Monday, June 30, 2008

Yup, I suck

After hammering on and on about not getting to ride since last Sunday, I passed the opportunity this morning to ride in. So, I officially suck! I couldn't drag my sorry butt out of bed with enough time and enthusiasm to strap on some spandex and push the pedals. About the only excuse I can give is that I stayed up too damn late working. Oh ya, not only mornings on Sunday, but nights too... There's something wrong with this picture. What's more wrong is that I wasn't the only person in the office yesterday. A total of 3 of us were actually in working on a Sunday and at least one had been in there Saturday as well. Since all of us our salaried employees, I just see something wrong with that picture. OK, enough bitching about work for this post.

Now that I'm famous, I expect I'll soon be swarming in offers of free equipment, products to promote, and enough shwag to live in the lap of luxury. In case you missed it, I was on the Kim West Radio Cycling Show yesterday. If you're in need of a fix you can click here for the podcast and download episode 11. If it doesn't change your life, I offer a full refund of the purchase price!

Actually, it was a lot of fun hanging out in the studio even though I think I got about 1 minute of total air time and probably sounded mostly like a douche. Ah well, we can't all be great right out of the box. Really though, I wish we had more time to discuss the ins and outs of kids riding bikes and the steps necessary to teach them proper respect for cars and how to ride alert. The whole point I was trying to make when I proposed the topic to Kim was how and where do we teach our kids to ride? We want them to be safe and out of harm's way, but at the same time they need to learn that bikes can and should be ridden safely in the streets. Actually, I've got a whole idea on this topic that I'll cover in it's own separate post.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to work

Well, I sit here back in at work on a Sunday. Just gotta love it I tell ya. At least yesterday I got to play and enjoy life for a bit. CITA put out the call for volunteers to do a work day at the center trails. Being that I missed all the previous days this year due to one reason or the other, I was determined to be there for this one. My back was still giving me some fits so I cancelled out on going for a ride before hand, but still made it down to the parking lot about 10 minutes late. Holy crap, there were a ton of kids down there and a pretty good number of other CITA volunteers. Some counts say more than 60 people in all.

Hard cores

Pics stolen from Justin
With my back acting up, I knew I'd be in no shape to swing an axe, rake, or do any other repetive type motion so I dug into bridge building. We managed to put together 5 bridges including setting 3 of them by the time we called it quits around 2. The volunteers had made some new track and cleared many other areas. I brought my bike in wishful hope that I might be able to ride. After the day was done, I still wanted to ride, but my body said it was time for beer and food so I listened. After stopping by Rassys to drop some of the materials off and returning the borrowed trailer, Sammy, Squirrel and I hit up El Ray for some killer burritos.

I made it home about 4 and was watching the weather try to decide if it was going to rain or not. I really wanted to get down to the arts festival to enjoy some well deserved family time. About 5 we made the call to take whatever the weather was going to dish out and head down. As luck would have it, it was the right call. The weather definitely had the crowds down just a bit making the vent even better with no massive lines for the kids stuff and enough space that you weren't always running into people.

Corley got to dance:

We did some spin art:

A good way to kill off a Saturday. I'm here for a couple more hours and then it's daddy and Corley time for just a bit. I am actually going to be on the radio with Kim West this afternoon to discuss kid's and child safety on bikes. Stemming from this incident a couple weeks back, I thought it might be a good topic to hash out on the show. Apparently Kim agreed and decided to invite me in to discuss. I'm a bit nervous, but it should be fun too. Then back to pick up Corley from Grandma for a couple hours until bedtime. Rinse and repeat for tomorrow.

FYI- I still haven't gotten on my damn bike yet so it's officially been a week now. I'm hoping this week brings some relief and I can ride in at least a couple times.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bak pain sucks

So on top of working like a dog this week keeping me off my bike, life has conspired to give me a double shot of ass kicking. I bent over to pick up my bag of bike clothes off the floor yesterday morning and was greeted by a lovely spike of pain in the small of my back. Hopeful that it was just going to be a slight pull that would work it's way out during the day, I went ahead and loaded my bike and gear in hopes of racing last night.

