Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is my Niner One 9, which is now effectively scrap metal. No warranty = no more Niner.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Lance's head is huge. Like a big giant alien head. I measured it. It's almost nine inches ear to ear. If you speak metric, that's 228.6 mm. Huge.

Normal, non-alien heads are somewhere between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 inches. My head is normal in dimension, but obviously not in operation or content.

The giant alien-like Lance head is so big it scares my dog. To prove my point, the airport just called me and told me I'd need to remove the giant Lance head from the living level of my house as it's causing excessive radar ground clutter.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Arcadia pictures

Hello again, old friend.

Dogs have a great memory. Our pooch Gretta remembers where she is when we get within a couple miles of my folks house in Pennsylvania - and that's 350 miles from home!

Around two years ago, a few of us were riding in the outstanding Arcadia area, about 35 miles north of the home base here in Roanoke, VA. At the base of a colossal eight mile climb we were greeted by the friendliest golden retriever you've ever seen. His name was Baden. As we pulled away from his house we assumed that he would turn around a few hundred yards up the fire road climb and go home. He didn't. He stayed with us all day. We eventually had to call his owners to come rescue him. They did, and we parted ways - Baden back to his home and us on the remainder of our epic MTB ride.

This past Saturday, Adam, Pookie and I decided to do the same route that was taken a couple years back when we met Baden. We rolled through the first few miles of forest road to the base of the giant climb and sure enough, Baden came bouncing down to meet us at the end of his driveway. I called him by name and his "I'm protecting my turf" bark turned into "Hey, I remember you!" tail-wagging. It was really cool. As the three of us stood there talking to him, he kept taking a few steps toward the climb as if to say "let's roll dudes". I would have loved to have had him along for the ride, but I remember how trashed he was after the last ordeal.

After chasing him around for a few minutes after he stole Pookie's Team El Toreo vest, we decided that I'd ride up the driveway to his house to deposit him to his owners. We didn't want him to get lost if he decided to venture home on his own, or chase a deer or other wild creature.

I could tell our old friend was disappointed that he didn't get to follow us this time. I'm sure I would be too if I didn't get to ride in awesome Arcadia!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trail furniture

I wish more trails had big rocks to ride over.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stronger, faster?

This has been a winter of changes. As many of you know, it's good-bye gym and hello P90X. That's a change I've really enjoyed. I especially like all the variety: core one day, arms the next, plyometrics the next, then yoga...the program holds your interest because it never gets monotonous.

I've done more core work than ever before. I even almost have a six pack. My legs have more strength and muscular endurance. Even my back feels stronger.

What has changed the most however are my arms. I didn't think much of it until Pookie exclaimed "holy crap" during one of our recent workouts. (Holy crap in a good way. Like a"Holy crap you have some guns, sweetie" kinda good way.)I'm a bit worried about dragging this extra muscle weight up and over the mountains when race season starts though.

Which brings me to today's million dollar question: Does a strong upper body make you a faster single speeder?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Excuse removal ride

9am, 4 degrees. Hey, it was above zero!

Bibs and a long sleeved Craft baselayer...

...followed by leg warmers.

Woolies to keep the toes toasty!

How about another layer on the legs?

On goes the light fleece team jersey.

Thick, fleece lined booties were a necessity!

Two more layers on top!

As I ventured out, signs of how wickedly cold it really was were everywhere.

In the 11+ years I've lived in Roanoke, I've never seen the Roanoke river look like this!

The geese sure didn't seem to mind!

I encountered several stream crossings that were solid ice.

I would have been happy to get an hour and a half ride under my belt in such cold conditions. I ended up with three hours and fifteen minutes, and lived to tell about it. It was a mental thing for me. Now for the rest of the winter, if it's more than 4 degrees outside, I know it's not too cold to get a long ride in. That excuse is dead.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dungeon vs Teeth-Breaking Cold

Trainer rides suck.

15 degrees and 25mph wind sucks more.

This week's Thursday night ride looked different than it ever has before. Pookie, Laura & I decided to do a time trial. Up go the trainers and in pops the CTS training DVD.

I have to admit, Chris Carmichael is one boring dude to listen to for an hour. Even though the workout varied in intensity, his monotone-ness almost put me to sleep.

Fortunately, the sound of our trainers whirring during the three 5 minute intervals drown out the sound of his voice. If I'm going to have someone yell at me to dig deeper during a workout, I'd like them to at least pretend to be intense.

Oh well. We got through it and I have to say that for January, my fitness is better than I expected. I have a monumental task ahead of me this season and have set lofty goals for myself. On nights like this when real riding isn't an option I find myself making up ways to get a workout in, where in the past I would have just said "It's too cold" and watched TV.

It's also better when you have other cyclists suffering on their trainer next to you. The three of us had our own little spin class. It was nice to do something different. It was nice to be inside on a night like this. And above all, it was nice when we were finished and could turn Chris Carmichael off.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Year ago today

1/14/08 - Polar Bear CX, Davidson, NC

It was way too early to be racing, but still fun in a beat-yourself-in-the-head-with-a-shovel kind of way.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Question of the day:

Do you think the folks that work for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wear Dopers Suck socks when they ride?

My neighbor's cat likes to get high

I'm a dog person. So is Pookie. Good thing because she's allergic to kitties. Despite all that, we've grown to really like our neighbor's two cats. We have no idea what their names are so we use Gray and Black. They respond to those names like a cat responds to almost any name a human calls them - by ignoring us. Both are friendly enough, as cats go. They don't get any attention from their owner, so I think we're about the only ones who talk to them at all.

