Rants on Cycling and on Life



It is unlikely that I will venture out into the world of the single and the childless
but if I could go out
I would try to head out and see some friends do there thing


New Age Bullshit...

earlier today I wrote some New Age Bullshit about Inspiration and Love
all that talk about love for my children and love for my dogs made me realize a few things

many years ago with two young puppies I learned that when you go to pet one dog the other one comes running
this creates a bit of a can not fully pet a dog with one hand
each dog gets a substandard one handed hug
this made me get realize that I needed to make time to give a real two handed hug, pat, and rub to each Roscoe and Brutus
this extends to Grant, Dean, and Lisa as our family has grown

we need to be concious of our actions and our distribution of our affections

this brings to surface a few other irrelevant ideas.....
in my new age rant I never made any mention of hugs for lisa
years ago I had a formula to slow things down.....Lisa and I would get a tad busy with our lives and I would try to slow things down a bit by asking...."can I get 8 seconds?"
lisa would ablige me by having us hug for 8 seconds
how do we know what a dog enjoys?
people share affection with hugs and kisses...
is this how our pets like to be treated?
and when we pet them...we stroke them with the same paterns and rhythms that we would think that we would enjoy
maybe they prefer an off beat rhythm
what do I know?
just killing time as I wait for the whistle to blow so I can end this abreviated work week and go home and hug my family
and I will be sure to hug them each one at a time
and maybe a group hug if my arms can open widely enough

grab inspiration where ever you can
when you see it...take it and hold on to it
use both hands and don't let it go
store it up and reflect back on it

the more you have the more you have to use
give all you care to give it replenishes it own supply

once you are done taking
try giving
try to give INSPIRATION
not advice
even if it is just through example

while you are at it
why not try giving LOVE
give a hug and you may get a hug back
(you may get your ass kicked...get fired from your job...or get slapped in the face*)
*user disgression is advised
I hug my sons all the time...the experience is like a shot of espresso for the soul

my dogs enjoy hugs
it is not fair but I feel that Roscoe gives love while Brutus takes
they both give
for some reason it seems as if Roscoe is more selfless in his giving
Roscoe is definitely less needy
Roscoe is my favorite, but I give more love to he needs it more
I will hug Roscoe when I get home

as for me
it is best I start taking my advice
my most recent advice being not to be giving advice
advice....I give more than I take
perhaps I should just live by example
if someone wants to pick up on it, great!
if worries
best I don't waste energy trying to change others
when all that energy can be used trying to change me (and my family)

have a good full weekend!
I am going to have a full weekend at my house....
there are things that need to be done
putting my feet up may very well be one of those things

Single Speeds.....
why single speeds?
"If you have to'll never know."

Last weekend at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 there were far more people on single speeds than I would have expected, one of these singles turned out to be a fixed gear (this rider was in a class by himself.) Many of these people had fast finishes...many of which finished in front of me and all my gears....even the guy on the fixie finished in front of me.

For those not in the know lets get some ideas across.....
The mountainbike is a diverse as the human face, sure there are some basic similarities with each face...they all have eyes, nose, mouth, etc.....but there are different strengths and different weaknesses to each face. Since this metaphor is proving to be as complex as just explaining some different mountainbike categories I will drop the metaphor and go back to the bike itself.....

