Monday, March 31, 2008

My Crash Landing in the Seattle Area.

It wasn't easy; after packing my trusty old truck to the brim, I pointed my bumper (I only have one) West, and drove until I hit the Emerald City. I divided my trip half, spending the night in Walla Walla, where I was reminded of what it's like to be a second-semester college senior by drinking waaaay too much keg beer on a Thursday night before falling asleep on the floor. The second half of the drive was harrowing: a freak late-March blizzard slammed into western Washington. I drove through snow and slush for nearly three hours, barely made it over Snoqualmie pass before the road closed, and arrived in Seattle as it was being pelted with sleet.

My decision to move to Seattle was prompted by several factors:

1. My lease was up, and I had no desire to continue paying rent on a house I wasn't going to see more than a week per month tops.
2. My cooking, cleaning, and carpentry skills have arrived at a level of proficiency capable of offsetting my intrusion to a friend's living space. If the guy sleeping on your couch will cook and clean and fix stuff, he's usually welcome to stay much longer than a guy who just sleeps on your couch.
3. My team manager Alan Schmitz, a good friend and fellow Whitman College alumni, mandated that all members of the elite team live in or near the Seattle area during the season. I wonder if he would have still set that condition if he knew I would one day arrive at his house, my truck overflowing with junk, and ask for a patch of floor to sleep on. Sorry Alan, now where I sleep is just as much your problem as it is mine...

In all honesty, Alan and his housemates have been wonderful. At a time when I could be feeling rather disconnected, unstable or uncomfortable, Alan has done his best to make my transition easy and make me feel welcome. I have been cooking up a storm in return.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Au Revoir Sustainabuilt


Yesterday I had my last day of "work" over at Sustainabuilt. I use quotations because I didn't do any carpentry, I mainly showed up to say my goodbyes and to file the lawyer tabs off my new fork with a metal file. Brad and I arrived at the shop at the same time -- I was on my way to running more pre-departure errands, while Brad returned with a (hopefully) fixed piece of the table saw that wasn't cutting straight. We ogled my new bike, joked about my upcoming life as a bicycle nomad, thanked each other for the help, shook hands, and said goodbye.

Working for Sustainabuilt over the last few months has been truly wonderful. I was able to earn enough money to stay afloat (despite training full time), learn a new skill, and make a friend -- all doing something I feel good about. Green building is here to stay folks, and being part of that revolution in building practices was satisfying and rewarding. My deepest thanks to Brad for the work, the flexibility with my hours, and the willingness to hire me. And thanks for the countless cups of coffee, without which, I would have gotten drowsy and chopped my fingers for sure. I wish you and your company the best of luck.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sitting on the Launchpad....


In a mere three days, I shall cut my tethers to a normal life and embark on an odyssey of unknown outcome. My life as a full-time amateur bicycle racer is upon me, thank goodness. This Thursday I will be packing nearly everything I own into my truck, and (loosely) relocating to the Seattle area. As I speak, I am in the process of streamlining my life so that I might be light and agile -- selling or donating unnecessary belongings, phasing myself out of my job, consolidating and organizing the supplies I require, and perhaps most importantly: mentally preparing for a nomadic lifestyle. Like an astronaut awaiting ignition who second guesses the wisdom of strapping oneself to a giant rocket, I'll have my moments of doubt. That's natural; I'm having them now -- I'm not sure where exactly I will sleep Thursday night -- but my course has been set. Even if I wanted to, I've prepared far too well, and sacrificed far too much to turn back now. I can hardly sleep for the excitement.

For the first time in my life, I will not have a bedroom designated as my own, anywhere. For at least the next five months, I will be a guest no matter where I am. I will have to be patient, flexible, accommodating and gracious wherever I go -- and even then, I don't fool myself into thinking I'll always have a place to sleep, or a hot meal to eat. I will have to be self reliant. There are those who might consider my flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach foolish or reckless. I would agree with those people. Yes, I am recklessly chasing the sport of professional cycling. Yes, I am foolishly plowing headlong into an uncertain situation. I don't have much to say in my defence; I'm doing what I love, and hopefully in the end the benefits will outweigh the costs. They certainly have so far.

Obviously my plan hinges upon receiving a colossal amount of hospitality from both family and friends, and loose acquaintances and total strangers alike. My deepest thanks in advance to those who will support me, through whatever means -- from my primary sponsors, to those who do nothing more than read my blog. If, by sharing a tiny taste of my life, I can be the slightest bit interesting, amusing, or exciting -- hell, I'll even settle for distracting -- if I can be the slightest bit distracting I will have succeeded. For ultimately, cyclists are just performers. In the words of Johnathan Vaughters, the Confucius of cycling when it comes to quality quotations:

"Athletes are humans - entertainers - and very fragile humans at that. Think of them as shivering greyhounds on a cold day. All they want is to go fast so they can see the smile on your face."

