Friday, December 30, 2011

I’ll Rise Above It, I’m A Professional - FNF

Has this ever happened to you?

(You can click by the ad in a few seconds)

No, I don’t mean having a meltdown over the condiments backstage, I mean making the decision to not sweat the small stuff (oh, and just for the record, it’s _not_ all small stuff, Dr. Carlson(with apologies to his family)).

Most of it is, however. Certainly an olive lacking a pimento stuffing is small stuff, as is snapping the derailleur, bending a spoke, and twisting the chain off my MTB last weekend when a stick jammed in the rear wheel. Missing parts for an auto repair could be big, if it results in not being able to get to work and losing your job. However, in GeWillie’s case, we know it’s not.

I’m lucky. Very lucky. I’ve had some major incidents occur this year, but nothing that could qualify as ‘big stuff’, IOW – nothing that resulted in a serious disruption. Nothing that we weren’t able to ‘absorb’.

Many others are/were not so fortunate over the past year. I’m not going to go into a long list of the good and bad over this past year, there’s plenty of that about, but I will talk about my new years’ resolution.

It’s mundane, in the grand scheme of things, to say the least. In fact, it’s not as much of a resolution as it is putting a long-term plan into action. A plan I’ve been harboring for a few years now, waiting to unleash on an un-suspecting public.

In 2012 I will turn 50 years old (no, that isn’t my resolution, dipshit). Can you remember the first time you were cognizant of a 50-year-old being 50 years old? 30 years ago, there was old, and there wasn’t. I didn’t know too many 50-year-olds, and the ones I did know weren’t very tolerant of me (with good reason, I might add). Well, now I’m that age, and I think I’m more tolerant of impetuous youth than most of the people I knew who are a generation ahead of me. That isn’t to say though, that If I were to meet a 20-year-old me I wouldn’t feel like giving me/him a bitch slap.

No, It’s not a point of me being 50, it’s a point of goals. I don’t know of anyone in my demographic who has any goals of note, but that’s understandable. When you get to the half-century mark, unless your life has serious problems, your goals are generally “lose weight”, “eat healthy”, “spend less money on porn”, etc…..not me.

I’ve been planning something _big_.....for me anyways. Ready?

When I’m 50 years old, I want to run a 5 minute mile. Just one. I already know I can run a 440 in 1:10 with a reasonable amount of training, but it was painful, and I wouldn't be able to do it twice within a few days. A couple of years ago I ran 4 – 440’s at 1:15, but that was interval training, and I needed significant recovery in between. At that time, I could break a 6 minute mile and did so in quite a few running races – that would be for like, the first mile.

Now, I know it’s a tall order. According to the USATF 2011 masters outdoor track national championships results, very few 50-55 men can run that pace, and none of the 50-55 women can. Granted, those are for a 1500 meter event, but the math is easy. A five minute mile translates into about a 4:40 1500. If I could run 5 minute mile, that would put me in the top ten nationally. So, yeah…tall order. I live next to our local high school, and their track is open to the public for all intents and purposes. It’s a good track, one of those rubberized jobs designed to drain water. As an ancillary goal, I’d also like to run a sub-30 minute 5 mile road race. That’s going to be orders of magnitude easier, since I was able to get two races in the past few years at a 6:10 pace. Trimming that to a 6:00 pace shouldn't be too hard.

I’m giving myself until September 10, 2013 to reach this goal. That’s my 51st birthday. I’ll train this year – lots of short intervals, and see where I am on September 10. Then I’ll hire a coach to get me the rest of the way. I don’t know who yet, but I’ll find someone by then.

Back to the point of this entry - sweating small stuff – Even if I don’t run a 5 minute mile by my 51st birthday, I won’t view it as a massive failure. Who knows, I may be physically unable to run a 5 minute mile. I may _never_ have been able to run a 5 minute mile. I’ll never know until I try. If I do, great. If not, it won’t be because I didn't give it an honest effort.

In the end, in the grand scheme of things, no one will really care but me. My obituary won’t read “ran a 4:59 mile on September 9, 2013”. Even if it did, I would hope people would see it as something admirable, but not something that defined me, and not the sole notable accomplishment of my life. Because it really _is_ a little thing.

