Rants on Cycling and on Life


I am a Bicycle Geek....

Bicycles are and have been a part of my identity...
recently I have come to notice that I have become a bit of a bicycle geek that wears his bicycle identity on his shirt sleeve, not intentionally, but obviously just the same....

The other night when Tom and I rode our bikes one zip code over to go to the new and improved neighborhood bar, The Wonderland Ballroom, a friend of a friend alerted me to me obvious and outward bicycle geekiness by simply asking, "are you into bikes?"

Before answering this question I took a step back in my head and looked at myself. In addition to arriving on my bicycle, having my NUTCRACKER lights and all strapped to my camelback commuter pack stuffed with my helmet, headlamp, and gloves, I was also wearing a MORE t-shirt, an old Big Wheel Bikes baseball cap, and cycling shoes. I took a seat, took off my hat, and said, "yes, I am into bikes." (without getting defensive...)

The next day I took a look at the clothing in my closet, the clothing in my dresser, and the clothing on the floor. Most everything I saw was bicycle related.... beyond the various lycra and gortex bicycle specific stuff including multiple helmets and many bicycle specific gloves, socks, and hats.... every baseball cap I owned either had my current employer's logo or some sort of bicycle industry logo stamped on the front..... then the t-shirts from races and various events.... there is not infinite space for storage of clothing so occassionally there needs to be some cleaning.... some stuff stays and some stuff goes... it seems that everything that was not earned at a race or an event related to the bicycle industry has been donated to charity of downgraded to rag status for cleaning my many bicycle chains.

Never thought I would become this guy with such a transparent identity....
guess my next step is a vanity plate and a chainring tattoo
(okay.... never a vanity plate.... )


Where is the best place to make a donation to the victims of the Tsunami?

yahoo article on donations
how to help....also on yahoo

here is something for DOCTOR'S WITHOUT BORDERS
it is odd that the site is not updated with any mention of the Tsunami victims
my wife lisa thought that it would be a good place for us to send our money

donations through American Red Cross

and as recommended by Chris Redlack....USAID Donations

even is doing more than lending a hand in collection (I think their money is directed to The Red Cross)

please let me know of any other good places to make donations and I iwll try to update my list
and of course
there are donations that are more direct to each individual country

people need to send or offer cash
clothing and food cost as much to ship as the items would cost overseas.... if not more
no sense in carting bottle water over there

I think that the food and clothing donated should be sold so that there could be more cash to help the causes

here is a WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE that has a list of recommended donation site/locations

and GOOGLE has a good link to information on the same topic
I have now given the same information to you in 17 different ways
choose a way
go that way
I am sure that any contributions to any of these many orgainzations would be appreciated an helpful

I personally am cautious on who the money is given to as I fear that people there are "kleptocrats" out there in different governments

morning coffee...
let me finish my morning coffee and let my feet warm up after a quick hike with the dogs before I put on my commuter gear to take that miniture ride into work
it is funny... I had BLOGGED that I spent 10 minutes to get dressed for a 20 minute ride
well.... I timed it... it takes me 5 minutes of efficient superhero in the phone booth style dressing to get suited up
then there is the other end where I have to peel off the suit... so 10 minutes cumulative

just got in from a hike across the street
it should not depress me
but it does
the National Park Service sent Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber in to do some trail work
for some reason they felt it neccessary to cut down a fallen tree that bridged over the trail
it was ascetically pleasing
as well as entertaining for children and dogs to climb on
sure taller folks like myself had to duck when going under it
this is hiking in the woods
going under, stepping over, managing off camber footing, and other such things are par for the course
let the mindless walks be on the urban sidewalks not the urban wooded trails

looks like time for another call, another message, another set of emails
all to be sent but never responded to

so frustrating

who is running the show over there?

I think they are out of touch with the trails and the trail users

time to chug the coffee and go to work
more once at work
as it is moderately quite... well.... aside from the long "things to do list" I can see in my INBOX
better busy than slow
hate it when it is slow
less efficient when there is little to do


Bicycle Shop Version of "CLERKS"

Some years ago there was this movie "Clerks" where they created a feature film which may have well been a well edited reality show of a few people working in a 7-11 style convenience store and the antics that surrounded their day to day activities.

