Sunday, December 30, 2007

Video roundup.

Oh the vastness of the internet.

Whatever you think art is or isn't, your opinion is most likely represented here.


I know you've all seen the bulldog on the skateboard, but this jack russell terrier puts Tony Hawk to shame!


It's almost too bad that the world's most ambitious stop-motion project was done in an effort to sell TVs. Almost.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Little Housekeeping

Blog-off Update:

This just in: contrary to earlier reports that the members of TheMonstro had all suffered either massive computer problems or bodily injuries that prevented typing, there appear to be at least two TheMonstro bloggers (or monstronauts as they prefer to be called) capable of posting updates. "They're definitely still alive," Sam Johnson, senior blog rivarly corespondent said Thursday, "I just don't think they know they've been challenged to a blog-off." The initial challenge to a blog-off was issued well over one week ago, and the lack of activity over at TheMonstro would suggest that none of those guys read this blog. "There is a small chance that TheMonstro's bloggers simply don't care about being made total fools of on the internet, or even being called things like namby-panby, 'fraidy-cat, weaklings. I never thought this could happen, mostly due to the intensely competitive instincts usually found in [monstronaut] Aaron Mandel. I knew him in college, and he was a total savage, but I guess he turned into a big sissy," Johnson said.


The Quest for the Tights That Were Never There:

For those of you following my attempt to procure a tasty pair of thermal bibtights for a tasty price, it appears I was chasing a mirage. BikeTiresDirect.com (the online retailer offering the deal) finally received my check, but had long since sold out of the ones I wanted. I told them to shred the check. The cycling gods did not want me to have bibtights this winter. I have learned not to piss off the gods. The tights I have are just fine, the six year-old bright blue ones with the hole in the crotch. They've got another season in them no problem!

Ari is Still in India:

For those of you who know my friend Ari Phillips, you most likely already check his travel blog on a regular basis. For those who don't, but are interested in reading some quick-witted musings by a young American artist/music aficionado I'd recommend paying this blog a visit. Ari works for a small time publishing company as a designer. How he got hooked up with this job is anyone's guess, but he gets to see the country, and make enough money to buy fish and lime juice along the way. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

BLOG FIESTA 2007 cool-down/Re: Cycling Weenies

Well that concludes the 2007 Blog Fiesta. I found that upon arriving at the Minneapolis International Airport, my desire to "blog till the cows come home" was satisfied. To my surprise, the cows actually made it home well before I did. You should consider yourself lucky you even got those poems out of me. It took me 19 hours of travel time to go from Kansas City to Boise. According to google maps, I could have driven there in exactly that amount of time. I did give myself the master tour of the Minneapolis airport, and I'll tell ya -- wow -- it's a doosie!

On another note, Gus and I have been going to the gym a lot. Mostly I do my cyclist-specific stuff outlined carefully in my personalized online weight training guide over at agilefitness.com; however Gus's workouts have a way of rubbing off on me, and inspiring me to work on my "total body fitness", which means (gasp!) exercising my arms. Now I'm not looking to "bulk up", or even gain any muscle in my upper body -- I've got plenty of that left over from my swimming days. No, I'm just interested in not feeling like such a huge weenie when I have to do things that require massive upper body strength -- like moving heavy objects (a phonebook for instance), throwing a game of darts, or even pushing around a lawnmower (the UNpowered kind). So Gus makes me do the bench press. Gus makes me do the bicep curl. Gus makes me do that one where I lift the 12.5 lb. weights with straight arms, and at first it feels easy, but before 10 reps I'm grimacing, and snorting, and about to give myself a hernia it's so hard. I'll be lifting 15 lb. weights in no time. I can't wait to show off my rippling guns at the next bike race and make all the other racers fear terrified of me -- not that I'll beat them in the race, but rather that I'll beat the snot out of them (with my rippling guns) once I catch them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

BLOG FIESTA #1,283: Poems

Airplane

While I was flying back from the race,
The man across the aisle

Was nice enough to wake me before
The drink cart came; my knee

Was in the way. He cared [deeply?] about football,
And spoke with his son about the tragic Chiefs.

But when the plane commenced its descent
From its 30,000 foot perch, the man began

To fidget. His fingers massaged
Each other like they were polishing metal,

But his hands were empty. And his knees bounced
An invisible baby. The plane lurched; the man

Jerked. “It’s just the wheels dad” his son reassured,
Unnerved by his father’s discomfort.

They both laughed, as though humor
Would veil the nakedness of the man’s fear

And even after the plane was on the ground
The man shook, until the

Door opened.




Woe

Three straight meals of peanut butter and jelly,
are about two meals more than I needed.
My poor stomach is coiled up in knots
of pain. Woe unto me, and my wretched cramp.

Oh how my stomach,
Literally dying from boredom,
Wracked by monotony,
Wishes for the sweet embrace of other flavors.

Any goddam kind of food,
In this whole goddam airport.
Would be welcomed like a brother,
Would be welcomed like a son.

My stomach bays into the night
Like a lost wolf begging answers from the moon.
And the only reply comes
In the form of even more peanut butter and jelly.

Woe.

BLOG FIESTA #7: I get what I want...

So let me get this straight, my jars of peanut butter and jelly can't go on the plane. They clearly look just like bomb parts. But if I take that same peanut butter and jelly, smear some of it on bread, and put the rest into little plastic containers, it's suddenly OK? Carrying several sandwiches made with a poorly sliced sourdough baguette stuffed with three times more jelly and peanut better than is recommended for a clean consumption is in my humble opinion MORE dangerous to America's safety than bomb parts -- I'm no doubt going to be getting every door knob, hand rail, and airplane seatbelt sticky from here to Boise.


Finally. It's time to get on the plane. The airport is undergoing it's 5th false fire alarm of the day. My next stop is Minneapolis Minnesota, where I'll have another 4 hours of layover. THIS FIESTA IS JUST GETTING STARTED!!!!!

Airport Evacuation Procedure for Dummies...

Have you ever been stuck in an airport* and had the lights start strobing and the buzzer start buzzing and the calm-voiced woman over the loud speaker starts instructing you to head towards your nearest exit, but you don't really feel like going outside? Well just sight tight buckaroo -- it's most likely a false alarm. Just hold your ground. Calmly wave at the flight crews as they walk down the stairs. They're just suckers. Don't flinch as the other passengers pour out into the cold, where they will shiver (like suckers). There's no smoke in the air -- you know better. Call the bluff of the airport emergency alert system, and wait, right where you are, without moving a muscle (except for your rapidly typing fingers). Before long, another calm voice, but this time clearly not a recording, will be coming on soon, to inform you and the rest of the airport that it was just a false alarm, and that you shouldn't evacuate.

Any second now.

Any second...

In just a second or two that voice will be coming over the loud speaker and telling you that you should return to the building.

At least you hope that's what will happen.




*for 8 hours straight

ARE YOU F'ING KIDDING ME????

There is a goddam FIRE ALARM in the GODDAM AIRPORT!!! more to come...

BLOG FIESTA #2: The depraved words of a hungry man.

Horseshit! HORSESHIT! This is horseshit. I set my bag down for a mere, mere, mere minute and a half, and you TSA fools, you TSA jerks, you TSA assholes took it away. It was filled from bread and bagels, muffins and danishes, all recklessly pilfered from the Holiday Inn's breakfast buffet. I needed those bread items, you fools jerks assholes, because I have elsewhere in my baggage, a near full jar of peanut butter, and a near full jar of jelly. I was eagerly anticipating the time when I could transmogrify those lifeless gels and bland shingles into satisfying, satiating, triple-decker sandwiches. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY ALONE ARE WORTHLESS TO ME, YOU HEAR ME FOOLS JERKS ASSHOLES??? Not to mention that when I try to pass through security you will no doubt identify my harmless food items as being probable bomb components, and confiscate them, shamelessly. You'll take my delicious peanut paste and strawberry mash into some back room where you'll construct your own delicious, delightful, triple-decker sandwiches PROBABLY WITH MY GODDAM BREAD!!!

(pause)

(breath)

I must be
strong.

I must

wait.

Airport food I shall buy.
But not

yet.

BLOG FIESTA #1: blog-off rule addendum

As many of you know (but clearly not enough of you), I recently challenged my friends over at The Monstro to a friendly blog competition, a "blog-off" if you will. Due to the extraneous circumstances of late, I've decided to exercise my right to blog-off rules and regulations article three:

Other rules and conditions may be introduced, by either party, throughout the competition.


