"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


Thursday Hate

People who have more gums than teeth when they smile...they look like the Alien.


The fact that Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher are arguing over who made trucker hats "cool."

I got news for you: if you are still wearing a trucker hat, you are trend-slave, douchbaggy tool, and probably paid $50 for it Urban Outfitters, along with your DJ Startup Kit. The last time trucker hats were "cool" was in 2000 when everyone else was dressing head to toe in black Kenneth Cole Reaction, with the untucked white button down shirt. And where I work, people are still wearing that stuff...along with their 80's feathered fades.


The fact that I woke up to my cat sitting on my head Wednesday morning. But hey, pussy's pussy.


Wednesday Cat-scade

Morning aspirations drown in dreams
Slumber moves to lighter climes, and
A cat sits on my face.

I try hard again to make a claim
And tell myself to rise up, yet
Morning aspirations drown in dreams.

The final days of magic rides
Last goodbyes in strange singing words
Slumber moves to lighter climes.

A painful voice reality makes, yet
Furry pussy is still furry pussy, and
A cat sits on my face.


Uncle Ted Goes Down the Tubes

If you’re a regular follower of this space, you might have gathered that I am, or was, an Alaska resident. I was born and raised there from 1972 to 1991.

Those years spanned the transformation of the State from a rustic, removed, almost colony-like existence to that of a modern and bustling community on the leading edge of many of the country's standards, including education, energy exploration, and quality of life.

It speaks volumes that Alaska residents can come home from enjoying a first-run movie at a state-of-the-art multiplex to find a grizzly bear ransacking their kitchen - when just 30 years ago they would’ve come home from watching a two-week tape-delay broadcast of the Rose Bowl at their nearest neighbor 2 miles away to find a grizzly bear ransacking their kitchen.

The residents of Alaska’s cities enjoy a standard of living second to none in this country, yet, 15 minutes by float plane in any direction is complete and utter wilderness.

If you’re a regular follower of this space, you might have also noticed I’m no fan of politicians, especially hypocritical and hubristic ones, and if they’re right-wing on top of that…you’ll find me damn near apoplectic.

So it may surprise you that I find this whole story regarding Ted Stevens kind of sad.

Ted Stevens is pretty much single-handedly responsible for all that I described above. Of course, I’m exaggerating. Alaska’s environment certainly brings out the best (and worst) in everyone, and I’ve never been surprised at the lengths people go to make themselves comfortable. But, Ted Stevens is still alive and well, is a sitting senator, and has a fucking airport named after him for God’s sake.

They don’t call him “Uncle Ted” for nothing. He is the longest-serving seated Republican senator in history – 6 terms – and he’s consistently brought home so much pork that Alaska is firmly atop several lists compiled by government-spending watchdog groups. It’s a wonder Alaskans bother to make their own sausage at all.

Alaska pretty much owes its existence to him. He was instrumental in the move for statehood. He guided the energy exploration and expansion in the late 60’s and 70’s that made Anchorage the fast growing city in the world until 1986. That oil revenue has translated into city services and a public education system the envy of the entire nation.

And now he’s taken all that success and goodwill and shit on it. He’s taken all that influence and power and flown so high above us and the laws that govern everyone else that his wings have finally melted off. His house was practically built by Alaska’s biggest oil-services contractor and he’s introduced legislation that turns out to have directly benefitted family members. What’s new about that, you ask?


But instead of reporting it, as the law states, he’s gotten caught covering it all up. This guy, who was one of the loudest of the ringleaders in Congress’ move to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath.

And so, as much as Republicans and all the right-wing media outlets LOVE to bust Dems and liberals on ethics, it’s kind of hard, even still, to have a laugh as this giant fucking hypocrite goes down in a ball of flame.

We’ll be singing for you, Uncle Ted.


Goodbye July

One last push for July.

The course, designed by my coach, Randy Warren, was fantastic and you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting for a wicked fast criterium than Chicago’s Grant Park. 4 turns on Columbus, Monroe, Michigan and Balbo, plus a half-moon chicane on the back stretch at the intersection with Congress. Wide turns and smooth pavement.

I was pretty tired after 3 races in 4 days and no training - and today adding on. Plus a little on edge after seeing some nasty crashes and going down myself. I have to admit I wasn’t feeling competitive at all at this point, and honestly, all I wanted to do in this race was be safe and help a teammate get the win. Jeff Holland was in second place for the Illinois Cup in the Masters’ 4/5 30+ category.

And it was a very safe race, a prototypical Masters’ event. It didn’t bunch or swarm very much, and I never found myself boxed in. There were only a few attacks and it was actually quite relaxed at some points.

Towards the end the pace began to surge back and forth and bunch up in the wind. Coming past the line and seeing two laps to go I said to Jeff, “let’s go” and took the front. I strung it out for the entire lap but at the bell several jumped past me going into Turn 1, and then it bunched again back on the Congress chicane. Just behind me, Jeff went down.

I just sat up at the point, but even then the pace still wasn’t that fast. There was still a chance to get into it even going over the Balbo overpass. But not knowing if Jeff was OK – he’d crashed hard at Evanston just a week earlier – took all the fight out of me. It was exactly the opposite of the outcome I’d come looking for in doing this race.

I can’t believe we just have one more month to go. I have the confidence to believe I can put something together finally, but for the most part, up until now, it’s been largely disappointing. Katy correctly points out I have no right to gripe about all my poor finishes knowing that they are all largely my own doing.

It’s disappointing because I know I have the physical strength to take me to good results, and the knowledge to set it up, but I still lack the balls to fight it out in the final turns, to risk road-rash and worse, for the ultimate glory that is that $200 check.

And if riding well for an entire race only to phone it in on the final turns isn’t making me happy, racing for fun and to keep me fit, then why am I doing it?

