"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


...and speaking of hot dogs and sex:

I got news for you: what do you think was in the soil that the soy beans in yer veggie burger were grown in?

DEAD ANIMALS. Circle of Life. Fuck off.

My friend John says, "This seems perverse at first, but then you realize, 'Good, I don't want to have anything to do with you either.'"

Carnivore sex off the menu

By REBECCA TODD - The Press | Tuesday, 31 July 2007

No sex, please, you're a carnivore.

A new phenomenon in New Zealand is taking the idea of you are what you eat to the extreme.

Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals.

The co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies at Canterbury University, Annie Potts, said she coined the term after doing research on the lives of "cruelty-free consumers".

Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand: A National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and other Ethical Consumers asked 157 people nationwide about everything from battery chickens to sexual preferences.

Many female respondents described being attracted to people who ate meat, but said they did not want to have sex with meat-eaters because their bodies were made up of animal carcasses.

"It's a whole new thing – I have not come across it before," said Potts.

One vegan respondent from Christchurch said: "I believe we are what we consume, so I really struggle with bodily fluids, especially sexually."

Another Christchurch vegan said she found non-vegans attractive, but would not want to be physically close to them.

"I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance," she said.

Christchurch vegan Nichola Kriek has been married to her vegan husband, Hans, for nine years.

She would not describe herself as vegansexual, but said it would definitely be a preference.

She could understand people not wanting to get too close to non-vegan or non-vegetarians.

"When you are vegan or vegetarian, you are very aware that when people eat a meaty diet, they are kind of a graveyard for animals," she said.

I love Hot Dogs

Sunday was Super Dawg.

Yesterday: Chubby Weiners. (If you haven't made it to this Lincoln Square addition, put it on your list. If only for the countergirl, if meat isn't your thing. I asked her what the difference was between the Chubby Hot Dog, and the regular Chicago dog. "Oooooh, it's thicker, longer..." she cooed. I love it when they coo. Get the chubby. It's worth it. And they have battered fries.)

So! Who wants to take an extra 30 minutes lunch and ride up to Hot Doug's with me this week to make it a hat trick?! "There's no two finer words in the English language that 'encased meats,' my friend."

Comment your affirmative.


Just in case you were wondering...

I am back on the bike and starting a new training block this week. Elk Grove, Sherman Park, and possibly the Team Time Trial Championships are in the cards.


5 Things

Five things I learned this weekend:

1. Chiropractors are not quacks. Apparently. At least the one I began seeing on Friday, when I found out that my insurance covers the treatment. I went in and had my neck - which has been stiff and painful since high school football, but much more so since the car-hit, and shoulders looked at. The numbness in my right hand hasn't entirely gone away, and I've aggravated the left shoulder pain by crashing head-over-heels during the Evanston Criterium last Sunday. He did all those "chiro-type" things - spine twisting, neck jerking, shoulder popping, pressure point massaging. Then followed that up with electro-stimulation and ice-pack therapy (the electro-stim was eerily cool - it felt as though my shoulder blade muscles were being scrubbed pleasantly with a wire brush, and they kinda spazzed out, contracting gently). And maybe it's just psychosomatic but my neck has more maneuverability than it has in years and the numbness is a little bit less. Maybe?

2. Sleep is a good thing. I don't know why I resist going to bed at a reasonable time. Actually, I do know why, and it's because I have to little time to myself during the day. I'm up and out the door to work by 8, and Sunday through Wednesday I'm in rehearsal until 10pm. Then Saturday and Sunday I am usually riding by 7am. So by time I get home from rehearsal, I need to wind down with a glass of wine and some TV. Do some stretching, catch up on emails, and wha?!...it's midnight. "D'oh!" This was a full-on rest week, however, as I was trying to heal up as best as possible from Sunday's crash. And even though I didn't make it to sleep before 1am either Friday or Saturday (more on that below), I did get to sleep in, and last night I made sure I was in bed at 10:30, drifting away to dreamland on the whispery tones of Harry Shearer's voice.

3. Ted Nugent is completely insane. Or a bigot. Or maybe he's just the most open minded person on the entire planet. In one performance at Ridgefest, the man played a song called "The Immigration Dance," sprinkled liberally with words like, "Mamacita" and "Aye aye aye!", told the audience he grew up in Detroit as a black kid, waved two machine guns in the air while screaming, "Guns for Kids!" "Kill and Grill Bambi!" "Fuck Mayor Daley!" and finished his set wearing a full Native American headdress and shot a flaming arrow into a fireworks rigged guitar after performing a song called, "Home of the Buffalo." But no matter. Just as Daniel Baremboim told Tel Aviv to get over it, your views on gun control or immigration should have no bearing on the realization that The Motor City Madman is one of the best musicians alive. That he could pull off a song as monumentally awful as one "Girl Scout Cookie" and then melt our faces off with "Stranglehold" (the solo was note for note off the album, I might add) and that we could love each equally is a testament to the man's conviction, character, and musicianship. And all this was in the setting of one of the bigger collections of white trash and biker culture South Chicagoland has to offer. We actually ended the night at a Midget Bar, for Christ's sake. The Nuge in Chicago Ridge, baby. It doesn't get any better.

4. The Simspons is still funny. On the way down to Ridgefest we stopped at the 7-Eleven "Kwik-E Mart" at 63rd and Harlem. I ate a pink donut with sprinkles and had a Buzz Cola. We saw the movie yesterday. It was kinda surreal, witnessing the penultimate moment of arguably one of the top cultural icons of the '90s. I've been watching that show since my junior year of high school. And people forget that at the time, it was pretty groundbreaking. I haven't watched many episodes in the last 3 years as the show has been sagging. But this movie brought out the best in it's creators and it was fully worth the wait.

5. That nothing is better than good friends. Went to a bar-b-q on Saturday night in Logan Square and was able to indulge like I haven't in months and months. And by indulge I mean more than just beer and spinach dip and pot. Floating from conversation to conversation, kissing JB on the cheek and saying "I love you!" and realizing how much all of your friendships have grown in the past year is far more fulfilling than any 6-pack of Old Style. Rudy and Loren (and Mat, and Loe, and Joe - who were not there but should've been): I will go to the end of the Earth with you two.


New pics

More new pics from Whitnall Park on Tuesday, compliments of Luke. None of me yet, but stay tuned. I've added them to Wednesday's entry.


To Charles

I was reminded of an event in my life last night that I thought I would share with you, so I'm going to tell you a little story.

Several years back, when I had started writing poetry as a bit of a hobby, I went in search of an open mic night to try some of it out. I happened on a little bar, a single not-quite-forgotten leftover, a lone hanger-on, of Chicago's seedier days. Surrounded by $20 cover charges, velvet ropes, and block after block of new construction, theme-restaurants, and high-end retail, Weeds Tavern sits alone and discreet at the corner of Dayton and Weed, otherwise known as the "Back of Beyond".

It's old, wooden, and worn. But clean, not dirty, save the thick clouds of cigarette smoke. Most of the regulars drink tequila and Old Style, and there's always at least one pizza being consumed on the bar.

