As as bicycle commuter there can never be the question, "to ride or not to ride," as it is unsafe to ask that question.....

Each day offers a myriad of excuses for not riding...
-It is TOO HOT.
-It is TOO COLD.
-It it TOO WET (as it is today and was yesterday.)
-It is too nice outside.
-I am running TOO LATE.
-I just don't feel like it.

Giving way to any of these excuses will lead the commuter down a difficult path where they try and hand pick their days for riding to work. Which will become more difficult to select as a new list of excuses enter the equation.

-I have a meeting at work today and I don't want to carry all that extra clothing.
-I am meeting people for drinks after work and don't want to ride home in the dark.
-There are people coming in from out of town and I need to make them dinner.

This is starting to feel like an episode of FAMILY FEUD....as I pan my brain for more excuses. Funny I don't have any trouble finding these excuses as I gather my stuff in the morning for my ride to work. But the point is made. If you want to ride your bicycle to work you need to ignore the excuses and create a system.

The system for me involves leaving shoes and pants at work and traveling with shirt, underware, and socks. When my pants get dirty, I use the dry cleaner by work. There is also a cold weather jacket at work so I do not have to offend my coworkers with commuter gear that is heavily laced with "STINK FACTOR!" There is also a towel and bathroom supplies for those seldom days where I go for a longer ride or get so dirty that I feel I must shower to keep my job. Some GOLD BOND and some SPEED STICK tend to mask the odors of the morning well enough, or people are too gentle to tell me otherwise.

This SYSTEM must also include the correct cycling equipment...
A Bicycle (at least one, but more if you can afford it) Lights, Helmet, More Lights, Rain Gear, fenders and rack on bike.
This could get very involved so I will stress the basics again, bicycle and lights (helmet is obvious)

enough for now
I need to get to work
so I have a job tomorrow

For me there is no real choice. Work is only 15 minutes away. Driving would be a more involved process than riding my bike, well perhaps not if I factored in the changing into riding gear and into work clothing when I arrive to work. For me the issues compound after work as I try to extend my work out to get some exercise....

The key is to ignore those little voices. Get up with the intention of riding and well and that 20th Century philosopher NIKE once said, "JUST DO IT!"


Today 10-28-2004The Tuesday before Halloween there is race event that holds an energythat is unrivaled in the DC metropolitan area. The risks are great, it is fast, dangerous, and clearly not a race for the faint at heart or those with weak ankles. This race is DC' s annual High Heel Drag Races! It is a three block sprint down 17th Street in the Dupont Circle area, all participants are dressed in "drag" and are dawning "high heels!" I am not sure what the victory "purse" is on this day, but the speeds are high and the risks are higher....there are sure to be more than a few skinned knees before the night is up. The race and the event surrounding the race is a spectacle. A strange small subculture that may usually hide behind closed doors is out in the open on display for all to see on this night. The costumes are nothing shy of FLAMBOYANT! Thick make-up and deep voices gather with shaved legs and short skirts, sequins and boas are everywhere. The costumes are often more than just a man in a dress. There will be group themes, long lines of roller bladers snaking through the crowds, test your movie knowledge and guess what famous actress that some of these men are trying to portray, expect to see more than one Divine look-a-like, and then of course there will be some men that are so convincing that you may want to check for an Adam's apple before you share a cab ride home. You will not get event credit for attendance, but you are sure to be entertained. Show up as early as 7 to get a good spot on the street...the race usually goes on around 9PM. (helpful hint: I have scaled the telephone pole behind the McDonalds for a great overhead view and found that to be a great vantage point, especially pleasing to those who don't care to be pressed in a crowed like a herd of cattle being lead off to slaughter)

Cyclocross is a strange subculture that also involves deep voices,
shaved legs, and flamboyant skintight outfits. The racing is heart
pounding and there is a certain amount of risk. Yet the odds of
hooking up with one of your fellow racers is lower at these events
than at the High Heel races. Cyclocross racing is not unlike the
cross dressing High Heeled Races in the respect that the events are fun for the spectators and the participants alike. On last Sunday, the Sunday before Halloween there was a cycling race held in Reston, this annual event is known as the "All Hallows Cross." The course is a classic cross course held in Lake Fairfax park offering a variety of terrain including dirt, grass, and some asphalt. There are long sections of grass, some off camber turns, with some short fast hard pack descents and climbs that can be ridden up or for the cross- minded a quick dismount and run up, and of course in the classic cross fashion there were some steeple chase barriers at certain sections of the course that force the riders to dismount from their bicycles, leap over the shin high barrier, and then remount the cycle.

On this day I lined up in the B Category with fellow City Bikers
Brian P and Rocco. There was the classic prerace anxiety. I had
arrived prepared; my bike was tuned, after registration there was
plenty of time to warm up, and most of all I had approached this race with a renewed mind set. It is not that I had any intention of taking the other B racers to school, by no means do I feel that I am the fastest or the fittest racer at the line, but rather my intention was to race this race with intensity and passion, to give it my all, and to see where that puts me when I cross the finishline. Most of all I was not going to let the looks of my opposition psych me out.

