Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Favorite Poem


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nite Riddin' Part II

I planned on doing an hour and half of riding this morning and didn't want to take the usual trip down McArthur Blvd, so I changed venue to the Rock Creek Park. Normally I leave the park for weekend rides or on the way back in, but this morning I thought I'd be adventurous.

I've been riding in the early morning hours for about a year or so but never have I been in such a dark place before. The park is in a ravine with cliffs on either side of it. It's like the countryside except it's in the middle of DC. It was just an area of the city where they couldn't build houses because the terrain was too steep so they turned it into a twisty and turning road that is closed to traffic some days of the week.

The natural lay of the land and the tall trees block out most of the light coming from the city, so it's pitch black most evenings. This morning was no exception. Even my helmet-mounted little lights were no match to the darkness. I'm sure it didn't hurt that I have taken to wearing orange tinted glasses for these rides. I tried going without sunglasses but ended up getting little pieces of junk in my eyes quite often that were annoying so I adopted the orange glasses.

It was an amazing ride, through this darkness. I'm looking back on it as if it was a dream. I might not have been too awake at the time so it could have been one. I'm looking for to the end of daylight savings time now and the reemergence of the sun for my rides. I typically ride for about an hour before sunrise. I'd like to get that changed so that I can go without the helmet light for a little while. Plus, it's darn cold at that time with the sun.

Curious thought of the day: Do we speak truth to power more often than power speaks to truth?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No I don't Want to Ride With YOU

This is my view on the order of priority of those people allowed on the roadways, each category has a quota and only if the category does not use it's quota would the next group have a chance to put some people on to the roads:

1. cyclists
2. pedestrians
3. buses drinking hardworking people to and from work
4. rollerbladers
5. people driving to and from work
6. everyone else except for soccer moms
7. buses in general
8. soccer moms
9. trucks
10. cabbies

The last group should never be allowed to be on the roadways unless its late at night and people need to get home from bars in my neighborhood then they'll magically appear and take you home. Otherwise, they are not allowed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Travel Bug

The last few days have been an interesting mix of interesting. What does that mean? I have no idea but sounded good in my head. I walked home from the metro a different way today, through the little dog park by my house. However, that's not what I was referring to. They (the powers that be) warned me that my section of the Dept of Justice travels more than any other section. . . I didn't believe them but now I know it's going to be true. My world tour for the next month is as follows:

Nov 8-11: Honolulu, HI
Nov 15-16: Troy, NY
Thanksgiving: Mom and Dad are coming here
Nov 27-28: Miami, FL
Dec. 4-8: Columbia, SC

Not bad for the frequent flyer miles huh? I'm thinking if I rack up enough of them I'll go some place warm and sunny. Maybe Detriot, MI. Ok, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, which right now are St. Louis Cardinal's Fans.

A new book of music arrived this week. I picked up a copy of sheet music for Dierks Bentley's CD "Modern Day Drifter." I'm going to figure out this thing one way or the other. It's one of those guitar/piano/vocal books, so the guitar chords are written small and above the vocal's treble, or at least that's what I think, tell me if I'm wrong Papa Smurf. I think I can actually play a few bar chords, look at me with the F and Dsus chords going on now. The tips of my fingers are numb from playing so I'll take a break from the excitement.

Wow how random are these thoughts.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In Defense of Byram

Having lived for a year in one of the most treasured spots of the South, I must rush to its defense. When I told my parents that I was going to move into an apartment in Byram, MS they were at first confused. Largely because the entire community was the size of my dormitory at KU and secondly because no one in my family had ever heard of it before. I think the latter is a result of the former but that's neither here nor there. After visiting Byram, my Mom remarked..."well atleast it's not Pearl."

After living in the metropolis of Byram, the bourgeoning burg if you may, I grew to love it. Everyone talks about Madison and Ridgeland and Brandon but no one gives Byram the credit its due. Therefore, as of today I am beginning the campaign to get Byram listed as one of the top ten towns in the United States. That's right, you better watch out Naperville...Byram is coming after you.

Growing up in the aforementioned Naperville, IL (currently the number two place to live in the US) I know a thing or two about what makes a city a great place to live. First things first, Byram needs to make a few modest improvments. I'd say start with turning the Jackson Dragway into the Byram Motor Speedway and hold a NASCar race there once a season would get Byram on the map. Second, someone has to bulldoze the trailers by the Pearl River in order to make way for the San Antonio-style (or Naperville-style if you may) Riverwalk complete with 5-star hotels and restuarants.

All these capital improvements will undoubtedly bring in big business, but Byram needs to stay close to its roots--the small town culture and easy lifestyle that makes it Mississippi's diamond in the rough. After the new ivy-league level college is built on the bluffs overlooking Lake Dockery, there needs to be area retained for just green space. A place for families to go to on a Sunday afternoon and picnic or fly kites. That's why I propose leveling the town of Jackson and returning it to the rolling hills and meadows that it once was.

All these things for starters should help to realize my dream. The aforementioned was just slightly satirical.

Caught in the Endless Hell of the Voice Mail Jungle

Probably the most annoying aspect of the modern world is the automated call directory. You know the one I'm talking about, the press 1 for this, 2 for that and eventually you need to give up and just press zero repetitively. I tried this trick recently and to my horror the creators had found a way to confound me even further. They replaced the zero feature on their answering system with a repeat key. So each time I pressed zero it just repeated the bloody message. I pressed zero so many times that the system eventually hung up on me.

So there I was pissed with no one to yell at except for the answering system which I am apparantly unable to crack. Finally, I got someone on the line. I tried to explain to this fine example of failed education that I was a government attorney authorized to practice in his Court but that the filing system was not allowing me to do so. He was so confused by my answers that I am not in the system, no I'm not licensed in his State, but that I was really a lawyer and yes the United States Attorney General did deem it fit that I practice before his Court.

Alas, he passed me on to another person and a new system of voice messages. I left a message for a new and hopefully more intelligent human being but I doubt I'll ever hear from them regarding this and will eventually find myself right back in the same tangled web of messages and options. Technology was supposed to make life more efficient, but I see this example of technology just makes the people we actually talk to on the phone dumber.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We Could be Heroes

Two months after arriving in the nations capital city I have caught my breath long enough to realize that it's been two months. In two months I have deposed a stripper, taken a boat ride on the Hudson, interviewed a law enforcement officer overlooking a bay in the Keys and talked opposing counsel into dismissing my client from an action.

This is not to mention the countless federal tax dollars I have spent on tasks that I can no longer justify to even myself. However, I'm healthy, happy and all around in good spirits, despite the two-time failure of my furniture company to deliver a couch I ordered in August. However, you know what they say-- third time is the charm.

DC is how I remember it was, for the most part. A lot has changed but the White House is still in the same place and DuPont Circle is impossible to navigate in anything but by bike. I just filled my gas tank up for the first time in two months, which utterly depressed me. I love public transportation, where else in the world can you get to see the wonders of modern society but please don't forget to bring a book as your fellow travellers are not comfortable with you staring at them.

My neighborhood is the greatest place in the world. There is so much life, color, noise, music etc... I never imagined such a vibrant place. I want to take it all in all the time, but sadly I have to go to work sometime. DC is home.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Nashville Star 2

I told you all that I was serious, now I can prove it:

Thanks to Papa Smurf's instructions (thank you by the way) I've been picking up my ability to play a little bit at a time. I'm thinking of picking up a new book of music that has some easy melodies. I've gone through the first set of callouses on my fingertips and I think things are getting better.

The best I've gotten so far was a compliment from my Mom who said "that sounds good . . . and I'm not saying that just because I'm your mother." Oh and it's only been in the 70s in Chicago. I went out on the town on Friday night and got a little crazy. I had two drinks before leaving so I was already socially inappropriate when I met my cousin's college friends. It only got worse from there.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nashville Star

I was really serious when I said I wanted to become a country star. So I went out and bought an accoustic guitar. I've learned a bunch of chords, but can someone please tell me how to work the whoel tablature thing.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jury Duty

So I was compelled to perform my civic duty today. I showed up at 9:45 and sat around till the late afternoon. There were three trials set for the day. All of them arrived at a settlement sometime after lunch. So a 180 jurors sat around for a full work day reading books, magazines and taking short naps. I wish there was a better way to do this, but I cannot offer a single suggestion.

