Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feed the Addiction

Proceed at your own risk ....these may push you over the edge if you are near cracking .... or maybe they will prevent you from cracking. You've been forewarned so here you go ....

(1) If you have officially cracked ... brainless hours of watching CX video await you .....

(2) For those that have nearly cracked but have a glimmer of hope left and want to be a little analytical .....

(3) For those that wanna learn Dutch and are only showing minor symptoms of cracking .... (click "Kalendar & Uitslagen" and you will already be expanding your Dutch vocabulary).

(4) For those that are thinking about the upcoming CX races in Virginia and have a 2 hour date with the trainer tonight and still need more .... take your Amazon or B&N gift card and go buy and A Dog in a Hat and give it a read.

If these don't help, do yourself and your family a big favor, go chug a 750ml of Ommegedon and then register for Ironman Malaysia -- you have 2 months to train !!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fear and Loathing in CNY

It seems that every year when the CX season is over I'm looking for ways to extend the season and maintain form. A few CX'rs are good enough or have put themselves in a position where they can press on and continue to race in other parts of the country or other continents. For most of us in CNY, the season ends just before Thanksgiving, and as much as we may try to avoid losing the form we've worked for, we inevitably need to ease up and it always seems to happen around the holidays.

The first couple of days tend to involve a sense of euphoria as the body and mind haven't figured out what to do with the spare energy. For some of us, copious amounts of booze are consumed in conjunction with lousy food eaten at inappropriate times. Add to that the need to drive from holiday party to holiday party dealing with family dynamics and awkward small talk with strangers you only see once a year and something has to give. At some point, the initial joy of living like Chris Farley for a few days turns into self loathing as you look up in the mirror and realize it's time to get back to business. The body still has more energy than it should, and despite hiking, snow boarding and snow shoeing, getting decent sleep seems impossible when the body isn't being beaten into submission 6 days a week. Waking up at 5:30 am hung over with 32 degree rain, I still hadn't quite cracked, but I was close and I could sense it. After watching the same Sports Center three times in a row and heading off too one more family gathering, I was much closer to cracking. After going to watch a local band I cracked. No fault of the band, I was just done with relaxing. I also ran into Bob there, and he looked to be on the verge of a crack as well. Actually he was mid bender, but apparently the crack was coming.

In my case, I went home, and forced myself to get some decent sober sleep. It more or less worked and yesterday it was time to get back to work. The weather was too nice to ride. Some 50 degree temps had rolled through, and the riding wasn't going to offer enough suffering. My first workouts need to shock the system. It's all mental, but I need to suffer to beat my bad mood into submission. That meant running. As a former runner, there's no better way to induce suffering, particularly if you haven't been running much. I'll likely be lifting my legs out of the car tomorrow.

Drumroll had a few days head start. I hear he's even been riding his trainer.

Bob takes the prize though. After riding his CX bike to the show, he drank until 3am, rode home, properly suited up and rode for another 2 hours in the dark. Safe? No. Cracked? Yes. Welcome back Bob. At this very moment he's rearranging his basement to better accommodate training.

It's nice to know that whatever it is that motivates us to get out there during racing season can save us from ourselves during the off season. Too bad Farley didn't have that off switch. Now we'll never know what would have happened in Tommy Boy II. In the words of Dean Wormer, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son."

Sorry for getting all dark and morbid, I'll try and bring back the funny shortly. I may have one more New Years relapse in front of me, but I'm ready to get back to work. Spring is just around the corner, and that means it's time to do some road racing to get ready for CX in Fall. I guess that's how the cycle goes.

Top 5 indicators you're about to crack:

5. Your wife tells you to go outside and build a snowman. She say build it, and then punch off the head. Then rebuild it and repeat until you're no longer annoying.

4. Your shopping cart contains more alcohol and cheese than whole wheat pasta and Cliff Bars.

3. You've cleaned your bike, gotten half dressed to ride and then bailed and sat down to watch TV with a beer. It may or may not still be the morning, and you may or may not still be wearing half of your cycling attire.

2. I don't really like top 5/10 lists, skip to number 1.

1. Man boobs . . . enough said.

For those that have already cracked, welcome back. For those that have yet to crack, see you down the road.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho Ho Humperdog

Merry Christmas to y'all , I mean Happy Holidays (cause I need to be politically correct if I wanna be a senator). May the Humperdog (aka Santa's "helper") bring you a 700C Christmas wreath (damn, I mean Holiday decoration).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cross training, not 'cross training

Wow, who knew Drumroll was an aspiring senator? A CX race on the White House lawn does sound cool though.

Much like Drumroll, I spent the weekend off the bike. Back to back snowstorms will do that I guess. I've taunted the snow plow god's enough this winter. I figure with significant snow fall those guys are in no mood to be swerving around cyclists. Judging from the number of mail boxes I saw wiped out yesterday, some jerk on a bike probably has it coming. Even more dangerous than the regular snow plows are the dudes plowing out driveways. Most of them work pretty much non stop during a storm. The fact that many of them (at least my buddy) bring a 12 pack along to "kill time" makes the prospect of getting t-boned by one of them while they back out of someones driveway a distinct possibility. Gotta love the country.

It's probably a good time to switch up workouts and work on my core anyway, so I took the dogs on an hour plus snowshoe Saturday and then I hit Highland Forrest for a 2:40 XC ski yesterday. My body and brain may be ready for a slight break in the training schedule, but unfortunately when I got to Highland, I noticed that a local club cyclist/racer had signed in about 10 minutes before me. Since I'm a borderline mental patient the race was on. So much for rest. I caught him after about 45 minutes. Turns out he brought his 12 year old son with him, so I didn't exactly feel like a super hero when I caught him. What was that feeling, oh yeah, more like a jerk off. Oh well, he didn't know I was racing. He and his son we going to ski down a 1K hill and then back up and on course. That meant I had about 10K to wonder if they were going to catch me, so I kept the pace high. Since that was my first XC ski trip of the year I was pretty wasted by the end. I seriously need to consider seeking professional help.