But, I know you didn’t come here to read some narcissistic blather about me and my goals. You know what you came here for, and here she is…

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Sorry my perverted peeps, no FNF today. Instead, I leave you with a link to a blogger/author with possibly the finest wit on the web.

Behold....The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas

Totally safe for work and family, provided you don't take immaculate conception too seriously

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FNF - An Homage To Steve Jobs

There's probably nothing in the following blog entry that you either don't already know, will change any opinions you have about the late mogul, or possibly even care about. However, in a diversion from the usual pabulum the readers of this blog usually endure, I felt a compulsion to regurgitate an entirely different flavor of pabulum. I know there are at least a few of you who will appreciate this blog entry, and it's for you that I publish such nonsense.
Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs was an enigma who in no small part helped shape society as we've come to know it. While I'm sure he _imagined_ the ubiquity of his "I" devices, it's probably not possible he could have predicted how smartphones and personal audio devices have be ascribed the generic labels of Iphone and Ipod, or how the "I" prefix would be been co-opted by just about every two bit marketing douche trying to sell some useless and unusable low-cost gadget. I'm sure he was satisfied how Pixar animation studios created an entirely new genre of movies that redefined what the world has come to expect in animation, while lamenting how The windows operating system 'adopted' the apple 'point and click' graphic user interface to become the worlds predominant computer operating system.
But, I'm sure even the visionary Jobs couldn't have predicted what is arguably one of the most appreciated results of his drive, ingenuity, and tenacity (by those of my ilk). Of course, I refer to the "sext message". Certainly, sending spontaneous sexually explicit text messages and pictures predated the introduction of the Iphone by several years, but it took the integration of sexy hip applications into a sexy hip package sold by a sexy hip marketing plan - all created and driven by Steve Jobs - to bring us the delightful cornucopia of media by sexy hip hotties that people of my age could only imagine when we were young and single enough to actually consider doing any more than reposting them in a lame blog entry.

I leave you with a special FNF treat, an Iphone photo essay.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FNF - If I was any less motivated my heart would stop and I would die

Just fucking die. Yes, it's that end of the season doldrums. I have no more racing scheduled, and don't want to. I _should_ be attempting to motivate for my weight training phase...ok, got one set in monday...but when I got home tonight...




I had full intentions of riding on the road at work today (I'm actually writing this wednesday night), but had a dr's appt in the afternoon so I couldn't afford the long 'lunch'. Got to the Dr's office and it was closed. Checked my phone for a message....found it was off....turned it on....there was the message.....recorded at 9:30 this morning.

If I had the thing on I would have got the message before lunch and gone on the ride....

Get the message?

So now I'm doing one of my default uber-boredom pastimes: web surfing for my two favorite things in the world - bikes and lesbians. So here it is, written wednesday and thursday for a FNF post - Bikes and Lesbians (in special consideration for my friend-from-down-under)


Peace Out, Mother Fuckers

Monday, November 21, 2011


(Right Click here and open a new window/tab for the soundtrack to this blog entry, turn it up)

I've been thinking about death lately. I can't say there's been any specific reason. I don't recall any specific trigger such as the death of anyone I know that started it, but it occurred to me that death has been on my mind for some time now. Sporadically, though often enough that I've begun to think not only about death but I've also to think about thinking about death.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the old Italian film by Vittorio De Sica " Bicycle Thieves " on the TCM network. I can't say it was particularly compelling. It seemed strained....contrived. Probably that it was filmed in 1948 and was subtitled didn't help. Probably that it was intended for a post-war Italian audience didn't help.

One thing it definitely was - nihilistic.

I'm not nihilistic, but these thoughts I've been having regarding the nature and implications of death from both personal and influential perspectives certainly seem to be. Bicycle Thieves makes no bones about nihilism. De Sica might just have well ended the film with a graphic that said "what's the fucking point" instead of "Fine" (that's pronounced "feen-ay" for you English-only types).

From time to time, I look at my life and everyone else’s on the planet in the context of the implications of the consequences of our actions 100's of millennia from now. Realistically, it won't fucking matter. It won't matter to anyone (if anyone is still alive) 10,000 years from now if I'm rich or poor, altruistic or greedy, industrious or lazy. It doesn't make any difference to me now if Oog drew a woolly mammoth on his cave wall in Lascaux 20,000 years ago, and it won't matter 20,000 years from now if I publish this blog post or not.

