Thursday, May 28, 2009

Go Here For Dorky Humor

I love this new webcomic I found. It's called XKCD, "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language," and it's very funny. A lot of the humor is way too nerdy for me (some of the intensely computer-programmer-centric jokes are completely beyond me), but this comic is very good at applying a scientific mind to day-to-day stuff in a hilarious way. KXCD, my hat is off!

Thangs I Like


Second: my new, not-quite-fully-built Blue Triad

{Yes, that's a 56 tooth chain ring...}
{Sooooo hot...want to tough the hiney!}{Note: there's not a lot or clearance between the break and the chainrings....(or the break and the cranks for that matter -- actually, this thing's got not a lot of clearance anywhere!)}

Third: new mittens and a scarf in summertime {thanks to my mother for knitting them}

Fourth: PANCAKES!!!!

{With walnuts and chocolate chips.}

Fifth: bike rides in Walla Walla with my sister and dad!

{Followed by Ice-Berg milkshakes!}

Sixth: TRACK RACING!!! {yes, I raced the track. I'm in the cat 3's. I love it, and want to do more}
{It hurt a lot. I woke up in the middle of the night so stiff I had to stretch before I could fall back asleep.}

{This is the bike I rode: Alan Schmitz's Davidson. It did the trick just fine. Apparently I pedal squares.}

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Glider Bison's Favorites: Cycling!

Next up on Glider Bison's tour of the best websites on the face of the internet: cycling websites.

Just The Business:

Most of the time, I just want the news: who won the race and how did it happen? When you're only interested in "the business", the best sites are obviously Cyclingnews and Velonews. While these two websites have plenty of other content, they are usually the best at getting me what I want: the race results, pronto.

Domestic Cycling:

Podium in Sight is a great blog-style website that focuses on the domestic peloton. It's stylish, professional, and cool. There are some great interviews with racers on domestic pro teams, they do a good job covering the NRC, and there's a Twitter feed from a wide array of US-based racers, team directors, and yes, even bloggers (GliderBison's blog has been known to show up on there).

Missing Saddle is a collection of the blog posts from most of the US-based pros who keep a blog, along with more Twitter feeds, and videos. Sometimes the cyclists in the US prove delightful writers -- witty, insightful, and fun. Other times they drone on and on, giving you the exact sequence of events (from their perspective), for every race they enter. Learn who can write and follow those guys -- don't bother with the droners.

Velo Bios is a good reference site. It has stats on every domestic-based pro, as well as all the American or Canadian guys racing for foreign teams. Not sure who the hell Shawn Milne is? Can't remember who's on Kelly Benefits? Velo Bois has your answer.

Velo Review is a site run by Kenji, the OBRA director. Kenji's site serves as the hub for Oregon's cycling Blogosphere (amazing to think that Oregon has its own cycling Blogosphere, right?). He is the sun, which around blogs like mine orbit. He often reads and summarizes blog posts from cyclist bloggers in the Northwest.

Funny Stuff

When you just want to laugh, going to BikeSnobNYC is a good place to start. I don't find his current preoccupation with fixters quite as hilarious as I once did, but the Snob sure can write, and when he writes, I usually laugh.

After that, try PezCyclingNews -- it's a light hearted look at "what's cool in pro cycling." They tend to focus on lightweight carbon fiber exotica and podium girls. This site serves as the gateway drug for many a cycling fan -- one day you're innocently checking out the Daily Distractions, and a few weeks later you're main-lining results ten times per day straight from Cyclingnews. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009


My mom took these, but I rode by almost everything you see here (and it was an overcast day today as well). Thanks mom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Wind in Kansas Blows

I rode today, and got my first taste of a good old fashioned Kansas thunderstorm. I checked the radar twenty minutes before I left, and there was absolutely no precipitation in all of western Kansas. A few minutes into my ride I could see some dark clouds off to my left, and what looked like a tiny patch of rain. An hour later, there was a crazy ribbon of thunderstorm so dark it looked as though it came from Mordor itself  stretching across the entire sky. Because it's Kansas, and there's absolutely nothing to impede my view for hundreds of miles in every direction, I simply rode around the thunderstorms, and remained dry for my entire ride. I'm still counting myself as lucky however, as the speed and severity with which that storm simply emerged from a clear sky was worrisome at best -- I'd hate to get caught on the wrong side of one of one. Upon returning, our NOAA weather radio spent almost half an hour alerting us to the nearby tornado warnings, and to the nickel, quarter, and even golf ball sized hail being reported all around the area. Imagine being stuck in the middle of some wheat field in Kansas, wearing nothing but spandex, in the middle of a golf ball sized hail storm. Fuck, right? 