If anyone owns XC ski's, let me know and we'll get out and do hill repeats (I mean have a leisurely ski) at Highland.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wine, Toys, snow & Caroline

Ahh, another fine wine on a crappy winter night. As with many Spanish wines, this is a great value. This may be the first weekend I did not ride outside in many many months. Good news/bad news is I was able to slog in the snowshoes at Green Lakes for an hour on Sat. In my world slog = slow, snowshoe type jog. Wanna crank up the HR? .... put on some s'shoes and go for a 'lil jog in about 6" of powder. Other good news/bad news is my man-boobs are sore. I actually lifted some weights Fri am (again for the first time in many months). Had the Toys for Tots event at Syracuse bike Weds eve -- lots of Ommegang empties afterwards and the box of toys overflowed w/generosity. Got a bug up my arse about the Caroline Kennedy thing ... who the frick does she think she is? Go away -- shouldn't you be living in Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard or something. I have liked what the new Gov has stood for so far -- he has had the balls to say hey, we're goin broke here and we all need to accept a little tough love and has stuck to his guns in spite of all the bitchin. Now w/Sweet Caroline "expressing an interest" in this senate seat, we will see if he is truly his own man. And now that I think about it ... Hey Gov, I have an interest in Hillary's seat too !! Where can I sign up? I mean aside from having Kennedy as a last name and a few zillion dollars more than I, I do not think Ms. Caroline's credentials are really any better than mine. I should be an upstate wet dream .. born here, schooled here, worked here, and played here my whole damn life. I've skied Whiteface, ate Dinosaur, partied at SPAC, froze my ass at a Bills game, stood atop Mt. Marcy, drank Dome Foam, ran the Boilermaker, fished for Salmon in Pulaski (& Oswego), baled hay, shoveled shit and miked cows here, sampled wine at Dr. Frank's, NASCAR at the Glen, rafted the Moose, split wood, snowmobiled, won money at Saratoga (lost some too), rode my bike all over the state and washed down a Hoffman's coney with an Ommegang while camping at a New York State park in a tent damnit .... Ahhh, Ahhh , Ahhhhhhh (as Sam Kinison would say). This country needs an enema and I got my wetsuit, goggles, hard hat, chain lube and a great big hose handy to report for duty. I'm talking a national holiday for 'cross with CX Nats on the Whitehouse lawn baby. Drumroll for Senate !!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good times . . .

It's that time of year. The racing season is over, or has been since Thanksgiving in my case, and it's been a good time to have some unstructured fun on the bike. I'm still hitting the trainer, road and trail, but the workouts have far less structure. The PowerTap is still on my trainer, but the winter bike and MTB offer a certain freedom from the constant attention to the watts. To be clear, the PowerTap has brought great results but it's also nice to just get out and ride with some buddies. The new SS MTB has also given me some new found motivation and a fun way to go ride for a couple of hours and work on technical skills. Hopefully the MTB thing will pay dividends on some of the more technical MTBesque CX courses in the area.

Saturday was a little too cold, and more importantly windy and snowy for me, so I hit the trainer. I'm still pretty motivated on the trainer since I got the life sized picture of Bob on his CX bike. I usually head down to my basement, hop on my bike, crank it up to zone 3 and just stare at the picture and cry tears of anger while listening to The Flight of the Valkyries. If I happen to lose focus and glance down at my handlebars, I'm instantly reminded of my mission when I see the words "Beat" and "Bob" written with a black Sharpie on my white handlebar tape. After I'm done riding, I throw a 60 pound heavy bag over my shoulder and head outside to run up and down my hill, shoeless, barefoot and only wearing bib shorts. The neighbors tend to stare, but who's going to say anything. Would you have interrupted Rocky Balboa when he was training in Soviet Russia to fight Ivan Drago? Would you interrupt an espresso addled, 138lb maniac in bib shorts running around his yard? Actually that's all made up, but I did watch an episode and a half of The Wire. It was pretty intense.

Luckily Sunday brought a reprieve from some of the cold and snow. The wind was still insane, but Bob, AJ and I got in 3:15. I got a chance to try out my new Planet Bike fenders, and I have to say they were pretty sweet. Cold, windy and dry beats cold, windy and wet any day. We saw another snow plow. I'm starting to think my future may actually include getting run off the road by a plow. AJ was on the front when the plow guy dropped the blade as he passed us. AJ mentioned it was a little close. I'd tend to agree, but if AJ gets taken out of commission I'll probably move up 1 position in most of the local races. I'm kidding of course, I like AJ and he's probably going to race with the Masters next year anyway . . .

Might get out to Albany next Sunday for an MTB race. They were hammered with an ice storm this weekend, so we'll see if they hold the race. It's also at 9:00am which would require a pretty early start from Syracastan.

Hope to see some of you at Syracuse Bicycle on Wednesday. Bring a toy and drink some of Ommegang's finest.