(spoiler alert!)

In Bicycle Thieves, Antonio Ricci is scrambling for a job to support his family in post-war Rome. He gets one as a bill poster, but it requires a bicycle to get to the job locations. His bicycle is broken, and in order to pay for the repair he is forced to sell his wedding linens. The first day on the job his bicycle is stolen and the rest of the movie is spent on the recovery effort. His relationship with his young son is pushed as he tries to maintain a sense of morality for his sons benefit in the midst of the sinking depression that he knows he might not be able to feed him tomorrow. In the end, in order to keep his job he attempts to steal a bike, but is caught immediately. He is surrounded by friends of the owner of the bike, ready to beat him to a bloody pulp at the word of the victim. The victim orders them to let him go, as he can do no more harm. I got the impression that De Sica was trying to evoke the sentiment that Antonio was already dead inside, and the owner of the bike knew that. Antonio started the movie living as an inconsequential member of the nameless masses, and that's how he ended it, if you can call that living.

I'm not dead inside. I realized that when I watched the movie. I have a sense of purpose, regardless of whether that sense has any long term implications or not.

Now, I suppose the argument could be made that Oogs cave drawings did indeed have a bearing on humanity 20,000 years hence. One could argue that Oogs drawings were created with a sense of purpose, much like the sense of purpose this blog is written with. One could argue: as Homo sapiens sapiens evolved, the expression of daily life in cave drawings evolved into art as it is known today. One could argue that Bicycle Thieves had a critical influence on modern cinema. These things may be true. This is why I’m not a nihilist, still, I’m hardly an optimist.

One day this drifting mass of rock mostly covered with water and suffering from an infection known as the human race will be reduced to its constituent elements as our sun transforms into a red giant and engulfs all the planets in the inner solar system. We'll be long gone by then, and any mark that any one of us is arrogant enough to consider to have been relevant will cease to be. At that instance, the shit I left in my toilet this morning will be roughly equivalent in importance to the entire works of Shakespeare and Mozart, and Oog combined.

But I have a sense of purpose. To be honest, I have no idea what it is. I know it’s what gets me up in the morning. I know it’s what makes me want to draft trucks at 46 MPH (NSFW), or drink the occasional toxic distillate. It's what makes me know I'll be an emotional wreck when the day comes that I'll have to put my dog into her final sleep. I am alive inside.

I may be cynical and pessimistic, and I may not get the point of it all, but I’m not a nihilist. I’m not dead inside…….yet....but one day I hope to find paradise, be it here or in any possible existence after.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

FNF - Drafting Revisited

You kind of expect to hear that bad 70's porn music right about now - bow chicka wow wow...


Generally speaking I don't find that new hampshire has much to offer a socialist liberal atheist like myself. However, they do two things very well - they maintain the national forest land, and they keep their roads in great shape. One of the sections of road I have to travel to get to my job now is a 4 mile stretch of route 111 where it crosses route 3 and heads west ( yes, in new hampshire, just in case you aren't aware). I actually take route 111 from Windham near the route 93 interchange to quite near the Mass border for my commute, but for the purposes of this blog entry, we'll stick with the western terminus.

This section of road is - much like the rest of route 111 all the way to the seacoast - in great shape. Smooth, wide shoulders, very few patches or any other non-asphalt items to break up the tarmac. Add to that very gentle sweeping corners, very flat terrain, no stop signs or stop lights, and nothing but residential side roads, and you have a good road for driving and riding...and drafting.

Wednesday morning I crossed the highway and saw a large box truck waiting at the last stop light for the next 4 miles. It popped it into the big ring, passed a few cars and tucked in behind the truck. I had no idea how far he was going. He could very well have pulled off at the next side road.

But he didn't.

He kept going...and going....and going.

He kept a smooth steady pace of about 40 for most of it, but as he crossed the town line from nashua to hollis, he pushed the speed up to about 45. My computer registered a maximum speed of 46.8. That's a drafting record for me, my previous some years ago being 46.

Now, I know what you're thinking...."47 mph on flat ground? something is wrong with your computer".

Well, no. You can see from the downloaded data above my cadence was in the high 120s.

Do the math.

