31 March 2009

Music to your speakers

Thought we'd try out a fun, new project. Currently set up to autoplay; we can turn this off.
Tracks 1-5: mcc
Tracks 6-7: bacon
Tracks 8-12: hawkeye


I am now the proud owner of…

Last Wednesday, I went to a car lot in town to buy a Saab 9-5 Wagon.  Those of you who know me know how I feel about Saabs.  Those of you who ride are familiar with the pitter-pattering that a nice wagon inspires in the hearts of cyclists.  I had been looking at this particular wagon for a few months; I knew what it was worth and how much I was willing to fork over in order to bring it home.  So, I stopped at the bank on the way home from school to withdraw money orders for the amount I wanted to offer.  Everyone knows cash speaks to car dealers – especially at the end of the month.  What no one knows is that printers don’t speak, they shout.

Long story short – I test drove the car, made my offer, handed over my money orders, filled out necessary paperwork, and then waited for a receipt.  And waited.  And waited.  After spending a total of three hours at the car lot, the manager/owner/resident jerk decided that the failure of the printer to spit out the receipt was an indication that he should not sell this wagon to me.  “Actually, I am going to have to pass on your offer.  I think the printer is trying to tell me something.  Sorry.  Have a good night,” were his next words.  Seriously?  I grabbed my money orders right out of his hand and marched out.  So, needless to say, I am NOT the proud new owner of a Saab 9-5 Wagon.  Whatever.  We just got a new printer at the Depot; maybe we should start letting it make our business decisions, too.

Aaron and I then went out of town for the weekend, which warrants a few posts of its own, and when we got back yesterday afternoon, this is what I found:

Address Photo

Yeah.  Molly Cameron sends me mail. – Okay, sent me mail, but that’s not to say there won’t be more in the future.

If you’ll notice, the label is handwritten.  No need for pesky printers to get in the way here. 

What’s inside, you ask?  Ooooh… a specimen far rarer and more beautiful than any Saab Wagon. 

September can’t come soon enough.

20 March 2009

With Spring Brings Green

Springtime yields changes and developments in many aspects of nature and life. The budding trees finally starting to show their blossoms, and the flowers poking their heads out of the earth again can just make you smile. Green is the traditional colour of spring, with nearly all plant life turning their own shade of the hue. It may be a coincidence, but spring brings green to cycling as well. With spring conditions in Northern Europe being known for the possibility of rain and mud, but also for hot temperatures with dry and dusty conditions. The cobbled classics which remain my favourite races of the season will take in these epic conditions, and many riders will do so on a special set of tyres. Those tyres are very well known amongst the PRO ranks, and have been used for nearly 30 years. Francesco Moser won on them at Paris-Roubaix in 1978 to begin his death-grip on the race for three consecutive years. With the list of Roubaix winners on these tyres, you begin to wonder if they have something up their sleeves. Moser, Duclos-Lasalle, Tchmil, Museeuww, Big Maggy, and Stuey O'Grady make up a small list of those who embrace the Green.

The Pave's are legendary in ride and grip. They have a deep file tread, supple ride, and fabulous grip in dirt and gravel. They are one of my favourite tyres and I would kill for tan sidewalls again, but for now the trademark green will have to do. I treasure the time of year when they get to come out again. They stay inside and away from the light from summer until spring finally pokes it's head around the corner. Yesterday was their first showing of the season. I threw them on Kermit, my trusty Gunnar Crosshairs, that I love dearly. We embarked on my cobbled, and mud-covered loop that I enjoy in the spring. It showcases the tyres abilities to soak up the cobbles, grip on the dirt, and keep you upright in the mud. I dream of riding real cobbled roads, and suffering in Northern Europe on the same roads and conditions that PRO's subject themselves to each and every year. Many cyclists dream of billard table smooth roads, but I seek out the dirt, the gravel, the cobbled, the neglected roads that make every meter a challenge.

I invite everyone to find a set of the Pave's, mount them for the spring, and revel in the extraordinary grip and the ability to ride every rough road they skip with their skinny tyres, and to throw themselves down that cobbled alley that they have always eyed but never attempted.

So spring brings Green, embrace it.

15 March 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Blogs

Stay tuned, folks.  We are doing some spring cleaning!

11 March 2009

First Test

This weekend marks the first test of my season. Its' a rolling circuit race that takes place at Long Run Park, here in Louisville. I've scouted the course, and it looks to suit me quite well. As mentioned it is rolling, and only has one climb.

