Life On Two Wheels

Along the river and toward the mountains a morning shadow shimmers across the road. The rays of the first light jet through the trees and across a figure gliding upon the road. His breath trails in short spurts, petrified as it hits the icy air. All is quiet except the slight sound of the athlete as he summons himself for yet another days work. Soon the rest of the world will bustle with life as well and the brief simplicity of cyclist and nature will disappear into the everyday struggle of life in full motion; the errands and intervals, the appointments and intersections, and the deadlines and finish lines OutPaceTheRace

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Duvall, WA
March 29, 2006

I finally got an opportunity to ride the hill in the area. I didn’t know of it previously because it’s a bit out of the way. It’s good though- about 11 and a half minutes, so you can get some serious hill repeats in. It’s kind of weird that there aren’t any roads on the mountains around here, over in Colorado and Idaho they’re a dime a dozen, but here you drive at least 30 minutes to get to the nearest one. The mountains are bigger here too.
It’s between Duvall and Monroe when your going towards Monroe on the highway (hwy 202 or something). Take the second Cherry Valley road coming out of Duvall.
I rode the time trial bike today for 2 hours in the afternoon as part of a double day. It’s been a while since I’ve been on it for that long & it uses a bunch of forearm muscles; so pretty soon people’ll think I work in an auto shop and wrench all day. Just holding the position was the hardest part of the workout.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lost in thought at LAX

Lost in thought at LAX
March 27, 2006

I figure that one way or another all paths will eventually lead to the same finale. Have you ever wondered if there’s some extraordinary athlete in some impoverished country that will never have a chance to compete to their potential? Maybe not, but I have. This is essentially the same set of ideas that leads to me or any other athlete with “what it takes” to end up at the sport that suits me/them the best- or even doing any sport at all. For instance, why did Lance choose to ride bikes or Ginobli choose to play basketball. Fate would say Lance would work at the local Texaco & Ginobli deal drugs for the Argentinean mafia. But, I believe that if you have a talent then you are destined to utilize it, and this is why all people end up doing what they do best (capitalism)- in most cases. Seems to work for the Kenyan distance runners too…
Stemming from this, of course, is the whole political issue, why doesn’t the US help their poor people? This is complete nonsense. Both the “disadvantaged” examples previously noted chose sports that the “free-lunchers” would say are impossible to achieve given their respective social classes, and yet they went straight to the top. Are there not a set of controls already set that allow ambitious individuals to achieve to their hearts content? I think there are, and until we all realize this we will continue to corrupt as a society. When “handouts” are given to selfish people with no ambition those handouts are wasted. This is exceptionally apparent when you look at those two previous examples, ambition is the root of capitalism & without it how could society function (except through a control economy, i.e. China & Russia)? The natural “handouts” that Ginobli and Lance receive are generated because “investors” believe that their handouts will lead to something bigger, quite contrary to useless welfare that many worthless, lazy people receive. Of course, in a truly capitalistic economy, the worthless would be forced to exercise ambition in order to compete, but as it is they are allowed to sit around and be lazy while we work to support their lifestyle… This is what I was thinking about the 11th time up the climb on the Redlands circuit this past weekend. Why take money from those who work so hard and give it to the lazy? How can one justify taking my money so that they can give it to those who don’t work (and they don’t)? You’ve no idea how much I had to give to continue competing, it was an all out effort where you focus all your attention on the wheel in front of you through this little grey funnel that was, at the moment, known as vision. Now I ask, why do I need to give my hard earned money to some lazy dude taking advantage of a faulty system?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Washington or California

Ontario, CA
March 23, 2006

I can’t imagine who’d want to live in the LA area. Sure it’s nice to have it be warm, but what about the smog and traffic. When I was picked up from the airport on the way over we hit traffic at 9:00pm- how is that possible? I’ve heard rumors of three hour commutes in the morning for those going 25 miles… That’s crazy, and all for what? Smog? This morning there was an immense smog cloud over everything, it’s dreary and dark, & I don’t presume that it leaves frequently. Besides, if you’re going to live in California why not live somewhere like Santa Barbara or Santa Rosa. That area is genuinely perfect & for relatively the same price.
Aside from the smog produced by LA’s “alternative transportation” (busses), the trip was beneficial. I got to race with all the domestic guys and verify what I need to work on as I continue my preparation for Georgia. I must admit that this was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done, I think this is due almost entirely to the flawed management of the promoters. What is the scheme behind destroying a race of such mystic by making it into a two day race? In the end every little mistake that these “alternative races” make feed into the growth of races like California and Georgia. But I like a good hard race- by the way, this was the first big race I’ve done this year that I didn’t crash in.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chasing the race

