Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Repeating This

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of me waking up suddenly in the emergency room of Brackenridge.

At exactly 3:01 pm on Dec. 11th, 2007, I cleared out at 111 Congress and headed north for my scheduled espresso break at Little City. This is a ritual I still practice today and only allow interruptions for express deliveries or the occasional hook up from Lauran at Jo's. The timing of the 3 o'clock double is almost always accompanied by an ironic awakening of office zombies. For the next two hours the feasting of brains is put on hold so the limits of one caffeine-spiked messenger can be tested. Or sometimes I just sit around with no work and daydream about office zombie babes.

On this day, however, I react in a typical fashion to a car attempting to sideswipe me by catching them at the light and removing their side view mirror with my u-lock. The only unusual thing was I misread the light and in an attempt to flee the scene, turned in front of a moving vehicle. As soon as I turned, I knew I was going to get hit.

I knew I was getting hit.

And then I woke up in the E.R not knowing what the fuck was going on.

My boss was there and doctors and nurses were cutting off my clothes and holding me down.

Enough of that. I survived and most of you know I went back to working as a messenger and raced the hell out of my bike. I no longer retaliate against aggressive drivers. Er, almost never. Just so you know what I'm talking about, here's an example:

I'm heading south on Congress and slip in between a Ferrari and a CapMetro bus. As I'm navigating my way through, the bus (on my right) is forced to push to the outside of its lane on account of some a-hole's car improperly parked and their ass is sticking out into the street. This maneuver, while never comfortable, is still just like being up front, right before the finish of a P12 road race. The Ferrari driver was like the rider that just upgraded and is not cool with you being so close and thinks its gotta be some faggot shit that makes you get all up in his bubble. He gave the usual horn blare and as soon as I squeezed through the crack I swung in front of the bus so as not to give any foul, man-play vibes to Mr. Ferrari. To make sure I knew he was honking at me, Mr. Ferrari pulled up next to me and starts shouting, "Hey! I coulda killed you!" This was an obvious attempt at luring me in to a "Na ah!" Where he would almost certainly played the, "You bike riding sissy! I'll teach you!!" But I wasn't going to be lured or netted, so I kept riding, not reacting. Well, Mr Ferrari must have just finished reading this, cause next thing I know there is spit hitting my cheek. If that's not testing my new found anti-retaliation practice, then what is? He followed me a few more blocks and even got behind me and acted like he was going to run me over. Before Cesar Chavez, he sped up to the light in front of me and jumped out of his car. That's when I realized I pissed off a drug dealer. The dude that jumped out of the car looked like this:

Not to stereotype, but I wasn't about to stick around and see if this guy wanted me to join him at his seed spitting contest. As any new practice will open doors, my calmness in the entire matter presented me with a unique opportunity. The stoplight has just turned green for eastbound traffic (where I happened to be going) and I had enough time and bike speed to pull out my water bottle and spray the drug czar down before I slipped into the eastbound flow of traffic. See? No broken taillights, mirrors or bones. Just a $2,000 hit out on me...

Well in preparation for my one year "I almost died" anniversary, I unknowingly lived today to the fullest:

It sleeted and snowed last night and at 7am I was on my bike heading to the gym. I worked out for two hours and squatted more weight than I have all off-season. I got a free shot of espresso at the new Beef and Pie espresso bar and surprised myself at being able to recognize Medicci's beans in the shot. Breakfast with Marsha. She is an amazing friend, cook, writer and bike geek. Home to pick up Batman and head downtown to deliver framed photos of the Governor's Mansion from the 20's as Armbrust & Brown's Christmas present to it's clients. Before I start delivering, I head over to Lofty Dog and dress Batman up like this to help with spreading holiday cheer:

Ya, he looks pathetic in this photo but that's just cause the last time he modeled for a camera he got conned into taking off all his clothes and ended up on some kitty-porn site.

All afternoon I smuggled him past security guards and then let him follow me up and down in elevators and in and out of offices. Zombie office workers were indeed impressed at the talent a brain his head must hold, but were too baffled by the santa suit to try and eat it. I sometimes would have to sit in lobbies while receptionist would parade around the whole floor with santa's little helper. At first he would not follow me into an elevator, but after about the first ten, he would just need a few seconds to decide another ride would open doors to more zombie office babes. So, the elevator door would open, I would get on, and after about 10 seconds, santa's little helper would come leaping over the crack. Sometimes there would be people already on the elevator or we would pick somebody up on the way down and I would just act like I didn't know what the deal was with him. "He just told me he had to get to the lobby, could I please hit the ground floor for him?" Weird that some people thought I was serious.