I walked in, nervous, sweaty, a bit overweight, and, asking myself if I should really do this, ordered a Jameson on the rocks.

There was a huge sloppy cake with candles on it sitting at the end of the bar. It was Charles Bukowski's birthday, I was informed. Everyone who read their work that night would also get to read a Bukowski poem. Not being a Chicago native, and having spent my last 6 years locked in a UNT College of Music practice room for 8 hours a day, I said, "But I don't know who Charles Bukowski is." I'd seen Barfly years ago, but again, I was too clueless and careless to really care or realize.

Once the laughter died down, I was told it really didn't matter. Just pick a poem and read it before I read one of mine. That sounded OK, I replied, and I settled in to my whiskey and some very good poetry. From both the people there and of Charles Bukowski.

I began to see Charles as a hard man. A jaded man. And a drunk man. Somebody scary. Possibly mean. A man who wore lots of wool, and dirty white t-shirts, permanently stained with spaghetti sauce and bourbon. I heard Charles tell me about how he vomited on himself, or the hooker sitting on his couch. The morning he nearly passed out while taking a shit. Killing spiders while he typed at the window. Charles was not somebody I'd know, or talk to. I saw only hopelessness and anger.

And then it was my turn.

I sat down on the stool, scooting it noisily under my ass on the wooden planks of the stage. The single hot spotlight shone on me. I felt like I was being interrogated. I had just been handed a book called, "Love is a Dog From Hell," by Charles Bukowski. I had no idea where to begin, or what to choose. I only wanted to keep the mood of the evening going, and have something through which to segue into my own work.

So, with nothing and everything to lose, I opened the book randomly and began to read. A shudder came down my spine, and his words flowed from my mouth and became mine. I was immersed in his plea, and Charles Bukowski was suddenly the most beautiful human being I had ever met. To this day, when I hear or think of Charles Bukowski, this is what enters my mind:

quiet clean girls in gingham dresses ... all I've ever known are whores, ex-prostitutes,
madwomen. I see men with quiet,
gentle women ­ I see them in the supermarkets,
I see them walking down the streets together,
I see them in their apartments: people at
peace, living together. I know that their
peace is only partial, but there is
peace, often hours and days of peace.

all I've ever known are pill freaks, alcoholics,
whores, ex-prostitutes, madwomen.

when one leaves
another arrives
worse than her predecessor.

I see so many men with quiet clean girls in
gingham dresses
girls with faces that are not wolverine or

"don't ever bring a whore around," I tell my
few friends, "I'll fall in love with her."

"you couldn't stand a good woman, Bukowski."

I need a good woman. I need a good woman
more than I need this typewriter, more than
I need my automobile, more than I need
Mozart; I need a good woman so badly that I
can taste her in the air, I can feel her
at my fingertips, I can see sidewalks built
for her feet to walk upon,
I can see pillows for her head,
I can feel my waiting laughter,
I can see her petting a cat,
I can see her sleeping,
I can see her slippers on the floor.

I know that she exists
but where is she upon this earth
as the whores keep finding me?


I think it's time

I didn't see the sun today, wrapped in the foggy gauze of pain
It looked to be a promising day, I was full of hope last night
Instead I woke to a throbbing ache and intermittent falling rain
My soul was cramping with my body, empty of any more fight

It's not time for the dreams to die, instead they need to age
To sit on the shelf like fine French wine, to grow to life in the dark
The sun might be missed, but we can live on, scream and rage
Good-natured, to find the soul that just began to miss the mark

The sun will rise again, at night, while all your friends are fast asleep.
You won't feel tired, groggy, or grumpy, and you will jump to your feet
At the chance to begin to build anew, to sow, and tend, and reap
The fruit of my dreams will grow tall and strong in the light of the summer heat.


Superweak (The Death of a Target Race)


Not the letters I was expecting to be writing the day after my race in Evanston as I sit here eating cold fried rice for lunch.

It was supposed to be "My Race." And I was gonna race it "My Way." But right now, "My Way" is just sore and purple and grazed with a bit of angry red rash, (my knee has this great jiggly feeling as I walk) and those accusing, stark letters are now stamped over it. It was my 3rd crash in five weeks. And frankly, I am getting a bit sick of it.

At the line:

But only A Bit Sick of It. Perspective is everything, and when I add it to the mix, I can't help but feel better. I'm not the one with the broken collarbone, or destroyed bike, or ruined uniform. I rode home in a car, not an ambulance. And once there, napped on the couch, then rode back up to watch the pros race with some teammates, and then enjoy a wonderful Nepalese dinner at Mt. Everest with some bandmates. Eventually back home, I fell asleep on the couch to Family Guy reruns, Tour highlights, and about one and half pages of For Whom The Bell Tolls - chapter 3.

But still. I wanted so badly to be in this race. To be at the front, feeling the pain, gritting my teeth, taking my pulls, feeling the satisfaction as I flicked my right elbow and the line came past. But after an interminable wait to begin, I felt it slipping through my fingers as soon as we were rolling. Several riders had trouble clipping in, as teammate Donovan noted (for once it was not me!) and already we trying to bridge up from the start. Just we caught on after the 3rd turn, the first crash split the field at turn 5, and us at the back were scrambling again.

If you look closely, I am waaaay at the back:

I just couldn't get comfortable at all. Getting gapped so early on had me feeling panicked and alone - even though there were others behind me. It was a total regression mentally from last weeks racing. Sunday was much faster than I was prepared for, and nobody was holding a line. The turns weren't actually dangerous, but the race's speed was affecting the inexperienced field, obvious from all the crashes at turn 5. I dodged another one at that same spot about 5 laps later, much closer to me this time, and actually used it to my advantage. So many riders went down, I found myself near the front the only time in the entire race.

It finally got a bit more settled, mentally and physically. I found a strong wheel to suck on, and I was able to accelerate with the pack, instead of after it, and found myself gliding through the turns without worry for once. But it didn't last long.

Barely hanging on:

It happened too fast to describe it other than a Mack rider fell right in front of me at the now infamous Turn 5, and the next thing I know I was somersaulting towards the curb. Afterwards, I was pretty proud of myself for tucking, it probably saved me the broken collarbone (funny, since I was mentally out of sorts for so much more of the race, and such a severe moment I have the sudden clarity). I stood up, realized I was OK, check over my shoulder to make sure nobody was coming, and ran to get my bike, tossed about 20 feet past my landing spot in the middle of the course. Nobody was screaming at me to get out of the way yet, so I grabbed it, and hustled to the curb.

Turn 5, through the eyes of xXx teammate Luke Seemann:

The wheel was a twisted mess, so I carried it along the barricades, running as fast as I could toward the wheelpit, looking for an opening in the barricades, cleats clicking on the concrete. After what seemed an eternity (in reality, the pack only made one pass) I got past all the staring eyes and spectators lazily getting out my frantic path. I received my SRAM wheel and had my headset straightened, and jumped back into the pack for the 2nd time of my Superweek. Actually I got onto a group off the back trying to bridge up, Alberto at back, yelling for me to get his wheel, get his wheel.