As for my bike -- it rides beautifully, Thud Buster seatpost and all. It is so wonderful to have a new bike -- everything on it works! The headset is silky smooth, the drivetrain is snappy and silent, the shifting and breaking are clean and precise. Nothing creaks. Nothing! Granted, I'd rather be on my own saddle, and be riding a road seatpost, but honestly, I'm just happy I can ride at all. I'm so grateful to Dan, my savior in Pratt, for loaning me something that works! Dan and I have a ride planned for tomorrow -- we'll be going through the towns of Coats, Sun City, and River City. I'll try to bring along a camera....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some Things Aren't Meant to Be Lived Down

So I had a layover in the Denver Airport earlier today. I was on my way to Pratt, Kansas to visit my mother. I was in the middle of crafting a blog post about how outrageous airports are, and how fucking ludicrous it is that I got charged $175 to get my goddam bike on the plane, when I check my e-mail (thanks to DIA for having free Wifi) and find the following message:

Question: what really sucks about paying $175 for your bike to get it on the plane?

Answer: forgetting your seatpost/saddle at home in your bike repair stand.

I hope Pratt has a good bike shop. I'm headed to Fedex today if you get desperate.

Sent from my iPhone

Well there it was. This, mind you, is my new Blue Rc8 -- my BRAND NEW, FRESH OUT OF THE BOX BLUE Rc8 -- my first new complete bike since 2004. I finished building it yesterday, and because it was raining, didn't take it outside (it's a crime to get a new bike filthy on her maiden voyage!). I rode it on the rollers for a bit to adjust my position, and then packed my brand new bike into a travel bag (sans seatpost and saddle of course). Thanks to the fact that our Blue bikes come with standard sized 27.2 seatposts, I decided to at least try to find a loaner post in Pratt (the notion of paying for overnight shipping now a lot less appetizing after getting totally reamed by United Airlines earlier in the day).

Once we arrived at my mother's house, my mom called her cyclist neighbor and asked if he had a seatpost and saddle to loan me. He didn't, but he called his cyclist friend, and a few minutes later Dan, this crazy, scruffy-lookin' guy with a custom-made pedal platform to compensate for his 2-inch leg length discrepancy, and what appeared to be 30 year-old spandex showed up at our door with a saddlebag full of seatposts. Yes, he did have a seatpost that fit me, but brace yourself, and don't say I didn't warn you:

I give you the Thud Buster. Horrifying, I know, but it fits goddamit. And it's free.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


So apparently there were some errors in the results from this weekend's Carnation Time Trial #2. Yeah -- remember how I said that Hagens swept the (would be) podium -- that still holds true; however, the ORDER of the top three riders shuffled slightly. For some reason, when the results were originally posted, Adrian and Nick's times were 30 seconds lower than they should have been, while mine was accurate. After the correction, that puts me in second place, thank you very much. TAKE THAT CLAYVILLE!!!! Now Adrian and I are tied for the series lead, with James "I'm going to pinch and twist your nipples until you cry real tears" Stangeland lurking a mere 6 points back despite going off the course (twice!). 

Also, Nick and I are eagerly awaiting our new amazingly fast-looking Blue TT bikes, so maybe next time we can be even closer to Adrian the Hungarian Barbarian Humanitarian. We can't wait -- hurry mr. postman, HURRY!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Glider Bison's Favorites

I'm going to start a new series of posts about my top-five favorite websites. 

