Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tale Of Two (Penetratingly Cold) Races: Part 1

In Which The Forecast Hints at Rain (and Cinnamon Rolls)

So on Friday, the eve of the Independence Valley Road Race, I spent most of my day making cinnamon rolls and checking the weather. Why? Because I love cinnamon rolls and I was hoping it would rain on us. Oh yes, you read that right -- I was HOPING it would rain. I wanted the weather to be so wet, so cold, so dreadfully awful that it would suck the will to race from most of my competition, namely those who are in better shape than me right now. My plan: sell cinnamon rolls $3 a pop until I made enough money to pay for my race, register for and then win the race, then sell the rest of my cinnamon rolls at $3 a pop. I envisioned leaving the race with fistfulls of cash, and bellyfulls of sweet gooey goodness.

I made nearly three dozen cinnamon rolls, and the forecast said 34 degrees and 90% chance of rain. Yee-HAW!!

In Which We Race in Terrible Weather

Race morning.

Weather: 34 degrees and sleeting hard.

Cinnamon Rolls Sold Before Race: 0 (we were late).

Core / arms: expedition-weight thermal volcano base layer, long sleeve magliovento jersey, arm warmers, wind vest (removed 30 minutes into race).

Legs: leg warmers over knee warmers, bib shorts.

Feet: wool socks, neoprene booties.

Hands: DeFeet glove liners, monster ski gloves (removed 2 hours into race).

Head: thermal hat, glasses with clear lenses.

Racer Wearing the Least Clothing at the Start: probably me.

In Which I Get Off The Front, Bizarrely

Told from the perspective of my eyes, who happen to speak like a 12 year old British street urchin -- Oliver Twist style:

Blimey! Tha'gun goes off an' lickety-split, the spray from all the wheels goes spittin' straight inta me racin' goggles! Oi couldn't see a'fing -- no mo' road, no mo' racers, no mo' bikes, no mo' wheels -- just a bunch'a movin' blobs a'color that's all. Oi canna'tell one racer from tha next, or if me front wheel's 'bout to dissapea' int'a giant pothole. So Sam trys takin' me racin' goggles off me head for a spell and -- BLODDY 'ELL, now ther's di'ty water flyin' straight a'me!! Nex'fing ya know, Oi'm squinting cuz there's sand an'dirt, an'grit from the road scratchin' me corneas! Best keep them racin' goggles on -- movin' blobs a'colors a bit betta than seein' nothin' a'all. After a bit, some chap with a bright green parka attacks real slow-like an' sorta dangles out there, so I says to myself I says "Oi! Sam! You dodga' -- why not get up there an' give the poor lad some company!" Next thing you know, Oi'm off tha front with a'few mates on me wheel. Blimey!

In Which I Think I Might Win The Race And My Ability to Make Wise Decisions Plummets

Frozen brain thought process:

CHRIST it's cold! I can't see shit! Oh man my fingers can't feel a thing -- I can't even tell whether they're operating the shifter levers correctly -- I'd better use my palm to shift instead of my index finger -- yeah, that seems to work better. Wow I can't see shit -- I think I just nearly took out Galen. I think I nearly just went off the road. Are we going hard? I can't tell. My fingers are a completely useless - no thanks to these giant ski gloves! FUCK THESE GLOVES -- THEY'RE COMPLETELY SATURATED WITH ICE-COLD WATER -- THEY WEIGH LIKE FIVE POUNDS A PIECE!!! THEY'RE LIKE GIANT GLOVE-SHAPED WATER BALLOONS FILLED WITH FREEZING WATER -- I CAN'T IMAGINE MY HANDS COULD GET ANY COLDER -- I gotta get my hands away from all that cold water -- then they might warm up -- fuck it --

Sam removes his large, saturated outer gloves and flings them to race officials at the side of the road. He is now wearing a single, thin, knit glove liner.

There! It might not be better, but it's certainly not worse -- those stupid gloves were too heavy and cold and--hang on....uh-0h......AWH SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT THE WIND -- MY GLOVE LINERS LET THE WIND IN!!! -- THESE ARE A LOT COLDER!!! -- I WAS SO WRONG!!!! I WANT MY WATER BALLOON GLOVES BACK!!


I flat out of the fucking race?? Holy hell are you kidding me?

In Which I Shiver Uncontrollably For Almost an Hour

Eventually a follow car scrapes my sorry ass off the side of the road and drags me back to the start. I shiver uncontrollably for almost an hour.