But it was futile. I kept hearing a worrisome clicking noise (coming from my fork?!?), was unable to concentrate fully, and I fell farther behind on each turn, working harder to erase each gap that materialized. It was just too fast. Two laps after jumping back in, I got gapped for good, and as they disappeared behind the next turn, I pulled off, alone, with 8 laps to go.

I walked over to Fountain Square and found several teammates and friends commiserating and Luke taking pictures. I hadn't even thought about it yet, but he circled me and informed me that my brand new kit was still in good shape. Ironically, as healthy as I came out of the crash, that would've been the most distressing part of the day, had that been ruined. Or so I can say now. We watched the finish together, and celebrated 3 teammates in the Top Ten. No to mention all the others that finished. Quite a feat when you consider only 41 out of a field of 75 even finished.

Afterwards, with Rick:

Stacy and the wheel:

Later that evening, the pros were carving lines like an artist etches glass:

As I said, perspective puts everything in place. I don't want to say I could've had lower expectations, and I was still justified in making this my target race, but I should have realized this race was going to be a bit more than I was going to be able to swallow. This is Superweek, after all. The biggest event on the Midwest racing calendar. And a lot of riders, who have been racing a lot longer than me were targeting it, too. This race especially. It was an inaugural event, the course was tight, technical, and exciting. The best of each category were there.

This is my first season, and I haven't begun to put in the needed training to race at this level. I joined the team in April, after a winter of performing with two bands, traveling to Europe and training for one 8K race. My only off-season base miles were Bike Winter commuting, and I had never pushed myself to the level on the bike that I am doing regularly now.

So I am not looking back on this disappointing finish with, forgive me, disappointment, but rather, anticipation. To finish my last race of the season. To take a couple months off to play music (The Midnight Shows got a Cleveland House of Blue gig in October!) and reflect on what I've accomplished this summer, Sunday notwithstanding. The anticipation of starting at -building a foundation- for the first time, where everyone else who finished the race Sunday began their season.

In the short term, I have one more Superweek race, this Friday in Kenosha. I'm not giving up to try and finish in the money. I could've put a bit more intensity in my training these last two weeks, but with races on Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I didn't know where I could put it. I have time this week, for physical training and mental. Meditation and visualization is going to be a bigger part of my training. It always is with my music performances. Mentally I could've prepped a lot more for the pace, the communication, paceline work, and just the realization that it was just as hard for everybody else.

I am getting sick of the crashing, however. My left shoulder hasn't been right since the car hit 5 weeks ago, and yesterday's endo did nothing for it. Just when I am able to begin sleeping on my right side again, I can't roll over onto my left side. I am considering completely withdrawing from the Elk Grove race (and it's even tighter turns and homogeneous Cat 5 field) to avoid the possibility of another crash and concentrate on getting one good, 4 week training phase and a rest week in (and maybe a Matteson race) for Sherman Park. I will upgrade for that day's Cat 3/4 race and I want to be strong, healthy and do the best I can.

Tonight, however I'm just gonna rehearse, then get a lot more Hemingway in, over a nip of whiskey and ice cream.


A New Ride

Finding a new route was about as good as it got today. I left work around 2 (summer Fridays. Yes!) and just as I was crossing the road that takes you to the Planetarium, I hear a cocky voice behind me say,

"You ain't riding for Milram! Who do you think you are?!"

Rick Dearworth pulled up alongside me in his blue and yellow Airborne kit (required if you are a xXx-er with a quick tongue and annoyed easily by lakefront crowds) and it was good to see him. I wanted to get three hours on the bike today at least, but I was just planning on doing tempo work along the path.

But somebody to talk to on a bike ride always wins out, and Rick said he wasn't gonna be out that long, so I figured an hour or so warm up and conversation would be perfect. We headed south along the path, and then down South Shore Blvd, to 95th Street. Through the shipping channels we went, waiting for the draw bridge, past the Schlitz bar that's down there, and apparently still open, I have just realized. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. Not too hot, and the only complaint was the wind, although not at the moment, with it pushing gently at our backs, like generous stronger rider, coming up behind us.

We chatted about the season, our recent races. How crazy everyone was riding at Blue Island. How much we were enjoying the summer, and what to look forward to next year. We rode easy, no more that 60 per cent.

He showed me Calumet Park, a huge expanse of green space at 95th and South Shore. We saw maybe 3 cars driving out on its roads with us. The beaches were clean and uncrowded. Trees were everywhere. What a great place for a race, he said. I agreed.

We came back out of the park, and headed west on 95th, and onto South Chicago Blvd. It was all new for me until we reached MLK. Had I been on my own, I might have just continued on to the Burnham Greenway from South Shore, past the Skyway, and done nothing new, and not had any inspiration for the rest of my ride. But by the time Rick and I parted ways at Cermak, I felt ready to go hard.

I made a stop back at the Museum Campus, to piss and eat a shot, and then took off hard, back south again. Three tempo runs occupied my time until 5:30 or so. With the wind at my back I reached 52nd in about 10 minutes, riding just below my threshhold, or a little less. Coming back was more of a time trial. The wind was heavy in my face, and I was much slower, but I smiled to myself the whole way. Back in April I was riding with Luke and Chris on our Wednesday morning ride, the Hump Day Hump - in very similar conditions, save the heat, and was barely able to draft on those two at 18mph. But today, I still managed to keep that pace, and fairly easy, never really getting my heart rate much above 150. I went back south one more time, stopping at the point for water and glance at the afternoon skyline, glinting silver and sharp in the sun.

I headed back easy, keeping it low. I stopped back at work to pick up my bag at the security desk, and then headed home on a nerve wracking ride. There's just something scary about riding on city streets at rush hour on Friday. Everybody's had a long week and is impatient, and not paying attention. I am low on energy, close to bonking, so I kept my speed low and tried to stay as alert as possible.

Finally home, I could relax, and took a quick nap and headed to the grocery store for some ice cream.


Superweek continues...

Superweek: Chapters 2 and 3. Assignment completed. C+, no extra credit.

First up, a return to Whitnall Park, the site of my xXx initiation and racing depantsing, back in late April of this year. Located in Hale's Corners, Wisconsin, the races there are held in the botanical gardens and the park grounds. A very green and peaceful place with rolling hills and lush trees and ponds, the roads are closed for traffic the entire day, and belie a pretty challenging race course. This time around the course was over a mile longer, and technically classified as a road race, even though it was really more of a circuit at only 2 miles long. Definitely not a criterium as there was only one really sharp turn, and about 3 hills. All big-ring rollers. The final stretch came after a 110 degree turn and was long climb to the start/finish line.

My main goal for Superweek is to finish at least once in the money. Although after finishing at Whitnall (17th out of 48) I knew I'd have to wait on that one, I had a more modest mark in mind as well: get off at least one flyer off the front. Attacking is one thing at the Matteson Training Races, doing it in a real race is another. Especially for me, when even staying at the front is a crap shoot. It took a few races to even get up there, and lately I've been so concerned with protecting my wheel, my instinct is to move back rather hang out and wait for whoever is crowding me to clip my front wheel.

