"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


Stick with what you've got

(photos by peloton-pix.com)

I had a big chip on my shoulder coming into this weekend. Saturday was the opening event for the Illinois Cup, Burnham Racing's Spring Super Criterium, in South Beloit. Days before the two hour drive to the state line northwest of Chicago, I knew I had something to prove.

In group discussions of tactics and "let's-win" scenarios, my name isn't mentioned very much. At all, really. Can't complain, it's my own fault. When racing for my own results, I botch things terribly, beset by indecision and fear of failure, waiting for the perfectly framed moment which never comes. In my fourth season, I am still looking for Win Number 1. Still, lack of respect is lack of respect, and I always take it kinda personally.

I know I'm a very strong rider, and even with more brawn than brains, that no one follows a plan more stringently than me. Taking my own risk of failure out of the equation clears the tactical picture for me immensely, and by declaring this year to make racing more fun and free-willed, working for others and destroying myself in the process, I'm hoping to become a much more instinctual racer. That will be a big part of removing the pressure to getting my upgrade to Category 2 by the end of the year.

The Category 3 race was stacked by my own XXX and Burnham, of course, as the host team. Each team had at least six riders. Tom Briney, Newt Cole, and Liam Donoghue had all declared designs on the victory, while (speaking for myself, at least) others only wanted match attacks, guard breaks, and lay waste on the final lap in support. The early laps played as though this script had been typed on paper.

Briney, Newt, and Liam waited a patient game while Chris Kinnonen guarded the front and Kyle Wiberg and I made sure there was red and black in each of the flurry of early attacks. Seemingly every couple of laps I was in a different iteration of the break, almost always with Recycling's Ben Laforce and Burnham's Jason Mindemann or Eric Goodwin. Don't hold me to that as memory in those situations is always a little fuzzy.

The breaks would always start with a solo attack by one of a few solo riders, and then would build numbers on late bridges by guys with support in the pack; that's definitely how I found myself in so many different groups off the front.

The last one I was in definitely had potential. Moving up the leeward left-hand side in the finishing straight midway through the race, I saw Kinnonen pulling the group with no support, then noticed a new break of three or four moving away, with no XXX representation. That was not good at all, so at the first turn I broke hard off the front. With someone in tow, I bridged into Ben Laforce's draft at the tail of a now sizable threat. I think we had a good gap for at least a couple of laps but were eventually reeled in. The shifting winds and March fitness disrupted the rhythm of a truly committed break; at one point wagged my left elbow and the dude pulled through on the windward side to my right.

As the laps ticked down, I saw more and more of Briney, Newt, and Liam who were holding to prime position. With 3 or 4 to go, Kyle was in a break of three, including Laforce, once again. As we passed turn one after seeing two to go, Kyle was drifting back to the group, with the other two riding away. I couldn't wait until the last lap like I'd planned. With the rest of the team behind me, now was the time to light the last match.

As we passed Kyle I dug hard into the wind without breaking off and closed the gap smaller and smaller. By the end of the backstretch curve (and me pedaling boxes) they were now easily within striking distance. As if he'd read my mind, Liam took off like an F-14 from an aircraft carrier. The move was so committed you couldn't not believe in it 100% and I whooped ecstatically after him, "Yeah, LIAM!!!" He caught the other two quickly and blazed away alone in the tailwind.

I sat up, got on the end to hang on by a thread with depleted legs, and watched Briney and Newt do their thing, which was fight for wheels like tenacious pit bulls. I could not have been more pleased as I coasted in across the line, dead last from the group, hearing Alan Treuthart shout, "he did it!" and then see Liam sprawled out on the grass, an arm raised in the air. Briney and Newt had made it into the top five as well.

A perfect ending to a perfect race. And later I found out I'd also won a prime, a SRAM chain with a powerlink, while pulling through on one of my early breaks.