I took a book from home to read today, "I owe Russia $1200" by Bob Hope. It was a book from my grandmother's library and it was an interesting read. I think it was written sometime in the late 60s and its view of the world was markedly different. In particular there was this section about Korea. It described South Korea as barely subsistant and agricultural. It described poverty and bleakness. Then it described the industrial north. Absolutely amazing how things have changed.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Stay is Over

I finally did it. I picked up and left Mississippi. I've taken a tremendously roundabout route but I'm back home in Chicago for much needed r&r and to restart my training schedule. We loaded up a u-haul with all my worldly possession and just set out east bound on I-40. Driving that u-haul had to be the most difficult and stressful drive of my life. I'm used to my little car that can weave in-and-out of traffic and is easy to manuever all over big cities, but not this truck. Driving it anywhere, but flat open road was tricky.

I'm now a homeowner as well. I signed my life away. I felt like a kid on his birthday. Everyone was just watching me open up my new present. However, this time I had to pay for my gift. It's strange, all I'm interested in doing right now is fixing the place up. I've found myself looking at different types of wood, paint, furniture etc... I went to an Ikea and I thought to myself that it's the adult version of Toys r' Us. I cannot wait to go to Home Depot and Loews. I've have all sorts of little projects in mind including re-doing the bathroom, adding closet and storage space and woodworking. I've crossed the line and don't know how to get back.

It's r&r time for me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Webster's Submissions

As the Cincinnati Kid has often said, I am a wordsmith. A recent hobby of mine has been to create obscure new words and phrases. I figure that if Shakespeare could basically craft the modern English language, than all of us lesser muses can at least take a stab at coming up with one or two new words. So the following are my submissions to the folks at Webster's Dictionary.

deadlinery: the act of using nit-picky reasoning and rationale to defeat or distract from otherwise meritorious statements or arguments.

saganize: taken from the author and scientist Carl Sagan. This is the act of taking extremely complicated and confusing ideas, subject matter or arguments and boiling them down into easily conveyable and understandable counterparts (something which Carl Sagan was a genius at doing).

soo: an emphasis word, something similar to the word "too", as in it's "soo cold."

Anyone else with some suggestions?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Evolution of [my] Legal Thinking

It's nearly August and in the mind of most American cyclist there are two things-- the national crit championships and where should I stay? For me it's super easy. I can stay with my folks and then ride the seven miles to the race. One of the ironies of life is that the national championships is held in Chicagoland, which is something I've very rarely taken advantage of. However, this year there is a problem. My job ends at the end of July and my new doesn't begin until September. That leaves me with a month where I am under insured.

In the past that might not have been a problem, but looking back at this cycling season and my inability to keep the rubber side down I have to pause. I thought about it for a little while and came up with a decision not to race. This stands contrary to my normal attitude and therefore a small chart is necessary to explain the evolution of my thought processes:

Picture this: me standing over a pit of ravenous wolves ready to tear the flesh off of anything (kind of like a bad crit).

Undergrad Version of Me: (ignorance is bliss)
"Damn this will suck"
*dives into the pit and emerges miraculously unharmed*

2nd Year Law Student Version of Me: (knowledge is power)
"This'll hurt, but I'll sue the hell out of someone for it later"
*dives into the pit and is mauled viscously. my health insurance denies coverage sends a collection agency against me but my parents eventually bail me out*

1st Year Attorney Version of Me: (reality bites)
"I'll probably win at trial and get reversed on appeal. Then I'll end up having no money and owing attorney's fees on top of it."
*breaks out a folding chair and something domestic lite and cold and waits till next year"

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Cincinnati Kid Strikes Again

In the latest addition of what to do when you should be doing something else. The following was sent to me by the Cincinnati Kid (you'll need to get the song/rhythm in your head--the chorus is in italics):

Bud light presents…Real men of genius……real meeen of genius
Today we salute you Mr. I use big words to prove I’m better than you……. Mr. I use big words to prove I’m beeeetter than you
Your a listless bard, and a god among men…………………oh so bardish
You’re a soul mechanic, a heart surgeon if you will….and language is your tool………..fix me up baby
If there is one thing the reader knows from reading your work, its that you’re a better human than they are……juuust a poor farm boy
Commas…please…you’ll use them whenever you damn well feel like it……………………no such thing as too many
Rule of grammar and punctuation…ha…you wrote the book on it..and now your changing it…………….I do what I waaaant
And even if others don’t agree, you know you’re the best…and that makes you a real man of genius………the cuuuubs suck

Anheuser Busch, St Louis, MI.

I feel like my life is more complete now.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Open Road

It calls me sometimes like a phantom voice in my head. The open road is my long lost savior. When the world closes in on me and everything seems bleak, she is there ready, willing and accepting of me. I really think that I find true peace only on miles of empty blacktop.

It's been hard on me these last couple of weeks, being restricted as I have been. It's a Saturday today and I only put in in 2 1/2 hours. A month ago it would be at least 4 hours and maybe longer if the weather wasn't horrible. I keep telling myself to pace myself, let all the injuries heal before you push yourself again, but honestly it's really hard to limit myself like that.

I sometimes daydream about riding the big mountains of the blue ridge. As I drove through south west Virginia a couple of weeks ago I almost screamed because their they stood in all their might, just waiting for me to conquer them. I'll be there next year, and those mountains will meet their maker. I've come to conquer you, that's what I say every time I'm about to race a moutain race. Finally, I can back that statement up.

I'll miss the open Mississippi road. My house in Rural is only a mile and half away from nowhere. And nowhere is my favorite place to be on a bike. In nowhere there are no people and no people means no cars. It's just me, the blacktop and a steady cadence. I finally started bucking up again and tossing it into the big ring--KU style. I had been little ringing it for the last couple of months in an effort to help my legs recover from all the races.

I just burned out hard this year. It comes with the territory and also the geography. It's just too damn hard to race in Mississippi. Everything requires driving and lots of it. There were only two races this year in Jackson and both of them were more than 30 minutes from my house. In the future, one half of my races will be within riding distance. It makes things easier.

So the open road calls me again. Dusty roads weren't made for walking and spinning wheels weren't made for stopping. Miranda Lambert, she's got a point.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Adoring Fans

It's a well known fact that "when I grow up" I want to be one of two things-- a country music star or a NAScar driver. Well, I think I've finally hit my mark and it's time for me to pack the bags up and head for Nashville. So ready or not CMT here I come.

The city of Rural has been hiding a dark secret from me. Apparently on Mondays at the local watering hole it's karaoke night. That simple fact has saved this burg from being labeled absolutely hopeless for me. Finally I have a forum to take my skill and talent and show it to the public.

I love country music and I love singing country music. Sadly, up until now the only person who got to witness my talents was the unlucky soul stuck in the car with me when my favorite Garth Brooks song came on. Not any more. Now I've got a whole bar filled with people that I may impress with my singing prowess.

It took me a couple of rounds, but I finally worked up the courage to pick up the book of songs and search for my newest favorite country music song-- "Still got a lot of Leaving Left to do" by Dierks Bentley. I admit, my admiration of his music is done only grudgingly. However, my distaste for my admiration is only do to the fact that he looks like the tool of a roommate I once had. His tunes are catchy and sometimes I just cannot help but sing along.

So I get up there and the music starts. It's really awkward the first time you sing without the accompanying rhythm and tone of the actual singer. It took me a few minutes to actually get comfortable hearing my own voice. However, once I surrendered to the wind, I realized that I could in fact fly. Then all-of-a-sudden it became fun. People were watching and listening to me sing. Some fools were even singing along with me. It was a rush that I don't often feel.

