27 December 2009
Your challenge is to find the things that upset you from time to time, but you're so happy to do them that you could never imagine quitting. Sometimes you may not want to do your work, or you won't want to go to school, or maybe you'll want to just up and quit all of your hobbies and burrow into the side of a mountain and live like a muskrat. Those are the times when the next two words will become the most important words in the universe: zest and vigor. Look these words up or have your Mom explain to you what they mean. I'll wait.
Now, when you feel like quitting, take these words into consideration. Your attitude changes the way you see the world (and the way the world sees you, but that's a story for another day). I want you to approach your challenges with zest and vigor, and if you still hate them, then you're doing something wrong. Like I said before, if you're doing nothing but complaining, even after you change your attitude, you're doing something wrong.
When you do find those things that you absolutely love to do (on most days), give everything you can to them. Use every bit of your brain power on your homework. Ride your dirtbike as hard as you can. Make it your job to know or to find out the answer to every question your teacher asks, and while you're at it, think of questions your teacher might not even know the answer to. These are the challenges you'll face, and they're wonderful challenges. You, B, are just the man for the job. With zest, vigor, and lots of love,
21 December 2009
The new location will be just down the road from the current storefront. They're moving from 705 & 709 8th St SE to 719 8th St SE. No word yet on when they'll be reopening, but rest assured that the Hill's most rockinest bike shop will still be alive and kicking (ass) in 2010.
So party on (and thanks for the sugar cookie this afternoon).
Also, the new bike finally arrived, in parts, over the last month. The final piece went on today. It's right around 17.5 lbs ready to roll. Also of note: I'll be winning the ACCC Men's C series jersey on that thing. Gotta keep the maglia rosa in Foggy Bottom, ya know?
What else... my license expired a few weeks ago, and to commemorate the occasion, my small hipster friend got me a piece of real art shit. It's a screen print called "Drop Sequence" by Anthony Cozzi. Super cool.
Oh and did you see that a cop tried to kill everyone on U St Saturday? Because snow makes everything fun, including waving a weapon around? Fantastic. Watch the video and read all about it at Wonkette. He's apparently on "desk duty" for the time being.
If you're traveling this week, safe travels. If not, lucky you. Listening to a remix of Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi and Psychic City by YACHT. Both excellent tracks.
08 December 2009
in six minutes, tell me about ONUCI/UNOCI:
it's working, kinda, but they won't vote. everybody who wants power (and has guns) has power.
in ten minutes, tell me about conflict in E Africa:
ten minutes? gimme like 3 class sessions.
in 3000 words, what works about peacekeeping:
ooooh, well, sometimes nothing, sometimes everything. if they want to stop fighting, they stop fighting. if they're hell-bent on continuing to fight, they continue to fight.
in 4000 words, assess the relative value of terrain in the theory of Clausewitz and Guevara:
Che was obsessed with it, so he died. CvC fought on it, and usually won.
in 7500 words, should we recognize Somaliland:
yes. maybe. probably. they're doing so well without us, but they've got to be dissociated from Somalia policy.
listening to El Ten Eleven cover Disorder and Lovely Alien by Holy Fuck. Do yourself a favor and watch the video for it below. srsly.
17 November 2009
do you think the elite racers will care if we smoke two feet away from them as they are turning themselves inside out?
mighty funny. makes me want to turn my skinny jeans into a basket of rags.
(thieved from xtranormal via Prolly)
16 November 2009
Seriously. Bike racing is awesome. Almost none of us do it because we make money. Hell, most of us spend gobs and gobs of money on bike racing. What's one more gob? If I'm still living in the US by next January, I'll be spending a long weekend in Nassau racing my bike in some disgustingly scenic weather and most likely, in some DC club's kit. So let's get on it now and start putting together a M 3/4 team for January 2011. Are you in?
Watching the Browns get demolished on MNF, listening to Florence + the Machine's Dog Days Are Over, and reading Things that were legalized before gay marriage.
06 November 2009
He said there was a note from the mailman saying the box with my new bike shit was "Under Meter." The box was not under the meter. After a few moments of panic, I had him carefully describe the note to me...
"Where is the note?"
"On the door."
"How is it on the door?"
"Taped." [cue faint, hopeful music]
"Is the tape yellow?"
"Yes." [music builds rapidly]
"Is my signature on the note?"
"Yes." [the sun violently breaks through the clouds]
"I left that note. The mailman hasn't brought the package yet."
"Oh. That's good." [no shit]
A lot of money almost disappeared REAL fast.
Get muddy for me while I tux it up around Na$hvegas.
Listening to a La Roux and the Killers mashup. Super good.
05 November 2009
* Arrival at Post Office, November 05, 2009, 8:36 am, WASHINGTON, DC 20002
* Inbound International Arrival, November 04, 2009, 3:26 pm, ISC NEW YORK NY(USPS)
* Origin Post is Preparing Shipment
* Foreign International Dispatch, October 31, 2009, 9:30 pm, SHENZHEN EMS, CHINA PEOPLES REP
24 October 2009
19 October 2009
11 October 2009
First and foremost, big up to R1V/Arrow Bikes for putting on a great race this weekend. They turned a big flat park into a fun course and (cheap) beer garden. Impressive. My favorite part of the course was the circle of death/conch shell/pinwheel out back. Very cool.
Once again, I registered for the B and C races. It went more or less like every other C race I've done--finish in the top half in non MABRA races and just out of it in MABRA races. The sprint for 24th was good fun too. I think I scared a kid who was standing at the finish line. If I hadn't been pushing two gears too small, I think I would've won it, too.
The B race... oooh the B race. I started out DFL, so my first thought is, "I should be drinking a beer while I'm racing." Then I passed someone. Then someone else. Then maybe someone else. I'm not sure, because half way through the race I totally spaced out, eyes sunken into my head and the like. But I finished and I didn't finish last. Hell yeah. That deserved a cold one.