This first one will be about my favorite music websites. Check this shit out:

This is a search engine for playable media. Type the name or artist or album or whatever, and Seeqpod comes back with a list of embedded MP3's, ready to play. It's highly useful, if you already know what you're looking for, but it's not the best place to explore new stuff. 
[NOTE: they're not up right now, but should be back soon] 

Most people already know about the wonders of Pandora, but if you don't, you should. Pandora is basically a radio station that adapts to your tastes. You start by asking it to play a song you like, then Pandora selects other songs from different artists you might also enjoy. You give Pandora feedback (thumbs up, or thumbs down) as to whether or not you liked Pandora's offering. The more feedback you give, the more accurately Pandora nails down your particular taste. This is a really smart idea, and is a great way to find new music you'll undoubtedly like. 

This website contains the output from a single recording studio located in Rock Island, Illinois. Apparently Rock Island is along the tour rout for the majority of touring bands in the country. A band will swing through town, drop by the studio for an hour or two, lay down a few tracks (often on borrowed instruments), before getting back on the road towards their next gig. The songs are usually well recorded, and delightfully stripped down, and best of all,  Daytrotter makes all the songs available for full download. They feature a new band every week, and offer new MP3's every day. Enjoy. 

When it comes to indie music, Pitchfork is a heavyweight. In fact, it's the heavyweight. They do it all: music reviews, news, exclusive content, interviews, etc. With their new listening software, Lala, you can listen to every song mentioned in the entire website -- but only once -- after that you gotta pay. In my opinion, the video portion of the website is particularly impressive. The music videos are high-quality, but you can find those a lot of places these days (vimeo for instance). The coolest videos are Pitchfork's exclusive live concerts. They're so well captured, both in terms of audio and video, that they capture a fairly honest and intimate snapshot of what that artist is like live. There's something so enchanting about witnessing musicians at work; this is (obviously) most true when seeing someone perform live, but even through he lens of recorded video, an inkling of that magic can be felt. 

NPR has an amazing music site. They dig up amazing content from across every genera, and from around the world. They also produce lot of wonderful work themselves, including tons of exclusive concerts, and some very well produced podcasts. I've been listening to NPR's All Songs Considered and All Concerts Considered podcasts for over a year now, and I'm never disappointed. One cool thing they do is offer upcoming albums in their entirety, before they're released in their Exclusive First Listen series. These records are available for a limited time, streaming over the internet sometimes weeks before the album can be purchased in store (no that ANYONE buys music in store these days). For instance, right now you can hear the entire new John Vandrerslice album, AND the entire new St. Vincent album. How sweet is that? 

If anyone out there has other cool music sites that you visit frequently, leave a comment, and let me know!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Morse Ike Ailing Noose

In Fort Collins:

Men: 3rd in the TTT
Women: 1ST IN THE TTT!!! FUCK YEAH!!!!



In Italy (giro spoiler alert):

Cavendish -- your snarky words of two days ago will BITE YOU IN THE ASS YET!!! My money says he gets no wins in that pretty pink jersey.

In Belgium:

Tom Boonen's latest excuse for the cocaine in his urine? "I was so blacked-out drunk that night I don't remember jack shit -- let alone doing any coke." Remember kids, this isn't a drama, it's a musical comedy, and Tornado Tom doesn't have a coke problem, he has an alcohol problem. Way different.

Who knows what else Tom did whilst in the middle of that full-blown black-out -- maybe Tom's lucky WADA doesn't test for things like STD's, UPI's (unidentified party injury), or embarrassing pictures of Tom Boonen with wisps of white powder around his nose, wearing nothing but a pirate hat, ski goggles and a freshly pissed-in world-champ skinsuit, slumped in a horse trough, barfing straight into his lap, all while Stijn Devolder and three naked hookers laugh uncontrollably in the background (we're still waiting for those to surface on the internet -- keep your fingers crossed).

In Washington:

Adrian the Barbarian continues to rampage his way across the Northwest racing scene, scoring his 9th(??) win of the season. Hagens Berman would have swept the podium (if there had been one): Adrian took first with a record time of 31:18, Nick Clayville second at 32:21, and I was third at 32:28. Boo Yeah.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Kendi Thomas is the new Div II Women's National Criterium Champion!!!!!