Back at home I enjoyed some lunchtime leftovers courtesy of Ms Marsha and then back to Progress (I did their bank deposit, like I do every day) for that 3 o'clock espresso. Went up to their yet to open roasting plant and helped Jordan package beans that they are gonna sell in house and at Whole Foods. The roasting plant was bad ass. I love espresso and seeing how delicate roasting beans can be will make me appreciate a good shot even more. Jordan was on a time frame with all the packaging and labeling bags of beans, and with my help we made the deadline, as is the courier style.

Back at home I changed and headed to PureAustin and did Lauren's 75 min Hatha Yoga class. Lauren is like my guru. She tends to share a little bit of herself while teaching and over the last year and some months I have connected with her enough to understand there is no teacher without the student. My body had done a lot physically today but my mind is still going and going and going. I breathe and try to slow it down, but it's the end of the year, I haven't raced in over two months, I have so many doubts and tomorrow, a year ago, I almost died and a year later I'm basically the same shmuck in the same stink. That last statement is not entirely true, but when I bag on myself, I lay it on pretty thick.

And then about 55min in the class, the series of events of today and the anniversary of tomorrow hit me like the truck that started this cycle. I can't believe that if my life is a choice, which it is, I decide to live it the way I did today.

I start to cry.

Class is not over. I recover. Do some hip openers and then during shavasna get an image of my silly dog in his costume today and start to cry a little more.

So if like in Donnie Darko I am really already dead and this last year has been just an amazing trick the mind plays right before I actually die, I have chosen ambition, love, humor and humility as my final act.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cook it up!

Tamales I made for Thanksgiving. Three types: bean and provolone, 2.carrot, broccoli and gouda, and 3.brisket. I rolled about 8 dozen

Was feeling a little spent after a hard week of work and a weekend of riding. Stayed in today instead of going to the gym and made some ckn/rice/veg soup and buttermilk biscuits.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My First Day on the Velodrome

This was at the Superdrome in Frisco, TX on 11/22/08. I had completed certification that morning. Im racing my new teammate, Jed Rogers, who happens to be a stud on the track. No excuses tho. Sprint lap was clocked at 33mph


Had a dream the other night I was sitting down at a coffee shop with none other than the 7 time Tour De France champion. A little history before I continue with this story:

Three times in real life I've had the opportunity to be around this guy. The first time was on the Tues Niter. Guys were riding silly cause he was there. As we were rounding a bend, I passed a guy, already on his limit, on the inside and he rubbed my back wheel and took himself out. He also took out a few of the people around him which could have been The Man. Oh man, that's just what I needed, to be part of crashing out a world champion. Lo and behold, he comes flying past me attempting to bridge up to a break. I end up in a chase group with him and put in my time on the front. Later, we were riding right next to each other and a gap opens in front of us. Before anything is done, I say, "I got it," and close it down. Ha

The next time Mr. TdF and I cross paths is when he is opening his bike shop in downtown Austin. I was locking up at a pole outside and I look over and he is staring at my ride. "Nice shop, Lance," I say. "Thanks!"

Number three was the best. Another Tues Niter. I bridge up to the break and then flat. I change the flat and then start heading backwards on the course. The break is still off the front and I jump back in. He's joined the break and the tempo is brutal. My friend and narcissist Trickey is there too. Mr Trickey enjoys people telling him that he resembles one of the best cyclist in history. Well, as we are rotating through, I too can see the resemblence and audibly point this out to Mr. Trickey, within earshot of all in our intimate group.

So as you can I have managed to rise above the expected standards when dealing with a character of his stature. Nothing against him, but I bet he gets tired of people all over his nut.
Well in my dream I caved. We are sitting down in a coffe shop and I tell him that I anticipate he is going to have a very successful comeback season. "Really?" he probes. I tell him that it may not mean much but I have been following his progress and could predict more great things from him. He seems pleased.

My dream then morphs into a more realistic scene where I am asking Dave Wenger if he is ever going to consider inviting me on one of his rides. It seems hopeless and I walk away as Dille ensures me that it'll happen some day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Royal Blue 2

A couple tonight bought blue cheese crumbles, an apple and garlic for some stuffed pork chops. A while later another customer bought some sauerkraut and a Pinkus hefe to accompany his pork chops. Mmmmmmm.......

Lech Jankowski sometimes supplying music, but mostly distorting the concepts and opening all the boxes stored above the shelves to find a lost product...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

buried in each other's arms

"their unity in death suggests unity in life."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Royal Blue

Three nights a week I have been working at a small grocery store in downtown Austin. Two of those nights i am here, all alone. It's been pretty interesting considering I have a somewhat active existence down here and now I sit and feed the hungry.