Well, in my life I have lived a Sampler Packet of the cycling culture....
Comuter, Mountainbiker, Racer (but not like the real racers, but someone who races,) Touring (not tourist,) Messenger, father towing a trailer, and Bike Shop Employee. Each and everyone of those aspects of the cycling culture is a story in itself. But the most easy film to create would have to be the Bike Shop Version of CLERKS.

The bike shop is an odd place.... it is something a tad different than retail stores, mostly because the employees tend to be moderately disfunctional, the shoppers can be more unique, and the owners of bike shops tend to be a little less than conventional themselves. The bicycle shop can be an interesting place filled with interesting people. Although I may shop at the GAP, it is less than likely that as I wander through a strange town I figure I will kill some time as I check out The Gap in ANYTOWN USA.... but... I may wander through the local bike shop to see what there is to see in that particular shop in that particular town.

One thing about the bike shop that may not happen in other retail establishments is the development of locals, regular, hangers on, and groupies.... yes GROUPIES..... well, maybe more hangers on than groupies, but an odd thing just the same. Each shop will over time develop a regular clientele as well as a few characters who find that they enjoy killing time passing through the bike shop. Most regulars come by to come by rather than to shop or buy. One shop in Georgetown, The Bicycle Pro Shop has gone so far as to honor one of their characters, Mr. Herman, with Mr. Herman's Lounge. While at Big Wheel Bikes in Old Town Alexandria, the shop manager there Bennet Moore has become the puppet master of sorts molding and directing the futures of some of his regulars.

The Bennet Moore Big Wheel Experience may be one of the more interesting prospects for the Bike Shop Reality TV Show as Bennet has taken years to cultivate his cast of characters. In some cases I question the ethics of his effect on some of his major players.

let me see if I can recall some of these characters....

well, although Mr. Herman may be a Pro Shop regular.... he may also be a bike shop whore! As I have seen him at Big Wheel in Old Town and have spoken with some of the mechanics at City Bikes and they are more than familiar with him. Seems that he may have a tad more time on his hands than some. I have also seen the long and tall 70 something year old Mr. Herman chatting up the flower salesman on the corner by my work as well as the hotdog salesman..... so he may be a flower and hot dog groupie as well as a bike shop hanger on.

"Boxcar Willy" would be a great example of one of Bennet's oddball regulars....
Willy is an older toothless freak (late 40's or early 50's , maybe 25 years old....tough to say... the years have been hard as he is well weathered) that opts for the streets of Old Town Alexandria rather than the perhaps more dangerous and competitive streets of Washington DC. Willy is on welfare... perhaps more lazy than crazy... but laziness may have enabled some craziness... so he is plenty crazy just the same. Willy goes from living in the woods, passing out in the streets, to hanging at the shelter, to accepting getting arrested for a pety crime during the winter months so that he has a warm place to sleep and meals provided for him.

The highlight of my Willy experience was the day that I put a guitar in his hands. This once moderately annoying town drunk became a colorful and charismatic performer. His singing was a tad whistlely as he had no front teeth, but his ablility to transition from classic blues to Prince's 80's classic KISS to tales of the road made for grand entertainment while working on the bikes. It also centered his energy and kept his temperament at a more even level. Bicycles enter and exit his life like that of an irresponsible child who can not respect that these things cost money. Willy panhandles and gets funny money from the government and may even get some cash from his family..... no matter where he gets it... he seems to have enough that the liquor on his breath is always somewhat fresh and the clothing on his back tends to be dry and moderately clean. Willy has the same documentary potential as Jesco the Dancing Outlaw.

