"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


A hateful, hateful Sunday...

Sick yesterday - missed out on all the fun.

Snow today - s'no chance at any fun. Except pancakes. And coffee. Which ain't bad, but still...the trainer?? At least Jack had a great time out in the park with all the other kids...

What sweet, bitter irony - seeing how much I idolize Hampsten for his Gavia win. Lame. Joseph Heller couldn't have written it more heartrendingly hilarious.




Guess which is the ride down to UIC...and when the peak power output test started?


Best. Hump Day. Ever.

I'm back.

Thanks to my upstairs neighbor for opening up his wireless router while I wait for Comcast to get out here. (having a hard time writing - my fingers are still stiff from the ride...isn't it almost April? Dammit. Warm up already.)

Well, the bees ended up with the boy after all. I got the the burrito this time, and here I am, in my new place, with Jack, warming up and satisfied after a fun first Turin ride, very early in the season for me, after a MHD (mental health day) spent unpacking and grocery shopping.

The new digs and my living situation are astoundingly good, almost too good to be true. Knock on cyberspace - I hope the economic situation begins to improve soon. A layoff now would be catastrophic - like when Homer Simpson gets the job at the bowling alley and then starts having kids. So since nothing lasts forever, I'm going to make the most of this chapter of my life.

I woke up this morning at 5:15, and the thought of getting home at 8pm to the sight of all those unpacked boxes nearly made me cry. So I dialed up my boss right then and there and said, "I need a day to myself, to get my shit together. And get it together I did.

Even with his first two week days here in Independence Park spent largely alone during the day, Jack has died and gone to Doggie Heaven. And this morning must have been like getting to see the Hydrant himself. We spent almost an hour in the park, on the tennis courts with Luna and Pee Wee and the others. He showed me he could fetch, and get along with everyone. (I used to blame every chewed DVD and book on him back in Logan, but there's been nary a one when I've gotten home. Must've been that "other dog."

I called my dad, stepdad, brother, made a huge breakfast, unpacked every box, did three loads of laundry, listened to NPR all day and nearly finished the bike room. It's got a bit more work needed, after Jack decided to go "finger-painting" in there last night after Mark had just finished laying down the coat on the floor.


Then it was time to get dressed for the Midweek Gem, the Turin ride. Took my new, generous upstairs neighbor with me. After a flat change (in four minutes, Randy! - still long enough for Daley and Smitty roll by and laugh) at Custer and Main - we were off on my first Turin ride of the year.

I have a power test at the Dugas lab, UIC, tomorrow so I was hoping to just get my prescribed three hours at pace in. The group broke up however just after Ravinia on Smitty's flat tire, and I rolled with a 2CCer and a guy a Mapei jersey after turning around at the Metra crossing in Highwood. The gates were down, and it was getting dark, so I just turned around. We all regrouped however at Green Bay when Smitty took a long hard pull, putting all of us at about 85% when Daley launched off the front as the road angles south. Have fun with that. I rejoined at the Scott turn and the same thing went down on Sheridan, into Keniworth.

So I am home, and am eating dinner. It's a stir fry concoction, with chow fun rice noodles, some mustard and soy, with peas, carrots, onion, and topped with salmon fillet and some Rooster sauce. I got a book on wok cooking years ago, and it's really made it easy to improvise with Asian cooking. As long as you have some basic ingredients and a little creativity, you ready to go.

It's time for bed. I really needed a day like this today...I feel normal again.

Coming soon...

Sorry for the lack of posts...just moved and finally have internet access back.

Turin ride tonight, then making a salmon stirfry...will get a good hump day catch up in over dinner.


Stream of Consciousness Friday

Watched Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety" last night before bed. Damn, is Cloris Leachman funny. And hideous too. But what hell is it with her and the witch costume at the end? That broom certainly didn't work...

The 70's were a strange time, when you think about it. So many modern conveniences and wondrous new things...747s and touchtone phones. But then the older generation at that time gave us plenty of institutional memory of The Great Depression, no phones, or planes...and ate Fruit Cup (yes, as a pronoun) before dinner. And don't be late.

