Monday, November 24, 2008

How to choose a fit turkey for Thanksgiving

1. Go to a fowl gym. Look for the one doing the most weight on the squat rack.

2. Watch for the one off the front in turkey group road rides.

3. Look for the turkey wearing "Dopers Suck" socks.

4. Chase one. If you can catch him on foot, that ain't the one.

5. Beware of Fred turkeys wearing all ASSOS clothing. They are usually a little pudgy.

6. Look for the turkey with a powertap on his bike. You know that one is serious.

7. P90X turkeys are prime choice, grade "A" fowl.

8. Only eat vegan turkey. Stay away from carnivorous birds.

9. Avoid 'roid monster turkeys. You can identify them by their huge wings and tiny, skinny drumsticks.

10. If all else fails, go for the Aflac duck.

Your days are numbered...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Heart rate = who cares.

It's almost Thanksgiving and I haven't checked my resting heart rate for a week. Who cares? It's time to eat large fowl and drink hearty dark beer. I have quickly moved from race mode into slug mode in the course of one week's time, and it feels really good.

There is a method to my madness however. I started last week to knock some items off of my list of home projects that have been put in the procrastination bin. My idea is to get as much finished by the end of 2008 as I can in order to devote 100% of my attention to training for the 2009 season when January rolls around. I see a whole lotta miles in my future, but I ain't skeered.

I've also been doing some alternative top-secret, ultra-cutting-edge workouts in lieu of the more traditional weigh workouts that have filled my off-season for the past 5 years. All I can tell you is that it is brutal, and I will have the strongest core that I've ever had in my life.

So tune in often peeps...there may be some exciting posts coming soon about installing programmable thermostats!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

RACE REPORT - Tech Cross Day 1

Four seasons in one day. Saturday Nov 15th had it all. I awoke to temps in the high 50s and a peek or two of sunshine. My cyclocross race at Virginia Tech wasn't until 5:15pm, so I had plenty of time to dally around the house. As usual, a trip to Lowes was necessary. While I was browsing the electrical isle for some dimmers, a cloud burst reminiscent of late summer started dumping buckets of rain. Weird. It was still about 60 degrees outside.

An hour later, bright sunshine.

Fast forward to about 3pm. Pookie and I were loading the car for the one hour trip to Blacksburg when it started becoming windy. You could feel the change in the air. When we pulled out of Roanoke, the thermometer in the Subaru read 64 degrees. When we reached Tech, it was 55 - and dropping. The wind had become fierce. Clouds rolled in and winter started showing it's face.

Since we were quite early, we watched Laura's race (I'll let her tell you about it here), then I had about an hour for a nice long warm-up. Then I rolled to the starting line - the place where I would begin to get my whoopin'.

Things started well enough. My heart rate shot to about 180 and I was seeing stars trying to stay on the wheel of Cole from East Coasters, and a girl (insert joke about my manhood here) that is a Cat 1 road racer. The 36x18 I was running was almost enough to keep with the lead group. I would soon get dropped off the back and was in no-mans land between the lead three and a group of about 3 more behind me. The wind was vicious. Each time the course would turn westward, it was like wearing a parachute. I desperately wanted someone to draft behind, but I couldn't catch the leaders, and the group behind wasn't catching me.

This went on for about half of the race. I was suffering like dog in the wind. I would try to make up for it by working twice as hard when I was in the tailwind. I opened up a new account at the pain bank. Never before has 30 minutes seemed like an eternity.
I came through the chicane that marks the half-way point of the course to find Cole from East Coasters running along side his chain-less bicycle. What a crappy way to pass someone, but it still lifted my spirits about 1/10th of 1 percent.
That didn't last long. I wanted to quit when the group of three from behind behind caught and passed me. Into the wind no less. I tried to jump on the wheel of the last rider, but I couldn't stay there. Off the back again.
About 5 minutes later I got into a groove and started making up time on those in front of me. With one lap to go I caught and passed Kevin (Dillard, I think), and started closing in on the remaining riders off the front.

I could see them getting closer as we reached the final short, grunt climb. I was closing in on the rider directly in front of me, but I had no chance with the 40mph winds beating me to a pulp. I gave it everything and was 2 seconds behind at the line. Another close one.

I'd like to say that I felt good during the race, but I didn't. I felt like I was going to die. Like I was going to implode. Pain. Hey, that's cyclocross!
Today is Tech Cross Day 2. I'm sitting at home blogging. I've had enough for this year. The next race report you'll see here will be February when I'll make the short drive to Bedford to race in one of Kenny Palmer's ultra-fun MTBCross races.
Now it's off to Lowes again...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

RACE REPORT - Urban Cross at Ix

Supermoto. Have you seen it? Motocross bikes with street tires barreling around a short course made up of both pavement and dirt. Now, image doing that on bicycles...less the jumps. That was Urban Cross at Ix in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

I've never seen so many turns crammed into such a small space in my life. It must have taken a drunken sailor with a degree in geometry to lay this course out. But don't misunderstand what I'm saying; it was an absolute blast!

My race started with 38 other racers (all with gears) gunning for position into the first bottleneck turn and up a flight of steep, soul-crushing stairs. I decided to hang at the back of the pack since I wasn't sure how things would go for me as this was my first cyclocross race on a singlespeed. That turned out to be good call. I passed at least 5 crashed racers in the first 3 minutes of our 40 minute torture test.

The course was good for my style of riding. Lots of technical off-camber turns, steep grunts and straight aways that required good speed and power. I quickly realized that the 36x18 gearing I was running was just about perfect for this course. I was catching people on the climbs and keeping a good pace on the flat sections.

