Thursday Hate

I normally keep the cycling talk to race reports and social-commentary only, but at the risk of inviting hate and trolls, I'm crossing the streams this week.

"On your left! On your right!" As Jeff says, this translates to, "Cat 5 Coming Through!"

If you're already there and I'm getting too close, that's one thing, but a hand on my ass is a far better signal. But if you're just trying to move up and shouting it as though you are trying to get to the toilet at midnight during Summerfest after Ted Nugent has just performed and your body is definitely rejecting those cheese-fries?? PLEASE SHUT UP. Also, be more creative, for God's sake. It's a race, and if you can't fit, don't get mad 'cause I'm not moving over for you. I've got one concern and that's the wheel(s) in FRONT of me, not behind.

Which leads me to guys who yell and scream constantly to "look behind you!" Yes, if you're about to jump and start a new line, give a look back and make sure you aren't going to crash the 13 people drafting behind you. But, ultimately you are responsible for the wheel in front of you, so have an out if you are in the middle and wheels are overlapped. Safety is important, yes, especially right of the yellow line, but speaking strictly pack-safety? It's a race, and people are in base-mode. Priority 1 is to accomplish your goal, whatever that it is. It's a risk to even start and they make you sign that waiver for a reason.


Drivers who do the "annoyed lane-change" or the "annoyed acceleration." Especially around cyclists, delivery trucks, and the like. Vehicles that don't go very fast yet have just as much a right to the road as these people do. A revving engine in a 3,000lb death-machine is such a great outlet for the personal expression of your weak-minded willingness to risk the lives around you to reach the redlight 15 seconds earlier.


My cat's ass.


Being Jack Tripper (hang in there...just 'til Sunday).

Hump Day

Have a nice trip. Thanks, Al-BERT...(jeez am I dumb...I had Abbie's picture up here all day...meanwhile, I'm thinking, he doesn't LOOK 102...and you all are thinking, doesn't he realize the difference between Abbie and Albert?)

Interesting fact: Hofman's first intentional LSD trip was experienced on his bicycle.


As I mentioned, April was National Poetry here is a new one for the last day since I missed most of it:

As I give you at sunset that to bear,
The shim’ring gold of your bewilderment
Is shades untold beyond your gods compare,
I will have taken as mine no discontent.
While ages ago we ran in fields to play
Then screamed when bells rang, killing those of us
Who fled or clapped on chains, throughout the day
While crying, dreaming, longing of green grass?
And you foretold of misery unbound,
You prophesized that I would never be.
My prayers were heard, and earthquakes shook the ground
And split the grey and graveled walls which held me.
Well, here I am. I’ve come for you at last
To stand in golden rain and say it’s passed.


Some info on the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Charles Simic...

...and his interview on National Public Radio last year... well as the feature on All Things Considered that alerted me to the fact that I had been asleep during this entire National Poetry Month...


And probably my favorite poet and book of all time:

4x4 Mercedes

4x4 Mercedes Art Car Central
Photo from Dark Roasted Blend World's Strangest Vehicles

The only reason this Wacky 4x4 Mercedes car is on here is because It's so darn funny, and because its my blog and I have always thought it would be crazy to do that to a Mercedes. So here it is.

Comic of the Day...

Yep. With apologies to Newtron.

I had no idea

April was National Poetry Month? Damn. I will have something pretty good for the last day of National Poetry Month tomorrow - Hump Day.

In other news, I am all moved in. There is the usual domestic friction...due in no small part to two facts: I am a cyclist and musician (I have a lot of stuff) and her other roommate is still living here until Sunday morning. Basically her living room disappeared over the course of an afternoon on Saturday. 4 bicycles really do clash with the furniture.

This is a pretty good representation of my life this week.

High Gas Prices; Does It Matter?

High Gas Prices are an immediate discussion when someone comes to the car lot. The first thing most say is "I bet you are making GREAT Deals on SUV's." Or, "I bet you can't give those Yukon's away." My response is always the same, "They are actually our best seller right now!" It is the truth, but I love to see the expression on peoples faces when I say this. When the fact is, they are also looking at the large SUV and hoping I would say we could not give them away.

That was VERY strange! As I am typing this article, I hear the news say GM is laying 3500 workers off due to low sells of Large Trucks and SUV's! I work at a GM lot and SUV's are selling better than ever at my dealership. Gas prices at this time in my area are around $3.45 for regular unleaded, but this seems to be an afterthought for customers. Most feel if they are going to pay these types of gas prices, they are going to ride in comfort. So much for my thought that this was the case across the country after hearing of the GM Layoffs.

Now that I told you what my customers are buying, let me tell you what I think of the high gas prices. I think it is a bunch of BS!!! Is there anything we can do to lower our fuel costs? There actually are a few things you can do to save BIG.

1) I recently changed my air filter and I have seen at least a 10% improvement in gas mileage. I am going to change the fuel filter as well and I know this will also help. A fuel injection service would also be a good idea to improve fuel mileage. So tip #1 is to have your car, truck, or SUV serviced. This includes checking your tires and alignment to make sure your vehicle is steering and traveling with as little friction as possible.

2) Set your cruise on a lower speed than normal. I know this is hard for many, but if you usually go 75 on the highway, set your cruise on 70. You will see a HUGE difference in fuel economy. If you have a MPG instrument economy, check it out and you will see. This is the gauge that tells what fuel mileage you are getting at any given time and goes up and down. It stays higher when you set the cruise on a lower speed because the engine is running at a more steady pace.

3) This is a tip than can be argued, but I have checked it and it works. Keep your car clean and put a good coat of wax. This reduces friction from the air traveling over your vehicle and will improve fuel economy. Don't question me, check it for yourself. It may not be but 1 mpg better, but it will be better. Also, keep your window rolled up or your truck bed closed.

I Tried and Died

(My first Sonnet!)

At dawn the red cart called me to the door,
And red was in my eyes and through my heart.
The wind and clouds blew quick, yet promised more,
As did my legs and mind to do their part.
For then my fear had been replaced by fire,
To drive and hear their moaning lamentations.
Ne'er high'r flames I saw through my desire,
Then I gave it all to rid my demons.
We waited for, and watched their soldiers die,
And in a flash from out the woods we sprang,
And dipped our swords in water and the sky...
Where is beauty in all our songs not sang?
Pity them, for they can't know, life in June
Is dying on a springtime afternoon.

Audi To Acura Lease Question?

This was a Lease question sent to me and my answer to them below, but maybe someone out there has a better answer, so here it is:

I have a question. I have a leased Audi that is ready for turn in on
May 9th. I am considering leasing an Acura. What I need to know is
how can I use the Audi turn in to my benefit with Acura? The Audi
has very low miles and is loaded and in great shape. I know that
Acura can turn it in to Audi for me as a convenience, but how do they
benefit from it?

Thanks for the question. Acura will not benefit from the turn in of your leased Audi. But, there is one thing you need to check first.
When you lease a vehicle, there will be a (turn in date) or a (payoff). Check your payoff of the vehicle and see if the Audi would be worth more than your payoff. 99 times out of 100 the payoff will be higher than the actual value of your leased vehicle, but it is worth checking. Usually car Company's offer lease deals to inflate sales in my opinion. What I mean by this is for example: They lease you a vehicle and say it will be worth X amount at the end of your 2, 3, 4, year lease. Rarely is this vehicle ever worth this much when you turn it in.

Most likely Acura will take your lease vehicle in and contact audi and it will be picked up and sold at auction for several thousand less than what they said it would be worth when you first purchased.

I work at a GM lot. I have negotiated with the lender before on some vehicles that we wanted to buy instead of them picking up and taking to auction. At GM now they send a rep out to take pictures of the leased vehicle and do inspections and offer them online to GM dealers. The amount the customer could buy for and what the vehicle sales for is very different. Hope this helps.