I have been getting the best sleep ever in my life since returning from Camp last weekend. Last night after turning off the movie I was in bed by 9:30 and sound asleep by 10. All week I've been bounding out of bed by 5:30 at the latest, ready to start the day. It's the alcohol and caffeine, or lack there of. Wait, I'm not on some sort of wagon...I just learned from a friend that his doctor told him that caffeine stays in the system for nearly 12 hours, and disrupts sleep patterns.

News flash.

So during camp I banished all coffee to before the ride, and none when I returned, in any form. Whereas last year I would guzzle the stuff all day long. I slept so much better this year. I also didn't write anything before sleep - doing all of it before breakfast, which worked well because I was up and alert so much earlier from all of the great sleep.

I've been continuing here, at home, now that I'm back. One coffee when I get to work, on top of what I'm drinking now, and that's it. Alcohol I've banished to the weekends and only with friends. Everyone knows that it wreaks havoc on sleep as well. It's contributed so much to my recent start-of-season weight loss that to add it back in now would be moronic. That said, I will have a few, and did - at camp - to celebrate the great days' rides, but yeah, it interfered with sleep.

It's all quite surreal, considering that less than two years ago I could barely make it out of bed on time to be at work downtown by 9:30. Yet, here I sit with five paragraphs already in at five after six in the morning. Breakfast is already in me, constitutional behind me, and I'm halfway through my pot of French press.

I live for breakfast. It is my favorite meal and time of the day. To catch up the news, to write as I am now, and just have some free time and solitude before the chaos of the day begins. Usually I have oatmeal, with peanut butter and banana, and honey drizzled on top on days like today where I have time in the morning. Yesterday, I rode to work in Northbrook and leave at 6:15, so I have a couple of pieces of rye toast with nutella on them. Plus yogurt and at least one cup of coffee before I go, in either case.

But it's not truly a morning without the full pot of French press. My favorite post-ride meal is oatmeal as well, with everything I mentioned above, except I also drop in a fried egg, over easy, and stir it all up, with maple syrup. I know it sounds gross, but after a four hour ride and your body is screaming for food, it's the most fulfilling thing I could possibly imagine eating at a time like that. Then you just fall over on your couch and take a long nap.

I hope I can get enough packing in before I fall asleep tonight. Actually moving out tomorrow. I have about half the stuff I moved in with. Am going to try to get it all out this weekend and next. Seems strange, like I'm watching it all happen, but to someone else.

The change will be good. I am taking Jack with me, and I hope he adjusts well. We'll have a big park to play in plus a couple neighbors, both with dogs, to take morning walks with and who can hopefully look after him while I'm out. For me as well, I'm closer to work - by bike, as well as within walking distance now to the Metra, so I won't have to stress about the blue line making me late.

The neighborhood is super cool, chill, and I'll be very close to Smoque, the bar-b-que place I love and haven't been to in about a year. Not sure if that's a good thing. But, regardless, I am already looking forward some warm summer nights in Mark's backyard with other friends as Jack gets to run around and play with other dogs.


Hump: random camp stuff and more

The number one lesson learned at camp:

Always, always, always...make sure there is nothing illegal in your bag. I am not talking about forgetting your stash or smuggling lemurs or something. Nothing patently illegal, just an item or two that will keep you from getting through the security point, or worse.

Such as the collapsible billy club I keep in my chrome bag in the unlikely event I run into the unruly cager on my commute...on occasion.

As I came through the metal detector and waited for my bag to come through the X-ray machine, I got a sinking feeling as the technician asked, pointedly, "who's bag is this?"

With the loud rip of velcro his hands were rooting around inside, talking out my shoes - looking at the cleats, setting aside the bungee chord and multitool. I asked if I could help. He just waved me away with a hand motion, and then said, "I'm looking for something long and metal...like...THIS."

My jaw literally dropped open (and a moth came out) as he removed the weapon. Holy shit. I had completely forgotten...