Alas, it poured all day and the race was cancelled. Of course I don't know that I could have ridden even if I wanted to. I took it pretty easy last night, had it massaged, and even soaked in the hot tub for a bit. Ya, it still hurts this morning. The pain was shooting down my right leg for a while yesterday as well. At least this morning I took a couple Aleve and I can function. I really hope I can get this thing under control today as I want/need to go help the guys from CITA on their trail work day at the center trails. I haven't made it out all year and feel really bad about it. I've thoroughly enjoyed the trails and want to payback. If nothing else, I'll at least bring down some tools and a spare wheel barrow in case they need it.

I'm hoping I can hop on my bike for a couple hours before the work day in the morning as well. We'll see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rain and pain

Wow, from driving home in sideways rain last night to seeing several cars in flooded out streets over lunch, it's been a while since I can remember seeing it rain that hard. Hopefully most of you are staying dry. I brought my bike in to work today (on the rack) since I had way too much work with me to possibly ride. So my bike got the chance for repeated washings as the storms moved through. At least it will wash off some of the leftover road grime from Saturday's race. I should probably think about tearing it down and lubing things again though. I'm not sure if Race like a girl will still happen tonight or not.

I'm actually hoping it gets cancelled out for personal reasons. You see, I woke up this morning and felt pretty good. Considering the hours I've put in this week topped off by 6 hours of driving yetserday, I was actually pretty chipper. That was until I bent over to pick something up. I have no idea what in the hell happened, but now I'm stuck with a pain in the small of by back that radiates down my right leg. I'm sure I've pinched some nerve in there, but damn, I didn't even do anything or lift anything over 10 lbs. So, I'm back to hoping RLAG is cancelled so I don't have to struggle with my inner demons telling me to pop a couple tylenol and go for it. Considering I haven't been able to get on a bike since Sunday morning, those demons are screaming pretty loudly.

The flip side is that if I hold off on riding, I might be in better shape to try and help CITA do some work at the center trails on Saturday. I'm hoping I get to do both, but we'll see at this point. I just wish I knew what caused the change in my back. In the mean time, don't forget about the arts festival this weekend in the western gateway park. It should be a great time and it sounds like the weekend weather is going to be killer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I want to ride my bicycle

Actually the name of this point is I want to ride my fucking bicycle, but I figured I'd save the swearing for the main body of the post instead. I worked from 6-7 yesterday and then lucky me, I took a pile of work home as well so I could work until 10.

Of course that limits my ability to ride in since there ain't no way I lugging 20+ lbs of blueprints and shop drawings on my back. Actually, I might have considered it had I had a bag big enough to fit both the drawings and my necessities for riding in such as clothing and food. In any case, I didn't get to ride last night, it's not looking good for tonight, and tomorrow is most likely shot in the ass as well. I'm definitely not a happy camper.

About the only shiny spot is that I'm planning to ride the Race like a girl crit on Thursday come hell or high water. Guess I probably shouldn't say anything about high water too loudly considering the proximity of the park to the recent birdland area flooding...

Hope you all have a great day. Maybe I'll be back on later for some ranting or something.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A little riding a little fishing

After staying up too late Ssaturday night hanging out with friends, Sunday I woke up a little stiff. No, not that kind of stiff you pervs! Even after hitting the hot tub Saturday night, my legs still felt pretty worked from Saturday's race. I'd cramped my left calf with about 3 laps to go and it's still pretty tender. The plan for Sunday was to get up in time to hang with the devil (aka Kim West) and everyone else on heckler's hill for the triathlon. As such we didn't leave the house until almost 8 and had 15 miles to go. I led us right into the mouth of the triathlon crowds and though we wound our way through the grass and throngs of people, we barely made it to the hill in time to watch the last few minutes of heckling. Ah well, we had gotten some milage in and were working on loosening up the legs.

Keith was moving along well while I struggled with the combination of no power and riding the cross bike as my weapon of choice. We still moved along pretty well though I was feeling worked by the time we got done. After checking out the expo at the triathlon and watching a few people cross the line we headed home. We took a slightly altered route back and made some good time and didn't fight the crowds nearly as much.

