Sunday, April 29, 2012

Joe Martin Stage 3

Racing bikes (and to an extent, participating in any sport) is like being a character in a movie. The opening credits are filled with pageantry and custom. There's an explosive beginning, followed by a complicated middle, and a ferocious ending. There's a setting, and there are protagonists, but the twists and turns of the story aren't known until they happen. There's danger and excitement and tragedy and triumph, often in rapid succession. Sometimes, very rarely, you're the main character in the movie, and you win the race. Sometimes you're a supporting actor, and play a major role. Sometimes you're a victim of fate, and meet an untimely end. Sometimes (and for me usually), you're just an extra, a face in the crowd, one body among many, someone who makes the story believable, but doesn't really tell the story. Sometimes you're aware of your role before the finish, and other times you don't know until the end.

In yesterday's stage 3 of the Joe Martin Stage Race, my role in the movie took a wild swing a mere kilometer from the finish line. After a day filled with fetching water, covering moves, and shepherding sprinters over climbs (and loaning them my gloves), I found myself with the best chance I've ever had to win an NRC field sprint, and Team Exergy's best hope for a result. All day long, we knew it was a day for Logan -- he's one of the fastest men in the country, and his mental toughness and hunger for victory are second to none. Once we got over the final climb on the final lap, my teammates and I did our best to attack the field, and keep Logan in position. Three k's out, I wasn't where I needed to be, but the road was wide, and I had a match or two left to burn, so my teammate Matt and I made one final push for the pointy end of the peloton. Just as we pulled alongside the Bissell lead-out train -- a touch of wheels -- and down they went, nearly all of them, like an invisible bowler made a perfect strike. I'll let Krogg take it from here:

HOLY SHIT THAT HUGE CRASH! LOOK LIKE TSUNAMI OF BICYCLIST CAME CRASHING DOWN ON MAINLAND. Krogg no slow down at all. Lucky caveman! Whoah -- Krogg find self in staggeringly good position with 1 kilometer left in race. Krogg get on wheel of few remaining bike racers nearby. Krogg think "oh shit, Krogg must sprint for win." Oh boy, Krogg see finish line. Time to sprint! THEN KROGG SPRINT! 

      100 METERS: Krogg hear someone come around...KROGG GET SECOND! 
         50 METERS: Krogg think "300 meters too long for caveman sprint" and blow head gasket on heart and lung motor. 
             20 METERS: uh oh -- several other wheel come around Krogg. Krogg top ten?

Finish 6th. Not bad, but Exergy cavemen here to win race. Not get 6th. 

Krogg replay sprint in head 1,000 times. Stupid caveman! Why you no look around before start sprint?! Why you get impatient and start sprint with 300 meters?! Why you look to sides so close to line -- JUST PUT HEAD DOWN, GRIT TEETH, AND SPRINT! Look around after finish line. 

Krogg happy for 6th place, but sad Logan crash with sprinters. Were Logan in Krogg shoes, Logan win by many mammoth-lengths. But as they say: that bike racing. Krogg so happy Logan ok. No hurt (Logan did destroy Krogg gloves though). Trust Krogg: Logan win race real soon. 

Thanks Krogg. For the record, that's my best result at an NRC race. Also for the record, I'd trade that result 1,000 times over to give Logan another shot at that finish.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

People Who Get Good

There are a limited number of hours in each day, and a limited number of days in each life. The vastness of human knowledge is such that we can't do everything; we must choose our foci. Some of us are granted more bandwidth than others, yet all of us are limited. Clearly I have chosen to devote a substantial portion of my time and energy to the pursuit of bicycle racing. The returns on this investment have been ten-fold, and I'm completely satisfied with where my hard work and commitment have taken me -- but I can't help but wonder: what if I'd followed something else with equal (or even greater) vigor? What if, instead of pedaling bikes for all those hours, I'd practiced cello-boxing? I still wouldn't be as good as this guy:

To any and all who dedicate themselves to getting really really good at something, thank you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Strange and Strangers

There's something in the air -- something strange. If you don't believe me, just watch this video:

(I've heard this song dozens of times, but had no idea the music video was so delightfully bizarre. Thanks Matt Jumago for sharing.)

See what I mean? Strange indeed.

Now look at this! I don't even know what I'm looking at!