A 700c wheel with a 23C tire has a circumference of 6.67 feet. I have a 53x11 on this bike which is a ratio of 4.81, so one turn of the cranks moves the bike 32 feet (4.81*6.67 = 32.13).

47 mph is 4136 feet per minute. Therefore, if you divide the speed by the distance for each pedal revolution, you get you cadence in revolutions per minute. 4136/32.13 = 128.7 rpm. Check the max cadence in the data above, you get...128 RPM.

You can also see from the data I wasn't working very hard. My heart rate actually dropped as my speed increased. Aside from the initial effort to catch the draft (peaked at 650 watts), it was pretty easy going.

But, I know you didn't come here today for a math lesson, so here is what you _did_ come for, Fully Naked Friday, Gotta luv a woman that can accessorize.......


Thursday, August 4, 2011

FnF - on the precipice of a cataclysm

Sometimes the irony of life really makes you stop and wonder. Regular readers of this blog probably know that I do rather stupid things on a regular basis, generally involving going very fast on bicycles behind large vehicles on public roadways. You need to have a bike you can trust for that, as well as be very trusting of the the condition of the road and the driver of the vehicle you're drafting.

Some of you may remember last winters' project - the Quasi-Kellog built up as fixed-gear (39x14). I rode the bike to a cookout last weekend, 22+ miles, relatively flat with a few short steep hills that require getting out of the saddle in the drops and muscling the bike over the pitch. Less than a mile from my destination, I hopped into a truck draft while it cruised through danvers at 30 mph.

It only lasted about a 1/4 mile, but spinning a 39x14 at 30 mph in 95 degree heat takes a bit out of you (that's a cadence of about 140 for you non-math majors)

So I get to the event, ride up to the hosts and my wife (she drove down) to let them know I'm there. We chat for a minute, and I get my car keys to go load my bike in the car and get my clothes. I step back into the pedals, and with the first stroke I hear this sickening slow crack. The handle bar snapped.

The initial crack.

This is after I ripped it apart.

Less than a mile earlier, I was drafting a truck at 30 mph.

Gotta luv the irony of life.

Here it is, Your Fully Naked Friday

Thursday, July 28, 2011

FnF - The World Turned Upside Down

yes, it's been a while.

I've started a new job, one where - not only do I actually have to work - but one where the internet activity is seriously monitored. So, my websurfing activities have taken a major hit.

A significant aspect of my life, and indeed, my public persona, has changed. I don't like wasting time on the internet at home, I have other things I'd rather do. For example, right now I _should_ be replacing the tire I was commuting on today when I took a roofing nail through the tire and out the side wall. But, like other things recently, my world has turned upside down.

I'll get to the tire, but I also wanted to take this opportunity to comment on the 2011 Tour de France. Won by Cadel Evans, from the 'bottom of the world'. Not only the first australian to win the tour, but the first man from the southern hemisphere to win the tour. Evans deserved the win. I didn't pick him to win (though I did get both of Hushovds wins right), but schleck was not fit - glaringly obviously - and contador won the Giro, and probably didn't think he would be able to ride the tour in the face of the CAS hearing. Evans attacked for once in his career, and put on an armstrong-esque tour de force in the final time trial. The Man from the land where toilets flush backwards (not really) turned the tour on its head.

I know this isn't exactly friday as of the posting stamp, but I'm sure by the time you read this, it will be. That said, this is what you really came here for: Fully Naked Friday - the Upside Down version.


Friday, June 17, 2011


To those in the know, FnF is an initialism* (as opposed to an acronym - get it straight) for a nickname ascribed to a certain power blogger and local bike racer

So, in a loose homage to FnF, in addition to a stated appreciation of the female form by another blogger of note, I've decided to institute what I hope will be a somewhat-regular feature of The Zen Of Cycling in lieu of H.N.T.  - Fully Naked Friday:

During one of my regularly scheduled Bike Porn meta-searches (whether I need it or not) I happened upon a photo series of fully naked women in an off-road'competition'. I'm guessing this would be some sort of "cyclocross porn". Actually, I only included the term "cyclocross porn" in an attempt to see how many search engine hits I get for "cyclocross porn". Of course, I realize that repeating "cyclocross porn" in this post won't get me any more hits than if I simply typed "cyclocross porn" once, but since "cyclocross porn" isn't a term in common usage even in cycling circles (as opposed to "bike porn"), then I think typing "cyclocross porn" repeatedly wouldn't constitute making "cyclocross porn" cliche.

