Thursday, December 03, 2009

Contre La Montre

I remember seeing this movie when I was fourteen, at the UC Theater in Berkeley. Bike racing had infected me some three years earlier- I barely knew what bike racing was, as the Europeans did it, as the pros did it. I'd only ever seen the Berkeley Criterium to that point, which was held near my house, down on Fourth street, in what is now a posh business filled row. Back in the day, it was factories, workshops, and Spenger's Fish house. They raced on bad roads, over train tracks, around and around in a rectangle. When I saw that clip, on a double bill with 'Stars and Water Carriers', I was transfixed. I hadn't seen this clip since then. It still stirs me, captures me. I understand it a bit more, the whole bike racing thing, and it is now only more compelling.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This pretty much says it...

I don't know who did it, but its HI-larious...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Standing Start

This via Brad Wiggins (twitter post).
Nothing like mixing some Greek classics about war/meaning/man (as narrated by someone from the British Isles) and cycling to get the adrenalin pumping.

Makes me want to race track more...especially if we had a sweet indoor facility. Will Portland ever get it done?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sandbagging -

So, since my last post two weeks ago, things have been sinking slowly into the shitter. On the heels of my win at Hillsboro I was called out on the 'Smack Talk' section of the Cross Crusade chats. Someone grabbed my results from this season, noting my start in the master b's and subsequent drop to the master c's and, posted them, and let the feeding frenzy ensue.

Now, I'm not the thickest skinned person. I'll be the first to admit. I wasn't raised to not give a shit about what other people think of me. In fact, I was raised oppositely; to care, in general, what people think, how they feel - in short, to be sensitive to others. So while I'm nice that way, I'm a bit weak with respect to others' criticism of me. So when I got called a sandbagger on line I took it the best way I could. I assumed this was fairly good natured. I can take that. I know it looks bad that I cat'd down. Anyway, I for yourself. My id is 'cramps'.

It became clear that it wasn't really all that good natured. There are people out there who don't care how much they hurt others. Who don't care if there are ramifications for their behavior on line. Like flipping someone off on the freeway is essentially anonymous, the name calling and labeling on the chats is harassment, and its cruel.

The big result of all this dis'ing is I don't really want to race 'cross anymore. I don't want to be out there, busting my ass with a bunch of people who don't respect me, the competition, or the spirit of it all. The whole exchange has really poisoned 'cross for me. I've been saying 'just fuck it, it's not worth it' for days now. I don't want to be a quitter, but I don't see any reason to participate so long as it's this shitty. I've lost a lot of respect for the other riders, in and out of my category, who called me a sandbagger, and frankly don't want to have anything to do with them.

There seems to have been more problems this year with people behaving badly at 'cross. I don't know if its a trend. 'Cross has gotten pretty big, and since it's been so inclusive, it's brought in a lot of people who maybe don't get the vibe, or have changed it to their liking, in a way that I don't. But a lot of complaining, name calling, bike throwing, bad language, bad behavior toward others had happened this season and I don't like it. I wasn't as plugged in to the social scene last year...but I was on the chats, and reading the comments and I don't remember it being so bad. Anyway, it makes me sad. Something good is dead, or dying and I'm not sure there is anything I can do about it.

since I posted last on the chats one of the other writers posted an apology for the whining and smack talking. So that was a bit of save for me. And still others have come to my 'defense' to some degree, so that is good. I'm not sure I am ready to play again. I'm not sure its worth it. If the price of doing well is what I've seen from others, I don't want to have anything to do with it. ever.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hillsboro Cross Crusade #4 Rematch

Last year, I showed up to the final race of the Crusade series in Hillsboro having spent the entire cross season racing rather unremarkably. I started with a blast at Pain on the Peak (a race I'm still recovering from) with a third place- A totally unexpected result, having never done a cross race before. But the rest of the season was a slow nose dive into mediocrity. By the time Hillsboro came around I was feeling better, and then I saw the start order, I was in first group call up- finally. I was psyched. Then I saw the poop pit and then I wasn't psyched. I was poised for a fine finish. When the whistle blew, I jumped right into the top twenty, but before I could settle in, my front wheel was taken out and I landed hard, followed by at least one other rider who plowed into my head, and back. I stayed turtled, waiting for the other 125 guys to kill me before getting up. When I straightened out the bars, shifters and surmised there was no internal bleeding I remounted and chased- chased so fuckin' hard. In the space of a minute I went from twentieth to dead-fuckin'-last, and finally, when all the poop was washed off, to 23rd. So while I didn't DNF, I wasn't happy. I've been kicking myself about that all year. Sunday was rematch time.

After burying myself at the Sherwood Horse Poop Fest to get points (started in third or fourth to last group - somewhere around 120 of 183, finally placing 16th!)- I got a call up for Hillsboro where my start position was just about exactly the same as last year. All I could think about was getting my legs swept and ending up chasing as usual.

The start went well. I've figured out that I don't do well leading others in a cross race. When I have riders on my tail, all I can think about is those riders passing me. So I purposely didn't go for the hole shot. Instead I got into the top five and let things string out a bit. I kept my eye on the top three, trying to judge what was going to happen. Pretty quickly two Pac Power riders went to the front a drove the pace. I had to jump past a couple riders to catch them, but that brought me into third place, where I pretty much stayed the entire race, save for one lap. The smaller of the Pac Power riders was a great bike handler, carving every turn easily and carrying a lot of speed into the straights. His teammate wasn't as good, and kept opening the door between himself and his teammate. Eventually I had to jump across to stay with him. We were joined by an S&M rider and an unmarked rider. The four of us traded positions throughout the race.

On the 4th lap, I think, the unmarked rider attacked. I had seen him earlier in the race, and wasn't aware that he'd stayed with us at the front. He jumped out in front and proceeded to motor so hard I was gasping. Just when I was starting to let go, either the S&M rider, or the PacPower rider pulled through and I grabbed wheel and stayed with the leaders. Luckily it was short lived, and before long we were headed into the curves before the barriers on the backside and everything slowed a bit and I could catch my breath.

On the 5th lap at the mud hole, the S&M rider attacked. Again, I followed just barely. The only thing keeping me in contact was his mediocre cornering on the back side of the course coming off the asphalt road with the speed bumps. At the muddy uphill turn he botched it and I took the lead from him. With the Hammer team tent right there full of screaming teammates adrenaline got the best of me and I attacked out of instinct. But before I could get through the bumpy grass section near the start and back onto the gravel road, I'd been joined by the unmarked rider and the Pac Power rider. I let the unmarked rider pass and take the lead down the grass section just passed the gravel. By the time we hit the 180 at the dirt mound he was already tiring and slowing down. He bobbled the turn, and took a wide line. I cut it short, rode it out wide and put in a BIG attack going through the mud hole. I nearly buried the bike in the big rut that had developed in the middle line. I pulled the front wheel through it just enough to keep it upright and went full gas on the way out. The long straight away after that was terrifying. I was right at the limit and I could feel the other riders really close behind. I settled in to the two minute burn knowing that intervals had already prepared me for this. I knew I had it in me to do two minutes at the limit. But did I have enough to sustain the power? I can usually kick away from just about anybody, but stay away- not so much. But I had figured that the trip home was working in my favor. The big straight where I attacked was pretty much the last place to close a big gap w/ speed. I just needed to keep the gap there. If you were going to close past the barriers, in the barns, it would have to be with some pretty seriously bold corner work. And by the sixth lap it was a grease pit. By the end, the section from the pits to the finish was almost entirely about maintenance- just stay upright and pick good lines where you don't have to correct too much.