Incidentally, I did all of that on a half-flat rear tire. Half way through, I began to feel squirrelly back there through the high-speed last and first turns on either side of the start-finish. I debated getting a wheel, but rationalized it was the wind playing with my deep Stinger 60s (but knew better). I didn't want to miss out on any of the fun I was having and it's a good thing I stayed with the wheel I had. I broke a spoke on my back up wheel somewhere between 25 or 30 minutes into the the Pro/1/2/3 race an hour later. Speaking of which:

After realizing my race wheel wouldn't hold air and putting on the back-up, my training wheel w/PowerTap hub, the 75 minute Pro/1/2/3 race rolled out with another XXX-heavy field. Included was everyone from the Cat 3 race except Chris, plus Ed Amstutz, John Tomlinson, Peter Strittmatter, Dave Moyer, and Scott Herring. The first lap and half were quite leisurely, and at the beginning of lap two when the pace was really lagging, I easily moved to the front in order not to get pinched in the turns by the widespread group.

Seconds after I found myself chasing the first of a violent barrage of early attacks, and even in a stillborn break for the rest of the lap or so. After that there wasn't much more I could do besides hang on to the tail of the dragon as the pace would often surge to 30mph-plus during the early attacks.

Finally about 25 minutes in it looked to be settled, with two separate groups off which would eventually form a group of nine. This included Moyer, whom I didn't see break away, and JT who I watched turn himself inside out into the headwind on a solo bridge to the second group.

Shortly after, people began asking me if I'd broken a spoke. "Naw," I casually responded. It was just my valve extender slapping on the deep carbon of the wheel. The joke of the Cat 3 race as well. With my calf-tattoos, I'm Cat 5 style forever, baby! Actually, not a joke all, I found after Nate Iden of Burnham rolled up behind me: "dude, your wheel is gonna fall apart!" Sure enough, I looked between my legs to see the rim "whupwhupwhupping" against the brakes. I really had broken a spoke. Rolling in, I realized my race wheel was unridable too, and there was no neutral support. So I called it a day.

I watched from the sidelines as the front group gelled cohesively and grew their gap to over a minute. With two to go they dropped to eight, and in the end, Tomasz Boba of WDT won the day, with XXX placing Moyer in 4th, JT in 8th, and Peter in 10th.

A really good day for the team, to state it politely. XXX Racing is now in the lead for the Illinois Cup overall team competition, not to mention the Cat 3 and 40+ divisions.


Thursday optimism

No hate today. I am spreading the word and keeping up with the fight for your right.

Please urge your congressman today to support the Active Community Transportation Act!

All 50 states can realize the benefits of this bill. Below is a letter - in addition to the one I sent by clicking the link above - I wrote to Senator Mark Begich of my home state, Alaska:

Dear Senator Begich,

I was born and raised in Anchorage and as a Democrat, I followed your election in 2008 with great interest. I was very pleased when you took office, but recently dismayed to hear of your lack of support for this bill.

I understand Alaskans require rugged transportation options, but within the state's urban environments, the benefits of this bill can still be fully realized.

Anchorage, especially, stands on the precipice of being a very cycling-friendly city, with its network of world-class trails reaching nearly every part of town. Just this Christmas, while skiing to the inlet, to Russian Jack, and even the Bartlett trails from our Midtown home, I saw nearly more bicycles than skiers, in the dead of winter. With big knobby tires and appropriate clothing, these commuters epitomized taking innovative action to make their own community a more healthy and vital place to live.

It can be done and should be done.

If fully realized, the Active Community Transportation Act reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, saves lives both behind the wheel and not, and more pedestrians and cyclists will greatly reduce maintenance costs for our new and existing infrastructure. And not least, it will reconnect us to our communities and to a much healthier and active lifestyle, producing less stress and a more preventative approach to heath care, which is where the reform should've started in the first place.


So you've passed Healthcare Reform...