In Which I Only Sell 5 Cinnamon Rolls

Five hints for selling cinnamon rolls:

1. Don't try to sell cinnamon rolls to people who are miserable, recently traumatized, and possibly suffering hypothermia after exposure to extremely awful weather
2. Choose a nice, sunny day to sell cinnamon rolls, preferably a really warm one.
3. Don't eat your own cinnamon rolls. Don't give them away.
4. If possible, warm them up -- cold cinnamon rolls aren't nearly as enticing to cold people as piping hot ones
5. When you sell cinnamon rolls, include a napkin! Nobody likes sticky hands that can't be cleaned.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ye Olde Proclamation


Cinnamon Rolls will be available for $3 in-between the morning and afternoon races, and after the afternoon races (while supplies last). Look for the red flag!

My Bloody Olfactory Device

I've been hard at work these last weeks. I know full well that I've got some catching up to do, so I've been putting in those miles. I've been getting my sleep, taking my vitamins, and eating my veggies. I've been treating it like my job so that some day it will be. Here's me:

And wouldn't you know it, my work's been paying off -- it's been two solid months back on the bike, and I'm starting to feel inklings of my old self. I'm not exactly choppin' fools' heads off, but I've at least got my legs underneath me enough to do some quality training (whereas when I first arrived, I felt like I was riding my bike through a pool of molasses, towing a felled pine tree, with flat tires, and one lung). And not a moment too soon: tomorrow is the first "real" race of the season, Independence Valley. I say real because it's not a training race where if you're hurting you can just sit on -- it's a race where you can't hide -- you need fitness to finish, let alone factor. Four laps around a 20 mile course with two nasty little climbs. I'm excited. My expectations are not especially high -- I'll be training right through this sucker, so I'm hitting it depleted as well as out of shape, but that's fine by me. I'm aiming for bigger targets later in the calendar. I'm just psyched to have a race where everybody's gotta put their cards on the table.

Speaking of calendars, I just posted my upcoming races for the upcoming month or so. Still unsure of the Tour of the Gila -- that's a big if, and it'll be based on my fitness and my finances -- basically if I win enough prize money to buy a plane ticket, I'll know I'm ready.

Monday, March 23, 2009


YEEEEHAW!!! RACIN' TIME. Thanks to Rob Whitacre at GC racing, and his magic camera for taking these sweet shots. Here's me in the race:

And here's my teammate Patrick "showin' them a clean pair of wheels," for the win. He was off the front for 80 miles folks. He got in the first real move of the day, dropped his breakaway partners, soloed for 30 miles until a group of three bridged up to him, and then slapped them all silly in the sprint. Hard man stuff. Stuff of legends I tell you. Stuff of Stanko.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Somehow the soccer gods smiled upon me, and I ended up with a pair of tickets to the Seattle Sounders FC season opener at Qwest Field. I'd heard about the Sounders, and their recent ascension to Major League Soccer, but wasn't aware of how much buzz there was surrounding their first game. I showed up a touch late, and while walking from the car towards the stadium, still several blocks away, the Sounders scored their first goal as a MLS team, and the crowd roared so loud all of Seattle knew. We finally got to our seats, roughly 20 minutes after the first kick, and were dazzled by the atmosphere. The sold-out stadium glowed green, throbbing with twirling Sounders scarves; the mighty marching band blew that brass and beat those drums, but struggled to compete with the fans; giant green glitter fell steadily like fall leaves, making the pitch look like an Emerald City dance hall on prom might; and the Sounders -- oh the Sounders kicked the ever-loving snot out of Red Bull New York.

This was one of the best beginnings (for anything) I've ever seen. Seattle: a city hit hard by the recession (Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, et al.), a city that recently lost it's NBA team, a city that wants and needs something like this to lift its spirits. There was not a single jaded fan in that stadium, not a single past-broken heart, not a single pessimist who cheered without conviction. There was only hope. We did our part -- we filled the seats, we booed the ref's bad calls, we dressed in green, and we cheered until our lungs were ragged. The players didn't let down their end of the bargain either, delivering not just a win, but a clobbering, a rout. A game to talk about for years to come. A ticket stub worth keeping.

It was a victory for the Sounders. The Seattle Sounders.

To quote the large, euphoric, and wildly drunken man I encountered as the stadium emptied:

"Who was 'dere? We were aaaaaaaall 'dere."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wednesday Update

Well folks, it's racing season. Believe it. It's here. I've raced once already, and while it didn't go well for me personally, I'm happy to say we did well as a team. Three in the top ten ain't bad. I pulled out of the race due to my inflamed knee, but that has since cleared up thanks to some pretty focused healing (read: as much RICE as I could possibly fit in a day, paired with a plenty of Ibuprofen).