Tonight, I raided a box of samples and ate "Pompuz," bite-sized organic multi-grain crisps, "Nana's," omega-fiber cookie bar, "M13," Assistance health energy functional juice. On the stereo i got an eclectic mix featuring Chuck Mangione, three different artist's rendition of Autumn Leaves, This Will Destroy You, Eliott Smith, Cat Power, Hooverphonic, Hot Chip, the Notwist, Lil Wayne, Al Green, a Janet Jackson and Glsdys Knight tune and more.

Last night was stoner night here. If they weren't coming in sick for cold medicine they were floating in on a personal cloud for ice cream or some other food combo only a THC artist could come up with. My personal favourite was the guy upon realizing we were sold out of eggs was forced to have cereal and milk, microwave popcorn and two boxes of pudding for dinner.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beauty of Chambered Chaos

xi zero (or shavasana)

scripted a story bout you and i
too bad its somewhere
in between these lines
of dream and reality

charged kaon
stabilizing society has its evenness
uninterrupted lines create a necessary flow
we've seen it while standing in line for the show
even your enemies know
don't bite the bullet that feeds

xi minus (or explosions, no why)

strapped to the teeth
he armed the harmless
burst the bubble
dreamt his was penetrable
into the world of make believe
sold the soulless
acres of hope
or what was left
across the divide we marched
beat but not broken
battled but reborn
burned beyond recognition

antielectron photon
between you and i
where was the tragedy?
doubled over and bent
hued in color
no blazes no glory

electron (or chasing dreams)
what's your message?
i got mine
a delivery for the destitute
don't forget it this time

sigma plus (or another sunrise)
topped off
tapped out
pushed in
pulled out.
speakin of softness...
im warmed up
brushed off
talked tough
speakin of spittin...
im out

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Horror Stories

It's Monday and I'm still hearing about what me and my lone star were up to Halloween, Friday night. The day started so promising. I drove out to Dripping Springs in the morning with a few friends and did a 3.5 hr ride through the autumn leaves of the hill country. My band, Quik Release, an all messenger band, had our first show that night. We rehearsed 5 hrs the night before and I was pretty close to losing my voice by the end of rehearsal. On the ride I isolated myself and used the opportunity to get my vocal chords warmed up. I'm sure some farmer thought I was a cyclist on a walkabout.

Our set was only about 18 minutes. 7 original punk tunes, one reggae jam and two covers. The band got together about an hour and half before to get "warmed up." We rocked the place and then it was time to get our Halloween on. Here's what I hear happened...

-I asked a friend of mine to marry me and have babies
-I found a guy on the street dressed as a puppet and broke his costume trying to control him
-I stuck my camera in my bibs and dropped it in the toilet when I forgot it was in there and pulled my bibs down to pee
-I started giving everyone hi-fives and apparently followed people if they refused
-I kissed another friend
-I have too many pictures in my dead camera that shows me hanging on someone
-there is a random picture of a girl dressed as a peacock in my camera, someone said i groped her
-i crashed my bike on the way home, twice
-i dropped my lock in the street and told my friend that i didn't need it anymore, just leave it!
-I had a friend bring me home and she was smart enough to realize I was about to puke and got me a trash can....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Off Season

Work two jobs, run three times a week. yoga with sarah, go see some shows (manu chau, the presets, yelle), dance like crazy, drink a little too much.......lemme see, what else? Oh ya! Start a messenger band

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tour of KC day 1and2


Aside from the fun times I am having here in Kansas City, I have been completing (somewhat) the end of a very long racing campaign. This year was my first year in the P12 category. Other than Rouge Roubaix '06 in Baton Rouge, LA, I have only used my racing license to compete in the great state of Texas. This year, however, arter upgrading to a 1, and feeling like I had achieved my goal for the year, I decided to take a little journey into the bigger arena of competitive cycling. I have been racing since the end of January 08 and have only missed one Texas race while working a 45hr a week bike messenger job. It's important that I consider these things when I look at the results of the last five weekends. They are pretty horrible on paper. Each one for me is a personal experience with a thousand fighting echoes that still reside in my mind and tremor like aftershocks through my body.
It's Saturday night and tomorrow is the last day of racing before I go home to Austin and go back to work as a courier and spend the rest of my time fixing my body with yoga and Barton Springs. But before that, let's race report...

