Imagine a tall, skinny white boy running around in short shorts and a polyester singlet in the middle of the Bronx.
Believe it or not (OK, I guess it's not that hard to imagine), that was me, circa 1999 and 2000. (Boy does it feel retro to type a year that doesn't start with a '2.)' Since the end of the 2000 cross country season, I haven't laced up sneakers and gone out for a run all that often, but it is something that I look forward to in the fall, when bike racing is on hiatus, and time to do other things is appealing.
I only ran two seasons of cross country in high school, choosing not to continue because the constant pavement pounding had me eating Advil like M&Ms, which is to say, by the handful. In college, I found that I was a much better cyclist anyway, and haven't looked back since. But, running offers a great workout in not very much time, and as someone who spends as much as 20 hours a week training for races, to say nothing of the hours spent driving to and from races, the prospect of getting my workout done in 45 minutes is very appealing. Plus, running is a much warmer activity in the cold months than cycling.
I'm still a little ways off from running season -- I'm planning on racing Bear Mountain on Sept. 12, and will join my team mates in a quest to win an MS century in New York City in early October. After that, it'll be time to defend my fall Lake D crown, and then, it will be time to start running.
This year, for the first time in years, I have a strong desire to enter a 5K. There is no shortage of racing opportunities in the fall, so I'm going to shoot for one in early Novemberish. Maybe I'll run with Romantic Accomplice, if she isn't scared of the cold.
Of course, I won't be satisfied with any time slower than 20 minutes. I guess I'd better start training.
The last time I ran a 5K was the fall of my sophomore year of college. Me and several friends from the Skidmore Cycling Club rolled back to campus from a nice Saturday ride, ate lunch, and discovered that a 5K was about to take off right on the campus green. So, me and one other fool-hardy member of the team changed, donned matching Skidmore Cycling T-shirts and Brooklyn cycling caps, and raced the 5K. Both of us posted respectable times, but were well off the winning pace.
Neither of us could walk for two weeks.
Thankfully, we were both still able to ride. I have learned my lesson since then: you can't go from 0-5K without preparation. Also, I hope not to have to down Advil by the pallet load this time around.
Now, I don't want readers to worry. I am, first and foremost, a cyclist. Even if I run a couple times a week, don't think I'll be putting the bike away for too long, and I will certainly continue to write about riding and bicycle racing here.
How could I not, Spa:Cx is less than two months away! (Speaking of which, go register now!)
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Imagine a tall, skinny white boy running around in short shorts and a polyester singlet in the middle of the Bronx.
Monday, August 30, 2010
I'm stuck in the middle of an incredibly long work week. As a result, I've been constantly confusing days and panicking that things aren't getting done when they're supposed to be done, only to realize that it's Monday and not Wednesday.
As a side effect of this long work week, thing that I would ordinarily do on my days off, I'm now trying to squeeze in between working hours. For example, I hit the grocery store at midnight (this is getting to be something of a regular thing during the racing meet) last night, then came home to blog about the World Cup Finals at Windham, collapsing into bed a little after two. Then, when it was time to get up to work at the bike shop this morning, it was all I could do to push snooze a record seven times to wake up an hour late.
Needless to say, I was late to the shop.
I managed to wash a big pile of dishes and whip up a quick batch of humus while making dinner for later and lunch around two this afternoon, all while trying to catch up with my Dad, who is floating with my Mom somewhere between Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Port Jefferson, New York. With me working every day, and them sailing around New England and dodging storms, it's been tough talk.
I made it to work (newspaper, that is -- while both the paper and shop are work, the newspaper is what I typically think of as work) more or less when I wanted to, and got through the day, although I had to resort to drinking a non-diet soda, which is something I try only to do in extreme circumstances.
So, I'm pleased with the amount I got done today, but a few things were lost in the shuffle. Top of the list being that I didn't find five minutes to shave and am now sporting nearly a week's growth. As it is not yet beard season, I don't feel all that comfortable with the facial hair situation. In addition, Spa:Cross is looming on the horizon, and while I'd planned to send out a bunch of emails over lunch today, gmail and my computer are engaged in some kind of standoff, and I was unable to load my email at home. Productivity lost.
