Rants on Cycling and on Life


Love: What is love?

What is love?

Love is many things.

Love is ever changing.
Love is not so easily defined.

The love for the bicycle is a love a special love. It may be easy for me to say that I love my bicycle. I may even try to describe my love for the bicycle. But honestly.... I do not feel this love for the bicycle on each and every ride. There are moments when this love is clear... those moments are fleeting and precious.

This love for the bicycle is not entirely different for my love for my wife, my love for my children, or my love for my dogs. It is easy for my to say that I love my wife, children, and dogs; of course I love each and everyone of them as individuals and as the group that we call family and of course I could go through a list of why I love each and every one of them as a group or as an individual, but honestly there are only occassional special moments when we share a special connection where we know it is love. At these early stages of my son's lives the love is strong, powerful, and encompasses many experiences.... not unlike the love I shared for lisa when we first met, dated, and discovered each other. I will not go into great details of the various loves as do not want to get all sappy online. At different points in our lives and different points in our relationship we have experienced love in many different ways. And I know that the love I have for each and every one of them is going to grow and morph into many other things through the course of all of our lives.

The love for the bicycle is not entirely dissimilar.

I can tell you that I love my bicycle and I may be able to form a logical explanation, but it is actually at different points on the bike that I actually know what that love for the bike means. It comes as some sort of an epifany. It can be riding my bicycle across Key Bridge in the early morning as the sun rises.... nothing but the fog and a few rowers on the Potomac, nothing on the streets but me, some random runners, and virtually carless streets except for a those non-descript white vans making their early morning deliveries of newspapers, bagels, flowers, or who know what. This love can be experience during a moment in traffic as I max out my body and max out my bike. Riding the rhythm of traffic like a surfer rides the waves, being in the zone..... being in the moment..... being one with the bike.... being one with the organized chaos that is urban traffic and city life. Then there can be a moment on a mountain ride or more usually during a mountain bike race where I am moving along at a healthy pace. Pushing the bike effortless at my maximum speed. Breathing in the air around me. Smelling the dry pine or the decomposing leaves... each season and each ecological niche having its one distinctive essence. Weaving through the tight trees of the single track, clearing the obstacles, making the climbs, and floating down the downhills. During these moments it is all clear. It is all explained to me. I can not tell you what I see or what I feel. It is some sort of Nirvana. Not unlike what a monk may seek through great meditation. Life is explained to me. And at that moment in time my love for the bike is easily understood.

Every bicycle ride is not a religious experience. But, then again... mot every night out drinking is a party. So just as we go out drinking many times in search of that one really good time.... we also go out on many rides to try and find that one magical moment on the bike. And for that moment to be magical... there need to be those base miles.... which are more like love for work.

and one last thing before I climb into my gear, mount up on my bike, head towards the harvest moon with my lights a flashing to meet various people at the Wonderland Ballroom...
there are even those that love their job
for me... there are aspects of my job that I like and other aspects that I truly appreciate
but I fear that I can never effectively love my job the same way that I love my wife, my children, my dogs, or even my bicycle*.

*when I say bicycle..... I mean bicycle as I have many. I do not love them all equally. Nor do all of them give me the same chances at finding the perfect moment, but I do love them all and they all love me back


Bicycle Love

This morning I recieved an email from FATMARC asking me and a cast of cyclists of varying ability about "Why they ride/race bikes?" then Marc got a little more specific and and asked us to go into greater detail of our "Bicycle Love." He is going to post his long list of responses on his BLOG, Marc says he stole the topic idea from VELO NEWS.

The question of why I ride or race is not all that simple.
or perhaps the answer is simple...

"I ride because it is a part of me... I would not be me if I did not ride."

okay... it may be more than that
perhaps I can get back to the Why I ride? question after I answer the Why I race? question

Why does GWADZILLA race bicycles?

There are a few basic reasons....
As I have grown to have more and more adult style responsibilities I have found that it is more justifiable for me to tell my wife and family that I am abandoning them for a Sunday or maybe a whole weekend so that I can race my bike. Going out for a ride with the fellas just does not get the permission slip signed.


