Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

"I've been running."

"I've been running."

Those three words you never want to hear your riding buddy say.  The dreaded siren's call, going back to foot travel, it's like seeing a toe tag on his cold, stiff corpse.

Still, time together in the woods is better than not, and the basic sense I get from exercise scientists with something to lose from being wrong about running is this: it'll keep your old man bones from going brittle and breaking under your own corpulence. 

So once/week or so, I've been running.  

The blue ridge school MTB race is Saturday morning.  As a $25 entry to a burly, muddy, rock-infested trail race with no prizes (all cash goes to World Bike Relief), one might summarize it as cheap, dirty, and purely for the glory.  

Like your mom.

Bike form not withstanding, I'm hoping
all of this running will translate into non-brittle bones and good hike-a-bike condition.  Both of which are pretty vital out there in my experience.

In short, I'm labeling myself here as the odds-on favorite not to break my arm on Saturday, and I recommend you to place your bets accordingly. 

Gonna be a big one.
Join me.

Up, up, up.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pantani X in the books

Scud would have been 65 today.  

Don't get me started on the passage of time.  I'll start blubbering, and you'll get uncomfortable, and we'll both leave this awkward blog post a little stranger than we started, and no one wants that.

Yesterday, under a huge blue sky and on near perfect dirt, The tenth Pantani ride went live after a rough go of weather for the last 6 weeks.  Sensory shock and springtime bliss being as they are, it was pretty surreal.  There was this long stretch in the middle of the afternoon, 2 pm or so I guess, and I was climbing brokenback and feeling pretty dizzy, and the sun was beating down and it was finally full-on hot, and I couldn't remember how old Scud was when he passed away, or what the last song was on the Metallica black album, or when I started riding bikes.

These are the things you begin to forget, I've been told.  But they also stick with you, in ways that you can't identify.

The last time I rode with Scud was up there, on a full moon ride to flattop, and the dirt that night might have been the only time it's ever been better.  So I always feel a little connected to Scud when I'm up that way.

Then, to make his point perhaps, there was this massive tailwind on the ride back in, maybe 20 miles/hour or more at times, and as I came past the turn for Davis Shop - for my tenth Pantani finish that is - there were dead leaves blowing up the hill faster than I could pedal.  I was physically and suddenly awakened by that, and I had to pause and smile.  Son of a bitch crafty old bike rats always know when to attack.

Chris Michaels from Rocktown took the W in fine form with a 30+ mile solo breakaway.  On a full suspension mountain bike.  Into a headwind.  Along the way, he got all 5 kom's, and he finished in 2:58.  That's some Pro level shit.

Not as pro, but way, way better, Chris is now the proud owner of the tackiest kit on Earth, that being the Maillot Pistachio for the W and the accompanying but not-so-matching handknit knickers.  I'll track those down and deliver them for you, Chris, after a really minimal amount of wearing them myself.

Anyway, a big crew hung about for a while, we followed all of the action up with a few hours of lying around in the sunshine on my front deck, eating chips and drinking beers, and swapping war stories and ride plans, and things finally came into focus.  It was like the afternoon was celebrating us just as much as vice versa, and you only get so many days like that.

So anyway, thanks to all of you for coming out and getting rad, and thanks for peeking in on us Scud, wherever you are, where I hope that you're out riding and not waiting for us.
Up, up, up.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Pantani Is On

These are the tides of life, I guess.

On Monday I'll be employed again, which is a good thing after a month off.  And, Sunday, with the cancellation of O-hill, the window has opened and, OH HELL YES, the Pantani is on.

I won't rehash the media frenzy that led up to the first cancellation of Pantani last month.  Nor will I repost route maps, tire recommendations, or dote over your bike choices.  We've already done all that.  

But I will deliver. 
So here we go:

Sunday, March 15th, departing at 11 AM from here at the rancho relaxo.  Due to the biblical flooding in my yard, parking will be at a premium, so please, carpool. 

Gonna be a beautiful day, but expect some mud.  

Any questions, get in touch with me.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shit riding

Two short quotes about adversity to start our little session this week:

"There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night."

"I don't need your bullshit perspective right now, I need barbecue."

Now, if you can pick which one was said by the great existential French philosopher Albert Camus and which one was sworn at me under her breath by my then-extremely pregnant wife while stuck in traffic, you get a prize: total enlightenment.

You see, here's the thing about adversity and perspective, it's sometimes just impossible.  FACT: No one can talk you into the positive nature of the situation sometimes.  

Times like those, I find it helpful to simply put all attempts at perspective aside, and ride anyway.  Even if that means:

1) intervals in the rain on 3 hours of sleep.
2) snow riding so thick you make it about a mile in an hour.
3) neighborhood cruising like its ET, except instead of ET you have Toph, and it's about 7 degrees, and the surface is 90% ice.
4) gasp - running!- with Keenan at night in the mud. 
5) trail work in the sleet with a head cold.