I'm looking forward to riding my bike again (I don't like taking Monday's off!), and I'm looking forward to when things calm down a bit so that I can start sleeping (enough) again. With no races for a few weeks, the only thing keeping me going at the moment is the prospect of a ride of the newly-revamped Tour of the Battenkill course before work on Saturday. Then, if all goes to plan, I'll have a day off on Sunday. Here's hoping!
At the moment, I'm prostrate on Romantic Accomplice's couch, watching her pick out an outfit for an important meeting at her work tomorrow. Mercifully, I think sleep is nearly here.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
They're far away, but the line stretches from the left of the frame
all the way to the right
On Saturday, even as 40,000+ fans of another type of racing were swilling cheap beer and roasting at Saratoga Race Course for Travers Day, a far more interesting spectacle was unfolding two hours to the south, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, at Windham, site of the 2010 World Cup mountain bike finals.
For anyone who doesn't know what a world cup final is, let me explain: the World Cup is a summer-long series of races, held mostly in Europe. Anyone with Olympic aspirations races the world cup series, and it represented the highest level of dirt racing in the world. It's not unlike the Pro Tour races for road racing. In order to race world cup events, a pro cyclist must accumulate a certain number of UCI points over the course of a season. An event of this level hasn't been held on US soil in a long time, and to have the last race of the season held at Windham was something of a coups for cyclists in the region.
This race also served as a final prep for next weekend's mountain bike world championships, to be held up in Mont Sainte-Anne.
Windham has hosted national-level mountain bike races for the past two years, and I was lucky enough to cover the race for Velo News in both 2008 and 2009. This year, with the world's finest descending on the ski hill, the magazine offered to send one of their regular staffers. I can't say that I blame them, although I would have loved the opportunity to cover the races.
With the amalgamation of tongues flying around on Saturday, I'm not sure I was have had the language skills to do the event justice.
Aleks is half of the husband-and-wife Mooradian racing team
Mike was in support mode on Saturday
Although I had to work Saturday evening, to ensure that the Travers was properly canonized in the pages of The Saratogian, I took a trip with Steve down to Windham to watch Saratoga's superstar Aleks Mooradian compete in her first world cup race. Aleks put in an awesome ride, finishing 41st out of about 70 starters, hanging close enough to the leader to avoid being pulled. As she crossed the line, the race announcers gave Aleks a nice send-off, noting that she was racing her first World Cup, after racing all over the country in order to accumulate enough points to earn a start at Windham -- all on the hopes that she'd be able to put in a solid ride, but knowing a win was out of the question.
And to think I complain about driving three hours to a road race somewhere.
Despite claims of being burnt out,
Mike can still beat me up just about any hill
My one-time car pool buddy Bryna Nestor, another Capital Region resident putting up an effort against the best in the world, finished 58th, and still in the points.
It was standing room only
And we're all grateful for nice weather!
Since I wasn't down at Windham to cover either the men's or women's race in an official capacity, I can't really tell you to much about the blow-by-blow, but I can say that in three years of high-level mountain bike races at Windham, 2010 was by far the most impressive. Spectators numbered in the hundreds, and when Steve and I hiked up into the woods to watch the first lap of the men's race, it was tough to find a spot to stand as the race ripped down toward us.
Still, they were pretty damn fast
Quite a few flat tires due to the punishing course
Last year, there were so few people in attendance that I was able to park in the pro's pit. The race expo, pits, and production all felt, to me at least, as they should have given the size of the event. This year, the parking lot was packed -- even with a $10/day parking fee. Of course, my camera batteries died before I could fire off a single shot, so I did my photography for the day with my trusty (piece of shit) HTC Hero. Although the volume of shots I was able to take was minimal as a result, I have to say that a few shots came out pretty well.
I was on the fence about going at all, since I did have to work that night, but I'm glad we made the trip down, this was one not to be missed. If only we could have stayed for the 4cross...
Thanks to the race organization for the credential, I hope to be back next year to put it to greater use, or just to interview Willow Koerber.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
With daylight growing shorter each passing day and with weather that's felt the past few days more like October than August, it's been hard to get motivated to ride.
For the first time all year, I completely blew off a planned 5-hour ride on Sunday, and instead drove two hours to Northhampton to have dinner with a friend who is moving tomorrow to Seattle for at least the next nine months. After all, what's a tank of gas compared to a friendship that will be 11 years old in September?