Redlands, CA
March 25, 2006

From some of my previous results I’ve decided that it’s probably a good idea to put some work into my time trialing. I know I can be good at it if I can figure out how it’s done. There aren’t too many fast people out there who consistently lose 2 minutes in a 5 kilometer race- I know I can put the effort out, I’ve just got to learn to gauge that effort so it's applied evenly across the duration of the race. Then I’ll be golden… maybe.
That was the prologue, which was yesterday, today was the criterium. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to shorten a previously ~6 day stage race to a race consisting of a prologue, criterium & circuit race over three days. They could theoretically hold this year’s whole race in one day. Hopefully they’ll change it back next year. As far as the race today went- it was the hardest criterium I’ve ever done. Usually the race’ll slow down, but it failed to do so today. It seemed like it was full throttle for the duration of the race. Tomorrow suits me better, so with any luck I’ll do well on the stage since the overall is kind of already taken.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Traffic & Sun: Los Angeles, CA

Redlands, CA (Los Angeles suburb)
March 23, 2006

We went out for a 4 hour ride today, just spinning & checking out the prologue & road race courses. They both look pretty good; the only bad news is that Jonathan won’t be able to follow me in the team car during the prologue because they’re not allowing it. It’s better if he can follow & tell me what to do, but it’s short so hopefully it won’t make a big difference.
The weather was in the upper 70’s today. I guess they got the bad stuff out of the way when I left ToC… I’ve gotta tell you though, it’s a nice change to be out of the wet and cold that was back in Seattle- a bit abrupt, but swell nonetheless.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back out there and mixing it up with some of the big teams. It’ll be enjoyable wiping the smirk off the faces of the “high-strung” domestic teams (AKA: Health Net, Toyota-United, and Navigators).

Alive 'n on top... again

Seatac, WA
March 22, 2006

Things change quickly. A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from Jonathan that contained a schedule telling me the races I’d be doing up until ~June. It said that I’d be doing Redlands this weekend. Then I got an e-mail saying I wasn’t doing it, in fact, I was actually the “first alternate.” Okay, I thought, that’s fine- what’re the chances that someone’s actually going to get sick or hurt, etc.? Pretty poor I thought…
So of course this morning (10:00) I’m in the car on the way to a hill that I’d planned on training on and I get a call from Jonathan- “Mike’s sick so you might have to catch a flight down this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Don’t worry about it though; train like you’re not going.” Well, okay, that’s easy enough.
5 minutes later I get a call from Ben, “you’re going to Redlands & your flight’s at 3:23 this afternoon.”
I was at a loss for the moment… “Couldn’t you get a later one so I can finish my ride today?”
“Nope, this was the only one under $1000!” So I ended up doing a short hour and a half long ride, quickly packing my bike & bag, & jumping in the car for the airport in route to Ontario, CA. It all adds an exciting twist to the day, I guess. The layover in San Francisco should be electrifying too.
Anyway, aside from the rush that's always involved in a day at the airport I’m once more within the confines of travel- the high priced trail mix, the “class-act businessmen,” & the oversized passenger beside me. Oh, and of course the bankrupt customer service associated with United, you’ve gotta love it. But the fact of the matter is that they never fail to give you grief in one way or another.
So I get on the plane and I see these two excessively obese humans, & I think there’s no way I’m gonna get a seat beside one of them. Fortunately I don’t, in fact, the plane isn’t even full. But I noticed that the row where the oversized ones were was completely full… That kinda sucks for the one’s beside ‘em who paid for their entire seats 'cause the fat dudes got an extra half seat free.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Local Race- Market Street RR

