Tuesday, July 22, 2008

and the Poor Dumb Bastard award for the day goes to...

John-Lee Augustyn! After taking the 'Souvenir Henri Desgrange' for the highest climb in the tour, he promptly fell off the bike on one of the turns on the descent. He slid down some, but the bike tumbled way down the mountain. It's one of those classic 'and a few seconds more' type situations you see after someone achieves something of note. My personal version which helped me get my nickname(and the name of this blog) was at a cyclocross race near Philly. After starting at the back of the mens B category of around 80 riders, I got to the front of the 2nd group just before the end of the 1st lap. Amazingly, I had passed almost 60 riders in that time. I got annoyed by the pace the other riders at the front were setting and I stepped it up as we headed into the last set of barriers. I was looking cool and fast. Then I forgot everything I knew about dismounts and with a new set of cleats on my shoes, I began to dismount, but didn't disengage the left foot from the pedal. As soon as the right foot touched the ground and the left foot didn't release, the bike shot forward, I tumbled and did a header straight into the first barrier. It made quite a racket and I rolled to my feet not quite sure which way to go. 'Oh, yeah, this way. That's where everyone else is going. I made it about another 100 yards and then the wooziness set in. It was about as good as some good bed spins after a night of drinking. I stopped as a few more riders passed me. Afterwards, I slowly remounted and got to the pit and replaced a wheel. I finished the race in a respectable 32nd, but the razzing I had to put up with after that was one of those things I'd rather not have to deal with again. I'd had others races where I had similar situations though just not right in front of everyone and never quite as embarrassing. I wonder how John-Lee felt when he dumped it today? Is he still asking himself, 'did I just do that?' If so, I wonder for how long?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

When, when, when are they going to learn?

Jeeezuss, what is wrong with people? I can't believe that Saunier Duval just got tossed from the tour because of Ricco testing positive for a new form of EPO. Did he get dropped on his head at an early age? You have to be a total and complete dumb-ass to be doing taking anything, especially during the Tour when they are extra vigilant about this sort of behavior. It's great to win a race, but to do it knowing that you won because you had a bit of 'help'. I don't see the draw unless you just like people cheering your name. Well, I like it too, but I refuse to take a win under those circumstances. I've had them taken away from me under crappy circumstances and have also been the benefactor of decisions that gave me a win. While winning under a technicality isn't the best of wins, it's better than winning by not playing in the same field as others. I imagine Sylvain Chavenal and Thomas Voeckler might've pushed themselves a bit more when the more serious climbing started if they were able to keep up with de la Fuente(guilt only by association, i know). With a few more points than they have now, they theoretically could be back in the hunt for the mountain jersey now rather than being also rans in this competition. I know of a good way to deal with this - Mob justice! Put the team back in the race and let everyone know that these guys have been stealing from you and that it's ok to take action against them. Nothing like a bit of self policing to make sure everyone keeps things above board. It's just like in the military. When someone causes a problem in a unit, generally the whole unit suffers. This is true whether it is just in training or actual combat. The unit as a whole than takes the necessary steps to make sure the 'problem' is solved. Hmmmm, it's probably a good idea that I'm not in control of the disciplinary committee in the sport or anywhere else for that matter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More politics!

I really have to stop reading so much and watching the news in the morning. If I had one of those squeezie balls that are supposed to relieve tension, I'd have turned it into dust this morning. Between a local politician getting off the hook for commiting perjury, as well as his kid getting off for allegedly killing his neighbor(the neighbor was determined to have commited suicide - just like Vince Foster), and then the national debates on drilling for oil and the presidential election pandering, my head is ready to explode. I turned to my usual source for humor in these situations and damn if they didn't have the poster which fit this situation. I really have to buy a few things from the folks at despair.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chili Day

I popped home for lunch today. I finally got rid of the laziness I'd been dealing with when it came to making lunches. I made up a big pot of chili. It's pretty filling and tasty too! No dead cow in there either. I now have lunch for the next few days as even just a small batch fills up the big pan. On one of the drives up to the cross races in New England a couple years ago, Gunnar, Betsy and myself cooked up a batch of this and by the time we got into New York, we all still had some. I take a box of Fantastic Foods vege chili mix and put it in the water after bringing it to a boil. Then I add in 1 can of chili beans, 1 can of black beans, chop up a big batch of vegetables. I usually use zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers. I'm not much of an onion person so I leave those out. A quick zip of extra chili powder and it's ready. One thing I also started doing a couple years ago is adding a half pound of rotini noodles to it as well. It makes for an interesting mix. Make sure you use the big pan when cooking it. My base recipe will feed 4 people unless they are really hungry. If there are 6 people, toss in a bit more of the rotini noodles and an extra can of beans. My concoction might even make it onto the menu at one of the cafes here in Greensburg. I'm searching for a name for it, maybe Mexican pasta? Hmmmm, not sure about that but I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trigger shy

