Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Second verse, same as the first

(Photo by kona girl, touched by GIMP)

Note to self: cross bikes are not to be used in mountain bike races, ever.

I raced at Wakefield today on my cyclocross bike. I was slow as hell (probably a whole 2-3 minutes slower than last week) but I had fun, lot's of it. I had it all planned out. I would try to get into the top ten off the start, blow myself up running up the gravel road climb, and hang on for dear life for the rest of the race. Just maybe I could beat my time last week. Well it didn't quite work out that way. 5 seconds into the race, my skinny tires start sliding out. I lock handlebars with someone and hit the gravel hard. I manage to take out about 4 riders behind me and cause a major traffic jam. As I lay there hoping no one would run over me, I remember thinking, "Gee, my first pile up. Cool!" I get up, but the surge of adrenaline has me drained. I have nothing left in my legs to run up the hill, so I manage a pathetic jog/walk. By this time the entire singlespeed class is way ahead of me. I get to the top of the hill dead last as someone yells, "cyclocross rules!" Bwaahahhaaahaaa!

I manage to catch 3 or 4 riders, but that's it. After the first lap, both my hands go numb (yup, I left my gloves in the car). The skinny tires and the "aerodynamic" riding position amplify every bump on the trail. I have to ease up. I suddenly realize that even though the cross bike felt good for a casual ride, racing is an entirely different beast. I try my best, but by the end of the second lap I realize that I'm not going to catch my mid-pack homies from last week: Chunk, Butch, Foley, Stu, and my teammates Blake and Todd. Somewhere along the way I pass Erin, who has pulled off the trail to fix a flat. He's also riding singlespeed cross. For the rest of the race I'm looking over my shoulder for him, thinking he's gonna pass me any minute. That's my only motivation to ride faster. I can feel the gu that I downed coming back up my throat. I manage to hold off heaving on the trail and finish up the race without further incident. Butch, Stu, and Foley, I heard later, sprinted for the finish. Foley is on fire. He's easily the most improved rider this season. If I can keep him in sight for one lap at the next race, I'll consider it a personal victory.

The race ends only about an hour before the sky opens up and rain starts pouring down. I think I'll take a break from racing for awhile, say for about two weeks? I'll recharge by spending the long weekend at Jim Thorpe, biking, being a tourist, and hanging out with friends, family, and that rickyd fella. Then I'll dust off the cross bike for the next race, or maybe not.

Epilogue: I somehow got registered in the Sport class even though I raced Singlespeed (last minute shuffle). The official results show me as DNF in Sport, but in reality I think I was 21st (AGAIN! Waahoo!) in the singlespeed class.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Graduation Day

My kid graduated from preschool today and I'm a proud parent. Since she goes to the Smithsonian, they made a temporary exhibit out of all the kids' art. This is one of Sagada's contributions:

I want to be a cowgirl. You might think I have a pink unicorn because of the horn but it's really a pink horse.

Catchy title. Sorta like Neil Young meets Strawberry Shortcake. The next one is her "3D sculpture"

She claims it's a horse.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Suffering at WaW05

I love racing. Racing is like ripping out your entrails and holding them up for everyone to see exactly what you're made of. It cuts through all the posturing, trash talking (and trash talking your friends is half the fun of racing!) , zillions of lame excuses, and shows how fast you really are-- like it or not. And lately for me, not.

If my team's win at Lodi last month was my personal high point, then my last two races have got to be among my lows. The 24 hours of Big Bear was fun and I couldn't have asked for better teammates. But regardless of my lame mechanical problems/excuses, I just wasn't "in the zone." My 3rd lap (with no mechanical problems to blame) showed it. Same goes for the first Wednesdays at Wakefield race yesterday where I placed 21 out of 34 (yup, 34 singlespeeders - we're getting BIG!). I guess I've been slacking on training since Lodi. I like to call it my "extended taper" period, but really it's just that I didn't go out and ride like I used to.