When I hit the last barn I was almost totally gassed. Then I heard Burns yelling something about it being the 'two minutes'...'Go, Juan, go! something, something, two minutes!' I knew exactly what she was talking about, I had been thinking the same thing since the mud hole. I just had to dig in a bit more. When I got clear of the barns I passed my friend Kalin. I muttered a 'hey'- that was all I had. I was really happy to see him. In the midst of all that pain, I was happy to see a friend who was struggling too. Hey yelled at me to 'go' and then started counting seconds until the next rider. Later, he would tell me that I had built about a twenty second lead in the barns. I rolled through the last crazy turn at the finish line. The joy and elation bubbling out in a fist pump and an visceral shout. I'd won. It was like a dream, attacking and rolling in alone. I was so in doubt that it had happened that later I went to the OBRA truck to make sure that it was my name at the top of the list.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Alpenrose - Race Report from the Masterb..'s (snicker snicker)

For some reason I can never really remember what happens in cross races, unless I get a moment to 'rest' during the aftermath of a crash. So my cross race recollections have precious little detail...

It all started with a lousy call up place...Best part of the call up was seeing Hugh two riders over...rad. I looked behind and saw maybe thirty or so riders maybe forty total..and the rest- about 90 in front of me. Combined with the uphill start, I was pretty sure I could kiss a top twenty goodbye. From the whistle I nailed the clip but almost put my foot down because everyone else around me was so damn slow getting going. It was worse than the light at SE Grand and Madison in the morning commute. Once we were up and running, I started taking names. By the time we hit the gravel left-hander at the top of the velodrome, I think I was somewhere around forty..I believe there was a crash just after me sometime, so a separation happened where I was essentially last in line for a while. I caught up to Chris who looked really strong. I got a good outside corner after the bottom of the hill and jammed past Chris and a couple of others who were clogging up the road and Chris yelled 'Go Juan, Go! Go!'- awesome. I managed to keep closing in on the stragglers off the front, while still being passed by some seriously strong riders who I couldn't even catch as they went by. At some point, on the off-camber up to the muddy section past the parking lot someone went down in front of me and I lost contact with what I think was the last of the top 25 or so. As a consequence I feel like I spent the majority of the time passing or being passed, with almost no time with anyone else to pace...Or maybe it was the tunnel vision. From there it was just press on and not get swallowed up by anyone else. Finished 31st.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Dairy giveth, the Dairy taketh away.

I new it was going to hurt. But I did it anyway. I've been worrying about it like you worry about going to the dentist, or when you have to juggle chainsaws. It's bound to hurt and it's bound to leave a mark. And when it's over, you're not sure if it was a good idea to do it in the first place, but you're glad you did it, just the same.

Blind Date at the Dairy was just like an actual blind date; horrifying, uncomfortable, awkward. But by the time it was done, my lower back was screaming and my undercarriage felt like I'd been dry-humping a belt sander. Wow, it was just like a blind date.

I haven't been riding much in the last three or four weeks. Travel, job, stuff...all getting in the way of carving out time to pedal. You know the story. Besides the weekly torture sessions, I've been basically training for beer drinking. So if there was any victory to be had, it was that I didn't DFL.

Suffice it to say, it was dry, alternately bumpy and fast with lots of dry grass corners to carve up. The corners were the fun part, the dry, dusty parts - not so much. I started in the second row, managed to hit the clip on the first try, and made the right hand corner with the top ten. That would be the best I did all night. Past the softball field there it was a 180 degree turn to the back side of the grass parking area. On the sixth lap, still in roughly tenth place, I started cramping. On the seventh (of eight) lap, just past the 180, I locked handle bars with a single speeder I was trying to pass. I hit a deep channel and it took my bars hard right- into the SSr's bars. We managed to untangle without too much slow down. On the bell lap, at the same turn, I hit the channel AGAIN and lost hold of the bars with my left hand, only this time I was all alone, and crashed all by myself - hard. I lay there, on my back, in so much pain I was waiting for it be more serious. Someone on the sideline even asked me if I was ok. I got up, got passed by six or seven riders and limped in, 24th.

It's going to be a rough season in the b's

Monday, August 31, 2009

Decent into Madness

Cross is in the can feel it. Aside from some conversations about Eugene on the team ride, its all about cyclocross. The road season is over, and while I'm both happy and sad about that, the prospect of riding in the rain, mud and sleet of cross season fills me with dread....and joy. That's whats weird about cross. We did intervals last week, the standard weekly suffer fest...the session was all cross focused. It felt like cyclocross- sprint hard, timetrial, sprint hard, rest short, repeat, repeat, repeat..until barf. Why is that fun? Add miserable weather, mud, muddy grass, and lots of water, then it becomes fun? I'm still not sure how this all works out on the balance sheet of fun to suffer. Because when I look at it on its face, it looks to be about 80 percent suffer, 20 percent fun. Not usually a recipe for "a good time." But so it is. Try and explain it to a friend who doesn't do it. You'll see (but if you do cross and road, you probably don't have any friends who don't).

I spent three hours working on my cross bike yesterday, my hands still hurt. I converted to tubeless- we'll see how that goes. I need to do some testing. But getting those damn tires on after sealing the rim was a pain in the arse. Worst part is that I still have plenty to do. Deraileur hanger is bent, chain is too short, head tube is too long, and my breaks sorta suck. But other than that, good to go.

So is there any wisdom to this, about this, from this adventure into madness? I'm not sure. Is it the pointless, slipping, sliding, silliness held in juxtaposition to the road season that makes it important? I try to stay loose during the road season, not take it too seriously, even though I invest a fair amount of energy, effort and suffering in getting better at it- but its still a pressure cooker in some way- lots of frowning determination during the road season. Whereas cross there is far less long mile rumination and expectation built in- at least for me. Short hard efforts, lots of factors beyond one's control, the simply fact that its a silly sport, all contribute to the carnival. Mix in some beer and its shirt-up, pants-down stupid. I hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DiLuca- Doper

Anyone who doubted whether DiLuca was clean or up

That stupid SOB - its been clear for a while that he was riding outside his ability. His performance at the Giro was confirmation in my mind that he was on the juice. I think the days of totally heroic performances maybe gone...and I think thats good.  As amazing as these professionals are, they are still human, still have limits and still have to face when they cannot compete, cannot deliver, and cannot win. These are the weaknesses that make them interesting and compelling...not total dominance, and infallibility. When we watched Ivan Basso climb away from the competition in the Giro just prior to the Operacion Puerto bust, my heart sank. I knew then that he was juiced. I knew at that moment that someone I found compelling and likable was infected, like so many other riders.  Watching DiLuca do the same thing this year was just another example.  I hope there is some learning going on in the peloton

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gettin' a little love

So last weekend, I got a little love sort of mysteriously flow my way through the interwebs. As an industrial designer, I 'maintain' an online portfolio on a industrial design site called Coroflot. They featured a design of mine in 'featured designers' which is a rotating set of images that last a few days and then gets a new set of designers to feature. Other designers see the featured work and can 'likey' it, adding it to their personal set of designers/art/design that they like. Well, I guess my design broke a 'likey' record and got noticed by the Core folks- and an article was written. While the article is not 'about' me, it does mention me. Which in my little world is like having an article written about me. Sweet.

It was a good weekend all around. I also recieved a patent letter in the mail on Saturday. So now, officially, there is a US patent with my name on it. First one. Several more in the works.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A True Champion

Back in 1984 I had one cycling hero.. maybe the last hero I had, and that was Bernard Hinault. Here in the states, he got a rap for being the guy who betrayed Opie, I mean Greg Lemond, during the '86 tour. As far as I'm concerned it was Greg who betrayed himself with his naivete and lack of acumen in discerning the nature of the relationship.

Hinault is a champion. From his youth he was a champion. You cannot take a champion like him to the vet and nueter him. He will be a pitbull no matter what. His allegence is to himself, to cycling, even to the attack itself. To pure blood of the kill. Look at the way he raced. He charged the towers when he raced. Screaming at the parapets. He lunged for the jugular when the jugular was just out of reach, daring his competitors to walk the line with him. Flame out or quench his thirst with the blood of glory. A cyclist. A hero in the greekest sense.