And you know what? It was really nice to say "it's raining, I'm not riding." The thought of dragging out the rollers did briefly cross my mind, but I quickly decided that was a poor plan, and sleeping in would be a better use of my time.
But that was Sunday. Monday was nice enough to ride for a couple hours, although I initially left the house with a vest, which I quickly ditched. Today was warmer, and I left to ride a little before 4, heading over to the quiet roads east of Saratoga Lake.
Right at the two-hour mark, I circled back to Blue Sky to meet up with the Tuesday Night World Championship ride. Tonight, we did something that apparently used to be done here all the time, but hasn't been done in a while: laps around Malta Ridge.
The ride saw about 20 cyclists turn out, and after riding a warm up lap, the race was on. We contested three two-lap "races," with the finish line at the top of a shallow rise on the backside of the loop. Try as I might, I was unable to win any of the three laps, although I did put in a few pretty solid efforts.
After cooling down for one lap, we rolled back to town in near-dark. I clocked 78 miles for the day, in just a shade under four hours, and I am consequently rather tired now. Although some of the best parts of the Tuesday night ride is getting into the hinterlands, it was fun to spend time on a closed course, where dropped riders were able to re-join the group, and where we could practice sprinting against each other in a relatively controlled environment. I think Jamie won two laps, with Steve Fairchild winning the other. Jamie, therefore, will be required to don the leaders' jersey next week.
I think us Saratoga-area riders are going to have to figure out a way to work Malta Ridge into our usual repertoire in future seasons!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Riding big miles leads to big meals
Lately, I've been trying to be more creative in the kitchen
In my next life, I'd like to be a chef. As it is, I can only play one on TV -- squeezing in the occasional delicious home-cooked meal between my more typical fare of pasta and burritos.
Tonight may have been my best creation yet.
Taking two fillets of halibut, caught by Dante in waters off of his home on Alaska's Kenai Penninsula, I peeled off the fish's tough skin, and breaded the filets with a mixture of breadcrumbs, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, and finely-grated Parmesan cheese. I toyed briefly with the idea of leaving out the breadcrumbs and egg, using the spice mixture as more of a rub, but without time to let the fish sit prior to cooking, and desiring a crispy shell, I went forward with the breading. Don't ask me about exact proportions, I prefer to handle these things by look and smell.
In a large frying pan covered with a shallow layer of oil, I pan fried the fish on medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning each piece once. The fillets were about a half-pound each, so this recipe made enough to feed four -- or two with leftovers.
I'm pretty happy with the way it all came out -- except for the fish sticks appearance of the dish. I don't think I've ever eaten fish sticks, but I imagine that this dish, with the pepper's kick and the subtle hints of the cheese infused into the crispy crust, combined with the perfectly flaky-yet-moist texture of the fish, would appeal to a slightly more developed palate.
I served this dish with green beans sauteed with lemon and garlic and brown rice -- if I'd had another 30 minutes, I would have prepared some barley with mushrooms, but the rice was an adequate substitute in a time crunch.
Romantic Accomplice, seen inspecting her meal in the photo above, deemed dinner a success, so I'll certainly be trying the recipe again, possibly leaving out the bread crumbs next time, if only for appearances' sake. I may also try serving it with some kind of a sweet salsa or chutney. Fortunately, I've got a couple more pieces of Halibut to experiment with!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Getting started at the Greylock Federal Criterium last Thursday
About 80 took the start
It's Sunday, which is the day I usually sit at home and write a recap of the weekend's racing action. Not wanting to break with tradition, even though I didn't race this weekend, I figured tonight would be a good night to report on last Thursday's Greylock Federal Criterium, in Pittsfield, Mass.
The race, open only to p/1/2/3 men, his held in conjunction with the Berkshire town's last Third Thursday -- a series of mid-week festivals for which the city closes down its main drag. Using one block of the main street, the Berkshire Cycling Association stages the crit in twilight, giving area residents another reason to come out.
I wasn't able to attend when the race was last held, in 2008. There was no race last year, as part of the kilometer-long course was being re-paved, but I made the trip over the Berkshire this year, bringing R.A. along for the ride.
While I've never been much of a crit rider, the swooping course was about as well suited to me as any crit course I've ever experienced. Thanks to a climb on the backstretch, it was easy enough to move up in the early laps, as the 80-rider field started to wind up the pace.
