Thursday, October 30, 2008

Can I take it back?

Earlier this year, I awarded Linus Gerdemann the HTFU award. No doubt...dude is strong like ox. Heck, he's a Tour stage winner.

HOWEVER, looking at this photo, it seems he could do with a make-over. Maybe, er, cut the hair, let some stubble grow in, and lose the eyeliner. At first glance, I really thought cyclingnews.com had confused the men's and women's Team High Road team presentations.

SNAP! I added the last sentence of paragraph one after composing paragraph two. Well...looks like he did try to take appropriate measures. He cut the hair, but not quite enough.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sure As Heck!

Drool. And drool. It's what's for post-race recovery.

Once again, DCMTB organized a spectacular event in the District. The mood was awesome, the food and beer were sensational, and the course was a bit better than last year's.

Started off in the third row and, in typical fashion, couldn't really hold the good position coming out of the gates. Onto the grass and things were a bit congested. A few near tangles with teammates and others left me a bit shaky and cautious. That's no way to be in a 'cross race, as nancy-ing around in the technical bits is a sure fire way to allow gaps to open. The natural barriers were probably my other biggest nemesis, as they were waaaaaay too tall for my stubby legs and the spacing also kept me guessing (it didn't help that they didn't sit parallel to one another).

As always, the race was a big blur and it's hard to offer any real play-by-play. I know Ryan Bannon was on my tail for a good part of the race. I know the Kelly Benefits guy (Charly Hermanson, upon scanning results) was another detriment to my confidence, as he twice passed dangerously to very little avail in those sections. More than in any other 'cross race, I rode with small groups. In the past, my interaction with a group involved approaching one, sitting on for no more than 30 seconds, and then giving some gas and riding away. It's something I've usually enjoyed, as it boosts the confidence. Yesterday, I spent a good bit of time playing games with Cargo Mike and a fellow I can only assume was John Hostetter III. The two or three times I tried to use power sections to my advantage and open up the gaps, these guys had enough to claw back. The battles were fun.

Things wrapped up with me and Mike dropping John. Mike promptly opened a 10-20 meter gap for about the last half of the last lap (I could be making that up, as I can't remember a course to save me life). Owing to what I just mentioned in parenthesis, I didn't make an effort to close that gap until it was too late. Having the start and finish areas in different spots on the loop confuses a dim-wit like me. Coming through the start pavement, I really had no idea how much more riding we had left. By the time we hit the finish line paved section, I didn't have enough room to lay it all out in the sprint. Bad strategy, but so is sprinting for 15th! No harm, no foul.

I know. Not much of a report. More of a mere mish-mash of thoughts, but that's kinda all I have post-race. And seeing how little blogging I've done of late, I figure (and maybe wrongly) something is better than nothing.

After I finished, I spent about 1.5 hours refraining from the beers and fries. I thought I might re-dress and give the 1/2/3 a whirl. SVR wisely advised me to give it up and get down to eating and drinking. She knows me.

It was also really exciting to see a very big Bike Doctor presense at the race. Other than DCMTB and C-3, I think we might've fielded the most participants. Mad props to Mike D. for accepting my beer hand up. Not only did he take a sizeable gulp, he dumped the rest on his head. What a guy!!

Looking forward to a packed autumn schedule through Dec. 7th.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Similarities?

Both praised for their good looks. The similarities don't stop there! Just plain diarrhea of the mouth.

Sarah Palin:

That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the -- it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Caitlin Upton:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our [children].

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Corporate Brand-ing

See this post for my previous take on corporate tattoos.

Thought I'd mention my most recent sighting of this absurd practice. Was at Whole Foods Monday afternoon. SVR was checking us out at the register and I was tasked with returning the cart to the cart pen. Passing the produce section, I spotted a woman sporting the rolled over waistband, clam-digger style, sweatpant/yoga pant/fashion pajama pants. She had an 'edgy' look about her. Coupla tattoos on the shoulder and arms. She was walking ahead of me and I also noticed a tat' in the, ahem, 'tramp stamp' zone. Was it a butterfly? No. Was it a dragonfly? No. Was it Chinese characters? No. Was it 'Thug Life?' No. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me. It looked a bit like...well, an apple. Further scrutiny and I noticed the apple had a bite missing. Woah!! Gal had the apple corporate logo tattooed on her friggin' back! Bold moves, they happen every day. Whose corporate now?!?!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Drool

For some, an 'x' on the calendar indicating six weeks until their first race is the first sign that 'cross season is just around the corner.