Since the 'Armstrong era' began I've had this feeling that something about cycling had changed since I'd left it. The brash, confident and reckless attacks of the likes of Sean Kelly or Bernard Hinault were missing in my mind. The calculated, controlled and overbearing control of the race that Postal, or Discovery exerted stifled the race, stifled the spirit of cycling. Proof that control will win races, the directors began plotting conservative strategies on race control and dominance. The individual personalities, the passion and suffering of the individual was placed in service to this control. Where was the brash attack? The suicide break? 'killing is not enough, you must win the fight' keeps running through my head. Hinault always rode without fear- Fear of others, or his own limitations. He flew from the pack when it served his interest, his desire, his intention. He did not fear his director, his teammates, the peloton, the fans, or even his sponsors. He road for himself. In his interview posted this evening on VeloNews crystallizes all of this.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our sacred cows

I find this article interesting- and a little annoying. I don't know the author so I don't know how much to trust him, and he plays fast and loose with some of it. But overall, provocative. It's a long read, but a good one. It does touch on the issue of heroes in American culture, whether we're talking Jesus, or Baseball. We are likely to look beyond faults or contradictions in an effort to preserve our icons as infallible and without contradiction. We tell stories about George Washington, John McCain, and whoever else, as heroes. Self sacrificing, Gawd and country before self and others..its a lie. It's a myth. We are weaker for these myths, not stronger.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome to the Velodrome Pt.2

One of the reasons I quit racing when I was a junior- the real reason- was pressure. I put so much pressure on myself to succeed that all I could do was fail. Even moderate success was a failure. Its a bit like the '2nd is the first looser' thing. I get the point, but on the other hand, unless you're a pro, and you need to win in order to keep getting paid, the notion that winning is the only measure of success is absurd in my opinion. Now, I'm not a kids soccer coach - I think wining is awesome and I really, really like to win. But that cant be the only reason.

So the lead up to this Saturday's race I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. It was keeping me up. It was making me nervous. In fact, it still is. With good form comes expectations, and expectations create pressure. I am not immune. I don't like it. I'd rather just race, do well- what ever that means, and have fun...and not have expectations. How can I make that happen?

Part of what I really love about bike racing is tactics. I love studying opponents. I love formulating hypotheses about their behavior and testing it, confirming it, and creating a plan of attack based on that information. Its the closest I come to feeling like a arouses the same deep seated emotions. Its a blood lust. The more I study the riders, the more I feel the predatory instinct and the more I want to tear the other rider's heads off- metaphorically speaking of course. Saturday was a great study in predatory nature. It was like being in the alligator pit where natural law plays out at every level of the pecking order. Giant adult alligators pick on the adolescent ones, they on the immature ones, and they, in turn, on the little baby ones. In this alligator pit, I'm really just a little baby, but of the little babies, I'm fucking awesome.

Starting with the flying 200m for seeding each rider does three laps around the track. By the beginning of the last lap you should be just about flying. When you hit turn two, your bike hits the timing strip, activating the clock. By now, you should be full-tilt-boogey for the finish line. The faster you get there the higher in the seeding you are, and the easier your route to the final. I didn't hit turn two fast enough, I wasn't really cooking. But I wound it up and blasted home: 14:23. second best among the 5's. I was beaten by :03 seconds. Had I just hit it a bit harder...

I haven't really done much track racing here in Portland, or anywhere else for that matter. But the first person I was matched up with I already knew a little. I had raced against him in the Fast Twitch Friday that I went out for with my teammates. In the points race, he had gone hard off the front from the gun in an attempt to shell everyone, I guess. He ended up burning himself out and finishing back. I knew that he lacked experience, tactics, and maybe even a sense of how strong he thought he was. I was lucky enough to draw second wheel in the sprint - an advantage.

On the bell lap he dropped down to the sprinter's lane at turn two going full gas. I caught his wheel, followed him through turn three, pulled around by turn four and went clean wheels for the win.

My second match was nearly the same. I had seen him in his previous heat and hadn't displayed a lightning quick jump. All I felt I needed was to make sure to catch his wheel. I would have enough to get by on the third or fourth turn.

In the final, I was matched up against a Half Fast Velo rider. He too had not shown a big jump. Instead, he had jumped and preceded to burn the other rider off his wheel. He had done that twice. Its a good tactic, if you have the motor. I drew first wheel for the final, after two second wheels I was due, I guess. But I was unhappy about it. My lack of experience had me worried. Would I make a stupid error and let the win slip away? I knew that if I dialed it up and kept the pace high that I would neutralize what jump he did have, and make chasing him down easier. I stayed high along the top of the track, keeping an eye on him over my left shoulder. That way he couldn't disappear and surprise me. We burned through the first two laps at about twenty mph or so. Right at the apex between turn one and two on the bell lap he attacked below me, taking the sprinters lane. I attacked down the banking, grabbed his wheel and pulled around him on turn three. By turn four I was clear, in the sprinters lane, and coming home clean wheels. I'd won. Best baby alligator of the bunch- Catagory 5 state sprint champion.

all photos courtesy of Jose brujo Sandoval- Thanks, Jose.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Salem Fairview Circuit Race Report 6/28. 'I love it when a plan comes together'

I gotta admit, I was pretty nervous about racing this morning. There are some days I wake up and I have this feeling that today is the day I am going to die, or go down hard in flames and guitar riffs or something....This morning was one of those mornings. Sometimes, I heed the warning signs; the shut down highway, deep nervous energy, the crash the previous day..etc, etc. and pull up, pull out, or otherwise find some reason why I can't/won't race. But today, despite all the signs I suited up and lined up. Turned out to be a good thing.

I pushed my way to the front this morning- lined up second row. There were already a bunch of guys there, but, having looked at the course, I new it was going to be hard to get up to the front at the beginning and that with the hill, it was going to be trouble getting stuck behind some of the more portly in our midst. The Capa Pinapple white-kit sucka's showed up in force today- probably because we were racing in their neighborhood. The Capitol Velo dudes were there, it was their race, after all. Plus a bunch of windpower guys. Hammer lined up three: Jamie (aka Southy), Chris and myself. Despite all the presence, none of the Capital guys or the Pinapple guys rode as a team. No organized attacks, no blocking, no chasing. This race was a race of attrition. Just go- who ever has the gas to hold on, gets the glory...Surprising, since it seemed tailor made for an organized team who could tear it up and make us all pay.

The course is 1.9 miles. From the roll out you false flat it till the first right turn, at which point it point upward a bit. I think the total altitude gain is something like 60ft. It then dips and turns, finally committing to a downhill through a neighborhood and some trees. hard right, single file. Headwind straight less than two hundred meters, right again and a long tear in a cross wind for over five hundred meters. The word on the day was 'its easy to under estimate' how long the final straight is. Huh. Wish I'd gotten that nugget before the race.

At a glance, it didn't seem like the hill would be hard enough to make the selection, but looks are deceiving I guess. By about the third lap we were shedding riders and passing them as we lapped them. Turns out the hill decimated the field. Out of the thirty or forty riders, the finishing group was only fifteen strong.

With about five to go, the pack really splintered. What would be the final group collected at the front and pushed on. I was probably twentieth or so when that happened. As the door opened, I jumped across to make the cut. At this point, I was feeling really, really good. So good its a new sensation to feel this good. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, whether its the CERA or the booze, but I'm feeling like I've got a fitness that is just a bit better than the rest...and that means I have a big kick to give at the end. I've always had the super kick, either on the field or on the bike, but not really so much the fitness to unleash it at the end.

At two to go, they rang the prime bell! In an effort to shake up the last two laps. Ironically, this had the effect of slowing the group down as everyone starts marking and waiting for the jump. As we came around the last turn two guys jumped and went for the prime. The rest of us kept them close, but didn't really try to reign them in. When the bell rang again, I moved up to the front on the inside. The big cross wind made the right side great for moving up quickly and easily. By the first turn I was in third. We hit the hill and an unattached rider went hard of the front like Alberto Contador- dark, skinny and fast. A Capitol velo rider did the majority of the pace to bring him back. By the down hill it was pretty evident he was toast. By the last turn he was reeled in. There we were, Capitol velo, unattached and me at the front, in a cross wind with over five hundred meters to go. Capitol freewheeled a bit and nobody swamped us. There was this moment when everything seemed to stand still...This is usually followed by the big organization, the guys with the long legs going to the front and me trying to pick the guy who is going to get second place behind me...I wasn't having it.

