Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Forgot to mention ....

I'm running for President. A nice old couple at Country Buffet told me I should do so the other day when I was going off on one of my scary conservative(Not Republican, thank you very much) rants about the Turd Sandwich and Giant Douche* who are running for the respective parties. There's not much difference between them. One will make you grab the table, the other will make you grab a chair and neither will call in the morning. (one will take the laundry money off the dresser so he can give it to others who 'need' it more than you do) So make sure to write me in. I'm running on the Graft Party ticket. Our party motto is 'There's a cut of the action for everyone..... and now for the fine print - it's just some cuts are bigger than others.' I'll make graft work!

*South Park, episode 119, Douche and Turd

And the snow is hitting!

Tonight we're getting snow. It's already hit in the foothills and Laurel mountains. I have to drive up through it tomorrow too! I guess it's a good reminder of what Natz will be like but I'm not quite ready for the weather. I always have some problems dealing with the weather changes. I have to pay alot more attention to the body at this time of year as I wind up with dry skin issues. The massage therapist usually notices that she uses a bit more massage oil than normal this time of year. Maybe sometime I'll figure that one out. I'm also trying a new mix in the vitamin fray. Now after taking all the pretty little pills, the pee won't be in thermonuclear green. It'll be plaid. Now that's good chemistry, folks! Hopefully I can figure something out on getting the engine going and beat the chronic fatigue. I don't seem to be worn down by traveling, but I can't muster enough energy to power the bike fast enough. The leg strength is there too, but to actually crank up the steam and keep it there for some reason isn't happening. If the new stuff works, maybe I'll publish the mix here. In the meantime, I have to go ride some. I have a workout that really does seem to help my off bike time in races. I started doing it a couple years ago and it worked quite well. It's been the dismounts and runups where I've really gapped riders that I have been with in the races the past couple years. Each time I gap them, it just gets harder and harder for them to bring me back. I'm not ready to say I'm going to win races, especially since I'm racing up a class, but I'm holding a bit better. If I can just crank up the horsepower now.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I had a pretty good day on Sunday. I didn't place very high or anything, but I also didn't get lapped against some pretty fast guys in DCCX. I held the field for a bit, but again my horsepower is just a bit off or as I later found out, I need to just push a bit of a bigger gear. Coming into the last few hundred yards of the lap with 2 to go, I was able to see the leader, Blair Saunders coming up at about 45 seconds behind. Dammit, I was going to finish this race and it wasn't going to be at a lap down. I pushed it through the road section past the finish line. I'd dumped a small group a couple laps back and was just riding a steady pace. Now I had to put in an actual hard effort. I was worried about getting caught in the far fields where there were some long stretches that required nothing but horsepower, technique was optional. I had it in the big ring and saw I was actually holding my gap. Blair had closed a bit but not too much. In through the uphill barriers, I still did not see him closing and with only half a lap to go, I was feeling confident. In the end, I managed to stay about 20 seconds ahead and was able to push through the final lap. Even though the gun barrels are pretty low right now, I can look at the bright points. I'd not gotten lapped. In the areas where technical skills were a help, I came through clean and my dismounts and mounts were clean and quick. When you are getting back on the bike and it feels like you're just stepping onto the bike and not jumping on, you've got the flow going. I opted to bail out of the second race which would've had me lapped pretty quickly as Wes Schempf is going pretty well now. Instead, I had a beer in the pits and was heckling some riders while pretending to have their bikes ready. Even Melanie had a beer there as she was pitting for Judd. The elite race was cooking and there was a 5 man group of the front. All of a sudden, we heard a call go up about a wreck. With the exception of last years Natz, this was the first time I'd seen a serious injury at a cross race. We'd initially heard it was a leg break, but I think it wound up to be an ankle. Either way, it had to suck for that guy. The lead 4 came through the next time. It stayed like that until about 1.5 laps to go, when something went awry and a couple riders tangled and went down. I guess it's not too surprising that it would turn out like that as the leaders were riding as close as you would as if you were on the road. With the wreck breaking it up, the race went to Wes who won for the second year in a row.

After a bean&cheese burrito and a long drive back with Gunnar and Betsy's dog Jackie on my lap for a good portion of the way, I wound up having to go into work when I got home at around midnight and fix a net connection. Comcast definitely sucks in this department. Someone should put some code in the modem that as soon as net traffic goes down to reboot itself. These pieces of shit go down at the worst time(like today, when I'm 5 hours away from the damn thing). I guess this is why I get paid the big bucks. To go in at midnight and do stupid shit like this. Oh, well. It's a living. I just wish I could clone myself and then pay the clone minimum wage. I might get some training time in then.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Granogue/Wiss weekend

