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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Into thin air

Boulder, CO
Monday, July 31, 2006

Everything’s happened so fast… What can I say? I flew from Seattle about a week ago. The flight was delayed an extra day, so I got to make a trip to the airport on two occasions, thanks of course to United. “Why couldn’t you call or e-mail me, or something?”
“Yeah, uhh, we didn’t know…” Well, there you have it. It’s hard to make a trip these days without United giv’n the runaround one way or another.
I spent the past week doing some endurance length rides at altitude. Boulder has great terrain and roads- I love the pav on the dirt roads. It has pretty much everything you could want in cycling, although it’s a bit too high, and the weather gets altogether unpredictable during the winter. I think I’ve discussed this before though…
After a week of low intensity at ~5500’ I went to a race in Colorado at 8000’- I think this is a good example of “cold turkey” acclimation. It worked pretty well too. During the race my legs would be on and off, but I ended up getting 3rd on the road stage. It was an interesting race, much like Redlands this year without the competition.
Today I did two hours easy, I think were scheduled to depart for the tour of Utah on Saturday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Nice 'n hot

North Bend, WA
Saturday, July 22, 2006

It was a scorching hot day yesterday. I guess it was 97 degrees; I went through 5 bottles in 2.5 hours. Yesterday was actually a double day, so I went out for 2.5 in the morning, then another 2.5 in the evening. It was getting hot on the way home in morning so I knew it was gonna be hot, but not that hot. The hotter the better though, the tour of Utah is guaranteed to be quite hot, probably in the 90’s every day. So I’ll be all ready to go, especially after the camp in Boulder, which’ll further prepare me both for the heat (I suppose) and the altitude.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cycling made easy

Issaquah, WA
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bike riding is so much more simplistic when you don’t have to worry about the minor details like weather. It makes it so much easier… You see, in the summer when the weather is good, you’ve got so much more confidence in the day’s productivity. If it’s rainy the chances are that you’ll sit around and dream of a day without rain until the end of the day when you force yourself to endure the tropical/arctic conditions of winter (in Washington you combine the cold of the arctic with the rain of the tropics, aka subtropical). Usually this results in a state of illness… But during the summer everything changes, no more of that complicated rainy stuff, just the simple, sunny days of old. Ride the bike, enjoy the weather and rock the porch chair while the breeze blows through the trees (oh, did I mention that these things called trees reside in Washington?).
As great as Washington is, the fishing is far below par. Although there are plenty of fish and enough rivers and lakes that you wonder if there’s one nestled behind each mountain, the fish are hardly worth your time compared with the likes of, apparently, anywhere. Why this is I have no idea, it doesn’t get too cold and it doesn’t get too hot, so why are the trout 6 inches long (they’re not abnormally wide like a certain mammal in Washington either…)? Maybe they don’t like rain…

uhhh, tdf- don't count yur Floyds before they hatch eh???

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The low-down on rivalry

North Bend, WA
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Taking out the competition is a very skillful and practiced art throughout the world. In all walks of life there is a set goal and a handful of competitors competing for the top spot. Whether its sport or “business,” the true competitive nature is there, in sport it’s a bit more evident though. In business it’s almost imperceptible- the subtle nature of competition among “colleagues” who repetitively attempt to one-up each other. In sport you can actually tell the competition that they suck without having jaws drop in unison and reprimands for bad “etiquette” thrown at you from all directions. It’s interesting that the capitalistic nature of the two are actually identical initially, sport is simply the ultimate culmination of capitalism… Too bad Floyd blew today, but Levi’d be the first to walk up and let the reporters know he’s the best of the American’s, however worthless they may be at the moment. What’s the point of talking when you’re 9th? How’s he gonna gain 7 minutes to the guys that are putting time into him every day? It’s a race for the first American now, like on the u23 national team. That’s too bad though, I’d have liked to see Floyd win.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


