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.