Mountainbike....basically a 26 inch wheel bike with lots of gears and knobby tires....
Well, almost....the wheels can also be 24 inches in diameter or 29 inches in diameter...I even owned a bike at one point that had a 26 inch wheel in the front and a 24 inch wheel in the back (cannondale SM600.) Once the wheels sizes are selected we look to the gave us the 15 speed...then the 18 speed.....then the 21 speed and now the 27 speed (all factors of three, three cogs in the front ((big ring, middle ring, and granny gear)) and a rear sprocket in the back with a large number of cogs; now they normally have 9 cogs (3X9=27...I think, math like reading hurts my brain) Then there are also mountainbikes with one gear; singles speeds and fixed gears. The single speed has one cog in the front and one cog in the rear, minus the derailuer and the option to change gears/resistance. The fixed gear is similar in the single cog front and rear, but the cog in the rear does not spin freely, it is fixed, causing direct a tricycle. At one point in time all bikes with a chain were fixed gears, then technology gave the rider the "freewheel," then after that the invention of various shifting mechanisms and gears. Now the cyclist is evolving backwards with the single speed and the fixed gear, many racers putting aside any and all suspension forks and riding rigid. While at the same time there are bikes with more suspension both front and rear.....thus creating a broad spectrum of sub groups...
XC Riders: Fulls Suspension XC Bike, Front Suspension XC Bike, Rigid XC Bike, Single speed (usually rigid or front suspension almost never dual suspension,) and unicycle (more of a west coast thing)
Freeriders and Downhillers: Full Suspension Bikes....lots of travel (the shocks have lots of give for doing jumps and drops and for rolling over great big obstacles at high speed) Usually a heavier bike that does not climb well, but is built to take the abuse that these riders are ready to dish out
then there are recreational riders, commuters, road racers, recumbants....but this rant is about XC bikes so let me bring it back

To each their own...

In this world we have vanilla and chocolate and for those that look a little further there is Blackberry Crunch with Chocolate Chips and multicolored Jimmies.

It is my feeling that many of these riders and racers have ridden geared bikes for years and have taken their skills to what they may consider their personal limits and offer themselves a greater challege by moving to the Single Speed. Sure...most single speeders would say...."single speeds are just more fun!" The single speed can be fun, but I personally have a different set of rule for my use of the single speed. I only race the single speed on a course where I do not feel that riding without gears will cause me to finish significantly slower. I race the 12 hour of Lodi Farm relay and several of the Wednesday At Wakefield races in non-single speed categories on a single speed. Rode hard and finished strong, never feeling that a geared bike would have made a significant difference. But at the SM100 a Single Speed would have completely changed the event for me. I used my gears in this race....I used all of my gears in this race....the road secitions were fast...had I been on a single I would have been forced to coast which would have altered my pace....on much of the fireroad climbs I was in the middle ring while climbing....the single would have only given me the option to spin...spin....and spin some more.....
So for me...the single speed has its place...but it is clearly not in a 100 mile off road is not on a 100 mile ride.....or a ride with any significant climbing. But then again just as each bicycle has its own strengths and weaknesses so does the body of each rider. The Independent Fabrications rider, Tiffany Mann, who I was pacing with for a while was on a single speed....but...I must say that I am confident that I weigh much more than a 100 pounds than her....and my body needs to do different things to get up the hill than hers does. It amused me for Larry Camp to cruise past me on the climbs only to meet up again at the Check points...where I would be in and out while he worked on his tan.....only for him to spin his single past me again later on the course.... While at the same time I was pacing pretty well with one of Larry's Team Bike Lane teammates who was a tad discouraged and was wishing he had a geared bike.

What is my point....
there is no point.....
slacking at work cause it if friday!
I need to get some lunch and then knock out some work before the day is done!

J, J, & J
all reporting on the SM100

Jason perspective

Joe Foley's view on it

and well
you are already at my page Joel aka GWADZILLA

if only more people blogged.....


a few days have passed
and before the topic has lost its timliness I will Publish this Post
it is too long to merit an edit or a reread
I may just have to make another post about more specific details of the event

Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100

This weekend past I participated in the Shenandoah Mountain 100, an off road mountainbike race that offers more climbing than I have ridden cumulatively in the year 2004. Needless to say anxiety and apprehension surrounded this event. In the weeks leading up to this dirt century I had the best intentions to pick up the pace and try to log some long training miles on my road bike, it did not happen. Once I went for an evening spin and another night I broke a sweat on the trainer, but as a whole my training continued to be nothing more than my 45 minute to an hour post work commute normally followed by a quick walking of the dogs. Two weeks prior to the Shenandoah Mountain 100 I entered the Fairhill Classic as a confidence booster.; twelve miles into a twenty-two mile race I was wishing that it was a 13 mile course. Confidence was not gained.....confidence was shattered; it ended up being a good race, but more humbling of an experience than I was seeking; my anxiety levels increased. Then weekend before the race I got a stomach virus from some bad sea food that had my meals racing right through me, exiting out the back in a brown liquid form. The excuses compounded on top of my fears, my mental approach was not positive. As Lisa prepped for a long weekend trek to Pittsburgh with the kids I waited and prayed that she forbade me from racing at the SM100. No such luck! Lisa supported my initial desire to race and did not offer me such a bullet proof excuse. I was committed. Finally, lacking a ride to the race was the Ace up my sleeve. To my sorrow and frustration, Joe Foley, fellow City Bikes Team member and neighbor just one block away offered to give me a ride. All of my excuses crumbled away and I started to plot my race strategy for this 100 mile endurance off road race. Had I not preregistered I would not have felt committed and I would not even considered heading to Harrisonburg for the Shenandoah Mountain 100.

My fears were not without merit. The last time I had ridden 100 miles in one sitting was the last time I had raced the the Shenandoah Mountain 110 (akaSM100) two years ago. In the year 2004 the longest ride I had ridden may have been in the upwards of 30 miles. When there was mention of this event and all of its climbs I braced myself for failure. Quitting is not part of my nature, but I had to maintain a rational approach. It was decided. My plan was to go out and ride hard and strong, listening to my body and accepting that I may have to drop out. Part of this plan was to not leave lights at Check Point 5. I decided that if I could not finish the race before sunset...that I was not in proper condition to be on the course and risked hurting myself. Duration is as much of a painful factor as distance. I could not see myself riding for 14 hours. It was settled. No lights were being left. Instead I packed a full change of clothes for Check Point 3 and Check Point 5. That was fresh socks, fresh shorts, fresh jersey, and fresh gloves. To some it seemed a tad over the top, but to me it seemed like one way to make this long ride a tad more comfortable. No need to pack food.....the support stations seemed to have that part covered two years ago and I would assume that they will be doing the same this year in 2004.

Going into the race I did not have a strong recollection of my time from two years prior. There was no notion of my desired finishing time. My Surley Karate Monkey is not outfitted with a computer so I would not be able to monitor miles or average speed. Knowing such things would not aid my efforts. To me there is a start and a finishline, goals such as finish under a certain time were arbitrary to me. Heart rate monitors would only tell me what my heart is doing not what I should be doing on the bike...if I can not tell on my own that my heart is about to explode and I best slow and rest for a minute, well, maybe, just maybe, I can ride through it. My body is certain to tell me when it is time to stop, rest, or give up. Upon arrival I learned that this year Chris Scott, our friendly Harrisonburg neighborhood promoter, would be adding a CLYDESDALE CLASS to this event. Easily qualifying as a racer over 200 pounds I was only more anxious as I was less ambiguous than when I faded into the Open Class. This was more pressure to perform. Yet, I made no effort to access the competition. In an event like this it is more important to run your own race and to listen to your own body. Had at any point in a race a larger rider passed me.....well I would have just let them roll by. I thought to myself....if the other Clydesdales race slower than me...than I will win the Clydesdale Class....otherwise...there is nothing I can do.

on with the actual race report.....