Knowing that I was unlikely to see the front in the later stages of the race, I went to the front on the second or third lap, making one grand show for the impressive crowd, which lined the course. I was briefly off the front with two other riders, but a bell from a prime ended our excursion.
I quickly found myself mid-pack, riding near both my teammate Sergio and veteran Andy Ruiz.
The pace was fast, but not brutal, and a headwind on the downhill kept things somewhat more sedate than they might otherwise have been.
I was never much for video games as a kid, but I did play Mario Brothers on Game Boy, and always thought the blocks that would allow you to land on them just long enough to jump again before the block fell away to nothingness were pretty funny. Racing Greylock was a little like that.
At one point I remember looking back and seeing a significant number of racers behind me, making me feel like I was doing a reasonable job of staying mid-pack.
Two laps later, although I was still riding behind the same contingent, everyone behind me had been dropped. Unfortunately, at about the same time, there were some serious accelerations at the front. I survived the first few, but got dropped after 25 laps -- 20 short of the finish line.
So it goes. The last crit I raced (Altamont notwithstanding) saw me popped off the back after ten laps, and although that was a much more challenging course, this was probably a more competitive field, which included pros Adam Meyerson (the eventual winner), Will Dugan, and Jeremy Powers, along with the usual amateur strong men.
Although it isn't truly a big-time crit like this weekend's Chris Thater (which I will be unable to attend), it was, without a doubt, the biggest crowd I've ever raced in front of, which was pretty cool. The staging, organization, production of the event were all top-notch, and I hope to be back next year.
Plus, I got my picture in the local paper! You can relive the excitement here, courtesy of Pittsfield TV, which shot the entire race. The only thing that I would have done differently would be to get rid of befuddled congressman, who is enthusiastic about streetscapes, but who was unsure of how to start a bike race.
Best of all, the torrential downpour that accumulated throughout the race held off until minutes after it ended.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Going into this past weekend, I planned on racing two events, the Capital Region Road Race on Saturday and the Altamont Criterium on Sunday.
After racing CRRR on Saturday, where I was so psyched as hell to make it over the hills on the first lap with the leaders, that I didn't think twice about coming to the front when teammate Chad looked back for me. The two of us rotated into a ripping headwind, halving the breakaway's minute-advantage in the span of a few miles, and getting the unstoppable Sean Smith up the road.
Of course, the effort doomed any chance I had of making it over the hills on the next lap, but so it goes.
Then I went to work, and got home from Troy after midnight. Suddenly, the thought of driving anywhere for a race was unappealing. So, I talked James, who was sleeping on my futon and spilling wine all over my kitchen, into joining the Saratoga crew for a ride at 8 the next morning.
After dragging James out of bed and over to the Hathorn Spring, we headed out to West Mountain for a hilly, three-hour ride. Getting home around 11, I zipped through some quick chores and suddenly didn't know what I was going to do with the rest of the day.
Days off have become such a rarity, that once my chores were done, I found myself completely lost. What's a bike racer to do? Go to a bike race, of course.
Throwing my kit into a bag and the bike onto the car, I zipped down to Altamont just in time to get in a quick warm up on my trainer, and lined up with the 15-rider elite field. My legs were pretty torched so I had absolutely not expectations, but at the very least, I thought the race would be a good warm up for Thursday's Greylock Federal Criterium.
Jonathan Adler showed up with three guys, looking to take all of the bragging rights on offer at a lightly-attended upstate crit. Well, hat's off to them, as they did take all the glory, with Greg Olsen lapping the field not once, but twice -- accompanied by a different teammate each time.
I missed both of those moves, due to most of my zip being left somewhere on the southern slope of West Mountain, but I still had a good time railing the turns, throwing down attacks when I felt like it, and generally having a good time racing my bike on a closed road in a little town in upstate New York. Generally, finishing DFL isn't ideal, but when you go without expectations, it's all good.
Sometimes, so I'm glad I made the last-minute decision to race. Also, I slept like a baby on Sunday night.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Lots of odd, housing-related things have happened to me in the three years since I graduated college and left the security of my parents' house. For one thing, I've lived in three different apartments since then, each with it's own unique character and problems.