San Francisco Airport
Friday, July 14, 2006

Upon entrance to the San Francisco Airport something was immediately amiss. There’s no reader board where you can check where to go to get to your gate! So after wandering around the place for a bit I finally addressed the boarding agents with my query. Evidently American Airlines doesn’t fly to Seattle (or something), so they turn it over to there handy partners in the star alliance: United. With United, of course, everything goes super smooth ‘cause they know how to run a business, fresh out of bankruptcy or not. The attendant ushered me to the United nook, where the United shuttle ships you to the United terminal. The process is really unique and absurdly evident- in fact I can’t think of an idea with such sophistication as that of United’s, cast aside of course the fact that the trip to the terminal adds another twenty minutes. Too bad they don’t let you give ‘em 80 bucks for their effort.
I don’t want to blame it all on the Star Alliance ‘cause a certain portion is undeniably due to the extraordinary layout of the airport. I’m not exactly sure what happened when they made the place, but it appears that it’s been built overtime. “Okay, here’s 60 million dollars, due what you think is necessary to make the place into a complete maze.” Should be easy- first ask United what the initial steps in the design should be. For instance, we definitely don’t need reader boards… but it’ll be important that we remind the customers to report unattended luggage every five minutes…

Friday, July 14, 2006

Doubl'n up

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Friday, July 14, 2006

What can I say…? Craig won the criterium too! So that’s two. The race started and a group of seven or so went up the road with three of our guys in it; Craig, Troy and Blake. They just about lapped the field so they pulled us with 7 laps to go. Craig attacked with one to go and soloed in nursing a ~10 second gap over the rest of ‘em.
We’re departing at 12:00 for the airport so I went out for 2 hours this morning. It was actually a pretty sweet end to the weekend. There was an old-world fog that’d settled over the countryside in the morning. It reminded me of how it must’ve been back in the day during the civil war. That’s as close as I got to anything of “cultural significance” during the trip though. No museum musing or anything of the such, just ride, rest & race- which is just fine since I’m not in the whole walk around and reflect on tragic memorabilia from the past phase. I don’t know about those who do that, would you really fly 4 hours just to go and check out some ancient artifact? Anyway, after a few lay-overs and a 6:15pm departure I’ll get home at 12:30. That’ll be swell.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yesterday turned out pretty much how I’d assumed it would. The rain came and the course looked pretty slick. Half the race was just about going into the turns quick so with the rain I didn’t have the nerve and couldn’t hold my speed coming into the little climbs. I wasn’t about to test the corners out, so I didn’t come into any of the turns hot, I kept the bike pretty much straight up, did the breaking early and stayed out of the aero bars. I’m sure that this shattered my time, but the rest of the race I went all out. I felt super good throughout the ride, and got into a good rhythm, so I was pretty stoked by the end of the race. The position felt perfect on the bike, even though I haven’t rode it since Georgia. My legs did start to fall asleep though. On the way out they began to tense up towards the top of my thighs. I fought it fairly good though and managed to keep ‘em from getting too sleepy by the end of the race.
Today’s gonna be the criterium. It’s not until 6:00 though, so I did a couple hours on the trainer this morning. Yeah, the trainer… The rain hasn’t stopped since yesterday, so I set up the trainer and the tent and did the 2 hours & listened as the rain pummeled the tent. It feels much better when you set the trainer up and it actually rains, ‘cause a lot of times you set it up thinking it’s gonna rain and it doesn’t, & you’re stuck riding the trainer and listening to the birds chirp… or whatever. But, yeah, with the rain out in force the criterium should be interesting, I’m much more confident with my wet criterium skills than with the wet tt skills. I think lapping the field during a wet crit won’t be out of the question…

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Racing at the "national level"

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

We went out for an hour and a half to re-preview the time trial course one last time before the race tomorrow. I like it more and more as I preview it more, but it’s getting more technical too. This was the first time that I rode it on my time trial bike so the course was a little faster on the faster bike. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so that’s gonna add a bit of a twist to an already fast & twisty course. Today while I was riding down from the condo, to the tt course, something quite rare happened; in fact I don’t recall it ever happening. I was going so fast that I couldn’t pedal, probably around 50-55 mph, in the aero position and everything, and I got a rear flat. I stopped and my front tire blew up, it sounded like a shotgun or something. A car happened to drive by as it happened and I briefly thought they’d opened fire as they went by. Then they stopped, and I was about to make a run for it, when I noticed that the tire had blown from my front wheel. They gave me a ride back up to the condo where I got a new pair of wheels (which I gave a thorough check-up before departing again) and headed out for round two. Kind of an odd experience, not one you look forward to in the future.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Monday, July 10, 2006