For others, the need for arm warmers on those 6AM training rides is the first sign 'cross season is getting close.

Still others know 'cross season is near when they pass their local parks and spot the gaggles of strange looking 'dancers'...the cyclocrossers dismounting and re-mounting, trying to re-birth a latent and un-practiced skill set.

For me, the first sign of 'cross is my own sticky, crusty, viscous drool.

Something about 'cross efforts provokes slobbering. The mouth hangs agape, the mind hones in on the pain, and the breathing becomes so labored as to expel all accumulated and accumulating saliva. This seems to be less of a trend when astride the road bike. Then again, maybe I'm just not pushing hard enough on the road bike.

Anyhow...last evening found me on the trainer and in the gym doing some 'cross-specific micro-burst intervals. These are part of the training routine in the run-up to the fall season. And sure as heck, I found myself drooling like a cat that has caught a big ol' whiff of Vick's vapor rub (was my cat the only one to have this Pavlovian response to the menthol fumes?). I think my sloppy spittle drove a few of the prissier gym rats from the facility. That's fine by me, for as much as I try not to be self-conscious, I do get a tad embarrassed during my more disgusting moments on the bike. I'm a site to see...red as a beet in the face, jersey unzipped and exposing my pale and emaciated torso, sweat pooling all around me, still more sweat sprayed across the mirror to my front, breathing like an angry bull, and generally looking on the verge of complete physical breakdown. If I had the choice, I'd look away or run from the room. Anyhow...

Turns out, the drool factor exists in real 'cross scenarios (out on course and usually paired with the snot factor) and in virtual 'cross scenarios (in on trainer). Last night was my first drool of the year. 'Cross season must be nigh!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A$$ CLOWN!

Here's why I don't turn to mainstream American news outlets (did I really just call Yahoo! a news outlet?) for Tour coverage. I think profanity is the only reasonable response. This guy is a total dip-shit. Really. Wow! If you click through, I hope the hundreds of responses/comments are still viewable. Many of the respondents write well and make solid arguments against Johnson's piece. Some respondents sound about as moronic as Johnson, but still get the gist.

To sum up, I tend to agree with the general point that Americans would be absolutely flabbergasted (and would then spiral into a disgusting state of denial) by what proper and aggressive doping controls in the major leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, etc.) would yield. Would we stand to have the Super Bowl and NBA play-offs put on hold for two years if stringent testing revealed a handful of cheaters? Naht bloody lahkley!! But somehow a total douche like this Johnson joker gets his drivel published on Yahoo!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Darn You, Paul Weller!!

I often suffer the problem of getting a really, really terrible song stuck in my head during my rides. They play on repeat in my cranium for hours and hours and hours. Last year at Coppi, for example, a coupla kids (I think they were Human Zoom or Waste Management riders from out of town, though that's largely irrelevant) hanging out in the parking lot were blasting Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson and all sorts of other poppy, sappy goodness during our prep period. Not sure how I survived the race with 'Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your girlfriend! No way, no way, I think you need a new one!' circling in my head relentlessly. I managed...somehow.

My latest malady? Not being able to shake that friggin' 'Brand New Start' song from my head. Someone make it stop!!!!! Please!!!

On a related note... Maybe I'm crazy, but I believe that commercial's earlier incarnation showed David Millar among the convicted or suspected or admitted dopers. Can someone confirm? If he was part of v. 1, I find it quite interesting he no longer appears. I wonder who ordered the removal and how it all went down. Zabel is there and he still rides. Millar's shtick has, at least recently, been to not hide his past. Maybe being lumped with Ullrich and Landis and Vino was just a bit too much for him to stomach. Of course, maybe I'm making up what I saw in v. 1.

UPDATE: I'm not crazy. There is a different version. Included? Pantani, Riis, extra footage of Landis, and...Millar.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=36350237

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sqoil

All my years on the bike, I've feared that moment when a squirrel would get caught somewhere (front wheel, rear wheel, chain ring, chain, etc.) in my bike. Well...it finally happened.