Friday night crit was on a roller coaster course in a pretty seedy area of KC. Steep downhill, hard right, up again, another right, flat straightaway to another right, very open descent, curving right, punchy uphill to start/finish. Carlos attacked from the beginning and got a gap immediately. A few others joined and the break was established.
That morning, Carlos had finally gotten the bolt on his chainring replaced, but his small ring was so bent that he still dropped his chain when he was riding in it. During warmup he could not get his small ring to not drop his chain so he decided he would have to do the entire race in his big ring with only an 11-21 cassette. ouch.
Stefan Rothe attacked the field on the left and I had a slow reaction on the right. Stefan had a much better jump but I still had a good gap on the field while Brian Jensen sat on the front. No one was gonna let him go, so I decided I would try and bridge up to Stefan. It didn't work out for me and when the field caught me I jumped in to recover. I could never recover and got dropped about two laps later, making about 25 minutes of the race.
I had been feeling real good during warmup and for the first 15 minutes thought I could make a big impact on the outcome of the race. Then one move and I'm unable to recover and getting dropped. Weird. I rolled over to the start/finish where Mel is and I'm gettin dizzy. Even weirder. Later that night, I'm super achy and then I sleep tons. For 25 min of racing?
Carlos' break gets reshuffled a few times and he misses the winning move of three that includes Jensen, Rothe and some 42yr old. Jensen attacks with two to go finishes solo. Rothe and his partner work together until the last lap when the 42yr old drops Rothe. Carlos gets 4th in the field sprint for 7th.

Woke up to rain.
Mel and I go have coffee and buy me a cycling cap at Volker. There is a guy in there with his girlfriend and she is wearing what is no doubt a typical prom dress. He askes me if I have a minute. I reply yes but I don't work here.
Carlos' new problem is his cleat is almost completely stripped and if his foot cocks to either direction just a millimeter, he comes out of his pedal. Today's course was tough with a nice little climb, switchback descent, some mud on a very fast curved section and a steep climb about 1k from the finish. I had nothing today, so I was nothing. For the first few laps I stayed near the front, out of trouble. I was feeling so tired but tried to tell myself that other's were probably tired too. With 11 of 18 laps to go Jensen got away with a few others. Up the climb, through the start finish, Carlos looked around to see if anyone could help. I went to the front and punched it up the small climb to keep the pace high. Afterwards, I just focused on recovering, so not to get dropped. After the switchback, there was an odd angled right turn that always fed to a strung out, hang onto the wheel in front of you, section. I did not want to lose connection as I was already in fear of getting dropped after my effort. The rider in front of me braked too hard (i thought) on this odd angled turn and I jumped on the inside to avoid too big a gap opening. He got offended, overcorrected and then we both got gapped. He sat on my wheel as I struggled to get back on to the field and then attacked me when I was used up. That was the race for me. Jensen won again out of a three man break that included Brad Huff and a very young kid. Carlos came in next, first out of the chase group.

Who said this had to be all about racing bikes?

some fishing...

maintaining friendships...

and meeting new and exciting people.

Friday, August 8, 2008

before the end

Kansas is becoming the best part of this trip. I almost decided to go home after Elk Grove but decided to slug it out just one more weekend. Besides, Mel was coming to Kansas to hang out after she finished summer school.

I call this place home right now. Carlos and I have the place to ourselves, aside from the construction workers during the day. There is no tv and no internet, so we sleep ALOT. There is one sauce pan, a tortilla warmer and some cups. The other day I made chicken with brown rice and a salad. I felt like newlyweds.

Mel comes into town and takes me underwear shopping. Im still blushing

Mel in the clouds

couldn't help myself. seriously this window was asking for this

On Tuesday Carlos and I go to LatteLand for my never ending quest for that perfect espresso. This place was in the plaza, very close to where we were and the espresso was the best I've had since leaving Austin. Carlos' bike was missing a very important bolt in his crank so I asked the barrista where we could find a bike shop. She sent us to a shop her boyfriend was working, Volker Bicycles. Here we met the owners, Britton, his wife, Melissa, and their 8mo old Boston Terrier, Cooper. Britton ordered the part and then took Carlos and I riding through the hilly terrain of Kansas City. We scoped out the courses for Friday and Saturday's race. They both look pretty tough. That's all for now. I've already been to two other coffee houses today, Broadway, no wi-fi (boo) and now at Mildred's. Going out with a bang this weekend!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

tour of elk grove

After Superweek Carlos and I stayed one more night with our host, Steve. He sent us off the next day with another cookout and a guitar, two blow up mattresses, a towel holder and eddie bauer duffel bag. Steve is selling his house and really wants to move to South Carolina (Good luck Steve).
Carlos and I arrive in Elmhurst, IL Tues evening and are greeted by our new host, Bob. We stay in the basement again and Bob takes us riding the first two days. The third day Carlos and I ride the same route we went on the day before and we get soaked in a rain storm. I felt pretty lucky we didn't get carried away by a tornado but there were flooded streets and downed tree limbs. It was pretty crazy.