It appears to be some kind of wind-powered mythological beast, born to roam the desolate beaches and breezy plains of another planet, animate and mobile yet not quite conscious, like a giant virus mixed with a herd of antelopes mixed with a captainless four-masted clipper, merely reacting to its stimuli in an ever-forward trudge towards the horizon. Where there is wind, this creature breathes. Where there is calm, it becomes merely a pile of of balsa wood clockwork and garbage bags. Thank you, wind sculpture, for you have given my dreams nutritious fodder for tonight.

Today we race 110 miles. It shall be hard, and hot, and hilly. Morgan is 10 seconds out of the lead. I predict four and a half hours of chess match, followed by an absolute murderfest into the finish. The final kilometer includes three sharp corners and a couple short nasty climbs, making the winner a worthy champion indeed.

Here's the course map.

Good day everyone -- happy Friday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Onward to Joe Martin

So Sea Otter was a mixed bag, success, podium time, and a victory mixed with some frustration, crashes, and the knowledge that we could have done better. Podiuminsight did a great job covering the story, so if you're hungry for race details or photos, go there. 

But before we could wallow in our dissatisfaction, the whirlwind that is professional bicycle racing scooped us up, and dropped us off a thousand miles away in Fayetteville, AK for the start of the Joe Martin Stage Race. Our Tuesday was spent bounding from one airport to another (to another and finally, to another), and yesterday got the chance to preview some of the courses. Here's Arkansas. It's verdant: 

Things I don't like: 

1: Having a sore shoulder from when I crashed last Friday. I subluxed it for the first time, and it's been stiffer than an old oak tree. 

2: Seeing people I like too stressed out. Our mechanic Josh had to drive the team car from Monterey to Tulsa, and then get straight to work. TODAY I RIDE FOR JOSH!

3: Losing my Garmin. It broke off in my crash, and I didn't have time to look for it. It has my name on it -- maybe it'll turn up?!

4: Spending an entire day in airports and hotels. 

5: Leaving my wallet in the taxi from the Tulsa airport to the Tulsa Motel 6.

Things I do like: 

1: Going to another race. Another race, another set of chances. 

2: Creating satisfying pieces of art/writing. 

3: FINDING my wallet after leaving it in the taxi we took from the airport last night. It was pure cosmic coincidence that I took the driver's card and could call him to arrange a meet-up. Thank you, universe. 

4: Getting a massage every day. Never gets old. 

5: Symmetry. I was satisfied with four things I like, but clearly not.

The first rider is off at 1 pm, and I start at 1:39:30 (central time).

Time to ride the wind! 

Also, I need to give a special shout out to the sleeping skills of my teammate Logan Loader. Here he is showing off his stuff: 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Angler Fish

I made a video of when I made a drawing:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Things to Share

Whilst roaming the internet this morning, I found the following gems:

See a horribly depressed cat:

Watch mesmerizing things get blown to smithereens in slow motion:

Hear the song that's been stuck in my head:

Then here are some pretty pictures I took yesterday just before the race, after the race, and while on my ride this morning. Enjoy:
Sea Otter!

The one and only Andres Diaz

Logan, being social. 

I'm working off a vicious sun burn! 

Josh, making our machines run like clockwork.

Scott, making piles of chicken and pork chops. 

Our bikes, lounging around, playing cards. 

Just above out host house. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


Today we don't race until noon, so what better to do with my morning but drink coffee and take photos of my awesome host pets. 

Dallas has bio-luminescent eyes.


Oliver is a gentle giant. 

The grass is always greener...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slices of Stage 1

Some slices of my day. I didn't really capture any of the race, but that might not have been accidental. The team raced well -- Morgan is a few seconds out of the leader's jersey, and Logan showed how dominant of a sprinter he is, winning the field sprint for fourth. 

Otherwise, the team posted a report here, results are here, and Podium Insight, after a several month hiatus from the race circuit, has some excellent pictures of the race here. Welcome back from you break Lyne -- you were missed.

Oh, and I guess this photo surfaced on CyclingNews:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sea Otter Redux

Did you know that sea otters are related to weasels, ferrets, and skunks? They're in the mustelid family, and are the largest mustelids on earth. They're also the only mustelids who lack anal scent glands (that's why ferrets smell so bad, and why skunks can shoot your eye out) -- which is really odd because the Latin root for mustelid means "poisonous vapor," or "really stinky little vermin," or something like that.