Let the party begin in T-minus 3 days and counting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And The Pendulum Swings Back...

No less than 24 hours after I posted that whining blog entry about how everything in my life went to shit at once, the cosmos dramatically realigned, restoring justice and order to my personal universe. This reversal of fortune began in the morning when clear sunny skies greeted me instead of rain. My boss over at Sustainabuilt never called me in to work, allowing me the extra time I needed to finish building my bike. I was a few vital accessories away from finalizing my beautiful new steed, and decided to take a trip to the local bike shop to purchase the remaining items. Before leaving, I checked my bank account online and was greeted with -- WTF??? MORE MONEY THAN I HAD THE LAST TIME I CHECKED??? Apparently, Uncle Sam was kind enough to deposit my income tax return directly into my bank account. I was flabbergasted. I rode off to the bike shop confident that my debit card would not get denied.

For the record, my new bike feels amazing.

After my ride, I returned to the problem of my computer. The day before, I posted on the Barter section of the Boise Craigslist: MAC HELP NEEDED (will trade bicycle repair or carpentry). After a kind soul took interest in my offer, I was able to not only get my computer running again (sort of, not really), but more importantly, determine that for the next 55 days I am still covered by the previous owner's comprehensive AppleCare protection plan. Provided I get my computer to the doctor within the next 6 weeks, they should be taking good care of me.

As for my truck, I did need to pay for the repair, but I was relieved to find that the total bill was at the low end of the mechanic's estimate. He told me it would be between $250 and $300, and it ended up being $264. Not bad. The clunk I used to feel in my drivetrain has been replaced with silky smooth power transfer. Hopefully, my truck is now ready for another summer of getting me to and from the races.

This sudden swing in my luck so soon after my blog post has lead me to draw the following conclusion: the gods of karma and fortune are reading my blog. You're in good company dear readers -- good company indeed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Equal Opportunity Blog....

Now ANYONE can comment on my blog. See for yourself. You can even choose to remain anonymous if you wish. Comment away, dear readers -- your words shall not fall on blind eyes.

p.s. Sorry about that rant on the previous post. I've had a milkshake since then, and everything right with the world.

Why's It Gotta POUR When It Rains???




What the fuck is going on??

My car is in the shop, my computer completely died [typing this on Gus's computer], I came down with a cold, and the weather turned shitty all in the same week. I had a one of the most miserable racing experiences of my life last weekend, after my core temperature dropped dramatically while standing in 22 degree weather (with windchill) for forty fucking minutes [see above picture] while the (very poorly organized) race promoters checked people in at a one-at-a-time snail's pace; our start time was delayed by nearly two hours, I was grumpy all day, and despite spending an hour drinking hot tea inside, couldn't get warm again. Naturally I had a bad race -- and it wasn't because I didn't have aero wheels. I still haven't ridden my new bike [shitty weather, missing parts], I still haven't started to move out (even though I'm planning on uprooting in a week), and I still haven't sold enough of my stuff on craigslist to afford to fix my car or my computer or to buy the remaining bike parts I need. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON???

The only thing keeping me going these days are the milkshakes. No matter how bad I feel, sucking down a 22 oz. Banana Oreo milkshake seems to make all my troubles disappear. Thank god for milkshakes huh?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stranger Things Have Happened....

Apparently I'm so good at racing, I can place in the top ten at a race I didn't even attend! I don't think even Lance could claim that distinction...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Racin'!

It's time for to race tomorrow (well, seeing as how it's 12:02 as I write this, today actually). You know how I know? Because I'm packing my skinsuit and aero helmet in a bag. Because I spent 45 minutes cleaning, shaving and moisturizing my legs earlier today, that's why.

It's time for a 10 mile out and back time-trial. You know how I know? Because riders have been zipping all up and down Hill Road with clip on aerobars all week. Because every bike shop I go into is flooded with people paying lots of money to get their TT bikes serviced, and gobs more money to get their TT position adjusted by Tom Coleman, that's why.

It's time to spend $21.30 for a chance to win no prize money, on a boring course, where there won't be port-a-pottys, in the middle of nowhere, on a day when it will probably rain, as part of a series I can't even compete in because I've got bigger fish to fry come in April. You know why? Because that's exactly the way it was last year, that's why.