Only I can answer this question (as well as make you read it, again and again, blog after blog)…but the rest week is here. It’s time to reset, give a lot back to Katy for all of her support, and clear my head.

August may be here already, but there is still a lot of racing left, and within it, time to find myself…

A pair of bigger balls.

Superweek: Downer Avenue

The Great Downer Avenue Bike Race. For 40 years, they’ve been racing this course on the northeast side of Milwaukee, and it’s rated as on of the top three ProAm races in the country. This year was the first time they would be opening it up to the lower categories and I certainly couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this one.

The party was already well underway as Katy and I arrived, even though they were still setting up the course for the first race of the day. It was a hot, sunny late morning, and there were beer vendors up and down the street as nearly every bar and restaurant were trying to get in on the action. People crowded the barriers in anticipation.

The course was unique and somewhat technical, with a 100+ degree turn and a fairly potholed surface. Once again, the headwind was coming down the finishing stretch and it looked to be an omen for a hard-fought sprint. The 4/5s race broke up immediately, into several groups, and with less than 10 to go, an Illinois Tech rider, Ryan Friend, broke off and continually increased his lead to over a minute as the field resigned itself to a fight for 2nd place with about 3 laps to go.

As I got my numbers at registration I noticed several XXX names on the starting list, but as we lined up more than an hour late, the field itself was no more than 30 riders for the Category 4s and I was still alone. Chris Padfield just laughed and said, “welcome to my world!” I laughed along with him, knowing this race was probably going to be no different that any of his other 5 plus (I think) solo wins this year. I knew that in order to crack the podium in this race I’d need to go with him, or bring him with me on a preemptive attack myself.

It was a surprisingly smooth race after the chaos of Kenosha the day before, and I recognized several riders from that race. But with the smaller field, there were no swarms, and the accordion effect was only mildly present. I sat in on the back and flat-out enjoyed myself until about 7 laps to go when the attacks started. Until then I stayed out of the bullshit on the front with several riders swerving to get out of the wind and just stayed glued to my wheel.

Towards go time however, it started to string out single file with some attacks and I knew I needed to move up right then. Coming up on five to go, I was moving up hard on the left side, and it was good I already had a full head of steam because that was when Chris went off.

I just kept going, taking it up to 110% past my screaming girlfriend and family members banging on the barricades as I desperately tried to reach what I knew was the winning move. I dangled behind Chris by about 10 meters after Turn 1 until a third rider came past and bridged us up. We were off with 4 and half laps to go.

But immediately I was hurting badly, and it was obvious I was the weakest link. We’d slow on my pulls just a bit, and coming past Turn 2 after seeing three to go I lost the wheel. My breathing was out of control, my ass was about to seize up in protest and I was pedaling boxes. I heard Chris yell at me to “get that wheel!” but I had nothing. It just kept going further ahead.

Chris was still behind me as I looked back to see the pack sucking us in. Just as I cracked, Chris joined the spearhead of it and off he went. I just got spit out the back like shit through a goose. Pretty much what I was feeling like at that point.

I had visual contact with the group all the way until the end, and I finished the race. At least the team got some decent mic time as I heard my name mentioned several times over my ignominious end.

Chris Padfield attacked again, and held the field off for yet another win.

Some guys do. Others just watch.

Superweek: Kenosha Criterium

After my chagrined disappointment at Whitnall Park on Wednesday, William, Katy, and I headed back across the border for 2 more days of racing in Wisconsin. Up first was the long-running Kenosha “Folks and Spokes” Criterium, set in Library Park down by the harbor.

It was a simple .6 mile course with four corners and we were scheduled to do 50 laps around the Kenosha Library and YMCA, along 8th and 7th streets. While a fairly standard distance for a Superweek race, the format made for what seemed like an extraordinarily long race, although it was simply all the extra laps needed for the short course. A big party was set up on the lawn, and there were plenty of spectators enjoying the day.

There were 4 of us in the race, and with those numbers we ought to have been able to put some teamwork together. Unfortunately with the quick succession of corners, the competitive, squirrelly field, and numerous crashes, they weren’t really able to get up to the front through the swarming and bunching, and for much of the race I was on my own.

I did too much work chasing down almost every attack that seemed dangerous, although nothing stuck, including my own. A bright spot was to see William finally take a monster flyer and actually get off the front for about 5 laps with another rider. The first 25 laps seemed to take forever, but the 2nd half really went by quick. At one point I swore they were shaving laps on us, but my odometer confirmed our distance was legit afterwards. From then on it was alternately strung out and bunched as constant attacks went off and the tiring group chased them down.

With about 3 to go a textbook Ben’s Cycle leadout train, 5-deep, came together at the front. On the back of 2 to go, and unattached rider and I horned in on it and I got into pretty position. Which I of course screwed up.

The swarm came up on turns 1 and 2, and after nearly getting pinched on the back chicane of the bell lap, I found myself out of the top 10 wheels, once again before turn 3…and that’s pretty much how it stayed. I finished 17th behind an unattached rider in a Bianchi kit, and got a check that didn’t even cover my race fee.

The overcast skies cleared right after and it soon turned into a beautiful sunny afternoon. We ate some barbeque and watched a really competitive 3s race. Peter and JT got into a very promising break, but the field was moving so fast with 15 or so to go that only two of them really didn’t stand a chance.

It was so competitive, in fact, that on the final turn they came around nearly 8 wide and I saw one of the worst crashes I’ve ever witnessed. Not sure who it was but the rider at the far left either got bumped or was wrenching his bars so much that he lost his wheel and went down. Immediately there were bodies spinning out of control into and over the barriers like stock cars – a nightmarish physics lesson.

It was bad. Some were getting up, but there was at least one still lying there, and another crowd of people were clustering behind a barrier that had been knocked out of position. I didn’t see any black at first and though we at least made it through. But no one came around in the cool down lap, and it gave me a sinking feeling as I ran over to the scene. It got lower as I saw Peter, then Jacques standing there, and it bottomed out as the pair of feet I saw peeking around the barrier gave way to sweaty legs and then scraped, bloody XXX shorts. It was JT.

