Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The first century

This is post number 100 for this blog. I'm pretty amazed that I've actually kept up with it as much as I have. Golden was asking me the other night how I came up with something to write about every day. I told her that I just sit down and start writing and see what comes out. Well, that isn't the whole story. I've found myself kind of mentally narrating events in my life as the happen. This is not the best thing to do, especially when mountain biking. I was thinking about what I would write about the ride WHILE I was riding and then, the next thing you know, I'm testing the soil firmness with my right hip.

In honor of the 100 post milestone, I want to share with you a review of my new mountain bike. I've actually been piecing it together for many months, but Sunday was the first time I've been able to ride it.

The stats:
BMC Team Elite 01 Frame (aluminum with carbon seat tube and seat stays)
FOX FRLT 80 shock
XT Drivetrain
Mavic Crossmax ST-Disc wheelset
AVID Juicy Carbon disc brakes
Michelin MUD tires
Truvativ Carbon seatpost
Selle Italia Flite XC saddle
Ritchey WCS bar and stem with WTB grips

There are a lot of things that I am not used to about this bike. I have never ridden any mtn. bike that wasn't made of steel, I have never used disc brakes of any sort, and I have never ridden wheels that I didn't build myself. With that being said, this bike rides phenomenally! The frame is much stiffer that the Reynolds 853 frameset that I have been riding for the past 6 years, but the carbon stays and seat tube dampened the harshness of the ride. The bike feels very nimble and light. The wheels track as straight and true as lasers. They have extreme lateral stiffness due to the spoke material and mavic's proprietary lacing technology, which in turn accounts for their steering precision. The disc brakes were the one change I was most leery of, I was afraid they would have that off/on, no modulation quality that so many cheaper disc brakes seem to have. Nothing could be further from the truth. They modulated as well, or better, than my AVID v-brakes and provided confidence during descents because I knew I could slow down quickly and in control, if needed. I had all kinds of little-kid style fun and I am extremely smitten with this bike. Maybe another ride this Sunday, perhaps...

Now, on to something a little more important. The weather is looking pretty grim for tomorrow, so while you're stuck inside, why not drop an email to the Lenoir City Council and express your desire that a recycling center be built within the city limits. It'll only take a few minutes and after all, they work for us, don't they? Plus, it would appear that we are already paying for one, given the $10 recycling charge that we are all paying and the subsequent $75,000 fund that the city possesses. Wouldn't it be really progressive to actually build it?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The tide is rising

I'm hoping to keep the momentum going on some real progressive changes here in Caldwell County. With that in mind, I wanted to share this email with you:
Greetings Friends:
I just learned that there will be a meeting this Thursday, February 1st at 7 pm at the DSS Health Conference Room (1966-B Morganton Blvd) by Chad Bar, Director Animal Control for Caldwell County. He will be presenting information to the Department of Health on the issue of animal overpopulation in our area.

A Task Force was created back in 2005 to address separately the issues of overpopulation, dangerous dog confinement, and animal nuisance issues. The Task Force has already presented its' findings to the Department of Health on the issues of dangerous dog confinement and animal nuisance.

On the subject of overpopulation (Thursday's agenda), the desire is to create a program that would reduce the number of abandoned animals in our area, create low cost methods for spay/neuter as well as try to reduce euthanasia and increase education among Caldwell residents on the subject of responsible pet ownership. The meeting is open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. Information presented and discussed this Thursday will directly effect actions made by the Dept of Health in the future regarding this subject. I am making all plans to attend and am sending this out in the hopes that some of you might be interested in attending yourself. I am helping Billy of the Herbal shop downtown, collect signatures (and perhaps an email would do) to show support for a program that attempts to reduce euthanasia as the only means of addressing this issue. Billy, myself and I am sure many of you, would like to see a no-kill shelter created. The problem of abandoned animals however, is so bad in Caldwell that this is why Caldwell's animal shelter has not been able to be a no-kill shelter or why they have had to resort to euthanasia in merely a matter of days. The Humane Society will also be present at the meeting.

Email if you would like to show your support or plan on attending. Animal Control's # is 757-8625. If weather is too bad, I would call to see if the meeting is still taking place.


I know that your attendance would be of great support at this meeting. If you can't attend, give Chad Barr a call or email him. Shelli and Golden found a litter of 5 abandoned puppies on their ride Sunday, so this issue hits pretty close to home.

Keep in mind that this is one of many changes that people in our area would like to see happen in order to become a more progressive community. We will be in attendance at the next City Council meeting (Feb. 6th at 6pm) to once again request a recycling center in Lenoir. Last time around, Charlie Frye and James Lowicki were given little more than political lip service and even got that smarmy "We thank you for coming and speaking to us about this" from the mayor. Well, Charlie and James have uncovered the fact that each household pays $10 to the city specifically for recycling. The current total of this fund is $75,000 and yet, we still have no recycling center. I propose that everybody send the city council members an email expressing their support, desire and need for a recycling center in Lenoir. Remember our county motto: "Where progress meets tradition". It is time for more progress and less tradition (or as it really goes around here: that's the way we always dun' it). We need to actually progress...

Now, for a segue-less change of topic. Here is what you find in the dictionary beside the word "badass": Bart Wellens finished 4th on the day with a BROKEN WRIST that he suffered from an early race fall caused by a barricade. I called for him to win it, and with that kind of fire in the belly, you can't tell me he wouldn't have if lady luck had not been so cruel.

Sorry to give you so much homework this time, but we've got to speak up and demand that our progressive voices be heard! This town (and county) are on the verge of significant change and we have got to keep that momentum rolling!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The deep freeze

It has decided to get very cold around here. I don't mind the cold that much, but around here, no opportunities for winter sports ever seem to materialize. Sure, there's alpine skiing, but the length of the runs is a little short of what I would qualify as being worth the trouble. No, what I really wish we had the opportunity to do around here would be some skate skiing. I'm not very good (read: I suck.), but I would love to have a full season to work on it. And the shape you would be in for the cycling season afterwards would be just phenomenal.

I tried skate skiing back in Flagstaff. It's funny to think that I learned all of my winter sports (telemarking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing) in Arizona, but that is just how life works out sometimes. I learned how to really skate ski, last January, when Golden and I went to Whistler, BC for her bro's wedding. We stayed in this fantastic 3 story house right by a groomed skate trail. We went and took some lessons from this really nice french lady. I'll never forget the main point of her lesson: "Skating should be beautiful." When she put it that way, I knew exactly what she meant.

I believe the same thing about someone riding a bike. If someone is on the bike properly, has some experience or takes the time to actually observe the good, experienced riders around them, they will ride with an elegance that is difficult to quantify. Too many riders are choppy, sloppy, or downright ugly on the bike. I hear and read about all of these gadgets that people use for bike fitting. There are lasers and any number of "gee whiz" doo-dads, but all those do is put on a bit of sizzle, instead of offering the steak. What you really want is the eye of the fitter; their experience, if you will. I know that what Jeff and I shoot for with fitting bikes for people is the beauty, the attainment of elegance. Those two things will always lead to efficiency and power.

