"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 meanderings

I ran into fellow teammate Luke Seemann on the path today, at the start of my training ride and his commute to work. He told me that I made it onto the radio today! Steve Dahl apparently read my email that I sent to him:

Subject: I think you owe us an apology
Mr. Dahl,

If it comes out that this guy is a listener of yours, maybe we can get you charged as an accomplice.


Share the road, and have a nice day.

"...and if you play Defender, I can be your Hyperspace."

I was told he made fun of the Beastie Boys quote I put in my signature tag (for all my emails), that he didn't "get it." Ha.

Anyways, after saying goodbye to Luke I headed down to Calumet Park at 95th St. and Ewing, by the lake for a few laps to fill out the middle hour of my training ride. The draw bridge was up. I wish I had my camera. Does anybody know if this is the bridge the Blues Brothers jump across at the beginning of the movie?

And on the way back I had this Fred drafting on me the whole way. I hate that. I'll be ready to change lanes to pass, check back and there's some guy glued to my wheel without so much as a warning. If your going to draft on somebody training solo, introduce yourself first and ask if they mind.

Nap time. Ciao.

Open Letter

The following is related to the Hit & Run my bicycle team was involved in last Saturday on St. Mary's road just south of Libertyville, IL.

At the link posted above, there are several comments and a rather lively, yet civil, discussion of cyclists and the right-of-way on public roads, including. The comments were closed as it seemed the misconceptions a poster was expressing were leading to a dead end, and that the discussion could go rapidly south from there.

So, I emailed the commenter who posted as Richard with a simple, "Please share the road, and have a nice day," in the hopes that I might be able to continue a one-on-one discussion regarding his thoughts on the matter. Sure enough, Richard responded with a very civil letter which restated his earlier comments on the chicagobikeracing.com article of the incident.

I guess I would say a good chunk of my readers are Chicago-area cyclists, but for those that aren't, I am posting my reply to Richard here today. Some of his questions are the opinions held by many drivers, I am sure, and I want to address the issues of cyclist right-of-way, and why this hit-and-run incident deserves the vociferous response it is getting.

Hi Brian,

I received your email...fair enough.

But I am confused on an issue...I have checked out the internet and there are dozens and dozens of bike trails and ovals around the area. Cyclsts of the past lobbied and lobbied for more places for them to cycle, so the state built these ovals and trails.

Why do cyclists use roads when they are so many other alternatives?

One could argue that if these cyclists were not allowed on a streets and if they were on an oval or trail that this accident would not have happened.

You have to agree that cyclists do cause road rage, not all cyclists adhere to road rules...in fact I would say the majority do not follow traffic laws whatsoever. Hard to find sympathy for anything that happens to cyclists on the street knowing that there are many alternatives.

With regards,



Hi Richard,

Thanks for your well-thought out email. But you have some misconceptions that I want to address.

Not sure where to really begin, so I will say first that I sympathize with your frustration at cyclists who ride dangerously in traffic and then get mad or worse when they are nearly hit. And when they are hit...eek. I don't know if you heard about the messenger who was killed on the Southside about a month ago. He was traveling west in the east bound lane of 18th street and then turned south - on a red light - into the northbound lane of Clark street. He was immediately hit by a truck and instantly killed. I am just as frustrated as you. Everyone must use the roads and the rules are there for that exact reason. But what can you do?

We all have to deal with it. Especially other cyclists who ride within the law and have to deal with driver's frustration at all the others who don't.

However, just as you called us out for stereotyping SUV drivers, I can assure you, there is nobody who rides like that on our team. We love cycling, our team is a top priority, and every driver out on the streets who sees our uniform we want to have a positive impression of us. Even out of our "kits" as we say in the sport, we believe in karma - and swimming with the big steel sharks you had better believe - and we give in hope that we get it back.

Yes, cycling advocacy groups have lobbied for more paths (not ovals - there hasn't been a new track installed in years in this country - and the track is a completely other story - I hope you're not talking about a running track at a local high school? :) ). And those paths are FULL of people. Mom's, kids, joggers, dogs, recreation bikers. And the cycling community is greatful for them. As all of us on Triple X. When we want a fun recreation ride, we use them all the time.