Late registration was again a nasty thing to me this past weekend. I really have to get my shit together in that department. On the other hand, it does force me to work harder at the start of a race. At Granogue, I did manage to pull up several spots thru the field at the start. Unfortunately, that nasty ghost I have following me around right now called a flat tire got me again. At the top of the hill, I was skittering around since my rear tire only had around 10lbs left in it. On top of alot of off-camber riding, it was very dry this day, so a slowly deflating tire was going to cost me quite alot of time. After losing at least a minute getting to the pits, I set out on the spare bike. Gosh, it's great to have one. Not only did I have the spare bike, but I'd brought 2 spare sets of wheels too! I'm really on a campaign to try to be over prepared this year. It does leave you with options on race day. Once I was back on a bike that was ready to go, I went fairly well. I caught a few riders back and was doing the button hook at the bottom of the big hill well enough that I had a fairly easy ride up. Compact gearing is great. In the end, I fell only a bit short of getting lapped by two of the Westwood Velo cavemen. Without the flat and being in a group to keep me going, I'm fairly certain I would've been a couple minutes faster and only been about 5 minutes down overall.

Wissahickon was a bit different for me. This was a Murhpy's law day that was intent of giving me the full lesson. Starting at the back(again), A knot of riders got taken out almost immediately when one rider got a very bad start and crossed over several of our wheels. From there, I locked bars and it took a second to come undone. Charging back to the back of the group and burning a match even before I'd started racing, I ran into the cluster f*** at the first hairpin 180. Maybe I should've just gotten off the bike and thrown it over the tape and cut through the pack. I might've grabbed some spots there. It was at that point, the next thing went wrong. I wore my road kit since I hadn't gotten my new skinsuit. Pactimo is a company that really needs to get their shit together and quit being so freakin cheap on zippers. Now, granted, I'm a bit of a fat bastard being 20lbs over my race weight currently, but I never had a zipper blow out on any Voler, Verge or Descente skinsuits I've had over the past 10 years. I've gone through 5 Pactimo zippers in the past 2 years. So there I am, trying to ride and yanking the zipper back down so it doesn't look totally ridiculous. I got into a group at the back and was riding fairly well when the demon gods came again. This time, my front tire felt a bit off. Later when I looked at it, it was still ok but with everything that was going wrong to that point, it just seemed like one more thing hitting me. After nursing the bike around the looping turn above the sand tracks, I slapped the bike down and was hopping back on while the bike was still bouncing. My ass hit at the same time the bike hit the ground and I popped a sewup loose. Dammit, was I going to have to run again? NO! I stopped and forced the tire back on and nursed it to the pit. With a minute gap to the back markers, I at least could make a game of it. Powering the bike through the sand and keeping my pace on the back stretches, I closed steadily til we got to the runup with the barriers. The workouts I've been doing in this department are definitely showing for me now. I was able to come at the boards at a good speed and was off the bike and the momentum carried me up the hill. On the bike quickly and a couple hard pedal strokes and I felt smooth. I closed 5 to 10 seconds every lap on the rabbits I was chasing through this section. After a couple laps, I caught the first guy and sat on his wheel for a spell and then blasted past going into the spiral of death. I gapped him and was closing on the next guy who was a teammate of the rider I'd just passed. We regrouped for a few brief seconds and the next time up the runup, I'd dropped the first and put a small gap on the second rider. He closed it and I stayed with him through the next half lap. Going into the spiral again, I stayed close on his wheel til the final cut to the reverse part. I sliced in and got a jump coming out. I managed a good pace though I got caught again, but we were heading into my best part of the course, the runup. I got a few seconds as it was the last lap, but I didn't press it home hard enough and it turned out to be a sprint between us. We made it look pretty good as Ken Getchell announced us as 5th and 6th. We were a lap down but hey, you have to make it look good. I should've popped it into the big ring and wound up running out of gear so I got pipped at the line. I did manage to close a big gap on some riders though and again, I rode a clean race though my insistence on staying on the bike definitely cost me some time when I could've just run the little hill at the start of the lap, but I'm not at the point where I've been wanting to just quit the races as I had to do last year. At some point, luck might smile on me and I'll get that good start and keep the air in the tires. I've traditionally been a slow starter in cross and it's usually in early November when things pick up for me. We'll be doing Fairhill in the first week which has been one of my better courses. Over the years, I've placed high in the B class and one year I even road the Elite race and gave a nice schooling to a roadie who had way more power than I did but he couldn't figure out why I kept passing him when riding through the muddy tracks in the fields. I'm hoping that the upward trend starts soon. Next week is DCCX. I had a decent race there last year so I'm looking to show improvement in my placings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Big Game!

