Sunday, July 30, 2006

Two sides of a different world

Yesterday Lost and I headed up to Cedar Park because there was a train store I wanted to check out. It turned out to be way better than I thought it would be, and it was pretty reasonable with prices. I didn't buy anything, because I don't have my other trains with me, and I know right now the last thing we need is to cram more stuff into our home.

After that we looked at a new development being built, and walked through many different homes. It was quite a bit of fun, and it's always good to do the research way in advance. Hours later we ate and headed to San Marcos for some blitzing of the outlet centers. We had almost 2 hours, and made the most of it. I was happy, as I got more clothes for very little money.

Today I head out for a ride with a friend of mine. But this is the interesting part. I was able to do this without worrying about if I'd live or not. But with what's happening in the Middle East, this would have been very risky over there. It's amazing how we take this safety for granted.

Friday, July 28, 2006

I couldn't have said it better

Today's Report: 27 Jul 2006
Phil Liggett on Floyd Landis
My first reaction to the news that Floyd Landis had "doped up" during the 17th stage of the Tour de France between St Jean de Maurienne and Morzine was one of extreme sadness, and it posed the huge question: "Why?"

In Strasbourg at the Grand Depart, the Tour had seemingly handled the sending home of pre-race favorites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Juan Mercado among others well and the stage was set for "the cleanest Tour in years."

The organizers had sent out a clear message that dopers would not be tolerated, even though those sent away left protesting their innocence and, in fact, still do. Indeed, at least four of the rejected Astana-Wrth team have been proven innocent by a Spanish court this week, but the race's hardening attitude had once again been demonstrated.

This year's Tour seemed to be being ridden "clean" as riders had good days and bad, something which doesn't always happen if the drugs are kicking in. Landis himself, collapsed on stage 16 to La Toussuire in the Alps and then, re-hydrated overnight, he won the fateful stage 17 to Morzine by almost six minutes.

Even seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong was moved to call Landis at his hotel that night and congratulate him at "having big balls" to do what he had done after such a defeat 24 hours earlier.

There are many questions to be answered before Landis is condemned.

The first is why win the stage knowing that the winner is automatically drug tested and when finding unusual testosterone levels in a testing laboratory is a comparatively easy thing to do!

Landis would have also been tested at least three times previously as race leader, too, and these presumably have been negative as only stage 17 is under discussion.

The quiet, but very determined American was genuinely happy for his team and its owners when he finished at Morzine. He arrived punching out at helpers and media after he crossed the finish line. He had turned in the result which only 24 hours earlier was thought to be impossible.

Landis had never failed a drug test in his career and this season was enjoying his best ever run of victories, all of which would carry compulsory drug tests. His wins in America and France since February have all been achieved despite a dying femur bone which will mean a replacement hip in the immediate future.

He suffers pain daily when walking and sleeping but not, ironically, so much when racing. As winner of the Tour de France he could have expected his annual earnings to move into the multi-million dollar bracket, even though there is the risk that his hip operation will mean he might never race at the same level again.

They say that drugs have been in cycling for more than 100 years. At first it was simply alcohol, and a tot of brandy did wonders on a long climb in adverse weather. Then came amphetamines, traces of which were found in Britain's Tom Simpson when he died on Mont Ventoux in Provence during the Tour in 1967.

Now, with the help of unscrupulous medical experts, growth hormones, steroids and blood changing is available for those who can afford it. But the doping agencies, International Cycling Union and the Tour de France all agree that drugs must be stamped out and the fight will go on.

The Tour de France has been "saddened" by yesterday's revelations, but the second test has still to confirm the first. There is a possibility that Landis has over-produced testosterone and if so I hope he will be completely vindicated.

If, however, he is guilty, then he will lose the Tour de France, receive a life ban at the Olympics, a two-year ban from the sport and a four-year ban from riding on a Pro Tour team. In short, he will never race again.

