"Its not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” That's was Rocky’s decree in the last of the fabled series. Admittedly, I'm a little behind for what’s considered in vogue within the movie viewing department, but as I was watching the film (from ‘06 I believe) for the first time while spinning away on the trainer last night, I got to thinking. “…keep moving forward” sounds like cycling to me. This movie was brilliant, not for the acting, but for its message. As a synopsis of the flick I would include the obvious themes of never giving up and fulfilling your dreams, but also embrace some more subtle undertones that for me are much more essential. Rocky had something “burning” inside him, a smoldering that in all essence defined his being. For him, the thrill of competition fueled his very existence, and without it his tank would empty. You’ve got to feed the beast inside, or it will die and take you with it. For me the beast takes the form of aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. That consistent need to push the boundaries of what my fitness and sustainability can be, not to impress others, but to oppress my own need to feel fit and fast over a long ride. Bike racing and riding will hit you, sometimes hard, and you must overcome those blows relentlessly to keep moving. Its those blows, and how you compensate for them that keeps me continually training to get better. To be able to withstand a multitude of nocks and keep pedaling on keeps my beast happy and fulfilled. Sometimes the people I work with question me with dismay as to why I’d spend the hours I do spinning my wheels. Well from now, I’ll just tell them I’m feeding the beast!
So figure out what the beast inside you likes to eat and feed it regularly. Then repeat.
Ice biking rocks! Dr J and I, on our crusade to arrive in top form in March, put on the extra layers and braved the two inches of snow, under layer of ice, 16 degree temps, and cloche of darkness for a ride at COSMO and the Bear Creek Trail. Dr J was supportn his new Schawlby carbide ice spikes, and me on my home mades. Even though I was getting schooled on every climb due to my complete lack of legs, it was a blast, and considerably more fun than a night on the trainer. The feeling and sound of 600 screws biting and clawing the ice, ready to rip your leg to shreds should you tumble, and the crystallizing air smacking you in the face as you plow downhill like the Jamaican bobsled team, is well….awesome!
Oh, and HeavyD, the cheerleaders cleaned every switchback despite the snow, ice, and dark. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Ha
Sunday I was lucky enough to view a World Class Cycling event almost in my back yard. The Cyclocross National Championships concluded in Kansas City for the second year in a row (it will be in Portland OR next year). With this in mind, I felt it paramount that I attend this year, and off I went with a couple friends from BOCOMO. It did not disappoint. Watching some of the best riders in the world, take to a very challenging course in fridged temps was invigorating. One of the most inspiring rides came from 49 year old Steve Tilford mixing it up with guys half his age. Although not possessing the speed of old, he’s still there giving it his all, and thats commendable. The local MO talent showed well racing hard until the last laps. Here’s some pics: http://www.pbase.com/mike_best/cxnats08
Leo could quite possibly be the most spoiled dog ever to lick his balls. (oh wait, we had those removed) Anyway, its common knowledge that I reside somewhere around 3.5 on the hierarchy of my household, with the wife taking CEO duties, Leo slotted in at the VP slot at number two, and I’m battling it out with the cats for the third spot. The lovely assortment of treats on my kitchen counter (see above) is not a selection of goodies from grandmas house, but rather Leo’s “treats.” Seems that he has an estranged lover in the form of Cathy’s friend Pat who buys him a menagerie of delectable goodies from the Dog Barkery. Add this to Leo’s collection of dog sunglasses, fashion dog footwear, reflective walking capes, and blinky dog collars, and you have the canine equivalent of Paris Hilton.
For all his faults though, nothing beats coming home from a hard day of work, to find his wagging tail behind the door.
That pretty much sums up my weekend on two wheels. Socially it was a blast, including a Christmas party with the wife’s working buds, and a trip to Flat Branch for dinner with my Cousin and his new wife, but any time I threw a leg over the bike, I was stinking it up like a Dirty Jobs episode.
As you can see above, I made an attempt to flash the world my goods during a trip to Pine Ridge with Jason and Co. Had it not been for the 20 year old tights underneath, my whiteness may have been more prevalent. Funny thing was, even though the temps were in the upper 30’s my butt was still warm. Could have been the stares from Dr J and Fred riding behind I guess.
Late in the week I elected to jump in the State CX race. Much to my surprise, the race took place without me. It appears that social riding for two months, post injury, living on a steady diet of pizza and homebrew, and a two hour ride the day before, equals suckage! The event started well enough, although I got a terrible pick of the gate. I was making some headway and moving up and going full bore. About the ¾ point of the first lap I started to notice the field pulling away, albeit slowly. I went to dig a little deeper, but there was no response from the pistons below. It was an odd feeling really. Aerobically I was comfortable, but I just did not have the power to ride with the leaders, or the mid pack riders, or even the pack fodder near the rear. 21st out of 26 is not something to write home about. Probably the worst race of my career. Oh well, some motivation for the winter months to get back on form. Really I don’t see how anyone can keep it going 10 months out of the year without some serious burnout. My hiatus over the past 7 weeks, corresponding with my little finger mishap, at least has left me ready to go and hungry for success in ’09.