Did you know that the sea otter is the smallest marine mammal? Think about it. It's hard out there for marine mammals. Get big, or get eaten. 

Did you know that sea otters have the densest fur of any animal? WELL APPARENTLY I DIDN'T! For years -- no for friggin' decades -- I've been saying that chinchillas have the densest fur of any animal. Let's set things straight: chinchillas have the densest fur of any land animal, but sea otters' fur is far more dense. 

Did you know that when sea otters use rocks to crack open clams or oysters on their bellies, they actually can cause themselves permanent chest damage. Many sea otters die from self inflicted chest contusions. (Note: I have no idea if this is true, but my 11th grade Algebra 2 teacher, Vera Wompler, told us this fact in class one day. Her voice nearly cracked with emotion as she spoke, her heart aching for those poor otters who smash their chests to pulp. One day she kicked me out of the classroom, and wouldn't let me return until a meeting could be arranged between her and myself, my mother, and the headmaster of the school, which took nearly two weeks to schedule. I got a D- in her class. I digress.)

Here's what Randall has to say (note: don't watch this if you didn't like the Honey Badger video). 


Sea Otter is also a bike race, one that Team Exergy shall compete in tomorrow through Sunday. I've settled into my home stay. If you remember my homestay from last year (I had horsies everywhere), then you should find my current quarters equally fitting (only replace horsies with vampires). Life-sized, ominous-looking vampires, oozing with teenage angst. See for yourself:

Seriously though, Holly, if you read this, thanks for bunking up with your sister for a week so a bunch of bike racers can invade your house and sleep on your trundle bed. We really appreciate it.

It's going to be a good race. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


That was NOT lemonade in that sippy-cup!
Yesterday morning was unlike most other mornings. I awoke to the sound of someone banging on my door, which has happened exactly never since I moved to Boise. I heard the first round of banging, but convinced myself it was either the wind, or perhaps an angry deer, and ignored it. The second round of banging was unmistakable though -- someone was at my door. I threw on pajamas and staggered, still mostly asleep, to the doorway. I was greeted by a clean-cut man in his late fifties with a badge around his neck. He was holding a small suitcase, and had a piece of paper in his hand. Was he a repair man? Was he trying to sell me something? Was he serving a summons? "Hi, I'm Steve, and I'm a representative from USADA," he said. He informed me that I was today's lucky winner! I was being offered the chance to donate a sample of my urine so that it could be tested in a laboratory for banned substances! Wow -- an offer I literally couldn't refuse.

While still extremely groggy, I invited Steve inside. He started explaining how he was here on behalf of Amgen, and went over how the testing process would work. Meanwhile, I started making coffee because I'm really not used to interacting with other humanoids before I've had my coffee, especially if they expect me to use complete sentences.

Now, I've been tested plenty of times, but this time was different -- this time I wasn't selected randomly. I am, for the time being, part of USADA's registered testing pool of athletes, which means I have to provide my whereabouts information, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week so that guys like Steve can track me down and surprise me with out of competition drug tests. Steve was there for me, and me alone. Wow, I thought to myself, this isn't an accident. I'm actually worth USADA's time. Crazy.

Steve was really nice. He was patient, professional, and helpful. He had no problem hanging out and making conversation with me while until the coffee had kicked in and I was ready to collect my sample (read: carefully pee into a sippy cup while another man watches). All in all, the actual sample collection and processing was identical to the other tests I've done. If you're curious what I mean, read through my account of my first piss test back in 2007.
More pink paper for my file. 

I'm so glad that the Amgen Tour of California is taking such great care to insure that their race will be a clean one.


Did I just let a cat out of the bag there?

I guess now might be a good time to go over my upcoming schedule. I've got a pretty busy next few weeks. I've posted my tentative schedule on the right side of my blog. Take a gander. Remember, I'm only on these rosters provisionally, and bike racing is a fickle sport, but for now there's my schedule. Get excited people -- I sure am. See you out there?

Thursday, April 5, 2012




My truck: it lives!!!!
I have to say, working with Carl from Carl's Automotive Repair was a joy. He was extremely nice, and he took the time to explain how and why my car wasn't working (instead of just telling me how much it was going to cost me to fix). Ultimately Carl fixed my car, charged me a very fair price, and actually taught me a bunch about how combustion engines work (have you ever seen the inside of a distributor? Do you know where your fuel filter is? Did you know that most cars need their oil changed?) Thanks Carl -- my car is purring like a lion! 