Before the race I had this thought that it might go from a long way out. The strong wind would neutralize the packs ability to really control things and that favors the strong single rider. At a long distance nobody is prepared to chase. They all think it wont possibly go from that far out. I thought that maybe if they didn't think about the wind, paused for moment and let me go, I might be able to ring it.

The building at the finish wasn't even in view yet (somewhere beyond the curvature of the earth). While everyone else was looking at each other, I jumped from the front of the pack. Five hundred meters (at least...was it three miles???) to go. I was in the one spot but I just went. 'Screw it'. I kicked as hard as I ever have. Big gap right away. quick glances back and I could see a wind power rider and another shadow pretty close, closing the gap. I snaked across the lane to the right, trying to shake him. I looked under the arm, half a length, closing. I snaked back to the left, trying to shake him from my draft. At five thousand miles I was weakening. Shift up, keep the spin on, keep cranking. Out of the saddle, change the pain from the back of my legs to the front. Back down, drill it, drill it. By three thousand miles out the building is in view and I'm so close I can taste it. Clear road in front of me and if only I can hold this windpower guy off, I'm in the clear. One last wobbly kick and I'm over the line, left arm I've always dreamed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm just going to throw this out there....

I'm not looking forward to this Tour de France like I have others. I am not looking forward to the battle between Pharmstrong, Contador, Menchov, and Cadel Evans at the Tour....reason? I hate all four of them as protagonists in this great race..There, I said it.

I don't trust Pharmstrong for obvious reasons, past and/or present. Additionally, I don't have much respect for him as a person, in so much as I can surmise from his books, his quotes, his actions etc....he's a prick from Texas.

Contador...don't really care for him. I'm not sure if I believe his story about Manolo Siaz and all. While he hasn't struck me as someone I 'hate' per se. He's a bit like a pro tennis player- won Wimbledon again? yawn.

Evans...really? He can take his little yap dog and high strung-bordering on pathologically tense personality and go home. Panache? fuhgetaboudit...

Menchov- besides his sort of also rode style, this is another rider who I have questions about regarding their cleanliness. The fact that he rode stronger than Di Luca, who, I am positive is a doper, doesn't help his case.

Sastre? It will become evident that he won because more talented (albeit less likable) riders weren't present. Not to mention what ever role the doper Kohl played in shifting the battle field for podium placings.

So whose left? VDV? Kirchen? Pozzato? The Schlecks? Maybe...But even Frank Schleck has stuff to answer for.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Am I the only one who thinks Troy Lee sucks balls?

Come on', really????? This guy's crap is all over the industry and I don't get it. Go back to NASCAR or motocross or whatever cow sh*t infested dirt play area you came from and leave road cycling alone. Maybe its just the Torpedo talkin', but I think Lee sucks.

Slovenian Hydro station is a fixed gear playground...

Pretty amazing photos- at first you can't really tell what the scale is...then it becomes more clear. wow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Olympia- its the water...

Four motivated, and hearty souls trekked it up to Olympia, Wa. for the Capitol Criterium yesterday. Even though it rained off and on all the way up, we persisted, undaunted, and were rewarded with near perfect racing weather.

I sat in the back seat of the car on the way up, studying previous race results for Washington riders on my iPhone. Having never really done a race up there (The Vancouver Courthouse crit doesn't count as a race in Washington), nor really encountering too many racers from anywhere other than say, Vancouver, which lets face it, is the trailer trash cousin of Portland, and doesn't really represent something all together different than the Portland racing scene. In Portland, I can pretty much guess who is going to win or at least place in my races. Besides some strong teams I saw at Cherry Blossom, I have no idea whose good in Washington. One name stood out among the top ten finishers for crits and circuit races- and sure enough he would be the guy who won my race. Sometimes, even with studying, strategy, and good legs, someone else wins. What can you do?

The Capitol Crit circled the greens right next to the Washington state Capitol bldg. Pretty cool. A five hundred meter gradual uphill straight followed by a right turn, a half a roundabout, followed by a downhill chicane, then a back straight to make the difference of the five hundred meters, a super fast off camber back turn, straight and a finishing corner, pretty close to the finish line. It was pretty evident that you had to be in the top three or so to have any chance to contest the win.

I rode the race from the front. Never getting involved with anything toward the second half of the race. Looking at the group at the start, it was pretty evident that as a masters c/d field there was a wide range of fitness levels. Knowing that usually means a corresponding gap in handling skill and racing intelligence, being at the front was self preservation as much as anything- fewer open doors to close, fewer bad braking choices to over come (other than my own).

From the gun, there were riders pushing the pace. It was like a juniors race. One guy in a yellow and black jersey (team?) and ponytail jumped on the front and drilled it for one full lap, before pulling off. That burned off all the weaker riders pretty quickly. Someone else took up the charge, and kept the pace pretty high until about twenty minutes in when it finally got down to a more reasonable pace. I wasn't feeling particularly powerful during the race. I was still feeling it from the previous weekend of indoor soccer- which, as fun as it was, was a big mistake for the cycling legs. Left me with no chance at competing all week long.

It was a pretty straight forward race, really. I found the wheel of a Starbucks rider, who by my estimation was a giant, to hold on to. He was strong, consistent and totally unwilling to chase down any breaks or otherwise do any work besides pedaling at the number two or three spot. Which for me, makes for some pretty comfortable racing: steady pace, steady wheel, and like sitting in behind a moving truck. Awesome. Based on his racing, I was sure he was going to lead me to the finish, and I followed him till the last corner- but just like the rest of his racing, he was unable to open it up and go full gas for the line...Big and diesely- No kick. Big mistake. He fought pretty hard to hold the front of the race and I was obliged to follow him. Up until the back side, when on the down hill chicane, he (and I) gave up five or six spots. By the end of the chicane and down the hill we had picked up all but two of those spots- good. Final straight, two more riders had pushed forward in an effort to gain the corner position. Once we hit the corner, we splayed out across the finishing straight. The Starbucks rider had no jump and I went around him. One of the riders who had just gained the corner ahead of me had nothing for the final jump and was in my way. I kicked hard around him and found the daylight of the finish line obscured by four riders. Digging hard, trying to make up for my obvious tactical mistake, I passed another rider easily. I was running out of real estate quick. I saw the third place rider just ahead of me. I had built up so much speed I though I could catch him. The line was about three feet too close. I threw my bike and missed the podium by six inches. Painful. Less than two bike lengths ahead, the winner had his arms up... So close. The speed I had carried me past the winner so fast I had to break to slow down to talk to him. I felt like I had the strongest legs out there- but I didn't race like I did. Its starting to feel like I need to change my tactics a more aggressive, think more about imposing my self on the race, rather than waiting to capitalize on someone else's mistake. It takes confidence, I think. It takes a strong will, and a knowledge of your opponents, and most of all, I think it takes nerve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dems fightin' werds

Normally, I like people from the my team mate, some of my best friends. But this guy from Minny-appless is trash talking. I'm just sayin'...
(from BRAIN blog)

"Portland is just street in Minneapolis"

—Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak when comparing Portland to Minneapolis as a bike friendly city.

Rybak, a champion for cycling, happened to stop in Freewheel Bike Shop while the BRAIN dealer tour was passing through.

Rybak was an advocate of bringing in the Freewheel Bike Shop, coffee shop and commuter station as part of a massive revitalization project that transformed an old railroad corridor into the Midtown Greenway, 5.5-mile bike and pedestrian path in South Minneapolis.

Rybak spoke to the group briefly before he grabbed his Specialized Allez from Freewheel's bike locker and headed out on his commute.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flying 'V' suing Flying 'Checkmark'

Crusty rockstar turned shoe mogul Eddie Van Halen, (apparently) challenging Keith Richards for best 'scary crypt keeper look alike award', is the latest to take on the monolythic Swoosh in a battle of who owns arbitrary stripes, artwork, and color. Can't the cultural icons just get along? Apparently, he believes that Nike is doing irreparable damage to his 'design'. What that really means is 'wtf, how am I going to get the Hardrock Hotel chain to push my shit if there is Nike shit out there that looks just like my guitar??'