Thus, from here and hence forth:
"in the event of an airport layover of six hours or more, bloggers are allowed to upload unlimited blog entries for the duration of the layover, and at any subsequent layovers during the same travel period [travel period being defined as the continuous and contiguous time elapsed between arrival at and departure from airport property, including (but not limited to) all time spent on-board an aircraft, all dining or shopping activities performed in airport shops, any usage of airport bathroom facilities, all time spent exercising or napping in airport waiting areas, and any overnight stays in hotels due to cancellations, delays, or any other airline based inconvenience]. "

Announcing: THE INAUGURAL SAM JOHNSON BLOG FIESTA

Thanks to the exceptional planning abilities of the Whitman College Cycling Team's travel agent (AKA a college student so busy he can barely groom himself, let alone search for convenient flight times (no offense Ben)), I've been stranded at the Kansas City International Airport a solid eight hours BEFORE my departure time. With the rental car returned long ago, everyone I know long departed, and my chances of getting on an earlier flight long gone (as in never existed), I'm happy and proud to announce the inaugural (and first tri-annual):

SAM JOHNSON BLOG FIESTA!!!!!!!!
JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY.JOY


I'm going to blog till the cows come home. I'm going to blog till my face goes blue. I'm going to blog till the grapes go sour. Hell, I'm going to blog till the airport employees go home after a full day's work, and the next shift of airport employees are halfway to quittin' time.

If I were one of those Monstro Bloggers, I'd be shakin' in my boots right now...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My kingdom for a camera!

Wow. Today was grand. If only I hadn't lost my camera so I could actually SHOW you what was grand.

The racing out here in Kansas was spectacular. Friday's races were muddy and sloppy, and the course was chewed up pretty bad by the day's races. By Friday night it was snowing and getting colder. This allowed for deep ruts, sometimes up to 4 inches deep, to be carved in the semi-frozen mud on Saturday. Later that night, the clouds cleared, the temperature dropped, and whole course froze solid, so by Sunday morning, there was just a mish-mash of rock hard, narrow little ruts that (if not hit absolutely dead on, and with perfect balance) would grab your tire and jerk it around all over the place. There were an average of six crashes per hour per person on the course, according to the announcers, and dang it looked hard to ride on.

The conditions were beautiful, cold and sunny. By the afternoon, by the time the elite men raced, the temperature had gone back above freezing and the race track had (for the most part) returned to mud. We got to see Ryan Trabon (the defending cyclocross national champion) crash head on with another racer who couldn't hold his line. We got to see Tim Johnson (an ex-pro tour rider, and former cyclocross national champ himself) give Johnathan Page (considered by many to be the nation's best cross racer, and the US's only European based professional) the shaft on the last lap of the race. We got to see many thousands of people yelling and screaming and honking horns and ringing cowbells and drinking beer, all in the name of cyclocross.

Now we have to go to Danny and Benny's, a local restaurant to catch some dinner, and enjoy the massive after party, but we can't go totally nuts because one of the Whitman racers is leaving at 8AM. My flight isn't until 4pm, so expect some serious blogging over the next twenty-four hours.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How to kill a couple hours...

Pitchfork Media just released its list of the top fifty music videos of 2007. If you’re in the mood, expose yourself to some of these; they are some of the most interesting and creative examples of my favorite art form. Yes that’s right: music videos are my favorite art form. There is no other media that so easily and consistently generates such a powerful emotional response in me. Music alone is pretty good at stirring up feelings, triggering memories, and inducing moods, but when combined with the skillful use of film, the effect is dramatically compounded. Now let me be clear, I am NOT talking about the kind of music videos whose sole function is to drive record sales, the kind frequently shown on MTV2 (now that MTV doesn’t show music videos any more*). I absolutely hate videos that do nothing more than glamorize a musician. No, I’m talking about the honest attempt to create a better piece of artwork through the joining of music and film. If doing so happens to glamorize the artist or drive record sales – that’s fine – but it’s the intent of the artists that I care about. It doesn’t matter whether the artists’ aim is to augment a song’s impact through the use of moving imagery, to tell a better story with film by employing an appropriate piece of music, or simply to crack people up with a crazy dance on treadmills, I enjoy the collaboration. At least when done well.

I don’t agree with all of Pitchfork’s selections. Some of the videos are boring. But most of them were extremely satisfying, and you'll agree goddamit. It's my blog after all. Enjoy.


*Does that fact, that I remember when MTV used to show music videos, betray my age? I think so. I must be nearing a quarter century.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Am I nuts?

I'm about to head out to Kansas for the weekend. I'm going there to assist and chaperon the Whitman College Cycling Team while they compete in the Cyclocross National Championships. It should be grand.

Now, I've been complaining about the weather in Boise. But compared to what Kansas is going through, I feel like a total whiner. Kansas was recently declared to be in a state of emergency due to the intense ice storms that coated everything in a thick layer of ice. I've heard this phenomenon is absolutely breathtaking, the ice turning every surface into a prism, reflecting light everywhere, making the entire outdoors a shiny wonderland:

Ice storms are also about as destructive as a hurricane. Trees are unable to shed the weight of the ice as it builds up, causing their branches to snap off left and right. It also does this to bikes:

AND I'M GOING OUT THERE!! I'll stand around and freeze my butt off, and yell like crazy, and cheer for the whitties, and watch people slip on the ice and mud, and stand in the wheel pit in case someone has a mechanical problem, and ring that cowbell -- CAN WE GET A LITTLE MORE COWBELL PLEASE??? -- and then I'll drive everybody to get hot cocoa once the race is over. It's cyclocross baby, and as I said, it should be grand!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A friendly wager....


I'm betting that I will blog more than my friends over there at TheMonstro during the month of December. Yessir, I'd be willing to make that wager if only to inspire a little friendly competition between our blogs (and to see if anyone is actually reading this). So Monstro bloggers, here are the conditions of the bet:


1. Blog posts must be good. No simple "check this video out" posts. Blogging about a video is acceptable, provided there is some thoughtful commentary from the blogger.

2. Each blogger will be limited to a maximum of one post per day. I know this puts me at HUGE disadvantage, seeing as how I'm outnumbered at least three (possibly four) to one, but seeing as how we're dang near halfway through December already, and seeing as how I've got a three-post lead already, aaaand seeing as how I doubt my opponents will notice they've been challenged for a few days, I still think this is fair.

3. Other rules and conditions may be introduced, by either party, throughout the competition.

4. All blogging must be done by 12:00AM January 1st, 2008.

That's it. Real simple. Monstronauts, consider yourselves challenged.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Book of Tights


I might have to channel my frustration like this:

And there arrived a letter in the Inbox,
And the letter told of a spectacular offer on nice new Castelli tights,

And the tights were closeout 2006


So the people rejoiced


And the people pounced on the offer,

And they filled out their check right away,

And they mailed their order the next day


So the people waited


And they waited six holy nights and six holy days,

And the people's housemate returned with the letter,

And it had merely fallen out of the mailbox into a bush


So the people steeled their nerves and tried again


And the letter with the check was again placed in the mailbox

And the mailman came

And again, the order was placed


So again, the people waited

And they waited six holy nights and six holy days

And the letter was FUCKING RETURNED TO SENDER???

And they just couldn't believe this shit
!!!

So the people cursed at the sky, and tore at their hair, and once again re-mailed that goddam letter


And the people hated snail mail all the more
And the question was asked: "what's it take to get my goddam tights?"

And there was only silence

Because there was no answer

Saturday, December 8, 2007

For my friends still in college...


From the bottom of my heart, I wish to extend my sympathy towards all you poor souls stuck deep within the trenches of finals week back at my alma mater, Whitman College. While I might (at times) envy your rich environment of intellectual engagement, your beautifully manicured campus, your easy access to the gym and dining halls -- in short your status as current students -- I have no desire to go through another finals week, nor would I wish such living hell on my worst enemies. There is no doubt in my mind that my eight semesters worth of finals weeks took a collective total of at least eight years off my life, far more than all my drugs and alcohol, saturated fat, and exposure to pesticides combined. Staying awake for two straight weeks, surviving on a diet of vending machine snacks and redbull, and sitting in front of a computer screen for upwards of sixteen hours per day is profoundly wrong. An utter abomination. A flagrant disregard for all that is natural and good. Finals week is the cursed offspring of the unholy union between deadlines, school, and stimulants. And it is evil.