6AM. Gorgeous weather. Starting my ride and rolling down Idaho toward Cathedral (rolling at about 20 mph), a squirrel darted out of nowhere and I didn't even see it before it was wrapped up in my front wheel. I probably broke its neck, but the bladed spokes somehow didn't cut it open. It flopped around in my wheel once or twice before it kicked out, went flying in the air, and landed on my right thigh. Then it fell to the ground. I shrieked like a 12 year old girl. Holy crap. Quite a start to the morning. I feel lucky I didn't hit the deck and injure myself. The sqoil, however, was not that lucky.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Everything Must Go!!!

That's right boys and girls. It's time to liquidate. 'Everything' is a bit of an exaggeration, but three out of the eight bikes must find new homes. Sad to have to let 'em go, but there's nothing I can do to stop this.

For now, I only have pics of the road bike. Pics of the mountain bikes should follow in the coming little while. Anyhow...


Ritchey Road Logic:

Size 52cm. Ritchey ‘Nitanium’ (Tange) tube-set. Shimano Ultegra 9-speed drivetrain (shifters, brake set, front and rear derailleurs) with FSA Team Issue carbon crankset. Chris King headset. Accessory parts are brand new and never used/ridden. Bars: Cannondale C3, 31.8mm, 42cm. Stem: Cannondale C4, 90mm. Seatpost: Cannondale C2 carbon wrapped, 27.2mm. Saddle: Fi'zi:k Pave Sport Mg. Wheelset: Ritchey WCS Protocols with very low mileage. Lovingly cared for and professionally maintained by Pinkey Gonzales at Revolution Cycles.











Gunnar Ruffian:


Steel, hand-built frame. 16". Tricked out pretty nicely. Chris King headset. Phil Wood hubs hand-laced to Mavic 517 rims. Rigid fork. Truvativ cranks. Fun little bike. Black and stealth.

Gunnar Rockhound:

Similar frame as the Ruffian. This one is geared. Also 16".

If anyone is interested in any of these bikes, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Stage is Set!

Two hours of Ronde van Vlaanderen coverage this evening. And I'm ready for it!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Take 10!

Make sure you have ten minutes to devote and then watch this.

Monday, March 17, 2008

HTFU Award Winner

Am I reading this right? Follow this link and scroll to the entry about Linus Gerdemann.

Dude was TT-ing at 60km/h and fell down. Impact resulted in a broken femur that will require surgery and six weeks of no competitions. Seems like it must've hurt. The kicker? After breaking his femur, he re-mounted the bike and rode another 2km to the finish line. Finished 1'16" off the world champion's winning pace. Maybe I'm a wimp, but those events make Gerdemann sound pretty effin' hard-man.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bound for Hollywood!

Though my acting career fizzled in '91, I'm still following my dreams and heading to Hollywood. My dreams at this point consist of a respite from the 20 degree weather 'round here. And so it will be. Hollywood, FL, here I come!!

Rocked a tough trainer session last night. Z5 stuff. Sweat out half my body weight. I'm pretty bummed to have to hang up the cleats for the next four days, as I'm feeling on a good trajectory. Feeling like I must keep the hard efforts up to be ready for racing in two weeks. Maybe four days off will yield an even deeper drive when I return to DC next week.

Truth is, I should probably ship the Ritchey down to Florida so I have something to ride when I visit my parents. The bike would probably see more use that way. As it stands, it's collecting dust in G'burg. If I can't sell it, I might as well use it...even if that's once or twice a year.

On the dining front...the trip will include a visit to some old favorites. We've been going to Wagon's West for at least 25 years. Not surprisingly, they have no Interweb presence, otherwise I'd post a link. Needless to say...some of the best down home b'fast in the universe. Yes, the universe.

We'll also hit Joe's Stone Crab. Miami institution with a classic and straightforward menu. 'tis the season for succulent crabs. These creatures are a bit of magic. In the wild, they exhibit autotomy. So they can amputate their own claws. Further, if (and when) harvesters de-claw the crabs, they still grow back the amputated limb! And so we can eat these guys with a little less guilt. Lyonnaise potatoes, anyone?