I've only got one more race weekend on my schedule: DCCX. School is going to be relentless for the next two months--five papers to turn in in the next 30 days and six more (longer ones) with two presentations to round out the semester.
All photos courtesy my small hipster pro photog friend. Listening to All Things Considered, cuz it makes me smart.
07 October 2009
Desired outcome: 1st place
Crash on last lap due to not being an ambiturner: +1 (2nd)
Crash on second to last lap, in the exact same spot, due to not being an ambiturner: +2 (4th)
Crushing my chainguard trying to clear the logs: +2 (6th)
Bouncy rear derailleur due to clump of grass in the pulleys: +3 (9th)
Dismounting at a standstill on three rideable runups, after spinning in the mud: +4 (13th)
Being too fat to be a climber: +4 (17th)
Pedal troubles: +0 (they worked!!!1!!one!!)
Supermanning all of my remounts: +2 (19th)
Nerves on the big descent where I broke my helmet and bloodied my face last year: +2 (21st)
Piss-poor sprint: +5 (26th)
So that just leaves... utter lack of fitness: +9 (35th)
I can fix most of these. I can. I just have to train a lot harder and a lot more effectively. And everyone else needs to take rest weeks before all of the rest of my races.
Also, check out the pictures on my picasa page. Most of them are from the C race, but my pro photog also snapped a few shots of the men's masters race and B race. She got a few extra of this one dude, because she was fascinated/confused by a tattooed vegan straightedge pseudohipster. "Wait, so he doesn't drink? Does he know he doesn't drink?"
Listening to Viz by le Tigre, and only actually paying attention to the lyrics for the first time. Sexy.
26 September 2009
The following request to change your USCF category has been approved and processed by USA Cycling:
r$millionaire - 2009-09-14 17:17
License: Road Racer
Request to change category from Cat 5 to Cat 4
4 5 09: Tyson's Corner Circuit Cat 5 - 9th/41
4 17 09: Carl Dolan Circuit Cat 4/5 - 22nd of cat 5s, 26th overall
4 18 09: Syn-Fit Crit Cat 5 - 35th/42
5 9&10 09: Tomato Head Omnium Cat 5 - 8th/17 (Crit), 7th/17(Crit), and 6th/17 (Crit)
5 17 09: BikeJam Baltimore Cat 5 - 17th/24
5 24 09: RFK Crit Cat 5 - 27th/34
6 14 09: Murad RR Cat 5 - 16th/30
7 18 09: Giro di Coppi RR Cat 5 - 31st/40
9 13 09: Bobby Phillips Turkey Day Crit Cat 5 - 24th/40
Request was approved on 2009-09-26 19:27 by Tracy Rankin
it can clean a pair of pedals. I'm going to give the egg beaters a shot for one more race weekend before I give up on them. Unfortunately that race weekend isn't this race weekend.
I spent the day today in a class on microfinance lending. It's a great class (would someone please give me a job in microcredit starting next spring? please?), and it's taught by one of the real pioneers in the field. Again, great class, but the second half of the workshop will be happening at the same time as Ed Sander tomorrow. Bummer. The Lilypons race was my first ever bicycle race last year.
And the whole workshop weekend happens to be the same time that a bunch of the GW kids are up at the Barn hitting some of those WV rollers. Bad timing, but if it helps me narrow down what I actually want to do with my life (be a tour guide by day and focus on racing? nah...), all the better.
Get a little extra muddy for me tomorrow.
Listening to Rocky Top before the UT-Ohio game comes on espn360.
21 September 2009
Baltimore—specifically Druid Hill park—puts on some pretty good bike races. BikeJam back in May was probably the site of my favorite crit this season (though RFK certainly gave it a run for its money).
The Charm City Cross course was pretty standard for the cross courses I saw in the Mid Atlantic last fall/winter—rolling grassy bits, some off camber, and creative use of a Home Depot gift card in the lumber department. Being that this is going to be my second season racing, I thought I'd give it a shot at racing both the C and B categories.
My plan for the C race was to stick with the main group as long as I could, then pick people off after a few minutes of recovery. That went more or less as anticipated, but I failed to take into account the inevitability that 1) my start line “sprint” would put me in the back of the race right off the bat and 2) the main field would splinter in front of me without my knowledge. So one minor crash and a few minor mechanicals later, I finished 60th of 103ish finishers.
For the B race, I had a totally different strategy: 1) don't die and 2) finish, in that order. I accomplished the first, which is really all you can ask for in amateur bike racing. I lost the field almost immediately, even as I could feel my intensity hit peaks its never seen before in a cross race (except for maybe once). I had the same mechanical issues in the second race as in the Cs, because I don't learn lessons, but this time they were nearly crippling at a rate of 2 or 3 dropped chains per lap. I should qualify that; on the first lap, I dropped my chain twice, on the second three times, and another three times on what would become my final lap. DNF on my first B cyclocross race. Dammit.
Some other observations I've chosen not to weave into the above narrative...
* Crank Bros' Egg Beater pedals call themselves “self-cleaning.” This seems to be the case with dust and is probably the case with mud, but when you introduce sand into the fold, we can safely call Egg Beaters “self-seizing.” I spent the entirety of my last lap riding ON my left pedal, not IN my left pedal. It's all in the proposition. Or the preposition, whatever. I spent fully 1/3 of the race trying to wiggle one or both cleats into its pedal. No surprise: I discovered between races that the “beater” portion of the egg beaters was almost completely immobile. No wonder I couldn't wedge my cleats in.
If any of the brothers Crank are reading this, how can I fix this and prevent it from happening in the future? Note that I do enjoy racing on the sand.