If anyone can give anymore tips for this person in the comments section, I am sure they will be most appreciative. Thanks.

Prevent Your Car From Skidding

Prevent Your Car From Skidding
By Richard M Jenkins

Skidding is more likely to occur when there is ice, snow or water on the road. However it is important to remember that most skidding is a result of bad driving. A car will only skid if it is being driven at an inappropriate speed or if provoked to do so by aggressive steering, braking or acceleration.

To prevent skidding you should never ask your car to do more than it can do with the grip available. As a result, in poor weather conditions you should:

1) Slow down.

2) Increase your stopping distance, so if the vehicle in front stops unexpectedly you have enough space to brake to a stop without skidding.

3) Take extra care when approaching a bend.

4) Be gentle and progressive when steering, accelerating and braking.

Your car is more likely to skid when the road is icy or covered in snow. In such conditions to avoid skidding you should slow right down. You should also steer and brake very gently. Your stopping distance should also be increased by up to ten times greater than in normal conditions.

When driving in winter, and especially on a winters evening when the sky is clear you should look out for ice forming on the road. For early warning signs look to see if ice is forming on the windows of parked cars. You should bee extra careful when traveling on an exposed road such as a motorway bridge. Ice will often form here first. If your car has an outside temperature meter then keep a close eye on it.

In freezing conditions beware of rain. This can form black ice which lies invisible on the road. Black ice isn't actually black, it is transparent. Hence it's notoriety as a driver hazard.

In icy conditions your steering may start to feel lighter. Tyre noise may also decrease. If this happens then you are likely to be driving on ice. To prevent a dangerous skid lift your foot gently off the accelerator. This will allow your car to slow smoothly and gently. If you need to continue driving then do so slowly using a high gear. This will help you avoid hard acceleration which could spin the wheels.

Accelerating too hard can also cause skidding. If you accelerate too hard when moving off on a slippery road then the driven wheels will spin without propelling the car forward. In icy conditions some wheel spin may be inevitable. To minimize the spin try engaging a higher gear.

Braking hard on a slippery road can also cause your car to skid. Your wheels can lock up and you will continue onwards with little or no braking effect. The locked wheels will also prevent you from steering. If this happens you should release the brake pedal to free the wheels then reapply the brake less harshly. If your car has ABS fitted then your wheels won't lock. However don't think ABS eases all problems when driving on a slippery road. It doesn't.

On a slippery road if you approach a corner too quickly there is a good possibility that your car will skid. This is even more likely if you also brake harshly whilst taking the corner. You turn the steering wheel to corner but there is no response and the car continues on ahead. This is a classic front wheel skid. If this happens then remove your foot from the accelerator. This throws the weight balance of the car forwards and helps the tyres find grip. Do not use the brake. As the tyres find grip carefully steer the car into the direction of the skid. For example if the rear of the car skids to the left, steer quickly and smoothly to the left.

For more driving advice see the driving test and driving schools website. A site for learner drivers providing guides on topics such as the driving theory test and cheap young drivers car insurance.

Article Source:

Go to Sprint Practice...

...then go buy a new dérailleur.

Jacques Derailleur


Thanks, Matt.

Thursday Hate - Rod Blagojevich Edition

Let's see now...

...First there was the Hiring fraud

...then you were named as Public Official "A", Karl Rove's name...Karl fucking Rove?!?...has now popped up in allegations that you and others had conspired to get federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald fired, in retaliation for his investigations into your corruption.

You, know? I could take all this, on its own. But not with your Sears-dishwasher-salesman smile, belied by your beady little eyes, framed by your 1982-5th-grader haircut, spewing your self-serving platitudes in that patronizing tone as you nearly fuck up every single piece of legislation you touch. (Fine, seniors can ride CTA for free. That is great. The motives behind that move had NOTHING whatsoever to do with their own welfare, and nearly sent the whole deal crashing down like a game of Jenga at a frat party bumped by some drunk freshman who wasn't even playing.)

You're going down, asshole.

Get over the Hump Day

My father has been working for the regional arm of a major airline for a few years now. And it looks as though a merger is now imminent and he will likely be losing his job as of mid-summer. Yet, unemployment and the economy is not my issue. It’s that the airline industry is dying. Car-culture is dying. Suburbia is dying. And we’re doing nothing to stop a major transportation crisis.

It’s incredibly ironic and prophetic that author Jim Kunstler (of the article linked above) refers to the rail service between Minneapolis and Seattle as “pokey and slow”. Do any of you know what the original name of this line is? It is “The Empire Builder.” Think about that for a minute. That has relevance far beyond those two cities. Let’s set aside for a minute the circumstances of the clash of civilizations that preceded this, and focus on the fact that the railroads were what made this country whole.

In a span of less than 60 years the United States went from a backwater, backwoods, inefficient, uncultured society to a global power. And the ability to bring all of its self-contained natural resources to bear, from coal to oil to wheat to people, through its railways, was the catalyst for all of it.

And the free-market system that arose to such heights on the flatcars, in the boxcars, and in passenger cabins, traveling on the thousands of miles wood, iron, and gravel, stained with sweat and blood, soon outgrew its industrial roots. It eschewed the rail system as egalitarian and beneath a society of such wealth, plenteousness, and opulence.

Oil was cheap. The technology was there. The people demanded it.

With this shift our rails and city centers fell into disrepair, as suburbia, highways and airports alike sprawled out of control.

It was “nice” while it lasted.

Once, a $100 barrel of oil was unthinkable. We’ll see $150 before summer is out. Procuring a stable supply is draining our treasury, and driving inflation skyward and the dollar's value to the basement. Spending $800 a month on gas is a reality for many people.

Meanwhile, as it takes us almost 2 hours to get from Milwaukee to Chicago by train, every month France and Japan are setting new land speed records on their high-speed commuter rail lines.

Our answer is still planes and cars, and we are headed towards disaster. All it takes is one look at the news on a daily basis to see the death throes of the airline industry on display for all to see.

They are bleeding money. Last month, four airlines went under, 4 more are possibly merging, and American Airlines may be out of business - the second largest airline in the world! – by the end of the year. My father told me two weeks ago the current fuel cost for a 777 airliner to make a one way trip from New York to New Delhi, India is over $470,000. The airlines simply don’t have the cash to fill their tanks on a regular basis, and even the largest are now operating week-to-week. And as the price of oil is indicating, demand is stretched to its limit.

They need to increase prices as much as 20% by one estimate just make ends meet. And with the economy and dollar going in the opposite direction, more expensive airline tickets with smaller seats, no amenities, and hours of waiting, customers won't be flying anywhere.

Highway infrastucture is crumbling and unable to keep up with increasing congestion. The needs are clear. Soon, a major part of our country's power and resources, it's people, will be unable to travel as freely, or at all, as they have for over 100 years.

Yet our railways rot. Amtrak trains don't even have right of way on the few routes they do run. Chicago's own CTA has more slow zones than an Old Country Buffet line. Yet we continue to raise new taxes to prop up this outmoded infrastructure, while subsidizing highways and air travel, instead of investing that money into real change and a state-of-the-art, integrated rail system.

It's time for the old attitudes toward public transportation to die. It's no longer a matter for just the social conscious and the societally immobile. Stop the socialism-baiting.

What's that? You say, why haven't the airlines been investing more , if any, into alternative modes of transportation to survive in a changing marketplace? That they should've seen coming years ago in 1991 with the first Gulf War? How the airlines and the auto industry missed this opportunity to save themselves I will never know. How you could be at the top of such a huge industry and be a part of such powerful networking and not see this coming is beyond me.