"Oh, no...oh, no..." he kept repeating. He must've known I was a nice guy who'd made a mistake and was in store for some not very nice treatment. A throng of baby-blue clad TSA employees had very quickly gathered, and a severe looking woman with a crew cut walked up to them, took a cursory glance at the club, then at me, and said...

"Arrest him."

On the walk back to the CPD office, I was given the good-cop-bad-cop routine, alternately being told I would have no trouble making my flight, and that I was in deep trouble. But upon running my Social and seeing I had no record, the cop who seemed to be most in charge just asked if I had really forgotten it was in there. He was obviously stressing the fine line between crime and accident, and when I stressed right back I had certainly no idea it was in there, I was free to go.

There was some question and joking whether or not I would make it back to Chicago...


This just in...camp is hard:

And then it's even harder:

This is the 1:25 interval I ran from Cayucos Beach to the top of the wall. Average power of 292w, and a peak 10 minute power of almost 340w.

(It's so tempting to try and lose just another 10 pounds and get that power to weight ratio up, but...)


A preview of the local racing season here in Chicago on the Chicago Cycling Examiner.


San Luis Obispo: Days 7 and 8, and Recap

Friday, March 13: The Wall

A warm day. The nicest weather so far at 2009 SLO Camp. We noticed it immediately this morning at sunrise as each of us walked from our rooms to the common area. It would be liberating to finally ditch the knee and arm warmers and even out the funky tan lines. Well, make them less funky, but as cyclists we are resigned to the birthday skinsuit lines.

The Wall day is always the most focused and intense day of the trip. After breakfast we rolled out again down Highway 1, this time about 20 miles out to Cayucos Beach, a small picturesque little town where, as I rolled down the hill past mom & pop grocery strores, B&Bs, and a surf shop, I could imagine living there with nothing more than a typewriter and about 12 cats to keep me company as I churned the Great American Novel, in between 100 mile rides along the coast.

Once in Cayucos, we split up into five teams, one more than last year, to stagger our approach to The Wall, a four mile climb straight up, after a 12 or so mile run up in a driving pace line. I was again grouped with three others from last year's run, Peter, Newt, and Stocky. Stocky would our protected man, as he was the best climber in our bunch. Behind us, five minutes back, would the so-named "Snakes" - Luke, Ed, JT, Joe, and Seth. But, we also had Randy with us, so I was definitely liking our chances of not getting caught, with Seegs and Moyer doing some heavy lifting as well.

Looking back on our blazing departure north onto Highway 1 to the turn off at Cambria, I should've been more careful about choosing my wheel in the paceline. The general rule is, you don't want to be in front of or behind the strongest rider - in this case, Newt. The man is a freaking stallion - an efficient, powerful, confident and aggressive rider. But, we fell into order like a single-minded unit and we were off.

So self-conscious am I of my own pace, I am reticent to call anyone else out for going too fast. I did once, but mostly I felt I had to man up and just work harder. But Newt is so full of bike rage, every time he pulled through the pace would increase by 2 or 3 miles an hour. When it came time to pull through, I would be halfway cooked already - running at 450 watts just to keep the pace up in the headwind. And so it went to the foothills of The Wall, me needing to pull off about 30 seconds earlier than I wanted to and slowing the train down.

I hung on longer than I did last year, but still was the first to be broken off. We caught the group in front of us at almost the same spot, and the two of us merged into a super-paceline of at least 12 riders. I was already getting gapped at that point and faded to the back for maybe another quarter mile before a serious hole opened up in front of my wheel. This cause a series of curses to come from Tom Briney, behind me who then bridged up and caught back on before the group disappeared around the next bend. Only to be seen occasionally in a break through the trees, they gained ground on those behind them, and increased the suffering for those still hanging on. With each glimpse I would catch another rider being shelled off the back.

I caught several riders on the way up, after regaining my composure and strength. I caught Jeff at almost the same spot last year, yelling at him to say it again, to tell me to "get my fat ass up there!" He and several others were zig-zagging their way up one of the greater-than-20% grade sections. I just slowly muscled the cranks straight up them, explosively blowing snot as I exhaled through my nose after each hoarse gasp.