Good luck Whitties, and may god have mercy on your sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed, over-caffeinated souls.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Letters to the editor:

Dear editors of the Boise Weather,

I moved to Boise several months ago, and subscribed to the Weather upon my arrival. At first, I was nothing short of amazed with your publication. The sun shone upwards of sixteen hours per day, the temperature was comfortable both during the day and night, and my bike rides were seldom inconvenienced by rain or high winds. I was a satisfied customer. Until now.

Lately the quality of the Weather has undergone a precipitous decline (yes, pun fucking intended). More than once in the last month I've found myself riding my bike to work in total darkness over ice covered streets through blustering winds and pouring rain. I'm even considering putting studs in my 'cross tires for added traction! This is insanity! What happened up there? What happened to your quality control program? Did all the Weather's writers go on strike along with the screenwriters guild? Have the normal editors been fired and replaced with a team of PC literate baboons? Furthermore, I've heard rumors from numerous reliable sources that this trend is likely to continue. I'm honestly considering canceling my subscription, which would have been inconceivable less than one month ago. Weather, you make me sad. Please make me happy again...


I've included a picture of what I've heard described as a "cold front." Supposedly this is the root cause of some of the problems in your service I've described. If this is the case, please remove this feature from my current Weather package -- I don't recall signing up for "cold fronts," nor do I want them. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Bitter in Boise

Monday, December 3, 2007

The blogger elves are restless....

Are you qualified to take care of small children? Find out with this easy quiz!

Question: Which video is better to show to small children?

Video 1

Video 2




Answer: video 1

Friday, November 30, 2007

I've got this sneaking suspicion...

At last, my Carhartts
are broken in, at long last
I'm a real Whittie


Ten Things I've Learned About Being a Carpenter*:

1. It's better to dig the splinters out right away. The only thing worse than a splinter is an infected, three day old splinter.

2. Don't use the tape measure upside-down. You'll cut an inch too short every time.

3. Use a dust mask when you cut wood unless you want your boogers to look like sticky black ants.

4. When you're holding two pieces of wood together while someone else nails them together with the pneumatic nailer, be sure to yell "OW" or "FUCK" as though they just shot a nail through your hand. It's funny every time.

5. Wear gloves when you're putting on primer or paint because it's hard to get off, but that linseed oil finish is great hand moisturizer and smells really nice. Go gloveless.

6. Expect everything you bring into the shop to be covered in sawdust within 15 minutes. This includes your clothes, you bike, and your lunch. You'd be amazed what a little sawdust can do to some four day old lasagna.

7. Whenever you're using silicone caulk, be sure to make lots of jokes about "filling the crack with caulk" and such. It's funny every time. Yes, your co-workers are men in their fifties, but there's no reason why you can't behave every bit as infantile as they do.

8. The ear protection with the built-in FM radio gets much better reception if you tuck the antenna under your ear so it touches your skin. It's the only way to get NPR. I have no idea why this works but trust me.

9. PUT THE PENCIL BACK IN YOUR POCKET WHEN YOU'RE DONE, AND KEEP THAT TAPE MEASURER CLIPPED TO YOUR PANTS. You'll be needing them both again very soon. Why can't you learn this?

10. Lastly, I'll restate the most well known piece of carpentry advice in the world: measure twice, cut once. Even though this is a total no-brainer you will forget, and make mistakes on a routine basis. Fortunately (or unfortunately) your boss will also forget on a routine basis, requiring you to pose questions like "are you sure?" or "are you cutting the right piece of wood?" or "what the hell are you doing???" without coming off as insulting.



* These are not universal truths of carpentry, just things I've learned about my particular situation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I love days like this...

To some, a day that never involves putting on normal street clothing would be looked down upon as a sign of laziness. For me, those are the best days of all, and while I don't deny there is a hint of laziness, I still feel productive. They go like this: I wake up late, and indulge in some pretty awesome dreams about racing the Cannonball Run. Then I slip into my flannel pajamas and head downstairs where I spend at least two hours drinking coffee, making breakfast, reading and drinking more coffee. Finally the motivation to ride overtakes my enjoyment of my morning and I spend at least an hour changing into cycling spandex and preparing my bike for the trip. I ride my bike until it's dark, often with the company of my good friends, often exploring new places like the decrepit old backroad down to Horseshoe Bend or the twisty highway that follows the river to Emmett, often encountering amazing or beautiful things, like snow geese swimming across a mostly frozen stretch of river, or a view of the back side of Bogus Basin. I get home exhausted and cold, take a hot shower, and slip back into my flannel pajamas. I eat dinner, often cooked by one of my culinarily gifted housemates. We exchange stories of our respective adventures, and then watch a movie or sports. Before long I'm good and ready for bed. I go back upstairs and read until I'm sleepy, and then eagerly pick up where I left off in the Cannonball Run.

I'm telling you, this is the life -- days that don't involve putting on pants with pockets, wearing shoes with rubber soles, or spending any money. Days purely devoted to nourishment, physical exertion, and interpersonal interaction. Simple days. Glorious days.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving is great

11:43:18 - Exit parents' house fully dressed in 6 layers of spandex prepared for long ride in bitter cold. Discover flat tire. Curse.
11:45:29 - Realize I have neither tube, nor patch kit, nor tire levers to pry exceedingly tight tire off of rim (tire exceedingly tight thanks to extra beadless tire stuffed inside outer tire to serve as additional puncture protection). Realize that this requires return trip to house, now that move-out of parents' house is finally complete. Curse again.
11:58:27 - Return home completely overheating (thanks to 6 layers of spandex in a by now quite warn automobile) after red-light-filled drive across town.
12:09:01 - Apply last remaining patch to hole in tube, realizing that should this patch fail, there would be no riding today. Reinsert tube into overstuffed tire (thanks to extra beadless tire).
12:19:32 - Check e-mail obsessively compulsively, despite the fact that since graduating from college number of e-mails and facebook messages have dropped roughly 63%.
12:27:18 - Eat apple.
12:29:50 - Exit house fully dressed in 6 layers of spandex prepared for long ride in bitter cold. Smile as patch job appears to be successful. Head Northwest on Hill Road.
3:40:44 - Return home throughly exhausted, high on endorphins, numb in the extremities, and famished.
3:41:04 - Place bicycle in custom built bicycle rack capable of neatly, efficiently and conveniently storing up to seven bicycles in our living room. Thank you very much.
3:41:43 - Strip off spandex. Check e-mail obsessively compulsively.
3:48:12 - Slam down recovery drink while taking hot shower. Enjoy returned sensation to extremities.
3:56:00 - Dress the fuck up -- grandma's going to be there after all.
4:04:38 - Drive back across town, green lights the whole way!
4:13:22 - Return to parents house with roughly 4 minutes to spare before we were instruected to sit down and begin feasting.
4:15:57 - Feast. Food never tasted so good.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Screw that mountain bike -- it's time to train!


Call me crazy. Call me sick. Call me whatever you want, but I really want to train right now. I don't care about the rain, I don't care about the cold, I don't even care about how few hours of daylight there are* -- the 2008 season is calling my name, and I am strangely compelled to follow that call. I am the homing pigeon. I am the humpback whale. I am the every animal that ever knew exactly where it was going without knowing why. Screw that mountain bike -- it's time to train!


*just a side note, I just looked outside and it's friggin' snowing. For the first time this year. I still feel the same way.

Avoid the calamari

Oh, calamari
I mistrusted you at first
And mistrust you still...

Deep-fried rubber bands
Chunked mayonnaise dipping sauce
Token lemon wedge

I was so hungry
But my blast-furnace stomach
Vetoed those suckers

If only I'd puked
When I felt like puking, oh
If only I'd puked

Instead I waited
Green, shivering, fetal ball
Calamari's curse

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

For all you Rube-Goldberg fans...

I'm so glad someone did this. I think they're from The Netherlands. GO NETHERLANDS!!!

The pre-testing jitters...

So I'm going out to Seattle this weekend to meet with my coach Todd Herriott, and I am dreading it. I'll be paying a visit to Todd's place of work called Herriott Sports Performance (HSP for short), where not surprisingly Todd is the head honcho. While I'm there I'll be getting a slew of physiological tests to better determine how to craft my training plan, and I'll have Todd adjust my aerodynamic position on my TT bike, but most importantly, I'm going there to have Todd give me the "straight talk". Todd is a ball-buster, no way around it. He's a good coach for me, because he doesn't dandy up what he says with a bunch of supportive, positive, everybody-can-be-a-winner fanciness. No, he'll be brutally honest. He's been around and seen it all long enough to know that a guy like me - a talented athlete, but not a complete and total mutant - needs to work REALLY REALLY hard in order to be successful, especially when I'm competing mostly against other talented athletes (and the occasional total mutant), almost all of whom also work REALLY REALLY hard. He's going to get me up on those machines, and poke my finger with a needle, and make me pedal until I want to puke, and then look at the data and say something like "Sam, you're a big unit. Your [insert physiological statistic] is good, and if you do what I tell you to do it will get better. If you don't get better, you'll never be able to bark with the big boys, so do what I tell you, ok."

