Sunday, February 28, 2010

Make the Hurting Stop

I am tired to an extent that is quite unfamiliar. I am tired and I am sore. I have also been crying a lot since yesterday at about 9:35am. That is the approximate time that my workout at Crossfit Charlotte came to an end. That is also the approximate time that I realized that Crossfit was sent to this planet to destroy me. The workout looked quite simple on paper. It involved a great deal of counting but I have been quite adept at that since cheating my way through Advanced Statistics during my sophomore year in college. Count to 20 four times. Count to 30 four times. Count to 50 four times. I don't even need an abacus to do that. It would have helped though. It was the movement behind those numbers that left me shattered. What do those numbers represent? In sum: 100 squats, 100 push ups, 100 pull ups, and just for kicks, 100 sit ups. Yes, that was unpleasant. When you are fighting to hold my wheel this summer you will have only Crossfit to blame. True fitness is not found in your dvd player. You have to go to the box for that.

I spent the rest of my Saturday lying on the floor in the fetal position with a plate of bacon and avocados within reach. Add a little maple syrup to that and you have a raucous party for your mouth. Properly refueled by copious amounts of fat and protein, I was ready for Sunday's ride.

The weather in NC has been unseasonably and unreasonably cold but I was motivated to leap out of bed for an early morning road ride by an invite from a skinny tire newbie. This was to be his first road outing and I could not pass up the opportunity to serve as witness, participant and spiritual guide. Southern roads are unfailingly quiet on Sunday mornings as the faithful gather in large numbers to worship in their chosen religious spaces. Empty roads are a special treat and not to be wasted.

Rising to temperatures hovering around freezing was not only disappointing but also served to sap some of my motivation. Still weak from Saturday's flogging, I considered staying in bed but an old friend was waiting for me in the living room.

Yeah, she's pretty.

I'm poorly insulated and do not enjoy wearing three layers of clothing in order to stay warm on my bike . My beloved TCX must have known I would need a little extra impetus to brave the cold weather. She decided to bring in some outside help. It is simply impossible to say no to certain people and one of them was in my living room.

Who could say to no David Hasselhoff? He's just so German.

Although a bit chilly, it was a beautiful morning. The ride began with a short roll into my adopted home town and then to one of my favorite places. There was just one pit stop along the way.

Don't question my love for the train. Just accept it and move on.

That sight can break even the worst morning frost.

A few moments were spent discussing the rules of the road and proper safety precautions. I prefer to avoid getting hit by cars so safety instructions were a must. There are some roadie culture rules that I wanted to share but felt they should wait for a more appropriate time. Like now perhaps.

Bubblegum colored bar tape is never allowed. It's just not done.

As our two man caravan rolled away from the shop it became immediately apparent that the stage had been set for a great ride. The temperature increased quickly as the sun rose to greet us. We quickly settled into a rhythm and headed toward the peaceful country roads I have come to know so well. Everything was going well until Aaron tried to sneak up behind me to steal the fruit snacks out of my jersey pocket.

How could he possibly expect to get away with that. I knew he was back there the whole time.

There were three major players in this Sunday morning jaunt. Myself, of course, or there would be no blog. Aaron, mountain bike maniac and soon to be road monster. And the wind. The horrible, relentless wind. It was strong enough to be a burden and always seemed to be hitting at just the wrong angle. My 130 frame was not built to power into the headwind for long stretches. I am much more suited to sucking the wheels of larger men. So I did exactly that.

Long live smooth roads and good drafts.

As we hit the halfway point of our ride it seemed like a good time to catch our breath and grab a bite to eat. My remaining fruit snacks went down smooth but Aaron's chocolate covered energy bar needed some help on the way down. Bicycle's East water bottle to the rescue.

How's that for product placement?

With our stomachs full and our spirits high we rolled back toward town. We had a few good hills fast approaching and it was time for me to go work. I moved back to the front and pointed my front wheel uphill. There was no spirit crushing on the schedule today so I took a look behind me to make sure the gap stayed small.

He's faster than I thought. This is going to be a problem.

There were a handful of little climbs to test our legs before our ride came to a close. All were taken in stride as we moved toward my favorite climb of the day. Marglyn road is the last bump on the way home and I always greet it with a smile. It is the final test before you can sit up and spin freely into town. As the final mile passed, Aaron pointed to our reflection in window of a local business. Some quick camera work savored the moment and we brought the ride to an end just where it began.

Reflecting on a satisfying ride. Hey, that's funny. Ask anybody. That's comedy gold right there.

We look good and we know it.