If the wind and the cold keep up through the weekend, I'm heading back to the woods for more mtn. biking. It's a lot easier to put up with those conditions in the woods, than on the open roads. Just a reminder to everyone in the area that we have group rides leaving from the shop on saturdays at 10am. Expect a pleasant base pace ride with lengths up to 4 hours.

In the "Couldn't get any uglier department", check out this sequence from the bunch sprint at the Tour of Qatar:
click to enlarge

Graeme Brown is a menace in the bunch sprints. He's worse than McEwan in terms of dirty manuevers in the final meters. And now, Tom Steels gets to recover from yet another horrendous crash. Just think how bad it would be if he hadn't been wearing a helmet...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Simply stellar

photo: Chris Millman
Well damn if American cyclocross didn't just leave an impression on the rest of the world! Katie Compton took silver in the women's elite category first thing this morning. First time an American woman has ever been on the podium at World's. And then, there was Jonathan Page...

photo: Chris Millman

I had planned on going over to Jeff's to watch the men's elite race at 10 am. He called me at 8:30 am saying, "They just started!" That was all that I needed to put down the paint brush, throw on a jacket and head over. Jeff opened the door saying,"Nijs and Wellens just crashed!" I glued myself to the computer screen and started to get my bearings as to the goings on of the race. Right away I noticed that Page was riding in the lead group and looking very comfortable. Amidst all of the chaos, Page rode perfectly. What was really striking was that he did not have that "I'm just happy to be here" look that shows when a rider is in a group out of his league. But when he started attacking, oh man, that was the turning point. Page attacked out of a group that included defending world champion Vervecken and former world champion Groenendaal. He was relentless, making all of the top pros pay for each and every bobble and misstep. Jeff and I both sat glued, knowing that page had a podium spot, but which one. The deal was all but sealed until Vervecken finally came across the gap, ever the predator. Vervecken is known for capitolizing on the mistakes of others, but Page let him have it as he unleashed attack after attack. It looked like Page could hold him off, until a slight bobble near the end of the bell lap. Vervecken pounced heading onto the pavement and with 3 seconds in hand, swept across the line, arms raised, but checking over his shoulder because Page was oh so close. In the end, Page had to "settle" for a monumental silver medal. Not to toot my own horn TOO much, but I was one of the few who predicted a podium position for Page...

Got back from Jeff's and took over Owen duty so that Golden could go ride. The boy and I headed to Lowe's to get paint for the bathroom and we knocked a fair bit of it out before Golden got back. Then Jeff and I took off to go ride the Over Mountain Victory Trail in order to christen my new mtn. bike. I'll give a full review on my BMC Team in a few days. The ride was great, the bike was great, but the wind and the cold let us know it was time to call it a day.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pushing the limit

Congrats to junior Danny Summerhill for his 2nd place finish at Cyclocross World Championships today. Read all about his remarkable ride over at VeloNews. Next up is the Men's Elite race tomorrow. I didn't have good luck with the Sporza tv website I put up yesterday. I hope some of you were able to get it to work, but I think it hates my computer. Tomorrow, Owen and I are gonna head over to Jeff's to watch the race on Cycling TV.

Had dinner with Jeff and Shelly tonight. After riding 60 miles this morning, I needed a big meal to keep me from imploding. I wasn't able to complete the entire Lake James loop, but I got a good long ride in and I'm pretty satisfied with that. Seems like a lot of people were in town to ride and that made me feel pretty good to see. Maybe our little town seems more legitimate now that Google is coming here. Whatever the reason, it is a step in the right direction.

I'm really hoping to go ride my new mtn. bike tomorrow after the 'cross race. It has been complete for a couple of weeks now and I still haven't gotten out on it. It looks pretty forlorn hanging in the basement, but that should all end tomorrow! I hope you got out on a ride today in the beautiful weather, especially considering that tomorrow looks to be a good bit chillier with temps dropping all day long. I'm gonna keep it short tonight, since Jeff and I put away a magnum of Duvel plus other libations tonight. Don't forget to watch out for Jonathon Page and Ryan Trebon tomorrow. Another American on the podium would be pretty sweet...

Friday, January 26, 2007

A brief respite from winter

The weather tomorrow looks to be pretty incredible, so get out and do something active outdoors! I for one, will be going for my longest ride of the year. I need extra hours in the day or something, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Golden says I over commit myself; that I'm too optimistic about how much time things will take to get done. I like to think of myself as a renaissance man, dabbling in a bit of this and a bit of that. Wrapping up the loose ends seems to be the real stumbling block...

Finished up my programming workshop today. I've got a cool program started and I just need to make it more "elegant" as the instructor said. Okay, so the program is only cool if you're a middle school math teacher and you want to have your kids calculate the intersection points of two graphed lines, but I don't ever expect to be fully appreciated in my lifetime.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting so excited about 'cross worlds this weekend, I can hardly stand it. Howard sent me a cool link to US National Cyclocross team member Tristan Schouten's blog. He is gearing up for Sunday's festivities and is blogging from Belgium about his experiences. The guy is so excited, you can see the giddiness in his writing! He has two great video's of the tv commercials that are running to advertise the race.

After all is said and done, all the arguments and legal wranglings, cycling is far and away one of the most beautiful sports on Earth. The power of the mind to wring every drop of power available in muscle, bone and sinew against all of the warnings signals inherent in the feedback of pain in the effort, is truly awe inspiring. I hope that my comments about the current drug scandals reflect a passion for our sport and not the chest-thumping, finger pointing that so many seem to engage in with their pronouncements of "guilty!" or "not guilty!". At the end of the day, professional cycling inhabits a gray nether region that most of us will never see. What is legal and not legal are not definable by the clear black and white dilineations that we assume, or hope, that they would. Instead, a never ending series of judgement call by both the peloton and the governing bodies has led us to the point of professional cycling as we know it, trying to carry on with the Sword of Damocles hanging precariously above it. I'm ready for the season to begin, so I can watch bikes being raced by the best in the world and saddened by the idea that not all of them will be there...

Enough soapbox. In preparation for 'cross worlds, we have a weekend of Belgian cuisine ahead of us. Tonight was Roast Pork Loin with turnips and scallions. Tomorrow night, Jeff and Shelly are coming over for Chicken with Gin and Juniper Berries, Stoemp mit Prei (Potatoes with Leeks) and Flemish style Brussel Sprouts. Plus, we will be cracking open the Magnum of Duvel that Rob Dacus gave us for xmas! If the weather does what it is supposed too, Sunday will see me staying indoors to watch 'cross and then maybe sneak in a mtn. bike ride for good measure!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Super Geek

I geeked out hard today. Eight hours of learning how to program the TI 84+ calculator. May not sound like fun to you, but the time flew by. I walked in at 9am, took a break for lunch and the next thing I knew, the instructor was wrapping it up for the day. The best part is that I get to go back and do it again tomorrow!

Cyclocross World's is this Sunday and Nys looks like the man to beat. Then again, he looked like the man to beat last year and that didn't work out so well for him. This past weekend's world cup in Hoogerheide (rain and hail with a strong wind for added fun) had such horrific conditions that Bart Wellens had to drop out and in an interview with Cyclingnews, current world champ Erwin "Papa" Vervecken said that Hoogerheide was "too cold". This leads me to wonder, how frickin' bad does the weather have to be for two top Belgian cyclocross stars to complain about it? Even the fans left due to the conditions... My pick for world's is Bart Wellens besting Sven Nys with Jonathan Page finding the low step on the podium. Optimistic? We'll see.