PS - Feel free to leave a comment. I hear from lots of people that are reading the blog, but so far we've had two comments. One from a teammate and another, oddly enough, from one of the nation's top CX/Crit pro's. I was pretty psyched to see that someone as cool as Adam has stumbled across the site. Hopefully we can get a CNY contingent out to his clinic next year. Keep an eye out for a post on his clinic in the near future. It was without a doubt the best return on investment I've ever had in racing. You can buy a light bike, trick wheels, tubulars, etc. without being appreciably faster. Adam's clinic will make anyone, at almost any level, measurably faster. More on that later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bikes & Brews -- now we're talkin'

Shameless plugs for our fave LBS & fave brews? Yes!
A good cause? Yes! (So this makes the shameless plugs somewhat acceptable on some level -- at least in my warped reality.)
We're even extending our invite out to anyone that might be passing through after CX Nats (Adam M?) as you will probably be beginning the necessary "Transitions" to the off season.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bikes, Bites and Bialetti

Friday: Bought a Bialetti & "tested" it after work -- did not sleep well that night despite pouring on a bottle of Marco Porello as a chaser. Funny thing on Fri eve as I was providing Ms. Drumroll a technical intro of the Bialetti's inner working and operational guidelines (as well as a short refresher on pressure/volume/temperature dynamics), she pointed to the trivet/decorative hotplate hung above our stove and there was a sketch/picture of a Bialetti -- I thought it always looked like a blender in the pic but now I know.

Saturday: Fired up the Bialetti for a road hit on my drive to Skinny Phil's. Put my Soul 29er on his roof rack next to his and we looked like two real bad-assed mtn. bikers with our studly ss rides ... at least on our drive over to the ride location w/the bikes still in the roof rack. Met up w/my new CX hero at the ride locale and was introduced to a whole new area to ride (rhymes with Ty Skop) that I had never experienced before. My new CX hero rode his freaking CX bike everywhere we went w/our 29ers and there were some pretty damn gnarly areas. Got in a solid 2+ hrs.

Sunday: Headed to J'ville Beach w/a Bialetti buzz & humperdog mid-morning. Rode the 29er around for about an hour; taking it mostly EZ, letting humperdog run all over and hassle the occasional squirrel. Came upon a group of folks in an open area w/about 5 pooches running all around -- I slowed way down as dogs were everywhere (I think they wanted to meet humperdog) when one of the little mf mutts took a nip at my ankle. The owner was yelling and trying to grab the mutt but it was freaking out barking & trying to circle me. Finally I got off the bike and kept putting the bike between myself and the mutt 'til owner dude grabbed a hold of the dog. At least he didn't say "she won't bite". No real damage though, just a small nick thanks to heavy wool socks and a fairly thick set of winterbibs. My third good doggie altercation of the year..... just wish they'd simply sniff my butt and leave me alone ... seems they either wanna hump me or bite me ..... (hmmm, hump me or bite me -- kinda reminds me of one time in college when I was at band camp and ...well, on second thought never mind)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just a little bump to get right . . .

I'd imagine it's not quite as addictive as heroin, but espresso might be a close second. Well, maybe not that close because I'm almost certain (and I'm trying to choose my words wisely here) that an espresso addict would never find themselves in a run down hotel "blanking blank" for $10 bucks so they could score a latte.

Having said that it's good stuff. When cooked up in an old school Bialetti espresso maker it's all the better. I have Bob to thank for this new addiction. While over at his house for a CX ride, he showed me how he cooks up his crack in the kitchen. No need for a $200 espresso maker or patronizing a coffee chain that charges almost as much for a grande latte as a whole can of the good stuff.

Bob has some genuine straight out of Italy grandparents (ed. apparently his mother as well) and they confirm that this is the only way to make it. The Bialetti is appealing to a cyclist on a number of levels. It's imported from Italy, made of aluminum (I hear they are working on a new "designed in Italy," made in Taiwan carbon fiber version that will look great but lack soul), and mirrors the simplicity of a bicycle. If using a $200 espresso machine is like driving your car, going to Starbuck's is like riding an expensive subway next to a bunch of laptop toting poseurs.

When I first got the Bialetti I was just going to use it on the weekends, but here it is Thursday and I found myself cooking up an espresso for the drive to work. It's one thing to get fired up for a race, but now I'm burning through the good stuff just to work on Excel spreadsheets. I thought about sprinting around our building, or seeing if anyone in the office wanted to re-enact an ESPN strongman competition with full water cooler jugs, but I pretty much sat there and talked super fast for a few hours.

If you happen to see me in a cheap motel, "blanking blank" for espresso money, with dingy brown teeth and a bad case of the shakes, punch Bob in the "blank" for me. This is all his fault. By the way, this can all be yours for just $19.95. You can go big with a 6 cup version from the local Wegman's, you can go small with the 3 cup version from, or you can wait for Bob's family to go back to Italy on vacation. In my quest for the perfect buzz, I now own both the 3 and 6 cup versions.

Oh well, can't write any more, comin' down.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Busted ....

Drumroll goes to Schenectady for 2 hr mtn bike race w/the 29er SS. Drumroll's friends note his knee pain is probably from ridiculous gears and quickly throw on a better gear. (Note: Drumroll doesn't know jack about this ss or mtn biking stuff.) Decent start, quickly remember how much I suck at mtn biking as riders blow by on every bobble. After an hour or so start pulling back a few riders, feeling more comfy on logs, bridges, planks, etc. Then ... busted .. the MF'in chain that is. Race over dammit. C'est La Vie eh? Drumroll's team-mate (JW) smoked the SS division though and put some gas $$ in his pocket -- congrats JW!