Katy soon joined me after I didn't come back to the bleachers with good news. Yet, JT seemed to be OK, but it was definitely scary to see them place the brace around his neck and lift him onto the board and into the back of the ambulance. He was lucky, he’d gone over the barrier. He had a chipped elbow, along with some cuts and rash. Another rider had hit it with his shoulder as though a linebacker would tackle a fullback. His collarbone was badly broken, or so we heard from another rider at the emergency room at the hospital that was literally next door to the course.

Our initial plan was to transfer our gear to Kirby’s car and head up to Milwaukee that night, but Kirby changed his mind and would be headed back to Chicago that night. He graciously loaned me his car so Katy and I could still make the Downer Avenue race the next day and spend the night with my cousin.

It was a comfortable, quiet end to a hard and noisy day, spent chatting over a Friday Fish Fry and a couple of beers.


It's Great on Ice Cream, Too

But I'll bet it's even better on tits.

Picked some up when we stormed The Castle today.

Who says sex has to burn calories?

Google Image Search Race Report

at the

I had to


(ok, I didn't get this one from Google Images.)

It wasn't just bad

It was


And that's all I've got to say about that.


It's now or never

OK, then at least now or next year.

It's PTO for the rest of the week. Spending the night near Whitnall Park for tomorrow's road race there.

I love this course. Smooth and wide, it's only enclosed road race I've ever done, although it's actually more of a circuit race, with the races doing at least 13 laps on the 2.7 mile course. Its' got 3 nice rollers, including the final sharp turn and uphill sprint.

(photo by Luke Seemann)

Man, I need this race. We'll be short a few registered teammates due to crashes and work conflicts, but there will at least two or three guys with whom I work very well racing with me. It's going to be tough, with the younger crowd, and probably faster than last year's master's category I raced, and got 15th place. But that's good, and hopefully we can contribute just as much to keeping it that way, as well. All the better to move up and get the best positioning for the last few laps and that final sharp turn and climb. This could be my best opportunity for a big points grab during all of Superweek.

I'd told myself I wanted to average 2 points a race, over my 7 races, going in to Superweek. I had just 3 points, from the 7th place in the Tour de West Lafayette Road Race. Blue Island was a wash, Olympia Fields was fruitful (and a huge missed opportunity for more), and Bensonville was just heartbreaking, but inspiring as well, showing me that I do indeed have the piss and vinegar in me to succeed in this sport. Evanston, of course, I sat out. Not wanting to aggravate my shoulder - injured at Bensonville - and jeopardize these upcoming races.

Next up, after Whitnall Park, is Kenosha, a homecoming of sorts - my parents grew up there, and was where I spent many a summer vacation visiting my grandparents and other relatives. That race is one to look out for: a half-mile course on which we're scheduled to do 50 laps. A 1/2 hour of quick-succession left-turns. Easy to get bored into carelessness. But, a good course for a break away, not unlike Monsters of the Midway.

But, I am really looking forward to the Great Downer Avenue Bike Race...the granddaddy of Superweek races. Up on the North Side of Milwaukee, near the UWM campus, this one draws huge crowds of partiers and spectators. And there's beer tents. The odds of High Life on tap are extremely likely. Also, if I feel hoity-toity, the Lake Front Brewery is close by, as well. And Katy will be there to enjoy it all with me, as well, cheering us on. It really makes a difference that she'll be there.

Milwaukee is a simpler place, sensible and without pretension. Yes, there's a lot of grunting, obese people wearing "Favre" jerseys, but they do know their beer and their encased meats. There's a summer long party on the lakefront, from Italianfest to PolishFest and virtually every nationality in between. The best part about these fests, to a Chicagoan, is that everything is cash - meaning, you don't have to wait in line in additional lines for those stupid tickets that they have at our festivals. And that makes the homogeneousness of all it that much more tolerable.

From the Friday Night Fish Fry at Turner Hall to the three martini night-cap at the At Random down in Bayview, Milwaukee is my place to be.

I can't think of a better way to cement this year's Superweek to memory than placing well in these three races. The field sizes will be bigger, the stakes higher. If I can average 3 points a race, it'll put me within spitting distance of my upgrade. And with at least four more big opportunities before the end of the road season, I should make it, before some huge life-events possibly happen and take over my focus for a good while...

Jump, boy! JUMP!!!

Tuesday's Verse, Versus Verse

My elbow is numb
It's abandoned ship
Scabby and Red
Much like my hip.


Damn you, Bob
Get it straight
"Le" goes with "de"
Or the French get irate.


Wisco Weekend...

Oh, and I'm trying to arrange a ride for me and Katy this weekend from Kenosha's race to Milwaukee on Friday for the Great Downer Avenue Race the next day.

If you have extra space in your backseat and on your bike rack (just my bike) I'd sure appreciate it. In it for you is gas $$$, a place to stay at my cousin's house in Milwaukee, and the Friday Fish Fry dinner at Turner Hall downtown.

Just email me from the blogs profile page.


UPDATE: problem solved. Join us for fish, chips, and beer at Turner Hall Friday night. We're the dorks wearing the funny hats.


Still recovering from Tuesday's roadrash and jacked left shoulder suffered in Bensonville, folding up my numbers and putting them in my back pocket was the closest I came to racing at Sunday's Grand Prix of Crashing...er...Cycling in Evanston.

I've got too much at stake in Whitnall Park for the road race there on Wednesday, as well as a stellar upcoming weekend trifecta in Kenosha, Milwaukee, and finally back home for the Chicago Criterium. After weathering the mayhem at last year's outing in Evanston, I knew crashing would be on my mind the entire race, when it should've been on just going fast.