As far as I'm concerned, maybe the only thing worse than aging rockstars trying to cash in on their former 'relevance' is aging rockstars litigating in an attempt to cash in on their former relevance.

From SportsOneSource Media....

Eddie Van Halen Sues Nike Over Shoe Design
SportsOneSource Media Posted: 6/12/2009

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen filed a lawsuit against Nike in Los Angeles, alleging the company is using his trademarked red, white and black striped guitar design for one of their shoes. Nike's "Dunk Lows" shoes feature red, white and black streaks along the midsole. The lawsuit comes as Van Halen has come out with his own line of sneakers under a similar color-scheme. The suit, according to a report by KTLA TV in Los Angeles, states that Van Halen received a 2001 copyright for the design on the body of his "Frankenstein" electric guitar. Van Halen claims Nike is doing "irreparable harm and damage" to his signature design. He is seeking general and punitive damages, all profits arising from the sales of "Dunk Lows" and a permanent injunction halting production of the Nike shoes. In mid-April, Van Halen formed a partnership with New Jersey-based FEA Merchandising, a company specializing in recording-artist merchandise, to release both high- and low-top canvas sneakers with red, white and black stripes. The shoes were set to be sold at, as well as select department and specialty stores. The men’s shoes are also available in black and white as well as black and yellow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This might have nothing to do with bikes...but if you were thinking about getting a tatoo...think again.

I know someone out there is thinking about getting some ink happens. You're looking for something that really says your serious about how your feeling, right now, at this moment, about your self, your life, or, well, whatever. Its like putting something deep on your headstone. Eternity will tell how fucking cool you were...look, you can see it right there on the headstone. Anodyne for existential angst...I get it.

But be careful with your metaphors...
and for GAWD's sake, be careful with your imagery

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Race Report PIR - 6/8/09

its been a long time coming...

Its been a tough year- filled with hope, plans, ideas, goals, objectives, despair, ruined plans, failure to meet goals and get the point. the leg cramps were like a broken collar bone on my season. For the first time since I was a junior, I had a plan for the season that was yet to begin. I produced a rough plan, some targeted races and was lucky enough to hook up with a great group of people to ride my bike with when the weather absolutely sucked. Most importantly, I had the blessing of my wife to spend the hours on the bike; after work, in the basement, on the weekends, out in the snow and rain for hours. I showed up to the Bananas with high hopes. After a 14th place and a 2nd I thought I was on the path to meeting my goals. After all, a 14th and a 2nd last year would be considered unqualified successes. But, for better or for worse, they seem more like 'almost success' after all the training and planning. I guess that's the dilemma. When you double down and actually train in the off season with the intent of doing well you consciously or unconsciously draw a line that says 'below #1, you fail'. I don't like that. To me, its unhealthy, and it takes away from the sublimity of our sport. But you must be an antihero to ride this way. Its all around you- the vernacular, the news, are steeped in the ooze.

Monday night was amazing. I showed up, and my legs showed up and maybe best of all, my teammate showed up to race in the same race as me. Cool. The racing was fantastic- the pace was high and consistent, the riding was clean and safe, and there were multiple attacks by strong riders. I followed a two man break on the third lap- a PV rider and a RCB rider. Both strong, and if I'm not mistaken, both have sailed off and won in the same fashion. So this time, I didn't let them get too far before I chased them down. I joined them on the back straight and we pushed hard through the first three turns hoping to establish a gap- but it never grew larger than a hundred meters or so. We were caught by the front straight. I felt so good that I tried to contest the first hot spot lap and was left out of position when we got to within a few hundred meters. So I pulled up and didn't push through to the end. Instead, I made sure that I didn't loose too much ground on the front of the pack. Just as we passed the Start/Finish the bell rang again- another hotspot- back to back. The pace was up again almost immediately. Those who had been left out on the first sprint were thinking about the second. After just trying a break away and pushing for the line, I was pretty gassed. Now, in seasons passed, I would have been in danger of getting gapped and eventually dropped in this kind of scenario. But I was able to suck it up and recover while I was still putting out a pretty high effort. It was miraculous, really. 'so this is what its like...' I thought to myself to be 'strong enough to repeat.' I'd read about that for years and never thought about what it actually meant (I credit my two interval classes w/ Jeff Tedder for felt exactly the same in class as in the race..only the race was easier!). Strange, I know. By the end of the back straight I had caught my breath and was thinking about the next sprint. I had great position right near the front. Within a couple hundred meters of the finish I was picking my way through the wheels for the win. Sometimes it's easy. That was easy. Weird. Its like playing on an eight foot hoop. Does that make me a sandbagger?

Dave tried a couple of times to get off the front with a break. We were positioned together and when he went I blocked...trying to pedal softly while not pedaling too softly is an art. You have to go strong enough that its not clear that you aren't chasing. I figure, try and keep the chasers on your wheel, content to have you 'tow' them up, but in actuality, let the break sneak off. Unfortunately for Dave, nothing stuck and he found himself back in the pack.

The third hotspot didn't go quite as well as the second, but 2nd place is good for points, if not the cash. I think it was a rider from Team Oakland who jumped early and away to the left for the win- I followed, but far too late, and he wasn't slowing. I closed a lot of the gap, but at some point I sat up and began thinking about getting back on the front for the final sprint set up.

On the backside, Dave offered up the lead out, so we coordinated. I didn't know it until later, but Dave's old teammate, Steve (?) helped on the train too. He got up on the front on the last turns and held a high pace, followed by Dave, then me. By the final straight we were basically one, two, three, with another rider out there with us. At five or six hundred, Steve started slowing, Dave paused for a second and the pace slowed a bit. I could see the shadows of Ironclad, and the pack over my right shoulder- the setting sun casting long shadows in front of them. They were gathering there, waiting for their moment. I shouted at Dave to keep going 'Go! Go!..Don't slow down!'. We were a long way out. Too far for Dave to deliver me with less than two hundred to go. 'Go, Dave!', I shouted. Dave put his head down and hammered. I could see him working, dragging out everything he had. At two hundred, the Ironclad posse was on us. I swung hard to the left- hell bent. I kicked as hard as I could- pushing my hips into it, nearly pulling my front wheel off the ground. I looked back to gauge my effort, and saw that I had gapped the group by a bunch- maybe ten lengths or more. A couple of riders had jumped off the front to the right and were closer, but still pretty far back. I dropped down a gear and drilled it home. Open road in front of me. First road win of the year.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Le Tour on the Horizon

So I saw this on, and thought I would pass it along to all those who have that unnameable attraction to the will do nothing to cure you. Here

Monday, June 01, 2009

Welcome to the Velodrome

Where I grew up, down in California, there is the Hellyer Park Velodrome. A placid affair by comparison, with gentle banks and open turns. It’s a bigger track, so the angles aren’t as tight, and the banking isn’t as steep. Its concrete like the Alpenrose, but it bumps along, like a roiling sidewalk under old trees. At times you feel like you are on the track, but, as I recall from my junior experience there, it is a pretty tame experience. Fun, but tame.

I’d spent just a couple of minutes on the Alpenrose track all told, before showing up to race Friday night. I was pretty uncertain about how I’d do. Would I be too scared to compete? Too nervous to hold a straight line? The essence of it seemed to be just like the sharp end of the leaders climbing rope. Each move, each combination of moves performed close to the ground are effortless, and without fear. Far above the ground the strongest force pulling you to the ground is your own mind, your own fear. Manage that fear and you can become great. Let it rule you and you will fall. As Yoda said: ‘ anger, fear, aggression. Ways of the dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.’

First race was the unknown distance- where you ride around the track until the bell sounds, at which point the first person over the line wins. There is no way of knowing if the race will be five laps or twenty. The strategy, as near as I can figure, is to stay within striking distance until the bell sounds and then hope to outsprint everyone in the last 200m- or as LK does things, simply ride away from your competitors and roll over the line alone, with ‘clean wheels’.