I pre-rode the course with teammate Kevin Karkovsky we talked about where to expect attacks, or attack ourselves, and where were the good places for the winning jump. Flashforward to the second lap of the race, we came up the last hill towards the start/finish line and I decided right there I was going to have my bit of fun. I was sitting probably 10 wheels back, spinning in my saddle. I upshifted and let off, as Alberto has coined it, "The Girlfriend Flyer." Although I had no girlfriend present at the race, I knew I'd get a picture of it, thanks to Luke, and I'd also get to hear my name announced as I came past the line. But more importantly, I'd get to see what it felt like, see if anybody chased and when, and see how long I felt like keeping it up.

I separated from the pack pretty easily, and they waited until the first big downhill past the line to try catch me. Rather, as I flew down the hill, the pain in my legs from my uphill flyer told me that trying to maintain a solo breakaway for any amount of time on these rolling hills with 11 laps to go was pure stupidity. I looked under my arm at the pack behind me, already abandoning the effort, and I saw the bridge coming right at me: 2 riders, and they came by too quickly for me to change my mind and grab one of their wheels to continue on. It was a smart move, since they were caught after about 2 laps, and various other break attempts failed as well.

After my conversation with teammate Brian Boyle riding home from Saturday's race in Blue Island, I realized I need to do what comes naturally in the pack, all the while still realizing and reacting to the need to move up at the important time in the race. Another aspect of racing I've been making progress with is grabbing wheels and using them to move up. With two laps to go, I hopped on a Chromo wheel and I found myself at the front of the pack. I stayed on it for almost an entire lap, and it wasn't until just before the last turn I realized my mistake.

He was the one blocking for the winning leadout.

A more confident racer on the last lap would've made a move to leave the wheel, but I felt boxed in and helpless by the pavement to the left and the riders to my immediate right as the train moved on past just past them. As well, I knew the pack would bunch back up on the last turn and the base of the hill, and I would have a slim chance to make up the ground there. But as soon as I was out of the turn, the front was already accelerating and I'd lost my chance.

I still rode strong up the hill, but for some reason, even at the end of 13 laps, I was caught off guard at how quickly the line came up on me, thinking I had another 100 meters to go. I really never got out to sprint.

Final lesson of the day: we were pretty close at the end, those of us just off the lead pack sprint. A little better energy conservation and water consumption during the race, and little better "can do" attitude for a full sprint, no matter how "hopeless" it seems, could've made the difference in finishing in the money at Whitnall Park.

Today was another road race at the MGA Proving Grounds in Lyons, Wisconsin, just west of the family home of Kenosha. Not much to say about this race, except that it was fast and hard. My only goal was to finish with the pack, and stay on two wheels. It was hard to clear my mind of Beth Kobezska, especially on the many tight blind curves and blind hills on this narrow, open traffic road race.

It was still a fun race, however, on a very unique course. The Proving Grounds is a test track where the perform crash ratings, and test tires and the like. We started with a Neutral Rollout onto the test track and then the race went "live" as we turned right on to Warren Road. We did four laps up and down several big ring rollers and one small ring climb just after the start. On the last lap I made a pretty dumb rookie move of down shifting under full torque to try and increase my spin a bit and nearly crashed.

The race never really slowed down like a road contest normally does. I was trying to eat some clif Shot Blocks on the back stretch of the third lap as the tempo increased to catch a break away and I briefly wondered if I would have to pull to receive the Heimlich Maneuver from the guy riding shotgun in the sweeper car. The other xXx riders in this master's field were the picture of calm and economy, however. Kirby came past me several times to give me some encouragement and reminders to ease up and save energy. Once I asked him to "drop some Zen on me." The reply was basically, you are still here, not dropped and sitting in the Sprinter's Lounge. Relax man. You're in the field.

A train of us came together briefly on the last lap and though it didn't hold, it was a learning experience watching Kevin, Kirby, and Bob work their way up to where Chris and Mark had been sitting at the front for the entire race, chasing breakaways, and bridging up the pack. We came through the feed zone, and the pace revved back and forth, as though the cumulative effort of the pack was goosing the gas pedal, almost too excited for the sprint to begin, already thinking about the final decent back onto the proving grounds track.

And once we made those final turns, the pack strung out down along the connector road to the track, it came back together just when I thought I was dropped. And just as I caught back on again, they were off, up the final hill for the final decision. I passed several guys completely bailing out on the way up. Once again, a little more energy conversation, per Kirby and Kevin's advice, would've helped me out as I didn't have much left. I was a mess as I came up the hill, maintaining my speed but certainly not gaining any, and unable to stand up. I practically pushed against my handlebars for leverage against my pedals, and was again, like the day before, right on the wheel of former xXx-er Pat Kelly, but unable to catch him. I finished 26th, out of a field of 41 who finished, maybe 50 who started.

It was xXx's day, with 3 in the top ten: Mark Watkins got the win, Kevin Karkovsky came away with 5th, and Kirby 7th. However, this fantastic finish was marred, nay - ruined - by the careless actions of one careless rider who obviously spends much, much less thinking about other than he does himself. Note to any cyclists reading this blog: please keep going straight until you have slowed down from your sprint. Kevin Karkovsky had the extreme unluck to be right next to this thoughtless rider who decided, only seconds after his sprint, to cut right into the parking lot. On the way there he clipped Kevin's front wheel at about 30 miles an hour, sending Kevin immediately to pavement. It's one thing to break your collar bone on a hard fought sprint. It's quite another to have it happen needless like Kevin's season ended today.

Just because the race is over, doesn't mean you can immediately start making dick moves. At least you could've expressed one modicum of regret or remorse. Nothing from this rider past a casual apology, as Kevin sat bleeding on the pavement, cradling his shoulder and fighting off the shock. It was a goddamn shame.

Up next: the Inaugural Evanston Criterium on Sunday, and the Kenosha Folks and Spokes next Friday. I still have two chances to finish in the money, and in two weeks I will have gotten in more racing that I got in my first 3 months with the team. I am feeling stronger and smarter, and I only have one enemy.



My apologies...

...for that commotion this morning at the corner of Clark and Hubbard. If you saw a biker with a black fixie and a red tanktop screaming obscenities southward, it was me. Sorry.

I am normally a very defensive biker and tend to be skeptical that any driver will do the right thing or behave with a modicum of respect for the power under his foot. I've only had two real accidents and both have been relatively minor with no overnight hospital stays or broken bones. It's why I pretty much stop at every light, and even count to three after it turns green at the busy intersections. I would never make it as a messenger.

However, this morning I was greener than grass. I had the go since coming through LaSalle. About 10 feet from entering the intersection a silver Caddie comes sailing through his red light as though it were only a polite suggestion.