(and probably on the podium for the overall omnium)

Nice work Kendi, way to keep alive Whitman's history of having the fastest women on the face of the collegiate cycling planet! 

I count one Star'n'Bars jersey for whitman so far -- something tells me there will be more. 

Psychal Eng Noose

Down in Ft. Collins: 

Men 1's Road Race: Adrian got 6th, it sounds like that was the hardest-earned 6th place in history. I won't give you the full details, but let's just say it involved a five-minute solo bridge, a twenty-minute solo bridge, and getting dropped a lot towards the end. Hat's off Adrian -- once again -- you're a hardman. 

Men 2's Road Race: Whitman's Duncan McGovern took 9th, and all the boys finished in the points. Didn't see the race, but sounds like it was brutally windy. 

Women's 2's Road Race: Kendi Thomas (of both Whitman and Hagens Berman) finished in the top ten, and all the girls fought tooth and nail for every last point out there. After the first day of Nationals, Whitman is leading by a pretty solid margin (156 points to second place MIT's 115). KEEP IT UP WHITMAN!!! Good luck in today's crits! 

Over in Italy: 

Sometimes when a guy like Mark Cavendish runs his mouth, you want to hate the guy. "Cocky asshole," I though when I first read his interview with cyclingnews. 

But then, after his  team goes and crushes it in the Giro's opening TTT, putting him in the pink jersey (which he's likely to keep for a few days at least), it's hard to hold those words against him. Cycling: the only sport where wearing bright pink makes you look less like a cocky asshole, and more like you know just what you're talking about. 

Up in Belgium 

Tom Boonen got caught sniffing coke again! I love it! To paraphrase Cooper, Tornado Tom just won the shit out of Paris-Roubaix for the third time -- of course he's going to do a little coke! Come on UCI/Quickstep/WADA -- sniffing coke isn't a doping violation out of competition, so why are you even testing for it? I don't agree with Boonen's decision to blow lines of coke off the top tube of his new Specialized, but I understand -- HE JUST WON THE SHIT OUT OF PARIS-ROUBAIX FOR A THIRD TIME

In Which an Hour of Swimming Nearly Kills Me.

Yesterday, I made the disastrously foolish decision to swim in a pool, for an hour, with triathletes. What compelled me to do so is completely beyond me; I just know I'm lucky to be alive (although my arms may never recover). I am currently in Boulder, Colorado staying with Brandon, a good friend, and bicycle-racer-turned-triathlete. We're on our way back from the Gila (Silver City is a loooo0ong way from Seattle), and Brandon offered to let me tag along to his 12:30 swimming class at the Flatiron athletic club. "It's only an hour-long class," Brandon said innocently. Somehow this seemed like a good idea, despite the fact that I hadn't participated in an official swim class since my first semester of college. I somehow missed the deceptive gleam in his eye that veiled the true nature of this swim class. It wasn't until I stepped outside the locker room and caught my first glimpse of the simple, eight-lane, outdoor pool that I began to understand what awaited me. The water looked like it was boiling: the surface a thrashing, splashing tangle of arms, legs, and really fast moving bodies. "This is Dave Scott's class -- they're almost done," Brandon said.

Dave Scott's class, huh? Dave Scott? As in the Dave Scott? Six-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman Dave Scott? Sure enough, there he was, triathlon legend Dave Scott, shouting his final orders to his swimmers: "Allright, easy 100 cool down -- nice work folks."

We set our towels down on a chair while the pool emptied. I stared, the expression on my face somewhere between amusement and terror, as the the athletes emerged from the water. Every last one of them looked like a statue of a Greek god, glistening examples of human perfection hewn from solid bronze! Tanned, toned, hairless bodies, one after another, emerged from the water and stalked off to the locker room. "There's Alan Reid -- he's an Olympian. Oh, and there's Chrissie Wellington -- she won the Ironman last year. That's Laura Bennett -- she took fourth in Beijing. Oh look, here comes Wolfgang, our coach," Brandon pointed out. Wolfgang Dittrich, a remarkably fit, fifty-something year old man wearing shorts, a sun visor and sporty-looking sunglasses strode confidently towards the pool. Unsurprisingly, Wolfgang is also a titan of the endurance sports world; he was routinely the first swimmer out of the water at the Hawaii Ironman. "Alright everybody, let's get vet," Wolfgang said through a thin German accent. I quickly hopped into the water to hide how badly my knees were shaking. I chose the second-slowest lane (seeing how the slowest lane seemed to be reserved for injured people).