We all lined up along the railing, hands in the drops to signal our readiness to race. Rolling out, the pace immediately picked up. if you weren’t aggressive you would find yourself out of the race before it started. I worked my way up to the front group after having to bridge a couple of gaps myself on the first lap. I settled in under the sprinters line, in a group that was three deep. About four riders back, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to contest the sprint, whenever it was. But one by one, riders began pulling off the front, pace line style, until, at the moment we passed the start finish line I found myself on the front as the bell rang. One lap, I was on the front, and struck with absolutely no idea of what to do to win. I thought that I couldn’t ride off front. I’m not that strong. So, in error, I held back, biding my time, hoping someone would come around and I could grab their wheel in the hopes of coming around them in the finale. That person came around, charging, and I couldn’t close the gap to come around, and by turn four, I was out of contention for first. I pushed hard to hold second place. I realize now that the best chance was simply to bury myself for the last lap. I might have been able to hold first. At least it would have been much harder for the next rider to pull through.

(Credit: Jose Brujo Sandoval)

Race two was the points race. Nine laps, a point per lap. The pace was crazy from the get go, riders where off the pace immediately. If you weren’t careful you got bunched up behind riders too slow to keep up and you would be out of the race. I had to bridge several small gaps, essentially attacking hard to cover each open door. After three laps I had nothing to show for my effort. Points had gone to other riders. I had spent so much time trying to get toward the front that I had no idea who had actually gotten the points. In turn three I found the wheel of a U of O rider who was strong enough to pull us away from the front of the group after the early point getters flared out. I held his wheel until turn four and came around him for my first point. I eased up and let him pass. Remarkably, he pulled through, still at a high pace. By turn two I was behind him again. And as in the last lap, I let him pull me through turn four, at which point I pulled past him to take my second point. Once again, I pulled up the banks and opened the door for him. Remarkably, he pulled through again, at the same high pace. I dropped in behind and he took me through turn four AGAIN! I ate his lunch one more time for my third point. And then the bell rang- one to go. Just then an Ironclad rider, who must had bridged, pulled past on the right for the lead. With three points I was pretty sure I had it in the bag. I fought for the final point, but ultimately let him ride away with it. It didn’t matter, I’d won the points race.

Race three was the Alpenrose mile. Again, we rolled out and even though it was technically a neutral lap, riders were jockeying for position. I snuck in under a couple of riders for third wheel, right behind a VERY squirrelly Cyclisme rider, who made the whole race terrifying. Thankfully, he pulled off the front and let the faster riders through once he was tired. After three laps a rider jumped off the front. Attacking hard, building a gap that no one had an answer for. I was bunched with a Grunderbruiser’s rider and a couple others. After it became clear that no one was going to bridge, I attacked on my own with a little over one to go. It was going to be close. I pushed hard, driving the sprinters lane, the added force of the tight turn pulling my head down. By turn three I could see that I was closing. I’d taken much of his advantage. But as I pulled through turn four, I had run out of real estate. I pulled up alongside him at the beginning of turn one, just meters behind, congratulated him on his panache for that attack. I was gassed, but satisfied. I’d won the omnium. It was good to be back at the track.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Its sharky out there...

Anyone who has had the patience to talk to me over the last three months has heard me talk about the leg cramps I’ve been afflicted with. I’ve had no patience for my legs, I’ve been chomping at the bit, sullen at my lack of success. But last night, it changed, even if for an instant, I had a great race. My legs felt good at the beginning of the race, and by the last few laps, they were tired for lack of fitness, but strong, firing when I asked them, and most importantly, loose and supple.

Knowing my fitness level was low I decided before the race started that I would sit it, any notion of being on the front chasing anything down would be a mistake and a waste of resources. So for sixteen laps I basically sat in and tried to stay near the front, never behind more than a third of the pack, watching the moves, the sprints, the dynamics within the various teams play out. There was a strong cross wind on the course tonight, and I watched how teams negotiated it, used it to their advantage, or flatly ignored it when it was time to put the hammer down. I was in class.

I find several natural places within a pack; top ten, first third, second third, and rubber band wagon. Only in the back do I feel simultaneously tired from racing hard and absolutely out of the action. At the back you are constantly accelerating frantically and braking fearfully in response to relatively small movements at the front of the peloton. When the butterfly flaps its wings at the front of the peloton it turns into a chaotic storm at the back. Eventually, riding back there the rubber band wagon turns into the broom wagon- you snap off and free fall, exhausted, emotionally frayed, and with nothing to show for your efforts.

The 3/4 race at Tuesday PIR is a funny thing. It is a mix of sandbaggers, looking for points, teams of sandbaggers, looking for teamwork experience, proper 4’s who are racing within their abilities, and 4’s who are a danger to themselves and others with delusions of grandeur. Last night, the Gentle Lovers team was in our race. I put them squarely in the ‘teams of sandbaggers’ category. It is annoying and enjoyable to watch confident, strong and capable riders cruise around in the pack like sharks. They disappear when they have nothing to gain, and rise out of the darkness and chaos to claim whatever prize they are looking for when it’s time. I watched them do just that last night; it was beautiful in the way watching the animal channel is beautiful. So long as it’s not my baby getting eaten by a tiger shark, the tiger shark is beautiful. So I sat in and took notes. I formed a hypothesis on the second prime, and validated it on the third. When the bell lap rang, I became the shark. I marked the GL rider who had been led out on all the prime laps. When I moved to his rear wheel on the last lap I sensed an S&M rider had made the same connection. We fought for the wheel through the first turn, the second turn, and down the straight. He had the wheel, the position. I was squeezed out repeatedly. I stayed close. Several riders attacked and formed a break, establishing a hundred yards quickly. On the back straight, I got squeezed really badly. A rider who had dropped anchor was traveling backward through the middle of the pack on my right. I was caught between handlebars and kicking thighs, and in an instant I panicked. I fell back a length, breathed and shook it out. That was close, too close.

By the back turns I was back to my mark. I stole his wheel from the S&M rider through the fourth turn. Perfect. I would not lose it. As expected, He stayed out to the right, positioned himself in the crosswind through the penultimate and last turn, powering through it in confidence. As we rounded through the straight away his teammates collected around him, he was impatient. At five hundred meters: ‘Hold steady!’ one of his teammates called out. Four hundred meters: ‘patience!’ and the break was reeled in. Then at three hundred my mark spotted an alley between the tarmac and the barrier. Weeds, chain link, and stacked tires were all that were between my mark and the finish line. His fins twitched. He moved quickly up the shoulder, and I, right on his wheel. Perfect. He was going to lead me to the line and I was going to take the win from him. I was going to eat his lunch. Two hundred meters; we are hauling now, my 53x12 is starting to spin out. In an instant the door closes, a generic white jersey in the very front of the train drifts to his right, slowing, apparently gassed and giving up. I place this rider squarely in the ‘delusions of grandeur’ group. My mark screams ‘hold your line…hold your fucking line!!’ We are cooked! Immediately, I am looking for the backdoor on this domestic dispute. I hear the mark screaming etiquette lessons at white jersey as I find my door to the left. Exit. There are eleven riders in front of me now, I swing hard to my left, come around, and in the last hundred meters I push, push hard and gain three spots, spinning wildly for home. I am edged by a giant on a white bike and six others. My mark reopens the door, and finishes second. Patience.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DiLuca is a bit too good

I'm probably not the first to say it...And DiLuca has a track record...But I think he's a bit too good, the way Basso was too good a couple of years ago. The way Ricco was too good a year after that. I really think the controls are generally working- these other guys are struggling, but they are bunched up around the same time- there is parity. But DiLuca looks like he's playing ball on an 8 foot hoop with some grade schoolers. I'm not buying it. Doper. Quote me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kick Axe: the eulogy

The Kick Axe..I wish I'd come up with the name. So something that you learn as a designer of things is that rarely, if ever, does the actual merit of the design have much to do with whether it is successful in the market place. Yet, as you also learn, you are often blamed for that lack of success. Conversely, and predictably, you are rarely rewarded when it is successful. Since it is often the sales team, the marketing team, the company president, your immediate supervisor who takes credit when its being dispensed. We are often like Milton waiting for the piece of cake and getting to the end and having nothing left. But I digress a bit. This isn't about credit, this is about the failure of the development process with respect to getting good products to market.

