Friday, January 28, 2005

Training Daze

So I finally got my training schedule together for the year. It's a bit late, but then again I don't have any high expectations for my first time using a training program. In fact, I only have one "A" race for the year and that's the SM100. Before, my "training" consisted of riding a lot and riding hard all the time. Now I'm learning that it's actually good to take it easy once in a while. Hmm, so it's good to be a slacker now and then... I can do that.

I bought a set of rollers the other day just because I can't stand the monotony of a regular stationary trainer. Riding rollers is like riding on ice. You have to keep alert. I zoned out once and almost took a dive into the couch (actually would not have been a bad idea). I'm getting used to them now so it's a bit easier and I can watch tv while I'm pedaling. Tonight I broke them out again and rode for an hour and a half while watching Super Size Me. Sunday I'm planning to go out for some long "zone 2" mileage. Compared to these dang rollers, the ice on the trails shouldn't be much of a problem. Gimme a holler if you're interested in coming along.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Ramblings on a plane

I'm flying back to DC from Albuquerque. It's 9PM. Suuposed to have 6"-10" of snow tomorrow and I can't wait. I'm bummed that I didn't get to ride while I was over there except for the 2 hours on the stationary bike in the hotel. To make that fun I had to pretend I was racing the guy next to me. Sad.

I've only been gone three days but I miss the wife and daugther terribly. She's growing up too fast (the kid, that is). People say she looks like her mother. I don't think so. But I'm just glad she doesn't look like me. I'd make for an ugly girl. A really ugly girl. This is what people tell me when I'm in drag every Halloween.

I've got the Carpenters playing on Gina's MP3 player, which I borrowed for this trip. Next up we have Sinatra, Billy Bragg, Cypress Hill, and Pixies.

Just got done reading fatmarc's awesome blog. While I've only had the honor of riding with him at ECNASSCU, I gotta say that my favorite thing about mountain biking is the people you meet. I would have never stayed with it if it weren't for:



Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A cold, lonely night

I drive into Wakefield Monday night for the MORE ride. With the formal ride leader out of commission for a while, I've kinda taken it upon myself to lead the ride just to keep it going. Usually attendance isn't that good, and tonight is no exception. Last week, the weather was beautiful and I had the biggest crowd I've seen on a Monday (4 riders and Charlie the dog). But tonight it's 19 degrees and I'm by myself. No problem, I spin off into the darkness. The trails are completely frozen and make for great riding. After 10 minutes I don't even notice the cold and it may as well be spring (well not really). I got this new heart rate monitor and lately I've been limited to wearing it around the house and checking my stats during various, err, activities. But tonight is my first off-road ride with it. I'm trying to stay in "zone 2" but it's darn near impossible on a singlespeed so I stop paying attention to it and just ride. I get in a good hour of riding in before my waterbottle and brakes become completely frozen, at which point thirst and safety concerns force me to stop. Later at home I indulge my sole guilty pleasure: I lock myself in my shop, download the HRM stats to my laptop, and let my geek self loose on the data...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A People's Artist



One of my favorite artists, Papo de Asis, died last week. To me, his paintings articulate better than words the conflicted history, culture, and hopes of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. Agree with his politics or not, he always spoke (and painted) from the heart, and that's how I'll remember him. I'm honored to have known him back when I lived in Los Angeles. Rest in peace, kasama.

Feels like the first time...

I've been taking a group of newbies out every weekend for the past 3 weeks and, for me, it's been like rediscovering biking all over again. The level of riding within the group is pretty consistent; most of them are older than me and haven't been on a bike in years. All of them (I think) have never seen singletrack. So showing these guys the tricks of the trade takes me back to the days when I used to throw on my sweats, jump on my $250 aluminum hardtail, and pedal out to Accotink to try to clear the cinder trail climb by the dam. And believe me, there were days when I could not.

For our first ride we rode pavement from south of DC to Bethesda along the Capitol Crescent Trail. About a 20 mile round trip-- very respectable for a first ride. They were pretty tired at the end and I was afraid I'd scared them away from biking, but to my surprise, they showed up again next week for more punishment. For our second time out we headed to Lake Accotink with an even bigger group of brave souls including some young 'uns. We stuck mostly to the cinder trail, but I did manage to sneak in some of the sinlgetrack behind the carousel and the switchback by the dam. I showed them how to go over some log piles which the kids thought were "cool". The third time out was more of the same but this time with an epiphany. One of the newbies, Fr. Steve (yup a priest, hence epiphany) managed to clear both the road climb by the dam and the swtichback climb up the singletrack. He was wiped out but obviously enjoying it. I was taken back about 3 years ago when clearing this same series of climbs was one of my "season goals."