Hoping to make Tradezone next weekend. I should be hard to miss...fat and crispy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Food

The blog has seen a dearth of food-related entries in recent months. I'm tempted to shift the food course towards only reporting on 2 Amys outings. Each trip seems ripe for analysis and comment, as each trip yields fresh, new, impeccable dishes and flavors. And we go often enough that focusing on that one restaurant would yield weekly, if not more frequent, entries.

Most recent trip was solo. Solo means I'm free to create my whole meal from wine bar offerings. Without SVR, there's no obligation towards pizza and, despite being a pizza restaurant, I'm fine skipping the pie in favor of cold items. And so it was a completely cold dinner for me at the bar.

I had:

Goat cheese and chive crostini--A go-to option. Rich, creamy, smooth, and only slightly pungent cheese flecked with enough chive to add sweetness and bite. As with all things from Scott's arsenal, quality black pepper and salt make the subtle flavors 'pop' that much more.

Root vegetables with speck--Different from the roasted root vegetable salad, this version benefits greatly from the smoky speck. The roasted version carries a certain smokiness from the char on the vegetables, but cured and smoked meat offers a far greater level of fire-y flavor. The earthy vegetables pair really well with the meaty ham and all flavors are balanced by the sweetness and tartness of a balsamic drizzle. So this dish really has it all...the sparkle of vegetables (albeit heavy, winter vegetables), the richness and depth of those vegetables mingled with cured meat, and the offset of sweet vinegar. I'd like to see this on the menu more regularly than the roasted root veg.

Smoked mackerel and potato salad--Never seen this on the menu before, but I knew I HAD to have it. Colors were subdued and boring, but I knew looks were bound to be deceiving. Found out Scott, in fact, smoked the mackerel in-house. Very cool. And my best guess is that the potatoes were fingerlings. Dominant flavors were the cedar from the smoked fish, the salt from the curing the fish underwent before smoking, the mild sweetness and creaminess of the potatoes (a lot like a fine Yukon gold), and the extreme savory punch and mineral-iness of the granular sal de mer. A winner.

Rabbit stuffed with rapini and pecorino--Another winner. This dish is, once more, about balance. The rabbit meat seems to be a mix of darker and lighter flesh and is kept in the skin. The skin adds good moisture and tenderness to the white meat which, in past experience, can dry out pretty easily. Beyond the skin's fat tenderizing the meat, the skin also crisps nicely on the outside. A bite of this rabbit starts with the crunch of the crispy skin, yields some softer fat, moves on to dense meat, and finally rewards with the bitter rapini and sharp pecorino cheese stuffed all up in the center. Scott pairs the meat component with a fruit preserve/marmalade. I don't know what fruit he uses, but I think it might be quince. Of course, the jam serves as the real icing on this savory cake. All the flavors described above are, once again, balanced with a blast of sweet. I'm a sucker for the sweet/savory pairing and this dish dials it pretty perfectly.

Beverages included a Beirra Uno (not entirely clear on the name). It was a refreshing and straightforward pilsner. Nothing complex, but a good thirst quencher.

Also had an Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale. I'm willing to call this a perfect beer and easily my favorite of all time. Did I mention how balance is my thing? Apparently the Boont Amber is a pale ale, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it. Rich copper in color, it's a joy to look at before taking a sip. The dominant flavor is the rich and mildly sweet malt. Bitter and slightly floral hops cut the sweetness just the right amount and achieve the right balance. I've had this beer on tap and in the bottle and the stuff from the keg achieves this balance best.

I also treated myself to Scott's herbal digestivo. Not for the faint at heart, this concoction lives at the very back of the bar coolers and, from what Scott tells me, rarely sees daylight. Like something out of a mad scientist's lab, this stuff is wild in look and flavor. The current batch isn't quite as blindingly fluorescent green as the last version. Still, though, the color is about as garish as Rock Racing's current green scheme. (I couldn't let this post go without at least one cycling reference.) Basil infuses most of the color and a lot of the flavor. This batch had at least fifteen other herbs thrown in the mix and the effect is pretty much liquid Ricola. To me, this drink is simply of the earth and very soothing.

Dessert was straciatella ice cream. Awesome. Good, sweet, rich vanilla cream laced delicately with dark chocolate shavings. Paired it with an espresso and sipping the coffee right after a bite of ice cream was really good. It was like a deeply pungent cup of coffee with the right amount of cream and sugar. But the mixing happened in my mouth, so it was a slightly different and better sensation.