The rush was only made better when my wonderful friends continued to fill my head with praise for how good I was. Thank you so much for lying to me...it's one of the few times I really enjoyed being lied to. I guess I know what Grandpa Smurf (one of my Scandalous co-workers) must feel when he gets up there to sing a song or two. So now it's time to pack up the bags and go. I'll just stop in DC for a year or two to hone my skills. Next, it's on to fulfilling that NAScar dream of mine.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July

Finally the injuries that I suffered at the Giro have started to heal. It was nearly two weeks off the bike, but I've finally started riding again. I'm pretty sure that racing is kind of out of the picture for the next month or two. I'm setting my sights on next season's early races. It's a little weird to be winding down in July, but there are so many things that need to get done this month.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rollin' down ol 95

My first rule of road trip travel and for cycling training routes for that matter, is never come back the same way you went out. Life and cycling ain't about the out-and-back. So I cruised up to DC on I-81 through TN and VA and I'm going back on I-95 bound for the AtL. As C-Dog, has so often said, you can't break the rules if your the one making them.

It's too early to claim victory in DC, but things went well. The Queen of Cap Hill and I hit up my favorite bar that I have never been to before last night in DuPont Circle right across from the monument to Taras Shevchenko. They claim to have beer from everywhere in the world, but ironically not from the home country of the man whose monument stands right in front of it--Ukraine.

Despite the fact that I couldn't throw down any Obolone and they were out of my Russian standard, Baltica, they had this amazing Ethiopian beer. Also, there was a French beer that had a wine like texture to it which went down smooth. Much scorn I have for the person who walks into this bar and orders something domestic, light and cold . . . unless it's obscure.

Quick lesson learned this week-- you can buy a closet in DC for the same price as a plantation home in Mississippi. Even quicker lesson-- I'm home.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tilfords got Mad Game

Mad props to Tilford for the Kansas-style win at Nature Valley:


Leave it to a Kansan to attack through the corner in a race that's soo nasty that they need to cut it short.

A BBQ with Ivy League Law Students

My bar review buddy and I strolled up to M & Wisconsin last night to meet an old friend of his for a BBQ. I come to find out that the other people at the BBQ, including the old friend, all attend a pretigous Ivy League law school and were down for the summer working for huge law firms. This, of course, I see is my perfect chance to see how socially unadjusted they all were. Bar review buddy and I walk in and introduce ourselves and within 30 seconds they had fallen into my well rehearsed trap. Amazingly, I did it all without pulling out my best southern accent.

$30k per year in law school tuition obviously doesn't do much for you. The first guy I came into contact informed me that he had spent a couple of days the previous year touring Natchez and Vicksburg. Das is ne perfekt!!! We chatted for a moment about what he saw and where he went. Then he hits me with the concern that was on his mind...slavery. I love to talk about a 150 year-old dead economic system, especially to people who know next to nothing about history, like this fella. After touring some of the "plantation homes" in Natchez he was shown the old registers and books which listed the value of the slaves kept, names, etc...

He was appauled by this, he couldn't articulate his emotions very well (that skill must be in the extra ivy league law school package which is $5k more a year) but the jist was that Southerns need to be more apologetic for slavery and the exploitation that went along with slavery. Polite was my first response. My second response was factual and explanatory about the historically accurate relationship that was common between master and slave. Third was my theoretical response where I asked him to move beyond the idea that it was ownership of another human being. Having not satisfied his desires by this point in time and despite my best socratic method, having failed to draw out his real concern, I moved to the final approach--abject apathy. The conversation ended something like this.

ivy leaguer: "I just don't understand, I expected a greater degree of sympathy and awareness from the tour guides showing us the records."

me: "Most people that I know in the South have dealt with this issue for their whole lives and for the lives of their parents. I think largely they have made their peace with it and have decided that it would be better to move on and move forward in life. Also, it is kind of foolish to continue to blame the current generations for the actions of those who lived 150 years ago, but if it makes you feel good you can continue to blame them for it...I'm sure they won't care that much anyway about your obviously learned opinion."

Afterwards I walked over openned another beer and proceeded to find the undercooked burgers.

The one thing that disgusts me more than stupidity and ignorance, is when morality is thrust into the middle of it and then used to espouse a way of life. While, not being from the South as a result of birth, I am still patriotic of my law school home and defensive when someone attacks it without having the first inclination of the historical facts which they are challenging. When I was in school in Ukraine my professor told us this great truism. He was filled with these truisms and it was like manna from heaven every time he gave us one-

A man can spend a week in a place whose culture and society is foreign to him and after that week he gets the desire to write an article about the place. The same man can spend a month in the same place and after that he'll get the desire to write a book detailing his travels and the oddities that he faces. It isn't until after that man spends a lifetime in that place that he realizes that all his previous efforts were foolish and fruitless and there is no way that he can encapsulate what he has experienced for those who will never experience it.

After leaving that BBQ, bar review buddy turned to me and said (obviously saracastically) "those ivy leaguers know how to party." Had this been Arizona State (his institute of higher learning) we would be doing keg stands and diving into the local swimming pools. I looked at him and responded, had it been Ole Miss we'd all be whiskey drunk screaming off the balconys on the Square at passers-by. I guess class is something regional after all.

On a personal note, I realize now why Georgetown looks different at night compared to other cities in this country--the street lights. They don't use the same orange sulfur lights but rather something else. It's really strange, but definitely makes things look nicer.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

DC World Tour

I guess that really is a totally incorrect statement and Scanlon will call me on it. I'll walk into work next week and Scanlon come up to me and say, "how can it be a world tour if it's just one city?" Ok, so it's just a trip up to DC and that's it.

I spent the last two days driving through some of the prettiest country I've seen in a long time and have arrived here along the shores of the Potomac ready to begin my search for a new home. Come this Fall, I'll be the newest member of the Federal Govt's growing attorney roster and thought that it was about time to find me a place to live. I'd been pushing off the hunt as long as I could, but suddenly I caught Potomac fever and now here I am.

The trip was uneventful, which was a blessing. I'm still hampered by my sprained wrist which made driving and using the turn signal a little more difficult than it should have been. I spent the night in Bristol, TN. The area was just gorgeous. I'd had a great chat with some random folk at the local watering hole where I put down the biggest and tallest cold one I've seen in a long time.

Random folk are great to meet. You don't have to worry about what you say to them because you'll never see them again. You don't and they don't put on an aire of superiority because what the heck do you have to prove. It's definitely better than the typical bar association happy hour...I mean at least with random folk you don't have to pretend like your interested in their insurance defense case work.

I'm excited about my soon-to-be new home and my new professional life. I cannot wait for my first Cosi chat with the queen of Cap Hill, or the impending questions from my high school buddy about joining the volunteer fire fighters in Falls Church. So tomorrow morning the hunt begins in full.

Monday, June 12, 2006

And the Bad Luck Continues

I think it's offical, this cycling season has been cursed. I'm typing now with only one hand because I had my 4th crash of the year. Over the last two years I crashed only once at Tyson's Corner two years back. So far this season on top of the crashes and the flat at Tri Peaks I can add dropping my chain twice in the TT last weekend at the Giro d' Rankin.

The wrist is sprained and in a splint. I pulled some muscles in my leg and I'm sore everwhere else. Therefore I've decided to take sometime off from racing. I don't think the pocket book can take much more of this. It's my right hand so now I've gotta brush my teeth, comb my hair and tie my tie with my bad hand. I never realized how uncoordinated I am with my left hand. Guess I'm going to have to learn to make it all work.

The crash was my fault. I was just a little too aggressive going through a corner in the crit and put the pedal into the pavement. When I dropped I was able to grab the top tube of the guy behind as he came over the top of me. That saved him from a lot of road rash and kept his bike from getting hurt. My machine is just fine, no damage to speak of, so I continue to get lucky in that regard.

For the road race this weekend in the 96 degree heat I continued to have troubles with hydration. I tried a gatorade and water mix, but it was still too sugary for me to get it down quickly. I went with Gu packets and that really hit the spot. It was a big change from my dry Nature Valley bars that I had been using till then. I think I'll stick with them for the future when I start racing again.

Well, it's off to DC in 2 days. I was going to race and ride while there, but I'm not even going to take a bike this time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

South Carolina Road Trip

Btw...if anyone reads this post who lives in Clemson, rides bikes and is named Ben is interested I'm thinking about driving through in 8 days or so, and maybe we might do some mountain riding for a day?


My weight in January 2006: 175lbs

My weight in June 2006: 155lbs

I think the diet is working, but I won't be sure until my body is so calorie starved that it begins to cannibalize the tissue in my spine causing me to shrink in height. When I hit that point I'll officially be ready to race.