((the Outlaw Page,))

One of the more interesting studies that floats through the Old Town Shop from time to time would have to be "Fast Eddy." Eddy's age is also a bit odd to guess, he too may be late 40's or early 50's, lives on his own but may have some sort of assistance as he is not entirely there, not mentally retarded, but definitely something quirky happening in his head. Bennet may have done more work on Eddy than he did on Willy, but he had his effect on Willy just the same, whether getting Willy on a bicycle or passing on an an old acoustic guitar. With Eddy the impact is more obvious as Eddy's ability to separate fantasy and reality is a tad blurred (I suffer this same sort of confusion as my brother will confirm) Bennet has over the years planted certain ideas in Eddy's childlike head. Bennet will race Eddy around the block in the same way that I may chase my three year old son. Eddy always wins and the crowd always cheers, it is not teasing or patronizing.... it is playful and enjoyable for all. But over years of these races and numerous times of Eddy hearing his name uttered in the classic Eddy Merckx videos Eddy has grown to understand that he has a history of great races. He has met Greg Lemond at an autograph session, but somehow thinks that he raced and trained with him. There are paper clips on Eddy's handlebars that he thinks give him turbo speed. Much of this Eddy created on his one.... much of this was created and fostered by Bennet's guidance. All with the best of intentions, but with perhaps a questionable.

The cast of characters expands well beyond the likes of Eddy, Willy, and Mr. Herman. Bennet is a fast cyclist with a love for riding hard. Years ago he started the tradition of the MISHA'S MORNING RIDES. Where cyclists of various levels would meet at Misha's Coffee House in downtown Old Town for a pre-work workout. Bennet had a history of trying to pick up the pace to an almost race pace with riders and racers who would much rather store their energy for the work day or for the race that is approaching that weekend. So there will be a rotation of serious road cyclists in need of a special order or perhaps just killing time to visit and chat. Bennet in years past has developed a business relationship with a Mountainbike Tour Company (Old Towne Outfitters) in Guatemala where he lived for over a year as a tour guide. This also draws attention to the shop and will bring in another interesting cast of characters. So there will be local champions who are local characters. Fast guys trying to take it to the next level. Or just family men who are seeking to keep the sport part of their lives.

The rotation of employees.
The conflict of employees.
all of that is as entertaining as the floating though of the various characters

Shops will always attract the geeks and freaks that are passing through town. Someone who wants to rent a bike or someone on a tour who wants to tell someone their tales from the road. The bike shop may not pay that well, but it is always an interesting place to work. Most definitely I feel that the world of Reality TV or Documentary Film makers would do well to put their 'focus' on certain aspects of the bicycle culture and in this case I think that the bike shop and it idiosycracies would entertain many.

In addition to the documentary film idea.....

I have always thought that a Coffee Shop/Bicycle Shop Mix would do well.....
if these folks are coming in to hang out....
give them a place to sit
have a couch or two with some cycling videos playing or the tour if it is happening live
work on their bike while they wait
and let the put some money into the shop by drinking a caffeine filled coffee drink

in Sedona AZ I did see a place called Bike and Bean that did this to a certain level
I feel that an urban setting may flourish with such a business model
but what do I know
I am a consumer
not a business owner
full of ideas
absent of action

*the names were not changed to protect anyone
let me apologize to anyone I may have misrepresented here
this is not a historical document
it is my BLOG, my opinion, my set of rants
send corrections and comments
I may make additions
but never expect me to delete anything
as I am just putting it out there
I have nothing but respect and love for all that were mentioned here
I am sorry if I have written any innaccuracies here
if you feel you have been misrepresented type a comment and let me know
if anyone is in closer contact with these people
please fee free to finish these thoughts and set the record straight in the comments section


Tsunami and the News

the photographs in the newspapers are over the top
perhaps a tad gratuitous
yes, it is vital for us to put the human emotion onto the numbers
but do we need to see it on the cover page of every newspaper?
could the story be told with the emotion on a grieving person's face?

gotta sell papers?


this is a disaster beyond comparision
just as the earthquake sent waves of water that have altered the sea, the land, and the human lives
the deaths and the disappearance of young and old will sent waves of change in the lives of future generations to come
the numbers of orphaned children is phenomenal
parents are lost at sea
the mother and fathers that fed these children that earned the living so that they could feed these children are gone
the houses that so many families lived in are gone
lives are changed
business, possessions, goods, and people's livelihood
not just today... not just tomorrow.... but forever
the direction of so many lives has just been altered
not just for those that died, but also for those that survived
those that survived with injury and those that survived the loss of family