* I hope, which is not a method, that the B racers outclassed me so in Baltimore because there were Cat 2s in the mix. I'm looking forward to racing with just the MABRA 3/4 guys in the coming weeks/months.
* I need to tune my single ring setup. The purpose of going with one ring in the front is to keep the chain on the drivetrain, not to have it constantly fall off. I mean for fuck's sake.
* I don't think I'll be a competitive bicycle racist, at least not at the level that I want to be and that I know I can be, until summer/fall 2010. It's just too damn hard (meow) to juggle a full time job (meow meow) with being a full time student (meow), and still find the time to balance maintaining at least one personal relationship (meow) with a bike racing habit. That was me whining.
Ok, now go check out the pictures on my picasa page, courtesy my small hipster friend and her big fancy camera. Listening to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' "Home." I just stumbled across this one, and I dig it.
20 September 2009
Raced Charm City this morning (and this afternoon), and I'm beat. Placed 60th in the Men's C after a crash and two mechanicals. DNFed the B after losing my chain six times in the first two laps.
More to come tomorrow or maybe Tuesday or maybe Wednesday, including pictures from the B race.
19 September 2009
See you tomorrow.
Listening to my cousin's new band. They're called The Great Collide.
04 September 2009
Have a good weekend, friends (and try to stay wheel-side down).
01 September 2009
Classes at GW started yesterday. I had a class yesterday evening--a history of military strategy and policy course--and that went well enough. Tonight though, tonight's class was good. The class is called Development in Africa, and it's taught by a professor who's big on statistical modeling and conflict/reconstruction. These are all fantastic things. To put it into terms we can all appreciate, when I talk about development, I get the same feeling as I would going off the front with a teammate with 1km to go. I'm energized; I know I've got a hell of a lot of hard work in front of me, but I'm energized. Bring on semester number three. Also fun: the class is 18 women and 6 men. I would like my odds, were I still a gambling man.
In other news, I did my second cross workout of the "fall" over the weekend, and I've got the hitch out of my step on my remount. It's about damn time. I took a little bit of a spill unclipping about an hour into my workout, so I've got the first crash out of the way.
Pimp my ride: cx edition
I've also got some fresh new buff & blue (I still don't know what the hell "buff" is) bartape, some new egg beater pedals with blue anodized spindles, and an anodized blue BBG chainguard. It's 4 grams heavier than the FSA carbon guard, and costs $12 on the BBG website. Buy one. Actually buy 8, and tell them where you heard about them. Maybe I can score some free.... chainguards. Because I totally need more than the two I've already got. Whatev.
For those of you in school, I hope your fall semester is getting off to a good start. For those of you who've got a full time job and nothing else to pull you off of your velocipede machine, I envy you. Also, I see you bragging from the other side of the internet tubes.
Listening to Atlas by Battles. Really gets me through my core workouts. See if you can do a plank all the way through the track.
18 August 2009
In my line of work, I get to meet lots of people every day--usually something like 250 folks. Yesterday, I noticed one of these 250 and felt a strange sort of cosmic connection with him. He was a wiry sort with a partially-kempt mustache and devilish soul patch, but it was his eyes that I recognized. I'd seen those enthusiastic rapid movements with a hint of crazy somewhere before.
About once a week, I'll have someone recognize my wheel-and-flag USA Cycling lapel pin and talk to me about cycling. So after the tour, this gaunt fellow approached me with his female companion. She asked me something relevant to the tour, and then with a bit of a huff, introduced crazy eyes to me: "and he's got a question that's not relevant to anything."
Perfect, those are my favorite.
"So I see your pin. Do you race?"
Whoa, actually those are my favorite questions. "Yeah, just finished my road season and I'm getting ready for cross. Do you?"
"Yeah, I race cross."
So that's where I've seen that crazy before. Cross races.
Dammit, I'm excited for September 20 at Charm City. Who gives a what about the shape my legs are in right now and how I'm about 28 lbs over racing weight? Cross races are fun. Always. Until the temp dips below 20F. Then they're fun when you finish top 10, which I'm not really into.
Listening to an acoustic version of She Moves in Her Own Way by the Kooks.
17 August 2009
I've competed in school colors before, and it was cool then, so I'm sure it'll be pretty good times riding for the first Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and his famed velocipede regiments.
Also, someone get on the road-results.com compiling duties--we'll all thank you and you'll be very popular. Almost like you're wearing a GW kit.
Listening to a pleasantly bouncy remix of Flux by Bloc Party.
02 August 2009
In any case, I signed up for the Charm City CX race today--both the B and C race. I checked out the race predictor at crossresults.com, and it seems that I'm totally outclassed in the B race. So I'm excited. Also, I just saw that the crossresults guy(s) launched a new website--road-results.com. The cross website is awesome, in part, because of how widely it's used. We (and by "we," I mean "race promoters," of which I am not one) need to get on the ball with reporting MABRA races to road-results. If you're reading this, it's because you like seeing things on the internets machine that tell you about bicycle racists in our fair region. And given that our fair region is filled with nerds, you probably like playing with numbers (like the numbers on crossresults).
So get to it, promoters.
Listening to Ratatat's Big Slippa Mix of the Comeback by Shout Out Louds. I couldn't stop listening to the original when it came out a few years ago, and I have a feeling it'll be the same story with this remix.
21 July 2009
Now... I did the Coppi cat 5 last weekend, and I'm ready for cross season. I yo yoed on and off the back for the first six miles, and I lost the group on the unpleasant climb on the unmarked road on the backside of the course. I rode a little with an NCVC guy and an Evolution guy, but it was a more or less very uneventful race. I did manage to hit my highest ever speed on a descent: 45.7mph. Pretty exhilarating hurtling down tarmac in my underwear and a little piece of plastic on my brain at that speed.