"Do I have to stop drinking lots of beer and eating lots of ice cream," I'll ask.

"Only if you want to get faster," he'll say.

This is why I'm dreading it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lord help me.....

O my God! Source of all mercy! I acknowledge Your sovereign power. While recalling the wasted years that are past, I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain. Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things. Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace.

Lord, I need a mountain bike. I know, oh Great Forgiver, that it's been far too long since the my heart has pined for endless miles of singletrack, but the tide has turned, and again I wish for nothing more than wide knobby tires, and finely-tuned suspension. Give me this mountain bike, and shine through me and be so in me, that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your Presence as I blow past them both uphill and down.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Do's and Don'ts of getting a dream job

So let's say that you're unemployed, you're twenty-four years old, and your stockpile of bicycle components--AKA your income--is starting to dwindle (so that it can no longer be considered a stockpile, but instead a mere pile), and you're running short on cash, what do you do? You get a job, that's what. And not just any job--no, you need a high paying, flexible, fun, interesting job. You need a dream job.

To get a dream job, there are some simple Do's and Don'ts:

Don't just pick a day and say "today I'll get a job". You definitely won't get hired on that particular day, and you'll feel like a failure, and you'll spend the whole next week being a really ineffective job-hunter due to a lack of confidence. Employers have little confidence receptors built into the backs of their ears.

Do view job-getting as a steady push towards employment, an exercise in persistence, an inexorable week-long grind towards the turnstiles of lifelong corporate enslavement. Yippee.

Don't make a bet with your friends that you'll wear a chocolate-brown polyester leisure suit for an undetermined amount of time the very same week that you get serious about your job search, especially if the suit is two sizes too small. I don't care how hard you rock that leisure suit, or how many chicks you think you'll pick up as a result, trust me: it's a bad idea.If you must wear a chocolate-brown leisure suit, Do do most of your interviews over the phone, and Don't, under any circumstances, allow your potential employer to actually SEE you wearing the brown leisure suit. This is worse than showing up for a job interview naked. Much worse. Sure they'll take your resume, but mostly just to get you out of their place of business.

Don't apply for a job at Barbacoa. They're a bunch of jerks anyway!

Don't just post your resume on monster.com or craigslist. Everybody does that. Instead, try to catch your potential employer when he's off guard, when he least expects it, when he's not prepared to be solicited for a job, when he's just surfing the bikes postings on craigslist for example. Try crafting a craigslist ad like this one:

HIRE ME: a smart, charming pro cyclist seeks off-season job


Reply to: sale-457682964@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-10-23, 4:49PM MDT


I'm a 24 year old cat 1 racer for Hagens-Berman's fully supported Elite Team. I'll be living in Boise through the winter, and need to find a job to make ends meet. If you're a business owner, and are looking to hire someone, consider me. If you aren't a business owner, but still think you could help me, forward this link, or get in touch.

I'm smart, creative, and good with people. My degree is in studio art from Whitman College, but I've got food service, retail, and office experience. I'd prefer a job I can bike to (unless the job is really really cool), from 26th street. I'd be a solid, productive, reliable worker through March, at which point I'm moving back to Seattle for the season.

E-mail or call (509)-540-9505, if you'd like to meet me, or see a resume.



There, see how easy that was? You'll have your dream employer knockin' at the door in no time!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Of Glory


GLORY.

Come my friends and followers, gather close, for I wish to tell you a tale, one of glorious men, and even more glorious deeds, days, and dreams.

CYCLOCROSS.

Gathered on a sun soaked Sunday, late in the fine fine month of October, amidst the falling golden leaves of aspen trees, at the base of a mighty mighty mountain, stood a crowd of sixty hearty souls, their nerves rubbed raw by the proximity of their competitors and their competition's proximity. They twitched anxiously on the start line, like hounds before the hunt, eyes nervously scanning each others heads, quads, toes and tires, looking for signs of weakness or superiority, waiting for the opportunity to run, to fly, to dive as a peregrine dives without fear or hesitation, to dive head-long for that first bottle-neck, that first turn, that first test of skill and strength.

GLORY.

Purity, my friends, is what makes a great thing great. All great things are pure, and there is perhaps no greater purity, no more primal, impassioned human struggle than the men's B's cyclocross race. As the first blood was drawn, as the first racers overshot their line and lay writhing on the ground, as the rest of the brave brave wheeled-ones either pushed through the madness, shoulder against panicked shoulder, or dismounted to avoid the same poor poor fate, the dust flew, and the the leaves fell, and the fans--oh how the fans cheered.

CYCLOCROSS.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

BUSTED!!!

Well it was about time. After two races in the men's C's, my shameless sandbagging has come to an end. After being publicly outed on the Idaho Cyclocross forums as being a "worse sandbagger than Rambo at a pillow fight," the race organizers refused to score me against the other C's, and instead forged a new category for Greg and I: Men's Douchebag C's, in which we swept the podium. Thus, I've decided my C's days are over. To be fair, I raced C's twice this year, and I got my butt kicked the first time (finishing 4th our of 8), and wanted to see a free Josh Ritter concert at 1:00 PM last weekend, making the only race I could have raced the C's, but at this point, I'm inclined to agree with the rest of the state. Onward and upward the motto goes, and so, onward to the B's I go for this weekend's Idaho Cyclocross State Championships in Ketchum. You can still call me a sandbagger, but at least this week they might put me in the results.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blog envy, New Mexican oddity

I didn't know it was possible to experience blog envy, but wouldn't you know it, Bike Snob NYC has done it again: another massive hammer blow to the humorous cycling-based blogosphere.

Oh, and look at this E-mail I got from my mom (click on the link to see it full size). It starts out a little grim, but gets much better:

"Today I was cleaning out drawers, and came across this police report from the Espanola paper that I saved several years ago. I don't normally read the Espanola paper so I don't know if police reports are normally this entertaining. If so, then maybe I should start reading them.
The must read highlights are: July 18, July 22, Sept 17, and Sept 24. The rest of the reports involve dogs, bears, or livestock."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Cyclocross....

Once again, I donned my purple suit and took to the cyclocross course. Once again, I had to squeeze into the C's, using my expired license and a promise "not to win". Greg also sneaked into the C's and they gave him grief about being a cat 3. By the time I registered, they just shrugged when I denied their offer to race A's and instead opted to race C's with Greg. Greg had bad luck and flatted moments before the start. Someone loaned him a spare wheel, a smooth one, with no tread what so ever. He had a great start, but was on his back a few turns later. He crashed a total of 6 times, silly silly man.

I broke my promise and won the C's (no doubt making me the most despised man in all of Idaho), but there was a 45 plus guy who creamed me, and a 12 year old who put up one hell of a fight. I need to race against B's next time.

That win was my first USCF win of 2007.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I love cyclocross....

This post will be done in the style of long time friend, and fellow New Mexican, Dustin Garber.


so i was thinking it would good skills practice to race cyclocross but i'm so awful at hopping on and off. my friends take me in the truck to the only race in idaho at the tamarack resort. side note the tamarack resort is scary scary not unlike the city of las vegas in that it does not belong there. so basically i am so bad at cyclocross i sneak into the c's with an old license and quick smile at pretty check-in lady who i don't think really wanted to have sex with greg. gus and drew love yelling. we start and i go fast but greg goes faster. i bungle re-mount after crossing first barriers on second lap and violate anus and crotch region right in front of gus and drew who laugh while i scream like a man who just menaced his undercarriage with a pointy hard bike seat. this kills all drive to go fast, and makes race a battle to not get last. and this is the c's i must remind you. anyway greg wins and i tore the crotch on my purple skinsuit which i was wearing without chamois because my brain is only 43% active these days and forgets vital bicycle racing equipment like chamois allowing ballsack to peek through gross. i am not this big of a rookie. we drink beer that looks like it is soda. greg gets plastered and makes loud inappropriate comment to small children sipping free coffee. i guess i'm ok with finishing 4th in a tiny c's field because my break was rubbing really bad the whole time but oh dear i am bad at this sport.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The reason for my lethargy of late.

