Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Racing with Dopers

When I "race," I pay little attention to anything except what is in front of me. That's probably because any time I "race" I have a lot of catching up to do. Complete focus helps me ride better and excel at my favorite aspect of cycling - riding technical sections. It also keeps me from having a heart attack, or at the least, vomiting.

In this photo of me "racing" there is an extremely large man in the foreground. I would venture to say that he is doing the very thing the slogan on my jersey refutes. Upon seeing this photo for the first time, I immediately thought it was a muscle suit. It clearly isn't. That leads to the most important reason why I focus - I really don't need to see that. If I did, I'd go to the gym.

Thanks to Heather Keeling for taking the photos.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cyclocross - Off the Couch and Into the Fire

I did my first cyclocross race yesterday. It wasn't pretty. First of all, I raced on my singlespeed mountain bike. Fat tires are slow. Fat tires collect mud. Fat tires feel like flat tires in sloppy mud. My bike gained at least 15 pounds in the hour I "raced." Conversely, fat tires do handle well in the corners and in the technical sections ... and that was about the only place I passed anyone yesterday.

Secondly, and I am not using this as an excuse for m
y performance, I was what cyclists call just off the couch, or JOTC. I've barely ridden my bike in the past month, thanks to a week-long battle with what was undoubtedly the swine flu. Or the bird flu. Or the ebola virus. Whatever it was, I wanted to die for several days. To top it off, I traveled to Colorado for a business trip the following week. That's a long time to be off the saddle, especially when most of yesterday's racers have been training and eating healthy. For me, it has been lots of beers and fast food lately; in fact, whilst in Colorado, hungover from Halloween's epic evening, I ate a McDonalds Big 'N Tasty with fries, followed by a Good Times Deluxe Burger not more than 30 minutes later. Try that for cyclocross training.

Most of this rant probably sounds like an excuse. And maybe it is. But honestly, who cares how I placed? I got to ride my bike with a bunch of similar freaks - a couple wearing nothing but whitey tighties - in the mud and in the rain. Some days that's all this piggy needs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Casio Case and Aeroplanes

This is one of my favorites, and actually the first shot taken on the trip to Durango. It was taken as I was about to board the plane from Denver. The raindrop helped out with the cool warp effect. Thanks Ma Nature.

Lacking Motivation?

Man am I a lazy piece of shit. It's been more than a month since SSWC and I haven't posted anything here. Maybe I am still recovering? Honestly, after the trip to Colorado it's hard to be motivated with the onset of fall/winter and not having the serotonin levels maxing out. Anyway, time to post some photos from Durango. I have a full length story in the making and submitted to one of the "big ones." Haven't heard anything back for a full week, pert near. Maybe it sucks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SSWC '09

Holy shit. Pretty lame summary but it's pretty accurate for what went down in Durango, Colo., for the 2009 Single Speed World Championships. I got there a week early to visit with friends before the 1000+ people showed up for the "race." I got to ride at least once every day and sometimes went for round two, to soak it all in and ride the trails I am most fond of ... and, of course, to bond with the beautiful people whom are into the same cultural ideologies I so adore and adhere to. Hell, we are our own culture, as cliche as that may sound. It was perhaps, the best week I have had in a good decade, if not more. I will write more when I have the time but for now I just want to express my guttural feelings of love ... for cycling, for art, music, life, camaraderie, and unity. For it was a people, united in the same cause, the same goal, the same feeling that we crave in our mundane life of work, sleep and other things that get in the way of true passion and pleasure that made it so great. To see so many people make the event happen was nothing short of extraordinary. It gives me hope in humanity.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Vintage Pew Joe Post

Out of my annoyance with people trying to sell bikes for much more than they are worth, I created a Craigslist post to see what kind of replies I would receive. Though most people understood the post was completely cynical, a few believed I was actually serious. Here are some of the responses I got in my inbox...