On Wednesday, I take the train to downtown Chicago and do some sightseeing along with catching The Dark Knight. I finish my excursion with a sunset and wine.

check out the cig in this guys hand

Tour of Elk Grove was another bomb shell for me. For the weekend, we stayed at an extended stay and were joined by Jorge Alvarado of Khala/LaGrange and Christian Helmig of Metro/VW. Both these guys were riding great all weekend and fun guys to share a tiny hotel room with. I felt great but could never manage to get my grip at the front. Once, on Saturday, when Carlos was in a break up the road I tried to jump across and instead brought the field with me. Carlos saw this and got pretty pissed at me. There were a lot of crashes. One crash, at the front of the field, occurred when two guys started taking swings at each other and one guy crashed and took out those around him. I avoided all the pavement kisses but felt this is what I did the entire race, avoid crashes. I finished in the field at a solid 39th. Carlos won the field sprint for 5th.
On Sunday the field was down from 100+ guys to 85. I felt better but really never could assert myself at the front. I pretty much just sat in the middle and finished there too. Carlos won the field sprint again but one guy had managed to sneak away.
Feeling a little discouraged, Carlos and I headed to Kansas City on Monday. We arrived around 9pm in a real nice neighborhood. We are staying in a house that is being renovated and owned by my friend's parents. It's empty and under construction but we have everything we need. This weekend is the Tour of Kansas City and then I head home. I stretched last night and realized my knee was still a little jacked from crashing on the last day of Superweek. It's a little weird to demand so much from my body but be blind to some of the subtleties of my workings.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Superweek Fine

Hung out to dry

This is where Steve, our host works. The butcher shop is very old and similar to what it looked like when it open almost a century ago.

This is Steve. He has been a great host. The last three nights when we come home, after racing, he has made dinner which has included grilled tuna, tenderloin, sausage, braut, pork chops, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes......Im forgetting something.

This is where Steve smokes out

Steve wanted me to see what would happen to Carlos if he didn't make the podium

Friday night was the Chase Food Folks and Spokes in Kenosha, WI. This was to be the first of the last three races for the series and things were getting pretty tight in the hunt for the overall. There were also some challenges still being made for the sprint jersey. Riders like Jonathan Page and Ryan Roth had made their debut in the final week of the series and really made the racing a little bit faster if not harder. I needed to help Carlos make sure that riders trying to close the gap in the sprint competition were not able to. The field was stacked and I started near the back. About thirty of 100 laps I was just at the back end of the front group when my front wheel slipped while turning on the white crosswalk paint. I thought I flatted and sat up. I soon realized that I was not flat and would not get a free lap. I managed to grab on to the back of the 150+ field and nearly got dropped. The rest of the race was a slow progression of trying to get back up to the front. At 8 to go I made it to the front and was in the first ten riders. The pressure went up and I kept giving up my wheel and two laps later was about 25 from the front. With 3 to go a crash caused a split and I was right behind it. I chased but the field was motoring towards the finish and so I crossed the line half a lap down.

