Thursday, August 31, 2006

Two things...

Today's exciting update is on two totally unrelated topics. How cool, right? Well, strap in and brace yourself.

First, been working on my bikes. Pics up when they're complete, which better be in a few hours since I have to race tonight. Twice. Not like I'm in any shape to do it, but I need to see how slow I truly am so I can motivate myself for the remainder of the season. Besides, if I get in good enough shape, and do really well in Cyclocross, I might qualify for nationals in Providence, RI in December. But that's a long way off.

Now, I just saw that CA and a few other states have passed bills that would give their electoral votes to the winner of the state by popular vote, not by how many districts they win during Presidential elections. Of course, in order for this to truly be enacted, a ttoal of 270 electoral votes would have to be decided this way, and so far the bandwagon only has about 100.

I have a huge problem with this. First, it's a way of changing the constitution without having a convention, and if this happens, then why bother having a federal government? It's like the whole same sex marriage issue in the Northeast where I'm from. It really doesn't bother me if you want to have a same sex marriage. However, don't go breaking the law just so you can challenge it in court and legislate that way. Get representatives in office who share your views, then get a referendum introduced. But I digress.

The bottom line is the fact that we have a republic, not a democracy. If we want the presidential election to be the poular vote, then candidates will pander to the biggest states. Worse than now. Might as well disband congress and have the entire US populace of eligible voters vote on every issue in congress from here on out. Where will it end? The constitution, though not perfect, is a pretty damn good owner's manual. It has specific guidelines for things like the electoral college. So why not follow them?

If the democratic states are so upset that they won the popular vote, which has yet to be proven beyond a doubt, and realistically never will (and if you can't steal an election with one of the Chicago Daleys on your team, well, then you're really in trouble, just ask Al Gore) then maybe they should look at who they have running for office. John Kerry? What the hell did he stand for? "Vote for me, I'm not George Bush", ok, that's obvious. So tell me what platform you have. Still waiting.

Politics isn't solved by legislation, it's solved by better candidates who actually have some type of plan people can relate to. Like him or not, GW had a plan for the country, whereas JK really didn't. Had the Democrats come up with some type of plan that didn't ostracize many people, they could have easily won.

Oh, and don't start me on taxes. The whole bs about the 1% paying nothing in comparison to their wealth. I have two issues with that whining. First, once you hit a certain income bracket, you pay a lower percentage of taxes. But why shouldn't you? You've busted your ass to get there, why not be rewarded a bit? Also, most "rich" people don't have money sitting in bank accounts, it's paper wealth. I have a friend who is technically a millionaire. Nice house, car, etc. Except that most of his money is invested, so yes, he has money, but it's not exactly accessible immediately. He actually has assets, not cash. So he only pays tax on his income, which isn't huge.

However, has anyone ever bothered to dig up what percentage of all the tax paid in this country is paid by the 1%? Well, have you? Bet it's more than 1% of the total. In fact, I know it is. I don't have the info right now, but I remember seeing it and discussing it earlier this year. I'll find it and post it in the future. Realistically, it's like being in a restaurant, and whoever has the most money pays for the most people. Is that fair?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Still Going

Well, Horse is still together, as I haven't motivated myself to disassemble him and finish my other bike. Could be related to the fact I've started my new job at the bike shop near my house. Yup, I left ym position with the city. The lack of a nightmarish commute alone is worth the job change. Plus fringe benefits.

Anyway, I had Monday and Tuesday off, so I didn't do much Monday, but Tuesday I decided to go and see if I could survive the Tuesday Nighter, a local training race run on a 9 mile loop. I did the B race, so I only had to do 3 laps for 27 miles. This was because I was not too sure of my abilities after the last couple of races. I mean, let's be real here, the idea of retiring was definitely in my head on and off since the beginning of the month.

So I showed up early, got ready, rode a bit, then waited in the shade for everyone else to show up. And since it was only about 101 out, many did show. So we went off, and the pace was pretty quick, and I actually wasn't feeling too bad. But I forced myself to not be agressive or do much work because I wanted to stay with the bunch. Plus I'm out of shape. Really out of shape.

Through some creative riding and not giving ground (ie: shoving people back where they belonged if needed) I was in the hunt with a lap to go. Some guys who had dropped back from the A group took off, but we let them go, as they weren't really in our race. So as the bunch cruised along, I made sure I was in the first ten spots or so, and someone I don't like from a rival team was there, too.

