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.