I was maybe 6th to the top, after Moyer, Pankonin, Randy, Peter, and Stocky. While I fall back and seem to lack potential on the hammerfests and stinging, quick climbs, I excel, however, when brute force is required over flashy power and quick wits. I am most in my element when others are slowing, despairing, or even unclipping and walking up. I should definitely try to find an uphill time trial this year.

The group arrived at the top all within 20 minutes, and we sat in the sunshine and recovered, laughing and BSing, listening to "Eye of the Tiger" blast out of the sag wagon's speakers. Soon we were spread out all over the backside of the mountain and on the way down, confidence in descending weeding the slower ones out, myself included, and holding us back. But soon we were all regrouped back along the highway.

A quick stop in Moro Bay State Park, we came back in the route from last year where our disastrous crash struck, along the shoulder in the deep cracks of the pavement. I thought I caught a glimpse of "the crack" as we cruised along single file, full of caution. The day was warming, with a comfortable tailwind and bright sunshine blowing through the tall grass and poppies along the road.

A few of us opted for the long version of the day's ride, and after another hour, we found ourselves in Avila Beach, relaxing on the sidewalk, eating ice cream and slurping espresso. I dipped my swollen, aching feet into the same Pacific Ocean that laps on the shores of my hometown, Anchorage, standing next to a sign that warned swimmers with a reminder of a confirmed shark attack in 2003.

The mailbox sprint came and went again, with me out of position. JT led it out into forever in the headwind with Peter on his wheel. Stocky bridged Ed, Luke and I up and soon it was a train six long until JT finally cracked and Ed and Peter jumped. It seemed Luke was successfully on Ed's wheel, but that reverie only lasted for a second as Ed fanned left, sending Luke and I across the yellow line, and we both sat up. I heard some thing clink loudly on the pavement but thought nothing of it.

Getting back to the room, the clink I heard came back as I realized in horror that it was my ziplock bag, carrying my cell phone, credit cards, and driver's license. I panicked and completely lost my temper, and the manager who was cleaning a room down the way had to come over and calm me down.

Emanuele and I took the sag back out, and, miraculously, right by the mailbox that starts the jump, we found my phone and credit cards. We looked futilely however, on the pavement and kicking in the grass for over twenty minutes, for my license. I was assured however, by the Southwest Airlines customer service rep that it would be possible for me to fly the next day.

We had our camp dinner that night and laughed and applauded and awarded and relived our experiences. Dave Moyer was voted Outstanding New Rider. Truly deserved. He certainly shined in winning something like four Cat 5 races last year, but in SLO he hung with the elites and the leaders every day, on every climb. A confident and aggressive rider, he is also humble and genial. I am really looking forward to riding with him - if I can keep up.

Later we headed back to the hotel to celebrate Jacques' birthday with some surprise cupcakes sent by his wife and few impromtu cupcake-eating contests. Won handily by Newt. His hand to mouth reflexes, not to mention speed-chewing, have been well-honed.

Off for drinks, I had a few snags with my missing ID, still managing to enjoy a couple of Wild Turkeys. Yet at the fouth bar, I decided I'd be better off back in bed, rather than arguing with the bouncer about it, instead getting ready for the next day's ride.

Saturday, March 14th

We over slept, ate a quick breakfast and rolled out sharply at 8am for the day's 2 hour 27 mile ride. A hell of a climb. It seemed to stretch into nowhere, which made it very hard to gauge my effort and catch the two or three riders immediately in front of me, including Randy and Jeff, who'd finally caught me on a climb. He'd said all last year not to miss this ride, that it was his favorite of the entire camp.

On the way back, alone after getting gapped on the descent and rolling through the mailbox sprint, what did I see, alone on the side of the road, glinting in the morning light like Frodo's ring? My ID.


I am a much stronger rider this year, and I should have a stellar racing season. Many more on our team are, as well. They are also much more confident and aggressive than I am, however. And if I am to get my upgrade on schedule, and be competitive in the 3s, I need to find a way to leverage my natural tendency to show people respect instead of wanting only to stomp on them. Right now it's killing my tactical thinking.