I heard a faint but distinct, "Eat shit!" as I swerved left and yelled out. Then I went completely berserk. I was hit a month ago, but that guy pulled slowly in front of me and then stopped, letting me go over his hood. Had I been going just a little faster this morning, I would definitely not be racing tomorrow.

Was still shaking about it as I walked into work.

I will get a nice hour massage at Athletico tonight, however and get the rest of it out of my system tomorrow at Whitnall Park. Tomorrow I am gonna place in the money.

A money shot for commuters and roadies and beater-tooler-Sunday-rider-weekend-warriors everywhere.



Blew Island

One down. 4 to go.

Also down? About 20 other bikers.

Blue Island. Saturday, July 14th.

The crash happened with 6 go, thankfully, so I could at least finish. With less than 5 to race a mechanical problem takes you out for good. We came around turn 4 at high speed, the wind momentarily calmed, wheel to wheel, Chris Sheritpis in front of me. A crash first makes itself apparent, from your perspective at least, somewhat like a gopher, or Bugs Bunny, burrowing toward you. You hear shouts of, "Whoa!" and "Crash! Crash!" and then the wave comes at you, rippling through the riders. First they begin to weave, left and right, clipping wheels, coming out of pedals, ripping on their brakes, the metallic-plastic crackling and pinging coming closer and closer For a second you think you can avoid it, because you always have in the past, but then, an entire bicycle flies five feet up in the air, and a hand shoves you from behind as you jerk your cycle to the right when the wave finally hits the rider immediately in front you.

Luckily for me, unlucky for Chris and a South Chicago Wheelman, I fell right on top of them. It was my first crash. I looked at my bike. My wheel was ajar and my handlebars and stem were janked over to the left. I thought my day could be over. Luckily the SRAM wheel pit was right next to the crash, and I hustled over there with Chris and about 5 other riders caught up in the domino effect. I sat there patiently, appreciative of the free help that would help me get back in the race. My calf was cramping and a couple of fingers on my left hand were lightly sprained, but I was road rash free, thanks to Chris and the SCW rider being under me.

While I waited for a new wheel and my headset to be straightened out, the SCW rider was a bit more anxious, imploring the SRAM bike tech to hurry up. "Look over there," was his answer. He was pointing the nearly motionless rider lying in the street near the start/finish line.

"At least you're gonna get back in this race. Now let me do my job."

It was all I needed to see. I waited my turn. At some time while I received a new wheel and had my headset straightened, I was told he was dragged out of the middle of the course. The pack came around again, and they rolled us out so we could join onto the end of the pack. There were four laps to go.

I really couldn't get it together for the finish. For the first part of the race I had been getting gapped at the corners, and finally figured out I needed to begin pedaling at the apex of the turn, or even all the way through it. Once I did, I began having a much more fun race. However, the turns were sometimes seven riders wide, and not nearly everyone was carving exactly clean lines. I was at the front exactly twice. The first was the wheel of the green-jersey-zebra-shorts guy I also drafted on several times at Spring Prairie. He came by on the left, and for the first time this year I had the presence of mind to grab a wheel in an instant. Later on, shortly before the crash, I found myself next to Tim Hermanas, midway back. "Hey," I said, "how you feeling?" "Good, good. So what's the plan, man?" was his answer. I laughed and said, "Hey, you guys are the ones with the experience! If I can be a part of train, or help block, I'll all over it."

It was all Tim needed to hear apparently, and he ripped off a flyer up the left-hand side of the pack. I just hung onto his wheel all the way through turns 1 and 2, and for the majority of the back stretch of that lap, I was again at the front. My lack of confidence let me down once again, as the front slowed at the approach of turn 3, and I was swarmed riders on sides, and I fell back as rear wheel after rear wheel overlapped the front of my bike. After the crash I just didn't see how I could stay up there at that point and feel safe. At least, not be a danger to other riders.

With two to go, I was next to Rick Dearworth as he was helping to put together a leadout train of several of us, and then I heard him say to Bob Willams that they would be blocking. I guess it didn't work out to well. The highest finish we managed Saturday was 14th. It was a very fast race, the high wind being factored in, and there were a lot of crashes. One rider in a bright orange kit rode straight onto the curb at turn three into a wooden saw-horse barrier. The next time around, we saw an elderly woman being tended to by EMTs. Somebody later told me her head had hit the pavement pretty hard.

Rick Dearworth was riding very consistently, and dishing out advice, one-liners, and exasperated outbursts, at Triple X-ers and other teams alike. I mostly got it for looking down at the pavement as I hammered, and not sticking consistently with one wheel. I love riding with Uncle Rick. I always get choice, unfiltered instruction and learn from him every time he is in a race with me. When the race was finally over, I ran into him on the warm down. "Are you OK?" he asked. Confused, I said, "Yeah, I'm fine? Why?"

"Oh," he answered. "That was my hand that pushed you over on that crash!"

I laughed hard at that, and said, "Good! At least I helped out somebody!" He made it through the crash apparently and finished several places above me. It's OK, Uncle Rick. I would expect anyone to do that to their own grandmother in order to finish a race on two wheels.


Afterwards we watched the 3s, with Brian, Brandon, Matt, Niko, and Ed all riding for xXx. It was a good showing, and very nearly a victory for Matt. He let off a breakaway with about two to go and it nearly stuck, but another breakaway of several riders caught him on the sprint. Brian and everyone else finished with the pack. It was good to watch and see first hand how to take the turns, all of them pedaling all the way through, trusting their wheel, riding smoothly.

The 3s come by. Fast.

Afterward we headed to Nick's for a BBQ but not many of us showed. Alberto and I enjoyed a beer and watched the dogs play and Nick grill. Later we moved in to watch the conclusion of Stage 7 of the Tour, and then Brian Boyle showed up on his bike, fresh from his cool down after the race. We talked over watermelon, burgers, pasta salad, more beer, and bottled water, and gleaned as much advice form him as we could. We asked what he was thinking of when he attacked, bridged, pulled off, how he got back to the front. Was he nervous. Everything. He gave us very informed responses, honest opinions, and his sense of humor lends such a unique perspective to my whole xXx racing experience.

We continued our conversation on the way home. We talked about my first year with the team, what I could expect, his experiences along the way, and my race that day. My fears were fine, he said. You need to do what comes natural to you in the pack. If it doesn't feel safe, if you think you are a danger at the front, then hang back. Watch and learn. It dawned on me that the 10 per cent rule applies mentally, just as it does physically. Never add more than 10% volume or intensity to your workout a week, the rule goes. So for me, the same seems to apply to my mental game. Not so much per week, as I race less than that, but on a per races basis, it works. If I could get out to Matteson, the Judson, and the team ride every week, we would be talking, however.

For some it seems they get it immediately. I cannot imagine riding that aggressively yet, and I must apparently be a slow adapter. So I am not going to get frustrated, and I am going to do what comes naturally. I will, however, draw the line at wanting to naturally sleep in, watch Kubrick movies and drink beer all day instead of riding.

I will listen, follow the sound advice, spin, ride clean, and work harder each time I am on my bike. But I will first and foremost be myself.