This cyclocross porn photo series was published originally in Escort magazine, the british print media version, circa ~1985.

Enjoy (click to enlarge)....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Last Ride

(Right click here and open in a new window, then come back and read this with the music as a soundtrack)

I took my last ride to work this morning. I'm starting a new job next week, and tomorrow is my last day at this one. I'll need to drive to work tomorrow to carry out my personal effects, so riding isn't really practical.

I'm going to miss this aspect of my old job, the commute, that is. I live 10 miles from work, and my daily commute takes me through the bucolic idyll of Boxford and North Andover, as well as the frenetic schizophrenia of downtown haverhill. I can even put together a 50 mile ride that zigzags through north andover, boxford, georgetown, groveland, and haverhill.

I will be able to ride to work at my new job, though with a distance of 28 miles doing the full commute every day would rapidly invoke the law of diminishing returns. The hiring manager is actually the same engineer that hired me into the last company I worked at before where I am now, and did so with full knowledge of my _need_ to ride. He said "I know the commute by bike would be difficult, but you could do the park-n-ride thing like you did before". When I worked with him before, I would drive to a commuter lot, then ride the rest of the way. He was one of the few people that appreciated that and even encouraged it at my last job.

My new boss called me out of the blue a few weeks ago, and asked me if I was interested in a change of scenery. I replied "sure, when do you want to set up an interview?". His response was "We don't need an interview, you're the person I want. If you want the job, you can start when you're ready". He and I got along very well when we worked together, both personally and professionally. He's been putting together an engineering team for his department with people he knows and trusts. There will be four other people in his new group that I've already worked with.

With the new commute I'll have the thrill of commuting through the heart of Nashua, as well as the rural towns of hudson, pelham, and windham. When I _do_ ride the whole 28 miles It will involve Salem and the rural section of haverhill as well. As of now, a full week of commuting miles (and no other riding) is 100 miles. With the new job that will be around 250, if I can manage three full commutes during the week. Typically though, it will be around 150. I've tried riding a full commute week at that distance before. That's tough. No, riding 30 miles each way isn't hard, but couple that with a week of trying to actually work 8 hours in between, and by the time thursday afternoon rolls around, swinging a leg over the toptube is a chore. It is for me, at least. I know guys that do it now, and the have my admiration.

Notice how I haven't really written about the job? I won't miss it. I'll miss the commute and the convenience more than anything. Truthfully, this job has been a forgettable experience. There is little camaraderie here (never has been), the technology is boring, and with the recent acquisition of the company by an international conglomerate the morale is low (yes, "the writing is on the wall", as they say). It says a lot about your job when the thing you'll miss most is the short commute. The new job has a much broader scope of responsibility, with more interesting technology.

Don't get me wrong. There are quite a few people here I like, and a few I'll genuinely miss. Generally speaking, my co-workers are nice and friendly people. However, by and large, I can't really say I'm more than a friendly acquaintance to more than a few people, and even the closest relationships have never progressed to the point where people have their co-workers over for cookouts, or even go out for drinks after work. In the past 5 years, I've stopped by the local watering holes on a friday after work, and only once have I seen a group of co-workers - they were senior managers from a different department. Not exactly the type of people that would have me as a drinkin' buddy. Nonetheless, There are no doubt people here that will utter Good Riddance upon the knowledge of my departure.

So I rode in slowly this morning. It was a nice morning - a bit cooler than I like, a bit more wind than I like - but still pleasant. I've often taken a slower ride just to appreciate the ride either to or from work though, so it isn't like I didn't already appreciate it, just that today held the melancholy of finality as well.

So this afternoon will be my last commute from this job. It's a nice day, I think I'll take the long way home.

(you didn't seriously think I'd let you go out with fucking violins, did you?)

Friday, June 3, 2011

You're Not In Kansas Anymore, Dorothy

Those of you who don't live local to me may or may not have heard about a tornado that touched down in Massachusetts this week.

I don't live in fucking kansas. I don't want to live in fucking kansas. I don't like the climate, the terrain, or the political atmosphere. We have our blizzards and the occasional hurricane, and they have their tornadoes. I like it like that.

