Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Munchkins!!

Though we had some AWESOME donut holes at Nopa this weekend, this ain't no food review. I'm talkin' muchkins of a different breed. SVR and I hung with these maddeningly cute little ones over the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

National Level Disappointment

Back from RI with a quick stop in DC before heading off to CA. There's really not enough time for a full report. For once, though, I think the memories are burned deeply enough in my mind for me not to forget things before I have a legit chance to draft a report.

Here's a photo that kinda sums up how things went.

In case you can't tell, there's a pretty huge gap between the Third Eye chain protector and the chain ring. There's definitely enough room for the chain to jump right off during the bumpy sections. Sure enough, that's what happened...FOUR times.


Maybe that photo makes it a little clearer.

Of course, my flat tire within the first 500 meters didn't help matters. In the end, the course couldn't have been better suited to my riding style and strengths. I never had the chance to show what I got. Anyhow...more later.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Little Rhode-y!!!

Off to 'cross Nationals. Be back Monday.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Restin' after Reston

Last we spoke, I showed evidence of the pre-Reston festivities. Well, turns out Matt wasn't lying about improved performance after a few too many. Apparently the same holds true for Ellicott. They flew at Reston. I kinda bumped along turbulently.

Reston was the last MAC series race. It was where, three or four years ago (where has the time gone?), I first watched a 'cross race. It looked fun and crazy as hell back then and just watching made me wanna get out there and do it (my mom just told me the same thing after I sent her Alex's photo album from the race...I'm all for it, ma)! The venue is great and the weather, in past years, has always been bright and sunny. I was glad to be there to ride the thing this year and not just spectate. Left the spectating to a worthy crew...K, the A-man, and SVR were out in full force.

The race was my first foray into the Killah B class. To clarify, I raced Bs down in Richmond, but I think all would agree that it just ain't the same down there. The MAC races are stacked and I'm sure plenty of the guys in our field shoulda been up with the Elites, but didn't wanna throw down for a UCI license. No matter.

Race started kinda oddly. After call-ups, we were all penned up in our rows and fatmarc was crackin' jokes and people were laughing and guys were leaning on their top tubes and...bam! Someboday blew a whistle. Was it the 'go' sign? Weren't we supposed to get some sorta intro from the race official? Apparently not. After a few seconds of further confusion, we were all on our way. Of course, almost immediately, I was nearly off the back. Trouble engaging with the pedal and shock of the unexpected whistle (oh yeah, and my OCD personality that had me reaching for my HRM when I should've been sprinting off the line) took their toll.

I pre-rode the course once and thought I found a few decent lines through some of the technical shit. Of course, those perfect lines all get shot to pure hell when you're racing shoulder to shoulder and your lines aren't your own choice. That's how it was for a bit. Eventually, we strung out a bit. The first lap is a bit of a blur at this point, but I know I made up some ground on some of the power sections. The double log crossing was a pisser and my remounts were, as usual, nothing to write home (or on this blog) about. Made it down the steepest and sketchiest decent without incident the first time around...amidst a small group. Phew. Next lap, though, didn't treat me so right. On that 180 transition from clay to pavement (off-camber, no less), I took the inside line (which I did for another three laps and only figured not to do on the final lap!!) and slid out. Pisser. I hit the deck and was nearly run over by the fellers behind. I picked the bike up and went to re-mount on the paved section. Chain was off the front ring...despite the guard ring and Third Eye inner guide. Took a few seconds to put it back on, but that was long enough for about eight guys to come zipping past me.

My worst enemy is the crash. It takes the spirit outta me. I ride tentatively after each one. I tense up during the technical sections. I worry about the damage to the bike. All these things are distractions that lead to poor performance. It's no excuse, but it's the truth...for now.

In typical form, the bike again shifted like total poop. When I finally figured out how to ride the shortest and steepest and loosest run-up hill (put it in a smaller cog to get some grab outta the tires instead of spinning the easiest gear at a high rpm), the chain would kinda bounce around on the cogset...bucking, jumping, jolting, picking and choosing wherever it wanted to be.

I spent the last two laps battling some chasers and finished with a friendly fellow from Mass. In the end, I didn't post a great finishing spot. 35th out of 50-ish isn't so hot. The upside is that I didn't feel so, so, so terrible. When I wasn't worrying about my crash and riding tentatively for it, I was going well and going strong. I'm sure I've made some fitness gains in recent weeks (thanks, Josef), so there's that. I know I'm not gonna fare well when I don't practice 'cross skills during the week. Re-mounting and taking 15 seconds to find the pedals is no way to stay in contention with the Killah Bs.

For Nationals, I'll hope for magnetic pedals, a bike that shifts effortlessly, and no crashies, no crashies.

I'm sure I typed at least a thousand, so I guess the photos could've taken their place. Go Evan, Matt, and Kyle. And me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pre-Race Prep

Well, I spent the past 25 minutes trying to figure out what I did to my dig-cam and fearing I ruined the camera for life. Turns out, the thing wasn't actually plugged into the USB port. I plugged into some other slot. Got dam.

Anyow, here's how you prep for a big MAC 'cross race. Get a coupla Irish dudes and a Polish-Jew together for a few brews. Best o' luck, fellers.

Well...the whole photo thing isn't really working out (wassup blogger?), but suffice it to say...I've got a photo of the damage done. And, yes, it was mostly Belgian brew. 7.9% minimum.