As the DC Metropolitian Area gets to be more and more populated and the idea of outdoor recreation gets to be more and more popular the trails then get to be more and more crowded. Crowded with more cyclists, more hikers, more runners, more dog walkers which makes for more dogs running wild.... just more. When I first started riding I knew of a few places to ride.... seldom did I ever see any other cyclist other than our group. But now... Go to Shaffer Farms, Patapsco, or Gambril State Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the trails can be like a trip around Interstate 495! (the DC Beltway) Knobby to Knobby traffic.... I hate getting stuck behind a catapillar or riders... and it is not cool to pass where there is no trail. With more trail users it becomes less reponsible to "bomb" downhill or to even zip around a bind corner at high speed.... the likelihood of encountering another trail user is just too high to really test one's own personal limits. When I ride (or even when I hike or walk my dogs) I try to imagine that I am on the trail coming in the opposite direction.

and of course....
having a racing goal in the not so distant future motivates me to ride when I would not normally feel compelled to ride. The motivation to show up fast and in shape to compete against some fast guys is greater motivation that for me to be faster than some friends or less than regular riding riding buddies.
I have raced out of shape and have raced in shape.... and racing or riding is much more fun when in shape. That is not to say that i am always in peak conditioning... I often try to use spirit and desire to compensate for lack of preparation.

I head off to the races...
The races have a course marked off. Everyone is going the same direction, hopefully. The fear of an old blue haired lady with her old blue haired dog marching up the trail in front of you is decreased... and it is okay to test your own personal limits.

On top of all that.... I love racing!
I ride harder and I ride faster on race day.
The competition does something to me. It makes my actions seem more accountable. My heart pumps and pounds before I even step over the top tube. The night before I start getting butterflies in my stomach.... often I will not commit to doing a race until Friday night so that the butterflies of anticipation do not hit me as early as Wednesday. I hate the anxiety.... but I love the racing experience... I love that extra push that competition offers me. The feeling of being dialed in on race day can be very Zen.

back to WHY I RIDE?

Most everyone loves to ride a bike....
If you can not remember the experience for yourself as a child take a look at the children in your neighborhood. There is something pure about riding a bike. It is like "running plus." Cycling is the closest that man or child can come to flying... it can be exhilerating! (okay, skiing or snowboarding can offer that same sensation) The bond between a person and their bike is irreplaceable. The connection of a child and their bike can often become like that Greek Mythology Character the Centaur, half man and half horse, only the horse is made of metal not flesh and bones.

The bike offers a feeling when the person is riding it and the bicycle is also the ticket of FREEDOM! The ability to explore and travel about. To extend the boundries of a child's world.... as a child I went for long bike rides with my fishing rod down the C&O Canal. Riding further and further, getting to more remote spots and further off places. We learned early that the journey was the destination. We were not training, we were just riding.

But then something happens....

Some kids put down the bike and pick up a skateboard or get interested in a different sport or activity, some kids replace the bike with the car, and others just think that the bike is a child's toy. I know that the bike was less part of my life during high school than it was during my time after college. In high school the bike was a tool for the geek using both straps to his backpack.... even though it never happened.... even I wanted to be cool.



hey gwadzilla-

remember go here tomorrow
some good information and links
a tad roadiesque.... but good just the same


here is another one... FAT GUY CYCLING
it is a team of three random cyclists; Fat Guy Cycling, Fixed Gear, and Fit Chick
there are some great images and some great links
right up your Bicycle Blogger interests!


as the name implies Gwadzilla is a big guy
Gwadzilla likes to eat
during the winter.... Gwadzilla eats more..... Gwadzilla rides less
then... Gwadzilla gets even bigger
Gwadzilla goes through this roller coaster every year
Gwadzilla is getting older and getting tired of this roller coaster ride

some random bicycle blogging got me to reading some roadie style stuff that got me thinking about getting on the bicycle trainer

one idea.... buy a few cycling classics... or maybe a new could be classic
maybe.... PRO (the movie), and on dirt OFF ROAD TO ATHENS

totally spaced
was reading blogs
random blogs
random links
some of interest
but did not book mark them
just the few listed above

meant to list some classics I already have
but been to the BLOG of my list of favorite cycling movies before

Comments to the Cycling Dude....

The Cycling Dude had a post about Proper attire.....

this is how I responded

proper attire is vital....
no one wants to show up at a black tie affair in a duck costume
no one wants to go out into the cold wind and snow wearing shorts, fingerless gloves, and a t-shirt
two major gear advances of the past many years
Gortex and polypropylene
and if you are "old school" remember.... cottons kills! wool for warmth
good gear last years....
you may not wear that balaclava everyday... but you will be happy to have it on the days when you need it
I have several balaclavas of different thickness
also a variety of gloves
overdressing can be as deadly as under dressing....
dress for the occasion
no need for that black tie at a backyard barbeque
no need for artic gear if it is only 40 degrees outside
for longer rides it is often wise to have the right gear in your pack "just in case!"
during my short stints in the Bay area and in Colorado I learned that the temperatures can change in a second....
in the Bay area the afternoon fog rolls in like clockwork
and the temperature drops fast
full finger gloves and a shell may be all you need to keep things pleasurable
now Colorado can be a little more extreme, but the same basic principle

let me see
what are some good links?