It's funny to imagine many of the uninitiated bop in to 2 Amys, order a pie with mushrooms or some such, and never come near experiencing what makes the restaurant really shine.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Zoning In or Zoning Out???

As mentioned, I've had the ol' power meter since some time in October. It has been a lot of fun to use and toy with. Ultimately, it's a pretty expensive tool to just "toy" with. I know I've been mistreating it as a thing to play with and not using it to become a better and more powerful cyclist. Part of that problem was not having baseline measurements to make the tool useful and productive. I'm happy to say, "Those days are gone!"

Winter training has been unsteady and unenthused...to say the least. This past year, I came to lean heavily on my coach for variety and specificity in the training. I've been a bit passive these last few weeks with my feedback and it was starting to show in my motivation and enthusiasm. I think it's fair to say, "We're back!"

I sucked up a twenty minute threshold test last night. Brutal stuff. And not pretty to watch, I'm sure. While not overjoyed with the results, it's a good enough starting point. JB was quick to turn around the full slate of zones, so now training can begin in earnest. I have to say, I think having my clear zones is gonna offer a new lease on life, er, cycling. I know it's late in the winter season, but hopefully the timing is right for me to put the numbers to good use and be moderately ready for the racing season. Time will tell.

Ooooh. Before I forget. I saw Mr. Puma in the gym last night. This time he was actually sporting some Puma apparel. That's the confirmation I needed to know he's a loyal customer and not just some weirdo with a random corporate tattoo. Oh, wait. Loyal customer or not, he's still a weirdo with a corporate tattoo!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Groundhog Day!

Last weekend merits a bit more attention and documentation than time allows right now, but the short story is Groundhog Day weekend was awesome.

Friday: Solid evening trainer session. Followed it up with some fancy-pants eating at D&S's. I've heard about their roast chicken. Now I've tasted it. Pretty impressive. And the roasted root vegetables on the side were what I love about winter. Rich. Comforting. Colors of the earth. Mushy...in a good way. Dessert was pretty effin' impressive. Profiteroles from scratch. Who does that? D does that. Nice work...even though the chocolate sauce was from a can. At least it was from a can and not a plastic bottle. Something about Hershey's chocolate syrup from a can screams, "Classy!" I'm serious.

Saturday: Up relatively early and caught a little TV news about Punxsutawney Phil and his exploits. SVR and I watched as the news showed several couples get engaged in front of the official groundhog hole. I couldn't help but chuckle inside considering what I had in store for later that night. SVR commented on some supah fly groundhog winter hats folks sported at the event. I'm sure I can find those things online.

Innaugural outdoor ride on the new Cannondale was next up. Good times out on the road with some fellers...MattyD., hEllicott, Hot Karl, and E-rock. Also saw Kyle out on the roads. The Rival group was good enough, but initial performance confirms how much I love my buttery-smooth Dura-Ace. I'm sure Rival will feel a bit better once broken in.

Came home and promptly shipped SVR off to a baby shower in Adams Morgan. Followed up with a swing past D&S's for some final pre-engagement errands. We bopped up to Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits to get Tony's help picking out a special bottle for the big night. The idea is to follow up and buy an entire case so we can enjoy a bottle on our anniversary in the coming decades. Some Dos Equis and enchiladas at Cactus Cantina and a quick trip back to the condo to show D&S the beauty of HD and the day was nearly done. Funny...not an ounce of nerves until D&S walked out the door and I was left alone until the magic moment.

SVR arrived home at the appointed hour. Off to 2 Amys. Crowds like we've never seen. The staff did everything right, SVR was surprised out of her pants, and now we're engaged. Happy Groundhog Day!!

Sunday: Another stellar ride, this time just with Evan in the hot, hot sun, and some putzing around in the lead up to the Bowl. The game was incredible. A perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Wish my grandpa was around for all of it. Alas...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Joining the Discussion

No, I'm not jumping on board the 'power numbers' band (or chuck) wagon. Instead, I'll join the weight loss fray. I think I found the easy answer to weight loss...stop training. That's right, take a lazy winter with infrequent workouts and watch the pounds drop faster than Christophe Moreau off the back of the peleton during stage 14 of last year's Tour.