The most recent struggle I'm facing is getting the calories necessary to keep going. I've started a new training/eating regime now. I'm giving up the chocolate Lucky Charms for Raisin Brain and I'm going to carry a banana with me during my morning rides. Afterwards I'm going to down my favorite Slim Fast shake on the way to work in place of my Pop-Tart. Just looking at my eating habits for the last couple of months I'm amazed that I continue to survive.

Back in Kansas I could get away with drinking little and eating less because of the temperatures and distances that I raced. However, here in the South where we are so close to the damned sun I cannot do that anymore. This weekend we start our road race at 1:30PM on Saturday, where the forecasted temperature is 96. That's insane, it isn't even summer yet.

So the question I pose to the more knowledgeable members of the cycling community is how the heck to hydrate and put calories into your body efficiently. I've seen a million different gimmicks and supplements and crap ad naseum, but what actually works? What is going to get me to the last 20 miles of a race in a position where my body can react when called upon and not run the risk of cramping or bonking out?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lulla Graduated

I hope that everyone in the whole wide world will join me in congratulating LullaBelle on graduating cum laude from law school. I am so very proud of her for working so very hard these last three years. I know it wasn't easy, and at times I was the cause of it not being easy, but she did it. Now the world is her oyster and I hope she finds the pearl she's looking for.

Tri Peaks and the Battle for Uphill Dominance

After a good performance on Saturday mechanical difficulties relegated me to the wheel truck on Sunday. However, mad props go out to Uncle Steve for turning Mt. Nebo into his own personal suffer fest and leaving the competition in the dust.

Slowly but surely my powers as a climber, which were long rumored to exist, are coming into reality. Mills and Coles no doubt are confused about where my climbing prowess emerged from but I assure them largely it's a result of our combined stupidity of fighting 30 mph headwinds on the way to Globe, Baldwin City, Wellsville, Topeka and beyond. Not to mention the ability to descend on the top tube at 50-60 mph without blinking while hitting a corner that is supposed to be taken at 25 mph.

Here is the race profile for those who doubt that I really climbed.

I cannot mention my race on Sunday, because a flat taking me out of a road race makes me so angry. This is especially the case when I had just put new tires on the Ksyriums in order to prevent the same. Therefore, I will only talk about Saturday. Three climbs and 93 miles of racing put me in a tie for 4th place in a field of 50. After 20 flat miles of jockeying for position and making sure no one snuck away we hit Petit Jean. Petit Jean is a dirty little stair-stepper which started steep and the sort of relinquished it's grip as we went up. After my failures last year at McMinnville, I learned the lesson that no one wins a climb by starting in the back. So I started all the climbs in about 10th. Petit Jean failed to break enough legs to make it worth any trouble at all.

25 miles later was the long, and as far as I know unnamed climb. Honestly, I didn't notice we were going up it, until I saw everyone around me slow down and felt my legs start to burn. I looked to the right and left of me and suddenly there was a valley beneath me. The second climb lasted close to 6 miles and by about mile 4 I was beginning to grow weary of it. After engaging in the battle of who is the best climber in the 601 area code with a guy from Memphis Motor Werks we crested the mountain in a small group of maybe 15.

The descent was long and open so I took a few pages from Ben Coles' "Guide to Cycling While Intoxicated or how to not use your Brakes while Going Downhill" and put the knees and elbows together and head on the handlebars and went downhill. At the base of the descent about a mile later there were two of us together with a few stragglers. No one organized and so about 30 guys were able to pace back on to form what remained of the group.

25 miles later we hit the Danville climb. What I love the most about Arkansas climbs is the sign that proceeds them: "Caution the next X miles is steep and curves." We passed that sign and my teammate yells from the back, "good luck Rob and God speed". Danville was short but steep. It may have last only a mile, but when the lead group crested there were seven of us remaining. I'll admit that at 70 some odd miles into the race I was reaching my climbing breaking point. Something amazing happened to me during that final climb. I was getting gaped and my power to continue was failing me. I closed my eyes and took an extra deep breath and surged forward again. It was as if the guys in front of me stood still for a second. I rode right up to the front of the little group. I've seen that exact scene happen a bunch of times on flat land but at those points in time I could never make it back to the group and ended up getting dropped. There was something about the going uphill part that gave me just a little extra power to make the connection.

As we passed the final feed zone I grabbed myself a bottle of Heed and descended again (if anyone else can tell me what Heed is I'd appreciate it, because to me it tasted like watered down coke). The final descent would have made Jed proud. There was a corner with a 15 mph sign posted pretty close to the bottom of it. I saw a group of about 5 forming 100 feet in front of me and knew that this plus a few others was going to be the selection and I wanted to be in that group. I went to the top of the corner, which curved to the left, grabbed both brakes and tipped the bike sharp right. I let go of the levers and plunged right to back of that group.

It took another 5 minutes for us to be joined by any of the climb's survivors and we made up a group of 14 who pacelined into the finish. By mile 90 I was cooked and just sat on as the little guys (i.e. those skinner than me) pulled us in. I wasn't dead weight, but I did almost drop myself the couple of times I pulled. So I relegated myself to the back.

The weekends success and follies compelled me to call up the old coach. So starting in the Fall I'd like to get Coach Mills back in the action, that's if he'll have me back? However, I think for this week I'm going to kick back and relax to avoid the burnout that I'm starting to feel.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Getting Ready for the Big Mountains

Tri-Peaks and TN races are coming up and bring a few mountain climbs. It's at this time every year that I start to think that I like climbing and that I'm good at it. So I thought I would find a visual reminder of the pain I go through when climbing in an effort to sober up to the stupidity that lies ahead.

Collegiate Nationals in 2002 going up Middlebury Gap at about 30 miles into the race. I don't really remember much about the 2000 foot climb or the descent. I know I dropped the guy behind me like a dress on prom night. No one jumped around me and rode away from me...however I was nowhere near the front when I started the climb. I was able to stay in the group for another 10-15 miles and then the next climb up Appalachian Gap ended my hopes of contesting for anything other than zig-zagging up the final kilometer.

For some odd reason the camera seems to find me with the same stupid look on my face:

U-City, Gateway Cup 2004. Everyone else has the ultra-euro pain face going on, but me. I get the confused and half-baked where are all the white elephants coming from look.

Mountains Mountains everywhere and nare a chance to field sprint. Maybe this year my prophecy and the Ben "what do you mean I didn't eat all July" Coles diet will take hold and I'll get to the top of Mt. Nebo and beyond.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Cincinnati Kid

What can one say about Brian Murphy that has not already been said? He is a man of mythic proportions yet possessing a humility that would make Gandhi seem vain. These are but a few of the prose he has composed in the past 24 hours:

Rob I would like to give the following speech on your last day of work to
the entire court:

I do not posses (as no one else does) your
amazing ability to craft a magnificent work of art from words floating around in
chaos. I don't have the patience and temperament to make the world a
better place one sentence at a time. I can't see the forest through the
trees, I can't make grown men weep. Sometimes when I read your writing, I
think "this proves it, rob is a god of communication. He speaks to me as
if he has lived in my shoes all my life." Rob, your words mend the soul
and cradle the heart; keep up the good work

A song of beauty which is unmatched except by his other words like:

Rob: a calm and collected genius when it comes to painting a picture with
words. If he ever met Steven Hawking, Hawking would be astounded by Rob's
magnificent prose and tailoring of the English language to meet his need, a
higher need. He has always had a love for the "little guy" but has also
never been afraid of a challenge. He loves the finer things in life, but
has no credit card debt. He was on his way to owning a house at the young
age of 23, and he can ride the hell out of a bike with thin tires.

I feel honored that he even knows my name. That he has taken the time to think about me in the few moments during the day when he is not controlling the weather. What are we mere mortals to do, but stand in awe of the verbal perfection that is Brian Murphy. I've seen his words shake the Earth and stop the tides. He is first among equals. No I have mispoken, he has no equal but stands supreme among all creation save Nate's beard:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

GA Crits

This past weekend Lulla and I went to Athens for the Twilight Crit and then stayed an extra day for the Roswell Crit. I have never seen more crashes in a Cat 3 crit then I did in Athens. Crashes occurred all over the course including on the uphill start-finish line. I don't know why either. It might have been because the field was so big, because the course was rather easy to race or because it was a short race with a lot on the line. Whatever it was I saw at least three crashes before the one that took me down.