Just glad everyone is OK and not more seriously injured.

I hope the organizers of this race recognize that some changes are in order. I'm all for a challenging and technical course, but Evanston is beyond that. The dynamics of these corners, combined with large, inexperienced fields has led to chaos each year. And not just in the number of crashes, but the severity of them. Nearly every single race was suspended for riders down and then abbreviated. One rider down was nearly hit by the pace car because a marshal had to abandon his flag post, and then took down the lead rider coming up behind. The 4/5s and 4s fields raced less then 10 laps each respectively, and the interruptions caused confusion with the race official as to who was actually leading in the final laps.

I don't think I'm ever going to do this race again, let alone after catting-up, until serious revisions are made to the course. I can't stomach racing at red line through hairpin turns while at the same time anticipating a bloody pile-up at every corner. At the least, I would call racing just 9 laps in sheer terror a complete waste of a Sunday...and at worst, several of my teammates and friends are going to be on the sidelines for the rest of Superweek. Some, maybe beyond that.

Call me a pussy, call me thin skinned. I don't give a fuck. I'll admit, there's not exactly ice-water flowing in these veins. But I believe bike racing should be about big balls as it relates to effort and strategy, and not just about saying a prayer on every turn and hoping you make it to the line in one piece.

Some people enjoy that sort of thing, and I say more power to them. They can have this race.


I See All, I Know All

I recently installed a metrics tracker on this site, through Google Analytics. I love it. It gives you lots of helpful information, such as what pages visitors are entering through your site, and the percentage of visitors that leave after one page view...very sadly, this number is quite high.

However, my favorite metric by far with Google Analytics, is the Keyword Tracker, which lets you see the search terms entered by people who found your blog.

A listing of some of my favorites, so far, in just the 4 days since I've installed the tracker:

5. "put it up her butt"
WOW. I can honestly think of not one page on my blog that would lead this searcher to me, but...AWESOME.

4. fat bottom girls poster
This one leads to my entry on my FBG poster from Queen's "Jazz" LP, and in fact makes that page the 2nd most frequent entry point. A great poster, and every cyclist should have this framed on his wall. I do.

3. hindemith symphonic
One of my favorite pieces and a recent subject of an entry. That this lead someone to my blog makes it all worthwhile. I need to keep up the "Music Education Night" series. I think Mahler 2 will be next...

2. joke pope mobile

A totally obscure joke, and the only people who I find that know this very long joke are the ones that I try to tell it to again. At least one person out there is trying to find it though, and The Car Whisperer came through.

1. was greg lamond a vegan
He better not have been!!! Tamara, was this you?!?

Haiku Friday!

Italian heroes
Are only found in delis
Hold the Micera


Hot day, hotter turn
My shoulder to the shoulder
Ah shit, there they go.


Evanston, again
Turn five is coming on hard
No pickles, no cheese.


Thursday Hate

All the porta-potty usage during Superweek has gotten me thinking about a vile form of behavior that I have noticed lately and led to some rage-ahol on some related issues as well.

All that “stuff” in there needs to be dumped at a treatment facility upon being turned around for reuse. Trash is incompatible with the process at the treatment facility.

So why am I constantly seeing trash (soda cans, bottles, food containers) dropped into the shit receptacle? All you are doing with your selfish behavior is ensuring someone else is going to have to don a hazmat suit and filter it out, thus adding a whole step to the process of cleaning these fucking things – which drives up the cost of operation and overhead, and then increasing the rental charge, and finally, your race fee, tickets, etc.

Even worse, the people who put there trash in the urinal part. Where at the very least it clogs up of the drain, and at worst, someone is going to have to pick it out of there at the end of the day.

Please stop dumping your trash in the porta-potties, you selfish assholes.

This leads me, however, to an even grosser, even more selfish act.

There is no lower form of life on the planet than the person who spits their gum into urinals. The gum, of course, will not fit through the drain, and again, you are doing nothing except ensuring that someone else, who more than likely makes a lot less money that you, is going to have to reach into the receptacle that hundreds of people piss into day and day out and remove your fucking piece of gum that you couldn’t be bothered to spit into the trash can that is probably less than five feet away from where you are standing, pissing, as you hum the melody to “I Kissed a Girl.”

That gum doesn’t just disappear once you stop seeing it. This goes for assholes who put their gum under desks, on subways seats, and on the weight machines at the gym.

Please think of somebody besides yourself for change.


Caption This

And now for my next impression...

...Robbie Ventura at Downer's Grove, 2004!!!

OK, so not quite as fast as the National Championships, I'll allow that. But still, too fast for that last turn, nonetheless.

The Masters Men's 4/5 race at Bensonville, Superweek, kicked off about an hour late, after a long course set up delay, and a horrific crash following the Men's 4 Sprint.

In the field for xXx Racing was Bob Willems, Jeff Holland, and myself, among a total of 31 riders. We were doing 20 laps on the .8 mile course.

Two funky turns to deal with: one out of the parking lot to the back stretch of the course, and then the final corner, over a rain-gutter ramp and a manhole, back into the park. As well, even though the turn itself was 90 degrees, the course immediately chicaned to left, so your turn actually continued past a right angle.

We spent the first 10 laps or so at a leisurely pace, slowing bringing in a solo rider who'd escaped at the whistle. The headwind on the home stretch did more to reel him in than we did truth be told. A few half-hearted attacks started, and for a few laps, around 8 to go, it seemed we might get a break of about 6 off, but the tailwind quashed that effort. But the pace stayed pretty decent from then on out, and as each lap ticked down, I contemplated my planned attack.

Earlier, Jeff and I had planned to jump with around 10 to go, hopefully bringing with us WDT's Voytek Glinkowski, who would be protecting his series lead in the Masters 4/5 category. But the winds were preventing anything from getting off, as was the group of strong riders at the front chasing everything down. I was never more than 4 wheels back for the entire race.