Ignoring the confusion about whether fat or muscle weighs more (a pound of balsa wood weighs the same as a pound of Brazilian mahogany, right?), the equation for me is pretty simple. In the warm months, I race and train more. My leg muscles get larger. There's no doubting that. I've got 'summer' and 'winter' jeans to handle bigger or smaller seasonal quads. I'm a bit freakish that way. In any case, I easily weigh more during the height of the season because I've packed on plenty of extra leg muscle. In the winter, my legs shrink and I lose that mass. The result? The scale spits lower numbers in the cold months.

Case in point...this morning I weighed in at my lowest since the Smithsburg RR in July 2007. That day, I lost 8 pounds out on course. Started the day at 135 and finished at 127. Yipes! Needless to say, this morning found me hovering just above that low mark.

Just goes to show you...the body works in strange ways. For me, being lazy and skipping the riding results in lower weight. Don't worry, though. One thing remains constant year-round. I always eat like I'm 6'-2" and 240 lbs. And on that note, my next few posts MUST be about food, not cycling. (Might be tough, as I just took delivery of my new Cannondale with Rival parts. I anticipate offering some blog-thoughts about the SRAM stuff. More to come.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Testing Tribulations

Records indicate I've had the PT since October 19, 2007. Of course, the thing is only so good to me if I know how to use it to train better. Part of getting there is establishing the baselines, right? And that means testing. Well, up until yesterday, I hadn't done any formal testing. JB and I have been using some best guesses for my zones. Somehow, he/we decided this week was as good as any to run some tests.

Yesterday was the 5 minute test. I was supposed to follow up today with the 20 minute test. I didn't.

Yesterday was a mess and put me in my place. I could hash through every minute of those 5 minutes and describe the euphoria and despair I felt in that brief period. I'm gonna skip that in favor of a much meatier story. This one's about how my very strange mind works.

Rather than tell the tale again, I'll re-print the e-mail I just sent JB. Be warned...these are the musings of a man with some very odd fixations and tendencies.
JB-

I know, I know. It sounds odd (and like a put-on
excuse). Read on.

I brought my gear down to the gym this eve and there
were a bunch of guys touching up paint in the gym.

A little background. I have an insanely sensitive
sense of smell. Very keen, too. I should consider
sommelier school.

Another bit of history...when I was twelve years old,
we moved into a new house. I had a pet gerbil named
Aloisius. (Mind out of the gutter!!) We had the house
re-painted and the woodwork (door trim and some
parquet floor) re-sealed just as we moved in. While we
got settled in and unpacked, I put Aloisius' cage in
my step-father's office and closed the door. Well,
that room was swirling with fumes. I came home from
school the day after we moved in and went into the
office. Aloisius was awfully still in his cage. I
tapped on the glass. No movement. I tapped a bit
harder. No movement. I shook the cage slightly.
Nuthin'. I violently tossed the cage back and forth.
That's when I realized he was a goner. I thought it
through. Why did he die so suddenly? After all, he was
in the prime of his gerbil life. I concluded it was
due to the fumes. His little lungs and vascular system
just couldn't take it.

I'm sure, at this point, you can make the connection.
I know my system is a little tougher than a small
rodent's, but maybe not by much!! Needless to say, I
don't think I could bring myself to vigorously breathe
in a room filled with paint fumes. Talk about feeling
a little lightheaded stepping off the bike.

And so here I am. It's all too bad, as I made a coffee
run in the second half of the day and was buzzin'
pretty hard from that. That energy, paired with some
oatmeal I downed at around 3:30PM, seemed like it was
gonna carry me to some good results. Good results,
though, depend on a clear mind and body. The
conditions downstairs aren't ripe for either of those
things.

I'll assess tomorrow and try to tackle it then. I know
this sucks, but sh*t happens.

And the apartment offers its own psychological
barriers. I'm a clean freak. Plus, our living room is
covered by some uber special rug SVR brought back
from Afghanistan. It's worth many thousands of
dollars. I think I'd be in a boatload of trouble if I
sweated 20' worth of testing on that thing. So...my
desire to not sweat all over the damn place in an
effort to sate my clean freak tendencies, paired with
the wrath of SVR, is enough to also inhibit a
successful test in the apartment.

I'm at an impasse.