All for Now,
Phil Liggett,The Voice of Cycling

One thing I don't get: Everyone says that cycling is dirty. Is it dirty because it's the only sport actually doing something about it, unlike football and especially, baseball?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Winning, Floyd, and the Court of Public Opinion

Well, until the whole floyd Landis thing exploded this morning, I was going to do a post about winning. I still am, but first let me weigh in on Floyd's problem. So he had a non-normal test result from Stage 17. Long story short, he had too high a ratio of testosterone in his urine. Used to be the allowable standard was 6:1, then the UCI and WADA in their brilliance lowered it to 4:1. Ok, the ratio for a normal, non-athlete is 1:1.

However, I can provide links to anyone who wants them citing study after study showing that the levels in elite athletes routinely go to 4:1 or higher after extreme efforts. I'd say that riding 130 km alone on the hardest day of the Tour qualifies as an extreme effort.

Now, on to the Court of Public Opinion. Isn't it great how Barry Bonds is playing with minimal heckling, and how there's only some talk of how he may be guilty. Yet, Floyd and other pros in the past from cycling seem to have their verdicts decided upon by leaked news and accusations, then the doping agencies try to find data to support public opinion. So instead of allowing the process to go and announcing results, Floyd's rep is forever tarnished, innocent or not. Like when someone is arrested for murder, then 10 minutes later released, they're forever remembered as being arrested for murder, so they must be guilty...

I really have a hard time believing Floyd is guilty. I have friends who remember him riding in sweatpants and knickers when he first started mountain biking. He won back then, too. Look at his resluts over the last few years. It's a natural progression to where he is now. Look at this entire season. He crushed the opposition all season long. Why is it that it seems to me the Tour doesn't like Americans? They attacked Armstrong his whole reign, now they attack Landis. And if you ever saw the lack of chain of custody for Tyler Hamilton's samples, and Armstrong's from 99, well, any lawyer in this country would be able to throw out the case. But we have to sit and wait.

As for winning, it's a funny thing. I've not won much in my life. Some basketball games in junior high and high school, some races, and some car races. The car races were satisfying, and for a few years we were better and better until we won our class of the Rolex Vintage Enduro Championship. But it was an anticlimax. The basketball games were ok, but only one sticks in my mind. I was playing against my dad's alma mater in 8th grade and my team put together a really solid game. It was one of the best games of my life. I had 17 points and 14 or 15 rebounds, and we had enough of a lead to where I can remember enjoying it.

As for my wins in cycling, well, that's the funny thing. I've never been in a race where I thought I would win, or could savor it. My biggest wins were in time trials, and you're just going as fast as your body lets you. So until the last guy comes in, you really aren't sure how you're doing. Most were a surprise to me. Track cycling is so intense and brief you barely know if you won or not. And my very few road race wins were hard fought. I never had time to look back over my shoulder and savor the moment. Part of why I still race is because I want that moment, where it's me and the crowd, an impersonal intimate spot in history. Make sense?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another alphabet game

I had a serious post in my head, but I think it can wait until later. So let me steal something from my wife's blog. (Cue fanfare, LMAO!!!!)

A is for age: 34
B is for beer of choice: Saranac, any of them!!!
C is for career right now: Career? What's that?
D is for dogs name: No dog, but I like Rossini
E is for essential item you use everyday: Hmmmm, not sure
F is for favorite TV show at the moment: TV, what's that? Law and Order SVU
G is for favorite game: Any card game
H is for Home town: Moved a lot in my youth, so Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Kingston- they're all within half hour of each other
I is for instruments you play: Trombone, piano, harmonica, some drums
J is for favorite juice: Orange
K is for who's butt you want to kick: Not enough room here for that list, but on a personal level, no one
L is for last place you ate: Home lat night
M is for marriage: Yes, emaphatically!!!!
N is for your full name: Not going to happen, but if you do the research you can find it...
O is for overnight hospital stays: Yikes, I think it's three, no four
P is for people you were with today: Steph and White Smoke and Little Fox
Q is for quote: "Failure is an integral part of success."
R is for Biggest Regret: Getting frustrated with the politics of cycling and quitting for 2 years when I was on the verge of breaking out
S is for status: US citizen
T is for time you wake up: Too early unless it's a race day!!!
U is for unique quality: I dream the future often
V is for vegetable you love: Sweet potato or yams!
W is for worst habit: Hmmm, many, like leaving just a little bit of juice or soda in a bottle, not enough to be worthwhile to drink, too much to throw out
X is for x-rays you've had: Wow, lots!!! Like over 400 including dental, over 360 without. Many sports injuries and surgeries, plus that whole cancer thing.
Y is for yummy food you ate today: Waiting for lunch.
Z is for Zodiac sign: Gemini/Cancer I'm a cusp kid!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thinking of summers past