I finish typing that last sentence and the friggin' photo shows up. Anyhow, there you go. G'night.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Don't expect much more of this...

It's all 'B' races for me from here on out. Soooooo...don't expect too much more of this anytime soon.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

MABRA Champs

Well, the bike came together in time for MABRA champs. Turns out, the problem was INSANELY simple and the solution even simpler. Pinks, in typical fashion, tried to do me right when he built the thing up. He routed the rear derailleur cable with metal ferrules at the intermediate cable housing. In the end, that generous attempt to keep the bike looking and performing best was more harmful than good-ful. Something about the metal was obstructing the cable pull and I was getting poor shifting in the rear. After swapping the metal out for the cheap-o plastic, all was buttery smooth and crisp. Sometimes it's the littlest, seemingly insignificant, things that make all the difference.

With the repair complete yesterday afternoon, it was time to get my mind set for today's race. Unfortunately, I never really came around psychologically. Set out solo early this morning. Matt had to opt out today 'cause of his holiday travels. Evan, BMOC, decided to step it up and race with the 'A's (right where that sandbagging b@stard belongs!!). In the end, I was home and enjoying a ham, egg, and cheese sand-o with SVR before the gun fired for the 'A's. It only makes sense to carpool to these things, so I guess I better step up to the 'B's...stat!!

I've said it before, and I really mean it. I don't like to have to criticize the promoters and organizers, but things were pretty chaotic with registration, set-up, etc. Let's just say, at the start line, we all had to strip down to our base layers to switch numbers from right to left. Get it right from the get-go folks!! Also, some ass clown parked on the course. I noticed this during my pre-ride and pointed it out to officials. They had to re-route the course and the start was delayed for it. This yielded an abbreviated 'C' race and that was another pisser. A 32-minute race is an absolute joke...even for the lowly 'C' riders. Anyhow...down to the racin'.

Today's trend was me not being able to find my pedals. Can't explain it. At the gun, it took me a full 15 seconds to clip in. Inexcusable. The entire field had already rounded the initial 180-degree turn before I was even up to speed. I had the same problem after remounting two other times during the race. Hard to say I lost the race 'cause of it, but that kinda shit is bound to matter when I start mixing it up the Killah Bs. Battled some of the regulars for a lap or two. The only technical sections of the course involved some nasty mud. It wreaked a little havoc with the drivetrain and was just kinda mucky and annoying. I never managed to pedal the one run-up and that was another disappointment. As usual, I'm not sure where or how I made up my ground. I guess there were some flat, power sections in the first quarter of the course. I can never figure out why guys don't take advantage of those sections, but I powered past a crap load of guys on those straight-aways. Also, as usual, the mixed fields made it really tough to figure where I was in the mix. After scooting past at least half the field during the first half of the first lap, I caught a glimpse of two guys up the 'road.' I eventually bridged to a pair (a young kid who I've seen working at Revolution and who rides for NCVC) ahead and didn't spend too much time with them. I accelerated past them. Eventually, a regular who rides for Joe's in B'more (pink jersey) paired up with the kid and they worked hard to reel me in. Never happened. At the same time, I had no friggin' clue where I sat going into the last two laps. I suspected I was sitting second, but had no idea who I had lapped and who I was about to lap. I rode my own race for a few laps and just kept the power to the pedals to ensure I wouldn't get passed. I rolled across solo and probably lost by about twenty seconds.

I'm glad to report I never really felt too taxed today. Talk to me next week after a MAC 'B' race (Reston). I suspect I'll report, 'I really felt too taxed today.'

Word from the road is Evan took 5th in the 'A's. Excellent. Maybe he'll win Nationals.

Time to wrap it up and head up to E&K's. We gotta get to planning B07. The time is now. The trip will rule! Oh, and we're gonna eat.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Still innocent?

Here's a Tyler Hamilton quote I saw on cyclingnews.com:

"I made a mistake and the price that I had to pay was very high," said Hamilton.

Seems like a very, very incriminating self-reflection. I think that citation really speaks for itself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Southern 'Cross

I love when blog entry titles just come to me in a flash. As Arnold would say, "Dats a guud wun.

Anyhow, KD's photos are now posted and I thought I'd throw a couple up and offer a brief report. In a word, the race was mud. 'B' field was pretty small...probably somewhere in the 18-22 range. Matt, Kyle, and I all came to repreezent DC. The drive up was a little freaky, with the gas gauge on the Golf pooping out. We were driving along, chatting merrily, and I noticed the gas meter just plunge to the 'E.' "Strange," I thought. "I just filled the tank 8 hours ago." The things busted and I'll have to bring it in for a look over and an oil change.



The setting in Richmond was nice. The Park was sizeable and the soccer fields were packed. I wasn't expecting much from the legs, as I'm on a training regimen that has been kicking my ass...royally. The course was a good mix of technical, paved, and power. The technical sections were pretty close to off-road single track. I have to pat myself on the back for handling those, for the most part, smoother than I might've expected. Mixed in with the manageable single track, there were several sections of deep, gunky, sticky, muddy mud. This stuff was the ruin of the race. It wreaked havoc on the mind, body, spirit, and equipment. Once again, my shifting went completely awry and mechanical pitfalls plagued the entire race. My bike performed like a nervous eight year-old girl at her first holiday dance recital. In the end, I battled all adversity (including the highest barriers I've ever seen, a bout of nauseau going into the woods on the las lap, pretty chilly conditions, and the mud [did I mention the mud?]) and sprinted hard against Matt for a 7th place finish.