this is important

we need to be informed

what about the imagry
yes I want it to be strong enough to move me emotionally
but if these bodies, these lines of bodies were being photographed
would the faced of these dead children, dead babies, dead adult women and dead men be spread all over the color images of the daily press?
I think not
we need to respect the dead and the families of the dead the same way we would want our dead to be respected
shit.....BUSH wouldn't let us see caskets.... oh, that was for a different reason
okay, take the photos and release the photos, but let the reader dig past the surface that we can see it by our one choice
not so our young and our impressionable have to see it on the front stoop as they are taken off to the park, daycare, or school
even National Geographic comes in a brown wrapper

then some of the stories that are told
or the priorities of the stories
yes it is an interesting story, but it is any more news worthy because this person was maybe famous, maybe rich, and maybe attractive? the victoria secret model's story is a tragedy, but hopefully it does not take priority of the story of a mother who lost her children, or the children that lost their parents...he lost is grand.... as well are her injuries..... but no more vital just because she is hot.

even the numbers are oddly stressed
the number of Americans is hardly even a measurable percentage, but it seems to be a stressed part of the story
villages lives have been altered
not just a family
but villages

yes, we want each person who is lost to be found
superstious or what ever
people want to say goodbye
they want to touch the body
they want to bury them at home
american or native to any of the countries that lies victim

to have to try and find and identify a loved one seems like it would be such a painful journey
not knowing
foolishly hopeing

it is human nature
we are all a tad egocentric
me first
then my family
then my extended family
this makes us a tad ethnocentric
just as our families are most important.... so our our neighbor... our surrounding counties
onto our states and the whole country

december is nearly behind me....

this has been a tough month for working out
the weather
the holidays
the weather
the holidays
of course end of cycling season burn out
(which happened sooner for some than for others)

it is tough to stay motivated without any real goals in front of me
most of the time I have one or two cycling related goals immediately infront of me
usually I have the 24 Hours of Snowshoe in the early summer, the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in the early fall, and a variety of stuff that becomes short term goals in between (ie. The 12 Hours of Lodi Farms, The Panarama Paranormal, and a slew of other races that get me out there and get me pumped...Wednesdays at Wakefield.... the various Hills.... Fairhill.... Ironhill.... Granoguehill...the Greenbriar stuff ROCKS and what else)

somehow I managed to miss Cyclocross season all together
never bothered to swap out those new Salsa handlebars or fresh new handlebar tape
never bothered to put my cross cleats on my SIDI shoes
never bothered to fix that spoke on the rear wheel
never bothered to suit up and race that dam cross bike

seems that the season closed up around the Panarama Paranormal.... and honestly..... things really did get anti-climatic after the Shenandoah Mountain 100
it is tough to stay motivated
as I am lazy by nature
the couch is comfortable
food is good
hard for me to justify freezing my balls off on the bike without any real goal in mind
sure I would like to be more thin (thin at all for that matter...I have not been thin for years!)
and of course
who would not want to be faster
somehow I think all that stuff can wait until the Spring
of course it can not.... I must fight the urge to hibernate and kick that malaise in the ass and try to maintain
my goal is to never train too hard
actually to never train at all
my goal is to maintain
to keep a strong baseline
let a little faster pace and a few races pull me back into "race shape"
my own personal race shape.....
I am not shooting for the tour
there are my own personal goals
my own personal bench marks
sure i want to have a successful season
I can only do so much
after all I am "big like monster!"

even Yoga has slipped out of my recent schedule
need to bring it all back

sure time off the bike has its value
I can only convince myself of that statement so many times

with that said....what are my plans
last night I had the best intentions to go for an evening ride...
but once out the door and on the bike I started down M Street towards Georgetown and then made an immediate right up the wrong way on a one way street as it was the most direct route to my home
I did not pass GO...I did not collect 100 Dollars!
I went straight home and go out of that icy cold bike gear as fast as I could did not help that the cycling gear tends to get wet from the morning ride
and well
does not always dry for the afternoon ride
so it is rather awkward to step out into the bitter cold in an already chilly suit!

enough ranting
enough babbling
it is finally time to go home
tomorrow I will have to do some work
in all honesty
work would be more fun that the BLOGGING MADDNESS that has POSSESSED me all day today
my compulsive blogging needs to be managed

if I could only do something postitive with my compulsive nature

Ah the WWW and the subculture of Cycling......

there is something FUNKY about the cyclists love of the web
was doing some random surfing
reading all sorts of DIRT RAG forums
leaping from tangent to tangent
topic to topic
thread to thread
it is interesting to see how the subculture feeds upon itself

then I stumbled upon KEVINDC
and sure enough it is NCVC Kevin
my enemy and friend
here is Kevin's photo page
it is great all the contributions each of us can make to the cycling culture and the future of cycling
trail maintenance
cycling education
or just the basic information that can aid in inspiration which may lead to perspiration

(or any family visit)
Please offer a little help here by making additions in the comment section......