My part in the kick-axe, as designer came after a false start by the design group where the first aesthetic and mechanical design did not resolve several key problems. As a result it was postponed, sent back into orbit until another development cycle began. That is when I jumped on the project team. The original aesthetic language was scraped. I fell back to a suite of design cues that had been established for the brand. I began again. Engineering was simultaneously working on solving and refining the mechanical and safety issues with the original design. In tandem we developed a new design. The design above was a push and pull between engineering and industrial design. Where I had very clear visions of what this would be like, what it would feel like to hold, swing, and fold, engineering had specific mechanical requirements, manufacturing requirements and costs that constrained their ability to meet my aesthetic vision. this is often frustrating as a designer. Most often, particularly if you don't work for Apple, or Ferrari, the cost constraint is often the most prominent, most pervasive, and constant drag on innovative aesthetic and creative use of material. I hate cost ceilings. By the same token, it is often the source of great creativity. When I was racing in Italy as a junior, my coach and I were riding past an old church steeple that had a modern, almost skeletal renovation that was a clear result of not having a deep budget. 'Being poor forces you to be creative' he told me. I knew exactly what he meant. Not only had the church steeple made the point, but my year of scraping, working and sweating every penny had been what got me to Italy. I knew what being poor would do to a person. And creativity is but one reaction.

The kick-Axe design team surmounted a number of design challenges; aesthetic, ergonomic, mechanical, and personal. Despite the doubt of some in the group the tooled sample pictured above made its way into the hands of product reviewers, magazines, PR folks, bloggers....everyone loved it. Everyone was excited and intrigued. This is the first really new look for an axe in a long time. The design itself isn't exactly a totally new idea, but in its current iteration it represents a step forward. We won an award from Adventure Magazine for gear of the year. It was placed in several publications like Men's Health, including blogs like Uncrate. There was clear demand for the product and it got canceled, by a corporate attorney who felt it was unsafe (news flash: we specialize in sharp pointy things). It was unilateral.

It is frustrating to be at the whim of others, no matter the situation. As a designer, in a corporate setting, I don't really get to pick what things I work on or don't work on. It is a challenge therefore, to find 'reason' to work on something. A reason to care, a reason to want to see an idea through to the market shelf. Besides the notion of doing a good job, I want good product out there. I want my hard work to result in something that someone really, really loves and cherishes, using it as it was intended, and owned proudly for years. That's the goal. So when a product like the Kick-axe is canceled despite what I believe to be a great design, it is galling.

stolen beauty.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spud sucker

Will someone PLEASE slap Michael Ball in the cake hole. What a prick. He was clearly a jackass when he started his pro cycling team. The attitude, the trashy models, the cadillacs, hiring dopers left and right, the horrible team kit...but then the way he's managed his team into the ground. The lack of respect for his riders. His dishonesty about what he's done. Please someone slap the smug motherf*cker! And get him out of professional cycling...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nobody decides who they love

PIR - Where Cervelos go to die...race report 4/28

Well, I managed to get my butt out to PIR finally to throw on a little cat 3/4 race tonight. I had it in my head that if it was wet and/or raining that I wouldn't suit up. I've been out there when its rainy and slick and its SCARY. Besides I had my virginal white Tarmac, and I was pretty sure I didn't want to desecrate it with a rainy race at PIR. Anyway, for the most part it held off. Between flying sweat and little spitty rain drops it was ok...cold but ok.

First off, its freakin' difficult to race when Portland Velo and Ironclad show up in the numbers that they showed up in. Its pretty much them and then everyone else in ones and twos. Makes it hard to play my cards, but its what I've always done. But it sucks when there's a PV rider and a Ironclad rider in the break and there isn't anyone else strong enough to pull em back...So I did it myself. The good news is that I was strong enough to pull back the f'n break! I have NEVER been strong enough to do that! WOW. It's gotta be the bike!

I managed to recover and sit in pretty much until the last lap, but had to get in and pull a few times to keep it together with five or so to go. On the last lap there was a break of four or five riders off the front, w/ no PV rider in it. Curiously, they were reluctant to for about a quarter lap, there wasn't any real motion to catch the break. Then, even more curiously, Ironclad brought five riders to the front and pulled us all for the next half lap, to within striking distance of the break (which had an Ironclad rider in it. WTF????). A rider from Kislers (correction: BridgeTown Velo) went down after crossing a wheel...right next to me! Miraculous that I didn't go down. I and a handful of riders bridged up and started down the straight away in a brisk cross wind...coming from the southeast (also strange). So the final ramp up at about three hundred meters I was set a bit far back, but ok, trying to figure out what PV rider was the mark when a Bike N Hike kid who had been randy all race shouldered up with someone and went down, wheels blazing. He took down a total of six riders I think, including all the set up riders for Ironclad. Again, it was just to my right and I steered hard to my left to avoid the carnage of helmet parts and white Cervelo soloist carbon chips (for real). That brought me out of the slip stream and out of real contention for glory. By the time I was close to another wheel I'd run out of real estate. Just missed 5th place by a couple of centimeters.

But the good news is that I stayed up right, AND that my legs didn't seize up.

The best news is that Dorothy arrived home from Boulder last night, tired and happy. There is nothing like a short separation to make you realize how much you can miss someone, and how dependent you are on that person...which at this point in my life gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, not the feelings of dread that it did when I was younger, better looking, and less, well, 'energetic'.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Strain on my marriage....

New Ride. 52 cm. Replaces the '07 version of the same bike that is a 54 cm which is too big for me. Paulo Bettini complained to Specialized that his 48cm was too tall at the headtube for the given size of his bike, and I tend to agree. Though I am told that they are not abnormally tall at the front end compared to other bikes...I haven't gone as far as busting out the tape measure and the straight edges, but based on how hard it was to get the 54 feeling right, I'm guessing that the head tube was tall. Anyway. I haven't ridden it yet...I'm almost afraid. Its so clean, pristine and jewel like. Dare I ride it in a crit? I waxed it before I began the build so that it wouldn't get covered w/ grease. I have a problem...Today I get the head tube cut, bar tape on, and cables connected...exciting. Now, will it make me faster?

ed: I've ridden this bike now for a few weeks and I can say with out a doubt that this is the BEST bike I have ever owned. It is amazing in most every way. Every time I race it I am pleased and amazed at how well it handles; sprints, corners, descents-awesome. Its a rocket in the big kicks, but isn't rattling out my fillings. It climbs like a goat without being twitchy on the down hill and it has almost no sway in the lows when I'm hammering the flats. I love it. Thanks Specialized, for the deal on the frame. Go buy one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

chomping at the bit...

My legs are feeling good, the weather is amazing and PIR is tonight...but I can't race! Its been a quiet few weeks since I last raced and its hard watching guys I've been racing against (and even beating) getting results. I see a particular rider in the results posts and think about how I could have beaten them...its killing me!

Had talked to my co-worker, who is just getting into road racing as a supplement to his off-road racing, about leading him out in the 4/5 race. Its a bit of a risk, the 4/5 race. You never know who is going to come out and pose a serious danger to himself and everyone else. I've had pretty good luck out there. Only taken down once, at low speeds. It pretty much amounted to falling over half-way in the grass. But I've heard/seen several bad take-downs because of over aggressive/stupid/ambitious riding. Happens a lot with the 5's. Delusions of grandeur, I guess. We're all entitled to a bit of it as cyclists...after all, why do we all go out weekend after weekend, getting our buts kicked by some of the same riders we know are stronger? But the chance to lead out a friend, see them take the line in a full-on sprint for the win would be worth the risk. That's pretty much how it always is...worth the risk. And me? I got a win in the same race last year. All things considered, a modest win. But a win, and that is unlike second place in ways I can't describe. I dreamt about it as a junior, never realizing it. I allowed myself to dream about it again in '06 when I lined up again for the first time since '89. Worth every bit of pain, torment, sweat and fear leading up to that moment- worth every bit of failure, set-back, and negative internal monologue. In that instant, I shut up the voice of failure. For a moment it looked away, pretended not to notice I had just kicked its bitch-ass. I'd won. I want more. I want more. And any amount of effort, dreaming, and planning is worth the risk of getting another. Always worth the risk.