 To those of you who held vigil with me -- thank you! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


New Bont shoes, freshly heat-molded. New cleats aligned and tight. New clothing, gobs of it, marked with my name. New smile on my face, because now I get to go use this stuff! Enjoy your Wednesday everybody.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bad News and Good News

Ok Blog. I have some bad news, and I have some good news...which to you want first?

The Good News? Ok! The GOOD news is that I won a race! Yes, it's true -- a tiny, first year stage race in beautiful Ontario, Oregon. The field may have been small (like really really small), but I was racing without teammates against some strong competition. I took two stages (the TT and the crit), and the overall. The race? The Tour of Ontario. Highlights include:

  • My race packet had a old-timey wooden glider in it! Check it:

  • Krogg smashed the TT! GO KROGG!
  • The circuit race was effing windy. At one point, we were riding maybe 15 miles per hour straight into a 20-25 mph headwind. Tumblewinds would dislodge themselves, and fly towards us at an effective speed of ~40 mph! Several times I had to dodge these bullet-weeds with all my reflexes. Tumbleweeds: the number one hazard of the day. 
  • Flatting my front in the circuit race: not a highlight. Flatting my rear a few laps later: not a highlight. Getting offered first a Campy wheel, then a junior cassette: not a highlight. Chasing back on twice: highlight. 
  • The suspense of not knowing whether I was still in the lead for Sunday's crit lasted for roughly twenty hours. I love suspense. 
  • Sunday's crit was effing windy. I was riding a deep-dish front wheel, and wow, coming around a few of those corners that thing would catch the breeze like a hang-glider catches a thermal. I won the race solo, so had several laps to consider the question: is posting up a good idea? What if a gust of wind catches my front wheel and I dump it, right as I cross the line? I'll look like an idiot! Well...I rolled the dice, and thankfully someone captured my risky post-up. Check it: 
Thanks to Randolph Wright for the photo. 

  • I won a pint glass! And a jersey! Check it: 

  • Congrats to Jeremy Ward of the Sandals Resorts team (who really made me earn it this weekend with some very cohesive, aggressive racing), and Dan Bechtold of Hagens Berman (who helped me stitch the race back together on more than one occasion). It was a pleasure doing business with ya.  
Thanks to Team Sandals for the photo.

Thanks Tour of Ontario. It was great to have a stage race right outside my back door. Can't wait to see you back in Ontario next year. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Good News and Bad News

Hello blog. I have some good news, and I have some bad news....which do you want first?

The bad news? Alright, here it goes: my truck is quite ill. My truck, my beautiful battle-wagon, my charming chariot, my steady steed! Right now, my truck lies in the ICU at Carl's Automotive -- the best goddam mechanic in Boise -- on life support. Her guts are all exposed! She's hooked up to all sorts of tubes and wires! She's plugged into machines that monitor her vitals and go "beep." I just hate to see her like this. It's getting close to that point where I need to make a decision: how much is too much? When do I pull the pin? All things die -- perhaps most of all the things that were only given life by our attachments to them.

So while my car was in the hospital, there was a race I had to attend. Carl, my knight in shining armor of Carl's Auto Repair, offered to let me use his old Isuzu Trooper to get me there and back. I'll say, when it comes to loaner cars, this one kicked ass.

It felt a little bit like driving a gigantic cardboard box, especially when it'd get hit with a stout crosswind on the freeway. The trooper would pitch back and forth like an old boat on rough seas, but old boats get old because they're sea-worthy, and this Trooper felt as sea-worthy (or road-worthy) as can be. Another nice thing about the Trooper is that it had plenty of room for cargo. Notice my lack of a need for careful packing:

Two frames and six wheels? The Trooper opened wide and swallowed it all whole, maybe not understanding why or how all that stuff got in there, but accepting the situation all the same, like a pelican swallowing a pigeon (beware: the following video shows a pelican eating a pigeon, which is slightly shocking).

If you are like me, you hold my truck close to your heart, and you'll want to cross your fingers tight, and hope that my truck pulls through this tough time. If you're not like long and prosper anyway, man. Or something.

For now, I'll just transport you back to better times, when my truck roamed the northwest like a horribly lost Lewis and Clark, back and forth from the inland planes of Idaho, to the shimmering sea of Seattle, to the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Hood (and back and forth again, many times over).