So I haven't posted in a while, and I think I just figured out why. This guy just crammed all the wit and humor that I come up with in a month into a single blog post. I laughed to tears. I laughed until my belly hurt. Granted, it might be funnier to me than to the rest of you, seeing as how I actually did sneak into a C's race, I actually can't afford socks, and I actually do hate getting dirty (eeeeew, dirt!). In fact, you might not find it funny at all, but this is my blog, you hear? MY BlOG!! MY BLOG!!!! MINE MINE MINE MINE!!!!!! Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bloggers little workshop.

My blog posts are prepared by little elves in cute outfits in a small workshop somewhere inside the arctic circle. I pay these elves a wage of 175 gumdrops, and 13 pieces of candy corn per day of service, along with full health and dental insurance (the dental insurance being, in retrospect, a mistake, due to the fact that an elf's diet consists entirely of candy). When the elves are finished crafting a blog post, they take it to me for inspection. If I deem their work satisfactory, I log on to my blogger account and do the actual posting of the blog entries. Unfortunately, thanks to the recent affect of globalization on the world's gumdrop production, I've found it difficult to maintain an acceptable profit margin. Most gumdrops are actually produced in Brazil, and thanks to the industrial revolution (and apparent sweet tooth) in China, the cost of gumdrops has increased by nearly 1,000% since the late 1980's. I've tried increasing the amount of candy corn (up to 30 pieces) I pay my elves as a replacement for the gumdrops -- thanks to the massive subsidies the US government gives to candy corn farmers, this commodity's price has remained fairly stable -- but no dice; the elves' union has threatened to call a strike if I can't maintain the 175 gumdrops per elf, per day, that was agreed upon at our last negotiations (fall 2004). At the same time, the board of directors of my blog is concerned that I'm not acting with the interest of the blog's shareholders in mind, and there has been talk of my "resignation". As you can see, managing a blog is more complicated than it might seem.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Every now and then...

Every now and then, things go smoothly for a change. You show up at the ticket counter to find no line whatsoever. Not only that, the ticketing agent, a short, plump, platinum blond named Abby, is in a good mood: she jokes, she smiles, and she doesn’t charge you for your suspiciously bike shaped “display case”. Since you were anticipating a much longer wait, you arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. “There’s an earlier flight out to San Francisco with extra room, would you like to take that instead?” Abby asks. An earlier flight? “Yes, thank you!” you chirp.

You arrive at security to find that, despite the addition of another completely unnecessary security measure (not just computers, but all larger electronics must be removed from your bag and x-rayed separately) the line at security is mercifully short. You breath a sigh of relief, as your regular-sized toothpaste and regular sized deodorant remain undetected, and unconfiscated. You arrive at your exit-row, window seat, just as the passenger in the center decides that he is not able or willing to assist in the event of an emergency, and is reseated, leaving the seat next to you empty.

The take-off is smooth, and you fall asleep within moments, waking only briefly as the drinks are served. The stewardess, a tall, attractive Asian woman named Gloria is in a good mood: she jokes, she smiles, she gives you the whole can of the drink you ordered. She gives you two snacks instead of one. You doze again. When you wake, the plane is landing in calm weather, with great visibility. The wheels make contact with the ground with the tenderness of a doe nuzzling her fawn. Your bags are the first ones down the baggage chute. Your “display case” is in good shape; there is not a single bicycle part protruding from the exterior, no evidence of being dropped or crushed.

You collect your belongings and shuttle it all to the curb. You flick open your cell phone, but before you can dial, you see that familiar Jeep Cherokee pulling up to the sidewalk right in front of you. You load your baggage, and since you took an earlier flight, there is no traffic on the freeway. You arrive with enough daylight left to go fishing. You don’t catch and fish, but you don’t mind.

Every now and then, things go smoothly for a change. And I like it when they do.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's with these chefs...

So after watching an afternoon of the Food Network, I've concluded that this channel is a sexist institution. Well, that might be a stretch, but at the very least our sexist culture is clearly exemplified by the Food Channel's choices for the hosts of its shows. After nearly eight straight hours of food channel viewing (YES I'M PATHETIC), I didn't notice a single unattractive female host: Rachel Ray is really hot, and she loves to cook chocolate sauce in her bra. Naughty Rachel, naughty! Ingrid Hoffman is a total goddess with great cleavage, and when she's cooking she tends to stare into the camera with a piercing and lusty gaze. I have no idea what she cooked, or how she cooked it, but I think she's totally into me. See for yourself.


The male hosts of the Food Network aren't nearly as hot. I mean, they're not repulsive; sure Emeril is a little overweight, but he's still got all his hair, and he's charming in the Elvis-in-his-later-years kind of way.
Wolfgang Puck is a fairly attractive man for his age, but he was born in the 40's for crying out loud! Judging by my unofficial research conducted on google images, the demand for pictures of these guys in their underwear isn't nearly as high as it is for their female counterparts. And that's just wrong America, just plain wrong. Until I can just as easily find pictures of Iron Chef's Rokusaburo Michiba wearing a speedo, I'm pissed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wiki-giraffe-apedia?

According to Wikipedia "The K├╝bler-Ross model describes, in five discrete stages, the process by which people deal with grief and tragedy." However, watching this giraffe actually experience the five stages of death is even better. This leads me to believe that wikipedia should start hiring a giraffe to do educational videos about all its articles, because learning from a giraffe has been "clinically proven to improve the retention of important information by over 36%". I am not making this up. Neither is wikipedia.

Oh, and no giraffes were injured in the posting of this blog entry.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tell me....


Question: Why, from an evolutionary perspective, do our buttholes come equipped with little sensors that tell us when we've eaten spicy food?

Sub question: Can the age-old New Mexican adage "good chile burns twice" apply to a horribly botched attempt at the Master Cleanse?

Thirty-six hours of consuming nothing more than lemon juice, grade-B maple syrup, and what can only be described as a "heroic dose" of cayenne pepper, was enough to convince me that more of my blog readers should have chimed in with comments to my previous post on the matter. Where was the love? Where was the goddam intervention? People, from now on, friends don't let friends do the Master Cleanse, m'kay?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A tale of two taillights.


Now I know I've blogged about my truck before, but I'm going to do it some more. Hey - it's an awesome truck, and deserves this kind of attention. When I first purchased this beauty, on that fateful day in July of 2006, Andy Fisher, the previous owner was trying to convince me to buy. We took it for a test drive, and Andy listed some of this truck's many many featured. "The windows go both up and down," he said, as we chattered down his washboard driveway, "and even though the display on the radio is broken, the speakers can still make sound - just press 'seek' until you find a station you like. It's got keyless entry --" "Really? I didn't know they put that feature in cars this old," I said, interrupting Andy's sales pitch.
"Yeah - it's got keyless ignition too. You don't need a key at all; you can start it up with just about any skinny metal object. Actually, it doesn't have to be metal I guess....I started it with my thumbnail once."
I took a sharp left turn at the bottom of the Fisher's driveway, and the keys, as though they were trying to prove Andy's point, flew right out of the ignition onto the floor.
"As I was sayin', it's got a nice topper on there, and that does lock," Andy continued, "oh, and I just had the taillights replaced too. Brand new taillights. Did I mention the widows can go both up and down?" New taillights huh? I was sold.

Fast forward one year.

I was staying with Heidi and Rutger, a wonderful Dutch couple who live in Hood River, Oregon. I was there for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic stage race. Heidi and Rutger are charming, friendly, and borderline hyperactive. The entire time I was at their house they wore exercise clothing, and between the two of them, they worked out at least 5 times per day. Rutger is a model maker for a living. His job was to "transfer the napkin drawing someone hands [him], and turn it into a three-dimensional object". Before that he carved surfboards for windsurfers. Rutger drove an awesome old camper van -- like a VW Westfalia on steroids -- with room for eight passengers, a full kitchen, and an overhead storage compartment for surfboards and sails. It was a huge van, it had a bad turning radius, and the visibility was awful when backing up (thanks to the floral curtains in the windows). The first morning I was there, Rutger, being the high strung guy that he is, packed two Senseo coffee pods in his strange Dutch coffee maker, made himself a latte, hopped in his massive orange camper-van, and backed straight into my truck. Naturally, the monstrosity of a bumper on the back of Rutger's van was undamaged. Naturally, my taillight was completely shattered.

Fast forward three months.