US Postal rides again! Rickyd, me, Stoner, Erin.
(Photo by Joe Foley)

I'm tired of all the excuses. People really don't care about them. I certainly don't. I have a ton of respect for the guys and gals who do badly at a race and just say, "yeah man, I sucked" end of story. In racing, nothing matters except the time on the scoreboard and all the fun you have eviscerating yourself on the course trying to keep up with your friends.

So what now? I guess I'll just get back on the bike and start hammering out the miles. Hopefully I'll get my legs and lungs back in time for the big races at the end of the season.

To end on a positive note: my friends are getting hella fast! At the last WaW, Rickyd placed 7th out of 34 (just behind EvanF), Butch kicked my arse to the curb, DT is now dooking it out on his fixie against the Sport class, and Foley is one slim aerodynamic machine (sans beard). Stoner put in some great laps at Big Bear, and Erin, well I don't see how anyone can get much faster than that. And speaking of fast, don't get me started bout my teammates over at the Bike Lane, but that's a whole 'nother post!

Peace and Love.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

rRRRAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! (part 3)

What's this?!?! Another singlespeeder in the family?! Can I possibly save any more souls??

Gina had been hinting (not so subtley) that she was ready to accept the faith. So after I spotted this bike in the MORE classifieds I didn't think twice. An 05 Kona Unit with a P2 rigid fork. Picked it up the next day, and after some minor tweaking it was ready to rock. With good enough standover and a longish top tube, the Kona fits her much better than her old bike. She took the bike to Wakefield the other night for it's maiden voyage while I took the kid for a spin on the fireroads. A while later, Gina came back smiling. "That was fast," she says.

I wouldn't see just how fast until a few days later when we went to Cedarville for the kiddo's class camping trip. Cedarville is the perfect place to break in a first-time singlespeeder. The trail is smooth, fast, and twisty, with enough short rooty uphills to keep my climbing addiction in check. It's not often that Gina and I get to ride together, so when our friends Rick and Deb volunteered to take the kids on a nature hike, we shot off to the trailhead like a Roadrunner cartoon.

I always love riding with Gina, but this time something was different. It didn't take me long to realize what it was. It was the sound of my old clunky freewheel that used to adorn my first singlespeed. Except this time it was on Gina's bike, and even on the climbs, it was constantly dogging me from only a few yards behind. "Holy bat-crap," I think to myself as the clouds part and the sunbeams illuminate the rider behind me, "I'm riding too slow for her." Ok, no more taking it easy. I open it up to a decent pace and we spend the rest of the ride ripping through 12 miles of singletrack, together.

So what's better than a soulmate that shares all of your passions? How about one that doesn't keep you waiting.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Shadow people

You know the ones. They drift in and out of your routine and sometimes you might even say "hi" to one, but that's about all. They probably all have their own unique, even remarkable stories, but you'd never know. To you they exist just as milestones to mark your passing. Here are a few of them in my life:

The Grim Reaper: There's a bustop that I drive by everyday when I go to work. Every time I'm running late, he is there. In a suit like a mortician's with the straight posture to match. When I see him, I know I'm running late. I wonder if he notices my silver Passat wagon (usually with bikes on top). I wonder if he has a name for me.

Oscar: Every morning between 7:45 and 8:15 Oscar comes walking down the street with his owner. When I first moved into my neighborhood I knew the pets before I knew their owners. There was Max the Collie, Midnight the Lab, Eddie (the cat), and Oscar the droopy-eared dog. It's sad that I don't even know Oscar's owner's name. One day I'll have to have a proper chat with him. So far, the only time I talked to him was when he stopped in front of my house while I was gardening. "Is that treehouse on your property?" he said, looking at the dilapidated-looking red shack in my back yard. "Yes it is," I said. And that was it.

Surly Girl: She rides a green Surly cross check, singlespeed. It might even be a fixie because I've never seen her coast. Madison St., in front of the American History Museum, usually around 5:30pm when I'm picking up my kid from school, she rides by-- unhurried but unshakeable in purpose, pedals turning in slow constant cadence, commuter bag on her shoulder.