Diagnosis of the bike's maladies later in the week yielded brake pads that were worn completely through as well as a rear shifter that plain doesn't work. MABRA champs are a day away and the bike still isn't working. I'd hate to miss the championships.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lower Allen Classic

Raced in PA this past weekend. Worst performance and feeling so far this season. I'll file my major gripes quickly and move on to more positive notes. The course was NOT well suited to my riding style. No power sections. Not much climbing to speak of. Instead, LOTS of technical mumbo-jumbo. Lots of off-camber. Lots of sand and mulch. Not my cup o' tea. Good course for my cohorts, as Evan and Matt each logged second place finishes. Here's Evan at the finish. Someone has been working on their finish line celebration!!


Congrats to those fellers. In addition to the course conditions, the race organization pretty well sucked. I'm usually the guy to praise the organizers for putting on such a wonderful show. Can't say the same 'bout this one. For starters, the course was taped in an odd way. For me, it was extremely tough to follow the course. Beyond that, there wasn't a lap counter at the start/finish and the announcers never announced 'One lap to go.' All this added up to a piss-poor performance. I rolled across 11th out of 49. Blech. Further, Evan and Matt had to wait 3.5 hours to collect their winnings.

On the food front, we stopped at Friendly's on the way home. Holy crap!! What a dump. I've been pushing Evan to have a famous Fribble for over a year (since the trip to Philly two Junes ago). Believe it or not, he was too full after his 'entree' to wash it all down with a Fribble. I've never been so disappointed in my life!!! This Friendly's location smelled like cat urine. We gorged ourselves on fries and fried sandwiches. That's all I can stand to say about the experience.

On a more civilized note, Saturday night found me, SVR, D, and S at Bistrot du Coin. I'd been jonesing for the place for a while and, as usual, it didn't disappoint. Drew and I split mussels with cream and curry sauce, fries, creamed spinach, and escargot. We also each had a green salad. It was all top-notch. We hadn't ever tried the spinach. It was rich and creamy and spinach-y and comforting. I'll keep it on the top of the list for next time. All else was fatty and mmmm. Maybe D can send a photo of the bottle of wine we had. It was an excellent, excellent French wine.

Last night, SVR and I cooked up one heck of a number. We made butternut squash gnocchi from scratch. No photo evidence. Drizzled it with a butter and sage sauce. Ranks among the best at-home creations for us. We served it with a good spring greens (it's spring somewhere, right?) salad. On a more local note, the tomatoes were locally grown. For dessert...homemade banana bread. We used the recipe from the New Best Recipe cookbook. Served it up with some ice cream. I think E&K were content to be our guests last night.

And so we're up-to-date.

I hope to get some training guidance from Josef in the coming days. Gonna dive into a 'B' race this Sunday. From what I hear, the competition down 'round Richmond ain't as tough. We'll see about that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rushin'...no, Polish

Feel like I've been rushing around like mad since my last post. Meals and wheels, meals and wheels. That's what's up. It's time to wind down before another big race tomorrow, but I've gotta post before it all gets blown outta my head in a blaze of haze and snot at tomorrow's MAC race.

In a word, it's good to be back to racin', even if I'm not training. 'Cross is certainly my favorite race format/discipline. Jumped straight into last weekend on the new bike. Back-to-back race days. More complete race reports are definitely in order, but the short version is that I surprised myself...big time. Pulled a fourth at Tacchino and a 'w' at Race Pace. Sunday was nuts, with me off the front for five out of six laps. It's only 'C' level, local 'cross racing, but the announcer was having a grand ole time making it an interesting race. The mold in my car must be they key to success, as Evan also pulled of fantastic results. 1st on Saturday and a close 2nd on Sunday. Represent. Of course, it was awesome to have friends' support each day. Big ups to my dawgs...D, S, SVR, and Yames.

On the meal front. Monday saw me pull out all the stops. An after work trip to Whole Foods yielded wild Rockfish, raw beets, and new potatoes. I whipped up a glaze for the Rockfish with some butter, Sierra mustard, and maple syrup. Coated the fish and baked. Mmmm. Dove into roasted beets for the first time. Good times. Nothing like coming away from a cooking session seemingly blood stained, but without the pain of a knife wound. I coated the beets lightly in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Topped 'em with fried Vidalia ernyuns. More mmmm. The potatoes were my standard oven roasted version with rosemary. Did someone say mmmm?

Two 2 Amys trips this week. E&K forced me to branch out with the ordering strateejuhry. We did two pies, a panini, and suppli. Left effin' full as can be. I've said it too many times, but 2 Amys is a gem. Glad it's a neighborhood spot, but not so glad about the crowds.

Gotta call it quits. Less than seven hours sleep going into a race isn't really the way to go. I'm expected in TP at 6:50AM. Rise and shine is at 5:30AM. Whatta a strart to the weekend!! I hope to post some photos and more race details in short order. Hopefully I get good results 'morrow.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Still waiting...

I should be at the shop right now. I should be putting the finishing touches on the Redline. Instead, I'm propped up in bed writing this entry. Still no word from the Pink-man on the freehub body. I've got this awaiting him. From what I hear, it's the BEST.