But as the laps ticked down, that last turn seemed to be the best place to go...2nd or 3rd wheel could pace themselves behind the leader, and jump to the inside and go-go-go. I waited, and waited. Finally coming up on 1 to go and sitting second wheel, I made my move.

I jumped hard and came crashing through the line and past the clanging bell and screaming spectators. I looked behind...strung out, and gaps everywhere, but still relatively together. But I was committed. It was do or die now.

Out of the parking lot and onto the back stretch, I hammered in the tailwind to keep it single-file. Turn 3 was glass-smooth, yet I drifted left as gunned it for turn 4. I moved back over to get my line and stay first wheel, and nobody blocked me. The homestretch was mine for the taking as I banked left hard.

The last thing I remember before realizing that I was on the grass with a torn-skin suit was thinking, as I was hurtled towards a barrier, "oh shit!"

Too hot, too wide, and too much pressure in the tires were all likely factors. I think I must have over corrected on the chicane of the turn and lost my skipping front wheel. Immediately knew I was OK, but I banged my elbow pretty good (it's well trained this season at immediately swelling up), and my shoulder and left leg were missing some skin as well. I sat there, my max effort coming down in raspy breaths, as I saw the entire peleton pass me from the sideline for the second time in 2 weeks.

But unlike, Proctor, this was my doing, and ironically, I felt happy, regardless of the outcome this time. I'd crashed by pushing the limits, rather than leaving my fate up to somebody else who couldn't hold his line. And as such, thank god I didn't take anybody else out who was in contention for the podium.

The man on my wheel, Robert Ruggles of Hampshire Cycle took the win. Voytek, behind him, took 2nd. You do the math. Although Voytek did tell me he was gapped by avoiding my crash, there was small gap behind him, so another podium was pretty much guaranteed. Oh, if only I could have stayed up! The alternate universe version is playing in my head on a loop this morning, as one of those two comes past and then I grab his wheel in the headwind, coming around and throwing for a half-wheel win.

What could have been is now just fantasy however. Yet, also it's fuel for the rest of Superweek. The Belle of the Ball is up next for me. See you in Evanston.


Random Monday

You know what I used to eat for an early morning snack to enjoy my cartoons with while my mom was still asleep?

Try graham cracker and Kraft singles sandwiches...

...really random.


Superweek Begins....

"Hey kid, this is bike racing – it's all fair. It's a sport where treachery is revered. Grow up."
—Mark Swartzendruber

It certainly is amazing the difference in perspective the other side of a podium finish makes. I wasn't planning on even mentioning my 15th place at yesterday's opener in Blue Island, but now that I am experiencing the joy of a top 3 finish at today's race in Olympia Fields after sticking a 20 lap, 3-man breakaway with a teammate, it's a lesson worth sharing.

Yet even with my first podium finish, I am sure that for those of you around me just seconds after the finish, however, joy is probably not the word you would be expecting in this race report. I admit I had some choice words for the third rider in our break for sprinting past me after sucking our wheels the entire time. And for that, I apologize, both to the rider and everyone who witnessed it. Not one of my finer moments. I learned a hard lesson in tactics this afternoon, and that I am entitled to nothing until I cross that line.

There was more than enough time for cat and mouse at the end of the race. Coming through the line with 1 to go, we were about to lap the field, and I don't know why I didn't think to position myself better. I was incredibly gassed, just glad for it be over, and introspective about about finally breaking my podium cherry. Never thinking about the here and now. Always the Poet Laureate of Logan Square. Always the lover, and never the killer.

Yet Jonathan took the victory, and with Newt in 5th, and Jeff in 6th - blocking all the way, overall we placed 4 riders in the top 10. It could've been 5 if William hadn't crashed out.

Not much more to say. Jonathan and I worked very well together. I leaned on him during some tough spots, but we were fairly equitable in our pulls, generally around three-quarters of a lap apiece, each trying to take a pull up the hill into that vicious wind. Rightly so, the 2CC rider sat in, pointing we had the advantage, we had the blockers. The whole time, my first time in this situation - even though I'd imagined and practiced over over and over - I simply thought he'd better take his third place and be happy with it.

I'd attacked to simply get out of the nerve-wracking tight quarters of the half-mile course, and the 90-plus degree turn after the downwind downhill backstretch. Ironically, just a half a lap before I was ready to just abandon the race. A nasty crash happened just behind me after I forced my way onto Jeff Holland's wheel lining up for the turn maybe four or five laps in. I felt someone bump elbows with me, I took the wheel, then heard a "what tha- HEY!" I hoped as I rode on that I hadn't caused that crash...but really I hadn't. There was no doubt as to my intention. Stealing wheels is racing, and so is rubbing wheels. You can really only be responsible for the wheel directly in front of you.

So right then I told myself I was not going through that turn in the pack again. I thought about dropping, but Katy was watching, and we'd driven all that way...there, off the front...a rider dangling. The pack was chasing, close to bringing him in. Just the distraction I had been telling myself to look for, I finally quashed my trademark indecision and took a flyer.

I caught the rider off the front and kept going. I kicked 15 times, counting in my head, then looked behind. It was chaos, really strung out. As if I were trying to pull a piece off of a chunk of taffy. I came out the hard turn, looked again, saw riders coming up, and small gap, and hammered up the hill. Then a most welcome sight: Jonathan Dugas pulling though. He led our team time-trial squad last year in Utica, and I'd rather have had almost no other rider with me in a break. I've been in some nascent attempts with Jonathan before, and his commitment to suffering is nothing if not pure inspiration.

(At one point, as I was pulling through on the hill, I forgot we were on a prime lap - for a free pizza - and I had to pull up a bit so Jonathan could take home the prize...with his new baby on the way, I figure even a pizza is better than Government Cheese.)