The race went well for me. There is no need for a play by play. There were moments of near drama; I nearly got taken out by other racers who crashed at certain points in the race and there was a point where I felt as if I should just pull off the course and pack it up. But I did not crash nor did not quit. I raced as hard as I could. When the long 45 minute plus one lap race finally came to a close for me I found that even with my extended efforts I still only finished midpack (19th out of 33 racers.) Even though I did not finish any closer to the leaders of this race I still feel positive about my performance. Cross similar to mountainbiking can offer a wide variety of courses that flatter one riders style or another's. as well as the notion that some race venues and races within certain series may draw a faster gathering of cyclists. Either way a good time was shared by all! Rocco tried to inspire me with a game of "cat and Mouse" but I lacked the power to reel in that 10 second gap between us....

I look forward to doing more Cyclocross races this season, but am
considering doing another mountainbike race this weekend (that is if I race at all)
In accessing my efforts and achievements in cross I am starting to
think that my greatest weakness is that my body is not entrained with the style and fit of the cross bike, my muscles are more in tune with the positioning of my mountainbike. So, if I plan to have greater success with cross racing in the seasons to come I may want to consider riding my cross bike in advance to the cross season, and more frequently than just at races.

Don't miss the High Heel Drag Races tonight!
as for me...
I will be at home with Dean while Lisa is out of town on a business
but if I had the chance, I would definitely head down there for a
look at the madness!


One reason to race is that there is always regret when I miss out on such thing.

There are events offered all over the country, most of which are annual. It has been years since I did the 24 Hours of Tahoe or te 24 Hours of Moab....it makes me envious to see the lap times and the tallied final results....for some reason I want to look at those results and see my name, my results, my efforts, and my story.
will my rain dance pay off?

my preloaded excuses did not pay off!
the inability of my Landcruiser to start was discovered this afternoon rather than tomorrow/Sunday morning
lisa said, "yes" when she should have said, "no, you can not borrow the car!"
the back up rides were all lined up in case she said, "no"
no one stole my cross bike as I absent mindedly left it outside last night
there is no backing out
guess I am headed to Reston for the cross race at Lake Fairfax

I can still foolishly take a route that is blocked by the Marine Corps Marathon! That will keep me from getting there on time.

the bike is tunned
(sure it is lacking the SPOOKY brake calipers and the TUFO tubular clinchers that I have been waiting for)
everything is ready to go
all I need to do is finish this bottle of wine and go to sleep


The Internet holds a great deal of information.
Here is a link to some information that is truly useful.

I would have been a better man in my single years had I had such clear guidance.


Here is a great resource is you are ever looking for a map of a National Park.
This is a link to the NPS' map of the C&O Canal
It goes well with the posting below.

THIS IS AN EMAIL FROM A FEW YEARS AGO THAT TELLS ABOUT MY ADVENTURES TRYING TO RIDE THE C&O CANAL ON MEMORIAL DAY (the whole 186.6 miles, plus the final few from its start in Georgetown to my house in Mount Pleasant)

my weekend
that is if you care......

Well I did it
now it is done
on another day in half the time (well nearly half the time)
or at least half the pain

I figure that i spent twice the energy to go nearly half the speed
mud is no friend to the cyclist

it seemed like a good idea
get dropped off in cumberland
set up camp for a bit
catch a few ZZZZs
and pedal on into DC
take the C&O canal its 186 miles from cumberland to georgetown (and then the last few miles would be icing on the cake as i stride on up to mt pleasant)
((remember some things are often more easily said than done))

well it started wonderfully
cool weather and a full moon
lisa and dean dropped me off in cumberland
I loaded up the bike and headed to the start (well actually the end) of the C&O
pedaled in two miles
went off trail a bit and set up a hamock/tent that i got as a wedding gift
this was the first use of this handy little toy
I was amazed at its comfort and with the clear sky I opted to go "flyless"
watched the moon overhead
the netting on top worked great
but the contact to the backside was perfect for mosquito attack
I was victimized
this made for some adaptation and some itchiness and some trouble falling asleep

finally asleep it was time to get up
checked my watch
slept through my alarm (as short as that sleep was)
got up a half hour late
it was 3:30 AM and I was excited to get things started
tore everything down
packed everything up
I was on my way
dc here i come
I ran head on into a thick wall of fog
my headlamp reflected right back at me
so I rode with my fingers crossed that no trees had fallen in the nights prior and
gripped the handlebars bracing for any unseen divots or rocks
a touring white knuckle adventure

the fog dissipated
and the wild life was booming
deer shot across the trail right in front of me from both sides
and frogs foolishly played chicken with my front wheel (I did not feel any slippage, so I think I avoided all of those brainless amphibians)
a variety of birds did their morning feeding and swarmed about
and the miles started to add up behind me

the early stretches of canal are some of the most scenic
wide open farmland and a wall of mountains ride to the right of the trail
the potomac somewhere over there often close, often unseen
along with the natural beauty there is also the architectural ruins of another time
numerous iron bridges and devices rusting away
recalling the last time a train touched their tracks
and the buttressing of a bridge that is not there