Ravensdale, WA
March 19, 2006

“A quarter past 3” was the reply Dave got from his wife when he asked what the gap was between the break and us. I guess she doesn’t come to many races, but it definitely lightened the mood. She probably thought we were getting hungry and perhaps it was near supper time…
The course for Ravensdale is much more difficult than that of Mason Lake. The route was very hilly making it quite difficult to maintain a constant speed yet ideal for attacking. So most of the race was marked by that of attacking with an occasional chase being organized and subsequently shattered as the chasers tired from the undulating terrain. But it made for a likable race nonetheless; I got in some good training with some solid efforts during the race and a couple hours prior to the race.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Local Race- Mason Lake, WA

Mason Lake, WA
March 18, 2006

I went to my first local race of the year & it was an amazing situation. I've definately got faster since last year. I've never been able to cover attacks and set tempo like that before. Today it was almost effortless compared with how it's been in the past.
For the first half of the race there were a bunch of attacks- I think I covered all of them. Then in the second half a break got away and me and my former teammate, David Richter who races pro for Monex now, took turns setting tempo. It was funny because people would try to attack and swarm us out of the chase, but we kept on rolling and no one got more than 35 meters on us. It was pretty fun and a very good training race, tomorrow is another race so hopefully I'll feel like I did today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Of balls and bikes

North Bend, WA
March 15, 2006

I was watching a Sonics Basketball game some time ago and noticed a witty commercial by Subaru. I was going to mention it here but it crossed my mind. Anyway, it showed some Subaru and played a Sheryl Crow song. I thought it was pretty amusing, but I don’t think most people would make the connection there, and even if they did I can’t imagine that that knowledge would tempt/convince someone to throw down 30 g’s for a car… maybe it would, I guess it makes people buy bikes, specifically one that begins with a t.
On the subject of basketball, while I was down in San Diego with the National Team, someone brought up the “talent subject-” in which one compares the relative talent within certain sports. The comparison of course was between basketball and cycling, specifically the relative talent of Kobe Bryant and Lance Armstrong. If they switched sports who’d be better? Of course the answer is that Lance would be better because Kobe’d quit after the first week. However, if you leave dedication out of the equation, who’d be better off of raw talent? My opinion is that cycling and basketball require a completely different set of physiological features, & Lance is an example of the ultimate cycling machine- aside from the fact that he’d be able to beat Kobe at anything purely off his mental capacity to produce what seems to be an extraordinary amount of determination. So the answer is that Lance could beat Kobe at any sport except basketball, well maybe only endurance sports...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The enchanting heartland- North Bend, WA

The enchanting heartland- North Bend, WA
March 12, 2006

Perhaps you’ve noticed that it rains everyday in the Seattle area & you wonder how it is that people could opt to adopt such an area to reside. But in order to see the whole equation you must factor in such things as the quality of the good days and the tranquility of the area surrounding it. For those of you who are from Colorado and have never actually seen a bona fide forest, the effects can be overwhelming, perhaps even more so than the rain. To begin with, not even equating other factors, I would choose rainy Washington over dust bowl Colorado. I know the Colorado people associate themselves with the goodness of the land and their history in farming it etc, etc, but I’ve never really been one to flounder in the past- besides the proud history of North Bend involves logging and fir trading… including the neighbor who carries out a daily operation. But let’s cut to the chase, I realize that Colorado is strikingly bare and there’s no reason why a person would want to live there. But for a Colorado native to look at Washington and wonder why a chap would want to live there is absurd. My advice, if you choose to take it, is to come to Washington in the summer or fall when the weather is the best in the world. In the winter you’ve got to savor the good days and put up with the bad. In the mean time, enjoy the dust blown weather of the Rockies.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Conversing with the rain- March 9, 2006

Conversations with the mizzle- North Bend, WA
March 9, 2006

I hate to bore the petty soul who reads my ranting, but I felt obliged to put a recent conversation I had into words. You see, I was on my bike surrounded by some wet, cold rain that was on the verge of turning into snow, when I heard someone call my name. I looked around, and of course there’s no one around so I got to figuring that it must be the rain. Let’s get something straight right off though, I don’t frequently make or respond to open conversation with the rain. But sometimes the going gets tough and were both a bit bored. Anyway, we had a lot to discuss. Ya know, the rain wanted to know how long I’d been back for and how long I was staying. I let on that I just got here and figured I’d be around for a while. I asked what brought the rain & why it was sticking around lately. The rain said it came from the ocean, but got stuck here in the valley and figured it wouldn’t be able to continue its journey over the mountains until it lightens up a little. I took that to mean it was gonna be hanging around for a while doing what it does best. By then I was sick of talking to the rain and I told it that I hope the sun evaporates it. After that it seemed like the rain was a bit more intense.
In Washington it’s pretty gloomy in the winter… it rains and stays dark, perfect environment for a nice chat with the mizzle.