There was the week in March during which my former roommate Marissa and I endured an interior cold snap, a situation in which our landlady didn't seem to grasp the urgency of as we shivered in the living room and piled on the blankets.
Then there was the case of my first Saratoga apartment, on Second Street, whose biggest problem were white carpets, which did not work well with the usual multitude of bikes that I dragged in and out on a daily basis.
All of that brings me to my current west side apartment, which I like very much, but which has proved to have its issues. First of all, it's a much more secure building than any I've previously lived in, and as such, I've been locked out more times than I really should admit. Secondly, the neighbors can occasionally be noisy.
But those are issues not especially unique to my building. The next two probably aren't either, but they seem noteworthy to me.
Most shockingly, was the bat that I discovered while unleashing a mighty, post-long car ride pee last week.
Less shocking but also ultimately less pleasant was the leak that I first discovered last Thursday morning. By discovered, of course, I mean I woke up with wet feet around 6 a.m. (which is very early for me on a weekday). Confused, I did what anyone would do and went to the bathroom. Returning to the bedroom I confirmed that, in fact, the foot of my bed was wet.
Shrugging through sleep haze I got back into bed and endeavored to sleep. That lasted about 10 seconds, as I soon heard a definite drip onto my comforter. Once I'd spent some time rubbing my eyes and had found my glasses, I realized that a ceiling tile above my bed, along the wall, was bulging downward, with a drip coming right off the center of it. Sighing, I moved my bed (fortunately it's on wheels), and searched for a bucket to collect the water.
Then I went back to sleep. It's a good thing R.A. wasn't over -- I don't think she would have appreciated the interruption to her beauty rest.
When I woke up again at 9:30, the bucket was half full and the drip had stopped. The same thing went on for the next two nights.
To make a long story short, my super wasn't able to come by until Monday, at which time, he confirmed what I had suspected: my upstairs neighbor's air conditioner was dumping water into the wall, for where it was seeping into my ceiling, and ultimately, into my bedroom. Fortunately, it's now all been fixed and I've got a nice new ceiling tile.
So, here's to supers! At the same time, let's hope that this is the last time I have to call mine for a while -- as helpful as he is, I feel guilty enough on my own about the pile of dirty dishes in my sink, and don't need to be showing them off to strangers.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Some day I'm going to look back on this period of my life and ask "what the fuck?"
In the 72 hours since work ended on Friday night, I've participated in two bike races and one hilly road ride, worked for a grand total of 23 hours at two jobs, tended to a leak in my ceiling, attended two meetings with local and state-wide tourism and horse racing officials for extracurricular purposes and completed one of two freelance assignments I have lined up for this week.
Want to guess what I haven't had time to do much of?
Sleep. And blogging, if you're wondering why there was no post on Monday morning.
As you can imagine from the paragraph above, I've got quite a backlog of blog topics, all of which will be gotten to in due time. But, it's now 1:28, and I promised myself that I would be in bed by 1, so I've got to keep this really brief.
Here are things you can look forward to reading about this week:
-My last minute decision to race the Altamont crit, after a hilly ride with friends earlier in the day
-My teamwork at the Capital Region Road Race
-Upcoming article in Velo News, both in print and online
-Exciting news at Spa:Cx, and the race's new venue
So, you have all of that to look forward to. But me, I only have one thing to look forward to: the insides of my eyelids. Goodnight.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Although this is primarily a blog about bicycle racing, every once in a while I have to digress. Tonight is such a night, as I've been stewing about something for weeks now, and I can't keep it inside any longer.
Although it seems it's only been making national heads for the past few weeks, plans to build an Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan has been an ongoing issue for some time. As a historian (by training), I would argue that this dispute has been in the making since 1776 -- the year the British colonies of North America declared their independence from Britain.
In that action, and in the subsequent creation of the United States, the founding fathers strove to create a nation that would be open to all peoples and cultures. Of course, they may or may not have included black people in their initial thinking -- a grievous misstep, and thankfully one that was finally dealt with in the last century, at least as far as laws are concerned. The point being, though, that the founding father laid the groundwork for an open society, one that allowed the creation of our wonderful polyglot nation. Now some of our members are attempting to undue that openness.
As I've written before, we still have a long way to go toward becoming a "post-racial" nation, and this episode threatens to take us backwards.