The Great Downer Avenue Bike Race in Milwaukee was described to me as the most exciting race of the series. The fans, the money and the field were all supposed to be top notch. It lived up to the hype. A $7000 prime lap with 12 laps to go kept the pace high until it was handed out. The fans lined every available space on the course and the field was close to 200 riders. All I can say about this night is that I survived. I finally made it on the results sheet at 50th place (woohoo!) and had a feeling at the end of the night like I had been free falling the whole evening.
Carlos finally moved up to 3rd overall and 1st best amateur when Adrian Gerrits of Khala LaGrange, the rider in front of him, touched wheels in the final lead out and went down. This was not the ideal way for Carlos to move up, but thats racing.
The Whitefish Bay Classic in Whitefish Bay, WI would be the final showdown. The field size had been reduced to about 75 because of the Chicago Crit which offered a better payout and shorter race. Tyler had decided to take a ride back to Texas after Downer Ave so we were now four strong. With only a few points above 4th overall, we were completely focused on keeping Carlos out of trouble and on the podium at the end of the night. A break of seven riders got away but things were going pretty well. Of the entire series, I felt like I had the best legs on this night. About 35 laps in I stood up to accelerate through a turn. My right had slipped on my hood as I lunged all my weight forward and I went right over my bars. I had no time to react but its weird to know as I was crashing that I was going to crash and that I was in the middle of a bike race. About six guys went down with me but I think I was the worst hit. I was so pissed. I couldn't believe that I had been responsible for such a stupid crash, especially since I had been feeling so good. My bike looked terrible. Bent derraileur, torn cable and housing, bent shifters, wheels rubbing, etc. I thought this would be it for me, there was no way I could ride this bike. But I wasn't going to go out like that. If it had not been the last night, I probably would have taken my bloodied body and broken bike to the nearest pub and had been a numb drunk before the finish. I had made friends with the SRAM mechanic and wanted to see if I could pull it off one more time. I went to the pit and told him that I could not ride my bike after crashing. He sighed, set up a neutral bike and three laps after crashing, I was back in the race on a sweet ass Orca with Zipp 404s. I started near the front and attacked up to a break. We were caught and then I went for a prime. It was not to be but about five laps later I was set up (i thought) perfectly for another prime. I got nipped at the line. The race blew up after this into three, maybe four groups. I was gassed and thought that would be it for me, but I had all the overall contenders in my group, so after three laps of chasing we got reattached. With six to go, Adrian (lost 3rd overall to Carlos the night before) attacked and got clear with a few others. Carlos and Barry started to bridge up and I got to the front to police. There was a lull in the field which helped Carlos' effort and then Bahati decided to chase it down. I sat on his wheel for about three laps as he strung out the field in pursuit. It was like motopacing. He finally sat up with three to go. Carlos made it up to the break and outsprinted Adrian to secure his 3rd overall and 1st amateur. I finished 40th (movin up!!)

My bike is not dead. The SRAM mechanic fixed it while I bled all over the course. I missed the awards ceremony cause it hurt to undress. Me and a bottle of Jameson made out last night. It kept me pain free until about six this morning. I cannot really say for sure what I am going to take away from this experience. I will not try now, except maybe to say that I will sacrifice whatever I can and dig deeper into myself until there is no more me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rest Day

On Tuesday we raced here in Cedarburg. Andrew woke up sick and decided to cut his superweek campaign short and flew back home the next day. You will be missed, Andrew. Steve hasn't been the same. Being able to roll to the end of the block to get to the race was a nice change. The course (on left) was pretty simple on paper but the first turn had a few wrecks before things got settled. I went down in one of them when I came around the corner and someone was going over the curb to the left. I stayed in my drops and just tried to make sense of the chaos. Suddenly, an opening in front of me was really two riders that I hit and fell right on top of. Very soft landing, but a bit awkward with the bodies and bikes tangled up with each other. I took my free lap and jumped back in. The second turn was also a dicey one cause the course would go from a wide boulevard to a narrow neighborhood road. Everyone would bottleneck. The next turn had an indented manhole right on the preferred line. You could go over it but risked broken carbon after several times. By about thirty laps in everyone knew what to expect, but at the start, everyone was still trying to establish order and these nuances to the course were like paying toll booths on the freeway.
I made it to the front several times past fifty laps in. At this point guys were making big efforts to get away. The front would string out during the chase and then like a snowball on impact, fragment in anticipation of another move. I tried my best to ride in the wake and not let any danger moves go. But they all seemed like danger moves to me! With about 15 to go I realized I would finish my first race in a while, a huge accomplishment for me. I hung on and got through the pain by reciting lyrics and telling myself I would do "just one more lap," thanks willis.
After the race I met the kid I fell on, Logan. I apologized for falling on him but told him it was a soft landing. He is 18 and just coming back from being sick all year. He is a little pudgy, but it was not my intention to point this out to him, but he did.

Whitnall Park Road Race
Held in the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corner, Carlos and I almost didn't make the start when I got us lost (Missing Andrew already for his integrated gps mentality). The excitement of the previous race kept me awake all night. Seriously, I guess I was so tweaked from the exercition, I finally stopped trying to sleep around 3am and just listened to music until the Alpe d Huez stage started. I got two hours of sleep (9-10 and 1130-1230) before the race. The temps were up, there was a power climb every two miles, and we arrived 30 minutes before the start, so I was not expecting to even finish. Before Andrew left, he had been performing like a 1st lieutenant for Carlos. In Cedarburg, Tyler assumed this role. In Hales Corner, after 8 of 27 laps it would be my turn. I chased, got into moves and initiated breaks. The field caught the break with six to go. I attacked with a rider from the colombian national team. We were caught and Carlos countered. Khala LaGrange organized a chase cause their rider is barely beating Carlos in the amateur points. They brought it back and up the hill with two to go I attacked again and got a gap. Rock Racing chased me down and then it was lights out. Carlos got fifth, moved up in the overall to maybe 7th and is looking set to win the best amateur.
I'm taking today off then racing the last three days of superweek.
I had a big cup of wine last night and then slept hard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Holy Hill