A catastrophe is imminent. I give affordable, domestic air travel in the United States 5 more years. And those adjectives will be on a sliding scale downward over that time. By then, gas will be at least $6 a gallon and it will take far longer to upgrade our nation's rail system to a capacity level that we currently accustomed to, and forget about the airlines and the auto industry leading the charge. They don't have the cash reserves on hand to initiate the change and ensure a smooth transfer for their business model in time. Only one seems to have seen the opportunity in time and gotten on board.

So Long Champ Car

I wanted to wait until the LBGP and post a little something about the event before ending this blog. But what's to say? The race was only special in that it is the Champ Car opening and only event of the 2008 season. And so it is also the very last Champ Car Race forever.

I've seen a few racing series collapse over the years, IMSA and CanAm are two which come immediately to mind but none was harder to reconcile in my mind than Champ Car.

So as this BLOG represents everything Champ Car it too must come to an end.

Because there are a few posts here that continue to get a lot of hits, particularly the Ethanol vs Methanol post, I plan to leave the blog up for as long as Google allows.

Thanks to all of the readers!


I stopped at Costco last night.

Got a huge box of Kashi Cereal. The Go Lean Crunch.

I love this stuff.

I OD'd. Two bowls for dinner. Two for breakfast.

There should be a warning on that box.

"7 Whole Grains on a Mission."

Yeah, a mission all right.

To the toilet.

A Triple Only Works With Espresso and Cheeseburgers

I take the triple
In coffee, races, burgers
Still, three ain’t enough.

Me, myself, and I
Among speed, experience
Just try to keep up

I drew the picture
With a sharp and hard pencil
And shapes formed, strong lines

One to go, got it
Hey, get in line Triple X!
I say to myself

That’s a fast turn man
Tucked it back in, still the square
Aw, hell! Where’d you go?!

Hard breaths, a fast fade
Shelley Levine versus Blake
Pain squishing my strength

Fall back, can’t react
That damn turn still outsmarts me
Have body, got a brain?

For my last time through
By fingernails in wet clay
At least it was free

Translation? Hard day. Feeling it even now. In retrospect I should’ve maybe only done two races to have a bit more for working with teammates, as well as put priority on two better chances for points. Instead, after doing well sitting in solo, keeping up with fast the fast Masters boys and getting completely schooled on the last turn, I didn’t have enough for the rest of day, with a half hour break before my second race.

10 minutes into the third race, with no break, I didn’t think I’d make it, even after a really slow start. The first race I was killing the hill, now it was killing me, and I didn’t have enough left to react in time to anything. So I sat at the back to recover, nearly got dropped behind a couple of fading wheels, but with three to go, got back to the front at the headwind. But the final surge just left me behind.

Peter won the 4s race. He’s super aggressive and rides with purpose and initiative. He needs one more win, and he's got his upgrade - and he's finding those like quarters under the vending machine these days. There was some teamwork, but very disorganized. A bit of a train came together with 2 to go (I can’t remember which race that was, tho) with Jacques, Newt, and myself, but broke up in the surge. Nothing was getting off on a hill with a headwind, at least in our races. But bottom line is I need to pay a lot more attention. I tell myself this before every race, but I have such a hard time focusing once everything starts.

The day's total: Master’s 3/4 = 14th place; Open 4 = 16th place; Master’s 4/5 = 22nd place.

I hate baby steps. But I guess they’re gonna be my MO, so I’ll learn from them. I took some wheels, smartly bridged to a couple nascent breakaways…but, and here’s the entire day summed up in one run-on sentence:

I lacked initiative to be where I needed to have the balls to get to the front of the pack to take turn 4 on my terms, instead of having to slow down to get in line and missing the jump…every GOD DAMN TIME.

Oh well, it’s April. I'll learn and refuse to get frustrated. It's fun, damnit! Let's have some fun! Although I am very glad I didn't have to drive home from Madison yesterday with only my thoughts.

Also good: I like sausage.

Tesla Coil - Art Car Theft Protection

The truth is that art car folks deal with vandalism and theft all the time, because there is nothing that says "take me" than a car covered in God knows what. So the folks over at Tesla Downunder have come up with an ingenious idea that is both artistic and practical that will keep those grubby hands off our art cars. The world will be a better place when every art car is installed with this amazing and very effective anti art car theft devise. As you will see in the video there marketing strategy is very effective and will produce many sales.

Fur Art Cars

I know its probably past the season for fur as we are in the middle of spring on to summer but I found a bunch of art cars covered in what appears to "fake" fur.

This photo looks like a police chase filmed from a helicopter. "Just robbed a pet store and seen driving down HWY...."

" was a just a big misunderstanding officer we were just running away from the "Fur is Dead" folks."

Here is the black fur creature tagged with the number 58, an endangered species.

Leopard on the night prowl looking for nightclubs, San Fansisco Ca

And fur as it is found in its natural color, Bright Pink.

Corrugated Iron Art Car

This Corrugated Art Car is a 91 HQ Holden Station wagon, created by artist Jeff Thomson from New Zealand. Apparently he works a lot in corrugated Iron so it was a matter of time before he did a car as well. In a land where it probably rains plenty, a car like this is both artistic and functional at the same time.

My Pope Joke

The Pope celebrated a mass for nearly 50,000 people this morning in D.C. It reminds of a little Pope story I’d like to share with you…this comes to you by way of an old friend of mine…imagine it being told in a thick Chicago accent, such as Joe Pesci in “Raging Bull.”

Back when Pope John Paul II was elected, it created quite a stir amongst the Polish of the world. And no where was it more poignantly expressed than through the prideful masses of those expatriates here in Chicago. After all, the Windy City is home to more people of Polish birth than anywhere, save Warsaw itself. And when the Pope announced that Chicago would be on his agenda during his U.S. tour, one of those Polish in our great city took special notice.

Singer Bobby Vinton had fallen on a bit of hard times back then. His career was on a downturn, and he just wasn’t relevant to many people, anymore. When he heard about the Pope’s upcoming visit to Chicago, he saw a golden opportunity to use it to his advantage. After all, they were both Polish, and who was more popular with the Polish than the Pope at that time?

So Bobby called the Vatican and asked for an audience with His Holiness in Chicago. Actually, he left a message. Several messages. And, he never really got a call back. He did get a form-letter though. The Pope would be unable to see him.

But Bobby was a fighter, and didn’t give up that easily.

The day before the Pope’s parade downtown, Bobby headed down to a prominent State Street men’s store and was fitting for a suit. It was a real beaut, too: white, with wingtip shoes, and a gold watch chain. This would really get him some attention.

The day of the parade, he found a choice spot along the route, and waited. He stayed out of the way while the crews worked to set up the barricades along Dearborn Street, and as the crowds began to arrive and pack in, asses-to-elbows, he stayed patient.

Soon, however, a huge cheer arose from the masses, as the motorcade leading the Pope-mobile turned the corner. Tickertape streamed from the tops of office buildings and music blared. Bobby stepped forward as the Pope approached, a look of self-confidence on his face, and held out his hands as if to say, “Eeeeeeeh, here I am!”

And got absolutely nothing. The Pope didn’t notice him at all, and drove straight past, waving, oblivious. But, just as Bobby was beginning to realize what happened, then suddenly the brake lights did come on. The door on the Pope-mobile opened, and out stepped the Pontiff.

A thick silence of anticipation fell over the crowd as he slowly walked towards the curb and approached a filthy, disheveled, homeless man, about 20 yards down from where Bobby was standing, a look of incomprehension across his face.

The Pope leaned, placed a hand on the street-person’s shoulder, and gently whispered something into his ear. Then he turned, gave a wave to the crowd, to it’s huge, delight, and got back in the white car and continued the parade.