1. Go into the family gathering with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE
(P.A.C.E.= Positive Attitude Changes Everything)
remember the mistakes of years past and avoid making them again this year

2. Think before you talk...share in with not at
(if you know that you disagree with a family member's position on our being in Iraq or the IQ of the current President.....keep it to yourself. Sitting at the children's table may be your best option.)
((this extends to anything that may be too embaressing, a little ribbing and a little reminiscence is okay, but there are is never appropriate to tickle someone until they pee))

3. If you are having differences with a family member do not wait until the day of the the party (or meeting) to make amends
call your family members and make contact way in advance so that things can run more smoothy when you meet face to face
we are all hungry for deserts, but no one wants to be eating awkward pie

4. don't get drunk (okay....don't get too drunk....if you do not know when to say when then just say NO... there will be plenty of time for drinks that evening)

5. Dress Comfortably/Dress Nice/Clean up your act: outward appearances effect how people percieve you
showing up looking a little nicer will let people know that you respect that this gathering is special

6. Show up on time and do not over stay your welcome (that is not to say that you should evacuate before dinner is over)
((most certainly my brother will find humor in this as he likes to quote me with a phrase I said in college..."christmas is over!" as I dramatically took off on my motorcycle with flip of the helmet visor and nothing but gravel and dust in my may have been really cold and the bike may have stalled leaving me awkwardly standing over my motorcycle pushing the ingnition/starter button...))

7. Try to contribute to the dinner preparation and clean up......even if someone says..."no, stay in your seat" it is still a big help to clear the table, plus that makes there more room for more food...maybe even desert
bring something.....a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine; to host an event like this can be expensive.... it is nice for people to give back

8. Do your Christmas shopping before Christmas Eve (this may increase the odds that the gift suits the recipient)

9. Be thankful and appreciative of not just the gifts but of the efforts of the host; this applies to most any party... college I had a friend who had flyers for a party (one of the many parties at his rock-n-roll house) where they called themselves THE PARTY MARTYERS;

10. Take a break from the action.... go for a walk in the neighborhood.... step away from the maddness... go downstairs and hang with the kids.... catch your breath and get ready for the next round

and the final issue...
11. How to deal with the Madness of the Presents
This is something that our family has yet to learn to deal with. There are 6 children all getting many presents from all the aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents. It is an ugly greedy sceen. My goal is to make the holiday gatherings about family....not about presents. I want the young cousins to run and play with each other rather than tearing madly at the paper of all the presents.

the thing about this list is that I am less that perfect
far from perfect
I can create this list from all of the things I have done wrong over the years
currently working on change and improvement
things are looking up...our family is moving forward
family is not always easy
holidays can be a hassle

so don't think I am some Dudley Do Right with some Soap Box to stand on
I am far less perfect than most
although I did pick up two bags of trash in the woods across the street from my house and then dug out the fire hydrant that was burried in dirt
(oh, I told you that already...sorry)

best I move from my home computer to my bike so that I can finish this rant at my work computer
gotta roll
it may be quiet at work
but I still need to be there


Mother Nature has stepped front and center once again
Last night when I turned the TV on after the holiday weekend I was devistated to see clips of the devistation

I have little to say other than this is bigger than I can try to understand.