I've got so many strong teammates right now, I'm filled with respect, envy, and fear. {At least I hope they're all just really strong -- as opposed to me just being really weak.} I respect them for the hard work they've put in over the winter, and for their ability to shove me inside the pain locker whenever they feel like it; I envy them because I know how much fun it is to be going good; and my fear is that I'll never get there myself, that I took too much time off last year, that I'm gunna stay this slow. Thankfully, this last week of training has helped mitigate that fear quite a bit. My knee is better, and my numbers are up considerably. Two months ago to the day I was in Oaxaca, Mexico building animal exhibits for a petting zoo.

Here are things I'm looking forward to:

The Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic.
This is the first stage race of the year, the 3-5 of April. It's a new race, but it's looking like it's going to be awesome. To begin with, it's promoted by Chad Sperry, the same guy who puts on Mt. Hood and Cascade (probably the two best organized, most impressive races I've ever done). The guy dos a good job. The courses are going to be beautiful and fun -- hard-man road races with enough climbing to be hard, but not so much they're pure climbers' playgrounds; an important fast TT; and a simple downtown crit. A year of stage racin' has never seen such a good start.

New BIKES!!!
We're getting a new bike sponsor! Goodbye Ridley. HELLLLLLLO Blue! They're a Southeast company, so you don't see a lot of them up in Seattle. Hopefully after we totally dominate our competition riding our sexy new Blue RC8's, that will change, as every racer in the land lines up to get himself a Blue. I think I'll name mine Hansel. DAMN THAT HANSEL -- SO HOT RIGHT NOW!!!

Better Weather
Come to me springtime
Be not bashful with your gifts
Let the tulips stretch


Monday, March 9, 2009

Wind Tunnel

Thanks to Swedish Sports Performance Services, and to the University of Washington Low-Speed Wind Tunnel.

I Think A Shout-Out Is In Order!

Krogg like to take this opportunity to give massive props to friend and teammate Nick Clayville. Yesterday Nick win big race, final stage of Tucson Cycling Classic. Him beat many fast racers, many pros -- good job Nick! Everyone, including Krogg very impressed!

Krogg went to Tucson2009 blog, and read Nick's race report. It good race report. It funny, and fun to read, and tell story well -- except for one thing:
I played it a little conservative for the first couple laps because I'm still searching for fitness and I didn't want to, ala Sammy J, swing the battle axe right out of my hands.


Despite being very happy for teammate, Krogg decide now good time to post picture from last year's Tour of Utah, after Nick smash nose on handlebars. Here's Nick looking like mentally unstable, knife wielding, Quasimodo:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Which I Do Something Very Silly

It just goes to show -- it's the little things that get ya.

On Monday night, I suffered an indignity. Like most of the indignities I suffer, this one contained some comedic value, and seeing how my desire to write about funny things on my blog clearly outweighs my sense of....well.....dignity, I'll share.

My mishap occurred while I was returning from a dinner party. My beautiful and trusty truck is out of commission at the moment, so I'd traveled to said dinner party by bicycle [NOTE: my truck is out of commission not due to a mechanical problem, but rather a financial one; it is neither registered, nor insured, so no joy-rides of late. For the record, she's running beautifully.] On the way there, I made it the scant ten blocks or so between my house and my destination without incident, riding with one hand, pot of beans in the other. [Yes, I brought a pot of beans to a dinner party, and they were really fucking tasty, thank you very much -- there's a recession going on and I'm unemployed -- what do ya want from me people? Pâté?] Now personally, I would argue that riding with a pot of beans in one hand is a good way to arrive at a dinner party fully prepared and on time. Others might argue that riding a bicycle with a pot of beans in one hand is a good way to spill that pot of beans on the street. I was determined to win that argument, and keep the beans where they belonged: in the pot, unspilled. I am many things, but not a bean spiller. After dinner, I headed home with a nearly-empty pot of beans (told you they were tasty), so I assumed my return crossing would be easier than before. Make that wrongly assumed.

I carried my bike down the stairs, placed it on the sidewalk, and threw one leg over the top tube. One hand holding my nearly-empty pot of beans, I stood on the pedal and started moving. Before I'd gone more than 20 meters, while passing the side entrance of whatever business is at the corner of Burke and 45th, my front wheel hit a chink in the sidewalk. My bars went completely sideways, and I fuckin' endo'd like a I was on a penny farthing hitting the trolley tracks. I fell flat on my face, and somehow vaulted my bike over my head. It soared through the air and landed in front of me. I whacked my right knee, right calf, left calf, right elbow, and left palm. The lid from the pot of beans skeetered down the street making quite a racket, but my grip on the pot itself never faltered, and not a bean hit the ground. For the record: I DID NOT SPILL THE BEANS!