Police respond to spate of accidents across Onondaga County; Centro goes to snow routes

That was the headline on this afternoon. Apparently as of 2:45 there were nearly 30 accidents caused by snowy, icy roads. Sounds like a good time to be out for a ride. Local cycling hero Paul K., owner of Syracuse Bicycle and all around rider extraordinaire sent out a quick e-mail last night asking if anyone wanted to ride. He said he'd recently hurt his back, hadn't ridden much the last 3 months, planned to ride easy, and was taking his CX bike. I've fallen for that one before, so I packed a lunch. Paul joked that I was stuffing a lot of food in my jacket. I joked that I've been on his easy rides before. Just because he's carrying one small water bottle and two twizzler's doesn't mean that you aren't in for an epic. In this case the ride wasn't too bad, but the weather was bordering on epic. I'd tell you how long we rode, but someone might tell Turbo, and then he'd be on his trainer all night trying to catch up with Paul.

Suffice it to say, we saw the Rez, Marcellus, Skaneateles and Camillus. We were supposed to meet up with Shep and Beck but last we heard from them they had just summited Everest, were working their way back down the mountain and were potentially going to need to build a snow cave somewhere off of Rt 80.

We contemplated taking a picture of ourselves with the crazy Dicken's characters in Skaneateles, or potentially some action shots drafting their horse and carriage, but the weather was well past deteriorating so we pressed on. In hindsight a snapshot taken with some nut job who has spent the better part of the summer growing a beard so he could look like an actual Dicken's character would have been pretty cool. Add to that the nickel sized snow flakes and our own bizarre collection of clothing and we'd have had some sort of Star Trekesque, lycra clad back in time moment. Maybe next time, that would have been a great pic for the blog.

The roads started getting pretty dicey, but the Michelin Jet's worked their magic and somehow we stayed upright even as we got passed by snowplows, passed accidents, and crossed slick train tracks. Good times.

The best news of the day came from my wife when I called on my way home. Anyone that knows us knows that I do most of the cooking but today she made stew. It was great, and I look forward to 2011 when she is inspired to make it again.

If you're up for some winter rides, drop me a line. As I've mentioned, the goal is to stay off of the trainer to the extent that I can on the weekends. Feel free to put that on my tombstone if one of the snowplows gets me . . . "Loved by few, his goal was to stay off of the trainer to the extent that he could on the weekends." That kind of has a ring to it. Hopefully I don't actually get hit by a snowplow though. Predicting my death in a lame blog entry would be . . . well, lame. Not nearly as cool as a surfer getting eaten by a shark and pooped back into the ocean. At best, my bike and I would end up in a garbage bag after the Onondaga Cycling Club Earth Day clean-up.

PS - I rode the 29er yesterday, it was pretty sweet. More to follow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lame excuses . . .

Well, as I write this I should be en route to Mass, but I've momentarily run out of motivation. After
only missing one weekend between 9/21 and 11/16, when the local season ended, I've come up empty this weekend. I have a long list of excuses, but no one made a better list than Jake Blues, so I'll go with that. "I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD."

That's all I have. The good news is that I have a brand spankin' new 29er in my basement, and so far, racing has gotten between me and its maiden voyage. I will without a doubt find the motivation to ride it tomorrow. Since I built it up on my own, hopefully the ride is mechanically uneventful.

I played in the annual family "Turkey Bowl" yesterday. You'd think CX would foster decent football conditioning. For the most part it did, but my legs are still pretty torn up today. I guess all of the riding let my lungs write checks that my legs couldn't cash. Probably the fact that I drank about a bottle of wine and 7 beers during the day isn't helping either. I'd join a 12 step program, but I hear one of the steps involves apologizing to anyone you've wronged. I just don't have that kind of time. That and and rehab is for quitters.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snowmobiles and Snow Plows . . .

. . . are two of the things I saw and had to get out of the way of while riding on Saturday. The temperature was in the low 20's, but the "feels like" index on had it at 6. Mmmm, Accelerade Slushy. Actually it wasn't that bad as long as I didn't get moving too fast. I decided to hit up the Canal Path to keep the speed down. Nothing like cruising along in zone 2 while achieving a blistering pace of 11mph. Beats the trainer any day though. Riding the trainer on a weeknight is all well and good, but 2 hours on a Saturday is more that I can handle while CX season is still in effect. All trainer and no play make Skinny a dull boy. Redrum redrum redrum.

After my ride, I took my dog Ray-Ray hiking. As I pulled up to the woods, I saw Drumroll's car. Turned out he was also in trainer avoidance mode. He was rolling his new Dillenger and wearing out his dog at the same time. Probably a good way to keep her worn out and the humping to a minimum (see previous post). I was glad to see that I wasn't alone in my desperation to avoid the trainer.

Drumroll and I met up today and got in another decent ride on the CX bikes. Thankfully things had warmed up into the low 30's and there weren't any snowplow or snowmobile sightings. We even saw another biker. My drink also remained in liquid form as opposed to solid, so that was a bonus. Looks like we have a long winter in front of us. I'm gonna need to break down and get some fenders. Cold is cool, wet is not, and I'm committed to avoiding the hamster wheel on the weekends this winter. Let me know if you want to ride, if there's a group of us, the person that doesn't get hit by the snowplow can call the ambulance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Soul Build Part 2B / CX done?

So there she is in all her glory ... the humper dog, oh yeah ... and the new Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er single speed. (Note: Drumroll has not been humped by the Dillinger ... yet). Took the new build out last Fri and this Fri to Green Lakes to see what this SS stuff was all about. So far so good 'cept froze my nads off today -- freaking snow storm trying to mess w/my ride dammit.

Also gotta figure out if I got any more CX in me. I've raced alot of CX this yr and have had 2 lousy training weeks in a row 'cause of work/travel so any form that I may have had probably got left in a hotel or rental car somewhere between Ohio, West Virginia and Mass.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dave Panella Memorial CX Race

I could provide a full race recap, and perhaps I will, but first this photo op of a teammate that my wife happened to catch.