Well, the big game is on tonite. It's the last debate(Thank God!) The politicians talk about term limits. I think they should have some limits on campaigns. It used to be that candidates tossed their hats in the ring the fall before the primaries. This campaign has been going 2+ years. Where do these people find time to actually do their freakin jobs? If I took that much time off mine, I'd have no clients. Hmmm, maybe I should get into that racket. I recycled this pic(from despair.com) from an earlier post, but it's a good one for tonite. Instead of debate, maybe it should be called a "Bullshitting" contest.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Iron Cross Weekend

I’ve completed my second Iron Cross weekend. The first day was the IC Lite race which is a traditional cross race. I actually got a good start coming into the grass in 7th and I didn’t have to pay a price to get there. Unfortunately, it was right about then that all the air started to go out of the back tire. After almost losing it through the first 180, I had to lighten up on the effort. I lost a lot of places going through the little zigzag section through the sand and got to the pits for the second bike. I came out 10 seconds behind last place. SHIT. I increased the effort to bring back the first group, road with them for a couple minutes and then pushed past. I caught and passed a few more riders over the following laps, but I’d spent myself. I really wasn’t expecting anything great, but I do feel I could’ve finished at least mid pack. My ability to hold an effort is getting better.

For Sunday’s race, I knew my form wasn’t as good as last year as well as being 6 or 7 lbs heavier so I’d lowered the gun barrels a bit. As feared, my overall climbing was off and there were some really freakin long climbs. I slipped a couple groups and then got in with a few riders who all were in the same position as myself. We were just riding and having a good ol’ time. I was beginning to seriously cramp at miles 35-45 but had gotten some Hammer Electrolyte caplets at the 3rd check point. After they started to kick in I was feeling much better. I wish I’d taken them before the start as that might’ve saved me a good 10+ minutes. The single track sections were a total blast though. Last year, I’d gotten off the bike a few times since I wasn’t as confident on my abilities. This year, I had to get off the bike only for a few yards since I’d run into a knot of riders who didn’t understand what ‘GET OUT OF MY WAY, HOT SOUP COMING THRU’ meant. They just didn't scatter quite fast enough. After remounting, I continued to blast my way past riders who’d left me standing on the hill and put about a minute on them before we got back out onto the road. Later in the race, the same thing happened on the last two sections of rocky single track on I was going faster now. I’d gotten my second wind and was able to pass several riders and on the climb leading into the final walk up(no run ups here since they were usually several hundred yards at a minimum). I short stepped it and closed on them to the step in the middle of the walk up. The riders I was chasing must’ve been cooked since they walked the 100 yard step that was only just more than level trail. I road halfway up the final climb passing a one rider and coming up on the wheel of the second rider. Hopping off, I paced it up the hill just behind. At the top, there was a slight rise we had to remount. Once we were pedaling, the other rider left with me looked over and said ‘man, I am hurting bad’. That was all I needed to hear. I jumped on it(hey, we were racing for 125th or something like that) and pushed up over the little climb. Doing this race the year before, I knew if I could keep my speed over the top, it was followed by some fast rollers and then a big descent back out on real roadway. Hitting pavement, I dumped it into the 50x13 and really launched it. Knowing the guy chasing me was a roadie sprinter, I didn’t want to give him a chance to even come back to me. On a small climb, I could see him 30 to 40 seconds back. The final big descent, I did more of the same. I was using the whole road and hit the next to last turn at a really good clip. With two small pops leading into the finish, I kept my pace going without killing myself. The only real effort I was able to put in for the previous 10 miles was based on leg speed. I could see on the first pop which was the steeper of the two, the gap shrunk to 20 seconds. The good news was, that was his last gasp. Getting to the top of the final rise, I could see the gap yawned back to more than 30 seconds and by the finish, the gap was at least a minute. I wound up being about 3 or 4 minutes slower than last year, but all things considered, it wasn’t a bad ride.

One good thing about the weekend was I had a successful race day coaching debut. I rode Saturdays course with Terri Spanogle, an elite womens rider who is making some progress this year. She’s normally coached by Chris Mayhew who was in Cincy this past weekend. I showed her which lines to take and where and when to put the efforts in that matched her riding style. Up until the 3rd lap, she was all over Betsy Shogren and had even gotten excited enough to try and attack her. That move was a bit more than I wanted her to do, but she was feeling stoked. Unfortunately, on a remount, she knocked her saddle loose and lost about 15 seconds in the next lap. That was pretty much where it stopped. She figured how to compensate for it and was able to put the effort in to stay close. Terri didn't gain any time but she was able to prevent Betsy from coming in for her single speed, which I know she wanted to do. A second bike and no mishaps like the saddle and she might have been able to make a go for the win. It was only after her mishap that she started to forget the clean lines for a bit but all in all, she road a really good race. It’ll be interesting to see how she does at Granouge next weekend. A bit of confidence can go quite a long way.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Computers and the weather