So I was reading my latest issue of adirondack Life, and what do I see on the back cover but a real estate ad. No big deal. I hate this particular realtor, because she sold my family's house years ago in a stupid way and my oblivious relatives really got taken. But I digress.

So I put up with the monthly ads because the rest of the magazine makes up for it, and I rarely get back to the Adirondacks these days. However, the ad had a spot with some property for sale. The lake adjacent to my lake (I know, not really) had or has a little over 3 acres for sale. No house, and I believe it's on the side with no road, so you need to use your boat from the public dock to your property. 330 ft of lakefront. Mind you, these lakes never got acid rain and are still so clear you can literally see 50 feet down on dalm days. $149,000 for the land!!! Ouch!!! I was hoping to actually have enough money at some point in my life to go back and buy a house on my old lake. Guess not anymore.

My old lake has only about 35 or 26 homes on it. It used to be a great well kept secret. At least I have my memories.

Curious about it? Go see it here on my webshots page:

You can also see other exciting pics from other exciting parts of my life. Well, there really wasn't too much excitement.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What have I learned?

Let's see, I finished my first week at my new job. Not the schedule I want, but it is nice to be back in an office enviroment and having to dress up a little bit for work. I feel like such an adult, lol. Of course, my schedule impacts my time for riding, but hey, I need to get some money.

So today I went for a loooonnnngg ride. It ended up being 103 miles. Pretty cool, my mileage pretty much matched the temperature. Mind you I did the first 90 miles in one shot, ended up at a local bike shop near downtown to watch a rebroadcast of the tour, then rode home. Nothing like watching Floyd take the lead on a plasma tv while eating some chips and drinking cold water. Then I rode home and fought crazy headwinds since a storm front was moving through. Somehow the rain held off until I was 200 meters from home.

On the first part of my ride a group of guys caught up to me and invited me to join. Turns out two of the guys were jerks, but it happens. Eventually it came to the loudmouth pushing against me in a sprint, and I finally got my left arm free enough to give him an uppercut elbow to the lower jaw. After that no one really challenged me. The other 10 guys were really cool, just this one bozo and his friend were talking trash.

Let me wrap up with one last thought. Barry Bonds should be banned from baseball for a few years. I hope he goes to jail for tax evasion, sine he cheated all the honest baseball players during his career, and he tried to cheat the government out of their money, too. Jerk. I can get banned for two years from racing if I so much as have Sudafed in my system, or more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee worth of caffeine at a dope control in me. Yet this bastard and many other american professional sports will maybe give 10 games as a punishment. What a joke. They're PLAYING sports. Why must they cheat? Isn't getting paid to play a game like kids enough? Or have they never grown up?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Remember my opinion of hybrids?

We all know (if you've been reading this long enough) how I feel about hybrid vehicles. Good concept, but horrible for the world in the long run. Well, now I am going to piss of another group. Don't speak to me about global warming. There are too many holes in the theory. Let me expound upon my statement.

I agree pollution is a problem. However, it seems no one ever admits a few simple facts. First, why doesn't anyone ever look at the fact that the human population of the world has increased exponentially in the last 200 years? What's this mean? DUH!!! How many BTUs does one person give off? How about the heat generated by our computers, car engines, more lights, etc. Greenhouse gases? They may contribute, but I have a sneaking suspiscion that we'd all be served much better if we tried to make everything run cooler. Less radiant heat, etc... Think about it. The smaller the fire, the cooler the house, right?