Things started off well. (I wish I could say they stayed that way.) The first few laps, I felt fine -- even good. Despite being entirely out of shape, all those swim classes I took in high school served me well, leaving me with a (relatively) efficient stroke. During the warm-up, I had no problem going as fast as the others in my lane -- I even caught the attention of Wolfgang: "I sink you should moof to anoza lane, no?" Somewhat reluctantly, I ducked over to the next lane. Wolfgang proceeded to lay out the workout, which involved three complex sets of 100's with descending amounts of rest. I had no idea what the hell we were supposed to do, but my lane-mates seemed to understand, so I resigned myself to utter confusion and just started swimming when everyone else did. After a few laps, the pace quickened, and my lungs reminded me that we were over a mile above sea level, but I was hangin' tough with the others in my lane.

Until everyone started cheating.

We finished one of the hundreds, and a girl in my lane gasped "I can't make these splits, I'll get no rest at all."

"Yeah me too," I said hopefully, between labored breaths, "we'd better slow down, huh?"

The girl stared at me like I was crazy -- did he just say "slow down"? Triathletes don't slow down -- triathletes speed up!

The next thing I knew, everyone in my lane had donned swim fins and flippers and were zooming around the pool faster than a pod of dolphins. FUCK! I didn't realize triathletes were such shameless cheats when it came to their training, otherwise I would have brought an outboard motor to the class. As it was, I had neither flippers nor fins, and quickly found myself sucking more wind than a Bissell vacuum cleaner. I tried for roughly one lap to hold the pace of my newly amphibious lane-mates, and then promptly imploded so bad I had to pause in the middle of the pool and throw an arm over the lane-line to avoid drowning. I stayed there gasping for the next several minutes, marveling at the pool full of fish-men as they powered through the water. "I'm not cut out for this," I thought to myself, "these people are insane."

The rest of my day was completely ruined. I returned to Brandon's house and tried to nap, but my shoulders were too sore for me to fall asleep; I couldn't get comfortable. We drove to downtown Boulder to shop for a mother's day card on Pearl Street, but I was so dazed, shopping seemed like too much work. The only thing I could really handle was sitting motionless on a bench in the sun with a smile on my face. That's it. After dinner, we'd planned on going out for Cinco de Mayo margaritas, but I suggested an alternative: "hay guys, what if we just go to sleep instead? Doesn't sleep sound like a lot more fun?" 

Ok triathletes, lesson learned. You win this one....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday Anouncements

Ok, so there's a few things you should know:

1: Starting tomorrow, the Collegiate National Championships will be taking place in Fort Collins, Colorado. Whitman is showing up with undoubtedly the best men's squad its ever had, and a team capable of vying for the overall team title. Best of luck to the entire Whitman team!

The Hagens Berman Elite team is also going to be represented (although not officially) by our star racer Adrian Hegyvary. For those who don't know, when Adrian isn't crushing local races, or placing in the top three of NRC crits, he's also a full time law student at the University of Washington. Best of luck to Adrian!

Supposedly you can watch the Collegiate Nationals action here:

2: In a recent development, the newest member of the cable TV family, Universal Sports, has decided to get serious about cycling (finally!). They already brought us the Tour of the Basque Country, and are now able to bring us the Giro de Italia, twice a day, for the entire twenty-one stages. I'm so psyched.