My bike team is based in the areas where the tornado hit. I actually live about 100 miles away, and we pretty much just got a few winds gusts and some spits of rain. However, I know several of my teammates live in the swath of the tempest. I was concerned for their safety, but had the common sense not to call or email them during the event. Instead, I waited until the next morning and sent out an email to the club list asking if anyone had any info. I didn't anticipate anyone who actually was exposed to the fury would reply. This is what I got back (names changed to initials):


From: zen
Subject: You're not in kansas anymore, Dorothy

Did everyone make it through the storms ok last night?

JR wrote:
everyone is ok...but (JP's) neighborhood is trashed, still no power. (MN) escaped unscathed, but still no power. his town, monson, apparently got hit really hard. (DM) has no power. i was only a few miles from the initial tornado, but somehow no damage or problems in our town.

MS wrote:
(my wife's) school which is that neighborhood is probably done for the year. I guess it missing huge sections of roof. Also heard that Cathedral school is done. Probably a rumor but its structurally unsound and may need to be razed and rebuilt.

GP wrote:
I'm in the same neighborhood as (JP). Trees and power lines down everywhere. I don't expect power for 3-4 days. A tree came down in my back yard and a branch went through the roof into the dining room. The Nat'l guard is here. The noise was just incredible. I could hear it approaching, then wham and trees were going over. Just 3-4 minutes, then it was gone. Then there was torrential rain. No one hurt in our area, fortunately.

(MN) wrote:
what a wild ride last night was. first the hail (damage the cars), then the tornado, then another tornado jump right over us. then the lighting. 5 to 6 straights at a time. not your normal lighting. after all said and done. no power. lots of damage in Monson. talk to some people about their dealing. 1 lady was sucked out of her house. She ended up with lots of cut to her face and body. one house was lifted and thrown over to the next lot upside down leaving only the basement. The pastor went to their basement just in time to see the house collapsed around him and he had to hang on while the storm try to suck him out feet first.

MD wrote:
No power in this thing.......just a little wind, nothing major. NOT!

Hope everyone got through safe.

(ed. note - I embedded the video from the link in the email)

MN wrote:
I had a front seat view of the whole thing. my cars only have hail damage. the tornado pass within 200 yards from my house. Very loud.


Now, this was no Joplin, but in terms of what we're used to, it was significant and substantial. It helps to put things in perspective, like the loss of lives and property in the Joplin storms, and how much more powerful that was that what we were hit with. Tornadoes rarely touchdown in new england, so when we had not only a sighting, but a sustained tornado 'event' that caused appreciable damage, it was an event worthy of the local news stations preempting the entire evening of regularly scheduled programming with almost 18 hours of regurgitated video footage and phone conversations with locals who really had nothing to say (opening them up for the inevitable Howard Stern prank call). I'm not minimizing the significance or seriousness of the event, just that the irony of a television newscaster telling people who had probably lost all venues of communication media that they should take cover and leave their TVs on for up-to-date information seemed somewhat lost on the television newscasters.

Hey, at least they had the sense to realize it was more important than going on about Weiner's weiner.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Demanding Perfection

Is it wrong of me to consider The Butthole Surfers to be gods amoung men? This really has nothing to do with this blog post but I was just listening to The Annoying Song (arguably my favorite BHS tune) and couldn't resist. Check it out for yourself:

(crap video, keep reading after you press play)


I'm not normally one to bitch about the weather, so I won't do it here. Last week though - just to much cold/wet for me. 40's I'm okay with. Rain I'm ok with. 40's and rain......fuck it. As a result I managed to ride to work one day last week, on friday, national bike to work day. My company (A Major International Industrial Construction Conglomerate) had a nation wide 'bike to work challenge day' last thursday. One of the software department heads here bitched to the corporate HR rep that it wasn't realistic to expect people to brave 40 degree rain in the northeast while the southwest had temps in the 60's and sunny. They acquiesced, and decided to hold an alternate day this coming friday.

Not that it would matter to me, I ride in anyways. I've been commuting since about mid march and have probably 500 _commuting_ miles in this year. The weather has put a (ahem) 'damper' on it though.