But, as I said, we are a cycling team. We race. We go FAST. Very FAST. Too fast to ride on the bike paths. The paths are for the moms, the kids, the dogs, the rollerbladers, the wanna-be triathletes. We ride road bikes. And road bikes, well, they belong on the road. We take our passion for riding fast to a completely different level, with techniques and riding ettiquette that surpass anything you can imagine. It's more beautiful than you ever dreamed. It's art.

And we all pay taxes. And the law says we have just as much a right to all the road that you do, with in safe limits, such as limitations from dangerous sections (and are clearly marked) or the interstate. This is a free country Richard. Why should we be limited to using the roads for transportation only? Cars use the roads for far more than transportation. And for the most part, those cars peacefully coexist with cyclists every single day. We should be able to express ourselves physically, through our sport on those very roads. And it's perfectly within our legal right to do so, as long as we obey the law.

I have ridden that section of St. Mary's nearly every weekend in that very paceline this season. And ,most drivers don't mind that they might be 10 seconds late to the next light. Most drivers pass without any hindrance or annoyance in the least. Most drivers don't see a single or group of cyclists as something weaker, as an enragement (to coin a term), as something to be "dealt with."

I did see your comment that you didn't understand what the big deal was. That there have been dozens of cyclists hit by cars this summer alone. Probably every day. Of course. And they were accidents. Lots of times due to lack of communication, impatience, or poor riding by the cyclist.

But what happened last Saturday morning on St. Mary's was on a different level. That man, Thomas Lynch, attacked us with his car. Two other drivers testified on our behalf that we did nothing to provoke him, or "cause any road rage" as you say. (No matter how much any cyclist pisses off a driver - he shouldn't pay for it with his or her body as actual retribution via justified road rage.)

He attacked us with malice without any thought of the consequences his actions might cause, and then knowingly fled the scene of an accident. A display of anti-social intent, 100%. To argue if we had been on a path that the accident wouldn't have happened is completely off topic. It wasn't an accident.

I hope you can now see the reason the sport cycling community is up in arms over this event.

The weekend after next, Sunday, Oct 14th is the annual Dick Herron Ride, produced by the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation - the nation's largest cycling advocacy group. The ride is in remembrance of every cyclist killed by traffic. Not all of us ride like shit, Richard. I urge you to come out and ride with us, hear some of the stories, and see why it's so important to Share the Road.

Thanks for your time, Richard. Ride well.


Set Up Jobs

I love conspiracy theories. There is usually nothing to them, but the mere appearance of impropriety and collusion sure does make for entertaining reading.

First up, OJ Simpson:

According to the AP
, OJ Simpson was tipped off by a dealer that the memorabilia he is now accused of orchestrating an attempted armed robbery over was his. That dealer is also the person who recorded the entire confrontation in the Las Vegas hotel room.

It sure sounds like Simpson believes it was his. And maybe it was. But why go in with the entrance he did? It is OJ we're talking about here, not the most diplomatic personality when it comes to resolving personal disputes. But now, the loot will never make it's way back to him, and the likely ultimate recipient of it all, including the suit OJ wore the day he was convicted and his Hall of Fame certificate is the Goldman family. The stash will go into evidence, and once the case is closed, their claim of ownership will be addressed. One wonders if there isn't a connection between Goldman and the dealer that recorded the whole affair in the hotel room.

Don't get me wrong: I hold no sympathy for OJ Simpson. I believe he a murderer who got off scott-free, and is now shirking his financial responsibilities stemming from the subsequent wrongful death suit filed by the Goldman family. And the "hypothetical" tell-all book, "If I Did It" he tried float only made the bile climb higher in my throat.

It's just too bad all this couldn't have been solved 13 years ago by a competent Los Angeles District Attorney's office.

Next, Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS.

This all stems from the 60 Minutes expose in 2005, that Rather anchored which attempted to prove that President George W. Bush shirked his Air National Guard service. It then came out that the crucial linchpin of the case, documents provided by the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, a former commander of Bush's, were forgeries.