I've done some digging for you: here is the link to Sporza TV's live feed. This is the offical sports station of Belgium. As near as I can translate flemish to english, the elite men's race will be streamed live, Sunday at 10:30 east coast time. (Looks like you need either quicktime or windows media player.) So, grab some beer, some fritjes and cozy up to the monitor, 'cause it oughta be a good one! You can test it out saturday by watching the juniors (pretty sure) and baluftens (women?) at 10:30am. And to think that flemish is one of the most closely related languages to english...

I've definitely got to award a big ol' asshat to both the UCI and WADA for allowing Oscar Pereiro to have a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) for Salbutimal, a banned substance and performance enhancing drug, while Franck Bouyer continues his 2 year battle to be granted a TUE for modafinil, a drug prescribed to him to combat his narcolepsy. Bouyer has been unable to race since 2004 and was recently let go by his team since they had already paid him for two years of NOT racing and couldn't afford to continue his contract. Tests have shown that modafinil has a negative effect on Bouyer's performance and yet, he still can't get the TUE. As mad max mused on the group ride,"I wonder what percentage of professional cyclists have asthma [and would need salbutimal - ed.] as compared to the general population? I bet it's pretty high..." As Bernard Hinault once said, "No Tour has been won without a good doctor."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This is naughty butt

As promised, a spy photo of the Astana team BMC SLC 01! Check it out all decked out in the Kazakh national colors. Peep the Easton EC90 Aero all carbon rims. Other photos reveal a low profile EC90 wheelset, as well. Are they for climbing? Are they the rumored all carbon clincher wheels? The official Luna Cycles position on this team bike is, as Jeff so eloquently put it: Pimp Nasty!

On to other matters, Luna Cycles is putting together a dodgeball team for the upcoming city dodgeball tournament to help send our own Kevin Wilson to the Police Olympics for cycling. The cost is $15 per person, teams of 10 people will enter. Let us know if you are interested (money talks...). We have a rigorous try out process, but we feel confident that we can field a competitive team from amongst our customer base. Just remember: if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.

Thanks to everyone who has already contacted Chairperson Faye Higgins in regards to the urgently needed recycling drop-off in the Lenoir city limits. If you haven't done so, please take a moment to drop her a line and voice your opinion! If you are feeling especially verbose, or just have an excess of spleen that needs venting, drop a line to the editor of the Lenoir News Topic and let them know how you feel. Remember: grassroots pressure will get the job done every time or else we'll just vote in someone who'll listen next year!

Last, but certainly not least, I have neglected to mention anything about the announcement that Google will be building a server farm here. I've got to say that I am very enthusiastic about the arrival of what I think will be a significant shift in the status quo of Caldwell County. I don't think a lot of people realize the potential that this has for Caldwell County. Although a huge number of incentives have been granted to lure Google here, these incentives have to be viewed as an investment towards legitimizing this area for other tech sector companies in the coming years. Welcome to the Blue Ridge, Google!

I've got a workshop the rest of the week, so no kiddos. Progress is being made on the bathroom, but nothing I want to shout about (just yet).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Insert head here

Just a friendly reminder to flood Chairperson Faye Higgins with email supporting the creation of a recycling center within the Lenoir city limits. We are currently taking all of our recyclable materials, both home and shop, to the recycling center off of Warrior Rd. The amount of recyclable waste generated at Luna Cycles is easily 60% of our total waste. Between scrap metal, cardboard (lot's o'cardboard!) and glass, it is mind-boggling to me how much garbage we are keeping out of the landfill at our own expense. It costs the city $35 per ton of garbage placed in the landfill. Now think about that figure and the estimates that anywhere from 50% to 90% of all garbage in landfills is actually recyclable material. The arguments against a recycling center in Lenoir are exceptionally tired: 1) cost - as I've already pointed out, recycling will save money. How much? We need a figure on the number of tons that the city pays the county for putting in the landfill; then take that figure, apply our 50% conservative recyclables estimate and BAM! you can calculate how much the city will save in landfill charges. 2) people will throw trash outside of it afterhours. Since when are we constrained to government that takes into account the actions of the ignorant? This illegal dumping is a problem at ALL of the recycling centers throughout the county, yet they somehow manage to persevere in the face of this ignorance. So why would a city recycling center be any different? Now to step up the pressure on this issue, why not take the time to drop a letter to the editor of the Lenoir News Topic? Remember: all it takes is pressure and time to make a diamond.

In a stunning display of pure mental power, Lenoir's own Ron Swenson was the first to send in a correct answer to our trivia question. Yes, the first American Cyclocross World Champion was Matt Kelly, who took the junior world title in 1999 in Poprad, Slovakia (hence the reason why the Lemond 'cross bike is named the Poprad). And thanks, too, to Howard Rhyne for going for bonus points by sending in this photo of Matt racing in the rainbow jersey!

Ron, next time your in the shop, don't forget to get your hard won Luna Cycles sticker!

Monday, January 22, 2007

'crossed wires

I stand corrected: 'cross worlds is one week away, not three. I guess that number popped into my head from out of the fog and I just went with it. Well, that just makes two American top tens at the Hoogerheide World Cup this past weekend even more portentious. Could we be on the verge of an American making the podium for the first time in the elite category? How's about a Luna Cycles sticker to the first person who emails me the name, year and location of the first American Cyclocross World Champion? Put on those thinking caps and don't forget to include your snail mail address so I can send you the sticker!

Good news here in Lenoir, James Lowicki (keeper of the facial thigh warmers) had his beloved Bianchi Bergamo stolen from his house this past weekend. In a beneficial collision of fate, Jeff just happened to see said bike and it's new "owner" this morning on his way to the shop. Now, we here at Luna Cycles feel a particular kind of hatred towards bike thieves. Jeff kept a level head and alerted Wicki (rather than taking matters into his own hands), who in turn alerted Lenoir's finest. A multi-police car search ensued and said bike thief was found. Bike was recovered unscathed, but the thief got away. Seems this guy has been pretty busy breaking into houses here in my neighborhood this past weekend. His b&e implements were recovered with the bike, and hopefully his apprehension will swiftly follow. Wicki is grinning from ear to ear to be reunited with his bike! Awwwwww, a happy ending...

Went to the County Commissioners meeting this evening to support Charlie Frey in his request to get a recycling drop off center located within the Lenoir City limits. Ever since our curbside recycling was discontinued by the city in a low-profile, hush hush decision, the conscientious citizens of Lenoir have had to drive about 15 to 20 minutes to their closest county maintained recycling center.

In a truly unencouraging manner, the county deemed Charlie's request to be placed on the agenda (2 months ago) to not warrant anything, but time during the public comment segment at the very END of the meeting. Jeff and I went at the beginning of the meeting at 6pm, but by 8:30pm, not even half of the agenda had been covered and most of the recycling supporters had left. I am asking you to please voice your opinion in this matter to those elected officials who are supposed to represent us. I feel that it is our responsibility to protect our environment for the subsequent generations, and I have seen the runaround that Charlie has gotten from our local government. Take the time to let Chairperson Faye Higgins know how you feel about this issue. I firmly believe that we can make a difference if we just speak up!