More importantly, I'm done with hills this summer. I could dedicate myself for the next 6 weeks to race in West Virginia and Tennessee, or I could ride base for cross in the fall (and drink beer and watch the TdF and hang out with a small hipster). I choose cross.
Speaking of which, I'm converting the double crank to a single. I want to stick with my FSA Gossamer crankset, but I'm interested in recommendations on chainguards and gearing for the front and the back. Any suggestions?
Watching the "Dolly Parton" stage of the TdF and listening to L'Amour by Louise Attaque. Also, Lance just said "good morning" into the moto-camera. What a whore. Also also, the Cervelo TT boys have very big faces. Anorexia? EPO? Anorepoxia?
14 July 2009
The important thing to note about this particular stage is that Rinaldo Nocentini was the winner. The important thing to note about his victory (and my presence at the ToC) is that I got some cool shots of him as he rode away from the publicity tent.
So here you go, while Nocentini is still in yellow...
Listening to Girls & Boys by Blur, but very quietly; my roommate is asleep.
08 July 2009
Well, that would be the headline if Astana didn't have five guys in the top seven! Holy shit, I guess this is what it would be like if the Yankees got what they paid for and won 125 games every year.
More importantly, my picks for the TdF final GC:
1) Alberto Contador - he'll come back to life in the high mountains
2) Carlos Sastre - he was just climbing too well in the last week of the Giro
3) Andy Schleck - I have so much faith in the kid, I can't not put him on the podium
4) Lance Armstrong - he looks fantastic and he's riding so smart right now
5) Andreas Kloden - another "I've been on the podium at the TdF, but I'm a domestique this year" Astana rider
6) Denis Menchov - he's already fallen back with the TTT, but he'll settle in
7) Christian Vande Velde - but only as a testament to the strength of his team
8) Kim Kirchen - see above
9) Cadel Evans - in spite of his team
10) Levi Leipheimer - four out of the top ten ain't bad
What do you folks think?
07 July 2009
I just stumbled upon a GamJams Coaches Roundtable question that I submitted (sound of own horn tooting) about riding unattached. It's a great discussion, now if only all of the other riders in the area didn't have the chance to read it too.
I had my first ride post-op Sunday. I'm aware that this may sound like I recently returned from a medical tourism trip from Thailand. I did 90 minutes tempo on the trainer, as I was afraid to leave the house with the knowledge I could start bleeding out the mouth at any time. Note that this does not generally prevent me from participating in other leisure-time activities. The ride went as well as could be expected, and I streamed a netflix movie for good measure. Pretty solid, for a talkie.
So now I'm thinking, my legs feel good, the pain in my jaw is manageable, how's about a real training ride. So I had a big bowl of squishy pasta and squishy vegetables for lunch in preparation for intervals at Hains Monday night. What I failed to take into consideration, though, is that painkiller-assisted sleep does not always work as well as its standalone counterpart. So I slept until the evening TdF coverage (those tricky fucking Columbia riders!) then packed in for an early night's sleep.
Oh, hello jaw pain, I didn't expect to see you tonight. My jaw feels like my legs do in that split second before I pop. It has for the last two hours now. This is downright unbearable. I can't even force myself to suffer on the bike this much, but maybe I will now. These are all growth experiences.
Here's hoping the pain in my jaw turns to pain in my legs. Listening to Frederic Chopin's Nocturne No. 37 part 1. It put me to sleep in high school, maybe it'll do the same now.
01 July 2009
I've got a healthy obsession with Mark Cavendish, and I exercise this obsession by attempting to accessorize like Cav in an effort to add that last niggling 13 mph to my sprint. I've got the green jersey from Cav's ToC points championship, and now I'm on the lookout for the Manxman's sunglasses. Not his racing glasses, but his super cool podium stunner--or rather "sprinner"--shades. I first thought they were Rayban Wayfarers, but they don't sell those with that superfast colorway. Then I stumbled onto this picture, and saw they were Oakleys. Still can't figure out which model though. If anybody knows, drop me a line.
Listening to Don't You Evah by Spoon. It was on at the bicycle store and I can't get it out of my head.
So instead of riding or working, I've been reading up on my blogs. I found something on the Bike Snob DC's website that has me a little worried, but at the same time feeling foolishly paranoid. BSDC apparently spotted some closed streets near our three government seat buildings. Normally, I would just classify this as another self-important District resident thinking the world is out to get him. Trouble is that I too have noticed an inordinate amount of road closures around the Capitol in the evenings in the last 2-3 weeks. So am I crazy too? Are you nervous about being in DC on the 4th?
The terriers attacked the World Trade Center the first time one month after Bill Clinton was inaugurated the first time and 8 months after W's first inaugural. I feel like this is a pattern, and I'm sure our friends who work for all the three-letter agencies in town are on top of it, but still, I'm feeling just a little gun shy these days, but maybe that's just all the pain pills talking.
Listening to a live version of Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon.
23 June 2009
It was a big weekend for awesome music in DC. Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head is still going strong in their June Friday night residency at DC9, Bacardi put on a free show at Rock n Roll Hotel Saturday night, and Camera Obscura played the 9:30 club Sunday night while Phoenix played RnR. I made it to the Bacardi show (Matt & Kim and Major Lazer) Saturday and the Phoenix show Sunday. I booked a room at the RnR Hotel Saturday night to cut down on travel time.
Hot, Sweaty, Smiley Dance Party with Matt & Kim
I want you to think back to all the shows you’ve seen in small clubs. Remember them? Don’t forget when you saw the Kings of Leon under their original name, Three Brothers and a Cousin from Hendersonville. Ok, good. Now think about the most fun of all those shows. Got it? Now, tally up all of the smile-hours emitted by the audience during that show. Get out your times tables, I’ll wait. Perfect. Take that number and multiply it by two. That’s how much Matt Johnson and Kim Schilfino smiled during their set at the Rock n Roll Hotel Saturday night.