One wonders, although apparently not in the mainstream media, how those documents were passed on to CBS, and more importantly, who would take the time to make them. And why. It came out pretty quickly that the font the documents were typed in was not available back in the early 70s. And from there it was easy to deduce they were actually made on a modern computer. The fallout ensued, ending with an apology from Dan Rather and CBS, and Rather's ultimate dismissal just a couple months later.

The ultimate result of the fiasco was that the entire idea of Bush the Draft Dodger was discredited, although in reality the assertion simply remained unproved. But it was the perfect path towards removing the stain on the President after having taken his 2nd Oath of office that January.

The debate had raged throughout the campaign that both sides had besmirched military records, which is astounding to me considering that John Kerry was the one who actually served in Vietnam and had the medals to prove it. That Sen. Kerry simply rolled over as the politically motivated - and funded - "Swift-boat Veterans For Truth" practically accused him of being a baby killer, is the bigger conspiracy in my book, however. He was a wet noodle on the issue, letting all the allegations stick to him like sauce on freshly cooked pasta. Ostensibly refusing to sling mud, he sunk himself and his campaign by letting the Bush goons run roughshod on him.

Both were members of Skull and Bones, Yale's secret student society. From Wikipedia:
Skull and Bones members often engage in overt nepotism after college, enriching each other immensely in corporate life.

And finally, it is my sincere hope that it can be proven that Steve Dahl had a reasonable anticipation that his recent comments (scroll down to 4:14 - it starts with the Japanese biker line) could be inciting.

Even joking about vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment is no laughing matter. Especially when this happens. If I hadn't have overslept, I would've been in that paceline. I have nothing more to say on the matter than my teammates already have, other than this: please email Mr. Dahl with nothing more than than the words, "Share the road, and have a nice day." Engaging back with Dahl's kind of hate only escalates an already ugly situation.

There are emotionally unstable people everywhere, and it gets dangerous when they have a gun, a lawyer, or a car. So many people forget that they are just another flesh and blood average human being when driving an automobile. It seems that the vehicle's expanded space, it's insulating affect on the driver, the rumbling horsepower between his legs, seems to bestow a false sense of power that leads to lashing out irrationally without thought for the destructive power they have at their disposal. Like a three-year-old with a hammer in a room full of Fabergé eggs. The realization only hits them after the bodies are lying crumpled and motionless underneath their wheel. Sometimes not even then.

This conflict had better get resolved soon. Oil is on it's way to $100 a barrel, and I believe we are already seeing the effects of Peak Oil. There are a lot more cyclists out there these days, and while we have responsibilities to ride within the rules set by cars, the infrastructure is changing drastically. There are more bike lanes every year. More workplaces are adding accommodations for their cycle-commuting employees. And more and more municipalities are seeing the solution to their congestion and pollution woes coming to them on two, forward thinking, visionary wheels. The Bikes Are Coming, and they will save the world.

The next time you come across a single biker just heading to the store, or a whole a paceline in spandex, remember that. Your only going to be 20 seconds late to that next light, max. And in return, there is less demand raising the price of gas, and one more parking space available. Take a deep breath. You're a person, just like us.


This Week's Most Embarrassing Moment

Getting to the checkout counter at Walgreen's and realizing I'd bought the "Large" size, and having to go back and get the regulars.


M&Ms in my hand.

M&Ms in my mouth.

M&Ms in my bag.

M&Ms in my head.


The Life

I do not want to give this up. How does one keep the keep the unemployed lifestyle whist actually employed?

My teammates seem to manage, although I have never tried to work from home. I wonder if I would have the discipline?

Tuesday morning I was sitting at Beograd cafe in Irving Park, a quaint little Euro-style cafe just around the corner from my apartment, complete with a quicky-mart style grocery store attached to it. Mark from xXx and I asked them to unlock the patio furniture, and chilled out, watching the rush hour traffic go by, enjoying a cup of coffee and ham & cheese croissant while flirting with a cute Russian waitress. We rode for two hours through a glorious morning on an uncrowded bike path down to the Cultural Center and back. The rest of the day was spent job hunting, napping, and in rehearsal, capped off with a beer at Cleo's afterwards with my new "best friend," Traci.