Personally, I made jerking-off motions when I read the news, and then got back to the business of actually living a healthy, preventative lifestyle (such as riding PAST the Burger King on my bicycle), but there are a million different arguments being shouted all across the country today, over airwaves and dinner tables, and a friend's astute comments (while I disagreed with them) brought an issue to mind, the health insurance mandate: that insurance coverage must be required.

While at first this must seem like a gift to the providers and further proof of President Obama's "socialist agenda", it actually makes perfect sense. Although unconstitutional at the federal level (and will be overturned), it's perfectly legal state-by-state, and just such a mandate is perfectly accepted elsewhere at the state level in the insurance industry.

Auto insurance is mandated in many states because un- and under insured drivers are the reason for high premiums of many reputable companies. Those assholes just pass the costs onto everybody else.

In fact, the Right-ish stance on mandated health insurance should be in support of it because less of your premium and taxes are supporting deadbeats and unemployed. If you support mandatory auto insurance, and those state laws that require it haven't been overturned, I don't see why mandatory health insurance is such a problem.

As my friend pointed out, owning a car is optional. If you can't afford auto insurance, you can't afford to own a car. However, your body is not. I guess choosing to die is, but that's another discussion. If your body is wrecked, it needs to get fixed. And somebody needs to pay for it.

And as I have often mentioned,
the primary reasons for the high cost of health care and insurance are A) so many people putting claims in because they are so unhealthy - imagine the cost of auto coverage if people treated their cars like their bodies and made claims for every thing that went wrong - and B) the extraordinarily expensive treatments that rely too much on technological easy fixes and ignore common sense preventative care. But neither this congress nor the president is doing anything beyond lip service to getting our population healthier. Why? Because there's no profit in that.

Mandated insurance coverage, if teamed up with sensible, proactive agriculture policies, instead of letting McDonald's, Monsanto, and Conagra write them, would gain some headway into lowered costs. But government corruption goes hand-in-hand with corporate influence. Why do you think drugs are so expensive, and we haven't had a new antibiotic introduced in 30 years, while we have 30 choices for penis pills, marketed to flaccid wheezers who don't exercise and eat fries at every meal?

The quandary is that the Right-ish stance should also be in support of spending your money how you see fit. Yet, aren't the Right supposed to be the realists? People who choose to be uninsured - speaking broadly here, auto, etc -
do nothing but fuck over responsible people. And the government's job is to protect responsible people, if nothing else.

To clarify, I am not referring to another drain on the system: people who cannot afford health insurance but either don't have employment or employment that subsidizes it. Further, I am not speaking about existing conditions upon new-employment, or children with congenital conditions. These are not all morons: in fact, I was uninsured for three months in 2007, which included passing on a trip to the ER for a concussion after crashing my bike, until I found another job.

With these instances, there needs to be a safety net that allows people who NEED it to have an affordable option - not a gold-plated Cadillac, but adequate - until they can find their own coverage. Without it, we are the ones who pay for their healthcare, through higher premiums our providers charge. Obamacare provides for this.

But, as a whole, it won't work because of other the problem I mentioned that is canceling out any gains to be made in lower premium by an increased risk pool; the high demand on the system by our society in general and the manufacturers of needlessly extravagant treatments and techniques. There needs to be a far greater emphasis on preventative care, rather than just fixing what's broken in a giant, losing game of Whack-a-Mole.

We are just going to perpetuate the current disease-management system.


Thursday hate: Tony Kornheiser

Wow. Just...wow. Firstly, Bob Roll has this to say:

To think I used to like Tony Kornheiser. I thought he was pretty funny in an annoying kind of way. But it turns out, he's just another fat, lazy, rage-aholic prick with an oversize sense self-entitlement to match his SUV. I can't say anything new about people like him, other than that they are sad, pathetic, misguided human beings. I hope Tony wakes up tomorrow to see the dismay he's caused by his comments and issues an apology.

Lance Armstrong was once defended by Kornheiser on doping allegations. According to Mellow Johnny's (Lance Armstrong's Austin bike shop) twitter page, you can email Kornheiser's boss by clicking here.