In addition to being smiling goons, Matt & Kim are very proficient, energetic, personable musicians and performers. Matt told a story about the roots of the Rock n Roll Hotel–that it had most recently been a funeral home–and suggested that they change the name to Rock n Roll Funeral Home. Sounds pretty swish if you ask me.
Moral of the story: Matt & Kim put on an awesome show and you should go see them if you every have the chance. No exceptions.
Bacardi B-Live Tour
So I mentioned M&K and Major Lazer were part of a Bacardi tour… the only thing I’ll say about this part of the night is that the mixologists Bacardi makes you wait 20 minutes for are worth it. Holy shit. Bell peppers, pineapple, cilantro, honey, jalapeno, blood orange soda, and rum makes a delicious cocktail.
Guns Don’t Kill People, LAZERS DO!
Major Lazer are Diplo and Switch, two British DJs who had nothing better to do with their summer than pretend to be a Reggaeton dance group. I used to pretend to be a DJ (look for dj sun on the imadj record label. you won’t find anything), so I dig live DJ sets. It was cool when they would get into songs that were recognizable from their album, but it was basically just a dark, sweaty, hip hop dance party with a potentially-Jamaican emcee. The visual entertainment was provided by two dancers (I’ll imagine they’re Jamaican too) and some drunk and suggestable audience members. Their photos are omitted, just in case.
Phoenix–More than just a Dot on the Map in Arizona
Phoenix are a 6-piece French band out of Versailles that the Decider calls the “un-French French band.” I don’t know what that means.
The first thing I’ll say about Phoenix is they’re all excellent musicians. Thomas Mars sounds live exactly like he sounds on studio albums. It’s really remarkable. I’m not sure if vox just generally go uncorrected with this hipster music (Matt sounded pretty spot-on Saturday), but Mars has the kind of voice that sounds like it’s totally uneffected by seasonal allergies. So clear. All said, good show, would’ve liked to have been a little better versed in their catalogue, but not knowing songs doesn’t really take away from a great performance.
If anyone when to see Camera Obscura Sunday night, I’d love to hear how the show was. Listening to French Navy for posterity's sake.
19 June 2009
Good luck to everyone racing in Washington County this weekend. Check out Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. I by the Flaming Lips. If Yoshimi can do it, so can you.
18 June 2009
I've only once had the pleasure of truly turning my pedals in anger. It happened in February of this year at an end-of-season cross race. Coming into the final lap, I had come to realize my positioning in the field was all but sealed. Barring a major crash in on my part or on the part of an unseen rider in front of me, I would finish in what turned out to be 21st place. I was coming off the final dismount portion of the course that led to the ascent to the finish. I was having trouble clipping my muddy cleat back into the slimy stomper at the end of my left crankarm when a Proteus rider passed me on the right. Almost immediately, I clipped in and let loose a deafening snarl I was previously unaware my body could produce. My legs surged with a violent electricity and I nipped the Proteus rider at the line. Each time I relived the final sprint over the next 48 hours, I felt the same charge of adrenaline course through my body.
In my 10 or so road races this spring, I've yet to recapture that same feeling. I wish I could channel it into a 40+ mph sprint at the finish line at every pack finish like Mark Cavendish, but that is unfortunately not in the cards. I know that our fair region is by no means devoid of pro-caliber sprinters and rouleurs who can put the hurt on the fittest continental pros. My question to you is this: how do you do it? Are your bodies just designed to ride a bicycle faster than the rest of us? Maybe you're better at ignoring the warning flares your bodies fire off as your extremities fill with lactose. Perhaps you're more the method actor types, channeling some misplaced rage from your childhood into your carbon cranks. In any case, it's something I've yet to add to my ready arsenal on the bike.
Listening to Leyendecker by Battles, hoping to learn to crush my pedals the way John Stanier crushes the drums.
14 June 2009
When I rolled into the parking lot in Poolesville this morning, I panicked that I had forgotten my cross bike. That "parking lot" would make for a fun, fast cyclocross course. Focus, Rich, you're writing about a road race.
The Men's 5 race was a smallish field--the final results showed 30 guys. Right off the bat, I felt good about my chances at a top 25 finish. My last two weeks of training were pretty shite what with the rain and all, so top 25 was about all I was expecting. I had a good ride with the group over at HP Thursday night, so I knew I had a little gas in my tank, but how much remained to be seen.
I played yo-yo on the back of the field for the first two eight-mile laps before I decided that was just too much work. On the long back side of the course, I moved up to about eighth wheel. Over the next ten miles, I stayed in the front third of the pack and pulling the group for about a mile. Most importantly, I let off the throttle before I popped. Lesson learned.
So I wheelsurfed around a bit until mile 35 or so, when I jumped up to second wheel. I shared it with another guy--I don't remember what team--and we exchanged a couple of friendly shoulder bumps while we waited for a move to go. In retrospect, I should have tried to bring him with me on my attack. With about 2500m to go, I saw an NCVC guy approach on our right, and he looked strong. Here is my chance, I think. I knew I didn't have enough gas to solo for the win, but I thought if I could trade pulls with one or two other guys, I could stick away from the pack. So I lurch over towards the NCVC guy, and...
me: You wanna have a go? Trade pulls?
NCVC guy: [pause] Uh... yeah, sure.