Sad to see the ride end but happy with the outcome, I headed for home. Little did I know that there were two wonderful surprises waiting for me. The first was a delicious assortment of paleo baked goods and snacks prepared the by small Italian 5k monster that lives in my house. Blueberry muffins, apple bread and crispy kale snacks. Screw nachos and beer. You haven't truly utilized your taste buds until you have had salty, crunchy kale.

Looks like a great way to spend an afternoon.

The second surprise was a salad the size of Ohio made by my two dimensional celebrity friend. He is really into the zone and sticks to it whenever he cooks for me. His salad was five blocks of total happiness. There is some tension between us though. I have asked him a thousand times to wear a shirt while he prepares my meals. I don't understand why he won't listen. Silly Hoff.

Please, I beg you, put on a shirt.

As my weekend draws to a close I find myself repeatedly checking my new favorite website. What will tomorrow's work out be? Well, with a little luck and some divine intervention I have to believe that I will get to use the rower. If you have not used a proper rower then you can not understand how satisfying it can be to break yourself against this destroyer of humans. One round of that is never enough.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Fourteen Minute Apology to the World

For the first time since he entered the stuffy world of professional golf(not a sport by the way), I have been inspired by Tiger Woods. I don't watch television so last night I took a moment to log on to the wonder that is you tube and watch Tiger's heart felt(cough cough) confession. Fourteen minutes? Really? Was that necessary? I think not. I watched it anyway. Despite my intense effort I was not able to stomach the press conference in its entirety. I got the basic idea after the first four minutes. He's very very sorry that he cheated on his wife with those less than visually appealing young women. He did not get into the hows and whys but I think we can all assume that they would do all the filthy things his wife would not. I could spend time speculating as to what those things might have been but I will leave that up to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

-Livestock in lingerie
-Sticky things in sticky places
-A goat named Steve

Wow, that was a little disturbing.

On to the meat and potatoes of this post. If you are a vegetarian that is not my problem. Stop whining and eat a chicken. A chicken would eat you if it had the chance.

Much like Tiger, I have been unfaithful and am burdened with a heavy heart. There is a love in my life that has been neglected. We were smitten in the beginning but the flame has flickered. I thought we were both pulling away but it appears that I was the only one. I have been thinking about her and why she was once the only one for me. She is pretty in her own way. She moves fast when I want her to and slows down when it feels right. She never says no when I ask her to go for hours. When I need her, she is there. She is my Kona Unit and I once loved her simple beauty. She is a steel single speed with 26" wheels and until recently that was all I needed . Now I need more. What can I say? I'm a wheel man and I love 'em big.

There is a new love in my life. She has big beautiful 29" wheels and a curvy frame. She and I won't be together for another two months but the connection has been made and my affection is now for her alone. My anticipation for her delivery is more than I can handle. I thought I was hiding my excitement but today I learned that my Kona discovered my indiscretion. She knows and she is angry.

Today was the final installment of the Charlotte Mountain Bike Winter Short Track Series. My Kona and I screamed through the course together only two weeks ago. We moved as one. My thoughts were hers and hers were mine. As we flowed through the woods I understood where our initial attraction had begun. As we crossed the finish line together we were on a higher plane. Today was different. She was angry because she knows that I have placed the order for my new bike. How she found out I don't really know but I am now battered and a bit bloody as a result. Lap after lap I could feel that we were disconnected. I begged her for a smooth, fast ride but she resisted. She had only one thought on her mind today. Revenge. She got her wish when she slammed me to the ground on a pile of rocks. Now I have a hole in my leg to match the one in her heart.

I must now apologize for fourteen minutes. Not only to my once faithful companion but to my team, all the racers on course today, and to the world at large. I did something very stupid. I was reckless. I only considered my selfish desires and acted with complete disregard for the feelings of others. This indiscretion was not motivated by any unrest in our relationship. When the truth came out however, I did receive a beating and must be honest about that. She hurt me. She liked it. I'm sincerely sorry and can only hope that forgiveness can one day be granted. Was that fourteen minutes? No. Well go back and read it again but much more slowly. Use a stop watch to help you get the timing right.

Yes beloved readers, there is a new bike on the way. There is no sense in getting into specifics at this point. That will come later. The one thing I will say about this new machine is that it has big beautiful wheels and bigger is definitely better.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Super Bowl Weekend Recap

You didn't really think I was going to talk about football this week did you? That's just not going to happen. I don't eat Doritos. I don't drink light beer. And I definitely don't watch American sports. I gave up on football a long time ago. Why? Because I am a Detroit Lions fan and that means I experience nothing but pain, sadness and confusion when I try to follow my favorite team. I just don't need the stress. How can we get the #1 draft pick every year and still never make it to the playoffs? It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. I didn't even watch the Super Bowl because there was a far more important sporting event this weekend. That's right, the Charlotte Mountain Bike Winter Short Track Race. No, you didn't miss the ESPN coverage when you stepped away from your TV to get a snack. Oddly enough, their cameras never showed up. There must have been some sort of scheduling error. I'm sure they meant to be there.