I took the shims out from under my cycling shoes this morning before my commute based on the theory that the shims might be exacerbating my leg problems...While it's hard to tell immediately if this will be an improvement, I definitely wasn't feeling the same pressure on my hamstrings. I'm hopeful that removing the additional leverage of being almost 5mm away from the pedal spindle will translate into less pressure on my bunk legs. Anyway, I'm more flexible now, and I may not even need the added angle on the shoes..that may be part of it too. We'll see.

I got a call today from RC about my NEW new white-hot Tarmac Pro SL frame waiting for me. I wanted to run down to pick it up as soon as I heard it was in, but couldn't...damn job.
In the continuing quest to dial in my riding position/kit/feeling of seriousness as a racer I said 'go' on this recent acquisition even though my current Tarmac Pro is probably sufficient and something I could work with. Even though every day I ride it, it doesn't feel quite right.... But I'm glad that now that I have it, and that I waited for the white one, when a black one was offered. Its pretty slick...and PRO. Now all I need is a set of carbon tubies to round it out...and some wins. Pictures to follow. Problem now is how to keep it clean!

Maybe I'll restore my vintage Cinelli..I've been thinking about doing it. Can't decide if I should go totally retro, put on all the old Campy, or make it relevant and put some click-shifting on. I've already got the tubies on the way courtesy of Challenge Tires. Thankyou! One pair for the track bike (vintage Holdsworth, circa 1989) and once pair for the Cinelli (circa 1986), and one pair for backup. Sounds like the Cinelli should go old-school...I'll just rock it with six on the back and friction shifting. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Francisco y Fernando

Since I presume to write 'bout design on this here blog...
I had this wonderful song stuck in my head for about a year once. I went to visit my girl friend who was working in Ecuador, and this song was all over the radio...Never saw the album cover, till now..I think the design speaks for itself. Really, its not the best example on the site- but it conjures up memories of riding on the roof of a bus, holding on to a deflated river raft and a couple of kayaks as we barreled along a mountain road. Over hanging cliffs covered with wild orchids and water falls above, and a harrowing, thousand foot plus cliff below. Every time the bus hit a pot hole (often) I landed on a bag full of live chickens. Oh oh oh...vamos a la playa, oh oh oh...

I stumbled on this site today (linked without permission- sorry). Its now tied for my favorite site with Sexy People..which put together are good for many lost moments of wonder.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

oh sh*t! I can't get on Facebook.

I have a problem...
I actually felt a twinge of panic when I realized Facebook was down and I couldn't get me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

bum wheels

locked up...
Its a bit like being given a key to ferrari that has no gas. My legs let me down. After nearly an entire week off the bike, I rolled up to the start of the Cherry Blossom stage race in The Dalles with two question marks attached to my hips, and the answer after the first lap was 'No soup for you. Come back one year!'

After getting run into a ditch by a Team O rider who had his head down (I think his tongue was stuck in his front wheel at the top of the big climb) and nearly rode into the trunk of the rider in front of him. Instead, he panicked, swerved, crossed wheels, leaned on me and pushed me into a gravel and mud ditch..You know, standard cat 4 fair. I jumped the bars as the front wheel dipped into the loose gravel, dropped the bike as it got run over and hit the ditch running. I gathered my bottles and chased back on, which in could have been worse, the peloton was only going 5mph the wind was so strong.

What I found out on the front side, with the bitter wind at our backs, was that I couldn't get into my 12. I was spinning, under big efforts, just clinging to the wheel in front of me for dear life, until I gave up...Just before I did, I heard a Ironclad rider ask 'how many cat 3's are in this race?' Just then my legs tightened, ached and twinged, threatening to cramp. 'don't you know you're 39?!' I pulled right and watched the ironclad rider behind me close the door I opened, and the whole lot spun off into the distance. Faaack.

The real insult came in the following interminable thirty or so minutes. As I made the turn for home, surrounded by the shelled carcasses of other similarly unfortunate suckers, the wind was like a slap in the face with a fish. 20 or 30mph- plastering wind! Cramps, defeat, and an energy sapping wind make for some good times. I herded up with a couple of Portland Velo dudes, and a different Ironclad rider and we pace lined it back, rolling over the line together, laughing, shaking our heads...

I didn't show for the TT the next day.

D has got me on the PT plan now. 50lbs in a backpack which I put on three times a day (the real sweetness is that I get to take it to work with me every day and do my exercises in the stairwell) and do heal lifts and heal lifts with a bent knee...until I come back like Steve Austin- sweet haircut, track suit and ready to kick some cold war era ass. Just you wait...I'll get my rematch with those sucka's who already upgraded to 3's. SMACKDOWN commin' - Its a train- and you can't get out of the way.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Live, Damn You, LIVE!!!

ok- an attempt to revive a blog...since everyone in Portland who races seems to have a blog, I am going to revive this and be one of the cool goes....

Its been 'a while' since my last post...and a lot has happened..but lets draw the camera in a focus on the recent past..lets say the since the begining of the 2009 OBRA road racing season. OK.

I got on with a new team this year- new to me, new to OBRA. Hammer Velo. So far, its shaping up nicely- a good hearted bunch of folks who seem both obsessed about the bike, and realistic, balanced, and not, well, like a bunch of teenagers who obsess about their weight out loud...did I mention beer? There is some drinking. Debauchery. good old fashioned. And while I wasn't there to actually witness the Vendetta mayhem, I approve. Because at the end of the day we aren't going to get signed to pro contracts, we're all too old and not nearly good enough for that- we lack the natural talent. So while sacrifice, single mindedness, drive and ambition are good things..great things...stopping, reposing with a solid beer in hand is an important and worthy activity. In fact, I think its of dire importance. Booze will keep you in check. It will unwind the knot of self-obsession that you feel behind your neck and shoulder blades. It will loosen that taught expression, and frankly, make you a lot more fun to be around than when you're all up in your I said, good to have, but not that fun for your loved ones.

So we've been training, in the winter, in the mud, snow, rain, cold and general miserablness that is Portland OR in the winter/spring. I, for one, have had the best preseason training ever, as a consequence of taking on this team thing. I'm motivated, social, and happy even though it sucks out. I've stayed relatively healthy this winter, and have only gotten the sniffles for about three days, which in retrospect was probably good to get me off the bike for a couple of extra days to chill and repair. But I am stronger now than any other time since high school. And I was FIT in high school...over-trained...but FIT.

But... there is always a BUT. My legs are now not happy with me. My heart is there, my lungs are there, my experience is there...but my legs, oh my legs. They have knotted first I thought it was electrolytes, or the lack of, but now, I'm not so sure. They hurt, and in ways they shouldn't given how little I've ridden in the last week or so. I'm worried. I'm concerned...and I'm not sure there is anything I can actually DO to make it better. The sad reality is that doing nothing maybe the answer. The answer that any motivated athlete doesn't want to hear. In three days I line up for the Cherry Blossom Stage Race out in the Dalles, OR. Four stages in three days. My first stage race...if my legs were on, then I would be super, I'm filled with dread. Will I have paid my money, worried some hundereds of calories and have lined up only to cramp up and drop out like I did the other weekend at the last Banana Belt? I hope not. I am praying to my legs to get better. But now, I go home and drink a beer....Because if all this worrying and hoping can't actually change my condition, and my performance in this upcoming stage race doesn't determine my pro racing career, than a beer will only make me smile, relax and have a different perspective on the pain. More later.