Shit. I was running late. I had to drive from Boise to Sun Valley, a three hour trip, and it was already eight o'clock. I'd packed my bag, but still had to disassemble my bike so it could fit on the plane. "Screw it," I thought, and just tossed my bike in the back of my truck, "I need to get there". I, being the high strung guy that I am, sucked down the last sip of my silty cup of french press coffee, threw my massive bike bag in the back of the car such that the rear window was completely obscured, hopped in the cockpit of my fine automobile, and backed straight in to the shiny Ford F-350 parked in the alley. To complement the crunching sound of breaking plastic, I shouted "FUCK!" as loud as I could. Luckily for me, the owner of said shiny Ford F-350 (a clean-cut, muscular, Boise State fan) was within earshot, and arrived on the scene within moments. He wore a concerned yet menacing expression. Fearing for both my life and my insurance rate, I got out of the car and braced for the news. To our utter disbelief, and to my life-saving, pulse-calming, faith-restoring relief, the shiny F-350 was completely unscathed. Somehow my taillight, and only my taillight hit the plastic guard on the outside of the chrome bumper. There were a few, almost unnoticeable scratches in the plastic guard, and that was the extent of the damage to the shiny Ford. I never could have imagined feeling so lucky to have just smashed my taillight.

Fast forward three hours.

The massive fires that burned much of the forest outside Sun Valley were almost out. Nevertheless, there were still nearly two thousand firefighters in the valley mopping up the remaining spot fires. As the nation's top priority fire for over a week, the Castle Rock complex fire was spared no expense, including dozens of helicopters, hundreds of fire-engines, and (here's the kicker) lots of additional law enforcement to maintain order while the firefighters did their jobs. Now picture me in my rust colored, $900, two-door pickup truck with smashed taillights, driving through one of the wealthiest resort towns in America, past numerous bored policemen. I was more conspicuous than a republican senator at a boyscout jamboree. I got pulled over no less than three times (and tailed by a fourth cop for several blocks), in about ten miles. Each time, I offered up my shards of smashed taillight that were still on the floor of my car as evidence that this accident had just occurred, and each time, I was let off after some stern words and some very pointed questions ("where are you headed?", "you don't live here, do you?", and my favorite "are you lost?"). I guess I won't be driving around at night for a while....'cus getting new taillights might cost me more than my car is worth.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cycling weenies!

Well, it looks like I’ve gone ahead and done it, confirmed what many of us have suspected for a long time: bicycle racers are total weenies! We're just a bunch of no-body-fat, no-upper-body-strength, no-hand-eye-coordination, weaklings. Sure, I can compete in week-long stage races, through heat and humidity, covering hundreds of miles, and climbing tens of thousands of vertical feet. But if spend one afternoon walking around a city, or taking a small hike, I’m so sore the next day, I practically need a wheelchair. I’m not talking about a strenuous effort here….I’m referring to an average day of tourism – something my grandmother could easily handle with no repercussions at all. I mean, it’s cool to be able to crank out enough watts on the bike to power a 60 inch plasma screen, but if playing basketball for a half-hour nearly gives me a hernia, I begin to wonder if all this specialization is worth it.

Early in the season, I was in the best all-round shape of my life. Between the strength conditioning in the weight room, the stretching and the yoga, the cross training on the ergometer or the elliptical trainer, the laps in the pool – I was an all-round athlete. Slowly, as the racing picked up, and the season wore on, I shed those cross-disciplinary activities like the pedals of a rose. By now, I’m frighteningly specialized: a one trick pony, a cycling weenie.

Thank goodness the season is over, so I can correct this trend. Excuse me, while I go fly my power kite on the beach. Let's hope I don't pull a muscle.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

should I do the master cleanse????

should I do the master cleanse? All in favor say aye!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

...and with a **poof** my season is actually over.

Thanks to the raging fire that is currently, uh, raging over in the mountains outside Ketchum (and inside Ketchum), my season is officially over. Something about this Ketchum Crit seemed a little too good to be true: a $10,000 purse for an hour long race with a field limit of 80 racers: 40 cat 3's and 40 1/2's. I don't even remember the last time I raced a crit that was only an hour long, or with less than 100 guys in it. Unfortunately, this Castle Rock Complex fire is a natural disaster of monumental proportions; mother nature has made her point loud and clear: there shall be no easy money criterium in Idaho. Those Sportsbaseonline.com guys better give me back my entry fee, I'll tell you what! I'm not exactly devastated – crits haven't exactly been my best friend this year, but it would have been fun to race in front of my friends and family one last time this year.

Even though this has been a good season, there is something destabilizing about being done early, not unlike a carpet being whisked out from underneath one's feet, or suddenly stepping ashore after months at sea. What on earth am I to do now? I still have one more adventure before I can settle down for good (read: more than two weeks); I have to go to Chicacgo (again), and care for my 14 year old cousins while their parents are out of town. The important thing is however, the racing is over. It's shocking, but I don't need to ride every day if I don't want to. Best of all, I can do things I wouldn't normally for fear of hurting myself: fly my power kite, go surfing, try break dancing, etc.

What is a bicycle racer who doesn't race? Just a bicycle?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

for the huge bike dorks...

This deserves some props--it made me laugh 'til I snorted.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Memories from the Hotter'n'Hell 100: 98 degrees, humidity; swolen knees, humility.

It wasn’t until I arrived at the Razorback Hydration Station at mile 98 that I became certain that I was going to finish the 2007 HH100. I had plenty of fluids to get me to the finish line, but when I turned past the rusting tin automobile garage, past the woman waving a beer bottle shouting “free beer”, and past a second bystander who also yelled “free beer”, I just had to pull a U-turn. “You serious?” I asked, not certain if this oasis was real or a fantastical mirage, a projection of my deepest desires. “Heck yeah—it’s cold too,” said the grey haired, mutton-chopped, pot-bellied man who’d just flagged me down, “you’re the first one to stop today!” This fact gave me great pleasure; I was the fittest person to need a beer, out of the nearly 12,000 participants in this year’s Hotter’n’Hell 100 mile bicycle ride. I reached the old garage, and gladly accepted red plastic cup from a squirrelly-looking old guy with a full beard, and took a large sip of pure foam. Yum. A quick scan told me that, visually, I was a stark contrast to the rest of the people inside the garage. I was all sweaty and lycra-clad, while almost everyone else was wearing cowboy boots. The one thing we all had in common was a red plastic cup filled with foam. Inside the garage, several other older, bearded men sat in front of large industrial fans that kept the interior of the garage cool. I could see a large grill clearly cooking something unhealthy and delicious. Along the walls were stacked piles and piles of old rusty tools, and high above our heads, a beautifully restored 1940’s Desoto, a turquoise one, sat on a lift. Enjoying myself, but at the same time fearing that one beer might turn into seven, and, perhaps, realizing that I was still competing in a USCF sanctioned bicycle race, I decided it was time to go. I posed for a picture with my beer cup, signed the official Razorback Hydration Station guest log, finished my drink, and got back on my bike.

earlier...


The race was over. There were fifteen people up the road–how they got up there is anyone's guess–and the "field" of twenty or so that Nick and I were riding in had given up completely. Nobody wanted to pull-through, but everyone was willing to chase: negative racing at it's worst. I'd already gone through seven bottles of water (the four that I started with, and three I picked up in feed zones), but I was still thirsty, and there was still 25 miles left in the race. My knee was starting to stiffen up, now that the adrenaline had worn off, but at least I'd stopped cramping. This heat! How in the world were any of these guys still going hard? I was so blown I could hardly see straight. Our stupid group kept doing stupid things: opening up gaps for no reasons, attacking the paceline, refusing to pull through yet insisting upon riding near the front–and the breakaway's gap kept increasing. We passed by one of the many aid stations we'd seen along the way. The large circus style tent beckoned to me, and then formed eyes and a mouth. "I've got cold drinks and cookies," it said, "you look tired, why don't you come grab a seat in the shade, cool off in front of one of the giant fans". Surprised, I rubbed my eyes, but the face on the side of the tent was still there.
"I can't stop, I'm in the middle of a race! Can you save me a cookie for later?" I asked the tent.
"Nope–stop now, or no cookies for you," the circus tent teased.
Ten minutes later, I clipped back into my pedals. My belly was full of Gatorade and cookies (and perhaps my pride); my body temperature was about 5 degrees cooler; my face had been wiped clean with wet towel; and I was quite pronouncedly out of the race, but thank heavens, that face on the side of the tent had stopped talking to me.

earlier...