Bobby immediately ran over to the bum and demanded what the Pope said. But the bum was too drunk to say anything, so Vinton picked him up and led him to an alley. There, he undressed the bum and changed clothes with him, then placed a wad of $20s into his hand, and left him leaning against the curb.

Back out to the parade he ran, to find another spot by which John Paul would pass.

Again, the Pope-mobile approached, and Bobby maneuvered to make himself as conspicuous as possible. And this time, the Pope looked right at him, and ordered the car to stop.

The crowd again fell silent as the Pope stepped out of his vehicle and approached Bobby Vinton, standing on the curb wearing the homeless mans soiled and filthy clothes.

Anticipation welled up in Bobby as the hero of his people approached, walking straight towards him, an arm beginning to outstretch, that gentle expression of love on his visage. Soon, close enough to see John Paul’s blue eyes, the hand reached out and touched him on the shoulder, and the Pope leaned in to his ear.

“I thought I told you to get the FUCK…OUTTAHERE.”

Thursday Hate

Travels are over. Season in full swing. Moving next weekend. Time for some hate.

Why do some drivers insist on waiting until the lane is ending to merge, even though signs have been indicating such for the last 2 miles? Like they're really gonna get that far ahead...and then brake as they can cut somebody else off so they can merge in time before running out into the curb. Meanwhile, since he's braking, the person he's cutting off has to brake, and then so on down the line. These are the people who have absolutely no idea of the bigger picture here, who are unable to sacrifice one ounce of their sense of self for the greater good...(and that's as far as they see it, the word "communism" usually stops these people's brains anywhere in this paradigm)...but wait! In this case the greater good leads to greater individual good, i.e. better traffic flow.

"Yeah, well, sorry, I just don't really give a fuck about anyone else but me...wait, hold on...better get over here, I didn't see that sign, I was on my cell phone."

"Yo, dude!!! Look out for the cyclist!"

"Hello!?!" [me raising hand]


People who use the word "paradigm".


Do you know anyone who uses a roll of toilet paper in less than two days and runs the dish washer for bowl, a pot, and two spoons? I do. I hate her.


And why the hell can't I stay balanced on my bike when someone's holding it at a timetrial start? Man, my bike handling skills suck.

Crazy Car stuck in Reverse

When I found this video I had to post it, watching this crazy car zip through traffic is a real heart stopper. It's real close to being an "art car" but who cares, Enjoy:)

Hump Day

Happy Anniversary to me! One year ago today, I published my first post on this site. Inspired by my new team and teammates, three of us rode back from the Men's Development Pull meeting in Oak Park through Chicago's West Side. It was a surreal moment to say the least and no race or ride since has duplicated the magic of that night.

So it was fitting that today was the first Fitness Check Time Trial of the season, and there were over 20 xXx-ers waiting to see where they stood amongst peers. I was second off the line, and as if I needed more incentive to drill it maximum overdrive, I was Peter's Minuteman. In the last FCTT, my time was almost 90 seconds behind Peter's. So with him waiting right behind me, off I went. My time was 26:34 with a stiff headwind going out. Not bad, considering I'm 48 hours removed from the most punishing 4 days ever on a bike. 71 seconds behind my last time, back in August. Peter nearly caught me too. 5 seconds behind me he finished. Which means he gained 55 seconds on my ass in under 10 miles. Wow.

Upon arriving back at Katy's, I realized I left my wallet down on the lakefront. Already late for work, and after tearing her place apart to find it, I reluctantly kit back up and hit the pedals again for the Museum campus. As I am tearing down Milwaukee Avenue on my second time trial of the day into that ridiculous headwind, crossing through the Chicago intersection I hear, "Morrissey!!! I have your wallet!!!" It was Loukis. He'd taken it with him after a passerby found it and thought to hand it over to the group still left there.

So on this Hump Day, and this anniversary...a shout goes out to teammates. This site, this little doorway into my brain, is about friends and passions. To Diddy, Dick Rearworth (Out! ha), Holland, Twelve, Newtron, The Guillotine, George, Leo, the Matts, Tamara, Dr. Kirby, JT, Ed, Dugas, FattyM, WATT!!! and of course Loukis! (I owe you a beer)...and certainly not least - the best for last, Luke and Randy. And to everyone else, thanks for all your encouragement and help and advice and all the shared good times.

Here's to racing hard and many and much, much more.

The American Man Gets a New Van - and F'd in the Can

Vans do lots of stuff. Or, at least, they carry lots of stuff. Stuff usually weighs a lot - tools, parts for other stuff, ladders to reach stuff up high. And, since the Eurostar and the Astro van met their doom, the van man has had to buy pickup trucks and camper shells.

With Ford killing off the Crown Victory Cop Killer, it means that anything big, like vans, with a V8 has to be replaced by something less big with smaller engines. A lot of car companies would get clever and base something on a Mustang. Instead, they're bringing the European Transit Connect to van-hungry Americans. But are repairmen, plumbers and deliverers or heavy stuff going to rush out to get this Eurovan?

Probably not. The Connect is Front-Wheel Drive (FWD). Even with a relatively-torquish, 1.8L Diesel, the idea of merging onto a freeway with a washing machine, compressors, socket wrenches and replacement washing machine motors on-board doesn't sound likely. Sure, the Europeans can carry their cheese, flowers and impressionist paintings around round-abouts and narrow city streets in Barcelona, Nice and Stafordshire - but the American van man needs rear-wheel drive and and triple-digit horsepower. In other words, if you see this van arockin' - actually, you just won't see this van doing much. Not anything that an HHR sedan delivery can't do while looking cooler.

So, as gas prices keep climbing, expect to pay much more for all your van-man needs, since he'll keep driving his pickup, waiting for someone to sell him a real, mid-size van.

Asheville Camp 2008: "Little Do You Know"

"Little do you know."

That was the theme for Friday's opening ride of Coach Randy Warren's 2008 Asheville Cycling Camp. It's always better that way. The uncertainly is what gets you out the door and up the mountain. And what a mountain. Mountains. Everywhere.

We all arrived safe and sound on Thursday. On the flight in from Chicago were myself, Peter, JT, Josh, Chris, Jeremy, Trish, and Matt. Ed arrived on an earlier flight and Randy was waiting for us at the airport. Everyone ate their footlong at Subway and we found Joe and Ken waiting for us at the Oakland Cottage Bed & Breakfast around 10:30. It was a beautiful house, 2 floors (not including the basement which had no guest rooms) that accomodated us fairly plushly, save the cold showers if you were not the top three in after the day's ride - and you certainly weren't safely removed from anyone else's bodily functions. It was high Arts and Crafts style, from 1910, with lots of hard wood molding and intricate window panes.


A full - and I mean full - breakfast awaited us every morning. Friday the smell of coffee and berry cobbler roused me before 6:30 and I was even the first one to the newspaper. The tranquilness of the scene belied the personal trial and test of fortitude that awaited us all later that morning.

We rolled out a bit after nine, all of us taking a little extra time to get it together. We were fully aware today's ride was to be 120 miles, but the gravity of that number wasn't fully realized as we'd (or maybe just me) never trained in such hilly country. We had a full day with nothing scheduled other than a catered dinner back at the cottage at 6. It was a warm and gorgeous day. We rode through some familiar areas I knew from spending time in Asheville with my family, at one point we were within a mile of my parents' house, just off of a pretty busy thoroughfare we'd taken from close to downtown. From there we headed off into the valleys and hollers beyond Asheville on our way to Mt. Mitchell.