I have difficulty getting better at tactics in training situations, because I could never think of teammates that way, but I guess I'd better. I am always the laughing stock of the sprint afterwards, rolling in twenty feet behind the action, with a confused smile on my face. When I realize too late that once again I am out of position, the prostrations that spew forth as I try to move back leave me with a bit of bad taste in my mouth, as if the prime positions are not meant for me.

Truth is I need to be thinking ahead far earlier in the game. It's that simple. No need to take it personally. It's all a part of being "pro". Which is why we go to SLO in the first place. More personally, and something I really do have a problem with, is staying clean - in both the kit and the bike. For whatever reason, no matter how much I clean the bike, no matter much dry I try to suck the gel packet, I am the one sporting the greasy calf and the chocolate smudge on his jersey pocket.

I take a LOT of heat for it. It's mostly good-natured, but some mornings I could hear the jokes drifting forward on the breeze, not meant for my ears while riding at the front, and it cut. Because I don't know why I can't not be dirty and not be looking like a newb. There are far, FAR dirtier bikes in our peleton. Yet, I have earned the nickname "Pigpen" for God's sake. A grease chain on your calf is now a "Morrissey." I don't want it, however. It's not funny anymore. At least until I am a 2, if that ever happens.

In the movie, "Bull Durham," Kevin Costner advises Tim Robbins that when he's in The Show, fungus on his shower shoes make him eccentric, but in the minors, it just makes him a slob.

So, as of now, I will be more Pro. If it means balling up every empty gel pack tightly, scrubbing the kits for two hours after rides and races, or losing an entire day to cleaning the bike (as I did today upon getting it out of the travel case) I will do it.

I'm tired of jokes, the names, and not being respected. I never thought I'd have to give less respect to earn it, and I still don't. I don't count Lance Armstrong as one of my inspirations, instead keeping Andy Hampsten in that pantheon. Rather than being driven by thoughts of grinding my opponents, and anyone who gets in my way, to dust and grit, I'll just go as hard as I can, knowing that I don't have to win, I just have to give all I that have to give.

That I can change.

Welcome to 2009. Race well, win lots, and be safe.


San Luis Obispo: Day 6

An "easy" 75 miles yesterday. That is the perspective from the other side of this kind of volume.

The evening was quite relaxing: a stroll to a late lunch, coffee, chatting on the phone, frozen yogurt and dinner at the world-famous SLO Thursday night farmer's market.

I have a lot of pictures, which I'll upload soon.

We are tired. Almost slap-happy.

Today is The Wall. 4 miles straight up, after a driving pace line from 12 miles out.

Let's go.


San Luis Obispo: Day 5

March 11th, Black Mountain:

I am really too tired to give much of a blow-by-blow on yesterday, but I'll allow this much...

Up The Grade again, I struggled less. Focusing more on my form through the pain, keeping my breathing under control, I never lost an inch on the wheel in front.

Last year, when the rollers began on the run up to Black Mountain, I was already off and riding alone. Yesterday I stuck with them up at least two hard climbs before losing my wheel I crossed threshold. Yet even then we managed to bridge up briefly, Randy, Billy and I, before I was gapped again on a descent. And after getting dropped again, I bridged up and caught them again as they soft pedaled towards the entrance to Black Mountain Road.

This year's edition of the Black Mountain Pain Cave was harder, longer, and more fulfilling. I started at the same time as the leaders, yet still they didn't put much of a gap in front of me, and I managed to catch a few who had left before me. The last I passed too early, too hard, and I let my excitement get the better of me. I popped about 200 meters to the top and he counter-attacked me. The gap was too much to recatch...I came in behind him about 50 feet, out of the saddle and rocking my bike before collapsing on the top tube and handlebar, breathing shakily, and holding off a wave of nausea while streams of sweat drained onto my hands.

Another fast run out back to Santa Margarita, and I got dropped after flirting with bonking. I just had to pull off to eat something before I really did bonk and not have a way to get home outside of the van. I was soon on my own for about 10 minutes before Randy and Grosspietch came up behind and got me moving faster again. We caught the second group and had a hard, fast rotation going. We nearly caught the leaders in fact.