In fact, just the recent discussion over the proposed community center in Manhattan is a huge step backwards from the election of a black president in 2008. The most vocal opponents to the project seem to be doing little more than hiding bigotry behind a thin veil of sanctifying the memories the thousands who died blocks away from the proposed side on Sept. 11, 2001.
I'm not a victim, but I could have lost a parent on that day -- but for the grace of a larger power did either of the towers not fall toward the north -- all I can feel is disgust that the rights of Americans to practice their chosen religion is being questioned by a nation, for no reason but to protect the supposed emotions of the 9/11 bereaved. It's time to move on, the memorial is being constructed, and the victim's memory will live on for generations. Lets not also remember this generation for closing our society to others for their beliefs.
Some would say that the conservatives speaking out against the proposed Muslim community center are doing little more than espousing party line racism. That's a step too far for me, as I do try to keep a little faith in even the most socially conservative talking heads, but I will say that I felt disappointed by the news that the Anti-Defamation League had come out against the project because the victims are entitled to bigoted views in light of their grief.
As a descendant of survivors of the pogroms that ravaged the Jewery of Eastern Europe in the early part of the 20th century, and as a member of a race that later suffered the Holocaust, my feeling is that our race has learned nothing if we can't now see that it is our most important duty, as Jews, to ensure that no other race is made to suffer as we have -- that no other race is persecuted over the name of their god or way of life.
And yes, telling Muslims or any other religious group, not to build a building for no reason but that they share a religion with certain criminals is persecution. Stop hating.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
When Romantic Accomplice and I headed to the Tokeneke Classic I had what I thought were a reliable set of directions, courtesy of Google.
The directions seemed to have us on the right track until somewhere along the Ct/Ma border, where I was directed to turn right with only a couple of miles to go. I had my misgivings, as the road appeared to be heavily residential, and my misgivings proved to be well-founded when the road narrowed and ended abruptly with only a narrow path leading into a dense stand of trees.
Dumbfounded, I spun the car around while R.A. whipped out her iphone. Back on the main drag, we took the next right, which her phone suggested would take us to the desired location. The next road looked a little more like a main thoroughfare, but only by a little.
Sure enough, we'd hardly gone a mile when the road turned to dirt. I kept going anyway, as dirt roads do sometimes go useful places. But this road narrowed, widened into a parking area, and then shrunk quickly that a road that was just wide enough to admit a '97 Nissan Maxima, but just narrow enough to give the appearance of not actually going anywhere useful. Hedging my bets, I turned around a second time.
Now annoyed with Google and pissed that I wasn't going to have time to partake in an essential pre-race lightening technique which has become an essential part of my race day routine, we drove back up the road. Along the way we stopped to chat with an area resident about directions. Although she tried to be helpful, I realized that we were asking the wrong person when she insisted that our destination, East Hartland, Ct, only a couple miles distant as the crow flies, did not exist.
As quickly as I could, I disentangled us from the conversation, drove away, then pulled over and reverted to the only navigation system by which I've never gotten lost: the stash of road maps crammed into the pocket on my driver-side door.
Together with a little help from the iphone to locate ourselves, we quickly plotted a route around the state forest preserve and arrived at the race 15 minutes later.
I was rushed getting ready, and have to thank Jeremy, of Wheelhouse racing, for pinning my numbers on, but I didn't miss the start.
Once the race started, things went about as well as you can expect of me these days. Knowing that climbs would come quickly and would hurt a lot, I made it my mission to stay near the front. I probably used more energy than I should have doing this, and thusly ended up dangling off the back mid-way up the first major climb.
Needless to say, I never made it back the field, and instead enjoyed a nice two-hour ride with a couple of other dropees. What a day. At least I made it.
If I can anything on a bike these days, other than get dropped, it's produce good two- and three-minute power. I'm therefore hoping to put that skill to work Saturday at the Capital Region Road Race. See you there.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I know you came today for the story of the Tokeneke Classic, but you'll have to wait another day for that, as I have something more pressing to blog about tonight.
You see, this weekend I jetted out of town for a mini vacation with Romantic Accomplice, stopping off to race Tokeneke, then heading to Brooklyn to help my brother turn 22 and see some friends in the City. We didn't get home until early this afternoon (working weekends gives us both the occasional weekday off), and with only fleeting moment before I had to head to work, I had a tough choice as to how to spend my time: head to the grocery store so that I could have breakfast on Wednesday morning, or going for a bike ride.