Looking at the forecast for this week, we have warm(er) temps, with the chance of rain all week. Still, with the funky weather pattern, yesterday I wore tights and a base layer under the kit, with arm warmers, light weight booties, and full finger gloves, to and from work. Low 50's and sprinkles both trips. Today, just the kit. I left the house with arm warmers, and as soon as I stepped out I turned around and left them warmers inside. It was 65 with a drizzle when I left the house, and the forecast is for mid 80's on the ride home.

I've decided, this _will_ be a 'Perfect Week'. I got a 4 day week in a few weeks ago, which could have been 5 if I didn't have a dr's appointment, but there's no real reason I can't ride in every day this week. It might rain, but hey, if getting a little wet during my commute is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I'm doing pretty good.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On This Spot In 2011, Nothing Happened

I finally got some racing under my legs this weekend, and lets just say it didn't exactly go as well as I had hoped.....or as well as anyone hoped, for that matter.

The Wayne Elliot Memorial Circuit Race is run in the sleepy little bedroom/rural community of Merrimac Massachusetts.....ten miles from my house. Since it's a short 6+ mile circuit and the promoter only has the roads for half the day, they limited the fields - only one masters field, a 50+, so I had to go play with the senior 2/3 for 7 laps.

The weather forecast was completely wrong. Instead of a partly cloudy day with temps reaching the mid 60's, it stayed cloudy and cool, actually never getting out of the 50's. The temperature was only 52 by the time the race was over.

I love the roads in this area, and I train on them often. Winding, narrow, light traffic, bucolic forests and farmland sprinkled with newer developments here and there. Merrimac is far enough from boston to dissuade large scale sub-urban sprawl. However, between the rough winter and the poor financial state of the town, the roads are in rough shape. Fine for training on, or even small group rides, but not good for an 80+ rider field. 

As such, the pack was squirrly from people trying to avoid wheel-eating potholes and broken pavement. The host club (BOB cycling) did as well as they could with coldpatching and marking. The marshaling was excellent, with plenty of communications and traffic control, but the size of the field and the road conditions made it nearly impossible for the riders to not consistently ride over the center line as well as make sudden line changes. 

And, as such, I was taken out by a crash 5 miles into the race. 

It could have been worse. I went down as part of an unavoidable chain reaction. A rider did a sudden swerve, and hooked the rider in front of me. He went down, and I managed to avoid him by swerving to the right and off the road, into a hedge in some ones front yard. I went over the bars but the landing was soft.

I was riding near the front, and managed to get back on the bike before the rest of the pack went by, but the front wheel had skewed, the bars were twisted, and the right shifter was pointing at the left shifter. By the time I got everything re-oriented, the pack was long gone. I figured, what the hell, they'll be around again in about 20 minutes, I'll just wait for them and hop back in - it isn't like I was riding well enough to affect the race anyways.

The rider that went down in front of me is one of the better known and respected riders in new england. He had slammed the pavement pretty hard on his left hip. He was writhing in pain on the group as the EMTs tended to him. By the time the pack came around again, he was being placed on a back board. I hopped back into the field to finish the race.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "hey, you can't jump back in the race like that, you'll get disqualified".

You would be right. 

As it turned out, I did three more laps, and dropped out. When I bailed the average speed was 24.5 mph. I was having trouble accelerating out of one of the corners that drops you onto the base of one of the hills on the course. It's a pure fitness issue. I called it quits at the top of that climb, looked behind me and saw riders in ones and twos all the way down. 

Back at the finish, I was informed that the officials had actually stopped the race at one point and warned the entire field that they would be DQd if the yellow line violations continued. I watched them come by with one to go then, and they weren't exactly hammering. It's one of those cases where, if I had just stayed in on that lap I bailed (I was actually in the pack when I decided to quit), it would have slowed down and I could have finished with the field, most likely. The early fast pace though had taken it's toll. Spectators were commenting that easily half the field had dropped.

The finish was good, it's a 40+ mph downhill that flattens out about 1/4 mile from the finish. A 53x11 is handy. The riders came across the line holding that speed, and was the winner was some dude covered in tattoos. I don't know his name.

Oh, wait, I _do_ know who won.

No one.

That's right, there was no winner.