I've got some super secret bike spy photos on the way to share with you, so check back soon!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An eye to the future

I can't get it together enough to train for one sport, let alone getting back into shape for adventure racing! It'll be a little while before G and I are up for another adventure race, but you should check it out. Adventure races are a lot of fun despite being the most difficult thing I've ever done (and anything that Jeff has to say about them!). Here's more info on the NCARS:

Teams of 1-4 will mountain bike, orienteer, run/hike, and paddle in rugged corners of the Charlotte metro. Teams can be coed or single gender. Each event is designed for you to succeed. All you need is sneakers, a bicycle and a smile! Most events have 2 levels: 4-hours or 7-hours. USARA sanctioned and licensed. Come meet people and have fun!

NCARS #1 Skills clinic and 3-hour race. Lake Norman State Park. April 28, 2007. Activities include canoeing, mountain biking, orienteering. $50 per person.

NCARS #2 US National Whitewater Center, May 19, 2007. Activities include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, orienteering, and special challenges. $55 per person. Entry cap: 300

NCARS #3 US National Whitewater Center, October 13, 2007. Activities include whitewater rafting, flatwater canoeing, mountain biking, orienteering, and special challenges. $55 per person. Entry cap: 300

Pre-registration is required at Action Learning

Also on the adventure racing side of things, check out this report on Danielle Ballangee's training accident. I knew she was tough, but her story of survival is pretty awe-inspiring. If you can afford to help her out, please do so. I know how little most professional endurance athletes make and I am sure that anything that anyone can do to help will go a long way. To make a donation to her fund: Mail a check made out to the Danelle Ballengee Fund: First Bank of Colorado, Silverthorne Branch, P.O. Box 347, Silverthorne, CO 80498.

Cyclocross World Championships are now only 3 weeks away. All eyes are on Sven Nys and belgian super-rival Bart Wellens. But the Americans are putting on a big show of strength against all of the big boys. During today's World Cup in Hoogerheide, Sven Nys won in masterful fashion, while Ryan Trebon (US) and Jonathon Page (US) finished 10th and 9th, respectively. The race was carried out on the coast with a cold wind adding to the already frigid conditions. The rain that fell from the start turned to hail by the latter stages of the race. Page slipped from 5th to 9th in the last lap and a half due to the extra cold preventing him from pedaling well. Two top ten's with 3 weeks to go is a hopeful sign for US 'cross!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I'm running a little late...

I ended up a little late opening the shop today. The ride got a little off schedule and I found myself many miles out with 15 minutes to get to the shop. Double Down came with me as I tried to hammer back and make it in time. Suffice it to say, I got a little away from the idea of base pace! Thanks, Dave, for the help trying to make up time. My apologies if you came to the shop today and found everything closed...

I've gotten a good bit of traffic due to my post about Floyd Landis and the whole anti-doping mess. Check out Trust but Verify to see a blow by blow account of everything that is going on. If all this keeps up, it looks like the guy who finished last is gonna start looking like a real contender for winning the '06 TdF!

Speaking of predictions, Hillary Clinton made it official today and is going to join Barak Obama in the quest to win the '08 presidential election (or the Ultimate Smackdown Championships). My prediction is that Clinton and Obama will split the hardcore, mainstream democratic vote leaving the door wide open for my dream ticket: Kucinich/Sharpton (or Sharpton/Kucinich) in '08! I can see it now, black power + pasty power for a liberal lovefest, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Oh well, the real problem is that everybody in power likes to crow and beat their chests when what they really need to watch out for is the rising power of the average person. More and more people (myself included, obviously) are taking advantage of the ease with which you can have your voice broadcast around the world by just posting to the internet. Technology could lead us to a time when government is no longer representative, but direct. '08 will see the Machiavellian political machines working to harness the internet and to get it to behave, but it'll be like trying to herd cats. Dean came close, but you saw what happened to him (over and over and over...). Something's got to change...

News Flash

Life not painful enough? Feel the need to race your bike in January? Well, check this out then:

To: Shawn
From: Neil Boyd

Saturday, January 20, 2007
WINTER SHORT TRACK MTB SERIES ˆ Kick off this weekend!
5th Annual East Blvd Bar & Grill Winter Short Track Series
This year, the event is presented by Heartwood Tree Service, the Dirt Divas and Charlotte Sports Cycling. The series will consist of five races, Jan 20 and 28, Feb 3, 10 and 11, all held at the infamous Renaissance Park mountain bike short track. If you haven't ever participated in the short track series, come on out and give it a try, it's an absolute blast! It takes in elements of mountain biking, BMX and a road criterium. You can use either a mountain bike or a cyclo-cross bike. After each event, we will have hot food from East Blvd Bar & Grill. We have added a new category to the event, Junior Girls. The short track is a great place for kids to give mountain bike racing a try. Invite a friend and come on out. Big thanks to our series sponsors, East Blvd Bar and Grill, Heartwood g Tree Service, Dirt Divas, SouthPark Cycles, Bike Line, Bicycle Sport, Lucky Cycles, Ultimate Bicycle, Bicycles East, Sun and Ski Sports, Cool Breeze Cyclery, Bolt Brothers, BikeSource,
Hawley Company, Michelin, Allen Racks, SockGuy, Fox Clothing, Giordana, Kona, Park Tool, Caribou Coffee, Monster Energy Drinks, Prudential Carolinas Reality, Endurance Magazine, Clif Bar, and Meck County Parks and Recreation.

I've heard it's a lot of fun. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

"So, Shawn, why are you up at 6 am on a Saturday?" is the question you all should be asking. And what an excellent question it is. I got up because Owen has been doing his baby whale impersonation for about half an hour. He lays in his crib and goes "OOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooohhhhhh" like he's little baby humpback calling for his mommy. He had been doing it pretty solid since about 5:30, so I figured I would get up and entertain him so Golden could sleep in.

This t-shirt was spotted by Chris in Tally on the FSU campus:
"I wish homework was asexual. Then it could do itself." Nothing like a good asexual reproduction reference as a mark of highbrow humor.
(sorry to mention FSU Jeff; 'Gators kick ass! is that better?)

Friday, January 19, 2007

People in glass houses...

Seems ol' Oscar Pereiro isn't quite as pristine as he wants to make himself out to be. The guy who wants Landis convicted by the kangaroo court of anti-doping so he can be crowned winner of the '06 TdF, tested positive twice for salbutimol during the tour. In a big old F*** you to the UCI, the TdF organization says it doesn't care that Pereiro had a "medical exemption" to used the banned substance. I sure am glad all of the bureaucrats are having a successful go at destroying professional cycling.

I've shared my opinion on this mess with a few of you, but I want it down for the record now. Let me start by saying that if Landis doped, he should face all of the sanctions that that would warrant. However, the anti-doping efforts being made by the UCI and WADA should be above reproach. I am not of the opinion that Floyd "must be guilty". It all would be so much more credible if the anti-doping protocols and procedures were followed to the letter. But look at all of the leaks, errors and missteps. Would you trust the Keystone Kops with the future of your career? I think not.