If I've learned only one thing this season, it's how to suffer. I don't mean "ouch, this hurts" kind of suffering, I mean drool and inhumane self-inflicted punishment to the point of not being able to form complete sentences type of suffering. I mean 40 minutes of carrying a car on your back type of suffering. The switch in my brain can turn it off - well, sort of. I know I'm suffering when I'm out there. I know that I shouldn't be going this hard. I know my legs are being ripped from my torso. It's almost too much to bear. But I flip that switch and I keep pushing harder and harder...past the point that I think I can go. It's impossible to explain, unless you've been there. What I'm trying to say is that I can do more than I thought I could.
Remember the scene in The Matrix where Neo witnesses Morphious jump hundreds of feet from one building to the next? I have been watching other racers like Yenski go faster than should be humanly possible. I didn't think anyone could push themselves that hard, but now I'm starting to believe. But most of all, I'm starting to believe that I can too. Now it's just a matter of doing more of it along with building a better base next year and I will pass the next plateau.

So back to the race...I let everyone go so I wouldn't crash early. My strategy worked and I was able to work my way into the top 20. I made some serious deposits in the pain bank and passed several more, catching up to a group of three on the last lap. The four of us were separated by less than 30 feet going into the final quarter mile when the guy right in front of me bobbled slightly. Neither of us crashed, but I had to brake hard to avoid a collision. The two other riders opened about 100 foot gap to the guy in front of me, and I was about 20 feet off his wheel. I sprinted to the point of making some seriously disturbing noises to catch him right at the line, but he beat me by less than 6 inches. The 11th and 12th place finishers were less than 15 feet from us at the end. So, I missed a top ten by about 15 seconds after starting dead last. Yea, I'm very happy with that.

Now, with tons of enthusiasm and a clean shave (bye-bye to the mountain man look) I head into this weekend's Tech Cross races with high hopes of pushing myself past my limits yet again, and having fun racing my bike.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Rig lives!

Pulled together parts and pieces. Less than 18 lbs worth. Raced for the experience and for upgrade points so I can race against people who will bury me next season. I was the only mountain bike in my race. I was one of two singlespeeds at the entire event. 36x18. 14th place out of 40. Full race report coming soon.

Revelation: I really need to shave. I look older than dirt!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


At one time or another, we all get what we deserve. What goes around, comes around. Karma. Devine intervention. S#!t happens.

A few weeks back, I set out for a couple hours of skinny-tire tranquility. The unceasing 20 mph wind broke my spirit early into the ride. I was pedaling backward. I felt like poop, and wasn't happy about the way I was riding at all. The wind simply added to the bad taste in my mouth that this ride was giving me.

As I pushed further into the ride, my mood deteriorated further. I was waiting for that point when you push through feeling bad into feeling OK. It never came. Usually after about an hour, I loosen up and just enjoy being on my bike. Not happening. I was getting past being in a bad mood, and just getting downright mad.

I got to the far point of my ride and was ready to just bag the whole thing. I could stop and call Pookie to come get me. It wouldn't even hurt my ego at this point. My mental state was not interested in riding my bicycle today and my legs were not willing to do anything to help.

Just when I hit mental rock-bottom, I reached the area where I knew the wind would be changing direction - and it did. I was now being pushed home at 25mph by a glorious tailwind. I could soft pedal back to Roanoke and forget this ride ever happened. My mood lifted. I was alive again. Nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing. I began to whistle.

I approached a red light, started slowing and took my rightful place in the center of the right lane (on the four-lane section of West Main Street) where I settled into my normal track-stand. Behind me I could hear the approaching rumble of a big ol' something-or-another. The engine revved. Then it revved louder as to alert me that I was in the way and needed to move. I continued my track-stand waiting for a green light. When it changed, I accelerated to a tail-wind aided 20mph fairly quickly. The truck sounded like it was going to run me down from behind. West Main has two lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle, so I felt no need to move to the outside of the white line to let Bigfoot squeeze through. I held my line. (I ride about a foot to the LEFT of the white line to avoid being buzzed by cars. If you ride too far to the right, drivers tend to buzz pretty close when passing you)

As I continued, the truck got louder and more aggressively stomped on the gas. I held my line. When the line of cars in the left lane passed me, he finally moved into the passing lane and moved on by. All the while spouting some gibberish about owning the road and spandex...
My normal cheery self would have laid into him with both barrels. I don't care how big your truck is, you don't berate someone just because they're doing something that you have no clue about and never will. But my day and mood had already been to the depths of crappiness and back, and this moron wasn't gonna pee on my sunshine.I ignored him and kept riding. He sped by me and moved back into the right lane.

Not 30 seconds later, I saw the truck slow to a crawl directly ahead. "Oh crap, what's he gonna do?" You hear horror stories of biker-motorist conflicts taken to the extreme. I didn't want any parts of it. I slowed slightly, then started to notice something odd. Seems that Junior's big ol' truck was a big ol' P.O.S.

Karma works in strange ways. The left rear axle, along with both rear wheels on the big dually, had separated themselves from the rear differential. The wheels had fallen off. No joke. The once mighty bicyclist-eating behemoth was now dead in the water. The two left side rear wheels were sitting upright in the middle of the left lane. Junior was sitting in the driver's seat looking like a giant doofus. As I approached I thought of spouting off about P.O.S. trucks and their P.O.S. owners, but then I thought of Karma. He already got his by being a jerk and trying to intimidate a 145 lb cyclist with a 2 ton truck.

I just rode by him like he wasn't there. Well, I may have chuckled just a tiny bit.