Needless to say, I went for a bike ride.
Then I was driving home from Troy, where I remain in working exile, feeling really hungry. Thinking not only about being hungry in the moment but also about being hungry the next day, I decided to make a late night foray to the grocery store.
Just like that, I violated two of the most important rules of grocery shopping: don't shop hungry, don't shop when you can't see straight.
Honestly, though, I don't think I realized how over the edge I was until I noticed another late-night shopped staring at me while I was squeezing and smelling cantaloupes. I was looking for a ripe fruit to purchase and after sniffing 12 or so, none were meeting the mark. I probably should have given up there, but I get going, and then moved right on over to the Honey Dew melons, and that was when I noticed my fellow patrons staring.
I quickly moved on to try and find the milk and cereal.
For years I've done my grocery shopping on Sundays, during daylight, and honestly, I think I should stick to that plan, lest I fondle all the melons and get myself kicked out of the store.
Unrelated to grocery shopping but interesting nonetheless, when I arrived home from my weekend sojourn, I dashed straight to my bathroom, as I needed to pee rather badly. I then nearly shrieked as I spotted a bat laying on the floor next to the toilet, apparently trying to drag itself away.
Fortunately my super was nearby with a snow shovel, with which we removed the bat, which went shrieking out into the sunlight. Hopefully that one will be the last, although you can be sure that I'll be checking under my toilet on a regular basis.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
With last week's, the latest, "revelation" about Lance Armstrong's alleged doping published in the New York Times, I've had many opportunities to discuss the most-celebrated American cyclist and his alleged misdeeds.
All I can say is this: Are we really spending tax payer dollars to investigate what someone did to win a bike race more than five years ago? Really? I don't know about other places, but here in New York, teachers are losing their jobs.
Earlier tonight I was talking with my parents about doping and my mom asked why athletes in other sports don't dope. In response, I had to tell her about Fuentes and all the soccer players, runners, and tennis players involved in his program.
BUT, other sports don't seem to be tested quite as much as cyclists. So that's good that there are efforts to keep the sport clean, but it's also bad as people like my mom are exposed to far more stories about doping than they are to the beauty and splendor of the sport. That, to me, is a real tragedy.
I have to apologize for some lackadaisical blogging recently. The 40-minute commute to and from Troy is really wearing on me, which accounts for a lack of posts of late.
I need to get back in the swing of things, and will be redoubling my blogging efforts in the coming days and weeks.
Thanks, as always, to my wonderful readers who tune into GBBM with near-terrifying regularity for the latest of Cat 2 foibles. Check in tomorrow for a full report on my ongoing struggles at the Tokeneke Classic.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Riding in the rain can, sometimes, be fun.
Tonight was one such occasion: As the dozen riders who convened for what promised to be a rainy edition of the weekly Tuesday Night World Championship in Saratoga Springs, the sky was a foreboding gray, likely keeping many of the usual crew at home.
But, it was warm. It started raining as we rolled out of town, and started coming down in earnest some time on Route 9P. This nearly turned not fun when a car tried to pass the group at the same moment we were getting ready to take a left-hand turn onto Brown Road (apparently our hand signals confused the driver.) A minor case of road rash notwithstanding, the group carried on unperturbed.
Then it started raining harder, and glasses that had been usefully keeping rain and spray out of my eyes became foggy and had to be removed. Even with road grit hitting my now-exposed pupils, it was better to be able to see, and I felt safer rolling with the group over the climb on rt 423.
The rain abated sometime around Stillwater, and we took off on Thunderdrome -- the name given to the stretch of Washington County Road the hugs the Hudson River between Stillwater and Schuylerville.
The description given to the Thunderdrome ride on our schedule of weekly rides is this "15 cyclists enters, one leaves." Just as in Mad Max's Thuderdome. Well, it's kind of a misnomer, because we all left, but it took some of us a little longer than others.
With dry roads and thinking we were finally clear of the rain, we headed over Bacon Hill and started for town. At some point on Ruggles Road the sky darkened with such suddenness that it felt as though someone had flicked a light switch. Rain was imminent -- and then, it came down.
While I'd started to dry, I was instantly soaked again, and when I rolled home 15 minutes later, I took care to wring my gloves and socks out over the doormat, before stripping off my cleats and treading inside.