In other news, I think it's official. I think Wilco has supplanted Built to Spill as my favorite band...for now. In the way that they are each pretty adaptable to different musical styles, they're similar bands. BTS is so versatile. They can bounce between metal, sugar pop, fuzz rock, emo, anthemic classic rock, art rock, alt-country, jam rock, etc. with absolute ease and perfection. Similarly, but not to the same extent, Wilco has floated between styles such as rock-a-billy, country pop, alt-country, art country (I think I just made up that style, as a quick check of allmusic.com's country genre page yields no 'art country' category), folk, rock, etc. I think the versatility I see in each is what impresses me so. Plus, each spits out some friggin' catchy, witty, smart, powerful, sophisticated music.

On the food front, we decided to stick at home last night. It was the right night for it, as it has been raining relentlessly since yesterday at 2PM. It's now 8:30AM on Saturday. I whipped up my famous, and famously simple, veggie lasagna. It's always a crowd pleaser and folks are always shocked to hear that I use cottage cheese in place of ricotta or other Italian-style cheese. The recipe came to me one night when I decided to piece something together with ingredients sitting around the house. In the end, I mixed the cottage cheese with chopped spinach, sauteed mushrooms, onions, and garlic, tomato sauce, and some spices M&D brought back from Italy. I spread the mixture between lasagna noodles. Sprinkled with some pecorino romano, that was it. Simply as hell and, like I said, a huge crowd pleaser. Evan, SVR, and I nearly polished off the whole pan last night. Good eatin'. I forgot to snap some photos. There'll be a next time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bebo = Blech-o

As promised, here's the follow-up re: Friday's dinner at Bebo.

I usually try to give places the benefit of the doubt, but this time I can't. To sum up, the dinner was easily the worst dining experience of my life. I think it would be too traumatic to recount the whole thing in minute detail.

We saw our server three times the whole evening. We waited about 25 minutes before he stopped in at our table for the first time. We ordered two glasses of wine. They never showed...even though we asked for them twice. My favorite part of the evening was when the waiter brought the check. He made a specific point of telling us, 'I had the manager take care of all the wine.' SVR and I were both very confused by the comment. 'All the wine' suggests we received part of the wine order. Not true. We got nuthin'. I was polite to the waiter all night, but couldn't help but ask him to clarify his point about excusing the wine from the check. He told us that he gladly had the manager remove the charge. No shit, right? Would it make more sense to leave the charge on the check...even though we never received the product? What a moron. I was sure to let him know that, despite his tone of voice that suggested otherwise, he wasn't doing any favors for us by removing the charge.

The funniest thing about the evening was how the terrible service left SVR and me with nothing else to talk about during dinner. It's not like, when we get great service at a restaurant, we spend the whole meal dwelling on how smoothly everything is going. On the other hand, the grossly inadequate service left us talking about it for the entire time we were at Bebo.

As for the food, it was pretty mediocre. I had chicken that was adequately flavorful...good herbs, good grill char, good citrus. It was pretty disappointing that the dish came with absolutely no accompaniment. SVR's meatballs were tasty, but very cold in places. The sides, some rapini and some sauteed potatoes, were below average. The rapini were way too bitter and had none of the promised garlic or red pepper flakes. The potatoes were a little too greasy and much closer to fried than sauteed.

The whole experience was god-awful, particularly considering how excellent the Osteria always was.

In other news...Granogue!! I went with Evan to watch the racing. It was pretty painful to watch without getting to do. Evan had a strong showing...fourth out of about 70 starters. The course looked like a blast. Lots of off-camber, some great descents, two run-ups that the many of the pros RODE, and an oddly placed barriers section. I set out to TP at 7AM and rode the Surly. The chain was super-loose and I actually threw the chain off the cog and chainring. Bad news. The beefy chain banged up the chainstay pretty nicely. Re-tensioned things at Evan's and we then hit the road.

Drive up was nice. Beautiful fall scenery the whole way and the time flew by. The atmosphere at the race was so perfect. The free beer was flowing as of about 10AM. Folks were generally friendly and it was pretty cool to rub shoulders with the pros. The crowd was sizeable and very enthusiastic. Here are a few shots of Todd Wells, Kabush, Wicks, and a few others at the sign-in tent.



I have a heck of a time formatting photos for this blog, so I'll leave it at that.

The pros were fast and Trebon pulled away for a significant gap and a win.

The drive home was full of traffic. Once back in DC, I hopped on the Surly again and popped into the Park for the ride home. It was amazing in the Park...dusky, quiet, serene, empty, and pleasantly cool.

Once home, it was a quick shower, some cleaning up at the apartment, and then back out to hook up with Drew, Steph, and Evan for some proper 'hall-pass' festivities. In the end, that amounted to a little too much beer, some rude jokes, and not much more. Dinner and drinks were at Fado. Good spot. Even better considering the manager is one of my junior high and high school friend's kid sister. It's always great to see her there and she usually extends a pretty good hook-up to me and the gang. She was generous again last night, so the night out was cheap. Always good. Steph did a car bomb. That was funny.

Today's Sunday. Evan dragged my mildly hung over ass out for a morning ride. Glad to get out there. Of course, the weather forecasters are effin' morons. They were calling for decent weather in the a.m. and rain in the p.m. It spit some drops on me on my way into the Park at 10:15AM. The skies have been bright blue since around 1:30PM. Go figure. I think I would've stayed out on the bike longer if the weather was like this earlier in the day. Oh well.