You know what to do.

(UPDATED): @lancearmstrong has just weighed in to his more than two million followers. Welcome to Twitter, Tony Kornheiser.

(UPDATED 8:57am) 1-888-549-3776 is the customer care line at ESPN. Select option 3 to speak to a rep and register your complaint.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Tonight I'll be at Abbey Pub, just blocks from my Independence Park apartment, celebrating on a very rare trip out for The Wearing of the Green. The idiotic behavior of 90% of St. Paddy's revelers, themselves all transplants from either Columbus or Miami, OH, trading in their Burberry for green beads and giant, green Dr. Seuss hats, makes the holiday a complete amateur night, and since I hate crowds to begin with, I stay mostly to myself hat and usually observe behind a locked door with a single Guinness and shot of Powers.

Typical St. Patrick's day douchbaggery:

However, my old friend Kevin, now of the up and coming Kevin Flynn & The Avondale Ramblers, formerly of Kiss n' Ride, will be headlining the St. Paddy's night party at the pub, capping off an entire day of celebration, including a live broadcast of the Gaelic Games from Ireland, Irish dancers, and the Shannon Rovers bagpipers.

As well, the Abbey Pub is a cheerful and well-worn place, neighborhood-owned, far beyond the Chad and Trixie comfort-zone, the box of North, Ashland, Addison, and the Lake.

Kevin Flynn & the Avondale Ramblers are a Chicago-Irish rock band, in the tradition of the great city mainstay, The Tossers, with a northside twist. Traditional rhythms and musical themes will have you tapping your feet, or downright jigging once you've had a few shots, and the clever lyrics and references to living and growing up on Chicago's northwest side will have you feeling as though you've lived all your life at the corner of Higgins and Harlem.



It's just a t-shirt...

That may be, but this t-shirt:

...actually says, "Let's shit on and soil every last beautiful piece of ground left on Earth, so I can fill the tank of my ginormous SUV that I drive to Wal-mart every week to fill with sweat-shop-produced bullshit as I compensate for the inadequacy I feel towards the size of my penis due to all the military propaganda I am exposed to on FOX News."


Thursday Hate

Today's hate will be delayed due to extenuating circumstances, and a strong chance of slander and libel, pending resolution of the issue I have been dealing with this week. So instead of vitriol and rage, I bring happiness and zen:

It's 60 freakin' degrees outside and I just heard thunder a bit ago.

Spring is here. I think you'll agree with me when I say, "we've earned it."


The traveler

I have been away for as long as I can remember.

Born into wayfaring. Into shimmering blacktop and dust clouds. Towards mountains, deserts, lonely streets, filthy hotel rooms, and dangerous areas of town.

Parched and alone, relieved only by the shade of menacing fingers; dark woods teeming with teeth and claws; or the fleeting coolness of a soda from a dirty bodega. Then back I go to oppressive heat and unfriendly glares.

I watch movies alone to sooth and distract my mind.

I eat furtively and quietly in diners and on park benches. On lonesome trails and crowded sidewalks.

I sleep. Awaken. Pack up, and move on.

Always heading toward home without ever having known its warm embrace and soothing whisper. Never smelled dewy grass that was my own, waved to neighbors known for years, or shared a beer with a trusted friend. Sat down to meal cooked by all, smiles and loving eyes comingling at the center of the table, framed by friendly light from faded, old lamps.

On a sunny morning, I stepped out of the trees; leaving weariness – and wariness – behind, into a field of flowers that was strange and new, yet immediately familiar. The outline of town lay just beyond, beckoning my tired feet and aching body and worn mind.

The scent of lilac, honeysuckle and wildflowers overwhelmed me, and sat, and then lay, falling back loosely amidst the stalks and thorns and petals and grass, as they brushed against me in the morning breeze, scratching my skin satisfyingly. I let bumblebees buzz around my head and ladybugs crawl on me.