Up early enough Wednesday for coffee and a good breakfast before getting to work. It was slow but I still made $50, not bad for a lunch shift deep in Chicago's northwest side at a pub & grub place. Last night I headed out for a easy session with another teammate, Big Erik through the north shore burbs along the trail leading to Chicago's Botanic Gardens, then back through the streets of Glencoe, Wilmette, and Evanston.

This morning I again rode with Mark and was joined by team El Presidente Bob at Fullerton. I love this time of year. The path-letes are gone for the most part, the Fred's have packed it in, as well, and the "scenery" is out in full color - and not the leaves. Trixies training for the marathon. Just looking mind you, never hurt anyone.

I had an interview this morning with Paul Kozy of, yes, Kozy's Cyclery. Not what I was expecting, and I'm not sure what else to expect. I thought it was going to be a corporate gig, but it seems his corporate operation is pretty grass-roots, for the size of their operation. I would love to sell bikes on commission, but then you are salesman, and not a biker. It would definitely cut into the hours. And as my personal goals these day are decidedly bike-related, I'll be interested to see how this works out. I still would very much like to work at a bike store, however.

It's all a jigsaw puzzle, and soon I will need some financial security, but right now I am not complaining one bit. I hope I can get the best of both worlds.

Maybe I will design a clothing line...(hint, hint...keep checking back...)


Summer's Fruit

Goodbye to the days of peaches, breezes, and inspired, warm mornings. Hello to layers, snot on your cheeks, and seeing the snow and going back to bed. Hello to long, hot showers, lounging in sweats, and a shot of Jameson at the bottom of your cup of French press as you snore on the couch. Oh, sure. There is some in-between time for crisp mornings, leaves caught in your hair, and steaming apple cider. For seeing your breath in the air as you wait at the line, and sunny game days in long-sleeves - no coats needed. But the clock is ticking down on this wonderful, beautiful, breathtaking, groundbreaking - and heartbreaking- summer.

A summer in which we became men and women. In which we found new loves, new friends, and learned to laugh and cry and scream with all of them. Those seeds were planted in the gold of early sunrise, and their tall, full stalks -packed with juice and life - reaped on the hot rivers of steamy blacktop in humid afternoons. Now we bring them inside, to age and mature, to bring to life their full aroma and flavor.

You will always tend the fields, as you have every summer. But as each September passes and the sun sets earlier and earlier, you'll look back on each harvest as though it were the only one you ever reaped. And it was. Every single blossom was unique, every juicy bite was a one-of-a-kind experience.

Let them enliven your winter. Let them spread light to take away the darkness. And take nothing of them for granted. For they will get you through the icy mornings, the long days at work, and that cold walk home from the bus stop. Laugh with them at happy hour, and have them over for dinner. Give them the same care and love you gave as when they first sprouted out of that tender, new soil. For they will give you so much more in return. They are what made this summer what it was, and the person whom you became while laboring through it's heat.


The Worm

The leaves rustled in a low breeze across the dying grass as boots scuffled on the pavement just beyond.

Down below the decay being slowed by the coming winter crawled a worm. Tender and pink. Sightless. As fragile a living thing has ever been.

The mower had come one last time. Feet stomped. Dogs sniffed.

But the worm stayed low, afraid, yet unable to go anywhere else.

Except down into the earth. As the day became dusk.

And the warm nights grew cool with ominous frost.

And more leaves fell.


Go well, Pieter.

9/14 update: I would like to expand on mine and Erik's comments below on this picture. It was taken in late May of this year, the week of Snake Alley. It was my first time racing in Matteson, and it was a memorable night. I went in very unsure of my racing ability, with only 2 races under my belt, and came away with 5th place in the B's. Erik and Nick Gierman and I really romped that night, attacking like crazy and it was my first real taste of teamwork and seeing it pay off. The smiles on our faces are the result of the effort we all left on the pavement for our respective races that night - it was top tens all around for xXx.

I remember talking with Pieter for the first time afterwards, just before this was taken. My recollection was one of pure humbleness. Something I didn't expect after having heard about what a talented and aggressive racer he was. Luke said it best in comments for Pieter's obituary for Chicagobikeracing.com: Pieter never finished mid-pack. He was either Top 5, crashed out, or cracked hard and off the back. He rode the way he wanted - with honesty and his heart - and never needed any talk to back it up. He was one of my role models on this team.