Since I'm in the mood for being a pariah today, let me jump into more hot water. I'm sick and tired of hearing that Israel is wrong for attacking Lebanon to get Hamas and Hezbollah. Does anyone remember when the Marine barracks were bombed in Beirut 23 years ago? Or do we forget the 241 Marines who were killed while sleeping? Do you know who did it and claims responsibility to this day? You got it. Our favorite two crazy troublemakers, Hamas and Hezbollah. Well, at least Hezbollah now denies official involvement. "Official"? You're a terrorist organization, how can you have any official capacities?

Funny how Israel kept asking the Palestinians to stop the daily rocket attacks using official channels, yet the rockets kept coming. Of the recovered rocket debris, all have been manufactured in Syria so far. But Syria doesn't sponsor terrorism and is on our side. Hmmmm... I also enjoy reading many Arab leaders saying how "Israel has done the wrong thing". Ok, so they asked nicely and no one listened.

Personally, I agree with the attacks. I've been in situations where mortar and rocket fire have rained down on my position for hours and days in instances. What do you do? You go out and find whoever is shelling you and eliminate the threat.

Lastly, isn't it interesting how the people who always claim to be for choice are the ones who push for limiting choices? Plus, if you drive a vehicle that gets under 30 mpg (news flash, most of my cars except for a Chrysler got over 29mpg, even though many were built in the 50's and 60's) don't even try to talk to me about saving the enviroment and greenhouse gases. Hypocrites all!!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's getting a bit temeperate

Well, let's see, it's over 100 now every day. In fact, last night at 945pm it was 92 degrees. but that's not the real issue.

I went riding with a friend for about 20 miles early Sunday morning. It was muggy and about 85 by 830am. But we had a plan, and were enjoying a great ride even though Sunday traffic was heavier than we thought it would be. My pal the Mster and I had a few sprints, too. I won all three, but he's learning quick. Of course, me giving pointers doesn't help my cause too much.

You see, Mster (pronounced em-ster) was the one to pick out what we were sprinting for the first time, and when we could go. Add to this he has a devastating jump, and it's getting tougher and tougher to come around him. when he jumps, he has a gap instantly of at least two bike lengths. It's great practice for me, but man, it's tough. especially when he picks an uphill sprint.

the second sprint I picked, and I set us off. Again I was gapped, but my higher top speed served me well. As we were riding towards his house, we were winding up for the final sprint. This time, we treated it as a race, so we could jump whenever we wanted. I got a little lucky when I went to my drops from my hoods, as Mster thought I was going to open up right then, and he jumped to try and take me by surprise. It almost worked. Had he held off another 50 meters it would have been very different. As it was, I was able to come around him in the last 75 meters or so, bu thtis time he used all the tips I gave him, and he really improved. A few more weeks of this and I'm really going to have a fight on my hands in the sprints.

In between all this fun a group caught up to us and we jumped in. We were rolling along at about 23mph when I went to the front, and the guy next to me started picking up the pace. not sure if he was trying to initiate me, but I wasn't in the mood for it, so I pushed the pedals a bit harder. Pretty soon we were hitting about 28 up the hill we were on, and when we reached a red light, he was like "that was some good fun". Yes it was.

Rolling back even further, I went for a ride Saturday evening after falling asleep during a Yankees game. Again I did Jester, but descended a different way. about 15 miles into my ride my rear tire blew, most likely from the tube being old. I texted my wife and started walking, and a block later she was honking her horn at me. Turns out she was heading home and hadn't checked her message yet, and through pure luck I had a ride when I needed it. Not a bad way to end a ride.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

why do I bother?

Well, I called my parents about my wedding to Lost. It went great. My grandmother was thrilled. So why were both my brother and sister jerks about it? They did congratulate me, but they also lectured me and questioned me, etc. Hello!!! It's not baout anyone but us! They acted as if it were some spur of the moment thing, and were upset that I didn't tell them. Well, that's kind of the definition of the word elope, fools. And this type of Spanish Inquisition attitude was what I wanted to avoid. So the prosecution rests. Well, we all are different. But you think they'd put aside the older sibling syndrome for a minute, let their younger brother tell them good news, and be happy. Sometimes I wonder, why do I bother telling them stuff at all...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Old News

Well, everyone knows it. Lost and I got married Tuesday evening. She's got all the pics and stuff at her blog. Course, I have no idea how to link to it, so you'll have to search through the comments of other posts to find a link to her. Yeah, it's a miracle I'm able to get a cell phone call to go through.