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 had its 6th annual Labor Day Weekend Event. After all sorts of bitching and complaining Saturday morning arrived and I was pretty much packed and ready to head down to the race. At 12:10 on Saturday I rolled into the alley behind my house right behind Joe Foley in his hip little blue SUV. Joe was expected at my place around 12:15....apparently Joe likes to be prompt. Lucky for me Joe is not only prompt, but Joe is real mellow. I was still all over the place. Rather than spend the morning double checking my bags I spent that morning in the woods hiking with the dogs, Roscoe and Brutus on the Melvin Hazel trail in Rock Creek Park, then off to my Ashtanga Yoga class at Tenleytown....a short journey that steered my rigid Karate Monkey down some of the Glover Archebald and then onto a patch of the Melvin Hazen and then home....home right behind Joe. After a few more things that slowed our momentum down a few more minutes and on the road. In no time at all we were at the City Bikes Chevy Chase store loading up Jason and his Cannondale Scalpel. Joe, Joel, and Jason were all road tripping down to Harrisonburg VA for the same 100 mile race where each individual would have a similar yet very different experiences. Jason was also mellow and made no mention as to whether we were on time or if he had time for my wild goose chase for a bottle of Jim Beam on our drive down to the race. Without any stress, strain, or trauma we were in Harrisonburg, actually Stokesville VA setting up our tents and then getting served a tastee pasta dinner with a three meatball minimum. I had mine with some red wine. Red Wine before the race and Red Bull during the race. Not too much wine, just enough to take away some of the awkwardness and displeasure with sleeping in a tent, well, it is not the sleeping in the tent that is so awkward, but rather trying to sleep comfortably on a thin and skinny thermarest pad which is oddly slick especially against a nylon sleeping bag (not to self invent a one sided Velcro sleeping bag with a one sided Velcro sleeping pad.) At least if I had brought the dogs I would the warmth of Roscoe and Brutus and the cushion of their dog bed. The cold morning came fast. There was no pillow to hug so I got up and meandered over to get a bagel and some coffee. People were pumped. All sorts of lycra clad freaks were po-going around trying to warm up and trying to stay warm. I worked my way back to the tent and suited up. My drop bags had been taken the night before and my camelback and been loaded and filled the day prior as well. My mind had to do nothing but get me to the start line fully dressed with a bike. I slammed a Red Bull and rolled down the grass hill feeling I did not need to spin around for a warm up as I would have a hundred miles to do such.

At the line up I gathered near my brother. I approached cautiously and was careful not to talk too much. I recall two years prior he was not so fond of my caffeine induced chatty chatty-ness so early in the morning. Soon there was a mass of City Bikes jerseys around me....Pooche.....then Susan...then Erza... even Welp and the list goes on. (This is not an episode of Romper Room so if your name was not called.....write your own race report.) Prerace exchanges were made and prerace jitters were shared. Then the gun went was madness...wheels and pedals spinning everywhere. Some sort of fleshy mass riding a metal and rubber amoeboid monster that snaked off the grassy green field, down a dirt road, and off onto a paved state road to take the riders to the first of many many miles of climbing.

No worries.....

I too do not want to here a "play-by-play" account of each inch of climb and every centimeter of descent. It was a glorious started at sundown for all of us and ended before sundown for most of us. The journey was long and hard, my body and mind were better prepared for the event than I had anticipated. Somehow I managed to go off on a rock solid pace and keep it up for the first 50+ miles. It was a hoot and a holler and a scream (screams of joy on the downhills and screams of pain and anguish on some of the climbs.) The climbs were each rewarded with a sweet descent. It as an awesome trade off. The check points did a great job of breaking up the race. Each check point was like an Indy Pit Stop that refueled the body and the soul. Rolling into each Check Point to hear the sound of strangers clapping and cheering for you can only be beat by having someone take your camelback and water bottle to be filled with one of various vital fluids; gatorade, water, or something...then to have someone lube your chain and more if you need it...with a buffet table of SWEDISH FISH (a box of red and a box of variety, I ate red), PRINGLES, BANANAS, PB&J, more PB&J, SLIM JIMS, ORANGES,COCA COLA, MORE VARIOUS CANDY (and that is just what I ate.) Shamefully I not only pigged out at these check points, but I stripped out of my sweat soaked gear and slipped into that fresh pair of socks, shorts, jersey, and both Check Point 3 and Check Point 5.....the fresh clothes were worth it and I needed to take a chair.....but perhaps I did not need to stay as long as I did. Perhaps some yoga inversions would have been more useful then yapping it up with the resting rider beside me and flirting with some of the volunteers.

During the race I rode with and made conversation with a wide variety of people from a wide variety of times I even had the pleasure of sharing a painful foot march with some. Clearly fast draft lines on the hard pack were more pleasure than the mountianbiker in me would like to admit, but I would like to say that I lead more pace lines than I used them and I even got payment in the form of some E-Caps of which I am now a firm believer, as cramping was part of the game and the E-Caps and E-tablets seemed to have a profound effect in battling this pain.