I think this rambling note has to migrate to the blog.
I'm a nutter!!

Best,
JFW
There you have it. The reason I'm blogging instead of testing. I'll hope for fresher air tomorrow. I'll also hope I'm feeling as amped and energized as I was when I stepped foot in the gym earlier this eve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Brand Loyalty

Hit the trainer for a bit yesterday evening. I set up in the small gym in the basement of our building. Nice arrangement down there. If I did any sort of weight training during the winter, it has about all I'd need. Hey Josef, it's right at my finger tips!! Can't we put it to good use???

For indoor riding purposes, it's nice to have a rubberized floor, a mirror (cyclists are a vain lot, right?), the option to not schmutz up our condo, and the company of others. Of course, sometimes the company of others is a bit of a curse. I see some absurd things happen in that gym. In the past, I vowed to write down the oddities so I could periodically report them here. Never happened. Since the start of the year, I have noticed one fellow who deserves some attention.

He's definitely a newcomer to the gym, as are so many folks this time of year. As I packed up my belongings last night, I counted 18 other people in the facility. Two weeks ago on any given weekday at 7PM, there would be, at most, five other people working out. Anyhow...this newcomer is pretty non-descript. Nothing too wild and crazy, or hilarious, about his sessions. The only thing out of place...a large, black tattoo on his left cankle. Now, I got nuthin' against tattoos. Heck, the more I watch Project Runway (did I just admit that out loud???), the more I'm pondering inking up. Here's the thing about his large tattoo... This dude in the gym has the Puma corporate logo inked on his cankle! What? And so I direct you to the title of this post.

Who has that degree of brand loyalty? I should note that no visible apparel on said gym go-er sports the Puma logo. Maybe he's got some Puma compression shorts kickin' under his Nike basketball shorts, but I can't confirm that. So...how does that happen? What compels a person to permanently scar themselves with a company's graphic symbol?

Truth is, the Puma logo isn't the worst example I've seen of this dramatic and risky behavior. Evan and I saw a particularly egregious example on Beach Drive. Last summer, killin' it with some 1 minute, Zone 6 efforts, we rolled up on a cyclist with the Specialized 'S' on the back of his leg (calf region). It was big. It was red. It was all Specialized! If I remember correctly, much like Puma dude, Specialized man wasn't even repreezentin' with his equipment and apparel choices. I think he was sportin' a Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team branded Trek and a full Discovery kit. I didn't inspect closely, but I suspect Specialized man was rockin' a Specialized water bottle. I'll give him a bit of credit there, but that choice was probably accidental (and practically unavoidable). Check the underside of most of your water bottles and you'll note Specialized has a corner on that market. Anyhow...I can only guess he like Specialized stuff enough to get the tattoo but NOT use their gear. Go figure.

This got me thinking about brand loyalty...particularly as it relates to cycling. Where do I come down? I'm a creature of habit. Heck, E&K got me the Obsessive Compulsive Action Figure for the holidays. I don't mess with the things that work well for me.

And so I noticed all my accessory bicycle parts (bars, stems, and seat posts) are Ritchey. I think it's fair to say I've got some serious loyalty there. My first proper road bike was a Ritchey. I've got a pair of their wheels. I've got three of their saddles and I have a stockpile of other random Ritchey stuff for any future bikes. The stuff makes sense. Good design. Light weight. Unassuming aesthetics. Phenomenal price point (save their carbon stuff). Cool as it is, would I ever get a tattoo of the Ritchey logo (see below) on my cankle or chest or arm or ass? Mmmmm, no.

Sorry Tom.

Additionally, I have a pretty comfortable relationship with my Mavic wheels. All the reasons I love the Ritchey parts apply to my Mavic stuff. Mostly, the Mavic goods stand up to abuse (not that I give them much), last a long time, and are pretty easy to service. They are quality products that have served me right to date and will, I'm sure, into the future. Is there a Mavic tat' in my future. Naht bloody lahkly!My point? I've got some favorite products and manufacturers...yes. Am I soooooooo devoted that manning up to be their roving billboard from now until the grave sounds like a good plan? Nah. It'd take a heck of sweet sponsorship deal to get me to that point. Who knows, maybe you'll see me with a big ol' GamJams image running the length of my leg this season! Stay tuned.