First, the ones who got it:

"hahahah, i love it! seriously, fuck all these d-bags who try to sell overpriced pieces of junk and label them as vintage or original. keep fighting the good fight!"

"How are the tires?"

"REALLY? Call me about this bike!"

"Love it !! Is the bottom bracket french thread or english, you know those are impossible to replace once they go :)"

And those who didn't:

"Bro, I can score one like that for $300 just about anytime on CL."

"Hello, Do you have any more pictures of the rest of the bike?"

...And my favorite response from someone who clearly did not get it:

"Sir of Ms,

This bike is litteral garbage. If you think this bike would be a good fixer-upper someone would have to replace every last part of this bike before it worked. I thought maybe you weren't sure so id let you know. Good luck with the scuba diving."

Maybe he's right?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bicycle Licensing: Maybe it's Not Such a Bad Idea

Bicycle licensing. In the past I have been adamantly against such a thing. Not having any legal structure or paperwork required for riding my bike is part of the freedom and autonomy I so dearly adore on a daily basis. However, having lived the last year in Seattle, a particularly large city, I witness numerous acts of stupidity and cluelessness on my daily commute. I see near misses, blatant law breaking and general disregard for others on the road. And guess what? It mostly involves cyclists.

I now see why angry motorists plague the comments section of online news outlets, spewing their one-sided views towards those who choose two wheels as their primary mode of transportation. It's because cyclists, for the most part, are clueless. There, I said it. Not the cyclists who have been doing this for a long time, or the ones who grew up riding and racing bikes, but the ones new to the sport, or "lifestyle" if you choose.

Running red lights, avoiding lights by "sneaking" through the crosswalks, weaving in and out of traffic, using the sidewalks, bike salmoning ... all of these things I see countless times throughout my work week. As a representative of a cycling publication, I follow the rules of the road, especially when there is vehicle traffic. I want motorists to give us the respect we deserve and are legally entitled to. So I get infuriated when I am sitting in traffic at a busy intersection, doing my part to follow those rules, when someone rides right past me and the cars that are waiting for the signal, gives a quick glance in both directions, and then proceeds to ride through the red light in front of everyone's eyes.

You know what you impatient and clueless cyclist? You are the reason why motorists have such a disdain for us. Not because they have to "share the road" with us, because you aren't sharing the road. You are cutting the coke with baking powder, so to speak, taking more than what you're entitled to. Yet you complain whenever you are cut off or when someone honks at you. Then you wonder why people are such "fucking dicks." It's because you are a dick. A selfish one at that.

I recently had a woman pass me as I was waiting my turn in a line of cars, on my bike. She went around all of us, in the oncoming lane and hooked a left without stopping. I shook my helmet-cladded head then yelled to her, "We have to follow the rules too you know!" No more than 2 minutes later I passed her on the bike path. As I overtook her she said, "You should mind your own business."


"You know what, it IS my business. You represent every cyclist on the road and when you do shit like that, it gives ALL of us a bad name," I rebutted.

Guess what. She didn't say another word. Because she knows I was right. It's not "you" breaking the rules, it's "us." All of us. We are seen as the same body. Motorists see cyclists as one group of people, not as individuals. To them, we are all decked out in tech yellow Performance gear and Nashbar uber-cheese spandex shorts, even though you and I may rarely dress that way. So get off your self-righteous hypocritical ass and start thinking about all of us. As cyclists we have enough to deal with without some asshole making people, namely motorists, look down on us.

Additionally, five cyclists have been hit by cars in the past week, one of them a hit and run, another was pulled into a person's vehicle by the driver and dragged a few blocks (true story, in Portland, near my old neighborhood). Maybe these cyclists were abiding by the rules, maybe not. Accidents can usually be avoided with a higher awareness of things happening around you, and taking a few precautions. And by following the rules.