The climbs were long. Did I mention, the climbs were long. The descents were awesome, yet brutal on the body. My hands are arms are what suffered the most. There were times on the descents that my hands were so arthritic that I could not use my thumbs to change gears. Once off the technical descents I did various exercises and positions to try and aid in the fastest recovery of my hands as I could as I knew that I would be needing them again before the day was over. I can not recall the names of the climbs or the names of the descents. Nor could I tell you which was my favorite or which one I dreaded the most. The climbing path to Check Point 5 may have been the worst climb as it came so late in the game and my climbing legs had long since retired by this point in the race. There were moments of great pain and moments of self fulfilling glory on and off throughout the whole event. The downhills made me smile widely even with the pain and left me smiling wider when I got up from a few crashes only to find my body and my bike each in one piece.

With about two thirds of the race behind me I began to grin with glee. It was at this point I was confident that I was in fact going to complete this event. Then I started to think about my placing as a Clydesdale. The thought process was short. I had no idea was behind me and less idea who was in front of me, with no idea who the Clydesdale competition was. I accepted my pace and my placing and pushed on. Late in the race as a few riders went by me as I proceeded slowly up the climbs. On each pass I made a feeble effort to have pleasant conversation. Once pleasantries were exchanged I asked if I could ask a personal question, "how much do you weigh?" There were no riders passing me over 200 weak body was relieved as there was no place to did deep, no fuel in the tank, and no reservoir of energy.....all I could do was move forward.

The final miles of the course had changed since I had raced the SM100 two years ago. The last descent into the finish was a rush. My body and mind were running on empty. I had a feeling that I had a slow leak in the rear, but opted to ride forward and further to the finish, thinking I could get to the finish without having to stop and replace the tube. Once across the finish I was greeted by Chris Scott and the finishline volunteers. When I asked to be weighed as a Clydesdale I was ecstatic to discover that I was the first 200 plus pound racer to cross the line. I weighed myself in at 225, not a pound lighter than the day prior. Then checked my rear tire for its pressure. The tire was still maxed out at 65 PSI. The slow leak was in my brain.

I gathered with some fellow City Bikers. Susan had finished just in front of me, and Ezra just in front of brother had been back for some time and looked clean, well rested, and fed. I was pleased with my results and felt no bother or frustration by anyone finishing in front of me. I had raced hard and was very pleased with my performance. My body was sore, but no so sore that I made any grand proclamation that I was not going to race this race again, but rather I finished and thought to myself, I can not wait till next year when I can take a few minutes off my time.

In the end I finished strong in under 11 hours. I place first in the Clydesdale Class which not only gave me bragging rights buy also scored me some awesome 26 inch Bontrager Wheels!
It feels good!
A great race that is a great addition to the mountainbike culture and community.
This events makes us more well rounded athletes as well as better people


Shenandoah Mountain 100....Mission Accomplished!


race report to come
right now the activities of life are making this weekend's event appear like a distant memory
life, fatherhood, the deck project...all of these things are taking priority over me reliving the moment
the body feels good!
the bike held up
the body held up
the weather held out
all factors were positive which lead to positive results

what a great relief

This is my first effort to use the email option for posting a BLOG
There have been far too many glitches going through the BLOGGER page itself
not sure if they can not handle a heightened popularity
or if the failures are on my end

a few topics

Grant is crawling at warp speed. He is standing and standing down in a very controlled fashion, very advanced for this Valentines Day baby who is just over 6 months old. His explorer instincts and his need to get where he wants to go is propelling his rapid growth and development. Grant loves to laugh play and eat; he is a very health baby. It goes without saying that Grant is a beautiful child; his chic-a-dee yellow hair, his sky blue eyes, his clear white skin, and his over willingness to break out is smiles and giggles. Lisa is a huge part of guiding Grant to be the wonderful child that he is.....the rest is pretty random. We count ourselves lucky to have such a happy and healthy family.