Sunday afternoon was just Corley and I as Miranda was working. Such a beautiful day couldn't be entirely wasted so after naps for both daddy and daughter, we headed to the farm. We took Corley out for her first chance to go fishing. Grandpa has been waiting with baited breath to have this opportunity.
Watch the bobber

Reel in the fish

Let's just watch Grandpa do all the work

Corley had fun, but wasn't all about catching the fish. She'd rather watch Grandpa do all the work and then have a chance to touch the fish before it went in the bucket. At least she wasn't too girly girl and touched both the fish and the worms. A late run had us busting butt to get home and to bed, but all in all it made for a nice end to the weekend.

I should've ridden in to work today, but I figured I could use a sort of rest day. We'll be heading out with the tandem tonight so that will still get me some miles in.

Johnston Green Days Crit

Ahh, my first crit... Well, it was pretty much what I expected in that I suffered and assumed I might blow chunks my the end of the race. I had fun in a sadistic and twisted sort of way. In reality, I could've done a lot worse and possibly marginally better. I managed to run out of gas on the final lap and dropped a couple spots at that point. I finished 9th out of 21 starters so I felt pretty decent about that.

The course really was pretty simple with only two 180 degree turns at the ends. Nobody really seemed to be hammering the turns in our race. Well, with the exception of Keith who hammered the turn a little too hard in the wet and had his bike slide out from under him. For the most part, if you played it right you could close up any gaps at the turn by breaking late and hard and then diving into the turn as most of the guys were braking early and often. I'm pretty sure I went harder through the turns on a few practice laps than we did during the race.

I'll shoot some pictures up later as I still have to upload them to Flickr. I definitely didn't leave much out on the course with stats from the ride being 183 avg hart rate, 193 max heart rate, 22.6 avg speed, and 99 avg cadence. I hit my highest heart rate as I crossed the line for the finish so at least I timed that right. I did take one small flier just to say I led a lap, but other than that it was all about hanging onto the pack and making sure I didn't fall too far back.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Calling all scooter riders

I'm in the market for a scooter. I want to finish off driving my truck as much as possible. While I love the idea of riding my bike in to work on a daily basis, it isn't always practical. I don't just work as a desk jockey (I'm not sure if that's fortunate for me or not). I occasionally have meetings to attend, jobsites to check on, and errands to run. Hopping on my bike to trek to an across town meeting or jobsite, just isn't going to cut it. I can also borrow my boss' truck since it's a company vehicle, but then that begins to be a pain as well. So, it's time to scoot.

I've been eyeing them for a while and slowly doing a bit of research. From the sounds of it, there are about 3 levels I can go with. First you have the Chinese direct gray market imports that have about the same quality as a Harbor Freight tool. Don't get me wrong, Harbor Freight is one of my favorite stores to blow money in, but I don't go there looking for long lasting quality tools. Add in that parts and service are questionable or hard to come by at best and it becomes a disposable item. The second level seems to be midline, fairly reliable, but not as well known brands such as Genuine and Kymco. I'd probably equate these to your average Sears quality. It should last you for a while, but at least you know that parts and service will be available when you need it. Lastly, you have the high end Honda's, Aprillia, and Yamahas. Well known, parts and service are plentiful, and have a good reputation for long lasting quality. Oh ya, and they come with the price tag too boot.

I've pretty much decided on the midline scooters. The local dealer is a whopping 4 blocks from my place, offers free pick up for warranty work, and seemed to be pretty friendly when I went in to check them out and pestered the guy with questions for close to an hour when I'm sure he knew I was just browsing. Overall, I think my needs are pretty well met by this selection. I need to commute roughly 18 miles round trip per day, I'll have some 40-50 mph traffic to deal with along with a possible stint up to 60-65 if I jump on the freeway, and I need to be able to haul a few things such as drawings and blueprints. I'd also like to use it for running small errands and such.

There are 3 options I'm looking at right now.
The Buddy 125

The Rattler buck ten

And the People S200

All 3 have distinct advantages and hindrances. Here's what I've put together so far (note I was not able to test ride any of these yet).
Buddy 125: Good- pricing, top speed, overall looks, accessories Bad- get up and go is less than the others, foot rest area is tight, hard to ride two people, baby blue is the in stock color...
Rattler buck ten: Good- pricing, aggressive styling, get up and go should be the best of the three, go fast parts available, reportedly the most fun to ride of the three Bad- doesn't seem to have the functionality of the other two, lower top speed, hard to ride two people.
People S200: Good- most powerful, highest top speed, more substantial size/heft, accessories available, most capable for riding two people Bad- pricing is the highest by $600.