It all goes to the "unbelievable" performance that Landis had during Stage 17. Nobody really analyzes the actual performance, they just point to the incredible end result: Floyd taking back some 11 minutes in one mountain stage. They view the end result as proof of wrongdoing. Let's analyze the ride shall we?

Floyd took off EARLY on the stage. Something like 100 miles and 5 climbs left. The big boys reacted. Riders not on the podium, but solidly in the top 10 (Cadel Evans to name one), went with him. Thanks to modern technology, they got an earful as their Directeurs Sportif screamed at them through their earpieces, asking them why they were going early with a guy 11 minutes down, who was clearly embarking on some Sisyphian effort that would result in a detonation akin to Hiroshima. Thanks to sponsor money, present day road racing rewards overall performance and provides a massive disincentive to actually putting everything on the line to win. So all of these guys in the top ten did the math and figured that a top ten finish in the tour would guarantee a contract for next year, and you shouldn't gamble that away.

So, they let Floyd go. The minutes built up, and everybody in the yellow jersey group just knew that they would close back down on him once he flamed out. Thing is, he rode within his limits. Granted, he was pegged right on the line, but Landis's powertap data shows him riding at a power output that he had performed at multiple times before. It wasn't a matter of Floyd riding away from evrybody in some superhuman effort, it was that the lead group let him go not expecting him to ride like a man of the past. Back in the day, racers rode with heart and guts, they took foolhardy risks and chances. Sometimes it paid off, most times it didn't. Notably though, those riders rode to win, not to do just well enough to keep their job...

The whole thing is such a muddle that it will never be settled. People will live and die by their opinion of the whole matter, no matter how ill informed they are. It's awful to hear people rail and rant against Landis for daring to defend himself. "How dare he defend himself when he's guilty!" But what if the guy isn't guilty? Should he just go quietly into that good night? And then you have Pat McQuaid, head of WADA, spouting off like an idiot and conducting himself with much less decorum than I think is reasonable to expect from a person in his position. The process should be pristine, then it would be so much more believable.

NPR Landis story

With all that being said, I would like to share a video with my all-time cycling hero, Andy Hampsten. The guy was humble and classy. He won the Giro d'Italia by taking a ton of time during the worst mountain stage in modern racing history, the infamous Gavia Pass. Read the story and see what you think about the "good old days" of bike racing!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"Bring me a shrubbery!"

While the news of Castro's death, to paraphrase a famous writer, seems a bit premature, GW Bush's political lifespan seems to be beyond all but the most heroic of measures to save it at this point. Republicans have joined democrats in droves to voice disappointment and criticism for the White House's new proposals for dealing with Iraq. Too bad their all just playing a big game of CYA. I try not to enter into too much political conversation, but I am still bitter about all of the insults Golden and I suffered for not supporting Operation Just Cuz at the beginning. I hate the whole "You don't support the troops" B.S. that we suffered through 4 years ago. Let me state for the record that I do support our troops; I support them so much, I don't want to see them senselessly put in harm's way to achieve NOTHING! Now that everyone and their brother is on the anti-war bandwagon, there is no satisfaction in it, just a hollow feeling of how much has been lost and wasted...

So now, a bunch of politicians get to make speeches and wring their hands and point fingers, but really they can only blame themselves. The Republican party and especially Karl Rove, sought to establish a ONE party government. They achieved it for six years and now you can understand the big civics lesson that you didn't quite grasp in High School: we have opposing parties for a reason and we have a system of checks and balances for a reason. Just remember boys and girls that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

On a different note, I'm not sure what's in the Kool Aid around here, but the shop has been busy like it's spring time. I guess mother nature is going to let us know who's boss this weekend. The forecast is calling for a bunch of white stuff to be on or about these here parts in the next few days, so I'm guessing our bikes are going to be chained up to the trainers for a little while. And to think I was down to shorts and arm warmers this past Sunday.

If your big thing for the coming year is achieving some personal athletic goal, then check out this site to find some like minded souls to share your training log with. You can also find a list of events all over the country, including swimming, running and cycling.

Il bambino has yet to make progress in the eating department. He stares at you like vulture while your eating, but try spoon something into his mouth and it's like Owen, the cereal erupting volcano. He's gotten a cold (from me this time) but he remains happy as ever. We've been reading "Don't let the pigeon stay up late!". It's the sequel to "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!". Unlike most sequels, this one really wraps up a lot of things that were just not satisfactorily brought to a complete resolution in the first book. The scary thing is, I can't get that damn pigeon out of my head. I kept thinking about him today at work...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

fresh out of the brain cloud

Just got done doing yoga with Golden. I have hollowed my abdomen, lengthened my spine and cleared my mind - bring it, Rodney Yee! With that out of the way, there have been a few things I've meant to talk about, so this is sort of going to be a post like that Jeopardy category that they put all of the left over questions into; a written potpourri, if you will.

First up is Chris from Tally, the Luna Cycles agent at large. Chris gifted me with a Joe's Bike Shop t-shirt and jersey. They are a really cool shop in Tallahassee. Check out their link over in the sidebar. I also was given an official Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' t-shirt. Now if you don't know what worm gruntin' is, here is a brief introduction to this dying Florida pasttime.

Chris is a true renaissance man and following in that vein, he is currently embracing a life of athletic monasticism. An avid swimmer, he now keeps the following training stat: "Dude, I have swum 1,111,200 yards since I last got laid." I think that is the kind of athlete stat that every athlete should publicize. Imagine: "Well Paul, I think Ullrich has a lot to prove, but Vinokourov hasn't had sex since November 7th, 2004. I think he's going to rip everybody's legs off today." It could really shed some light on who's really motivated for the win...

I've been a little obsessed with cooking lately. Sunday, I cooked a flemish meal of Chicken with gin and juniper berries, stoemp mit prei (mashed potatoes with leeks) and flemish style brussel sprouts. Washed it all down with a couple of bottles of Chimay. Damn tasty, if I say so myself. In that vein, I promised Chris (see how I tied all that together) to give him my recipe for Shrimp and grits, so here it is:

cook grits according to instructions, but use chicken broth instead of water. Fry several strips of bacon and set aside to drain. Saute onions in bacon grease, discard most of the bacon fat when done. Make a roux with white flour and the reserved bacon fat. Deglaze pan and thin roux using about a 1/4 cup of fresh brewed coffee. Add cream to thicken into a sauce and add the onions and let thicken. Throw the uncooked shrimp in with the cooking grits toward the end of the cooking time for the grits. Plate by serving the grits/shrimp mixture, then crumble bacon on it, spoon red eye gravy on, grate cheddar cheese on and top with fresh sliced spring onions. Salt and pepper as necessary. Feel free to change any or all instructions to suit personal taste!

In keeping with the random deep south theme of this post, it seems that Uncle Fidel is ailing according to the capitalist, pig-dog press. I got news for ya' folks, Disney built, like, 5 animatronic Castros back in the '50's. There's no telling if this is the real Fidel in ill health, or some robot in need of a software upgrade. Only time will tell. Viva la revolucion!