That's the latest. Blogging should be a little smoother now that we have an Internet connection. Hopefully I'll have some good eats to report on this week. Even better, hopefully the Redline will come together this week and I'll finally get to racin'.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Crank-y

A little week end re-cap.

Had majorly high hopes of finally piecing the Redline together this week. No dice. Hooked up with Pinks this week all ready to get rockin' on the thing. He assured me that everything was in. I was eager to get the thing up and running for Granogue. My thinking was a little too wishful. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Campy to Shimano freehub body got overlooked in all the ordering chaos. My worst fears came true. Pinks looked majorly confused when I asked where that critical part was hiding. Things only got worse from there. Headset went on without a hitch. Pinkey hooked me up with some bling, bling, blingy RED carbon spacers. Then it came time to install the cranks. Earlier in the session I had pulled the 53 and 39 off a set of FSA cranks. In the process of mounting the 42, I handily stabbed myself in the knuckle with a tooth. Other than the cut on my right hand from when I decided to play catch with a spackling knife, I can't say I've ever cut so deep. This week's wound was a mere puncture, but that shit was deep. I could see the fat spilling out. The finger is numb in front of the cut. Nerves severed? Nice. Lots of blood. Anyhow...I've lost focus here. The driveside crank slid right on the ISIS bb. The non-drive side crank, though, created a little complication. Turns out, Rob mis-paired the drive and non-drive cranks he generously donated to the cause. The non-drive crank is an SLK and interfaces with FSA's Mega-EXO bb. Damn. Game over. The build is currently on hold. Racing this weekend is currently on hold. Pisser.

I'm still gonna hit up Granogue with Ellicott. It'll be sweet to watch the pros and see some national champs. If all goes as planned, I'll ride to TP tomorrow morning to get some riding in. Beyond that, I'll have the Surly in Delaware for some more riding. And then I'll probably have to ride home from TP at the end of it all. Should be a great time.

If the Redline debacle was the week's low-light, last night was certainly the highlight. I lucked out in early September when I saw an ad for an October Wilco show in DC. I saw the ad the same day tickets went on sale. SVR and I have a major fondness for the band and I snatched two tickets. They made a pretty sweet b-day gift for SVR...particularly considering I wasn't able to secure tickets to the traveling 'So You Think You Can Dance' live show. Somehow, I think SVR really wanted to see that. Turned out, Mike Jorgensen (keyboardist for Wilco) is a spitting image for one of the SYTYCD players, so all was well. Anyhow, to keep it short and sweet, the concert was gorgeous. The musicianship was spot on, the crowd was decent, our vantage point was great, and the song selection was awesome. Hear the thing at NPR.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6262709

And to end the week, tonight we're off to try Roberto Donna's newly opened Bebo Trattoria. It's in the old Oyamel space. Yes, that means a trip to VA. Wish us luck. It's opening night, so I expect some major deficiencies. Maybe ol' Bebo will pleasantly surprise me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rush Hour Reefer

After a painfully long hiatus, I'm back to riding. Yesterday was my first weekday afternoon ride in over three weeks...maybe even four. What happened to drivers over the past month? They seemed particularly hazardous and crazed and maniacal and nutty yesterday. Here's an example.

I was on MacArthur Blvd., approaching the stop sign just before Glen Echo Park. Cars were lined up about twenty deep and there was room to pass on the right. I rolled slowly past the line-up and caught a whiff of smoke. It was faint at first and grew increasingly pungent as I rolled further down the line. I eventually rolled past a car with windows up and reeking of pot smoke. Lemme tell you, that made me feel wonderfully safe. As if MacArthur isn't narrow enough and drivers aren't already hazardous enough and the low-lying afternoon sun isn't distracting enough. Now I gotta worry about sharing the congested roads with some schmuck hot-boxin' it on his way home from work. Nuthin' like feeling safe out on the roads!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Crash and Burn

Hit the deck yesterday. Ouch. Took the turn coming off the one-lane bridge at Glen and S. Glen a little too hot. Combine that with a little more dirt/gravel than normal at that intersection and...BLAM! Feeling 30 mph of pain this morning. I'm badly bruised on the left side and am sporting some nasty cuts on my left knee and arm. As for the 'burn' in this entry's title, it's a relevant verb because it's what I felt when I doused the wounds with peroxide post-shower last night and it's also what the road left on my left crelbow. It's incredible how skimming the road surface can abrase the skin to a burned state. Yuck. Maybe I'll be able to post some photo evidence in the coming days.

Never mind my injuries. Let's talk about the bike. I was on the Ritchey. She got tossed around pretty dramatically. Shifters are bruised and battered and the bars and stem should be replaced. Otherwise, it'll take some time on the trainer (my improvised work stand) to figure out if there's any other mechanical damage. It's always sad to see the machine suffer. Can you hear its desperate moans?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Food not bikes.

Well, well, well. There's little to report on the cycling front. Mostly, I haven't been doing it. My layzee-ness, however, hasn't stopped me from running out and buying a new ride to add to the collection. As I think I proclaimed a few posts ago, I'm stoked for 'cross season and aim to do it right this time 'round. With that, I pulled the trigger and ordered this:


My first foray into aluminum. We'll see how it treats me.