First off, Universal Sports is everything that Versus isn't. It highlights lesser known (but all equally serious) sports, and presents them in an entertaining fashion. It basically brings us the sports we normally only see televised during the Olympics (downhill skiing, gymnastics, track and field, etc.), and does so with nearly the same level of professionalism. Versus on the other hand takes a bunch of fringe sports and wraps them all with the same schlocky extreme packaging. Clearly, to Versus producers, there is no difference between the ultimate fighting audience, the bull riding audience, and the cycling audience -- each sport receives the same hard-hitting montages and promos. I'm so grateful that Universal Sports shows cycling for what it really is: an amazingly complex, unique, and beautiful sport -- without trying to make it something it's not: a cheap, simple, excuse to see people hurt themselves (ahem -- hockey).

Another reason I'm excited to see the Giro on Universal Sports is that my good friend and mentor Todd Gogulski landed the incredibly sweet position of Universal's on-air cycling analyst. Todd has been my friend since 2005 when we raced together on the same team in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He's a retired pro, and back in his day, he was a total badass, winning almost every race in the country at one point or another. He quit racing a long time ago, and has taken up the fine art of announcing professional bike races. Todd worked a good chunk of the NRC calender last year, but this Universal Sports gig is by far his biggest opportunity to date. Wish him luck, and enjoy his insight into this year's Giro.

Monday, May 4, 2009

At Least I Was There

They never recognize the little guys, but at least they said I was there -- not only that I started the damn thing!

So Krogg fear he not have very good legs for final stage of Tour of Gila. Unlike last year (when Krogg did have good legs), Krogg pretty sure he get dropped on first major climb. If not, Krogg darn well positive he get dropped over second major climb. If somehow gods smile upon Krogg, and he make it over second major climb, Gila Monster still have third major climb and Krogg have snowball's chance in hell of making it over that. So Krogg decide to try to get into breakaway -- at least that way, he have fun day in front of peloton instead of just waiting around to get his ticket punched like everyone else. Besides, Krogg always been fan of crazy tomahawk suicide breakaway -- BESIDES, IF KROGG DOOMED, KROGG PREFER TO DIE ON OWN TWO FEET, SWINGING BATTLE AXE WILDLY, DEFIANTLY, GLORIOUSLY (and yes, usually futilely) INSTEAD OF SIMPLY PLACING HEAD ON LANCE'S CHOPPING BLOCK AND SAYING "here Lance, here my head -- chop away." Krogg watch enough OLN in July to know that's what happens.

Here's what Krogg remember: a mile or so out of town, official man blow whistle to start race and Krogg start sprinting like madman. Krogg get gap right away, and don't look back. Eventually a group catch Krogg, but Krogg just keep pulling until other racers start helping. At one point, it look like field going to catch Krogg's breakaway -- this would have been very bad for Krogg (Krogg burned half of matchbook in first three minutes of racing), but somehow breakaway stick, and gap grow. Eventually things go smoothly, and Krogg ride in breakaway all day long. Krogg pleased.

When breakaway reach first major climb (fifty miles into race), Krogg get dropped immediately, but Krogg fight hard all the way up, and stay within sight of caravan. Krogg (shamelessly) accept numerous power-feeds from at least three different team cars, and draft service moto (also shamelessly), and very nearly start crying because he can't go any fucking harder and the breakaway is RIGHT THERE but Krogg can't close gap, and mother-of-god why don't they slow down! SERIOUSLY, COULD YOU SLOW DOWN JUST FOR A SECOND AND LET ME CATCH BACK ON FOR FUCK'S SAKE??!!

Krogg reconnect with breakaway at crest of climb, and enjoy hair-raising descent past Gila cliff dwellings (special thanks to Evan Elken -- him take group safely and quickly down hill -- no crazy crashes like last year). Once breakaway reach valley bottom, Krogg go to front of breakaway and drill it -- Krogg decide he doomed on second major climb no matter what, right? so why not pour it all in right then? Krogg been in breakaway for 65 miles, and honestly, Krogg worked much harder for most of that time than guys much stronger than Krogg (mutants like Bradley White, Ben Jacques-Maynes, etc.). When breakaway hit bottom of second major climb, Krogg get dropped like hot rock. Soon afterwards, Krogg get caught by Mellow Johnny's team (and promptly dropped like hot rock). Soon afterwards, Krogg get caught by roughly 80 other racers (and promptly dropped like hot rock). Krogg reach feed zone (still 35 miles from finish, mostly uphill), and decide to beg for ride back to finish, but nobody take pity on poor caveman. So Krogg continue for a little while longer, and finally Bissell van scrape tired caveman off side of road, and give him lift back to finish line. Ouch Ouch Ouch.