Ed, Asheville Day 1

With a smaller, relatively stronger, and more cohesive group than at San Luis Obispo, we pretty much all stayed together on the flats and smaller rollers. It would also be fair to say the big boys (Ed, JT, Joe, and Chris) were tempering a bit in anticipation of the climbs, but from my perspective at least, Peter, Jeremy, and I definitely had improved our fitness and form over the last month. While the occasional attack would split the group, but we came back together eventually.

Peter and Randy

This all changed at the base of Mt. Mitchell. The peak, the tallest east of the Mississippi, shattered and broke everything about that day. The ride, the timing, our confidence, the weather. Our temper.

Randy told us the climb was basically 3 parts. 8 miles up to the Blue Ridge Parkway (the WPO project of the New Deal and National Park in it's own right), then 16 or so to Mountain...another turn right off the highway on a spur to the summit was in there, too.

As the tempo ramped up, my modus operandi to drop back and find my rhythm early seemed the best option. On much shorter climbs later in camp I was able to match the tempo of Ed, JT, Joe, and Chris, and then only by almost physically grabbing a seat post, but I'd never be able to sustain their wattage on this mother. But soon I was in my zone. I seperated from the riders behind me and caught Ken, then Jeremy, and saw a glimpse of Randy as well, up on the switchback just below the Blue Ridge junction.

I almost missed it. There was a sign just before that said the Parkway was imminent, but then just an unmarked left turn appeared before Hiway 80 bombed down the other side of the ridge after passing beneath a quaint little bridge. It was lucky I was alone. I turned and cranked up the steep pitch and was rewarded with a sign pointing left: "Mt. Mitchell - 16."

On The Way Up

The day remained warm at first. The clouds drifted in increasing number however, and the blue sky greyed with my mood.


I wondered where Randy was. When I'd seen him last he wasn't that far ahead, but coming through the tunnel, a short descent answered my question. I eventually found him, a few miles later, on the side of the road, massaging his cramping feet. I asked if he was OK or needed anything, but nothing was getting me off that bike as I entertained fleeting notions of maybe, just maybe, catching onto at least one of the Fab Four.

The tenths of a mile ticked off agonizingly slow as my speed ranged from about 7 to 9mph on the 6% or so grade. I kicked up a bit when I looked back to see Randy back on the bike and gaining. My seperation held him off.

It was now fully overcast and colder. My heart rate was keeping me warm however and I continued to churn the pedals, making big circles and focusing on my breathing. I tried not to look at my odometer for longish periods to make the gains in my milage seem more fruitful. Le Femme d'Argent by Air played in my head constantly since I passed Jeremy and had been on my own.

I'd completely lost track of the mileage basis by time the spur for Mt. Mitchell State Park arrived. I was entertaining visions of the summit parking lot just ahead out of sight, when the van drove by. I asked the quiestion, and Ben said, "dude, only two and a half miles to the top." It was aggrivating as hell, but then, just 500 yards later, a taunting, vicious, monstrous sign laid it out for me: 3.9 miles to the summit. The pitch of the climb increased, and as I realized I had another 30 minutes on the bike at the pace I was doing at that moment, my scream of anguish reverberated throughout the Appalachians. It did level off a bit, and though seemingly hours more, I soon passed the ranger station, the closed restaurant, the entrance to the campground, and then arrived in the summit parking lot.

I saw Ed rolling my way, looking for other riders. I assumed he'd been there a while with the other three and was getting impatient. When we met, I said, "I wanna die. Get me off this thing. He simply replied, "No fucking way!"

"What?" I asked. "Where's everyone else?"

"You're it!"

Well, that didn't make sense at all. I hadn't passed JT, Joe, or Chris, and had been alone since catching Randy 10 miles earlier. Unless...

Wrong Turn City.

We laughed for a bit, knowing they surely missed the Blue Ridge junction, at the very worst, Ben would round anybody up who needed it. Actually worse would be any extra climbing they'd have to do to just get back to the ridgetop. And then I noticed the apple Ed was eating. I'd been out of food for several miles. When the van passed me a couple of times ago and asked me if I needed anything, I was so deep in the pain cave and determined not to stop lest I not start again, I just shook my head and moved on.

Now seeing the apple, real food, my eyes must have seemed to pop out of my sunked, sallow face, and Ed wordlessly handed it over. It was like biting into Christmas Morning, your first nudie mag, and a unicorn fart all at once.

Endorphins gushed out of the back of my brain and down my body. I took two more bites and grudgingly handed it back. But I must've looked I was on the edge of an orgasm because he handed it right back. I finished it.

Ed had been there for 13 minutes. Randy arrived 7 minutes after me.

It was cold. My arm warmers and vest were in the van. And the van was busy. We were standing outside the shuttered snack shop, shivering. I found that the employee door was unlocked, and in we went. It was warmer, but I was still getting chilled. It helped to wrap my arms around my body, but I was still ravenous. We all had salt lines on our faces. Ed began poking around in some boxes and came up with some beef jerky. I understood Randy's disapproval, but this was life or death here. Protein and salt. Enough said.

Warming up

Gradually, riders began to arrive, and we got the full scope of the drama that had unfolded below me as I labored intensely over my bike. Joe first, then Jeremy. Joe and JT (and use the comments section to clarify, people!) had been dropped by Ed and Chris, and then Ed dropped Chris. All three of them missed the turn onto the Parkway, thinking they would catch back on the descent, before realizing they'd gone to far. Those three had an additional 5 miles of climbing added on to their day. As JT said, it took them deep into the "hurt locker."

Jeremy's tale was even more harrowing. Shortly after I caught him he began feeling light headed and started to get off his bike and that was all he remembered until he came to lying on the ground with Peter slapping his face and giving him water. Peter later said he'd encountered him leaning against the guard rail, with only the whites of his eyes showing and near collapse. Peter may have saved this trip from a major medical emergency.

But Jeremy made it. Peter made it. JT and Chris made it. Trish, Josh, and Matt made it. We all made it to the top of that goddamn mountain. And not without prodding from our van driver Ben. If he'd just let those who wanted into the van...

A few did understandably get a ride back down. Shaky and tired, a 24 mile switchbacking descent might not be the best idea of the underfocused. Ed already long gone, I'd gotten my rest, and three new layers later, Jeremy, Randy, and I rolled out of there. We soon met Joe, and the four of us were hitting the last tricky turns before bottoming out on the flats back into Marion.

I was close to bonking then, and couldn't keep up with the tempo, and watched them roll away with 4 miles to go. Minutes later as they disappeared, I shifted to my big ring, heard a loud metallic pinging, and felt everything go slack. I looked down to see my chain on my foot. The outside edge of my front derailleur had snapped off.

As 120 miles clicked over on my odometer, the rendevous intersection appeared and I steered onto the grass and unclipped both feet while still rolling to a stop. Ed was finishing off a milkshake from the ice cream shack just next to us, and looked at me with a look that said, "get on this train, Jesse James."

"What's in it?" I asked.


It was somewhere around $6 when I paid for it - chocolate, bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, peaches, walnuts, at least - maybe there was some Fois Gras and Gold dust in there as well - but worth every penny. It was chased by a large root beer and a hot dog with everything. In Western Carolina that apparently means ketchup, mustand and cole slaw. It couldn't have tasted any more heavenly.

From there it was a half-hour drive back to Asheville while Randy waited with the bikes and a copy of Velonews. He wouldn't get back for over 2 hours.

As tired as we were, we were up for a while, reliving the day. I posted several pictures, and spoke with a couple teammates on the phone. Since thunderstorms were forecast early the next morning, and I needed a new derailleur, we wouldn't roll until at least 10am on Saturday. We ate plateloads of food, lounged, and laughed. And then slept.