I could have had my first test last night, since it was the first of a season's worth of Tuesday Night Worlds. I decided to bow out of that first night. Instead of a quality hard session full of tempo riding, its a high-paced showing of everyone's legs from the training that has filled their off-season. Its not exactly the effort I needed, and is populated by riders that I can do without. Cycling is not just a sport, but rather a complex community that thrives on competition and camaraderie. That camaraderie is unknown here in Louisville. Rides don't start with the chatter of how one's family is doing, or what their winter free time held; but simply with talk of Vo2 max tests, average power, training intervals, and just random information that is hollow and impersonal. I train nearly all year long, and do so with a power meter, but that isn't how I compare and judge others. I have struggled at times to fit into groups throughout my life because I don't fall into the general chest-thumping behaviour that exists in sport. It has frustrated me for a long time, because the beauty of sport and competition has been lost by many. I tend to distance myself from this and the people; to some it seems cold and unfriendly. I just choose to stick to my path, and if others parallel my path, they are let in to what I have to share.

Passion drives sport, and sport demands passion to become successful. I have a few friends that I ride with that ride with that passion. I choose to only ride with those who get it, otherwise they are distracting me from my trip. Those that I ride with range from new competitors that still find the joy, to riders that have hundreds of thousands of miles in their legs from a lifetime of "getting it."

Mary is one that truly enjoy riding with because she has a fierce competitive spirit to the degree that even when suffering with horrible allergies, does whatever she can to do her best. Ask her about day three in Cincinatti. Her first race was one that I won't forget. It was a pseudo-'cross race at a KOA campground in Indiana. She had no idea what to do, but she toed the line anyways. The race started with a Le-Mans style start, and Mary took it upon herself to somersalt down the hill instead of running it. She picked herself up and made it to her bike. The race continued, and unbeknownst to Mary, she had won. She thought that she had one more lap, and was drilling it. She did an entire extra lap faster than those before it, just to push herself more. She crossed the line in disbelief that she had won, and a little frustrated that she did an extra lap. Her only competitor in her class, finished a long ways back, and launched a rivalry that still exists today. It can barely be called a rivalry, mainly because Mary and I are the only ones that know of it. So, Mary became the "Indiana State Cyclocross Champion of the World" as she named it. She understood what cycling is that day.

Cycling is a personal development and journey to find one's self, and to discover the depths of beauty that lie within a ride. The riders that find themselves, whether through competition or alone out on the road, have truly won. I continue to ride for escape, adventure, and discovery, and I encourage all of you to do so.

05 March 2009

He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear Takes in all beauty with an easy span...

With more spring-like conditions as of late, I've finally been able to get out on rides longer than a couple hours, also without being layered to the point of suffocation. I would trade the most beautiful days in the summer for 45-65 degrees all year long. That is my comfort zone, and I revel in those days where your ride may start a little chilly, warming only slightly, and maybe cooling off again by the time your done. This is really the only time of the year when I get to do my long rides. The rides that clear my head, but at the same time make my imagination soar. My latest fun purchase was a digital voice recorder. I feel like tacky journalist in a bad movie with it, but its the only way for me to capture my thoughts out on a ride. Until now, I just had to cross my fingers and try to remember all of it. I've had some marvelous ideas, and crucial discoveries about myself on my bike, and now I can hang on to those.

Its this time of year that I also find the most beauty in my surroundings. Some people need the trees to be full of colour and life, but I find that the landscape is at it's most distilled and honest at this point. There isn't any hiding the true appearance and character that sometimes gets lost with the coverage of leaves. Granted, I do love the fall, but more and more, I feel drawn to the weather that makes you suffer, and that leaves a mark on you. Everyone knows those rides, the ones that make you feel like you left part of yourself out on the road. The ride took something from you, and you're better because of it.

When I get asked about who the greatest cyclists were, I never think of the glamourous, showy cyclists of the Giro and Tour. I look to the workhorses that race in every Spring Classic that they could get into. The hollow faces, and the look of complete destruction that shows in each of these hardmen. These riders left everything out there, and the road has attacked them with anything it could. I look to these rides because I like to hurt; I like to feel a pain that I'm inflicting.

I've been drawing up a road schedule as of late, with the notion of racing quite a bit. I've got a local Spring Classic series that should be some good competition, but it also is a venue for me to make others hurt. Thats one reason why I bother to toe the line. I have that urge to hurt people on a bike; to inflict pain by burying them so deep that they can't see straight. I can do it to myself, and have now for a few years. Back in my messenger days, when I would sprint through traffic, I would go hard enough that my legs would swell so bad after work that I could sometimes hardly walk. That hurt was what i needed to feel, and what I wanted. It was something other than the pain and hurt that other aspects of my life brought me.

I've scouted out some of the courses, mapped them with my Garmin, and toyed with some setup changes. My power is good, my legs feel good, that burning is there, and that is ultimately what counts for me. For now, I'm stuck in the 4/5 races, but I hope to move out soon. I know that I can inflict pain in those races, but I do like the pain from getting beat up from faster folks. So, my big goal is to get to 2 status, but I would settle on being a race winner in the 3 field. Its a high bar to set, but thats what I need. I need to feel like I'm buried and in over my head. Thats how I felt at nearly every UCI event this year. It was so intimidating, that I drew some energy from just being scared. I liken it to being cornered; the only way out is to swing.

For the first part of this season, I look to be the one in the corner, and later to do my fair share of swinging.