In other news, don't eat at Red Lobster. I let SVR talk me into a lunch there this Sunday. I had mini shrimp on my salad. Then I got back to the car and sneezed. Don't try this at home, kids!



Really, though, the eatin' hasn't all been that bad this summer. Here are a few shots of some lovely home-cooked numbers SVR and I whipped up over the past few weeks.

This summery ensemble included the famous Fleischmann meatloaf, some sweet-ass corn, and some adequately rich mashed Yukon Golds. I think we paired it with Mendocino Red Tail Ale. Though the meatloaf is probably a better winter meal, the corn all but made up for the other items' density. Mad props go out to all the Fleischmann ladies for keeping the recipe alive and passing it on to me.

Another recent highlight was a gorgeous salmon fillet pan cooked with an emulsified lime and butter sauce. SVR brought the sauce recipe back from 'bama and my blender made the emulsification a snap. We normally cook fish in the oven and are usually met with varying degrees of contentment. This time 'round, we cooked the salmon in the cast iron skillet. That cooking method was the key to our success. Keeping the fish out in the open allowed us to watch the flesh cook and we were best able to monitor how quickly and how much the meat cooked. This technique resulted in moist, flavorful, perfectly pink salmon. The accompaniments were so darn simple, but bursting with flavor. The rice was of the basmati sort and the carrots were minimally steamed. The lime sauce was pungent and tartfully refreshing, the carrots were sweet and just the right amount of crunchy, and the basmati was nutty and fragrant. I think some Viognier paired okay with this.

Going forward, the home-cooked meals might suffer from a period of adjustment. SVR and I bought a condo (what?!?!?) and we'll be forced into using an electric range. Might take a while to get up to speed on the thing, but the larger kitchen should yield some excellent opportunities for good eatin' at home.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Problem with his uterus?

This just in from former world champ, Oscar Friere. Offering a reason for some dizziness he's experienced recently, he said:

"Ever since I've abandoned the Tour I haven't felt very well at all. I have dizzy spells and I have headaches," Freire told the Diario Vasco. "I went to the doctor and initially they told me it might be vertigo. Later they told me it could a cervical syndrome. The problem is that I have to ride with care when I am on the bike to not crash and give myself a breakdown."

I'm confused. I didn't realize men have cervixes. Causes me to question all the biology I was ever taught. I guess I oughta get on the horn with my doc to schedule a Pap smear. Can't be too careful!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The return of the SVR

Well, SVR returns tomorrow. I'm unbelievably excited. I think that sums it up. Her return should yield more frequent food related postings.

OTB (new acronym...Off The Bike...and I hope I don't have to use it again anytime soon!!) for a full seven days. Not how I'd prefer it to be, but I've been out of town and occupied with, er, deep thoughts of late. Some things in life are more important. Hopefully I'll get out tomorrow and back into the swing of things. After all, I'm scheduled to do a dirt crit (ha!!!) this Sunday.

Still keeping my fingers crossed about acquiring an adequate 'cross bike for the coming season. Maybe THAT'S where I'll turn it on this season. It has been a very up and down season, so maybe a solid 'cross showing will help me feel more accomplished.

In other news, Cingular sux.

In OTHER other news, Senor Landis (I wonder if that's what the docs in Spain called him) is really in the hot seat at this point. I just received the latest VeloNews issue. Tons of possibilities for tasteless humor re: the Floyd. The headlines and ads and letters to the editor are ripe, I mean RIPE, for multiple low blows. Truth be told, I think the lab in France squirted a little something extra into his pee sample. I'll leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

D.-isappointed 'N.-noyed F.-rustrated

A quick word on last Saturday's disaster. I had high hopes for doing well at the 3/4 Giro di Coppi. Had high hopes of at least seeing how I stacked up to some 3s. Well, I never really got to find out.

The race started in steamy and scorching conditions. I found myself drenched in sweat just unloading the trunk. Bumped into some pals in the parking lot and I hope Judd can hook me up with a good deal on a 'cross bike. We'll see.

Lined up for the start and was a weeeeee bit on the nervous side. After the neutral roll-out and some near crashes during the neutral period, things got underway. The pace was comfortable for a while. I sat in mid-pack and never really tried to surge to the front. I definitely moved up a bit on some hills, but didn't follow Eric's advice to stay very near the front at all times. Well, that cost me.

The first lap was chock full o' "Whoa"s and "Hey"s and "Watch it"s and other unmentionables. Guys seemed pretty sketchy and I was really surprised by the near misses and close calls. I think most of the near crashes were due to the accordion effect approaching and starting hills.

To make a long story short, at 12.1 miles, we approached a hill leading to the feed zone. Ready to make up some ground through the bunch, I got out of the saddle to accelerate and climb. Just then, four guys in front of me ran into each other. Of course, they weren't accelerating. They were slowing. Bam! I ran into the back wheel of some dude and started to teeter to my right. I unclipped in an awkward way and saved myself from hitting the deck. The bike didn't stay upright and it crashed to the pavement. I snatched the bike, re-mounted, and tried to pedal away. No luck. I was grossly over-geared. I tried again to pedal away. Still over-geared. I hit the deck again. Embarrassing! Third time was a charm and I finally got going. Turns out the rear brake was rubbing and making it still harder to pedal. Drats! I crested the hill, sped through the feed zone and couldn't connect with Drew for a bottle, and watched the field ride quickly into the distance. I approached the start/finish line and dismounted. Centered the rear brake, gave everything a quick look over, and continued on with the hope that I might actually bridge to the fast-moving bunch.