Tonight I finally got in touch with my parents. Surprisingly they were very cool about it. Happy even. And there you have it. Thanks for all the congrats. Oh, and I got a lot of flak for not updating my profile. So for all of you, I saw what you were talking about: I listed my age as 33, but I turned 34 in June. thanks for pointing that out, it's been taken care of.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I can't believe the summer's half over

That sums it up. Where is the summer going? Of course, since I am used to things cooling off a little after Labor Day summer will seem to have extended itself to me this year, but wow! It seems like a day ago I was planning my escape from NY. Now I'm here and loving Austin. weird how life goes by.

Also, I realized today while going insane due to some online stuff I had to do that wasn't cooperating that A) I've been out of high school 16 years, B) My life is nowhere where I thought it would be nor C) Has it gone anything near to how I planned it in high school. That said, I'm really satisfied with it all. Funny how that works.

Haven't been on my bike the last few days since I've been preoccupied with becoming a productive member of society again (getting a job). I've got offers on the table, now I'm seeing how much I can play the hand before I need to take one. Funny how every time I want to post I have a great post in my head, but by the time I get to it I forget it. Like going to the record store (THAT tells you how old I am!! Remember 45s and the little adapter you needed on your turntables...?) and as soon as you set foot inside you forget what albums you wanted. Happens evry single effin' time.

Well, I do have to say that one cool thing about Austin is the train activity. Yup, the geek in me is surfacing. Lots of cool things, like Amtrak, leased locomotives, interesting consists, makes me want to get my camera and hang out trackside. Maybe in winter or fall when it's cooler...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back in the saddle!!!

Ok, I've been back on my bike and it feels pretty good. Some people have mentioned I might be crazy, but that's another post altogether...

Yesterday I rode with a friend for quite a bit. We went up a road that was four lanes, then became a lane and a half. We decided to turn around because it was getting late and we had a headwind going back. Got a few good sprints in and had a great time.

Today I went up some monster hill called Jester. I was in my 39x23, but realized I need to get a 25 for some of the walls around here. OR it could be that I'm a bit more tired than I thought. Either way, another good ride and I'm feeling ok, the only problem is I'm not getting enough mileage to keep my weight down. So I guess I need to either ride more and find some way of carrying enough to drink for a long ride or I need to go back to training for short road races and criteriums.

Oddly enough, my shoulder has had a meteoric recovery the last few days. Pretty cool. My road rash is going away nicely, just itches here and there as it always does. Nothing broken, but I have a pretty high pain threshold. Let's see, broke 3 ribs in a race in 2000 and still finished 8th. Raced half a road season and an entire cyclocross season with my lower three vertabrae get the idea. But I know I have no broken bones, as I barely hurt anymore.

Keep you posted on the next ride....

Friday, July 07, 2006

Just a thought and update

Here's a quick thought: if car insurance companies use your credit rating to help determine your insurance rates, why doesn't it help your credit rating if you're a good driver? I mean, if your credit rating can hurt you, why can't your good driving help you? It should go both ways, right?

As for me, my crash injuries aren't too bad. Just a bit banged up and sore. No real damage, just some road rash and bruising on my knee,ankle, and shoulder. Of course, I don't bruise easily, so for me to have anything is a big deal. The worst of it is my right shoulder is pretty hurt. I really can't pull or lift anything yet, or raise my arm more than a few inches. At least I didn't break anything...

So I took yesterday to sit on the patio and rebuild my bike. Originally it was just fix the damage, but then I figured might as well really clean it and overhaul it. So a simple 1 hour job turned into 5 peaceful hours on the patio while I took my time and got covered in grease. But now my bike is 99% done, and once I do a few more things it'll be better than new.