All of them are pretty decent scooters from what I can see. It's mostly coming down to buyer preference when choosing between them, but the $600 is just about a deal killer when I'm doing this to save money. My ROI on the extra cash would take roughly another 4-6 months of riding to cover and could go a long way towards maintaining the other two. The biggest factor for it is the ability to ride two people, but I just don't know if I need to have that ability. Mostly my wife and I wouldn't ever ride together since the little one would need to have a sitter. Plus for the riding we might do, it would just be small trips and no long distance riding which should be fine for the other two. I'm really trying to decide between the buck ten and the 125.

The buck ten is a two cycle 110cc motor and should really get up and move in comparison to the other two. It has some cool styling and according to the salesman would be his choice for fun to ride which I have to admit plays a part in my decision making. If it's fun to ride, I'm more likely to ride. I can accessorize it just as well for functionality as the 125, but that also tones down the styling of it a bit. The biggest down side is that the reviews all say it will get up to 55-60 mph but has no more top end even with power modifications due to the gearing. I just don't know if that will cut it if I ever have the need to jump on the freeway.

I think if the 125 had a bigger spot for my big ass feet (size 11.5), it'd probably be a pretty easy choice. The styling is decent and it is supposed to run up around 65 mph at the top end which is enough to move me along nicely on the freeway even with the 60 mph speed limit areas now in effect. Most likely I'll head back to the shop and see if I can sweet talk them into a test ride since I don't have a motorcycle license yet. They might be a little more willing if I prove I'm serious about buying based on a test ride. As long as it's fun to ride, I can live without the need to pretend it's a mini motorcycle ala the driving force behind the buck ten.

If you've got an opinion, post it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Of besting co-workers and bragging rights

No real riding from yesterday other than a commute in and back home early so I could get a haircut and clean up before heading back in to work yet again. I did manage to get my total commute closer to the magical 1 hour mark. I think once the construction north of my place that requires either slowing down or completely rerouting if workers are present is finished up, I'll be breaking that 1 hour mark. I can't wait!

Back to the thought at hand. Last night we had an open house at our work. We were celebrating a milestone for the company and put on a huge shindig. Most of the office staff felt the obligation to show up and make sure we properly mingled and shmoozed the few clients that showed up. I was a bit disappointed to see that our largest contingent of people there were employees or vendors. The clients just didn't show up for whatever reason.

In any case, part of the festivities included some various games in which you could participate to collect prizes. There were a couple guess the quantity of X in a jar games, a bean bag toss, nail driving, and shuffleboard. Now I'm a competitive guy. If you haven't figured that out yet, you probably haven't talked to me for more than a minute or two or are just reading about all the sex I talk about here and completely ignore my cycling posts... I digress, I was pretty bored for the most part so I spent my time hanging around the games and playing them while nobody else was waiting in line.

As I was in the process of besting my own scores, I managed to score highest in one game, second in another, and then had second in one of the guessing games. My question is do I concede the two events that I kept playing until I got higher and higher scores or accept the prizes? Nothing was said about only playing once and everyone else had the same opportunity. Normally, I wouldn't care much either way, but there was what I felt like a bit of a backlash from one person I that I bested his score on in one of the events. I couldn't quite tell if he was joking or serious, but I'm guessing he was saying it jokingly even though he was serious. So what would you do, take the prizes and run or maybe concede to the other person that scored in a single try?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Commuting kicks ass

I'm beginning to see the appeal. No really, it's an amazing thing to behold. The few times I've commuted previously, I always enjoyed the energized feeling that I had when I got to work, but the ride itself didn't do much for me. I can't believe that a different bike would change all that and make the ride become as much a part of the enjoyment as anything else, but it seems to be the case for me. I even rode in again today. Of course, I have to head out early to grab a haircut and then come back for an open house we're having from 4-8. I'll be driving back in :(

I'm digging the cross back immensely if you can't tell. I couldn't wait to bolt out of here last night and hit the road. You'd think after another long ass day at work, I'd be strung out, but I actually felt awesome on the ride home. I had to detour the sinkhole on SE 6th as there were construction crews present.