It was one of those classic crashes where the guy on either side of you goes down and you know that you have no way out of it. You just accept your fate that soon you are going to be down on the ground and it's going to hurt. The thing that ticks me off is that this is my second crash this year and neither of them have been my fault. In both cases I've been the unlucky guy who just gets caught. I have my theories on what or who is causing these crashes, but I'll spare everyone the long boring explanation.

This crash took it's toll on my equipment. I split my helmet along the side behind my ear but thankfully it wasn't my head that did the same. Everything else was ok, but I developed a huge bruise on the back of my calf and inner thigh from the handlebars or maybe someone else. Needless to say the day was done for me.

I decided that I would just watch the twilight race and enjoy myself. Jed was racing at night and thought it would be great to watch him and some of the big time pros go at it. We had great seats right in the final corner and got to watch one of the biggest wrecks that I've ever seen. Unfortunately Jed went down in it and broke his handlebars in the process. The 40th guy hit the ground and then riders 41-150 hit him. There were just too many guys in the field to come after the crash for anyone to escape.

The twilight crit was some of the fastest racing I have ever seen. It got so hard and so fast that you could just feel people's legs ripping in half. In the end it wasn't the big teams that won the race but two guys who came out of nowhere, took a huge risk in the final corner and drove it to the line for the win. That's the kind of racing I like to see. The racing where sparks fly from pedals hitting the ground and guys who start their sprint before the bike can even dream of being back upright.

The Roswell Crit was fine, just stayed up and finished in the pack. I wanted to do more, but the bruise stopped me from unleashing a lot of power, even though I did string the field out once going for it with 3 laps to go.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Confederate Memorial Day

I forgot to mention in my last post that I had Monday this week off of work to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Seriously, it was an official State of Mississippi holiday. I'm not so sure how I felt about taking a day off to celebrate a people who waged war on my country but I did it just the same.

I bet that caught a few people off guard, but think of this-- having lived in a bunch of different states, countries and on different continents, this is the only place I have ever lived where the government built monuments to men and women who raised arms against my country.

Mississippi Grand Prix

It's been one full day since the end of my first timed stage race. I've healed some of the wounds that I inflicted on my legs but it's going to be a while before everything is running at full steam. It was a tough 4 races over three days in Brookhaven, MS. I'm proud of my 11th place finish in the cat 3 race, but wished I could have done better in the overall standings.

Friday night was a rough and tumble crit full of lappings and being lapped. I don't know the wisdom of including a crit in a timed race but heck, if that's what they want that's what they get. From the gun it was fast. I've never started quick in any race but knew that I would have to that night. It was easily closing in on 30 for the first ten minutes. I thought about pulling out but then realized . . . well I don't think I had the time to complete any of my thoughts.

I along with a group of ten was lapped at about the 35 minute mark, after having lapped another group of about seven. I never thought I could be dropped twice in one race but I was. It was at that point in time that I lost some time to a few of the cat 3s who were able to hang on to the 1s and 2s in the lapping group.

Saturday was rough too. Some yo-yo decided to go from the gun. As I'm fumbling for the big ring he's dropping the hammer. I put myself into the red only to realize that I was the lantern rouge of the race and that there was nowhere to go but forward. After the first 18 mile lap things settled down. A break got away and an organized chase ensued with the Compliance Depot guys leading the charge.

The chase brought the race down to a manageable pace, but I could still tell that one particular section of road which included a long slow uphill would cause serious troubles if anyone ever decided to go hard up it. The nice thing about a 3 racing with 1s and 2s is that you know that all you have to do when the time comes is respond to the move.

That's exactly what I did. With about 5 km to go someone put in an effort up that section of road. I had been dropped there two years ago and was bound and determined not to be a victim this time around. I jumped onto Frank Bruer's wheel as it started to get nasty and just put my head down. I could feel the muscles in my legs ripping to pieces, but I was not going to lose that wheel. I looked back and the field was gone and I was the last man in the break. Too bad it was all for nothing because the field caught us half a mile later when people started playing around up front and it turned into a massive pack finish.

The TT was painful and I care not to talk about it. TTs are by far my weakest discipline, but on a positive note I finished in the middle of the 3s this time and got the sense that I am improving.

The last crit was hot and fast. It was built just the way I don't like it. I have some serious problems with courses that repeat power climbs and this one did just that. It isn't the climb that hurts me, but the fast descent that puts me down. I'm small enough to be able to climb with the power riders by spinning the heck out of things but when they switch into their 11s and 12s on the descent I don't have what it takes to respond as quickly as I need to.

At minute number 20 of 75 I dropped my water bottle. I had two water bottles and one of them just popped out of the cage when I hit a little pothole. I was in trouble when that happened. It was Bensenville all over again. This time I was too stubborn to quit. At minute 40 I started to get a couple of chills in the 85 degree heat. Minute 50 came and I noticed a few goosebumps developing on my arms. I stood up coming over the hill at minute 60 and the breeze nearly took my breath away because it was so cold. Thereafter I decided not to look at the clock anymore. I told myself just make it to the last lap and group finish to keep your 11th place hopes alive. That's all I wanted to do and that is what I did. It's sweet revenge for my failure at Bensenville to do the same.

Next Race: Athens Twilight and Roswell Criteriums

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cycling Probability Question

This post is something that I have long been contemplating but only recently have come to a mathematical conclusion on. My problem is that I am not sure what the formula is for this conclusion. So if anyone can create a formula for these results I would love to see it.

Here is the basic question:

Three people leave their homes around the same time of day. Each person lives within 50 miles of the other person and they do not know each other. They set off on their daily journey all heading in a random directions. What is the probability that they will cross the other's path at the exact same moment? Most likely almost zero.

Now change one fact. One of the three people is me on my bike. Now what is the probability that the two other people in a car will meet me on the road at the same time going in opposite directions of each other? Mostly likely high.

Now what is the probability that these other two will pass me and each other while cresting a hill or going around a blind corner? 99.9%

If only cars were not allowed on the road while I was out riding...

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Did Something to Grab the Attention of the AP

The following is an AP article taken from today's Clarion Ledger. It marks the first time that an opinion I worked on made the news.

Miss. Supreme Court tosses 18 out-of-state asbestos claims against 3M

The Associated Press

The Mississippi Supreme Court has tossed out the asbestos claims of 18 out-of-state plaintiffs against the 3M Co.

In its 6-1 decision this past week, the court ruled a trial judge erred in ruling the cases would be heard in Holmes County Circuit Court.

"Holmes County lacks the required interest in the wholly out-of-state appellees' claims, and it would be a waste of judicial resources if tried in Mississippi," Presiding Justice Kay Cobb wrote for the court.

Cobb said the plaintiffs have no connection to Mississippi and are neither from Mississippi nor did their injuries arise from conduct in Mississippi.

"The courts of Mississippi will not become the default forum for plaintiffs seeking to consolidate mass-tort actions. To allow otherwise would waste finite judicial resources on claims that have nothing to do with the state," Cobb said.

In a 19th case, Cobb said Circuit Judge Jannie Lewis must determine separately if that case can be heard in Mississippi. Plaintiff Willie Kern claims exposure to asbestos while working in Attala County and in Illinois.

Of the 18 out-of-state plaintiffs, 13 claimed exposure in Illinois, while others claimed exposure in Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and North Carolina.

Cobb said if the out-of-state plaintiffs were allowed to pursue their claims in Mississippi, the trial judge would be forced to apply not only Mississippi law, but also the laws of Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Minnesota and Missouri.

"This would require seven different product liability statutes, seven different jury instructions and seven different verdicts. This would confuse the jury and lead to possible error," she said.
Asbestos is a commercial name for several different types of minerals that were commonly used in insulation, fireproofing materials, wallboard materials and automotive brakes until the 1970s.
Its use was drastically scaled back after public disclosure that it had a tendency to break down into microscopic particles that could hang in the air and be easily inhaled, potentially causing lung scarring, breathing problems, cancer or heart failure.