Holy Hill in Hartford was the first road race of Superweek. Ten laps on an eight mile course was reduced to eight laps when the start was delayed an hour. As I was warming up I realized my bars kept slipping since my crash cause they were cracked. No problem, few days before I made friends with the SRAM mechanic for this very reason. New Orbea Orca with Zipp 404s, oh yeah!! Only thing was I had never ridden, let alone raced, sram shifters.
I found the road race exactly what I needed. Plenty of time to recover and not so much fighting for position. I even bridged up to a very short lived break at the start of the second lap. At about two to go Carlos started floating back through the field and I asked if he was ok. "No! Wait for me."
That's what I'm here for I thought.
He changed bikes with Barry and I drilled it back up to reconnect with the peloton. I was pretty gassed and then noticed my neutral bike's stem had shifted a few degrees so that my handle bars and my front wheel were no longer aligned. The course was sketchy and there was no room for bike mechanicals on the mind so I pulled the plug. Later, Carlos thanked me for the help.

After driving to North Shore to visit Wheels and Sprocket to replace my bars, I returned to our host house where Steve, the butcher, had bbq'd four types of braut (apple braut was the best, no joke!), tenderloin and made pie. Little dinner, wine and pie, I felt like the day was a success.

"keep pedaling hard and staying strong in your mind. Mind is everything."
-ms mercedes orten

"the test of one's principles is his willingness to suffer for them, and the test of this willingness-the only test-is actual suffering."
-John Barth "The Floating Opera"

"...I can see the end is the begining,
so I'm not racing, I'm just sprinting.
Cause I dont want to finish.
They diminsh, I replenish....
That's how u let the beat build, bitch!
and the beat goes boom!
ba boom! ba boom!"
-lil wayne "Let the Beat Build"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

the well and the lighthouse

where does the water end and the sky begin?

Mandatory day off. Barry texted me this morning as CSC unleashed on the yellow jersey. He wanted me to take a day off and spin easy so I could be fresh for the road race. Pedaled to Port Washington via the Ozaukee Interurban bike trail. Today was about rest, but one result I needed reminding of was that my bike still takes me places I have never been.

From the bottom of the well

So much to say. My rest day of several days before was anything but that. Woken up to Lori telling our room that we were supposed to be out of our rooms in thirty minutes. Rushed out the door and into a cramped car. A two and a half hour drive turned four hours thanks to standstill Chicago traffic. We arrive in Cedarburg Wisconsin where Carlos, Andrew and I are staying with Steve, a gay butcher (how do i end up with the gay hosts?). I got a sweet spot in the basement, no kidding. Amenities include washer, dryer, toilet, tv with the tour and stereo. All I have to do is wear long socks and a hoodie so I dont freeze at night.

Ah, my first espresso since I left Austin.

The bike path literally runs right behind Steve's backyard. Oh yeah, on the other side of the path is a cemetery. The night we got here Carlos was supposed to be sleeping in the room upstairs. I was in the basement, up late, talking on the phone. Carlos thought he heard voices from the graveyard and was ready to get outta there until he checked the basement.

One day we will all grow old and die or in his case roots.

Before we left the Extended Stay, Tristian and I were going to the grocery store. The elevator was bare walled and I could tell he was ready to put a fresh pair of sneaker prints up. At the last minute I held the elevator for someone coming down. This meant Tristian would have to wait.
The guy got in the elevator and an ominous silence ensued with everyone looking down. The stranger broke the silence asking Tristian if he was the one putting the shoe marks on the elevator walls. It was then that I noticed Tristian and this guy were both wearing the same shoes. How this guy knew what the soles of his shoes looked like leads me to believe there are some things in life that escape me.

Now we're at the bottom
My racing of the last couple of nights has been nonexcuscable. Fortunately, getting pulled from Friday's race could have been a blessing since it started to rain and the field saw mass amounts of wrecks that resulted in a concussion and ambulance ride for the yellow jersey. I just wish it hadn't happened to me in the first twenty minutes. Was I frustrated? Yes, I had finally felt my preperation had been optimal but I rode the next hour and a half in the beautiful countryside of Wisconsin.
Last night was a little worse, if that is possible. I will say in my defense that I really had no warm up, but I did get a start right at the front. On the turn to the start/finish I kept getting gapped and after two laps was unable to close it down and required about five guys to close it for me each lap. About the sixth lap I was off the back and two laps later was getting pulled.
From the outside, looking in, this was to be expected. Now I start improving...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Superweek Day 3 and 4