What better way to put the bike through it's paces by hopping up on the levee and jumping down through the church parking lot. Sweet! The bike definitely inspires some confidence. I busted ass pretty much all the way home without shifting from the big ring and made a new record time for my commute with 30 minutes and a few odd seconds on the clock. That's faster than my road bike!

At home it was no rest for the wicked as I'd planned a tandem ride with Miranda along with our friends Pat and Gabrielle and the cow tandem. After wolfing down some pizza we were off for a tour de downtown. Miranda got her first taste of clipless pedals on the ride... Let's just say while she didn't fall over (which would be bad on the tandem) clipping her feet in was an exercise in patience. Of course I forget I've been using clipless for however long and it pretty quickly becomes second nature. We rolled through downtown and even off roaded over the temporary levee they built on Waterstreet by Principal Park. A quick stop for refreshments at Zanzibars and away home we headed with a shade over 14 miles on the tandem. What a great day for riding. I hope you all got out as well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Axis of good

As opposed to the Axis of Evil made so popular by our current pres GWB. I submit to you that an Axis can be good. How so you ask? Just look, I dare you to call this Axis anything, but pure sweetness:

I pulled the trigger on buying it Saturday from Rassy's after Greg shot me a deal I couldn't refuse and honestly shouldn't lest it get out that he's a nice guy after all! As I was riding on Saturday, I couldn't take it home, but I made sure to run down over lunch yesterday to pick it up. Sterling was kind enough to even wipe the dust off of it considering it's a leftover 06 model. I think Greg was as happy to part with it as I was to get a great deal so it worked out equally well. Even putting in 13+ hours yesterday couldn't deter me from heading home to get it ready for it's first commute this morning.

I swapped a new set of Crank Brother's Smarties on it and set about adjusting the seat height for me. Talk about close to a perfect fit right off the bat. I pulled the seat up a bit, but left the saddle tilt and fore/aft positioning as is. A quick ride around the neighborhood had me convinced this thing is sick! I've never ridden a track bike, but I can imagine that it's pretty similar to this ride. The steering is immediate, it feels lighter than my road bike, and the cross tires just soak up the bumps plus encourage curb hopping...

I made sure to take advantage and put it through it's paces on a maiden commute in this morning.

It was a bit chilly at 5:30 this morning, but it all ended good after warming up on a few hills. The first ride in was sweet. Talk about a perfect mix of road soaking feel of the mountain bike and the fun and fast nature of a road bike. I can definitely see the appeal all ready. A few tweaks here and there with the biggest probably being the addition of a Brooks or Selle An-Atomica saddle and it'll be perfect. I'm leaning towards the Selle as I've heard good things about them from my friends Pat and Gabrielle on Team Cow plus they offer a waterproof model. I can't wait to ride home. Shoot, I may hop back on over lunch just for fun. I love new bike day!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tempered weekend

Unless your job typically calls for a weekend workday, working on weekends sucks. It doesn't matter how you justify it, whether it be overtime, flex time, or whatever, it still sucks. As such, I wasn't looking forward to Saturday in the least. I managed to drag my butt in for most of the day until the carpet cleaning crew kicked me out with the smell of their chemicals. I did find a good way to temper the workday by riding in to work. After I finished up, I was slated to go home and kick back for a bit. Hmm, I'm all ready on my bike, why not just head out on a ride since I didn't need to pick up Corley until 6 or so.

I decided to head through downtown and see if I could make it through since I didn't know what bridges and routes were still open. I made it through pretty easily sliding down University and then heading south on 2nd to Grand. I never quite realized how long the climb is out of downtown on Grand. I set my sites on heading over to Rassy's to see who might be kicking it at the shop. I was hoping for a beer break with Squirrel, but as luck would have it, he was currently on the east side that I'd just come from! He would show up later on to the shop with Teri and we still enjoyed a brew after they closed up for the evening.

I must have had some type of tailwind on the way home as I put the mountain bike through it's paces all the way home from the shop. I felt pretty good with the exception of my ass getting rubbed raw from a crappy set of shorts. Time to hang them up and grab a new set of baggies. I bought these almost 8 years ago and while they have very little use, they're a size too big so I don't get the right coverage and damn does that suck!