And this time it was enough to get us to the finish and a victory for the team. Thanks to my teammates in the pack, working just as hard to chase down every single bridge attempt, we gained on every lap, and as we crossed the line, the end of the main group was still just going around Turn 1.

A quick word on Blue Island, as promised:

Actually quite an easy race, until the last lap. The speed wasn't very fast, and there were only two really committed breaks - a very strong one by Voytek of WTD until three to go, included. With two to go I was casually chatting with the 4's winner Nate of Spidermonkey, and suddenly, with one to go, I was at the front with 5 teammates behind me and a 2CC rider attacking off the front.

I certainly wasn't going to pass the initial responsibility off, and shortly after Turn 2 we'd caught him. I wasn't gassed by any stretch, but not wanting to pull off too drastically with the entire, twitchy peleton behind me. But just as I indecisively contemplating my jump, up came a very decisive South Chicago Wheelmen train steaming past. Instead of trying to force onto a wheel, or just jumping ahead right then and there, I indecisively, of course, waited for an opening that never came, and then found myself looking at the back end of Turn 3, now about 6 riders wide. My race was over.

I was just going to let it go. It was gone, today was another race. The irony today is thicker than than the steak I had for dinner tonight. With the nasty corner, I was nervous about even starting today. But, my poor finish yesterday was what got me turning the pedals. And now, my finish today is letting me tell the entire story here tonight.

There's a lot of racing left. Tuesday is a new day.

But, still, I want to build.


My Baby

A cradle left in an empty room
The moonlight whispering through
Torn curtains in musty gloom.

Silver flashes on dated wallpaper
Dirty carpeting and broken toys
A wailful cry hangs like vapor.

No one's bothered to stop and see
If baby's hungry, baby's happy
He lies in the dark, a life's debris

A burden on no one, those long gone
In search of new fulfillment
On a life overdrawn.


Thursday Hate

First, a little pre-hate…warm up our limbic system here just a bit…and stretch…

Big E and I rode my work route this morning. He’s back in town briefly before heading out on his adventure north to The Great Land, The Last Frontier, Seward’s Folly…what? Oh, sorry…I left at six, picked him up at Montrose and Elston and north we rode…

The North Branch Trail, as you may already know has recently been repaved. It’s quite luxurious with it’s smooth new blacktop and all those old root-bumps taken out. And at 6:30 am it’s a very serene and idyllic way to start an otherwise soul-crushing day spent sitting in a cube in front of this computer screen.

However, along with a newly repaved surface however, comes a downside. Oil spots. And when they are wet, it’s just not a good combination for your bike tires to go over, at any speed. A few weeks ago I nearly wiped out myself as I took a chicane in the trail, just south of Dempster, a little too fast. My rear wheel nearly slid out from under me as I went through the turn too fast and hit one of those oil patches, slick as ice after a rainy night.

So as we rode together this morning, I warned him about it a few times, too early, thinking it was coming up around the next bend. Well, when it finally did happen upon us, I called it out, but he was a bit farther behind me, and as I passed it, I hear the shoulder-cringing trifecta-call of the impending bike crash: skidding tire, brake squeal, “ah FUCK!”…and then the sound of something similar to a tray of silverware being slammed to the counter…followed by an angry “GodDAMMIT!”

Biker down.

Damage was superficial…another raspberry to add to the collection, but the bike was fine. But I hate stupid crashes. They happen way too often. So annoying and all they do is kill your buzz.

We finished our ride and talked about his upcoming trip, and rolled into the Northbrook parking lot just after 7:15.


Okay…all warmed up? Here comes the real hate:

People who don’t correct their goddamn dogs.

Sorry for the pun, but this is beyond a pet peeve of mine, because, as I am a polite person, I am not going to correct the dog myself right in front of them, nor am I going to ask them too. I’m kind of a passive aggressive person, avoiding conflict all the time on matters such as these – as the culprits are my friends/acquaintances. So it builds up in me and comes out…oh well, at least you can thank that for Thursday Hate.

What kind of correction, you ask? We’ve all had the neighbor with the noisy dog. My neighbor, in particular, has a little dachshund with way more bark than sense. Leroy. His diminutive size makes his schlong look really big by comparison so he must have some sort of big ego about it. He’s constantly yapping at anything that moves, and loves to charge my dog, Kedzie, like he’s some sort of bad-ass, every time he sees her. Except that when she answers, playfully, it’s all retreat and high pitched squealing. What a pussy.

He also hates me when I am geared up for a ride: it’s the helmet and sunglasses. I’ll be headed out to work, and my neighbor will be taking him out…he flips out, barking and snarling, in the hallway at 5:50 in the morning when everyone else in the building is trying to sleep. What does the neighbor do about it?

“Leroy!” in a hushed whisper. “Stop it!”

I wait for a smiting hand to swoop down from above and make contact with his backside, ending his impetuous little tirade, but instead only get, “I swear, Leroy!” And then a patronizing look, with a shake of her head, as if to say, “You understand, it’s out of my control.”

Bullshit. Discipline your fucking dog.

A dog needs a boss, and you are that boss. If you ain’t the Alpha, The dog is gladly going to be, and while you may not give a shit - because you wuv your wittle poochy-woochy - everyone else around you is going to have to suffer the megalomaniacal delusions of your asshole pet.

Swat the dog, spank the dog, and let it know with a big, fat “No!” that what it’s doing is wrong, and do it immediately. There should be no confusion on his part that it should stop doing what it’s not supposed to do.

GODDAMMIT I hate it when people just stand there while their fucking dog barks its fucking head off.


Post hate: when two people end a phone conversation in unison, with: “Thanks…you too…bye!”


Hump Day

You said, "hump."

This is not what we’re interested in seeing,” said George Price, Superintendent of the National Seashore.“ No kidding...imagine your beach walk the morning after one of these parties... It's almost enough to make you nostalgic for good old fashioned hypodermic needles...oh who am I kidding - used-beach-condoms are AMERICAN dammit!