Riding to Beverly to watch the first race of Superweek.

Rick Dearworth: The Black and White Cookie. He brings us together with his advice and his tanlines.


Quick on my Crank

Superweek is here - two solid weeks of racing, my mid-point of the season.

The journey here has been a memorable one - and I can't wait to see where I come out on the other side, 2 weeks from tonight - five races later, sitting around a campfire somewhere west of Milwaukee, drinking a much deserved beer.

I would never have thought I would've come this far so fast, yet from my current vantage point I have much farther to go. These next five races will be fun, yet critical for me, as I attempt to put all I've learned since April into practice. Since the beginning I've had the physical tools. It's the mental ones I've had a hard time bringing to the fore.

The goal tomorrow in Blue Island is to bring them together - not let them stay separate. Mark my man, stay on my wheel, and be patient but aggressive, quick on my crank - and my legs will take me there. My goal is nothing less than at least one Top 5 finish.

A very weird bit of luck this morning:

I was only a 1/2 mile gone from my apartment when I realized I'd forgotten my jersey and shorts - and I had just read this - so I turned around to retrieve them. At that moment, I heard a "ping! dingdingdingdingdingding..." from my front wheel.

I'd just broken a spoke on my Mavic front wheel.

As I am catching a train this afternoon at 2:55 (the last one I can get my bike on before the rush hour ban starts) to Blue Island, I would've been screwed had this happened once I got to the office...and even more so had in happened during the race. I'd also just changed my cassette out on the back wheel last night, and had no to time to reswap it in order to have a matching set...plus the rear Mavic wheel is much lighter, but shit, I hope those spokes hold. This is gonna freak me out.

Let's hope the luck holds, and let's RALLY people! It's on like Donkey Kong! Superweek is here.


Breaking News

Chris Farley has been reincarnated!


A Fool in the Rain

It was day full of epic weather.

Chris and I drove to Matteson for the Tuesday night races with fingers crossed, hoping that the band of storms stretching across the Midwest like pulled taffy would hold off long enough for us to squeeze in at least one heat. The nice old man who administrates the races sat there with sort of a nervous grin on his face, wordlessly telling us not to expect too much. Another clue should have been all the A racers waiting it out in their cars.

We did a few laps, and watched as the blue sky fell behind the tumultuous gray cotton blanket, lighting flashing, touching down in the distance. Drops of rain teased us, yet held off. With the heat and humidity beating us all down over the past week, it was almost halfway between torture and foreplay. We saw its dark gossamer feathers to the west us, yet dry we stayed.

Then, in an instant: a wall of water. Like a lukewarm beach shower on a hot day, it didn't chill, didn't warm. We were soaked instantly, and made a beeline for the shelter on the home stretch of the course. In my haste to make it out of the rain, I took the corner too fast and before I knew what had happened, there was sharp pain as my hip struck pavement and my bike was sliding in front of Jared's line. He dodged it safely, and I was up quickly, only my pride hurt. The South Chicago Wheelmen were already gone as we finally realized our race day was over. Our $7 would go towards another evening at Matteson. Chris and I loaded up the car and headed back to town.

The streets were already dry upon returning home, and I immediate re-donned my kit and headed out to the lake front path. Tonight's ride was far more enjoyable than Sunday night, as the recent rain kept most of the clueless and dangerous away. I rode hard, following Chris' advice earlier to hammer when ever possible. No need to get caught up in timing your intervals every time, he reasoned. Slow when you need to, bring the pain when you can.

I reached Northerly Island in just under 30 minutes, not bad for 10 miles in a head wind, and was about to start my sprint drills, but I was stopped cold by the sight that greeted me as I scoped out the traffic and obstacle hazards.

It was about the most beautiful sunset I'd seen in my life. Downtown Chicago at that perfect moment, bathed and drowning in orange light. And I didn't have my camera. So I will close tonight's entry with the next best thing:

The diamonds on your fingers sparkled and snapped,
Gathering and throwing the light of the fire behind you
Like water on your naked body, rolling down your skin.

The flames threw their heat past you, radiating love.
The halo around you aroused a desire in me
I haven't felt in the eons since I first met you.

Your eyes blinked, yet stared confidently,
Knowing that my love for you can hurt til I cry.
And that your kiss, such as tonight, heals my pain.


Website of the Day: xXx Racing Action

xXx Racing teammate Matt O'Keefe has started a website/blog featuring videos captured from the digital camera he has mounted to the handlebars of his bike.


It's a great place to go for bird's eye views of attacks, bridges, sprints, and paceline work from the vantage point of a Cat 3 racer with years of experience. Feel free to comment and expect Matt to write back soon with his response to you observation or question.

Of course, in the interest of full-disclosure this promotion is also a shameless opportunity for me to post the first ever vid of me riding. The video below is from last Sunday's Judson Ride. Judson is a group ride, open to anybody who can keep up, and is complete anarchy. It's a good way to practice jumping on a wheel, working your way up in a pack, not to mention several chances to sprint along it's 50+ mile route.

"Why didn't somebody tell me my ass was so big?!?"

Judson Ride - Everett - video powered by Metacafe

We are traveling west on Everett Road, in a somewhat together paceline, approaching the I-290 overpass about 5 miles west of Highland Park. At about 35 seconds, you can briefly see me as I begin my bridge attempt to reach the breakaway group in front of the main pack. At that point I was going maybe 29-30mph. Notice how fast a train forms behind me and the pack begins to string out. Then Matt's bike begins to rock back and forth. At this point, it seemed like I had been going for at least a minute, but not even close. My match was already burning out and Matt must have sensed it as the newly reformed paceline began slowing down. It definitely slowed way down once I saw him pass me with a new train of riders on his wheel.

He not only reaches the breakaway much faster than I was going to, he passes them for some King of the Hill points and surely a sense of self-satisfaction.

Lesson learned? While it's good to use rides like this to practice your bridging and jumps, even more valuable is learning to be at the ready for someone to give you the leadout, and find a wheel with which to take to points or the victory.

The Weekend - in bullet points

Good: My first bottle of Accelerade, Fruit Punch flavor. Not that I really feel the difference of the "patented 4 to 1 carb/protein ratio" but I did feel very strong at the end of my 65 mile ride, the drink had some weight to it...

Bad: Not going long. I wanted to get more miles in this weekend (see Judson, below) but I also had a friend coming over to watch the Tour Prologue at 11 - so I needed to do the Old School Route (again) and get home. After my only pull with the main group I yelled, "Old School!" and only Alberto pulled off...I wanted to keep going, but I couldn't leave him by himself.

Good: So Alberto and I had a great ride together, and I'm certainly glad I got to know him better. Strong rider.

Bad: The Goddamn heat. I just read something this weekend about it being more humid, sticky, and muggy because the warmer air allows it to retain more moisture. Ironically, this makes the ground much dryer, via the evaporation increasing - look at all the fires out west and in the Southeast (?!?) this year. I must've sweat off 15 pounds this weekend. I look like one of the victims from that cheesy 1985 sci-fi thriller, "Lifeforce."