As I said in my last entry for my team time trial report, I would certainly never have finished this season if it weren't for this team and for role models like Pieter. I am at a complete loss for words and explanation as to why this team has been visited not once, but twice, by the horrible disaster of losing two beloved and respected teammates in the span of less than three months. It is not fair. That all future races, packs, and podiums will be missing the desire, heart, will, and the smiles of Pieter and Beth.

It's up to us all to keep their spirit alive in all the races and rides to come.

You'll be missed.


I Made it Last

I made it. With sun blazing down, my feet brittle and sore, and a stitch in my side, I made it to the finish.

Crossing the white line on that flat, hot road in Utica Sunday not only ended the toughest race I entered this year, it ended my first season as a bike racer. On both counts, I never dreamed it would be so hard. Had I known what I was in for, without having had yet the experience of finishing, I would have done neither. However, seeing it from the other side, I can't wait to do it all again.

It's so easy to dream of glory, to sit on the couch, drinking beer and watching The Tour. And to go buy that brand new Dura-Ace carbon fiber bike, and what the hell, throw in the case of Clif Bars, too. "Oooh, a World Championship jersey." But to actually stretch, push, and reach for glory - or even harder, your own sense of personal gain and satisfaction - in the face of pain, is another thing entirely. Can you get up at 5am on a Sunday to ride? Keep that sprint up for another 100 meters? Get back in the race with your face bloodied and your knee swollen?

And doing anything for the first time is exponentially harder because it is unanticipated pain. Unknown pain. How bad will it get? How long can you go? What if I don't make it? All questions that must be addressed if you are to do this again, so knowing that you will have answers, you move on into that gray foggy haze.

Because as I have learned this year, in my first season of competitive cycling, conquering pain is what satisfies me and drives me to do it again. It's made me a harder man and am that much better for it.

Because I've never been much of a fighter.

I was picked on a lot in school. Bullied on the playground. Pushed around. I gave up way to easily. Still do sometimes. Never took risks. Still don't many times. I never dated. In fact, I never really talked that much to girls, let alone ones I was interested in. I only sat and waited for things to come to me. And watched as they all passed me by. My success was found inwardly, through musical expression, and it was the one thing that probably saved my life. The tuba, the bass, my bands, my gigs, were all safety valves that released the pressure on my soul, and let in a sense of self-worth that at least kept me individual and unique.

But that is changing, because of the new limits I have set for myself this year. Not my individuality, of course, but my passive nature towards letting things come to me. And that is of course further defining my individuality much, much more. Seeing myself reaching and surpassing levels of physical and mental achievement this summer that in the spring only scared me has filled me with power and confidence. And that it was done pretty much on that fly, and that this winter I am going in with a plan drives me so much more I can hardly wait for it to be spring again. And for all the things, experiences, and events beyond the bike that need to be taken, not waited upon.

It was this past Sunday in Utica, IL. The ABR National Championship 4 Man Team Time Trial event. We waited at the line, joking casually. I wasn't nervous, but there had been a little voice in my head all week saying, "you know, you have never ridden this distance at full speed before." I chose to ignore it, because I had been faced with unexpected and daunting adversity many times this year and persevered, and I believed this would be no different. In one way I was right, and in the other I had no I idea what I was in for in about five minutes.

We'd agreed during our 5am team practices in the week before that Leonard and I would lead the team out from the line. Jonathan and Peter were so much stronger that in order to set a pace that all of us could ride at, the two of us would establish the opening tempo. I took a few deep breaths as the race marshal gave us two minutes, one minute, 30 seconds, 10, and then counted down from five.

We were rolling. All the talk, all the training, all the planning, it had finally come together in my last race of the season. And in about a mile, it was all falling apart.

We were trying to maintain our discussed baseline speed of 25mph but no sooner than we had passed our 2 minute men less than a couple miles into the race, I was already wheezing like Jackie Gleason on his ventilator. My breathing was terrible, my spin and economy were wasteful, I was cracking like a first-time club rider. I was missing the wheel after my pulls, couldn't accelerate, and was already going anaerobic. I was in full panic.