finally getting to the pawpaw tunnel
a trail highlight
a mile of darkness (well not for me with my nightrider light system)
bats swooping over head
and the spooky sound of water dropping from the ceiling to the canal and echoing all the way
it is quite the feat
and it keeps the trial level
to have to climb to the mountain peak would make for a very different riding experience

this would be an email as long as the ride if I continued reviewing each mile for you
long story short (and we all know i have no short stories)
what was fog on my side of the paw paw
was rain on the other
my trail which was a little moist and slow on the early stretches
turned into a intermittent puddles and occasional mudbog

the first 60 were harder than 60 miles should be
but things were only to get worst
conditions were to get sloppy and slow
and my strength was only to weaken
and my moral was to drop

only two flats (neither pinch)
one rack repair
and the need to disconnect the rear brakes
and I made it home in slightly less than 20 hours

being the athlete that I am I survived off
circus peanuts, breakfast sandwiches at the SHEETZ gas station
over priced and marginally prepared burger and chilli dog in Harpers Ferry
lots of caffeine flavored sodas
several gallons of gatorade
and a variety of powerbar products
caffeine was the life saver all the way

other than the bike
my greatest casualty is the numbness to my hands
and the pain in my shoulders
I rode my cross bike and the body position put me in a position on the bars which fried my shoulders

when I got home my hands and feet were corrugated with the folds and fissures that resembled the rugae of the brain

but I did finish it
show that it could be done, even on the worst day
on a dry day it could offer greater pleasures (sunburn and heatstroke I guess)
(oh did I mention that the last 40 miles were accompanied by a thunderstorm and a downpour?!)

in addition to the wonderful ruins, the pain and hallucinations
the wild life was a plus
box turtles, snapping turtles, and a water variety which I would call a slider (marc may call them the american chicken turtle)
no snakes
all sorts of birds: finches, robins, different types of woodpeckers to name a few
several types of deer (all of which were as scared of colliding with me as I was with them)
fish jumping
fishermen fishing
and boaters boating, american life at its reddest
a few touring cyclists
most going the opposite direction
those that I had caught up to talked to and then passed were all doing 12 to 20 mile stretches
a couple starting a trek to Vancouver, looked like a great way to start a relationship (or to end one)

much more to say
but I have said enough already

I am going to ice my knees and take some ibuprohen


how does this happen?
my life is not a movie

so I a heading up Lamont Street after a days work
this new cross bike has put a little zest in my pedal
so I am trying to finish my post work ride strong
as I pass david, sharon, their two dogs and their newborn baby ZOE I give a half hearted hello
I am distracted
things are not as they should be
the spot where I parked my car the day prior is filled by a cab

I turn back down the block
and scan for my big blue truck
no sign of it
this truck is hard to overlook

I pass david and sharon again
they laugh and ask if I am trying to get a little more exercise
I tell them my truck was stolen or towed
sharon laughs and says something to the effect of how stupid we can feel when we forget where we parked our car
but I know where I parked my car
and it is not there

I do one more scan and even try one street over
I resign myself to the fact my car has been stolen
my heart rate has not changed
this is life in the city
getting angry will not bring my car back

I go home
check some emails
make sure I did not get the latest email virus
then jump into the shower
get out
dry off
no real rush
only just had my truck stolen
I scan the phone book for the nonemergency number to call the police
and in walks lisa with the baby and the dogs
I tell her the news.....my car was stolen
she says she saw it going down lamont just seconds ago
she figured it was me driving
she knew it was my car by the red bumper sticker that reads, "follow me and my SUV to the next gas crisis"

she thought it was parking in front of the halfway house
a second does not pass
I am on the line with the police
as I search frantically for my license plate information
I give the police the information
and rush to get a bicycle to see if I can chance on meeting with my truck

no lights
no helmet
no geeky reflective vest
I rush down the block like that crazy little chicken
only my exclamation has nothing to do with a falling sky
but with a 17 year old stolen truck
my rant seems almost as as absurd

I get down the block and there is my truck

oh silly me

sharon is right
I do feel stupid

I head for home
and think about how stupid I looked
as I approach up pulls DC's finest
they are sent on their way with my humblest apologies