The call went out for a 6 am ride on Sunday with some local big hitters. I hemmed and hawed, but finally made up my mind that I'd show up and see how long I could hang on before they totally destroyed my. It was my father's day present to myself!? We headed through town and south winding our way to Cumming before turning down on G14 towards Winterset. I'd all ready been redlined a few times by now, but was still hanging on running halfway through zone 4 for me. The pace eased a little and I kept on the tail until the first big climb. I fell off the back like I threw out a parachute as they sprinted the hill. Luckily they dropped the pace down until I could be drug back up to the group (thanks I think?). I stayed with them figuring I'd be dropped again on the next big climb. Anyone who's ridden that road will know it. It's the right hand turn that goes up and up and up, until you think it will never end. It's not extremely steep, but man does it drag on.

I forced my way to the top way behind the group and turned back knowing I couldn't hang on any longer and didn't want to slow the group down any further. I collected some nice tailwind and set sail for home. There were a huge number of cyclists headed south which was awesome to see. I bonked on the way home due to some poor nutritional planning. Apparently 2 bottles of Heed and a granola bar for breakfast aren't enough to fuel a 54 mile hard ride. I didn't even have the advantage of a gel or two as I hadn't planned far enough ahead to have any available to bring with me. Ahh well, all is good as I made it back in one piece and headed for home.

The rest of the day was spent mostly being lazy and enjoying some time with the wife and daughter. I chose to go out for some barbecue for dinner and had a nice meal topped off with a few brews. I even headed in to work for another hour or so to finish checking through a set of drawings. Sheesh, I see a pattern emerging for the time being. I'm hoping to take advantage of the weather this week and ride the new bike in at least a few times. New bike you ask? Stay tuned and all will be revealed kiddies. Later.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday at work

Yup, so I'm in on a Saturday. I can't say as it entirely sucks since it's my own fault I'm here. I at least made the effort to bike in today. I broke out the MTB to give it some love since it hasn't seen any action for a couple of weeks. I also figured since I'm still on the fence about the cross bike this would give me the chance to explore a bit if I felt the need after work. I do feel a bit guilty in the fact that this was supposed to be my afternoon to watch Corley since momma is working. I'm sure we'll get some good time in tomorrow though. Of course, tomorrow, I may be working again depending on how efficient I can be today. I'll just have to play it by ear.

The ride in this morning was something of an exercise in finding out how commuting on a regular basis would be. I chose a cotton tee and baggies with a built in chamois for ride attire this morning. I also won't plan on commuting in my road shoes unless I'm riding the road bike. For commuting I'll either be going with MTB shoes and my crank brothers smarties or going way old school and sticking some platforms on so I don't need to keep another pair of shoes hanging around. It's been a while since I road platforms. I did ride them at Burning Man last year on my cheap ass Toy's R Us death ride, but that was all on flat terrain and never for more than a few miles at a shot. I'm probably also going to switch to a more comfort oriented saddle such as a Brooks or possibly the updated version Selle-anotomica which essentially is a Brooks with a cutout. The upside to that saddle is they make a waterproof version which would be handy for a multi-use bike.

Speaking of Burning Man... I pulled the plug on going again this year. After I got back last year, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go again until wife and baby girl were able to go with me so we could share the experience. Then our friends at Freddy and Eddy tried to entice me into coming out and helping run the art car they want to build. They bought me a ticket to get in and everything. As much as I appreciated the thought, I couldn't bring myself to spend the extra $ and take the time away from the family again for something purely about me. Instead the time and cash will be put where it should, by doing a family vacation sometime later this year.

I suppose I've droned on enough and procrastinated at least a little more time away with you good folks, so it's time to clip this short. I'll try to get some photos uploaded to my Flickr tonight so you can see some of my pics of the flooding from this morning's ride in. One of these days I need to update my sidebar links too and get some of the great blogs I read daily listed in there as well as some things like Flickr. Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Anyone here ever experienced it? I sure don't know what to call this funk I'm in, but burnout seems to fit quite nicely. I'm not quite sure how this post is going to go, so if you want to save yourselves from self pity and wallowing, you may want to turn around now.

There's nothing really wrong with my job, but I can't get my head around it any more. I can't beleive I possibly have burnout after seeing my coworkers struggle with lower volumes of work while I seemed to breeze through my projects. I think it's a stress thing. I keep a lot of things very close to me and while they might not be on the forefront of my mind, they all add up in the back of my head. Usually riding my bike hard and working myself into a pulp is my way of coping. It's just not going to work anymore though.