We continued east on the first stretch and I would just pull through and off, practically pushing whoever had just pulled before me backwards as I came off. Peter sheltered me from the wind as I rode to his right. Jon shouted for me to stay on his wheel. Leonard gave encouragement as I came of the front. And then we turned into the wind.

There was no way I was going to make it.

I was getting gapped each time I tried to get back on the line. Peter came by once and said, "Dont feel bad, man. It happens. You're doing your best." But our speed was slowing and I could sense everyone else's frustration with me as I thought, Goddamnit. All this training, all this excitement, and I'm going to go home the goat. Dropped before we even got moving.

Gapped again and a whooshing gust of wind past my ears. "Go!" I shouted. "Go on, leave me!"

But I kept pedaling, embarrassed, and hoping against the inevitable odds of biology I could pull my shit together. And the team ahead refused to let me falter.

"No!" Jon shouted. "Get your ass on my wheel!"

I focused on belly breathing, gave it the gas, and willed myself back up to the group. I was on again, amazingly, and Jon began barking out orders. "Three man rotation guys. Brian, stay at the back and recover." And my teammates brought me back.

After about 3 or 4 rotations, my heart rate finally came down below 165 and when Peter asked me how I was doing, I was able to respond in a steady voice that I was doing good. I focused on my breathing - deep breaths of water from the pit of my belly and rising up to my chest. And then: "Phhew!" and inhaling again. But then Leonard came to the fore, and I heard him say he wasn't going to last. He pulled long, and there was a miscommunication between him and Jon that was a close call, but everyone stayed upright, and then he was gone.

"Leonard's off!" Jon said. And whatever had happened with Leonard must have been bad, because he had sat up and was coasting, his silhouette growing smaller behind us. And then it was galvanized like iron in my brain. "No more fucking off, no more mental lapses, Brian. These guys are depending on you. Ride smart. Let's go."

And 40 minutes later I found ourselves cruising at 27mph, working hard, but certainly not the panting mess I was before at a much slower speed. Once I missed a turn after pulling us to the corner, I was so focused on deep breathing. I nearly flipped over my handlebars trying to get the bike around as Jon screamed, "Left! Left!"

"Sorry, guys, I'm a fucking moron." Peter just laughed and said, "your other left!"

We really had a groove on from then to the end. With the wind at our backs we were hitting 30+, and even with the cross winds we maintained a steady 26-27mph pace. It wasn't without cost however. The last five miles of race I wanted to quit with every pedal stroke. I thought I felt blisters forming on my feet. And any minute my calves were going to seize up in protest. But Jon drove us on, shouting out the miles we had left to go, and I felt my will growing stronger as he called the numbers off. At one mile to go, I smiled through the agony at how everything had turned out.

I saw the finish line and stopped focusing on my breathing and literally tried to rip my crank arms off with the last fumes I had in the tank. And it was over. A 7th place finish, averaging just under 25mph. Timeless. I could've been out for 90 minutes or 90 seconds. I ecstatic and let out a whoop. We'd looked over the edge of failure, regained my balance on it's precipice, and hawked a giant loogie into it's chasm before walking away. I'd made it to the end - a place I wouldn't have found myself going alone, or with teammates who put themselves first.

And I've made it to the end of my first season. I haven't accomplished much by many standards, but by mine own, I have reached heights of success I would never have imagined I'd ever attain in this sport. Having looked pain and failure in the eye - sometimes it got the better of me, other times it didn't - and coming out on the other side wanting to do it all over again is all I could have ever asked for.

Jon, Myself, Peter, and Leonard:

Update coming

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I really appreciate all you reading this blog out there and I promise I'll get this back to regular postings. Since my lay-off my life has literally flipped 180 degrees. Lots of interviews this week, and therefore research, and I'm waiting tables in the meantime down the street.

But Sunday was the Team Time Trial ABR Championship, and it was a religious experience. So please stay tuned. I will get a new entry in today, and get back on schedule.



A change in the angle you look at the painting. Adjusting the equalizer a bit. Or hearing somebody else's side of the story. Otherwise known as a change in perspective.