I walk in and tell lisa that I was wrong
it had not been stolen
it had been parked it further down the block
she assures me that she saw it being parked and assumed it was me driving it

without a word I rush back
sure enough
the engine is hot
and their is a trail of various fluids still damp in the road
showing the curve of a well parked truck
off to the neighborhood 7-11 to get a flat foot
no luck
back to call 911
as I spot a black and white, only it is red white and blue with graphics that would be more fitting on a clown car, but go unnoticed since they have decorated the cars for nearly a decade
he is headed the other way
he call it in
it is my job to go back and guard my car

things start to feel a little crazy
am I mad?
the facts are reviewed and reviewed again and again
surely that car was not there 10 minutes prior
there is no way I could have passed it
am I high?
is this a scene from Memento?
what is happening here

as I wait for the police to return to the scene
the tale and all of its pieces are shared with any random passerby that will listen
my rants are mad
one woman allows me to use her cell phone
as I call 911 again a suspicious car makes its third pass down the block
she gets the plate

the police arrive
there are several cars
my story is told and retold
action is not happening
no one is interested in dusting for prints
my story is unbelievable
to the officer the engine is not hot
the drops of various fluid are not a trail of clues in his eyes
the engine does not appear to be hot to him
the doors are locked
no evidence of forced entry
no jimmied ignition
just the rants of a bald bearded man

the story deviates very little as I tell it for the 50th time
yet they seem less than convinced
the facts are there
car parked there
now here
engine hot
I ride my bicycle to work

what more do they want!
my car was stolen!

all the long I am thinking
is my car stolen every day?
at times I notice the gas seems to be significantly lower than the last time
but it is always dispelled as my usual paranoia
and the car runs great for months and then something dramatic is different
to me this is the character of the car, but has someone been driving this car daily?

the car was well parked
a good parking job especially with the brakes failing as they are
and no disrespect to the car
sure the steering wheel and the seat are in a position for a much shorter driver
but no trash or cigarette butts

it is all too weird
no X-files weird
but violated weird

the range of emotions have left me energized and confused

what was lost
is now found
that big piece of steel that I love so much is back
thought it was out of my life forever

truely wacky

joel out


This BLOG shares the thoughts and experiences of a Clydesdale Mountainbiker.
To learn from the mind of a master try checking out this site
Not only can this guy ride a bike but he knows the best place in town for pasta that not only tastes great but will fill you up!
The interface of the BLOG for MAC is different than the interface for BLOG for my PC at work.
Guess I actually need to know HTML to make any changes to the text in the MAC version.
Would be pretty cool if I knew some HTML, but I don't.
The rest of the stories down from here are bicycle related. This little blurb is actually to see if my posting is gets logged as on of the most recent posting on BLOGGER.COM
yesterday I was doing a post work spin on my Kona Humahuma-nuka-nuka-
apoha-ah out on the Mt Vernon trail
I was spinning the single speed gearing around as fast as it could
go, which does not propel the bike all that fast
but manages to give me a pretty solid work out in a very short time
this is how I try to get a four hour ride done in only 45 minutes out
on the bike
the view along the river was epic as usual
and the post work traffic was getting thick, again as usual
I rode out past the airport and turned around at the wooden boardwalk
just before the beginning of Old Town Alexandria
my turn around was to the outside and not on the trail, as I know how
dangerous a blind buttonhook can be
people are always button hooking right in front of me
if only they could repeat after me...
"look before you buttonhook!"
"look before you buttonhook!"
"look before you buttonhook!"
or even better button hook onto the grass and take a look before re-
entering the grass
but my lectures are for another time and another group of people

[that mantra is as close to my heart as "pass bicyclist, don't harass
bicyclists", but this is not for trail users but a subliminal message
that I want to be implanted in people's head, hidden in subliminal
frequencies that could play over their car radios, or perhaps in the
background of the elevator music played at the MVA/DMV so each
licensed driver walked away with an updated license and an updated
sense of respect for the cyclist ((more realistically this would make
for a great red bumper sticker to be placed on STOP signs, using the
word STOP and the sticker reading HARASSING CYCLISTS, and in small
letters...pass cyclists don't harass cyclists))]

the ride was business as usual
there were many people riding too fast
all sorts of people drafting/racing/being all out reckless
very few people were giving any warning to the other trail users
walkers/runners/and other cyclists were all being harassed as much as
being passed
showing each other basic disrespect
all the while runners were stopping at inopportune times and doing
that buttonhook thing that can be so dangerous

knowing how much I hate to be spooked by a rider passing closely
without warning
I was ringing my little frog bell as I passed each other trail user
and often saying excuse me as I felt can often lessen the effect of a
close pass
sure there were some passes that offended a few, but I tried to be as
safe and pleasant as possible while still getting a workout
and when I am quasi-dangerous, I want to at least be pleasant

then when approaching one of the road crossings I was passed by a
women on an old school Bridgestone with mustache bars coming the
other way
then following behind her was a women on a generic department store
bike outfitted with tri bars and other equipment
she crossed the road, over the curb, and onto the trail
soon she realized she would not be able to hold her lane and make the
winding curve without having an head on collision with me
she opted to go straight, off the trail, over the grass, and into the
airport service road never checking to see if a car was coming from
either direction
clearly out of control she went off the curb and got thrown from her
stuck in the tri-bar position, out of reach of her brakes
by this time I was at a standstill watching it all
as she tumbled on the asphalt and the bike crashed riderlessly
against the curb
I went to her aid, as well did another cyclist
she seemed okay and it was clear that she wanted me to retrieve her
I took off spinning, hectically spinning
lucky for me this other rider had slowed down, the maximum speed of
my cruiser is slow
when I caught her she was frightened and excited that her friend was
seriously hurt, which she appeared not to be
we rushed back
the other cyclist was reviewing the condition of her bike
the cyclist who had crashed was back
with everything under control I figured I best be off before I chewed
her out
as she was out of control and could have seriously hurt someone,
namely me!