Great. So I turn on the jets for about 3 seconds and look over my shoulder to make sure I've brought him with me and no one else. Let me tell you how disappointing seeing no one on my wheel was: very. Very disappointing. So I'm all alone and I've got about three seconds on the field with 1500m to go. Well shit, at this point, I may as well make like Andy Schleck at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and just win the race myself. That plan was working swimmingly until I got swarmed with 500m to go. Dammit. So I settled for a 16th place finish with the pack, a pair of burning quads, and a 7 hour traffic-assisted drive to the Outer Banks to round out my Sunday.
I'm at the beach, so of course I'm listening to Girls by the Beastie Boys.
In other news, I went to see a show last week at DC9... 2AM Club. Look 'em up and get on the bandwagon now. It will be full soon enough.
08 June 2009
I've made a discovery that will surely delight anyone who's worked on or around the Hill: dcinterns. Enjoy.
Sidenote: can anyone recommend any good bicycling books? I've got the Joe Parkin book on my radar, and the Simon Burney cyclocross book on my Library of Congress queue.
Listen to Santigold. And take me with you to her show Wednesday night if you've got an extra ticket.
2. Going out in Georgetown
3. My dogs dying
I've been subjected to all three in the last 48 hours. I'll miss Daisy a lot.
After reading a couple of the posts about Ride Sally Ride this weekend, I think I'm lucky to have not raced, or I could add "4. Crashing" that list. My next and final race for the season is next weekend in Poolesville, and my body is absolutely not ready to race. Anybody want to donate a wheel to me for a couple of hours next weekend?
Watching the video for Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear over and over.
31 May 2009
I know it's still road season, but if anyone is interested in doing a little "group ride" and dusting off your cross bikes at Fort Reno Park in the next week or two, let me know in the comments and we'll put something together.
Listening to Das Racist's Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. "I've got that pizza butt, I'm at the Pizza Hut."
Also, I stole my new picture from the Gwadzilla blog sometime last year.
26 May 2009
The first thing I'll say about the RFK Crit is I loved being able to ride to a race. It was awesome. I knew my body might not be in tip-top, given my Friday beach beer consumption, so I wasn't expecting a big result. The 5 race was smallish—I think 37 starters. Having ridden in the RFK parking lot a few times before, I knew that the wind might be strong enough to allow gaps to develop and/or stick. If it's sunny and still everywhere else in DC, it's windy by RFK. If it's overcast and windy everywhere else in DC, it's a damn typhoon at RFK.
Around five miles in, I decided to give it a go at creating a break—or at least string the group out enough to drop some riders. I spread it out, but I missed two great opportunities to break away from the group because of some sketchy cornering on my part. Apparently, I was going through the turns faster than my level of focus really allowed. In any case, I stayed at the front for about another mile and a half before I was ready to peel off. The guy on second wheel took my move to the side of the course as another breakaway attempt and jumped over to the gutter with me. Another half a mile later, I popped and was swarmed by Evolution guys. I tried to hang on to the back of the group and eventually dropped off. Many thanks to the unattached guy in the yellow jersey (bib 611 I think) for trying to pull me back in.
I'm glad to have pulled for a couple miles, and I can cross leading a race off my list, but I need to work on my recovery time and creating space for myself when I'm trying to break away from the field. It's a good thing my legs still have a lot of races left in them. I came back to RFK for the Pro/1/2 race in the afternoon. Those guys are fast (and maybe more importantly) mostly way older than I am. Maybe some day I'll be able to pull with the big boys. The picture is of one of the back-to-back-to-back primes in the second half of the race.
Listening to everything on Tally Hall's myspace page—saw them last week at DC9 and they put on a solid show, reading hipsternascar.com, and watching every stage of the Giro for free on universalsports.com.
18 May 2009
All that aside, BikeJam this weekend was a pretty good show. I raced the Men's 5. The morning was a little bit of a mess—I set my alarm for 6 pm, only 12 hours after I really wanted to get up. I woke up refreshed and without an alarm, which is rarely a good sign. I rolled out of bed at 6:40 in a huff, and managed to get out the door by 7. By the time I got into Baltimore, I made the executive decision not to set up my trainer, but to just try to get a quick warmup in on the course. I had time to get in two laps before staging began. In the last 4 or so races, I've been diligent about getting at least 30 minutes on the trainer to warm up, so I was nervous about my legs still being cold and tight.
I hadn't noticed that there were race announcers until just after the race started. “Watch out kid—here come the big boys” was (I think) directed at me. I had a little trouble clipping in, and I got swarmed. This would only be the first time the announcers would talk about me during the race. I made my way up to the front third of the group after the first roundabout and just stayed in the mix for the first three and a half laps. A Kelly Benefit Strategies guy was about 10 or 15 seconds up the road, and I was getting bored, so I took off, bringing just about everybody with me. It felt good to be at the front of the group pushing the pace, and it was nice not to get a face full of road grit for about a lap. Apparently as I was coming through the start/finish the announcers saw me and decided to do a little color commentary on my situation. So as we're rolling through at the turn of the next lap (and I'm screaming at someone going Theo Bos on me), I hear the announcers saying “...and here's Richard, a classic category 5 racer, not affiliated with any team, just riding...” I can get down with that.
In any case, I stuck with the strung out group for the remainder of the race, most of the time in the top 10. With about a lap and a half to go, I decided I would go with the next move. So I waited. And I waited. And waited. No one went, I got boxed in, and then I remembered my finish line sprint is about as good as my Urdu. I rolled in at the back of the group for a 17th place finish. Not terrible by any means. I feel like I'm starting to get a better grasp of what kind of racer I am. I'm interested to see how the race in Poolesville goes this weekend. I think it suits me, but we'll only know for sure when (if?) I cross the finish line Saturday morning.
In any case, chapeaux to Kelly Benefit Strategies for putting on a good race and for taking the Men's 5 race with an actual leadout.
Have a good week and be safe.