Today was the road race, it was an incredible course and it absolutely blew the field to pieces. The first lap a group of three went away with one of our guys in it (Steve), then the gap between the three of them and us grew to 6 minutes. On the third lap we began attacking on the way up the flatter of the two significant climbs. This did serious damage to the field and probably lowered it to some 30 guys. Blake got away by himself during his attack and hovered 3 minutes away from the 3 person break. Through the feed zone Craig and I were at the front of what was left of the field (about 8 guys or so), I was at the front and Craig was right behind me. While we were grabbing bottles a small gap opened behind Craig and JV said to drill it as hard as possible, so after getting my feed I went all out and hung on to Craig as did likewise. We caught the group of three in some 30 minutes. Steve had been sitting on after he learned that we were bridging up to them. So when we caught them, he attacked. Then over a little hill Craig attacked and Brent went with him. On the same hill I attacked and tried to bridge up to Craig. I could see Craig and Brent for a while. Craig was sitting on Brent as Brent chased Steve. In the end Craig attacked Brent and caught and passed Steve for the win. Brent caught and passed Steve for second and Steve ended up third. The two guys that I’d dropped caught me on the way up the hill and beat me in a little sprint for fourth.
I think the race went excellently. Craig was extraordinarily strong, and he raced the race perfectly. I learned a lot just watching how he played the race. I think though it would’ve been nice to get the fourth and have three guys on the podium, but I only had a gel throughout the entirety of the race and paid for it on the way up the last climb. Getting caught by the two of them, who happened to be sprinters, on the way up the climb was pretty stupid. If I’d eaten a little more I may’ve been able to catch and sit on Brent as Craig attacked, but if you never make the mistakes then you can’t learn from ‘em. You can’t race a race like that in the heat and not eat without ending up with some issues towards the end. In the meantime, I think Craig and Steve will have a good shot at winning the time trial, Blake too. Maybe if I can get in the rhythm I can do pretty good too, but it’s pretty technical, so we’ll see.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Sunday, July 9, 2006

Last day before the road race, I did an easy 2.5 hours checking out the time trial course. It’s a pretty interesting course really, much like the rest of the area. Completely rolling, no sustained hills or descends. The joke is that you’re either descending or ascending the whole time- which is true in part, but usually that refers to big climbs and big descents. I guess it’ll be super hard to get into a rhythm now, before it was just marginally hard- pretty much the reason why I generally time trial poorly. It’s a really nice sample of the area though; fields of corn, old country roads, through the woods, by little rivers and streams, it’s quite nice. As usual though, I won’t have much of a chance to check it out.
But tomorrows the road race not the time trial, the course appears to be pretty intense. Up and down all day, much like the time trial. I guess it’s got some pretty good climbing sections though. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. The two previous races seem to have blown up pretty good, so I presume the same will be the case for out race…

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Saturday, July 8, 2006

Adjusting to Eastern Time is always an effort. It never fails to totally catch me off guard- of course that’s a bit bizarre considering I knew it was coming, but how can you actually go about changing that? Wake up three hours early, or go on your ride right when you wake up. Both alternatives seem somewhat unreasonable. The cold turkey method is always available in the end, so that’s almost always the method of choice… Just arrive on the east coast to race and you’re forced to adjust, good times.
The resort here is pretty swanky, pretty similar to a Park City style ski resort except there’s not much history here. One day they decided that it was time for a ski resort to be made atop this little hill, and voila, it’s here. Maybe I’d say its closer to Alpine Valley in Wisconsin, just because there’s no mountain. No big deal though, it’s just for skiing right? Despite the lackluster of 7 springs, the roads and surrounding terrain are absolutely amazing. It’s hard to find a road that’s not good; you’d have to ride on the turnpike or something. But the terrain is what’s caught me off guard the most, there’s not a single hill here that doesn’t require grinding a slow standing cadence in the 23. Who ever heard of hills in Pennsylvania? Maybe just not me… I saw the elite road race go by today, there were only like 20 guys left in the pack, looks like it’s just gonna blow up.