Monday, March 06, 2006

In the midst of the rain- March 6, '06

In the midst of the rain- North Bend, WA
March 6, 2006

It’s brilliant when you can look out the window and see the rain coming down in sheets. The good ole’ Washington climate. It’s nice because you don’t have to worry about what it’s going to do tomorrow. If the weather man says “it’ll be sunny Monday, partly cloudy Tuesday, and windy and fairly sunny on Wednesday,” you know it’ll rain all day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ll never know why they pay people to report the weather here, they’re always wrong- but it doesn’t matter because everyone knows it’ll just rain anyway… But as a Washington native I can’t say I dislike the rain- actually I kind of flourish in it.
Last year I would commute to and from school- arriving early and leaving late. Because I was going to school I had to make a serious investment in a waterproof backpack ($121) so that all my stuff wouldn’t be soaked when I got to school. I’d come walking in and the bike shoes would be so wet that they’d squeak while I walked, people looked at me like I was crazy. They were probably thinking something like “why do you ride in the rain?” Well, why do you live here if you detest the rain? Life would be harsh living here and disliking the rain. It’s kind of a way of life. Anyway, I was gonna say that on my way back from school one day I ran into this dude who had just moved from California. He pulls up beside me and he’s like “I just moved from California, I should buy fenders pretty soon huh?”
“Yeah, you’re gonna want to get on that asap…” 10 minutes later I was riding in a downpour. Poor guy, he probably moved back to California that night.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pondering at rest- March 3, '06

Pondering at rest- North Bend, WA
March 3, 2006

I’m not sure if you’ve all noticed this or not, but Americans seem to be infiltrating the bonds of the traditionally “French” sport of bicycling. I don’t often try to make news out of stuff because there’s no news to report on (i.e. tune your TV to any major news network), but am I the only one who’s noticed that multiple pro tour teams are lead by Americans? So… when does its status as a French sport change to a popular, or whatever,
sport? I guess they dub sports that you’ve got to work really hard in French because the French are so hard working. Mark my word though, when you see people turn out in numbers like they did in the inaugural ToC, something’s to be said for the future of cycling in America.
I suppose that cycling is more popular in Europe because there everything’s close together. Rather than walking to and from the house and town, you can expedite the process by grabbing a bike. But on the other side of the lake no one’s in any particular hurry, so why ride when you can walk? Awe, life is so confusing when you have to work for 3-5 hours a day.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Back in the pack- March 1, 2006

Back in the pack (kith & kin)- North Bend, WA
March 01, 2006

“There’s no place like home” holds much more meaning than is initially realized. Over the last couple months I haven’t stumbled across a single area that I’d like to be more than here at the abode. I guess the “qualities” of home are much more profound after being without them for a couple months.
I’m going to be spending some time off the bike until Saturday so I plan to savor the life of home until then. This isn’t something I get a chance to do often; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I went without riding for a time as such. It’s fine though, being stiff and sore, all I really want to do is drink milk fortified in Iron and get some sleep- then I’ll be all set for my next spell of crashes.
Anyway, being at home and all, I intend to read up on the latest events in the stock market, check out the S&P’s, & realize the ultimate potential of the Brazilian economy. Every second counts right? Oh, along the lines of economics, a fellow that was formerly on the team, one Jay Ku, decided that he was going to educate the likes of my team mates and I over dinner Sunday night after the last stage of the ToC. The indoctrination that Harvard graduates, such as Jay, identify themselves with is humorous. I would have sparred in the likes of his economics and politics, but the fact that he found it necessary to confront everyone on their political affiliations over dinner was beginning to peeve the rest of the outfit. “Jay, one day, we’ll be in the same place at the very same time, & when it takes place…” you’ll get the good old fashioned capitalistic education that you went without at Harvard.