I told you I was all over the place tonight. Florida, Belgium, Deep-south, Cuba and Far East workout/torture session... I guess I kept a tiny thread of logic running through it all...

News Flash

Check out this idiot.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-ch-changes..."

Happy MLK day. My words will do nothing to add to the man's impact and legacy, so I won't even try. Too many people will be heaping tons of rehashed praise on a life cut short in the service of others on this day, and I shan't contribute. Suffice it to say, we could use a few people willing to stand up for the right thing against the overwhelming tide of public sentiment.

I ran into some old timers working on a house down the street when I took Owen for a walk this morning. They were putting the finishing touches on a refurbished house that somebody is flipping. The comment was made that maybe "Mexicans" would buy the house. First, most of our spanish-speaking immigrants in this area are Honduran or El Salvadoran, but to the unwashed masses anyone from south of the US of A is a mexican. The real crux of the matter though, was that these guys couldn't fathom why anyone would want to move here. It is pitiful how people who are from here can't see the beauty in this area. these guys went on to complain that property taxes were getting to be so high, they wouldn't be able to afford to live here.

Now I am by no means a big fan of developers, gated communities or anything else that let's the wealthy divvy the world up a little finer amongst themselves, but this guy was complaining about the property taxes on his 18 acres outside of Blowing Rock on which he has a mobile home. Now, let's get a little perspective: an acre outside of Blowing Rock sells for around $220,000. Multiply that times 18 and you're sitting on $3,960,000. For that kind of cabbage, I'd throw the trailer in for free. My concerns are several when it comes to the present growth and development in our area:
1) Development should be controlled. You can't just throw open the flood gates and hope that the conscientious developers maintain the natural integrity of the area. Given the chance, people will love any place TO DEATH!

2) Our area should not lose the affordability for the people who already live here. Coming from out west, we've seen places become too expensive for all but the second (or third) homebuyers.

Other than that, an influx of outsiders could prove to be a boon in both monetary and intellectual capitol for this area. Things have to change here, or the place won't survive.

Got this and I thought I should share it:

To: Shawn
From: The Brewmeister

Shawn, let anyone know about "Tuesday Nites Under the Lights" at the speedway-hereafter known as the "chicken bone velodrome" See Hickory Velo Club for details.

Hope you are feeling better. Your post from a couple days ago sounds like you need some real springtime and sun. True ruminations on these modern times, but remember, the more things change, the more they stay the same - I can't spell it in french.

Mark(?) and I have been carrying the 'cross addiction on. I am already dreading the seasons end.....but looking forward to next fall.

keep it turning


Nothing like racing on speedways. It's super fun and you can see everything. I've gotta admit, I'm already makin' plans for next 'cross season... Yep, it's gonna be a different story next season... Yeah, right.

I apologize if I've been a downer lately. The sinus congestion always makes me a bit difficult. Golden says it always puts me in a bad mood. Well, I'm on the backside of the cold; I've got a four day work week (Tues: guest speaker, read "no teaching", Wed and Thurs: benchmark testing, read "very little teaching", and Fri: Cumulative Semester Science Exam, read "Mr. Moore is EVIL!") and another 3 day weekend on the horizon. Things are looking pretty good from where I'm sittin', pretty good indeed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

laid low by an invisible hand

I've got to apologize for missing a post yesterday. Some sort of evil mutant cold virus nailed me yesterday morning and I've been fighting it ever since. I resorted to carrying a bandanna with me to function as an old man hanky in an effort to staunch the flow streaming from my sinuses. It reminded me of the little boy with his fingers in the dike. Anyway, I came home from the shop last night, took some NyQuil and passed out immediately after watching "Idiocracy". It was that deep, deep sleep that only a drug can impart. Like Denis Leary said (I paraphrase) the bottle should say 'don't take while standing'; kiss the wife and kids 'cause you're going bye-bye! Needless to say, I was unable to write anything.

Rent "Idiocracy". It is an implausible (hopefully) story about the EXTREME dumbing down of the world over the course of 500 years. It was funny and yet, back of mind scary, all at the same time. Written and directed by Mike Judge (Office Space) and starring Luke Wilson.

So, today was the Praxis II General Secondary Science test. I'll find out in 4 weeks whether or not my self assessment of my performance is correct. In a word, I think I blew it big time - BIG TIME, I say! It was hard in unspeakable ways. It definitely ran the science gambit, covering a potpourri of scientific knowledge. My brain hurts from the effort.

One bright spot on the day was that I got to see the video that Charles shot of the Lenoir 'cross race and it was beyond excellent. I will be posting it in the next day or two for you to watch. Let Charles know what you think of it, since I know he put a lot of effort into it.

No mtn. bike ride for tomorrow. I'm gonna spin a little in the morning. Join us for a 10 am ride leaving from the shop. Well, I'm gettin' woozy...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

mmm, mmm, good!

We've started feeding Owen this rice, banana, milk porridge concoction. It is this vile grey puss color, but regardless, when you strap on his bib, it's go time. The kid is nothing but enthusiastic when it comes to eating. Enthusiasm can only go so far in covering up poor technique, though and let me tell ya, the kid is lacking some serious eating technique.

He grabs for the bowl. He knocks the spoon away from his mouth. He ducks and weaves like Sugar Ray Leonard. He opens his mouth and moves his head from side to side like a graduate from the Stevie Wonder School of Deportment. In short, feeding him is a train wreck. He ended up with cereal in his hair of all places...

My favorite part is when you finally get the cereal in his mouth, he goops it forward with his tongue and pushes it out of his mouth and on to his bib. Then he dives his head down and tries to slurp it off his bib. I thought that eating was a natural, instinctual act, but my little genius is definitely showing me otherwise.

Owen eating reminds me of the old Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom show. Golden is Marlon Perkins, staying out of the action; cooly, dispassionately narrating the events. Owen is some dangerous wild creature trying to eat some hapless prey animal. And I am the indefatigable Jim Fowler, volunteered to do a dangerous job that I am not adequately prepared for by some old codger who sits in a studio somewhere doing voice over of my exploits after the fact.

When I was a kid, we used to tube feed baby birds that my parents bred. Would it traumatize a baby too much to use a speculum to sort of smooth out the feeding process? Okay, maybe a bit harsh, but pet ownership is really my only frame of reference for this parenting thing. At least I'm not considering crate training him.

Thanks for all of the comments and emails. I like to think that I stir the pot a little bit here and there and I relish the discussion. Keep 'em coming! Still haven't heard from any takers on a mtn. bike ride this weekend. Let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Thug life (dinky-ass town style)

Man, why oh why do I have to end up seeing the crappy side of life that I like to think doesn't exist? I got to see all these pictures of local gang grafitti and local gang members (14 year olds, no less) flashing gang signs and all kinds of crap at the gang awareness presentation for my school. I want to truly believe in the innocence of my students and of my community, but then you see all this stupid pointless crap. It is so stupid, it makes me want to cry.