Dean is now just over three. This fall he has moved to a different classroom at Rosemount with a different set of teachers, a few different students, and a new set of rules and responsibilities. The creativity of Dean's mind is at new and different levels. Dean can create short stories and ideas and is more than willing to share them. His physical being is moving fast and furious....still riding the two wheeler with training wheels, but it is clear that they need to be moved up to dictate his learning of balance. Top toys? Buzz Lightyear is taking a backseat to Bionicles and Batman. The rides at water parks and amusement parks are part of his vocabulary and part of his life experiences. We are considering an assault on Kings Dominion this weekend.

Roscoe and Brutus:
The dogs are aging well. They are still active and strong. But they do not get the workouts that they used to get. Too much time around the house turns up the potential for an "incident." So when in the woods hiking with Dean and Elijah (Elijah is a neighbor who just got back from 8 weeks in Spain) it was vital for me to monitor the dogs as they encountered other dogs. On two efforts an older male German Shepard tried to assert his dominance from a distance and rushed either Roscoe and Brutus with barks and teeth showing. On each case each individual dog turned and chased sending Barney the German Shepard running away with his tail between his legs. Forcing me to run in that same direction issuing calls to break the impulse for dog to become animal over domesticated pet. It is vital that I dispel such situations before they escalate, had both dogs been closer to the potential would have at least been a hassle.
The dogs are good, but I think they need a long forced march where they can let some of the "piss and vinegar" be drained out.
Both Roscoe and Brutus are great with the kids, but they are individuals with personalities....just as you or I would not like to be flopped upon, poked, woken abruptly from a deep sleep, of be caught in the crossfire of flying is important to always be on top of the situation. Anticipating any and everything. Dispelling anything before it escalates.

Lisa is well. She is a machine. Lisa has so much energy for life. It is amazing to see Lisa come home from a full day of work and take on the projects with Grant and Dean. I work backup, but there is no way I can keep stride with her. It is like she is an octopus doing so many things at the same time. Her 3 day work week and her two days at home with Grant is proving to work out very well, perhaps it is the best balance of both worlds. Each set of tasks making her appreciate the other. I may take a leap to say that Lisa is really able to appreciate that the boys will only be this age once and that is should be enjoyed. This summer she has shared so many new experiences both Dean and Grant. Multiple trips to Pittsburgh so that they can build a strong bond with their Grandparents on her side, as well as hang with their four similar aged cousins. On these trips there are adventures to museums and amusement parks....IMAX movies and trips to the park. Dean's mind is a sponge! He is building a great basis for his understanding of the world. Dinosaurs, Volcanoes, Spiders, name it an it is part of his world. He is curious and excited on all topics.

Gwadzilla is on a roll. Riding that metaphorical wave. Job is good. Home life is good. Fatherhood is amazing. Cycling has been going very very well. I have not had the time to commit long miles at some points any miles. Racing is training....and I have done a number of races and had moderate success. This weekend past I did the Shenandoah Mountain 100; a hundred mile off road race in Harrisonburg VA. It was a race that I feared, the long miles and the long climbs were more than I thought I was ready for. Imagine driving your car for 11 switch bike for car....just the duration itself is a battle. That is a long time in the saddle. In short, I went out hard, felt real good, had to drop my pace at the 50 mile mark, but still felt good. At times I smiled wide grins as I knew that this was a goal that was soon to be achieved. Such rides can have a strange effect on the mind. There can be these great moments of clarity mixed in with total insanity. I sang single lines from single songs off the WHO Classic QUADROPHENIA. At times I found myself giving myself pep talks in a strange leprocon accent, out loud. And I smiled....images of my family in my brain brought smiles to my face and lead me to the finish.
It was a great race.
A tough race.
glad I did it
glad it is behind me
next year I aim to race it again, only hopefully with some more long miles and some more long climbs beforehand
as I would love to ride this race with less pain

ended up CC myself on this message
put in the wrong address for the BLOGGER
so my first attempt at emailing my BLOG entries rather than using the main page failed
I will figure it out
maybe not today
but I will figure it out