Had it been colder, or had I been alone, or had I need to rush off to work as I always seem to need to do these days, it might have been a different story. But, on this occasion, the rain was an extra element that made a fun group ride a little more fun.
Of course, I'm hoping it doesn't rain next Tuesday.
Monday, August 02, 2010
You know what I don't like? Driving to Troy for work and getting home after midnight, then having to return to my office to work.
That's what I did tonight, for the fifth time in a week. As a result of that, and of the fact that I still have a bunch of chores to do before bed I'm going to leave you with just this brief post.
This video, of the cat 4A race on the second day of the Tour of Catskills, surfaced today from multiple sources:
As you can see, the horse (apparently after being warned to stay off the road), strays onto the shoulder, causing all kinds of mayhem among the Cat 4s. Hilarity ensues. My favorite part is the I'm-about-to-die-a-fiery-death shriek that you can hear as one hapless cyclist collides with horses rear end, then goes careening down a ditch. I can say that this is my favorite part because I wasn't there. Had I been there, I'm sure it would be pretty hard to laugh at anything.
But seriously? A horse?
In other observations, I'm pretty sure that's an SRM mounted on the handlebar of the guy shooting the video, and after watching this video, and the relaxed manner in which the 4s take the descent, I kinda wish I was still a 4!
Sunday, August 01, 2010
The number one question I answered today, while "officiating" (in a non-official capacity) at KOM #2 at stage two of the Tour of the Catskills?
"When is Floyd coming?"
The number two question?
"Why aren't you racing?"
The first question, posed to me every two or three minutes by spectators who trooped down to watch 600 cyclists suffer their way over the top of the legendary Devil's Kitchen climb (Platte Clove Road, of Tour DuPont fame) on Stage 2 of ToC, serves as testament to the well-known fact that stars draw crowds. Say what you will about Floyd, and think what you will about him and his recent admissions, but there is certainly some interst in seeing Floyd race.
Ironically, after dolling out my best-guess for hours ("I think the pro men will pass some time around 1 or 1:30."), I think I was the only person among the 40-odd people I was watching the KOM with who recognized the former Tour de France winner when he rode by.
Incognito? Not really. Landis was wearing a Farm Team Cycling jersey and Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling bibs (the team is now defunct) and riding what appeared to be a Bahati-edition Cannondale. Anyone who follows professional racing would have spotted him instantly. But to crowds unaccustomed bike racing and watching bike racing, I suppose all the racers weren't much more than flashes of shaved legs and spandex.
As such, Floyd's fleeting appearance at the KOM felt fairly anti-climactic. Most of the people I watched were members of a local Christian Community congregation, at the bottom of whose driveway the KOM was located. Maybe they expected fireworks when Floyd raced by. If that was the case, I can't blame them for the sense of anti-climax.
Anyway, Floyd may be a name that people know, but my teammate, Sean Smith, finished ahead of him on the ToC GC, so take that! Incidentally, my estimates were right on, the pro men arrived at KOM 2 right around 1:20 this afternoon.
As for the second question I received today, as to why I was standing on the side of the road taking numbers at the KOM, the answer is that the ToC, at which I've raced and greatly enjoyed the past two years, began on a Friday. Since there was no way I could take Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, there was no racing for me.
Trying to make lemonade out of mangoes, instead I told race promoter Dieter that I was available to help with anything he needed on Sunday.
Dieter's reply? "Are you free from 12-12:15?"
Uh ... sure?
Originally, Dieter said he had a high-profile rider coming who needed support, and asked if I could feed.
Sure, if that's what needs doing, I'd do it. Then I found out who the high profile rider was and I had second thoughts, as I'm still deciding how I feel about Landis. But, I had volunteered, and this was what Dieter needed.
I arrived, after crashing at former teammate Matt Goedeke's house in Delmar on Saturday night, to find that Floyd was well-tended. Instead, Dieter send me to KoM 2. Fine with me.
Although I had to answer to my friends and competitors about why I wasn't racing, it was nice to answer questions posed by spectators, and to feel like I, in my small way, helped to provide a fun day of racing for 600 of my closest friends. But I'm racing next year.
By the way, I have no idea why they call the climb Devil's Kitchen, but it's really freakin' steep!