I breathed in deeply the sweet aroma of home, filling my body – as through drawing in water – from my hips up to my shoulders. Then I let out a long sigh.

Sunlight in my eye awakens me. It’s late afternoon, the sun has traveled across the sky. I stand up and stretch. I pick a handful of flowers, especially the fragrant and dewy lilac.

Then, cinching the straps on my heavy pack, I bounce a bit on my heels before heading back into the forest and away from this place, flowers in my hand.

Hero of the week: Randy Michaels

I was prepared to declare Tribune CEO Randy Michaels Asshole of the Week for issuing a memo proclaiming nearly 120 words banned from WGN broadcasts. "Newsspeak," he calls them, and, besides the word, "alleged" (unless you want your already-bankrupt company to be further sued into oblivion for defamation and libel), I am actually in favor of leaving nearly all of these words and phrases out back for the low-lifes of cable news commentary to pick through.

Seeing "touch base" immediately upon opening the article got my attention.

My favorite is "in the wake of (unless referring to a boat)".


Wheatless in Chicago

I've known for some time that Garmin-Transitions professional cycling team, led by Chicago's own Christian Vande Velde, is wheat-free while training and racing. But when the team's blog referenced a Men's Journal article on the team's wheat-free nutrition, I read it with great interest. There is some good information in the comments section.

As faithful followers of this blog know, I too am wheat-free, since 2003, and even more vigilant when I became a bike racer in 2007. Here is some background on why I made this life-changing switch to my diet.

I originally shared the article via Google and on Facebook, and received some comments that prompted me to outline what exactly I do eat. Here was my response, typed this morning:

Lemme start of by mentioning, at the risk of TMI - that I avoid wheat because it constipates me horribly. Nothing ruins a ride or training - or just your ordinary day - more than not being able to take a big dump first thing in the morning. However, not being a pain in the ass when eating as a guest plays into this too. If it's pizza, I'll sometimes eat it, knowing I'll have to deal in the morning if it's not going to affect a big ride or something. And, like VDV, I drink beer. Moving on:

There are tons of options - actually more - without wheat for carbohydrate than with. It's just that wheat is so ubiquitous.

That said, some celiacs (I think) need to avoid ALL gluten, so that is a caveat. Gluten is found in most grains. However, for me and most non-celiacs who are sensitive, wheat-gluten is offending protein. I've found that other more primitive grains such as oats, buckwheat, or corn does not affect me.

There is rice of course, but it's so much more than just risotto. Brown, jasmine, white, etc. Brown rice pasta is widely available (outside of Jewel). Gnocchi has a bit of wheat flour in it but it's mostly potato so it doesn't bother me much.

There's oatmeal, cornmeal (polenta, tamales, tortillas for tacos and enchiladas), buckwheat (nope, no gluten...LOVE making pancakes out of this).

Potatoes, especially sweet potatoes are a great wheat-free option. Sweet potatoes, gram for gram, are the most nutritious food you can eat. Then of course less-starchy, higher-glycemic fruits and veggies. Nuts too.

Breakfast is typically oatmeal or a couple slices of wheat-free kosher black bread (available even at Jewel), with some peanut butter or nutella, a banana, some yogurt, and a hard-boiled egg.

Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, but sometimes I'll make sandwich out of the wheat-free bread, or just eat a loaded salad, no croutons.

Dinner is almost always home-cooked, never out of a box, unless I eat out. Some sort of rice or potato, with plenty of variety to chose from, as I mentioned above, with either sauce - made from a simple can of crushed or stewed tomatoes, spice and some red wine or vinegar, stir fry, or with steamed veggies and beef or some chicken.

Speaking of which, I eat a lot of protein. Beef, chicken, fish, wild game, tofu and other soy, yogurt (I hate milk, tho) and of course lots of Clif.
That's it. The easiest way I avoid wheat is to cook for myself, using almost 100% fresh food. The grains I eat are mostly rice, but I have such a variety available to me that I never get bored.

