Monday, January 28, 2008

It's a celebration, b*&ches!

A lot has happened this week and I have tried to stay mum and let it all burst forth in one post. This past weekend, cyclocross world champions were crowned in Italy. Lars BOOM had an off day and managed to win world's anyway. I wish I could have off days like that...

Now, even though 'cross is a passion that burns brightly for me through the winter, two far more life changing anniversaries occurred this week. Thursday, January 23rd marked the birthday of one of my personal heroes, Macgyver. I was a huge Macgyver fan, always marveling at his ingenuity and reveling in the utility of commonplace items like chewing gum and aluminum foil. The idea that the raw materials for explosives and gunpowder was truly electrifying in my young adulthood. Truth be told, it still is. However, I remember the day when my faith in Macgyver came to a screeching end. In the episode, Macgyver needed to make an explosive or gunpowder and filed some cheap, third world bicycle frame to get magnesium filings for his concoction. I was shocked. Only a handful of magnesium bicycle frames have ever been produced and you certainly weren't going to find one just lying around like Macgyver had. That is when I realized that the show was all b.s. and Macgyver was all just Hollywood smoke and mirrors. Crushing.

Today, however marks a much happier and far more profoundly life-changing anniversary: the 50th anniversary of LEGO bricks! Oh, the hours I have spent enraptured by these simple plastic bricks. I still have all of the LEGO bricks I have ever owned, sitting in a box in the basement, waiting for when Owen will be old enough to play with them instead of experiencing their choking hazard properties!

Tomorrow night, Luna Cycles and Rock and Road Bicycles will be doing a demo ride night at the "Chicken bone velodrome" in Hickory. The rides are from 5:30 to 8:00 at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Admission cost is $10. Ride is canceled if there is inclement weather. See you there (hopefully)!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Lion King roars

Some pretty strong words from Cipo' with regards to the pending Rock Racing deal came out today. It would be great to see Cipo' tearing it up on American soil; giving Champagne Opening 101 classes to all the domestic sprinters on the NRC circuit. Imagine the team kit possibilities that a man of Cipo's taste, coupled with the high-end jeans of title sponsor Rock & Republic, could yield! Alas, it may never come to pass...

As the temperatures around here have steadily dropped, the frenetic Presidential Primary process has truly begun to heat up. I took an online quiz to see what candidates were the best match to my opinions on various topics. Imagine my complete chagrin when my number 1 candidate match was with a guy I had never even heard of: Mike Gravel. I have been checking him out and I recognize and agree with most of his positions on the important topics of the present time. However, I am not blind to the fact that the Primary system is a pretty bogus, rigged affair that seems to be run by the National Parties as less of an open forum about what Americans wish for in a President and more about the steamrolling of revolutionary ideas in favor of finding the electable middle-of=the-road candidate. I think we are being done a sever disservice with our two party system.

When we were in Canada two years ago, it was their national election time. We watched the returns and were bewildered by the multiple party format, as there were about 6 or 7 parties involved in the election. The guy that we were renting skis from each day was more than happy to explain things and kept his ridicule of our election process to mere jovial condemnation. But the whole thing made sense. Multiple parties contest seats in the parliament. The party with the most seats is able to choose who the Prime Minister will be. Unless the party with the most seats in Parliament has won a clear majority of the seats (more than all the other parties combined), they have to play nice and try to reach consensus with the other parties. If they try to steamroll anything, the other parties just gang up on them and thwart whatever they are attempting. The beauty is that minority opinions have a voice. This is important to me because I often have to explain my own political leanings by saying, "I would have to move to the right to be a true democrat."

In this country, it seems anathema to engage in political conversation if you inhabit the fringes of our system. Way right or way left and you are pretty much a non-entity. I believe that all of those opinions should be voiced, whether I agree with them or not. Now don't get me wrong, I believe that some positions that people hold are not well thought out, mean, or just plain stupid. But at the same time, I think it is necessary to consider where everyone is coming from just in case you might be able to find common ground. I just know I'm tired of having to choose between whoever is left out of the media-worthiness scrum that we are currently embroiled in...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Snow day!

We got the most significant snowfall I've seen here in a few years last night. Consequently, school was canceled for today and tomorrow! Couple that good fortune with the MLK Day Holiday on monday and Bam! out of nowhere you've got yourself a five day weekend!