I'm not sure that there's a lesson to be learned here, but if there was a lesson to be learned, it might go like this:

If you're kicking back after your race and drinking some 3 Philosopher's, don't drink so much that you feel compelled to sit on the ground. You're already tired and vulnerable on the ground, and your dog has clearly seen things at home. Clearly your dog has also worked up the nerve to try them. Then again, who doesn't get excited at a CX race?

The race went pretty well. I got a great start for once, but the course quickly turned into a maze of twists and turns, and making sequential 180's and circles really isn't my strong suit. The course had some new whoops this year which were pretty cool. Most of the usual suspects I tend to race with took the weekend off apparently, so I spent nearly the whole race by myself. I had guys 20 something seconds behind me and in front of me, but we were all traveling at about the same speed once the race settled in, so it was pretty much a TT for me. I finished on the lead lap in the Open race, so I think I was going about as fast as I could. The weather was definitely 'cross worthy with some sleet and snow, and I didn't smack my nuts this time, so all in all it was a good race.

I also won a couple of big bottles of Ommegang, a tire, an Ommegang sweatshirt for my lady and a few other things from a raffle. Not sure what the plan is for next weekend, but the weekend after that I'm headed to Mass to redeem myself after getting killed out there in my first CX race of the season. There will either be redemption, or my blog posting efforts will promptly be converted to my other passion, belly button lint. I guess you'll have to stop back to see how that works out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bethlehem Cup

The NYCross series finished this weekend. Most of my teammates headed to Greene to tackle the "Spirals of Death." I hadn't gotten a chance to ride in Albany yet this year, so I betrayed the team and decided to see how I stacked up against the eastern dudes. Last year I routinely finished in the back of their 3/4 races, so I really wanted to see if the new training regimen and new found skills from Cycle-Smart had paid off. They did.

I had also heard a lot about the course, it's epicness, and a gorilla banging a drum at the top of an insane run up. Bob hitched a ride with me and the 2:30 commute consisted of the normal pre-race talk. Training, racing, future bike purchases, tubulars and upcoming Spring races . . . We got to the race a little late and then I ran into a CBRC guy that I met at the Cycle-Smart camp. Turns out he broke his collar bone at Gloucester. He was going strong this year and had two new Conquest Pro Teams for this years campaign, so I was pretty bummed for him. The thought of losing a whole CX season after all of that training, planning and purchasing is a little daunting. Certainly pales in comparison to some of the curve balls that life can throw you, but a major bummer none the less.

Bob and I were racing the 3/4. The race before us finished late, so by the time we got on the course they made an announcement that we needed to be on the start line in 5 minutes so we couldn't complete a full lap. This probably wasn't the best course to miss a preview of or shortcut the warm up. The race started fast and flat. I didn't get a great start, but since I didn't really know where the course was going, that was fine by me. The course started out normal enough, but then we hit the run up everyone was talking about. Steep, muddy, and very long. Very long, muddy and steep (it bears repeating). Then came a couple hundred yards of peanut butter. I've had some time to think of adjectives to describe the mud, but I'm still at a loss for descriptives. This stuff was crazy, power sapping, and awesome at the same time. With a nickname like Skinny Phil, power isn't exactly my strong point, but I think I held my own. I did eat mud once, but that was just stupidity. After that there was a quick downhill with a sweet berm, and then another tough run up with three steps thrown in just to make sure everyone shouldered the bike. I really dug that run up until the last lap. On the last lap, I was sprinting in hopes that the guy 20 seconds in front of me would fumble at some point and I botched the remount. When I say botched the remount I mean I smacked my junk into the back of my seat. Thankfully my junk provided a slight amount of padding for my left nut. I was pretty concerned about what was going on "down there" but I figured I'd keep on pedaling while I sorted out where my junk ended up. Luckily everything remained in place and by Tuesday or Wednesday I'd say the pain had subsided. I hit my right knee on the headset/stem a couple of weeks ago. I thought that was pretty painful at the time. In hindsight it wasn't.

All in all the course was sweet, the race was sweet, they had a keg and a chili cook off. The gorilla didn't make it to the 3/4 race which was a bummer, but I'll probably get over it. Apparently getting over the loss of gorilla is taking longer than the smacking of my junk. That's weird.

I wish I had some pictures, but my old lady (actually she wants me to stop calling her that since I'm older) wasn't in attendance. Turns out they added whoops to Greene this year. Hopefully the races aren't on the same day next year. Whoops would be epic and the lack of a gorilla is definitely weighing heavily on my mind. Maybe the gorilla is a 3/4 racer? Sorry for the stream of consciousness, I just finished a caffeine fueled 4 hour commute and I'm trying to take the edge off of the Starbucks with some of Ommegang's finest. Sort of an every man's speed ball. Isn't that what killed John Belushi? Gotta go, commin' down . . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

Soul Cycles Build Part II / Weekend Report

Go here (as in physically entering Syr Bicycle, not by clicking) if you wanna see Mr. Drumroll's build up process of his retro blue Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er (peek in the back). So bite me, I took the EZ way out. So on to this past weekend -- Sunday I hooked up w/a 19 yr old in Greene and chased her round with a rapid pulse and a burning feeling in my chest. Man she was seductive and elusive. Even though I made my play for "her prize", I fell short by one spot -- seems "my rival" scored instead of me. I kept him honest & made him work for it but -- he was the better man on this day and she was all his when it was done & over. The 19 yr old was the Greene CX (or KX if you prefer) event -- and yes, at 19 it just may be the only KX event in upstate NY old enough to have voted. While Greene may have voted "for change", I hope the Greene KX event does not change irregardless of economic conditions, troop levels, or who controls the senate.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Soul Cycles Build

The fine people at FedEx came through and a sweet pile of boxes with frames, wheels and parts showed up at my office on Wednesday. I had a group CX workout/ride/slugfest Wednesday night, so the best I could do that night was lay out the pieces and take a picture. It was probably for the best, because starting a project like this at night could have led to trouble. The good news was that I have more vacation days left than I'll be able to use and I was able to take a half day on Thursday. My first stop was Home Depot, so I could build a ghetto headset press that I saw on the internet. Gotta love the world wide web, it isn't just for porn you know.