In 2000, more than 150 plaintiffs sued about 62 defendants in Holmes County over asbestos exposure. Six plaintiffs were selected to be tried jointly against the defendants against whom there were claims.

On Oct. 1, 2001, a jury awarded each plaintiff $25 million in compensatory damages. No punitive damages were awarded.

The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the jury award in 2005, ruling that separate trials should have been conducted in each case.

In what has become the standard for huge tort lawsuits involving multiple plaintiffs and defendants, the Supreme Court ruled it was improper to group the plaintiffs together when their claims did not arise from the same incident or involve the same defendants.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tour LeFleur

Some weekends you've got it and then some weekends you don't. For me it was the latter. I misjudged everything. For me the weekend was "oh that break will come back" (it didn't), "this guy will bridge that gap" (he didn't), "these guys will go easy here and faster there" (so didn't), "they're racing for X" (they weren't racing for anything). So I take my lumps and look forward to the next race.

I crashed wicked hard on Saturday. Some yahoo, decided that he was tired of going fast and by the time I knew it I was up on his rear wheel rubbing it pretty hard. That's fine and all I don't have a problem with that, until someone else starts rubbing my wheel at the same time. So there I was trying to fend off two guys forcing my bike in two different directions, which of course means that I'm headed in a third which is right down to the ground. My question is why do people get pissed and start cursing when they crash? I'm calm about it. For me it's, ok let's check out all our body parts and make sure they are still there, then check out the machine, is it all together?

For me, the machine wasn't. I lost my Ksyrium front wheel. It was tacoed straight to hell, but on a brighter note, my tire didn't flat and I broke zero spokes. So it's safe to say that those are some good wheels. I went and took my five free laps, got a new wheel and put myself back in the race. It's a bad crit course and I strongly recommend for anyone who doesn't live in Jackson to not do the crit ever. You're wasting your time if you do. Thankfully for me it's a short drive and I had a lot of supporters out there yelling for me. And then later I had some very kind person take care of my road rash. Thank you for that.

The road race was equally disappointing, so I won't belabor anyone with that report. I'm just going to take my lumps and move on to the next race. My thing is, if you're team has 9 cat 1s in a race and my team has 5 cat 3s, don't ask us to chase down a break of 1s and 2s from a 3rd team for you. You've got the manpower to control a race and we've got the man power to be opportunistic. Go chase it down yourselves. My team did well at the road race, too bad I was so far back that I didn't get to see it. See earlier mention of gaps closing and breaks sticking.

Next Race: Miss. Grand Prix, Brookhaven.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scalia Speaks

Justice Scalia came to Rural yesterday and chose to speak on a topic that surprised me--the role of foreign legal decisions in American law. I was waiting for the traditional speech about blah blah blah originalism blah blah everyone else is wrong blah blah. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the change of topic and even agreed with him when he said that he wouldn't allow self-righteous Europeans dictate our law to us. There definitely is value to knowing what the rest of the world is doing, but that doesn't mean we have to follow them.

In 1776 the rest of the world was creating monarchies and autocracies, we didn't follow them then and it's turned out pretty good for us so far. I do however, disagree with most of the usual stuff that Justice Scalia says. Therefore I found this quote which I particularly like:

"I can only hope for a day when the courts of justice will decline to dig among the tombs of a dead past for ancient and obsolete precedent . . . and the law will be treated as a philosophy to be applied to the ever changing condition of man, and not as a straight jacket with no leeway for the exercise of common sense and common justice."--Mr. Justice Scott of Colorado

There is of course something to be said in favor of Scalia's interpretative prowess and against the rapidly changing world of the living constitutionalists. However, extremist are rarely right and the better course is typically charted through the middle. I don't have an interpretative agenda to push like Scalia, because I cannot wrap mine into a neat two sentence package like he can. I agree that simplicity is the key and that a dynamic changing Constitution serves no one but those in power. However, I also agree that there are rights embedded in the Constitution which do not appear in bold print. There will always be a B in between A and C. Therefore, I must respectfully dissent from Justice Scalia's approach and follow my own path.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ode to a Pick-Up Truck (a cyclist's poem)

This is to you, the redneck in the F150,
please can you pass a little closer to me?
How great it is on a windy mornin',
to breathe in the smell of petrol burnin'
And how appropriate it is in the burgeonin' burg of ours,
for you alone to drive the Texas of all cars
Please remember, you, the wisest of the hillbillies,
as your foot unleashes all those fillies
The price of skoal is rising just as fast as gas,
so maybe you should think twice before being such an ass

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Wedding

I returned home to Chicago this weekend for an "old family friend's" wedding. This meaning of course that the only person that I knew was the bride and her immediate family. On top of that my folks were working and that left me all alone. I was seated during the reception with the bride's college friends. For one reason or another there was no less than 4 people at my table who were either law students or lawyers. And from that my dilemma arose.

You really occasionally have to look at some people and say, get over yourselves. You really aren't that impressive. Two of my tablemates fell exactly into that category of people. They were so full of their "prestigious law school pedigrees" that they failed to realize that no one else around them cared. It's these same people who get together and make up the ranking systems so as to perpetuate the belief that it really matters.

The only way I tolerated their annoying and self-righteous discussion was because of copious amounts of bourbon and the McDonald's chicken nuggets that I had smartly eaten right before coming to the reception. The more I drank the less I heard about them and the more I imagined new and inventive ways to plan for their hard fall from fiction to reality when they sat for the bar and realized that three years of law and pop culture means nothing at all. It wasn't a moment after dinner had been finally finished that I left my table bound directly for my next drink and then some entertainment with the bride's brother who was drinking his six foot eight inch body mass in tequila.

Humility is the one virtue which isn't taught any more. So for future reference to all those in the world, please don't try to impress me with your resumes and social clubs. If you really want to impress me, do it by actions and putting your money where your mouth is.

Friday, March 24, 2006

And Even the Weather Channel Lies

Weather.com has become probably the most visited website on my computer. Part of my pre-ride ritual is to check to see what the weather is like and since I cannot tolerate the sound of human voices at 0-dark 30 in the morning the silence of weather.com makes it easy. So this morning I pulled up my trusty site, after determining that my march madness bracket was completely screwed up, to find 34 degrees to be the temperature. Over the next ten minutes I put on all the right clothes and stepped outside to find it in the 40s. This sent me into a tailspin. At 34 degrees I wear a totally different set of jackets, gloves, shoe covers and hat than at 40 degrees. I know it's only 6 degrees but those are 6 important degrees because it's the difference between damn its cold and damn cold. The latter obviously being worse.

If weather.com lies to me, than who/what else is lying to me? So I ask now, if you (and this includes inanimate objects) are lying to me or have lied to me in the past please come forward. I know that likely I will receive bad news because of it, but if I can take the pain of having my favorite website lie to me than I can handle anything. Well anything short of my parents telling me that my real name is Karen or Michelle.

Oh, and if you are a litigant in the State of Mississippi please file an interesting appeal and request that it is assigned to me. Also, be sure to spellcheck and proof read your briefs. That'll make my life easier.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Time

I woke up this morning and took a quick look at the weather as I was getting ready for my ride, it was 37 degrees out. That was the start of what has become a bad day. So I put on the required 9-layers of clothes and headed out into the cold-pre-dawn morning. At least my legs were so occupied with shaking and shivering that they didn't notice the pain that I was delivering to them.

The fact is that someone turned winter back on in the South and didn't tell me about it, and I'm pissed at them. The one thing I'll never understand about Southern winters is the humidity. It's cold and humid all at once. The wetness tears through my gloves and jacket and hangs on me like a July sweat. I miss July and all the warm days that seem like they were here only yesterday.

Springtime in LAMBRA is time for the Two-Man TT. There are no fewer than two race weekends dedicated entirely to the Two-Man TT. I can think of no greater waste of time than that. There's no crit or road race, just a TT. TTs are great, in that I hate myself sort of way, but they don't tell you much about who's the best bike racer. The TT is all about who can hurt themself the most for the longest. I can do that at home and save the $20 and the 2 1/2 hour drive to Baton Rouge. Just give me a good old road race. One where I can look the guy next to me in the eye and know that he doesn't have what it takes to handle what I'm about to dish out.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Brook's Omnium

Three events over two days in So. Atlanta. Big fields. Huge ups for C-Dog for the recovering my water bottle after it bounced off your ankles into the field. Thanks for the save.