Anyway, the point to all this is that they are entertaining. Gray decided to climb our tree to better survey his domain. He hung out there for 15 or 20 minutes, then he went back to his normal yard patrol.

It's like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom around here sometimes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why riding from my house to Mill Mountain and back is so cool:

1. Half-pipe hounds

2. Lumberjack friends

3. Leaves

4. Switchbacks

5. Helicopters


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Helmet Head Olympics

Gold medal!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Speed looks different

This is Lance. (Well Duh!) This is actually the post-7-tour-victories-working-out-at-the gym-every-day Lance. When he races in this year's Tour, you can bet he'll be alot less muscular. Regardless, he's always been ripped, and fast.
This is Gunnar. I would love to be 3/4 as fast as Gunnar. And to top it off, he is in no way, shape or form an arrogant ass. But, he has always been, and still is, wicked fast.

So my question to you, fine blog readers is this: What does fast look like? Does it look more like Lance, or does it look more like Gunnar?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Some of you may already know, but I have a thing for airplanes. In particular WWII fighter planes. I am pretty much convinced that I was a fighter pilot in a previous life and flew a North American Aviation P-51 mustang - just like this one. (Only bigger and a lot faster)
So when I saw this piece of bike jewelry, I knew I had to have one! I'm off to Amazon to do some shopping!!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Antiques Road Show

Are you a fan? When I channel-surf and stumble on Antiques Roadshow, I gotta stop and watch it. Who'd have ever thunk it? That old ugly wooden ladder-back chair that belonged to you great uncle Chuck is worth thirty grand. Large!

Makes me wish I'd held on to more of the stuff I had growing up as a kid. Like my Hutch BMX bike. I had a chance some years ago to buy an early 80's Kuwahara like this one, but passed it up. I wasn't into "little bikes" anymore. Moron.

Have you seen how much vintage BMX bikes are bringing on ebay? I'm kicking myself right now as you read this...and I'm never getting rid of anything again. Ever.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Plyometrics, what are you running for?

January is always good at telling me if what I did in the off-season has worked or not. For the last several years I've hit the gym a few days a week and done cycling-specific weight training routines that focused on, you guessed it, leg strength. Yep, it's important in cycling, but it's not the end all and be all. If leg strength was everything, power lifters would be the fastest cyclists, right?

I've changed things up a few time, not knowing what I was doing really, just to add some variety through the winter months. I've tried running, both on the treadmill and on the trails, with bad results. Alot of other cyclists I know run in the off-season and reap rewards for it. For whatever reason, I don't run well. I'm not slow, in fact I can move along pretty well. But, I HATE running. It doesn't feel right to me. My feet hurt, my toes hurt, my shins hurt, my hips hurt. It all hurts.

So basically here's the deal: I was really not looking forward to November and December because I wasn't excited about going to the gym, and I wasn't going to force myself into doing something I hated.

So, one night in October I wake up on the couch and see this infomercial. (Don't laugh) It looks different from the other fitness-related pitches I've seen before. Having been an athlete in one form or another for most of my life, I can tell if the gadget/program/gimmick that they are selling will actually work or not in a basic sense. (I really don't think you can use a little plastic seat that you spin from side to side on to get totally ripped in 30 days).

Yep this was different. It was called P90X. What was so different? It looked hard. Really hard. And the folks they interviewed who had achieved results kept saying that it was hard. You don't hear that in any of these infomercials.

"Lose 100 pounds in 2 days just by reading this book!"

"Become a millionaire tomorrow by doing nothing!"

"Climb Mount Everest from the comfort of your own home!"

Do nothing = get nothing. Some people fall for the promises of great results with no effort, but I know better.

So when I saw P90X and how difficult it was, I started doing a little on-line research and found that most folks who actually do what's in the program get results. I also liked that I heard the word "variety" alot. So, I went to Earth's General Store (uh, ebay) and found a complete set of 13 DVDs and ordered it up.

Pookie and I decided to try the Plyometrics DVD first. My God! It was hard. And some of the workouts are impossible until you do them a few times. (The 16 minute Ab-Ripper X is not humanly possible, but I love it!)

So, we started doing the various P90X workouts about 4-5 days a week in place of going to the gym or running. I've fallen in love with the plyometrics workout.

While the P90X DVDs include plyometrics, I've also found many books on the subject, and a few plyo-specific DVDs as well. If you've played any explosive-movement sports (football, basketball, hockey), I'm sure you're already familiar with these exercises - also referred to as "jump training". I can tell you with 100% certainty now that I've been back on the bike a few times that plyo has a direct effect on cycling. Some of the other workouts are beneficial too, but I definitely recommend getting some sort of plyo in your off-season or early-season routine.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Eve - New Year's Day

Aaron is the new corporate spokesman for Cobra. There tag line: "You're not drunk until you have to hold onto the grass to keep from falling off the Earth."

Aaron and Hillary's pug Sculley stole my camera and snapped a few shots before I could wrestle it out of his paws.


What are you looking at, dammit?!

Aaron Van Halen

On the way to the New Year's Ride at Carvin's Cove:
Ron makes farting noises under both armpits.

Ready, set, go!! Oh, wait...I wasn't ready. Sorry.
Ok, set, goooo!! Wait, wait, wait..I wasn't ready again. Sorry.
Ok, gooooooo! Uh, sorry. Can we try again.
Just take the picture and we'll move on.

Bell's new mouthguard/helmet retention system...

...which obviously wouldn't work for riders of all dental conditions.

The early 90's called, they want their helmet cover back.

Looks good, huh? She didn't make it and I'm gonna get my @ss whooped for telling you.

Near the end of the singletrack that we visited on another successful Jan 1 ride.