The last 3 or 4 miles a guy I met at a recent race got to the front and just rode a consistent, quick pace. I stayed right on his wheel and made sure no one got round me. So there was a group of maybe 30 or 40, I think, and there was quite a bit of contact at a few points. But with about 200 meters to go or so, a friend's brother started the sprint, and I jumped on his wheel. With about 100 meters to go if that, I jumped and launched as hard as I could ("like being launched off an aircraft carrier") and overhauled the other guy, and kept driving until about 20 meters from the line.

Now, I'm not exactly modest, but my next move was pretty much a symbolic banging of my fist on a table. I stopped pedaling, took my hands off my bars, and sat bolt upright and coasted across the line, still winning by 5 or 7 bike lengths. The best part is, my arch nemesis and his team mates were all pissed off, and I beat him fair and square. So Horse and I got our last win we knew we had. I needed it for my confidence, and the fact that I outgunned everyone was very reassuring. Those insulated bottles have made a huge difference.

Horse and I have finished this chapter of our careers on a high note. Now I need to see how the new bike starts the next chapter. Like when you get together with old friends very infrequently, but you always have a great time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The End of an Era

Ok, it's finally time. I'm retiring Horse, my trusty green bike. He's no longer going to be my frontline equipment. I'll still ride him, but only on certain types of races, or rides. I'm moving into the aluminum arena for now, and the carbon arena in the near future.

Oh, we've shared some great memories, the two of us. Like the race across the White Mountains of NH in 1990, when it was raining at the base of the climbs ans snowing at the tops of the passes. Or when I went to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid and won one of the training races there, plus helped drive my team to obliterate everyone else in the team time trial. We won by 1min 54s even after our team got a 30 second penalty because I crossed the yellow line in the sprint. OOPS!

My Olympic training Center roommate Rob and I (the skinny kid on the right)at the Johnstown Road Race in 1991.
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Much like a race car, I kept adding and replacing parts, trying to keep Horse up to date. Yet now I've come to the point of diminishing returns. If I ever have huge disposable income I'll be able to get more carbon goodies to keep the weight off, but it's a losing battle. The bike to replace Horse is probably 2 pounds lighter, which is a lot. And most bikes I race against now are at least 2-5 pounds lighter. That's giving away quite a bit right at the line.

Me winding it up for the sprint at the Brookside Park Crit in Indianapolis, IN in 1997.
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I feel sad, for I wanted Horse to go out on a high note. I know there's still one more win in him. But I need to move on. Maybe it'll be another surprise win like in 2004, when I somehow blasted an uphill prologue time trial for a stage race and won it in my category, coming in 5th overall including the pros. Horse isn't deactivated, of course, just getting some well deserved rest. 132,000 miles can tire one out.

Me gearing down for the finishing climb of the Blind Race near Binghamton, NY where I finished 3rd.
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Finally, what is most likely Horse's last race two weeks ago in his present configuration.

Suffering in 100+ degree heat at the Dairyqueen Tour of Columbus, TX.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some things I've observed

Texas. Everything's bigger in Texas. Blah blah blah...

Ok, some things are just weird. Why is it Austin is so enviromentally conscious, yet many many many local places to eat use good old fashioned white styrofoam cups? Go to the food courts, the sub shops, etc. But this isn't the only double standard, no siree. Much like LA (and I'm not talking about Louisiana) Austin is full of environazis. This isn't entirely bad. Except many drive gas swilling El Grande SUVs, and worse, they complain about the gas prices, traffic, etc. What I find very troubling is the fact that these two cities have very little in the way of mass transit. Commuter rail? Who needs safe, efficient worry free travel? They'd rather just cut each other off and kill a few innocent people on the highway, especially if it may impact their conversation on the phone about the latest Britney Spears video.

Yes, Austin is in the process of building a commuter rail line, thank god, but you'd have thought this would have been done 15 years ago. Now that the big issue is addressed, let's go to a very unique TX thing.

I've noticed that too many vehicles have these decal type things on them. Not so bad yet, even I have a USA cycling sticker awaiting to be slapped on the back of my car. However, these decals are in the shape of a football, baseball, etc. Underneath them they'll have a name and number. That's right folks, now when I'm behind a Suburban I know that Kaylee is #23 in softball, Kile is #71 in football, and Lukey is #40 in football.

I know parents are proud of their kids, mine were even proud of me according to their attorney, but WTF? If these kids are at the height of their lives, then I can see it, especially if they end up robbing 7-11 stores and fathering 5 different mullet haired ignoramuses by 4 mothers. But what is this all about? Soon we'll have decals stating all the sports each child does, SAT scores, first masturbation dates and periods, when will it end?