A lesson to all you kids out there looking to be fast, more riding, less beer.
I don’t think any objective source could dispute the fact that no other person has done more to bring cycling into the public eye than Lance Armstrong. There will always be pundits that will look to punch holes in his career, and discount his character. Everyone has their flaws, and Armstrong is no different, but ask yourself this: Would the Tour have ever reached water cooler status, had it not been for a certain guy from Austin who refused to loose? Better yet, how many bike shops stayed in the black for seven years because a litany of weekend worriers gracing their stores trying to emulate his greatness?
Now hold up, this blog is not turning into an Armstrong love fest. What I wanted to bring to the table was the latest info from his Twitter Page, yes his comeback and the Tour. In particular the most recent account by CyclingNews that indeed he WILL be riding the Tour in ’09. Much has been speculated about his return. Everything from his conditioning, to his motives. Can he do it they ask? Is he really in it to win it? Could he possibly be doing this just to bring attention to his foundation? I believe his reasoning his much simpler, he’s board!
There are people in life who live just beyond the fast lane. Wide F’n Open we call it. Life cannot move fast enough, and they simply must have an unprecedented amount of stimulation just to survive. We all know the type. Their desk is covered in paper, they text an update to their Twitter page with one hand, drink a granda mocha in the other, drive with their knees and adjust the radio all at the same time. I think Lance is the same person. He’s known to be on his “Crack-Berry” constantly, balancing his public speaking schedule, with his foundation’s schedule with his training schedule. He’s a father of three, on the Presidents Council of Physical Fitness, and who knows what else, yet that’s not enough. Fast forward to 2009 and now he’s back in the grove. He’s got the F-One team cracking on the latest tech gizmos, Chris Carmichael emailing him the days workouts based on his V02, resting heart rate, and yesterdays poop size, and Brunel calling about the strategy for the Tour with three leaders banging heads in the team buss. He is got to be loving life now.
Pull up a chair, sit back and relax. The show next summer, and the days leading up to it, will be interesting to say the least. How it will all play out is anyone’s guess, and you know everyone will be guessing. And as luck would have it, I’ll be on the slopes of Mont Vento ready see it with my own eyes!
This country is going to the preverbal "Hell in a Hand Basket." Or thats what you'd begin to believe if you only lived by the overwhelmingly negative media that surrounds us. Now dont get me wrong, the US has its problems, but lets get some perspective. Perspective on what your life could look like. And that's just what I got on a very poignant Thanksgiving.
I was lucky enough to spend the day chaffering my mother-in-law and her friend Kenya, to St Louis for the turkey day feast of my wife's family. Kenya was an absolute delight! A spunky 71 year young fireball. Born and raised in Cuba, where she defected at the age of 24, to come to the US with only the clothes on her back. Leaving her family, friends and a carrier as a school teacher to start over in a land where she knew no one or anything, including the language. Compelled by her story, I listened intently as she recounted her life as a young Cuban, and how they lived under the rule of Fidel Castro. She became fed up with the Communist dictator, and the messages she was forced to teach in her school, as well as they restrictions on religious worship and watered down Christianity the local Priest were forced to preach, and decided to leave. To hear her tell about life under the a Communist rule made my heart sink. The thought that at any moment the government could uproot you from your home only to be moved elsewhere, or to be limited by what groceries you could buy, by a stipend book that you carried every time went to the store, was inconceivable in my mind. She explained how the class system worked, and how she fit into it. Life was hard, very hard.
So how perfect was this? On a National holiday, where you're supposed to take time out to be thankful for all that you have, that I had in front of me (actually in the back seat), a living example of how preciously good we as Americans have it. We have the freedom to eat and get fat. To speak, and congregate as we please, all in a country where your only limitations are the ones you place on yourself.
So tomorrow I will ride with a different purpose. To enjoy not just the comrodery of my cycling friends, and the thrill of endorphins rushing through my blood, but in recognition of the good that comes from our Democracy. I will leave from MY house, and go for a ride in OUR park with reverence of how much different life could be. Be thankful of all that you have...as some are not as lucky.