I heard they had some conflicts up the road that had slowed them a bit, breaking up the flow of their rotation where before they'd been absolutely flying. This is why I would ride until I fell off my bike for my coach, Randy Warren. His direction is so focused and positive, it doesn't allow for any misguided anger, or loss of direction of energy. He doesn't berate or yell, but gives encouragement every time, with a correction, if needed.

I also had the joy of being on Kirby's wheel, smooth and efficient, it's inspiring to see the amount of speed and power he can produce when among riders with seemingly twice his strength.

Hard day. TSS Score of 422 if that means anything to you. Normalized power of 269. If it doesn't, don't worry about it. I shouldn't be either.

Today: Montana D'Oro, Thursday Night Farmer's Market.


San Luis Obispo: Day 4

March 10th, Rest Day:

Fish tacos, naps, coffee, bike cleaning. Dinner.


Today is Black Mountain Day.



San Luis Obispo: Day 3

March 9th: Atascadero 50, Peachy Canyon

Cold. I'm not sure if it got over 60 all day. We headed out at 9 am on Highway 1 north to Morro Bay and Highway 41. First was a long run up against a rock wall about 20 miles in that split the group, then a series of rollers that split it again, finally culminating in the final crack when Luke cracked the whip just before the last big hump.

Ed, JT, et al moved to the front, while I - who'd been sitting third wheel - moved back in a desperate attempt to get my heart rate back below 90 percent. Peter shouted at me to get back on, and I did, for probably another quarter mile before the wheels in front of me started gapping, then I started gapping. And then lost it all together.

Wiping the snot from my upper lip, I straighted out, regained my form , and crested the roller, recovered, in time to watch them descending quickly out of sight around the corner.

Before Seth and Mike Conroy passed me, a white van with curse words spilling out of it like litter in the wind took a swing at me. The dumb shits were driving a work van, some sort of medical supplies company, but didn't slow long enough for me to think to get the 1-800 number that was printed on the back. Maybe they were just trying to drum up business.

We regrouped twice before reaching Peachy Canyon. At the gas station, I switched my power to "avg" and displayed mileage rather than heart rate. This climb absolutely brutalized me last year, but I climbed it strong with my broken computer stuffed in my back pocket. This year was no different.

A year ago, I went down after rubbing wheels in a lapse of concentration just as everyone unloaded their gears and started breathing heavy. I was alone from the start. Only Peter stayed with me and we rode it together. Contrastingly, yesterday I stayed with the leaders up the first climb, and then, of course, got gapped on the quick descent before the real hump started. Three or four others had overcooked a turn and were off as well. I passed them but didn't stay in front for long. Seth and Luke - each at least 30 pounds lighter than me - came bounding past. Luke and Stocky dangled in front of, often just out of sight. In some ways, that is worse than being alone.

Far more motivating is having someone behind you. Grosspietch and Pankonin drove me on, and I crested and took most of the descent alone. We hammered the rest of the way, mostly together, to Highway 46, and then I decided to make a race of it on the epic rollers there on the climb up to the highest elevation point of 1700 feet of so. I attacked both of them and put space between us that stayed until we reached the top. From there it was 8 miles straight down to the coast, and 30 miles home, back south on Highway 1, with a fat tailwind at our backs.

I was spent, absolutely blown. Any over 250 watts and my legs would squeak in protest and I'd get a little sick feeling in my stomach. I ate one more Clif bar, but over the last 10 miles or so, I still flirted with Bonktown, population 1, but I could bring myself to eat one more conveniently packaged bite.

The view was incredible, just as beautiful as last year of course. Green grass, blue ocean and sky, mammoth exposed rocks in the water. It seemed straight from a Robert Lewis Stevenson scene.
The ride today wasn't nearly as brutal as last year. It always seems shorter the second time around, and my feet did much better off in the new shoes. No hot spots that kept me unable to apply any force to the pedals. No dry heaving as I got back to my room.