Is this just a Texas thing or is it prevalent in other parts of the nation? I've never seen it from Indiana to Maine down to Georgia. Someone tell me it's a passing fad that decal makers started when sales slumped of the Support (whatever) ribbons. In ten years I'll be seeing Kile # 69 in the Texas Penile basebal league...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Time for a little time off

I raced Saturday in Columbus, TX. Well, I was there. I dropped out a bit over halfway through the race. So that makes the second race of the year I dnf. It was due to many factors, but now I need to figure out what's going on with my body.

It was over 100 degrees (I think it was 103) when we started, and the temp on the road was over 130 according to a thermometer on the pavement. Long story short, I was still sick, had taken Nyquil the night before, and sinus medecine the morning of the race. I slept great, but in my warmup I wasn't feeling it. When the race started I had no power at all, and drifted back in the pack. Then I dropped off the pace. Eventually I was lapped and called it a day. I think there were only 12 official finishers. Ouch.

So this week I'm doing some thinking. If I ride, a big if, it'll be easy miles. I'm thinking it's time to get my other bike fitted out for frontline duty. So the green Paramount OS might be on it's way to being a backup machine. It depends how my Specialized rides once I finish building it. That's my big project for the week.

Yesterday Lost and I helped a friend pack for her long drive to WI. Well, it's actually a move. Originally the plan was for me to sleep in, but I'm glad I went, it was fun and I'm glad I went. My expertise was useful for mounting her Thule towers, bars, and softpack. Other than that, Lost packed the car full beyond belief. I think I had the easy job.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ugh, at least it makes some sense

Well, I haven't ridden my bike since the race. I've been sick, with sinus issues, a dry hacking cough that makes me see stars, and a serious lower back ache. My back was bugging me during the race, and if that was the beginning of getting sick, then that explains my lacking the little bit of top end I normally have. I've missed two days of work this week, so that will let you know that I'm feeling pretty lousy.

So I want to race on Saturday.Tomorrow I'll make my decision. Maybe I'll go for a very short easy ride today to see how my legs feel, and to induce a fever to burn out whatever I have, or maybe I'll take a brisk walk to the mailbox. Not sure which.

On a totally different note, a while ago I rented the movie The Station Agent. It was an indie film from maybe 2 years ago or so. I loved it. It was cerebral, comical, and totally cool. It's on my list of movies to buy.

Time for a nap or something.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Tired and disappointed

Did my race, and it wasn't anything other than a race. I rode too hard yesterday with a guy I met on the road, got to bed late because one of the cats ate the mouse cable and I had to splice it, and needed to download directions, and some last minute maintenance on my bike.

Needless to say, I rode hard, tried to be aggressive, but I was lacking that little bit I needed. Ultimately I ended up being the second to last finisher. What happened?

1) I was tired. I could have taken a nap before the race. That never has happened before.

2) My legs lacked snap, and that's what I need. Normally I can explode out of a corner, but not this time.

3) Riding without a team is really tough down here.

4) I didn't know the course, or the competition, or what team was strong, etc.

5) I have a serious lack of fitness right now. Train to race, race to train. I hadn't done a real race since Memorial Day weekend in Hartford, CT. That's what supplies the extra bit I lacked today.

6) I am still not acclimated to the weather here.

7) It's beginning to become apparent that my bike is truly obsolete. I'm giving away at least 3-4 lbs to most bikes out there. Do the quick math and physics, and you can see how much effort I'm putting out to be competitive.

8) I enjoyed the race, but I think I was too tired to fully concentrate and that in turn left me a little bit short in the desire department today.

9) I guess I need to kill myself this week to see if I can improve next week in Columbus. Originally I said I was only going to race if I did well today, but now I want to redeem myself.

Guess I need to sit back and think about what I really want to do. Race report coming sometime soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hat trick

Well, since I accidentally deleted my post to go with my link yesterday, here's an abbreviated version.

I'm sick of the mainstream media portraying Israel as the aggressor. And anyone who criticizes Israel's actions needs to shut up. I'd love to see their opinion after spending 30 days in the area where Hezbollah rockets are raining down. I've been in combat zones waiting for ordnance to impact, slept in bunkers because it was the only safe place, and been on patrols where you wonder where the next shot is coming from out of a crowd. Until you've seen the sights, heard the sounds, smelled the scents, and tasted the fear, shut your damn mouth, for you have no real perpsective as to what's going on or how serious it truly is.

To happier things, I'm racing in Houston on Sunday. Wish me luck, for I'll need it. I'm trying to do really intense efforts in the time I have available. So I'm time trialling on my rides, using my past experience knowing that if I can average over 20mph with stoplights and the wind, I should be strong enough to not get dropped. We'll see.