It turns out, the field didn't quite get the message when the officials forced the riders to stop and scolded them. Evidently, they started taking over the whole road again on the last lap. In the beginning of the race, I could see why we were all over the road. I did my best to stay on the right side if the road, but even I ended up getting beeped at my the moto official. 

What I don't get was why they kept doing it on the last lap. The field had been whittled down to around 40 riders. After 7 laps they should have become familiar enough with the rough spots on the course so that there was no need to spread out. I'm not surprised they DQd the whole field, and I don't blame them. So, unfortunately for the guy that crossed the line first, he won a race that wasn't.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

look what the cat dragged in.....

So I've been working on this post for over 2 months. Seriously, I started the 'project' in mid february.

You see, I have a ton of bike shit in my basement, and I'm looking to clear some of it out, including a frame I generally don't ride - until now.

I bought it somewhere around 2005 from Aries Sports in Newburyport (now a different bike shop, different owner, don't know the dude). I was told it was a frame built by THE Tom Kellogg for the 1984 Olympics. A few years ago, I emailed him and sent him a picture, and he basically just said yes, it was one of his, but I didn't follow up.

So I'm thinking, if this thing really is a Kellogg frame built for the Olympics, it's probably worth quite a bit to a collector.

So I emailed him again, asking for more details. and sent some pictures.

Here's where it

It turns out that, yes, it's a Kellogg frame. Sort of. It was built by Jeff Duser, Toms chief framebuilder. Maybe.

In reality it's a Ross. Yes, the Ross bicycles we all know from Sears and Kmart in our childhood.

Tom was hired by Ross in the early '80s to set up their 'Signature' line. It was to be a line of hand-built frames in a high production setting to keep costs down. Tom designed the bikes, and came out with a few different models - a couple of lower-end chinese imports (but still hand-made in china) and their top-of-the-line series, hand-made in the Ross factory in pennsylvania using high quality tubing (either Columbus SL or Ishiwata 022, not sure which mine is. Tom claims Ishwata, but this bike is SL )

I have a Circa 1984 Ross 508 Signature Triad.

Tom wrote: "The frame design was mine, the same exact design I developed for the first Ross Signature racing frames. Unlike the rest of the Ross bicycles made over the years, the Signature frames were real hand built frames, as good as any made at the time. I was very proud of what we did there. The guy who built that 508 was good enough that I hired him away from Ross and he is still working for me to this day, twenty six years later. You've got a little piece of history."

The only caveat to add is that Tom had left Ross in 1983 and Jim Redkay was running the shop by then. In all likelyhood, Jeff Duser _did_ make the frame, but the 508 Triads were built by a team consisting of Jeff, Juan Rodriguez, and Dave Rodriguez (hence the 'triad'). So truth be told, I don't know for sure if Jeff actually built my frame. I asked Tom for more detail, but I haven't heard back. He's probably tired of me annoying him (like you don't know that's possible).

So, even though this bike is in Toms words "as nice as anything else that was being built at the time", it probably isn't worth a whole helluvalot. I only bring up this point because I was considering selling it. It's worth more to me as a ridable bike than I would get for it at this point.

And rides nice. My '91 Merlin is a first generation Kellogg design as well, and this thing rides _that_ nice. It's a shame to just leave it to collect dust, so I've made it my commuter - a fixed gear with some really nice old parts I had laying around not being used. I actually decided to abandon the Fuji experiment, and use some of the parts from that.

Circa '92 Campy Chorus crankset, brakes, and brake levers. (all in _excellent_ shape). I'm riding Eggbeaters because I need to walk a bit to my office after my commute, and I wear MTB shoes so I can walk on the linoleum.

It's hard to tell, but that's an authentic Campy Chorus seat post bolt.

Easton EC90 carbon bars, EC90 Stem, American Classic Trilock Headset (a fabulous idea, too bad it didn't catch on.)

San Marco Rolls Titano saddle.

I have a 39x14 on American Classic hubs laced to Matrix rims now. I normally ride a 42x16 on my fixed gear bikes, but I'm getting older and don't spin like I used to. My commute is pretty flat anyways.

I have a set of somewhat worn '92 Campy chorus hubs as well, but they need to be built into wheels. I think that will set the ensemble off nicely.

It's a great bike, and I'm glad I have it. A little piece of history, for sure...if you're into that sort of thing.