Listening to Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem.
13 May 2009
I spent the weekend back in the old 'hood, Oak Ridge and Knoxville, Tennessee, for Mom's day and a crit omnium. I had planned for the trip to be a surprise for my mom because that's how we get down in my family. She was suspicious when I told her I came home to surprise her for Mother's Day, and she gave me an “I knew it” when I told her I'd also be doing three races over the weekend. Whatever. She still got to spend Mother's Day with her baby. In any case...
I did a three-race crit omnium in Knoxville over the weekend, the Tomato Head Omnium. I was expecting to a difference in field sizes between MABRA and TBRA and maybe a difference between the quality of the racers, but I wasn't expecting to see a criterium course that looked fundamentally different from any I'd seen up here. Of the three courses in the omnium, I raced on two with six corners and one with eight corners. The first race—the eight corner T—was on a .5 mile loop. Crazy. I don't know if I was still tight from the 9 hour drive a couple of days before, or if I just made a huge rookie mistake and didn't eat enough in the morning, but I started to bonk about 15 minutes into the race. Totally unacceptable. I got dropped and finished somewhere in the back half of the field of 17.
After about three bowls of cereal, an avocado, a can of Pepsi, and a nap, I was ready for the Saturday afternoon race. This one was cool because it was three blocks away from my old apartment in Old City Knoxville. The course had six turns spread out over about .7 miles and a 300m 4-5% grade climb to the finish. Aside from all the turns, racing in a small field also completely changes the dynamic of the race. We almost immediately lined up instead of riding in a bunch. I was able to take advantage of the downhill on the backside of the course to move up in the paceline when riders started to get dropped, and stayed with the lead group for the duration of the race. I finished 7th in a SUPER close finish. Don't believe me? Check out the picture. The two black lines at our front tires represent the gap by which the guy in bib 502 beat me, bib 500. Boils down to about .04 seconds. It's a cool picture, just kinda sucks that my wheel isn't the one in the front. See how my bike is more condensed than 502's? That's because I was going faster across the line. Dammit.
Sunday morning's course was another six-turner through downtown Maryville, Tn. “Downtown” is a funny word to use for a courthouse, two churches, a gas station, and a neighborhood. This was another course with a sustained uphill portion. I was determined this time to take advantage of the hill, and I gained about two positions each lap for the first two-thirds of the race. With about 10 minutes to go, I got stuck in 7th wheel behind a guy who got dropped, and I just didn't react quickly enough to catch the lead group. I soloed the last 10 minutes to coast into an easy 6th. My sister brought her two little ones to the race, and lemme tell ya, nothing makes you want to kick it into an extra gear like hearing "go uncle Dickie!"
I still don't know my overall results from the weekend, but I imagine I finished 8th or 9th of 17. I can't say I'm upset with my results, and I definitely learned a little bit more about how to race all kinds of crits. Also, big up to the Bike Zoo guys, racing for a shop on Kingston Pike (or Copperhead Road, for you Steve Earle fans). They could definitely hold their own racing on the MABRA circuit.
A couple more pictures from the weekend taken by Bart Nave, TBRA photog. Fair warning--the website plays music, so mind your speaker volume.
So school's out for now, getting my legs ready for BikeJam this weekend, and my mind ready to be on vacation. I'm thinking about registering for a summer class that starts Monday (ick). I just can't say no to a class called War & Conflict in Africa. Could you? Didn't think so.
Listening to Daylight by Matt & Kim, because I can finally bask in it.
02 May 2009
So I'm not racing the Bunny Hop tomorrow, so any of you who were planning to come with me on my 22 min break will just have to go it alone. But I'm taking what the boys from Monty Python always say and looking at the bright side of life. Now I can a) nap before I go to PB&J tonight, b) drink beers at PB&J tonight, and c) take my time finishing my paper tomorrow.
To those of you who are racing: good luck and you'll finish better if you stay upright. Allez.
Oh well. Just need to bust my ass to be ready for the Big 'Mater Omnium next weekend.
Listening to Amsterdam by Peter Bjorn & John to get my mind right.
29 April 2009
Note to the Hains Point guys: I know Wednesday night training laps are important to Sunday results, but please do not run over and/or kill the "little girl" on her blue Trek WSD. Also note that she does not like being called a "little girl." She may be small in stature, but she packs a damn wallop.
In other news, I can finally see the end of the semester. My last term paper is due Monday evening, and I've only got 32 hours of work, a race, and a show to take care of between now and then. If anyone has any insight on what role elections play in enhancing or diminishing the security and development of new African democracies, feel free to let me know all about it. Please limit your comments to 20 pages. Thanks.
What I'm really looking forward to in the next few weeks is a crit omnium in Knoxville, Tn, over Mother's Day weekend. I haven't seen the fambily or those beautiful hills in a while, and it'll be fun to race with a totally different crew to see how MABRA competition stacks up against TBRA. Pretty favorably, I'd imagine. But if anyone is up for a roadie to do three races in two days, I've got a place to stay, a car, and a good feeling about a 1-2 finish. Check out the TomatoHead Omnium if you're interested.
That's all for now... back to solving (or at least acknowledging and dissecting) the world's problems.
Listening to 2 Atoms in a Molecule by Noah and the Whale. They're playing this weekend at the Black Cat (same night as PB&J, dammit). Go see them.
Addendum to the HP reference above, provided by my small hipster friend:
21 April 2009
I raced Carl Dolan Cat 4/5 Sunday, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the results posted online. I finished 26th overall/22nd of the Cat 5s. The judges didn't have my bib listed in the preliminary results, and it seems the correction I helped make after the race never made it into the final results. I guess I'll just have to work to upgrade on points now. In any case, I'd talk about how I raced with (and beat) Mayor Fenty, but someone already beat me to the punch. Whatever. He was on my wheel longer than I was on his. I wish I had staffers protecting/riding for me in a Cat 5 race.
