Rants on Cycling and on Life


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 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 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