What more can you ask for. Sunny Sunday afternoon in the upper 50's at the end of Nov. at Bider Lake Trails. Followed up with some brew from Prison Brew. Oh wait, the Brewery was closed. I always knew those Jeff City folks were a bit strange. Apperently they have some issues with drinking on Sunday. Oh well, el Himador sufficed. Thanks to all who showed! I believe a good time was had by all, even the sheep wearing one :)
Baggy cycling shorts. Now thats a concept engineered for one purpose and one only. You see, the "Baggy" as they're sometimes called has only one true enduring feature, to hide the FAT ass that would normally be visible when wearing lycra cycling shorts. I dont want to hear retort about how baggies have pockets, dont rip as easily, look cool, etc. BS!!! Spandex is superior in every way. So much so that most baggies come with normal lycra shorts as liners. Yep!
In my 20+ years as a cyclist, I've looked at the baggy from time to time, but never made the leap. Something about the friction they cause, or the possibility of a seat snag during a quick get off, always kept me from buying a pair. But times they are a changing. I look around the cycling scene, and I'm the one starting to look a little out of place. And when I'm out riding the CX bike on the gravel of far western Boone County, my orange Spandex kit looks more out of place than Paula Dean at a Nine Inch Nails concert. Some of the guys I ride with rock the baggy, and look good doing it. Fact there's even been a few baggy sightings at some of the local races I've attended. What gives???
So I gave in. Searched the web over for the perfect pair. Found it. Endura MT500. Had to have it! One problem. No US distributers had any...but one. Redfroggear came through with the last size medium in the lower 48, and now I'm rockin the baggy. Do I like em...yes and no. They are warm, good for this time of year. I rolled out of the house today, wearing tights underneath and my wife said I looked like Mickey Mouse. That's not an enduring look for a cyclist. Yes they work as advertised. Will I buy more, probably not. But as the winter season moves in, there's one thing these baggies will do...cover my China Buffet, turkey dinner, 2 donuts for breakfast, home brew drinking fat ASS!!!!
I hate working Saturday's. Let me repeat, I hate working Saturday's. In high school while the "cool" kids were at the pool, or sleeping in and waking just in time catch then end of some Road Runner cartoons, I was cleaning out the weeks scummy buildup at the bottom of the milk case at the local grocery store. Now that I'm an adult (no comments about my adulthood status please), the thought of having to work them again makes my stomach churn like the aireated water at the swage plant. BUT, if all Saturdays worked out like it did today, a Wednesday, I could change my mind. Let me explain:
See, I worked last Sat, thus I'm free to choose a day off the following week. I decided to trust the weatherman and go with his predictions of high 50's and sun, and take today as my "flex" day instead of the Friday norm. Jackpot! Bingo! Whatever! Today rocked.
I started with a three hour CX ride to Hartsburg, up and over Wren School road and to Coopers Landing for some root beer and crackers (I think that's what Armstrong puts in his waterbottle and back pocket). I doubled back up Wren School (my new fav climb) and to A$$land. I then got the call from Heavy D for an afternoon at Rock Bridge on the MTB's. All told, 5.5 hours of riding bliss.
My wife's only response, "I dont think I like riding that much." Yes I'm weird. A couple times a year I get that feeling where riding is more fun than watching fat midgets on a slip-in-slide, and its all I think about. Of course its not all roses, because there are days (weeks even) where the thought of sticking a saddle up my butt another mile makes me want to vomit, but luckily they are few and far between.
Anyway, is Heavy D, showing off some mad skills. This is his famous switchback turtle maneuver. And ripping some new cornering technique.
Now I tend to believe that when it comes to beer, I'm little beyond the average guy in knowledge and experience, (I mean heck, I even brew my own spirits for Gods sake) but I've got to admit this a new one on me. Had my mother only been drinking Blatz while "I" was drinking from the tap, maybe I'd have been that doctor or lawyer every mother dreams of.
While on the subject of beer, my latest batch has matured nicely. I was going for a lovely, drinkable nut brown with just a hit of cascade hops, a low Average Bitterness Unit, and medium body. I'm pretty close, however next time I'll add in some more crystal malt.
Just another ride through BOCOMO on a windy cool Sunday. I had visions in my head of something EPIC. You know, the stuff of legends. But it was not to be. At the 3 hour mark, the peanut gallery started to whisper of cold and tired legs, all from some run in costume the day before. No worries. It wont be long now, and the pain train will be pulling away from the station and the real winter training will begin. Will you be on board???
Seriously though, it was REALLY a nice relaxing ride. Just the type of thing I like to do in the Fall.
Yeah, I might get this Blog up and running again. Had to sign up for a new Google account so I scrapped the old one. It was crap anyway. I didnt like the format of the PBase site, so I'll just keep my pictures there, and my rantings here. This should be fun. Yeah right.
This is the home of my personal ramblings. There will be typos, misspelling, and grammatical fopas. I write about cycling, friends, past events, and fleeting thoughts. Its a vehicle for contemplation and reflection, a tool to help in the eb and flow of life. Hopefully you'll find it amusing enough to stop by once in a while. Enjoy!