Time Trial

Plain and simple it was unpleasant. This was my first ever individual TT on a time trial bike. I was honestly expecting much more from myself than I was able to put forward. It was 6 1/2 miles of slightly rolling terrain and a touch on the cold side at the start. I wanted to go out steady and not too fast so that I didn't burn myself out before the turn around. Maybe I started to slowly, because the guy who started 30 seconds behind me caught me before the turn around. I didn't feel bad afterwards because he caught the guy in front of me and maybe some more. Needless to say at 17:10 I was not impressed with myself. I finished 18th overall in the TT which was right at about middle of the road. I'm going to have to figure out how to do better. Chuck and Sam both whooped up on me.

Road Race

Finally something that I'm good at. 77 miles over rolling terrain with a group of about 75 riders. The field had two or three big teams in it that I was expecting to control the race's pace. However, after the first of three laps those teams vanished from the front. Two teams had at least 10 guys and only one or two of those guys finished in front of me at the end, now that's pathetic because they had the manpower to win it all, but failed to do that. Sam, Chuck and I had the most effective and coordinated attacks of the day. On the second lap we all moved to the front. Sam jumped the field and put about 500 meters between us and him. Someone tried to ride up to him and I sat on his wheel. He swerved all over the road trying to get me to pull, but there was no way that I would come around and do that. Another guy jumped and Chuck covered. We had complete control of the field.

The field eventually pulled Sam back in and I countered. I put some time between me and the pack but no one came with me and I couldn't shake the field's will to pull me back. A couple teams organized quickly at the front and I sat up and took my place in the field. It was about that time in the race when everyone was making the collective decision that it was going to be a pack finish. Damn I thought, I don't want to field sprint. I've never been much of a field sprinter, largely because I have never really wanted to tussle up at the front for wheels.

The third lap was down right slow. It was like a group ride. I started to sense myself getting swamped in the field, because I'm sure not too many people had been shelled off the back. I had to continually re-assert myself to the front. Then I found my old buddy Ben's wheel. Last year he never finished outside of the top five so I knew he was the guy to follow. The tussle for the front began with about 10 miles to go. Slowly the pace picked up. It really got interesting at the final turn. It was about 2-3 miles down a winding road from the final turn to the finish, which was up a small false flat.

I found myself about 10th wheel going into the turns. I was fighting for Ben's wheel and the front of the pack. Some guy told me not to pinch him into the field. Great advice, how about I just go and ride in the grass. It's bike racing and the last 5 miles of a road race have no honorary rules in a field sprint, except keep your bike upright.

At about 1km to go it opened up and the field let loose. I found myself moving forward rapidly through the field to about 5th wheel. At 300 meters to go I got nervous and started my sprint. That proved fatal. The false flat kicked in and as I surged up I could feel the TT nipping at my legs. I should have waited to 150 meters to let go. I got passed by a couple of guys right at the line but held off the field for 15th. Sam was 22nd and Chuck was 42nd. A pretty good Saturday for us.


I shouldn't even write about it. It was wet, cold and the course wasn't good at all. I hope they change it. Props to Jed for his sneaky bastard victory in the Pro 1, 2 field. Good lesson to be learned from that is be so quick that the sonic boom from your bike as you jump the field causes a crash. Damn I want to be that fast.

Also, props to Paul for his 2nd in the TT, 1st in the road race, 3rd in the crit and overall GC victory in the 4/5 field.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rouge Roubaix

Even though this race ended about a week ago, my legs are still tired. For those not in the know, which is pretty much everyone including myself, Rouge Roubaix (the hell of the south) is a poor man's copy of the real Paris-Roubaix race. Instead of having pavee and throngs of fans throwing water and mud on the riders, Rouge Roubaix has gravel and red-necks in pick-up trucks trying to kill you. But, it is still epic.

The race runs from St. Francisville, LA up to Mississippi and then back down. In between there are three gravel road sections, the last two with serious climbs in them. It's an A & B race so Cats 1, 2 and 3 along with masters race together. This made the field about 70 strong this year. Memphis Motor Werks, Compliance Depot, and Herring Gas made up the largest contingent of the race. MMW had a team replete with 9 cat 1s and Oleheiser the master's national champ. This made them the big team to follow.

There were 5 Pro Bike guys there (4 and me), our team plan was loose and almost non-existent, but mine was simple. I was destined to ride MMW wheels all day long until I could do no more. Its a 100 mile race so the first 5 miles were pretty easy paced. In fact the first 20 were easy paced, but as the first gravel section closed in it got faster. I hit the first gravel section two wheels behind Oleheiser, right on Pete Knoop's wheel, in about 10th place. Years of Kansas racing helped my bike handling skills out here. At the front of the pack the pace was fast, but not killer. Rocks and dirt were everywhere. One piece took out a chunk of paint on my front fork.

I emerged from the first gravel section in 5th place and part of a field of only 25 guys. My teammates gone and all alone I figured it was going to be a rough day. Thankfully the pace slowed up for a little while and Sam and then Dave caught up. The next 30 miles were decently quick with a a good breakaway that almost caught the field by surprise coming when we crossed into Mississippi.

As the pack approached the second gravel section the pace slowed a bit, but there was a ton of jockeying for position. I took up my place on MMW wheels again. I swung loose on a hard corner and nearly lost my balance in some gravel but kept the bike upright. Thus started the second gravel section and the long awaited uphill. It wasn't so much gravel as loose sand. Riders began loosing control of their bikes and dismounting. I had found some hard packed dirt, but an out-of-control rider next to me pushed me off my line. I went into the sand next to it and that was the last time I had control. The sand pushed my wheel 180 degrees around and I found myself on my back. I popped up and tried to get back up on the bike only to hit the ground again. I took off running up the hill with the bike over my shoulder but the field started to leave me. I knew that I wasn't going to win the race now.

I remounted the bike at the top of the hill and tried to make up time. I caught Dave and then Sam about 10 miles later. We formed a small group with some other guys and then hit the last gravel section at 80 miles. I actually think that the steep climbs and huge mud walls that surround this section was the best for me. In the pack I would have likely been dropped but in my small group I was able to out climb the rest. I definitely have hit form for this season. A Cat 1, dropped earlier, passed us and I, along with Sam, jumped across to his wheel. We lost Dave but two of the other guys from our groupetto joined us. The Cat 1 motored us in for the rest of the course.

By mile 95 my feet were hurting so bad and my back was killing from the chip and seal pavement that covered most of the race. A small jump happened at the 200m to go mark and I finished behind two guys. Overall I was 32nd but for Cat 3s I was 8th. I finished less than 30 minutes behind the winner (4:31 to 4:58), which in my opinion was good. Next mountain race will not be on gravel so I'm hoping to have better luck with it. I now sit in 5th place in LAMBRA, but will be missing the two-man TT that's next up on the schedule. However, I'm game for the rest of the race season and gunning for top 3 overall.

Next race up is this weekend in Atlanta--Brooks Omnium.

Monday, February 06, 2006

First TT of the Year

Went down to Baton Rouge this weekend for this year's first time trial. It was my first TT on a real TT bike with all the equipment so it was my first real test. Baton Rouge isn't a bad town at all. I had assumed that the town was falling in on itself and that LSU was a dump, but I was surprised to find myself completely wrong. I can see how people could live there and go to school there, that isn't saying that I would ever do the same.

It was a two-man TT and done on a road that to the casual observer looked as flat as a board. I had never ridden with my partner until that morning so there were undoubtedly going to be slight issues to deal with. However, largely those issues never materialized. My partner was from a category below mine so he had to race up, but despite that we still finished 6 out of 9.

It was decided that we would do one-minute pulls which seemed consistent with what everone else was doing. Has he weakened and I grew stronger it turned out to be more like 1 1/2 minutes to 1 minute. I cannot fault him at all because he road really strong and I was impressed by his speed and his dedication despite the fact that he was cracking all over the place. A little more time in the sadle for him this season and the story will be different.