I must be getting old or something. The past couple years after a very nasty crash, I've found I have been losing that 'in your face, aggressive' streak needed to do well in crits. I went to one of my nemesis races, the Hagertown MABRA crit championships. It's not a particularly hard course, nor are the fields really large. It's just that something always happens when we race downtown for me. One year, it was an allergy attack. Another, it was overheating. Last year, I had a guy get his bike sideways thru the sharp off-camber 2nd turn. He did manage to keep it upright which was pretty impressive to watch though it unnerved the pack behind him for the sprint. This year, I had a rider (the promoter, no less) decide he was going to move to the right going thru the left handed sweeper to set himself up for the previously mentioned off-camber left hander. I got forced into the curb and was feeling the tire rub and then our bars lock for a second. After yelling at him for a second, I got back to the matter at hand. Then the tire that rubbed the curb blew out a lap later going thru, you guessed it, the 2nd turn. I kept the bike upright but dammit I was now getting annoyed. This turn claimed about 30 people to wrecks this day. I at least escaped that fate. It seems people don't understand that if you are on a turn like this, DON'T PEDAL THRU IT! Unless you are using pedals like mine (Classic Sampson Stratics from the mid 90s), you are going to clip the road and wind up going down. After getting a wheel exchange, I jumped back in the group and tried to get settled into the pack. I'd worked my way thru the back third of the pack, when again, the race promoter almost caused another crash. Jesus, where did this guy learn to ride, the KMart school of bikeracing? Then after another close call a few laps later, I decided, I wasn't feeling that great anyway and I had a mountainbike race the next day, I called it quits. Mainly I called it quits because I was really wanting to throw an elbow on someone or run them thru a grate. Unfortunately, I know him and he's generally an ok guy. He just can't handle a bike. Beyond that, when you have thoughts like that going thru your head, it's probably best for everyone that you just pull off and go cool down. I did say something to the officials about it but they were not that receptive of even saying anything to him. Hmmm, I would say that there being a safety issue out there might cause some concern on their part. Even if it isn't anything official, they could at least say 'ummm, *****(I'll leave names out of this), there have been a couple people who've complained about your bike handling. You might want to do something about it. Thanks'. If nothing else, it might be food for thought for him. I let him know how I felt out there on the bike. Others did as well. We all want to keep it nice but if we're in the firing line, when do you stop being nice? After hanging around to watch the women's race I hit a nice BBQ resteraunt with Judd and Melanie. We all had days that could've been better, but the food was good and we got to get caught up as we hadn't seen each other since the cross season, which is coming up in 9 short weeks from now. Damn, this year is going a bit fast for me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The bridge too far

Well, one thing I can tell is that I'm still not 100% recovered from the fatigue attack earlier in the year. I got down to St Albans early enough to get a good dinner and a decent hotel room. I didn't notice it til the next day but the famous, or rather infamous, Pink Pony club was located just down the hill from it. When natz was last in Louisville, a friend and I drove past there at about 10PM and it was lit up with bright Pink flood lights. The next morning, the hot topic of conversations was that the guy who had won $330million bucks in the Powerball lottery had 475 grand stolen from the trunk of his car there. What kind of a moron drives around with that amount of cash? Anyway, back to the races. St Albans is a smaller crit, but they always have a decent payout. This year, with most of the riders doing either, Fitchburg, Nationals, the Lil Moe's WVMBA race or a race in Virginia, there was a definite drop in attendance. It was disappointing for the promoters, but for the riders who made the drive, it was worthwhile. I didn't have the same spark I had the day before and I also think I was a bit overconfident in the 40+ race as I repeatedly tried breaking the others by hitting the turn hard and gapping them. This saved me some energy on the climb but after a while, they were all looking at me as the rider who would do the work to bring back any attack which eventually came. In the end, I didn't have it for the finish and only wound up 5th. The 123s brought the same result, but I cracked late in the race when it was down to a few riders. It wound up being the bridge too far and the body told me "NO" when I tried getting that little bit extra ummpff for an acceleration. With the riders who were there, I should've been able to do better, but the body was talking back. I did a deliberately slow drive home after a good lunch in Charleston at the Paris cafe. My teammate Chris was having a good chat with the chef and son of the owner in french and we got to watch some of the Tour. Chris' mother is from France as well so he grew up speaking the language. Overall it was a tiring weekend though and I was glad to be a total veg on the couch on Sunday. I did get the time trialing equipment ready and am getting the front wheel hub re-lubed with the lead lube that I now have in almost all of my hubs. It makes for a bit of a crunchy ride til it gets worked into the metal, but once it does, all I can say is 'who needs to pay for ceramics?' The wheels really do turn much better. I guess that is one area where an engineering background does help. I'm not a trained engineer, but I am quick to learn the hows, whys and ways things work.