Good: Le Tour De France so far this year. Fabian Cancellara absolutely blew Andreas Kloden's time away - by 13 seconds. And that it happened so late in the day really added to the suspense of seeing if Andreas' time would hold up. Cancellara was f***ing flying. So fast, fact, he nearly ran into the motorcycles in front of him as he approached Buckingham Palace. Sunday's first mass start was even better. Robbie McEwan, one of the world's fastest riders, came from out of nowhere after getting caught up in a crash and fell of the back. His entire team stayed behind to tow him back into the group just before the sprint, and unbelievably, he worked his way through nearly 150 riders to blow past the leaders with about 200 meters to go. It was just amazing to watch as the leader completely deflated as he saw Robbie come flying past him...he just bailed off like he was leading a train, and the 10 or so guys behind him flew past as well.

Bad: Having my cyclocomputer break again for the second time in about 6 weeks. Sent it off to Michigan, and again I have no data with which to track my progress.

Good: Having my cyclocomputer break. Pain is my speedometer. It gave me a great moment on the team ride this weekend, pulling the pace line up the hill on St. Mary's toward the railroad tracks before the turn off for Old School. I knew I couldn't bail out on the middle of the climb, and if I'd been looking at my speed I'd have lost concentration on my spin. I knew if I was feeling the pain increasing, then everyone else was too, and I was keeping my speed up.

Bad: Missing the Judson ride. Just didn't get enough sleep and was a bit dehydrated when I woke up...I knew it was gonna be a hot, humid and windy day so I cut my losses, knowing I'd get my needed 3 remaining hours on the bike when the sun went down.

Good: At least I didn't miss Judson in vain. Cheap Trick put on an awesome show down at the Taste. Those guys should've been the one's selling out Wrigley Field, not the Police. The Police can barely stand being on the stage with one another. They're a novelty and people will pay any price to say, "I was there, man!" Cheap Trick have always brought to every single show for the past 30 years, and it should count for more than that. But even better, they don't think they're entitled to anything, and they gave the hometown fans a great performance. The best part, however, was heading to Piece, Rick Neilson's stellar pizza joint in Wicker Park, for a couple beers and a bite to eat afterwards. Mat went to the men's room, and who was he standing next to at the urinal? The Man himself. Not one to chat up at the pisser, he waited until they were both washing their hands. "Hey, big fan. Great show tonight." Rick belched his thanks, and then said, "It was hotter than shit up there!"

Bad: Riding the path at night. I don't know which was worse: the gnats in my teeth, or the beach crowd crossing and standing in the path as though it were their driveway. And when they give you that look as if to say "what the hell is bike doing here?" when you yell out, "on your left!".....grrrrrrrrrr. But definitely worse than both of those was hitting that pipe stave in the middle of the path straight on, unable to see it, causing both wheels to flat.

Good: Erik Didriken coming to pick me up in his car.

Bad: Having to do my remaining 90 minutes on the trainer.

Good: I was watching Something About Mary.

Bad: Haven't yet put my window units in.

Good: Transformers completely kicked ass. Which was a huge bonus since I would've paid $10 to see License to Wed, as long as the A/C was on.


Only 487 more days...

It still seems impossibly far away, so I am writing this entry will lots of trepidation. Yet, seeing this article today has made realize my preferred candidate isn't such a fringe candidate after all.

Ron Paul Tops McCain in Cash on Hand


July 06, 2007 1:14 PM

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports: Though often regarded as a longshot candidate for president, Republican Ron Paul tells ABC News that he has an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising an equal amount during the second quarter, putting him ahead of one-time Republican frontrunner John McCain, who reported this week he has only $2 million in the bank.

In an exclusive interview taped Friday and airing Sunday on "This Week," Paul said his campaign is on a better trajectory than McCain's.

"I think some of the candidates are on the down-slope, and we're on the up-slope," said Paul.

Paul's cash on hand puts him in third place in the Republican field in that important metric, although he is well behind leader Rudy Giuliani, who has $18 million in the bank, and Mitt Romney, with $12 million.

Paul, who polls show with support in the low single digits, said his surprisingly strong fundraising is the best measure of his support.

"I think people have underestimated the number of people in this country who are interested in a freedom message," says the Republican congressman from Texas, who has strong libertarian leanings.

Click HERE to watch a clip from the interview.

To watch the full interview, tune in to "This Week" on Sunday (check local listings).

I have been a supporter of Ron Paul for few years, ever since first reading his contributions for Counterpunch. Dr. Paul (Ob/Gyn) is a representative from Texas and is about as Old School Republican as you can get. I myself am from Alaska, a very Republican state, and in many ways, just as Old School as Mr. Paul. As in, Libertarian. As in, don't touch my guns, my pot, or my property.

Back in 2004, nobody had heard of Ron Paul. And when they did, they didn't really know what to think of him. Here was a candidate, a very popular one in his district, calling himself a Republican, yet, who was very much against the War in Iraq, and pretty much against all of President Bush's policies, not to mention George on a personal level, as well.

Dr. Paul is against much of the government bureaucracy, especially the IRS, the ATF, the DEA, and many other agencies and acronys. He is a strident defender of the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment. Abortion is something that would not be protected under a Paul Presidency - he objects on religious reasons, as well as his Hippocratic Oath. A Supreme Court nominee would almost certainly vote against the Roe v. Wade precedent. The U.S. military would be relegated to a border protection mission only, and all foreign interventions immediately recalled.

I have identified with many aspects of the Libertarian philosophy, as well as the traditional Liberal viewpoint. It is true many of them are in conflict. This very conflict drove me to vote for Nader in 2000. Yet, the issues that affect this country are not Gun Control or Abortion - the stakes are much higher. Any President who tries to control these issues will soon realize that we are still a plurality, as a nation. Ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the complete swing to the left on this issue, the Religious Right has grown in power based off of their ability to rally the faithful around this issue. And it is definitely moving, and has been for quite some time, back to the right. Yet, when it does, the Right will learn that the Left is still as equally as powerful. The Gun Control issue (on a superficial level) follows much the same pendulum path, the same wavelength.

These issues only serve to divide the population against itself and blind it to the real stakes at hand. Yet by trying not to be influenced by these dividing issues, I played right into the hands of the larger power structure at work.

The one constant since our nation's founding has been the consolidation of power by those in power. It is not really a conscious effort by those in the ruling class to gain more power, but really the government itself becomes self-fulfilling prophesy of growth, a beast that can't stop eating, a great whole based on the sum of it's parts, parts which are really only individuals looking to maintain their wealth and power, ensconce their position.

I believe in a government that serves it's people, not rules. The government today serves only greedy individual interest, through the prophylactic of the corporate charter. The Corporation allows for individuals to shirk any moral responsibilities by claiming allegiance to the corporate entity, or shareholders, and are there hand-tied and not liable. One has only to see the corporate meddling in our government by looking at the make of nearly any presidential administrations, the current one certainly included. More than half the country wonders if Dick Cheney's allegiance is still with Haliburton, and the Secretary of State has an oil tanker named after her. It is hardly a coincidence that since the beginning of the Bush Presidency, a family entrenched in Big Oil for decades, has taken a cabinet made up of nearly all former Big Oil execs and that this nation has been at war in the most strategic location for oil production on the planet.