Awh Yeah

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

So we're about to start stage five of the Tour of the Gila. This is undoubtedly one of the hardest days of racing anyone in this country will do all year. I've done ok here in years past, but really don't think my fitness is what it was last year, so my goals this time around are a little less ambitious. What really gets me is though is how much the Astana guys rub it in our faces that this race is just downright easy for them. 

"Oh yeah, this is a cake walk to us," said Horner, "I guess it's a little harder than napping or reading a book, but it's a lot easier than most forms of light manuel labor, like gardening or mowing a lawn. I mean -- it's a hot day out there -- have you ever mowed a lawn in this kind of heat?" 

"I agree Chris," Levi chimed in, "out there at the Giro we'll be doing 300 mile stages with 30'000 feet of climbing, and we'll have them back to back to back, so honestly, I'm a little worried that racing the Tour of the Gila will turn us into soft little weaklings, and we'll get dropped on highway overpasses and stuff." 

"Wait guys, you don't give this race enough credit," Lance said, "this is a classic race. Most normal humans find this actually difficult. I mean, it's all in how you race it; the other day, after I rode the front for three hours before climbing that little roller (what was that called? The Mag-ee-own?) I got my heart rate above 100 bpm -- so that's something. I mean if I were to do that three or four times in a day I think that'd be a real workout." 

Sheesh guys -- we know you're super human, but must you really flaunt it like that? 

[note: for the more *ahem* gullible readers: SOME OF THESE QUOTES MIGHT BE MADE UP]: 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Editor's Note: Bruce Springsteen Not Actually Racing Tour of the Gila

Alright, I need to fess up tom something. Apparently, my post from ten days ago entitled "Dropping the L-Bomb" was (unfortunately) misunderstood by some of my readers. In that post, I claimed that Bruce Springsteen (AKA "The Boss") would be competing at this year's Tour of the Gila. This was intended to serve as a euphemism for Lance Armstrong, the boss of the cycling world; yet clearly my sarcasm was ineffectively thick (or thin), misleading some of my readers to take me seriously. I apologize to everyone who has been scanning the Gila results for Bruce's name. To my knowledge, he isn't here. In the future, I'll try to keep in mind that something I perceive as wildly outlandish, might not come across that way to those who haven't spent the better part of the last decade racing bicycles. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Top Five Mutant Bodies at the Tour of the Gila:

Cycling is an amazing sport, mainly because of how goddam unique it is -- where else do the fans have such unparalleled access to the stars? If you were to drive out to Silver City this weekend, you could wait by the road until we go by and literally reach out and touch the racers. You shouldn't reach out and touch Lance, but hell, you could slap him on the ass on the way up the climb if you wanted to.

Or what about the fact that racers of vastly different abilities can participate in the same event? Take Wednesday for instance: I counted not just one, but three guys sporting Camelbaks in our race. Two of these fellows opted for the "loud and proud," outside the jersey method, while the other guy "went dromedary," as they say. For those who don't know, wearing a Camelbak in a road race is akin to walking down the hall of your high school with a "kick-me" sign -- it absolutely SCREAMS inexperienced and unprofessional. In mountain bike races, sure it makes perfect sense. Actually, if you're at the Tour of the Gila with no support, a Camelbak isn't a bad way to insure you get enough water -- but the fact is they look silly, and they're uncomfortable.  It was pretty agonizing climbing that last five miles of the Mogollon with nothing but an empty, unzipped jersey; I can only imagine how much worse it would be with a sweaty bladder on your back and a rubber hose around your neck. A Camelbak is possibly the worst roadie fashion faux pas out there. That and unshaved legs. And yet, there they were, Lance and the Camelbak guys, hundred-million dollar mega-star and fish-out-of-water mountain bikers, riding side by side. 