Ghetto headset press ready to go, I got to work installing the headset. It wasn't without its challenges, and I'll probably just go to a LBS next time, but I really wanted to build up the bike on my own. With the headset in place it was time to deal with the fork. I've never taken a hacksaw to a perfectly good fork, but after some measuring, headset spacer shuffling, and Sharpie marking, I was ready to let 'er rip with the hacksaw. It was actually pretty easy and after a little sanding I was good to go. I'm probably going to end up lowering the stem some and I'll bust the hacksaw back out so I don't end up with two inches of spacers above the stem, but I wanted to play it safe until I figured out handlebar position, etc. Setting the star nut deal into the fork was a little challenging without the proper tool, but again, I was able to get it in ghetto style. That's another item that a LBS could take care of in about 2 seconds, but I had to do it.

Fork and stem in place, the wheels, handlebars, brakes, and lock on grips were pretty much a no brainer. Avid is kind enough to send the brakes pre-bled, so short of zips ties and bolts it was already good to go. That kind of made my day since I haven't bled brakes in a long time and wasn't psyched about the idea.

Next step was to install the bottom bracket, crankset and chain. Again, it was pretty straightforward. The eccentric bottom bracket made tensioning the chain fairly painless, so it was time to steal some pedals from one of my CX bikes and ride around my driveway in the dark. On a side note, my old lady and I have lived in our house for about 3 and a half years, and we don't really know any of our neighbors. I'm reasonably certain they must think I'm insane after a few years of watching me roll out in the rain, snow, dark, and then ride circles while trying to pop wheelies in my driveway at 8:30 in the evening. I don't think any of them will be inviting us over for dinner any time soon.

I'm racing tomorrow, so I probably won't get a chance to really ride this thing in the woods until next week, but I'll keep you posted. All indications are that it should be a lot of fun. I've never owned a single speed, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes for me to lose the urge to shift. Even riding up my driveway I kept thinking I should grab a gear or two.

I'll provide more feedback on the bike, and some pictures of it once it had some mud on it, but first impressions are very positive, and the paint, fit and finish are impeccable. I also have to add that Chad at Soul Cycles was great to work with and provided plenty of options and advice for the build up.

Drumroll's bike is in the process of being built up, so keep an eye out. Maybe he'll even have a SS race report.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I don't know if you've heard . . . but I'm kind of a big deal

Really, it's tough to be modest here. The facts are the facts, and I came in 9th place in the Mens 1/2/3 race at the NY State Cyclocross Championships. Not only did I come in 9th place, but it was my second race of the day. Who's to say I couldn't have come in 8th place if I hadn't already raced the 3/4.

I must admit that there were only 12 finishers, but I've gotta take what I can get. I'm not getting any younger, so I need to capitalize on my new self appointed title . . . "9th faster 'crosser in NYS." I'm not going to let the fact that I've never cracked the top ten of any of the open races this year (or any year for that matter) deter me. As far as I know, most of the dudes that have been beating me must be from Canada or out of state.

In order to commemorate my 9th place finish, I'm going to have some custom skinsuits made with 9 Balls all over them. I've attached a picture of what they may look like.

I'm sure I'll have a big target on my back this weekend, but I'm just going to need to get used to the extra attention that no doubt gets paid to the 9th fastest 'crosser in NYS.

It's yet to be seen what kind of perks I can expect now that I'm the 9th faster 'crosser in NYS, but I'm sure I'll be hearing from TRP, Ridley, FSA and Mavic soon. I'll make sure I get some extra swag for my friends. I promise I won't forget any of you or let this go to my head. Having said that, I do expect that you'll be putting my bikes on my roof rack after the races from now on.

Humbly yours,
The 9th fastest 'crosser in NYS (or at least the 9th fastest that showed up that day and happened to race in that particular race)

Monday, November 3, 2008

She Won't Bite ...

"She won't bite ...." but I might damn it. Mr. Tool lets his dog run unleashed (illegally) on the canal path -- dog chases Drumroll as Mr. Tool calls back dog & keeps yelling "she won't bite" -- Drumroll hops off bike and chases dog w/bike -- as Drumroll gets back on bike, Mr. Tool has a few comments about chasing dog -- Drumroll , now seeing red, turns around to have a "discussion" w/Mr. Tool. Mr. Tool gets an earful of "I don't give a sh*t if you think she won't bite" and summed it up with "We wouldn't even be having this discussion if your ^$*#ing dog was on a leash you're holding in your hand in the first place." Mr. Tool sees Drumroll is really pissed and actually apologizes -- Drumroll realizes he's a bit fired up this Friday eve and maybe should race tomorrow.

Tomorrow (Sat) -- decided at 7:30 am to roll back to Rochester/Ellison Park again looking for missing seat redemption. Diced it out w/some of teh regular rivals and was able to hold on for a win. Woo Hoo -- redemption.