Getting stronger. I'm becoming resigned to the limitations of my body type when it comes to climbing, but I am beginning to find my niche. We'll see what I can put together on the next two mailbox sprints.

Today: team picture, skills clinic, recovery ride, rest.


San Luis Obispo: Day 2

March 8th: The Grade, Las Palitas, Creston Loop

We're lucky this year. We get to do The Grade out and back twice this week. No easing into Camp in '09.

Three miles up along the shoulder of Highway 101 at six percent. I sat at the front with Randy, idly chatting away as my wattage and heart rate steady climbed with my body. As long as I stayed below 310 watts I knew I was all right. Coming up to the top, however, the wind hit and pitch increased with about half a mile to go. I went over 350 and began to blow up. I pulled off to the right and let the line fill up while I tried to get my breathing under control. Luckily, JT was coming up before I slipped to far back and gave me a bit of a push. That little assistance dropped my heart rate nearly to endurance level in less than a minute. 100 yards to go.

Recovered. Down we go.

The first real climb of the day, with tempo, attacks, and generally pistol-whipping the group until it shatters hit us another 20 or so miles in. I am strong this year. But so is everybody else. Again I keep the lead group in sight, but the pain is killing my form and I can't quite catch on. We crest in pieces, trying to come together, and slip into a pace line of five or six, with the leaders still about 200 yards up.

We're driving strong, with every ounce of my focus needed to grab Newt's wheel coming back on. For two rotations I simply sit at the back and recover. On the uphill rollers I need over 400 to stay with it. It finally gets the better of me. I gap on Newt by only a couple of feet, but soon it's slipping through my fingers, drifting away, like a life preserver from cruiseship.

More of the same after the first rest stop.

I need a few seconds of recovery at the top of a climb, and Ed comes by with saying, "Come on, Morrissey! Don't stop moving now..." Gapped. Wrangling in front is Randy, churning and wrenching out his steady tempo, trying to get on himself. I am flopping behind until Seguin and a couple others come by with wheels. We bridge up at the stop sign, finally.

Yet right away, the juice goes the next the climb, I am gapped, and then alone. I stay like that for another 10 minutes of so, watching them slowly move away until the group behind picks me up.

We rode hard, but not hard enough, needing to stop every so often to consult the map. We shed a few riders, and pulled into the park, our designated meeting place about 20 miles early. Wrong turn city. Shit. Out we go in search of the leaders coming the other way and the missing miles. We end up shorted by about eight on the day. Not bad considering.

Down the grade for the first of two times this week, as I mentioned. A screaming descent down the six lane highway - just take the lane baby. Top speed of 45. Seth hits 52, according to his computer. I'll try and push it a bit more on Wednesday after Black Mountain, but I want to take a bit safer, as that bike's seen exactly two days outside, and I have a life and a job to return to next week.

Today is Peachy Canyon and Atascadero 50. Arguably the hardest day of camp. I've been awake since 5am thinking about it. As I wrote yesterday's entry at this time, 6:30, there was one other person in the hotel's common area. Today, there are 12.


San Luis Obispo: Days 0, 1

March 6th
Chicago, Blue Line to Orange Line to Midway

Always take the train when you can. Even if you are carry two completely full bags and a bike case that could contain a body, if the route is direct, you can't beat the $2.25 charge. Use the elevators.

Midway Airport

However, before you get to the security checkpoint, do make sure that you've removed any weapons you might be carrying in your bags. Such as, the collapsable billyclub that I carry in my Chrome bag for protection on commutes. If they fiind it via the X-ray machine, they kind of make a big deal out of it. There will be a separate entry on this fiasco and how I avoided a vacation to city jail instead of California on a later date.

Southwest Airlines Flt 1337

Your life time "screaming baby quotient" will even out. Trust me. Friday night I made up for probably 10 years of relatively quiet solitude, with the "screaming baby" equivilent of the 100 year earthquake.

March 7th
Coming down from Lopez Lake, first real turn, 35mph +

"I said, "get OFF the brakes!"