I've operated for a long time on the cusp of risk/reward. Walking that tightrope seems to be the key I have for making my projects profitable. I wait until the last moment before squeezing the trigger and getting stuff done. For those not familiar with construction, the general rule seems to be that you always are behind the eight ball in regards to time and schedule. While I know it pisses some people off and makes it look like I'm in a constant state of chaos, it's proven profitable. It seems there isn't much money to be made in getting stuff done early. It's weird how that works and I don't profess to even understand it. The problem really lies when you know you've lost your edge and are falling into the backside of being too late. I'm there. I can't lie and say that thoughts of just walking away haven't crept inside my head, but I'm not that type of person. I do think it's pretty imperative that I find a change here though or it won't be long before the type of person I am comes into direct conflict with maintaining my sanity.

I sent an email off to my boss last night letting him know I was in trouble. I hate that. I'm not the guy to ask for help with things. I'm usually the guy everyone else asks and I help when I can. Maybe it's time for a change. Anyone know of a good paying job that a guy with a business degree and mostly construction management/estimating experience can transition into (that doesn't deal with construction)? It's time to sit down with my boss this morning and have a serious discussion of what I'm going to be doing here. Enjoy your Friday the 13th.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

All work and no play...

I'm not sure if it's fortunate or not, but all work no play, hasn't been my motto for a while. I've definitely been playing plenty hard and now that I look at it, too hard. Funny how a simple little voicemail can elevate your heart rate as much as a good finish line sprint or time trial effort.

It appears I'll be getting my ass kicked for at least a couple weeks until I can get back on top of things at work at the very least. I'm even folding my plans for the Elkhart TT tonight in favor of staying at work late. Ya, it's going to suck hard core and make me want to jab a fork in my eye, but it must be done. I've been taking advantage of suckling the easy money teat for too long and well, it's time to pay the piper.

I don't know if I'll even get any rides in during the upcoming weekends so if I see you, I see you, if not, have fun.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Orange crush leaves me blue

Or should I say Celeste? As part of my evil plan to take over the world, I have been lusting over the Salsa La Cruz. I stopped down at Rassy's to get a bit more info and pricing on the Salsa. I knew it was a bit pricey for a steel cross bike, but overall I really liked the spec and think it would be a great combination for commuting, gravel riding, and possibly some actual cross racing should that bug bite me.

Sterling brought up a point that I hadn't considered. The La Cruz is a disc only bike. It doesn't have mounting points available for any other type of brake setup. As such, he was pretty sure that discs aren't allowed at most cross races. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? While I really like the bike, if I can't use it for cross racing, then it fails at one of the possible intended uses I have for it. (Update: from a cross racing buddy it appears the no-disc rule only applies to UCI races and then only to the expert classes). Anyone else able to verify this?

Instead, he brought to my attention a poor lonely little Bianchi that is looking for a good home. It's the right size and pricing is a lot better than I could get for the Salsa. I took the Bianchi out for a quick spin and all seemed right with it. Of course only a long ride will truly tell. I'm taking opinions and feedback if anyone has any outside suggestions.

Pricing will probably pay more of a role in my decision than I'd like. With my plan for buying a scooter and trying to turn the rest of my budget along with selling my road bike into a two new bikes, I'll be wringing out every penny. I'm guessing that my pipe dream of being able to upgrade my road bike at the same time is going to fall by the wayside. I'd love to get something with a little racier geometry and nicer components than my current ride. At a budget of $3000 total, I have a feeling that's going to be a tall order to fit a couple nice bikes in there unless I manage to find one of them used.

A kinder gentler TNWC?

I decided to brave my lack of training and suck it up for the TNWC ride again last night. Considering it's the best show going and Tuesday night looked to be one of the few dry nights to ride this week, it was pretty much a no brainer. I also wanted to check out the levels at Saylorville as we crossed the mile long bridge.