How many ways has my first week of unemployment been the best week of my life? The more I think about it, the more way I count.

First, just seeing the neighborhood during the day again. Seeing the crazy homeless woman screaming profanity that would make a sailor blush at the Sun-times hawker as she muscles her shopping cart halfway onto the curb. Halfway on, halfway off, she turns around to shoot out a giant, bloody loogie at the paper guy. But, the wind catches it, sending it onto the hood of the car waiting at the light. I looked at it's driver, but he just half-smiled at me and sat there. David himself wouldn't have dared sling so much as a pebble at that woman.

I have too long been only down on the Mag Mile during the day, surrounded by waddling tourists and sweating suburbanites looking for absolutely nothing new or out of the ordinary. And the Mag Mile obliges. It's safe, flat, with pretty colors and nothing is scary. Rarely, at least. But in the depths of Chicago's neighborhoods during the daylight hours lurks inspiration that will take you to dizzying heights and depressing lows, all in a single block.

At 6:30 am yesterday morning, after my 5am team time trial practice ride, I sat at the Starbucks (safe as well, I know, but after a 90 minute ride at near 90% - all before the sunrise - I need some familiarity) at Irving and Damen, eating some yogurt and sipping coffee before my massage appointment. I was chatted up by a couple of half-drunk gents, red- and rheumy-eyed, about my bike.

"That's a nice bike man." I'd brought it in the entryway since I had no lock. "I used to be pretty into bikes, man. I was pretty good."

"Shut up. Yer no good at nuthin'," replied his bearded, grizzly friend, who looked to be 50 going on 80. "Can't even make love to a woman right." With these guys it was lines straight out of a Clint Eastwood movie from the '70's with an orangutan as the supporting actor.

"Shut up, Dad." They then both shared a tender moment from a plastic vodka bottle.

It's also been the networking. I have three job prospects from friends and teammates. Yesterday I enjoyed dim sum at a restaurant I walked past for 3 years in Argyle and never went into before then. We sat, talked about the wine biz, ate fun rolls, and watched Caroline take pictures for her restaurant blog. We headed out afterwards for a little bit of the aroma of the neighborhood (and if you've ever walked between Broadway and Kenmore on Argyle you know what I speak of) and sights and sounds of the street's many grocery stores. Here's one that gives the gist (I've submitted this to engrish.com):

(It's some sort of grape flavored gummy.)
"It's translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady."

Knowing that I am done with the advertising scene forever has filled me with a joy that constantly refreshes every few minutes. All it takes is one particularly bad commercial - KFC for example - or simply one of the ubiquitous pea-green LaSalle Bank taxi toppers slinking around the city to remind me it's all behind and in the past. One breath of fresh, sweet bus exhaust while St. Ben's strikes noon on a hot day to tell me everything has changed.

Finally, it really is, as I always say, teammates who make the difference. Being up at 4:30 and riding at 5am three times this past week has filled me with power, confidence, and an unbeatable spirit. It has carried into every phone call about my resume, every time I investigate another job posting, and certainly today in the stellar first interview for a job in the 'burbs.

Yes, the 'burbs. With a 20 mile ride on decent roads, I can get training on my morning commute. The benefits are spectacular, the best I've even seen, and I felt the interview couldn't have gone better. So hopefully I am getting a call early next week. Although, if I could land a little bar tending a couple nights a week to round out a bike shop gig, that would be absolute heaven. So if any-youse bike riding drinkers out there have a lead, please throw it my way. That is if you already have a job yourself.

I leave you with a few more pics from the week...

At the Cubs Game:

An old Beemer in Wicker Park:

In the Zoo:

Sundays Salmonfest:

Happy Birthday, Jan!

Midnight, and drunk, heading home from Evanston on California. Who needs health insurance?!

But up at 6am for a beautiful Labor Day. The turn-around point:

Uncle Rick and me at Erik's Monday BBQ:

And his hat was pretty popular:

And from today's interview excursion to Elmhurst:

Still Alive...actually, more than ever!

Lots to tell, just not enough time to tell it right now...job hunting is, well...a full-time job!

So, here's a banana in my pocket (upper-upper right). Ciao!