After that ride, we headed out to buy these blossoming hammerheads some of their own gear (helmets, shorts, gloves, etc). My old aluminum hardtail is now in the possession of Fr. Steve (that's why I can skip church this Sunday), and Gina's old bike has gone to one of the young 'uns. Next week we have plans to go to Schaeffer Farms and I know the cold won't scare them away. I usually don't try to kill my friends, so it will be a while before they're ready for Gambrill-- but we're working on it.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Inauguration Day Blues

Just heard a couple of interesting things on NPR this morning regarding the Inauguration Day "festivities" and various groups complaining about not getting enough permits or real estate to host their activities. To paraphrase a representative from a local pro-Bu$h group, who I will not name in order to not give them any more publicity:
Groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. and ThinkPink have allied themselves with Saddam Hussein and the terrorists. Therefore, giving them permits is like giving Saddam and the terrorists access to the Capitol.
Uh, huh.

On another equally sad note, check out the inauguration packages some hotels are offering. When asked about whether hotels jack up prices during inaugruation week, one hotel representative (also on NPR) stated, "we're not price gouging, we're simply charging what the market will bear." Uh, huh.

Oh yeah, in the "wtf was he thinking" department...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Did a 75 mile road/towpath ride last Saturday. Three Joes, a Mark, and a Butch set out on a cold rainy morning from Roosevelt Island, just South of DC. Four fixed gear riders and a brave gearie, we headed West for Leesburg along the W&OD bike path. From Leesburg it's a right on South King St., on to Route 15 North, and then another right turn to White's Ferry. After the short boat ride across the Potomac ($1), it's 35 miles back to DC along the C&O canal towpath. It took us 2.5 hours to get from DC to Leesburg and (thanks to the muddy conditions on the C&O), 4 hours to get back to DC. I feel strong on the ride to Leesburg but as we hit the C&O, I hit "the wall." The ride back to DC is painful. My legs are cramping and my left knee feels messed up. I watch the lead riders slowly disappear far ahead of me. Luckily, they stop to regroup. After a rest stop about 15 miles from the end I get my second wind. I push hard to keep up with the leaders. About a mile from the end, with everyone else cooling down, I give it all I got. It's a pathetic effort, and no one bothers to chase me. It's cheap glory against a pack of much stronger riders who were taking it easy. Really stupid on my part since I do more damage to my knee. Oh well, I was never known to ride smart. After the ride, we grab some food and beer in Georgetown. I'm covered in mud, tired, smelly, and limping. Just the way it should be after a good road ride.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dog Day Night

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around..." went the song on the radio as I pulled into Wakefield parking lot last Tuesday night. A stark contrast to the easy, cool down ride I was planning for the night. I had chosen to ride my cyclocross bike just to make sure I would keep it nice and mellow. My, my how things can change...

As I pull into the lot I see Evan and Charlie (his dog) gearing up. Evan is one of the local hammerheads. "Oh please leave ahead of me..." I say to myself, thinking of how my poor legs will suffer if I ride with this guy. No such luck. In fact, he takes his time to wait for me. Damn. Well, if it's on, it's on. I get my stuff together and off we go. Woosh. I lose sight of him on the fireroad going down to the creek, but I can at least keep him in sight on the twistier parts of the trail. All this time, Charlie is running along with us. This dog is cool. When he's in front of me and he senses that he's slowing me down, he'll pull over and let me pass. As soon as I go by he's on my rear wheel giving chase. No complaining. Who could ask for a better riding partner?

As we head into the bowl area we run into Crashmore and Peter, who are putting on the official MORE Tuesday night ride. It was my original plan to hook up with these guys but I was late. No worries, Evan and I push on ahead of the group, this time with me in front. I throw caution to the wind and ride hard. My skinny-tire bike is handling much better than I thought it would. This encourages me to push harder. As we rail a series of turns and quick downhills, I start to feel it. That trance-like feeling that comes from riding at edge of your abilities. I'm in my happy place. I'm at peace with the trail. Everything's fine, just fine... WTF!! A branch in the front wheel sends me over the bars and into the ground, hard. Evan slams the brakes and avoids running me over. Charlie the trail dog looks on inquisitively. I slowly get up and check for missing body parts. Everything's ok except that I took a pedal to the back of the knee and I'm starting to hurt. Both of us needing a bit of a break (me more than Evan), we decide to join up with Peter's group for a melower ride back to the cars. As I pull out of the parking lot, that Talking Heads song creeps into my head again. It was a good ride.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Babelfish won't help

Ok boyz and grrls, I need to clean out the bike parts bin. I have a set of Salsa Bell Lap bars to give away to the first person who can give me the English translation of the squiggly stuff at the top of my blog. Good luck...