Now for all the important lessons I gleaned from the Carl Dolan race, because that's what Cat 5 racing is all about. Big fields on relatively narrow roads mean staying at the front in the narrow bits and being opportunistic in the wide bits are absolutely crucial. Knowing is half the battle.
So the weekend's lessons have come to this: my race strategy for the Bunny Hop Crit May 3. I don't feel like I'm giving too much away because I'm not riding with a team (you people are my team). You'll find me in the front group, then round 22 minutes in, I'm taking off. Feel free to join me. Whatever. I'm going. If you come with me, maybe we'll all podium. If not, maybe I'll get swallowed up by the pack on the last lap. Either way, it's about damn time I make an aggressive move, and I'm sure I'll be full of it (aggression) given the timing vis a vis my finals.
Peace out and enjoy the fact that you only have a full time job and an expensive addiction to deal with. If you've added on that specter of full time studenthood like I have, I wish you the best of luck with finals.
Listening to Keep Your Head by the Ting Tings, an appropriate mantra for the next few weeks.
18 April 2009
The day started out on a positive note (the security guard in my garage had jumper cables to start the dead battery in my car), and I got out to Chantilly in enough time to get a quick warmup on the trainer.
I know there are a lot of reasons to stay in the front of the group during a race. The winner stays in the front, riders in front don't get crashed into, breaks come from the front, corners are less contested in the front, and so on. Given that I know all these things, I am an idiot for not staying in the front of the group today at Syn-Fit. I was sitting in at about 20th for the first 8 or so laps (of 18 in the Cat 5 race), and just as I was making a pull towards the front, a break got away. So I helped pull it back with one of the Whole Wheel guys (Whole Wheel dominated lunch, by the way). In all honesty, I didn't do too much work, and I suppose that's what turned a potential gap to the break operation into a reel in the break with the whole damn pack operation. I let myself sit back for a few laps, and that's when the shit went down.
By "the shit," I mean the rider about 8 feet in front of me. I was pretty sure the sad little carbon frame in front of me would pull me down with it, but I managed to squeeze the hell out of my brakes and hop out of my saddle in enough time to step inside the downed bike's front triangle and hop the poor sap on the pavement like a cyclocross barrier. So that's what I get for riding in the middle of the pack.
I foolishly didn't pull out and explore my free lap rule options and worked my ass off to bridge the 8ish second gap back to the group. I tried to work with a couple of guys--another unattached rider and an ABRT guy--to bridge back up, but they only seemed interested in the idea when my nose was in the wind. If I'm pulling 25mph in the front of the paceline, please have the courtesy to do at least 23 when I peel off. That was me complaining. I was making a second or two of progress in the next couple of miles, but at some point--round 3 laps to go--I remembered I'm racing tomorrow too. Slow down, Rich. These legs have other things to do this weekend.
So now I'm refueled, resting my legs, and ready to give it another go tomorrow.
First, I just have to figure out how to cut $40 billion from the defense budget (and use "up to" 15 pages to defend my choices).
Listening to Miike Snow's remix of Vampire Weekend's The Kids Don't Stand a Chance.
15 April 2009
I started riding a bike in April of last year after an Ayn Rand-inspired epiphany. Instead of becoming more capitalist, I turned into a bike-riding vegetarian. In any case, I rode with a group of Potomac Pedaler guys all last summer, and was convinced to try a 'cross clinic in the end of the summer by one of the DCMTB guys. I raced 'cross through the winter and loved it. Only from racing cross did I realize that I truly love (love) mud. I love mud. So I got bit by the racing bug, and all the sudden, cross season ends. What is a cyclocross racer to do come springtime? Well if Tim Johnson can race on the road, by golly, so can I. So I bought a new whip (Jamis Ventura Race), threw some buttery-fast wheels on it (Neuvation M28 Aero4s), and entered a race.
Holy shit road racing is fun.
My first real road race was at Tyson's a few weeks ago--the Cat 5 of course, and it felt great. I like to set goals for myself that are just a bit out of reach, like being the first African American female democratically-elected shah of Cuba, and the Tyson's race was no exception. In a field of 50, I wanted to place in the top 10. Now, in a previous life, I was used to placing top 3 in 5k running races. The best I did over cross season was 15th at Kelley Acres, a non MABRA series event.
So I saw some video on the you-tubes about how to compete in a crit, and the nice man in the tv screen told me to stay in the front third and go with all the breaks. Staying in the front third I was ok with, but going with all the breaks, not so much.
The Tyson's race was something like 11 laps, and I stayed with the front third for about the first 8. I tried to bridge up to a two rider break right around then, but that damn hill in the final stretch convinced me to sit up and fall back into the pack for the rest of the race. I fell back to the back third of the main group in the next two or so laps, and started to work my way up in the group at the beginning of the last lap. Just after the "large, sweeping downhill" on the back side of the course, I got passed on the inside by an NCVC guy who had a look on his face that said "I'm going to win this fucker," so I jumped on his wheel and followed him up to about 4th place. I hit the gas a little too early on the last hill--round 250m from the line. So I got jumped by a couple of guys and finished 9th. Like whoa, I finished 9th in my first real road race.
So now I'm hooked, and I want to spend next summer living in a van driving to races every weekend all spring and summer. Any takers?
In any case, check out some pictures from Tyson's taken by my brother.
Pre-race breakfast on the trainer
Descente needs to sponsor me immediately.
Coming up the hill on an early lap
There were so many effing NCVC guys (at their own race)
The sprint for 5th-9th
Listening to Gronlandic Edit by Of Montreal. Thanks to my small hipster friend for that one.