it was a wake up call
the trails are not really any safer than the streets
and the best place for racing is at the races
one thing I love about doing a race on a Sunday is having a trail
marked off
knowing I can take a turn or downhill fast and not have to worry
about a horse or a dog or a blue haired lady to be coming up the
other way
the likelihood of a cyclist coming the opposite way is rare
and the other riders may be more knowledgeable about courtesy and
or maybe not
the dust has settled
a few days have passed
but before too much time passes and all is forgotten I will try to
make a recap of Sunday's race at Poor Farm
once this is done I can focus on work as well as look to the weekend

Race at Poor Farm (another Dan's Race)
This report will be quick and to the point. There will again be no
need for a play by play recap of the events of the night prior to the
race. How much red wine was consumed or how I almost turned into a
pumpkin because I missed my self imposed midnight curfew are not
entirely relevant. That my son slept late, thus allowing me to sleep
late, almost too late, then his accidentally breaking a lamp as he
climbed around the room like a little hairless monkey is not really
part of the story either. My 18 year old truck's refusal to start and
that I did not get onto the road until 10am is not really any
different from any other race day so I will not drag on about these
things. Instead what is most important is that I approached this race
with a healthy attitude. All my late in the season riding burn out
malaise was pushed aside, any ambivalence towards riding and racing
was forgotten. What is most important on this day was my positive
approach to this race and my intention to deliver my top
performance. No intention of slipping into a groove and staying out
of racers way, as I too am a racer and I have as much right to fight
for position as anyone else.

with that all said here is the basic breakdown...

There were only six Clydesdales on this day, but those who were there
all had as much of a chance of winning as any other. As this course
is not that technical nor are there any long climbs there are no real
list of advantages or disadvantages to me or any of the other
racers. On a short flat course like this one it all comes down to
who wants it more. Each racer on the line is known to be a seasoned
rider/racer with enough skill and speed to rip through a course of
this style. Spirit can go a long way when there are no climbs to
worry about. At the start line there was the usual pre-race psych
out. As I spoke with each of the other riders I found out that no one
has been riding, no one is ready, no one got any sleep, etc....the
most humorous list of complaints came from Phil who said he was just
going to hang out in the back and see how he felt. Well. That theory
did not last long. When Dan said "GO!" Phil took off like a
jackrabbit! I fought just to keep up with him and only caught him as
he entered the single-track. We rode together for a while, enjoying
the competition and the camaraderie, but I felt I could go a little
faster so made a request to pass. That is pretty much how the race
went, I pedaled as hard as I could, on the first lap I was completely
unfamiliar with the terrain, thus over accelerating and having to
slam on the brakes as to not run off the course on each turn. Reeling
in the racers in front of me and fighting to find a good place to
pass (always trying to be courteous, even when winded), always
looking for an efficient line and a realistic top speed. With a good
attitude and feeling strong I was able to really enjoy myself. Tried
not to day dream too much, felt my speed drop a few times as I fell
into some of the classic day dreams (i.e.. me on Letterman, me as a
millionaire, me with hair, and the one that gives me the most energy-
my son Dean laughing) There were also the classic clogs in the single-
track pipeline (the Caterpillar Clusterfuck), but that is to be
expected on a single-track course of this design. The sound of tires
approaching from the rear always wake people up, this gets the pedals
going again, but it is frustrating when you want to go faster than
their current speed (as I hope I did not frustrate the Expert/Pro
racers as they lapped me on my last lap and tried to make a pass,
which I allowed at the first possible opportunity) But I was able to
make enough passes and get around the course fast enough to keep out
of ear shot of the other Clydesdale racers. Each racer is dealing
with the same list of variables. Everyone in each class needs to race
for the hole shot, then each racer needs to deal with passing and
being passed. As for the tight turns and unfamiliar
terrain...preriding is always an option, not one that I tend to
approach, but it is there for anyone who wants it. The week before
the race I had spoken with Swampy and few other riders and got a
basic rundown to the course's demands. Figuring it was a three lap
race, I could use the first lap to get acquainted with the layout of
the land.

The race went well. It was a fun course, great weather for riding and
racing, fall was in full effect. I had traveled with an assortment of
cold weather gear, none of which was needed. The weather was hot and
dry with low humidity, a great day for a spin on dry hard packed
trails littered with falling leaves.