The last two nights of racing were on the same course, in the same direction. The Ray Basso Bensenville Criterium was a flat course with a couple technical turns and a straightaway that broke me both days. The first night near the back of the field a rider went down in front of me and took me out with him. I landed on my tailbone, stumbled off the road and laid back down in the grass. A few seconds later I realized I would be ok, went to the wheel pit and was back in in two laps. Carlos had gotten in a break and looked unlikely to get brought back. I jumped back in and went up to the front. The crash made me realize I had more to lose in the back than near the front. I covered a few moves and then Andrew informed me that Carlos' break was about to lap us. I decided to drift to the back to help him move up, but when I got to the back, I noticed his group had already lapped us and he was up near the front. A few laps of feeling stupid, bars slipping from my crash, guttering, and then lights out for me. 75 min. Carlos got 5th.

I had been feeling like I had not been eating right, so I went to the grocery store and hooked it up with some liquid calories (thanks Kate) to cover that base. Also replaced the jam Barry took out of our room, haha. Prerace was going pretty good until I went to sign in and discovered the race about to start, 30 min earlier than usual. This was entirely my fault, and it meant I got no warmup. I started near the back and got to the front in no time. I was a little surprised at how good I felt, even the motivation was up. I tried to go with a move but just ended up pulling the field on my wheel. That was enough flexing for me so I began to drift back. I must have drifted too far back cause next thing I know I'm faaarrr back, strung out breaking and accelerating like a car in rush hour traffic. After a few laps of this the peloton must have gone tranquil cause I recovered and found a groove. About the time I decided to start moving up, Rock Racing strung out the field for the sprinter's points competition and I just focused on hanging on. But that was pretty much it for me. I had one more chance to move up but only grabbed onto the last wheel and when I got gapped, could not close it down. I chased for about four laps with two others and then got pulled. 60min.

So now it obvious I need to take a day off. I've got no qualms with not finishing, but I know I race better than this. It's the heroic martyr moves that I know I am capable of that I want to have the opportunity to display before I get dropped.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's My Life

Tristian was here

Even the kiddos are feeling the gas price pinch

Lyric of the day: "this time I'll close my eyes and really wish you'd come."
Quote of the day: "sometimes i talk shit and don't even realize im talking shit."
This is my life right now:
Wake, ride, eat, sleep, wake, eat, race, eat, sleep

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Players

As some of my dear readers may or may not know, back in Texas I race for Velossimo pb Jack and Adam's powered by Chann McCrae. Well, for the big Superweek I thought guest riding for a rival team up here would be a great way to get a first hand account how the enemy operates. Here's what I have discovered:

Tyler Jewell
Age: 21
Hometown: Austin, TX

Upon entering room 304 at the Extended Stay Hotel, Tyler, as is his custom, scanned the room for any oddities and discovered a brand new Chicago White Sox baseball cap perched atop a lamp shade. Without hesitation, Tyler assumed the identity of a native Chicagoian and can now be seen giving directions to the hippest joints and hi-fiving all the local playas.

Andrew Dalheim
Age: 20
Hometown: Dallas, TX

Andrew is a walking GPS device. Maybe he can't remember the girl he supposedly kissed or have enough patience to play along with her text messages cause he's navigating us without fail to every race site.

Carlos Vargas
Hometown: Colombia

Carlos is all about business. He is not the type to sit around and wait for the move. Carlos is the move. Carlos is at Superweek to improve on his fitfth overall from last year.

Tristian Uhl
Age: 20
Hometown: Smithville, TX

Not much is known about Tristian other than his hobbies. Placing footprints high atop elevator doors, sticking flowers in obscure locations and playing lazer tag in moving vehicles, to name just a few.

Barry Lee
Age: 43
Hometown: Austin, TX

What else can I say about Barry? He's living a dream. He owns a development cycling team, races all the time and is responsible for the biggest cycling event in Austin. But oh man, can that guy snore!

Then there's me. You know me already. No? see here

Alright, about tonight's race.
Richton Park Criterium
90 laps
Rock Racing in the leader's and points jersey. Kelly Benefits back after a day off. Very fast course with optimal evening temperatures.
At about 45 to go, Carlos broke away with Texas' Ryan Wolhrabe. Some time later they are joined by five others and our team does a pretty stellar job keeping shit together. Personally, my life was simplified by Carlos being in the break. I covered and covered until I finally popped at about 25 to go. Carlos' group eventually got caught and another group of eight got away and lapped the field. Carlos finished about 15th but was still not pleased. I'll keep riding the way I am right now. I feel better and better. I'm focused on grabbing my breaks less.