I lolled about the house, playing with Owen (watching him eat snowballs two-fisted style!) and then hopped on the mtn. bike to ride in to the shop at noon. I used a little trail that runs from my neighborhood to downtown to fool myself into thinking I was in the woods. The snow on the trail was pristine except for some rabbit tracks that cut back and forth down the entire length of the trail.

Everything is melting now and turning to ice tonight as the temps drop to the 20's. I already miss that fleeting bit of quiet that you only get when there is snow on the ground to muffle all of the world's noise.

Jeff, Chuck and Big E took off for Costa Rica today to do a little riding and surfing in warmer climes. Be sure to scratch them off your xmas list for this little manuever timed oh so perfectly with our first good winter blast in a while!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A must have?

It is time to come to terms with the fact that we have a serious loose dog problem on some of our beloved road ride routes. This Saturday marked the 3rd time I have been chased by the same pack of 6 dogs at the same spot on Hwy. 90 between Lenoir and Collettsville. So here's the deal: the only way something will be done about it is if we call Animal Control and inform them of each and every incident that occurs with any repeat offenders. It's one thing for a dog to be loose now and then, but there seems to be a growing number of dog owners who feel that their dogs should have unfettered access to the road and anything that catches their fancy as it passes by. So here is my little Public Service Announcement:

Beware of the dog pack at 3635 Collettsville Rd.

View Larger Map
They will swarm you from both sides of the road with one dog running ahead and trying to jump out in front of you. If you encounter them and they chase you, please call Caldwell County Animal Control and report the incident. Or you may want to purchase the latest in winter training accessories.

I've been itching to escape the confines of pavement cycling ever since I got a rigid fork for my mountain bike (a very long while ago) and so Sunday, we planned a little ride on the Over Mountain Victory trail at Kerr Scott Reservoir. Jeff, Shelli, Golden, Big E, Nicole and I met at the trail head at 1 o'clock and took off in pretty perfect conditions. We had gotten a decent amount of rain earlier in the week, but rather than being super muddy, the trails were an awesome tacky consistency that allowed for a lot of speed. The ride was an incredible change of pace from the base pace riding we've been doing and it really made me lament how the length of time I've been away from the mountain bike. I'm ready to head out there again as soon as possible...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

finding your inner flauhute

I've gotten back into the swing of teaching and working and parenting and occasional bike riding. The group ride saturday was a course preview for this year's Cycle To Serve ride. Some new roads have been paved, opening up some more loop possibilities and everyone wanted to check it out.

This is the time of year that I have a love/hate relationship with riding in. I love riding in cooler weather; enjoy wearing arm warmers, knee warmers, vests, hats. But this time of year, when the temps truly drop, dressing appropriately for the conditions is a total crap shoot for me.

I step out of the house, immediately feel a numbness spread through my jaw rendering me incapable of speaking in anything but a slur, I go back in and start throwing on more clothing. In these situations it inevitably ends up warming, I'm way overdressed, and I truly fear that spontaneous combustion is imminent. Lesson learned, the next ride I step outside, brush off the frozen jawline and head out dressed like a german pro training in Mallorca. This leads to the mercury plummeting and my hands turning into useless chunks of wood that can barely grip a handlebar let alone shift gears. I try to think warm happy thoughts as I start to up my conception of base pace.

When I first started riding, I was taught that you should start out feeling a little chilly and then your body heat will rise as you ride due to exertion. This little gem of knowledge just isn't doing the trick anymore. I have now come to realize that there are 2 vital parts of my body that I have to keep warm, everything else I can live without so to speak. The key is hands and feet. Just repeat that over and over, because that is one of those little secret roadie nuggets of wisdom that no one ever wants to share. Yeah, it seems that I can be a flauhute (a hard man) as long as I have toasty fingers and toes.

The other sucky thing about this time of year is going on rides on the weekends and freezing your dangly bits off and then during the week the temps soar and your stuck in less meaningful situations like work. I walked out of the building on the way to the library today and nearly had a drop of sweat form on my brow from the balmy mid-60's temps we had today. Where was that warmth this weekend as we headed out this past saturday in brisk upper-30's?

The point of all this rambling is some sort of self help exercise, I guess. I will ride in cold weather, again. I will not dress properly, again. These things I sadly realize, are a given, unalterable, beyond my feeble control. I just hope I get lucky and manage to hang on to all my digits.