Therefore, maybe licensing is a good thing. Sharing the roads means just that, not just sharing at your convenience, but by following the rules, especially when automobiles are present; rural country roads and trails are another topic altogether and require a different tactic. But we live in the city. A city with a lot of traffic. So maybe having to take a test to share the city's roads would open a few eyes and hopefully educate cyclists who are new to the game. It would probably save me from prematurely aging due to my desire to scream at you for making things harder for me. Does that sound selfish on my part? Maybe. But at the end of the day, I want get home alive.

Damn if I don't sound like an old man. Aging is a bitch.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Less Than a Month for All Out Mayhem

It's official. I finally have a plan for getting back to my lovely town of Durango for the 2009 Singlespeed World Championships. I am flying! The tickets I hounded down were actually pretty reasonable. There is a 5 1/2 hour layover in Denver along the way there so I get to have lunch with my family. Bonus! A little disappointed because I love the long drive but it will give me more time to hang out with the old crew and ride, baby, ride.

I have to box my 29er and send it there prior to the week I leave, the first time doing so. Hopefully UPS will be kind to me and not destroy my prized steed. Nor lose it in the process.

September in Durango is about as good as it gets too. The weather is usually perfect and the fall colors start to appear, making every pedal stroke that much more special. There is a new section of singletrack above town, on Raider Ridge, that's supposed to be really nice. I can't wait to sink my teeth, so to speak, into its ass. 

It's on! Look at Durango 'cause D is coming home!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Taken for Granted, the Wheels are Still Turning

As I was taking a breather from work yesterday afternoon, reading the latest issue of The Stranger, Seattle's free weekly local entertainment newspaper, I looked up to see a man walking across the street towards where I was standing. As he was approaching I noticed he had a familiar look about him - maybe it was his haircut or the way he carried himself in public. Everything seemed fairly normal about the man, except for a couple of very noticeable characteristics. He had no arms. 

On his right arm he sported a carbon fiber prosthetic with a hook at the end. His left arm was completely gone a few inches below his elbow, and by the way he limped to one side, I am guessing he had a prosthetic leg as well, although it was hard to tell due to his jeans. 

The familiar look I noticed was soon verified. As he walked past I studied the T-shirt he was wearing. It read "Marine Corps Instructor." You see, Marines are identifiable by the confidence they have in everything they do, including "simple" tasks such as walking. For him, walking wasn't so simple, but it didn't stop him from exuding an unmistakable air of confidence.

I wondered about the horrible day he experienced when he lost his limbs, probably in the heat and confusion of combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I wondered how he felt when he woke up in the sterile and unfamiliar hospitable bed overseas and realized he would never see his arms or fingers again. I began to wonder, how would I react to such a situation, having no arms, at least below the elbows, and missing a leg? Simple things would no longer be so simple. Things like brushing my teeth, eating, playing the guitar, riding my bike .... all of these activities I take for granted because they are easily accomplished with the tools I have. 

Having experienced war and having "fought for my country" in the first Gulf War, I didn't experience the horrors of what our troops are experiencing now, nor do I ever want to. But what gets me is it seems like no one pays any attention, including myself. When I saw the man walk past I was so enveloped in my own thoughts I forgot to call out to him and say, "Hey Marine, thank you." 

It won't happen again. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting Ready for Canada, eh!

Erin and I are getting excited about our upcoming tour of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. We have 8 days to explore the islands by bicycle. We look forward to being completely self-sufficient, pedaling our way through unfamiliar territory and making new friends. My first trip to Canada and it's going to be completely pedal powered - well, besides the ferry rides of course. 

Yesterday I got our bikes set up with racks and did a lot of much-needed maintenance, including changing out my brake pads and cables. Upon inspection of my rear brake cable I realized that it was, and has been, broken for some time. How I didn't notice is beyond me as I have been using the bike everyday for the commute. Suffice to say, I am really lucky and also relieved to have some proper functioning brakes.