MEC in Canada (great exchange rate for us folks in the US)
both my jacket and pants are from them... SOLID!
LAKE winter shoes (I just got some and love em..... a bit pricey... but I do not expect my feet to grow)
hmmm.... what else do I wear that is winter specific?
well... my gloves are less than perfect... people rant and rave over these
Pearlizumi Lobster Gloves
and of course some good socks, good jersey, arm warmers, and skull cap from your maker of choice

and check out the Cycling Dude
he has some great links
an interesting perspective

when I get a chance tomorrow I want to read some of this guys stuff.... it has been a while since I checked out the rants on FEARLESSGEARLESS

what is sport?
what qualifies something as a SPORT vs. an ACTIVITY?

I was killing some time during my lunch break by surfing various bicycle related BLOGS when I tangent hopped around from Friend's Blog to Friend's Friend's BLOG and stumbled upon 1X8 of Hate and his rant on Sport Classifications and Activities.

This topic of Sport vs. Activity is an idea that has occupied my mind for nearly as long as the debate of Art vs. Craft.

In my life's history I find that I have angered far more people at the keg by stating that Golf is not a sport than by claiming that Pottery is more craft than art. Foolishly enough my wife (then girlfriend) is one of the people who was sensitive about my feelings about pottery. Lessons hard learned, some opinions should be kept to one's self. A lesson that I have yet to commit to memory, somehow I always find the exact wrong thing to say..... guess I have turretts on a converstational level rather than just blurting out one innappropriate word.

before going any further I will turn to a few definitions of the word SPORT...
Function: noun
Date: 15th century
1 a : a source of diversion : RECREATION b : sexual play c (1) : physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2) : a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in
2 a : PLEASANTRY, JEST b : often mean-spirited jesting : MOCKERY, DERISION
3 a : something tossed or driven about in or as if in play b : LAUGHINGSTOCK
4 a : SPORTSMAN b : a person considered with respect to living up to the ideals of sportsmanship sport> sport> c : a companionable person
5 : an individual exhibiting a sudden deviation from type beyond the normal limits of individual variation usually as a result of mutation especially of somatic tissue
synonym see


n 1: an active diversion requiring physical exertion and competition [syn: athletics] 2: the occupation of athletes who compete for pay 3: someone who engages in sports [syn: sportsman, sportswoman] 4: (biology) an organism that has characteristics resulting from chromosomal alteration [syn: mutant, mutation, variation] 5: (Maine colloquial) temporary summer resident of inland Maine 6: verbal wit (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously); "he became a figure of fun" [syn: fun, play] v 1: wear or display in an ostentatious or proud manner; "she was sporting a new hat" [syn: feature, boast] 2: play boisterously; "The children frolicked in the garden"; "the gamboling lambs in the meadows"; "The toddlers romped in the playroom" [syn: frolic, lark, rollick, skylark, disport, cavort, gambol, frisk, romp, run around, lark about]

both and were useless in deciding this arguement of "What is Sport?"
maybe the list from the Athens 2004 Olympic Site may help....

so.... what is sport in my mind?

I may have to rant on forward and further and come back to this section to give a more clear definition of what sport is for me. The several "tier" definition system that was presented by 1X8 of Hatewas interesting but it left out many activities that are considered sport, such as track and field or swimming, as well as intentionally excluding the activities of the "sportsman" such as hunting or fishing, while including golf.
(what makes golf a sport? I guess first we need to find a definition of SPORT that we agree upon)

In my mind there are a two basic categories of sport...
then a third.... that questionable GRAY AREA

1. Physical Games played at a competitive level... full contact does not make an activity more or less a sport...
Smear the Queer and Dodge Ball were very popular in my youth, both very intense, but neither would be considered a sport, not even by the Olympic Federation.

Basketball, Soccer, Football, Volleyball (and not just because I lettered in Volleyball in HS,) Cycling, Track and Field, Swimming (Diving gets tossed into the Gray Area,) Wrestling, Martial Arts, Ultimate Frisbee, Boxing...... and the list goes on and on and on
sorry did I leave out Jai Alai?
sorry if your sport was not mentioned
go to the OLYMPIC link below and go through their list and maybe your "sport" is listed there


2. A Working man (or woman's ) activity taken from the workplace and put out onto the playing field. As in the case of fishing or hunting or something like a lumberjack racing to chop down a tree in competition. Taking an activity out of its funtional environment and placing it into a competitive environment can make it sport. Now I have raced with other geeks in the office to find information online, but that is not sport.... yes it is a geeky game, but there is no way to stretch that activity into a sport. But.... messenger races, snow shoveling contests, fishing (ice or bass,) hunting can all be quite sporting! Hence our word, Sportsman.