Friday, July 4, 2008

First win of the year - Finally!

I finally got my first win of the year. It was getting a bit annoying and a bit depressing after a few close calls and some definite down times. It was the 3rd race in the WV road series. To this point, I'd gotten a 2nd and a 10th which set me well back on point. I gained a few back and felt pretty strong in the run in. I'll be looking to make it 2 tomorrow at St Albans, WV and I'll be doubling up by doing the 123s as well. Last year, I rode it with a broken hand and after the halfway point, I had to bail because I just couldn't hold onto the handlebars anymore. I'm feeling like I can hang in and make it to the sprint, I can do well. If it's a small group, I feel like I'd be able to win it. I'm just going to get past the 40+ race though as it is the more important for me for the series and then look for the extra scalp later.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Celebrate This!

I was driving into work this morning and I heard something on the radio that really pissed me off. Someone had given some sort of speech that was being reported on and there was a phrase they used that has been really annoying me lately. 'Celebrate diversity' - I'm sorry, I'm not going to celebrate diversity. Particularly on this day. I'm going to celebrate the fact that if you are a citizen of this country, then you are an American. Nothing short. I'm of Irish/German descent, but I'm an American. I appreciate the fact that people have come to this country from all over the world, but the 'celebrate diversity' types seem to want to remind us that we're all different people. No, we're not different. We might have come from different places, speak different languages, like different things, but dammit, we're still freakin AMERICANS. So when you're watching the fireworks or at the family picnic on the 4th of July, take a moment and remember what we're celebrating here. As for diversity, always remember, the more you deal with it in a society and make special rules for this group and that group, diverse it gets. Get it? I'm going to go get the truck loaded up with beer and stuff now, put the gun in the rack with a fresh box of ammo, load up on the smokes in the glove compartment and use them all before I get home. Why? Because I can. I'm going to appreciate the fact that others sacrificed alot, much more than I ever can imagine, to allow us to do whatever it is in life we are doing.

On another little rant, with oil prices spiraling out of control and people grumbling about how it's just too expensive to do anything, take a moment and google Gull Island. Do a bit or reseach on ANWR. It's looking more and more like the oil markets are becoming much like the diamond markets in the world. Why is the oil so expensive? Because they want it that way. We could be running around with gas that costs about a buck a gallon, even with the increased demand and not be dealing with shortages. As for global warming and the increase in 'greenhouse gasses' from cars, well, do the math. How much extra gas do we have to burn in order to be able to match the original gas when you take into account for the catalytic converter and the reformulated gas. It all comes to about a wash on that account, but forces us to spend an additional $1000 or more per car for the converter, then buying the extra gas for it and the reformulated fuel. We're burning about 10-15% more fuel to get the same result and we also get to have the platinum oxide in the air now too! Give me a car with properly operating Oxygen sensors, and I'll show you a car that will emit the same level or less pollutants than the one with the catalytic converter. The increased gas usage also provides the state and federal government with the additional tax revenues which in PA account for about 51 cents a gallon. Hmmm, I think there are a few million cars in PA that use on average a couple gallons of gas a day. So if we are burning about 5 million gallons(I think we're burning more than this amount though) of gas a day in the state, we are pulling down $2.5Mil a day in taxes. Times 365 and that comes to $912.5Mil a year in taxes. If you drop consumption by 10-15% of that, that's a nice hefty chunk out of State and Fed budgets. Do that over the 50 states, and someone will be bitching when their pork project gets the ax. In the end, it does all end up being about control. Governments used to pass laws about how their people moved about the countries. In this country, laws like that would go over like the proverbial 'fart in church'. So subtlety is required. I'm looking at this as kind of a modern method of saying 'stay in your village, peasant'. I could be paranoid though. I better check and make sure the tin foil hat is properly fastened.