Hint: Google "baybayin", then go ask a tagalog speaker (but not me).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Crossing the Shed

"Cyclocross at the Shed, Ride Time: 3 - 3.5 hrs, Pace: non slacker speed," is what the MORE ride calendar said. How could I refuse? While cyclocross isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the Watershed, I had to try it. The night before the ride, I take my fixie road bike in her most stripped down form and dress her up for a little action in the rough. Off come the skinny road tires, moustache bars, and big chainring. On go the WTB dirt drops, rear brake, freewheel, small ring, and fat rubber. I wake up early next morning, throw the bike on the car, and head out to the nearest MickyD's for grub (a ritual for me before any long ride). I arrive at the Shed an hour later and see Crashmore, Chance, BobC, and a few others gearing up for a ride. One by one, the crossers show up. Out of the 6 of us on the ride, 4 are on cross bikes, 2 on mtbs. I'm the only dork on a singlespeed. Erin, the ride leader, is recovering from being sick and has opted to be a gearie for the day. The group looks fast and I start to worry about being able to keep up. So, hoping for some company at the back of the pack, I call up rickyd (heh heh). Turns out he's about 10 minutes away but this does me no good since he opts to do his own ride anyways. After the usual greetings and introductions, the ride is off. As advertised, we stick mostly to roads and fireroads with an occasional stretch of easy singletrack. Erin leads the charge on the first snaky downhill, steep, long, and twisty. At the bottom of the hill, my worst fear materializes- someone has flatted somewhere far back and we have to ride up what we just rode down. As we get into the thick of the climb, my fear of getting dropped by the gearies vanishes. From here on the ride is a series of long superfast downhills, long but gradual climbs, and twisting flat singletrack. The downhills had me hitting 35mph as I followed Erin, who was in his big gear and steadily pulling away. At these speeds, there is almost no time to react to the sudden appearance of potholes and rocks in the road. You just have to flex your ankles and hope that the tire bounce is enough to carry you over the obstacle. Lotsa fun. Eventually, we hit the big climb of the day, up Fishing Creek Rd. to Gambrill Park Rd. and back to the cars. It's long, but not too difficult. The climb up Hamburg Rd. would have been more of a challenge. Even though I was kinda bummed that Erin wasn't his usual monster self leaving death and destruction in his wake, it was a good ride all in all. I'm hoping to do more of this kind of riding in the winter months to come.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Fireworks by GIMP 2.0
Every new year's eve I try to avoid watching the ball drop over Time Square, and every new year's eve, I fail. This year we went to the First Night celebration in Alexandria to check out the local talent. Bands, magicians, folk singers, storytellers, face painters, Zydeco music, dancers, and a sprinkle of free-masonry (the fireworks finale would be held at the Masonic temple). We started off checking out singer/songster Pat Wictor at Union Station, then went to see a Zydeco band and a puppet show at the Masonic temple. Next, we wandered around town to catch some other acts, but we had to give up on the flamenco dancers and Irish jigsters because we couldn't get in the door with the huge crowd already there. Somewhere between venues Sagada falls asleep and cuts short our plans to watch the fireworks at midnight. We head back to the car and drive to a friend's house to spend the rest of 2004. As midnight rolls around, the tv inevitably goes on and the ball above Time Square again has me under its spell. Oh well, maybe next year. As the room breaks into spontaneous reditions of Aude Lang Syne (no one there knew the words, including me.), I think back to all the good and bad stuff that happened last year: making new friends and getting back in touch with old ones, finding long lost relatives just a few miles down the road, awesome bike rides, doing well at my first 12hr and 24hr races (thanks to my teammates!), teaching my kid how to read and solve math problems, and those pesky bees that sent me to the emergency room. All in all it was a good year for me, and with all the stuff going wrong in the world, I'm really thankful for that. Here's to peace in 2005.