Possibly one of the coolest aspects of this sport is the phenomenal range of body types competing directly. To illuminate my point, I've selected for you the top five mutant bodies of this year's Tour of the Gila. Here they are in no particular order:

Most Minute Male: Chris Hong
Chris is downright minuscule. He weighs 100 lbs even. I think he's twenty years old, but my goodness, he looks like he's fourteen! He's clearly got a motor, cuz he somehow does well on flat, hard, power races like Battenkill, but the guy just soars uphill. If he weren't a cyclist, he'd be a jockey. If he weren't a jockey he'd get teased a lot for being small. With guys like Chris, I feel bad that the UCI has a minimum weight standard for bikes; thanks to the (totally arbitrary) rules, Chris' bike weighs as much as mine does (right around the limit of 6.8 Kg), but as a percentage of his body weight, Chris is at a huge disadvantage. Actually....I take that back....I don't feel bad at all! Screw that! The last thing we need is to make that guy even faster uphill. 

Most Muscular: Bradley White

When it comes down to pure "muscles as percentage of body weight," Bradley White takes the cake. He's not a huge guy skeletally speaking, but my god, compared to the rest of us, he looks like goddam He-Man. His legs are downright frightening -- his bulbous, meaty calves and quads resemble large tropical fruits; if he didn't pedal so fast I'd swear he has implants. His arms look so strong that Bradley could probably excel at other sports too (something few of us can say). If he weren't a cyclist he'd be a running back. If he were a running back, he'd be a huge hit with the ladies I'm sure. However, instead of scoring touchdowns inside a stadium full of screaming girls, he chooses to shave his legs, don spandex, and spend his days wiggling his butt around on the slopes of some hill in the middle of nowhere. What the hell is he thinking? 

Hugest Human: Tom Zirbel

If Chris Hong the chihuahua of this year's Tour of the Gila, Tom Zirbel is the bull mastiff. He's a monster of a man: 200 lbs., wide hips and shoulders, huge chest cavity (complete with alien-like protrusion for extra air-breathing), and gargantuan thighs that, when riding next to him, conjure thoughts of race horses or Andre the Giant. Tom is one of the nicest guys in the race, and regularly shows us his goofy, toothy smile. He's also famous for the golden mullet seen flowing from the back of his helmet, thus earning him the nickname "Thor." That and his ability to swing one of the biggest battle axes the North American peloton has ever seen. For two years now, Tom has proven himself to be arguably the best domestic time trialist, winning last year's Gila TT, getting second at Pro nats (behind Zabriskie), and scoring a top 10 at this year's tour of Cali (he beat Lance, ok? the guy's a friggin' locomotive!). Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tom isn't his size, it's the fact that he still climbs very very well. Just think of the wattage that guy must be putting out to haul that giant body up those hills as fast at the shrimpy guys. 
UPDATE: Tom beat Lance again today, taking second in the Tour of the Gila TT.

Purest Pedaler: Lance Armstrong

No list of cycling mutants would be complete without a tip'o'the hat to the most morphed of them all, Lancy-Poo. By many metrics, Lance isn't an anomaly. He's not abnormally heavy, nor tall, nor skinny, nor small. In jeans and a tee shirt, he looks like a normal guy. But when riding next to him on a bike, I'm humbled by how much he resembles a greyhound: all legs and lungs. His chest is so friggin deep, he probably breathes twice as much air with each breath as I do. His legs, while not being the biggest legs out there, are ridiculously defined. He's got muscles I've never seen before -- they protrude from underneath the ones normal people have. Just look at those two pictures and see if you can tell them apart. (HINT: Lance doesn't wear a muzzle)

Most Breast-Like Calves: Ben Jacques-Maynes
Ben has huge melons....on the backs of his shins. This guy's calves are so bulbous, they sag when they're not flexed. Swear to god, if you put nipples on them, they'd look like boobs. If they weren't rock hard and veiny, they'd be nice boobs -- giant boobs so perky they'd have to be fake, but nice ones nonetheless. I couldn't find a good picture of his calves, but trust me, they're impressive.