As well, I am trying to become more of a "localvore" this year, eating seasonally and locally when possible, and documenting it in a new blog, "Big City, Little Plate." While not nearly wholly practical or even possible, adding local, seasonal and home-grown foods is something I hope will add much pleasure to my life and I am already beginning to enjoy the benefits. I despaired through January and February, save for the grass-fed beef I was buying at the desolate now-indoors Logan Square farmer's market. Even the much-hyped local and organic co-op Dill Pickle had nothing local, even potatoes.

But just this week, the Logan market had fresh apples available in a dizzying amount of variety. Most I'd never heard of (Northern Spy?) I bought two bags for $7, about 10 apples. Very tasty.

More to come...


I ♥ Milwaukee

I just read this post on why Milwaukee rules, shared by Tankboy via Google Reader, and I was surprised at the power the flood of my very personal memories had about our little sister to north. Years ago I dated a woman who lived in the Brew City neighborhood of Bayview. That spring and summer of 2003 we were together and spending lots of time there is a period in my life I am quite fond of. The At Random and Koz's Minibowl are just two of the neighborhood landmarks that are a must visit on a trip to the city.

Not to mention virtually my entire extended family is from the Milwaukee area, and I certainly have the honor of calling that town my second home. I'm gonna repost the article below (in addition to the link above) with my personal commentary in italics on most of the points.

Why Milwaukee Rules

By Drew Adamek

I've lived in Milwaukee twice in my life, first in the early '90s and then in the late '90s during community college. I have a special place in my heart for the town; it is a laid-back, hard-working, hard-partying town without any pretenses or hang-ups. The people are friendly, the town is accessible and the funky, beer fart stench smells like home.

Milwaukee knows what it is and likes it that way. It isn't fancy, it isn't redneck, it isn't Chicago, and it isn't Green Bay. It has a better airport than Chicago, you can get great food and beer, and it's affordable. I miss living there, and would live there again in a heartbeat.

Milwaukee gets a bad rap.

Here, then, is my list of reasons why Milwaukee rules.

1. The Beer Fart.

The cultural significance of the beer fart in Milwaukee is not to be underestimated. There isn't another city in America where people can tell the brand and vintage of beer you were drinking the night before by the flavor, aroma and "mouth feel" of your flatulence. As a corpulent and flatulent man, the cultural honor bestowed to the beer fart by Milwaukee warms my gassy heart.

My uncle's back yard, on a late August afternoon. Hazy, mid-80s. The sun is low and the house is casting a long shadow upon grass. About 15 close family members are chatting quietly about politics and past adventures (we are a Peace Corps family, a traveling family), the remains of a party that included a larger group of extended relatives. An odor of citronella mixes with that of the slowly cooling grill and left over food on the picnic table: chicken, burgers, potato salad, and watermelon. The night will be long and rewarding and relaxing, for the cooler is still full of beer. I hold one of those Old Style cans, ice-cold and dripping with condensation in my left hand, and lean onto my right butt cheek…the loud report rips off the plastic seat beneath, and conversation stops. My uncle Jack responds, “Brian, I take it you’re offering your opinion on this subject?”

2. Bowling Alley Bartenders.

The slim dating pickings I had in the '90s would have been a lot worse had it not been for mildly to severely alcoholic bartenders. You can't ask for more fun than a woman who knows how to keep bowling score, swears like an autoworker, drinks Jager bombs for breakfast and ain't afraid of a dick joke or two.

See Koz’s Mini Bowl above. It’s an amazing, wonderful place. Milwaukee and Baltimore are the only places where I’ve seen mini bowling, or Duckpin, as they call it Charm City. Neighborhood Hispanic kids reset your pins for tips, it’s up to you to keep score (but who cares), and the bar coolers are filled to the point of overflowing with Pabst. Great, beautiful white, silver, and blue stacks, perfectly lined up, beckon from behind the glass set in ancient cabinets. I imagine my father or Uncle Bob here back in the 60’s with its dirty tile and wood paneling. There’s not one “date picking” or even pretty face to be found in a place like this, but would you really rather be in So-Po or Wicker Park (eyeroll…)?