As a computer consulting/service company, I have 4 extremely busy times of the year. At the beginning and ending of the years, both fiscal and calendar, I have customers who are either trying to use up the rest of last years budgets at the end and then buying new toys for themselves when they get their new years budgets. Those are generally very busy, but fun times since there generally isn't too much that is going wrong with the hardware. That is for early fall and early spring. When the weather swings back and forth with greatly changing temperatures, computers generally start throwing fits at this time. Rapidly fluctuating weather and temperatures will cause the components of the systems to move around as they the metal on them is shrinking and expanding. Usually a quick preventive maintenance takes care of any problems, but every now and then, a few of the systems just decide to take a crap and really make my days miserable. In this past week, I had 2 notebooks and 1 desktop for customers decide they were going to annoy me (as well as my customers). On top of that, I'm now helping a new client out of a miserable mess caused by another computer business where the techs there knew just enough to shoot their foot off and wound up wiping out a server. To top that off, they didn't check to see if there was a proper backup of the server before they started goofing with it. After blowing off questions from the client about the errors they were recieving from the backups, they proceeded to go in half cocked and wipe the drive out. After shooting their foot off then, they proceeded to reload the gun and shoot the other foot off by trying to save the situation by reinstalling the operating system. If they'd just stopped after losing one foot, I could've saved things, but now the customers data for the last year is a 75% loss. They told me to be billing them their emergency rates as they know I've been taking time from other clients to get them back up and running so it's going to be a well paying repair, but it's really eaten up alot of my time. I haven't been on the bike since Saturday and it's really getting at me now. The worst part of it is, the other company is acting all indignant that the customer didn't have a working backup. Well, that was the techs job to make sure one existed before he started fucking around with the server. I really hate the passing the buck on responsibility that we have going on in this country today. The ol' 'I'm a screwup but it's someone elses fault' theory that is being pushed in schools, courts and workplaces is really out of hand and something has to be done to reign it in. Maybe Singapore has it right on their justice system. Beat the hell out of some of these people and maybe they'll start thinking twice about how they do things. Maybe this is a bit extreme and I'm advocating something that might not be the best solution. I'll blame that on the fact that I haven't been able to ride my bike this week. It's certainly not my fault that I'm this wound up...

Friday, October 3, 2008

All bikes are now ready!

Finally! I got my front line cross bike ready. I'm leaving the carbon wheels off it for the Hagerstown and Iron Cross races, but I'm now up on the bikes I should've been on but didn't get built due to the unfortunate extension of the road season. I have to get a pic of the one I picked up at the end of last year. It was pretty cool looking and also bordered on the stupid light category - 17lbs with the pedals. Now if I could just get myself somewhere close to the stupid light category, I might go a tad faster.

My week of training didn't finish quite as well as I would've liked. Work once again got in its way. I am having to put out a fire at a new client. Once again, I am cleaning up the mess of another company who apparently is in business because they know how to build a pc. The problem for people like this is the age old 'What happens when something goes wrong' concept. That is when these companies fold up tent and disappear into the night leaving people like myself to clean things up and talk people off the ledges when all their data for the past 6 years is now gone. It's good to know that people outside of my direct area of operation are hearing about me and that they're willing to pay me to come to them in situations like this. Maybe I can start cracking up my rates more. I'm actually a bit surprised some computer consultants don't wind up in ditches more often when this sort of shit happens. I don't know if I'll be able to magically fix everything for this customer, but I know at worst case, they'll have lost a couple weeks data. In the meantime, I'll have to make sure I leave the bike in the car if I want to get any riding in early next week. I'll be tired, but it'll be a well paid kind of tired.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ranting (whining, call it what you like)

"Now is not the time to affix the blame. Now is the time for senseless bickering!"

I, like millions of other Americans (at least I hope it's that number) have been following the nasty financial bailout tif that is going on in this country right now. All of the politicians as well as financiers and media people are talking about how we have to do it, without mentioning one thing in the whole mess - Responsibility! At what point are people in this country accountable for their actions. It is pretty damn clear that there has been a lot of shenanigans going on over the past couple decades and people who tried blowing the whistle were shut up. If the average person tried this sort of thing, we'd be hauled before a court, tried in a reputation and career shattering fashion and locked up before we knew what hit us. At what point is there going to have to be a few leaders heads on pikes before a sense of proper conduct is brought back to the whole mess called Washington. I keep hearing people on the news say, 'Now is not the time to be pointing the finger. We have to come up with a plan and rescue the situation.' I agree with this to a certain extent. One we come up with a plan and enact it, then it MUST be time to be looking at what was done and then get the pikes out. Anyone who has been using the situation for political posturing should also get a whack on the head at the very least, though I'm being much too kind. Everyone on the House Finance committee should step down and charges should be looked into. If they are that incompetent then they're removal is justified. If they are competent, but chose to overlook the situation because they knew it could create a political gain situation, then off to jail with them. It's time people start taking these people to task and start demanding accountability and following through on it.