Champion, PN- Seven Springs Resort
Friday, July 07, 2006

Today was one of travel… I woke up at 4:50 to make the 6:45 departure. I was startled by the amount of airport traffic, apparently everyone’s going on summer vaca ‘cause I missed the mandatory 45 minute prior to departure check in rule, but they “let me slip by this time…” Oooo, United Airlines lay’n the smack down again, watch out or they’ll charge you $85 for the bike while they’re at it… They did show a lame movie with a complementary lame headset and bag of snack mix. Of course this was a 3 hour and 20 minute flight, US Airways only shows one movie to Europe… I think there’s some snack mix to go with that too…
Something unusually odd did happen during my flight though. We took off and the captain announced that it’s okay to unfasten the seat belts. I’m sitting at a window seat, and the lady in front of me reaches her book around the seat so I could see it and mumbles some gibberish about how there’s gum on her book and I put it there so I need to take it off!? I was at a loss for words, I ended up letting her know that she’s a zany old whack & she needs to keep her gum and worthless book to herself. Some people are totally off the wall…

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eluding the corruption of cycling

North Bend, WA
Monday, June 5, 2006

In the end the cheaters lose… I don’t reckon that all the double-deal’n tricksters out there’ve been caught, but just knowing that you didn’t actually win should be punishment enough. Does it actually feel like you won if you cheated? I can’t see how it would unless you’re some kind of rogue, psychotic, charlatan who feels that the whole system is fraudulent. Of course a life time ban is in store for an act as such… i.e. Tyler H.
But when you see that the best ones in the sport are bogus, it makes you wonder about everyone else… and that’s not a good feeling.

Aside from the theatrics of frauds n’ fakes; the last couple days have been full of some pretty intense preparation for nationals. Yesterday was a 5 hour ride with 10 6 minute intervals, half climbing half flat. I ended up riding up to Camano Island from North Bend. I did a couple loops in the Valley area to get most of the climbing efforts done, then I headed out to the Island. The ride ended up taking 5 hours and ~ 20 minutes, it was a good hard ride & definitely a fresh alternative to the local riding.
Some relatives of mine own a house on the beach up there, so on the fourth we usually get together for a barbecue, fireworks and, yes, beach volleyball. I’ve got to hone my volleyball skills some time ‘cause the ball’s got an obscure knack of going backwards upon contact with my hands. No idea how that works, it’s definitely got nothing to do with my superior coordination.
Today’ll be a super easy day- just an hour and a half, a mid-day nap, and a lot of sitting around.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Important decisions

North Bend, WA
Sunday, July 02, 2006

When the weather’s good, it’s like you’re always at the beach… Did anyone else notice that? Maybe not, but it’s really all the same when you’re on a bike ‘cause you’re not spending so much time checking out the surroundings. Nonetheless, heat is heat, and I attribute it to the beach, so whether I’m riding up a mountain or near the ocean while it’s hot, I’ll just assume I’m at the beach. I always envy the dude who seems to be checking out the surroundings while he’s riding.
So the last couple days have been pretty hard. Today was a nice easy 2 and a half hours. Then I went to check out the wooden boat show in Seattle, but ended up looking for it instead. It’s pretty much the same anyway, right? They both have looking involved- looking at boats vs. looking for boat shows…
I’m finally starting to get back into America mode, it’s been hard. Siesta’s a pretty hard habit to break, you’ve always got that urge to start riding around 4 pm and finish up at 8 or 9. But then you realize it’s only Spain that goes by late time so it’s a bit beneficial to make the effort to switch back.
In the last couple weeks I realized what Europe is missing… Safeway… I’m sure that there are numerous people who disagree, but the fact of the matter is that a town could be built around Safeway and flourish. So if they’d just open one in Girona, it would be perfect. Have you ever wandered the isles in a Safeway and wondered how they could possibly sell all the stuff? I mean, who’d actually need all the stuff? But it’s good, I prefer a good selection… you don’t want to make a decision to quick, you’ve gotta go through the process… 1 product 2 price 3 weight. You’ve gotta decide what you want, compare the prices, then make sure you can carry it back home via bike. I guess that’s a lot of thinking though.