Peter Relaxing in the Study

There's not much else to write about that would touch on emotions or experiences not covered or that were beyond what we experienced here. Each night we were absolutely destroyed by the day's ride. Everyone was whining about the pain and soreness. Saturday was an 85 mile ride to Mt. Pisga, back on the Blue Ridge, and Sunday was another century to Mt. Doggett and back where I experienced the joys of riding 30 miles off the back on my own, without a cue sheet. I threw a little tantrum once at a point I thought I was totally lost, but then sheepishly realized I was right on track, and later not that far off the back at all as I rolled into Marshall. Earlier that day, on a short, but tough climb, I'd managed to stay with the Fab Four all the way up, but come Doggett, was already way behind them, and with them was my motivation to get back to the Pain Cave. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Peter had found themselves off of a front of a group that wasn't working hard, and worked hard indeed to increase their lead to as much as six minutes before finally being caught on the descent leading to Mt. Doggett, the third big climb of the day.

And on Monday's ride, we found ourselves back in Marshall, 23 miles and exactly one hour from check out. That was as intense and focused a paceline as I'd ever taken part of, and we hit the driveway of the B&B at exactly 10:30.

My legs are still sore, but better from the massage I received last night. My shoulder is in a lot of pain actually. I wonder if it is from overuse on the climbs, trying to keep them lower to free up my breathing. It's got chronic problems from 4 crashes on it in the last year - including the car hit and the SLO pileup.

Day 2 Climb, Still Together

I'm back, and while not ready, that was a hell of an off-season. Racing awaits, and I can only do my best. I hope my best is enough.

Dateline Asheville: April 11th

A new posting has the update...enjoy.

How To Buy A Used Corvette

How to Buy a Used Corvette
By Michael Modica

Buying a used Chevy Corvette can be a complicated venture, as there are many criteria to be met, and the price can be prohibitive. After seeing the price of some of the Corvettes in good working order, the temptation to purchase a non-running Corvette or one that obviously needs extensive work can be high. But, cars with these problems may not save you any money if you fix them up yourself. After the price of the parts and other expenses are added up, it would likely to have been cheaper to buy the car that was in good condition in the first place.

The decision to buy a good used Corvette means that a potential purchase should be checked for serious flaws, such as rust. Rust affects the underside of many used corvettes, and is only visible by going under the car for a look. If there is nothing to hide, a prospective seller should not mind a peek at the chassis, which is most prone to rust. While under the car, visually inspect the cross members and the vulnerable area in front of the rear wheels. The underside of the front radiator support should also be checked for rust. If the support is rusted, it doesn't have to be a deal breaker, but the replacement cost should be factored into the cost of the car.

When the rust inspection of the Corvette is over, there are still more areas that will need to be looked at. One way to see if the car has ever sustained major damage is to look at the A-Arm shims. Look for many shims on one side and fewer on the other. This indicates that there is still something wrong with the car that has not been fixed. No shims on one side and many on the other indicates some major issues, such as a bent cross member. There may also be suspension damage to the car left over from the damaging incident in the past.

If the Used Corvette has passed the visual inspections, its time for a test drive. During the drive, the inside accessories and features should be checked and found to be in working order. Test the windows, heat and air, the radio, the seat adjustments, and any other features inside. Pay attention to how the car handles and any noises it makes. Some Corvettes make a popping or whining sound from the rear end due to worn positraction units. If the sound is not too bad, it may not be a problem that warrants expensive repairs beyond the addition of some positraction additive to the gear oil . If the noises are severe, it may warrant a change in the price to compensate for repairs that may be necessary.

More indications of a used Corvettes hidden problems can be found with an inspection of the body of the car. Most of the time when a fiberglass panel has been damaged, it is replaced, leaving little evidence of the damage. But by inspecting the front bumper, you may be able to tell if the car suffered a collision in the past. Look at the area of the bumper that attaches to the fiberglass. If that area has ripples in the paint, it was likely repaired from a head-on collision or other major trauma. Collisions of this kind can cause unseen damage to the cars suspension, which can be costly to repair.

Michael has published many websites on automotive topics, including:
General Motors Paint Codes
Classic Camaros and
1979 Camaro Information
Article Source:

April 2008 GM Rebates & Special Interest Rates

Check Out GM's 72 HOUR SALE that offers 0% for 72 Months!

This is GM's Rebates and Special Interest Rates for April 2008. Remember if you use the low interest rate, you give up the rebate. But, there is some GM Owner Loyalty Money on some vehicles! Also remember to receive the owner loyalty, you have to own a 99 or newer GM product. You do not have to trade it, but just have to have one titled in your household.
The interest rates listed are for 36 months, 48 months, 60 months, 72 months, in that order listed below unless otherwise noted. If you qualify for owner Loyalty Rebate, you can use this with low interest or rebate--not both.

Solstice: 0 Rebate, Standard Rates, $1000 Owner Loyalty
G5: $500 Rebate, 2.9% for 36, 48, 60, and 72 months, $1500 Owner Loyalty
G6: $1500 Rebate, 3.9%, 5.9%, 6.9%, 7.9%, $1000 Owner Loyalty
G8: 0 Rebate, 5.9%, 7.9%, 8.9%, std for 72, $1000 Owner Loyalty
Vibe: $1250 Rebate, 4.9%, 6.9%, 7.9%, STD for 72, $1000 Owner Loyalty
Torrent: $1000 Rebate, 0.9%, 2.9%, 3.9%, 5.9%, $1000 Owner Loyalty

2008 GMC
Acadia: $500 Rebate, 5.9%, 7.9%, 8.9%, STD for 72, $1000 Owner Loyalty
Canyon Reg Cab: $500 Rebate, 3.9%, 5.9%, 6.9%, 7.9%, $1000 Owner Loyalty
Canyon Ext/Crew: 0 Rebate, 4.9%, 6.9%, 7.9%, 8.9%, $1000 Owner Loyalty
Sierra 1500 Reg Cab: $1500 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $2000 Owner Loyalty
Sierra 1500 Ext/Crew: $2000 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $2000 Owner Loyalty
Sierra 2500/3500 ALL: $1500 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $2000 Owner Loy, +$1750 Dealer Cash--dealers may not tell you about this!
Envoy ALL: $2000 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $1500 Owner Loyalty
Yukon ALL: $2000 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $2000 Owner Loyalty

2008 BUICK
LaCrosse: $1000 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $1500 Owner Loyalty
Lucerne: $1500 Rebate, 2.9% 36-72 Months, $1500 Owner Loyalty
Enclave: 0 Rebate, 5.9%, 7.9%, 8.9%, STD for 72, $1000 Owner Loyalty

There is also some vehicles that have GM Conquest money which is money for owning a non-GM vehicle.
$500 on 2009 Pontiac Vibe, 2008 GMC Acadia, and 2008 Buick Enclave

There is $1000 Conquest on 2007/2008 G5 (purchase only) meaning not available on a lease.

$1000 on 2007/2008 Pontiac Vibe.

If you are lucky enough to find a 2007 Pontiac G6 there is a $2500 rebate or 0% financing for up to 60 Months or 1.9% for 72 Months and $1000 Owner Loyalty for a 99 or new GM product!

These rates are thru the end of April, but may be different in your region of the country so check with your local GM dealer for specifics. If you really want to make sure you are getting the best price, make sure you check at Yahoo! Autos

Regular Maintenance On Your Car Keeps It In Good Running Condition

Regular Maintenance On Your Car Keeps It In Good Running Condition
By Jon Shanderuk

Your car, your beauty, your baby needs check ups regularly to stay in tip top running condition. Most car repairs are needed because of neglect from the vehicles operator or owner. If proper maintenance is performed, cars will usually stay running smoothly for a long time. I know you've heard car owners say; "It never needed anything more than an oil change". Of course he doesn't mention the fact the hoses and belts were checked once a month or the oil was changed every 3,000 miles. He doesn't mention all the little routine regular maintenance he performed religiously. Maybe he assumes everyone treats their cars that way or maybe he wants you to ask him about his routine maintenance checks on the vehicle to keep it in such good shape.