I cannot wait to try my hand at a solo-TT with all the fun equipment. I could only imagine what it would have been like out there by myself. The road was one long false flat that followed the course of the river levee and at about mile 8 you could really feel the false part of it. The wind was also at all times cross or cross-head. Which just slowly killed you. I think I was lucky to get out of it alive.

Monday, January 30, 2006


My thoughts have wondered off my ever important work-topic today-- how the writers of the UCC clearly missed the issue with which I am presented. I have been reading a book about the Battle of Vicksburg and the campaign in Mississippi during the Civil War. It's my ever present effort to dull my mind during the first hour of being on the trainer. I am ready for the sun to come up just a few minutes earlier and then I'm back outside because this is killing me.

I admit that I am in love with the City of Vicksburg. Unfortunately that city does not exist anymore. People back home ask if there was a place in Mississippi that I would be willing to live in for a long while and I always respond by saying either Oxford or Vicksburg. I realize now that neither is correct but for different reasons. The Oxford that I knew and loved is vanishing for me. The city remains, but the reasons I loved it are slowly disappearing as I grow older and my interests grow further away. I had the same feelings regarding Lawrence, KS too. I can never recapture the city that I lived in while going to school because the opportunities and motivations that drove me back then are changed and will continue to change.

As to Vicksburg, the city that I am in love with has not existed for a long time and maybe never has. I have an overly romanticized view of the town, which doesn't match reality. I picture it as parasols and southern belles walking down Washington St. In my mind the city is the epitome of the arts and culture. The high point of ante bellum life with balls, clubs and dinners. I even once thought of buying the historic Balfour House which was for sale recently ($895,000 for the house and the 1 acre lot next to it--that would have been a steal).

Upsettingly, reality does not mix with the present. What exists is a shadow of what could exist. There is so much potential in that town, but no one seems capable of unlocking it. The mayor has done an improving effort to push it forward, but still violence, drugs and murder are hard to push out of your city. I wish the government could come in, evict the population of most of downtown, bulldoze it and start afresh. Then it could become the city that I imagine it in my mind being. However, thinking now, that if I did buy the Balfour House surely any left over spirits of Confederate dead would haunt it's Illinois owner. It would be an interesting turn of fate for the home. Maybe it would be the completion of a long-lost goal of U.S. Grant. I still do have LullaBelle.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Complete Exhaustion

I have run out of energy today. Which means that my tolerance for just about anything is going. Therefore, I find myself biting my tongue more and more. A lot of things have been setting me off lately, mostly dealing with the fact that I cannot tolerate fakeness or as put in Mississippi politeness. I have always been a fan of proper deportment, but a lot of what happens around me that is called politeness is pomp and circumstance, which I thought appropriately died in almost all circles when the revolution came (the 1776 one).

I asked Mom last night at what point in time do I arrive at the level of authority where I can tell someone that I just do not care what they are saying and that I stopped caring long before they opened their mouth? She told me that if that ever happened that it would happen the day after my name goes on the door of the oval shaped office. So alas, that might not happen for a good long time, but I am looking forward to that day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Judiciary

The problem with working in the judiciary is that you have to objectively listen to stupidity and then address its merits. While this may appear simple in theory it is incredibly difficult in practice. I have become a study in temperance and self-restraint, which in the past were not things that I excelled at. I would love to write something to the effect of: "the appellant is a complete and utter moron if he/she/it honestly believes what he/she/it is saying is true". However, I typically end up writing: "we find that the appellant's argument is without merit". Trust, me the two typically mean the same thing.

In the last 24 hours I have found my writing slowed and more deliberate than usual. I largely blame it on the issues which are currently before me and their complexity. However, some is also to blame for the fact that there always seems to be a gray area. I've dealt with only 2 or 3 cases that were clear, cut and dry. The rest have been at one point in time a mess. I am amazed by how often a set of facts splits the middle of two theories of law or binding precedents.

I find absolutely amazing the size and body of law out there on any single topic. It seems that every issue in the history of society has been dealt with by our courts, except for the issue that you are currently faced with. I applaud litigants for their ability to accidently find themselves in a mess that no one has ever dealt with before. Maybe after I leave my post I'll have a better understanding of how this can happen, but I doubt it. Likely I leave here just as amazed as I was the first day I arrived.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Training Camp in Review

I survived the camp. While at some points in time it was painful, overall it was very productive and a good time. The second day was rained out, but what can you say, the first day was pretty good. Some of the people with me definitely bit off a little more than they could chew but overall the group stayed cohesive and together.

I got back here to find a rather upset e-mail posted to one of the list-servs that I am a part of regarding proper cycling etiquette. Apparently a cyclist got upset because a bunch of riders rode quickly by them without announcing their presence as they went by and at times doing so three abreast.

The law is pretty clear on the riding two abreast thing, if you don't agree with me just read Miss Code Ann. Sec. 65-3-603. So if you do ride three abreast you're just plain stupid. I have always been of the opinion that on the typical group ride that the group should ride two abreast. Some people seem to think that it's important to placate cars and ride single file along the side of the road. That only invites death and accidents. At two abreast riders are half the width of a car. At that size we actually become something to deal with. A car has to slow or stop or at the least, to think about passing us. Single file we are an afterthought and can easily be crowded or pushed to the side.

As to identifying yourself as you pass another rider, that's just courtesy. If your nice and friendly and want to say something to someone as you pass than do so. Otherwise you don't have to do anything like the sort. Maybe in a crowded environment it's better to do that; but if you don't the other person really shouldn't get upset about it. If you're willing to ride and be passed by cars weighing several tons, then you should be unthreatened by someone on a bike weighing 200 pounds. The writer of the e-mail said that people were lucky they didn't end up with road rash by what they did. I wasn't there so I can't say that they passed close by them or anything to cause such a reaction, but frankly if you can't stay on your bike while being passed by a group of other cyclists without falling off then maybe you should stick to bike paths.

If that was the approach we all took then we should start writing letters to the editor when someone cuts us off on the highway or passes too close to us while driving. I think people need to just relax. You're riding your bike it is supposed to be fun and when you start clinging to rules of etiquette like they are the Napoleonic Code then it ceases to be fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Training Camp

This weekend marks my first cycling training camp. It's not that I'm a novice at the sport, it's just that I've never gone to one. My schedule has always been open enough to let me ride at my convenience for as long as I liked.

I'm a little uneasy about this camp. I know that my conditioning is good and that I'm not going to die from lack of training. My uneasiness comes from the fact that I know next to nothing about the people that I'll be riding with. I've always found it very uncomfortable to ride with people that I don't know. Something has to be said for trusting the person who is riding next to you at a distance of less than a foot. If they do something stupid or wrong and fall then you'll be right next in line to do the same.

Plus I don't know their levels of conditioning and fitness. This could turn out to be the longest rides ever to accomplish the shortest distances. I'm sure everything will turn out fine but I'm uncomfortable. We are heading up to my old stomping grounds in Yoknapatawpha so the ground is familiar to me. I have these preconceived routes and rides planned in my head, but since I know next to nothing about anyone I can't say for a certainty whether or not they'll be appropriate.

I'm looking forward to it, but just uneasy because I am in the dark. My expectations are likely going to be different than others.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What Can a New Year Bring

Admittedly I know that this year, 2006, is going to be one for the record books...well at least in my life. It's my first year. It's my first full year since graduating from law school, since passing the bar and since getting a steady permanent paying job. Not to mention the most important thing being a full new year with LullaBelle. These things are outstanding and enchanting episodes in my life. So much new...soo much new.

When you go out for a good ride, especially one of exploration it's always exciting. You get to see new things and be in new places. The scenery changes and changes and there is always something out there for you to discover. You have a tendency of getting really lost though. I ride by maps a lot. Thankfully Mississippi has been kind enough to put all the county maps online, otherwise I'd have to order away from God knows where.

I make these intricate routes with a million turns, because no road in these counties goes further than 10 miles in any direction and carry notes with me on torn up pieces of envelopes. Even with the best laid plans I go awry quite often. I've ended up in some pretty messy places before and then it's just luck that gets me home. Maybe this is a metaphor for my life?