It's time for the George's Spring Series Race #1. You know how I know? Because it's been nearly a month since I last raced -- and I wouldn't care the course were over a bed of shattered glass, or if the entry fee was $50 and a kick in the groin, or if the I were the only competitor -- I'd still sign up -- I need a race, that's why.

It's time to race tomorrow. You know why? Because it's long overdue, that's why.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SANTA CAME!!!




For most people, Santa comes but once a year. For a few lucky bike racers, he comes twice -- once in December (when he delivers socks and legos), and again in March (when he drops off the real loot). As it so happened, Santa delivered my new bike frame directly to my bed, where it waited, shiny and naked.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh Yeah....We Made The News!

Our beautiful handmade environmentally-friendly custom cabinets have attracted enough attention to warrant a news article in the Idaho Statesman. While I myself am neither pictured nor mentioned in the article, I still take great comfort that my work is earning positive attention.

Here are a few pictures of one of our latest jobs. The cabinet boxes are made from 100% recycled content particle board, the wood is reclaimed fir from the owner's previous kitchen, and the inlay panels are called kirie board, and is made from agricultural waste products.

Also be sure to check out the company's website. Brad's been hard at work uploading more photos (better photos) than I have .

Ready for a Rest Week

Shoot boy howdy -- I am dog tired. I rode to Idaho City yesterday. Idaho City is only 40 miles away from Boise, but it might as well be another country. The road was fine, it's the drivers who were different. First of all, the number of large trucks pulling trailers packed with snowmobiles outnumbered other vehicles by about two to one. Second, the percentage of large trucks whose drivers flipped me off neared 100 percent [note: some statistics may be slightly modified for emphasis]. Anyway, it was really pretty, and Idaho City is a cute little mountain town. See for yourself.
Next week is a rest week. After three of the hardest weeks of training in my life, I think I've earned one.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

GO WHITMAN COLLEGE DICTIONARIES!!!

I just discovered this tribute to the Whitman College cyclocross team's 2007 season. Nice work guys...


Sunday, March 2, 2008

So How Was YOUR Day?

Here's a little sampling of my day...

I rode with the Bob's Bicycles team on a pretty epic ride out to Emmett, and then to Horseshoe Bend. As you can see, the weather was fantastic.
This stretch was a blast -- we were flying up this little valley along a frozen reservoir. We had a pretty good tailwind, and everyone was pulling hard. We must have averaged close to 30 MPH through this section.
Here we are in Horseshoe Bend, with a good view of the back-side of Bogus Basin.
I wore my sleeveless jersey today, and (after a few hours) it warmed up enough to make my decision to do so seem reasonable.
While I was taking that picture, my chain flew into my spokes (breaking two of them) and trapping my chain between my cassette and my hub. WAY NOT COOL!
Broken spokes are not cool either...
This is not a fun way to end a great ride...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

LMTYATFAMIS (Let Me Tell You About This Fu#*ing Awful Movie I Saw), or Why Pete Travis Should Be Flogged....



Pete Travis, fuck you.
Some people can make lemonade when life hands them lemons. On the other hand, when life handed Pete Travis a huge budget and a killer cast, he made a humongous steaming pile of CRAP!!!

The problems I have with this movie are many.

None of the characters have any substance: everyone was boring, everyone was single-sided, and everyone was annoyingly dumb. Not a single good performance was coaxed from the good actors (Sigourney Weaver, Forrest Whitaker, William Hurt, and Dennis Quaid).

The movie is set in Nonsenseville: nothing makes sense, and nothing is believable.

The scruffy looking Spanish cop sneaks a fucking bomb past the security station with this strange interaction (this is verbatim dialog):

Cop: I work for the mayor [flashes badge]
Security guard: Are you armed?
Cop: Yes
Security guard: Ok then I'll turn it off [in reference to the metal detector]

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??

The evil terrorist mastermind rants about how pompous the Americans are regarding their security procedure, and yet his "ingenious" plan hinges on a masked gunman singlehandedly storming into the president's hotel and kidnapping him, killing nearly a dozen secret service agents along the way.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??

Forrest Whitaker, despite being 25 years older and having 20% more body fat, is able to run every bit as fast as the CIA agents (and the scruffy looking cop) in the foot-chase through town. He drops the small girl he was looking after in the hands of a strange lady, screams "WAIT HERE, I HAVE TO HELP THE POLICE" and takes off like a bat out of hell with his hand-held video camera trained on the bad guy.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??

The special effects are mind numbingly dumb: Dennis Quaid chases after the terrorists in a car he stole. His shitty blue rice-rocket gets t-boned three times while he's in pursuit, and every time, his car spins neatly around and the chase continues.

FUCK YOU PETE TRAVIS. NEVER SEE VANTAGE POINT!!!