Just be sure not to do it in Dubai.


Astronauts have needs too, you know...


(To the tune of that cloying jingle): "...the convenient whores of...SPEED WAY!"


And, yes, it's official...I am the LAST blogger in the world to post a link to this retina burner...but at least I waited til Hump Day.

Tuesday Free Verse

Streaks of color dying out to plain canvas
Conquering visions and lush green canopy
Tapering off to flat grey, a cold world
Asleep and buried, without movement.

A stark line as plain as the sunset
People stop and turn around
Leaving me to be in death
Receding into the dusk.

As clockwork as the winter which laid it
The receding snow unveils my body
Now being committed to the worms
Who slowly consume my electricity

Churning beneath, churning to life
Ideas become flesh, and bones give shape
Green arms blowing in a fresh spring breeze
As buds open and flowers spread seed.

Fresh paint laid, wide hurried strokes
New life forms, feverishly mating
Already the sun is high overhead
And the cool kiss of copper is on its way.


Non-sequitur Poetry Day

An Ode to My Cereal Bowl in Haiku
Tall walls satisfy
A deep place to dig my spoon
You’re my treasure chest

My face grew lines while I stood there alone
As she grew faint in rays strained through my hand.
Abandoned, lost and left to find my own,
I soon was lost within the blowing sand.
Through choking clouds I searched for higher ground
My footprints leading back were long since gone.
I climbed to get above the wind and found
The endless days with eyes on the horizon.
Once told the comforting tales of those who’d sinned,
I realized the purpose of my journey:
The heat of the sun and the painful stinging wind
And the shelter only she could ever give me.
Amid sweet dew and flowers, free from fears,
We filled the ocean with joyous, salty tears.


Jesse Helms - Good Riddance

"I've been portrayed as a caveman by some. That's not true. I'm a conservative progressive, and that means I think all men are equal, be they slants, beaners or niggers."

"[Bill Clinton] better watch out if he comes down here [to North Carolina]. He'd better have a bodyguard."

"...in the l8 years and 5 months I've been in the senate, none, none
have been more capable than Dan Quayle."

"Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade school classes that teach our children that CANNIBALISM, WIFE-SWAPPING, and the MURDER of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior."

"University of Negroes and Communists".

"Democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the wrong hands."

"I was with some Vietnamese recently, and some of them were smoking two cigarettes at the same time. That's the kind of customers we need!"

"The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint
that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic,
and interfere with other men's rights."

“We don't need to worry about the Indian nuclear tests if India has agreed not to have these weapons in the first place.”

"If God had wanted us to use the metric system, Jesus would have had 10 apostles."

"To rob the Negro of his reputation of thinking through a problem in his own fashion is about the same as trying to pretend that he doesn't have a natural instinct for rhythm and for singing and dancing."

"There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy."


A Bike Lane on Broadway?

Chicago resident and DePaul student Vadim Gershteyn has started a movement to get a bike lane for Broadway included in the Bike 2015 Plan, an initiative that will “establish a bikeway network that serves all Chicago residents and neighborhoods” and to “make all of Chicago’s streets safe and convenient for bicycling.”

Click here to join the campaign that will start a flood of letters to CDOT requesting that Broadway be included in Bike 2015 Plan.

Apparently, Broadway has been completely left out of this plan, which overall lacks many specifics in regards to how the city will make their plan's mission statement a reality. Broadway is a major north-south thoroughfare, yet is hardly friendly to pedestrians, let alone bikes. Currently, commuters wishing to travel north and south through Uptown and Edgewater must do so on Clark Street, which means a detour of up to half a mile in some areas.

I agree that a shared lane would be a welcome addition, and that the city needs to keep moving forward with it's plan to make the city more bicycle-friendly. Plus, a campaign of this sort will push the city to nail down decisions on many other routes, as well as on other aspects of Bike 2015 that may be on the fence, and will help keep this plan off of the bureaucratic backburner.

Finally, as Uptown and Edgewater gentrify into some of Chicago's more upwardly mobile neighborhoods, the city needs to fight congestion, and to work to keep cycling top-of-mind as a viable mode of transportation in the area. A bike lane on Broadway will help keep the far north side safe for commuters who choose to travel by bicycle.

Thanks, Vadim! You've got my support!

Thursday Hate - "Dum-da-dum-dum-dee-daaaaa" version

Why is it people in flag-shirts are the ones most likely to label somebody else unpatriotic? Most likely for not wearing a flag pin. Ironic, isn't it: labeling someone as less of a person for not wearing some arbitrary symbol, and then using that very symbol to cover your body - wracked by morbid obesity from decades of gluttony and slovenly behavior? I can't think of a bigger sacrilege, as it relates to the symbol that you are supposedly upholding.

And the Pledge of Allegiance: why does this still matter? Why do people get so worked up when someone refuses to take part? Or omits the "under god" addition from 1957, which was added during the height of McCarthy's communist witch-hunts and the Cold War? Declaring an oath to a piece of cloth does not make one a patriot.

The world has gotten way too small for this mindset. We've got bigger problems to deal with, and people who are basing their political decisions on these kinds of issues only add to them. If being a "patriot" is still important to you, yet you still realize that you want to make a difference, distinguish yourself through actions, not slogans or pledges or pins.


Dreaming David

Blue steel and crisp copper bristle
Between the stones and porticoes of
Your domain, under a watchful eye,
Guarding sanity and enlightenment.

My nervous watchfulness, restlessness
Missing something, that you were hiding,
Melted down my back in a warm rush as we
Chased your whispers over worn cobbles.

Amid the constant clamor and temptation
Your unseen stare was a song to me,
We ran a vortex that ended just through a door
A trap that promised eternity rather than death.