Well, I had noooooooooooo such luck. I chased for a full lap (at several moments seeing stars) and abandoned the chase at the feed zone on lap two.

Simply put, I was humiliated and sooooooo disappointed. 'Nuff said.

Of course, many, many, many thanks to D&S for coming out to watch and support. Y'all rawk.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add a tidbit about food to this post. Down in the dumps after my DNF, D&S invited me over to watch the final ITT at le Tour. We stopped at So's Your Mom! for some eats.

Man, I love that place. Used to eat there often when I worked upstairs from the joint. Ordered a chicken salad san-ditch with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion. On a soft sub roll, it hit the spot...even though I didn't deserve such a treat after my lackluster race. The san-ditch coulda used a bit more bacon, but, then again, what couldn't???

With that, I'm off to sample another lunch spot that I've been dyin' to try. Roberto Donna fired up the grill this morning, so I'll finally get to sample the infamous pork shoulder sandwich. I hope to report on it soon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rock Star: JML

Here's VeloNews' closing Q&A from a session with Jean Marie Leblanc, the TdF's director.

VN: What will you be doing next year, when you are not working for the Tour
anymore?

JML: I will write my memoirs in which I will put down once and for all the
things that I now tell you and your colleagues over and again. Of course I will
also write down all the good memories - and believe it or not there are a lot of
good memories as well. Besides that I will attend to the public affairs of my
native region in Northern France and hopefully find time for my great passion,
which is music.


I'll look forward to his debut album!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Did we have hurt lockers like this in high school?

Holy shit! CBS is covering the Tour’s first week. If I remember correctly, they used to wait until the final weekend to cover the full three weeks. Of course, it’s 5:20PM, I just tuned in, and they’re only now getting to Stage 1. I suspect they’re turning the race into a travel show…covering the sites, sounds, and landscape more than the actual racing. Oh well. I guess it’s better than nothing.

I’m not updating this blog regularly, so it’s hardly worth it to try to catch up on everything that has happened since last time.

On the cycling front, I’m just back from an epic day in the Virginia mountains. Word from Evan is that we climbed over 10,000 feet. Over the course of 83 miles, those feet hurt like a punch in the face. I decided to test myself this weekend. Instead of going into today’s ride fresh, with either a light Saturday ride or rest day leading up, I decided to put in some significant hours yesterday. Went out to Poolesville solo and tallied about 3:35 in the saddle. Didn’t exactly engage in proper recovery techniques yesterday (I don’t think beers, chips and salsa, and wasabi peas count for good recovery grub), so I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up today.

The group was a near repeat of one we gathered last year in August. Without Eric, who was stuck doing housework, it was a trifecta—me, Evan, and Matt. They were decked out in their City Bikes mountain bike team kits and each sported PowerTap SLs. They looked ripe to team up on me and stuff me into a cave of sheer and unbridled pain. Speaking of caves, I should clarify part of why I love to ride Skyline. The apr├Ęs-ride ritual is now deeply etched. On the way home, we generally stop off at the world famous Spelunkers burger joint in charming Front Royal, VA for calorie uploads. I’m partial to the double cavern burger and a side of fries…fried in 100% peanut oil. I don’t have the photo evidence to prove it, but the burgers there are pretty effin’ dope. They’re adequately greasy, piping hot, and generally thick. Certainly not the toppest notch, but pretty darn good enough. Back to the ride.

To sum up the ride, I think it’s fair to say we all suffered. About 27 miles in, I was already hurting in a way that left me wondering if I was gonna even be able to complete the route. BTW, the route took us from Front Royal down to Luray and back to Front Royal. I guess the cue is known around these parts as Mass-Sky. The name derives from the featured climbs…up Massanutten and up Skyline Drive. Back to the action. After a forty minute warm up, we kicked it into higher gear and pacelined a pretty good clip. As I mentioned, 27 miles found me hurting and panting and even sweating a bit. Knowing that I had a very long road ahead of me, I had to focus on convincing myself that yesterday’s miles were gonna mean a longer break-in period today and an eventual return of strength and stamina. It’s worth noting that motorists were mostly tame, but there are always a few who, even in the country with all its open roads and endless time, feel the need to pull inane moves.

The ascent up Massanutten was good times. It’s a steep little hill, but is probably only about 3 and a little more miles long. I stuck with Evan and definitely felt like hurling a few times. Kept my composure and summited feeling a little more hopeful about the rest of the day. The descent off the hill was screaming fast!! I hit 45 mph at one point before realizing I should probably slow down. I think the brakes might’ve been getting a little hot, as they started howling at one point…something they’ve never done on any ride.

There wasn’t much time for banter on this ride, as we pretty much kept it single file and took pulls of varying lengths. After a refueling stop in Luray, it was off to 211 and the rise into the park. 211 is a spectacular climb. The pavement is nearly butter, the grades are consistent, the length is challenging, the road is wide enough for feeling safe, and suffering is all but assured. We all put in a good ride up 211. I did some extra climbing (dropped my cue sheet and had to double back), so I’ve got all sorts of excuses for why my performance might’ve dipped after that climb. Of course, I’m only kidding. My double back was only about 200 meters, but the brief downhill quickly got my body ready for some descending and a respite from the crippling burn in my legs. For some perspective on how steep the pitch was, consider that, as I approached my fallen cue sheet, I ended up locking up my wheels trying to slow to a stop from only about 4 mph.