I believe that we have gotten to a point where our identities are foist upon us just like any other product in our consumer society. My students rebel through neatly marketed channels in order to distinguish themselves from their peers. But it's all the same crap. I remember having to have a member's only jacket to be cool, and izod and levi's and who knows what else, in order to fit in. I see my students going after an entire lifestyle, most notably this gangsta/thug ethic. The sad part of it is that the whole thing is just smoke and mirrors. Gangsta rappers portray an image that isn't real and kids emulate that image and think that they are engaging in real life. MC Dumbass gets paid millions to act like a gangsta and talk about dealing and pimping and every other kind of stupid thing that makes up the baser realms of our society. Sad thing is that not only are my kids into it, so are their parents. I've seen grandparents wearing 50 cent and Tupac t-shirts. Look around Lenoir and count the number of affluent white women in big shiny suv's with ridiculous chrome wheels on it, talking on their cell-phones. Or all the rednecks with "Orange County Choppers" stickers in their windows (like anyone actually owns one around here). It's all a show. For who, though?

It is truly a small town mentality when everybody runs around doing unoriginal things in a never ending game of oneupsmanship in order to impress the people around you. Please. Where is the exit for this ride 'cause I want off. I think about our state motto: Esse Quam Videri, to be rather than to seem. It seems like the only thing that counts is how you appear, not how you really are.

I watched a 1964 Francois Truffaut movie called, The Soft Skin, with Golden the other night. It was striking that the main character, M. Lachenay, was a famous intellectual in France. He was like a rock star, women wanted his autograph, men watched im as he went by. It was striking because, who in America is famous for being an intellectual? The closest thing we have is Bill Gates and I would posit that he is famous for being extremely wealthy, not smart. How do I convince 13 and 14 year olds that the key to success lies with their mind, not the ability to put a ball in a hoop (or an endzone, or out of a ball park) or the willingness to risk jail to deal drugs? The real problem for them is that the real world ends with the border of Lenoir. The rest of the world is such an abstract concept that they can actually get caught up in the stupidity that can easily pass for an adulthood here. I, for one, welcome the influx of people moving here from other parts of the country. I hope it brings a greater diversity of thought and expectations for this area. Maybe the best way to appreciate where you live, is to see with the eyes of a person who has never been there...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The aftermath

Let's start things off with some email:

From: Jack Brown
Re: Lenoir 'cross race

Hey Shawn,

Deb got a couple of great shots of you (one out of focus unfortunately) at the race Saturday. You can now talk all the smack you need to Howard because here’s the proof Baby! Had a great time but like you said, it’s ‘bout quittin’ time for now. See you soon, Jack.

Thanks Jack! I think I need to tape that picture to my stem for motivation. Howard, I appreciate racing with you this season, but why the heck did you have to attack before the runup?!? That just blew things all to hell, but it's not like I suffered because of it. I was gonna suffer anyway...

To: Shawn
From: J-Mac
Re: Lenoir 'cross race

Good evening. Hope your doing well. I wanted to thank-you for a great race on Saturday. While a ton of pain was involved, I really thought I was going to barf after the finish, I look back to another great installation of a cycling memory. It wasn't because I had a stellar race - I held my own but definite room for improvement. It was because the course set-up was awesome and the race was run smoothly. It was because of the mud - which I am still picking out of my nose. It was because a lot of my friends biked, jumped, crawled and cursed their way around the loop of doom - something I will enjoy talking about over the years. And finally, it was because my son Josh got second in his junior category and my wife and daughter were there to see it all.
Shawn - while Owen will cause you to pull out the little hair you have left, he will also bring you to the mountain top of joy. You'll love it. I enjoy hearing about Owen now and look forward to hearing about him in the future.
I can sense your frustration with not getting the results you want in cross. I used to never show up to races unprepared. However, it was your cross racing group that taught me - you don't have to be in great shape to have fun at races. You guys (you andJeff) about made it impossible for me to back out of this race. I didn't have a bike - Jeff supplied one. I didn't have shoes - Jeff supplied those. I didn't think I was in shape - you stated most aren't either. Since I was out of excuses, I raced and have no regrets. My point in all that blabber - you racing Shawn, no matter what the results, spurs others to race. This breeds excitement in biking. Just wanted you to know that.
I hope you have a great evening.


See, that is the kind of thing that friends do: force you to go race 'cross in the worst conditions of the season until you think you're gonna puke. Yep, friendship - it's a beautiful thing. I'm beginning to figure out that I have been coming across as a bit of a puss in my last few posts. I guess I have been belly aching a bit. Well, I would like to set the record straight. I had a blast racing against the largest cx 4 fields of the NC series. I had a top ten and then just missed the podium at Hendersonville with a 4th place (I outsprinted some dude to the line - thought I was going to throw up and pass out on that one), so it was a season with some success. I gladly gave up riding with any seriousness to hang out with Owen. And though his body fat percentage is a tad on the high side right now (like 30% or something), the kid is gonna be hell on wheels when he can finally hold his head up. Now I gotta just do some sort of aversion therapy when he is playing in the bathtub to keep him from being a triathlete...

These letters definitely make me feel fortunate that I have such good friends and such a tight knit cycling community here. I am also sorry that I missed the post race festivities at Sledgehammers (Jeff was there for like 7 hours and had a self-described "entertaining" bike ride home afterwards).

On a non-bike related note, have you seen the new Apple iPhone? I am in serious lust for something that doesn't go on a bike. Check it out at Apple. Buddha says that desire is the root of all human suffering... screw it, I want one!

Tomorrow I get to go to gang awareness training and then saturday morning I'm traveling to Hickory to take another Praxis test to get licensed for teaching high school. I am just expanding my horizons left and right these days...

Monday, January 08, 2007

The boy and me

Played hooky from work today in order to take care of Owen. My folks were out of town, so we had a bit of a boy's day. No tattoos - yet, but we did get to flirt with a lot of women downtown. It's pretty amazing how popular Owen is. I think it's the hair that sticks up everywhere. Several women remarked, "What a cute baby!" My responses were as follows: "Half of him is mine" , "He get's his good looks from me" and "Yeah, I do good work". Owen just grins and giggles.

Owen is rolling over like it's going out of style. I have to make sure I don't leave him unattended when he is on something. Can't imagine what it would be like to tell Golden that I broke the baby...

I'm glad I didn't have to work today. An extra day to recover from Saturday was welcome indeed. I think I pulled my left calf, at least it's pretty tight and sore. I'm glad to call this 'cross season quits. It has been fun, but really tiring racing without much time to train. Hopefully, next year will be a little less hectic and I'll be able to prepare and train.

I have managed not to mention it 'til now, but I got a new mtn. bike, a BMC Team frame. It's a carbon/aluminum mix and I have had to put disc brakes on it since it wouldn't accept v-brakes. I haven't ridden it yet, but I am hoping to start doing some group mtn. bike rides on Sundays. Who would be up for a trip to Dark Mtn this Sunday? I'm pretty flexible on time, just let me know if you are interested.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Put a fork in me 'cause I'm done

Here is a little picture of me from today's race in Lenoir. Everything was going great until the race official blew the whistle... I guess my training plan of 1 day a week rides and eating my way through the holidays wasn't nearly as effective as I thought it would be. That plus busting butt to set the course up and take care of last minute stuff with Jeff wasn't the best warm up.