In the past two weeks, I've done all of those.  And let me tell you, the first 5 minutes or so always sucks.  Still, shit riding is better than not riding at all, and I count myself lucky to have a crew that, like it or not, is willing to go anyway.

Times like these, I find it's helpful to focus on the anyway.  Let the rest work itself out.  

For the most part, it will.  

Melt you big bastard.

Up, up, up.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Astana: about to be sacked.  http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/02/news/uci-requests-withdrawal-astana-pro-team-license_361773

It's just sad, really.

Sadder, though, is the hard truth about the effects of that kind of shit in a sport like cycling which, predicated on drafting and teamwork, can be spoiled by one bad apple. 

This, from the diary of Ben King at the tour last year:

"Stage 18: 145 km


After yesterday's breakaway attempt I'm determined. I follow six moves in a row, twice believing we've established the gap. Then the road tilts uphill, and riders swarm around me like I'm going backwards. It feels like Astana brought in five fresh riders. The speed they hold for the first sixty km blows my mind. The first of two climbs on the menu is the legendary 17 km Touramalet. I pick my way into good position, find my rhythm and feel good for ten km until there are forty guys left. All of the sudden I'm bad. Really bad. I don't even notice the thousands of fans screaming in my face. I back off, collect myself and continue at my own pace. At the top a group passes and I latch on. We bomb the downhill, and collect a big group of riders. Ahead, atop the Hautacam, the final 14 km climb, Nibali cements his overall victory. 

At night, I'm too tired to sleep."

Those despicable fuckers. 

People who don't understand cycling can't grasp how simply throwing Astana out, results and all, doesn't actually fix the problem.  When someone dopes - even just one person or team - the entire race is altered, and you can never go back to make it right.  There is no instant replay, no red flag the coach can throw to say "hey ref, you got that one wrong."  The call stands and Ben's big break didn't get away.  It's a difficult concept to translate into the  immediate-gratification sense of fair sport that most modern American fans use when they, say, watch a replay on the jumbotron. The ship is immediately and permanently overturned, but it's subtle at first, until suddenly you notice that good guys with huge talent like Ben aren't household names.  

It's maddening, enough to make you do some crazy shit if you ever, say, saw Vinokourav in the airport, or had a chance to hit him with your car.  And that's just me as a fan.  For Ben - and all the guys like Ben - the impact is so much greater.  I wonder how guys that are racing clean can even stand to train, knowing what they are up against.

And still, there he is.  Smiling, giving interviews, riding as hard as he can.  Outside of his  God-given talents and lactate threshold, maybe it's the ability to just put adversity in its place and pin it anyway that makes a legit pro a pro.

Thank you, Ben.  

I hope you can someday find a level playing field on your way to the top.

Up, up, up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Post number 300 here: the triple century of blogging.  For those of you who have been along for the ride all this time, thank you, and I'm sorry I ate all your food.  That's what I tend to do on long rides.

Lately, I've actually been doing that on short rides too.  Just folding after about 45 minutes or so, borrowing food, and limping it in.  Could be the annual spring mileage increase.  These bonks, like the rest of the bumps in the road of life, they tend to come in threes I've been told.  So hopefully I'm turning the corner.

Taking stock, as one tends to do at a milestone such as this, I'm pretty happy with the way this has all played out.  Me eating your food and demanding that you push the forces of the invading Persians into the "hot gates" and you, there, sort of wondering what I mean by "it's rolly, but trending downhill."

But that's enough celebration, and in the spirit of getting back to normal, let's night ride.  Tonight at Timberwood, rolling by 9 PM.  Here's my note to the in-crowd, but please, if this is the sort of thing you'd like to partake in, know that you are a twisted individual - but you are not alone - and shoot me an email to be added to the list.  Or just show up and stake your claim.

"Just bizarre conditions to try to plan a night ride.  Bunch of snow on the ground right now, though melting fast, and sort of maybe re-freezing by 9 pm ish?  I guess it's possible that enough will melt today to make riding possible, but then the re-freeze will make for a decent surface.  Could go wrong either way - too hot or too cold - and the drag here is that with more snow on the way tonight, this is about as good as it's going to get.

So here's my plan:
Timberwood Grill at 8PM or so for the 2nd half of the UVA game.  I might be a little late.  Depart at 9pm, hopefully under clear, 32 degree skies on frozen turf, for a tour of Flo Lakes.  Done by 10:30 or so.  Let me know if you need the GPS coordinates.  
If the trails aren't frozen, we'll divert to the lawless underworld of 7 hills jeep track and do as the locals do (graffiti, littering, leaving our underwear behind for whatever reason.)  Good times.  

Could get weird.  Hoping for the best."  

It only gets better from here. 

And oh what the hell - just a little more celebration:

Up, up, up.