We finally made it to the entrance to Skyline Drive and I was pretty darn nervous about what still remained to tackle. From the last time I did this ride (in March and solo), I remembered that the true test came once on Skyline. Skyline doesn’t bring relief from the hills. I remembered some pretty severe shit greeting me as soon as I entered the park. This time, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find some pretty moderate terrain (even some downhill grades) for a few miles. Entering the park, and fearing what was to come, I kinda overdid my fuel intake. I pounded a Clif Nectar bar and started drinking some only slightly diluted Extran. Normally resilient to most potentially stomach distressing food and drink, the sugars in all my intake started causing certain gastro distress. I was not happy and my stomach was even less joyful. Not a good recipe for the climbing still left. Despite all efforts to stay hydrated and electrolyted and nourished, I still came down with a bad case of cramps in places I didn’t even know I could cramp. Cramping is always fun. It’s like a little puzzle that requires fast decision making. To be able to keep riding despite the cramp, the cyclist must adjust his pedaling technique to counter the muscle cramp. If seated and pushing on the pedals when the cramp strikes, the solution might be to stand and pull harder on the pedals. Of course, it matters whether the cramp is in the quad or calf or hammy or glute or groin, etc. Anyhow, battling the cramps is always a challenge and a test and another reason to love riding bikes!! In the end, I survived and even had strength to rock it pretty hard up the final climb that has become a nemesis of sorts. It’s the only place I ever really dropped Evan on a climb in a meaningful and dramatic way. He wasn’t about to let that happen again. Fast forward to the final four miles after Dickey Ridge. We were all descending like madmen…really pushing the pace. With about 2.5 miles to go, we came upon a monstrous RV. It was the size of a rock band’s tour bus. It was a pain in the ass for three specific reasons. It slowed us down significantly. The air turbulence coming off the back of the thing made the bikes handle in crazy, crazy ways. And, finally, the brakes on the thing were burnin’ up and throwin’ off some stinky-ass vapors. Not a welcome scent. The stench was bad enough to stick to my clothes. When undressing at the parking lot, I noticed that my base layer and jersey stunk from the brake fumes. Lovely.

To sum up…another successful pain fest out in the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains. They’re an awesome resource. So is Spelunkers. The company couldn’t have been better. The drive to and fro' was filled with entertaining tales of home improvement woes, zany in-law family in-fighting, God-fearing siblings, corrupt city sanitation workers, and whatever idiocy the drivers out on Route 66 chose to display.

We’ll aim to do it again before the weather turns cold!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

When days feel like weeks

So…it has officially been a whole week. I’ve been latent for a full seven days. Can I even call myself a cyclist anymore? It’s amazing how easy it is to be obsessive about this sport. If it weren’t for the bike, would I direct this energy, this attention, this craving, this anxiety, and this guilt elsewhere? Hard to say. Also, are cyclists more prone to this deranged behavior? I’m inclined to say, ‘Yes.’ As for the meaning behind it all, I’ll leave the analysis to another day. After all, the idea here is to think a little less about being careful and deliberate with what I post.

Other than lungs that hurt, legs that feel weak and drained, and confidence that’s diminished, I have a few things to actually look forward to when I return to riding. Check out what Pinks helped me do to the Ritchey this past Saturday. I made the appointment with the expectation that the deluge we saw the past four days would start a day sooner. In the end, Saturday was dry and I could’ve ridden. Drats!!! At least I got some much needed junk done to the beater. Check the new, shiny, squeaky-clean, and fully-functional chain, cassette, and rear shifter.






Dang. Hot stuff. Now…time to put it to use.

In other cycling news (other than my own), le Tour is officially three days away. I’ll save rambling commentary about how disappointing the whole Operacion Puerto is and cut to my tentative TOP TEN picks for this year’s race. The list was sparked by the second year of a competition of sorts with Rob. This year we’ve adopted a points system. Here are the rules:

  • 1 point awarded for each rider we select that finishes in the top ten, regardless of specific placing
  • 3 points awarded for each rider we select that finishes in the exact slot chosen
  • 3 points awarded for each rider we select that is awarded the jersey we choose for them

These choices can certainly change before riders set off Saturday, but…for now…here goes.

1. Basso
2. Ullrich
3. Landis
4. Valverde
5. Vino
6. Hincapie
7. Mancebo
8. Leipheimer
9. Evans
10. Moreau

Yellow: Basso

Polka Dot: Rujano


Green: McEwen

I think my biggest risk is with Rujano. I think many have doubts about whether he'll even be able to finish. Of course, I think he has a lot to prove to his new team, Quick-Step. With a bizarre performance at the Giro, he'll need a conventional (read: he can't unexpectedly pull out of the race without explanation) and impressive three weeks to secure solid ground with the established Belgian team. Don't be surprised if I squeeze in a revision before July 1.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The wheels start turning

This blog will seek to seize on the intersection of two hobbies that center on the spinning wheel. Family-style, food is served on the lazy susan. It's a wheel that offers and distributes victuals. Cycling is, most obviously, all about the wheel. And so it will be...a blog about cycling and food.