NYS CX Champs (Sun) -- holy crap was it a cold morning. Started out Masters race in row 2 on wheel of a CX stud type and had a good start. Played near the front for a bit and then settled in to race for possible podium spot. Thought I had a decent gap on last lap when a teammate and other dude smoke by on a run up. Never knew they were there and desperately tried to catch on -- figures, I caught the teammate but not "other dude" and ended up passing teammate in last few turns to win 3rd by less than a bike length in 35+. Looked real pro at the end slumped over handle bars dry heaving uncontrollably. Another teamamte won 45+ and had good overall team showing all in all. Gotta luv 'cross.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Soul Time

Drumroll and I both have our new SS Soul Cycle's en route. They should hit the proverbial loading dock on Wednesday. Keep and eye out for the builds. I plan to document the process. What good would Bikemas time be if there were no pictures of the kids? When we're done, "Ours will go to 11." Sadly, I'll still be about a 7 out of 10, but that's no reason to have a lame bike.

In the meantime, here's a picture of some other dude's Dillinger SS 29er.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Race Report -- Park Ave / Camp Arrowhead CX - Sun Oct 26, 2008

So I ventured out to the Park Ave CX race in Pittsford -- similar course to last year w/a few modifications.

Lap 1: A bit surprised at the start, no real countdown, just an electronic "woop" from a megaphone. Cruised into the first turn (a sweeping 180 on slick pavement w/puddles) in about third position & heard the sound of "bike meets pavement" carnage behind. Settling in after the first few turns, I noted the leaders slowly starting to come back as they met the red zone and it told them to back it down.

Lap 2: Noted one of my main rivals moving up behind me. Soon it's me and "rival" slugging it out in front w/the third place guy slowly getting gapped -- everything looking cool -- shaping up to be another Drumroll and rival battle within the battle. Only difference this time is that instead of a top 5 or 10, this time it might be for a win.

Lap 3: Rival puts in a sharp dig but then slips out on an off camber & now I have a slight gap out front. Now in the lead, my seat seems to wobble and even before I finish my prayer to the mud gods that it hang on for a few more laps, I reach down and grabbed it before it fell to the ground a few turns from the finish. I was, well yes, bummed & pissed. I tossed the seat at the finish (standing up) and not really sure if I should quit or keep riding.

Laps 4-6: I was dejected and let up for a bit but kept riding with recurring thoughts of "be very, very, careful" and "EXIT ONLY". Also had a moment of striking clarity as I was about to remount after my first run up without the seat. The little brain (you know, the one down there who almost always is focused on "something" else) spoke up in a very serious tone and said "hey dude, you have no seat and that could hurt me and/or my friends here" .... so with my modified remount technique (i.e., slow & careful) I carried on. On last lap I decided I did not want to get passed anymore by one of those damn "seat" guys. In the end, didn't get passed on the last lap, no injuries or mishaps to any "sensitive parts", and ended up finishing on the lead lap. What a freaking great sport this is eh?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Syracuse Grand Prix

The race went well for me today. Great weather (if you like sunny and cool for CX as opposed to rainy and cool with a 90% chance of mud), great course, decent turnout, and a lot of fan support. My old lady and I have friends in town this weekend and I just returned from a business trip to Dirty Jersey yesterday afternoon, so it wasn't an ideal build up, but 99% of us all have a long list of excuses beyond average genetics. Got home yesterday, took the dogs out quick, hit the trainer for an hour, hit the showers, our friends showed up, drank a bottle of Shiraz, headed out for sushi, drank another bottle of wine, came home, drank a Duvel and decided to see if I could get enough sleep to offset my sins. The race was only a half hour away which was a nice change, but that left me with a lot of spare time this morning with an equal ratio of extra nerves. I made blueberry pancakes for 5 too kill some time. Headed out early to watch the masters race and heckle some friends and teammates. Got in a decent warmup for once and got a decent start. The course was great and there was plenty of time to sprint for the start. I'm not sure why so many CX races force you to make a 180 after a 30 yard sprint, but Eddie and the crew at the Onondaga Cycling Club know what they're doing after a bunch of years. The course was fast with some twisty's, a nice double barrier, a few nice straits, a great mud pit to keep it interesting, more twisty off camber stuff, including a 45 degree off camber that was really cool, and a sandy run up followed by a fast sweeping down hill.

In addition to having friends in town, my parents and in-laws came to the race. No pressure there. It's great to have people cheering for you, but as I've mentioned previously, a smack down between my buddy "Bob" and I was in the works. I got a better start than him for once and thought I might be able to hold him off, but I took a digger on a right hand off camber and got run over by a guy named Turbo that was right on my wheel. We jumped back up and I had to unfreeze my front brake. Bob and a few other guys were pretty close behind, so we got caught. Bob, Turbo and I were able to drop everyone else, but then Turbo, a local TT record holder, pretty much rode away from us leaving Bob and I together yet again. I led Bob around for a couple of laps and then he made a move and got by me. I decided we weren't going to catch a TT guy named Turbo (also Bob's teammate) so I sat on his wheel for the last two laps trying to decide what to do. I thought about trying to attack a couple of times, but I don't think there's any way he was going to let me get away. I decided my best bet was to let him lead me into the barrier before the sandy run up, and make my move there. I just edged him out to the top of the hill, nailed the remount and took off like I stole Sven Nys bike. Bob didn't get clipped in right away, and I was able to barely get away. We actually finished on the lead lap which was very cool. Most of the CNY CX races run an Open Men format, so it isn't unusual to get lapped by a dude like Dan Timmerman or Justin Lindine. Thankfully they weren't in attendance, so ultimately that's really how we stayed on the lead lap, but cool none the less.

