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 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.


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.


“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.


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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Haiku

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


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!

--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


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.

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