3. that GRAY AREA: Pool/Billards, Golf aka pasture pool, Darts, and Bowling go into that GRAY AREA.
Other activities that fall into this gray area are Car Racing, Sailing, Diving, Dancing. There are certain activities that when taken to the highest level are moved from activity status to sport status, but who decides when? If I go Windsurfing... am I taking part in a sport? or am I just out getting some sun on a surfboard with a sail? And Car Racing? well..... even before my learner's permit moved to full fledged car driver's license I was racing cars around, sure not at the Indy level, but was my action sport... or just being a stupid kid? Even riding a bike is not a sport at the recreational level, but.... at some point the activity on a bicycle becomes a sport? Does heart race or calorie burning come into this definition?

Going to the gym is an activity? But how about Yoga?
Is Yoga a sport? Yoga is no more a sport than weight lifting....
Now I guess Power Lifting is a sport.... but at what stage does someone go from just being a weight lifting meathead with an IROC-Z at Gold's Gym to being a Powerlifter?

When dealing with sports there are often refferees, judges, or other types of score keeping. My brother and I have had various discussions about sport, much of which surround the various sports of the Olympics. During the Olympics there is always some sort of issue with the judges and corruption or maybe even human error. This was seen at the 2004 Olympics in Athens with the gymnastics and the US GOLD. We see the same corruption and subjectivity in figure skating each and every 4 years.

In my brother's mind all of these "subjective" sports should be removed from the Olympics in an effort to remove the room for arguement. Sports with a finishline fail to have that room for error. Perhaps they could have figure skaters all do the same routine in a standard amount of time with a finishline... thus removing the effect of national affiliation, physical attractiveness, musical choice, and outfit on the judges decision.... too many unrelated variables.

Taste should not bring someone closer to the GOLD MEDAL!

Ramp Skating and Halfpipe riding on a snowboard can have that same subjectivity as there is a measure for "style." Surfing, as cool as I may think it is.... has far too much of a subjective leve to it. Could you imagine the 100 yard dash offering style points? Maybe giving someone a few second penalty for making a funny face while they run? The idea of a stop watch and a finishline just seems to make it all a tad easier for selecting the winner.

where is this going?
it could go on forever

that was a very loose paraphrase of my brother's feelings on the notion of sport
perhaps he will be kind enough to comment and clear up his opinions

as for everyone else....
feel free to make additions where you can and we can take this idea to a BLOG FORUM LEVEL

James Canty a fellow Mount Pleasant Dweller and semi-frequent freelance employee of the same employer as myself defines Sport as....
oh.... he was willing to discuss the topic
he was able to mock my inability to define the topic
but he needs 24 hours to create his definition
so lets not worry about his definition.... lets listen to his music and check out his musical past

seems AllMUSIC is now a login type of place
now on Discord
previouly on SOUTHERN
and also on Southern The United Nations of Ulysses

(Peter Pan seems to be alive and well in the mind of James Canty)



since I was too busy sledding to be taking pictures during this last snow experience
I will post this image of Dean to fill the void
imagine snow
imagine snow pants, hat, gloves, jacket, and rosey cheeks
then replace the big wheel with a plastic sled


This weekend I found an email in my YAHOO Account INBOX
the Subject line read, "YOUR CAR DOOR MAY BE A DEATHTRAP!"
the email resting with numerous others from various Honda Dealers make me think
that this message was in reference to the Suicide Doors of the Honda Element; something that I am aware of and quite cautious about
but NO!
the message was cycling related
there is a cycling advocate out there trying to educate Car Drivers and Cyclists about the Dangers of the Door Zone!
or as he says, "YOUR CAR DOOR IS A DEATHTRAP!"

here is a post from our converstation
the author of the site took the liberty of using this image of me without my beard

Joel Gwadz, Somewhere in the USA 1.21.05

last night splitting bumper to bumper traffic I had to watch out for all the people jumping out of taxis an limos never thinking to look back. That is why I was in the middle of the road riding on the double yellow line when an officer told me the law was to ride to the right. I corrected him and said the law was to ride as far to the right as is deemed safe by me at that point the center of the road was as far right as I felt safe considering the door zone and double parkers!