I'm off next weekend, so the next smackdown will be at the State Championships. Bob and I won't be the champions of anything, but the race within the race will be interesting for sure.

For now, I'm just going to bask in the glow of the Ommegang Witte that Drumroll gave me for gas money last weekend. Cheers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Soul Lotta Love

It's bikemastime here at the Drumroll house. A new, sexy, sweet Soul Cycles ss Dilinger 29er will be here in a matter of days. I can hardly wait and think about it constantly. It's a sad statement about adulthood that this is about as close as I can come to feeling like a kid again at Christmas. I think about the jolly ol' guy himself (UPS aClaus) pulling up the drive with his truck full of goodies -- y'all can have your 8 tiny reindeer, that UPS truck probably has about 240 horses and can hold a heck of a lot more than a sleigh. And the best part, I didn't even have to be a good boy, I could just be my ol' SOB dick of myself as long as I had the blessing of the credit god Visa.

Anyway, for those uninitated, here's how the new bike thing goes down .....

Drummroll: Hey hon, I just ordered another bike today.
Ms. Drummroll: That's great dear, where you putting it? There's no more room in the garage.
Drummroll: I'll make room, just like last time.
Ms. Drummroll: How many's that now ... five?
Drummroll: ummm, actually six ... not counting the Cannondale frame.
Ms. Drummroll: So what's so special about this one that you just HAD to have it? I hope at least it's a pretty color.
Drummroll: Oh, it's a sweet retro blue color and it's a 29er single speed, a Soul Cycles Dillinger, it's sweet.
Ms. Drummroll: Like I said, what's so special about this one that you just HAD to have it?
Drummroll: Well I can do some single speed 'cross races on it and some ss mtn. biking and maybe even commute to work on it.
Ms. Drummroll: What's a single speed and why didn't you just get a 28er or 27er instead?
Drummroll: There's only one gear, you can't shift and it's less stuff to have to maintain.
Ms. Drummroll: Why would you only want one gear? What if you have to go up a hill?
Drummroll: You pedal hard or get off and try to run up.
Ms. Drummroll: Ha, ... I've seen you run mean walk up ... Why not use your other mtn. bike and just not shift it? Sounds kinda dumb to me.
Drummroll: Umm, well, umm ....isn't Idol or some Dance thing on TV that you're missing?

Who's Your "Bob?"

Everyone needs a Bob. Your Bob could be a Dave, a Julie, a Bernard or a Sven, but we all need one. When it's late and dark and I don't feel like training, I wonder if Bob rode today and hop on the trainer. If I'm supposed to do 4-5 hill repeats, I do the 5th because of Bob. It's not that I dislike Bob, on the contrary, we're good friends and often training partners, but when it's time to race . . .

No one likes losing, or even worse than losing not even being competitive against your arch rival, er uh friend. I'm not sure how many extra miles I've logged or hills I've climbed because of Bob, but it's a lot I'm sure. Probably an extra day per week at least.

So if you don't have a Bob, go get one. Lance had Jan, although I doubt they shared training rides or swapped cyclo-cross DVD's. Tom had Jerry, Jerry had Newman, and Newman had . . . well Newman had no one, that's why he was a loser.

If you get better, you can even replace your Bob, although unless he gets hit by a bus I won't be upgrading any time soon. Worst case, you could even downgrade. The point is to have someone else to keep you motivated when the rest of life might get in the way. Motivation can come in the form of bike porn forwards, an e-mail recapping that days training session, smack talk about an upcoming race, or a close finish in a recent race.

When it's all said and done, you may have a front seat to his back seat in the next race or vise versa, but a close win or a close loss are almost equally motivating. This weekend will be the Syracuse Grand Prix. Hopefully it comes down to a sprint.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cobbs Hill CX

Raced Cobb Hill yesterday. Tough technical course. I got there early and rode a couple of laps before the Masters race started. It was clear to me that I was in trouble, but it was going to be a fun course none the less.

It started with a decent open stretch that allowed for a fast start. Seems like most of the races I've done this season haven't had a long start, so there hasn't been much time to get to the front. After that there was a 180, a flat stretch and a quick left into the woods. Dismount, jump a log, onto some very narrow single track that had people all over the place, another 180 that had me over the handlebars on the first lap, more narrow "rock lined" singletrack that had my teammate doing his best Superman impression on the first lap, then an open flat section, very serious uphill on gravel and then grass, a nice twisty decent, a few turns around trees, over a nice set of double barriers and back to a brief pavent section around the start/finish.

Not a great course for me, but it was a lot of fun and I didn't struggle as much as some of the guys out there. I did struggle more than 21 guys, because I think I was in 22nd place.

It was Africa hot out there and pretty dusty. I couldn't build up enough spit to actually swallow for the first 4 laps. I was a rolling Orbit Gum commerical. Dirty Mouth? Luckily one of my teammates decided to offer some water handups and I got in a couple of swigs mid race.

My teammate Greg took third in the Masters race after lining up in the very back row. Clearly the course suited him. More importantly he won some cash money. He tried to give it to me for gas money, but I wouldn't take it. I did agree to take a 4 pack of Ommegang Witte. I didn't need cash, but I did need ale.

All in all a great race and a good way to keep the legs moving before the Syracuse Grand Prix. That course definitely suits me, not in a win it kind of way, just better for a dude with bad singletrack skills. So if I can keep both pedals on my bike this year it should be a lot of fun.

Hmmm . . . .

Never thought I'd start a blog, but I think it's time that CNY CX had a blog. The goal will be to avoid sounding like a douche bag. Let me know how that works out.