Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rocky Mountain High: Cycling in the West Part 1

After returning from a whirlwind adventure of bike racing, weddings and other things that often times leave me with that awstruck look of the white elephant sticker that Adam Mills and Ben Coles once put on my helmet I am ready to recount the events of the last month. My dearest friend Smiff-dog:

was recently wed. I voyaged out to the land of Pikes Peak for my first tour of the "inter-mountain west." The first day I arrived in C-Springs it was 70 degrees. The next morning it snowed:

However, undaunted I put on what warm cycling clothes I had and rode into the mountains (keep in mind the next leg on my tour was LA). These were my first rides with the new power tap. I can imagine only that the results might be a little skewed by the lack of any air at all in Colorado. I think I saw a lot of mph that were less than 10 as I ascended roads that back home should normally gave me no pause...and likely at this time of year a sun tan.

I am bound and determined this year to get down to climbing weight for my assaults up Middlebury and Appalachian Gaps. I am returning to Vermont to conquer the latter climb which destroyed my legs and made me rethink giving up pools and Ft. Lauderdale for a bike and the open random road. Labor Day Weekend, which is strangely not that far away, will be my final racing weekend of the season. I have decided to try my hand at the Green Mountain Stage Race which goes over the same climbs that I did my senior year of college at cycling nationals. Amazingly what cracked me that day wasn't the two tall climbs but a smaller wall of a climb which shredded the field.

However my excursion to Colorado was not without its share of shenanigans:

It is a pleasure to see the greatest among equals that is Brian Michael "Knight" Murphy. As you can tell time has not changed the myth of this man. He still is a giant who lives with us. An unequaled master of his domain. And still the only man in this world that I know who is loved so very much by women twice his size.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Car Shopping

The other night I started the final step in the process of replacing my aging yet wonderful Pontiac. The old car has performed so well for so long. Who cares that the windows stopped working or that the a/c ran out of juice or that the transmission slips anytime you step on the gas too hard. These are all just luxuries.

Princess Lillian joined me in my car buying escapade. We went up to the local Volkswagen dealership because I've had a long running crush on the German automaker's products. We made it there shortly after 7PM about an hour from closing and were greeted by a cheery and young salesman who was eager to show us around.

Young Salesman, making an assumption that Princess and I were a couple, started making comments about "our" purchase. The comments were enhanced when he came to learn that she owns a Jetta. When he found that out he said that we could buy "his and her" Jettas. Neither Princess nor I wanted to correct him because we figured he would just get embarrassed and feel dumb. We exchanged knowing glances but let it pass.

After our tour of the lot we went inside the dealership to start talking money. Lill's job that night was to not let me buy a car, this task she performed well. She also had intended to remain virtually silent but this she did until it burst in her. Channeling her mother and mine, she began asking questions about safety features. She beat Young Salesman about the head with questions of airbags and crumple zones until he almost could not handle it. Having satisfied her born-on-the-bayou urges she relaxed into an observer role.

Young salesman began his harder sell and the comments about "our relationship" grew more obvert. I'm guessing it didn't help/hurt the situation that Princess wears a ring on her left hand that could (in the right dim light) look like a wedding band.

Incentives started to be discussed-- recent college grad, good credit, having a good hair day etc... , then Young Salesman got to owner loyalty. I've driven a GM car since the turn of the century, so I was out. But Princess is a Jetta owner and he was about to use that leverage. When he asked us if "we atleast live together" you could see her face get red and terror in her eyes of "out of wed-lock what would my grandmother think?"

I thought about playing this game out to the end and seeing how much owner loyalty would get me; but then I started to think of how I was going to prove that her and I lived together...because we clearly don't. On top that Princess hates public displays of affection and I'm sure this would top the list. Therefore, I had to explain to him that weren't married or dating. The look on Young Salesman's face was priceless. Sadly, one can only have that kind of fun so many times. I wonder how much I can get that car for now?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cajun Seasoning-- Riding in the Big Easy

By invitation of a federal judge and necessity of my employment, I recently had the opportunity to spend eleven days in the Crescent City. I've been to New Orleans a number of times over the past two years and a couple times before the storm, but this time I brought my bike with me. I had been forewarned that New Orleans left a lot to be desired when it comes to variety of places to ride but was determined to make it work.

The first day in town, I road down a local bike shop and asked the folks there for suggestions on place to ride and they gave me just one-- the levee. Ok, in reality they gave me two suggestions, the levee and the Natchez Trace. However, since I didn't want to drive a hundred and fifty miles into Mississippi for a daily training ride, I opted for the levee.

New Orleans has a great river levee that runs for about twenty miles from downtown up the river. It's bone flat, overly exposed and curves back and forth. As the levee curves you go from headwind to tailwind and back again. You're speed literally changes from 15 mph to 30 mph in the course of half a mile. The river was high this time of year. It was a good five to ten feet above the level of the homes on the other side of the levee. Something about that just unnerved me.

I was amazed by how flat the city really is. The biggest elevation change was a pothole on St. Charles Ave. Riding on the levee you get a great view of the passing ships up and down the Mississippi River. They are huge vessels, some as long as a couple football fields.

I took the opportunity to have my own American Flyers moment. I spotted a large Greek vessel a couple hundred meters, a headwind and gave him the current in his favor (because I believe in a fair fight). Then I went to work on him. He was no match for my speed. It took me about five miles but I took him and his steam powered engine down. It was like my own personal tribute to Casey Jones and the battle of man versus machine. And in the case man won.

Feeling a little high on my fitness right now, the question for me now is who's next:

That's right Denny Hamlin. You and the No. 11 FedEx Toyota are going down. Just you wait till Richmond in a couple weeks. When you look in your review mirror it's gonna be me and my NCVC Cannondale CAAD 9 bump drafting you all the way through the final corner. When I get down in the drops you've got no chance. (P.S. FedEx please sponsor me-- I'm fast)

The Saga Continues

For reasons that escape belief, I have been given a driver's license, a USCF license and license to practice law. The first one I rarely use. The second one I use every weekend. The third one I use daily and it pays the bills that the second one incurs. This blog is my continuing journey from obscure town to obscure town, roadway to roadway and sometimes from emergency room to emergency room in pursuit of illusive cycling glory.

I have the rare fortune of having a bike, a bike box (thanks Taylor) and a camera (thanks Mom and Dad). I have also been blessed with a job that sends me from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all places inbetween. Put the lot of them together and I'm hoping that it makes for some stories and a few good pictures.