Things may be pretty far gone in this country, but ironically, not far enough for a Ron Paul presidency. As he is advocating the near total destruction of the American bureaucracy, I don't see how this can happen without the near total destruction of the United States of America. Yet, if we proceed along the path of government against the people instead of for, the country will be destroyed anyways.

And I would rather have Ron Paul become president and lead with ideas, and yet be checked by the American plurality, and have the changes he would set in motion be far more gradual. Perhaps there is still hope. I can't bring myself to vote for another fringe candidate again. But maybe Ron Paul is no longer on the edge. I hope his policies, however, will continue to be so.


Website of the Day

Let me preface this link with two items.

First, please refer to my post, back in April, regarding the giant inflatable Axe Body Spray can. I have no love at all for this particular sundry, or anyone who wears it, or anyone who is at all influenced to buy it based that incredibly obnoxious ad campaign.

Second, a coworker told me a story today about how she and her boyfriend saw the Axe Body Spray Car, apparently - complete with a vanity plate that read, "BCWW" (grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!), driven by five Axe Body Spray bimbos. They parked the car at Walgreen's in order to have lunch at Portillo's across the street.

I guess the manager at Walgreen's wears TAG.

But, forget all that. And feast...your eyes...on THIS:

Take a deep breath...

It's been a rough last few days. It feels like it's been weeks since I first heard the news of Beth's death. I've been having a bit of a hard time sleeping. As I lay awake those nights since, I found myself wondering, hoping, she didn't see it coming. That as she lay there, in no-man's-land between her body and soul, if she even realized what had happened to her. If she was aware of what her teammates were doing for her.

Monday night we listened as they described Beth's last hours in her body, and the pain they felt was too much for me to bear. I was selfishly grateful for my scheduled rehearsal and I left as the evening shifted gears to remember Beth as she lived, not as she died. I wish I had stayed, however, as those stories behind the photographs in the picture gallery on the team website may have helped lay the dust of the dry desert in my mind. Desiccated after hearing such a harrowing tale, the anguish of watching, first hand, a friend die right in your arms.

I have stared up at my dark ceiling also dwelling on my own racing, my own riding, and if it's worth the calculated risk we all take. I can't speak for everybody, but it is worth it, of course, until it takes my life - or the ability to live my life. I can only hope, however, that the disaster that struck the cycling community last Saturday can help spread light on cyclists' safety. Maybe it will help those who allow our racing events to be staged realize that a one day road closure isn't going to kill the economy of a farm community. That the inconvenience of rerouting traffic is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of people doing something they love and celebrating it to a level that can only be described and beauty and poetry.

To many we may only be a bunch of weirdo out-of-towners with shaved legs and tights invading their quiet town to ride expensive toys. But we all know that bicycling is so much more than that. And as we move forward with this sport - short-term and long - we need to make others see this.

Bicycling is independence. And Freedom. From everything to boredom to poverty, depression to debt, apathy to spiritual emptiness. The freedom to go and do whatever we want, and the only boundaries are our body's limitations. And racing, by riding as fast and as hard as we possibly can, constantly pushes those limitations farther and farther, widening those boundaries and horizons with them. The more we ride, the more we can do, the faster can do it, the farther we can go.

Beth Kobeszka went far too early. A woman as beautiful on the inside and out as she was had far too much to give. I Googled her name after hearing the news in order to find more information on the accident, and instead found pages and pages on her charity work and her years of athletic competition. I read that she was an Academic All-American. I only knew her a week, yet, her smile and kind words brightened up a dreary, rainy day. I need only to look at her friends and teammates to see the influence she had on them.

Whether you decide to keep riding or not, think of all the people Beth was destined to touch, to affect, to change for the better with her positive attitude and competitive spirit. However, don't keep riding because Beth would've wanted you to.

Ride because it will invigorate you, inspire you, to touch as many people, and affect as many lives as Beth Kobezska would have, and did.


Saving Private Brian

By the bottle rocket's red glare, that is some firepower out there tonight.

I felt like a World War One bicycle courier riding home. I am just not into fireworks like I used to be. When I was a little kid, the 4th used to be one of my favorite holidays. Even in the virtually 24 light of the Alaskan summer, I couldn't wait to for the day to reach it's dusky nadir and go sit in the parking lot of the downtown junion high school to watch the show.

I remember the last time I bought fireworks, at that Black Cat store between Racine and Milwaukee. It was 2 days before the 4th, they were offering everything in the store at 3 for 1, and the line came out the door. Cars were parked on cornfields, the knee-high stalks knocked askew. I think I spent maybe $70 or $80 for maybe 10 minutes of entertainment. One paper bag full. There were people walking out there with armloads, fucking shopping carts filled with pent-up, paper-wrapped potential carnage. I'm talking hundred of dollars. To be literally blown up.

And the bang show was good, okay, but in the end you just feel really stupid making a bunch of noise and being disproportionately cheaper for it.

So if I'm going to literally burn my money, I would rather have spent half that on a bag of really good shit, then light the rest of the bills to spark bowl after bowl after bowl. That would be much better way to spend an evening. Many evenings. Ha.

Last week's Judson Ride

Not to brag, but I am too excited about my apparent 40mph sprint not to post this. For the first time, I wasn't overgeared going into my 12 cog:


For All Of Us

We heard of darkness
And saw the light fading
Though every one of their faces.

It was too much pain for one room tonight.

It tore at me
And I felt it spilling
Down my cheeks.

I tasted it's bitterness, it's black salty ugliness.

We felt cold steel.
Plastic. And rubber.
The hard grit of blacktop.

And all of it mixed into our blood and into our grief.

We smelled antiseptic,
heard mechanical shrieks,
Trembled in fear.

And saw hopelessness in wrinkled eyelines.

But a look,
A hand on a shoulder,
Reminds us to leave.

Not forever, we'll always come back, and never neglect.

Because self-destruction
Is not the way.
We have to keep flying.

Because it is continuing to reach that keeps us safe and happy and at peace.


How can I sleep, knowing someone else will never wake up again?

We all take our own lives into our hands every time we go out and swim with those roving steel sharks. It's the only thing we can control: our own safety. And when even that is taken away from us, we are left naked and helpless as the day we came into this world, yet the ones crying are the legion of grieving we have left in our wake.

I was a callous, shortsighted, self-centered, worthless son-of-a-bitch and it's taken the life of a someone I'd barely just been able to call a friend to make me realize that being ALIVE means more than anything else on earth.

Go well, Beth. I know I only met you last week, but your kind words and beautiful smile brightened up that rainy day for all of us, and will stay with me forever.


Confidential to Rosemary and Family

It's down.

I'm truly sorry for my insensitivity and I hope you can forgive me.