The Tsunamis as reported by MSNBC. is quite
so I will say a few things

being a father of two has taken me to an ultra emotional level
when I see an image of another father above the corpse of his dead son I can not contain myself
empathy overwelms me
perhaps it is just me being overly selfish and egocentric as I contemplate how I would feel if such a disaster were to touch my life

I can not wait to get home so I can hug my sons

not entirely related
but interesting ROGUE WAVES

That Dam Deck Project!

anyone who read my BLOG through the summer and early fall knows that I had a bit of a battle getting a PERMIT for building a deck in my back yard

Scroll down to the middle of this BLOG ARCHIVE and you can see some rants on my BLOG and the Permit Process. The weeks prior or the weeks after may be more significant or interesting....but that page had copies of my plans

here are a few more recent photos
have not downloaded the images of the lights yet
but these will have to do for now

an overhead view of our wooden backyard from the back deck outside our top floor

the crown jewel of the deck project; the clubhouse

and my dad with the reason why he built this deck...Dean and Grant

well, actually my dad and I built this deck together
well, my dad did conquer the lion's share
but we have to remember the grunts (me) and their mindless efforts

some times I feel like this....only a tad less INCREDIBLE
it may be time to grab the kids and see that one in the theater again

this chic is a PSYCHO
but if she wants...I already have her goldfish and turtle ready for pickup
just send the cash

Funny Stuff....

On Christmas Eve a postman showed up at the door, not our usual postman, not even our replacement postalperson who has been taking Harold Johnson's place while Harold recovered from foot surgery...but a completely unfamiliar face. Roscoe and Brutus barked at him like he was the regular postman just the same. As I squeezed by the blood hungry fangs of powder puffs roscoe and brutus lisa chimmed in from the background....
"oh your shoes are here!.....excellent....I did not think you would get them in time for Christmas!"

to this I was a tad confused

from what Lisa was saying
from the tone of her voice
it seemed as if she had been expecting these shoes
that maybe she had purchased me some shoes for Christmas
as I walked in I glanced at the name on the package and the sender's name and address in the upper left hand corner
lisa smiled and stuck to her story
it was all very weird

sure enough my LAKE winter shoes had arrived
lisa had heard through the BLOG grapevine that I had ordered these shoes
so she was playing up like she had ordered them for me, even though we had agreed not to give each other gifts (an agreement that I did not it is never clear what a women is saying no matter what words leave their just to be safe I did the smart

sure enough
the shoes were just what I wanted
my size no less
how did she know!???!?

just what I wanted!
so expensive too!

now all I need is another pair of TIME PEDALS
so that I can retire my fleet of Shimano SPDs with various cleats and various pedal models
some with one working side....others with two working sides
some that are Welgo or Ritchie that let me clip in but never let me clip out!

sure could have used those shoes this morning
my balls are still a little chilly

forgot to mention
so I am out on a quick prework spin....just a rapid 35 minutes before work
just two city blocks from the house and I am running my third stop light and getting some speed I feel the morning chill
man! it is chilly
I think to myself
then I glance down and I am one layer shy of my intended cold weather gear
sure I have wind tights over my knickers.....but where are my MEC Gortex pants?

Close to the Christmas Season....

My three and a half year old son Dean is convinced that Christmas has yet to happen as there was no snow on the ground for Christmas Day....
all the Christmas movies and all the Christmas songs paint a magical image of a snow covered Christmas morning
is Dean expecting another round of presents as well?
he may get some snow....but he most definitely will not get another room full of presents until next December 25th!

It will be nice to tuck away that Christmas Mix CD until next year
as well as not having to view "rudoph or santa" in animated form for another 11 months
as much as I love the holidays
they stress me out
no "post party depression" for this guy
just happy that it went well and that it is behind me
now it is time to sit back count all the loot and play with all of those awesome presents!
the labels and cards may say TO DEAN or TO GRANT but someone has to put the batteries in and test that remote control car!

Holiday Highlights....
Shannon Weeks popping in for a evening long hello
Tom and Rose coming over for a late night drink with Lisa and myself by the chimeria (roscoe and brutus entertained Tom's dog hutch and they all got a few holiday buscuits)
the gathering with brother, sister, various combination of parents, and all the nephews....well all but baby Benjamin
the double booking of the Mason boys with the in-laws
and maybe more highlights to come

no Christmas jogs
no Christmas bike rides
there was too much Christmas Cleaning and Christmas Cooking to do any Christmas Yoga
it is tough to find that balance
all great things come with sacrifice
and the month of December I have had to sacrifice any and all forms of exercise

the first few are worth a decent laugh
stole that link off JETSETCOURIER's Music Blog