-- Joel

Nearly 20 Years Ago to the Day!
dam I am old!
it is hard to tell
but that is me in the front of the toboggan
when GWADZILLA was going by GWA-MONSTER

here I am letting out a painful GWA-MONSTER SCREAM
seconds later I slammed my head getting a scar the size of the palm of my hand
in the shape of Africa.... it was rather attractive

pretty neat for me and three friends to adorn the front cover of the
Washington Post rather than Ronald Reagan

Punk Rock and Peter Pan Syndrome

it is unclear to me whether the people prone to the Peter Pan Syndrome are also the same types of people that were drawn to Punk Rock in their youths
or if the ideals of Punk Rock instilled a Peter Pan Syndrome in certain individuals
either way.... I know many people who grew up hanging in the "punk scene" many of have a visible "Peter Pan Syndrome" still today

summers off
sledding on snow days
refusing to commit to a steady job
refusing to commit to anything
maintaining a love for the things they loved when they were younger
(for some that love is for music: playing or listening, while for others it may be skateboarding or mountainbiking, while for others it may be fine arts or simply hanging out)
and even dressing like they are in junior high
(you know the Nike Bruins with the blus swoosh, the oddly colored cordaroys, the adidas zip up sweat shirt and the unkempt hair)
then of couse the late nights and the late mornings

these are just a few characteristics of the Punk Rocker with Peter Pan Syndrome

but for some this Peter Pan Syndrome may backfire

what happens when this Punk Peter Pan type wants to have some of the things in life that their parents had.... a house... a car.... a family.... a luxurious vacation?

for all things worth having there comes a sacrifice....

in my life I have always kept one foot in the conventional
always knowing that there were things in the conventional world that I wanted
thinking that I could obtain these things of the conventional world in unconventional ways...
no I never saught super stardom as a musician or an athlete
I was never that motivated
no... I don't even play the lottery
tried to start my own business with mixed results
eventually had to give into "the man"
had to punch his clock so that I could cash his check
and you know what.... it is not so bad

boss is in


snow has me thinking of snowshoe
or this year the 24 Hours of Big Bear

this is an article in DIRTWORLD about the team I raced with at the 24 Hours of Snowshoe by one of my team mates who is also one of the City Bikes Team founders

it is worth a look just to see how large I am compared to most cyclists
it would be more dramatic if my brother, who is 6'2", were not standing by my side

saw an amusing post on a roadie forum by someone that referred to himself as a human clydesdale
was going to email him but did not think the join/login was worth the time
more than likely he is 180 or so
not what I would call a CLYDESDALE

the author of that article is currently in Mexico City
wonder how the cycling culture is keeping him entertained down there
apparently there are three velodromes in Mexico City
it would be interesting to check out

Joe talks about a Critical Mass Ride in DC that acted as a quasi-anti-inagural ride
(correction... joe did not make that entry on Single Speed Outlaw.... thatBLOG has a magazine format)

DC needs to embrace mountainbiking
stop telling mountainbikers to get to the back of the metaphorical back of the bus

I am wrecked...

I am wrecked
no, not that feeling like I just got back from playing football with the boys
playing football with the boys is something I don't do any more, but it is a feeling I can remember
the double cross country ski yesterday left me stiff
that was on top of a morning yoga session as well as all that it means to be a father of two with two active dogs on a snow day
so today most of my energy was expended sledding with Dean, chasing Dean, or chilling with Dean, Grant, Lisa, Roscoe, and Brutus

considered a night assualt on Rock Creek Park for a little more fun on the snow
I think I did my body good this weekend
yoga, the skiing, and all the running around
enough is enough..... a little more may bring me past the point of pleasure
red wine is what I am headed for... not the petzl and the skies

check out this awesome photo exhibit....
beautiful photography
amazing images of amazing places
so well orchestrated
such amazing design


stole the link.... I mean discovered the link... or maybe turned onto the link by VELORUTION

let the Spencer Tunick images be a WHERE'S WALDO of bicyclist.... only.... Waldo only makes one appearance instead of every page.....

I wonder how Spencer Tunick feels about Andrew Goldsworthy (sorry.... could not find the official site)
I wonder how Andrew Goldsworthy feels about Jeff Foxsworthy?

listening to some good background music.... perhaps the perfect mood music for this blog entry
gundog99 set the links to the MP3s.... a good mix.... wise I had a play all button

will have to continue with the music
and more to reading... not writing blogs
need to keep my hands free for sipping wine