“Awh fuck no, this ain’t happening,” I thought to myself, as the racer directly in front of me went skidding across the road on his side—but oh yes, it was happening alright. I slowed down quite a bit, but couldn’t avoid hitting the unfortunate fellow on the ground, and thus, hitting the ground myself. I wasn’t hurt bad, but it took me a few seconds to slam my displaced shifter back into position, and get my chain back on. For the next half-hour, I chased my brains out with the help of one other unlucky racer. My chase companion was bleeding from his hand, and turned his bar-tape on the right side a really hardcore, yet pretty shade of pink. At long last the field slowed down; either a break got established, the field got tired, or both, and we were able to make contact with the peloton. On the list of things that suck a lot--crashing and then having to chase for miles is solidly inside the top ten.

earlier......

Nick and I woke up as late as we could: 5:30 AM for a 6:30 start. We quickly shoveled down some food and put on our spandex. We grabbed our bikes and headed out the door, out of the air conditioning and into a hot, humid, pitch black Witchita Falls morning. The five mile ride from the hotel to the race was enough to make us start sweating profusely, and the sun wasn't even up yet. We arrived at the very back of the staging area--a massive 4 lane boulevard completely blocked off to vehicular traffic, and jam packed with cyclists for at least ten blocks. After borrowing a pump to top off our tires, we began the tedious (and dangerous) process of weaving our way through over 12,000 cyclists to the staging area for the men's pro/1/2 staging area.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

In the airport bar.....

“Ahh, you’re an athlete, not just a showoff,” Trish, the probably-thirty-eight-year-old woman who was hitting on me said. Of course, this was after she’d put it all together that I’m not a BMX racer, nor do I do tricks off ramps, but instead on of those tutti-fruity, spandex wearing, Tour de France style bicyclists. Trish was nervous as hell for her flight, and was rapidly downing her second bloody Mary, despite loudly proclaiming that she could only have one before sitting down. Trish didn’t fly much, but I got the feeling she drank plenty. She rummaged through her purse for quite some time before producing her business card. She let me know she was in the hotel industry in Salt Lake City, and if I ever needed to stay at her hotel, for a race or any reason at all, I should give her a call. “This is strictly business,” she said, “I’m not just trying to pick you up.” The bartender and I exchanged meaningful glances that directly contradicted this statement.

Here I am in the Salt Lake City airport, on my second 7 hour layover of the day. My season just ended, I’m three beers deep, and the bartender—Mike was his name—is encouraging me to go for a fourth. Should I? That was a rhetorical question.

Friday, August 24, 2007

HULK MAD, PEDALS SMASH, GRAHHHHHH!!!!!!


HULK SEE POWER TEST AT PRODUCT EXPO. SILLY MAN ASK HULK IF HE LIKE TO TRY POWER TEST. HULK RELUCTANTLY ACCEPT CHALLENGE--HULK HATE POWER TEST---POWER TEST MAKE HULK MAD!!!! TINY BIKE THAT HAVE TOO SHORT SEAT POST MAKE HULK MAD!!!!! TOE-STRAPS MAKE HULK MAD!!!!!!

HULK SMASH PEDALS--PEDALS SMASH--HULK SEE ONLY GREEN FOR TWO MINUTES WHILE SMASHING PEDALS....

MAN AT BOOTH MAKE SILLY FACE. "Dude.......wow" ALL HIM SAY. HULK WINNER OF SILLY POWER CONTEST--TAKE HOME SHINY NEW HEART RATE MONITOR.

hulk like heart rate monitor. maybe hulk like power test after all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Haiku

Antibiotics
Are what you eat, when you go

Swimming with road rash

more of my full week....

On the morning of the Tour de Lovell, I awoke five minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, serene, like a Labrador retriever (huh?). The morning flowed gracefully from breakfast, to packing my bags, to driving to the race with my uncle. I went to the registration table, and picked up my packet—I was bib number one. While pinning my numbers, I helped a handful of people with their own pinning jobs. The instructions said that racers needed to wear numbers on their bikes, helmets and hips, which led to all kinds of comical number placements. Most people pinned their un-crinkled number directly to their spandex shorts, right over their hips, such that every pedal stroke would make the number bow out like a spinnaker. While doing my best to avoid coming off like a condescending know-it-all (and perhaps stifling a scoff), I showed my uncle and another nearby racer how to scrunch up the numbers, so they break up the air-flow, and then where on jersey I place my own numbers—just above the pockets, lined up with the seam of the fabric, ten pins per number. Watching people pin race numbers on for the first time was like traveling back through time, back to when I was just getting started—before the thousands of hours on the bike, before the years of commitment, before the heated debates I’ve had with other racers about the various (and deeply divided) philosophies regarding proper number placement and attachment protocol. My nostalgia only lasted a few minutes before I was forced to shift my focus back to preparing for the race, but for a few precious moments, I was a terrified college freshman about to race in my first collegiate C race. It was delightful.

Before long, the race was underway. We staged in the parking lot, then rolled out to the road, where we staged again on the start line. For the first two or three miles, the race functioned somewhat like a normal bike race. There was a large group of us, and whenever someone would go off the front, everyone would chase. Before long, however, we made the turn from Maine Highway 5, to Maine Highway 5A, and climbed up a short steep roller. This was the only part of the course steeper than 4%, and a nice place to attack. Knowing a large chunk of my family would be camped out atop the roller—I told them that would most likely be the best place to watch—I gave it full gas over the top. This completely shattered the field, and from then on, I just stared ay my powermeter, trying to keep the number above 400. By the turnaround, I clearly had the race in the bag: there was one chaser roughly a minute back, and another three or four maybe thirty seconds behind him. The Tour de Lovell is only 20 miles long, so I was able to keep things steady until the finish. I sprinted to the line and saluted the crowd (which was composed mostly of my family members). I doubled back and posed for dozens of photos, with a variety of very proud relatives. I grabbed some yogurt from the refreshments tent, and then hitched a ride back to the cabin with my grandfather.

Remembering last year’s awards ceremony, I knew I had at least an hour before I needed to be back to collect my prize. We got back to Heald Pond, where I changed into a swimsuit and took a quick swim. The water is delightfully warm this time of year, especially near the surface on a sunny day. After splashing around until I my legs felt cooled-off and my arms felt tired, I showered, tended to my roadrash, and ate. Eventually my grandmother began to get worried that I would miss the awards ceremony, which was a good thing; we drive back to the staging area, and just as I got out of the car I heard the race director say my name. I walked straight from the curb to the front of the tiny crowd, shook a few hands, gratefully accepted my trophy (awesome, huh?), posed for a few more pictures, and within ten minutes was headed back home. By then, the family reunion was in full swing: the pond was littered with tiny boats and inflatable toys, champagne was being sipped (or gulped) out of plastic flutes, and lobsters were being executed by the dozens. While they might not be very well-practiced at putting on bike races, Mainers know how to do summertime.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

A full week....

A massive family reunion, a streak of back luck, a quick jaunt out of the country, and some pretty good bicycling form have made this an interesting week. I arrived in Lovell, Maine on Wednesday the 7th of August, after taking the redeye flight (Boise to San Francisco to DC to Portland) the previous night. I’ve learned a thing or two about redeyes, and downed some sleeping pills before boarding, so I arrived feeling refreshed and alert. My grandmother picked me up at the airport, and we drove, albeit 5 mph under the speed limit, straight to her tiny cabin on Heald Pond. I was the first of nearly thirty relatives who would make the trek to rural, inland Maine for the reunion. Upon arriving I hugged my grandfather, took a few casts off the dock, and built my bicycle so I could take a quick spin.


While riding along the well-paved, mica-flecked roads that surround Heald Pond, the burden of my upcoming challenge weighed heavily. In three days, on the morning of the reunion, the town of Lovell was scheduled to hold its second annual Tour de Lovell bicycle race. I was the defending champion, and nearly everyone in my mother’s extended family would be in attendance. Most of my family members were not familiar with the intricacies of bicycle racing, so there was only one acceptable outcome: simply placing well or posting a good time would not be sufficient – I had to win, and win by a lot. Last year, it wasn’t hard to break away from the "field" of 40 or so (picture an eclectic blend of mountain bike tires, aerobars, panniers, some vintage helmets, and lots of hairy legs), and solo it in for the win. But I’d been hearing, mostly from my grandparents, that this year’s event was supposed to be much larger, and that several "very serious looking" riders had been spotted "previewing the course" earlier in the week. Despite these warnings, I still assumed I would be the strongest person to show up – my worry was that some fluke would take me out of the race, and my family just wouldn’t understand.