It was a fun day. The traffic on the way back was a hassle, but it
was great to get out on the bike. It was also great to yap it up with
a bunch of my biking buddies. My times were strong. I managed to win
the Clydesdale Class by a couple of minutes and my time was fast
enough to have finished 4th in the Sport Vet category (aka The Three
Lap Experts.)


glad I was able to get out there
it was a good time
a great way to spend the day

last night I went ahead and put those wheels on my cross bike
man! should have done that months ago
and am looking forward to hitting the cross race at Reston this
upcoming weekend
hopefully I can bring a fresh attitude and race hard
although I can already feel the excuses brewing


FLASHBACK: Raining Spring of 2003
A 12 hour 3 person mountainbike relay race starting at midnight and ending at noon the next day held in central Virgina at Lodi Farms. My first race of the 2003 race season, a race that would turn out to be one of few as rain would conflict with racing, riding, and inspiration this season.

I know that the facts are out...
and that eric told his tale
but here is a jumbled race report from Joel
my riding is as rusty as my race report
there is some correlation there
one thing is for sure...I don't know how to be short winded

12 Hours of Lodi Farms 2003: Rain or Shine

Having read Eric's race report I now feel compelled to put my story
forward and this morning's commute in the rain makes the memories
seem fresher and more real...

Everything Eric said was true...
The whole event was scripted as some sort of strange dark comedy... There was rain and cold on top of the 12 hour relay race format. If it had been a documentary film the viewer would have doubted it on
many levels. The setting of the prepared and the unprepared stacked
side by side, full on support crews with sponsor tents and full time
mechanics verses guys sleeping in their trucks with their bike
propped up against the outside of the truck getting drenched by the
rain. The lack of preperation and cohesion of our team had us bumping
into each other like the Keystone Cops from the silent film era. The
dialog surrounding our camp was something like a script from "Bill
and Ted's Most excellent Adventure." The equipment and the supplies
were also a mess...lodging for Eric and Robbie camped in high tech
gortex tents surrounded by shoes and mud drenched lycra tights and
shirts...I opted for sleeping in the back of my truck where the scent
of Starter Fluid whisking me off to dreamland...as for food, Little
Debbies and Red Bull were balanced out by Hammer Gel and
Gatorade...mid lap I was popping Now and Laters to maintain that
sugar buzz. The bikes were each suffering independently a different
set of symptoms, both before, during and after each lap. It is never
good to leave for the start of a lap with the bike not running "its
sunday best." Across the board things were so humorous and absurd
that it should have been filmed...but that would have taken
organization (or would have altered our behavor so that we appeared
more prepared, there is some law of anthropology that states that
observation alters the behavior of those being watched ((marc may
know the name of this theory)) ...much much more organization than we
would have ever been able to pull off.)

It was never mentioned that I had to beg and plead for these guys to
let me be part of their team. Asking them to downgrade from duo to
three man sport and then for me to use me 33% of the deciding process
to over ride their decission to ride back to back laps (2 laps each
before baton exchange) throughout the race.
Eric also forgot to mention that he said he had claimed that he was
going to get to the race site before dark to find a good spot, when
he showed up at the Fredricksberg WAWA in the cashier line behind me
at 10PM.

The hysterics began when we arrived.
The drive was painless...
Rain was present. The sky was dark. The temperature was unseasonabley
cold. The race was set to take place.
Camping was tight....we were lucky to pin our cars in a small spot
with just enough room for the tents and a place to stand and change
out of wet gear.

The start of the race was nothing shy of comical. Robbie's bike was
less tunned than mine which is not good. At 8 minutes to midnight
his numbers were still not on his bike nor had he suited up....the
fact that his wheels were rubbing the brakes was something that would
need both light, the absence of rain, and a trueing stand to tend to.
The start itself is hard to describe, lets just say that Robbie had
to run to catch up to the back of the pack, grabbing his bike and
stepping into the queue. Forcing him to make neverending passes (I
would assume, as I was resting in my truck not along side him on this
lap) as he pushed his way to a 58-59 minute first lap. The race was
on its way. Eric was set to take the second lap, and I was the third.
Eric put in a fast lap just over an hour and I was fearing that I was
mismatched, but I knew that even a fast team needs its slowest rider.
But how much slower I was not sure, I feared that I was going to let
these guys down. Their exterior was all mellow, they claimed that my
times were not as important as my efforts, intentions, and my right
to have a good time. I worked as hard as I could on my first lap,
fighting against Chain Suck, dim lights, and many other technicals
some mud related others related to lack of preparation. When I
finished my lap I asked the vounteer at the tent for my race
time...in a mumble and a blur I was told that I had finished in an
hour 30, "good lap" he said..I walked away bewildered..."good lap?"
an hour thirty? how could I be that much slower on such a short
course...I knew I could do better...(later I was to discover that my
lap time was an hour three; 63 minutes. But I was still inspired to
do better next time, assess and repair the chain suck issue and go
out ready to contend with other such problems.

The time went fast between laps. Just enough time to clean up the
bike, eat some bbq fritos, a few bites of a cold burrito, rehydrate,
and get out of wet muddy clothing and climb into the truck and get
into the sleeping bag. With Red Bull pumping my heart it is tough to
get to sleep, but after forcing my eyelids closed sleep did come, but
just as the dreams of dry trails and sunshine began there was a
knock on the truck window, it was time to wake up and prep for my
next lap. No time to steal an extra second of shut eye, such efforts
tend to backfire.