This is Erin's first multi-day bike tour. She told me yesterday that she hoped to not become bored during the trip. With all that will be going on, and especially with the scenery I believe we will witness while there, I can't imagine that boredom will ever become an issue. Especially since we'll be in bear territory!
I plan to write in a journal daily so I can document the adventure and later submit it to various publications in the hopes of getting the story published. Whether that becomes a reality or not, it sure beats sitting behind a desk and doing the sometimes mundane routine of daily city living. It should also help me get my mind off the store clerk who was murdered yesterday about 10 blocks from our house. 

A young man sporting a Burton snowboard beanie and sunglasses and wearing a bandana over his face walked into the store during the early hours of a beautiful Sunday morning and shot the 28-year old clerk twice. And for what? A few dollars perhaps, maybe so he could get that next fix of some shitty amphetamine or maybe score some heroin. Taking an innocent man's life for his own "pleasure." I hope the cretin who perpetrated this crime is happy with himself and with the lives he has ruined, including his own. I digress.

Looking forward to the open road, camping out under the stars and working hard - or in this case, pedaling hard - for a cold Canadian brand beer. Eh!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blow Darts and Random Acts of Douchery

I read today that two bicyclists were hit by blow darts last evening. One of the victims was struck on the Ballard Bridge, here in Seattle, which happens to be my daily route between home and my workplace in Pioneer Square, in lower downtown.

Not only do we cyclists have to deal with angry motorists on a daily basis, many of whom would rather see us disappear altogether than deal with us at all, now we have to deal with a new hazard.

Perhaps there has been a surge in indigenous tribal warfare I am not aware of, or an expedition team of herpetologists accidentally mistook these bicyclists for a rare arboreal lizard or a common chuckwalla. Possible, yes. Probable? Probably not.

No, it was more likely to have been some teenagers or early 20-year-olds bored with the usual happenings in a city with about a million different options to partake in on any given day.

"Let's go see a movie, dawg!"

"No, that sounds gay."

"How about getting some beer and heading to the park."


"Hey man, check this out. I picked it up online recently. It's a blowgun."

"That's fuckin' sweet, dude!"

They probably tried it out a few times in their backyard. Their parents were inside watching Entertainment Tonight, mesmerized by Angelina Jolie shopping at a trendy boutique in Beverly Hills.

The blowgun aficionados quickly became bored with pegging the fence that separates the yard from the abandoned house or automotive store located next door.

"Yo, let's go fuck with someone, B."

Into the beat up Sentra they go. Right before clambering into the car that sports wheels worth more than the car itself, a cyclist passes by them in the bike lane, decked out in bright colored clothes and funny looking glasses.

"That's who were going to fuck with!" They've found a target.

As a former Marine, professionally trained in the peculiarities and use of a variety of deadly weapons, excluding the blowdart of course, I know how deadly flying objects can be. And in the hands of the wrong people, innocent bystanders can become targets, especially to dumbasses who don't know anything about respect, mindfulness, creativeness or even how to entertain themselves with a myriad of possibilities.

So, blowgunners, if you see me riding my bike and feel like you may have a chance to tag me in my skinny ass and then press the accelerator to the floor to get away, just let it be known, I know the city well and how to get around it quickly. Unless you have an open road ahead of you, clear of traffic, I have a fair chance of catching up with you.

I may just get your license plate number and call the authorities. I may not. When faced in a situation where another human is threatening my life, the life that I desperately try to sort out on a daily basis and attempt to find happiness as people like you grow in numbers each day, I may not be so forgiving. In fact, I can almost guarantee you that your actions will be held accountable.

It may be funny to you, but to me, it's life or death, literally and figuratively. I try to give people the respect we all deserve. If you want to shoot projectiles at people, grow some balls and join the military, the drill instructors would be glad to show you a few things about respect and how to use deadly weapons.

Let's hope you can pass the recruiters' newly lowered IQ tests. Somehow I doubt you could.

In summary, if I get hit by a dart during one of your foolish little pranks, you better hope you have a clear getaway. And you have plenty of gas in the tank.