Regular car maintenance is important to maintain the running condition of your vehicle and to prevent untimely car repairs and break downs on the side of the road. If you live in places like Minnesota you'll want to do regular maintenance on your car. Cold weather is hard on the engine of a vehicle so you'll want to make sure your car is in good running condition. Plus being stuck on the side of the road in freezing cold is tough on the human body too.

Most of the import and domestic automobile manufacturers recommend their vehicles receive a lube, oil & filter change and or inspection every 3,000 miles, such as BMW, Audi, Toyota, just to name a few. At 3,000 miles they also recommend a chassis lube, air filter inspection, have all the vehicles fluids checked, hoses and belts inspected and tire pressures checked.

At 6,000 they'll recommend another lube, oil and filter change and or inspection, the tires rotated, brakes inspected, have an inspection done on the fuel system, all vehicle fluids checked, belts and hoses inspected, and the tire pressures checked. At 15,000 miles they recommend to have the air filter, lube oil and filter changed, plus a 4-wheel alignment performed. At 18,000 they recommend an engine oil system flush. At 30,000 they recommend air and fuel filter change, injector cleaning and throttle body service, rotate and balance the tires, a power steering flush, automatic transmission flush, radiator system flush, and evaporator system flush.

All quality expert mechanics will recommend that you have a maintenance schedule written down and stick to it religiously. It's also good to keep this kind of record in case you ever sell the car, you could even get more for it by letting the buyer know exactly the services, which have been performed on the car whether you do the actual work yourself or pay a good mechanic to do it for you. All these inspections are recommended in order to prevent damage to your engine and other parts of your car, which if not done could lead to costly repairs. If you have a quality mechanic you use all the time for the maintenance and repairs of your car, he'll help you keep up with the scheduled maintenance by reminding you when something is coming up. He'll even record the service, so you'll have record of it later. So, keep up the maintenance on your car regularly and you'll have a car to last you for a very long time.

Learn more at

So Long, Suckers

Asheville is known for it's thriving hippies, but this cyclist won't be eating any granola.

See you on top of the world.

Party Bar Von Tiki Art Car

The Von Tiki is made from an 1987 Toyota Van by Jake Goldstein, Captain and John Merlie, Co captain. I met these two for the first time at Art Car Fest 05 and since then they have continued to add and improve on this amazing bar on wheels which is also available for party rentals. The Von Tiki features:

Dual walk-up bars: one mahogany, one teak
Walnut floor
Thatched roof
Real bamboo exterior
Tequila shots from the windshield wipers
Custom sea-shell and sand spinners
Flower-lined ceiling
AstroTurf in the cab
Hand-carved tiki mask taillights

additional photos can be seen in the Von Tiki scapbook

Hump Day

Rode a nice, new route to work today. 20 miles from Logan Square to Northbrook in eighty minutes door-to-door, counting the stop-lights. Not bad on a 30 pound fender bike with a lap top on my back in near-constant head wind. Much better than dealing with the displaced Edens Contruction road-raging ophans on the much more direct route, Milwaukee Ave.


Just heard about a stage race I think I'll be doing. The Tour de West Lafayette. May 17-18. Means I'll have to miss Monsters of the Midway, but that's ABR, this is USA Cycling. So 3 chances to get points. It's all Cat 4/5 and 3events: Saturday Criterium of 35 minutes on 1.3 mile, 8-corner course. The road-race looks pretty lame, though. a 5 laps on a 4 mile course? With maybe a couple thousand feet of climbing over the whole race. Meh. 5 mile TT right after. It looks overall like a quick and intense effort, but a very good chance to get a lot of points towards my upgrade. But there is also a team category, and I think there will be at least the required three of us (myself, Jeff Holland, and Jon Dugas) to be eligible. This could be quite fun.


Dropped off Uhuru (my Trek...get it?) at Coach's house last night. He's driving the bikes in the van to Asheville tonight. I leave with the rest of us tomorrow on a 3:45 flight to Charlotte. We'll arrive in Asheville at the B&B around 9:30. The first ride is Friday morning, up Doggett Mountain. My Dad got a kick out this when I gave him our itinerary. He lives in Asheville now, of course, but back in '79 through '83, he lived just around Doggett, between Asheville and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in Spring Creek. My Dad's house he built is still there, although he doesn't know the people living there, except that they were assoles who wouldn't even let him on their property..."Lady, I BUILT this house!" Oh well. 9,100 feet of climbing that day, and then Saturday is Devil's Courthouse. Sunday is the real fucker, Mt. Mitchell. The tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. This ride, along with Friday's, is a century. Talking with Randy last night about the weather, he is toying with the idea of switching these days due to the fact that Sunday could be much colder and rainier, so we might try to the really high climb done in Friday's warmer climes. So Mitchell could be right off the bat. Awesome.

It's going to be a great camp with all very strong riders and a great chance to push myself even harder than San Luis Obispo and catapult my fitness into some really uncharted territory.


Speaking of which, after this weekend's team ride and racing, I've really realized how much stronger I've gotten over the last year and in all seriousness, it's just time to harden the fuck up and change my approach to my racing. If I'm well rested and have proper recovery and warm-up, the threat of getting dropped while just being in the pack is not the threat it used to be. Seeing the pictures of the finish in Beloit this weekend, I was a lot closer to the winning sprint than I thought I was...and I had quite a bit of gas left. Now I'm not so much down on myself as I am pissed-off. I was afraid to stick myself out in the wind for even a second to better my positioning, or to hug the shoulder and rub wheels. And what fun is being afraid? As Peter says, it's time to get mean.

Now I just have to wait almost 2 weeks until my next race, and I think I might just go insane. Good thing though, cause I was going leave my sanity on top of Mt. Mitchell anyways.


Quite a thunderstorm last night, eh? Spring is here.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit

The anticpation at the starting line as Burnham Racing's Spring Super Criterium was the extent of the excitement for me yesterday.

On the upside, at least the near perfect weather helped me get a head start on my tan lines. However, from an cyclist's point-of-view, efficiency-wise, I may as well have just put my kit on and watched the race from the lawn chairs we brought, for all the work I did. In either race.

A complete shame. It was absolutely dynamic out there. The pack was in constant motion with strong south wind affecting all the back stretch turns. The course itself was a dream. No roughness. No gravel. No obstacles of any kind. Just smooth black pavement and wide sweeping turns you could theoretically pedal all the way through.

I won't bellyache or moan or bore you with self-pity, as I usually do in this space. I'll just say this: yes the 4/5s race was pretty sketchy. I made a couple of boneheaded moves myself, one fully my fault, moving up on the outside to jump on an attempted break coming inside and swerved pretty drastically after a few kicks. But for the most part it was just 45 minutes of praying to stay upright on the turns as handlebars shook all around me and rims shrieked against brakepads.

It did get pretty interesting with Jon's two (at least) attacks and Calvin's prime win, but with the wind, nothing was getting off. And I was at the front working with the blocking when I could, but of course when it was time for the final blast, I had fallen back and had to make up way too many riders on the sprint. My name didn't make it into the original posted results, but on contesting my placing, it was revealed that my poor-form bike throw netted me a 13th placing by about an eighth of my wheel hub. It was that close.

XXX did very well over all, with a 2nd place (Peter Strittmatter), a 5th place (Calvin Smythe), 7th (Newt Cole), and 10th (Jeff Holland). Upgrade points for all.