The Wausna Climb

They jump. Randy laughs as I'm stuck behind a slow wheel. I get out quick but I'm gapped. Oh well, I'm climing strong. Last year the leaders were already gone, now I still see them. Up ahead I see the turn out, the top. I'm gaining but won't make up the gap before then so I sit up. Shit. That's not the top. Momentum lost. Try to spin up again. Ouch. I look down. Big ring. You dumb fuck. I loosen up and shift smoothly. But the gap is bigger. Small consolation is that I can still see them and maintain eye contact all the way. Damn.

Much better on the way down. Still gapped largely by the leaders, but my descending is better and, unlike last year, I join a paceline of about four and make the bridge to the leaders. A fast, erratic paceline. I feel strong...too strong. My brain is still in "don't get dropped" mode and I accelerate way too fast when pulling through, especially on uphills.

The Mailbox Sprint

For an hour beforehand, I say to myself, "React, don't think. React, don't think. React, don't think." Right hand turn after the bridge, Jacques starts the leadout, I'm on Peter's wheel. Jacques' off, JT takes over on a long pull in the wind, speed never wavers. Stocky up now. Kirby's yelling for someone to go, doesn't want a swarm. Who does? But the wind is strong. Finally, the first mailbox appears. I think, "Now how far to The Mailbox?" Peter jumps. I'm still thinking.


Beautiful weather, not a cloud in the sky. Everyone's loving life, riding strong, eating and laughing heartily.

It's going to be a good week.

Today: The Grade, Las Palitas, Creston Loop (as seen in the Tour of California).


And so I go

Alighting from my snow-covered branches
To lush poppy fields, planted in my dreams
Horses tails and sunlit seeds, floating there
In the scent of fresh blood and citrus'd air
And I dance for hungry lions on haunches
To hold off the nights of growls and screams

And so I go

Under their watchful, wise, and haunting gaze
I flee to stained glass sunsets, over wine
To muse on the footprints of those braver
Dusty by time, their story's not wavered
They knew that truth lay deep inside the maze
I only lament what should have been mine

And so I go

The lions will move on to easier prey
To leave me with the lemon-scented breeze
To drown in fatigue and a heavy sleep
To feast - on pain, on knowledge, both deep
And refresh in the salty cleanse of the spray
To return to face what I left with ease

And so I've come

To reclaim what I'd lost, that stolen gold
And retake of what little ground is mine
That naive patch of skin is not a lie
A gift from gods of wings on which to fly
To soar above the sad and smoggy cold
Drinking with joy warm sunshine and wine.

And so I've gone.


Oh, Monday

It's March in Chicago. You (s)know what that means.

Please keep it real for me kids.

4 days. The countdown has begun.

"We've had like, thirty dropped chains already!"

(It does take a while to get back in the groove after so much time on the trainer. Cut us some slack, if we forget to take it up in our drive trains.)


A Lakefront finger-wag on the Chicago Cycling Examiner. Hate is exclusively the domain of The Car Whisperer.


The new, NEW whip!

The new frame - fresh in after the Fedex disaster the night before - was delivered to Kyle's garage/shop on Friday.

A few hitches here, three Zipcar reservation extensions there, I had the bike home and ready to ride in(side) time for Saturday morning.

Decapitated bike:

Kyle at work:

Let us pray:

I haz leedout NOW?

The Totals

In the interest of full disclosure, I want put the extent of my stupidity on record:

Saturday, February 28th, 2009
  • 5 hours, 0 minutes, 25 seconds
  • 90.25 miles
  • 3275 kJ
  • 135 avg HR
  • 182 avg watts
  • 6 bottles of water
  • 2 Clif Bars (cool mint chocolate, carrot cake)
  • 3 gels (mocha, apple cinnamon, orange)
  • 1 granola bar (peanut butter)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Girl Scouts Samoa cookie
  • 5 twizzlers
  • Full Metal Jacket, 40 Year Old Virgin, 1/2 of Enter the Dragon
"I'm being totally serial here, kids! Man-Bear-Pig does exist! Zip-pa-dee-doo dah! I like eggs!"