All in all, I think we had a successful event. The course was brutally tough. The grassy sections turned to a chocolate cake batter slogfest that left many gasping for air. The run-up was cute in a Marquis de Sade sort of way, but the corkscrew descent afterwards was almost worth the effort. After the tennis court off camber, you passed through a thick, sticky mud section. I could feel my bike getting heavier and slower as the mud packed on it, but when you entered the dry dirt section the bike would surge forward as all of the mud was expelled!

Congratulations go to Jeff for hustling and putting on a great event. Thanks to Jack, Mark, Big E, the Grom, The Mayor, Ron, the pasty legged killah, Howard, Jenna, Rebecca, Grom's mom and everyone else who helped make the event possible. I'll be putting up photos soon (thanks, Dad) and editing the video (thanks Mom and Grom) in the next few days.

No more 'cross for me until next season! Maybe, I'll train this time....

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Time to talk dirty

I put the finishing touches on the barriers for this weekends race. A word to the wise: go over them clean 'cause if you tap 'em, they're gonna tap back - hard. It is supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. This on top of the 3 inches we got over the weekend and the only thing that is gonna keep this 'cross race from looking like a triathlon will be the fact that we will have our bikes with us the whole time. That and the lack of some of the queerer fashions that pass for tri uniforms these days...

Hope you can make it out for the race (Sat. 11 am). Bring cow bells, flags and your hollerin' voices. I invited my students to come, since it is practically in the middle of their neighborhood. They gave me some crap about studying on saturday... Riiiiiiight. I got done writing all the pro purse checks. Men pays 12 deep and Women pays 5 deep. That and the prizes for every other podium are gonna make for a lucrative little throwdown here in our neck of the woods. I'm gonna try to get some video and post it to you tube once its edited. Wish me luck on that one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rodney Yee done whupped my butt

Last night, Golden asked me to do yoga with her. She got this Rodney Yee vidoe called Yoga Burn and it lived up to it's name. I don't know if you've ever done yoga, but this routine has you do like 5,000 downward facing dogs in a row. Besides hollowing my belly, spiraling my spine and relaxing my face, ol' Rodney has you bending and stretching and holding yourself in any number of painful, muscle-quaking poses for what seems like an eternity. I think the guy learned yoga in some top-secret asian torture training center. The problem with a yoga DVD is that you can see on the little DVD player screen which chapter out of how many chapters you've done. You know your in trouble in a video workout when your pushed to the limit during chapter 5 of 24. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow night...

Teaching is beginning to feel like my own sort of self-torture. I am up against a wall now and I can't figure out how to knock it down. I met with one parent today who was concerned that our schools are too easy compared to where they moved from in Watauga county. Then I had a phone call from another parent, very upset that our classes are far too hard and that her child's lack of attentiveness is my fault. There are several issues involved here. I feel like I am expected to lower my expectations in order for students to get the right grades. And since when am I supposed to entertain students in order for them to pay attention in class. What happened to valuing an education enough to put forth an effort? I think the reason why the US scores so poorly on every global education ranking system is because we view education as a product to be consumed. Consumer culture demands that the wants, needs and desires of the consumer be met or the product is not purchased. Wake up call people: you don't shop around for primary and secondary education unless you can afford to send a kid to private school.

That being said, I am trying to have high standards and education my students for the rigors and requirements of the 21st century world. The world that my current students will compete for jobs in, is very different from anything I could have imagined when I was their age. These students will essentially be competing against the rest of the world for most well-paying jobs. So while we sit here and demand that teachers entertain our kids and give them the grades that will make them happy rather than the grades they deserve, some kid in China or India or any number of countries is busting his/her butt to nail down a foreign language, higher level math and science, computer technology and critical thinking skills in order to earn their way out of a world with few options into a world of limitless possibilities. I guess I'm just trying to say that I don't make the rules, but just like everybody else, I gotta play by 'em.

Enough soapbox, 3 days to 'cross! I'm not so much excited as I am just ready to go have some fun on my 'cross bike. Don't forget your cowbell and your wellies!

Check out some music. Scroll down and listen to the Johnny Cash song "God's gonna cut you down".

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gettin' philosophical up in this beeotch...

Alright, I survived going back to school today. Now I can reflect and wax philosophical on the year past and the year ahead.

I am sure that by now, even the most casual reader is familiar with my new son, Owen. I love him to death despite the couple of times he's peed on me and the one time he tried to poop on me. He woke up this morning, looked straight at me and got a huge smile that lit up his face. That crap just kills me... I'm also incredibly fortunate that my parents have decided to move to Lenoir and that Owen get's taken care of by his grandparents instead of having to go to daycare. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Of course, I can't thank my wife enough for putting up with my spacy optimism, weird sense of humor, repeated stories, and the inevitable "stupid accident of the year" (this year, I swallowed a finishing nail) for another year.

Another person whom I am incredibly thankful for is my best friend and business partner, Jeff. I have to make sure to say "business partner" because I've noticed when I refer to him as my "partner", people get a real odd expression on their face for a fleeting second before they regain their composure. Anyway, Jeff (and his wife, Shelli) decided to follow us out here from Flagstaff, AZ about a year ago. Without Jeff, Luna Cycles wouldn't exist and I am eternally grateful to him for throwing in with me and helping us to both realize our dream of owning a bike shop. Jeff compliments my personality well and I feel that we make a very good team. Thanks Jeff for all that you do for me and the shop.

Now that I start to think about the coming year, I want to remind you of this weekend's 'cross race right here in Lenoir at the Zack's Fork soccer complex. This is a momentous event for our fledgling cycling community because it will be the third cycling event in Lenoir since July. I really feel that our community is set to reap the rewards of the fantastic cycling climate we have here. Our town is up for anything that we have come up with so far and more and more organizations seem to want to capitalize on the outdoor recreation opportunities that our area has to offer. This year will see a new metric century in the spring and the construction of mountain bike trails at the Aquatic Center in addition to the Bridge to Bridge century, the 2nd annual Lenoir Criterium (June 9th, 2007) and the Lenoir Cyclocross race. With momentum like this, who knows what the future holds for us?

My hopes for the future are for all of the excitement and enthusiasm that I have for Lenoir and the growing community of entrepreneurs taking the same risks as Jeff and I, to become even more infectious and to attract more people to the area. I hope that Luna Cycles can continue to serve as an incubator for our cycling community and that we can continue to serve that community to the best of our abilities.

If you can make it, come check out the 'cross race Saturday. Races start at 11 am. If you would like to volunteer to help, contact Jeff at the shop (759-1990), on his cell (729-2192) or email him. Don't know what the heck I'm talking about, check out the flyer at the top of the links in the sidebar!

Monday, January 01, 2007

A brand new year

Happy New Year! Feliz Anno Nuevo!

Hope everyone had a good new year's eve. We had a great dinner with my folks. Pecan crusted chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and belgian fruit cake. We toasted the new year with champagne cocktails.

I had planned on writing a longer posting about what I'm thankful for and what I'm looking forward to in the new year, but reality snuck up and cracked me a good one when I realized I was going to have 90 eager (yeah, right) adolescents staring at me in class tomorrow! I promise something pithy and worth the wait in the coming days!

Hope you ate your black-eyed peas (for luck) and collard greens (for money) today!