With the criterium national championships right around the corner, my coach wanted me to keep my training up. I did a 20 minute power test two days before the race. The test went great; I posted a new PR, averaging 440 watts for that 20 minutes, but in the final seconds of the test, I heard my tire go flat. Not wanting to ruin what was sure to be a killer average power, I just kept riding once the tire lost pressure, completely shredding the tube. I had a patch kit and Co2, but no spare tube, so I was forced to walk to a nearby house and phone the cabin for a ride. This earned the question from a few of the relatives "what would you do if you got a flat tire during the race?" to which my only response was "not finish, I guess".

The following day, my bad luck continued. While in the middle of what was supposed to be a rather grueling sprint workout, I snapped my chain mid-sprint and went careening into the ground. I destroyed one of my two remaining jerseys, gave myself roadrash on my ankle, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand, and broke my helmet. It was late in the afternoon, and there are no bike shops anywhere near Lovell, so I quickly called around, and found a sports shop in North Conway, New Hampshire that was open late. Two hours of driving, and $50 later, I had a shiny new chain on my bike – a Dura-Ace chain, mind you, not a SRAM.


To be continued…….

Haiku about getting screwed-over by our ex-future-landlord….




Our search has ended!
A nice house in the North End,
(One we can afford)

But all is not well–
Five days before we move in:
"I’m raising your rent"

"My taxes went up,
so you owe me an extra
$200 per month"

Of all the jackass
Maneuvers I’ve seen, this might
Take the fucking cake.

I bid thee farewell.
You slimy rat, our slumlord
You shall never be.

Friday, August 10, 2007

CRASHING FOR DUMB REASONS....


Dear SRAM,
FUCK YOU! Your chain just broke on me for no reason. It was properly installed, and less than a month old. I was sprinting on it, and it just plain snapped, just like a little wussy-weakling, no strength, "I need a kick in the balls", bitch-of-a-chin would snap. I was bucked over the bars at a high velocity, hit the ground with great momentum, and now I've got tremendous anger towards you SRAM-------YOU DESTROYED MY JERSEY!!!!!, you assholes, I hope your chains fail on all those Saunier-Duval riders while they're racing on national television, and nobody buys SRAM chains ever again, ok? assholes? that's how much I hate your chains!

Sincerely
--Bloody and Bruised Bicyclist

p.s. I still love your shifters, and your derailers, and your brakes, and your cassettes--but that's beside the point, okay?!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Piss Test.....





So while I was at Elite Nationals, I received the distinct honor of being one of the randomly selected individuals for anti-doping control. I'd never been tested before, so I was curious about the process, and since I doubt many of my readers (do I have readers?) have been tested either, I thought I'd share. Immediately after my time trial, one of the USADA chaperons found me, and escorted me to the testing center. Her job was to make sure that I didn't run off to the team van to get that vial of someone else's urine right before the test. Unfortunately, we forgot the cooler of urine back at our A-frame chalet (dang!), and besides, the fake penis we have doesn't match my skin tone at all [note: this is a joke. Hagens-Berman has neither a cooler of urine nor a fake penis. At least not one used to dodge drug tests]. The testing center consisted of a trailer where the samples were processed, several extra-large handicapped port-o-pottys where the samples were "collected", and a tent that served for a waiting room for people who were still trying to "generate" a sample. My chaperon delivered me to the registration station, where I signed a form, got my picture taken, and was assigned a collection supervisor. I turned down the offer to have a personal representative (someone I choose who makes sure there is no foul play on the part of testers) accompany me throughout the process.

Thanks to my pre-race ritual of chugging coffee until my hands shake, I had to pee well before I even started racing; I almost scoffed when Derick, my collection supervisor, told me I could sit and wait in the tent until I was ready. "Oh, I think I'm ready now," I said. The elite women, world champion Kristen Armstrong included, who had all finished racing nearly an hour earlier (and had been pounding Gatorade in the tent ever since), glared at me jealously. Then Derick and I went inside one of the port-o-pottys. He watched me fill the collection cup to the line, making sure that there were no fake penises involved. Then he led me back to the desk to verify the time of collection, which was exactly one minute after my time of arrival at the testing station. "That was quick," said the guy at the desk. Obviously this incurred more glares from the women in the tent. Then I was guided, cup'o'urine in hand, to the trailer.

From there, I bid Derick a fond fairwell, and was introduced to Carol, a pleasantly plump, bespeckled woman in her 50's. We sat down at a table together. On that table were stacked roughly 15 testing kits, which looked like tiny styrofoam coolers the size of a box of kleenex. Carol told me I could choose whichever testing kit I wanted, not unlike a magician inviting me to "pick a card, any card." I cautiously reached for a testing kit. "Now make sure that there is nothing abnormal about the testing kit," she said, "and please verify that the seal on the kit is still unbroken." At this point I became extremely skeptical. Magicians, those creepy bastards, are not to be trusted, and Carol was starting to bear an uncanny resemblance to a magician. I continued to follow her instructions, but kept a close eye. We tested my urine's specific gravity and PH, both of which were within acceptable levels, despite (or perhaps thanks to) the dizzying amount of vitamins and coffee I consume. I opened the kit, and removed two bottles, an A-sample and a B-sample. Then Carol had me fill them both with urine, tighten their tamper-resistant caps, seal them in plastic bags, and return them back in the testing kit. Then she asked me a few questions regarding what medications and supplements I'd taken within the three day prior to the test.

All in all, I spent nearly twenty minutes inside the trailer with Carol. By the time they finally released me, the novelty of being tested had worn off. I was pretty grumpy: I was still in my sopping-wet skinsuit (and by this point pretty cold); I didn't get the chance to cool down, so my legs felt awful; and my stomach, which is used to receiving food within moments of finishing a hard effort, was angrily protesting the delay by cramping. I'm glad that USADA was at the event, and getting tested was a good experience, but next time, I'll be sure to grab some clothes and some food before I head to the testing station. Oh, and don't worry--there will be a next time.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Thriller

Something about these dancing prisoners makes me think the Philippine penal system knows a little something ours doesn't.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Remembering Minnesota

I was recently in Minnesota, and there are some things I'd like to share--a few "rules" of Minnesota, if you will.

Rule 1: It shall be hot, and there shall be wind.
-->Nothing like some hot, humid wind to warrant 6 showers per day.

Rule 2: Rollerblading is still cool.
-->The early 90's still cling grimly to life in Minnesota, it's true.

Rule 3: Lakes are everywhere, as are rivers.
-->I'm convinced there's an ocean nearby too, but this can be neither confirmed nor denied.

Rule 4: If you are a male, and outdoors, you shall not wear a shirt.
-->Amen.

Rule 5: They actually talk like that!
-->You betcha, Minn-aye-soooo-da, it's all there...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I shoulda played football

At last week's Nature Valley Grand Prix, I laid a guy out. I came around a this corner, and--what's this?--there was this guy standing in the middle of the road! He was just standing there, like he was lost, like he was trying to get hit, like he was asking for it. He was a tall, skinny rider on the Priority Health team, and he'd just crashed moments before. He'd gotten up, and was standing in the road like a dazed and slightly wobbly bowling-pin, and I was his bowling ball. I wasn't even able to brake much, I just turned a little, which aligned my shoulder directly with his sternum. I was going at least 25 miles per hour into the corner, and might have been able to slow to about 20 before we collided. I've never been a part of such a perfect transfer of momentum, as though we were a set of those metallic balls, the kind that perch on the desks of pretentious CEOs, click-clacking back and forth forever, only the Priority Health rider didn't clack back. I was the safety pile-driving the unsuspecting wide-receiver. I was the Mack truck T-boning the Geo Metro. To be honest, it was pretty fun. I was 185 lbs. moving very fast, then suddenly, not moving at all. I never even hit the ground; I just unclipped my feet and, learning from my recent physics experiment, ran very quickly to the side of the road so I might avoid the same brutality I'd just dispensed. The poor Priority Health guy was lifted into the air, and landed heavily for the second time in 30 seconds. A few moments later, when we were both sitting on our bikes held upright by race officials, waiting to be reinserted into the race, I offered an apology. "I am so sorry, I really didn't mean to do that" I bleated, but the other racer just glared at me like a dazed boxer. The next day, I apologized again, and he was receptive: "I've got all my teeth, and my bones are intact. I can't ask for much more". What a gracious pro. I briefly debated offering, as a consolation, the fact that my shoulder hurt like hell, but quickly decided against adding this insult to his numerous injuries.