3. East Side Cafes.

All the atmosphere and ambience that you would want in a coffee shop without any "artists" or "writers" fucking up the buzz. Just people drinking coffee.

Brady Street is beautiful in the morning sunlight. The loud fat guys are gone and the trees rustle quietly in the breeze among colorful facades and historic buildings. Take a bike ride down and back along the lakefront, and then roll into the neighborhood and take your pick. Fuel on Center, Roast on Locust, and CafĂ© Hollandworth on Downer Avenue are some of my favorite places to chill before, during, or after a ride about town. Alterra is Milwaukee’s answer to Intelligentsia or Metropolis and is better coffee, in my opinion.

4. Summerfest.

This is the festival I thought Taste of Chicago was when I was a kid: bands, drunks, sausages. Some of the best shows of my life have been at Summerfest: Metal Church, Arrested Development, Dylan and the Dead, Tom Petty. All for the price of parking in Chicago.

I was at that Arrested Development show. And Wilco in ’03. And The Roots last year. Cheap Trick more times than I can count. There’s just more to see, more space to walk than just back and forth on Columbus, and far less turkey legs/ass cracks. Take Amtrak up, walk two miles to the grounds, buy the early-bird discount, grab an ear of roasted corn, and wander, listen, eat, and drink your way through the grill smoke and oddly pleasant smell of spilled beer. And all that food and beer are available...for cash. Not tickets. Enough said.

5. Cryptosporidiosis.

The entire town had the shits at exactly the same time. Think about that when you are complaining about the price of a Chicago city sticker.

Totally gross. Got nothing for that, but I do recall the nauseating stench of Alewives along the lakefront…

6. Pat McCurdy.

Sure, this is a stereotypical answer, but show me another bar singer who everyone knows and whose songs everyone can sing along to. If I dated a girl for longer than a month while living in Milwaukee, you can bet that we saw Pat McCurdy together.

I am happy to have broken through this stereotype.

7. County Stadium Bleachers.

The Brewers sucked. I probably went to 50 Brewers games when I lived there, and I can't name a single player from that era. But we could walk to the stadium, get a bleacher seat for $5, and hang out with people from the neighborhood. The old County Stadium was everything that Wrigley pretends to be.

The tears are welling and my lip is all quivery. I saw my first major league baseball game at County Stadium; against the Tigers in 1987. Kirk Gibson hit a home run in the first inning. When Cecil Cooper came up to bat, everyone yelled, “Coooo!” The sausage race only had three contestants (not that I don’t welcome Chorizo these days) and Bernie the Brewer actually slid down his slide from his chalet into a giant stein of beer after homeruns. And my politically incorrect Uncle Bill, in a less politically correct, and innocent, age said to the people in the row in front, whose arrival forced the relocation of my feet, “don’t sit there. He’s got the AIDS. You’ll get the AIDS from him. BEER!”

John and I drove up on a couple of nights the summers of 1999 and 2000. The new stadium was supposed to open in 2000 but a tragic crane accident delayed construction, so County hung around one more year. The walk from the car was long, an epic sensory journey. Much like Summerfest, the smells were to be savored – charring brats and foamy, parch-laying beer, spilled in moments of laughter; the sights of huge crowds under tents and around cars made us smile. The feel of dust, gravel, and broken glass crunching under your shoe soles as you walked into the hazy, smoky sunset towards the gate was as comforting as your mother’s arms. Inside, just as you walked up the stairs and came back into the evening air the experience just intensified, now all wrapped up tightly together in a blanket of organ music and crowd noise; a lazy, happy hum. You sat down in your $5 bleacher seat, with John and your Uncle Bob on either side, took a sip of your beer, a bite of your dog, and told Joe Carter to, “pull up your fucking pants!!!