Having known my issues with my bicycle from the lap before I was
ready to approach the second lap anticipating Chain Suck, I figured I
would have to push the big ring and force myself around the course
and deal with the muscular burn. This BIG RING ATTACK seemed to be
working fine, but it had me working the brakes. This is a winding
twisting course, pushing up and down roller coaster trails between
tight trees and over roots and logs, brakes are a big part of the
acceleration/decelleration system. I was grooving pretty well and
not minding the big ring one bit, but it was not far into the second
lap when my handlebar and helmet mounting lights were growing dim.
The light in front of me was no longer a bright white cloud, but
nothing more than two dim copper penny circles barely alerting me of
obstacles in front of me. This was maiking my loss of braking power
more aggravating (and dangerous)..my pads were shot....worn to be
paper thin...I could hear the metal brackets that hold the pads
making contact to my rims...like fingernails on the chaulk board I
chringed everytime I had to brake. This all on top of racing around
the course in the rain and the cold, trying to pass all racers in
front of me, and doing my best to maintain speed with out slipping
and slidding off the trail into a deep ravine or creek along side of
the trial.

This lap finally came to a close, the course ending with an
inviggorating stream crossing, which depth was growing deeper and
deeper by the minute. The baton was passed to Robbie and back to camp
to repeat the bicycle cleaning/repairing process and the refueling
and resting process of my body. When I got back to camp I gave Eric
the standard 30 minutes into the racers lap before I shook his rain
covered tent. He stirred and moaned and started getting ready. He got
out of his tent a short time later and informed me about how he and
robbie had considered packing it in. We talked about the course and
the conditions and watched as racers dropped out around us. RVS were
slugging through the deep mud, tents were being packed in their bags,
bikes were being mounted on top of their cars. Teams were falling
apart. Morale was low. The night of rain and cold had been too much
for many of the racers...it seemed that the DNF list would be long
for this event. The drop out rate shocked me. The course was wet and
muddy, but still very ridable. Eric got suited up in his last set of
dry gear and assured me that he was going to do his next lap as a
double. This notion was exciting to me. That meant twice the rest. I
could actually get some sleep.

Eric met up with Robbie at the START/FINISH Line, the scrunchie that
was the race baton was passed and he was off to take the course
twice. In the meantime I struggled to get my bike cleaned and tunned.
I replaced all four brake pads and lubed my chain and examined it
closely for stiff links. Time passed I snacked on a variety of junk
food, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, more BBQ Fritos, and whatever else I
could get my stomach to agree with. My belly was all "gooed out" the
thought of Hammer Gel evoke the gagging response. Time passed and
before I knew it nearly an hour had passed. My bike was ready to go
and it was time for me to take that extended nap that Eric's back to
back lap would provide. Before I climbed into my rusty old truck I
gave this double lap some more thought. With all the things that
could go wrong with lights, bicycle, and body I decided it would make
most sense to suit up and wait for eric at the start/finish line. If
he wants to head back out...then I will walk back and climb in my
truck and take that long nap that I was promised and that I greatly
needed. When Eric finally finished this lap there I was, suited up
and ready to ride. Eric was relieved. His bike and body were showing
the wear of a rough lap. the long night or racers and rain had taken
its toll on the course. The couse was no longer the 100% ridable
course it once was. I took the baton, mounted the bike, and started
off...only to be retracted by the volunteers at the check in saying
that I needed a race number (mine was soggy and had fallen off mid
lap during the night) With a fresh number and a well tunned bike I
headed off for my last lap of the day. The morning light changed
everything. There were sights that had not been seen in the night,
hidden creeks and parrell trails. All sorts of wildlife had shown up
to witness the spectacle. My bike and body were both relived that
this was the end of the race. My last lap. The idea of a warm shower
and some dry clothes and the comfort of home were not far away. My
tired muscles fought to put in a competitive lap. My lights were no
longer an issue and the fresh brake pads had me in control. The chain
suck problem seemed to be cured. This could be my fastest lap of the
race...well..if the trail were not covered with 6 inces deep of
dinosaur shit. The rain was still coming down. On some parts of the
trail the center of the rail had a stream rolling steadily through.
This was the fast track. There were no real options for chosing a
line. This choice was made for you. It was mandatory that the rider
take the stream route. The mud on the sides was getting deep and was
definitely slow. THis lap was not going to be my fastest lap. It was
going to be my last lap in this race and that was enough to celebrate.

The lap finally came to a close.
As I passed our camp and headed to the finishline I could see Robbie
hanging out and telling some tall tale of beers drank and love lost
(or something to that effect.) It was clear that they had done the
math. We were well in the lead in our class and there was no need to
rush out on this lap because we would not want to send out another
rider. Some ten minutes later robbie went to the start line and
started his lap. He assured us that he would wait and not come across
the line before noon.

