoked. At this point I was pretty sure that I was getting dropped. I didnt care.

We went up hills and down hills. I did eventually get dropped. I didnt really care.

Afterward my race recap to my teammates was simply "I love racing bikes."


Monday, March 21, 2011

But you never did that before...

Time. The value of time. Not having time. These are all new concepts to me.

While riding Friday, my rear derailer fell apart. Sram Red. Apparently it is common for the springs inside of them to just break. I have $20 shimano derailers that have 10k miles on them with working springs.

Anyway I had to get up, I had to put a new derailer on. Put a new cable in. Show houses, and be ready to ride at 11am. It was close, but not having a new precut cable slowed things down.

Anyway, we rode like super hard for 4 hours, home at 320. I had an appointment at 4 to show more houses. Little Somalia was raging, because it is finally close to spring. They surrounded me in a spider web of little kids. One managed to get up on the porch between me and the door, blocking my escape. The following conversation happened:

"ok guys I have to get going, I have to go to work." -me

"but you never worked before" - Ramazani (age 7)


Friday, March 04, 2011

Ugh... Cars... Man.. Why???

In case you haven't seen Portlandia yet, this is a skit from it. The show is good satire. I think it might be like Chris Rock's comedy stand-up. Everybody laughs, but if you are not a part of the group at the butt of the joke, that group will probably get sensitive if you repeat it.

Anyway, this was on NPR yesterday:
Interview with William Clay Ford Jr. It is worth listening to. He is trying to sell hybrids to their target audience (basically npr listeners). Electric hybrids are becoming the rage, and we need to change infrastructure to accommodate them.
Solution: electric plug ins at home and work and shopping centers. This involves radical infrastructure change and changing the whole grid.

Also the problem with too many cars:
- 800,000,000 cars on the road today. 3-4 BILLION (3 - 4 thousand million) in our lifetime.
Solution: cars talking to eachother to avoid traffic. Cars knowing where to park in advance. He says, "the majority of fuel spent is looking for parking places." (Is this remotely possible? Does reverse take like thirty times as much gas?)

Seriously are people nuts? Electric power is so gnarly. Short of nuclear plants becoming mainstream, this is going to require so much more power. "Yeah man, I just plug it in and the wind turbines on the Turnpike by Somerset charge it." No, wrong dude. There is some kid in some valley somewhere in a crappy house stuck between a coal plant and all the power lines going to the mall so people can charge their cars while they buy a bunch of shit that they dont need. Super crazy nutso idea: Live close enough to shopping and work so you can walk or bicycle there.

Also, to solve the problem of "too many cars" with "smarter cars" is fairly nuts. Ideally, cars are going to communicate to avoid slow downs. They are going to move in a uniform line at a uniform speed in uniform direction. Parking will not be an issue. Wait... This sounds like A FUCKING TRAIN. Yeah, lets spend a cajillion dollars redoing all infrastructure so people can basically be on trains, but having it cost like 10,000 times more than actually just building trains. Great.

Is the unabomber's cabin still on ebay?

Full disclosure: I own a Honda Fit and drive it probably 5/7 days per week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This will probably be the best thing that you see all day.

This dude eats guys like Danny Mckwhatever for breakfast.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pittsburgh .

In case anybody missed it, Rick Sebak did a show on the Dirty Dozen. If you dont know who he is, you probably did not grow up in Pittsburgh, or you did and had cable. Anyway, he is like a celebrity, documentary maker, food critic, symbol of the area.

I have spent a few days with him, and they have been fun. He knows crazy trivia about the region.

Anyway, here is a link to the show if you have 28 minutes to watch dudes in spandex ride up hills. There are some hilarious parts.

Also, if you did not read the Floyd Landis interview, the only thing to really take away from it is this quote: "and the winters in Pennsylvania are probably the worst place for cycling" - Floyd Landis

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Somali holidays a month late.

This happened in late December.
For anybody who does not know, Amy and I have a lot of refugee neighbors. The adults and older teenagers went through a lot. We got all of the kids some clothes that they needed and a toy. We also gave each family gift cards to the grocery store. There were about 20 kids there. I think this is the third or fourth year that we have had the party. Thanks to everybody donated anything to help this kids out. They are awesome. It makes me feel old that a lot of them don't remember a time that they did not know me.

Working full time has put keeping up with this thing on the back burner. I have been working a lot and learning a lot. It is pretty cool to have something else to put my energy into. Winter is creeping though, so its cool that I have something to do a lot of the time.