Today’s Miller Park is a Disney-esque abomination; a reality-TV version, with all its idealization of what supposedly makes a ballpark great. But nothing is really nostalgic about it at all. It’s a shopping mall, with restaurants, stadium clubs; showy, faux-golden age signs and lettering; that sort of thing. The lighting is terrible. The retractable roof is designed like a Japanese fan, so even when it’s open a great deal remains overhead to block out the sun. Combined with the high walls that support it, the entire field, even on a sunny Sunday afternoon, is in shade. Bud Selig missed the boat by not putting the stadium closer to downtown. The old highway spur north of downtown by the Bradley Center is gone now, and that huge space sits dusty and empty. Perhaps the team is a victim of bad timing.

But the biggest victim of all was Bernie the Brewer. He no longer has a beer stein to slide into; now just a spiral from one deck to another, onto a homeplate. The team didn’t want encourage binge drinking, we were told. This team named after beer, that plays in a stadium paid for and named by a beer company, with a 400 x 400 foot beer sign plastered over the outfield.

8. The Cute Girl At Rochambo That I Never Got The Nerve To Talk To.

My wife is going to kill me for this one, but if that blonde girl still lives in Milwaukee, it's worth living there on the off-chance that you might see her.

I am glad to say I talked to one pretty girl at the Up and Under one night, or I probably wouldn’t be writing all of this.

9. Cheese Farts.

The cultural significance of the cheese fart in Milwaukee is not to be underestimated. There isn't another city in America where people can tell you the brand and vintage of cheese that you were eating the night before by the flavor, aroma and "mouth feel" of your flatulence. As a corpulent and flatulent man, the honor bestowed to the cheese fart warms my heart.

As we say to our racing friends who head north of the border for some weekend warrioring, “Have fun storming The Castle!”

10. Jeffrey Dahmer's House.

It isn't there anymore, but it's still kind of cool to tell people that you lived a couple of blocks from him, and drove past the place once a day, while he still lived there.

My grandmother Morrissey (“Granny Mo”) used to brag about it like she knew him. She lived in Kenosha.


Glorious gloriousness

Man, what a perfect day, and it's not even two o' clock, yet!

My thermometer reads 42, the sun is out, and I got 43 miles in before noon. Spring is coming, folks. Just hang on a couple more weeks. Friday and Saturday might be warm enough get us past the tipping point. Although if there is snow again in April, the noose is coming back out of the storage closet.

This afternoon gets even better. My bike racing team, XXX Racing - AthletiCo, has been invited to speak at the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting at City Hall this afternoon. I'll be presenting from a brief powerpoint show and taking questions, positioning us as a resource for the Mayor's Bike 2015 plan.

After that, I'm booked at AthletiCo - XXX's title sponsor - for my first massage there in over a year. I know, I know. Funds have been tight lately, but my recent frugality is now allowing some of those needed luxuries.

It will feel good, and needed, after that ride today. Mark and I rolled out at 9:45 and turned north onto Damen into about a 15 mile an hour headwind. Tempo was the prescribed workout today, for me anyways. Once we got to Evanston, I gave it the gas and Mark was just along for the ride as I drooled all over my chin and jacket at 87 - 90% effort into that wind.

Trying to get my heartrate up was tough, however. Maybe it was the cold? It took forever to get it into the tempo zone, but my watts were there. It was like ripping off a scab: I finally got out of the saddle and rocked the bike through some bigger watts up one of the small Sheridan rollers, and then it was up and there to stay.

We turned around shortly before HP since even there we'd get more ride time than I had scheduled today. We filled our sails with that tailwind and roared back to Chicago.

For the geeks: just over 2,000kj for 2hrs, 27 minutes, including rolling in and out of the city in the small ring. Good work.

Man, I love days like this!