The 3/4s race was much smoother and faster, but that's all I can really say about from my perpsective. There was always a break off, but nothing ever stuck. Other teammates were up there doing a ton of work trying to help JT and Shane, but I could never get it together mentally to stay up there. The swarm would always push me back when the pack slowed on the head wind. Again, mid lap I was close to the front, got boxed in by the surge and finished midpack.

My racing tactics percentages are way off. My concern for my safety in the pack is really holding me back to the point of still being tentative, and my aggressiveness needs a lot of work to blossom with my smarts. If you asked me, I couldn't tell you who was in ANY of those breaks or even what teams had the strongest riders in my races. If my tactics were a smoothie, it would be mostly protein powder and unblended chunks of banana.

Not smooth at all, that's for sure.

Oh hell. It's only my first criterium of the whole season. I had to have learned something, right? All lessons I already know but: A) Take the time and scan the field as you warm up and wait at the line. B)Move up, move up, move up. C) Keep focused on what is going on - externalize the race! D)Have a plan. For yourself and for the team. Even if it's only to be plotting where you need to be as the final lap is approaching, whatever your time frame is. E) See B.

Lots to do between now and Whitnall Park. But there's also lots in which to do it in. Matteson will be to fun and loose-no-pressure tune up it always is. Leaving for Asheville on Thursday afternoon for 4 days of riding that will include two centuries and over 10,000 feet of climbing. Then up to Wisconsin for either Menomonee Falls or Great Dane Criterium #2.

Spring's here. I want more than just tan lines.

Einstein was right.

Time really is relative. Either that or he did intervals too.

Thursday Hate

Suburban Hair. The "Feathered" look. Still. Almost 30 years after "Xanadu." Really?!

People who hold the door open for me even though I still at least 15 steps away. A distance where I'll have to pick up and give a little jog, so there won't be this awkward moment while you act as a door stop for me. Well, I'm not going to run. I will say, "thanks, I'll get it," with a condescending little eye-rolling smile. But you never get it. So fine. Stand there.

The guy who just stood there as his four dogs, teeny little ankle-biters, all with leashes trailing behind them, ran freely on the bike path just as Peter and I were coming north about 25mph, with a fat tailwind, over the little rise after Burnham Park. What is it with these people? Do they play in the street like this? Maybe they should so they would get out of the gene pool.

Poor Man's Sequin Art Car

I know not everyone wants to drive around in a "real" art car and maybe its not in you budget to maintain it. But the folks over at evil mad scientist came up with the poor man's mini art car for the masses. Its a great way to explore ideas for the real deal or collect more than one. You don't spend all that time and money gluing thousands of pieces of "what ever" to the exterior of your one an only car. What if you don't like your idea, or it makes life just too complicated answering all those questions. Thanks you solving one of lives riddles, the world is a better place.

Hump Day

Courtesy of How To Avoid the Bummer Life:

This could come in handy:

I was actually looking for Mel Brooks doing his comedy routine for Emperor Dom, "Politics, Politics, Politics, Politics, Politics!" I'm just wondering how much longer this primary season is going to drag on. That bowling joke was the last straw. However, how ironic is it that for all the jockeying to be the earliest primary election (and even more so that Huckabeast garnered the early headlines), Pennsylvania is the huge player now. Good things come to those who wait.

And as glad as I am that we have no where to go but up in this election, I am really not looking forward to having to make a choice between any of these three. Obama is mostly platitudes and zero experience, and after 17 years of voting, I've come to realize "change" never, ever, happens. Not to mention, with the Resco thing, I believe he is nowhere near as clean as he claims to be. Clinton? I'm really just getting tired of her smug sense of self-entitlement, and she is absolutely the prefered choice of the establishment in this election. I am actually leaning more towards McCain, believe it not. I believe he is the cleanest candidate from corruption, and his stance on improving U.S. Foreign Relations is spot-on, yet I have no idea how he plans to do it on prohibiting water-boarding alone, since he certainly plans to keep us in Iraq for at least 4 more years. As well, his remedy for what is now being called the New Great Depression by some is to have less regulation?!?



I am really looking forward to racing in Beloit on Sunday. Burnham Racing (Vitamin Water-Trek) is holding their first race at The Blackhawk Farms Raceway. While not on a motorcyle, thankfully, I plan on racing smart, attacking as hard as I can, and being in the sprints at the end of both the 4/5s race and the 3/4s. There will be a lot of really strong, ambitious cats racing with me, and of course many teammates, and I am going to use this race as a chance to really rev the engine, take some chances, and see what I can do, egg on my face or not.

Blackhawk Raceway (thanks CBR):


I can't believe the Asheville Camp is only a week away! Next week, Thursday 4/10, I fly to Asheville, NC with a select group of teammate for a racing and climbing camp in the mountains of Western Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I've been really aching for a chance to do this trip, and now it's finally happening! A teammate of mine took a cycling vacation there a couple of years ago. We'll be climbing Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, and in four days we'll have equaled the climbing we did in eight during the camp in San Luis Obispo.

As well, this will be a bittersweet venture back to a home of sorts. My father has lived in North Carolina for almost 30 years, and in Asheville for the last seven, with an earlier stint in the mountains back in '79 to '83 in nearby Spring Creek. My stepmom got her dream job in Rockingham at the community college there, and is already serving as the Univserity President. My dad is awaiting my sister to finish high school, but the house is already sold, and as early as April 18th they could close. This will likely be my last trip to Asheville with family.

So I hope to make the most of it.

A Few Items...

One year ago today, I joined my first bike racing team. Yeah, I noticed the significance of the date, too.

I plopped down a wad of bills for my USCF License online, and then headed over to the Goose Island Brew Pub and dropped even more cash down for my xXx Racing membership, after nervously waiting at the back of the room as all these hard-as-shit badasses gave their race reports from Hillsboro. I immediately began 2nd guessing my decision.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The next day I attended my first ever team function, a sprint clinic given by team coach Randy Warren. It was raining with 15 mile an hour wind and about 40 degrees. Underdressed of course. The very first drill was a 50 meter jump in my 39x23. I nearly crashed and almost knocked over teammates Mark Watkins, Joe Ebenroth, and Jeff Watt after both my wheels seemingly left the ground.

Thank God for second impressions.

The very next day was the Fitness Check Time Trial, a 9.7 mile out and back down the lakefront path from Soldier Field to the 52nd St. overpass. Coming back into maybe a 20mph headwind at around 35 degress, it took me 29 minutes. I almost quit. But I didn't.

So I think I'll have a piece of cake at lunch to celebrate today, and then add an extra interval onto tonight's session. I've earned both.

Quite naturally, as evidenced by the number of links to the lower left you might have noticed whilst perusing this page, I had to start blogging about my experiences. Coming up very soon, is the 1-year anni of this very blog. Stay tuned.


Katy and I got a cat yesterday! (Picture coming soon.) His name is Steve. Steve the cat. He is perhaps the Koolest Kat ever. He is also nocturnal.

I am not.



As bike racing grows, it has squeezed out the music in my life, much to my regret.

Saturday April 5th, please, please, please get your post-race/ride nap in, especially if you are racing in Beloit on Sunday...

The Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee, will be the site of my last performance with The Midnight Shows. We do go on fairly late...officially 11:30. In reality? Probably more like 12:30. I am getting my sleep on Thursday and Friday, and of course am headed to bed straight after the gig. So I'll understand if you can't make it, but still...we were a GREAT band. They still will be, minus the little extra of me.

And the only thing I love more than playing for friends is riding with them, so if you can, come on out to The Note this Saturday night and watch me play some of that sweet, sweet soul one last time.

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