Breathless, it was always just one more
You played the joker before I laid eyes
Staying out of reach to keep me guessing
Thinking I would never reach the sacred end.

And of course, the playful ghost of a smile
Disappeared the moment I saw you.
Towering above all the others drawn
To the alter beneath in the temple above.

I imagined the stone you threw
Laying in a pool of the giant's blood
A warning to all who trod on knowledge
And keeping brutality at bay.

Never has intention been so sublime
Yet so sharp and strong and proud.
A razor, a savior
Of all humanity.

I dream of that stone
Of gliding under your shadow
To return to you.
Under copper bristles and crisp blue steel.

In Stone.
And blood.

Hump Day

Visual Aid of the Week:


BYOB Duckpin Bowling in Baltimore:


Find me:

Running with it:


The Hidden Side of Chicago's Bike Routes: Uptown and Rainbo Gardens

Moving south down Clark Street, through the heart of Uptown, the gentrification taking place in one of the Northside Chicago's last great “dirty” neighborhoods is hard to ignore.

Once lined with filthy bodegas, run-down body shops, greasy taquieras, roach infested Laundromats, and grubby whole-sale outlets filled with sweat-shop clothes, change is sweeping through like a firehose blast. There are now 6 sushi restaurants in the three-quarters of a mile between Winnemac and Bryn Marr. The African and Arabic restaurants are now gourmet wine shops and pet boutiques, gay gyms and lesbian bookstores predominate, and the Hopleaf is featured on Check Please at least twice a month by some Trixie who was finally convinced to venture north of Irving Park for the first time in her life. Once a low-key, secret-spot for the cool-kid-beer-snob set, you can’t even get a booth in there on a Tuesday night anymore.

As implied above, I have mixed feelings about Uptown’s transformation, as do many people. Take for instance, my first trip to the Green Mill in 1997; I’d moved to Chicago the week before. I’m glad that the sight of the woman taking a shit in the middle of Lawrence Avenue across from the Red Line station is not likely to be experienced by another newcomer, at least for the time being. But, hanging out at the Saxony Lounge, now the Uptown Lounge, and laughing about that sight over a 75 cent Pabst while waiting for the cover charge at the Green Mill to go down will also never be experienced again, either.

Yet, as Uptown is coming out of a long dormant period as one of the Northside’s rougher areas, some things about the neighborhood will never change, in both ways good and bad. The country bar, Carol’s - a mecca for Gulf War vets and hipters alike, is still on the corner of Clark and Leland, across the street from a brand-new bank branch. The Green Mill, the Aragon, and the Riviera will hopefully be there for a long time, and someday the Uptown Theater will join them once again. And as long as Alderman Helen Shiller keeps the rehab and section 8 housing prominent, it will always be a somewhat grubby place.

However, one of the most tragic losses - historically speaking - for the neighborhood was The Rainbo. If you lived in Uptown before 2003, you might have known the Rainbo, at 4812 N. Clark Street, very well. In its final days it was a pretty fun hipster hangout: a late night roller rink and the original venue for the Kinetic Playground, now a half-mile east, just past the Lawrence Red Line Station. It was well known for its annual New Years Eve bash, featuring well-known nationally touring acts, including G. Love and Special Sauce.

The rock music legacy of Rainbo and the name Kinetic Playground goes much farther back in time, however. In 1968, three partners opened the “Electric Theater” for a show on April 5th, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated. In spite of the citywide curfew, attendance was strong that night. However, soon a copyright feud erupted with a club of the same name in New York, and the owners were forced to change the name. Over the years, such names as The Small Faces, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Jetro Tull, Frank Zappa, and even Led Zeppelin performed at the venue.

Still earlier, you would’ve found Olympic hopefuls and the 1961 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks training on the ice-skating rink that was installed 1957. It also housed a professional bowling alley.

Prior to this era, and the urban blight which completely desiccated Uptown beginning in the late 50’s, Rainbo’s legacy was just as, if not more colorful.

Originally a railhouse on the outskirts of the city in the 1890’s, the structure went through several expansions, including a stint as a very popular outdoor music garden called Moulin Rouge Gardens, fashioned after it’s namesake in Paris, before being bought and reopened as Mann’s Rainbo Room, in 1921. Musical acts featured there through the first part of the Twentieth Century included Ruth Etting, Isham Jones, Frank Westphal, Ralph Williams, and Sam Wagner. It was here that Ted (Curly) Healy and Moe Howard asked Larry Fine to join their comedy act.

Despite all that talent, Rainbo had a difficult time during Prohibition, turning a blind eye to smuggled-in liquor, and running illicit gambling operations. Fronted by a newly installed sports arena in 1927 that featured vaudville, jai-alai, boxing, and wrestling matches, Rainbo was raided several times by federal authorities from 1920 – 1928, eventually resulting in a shut down in that year, and the owner brought up on gambling charges.

Reopened in 1929, the hard times continued through the depression. Its draw mostly came from the jai-alai and boxing matches, as well as continued gambling and vaudeville at the indoor casino - reopened as the “French Casino” during the 1933 World’s Fair. The Chicago mob exerted a fair amount of control over the establishment, via the Nitti Gang (John Dillinger spent his birthday there in 1934, the day before he was killed by G-men). It was shut down in the early 1930’s for selling liquor to minors and wouldn’t reopen again until after World War II, again featuring wrestling matches, largely in ignominy as Uptown began its slow decline into urban decay.

Today, 5 years after being destroyed for condos, Rainbo Gardens exists partly in name only, as Rainbo Village. A completely modern complex, it is still surrounded by much of the grubbiness of the earlier years, although even that is slowly being spit-shined by the gradual march north of Chicago’s up-and-comers.

Tip a hat to the Rainbo as you pedal past, and every once in a while, give more than a passing thought to what it once was.


Caption This

(With apologies to Drunk Cyclist. I'm totally stealing this from you.)