Time passed.
Eric and I played the event back to each other. Talked of the race
and the course as we waited for Robbie to finish up this race. I took
my muddy gear and mud caked bike to the stream that now rushed like a
river and cleaned everything as best I could. We waited as they
talleyed the results. We had dominated the sport class, and were 45
seconds shy of the leading expert team. We could have easily put out
another rider and shaved a few minutes on exchanges. With all that
said I think that on a hill-less course like this I should enter the
expert class, that is unless there is a Clydesdale Class.

Red Bull before each
Candy Durning
and some flat coke during lap three
these things seemed to work on a short flat course
but after this race I realize I need to get some miles in
and go out and hit a few climbs
RACE REPORT: Ed Sanders Cross Race as hosted by NCVC

This is the fourth time I have started this race report and this time
I am going to finish it. This report is going to be told without
graphic detail of an carbon monoxide filled drive in a big blue
truck with hot coffee in one hand and a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich in the other. Nor am I going to unleash a long list of
preloaded excuses as to why I am not faster or in better shape.
No one wants to hear about my hedonistic week with the family
down in Florida lounging on the beach watching the sunset over
the gulf trying to eat my soft served ice cream cone faster than it
can melt after a long day of chasing my son Dean around in hot
sand into the bath tub warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, that is
not important. People are sick of hearing me drag on about how I
am substituting Red Bull and Circus Peanuts for training. And
most of all there will be not talk about how I slapped together a
tune up as quickly as I could the night prior, choosing to accept a
wheel that will not hold its true rather than a new wheel that has
been in the basement for over a month out of laziness, and never
testing the new cleats on the new shoes till the warm up lap
because I was more interested in entertaining my guest from
Idaho and downing another glass of red wine, this is not
important to the reader or the race results. All of these details
have been covered in past race reports in one way or another,
same story/different race and if you want to hear them you can go
back through the archives and read them yourself. I will spare
everyone the weak attempt to be poetic as I pontificate about the
sights and smells of Indian Summer, no I won't drag on about
how baggy turtleneck sweaters, cold mornings with the sight of
my own breath, piles of dry multicolored leaves, porches
decorated with uncarved pumpkins and care crows and candy
corn all make me think about cyclocross, because it is honestly
this is just not true. There will be no effort to cleverly define what
CYCLOCROSS is, or what the origins of this quasi-european,
cold weather, short lap, timed race, steeplechaseque, road bike
on not so technical terrain is....it is assumed that you already
know this. But rather I will try to step into a roll that is a bit more
on the level of Sport Psychology.

In hindsight I see that the greatest failure of my approach the Ed
Sanders Cross Race as hosted by NCVC was not my sleep
deprivation, my red wine hang over, my poorly tuned bike, my
poorly toned body, my carbon monoxide filled lungs, the lack of
warm up before race time, or my being a mountainbiker and this
being an event that is more geared to the road biker. My failure
reflects greatly upon my approach to this race mentally.

I did not race this day, I did a race that day.

Need I expand on this?

Simply this....
I did not psych myself up, I psyched myself out. I entered the race
line up seeking a mid pack finish, I gave a mid pack effort, and I
got mid pack results.

There was not any over exertion, no over extension, no bursting
of myself, my limits were not tested. It was all rather 'ho-hum."
Sure, I had a good time. It was a hoot and a holler. I enjoyed
myself. But, I did not take any risks. Never for a second did I test
my limitations. In hindsight I feel it would have been better to
make an attack, try and take it all and fail, rather than to just
attend the race. This is not to say that I should have won this
race, by no means am I as fit or as fast as my opponents. But, if I
am to really respect myself....I must give my personal best. Race
the clock. Test my own personal limits. Show up to race. Wanting
to win, trying to win, and finishing as strong as I can.

With that said...I can feel my legs starting to cramp just thinking
about this whole race thing.

But as it is a road race it is fully within the ethic to pay the fee, line
up at the start, sprint off into the first lap, and pull off into the pits
realizing that it just is not there today. So at the next race expect
to see me sitting in the pits massaging my sore calves as my
opponents burst their legs and their lungs to finish the race we
all started together. Or actually expect to see me limping around
the course realizing I went out too hard, but still pig headed
enough to try and finish, fighting my hardest not to get lapped
and pulled from the course by the officials, but at least knowing
that I gave it my all. Because after all, that is all I have to give.

this race report sucks!
I should try to scratch up one of the other ones that talks about
the drive up, the misty hills in the distance, a labyrinth maze
winding through the lily ponds, but those written words were
tossed into the trash and there is tv to be watched. So rather than
thinking of the race past, I am going to step away and start
thinking of the race ahead. (or at least watch Roger Lodge and
Blind Date!)

good night

Here I am at work at getting a tad distracted by from my work as I try to explore the world of the BLOG.
What should I expect from this?
Where will this take me? Where am I trying to go with this? Am I so desparate to have my voice be heard that I shout nothing to no one?
This is all too weird. I am getting back to work.
To BLOG or not to BLOG....this should not be a pressing question. It is free. So why not try it out and see how it goes. It can drift off into the GREAT WEB ABYSS if I choose not to continue it (much like several of the other free web hostings I have gotten involved with in years prior.)