A short track race in itself is not particularly noteworthy. No, this weekend gets a few column inches because there was a two day celebration of awesomeness that began with a Mexican pajama party. You read that correctly but if you would like to go back and read it again I'll wait. Yes indeed, a Mexican pajama party. I suppose I should clarify that the pajamas themselves were not in fact from Mexico or any of the Spanish speaking areas near the border. That would have been cool though and I'm going to work on that for next time as long as the shipping costs are reasonable. This particular gathering of friends was formed around a table of Mexican food with a requirement that all guests arrive in their sleepwear. We did set some ground rules ahead of time of course. No dairy in the guacamole and no pajamas that might have been worn on a romantic weekend trip to the mountains. Nobody wants to see me in a bottomless tuxedo. Trust me on this one.

Nothing makes people smile like turkey burritos and cozy sleepwear.

Here we see Ripley preparing to launch an attack on a pair of innocent party goers trespassing on his couch. You don't want to see Ripley angry. You don't want to see him too happy either but that leads us to a story for a blog with a monthly membership fee.

Our gracious hosts basking in the sweet glow that could only come from Jess' candy-like margaritas.

After a night of laughter and overeating it was time to hit the race. Rising early after eating my weight in burritos was no small feat but I managed to roll out of bed before dawn motivated by the fact that I don't have a car. When you have to choose between getting up early to bum a ride or sleeping in and pedaling through the city the decision is easy. The morning got off to a great start and the shop had a sweet set up just feet from the start/finish line.

Screw the pro teams, we had donuts!

Bicycles East was well represented. Cody(far right) may be the fastest of us for the moment but I'm old enough to buy beer. Take that!

Despite week upon soggy week of rain here in the Southeast the course was in great shape. With three riders in the singlespeed class Bicycles East was set for forty five minutes of lung busting short track mayhem. Photo dump anyone?

A clean bike is a fast bike. Write that down.

Why is it that whenever I go into the woods large men in tight shorts start chasing me?

Justin learned a hard lesson about riding behind someone with thumbtacks in their jersey pocket.

My body double makes me look fast. I don't do any of my own stunt work.

Aaron rocking one of many slick turns.

Aaron was all smiles after his first foray into mountain bike racing.

With a life like this you don't need cable.

The salesman told me black arm warmers are slimming.

All in all my first race back after a one year hiatus(that's german for economic recession) was a great success. I finished well off the podium which was a huge relief. I would hate to change the subtitle of my blog. Stay tuned for some exciting news about the new race rocket I'll be throwing a leg over in the very near future. That was called a teaser by the way. A teaser is used to entice an audience to return in search of future entertainment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

49 Days and Counting Until the World Championships

When you are racing against history there is no shame in taking second. Jack Bobridge was able to ponder this thought yesterday when he won the 4k individual pursuit and took home the Australian National Champion's jersey. Only one man in history has ridden the 4k faster than Bobridge's 4:14.427 and if you don't know his name you need to stop reading my blog right now. I encourage you to come back later of course. I simply request that you do a little homework first. I'll give you a hint. It was Chris Boardman. Stay tuned for a track cycling history lesson in the coming weeks. Don't hide your excitement. Let it flow.

My love for the individual pursuit is strong and pure. Turning yourself inside out while staring at that black line for over four minutes is not for ordinary men. Winning this event takes more than a quick turn of speed and the ability to count your laps. It takes guts. It takes heart. It takes an appreciation and understanding of those who have left their sweat and tears on the boards before you. The great champions of this discipline have been students of pursuiting. Those who have been truly successful have been so because they have studied every possible way to gain fractions of a second in their attempt to land on the top step of the podium while they are serenaded by their national anthem. The number all great pursuiters are chasing? 4:11.114.

It is certainly disappointing that success in track racing is not rewarded with global fanfare. Our country was once passionate about the velodrome but now you are more likely to see an American Idol runner up on the cover of The New York Times than you are a track cycling world champion. When Taylor Phinney brought home the gold last year he was the first American to do so in 16 years. If only it had happened on a day when The Bachelor was in reruns.

On March 24th the UCI Track Cycling World Championships will descend upon the city of Copenhagen. Phinney will be there. Bobrick will be there. Will you be watching? You know I will.