I lay there on the street for a few seconds -- completely astonished at the level of damage I'd just caused myself. I was going roughly 5 miles per hour. An old man with a greasy apron poked his head out of the side entrance of whatever business is at the corner of Burke and 45th, no doubt alerted by my skeetering pot lid. He looked at me lying face down on the ground, firmly clutching a dented saucepan. Then he looked at my bike a few feet away. Confident he wasn't being burgled -- just some idiot crashin' his bike out there -- the guy wiped his hands on his apron and went inside. I picked myself up, winced, and walked home, with a limp.

My knees took the worst of it. I can't quite believe it, but my crash inflamed a tendon in my left knee. It's been bothering me all week, and has rendered me pretty much worthless on the bike until it heals. BLAST! 5 miles per hour people!

Like I said, it's the little things that get ya.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Finding Employment (Is A Grotesque Animal)

Finding employment:
Grotesque animal, clawed beast
Bite me, dammit! Soon!

Wild Ginger downtown,
Asian restaurant and satay bar
Busser in black shoes?

Wallingford cafés,
Chocolati or Zoka
You want whip' with that?

Flip that nearby house,
Pry-bar plus hammer -- swing -- CRACK!
Dirty old Carharts?

Let's keep our fingers crossed, m'kay? The job hunt is still fully on. I've found, unsurprisingly, that it's a difficult time to be looking for a job, especially when I've got to be extremely picky about the kind of work I can do: will I be able to train enough during the day? is the work so strenuous that it detracts from my ability to train? Will I be able to take time off to attend races?

The mood of this song is somewhat indicative of my angst:

I applied for a job busing tables at Wild Ginger -- one of Seattle's swankiest and best recognized restaurants. It's a big enough operation that they could accommodate my racing schedule, so it would be pretty perfect. Everyone out there in blog land, send me some positive thoughts and good luck vibes. Thanks to my friend Dan who's a waiter there and set up my interview. I spoke with Tom the manager of the place. He said that just to see what the response would be like, he posted a job listing on craigslist one morning. By that night, he had over 400 resumes sitting in his inbox -- his point being that simply getting to talk to him in person was a real opportunity. Like I said, fingers crossed.

Otherwise, my search for regular employment hasn't been fruitful, but I have pieced together enough odd jobs to stay afloat. That, and I FINALLY got my George Bush refund check. I've been doing some part-time construction on a nearby house. We're ripping out the old windows and installing new, energy efficient ones. This job is great -- I get to (while the owners of the house are in the next room) take a hammer and a pry bar and, with several mighty blows, smash and crack and break and torque and pry, until the old window can be removed. This job is very satisfying to the Caveman in me, right Krogg:

YES! Krogg love smash nice fancy house! Krogg good at smash -- KROGG SMASH!!!!

I've had no luck getting a barista job. All those delivered resumes have been met with total silence. I've taken to submitting joke resumes instead; I figure why not -- they couldn't get me any less attention from potential employers than I've been getting, they certainly "set me apart" from the stack of other resumes, and at least this way I have a chance at making someone laugh. See for yourself:

Sam Johnson


To obtain a position as a part-time barista, where I can utilize my coffee-making experience, sales expertise, appreciation of fine coffee, and love of café atmosphere. I also would like to add this job to the following dream resume:


Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

PhD, Comparative Religion, May 2006

  • Recipient of the Duggen Award of Excellence in Research for making a significant contribution towards understanding the meaning of life.

  • Four-year member of the Harvard Bassoon Septet.

  • Captain of the Harvard Triathlon Team, Harvard Chess Team and Harvard Archery Club.

Oxford University, Oxford, England

Bachelors of Science, Microbiology / Poetry / Paleontology, May 2003

  • Tried to teach bacteria how to compose poems about dinosaurs. Mild success -- their poems were clunky and crutched heavily on alliteration, but they eventually wrote decent sestinas.

Work Experience:

Chief Mission Specialist, June 2006 – May 2007

NASA, Houston, Texas

  • Hand-built over 97% of the international space station.

  • Completed first (successful) suitless space-walk.

Lion Tamer, June 2007 – January 2008

Ringling Bros. Circus, On-tour throughout North America.

  • Logged over 90 death-defying performances (all of which involved sticking my head inside the lion’s mouth).

  • Still maintain solid friendship with Beauford, the 390 lb. lion.

Deep Sea Explorer, February 2008 – January 2009

The Nautilus Institute, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas

  • Captained the submersible PERVERTS (Personal Extreme Research Vessel with Extra Research Tools and Stuff) so a record depth of 364,566,929 feet below sea level (20,000 or so leagues).

  • Discovered 73 new life forms, most of which had large teeth, glowing tentacles, or both.

Barista, February 2009 – at least 2010

Zoka Coffeehouse, Seattle, Washington

  • Served the best coffee and pastries in the Seattle area (and therefore the world)

To See a Real Resume (With References), or to Schedule an Interview, Please Call or E-mail