Time for a ride tomorrow. Let's hope I keep the rubber side down!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


You got it. I went for a ride yesterday, and got caught in what the weatherman last night said was "tropical activity". It's what us northeasterners call "popcorn storms", they just pop up quickly from the heat and humidity. This all is of no consequence usually, but not so yesterday. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but as I was coming to an intersection at about 35mph, I decided to go right. This was because I was well and truly lost. As in, I might want to stop and ask directions type of lost and my phone is home. Good thing it stayed there, I might add.

I knew the road would be slippery, it just looked it. I mean, I've been doing this long enough to see how grippy wet or dry pavement is. So I slowed down, and I knew it was going to be dicey, but I'm considered a rain rider. People look to me and follow my wheel in the rain on descents, corners, etc. As I rounded the corner it felt ok, but then next thing I know, I'm on the deck with the wind knocked out of me. I really have no idea why. My best guess is that I either lost concentration and tapped the brakes, which is a big no-no, or I tried to pedal through the turn too soon and my left toe hit the front wheel. Either way, I went down. HARD.

In about a second I was getting up and wheeled my bike over to the sidewalk. Then I did the damage assessment. First the bike. Priorities, you know. I had to straighten both brake levers, lost an end cap from my bars (where in the hell could that have gone?) put both bottles back in the cages, looked everything else over, and then the pain hit.

When I went down I was wearing one of my older race uniforms, and had the jersey totally unzipped. Somehow I landed mostly on my right thigh and front of my right shoulder, with my right shin and ankle playing follow the leader. I started brushing off all the grime that was now embedded in my skin and noticed my chest hurt, too. You guessed it, road rash on my right side of my torso and chest. How pleasant. Then I noticed my leg was covered in blood as it was running from all the sweat and rain water.

I should say that when I crashed a woman in a Lexus SUV stopped and asked me if I was ok, and then drove up on the median and parked to make sure. After I got my breath back, I told her I'd ride home, or at try to. She said she'd follow me for a few blocks to make sure I could ride. So I set off, and after a few blocks waved I was ok, and we parted ways. Don't know who she was, but I'd like to thank her for her concern.

It was a long ride home. I bent my rear wheel a bit so I had to open my brake some, I couldn't shift into my lowest gear because the rear derailleur would go into the spokes, and I was pissed I went down. But I got home and cleaned up and suffered through the night. Now it's time to fix my bike and ride today again. I must be insane...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th!!!!

Happy and safe 4th!!!

Well, I was going to leave it at that, but I guess I can update some. Not much going on so far. Just got in from a wet and hot ride a little bit ago. First TX ride in the rain. I love when rain is just below air temperature, or when it's freezing. Guess I'm weird.

I haven't been feeling to great lately, and I'm wondering if it's because I'm not eating as well as I should be, or eating too much and not riding enough, or the bottle of Yellowtail Merlot I had the other night, or am I truly sick? Most likely a combo of the above.

This morning Lost and I headed downtown to see a friend run in a marathon relay. It wasn't too bad when we left the apartment, but it got hot quickly as cloud cover burned off. We had ridden really early (like before the city had woken up except for some nutjob mowing his lawn at 730am) and it was overcast and comfy. Not so downtown.

Also, we had no idea the course was forever and a day long, and we parked at one end and started wandering along it. Soon the wandering turned into a forced march, which became a death slog. But we saw our friend, his wife, and met some new people at the start/finish area, so it was worth it. Then our friends gave us a ride back to our car.

All this wouldn't have been so bad if we had A) brought something to drink and B) not gone bowling a few days ago. Man, that really set us back. I mean, I felt like I had crashed in a race minus the road rash I was so sore. What a brain attack I was to say we should keep bowling and end up bowling five games. I mean, I was bowling much better the last two, but I was sore from playing in the golf tournament in May. I guess my body is only used to riding a bike anymore. Better start stretching.

Hmm, what else? Oh, saw my high school friend Lora and her family for the first time in 13 years. Very cool and her son is sooo cute. That was an enjoyable afternoon/evening. I think I have brought you up to date. Other than a job hunt, things are going well.