A stiff south breeze let me know we were in for a fast ride out and some suffering on the way back. The ride definitely didn't disappoint on either cue. I made it the furthest yet with the pack before getting chewed up and spit out like a piece of overcooked steak. I made the north side of Ankeny and fell off once the pack accelerated over 35 MPH. Somehow I ended up out in front of the pack as we headed up the sprint hill and nobody sprinted. I came to the top of the hill and was still at the front of the group. I think the pack got slowed down for traffic turning off of Morningstar drive so they all slowed down while I kept on trucking. Whatever, it kept me hanging on to the pack through Ankeny for the first time so I was stoked. Talking to Lou after the ride it sounded like speeds reached the mid 40's at one point. That's just smokin fast considering this was all on the flats. I hooked up with a couple various riders that were also out the back and finally ended up by myself as the route turned back south into the wind.

Time to dig down and suffer. I stuck it in the middle ring and worked on keeping my heart rate at roughyl time trial effort (180ish BPM). I recovered slightly on a few downhills and pushed harder in other areas, but overall worked myself into a pretty good lather. The ride across the mile long bridge was pretty cool. It's wild seeing the water levels at this point considering there is usually around 100' of space between the bridge deck and the water.

I even managed a smile. Of course, it should be known that if you're able to take pictures on the TNWC ride, you're probably not hanging with the group... A hard push back to the truck had me peg out my heart rate at 190 again in the last block, but hey, that's what this ride is all about, right?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Money pit

With gas prices hovering near $4.00 and I pesimistically assume they'll go higher, it's time for change. While I actually do use my truck for more than just basic transportation on a regular basis, I can and should give it a rest for basic commuting duty. My vehicle commute amounts to 20 minutes and 8.5 miles one way on a daily basis. My bike commute runs about 9 miles and takes 35-40 minutes depending on several factors.

I spent some time running gobs of numbers since I love to geek out on that kind of stuff. I ran various options of adding on a more fuel efficient car, buying a commuter bike, buying a scooter, or buying a scooter and commuter bike. The biggest influence in the numbers was plugging a guesstimate on how much time I'd use one of the other forms of conveyance versus my truck. Obviously a car would be used the most and the bike would be the least used. While I love biking, I haven't fallen in love with commuting just yet. As we have no shower facilities in my office, I'm mostly required to be dress casual (nice jeans and polo type shirt), and I don't necessarily enjoy having to dress a certain way to ride in only to change again at the office, it makes it difficult for me to commit to commuting by bike only. As I ran the numbers, I amortized them out over a 5 year period because it was the only way to give the new car a fair shake on cost.

The car being the most useful still lost out on the cost analysis as it would cost me roughly $1200 over the 5 years. The scooter was actually the best cost savings as I'd be more likely to use it than a bike alone and showed a savings of roughly $7000. The bike only option was next in line at $6200 and the bike/scooter combination came in third at $6000. All of these are actual savings based on 5 years of usage and purchasing new equipment has all ready been taken out of the costs. How can I save so much? Easy, I drive a vehicle that averages 11 MPG year round and put roughly 13,000 miles per year on it. At $4 per gallon, it doesn't take long to add up.

Although I'm a frugal person (read cheap bastard) for the most part, I also recognize where I can take advantage of certain situations to buy something I've had my eye on. This particular situation would normally dictate I go buy a scooter and keep on trucking. Now that wouldn't quite be fair in the light of how much I'm enjoying my cycling, so why not take the opportunity to save money yet increase my bike count by 1 as well?! Evil genious I tell you. Sometimes I amaze even myself. Stay tuned for a rundown of some bike(s) and scooters I'm considering. Feel free to post up recommendations if you like.

I'd lose my head if it weren't connected

Notice anything missing from this picture? It's pretty obvious when you look at it that there's no bike in my bike rack. Unfortunately, that wasn't quote so obvious until I was most of the way to work this morning. This just means I'll be headed home to grab the bike over lunch or after work so I can hit TNWC tonight. I'm sure it will be a long ride tonight with my riding taking a back seat the past couple of weeks. Hopefully I can pick up another straggler or two to ride with and at least make the time out a bit more enjoyable.

Last night was spent fortifying the domicile with a new deadbolt and picking out privacy fencing for the area between the house and garage. Hopefully this weekend will be dry enough that I can get a few hours of work put in on making things more secure around our place. I'm still a bit mixed on the idea of putting in a motion light on our garage though. If I mount it out front it will guard the cars and driveway, but offer no coverage for the area between the garage and house. The other issue is that whenever we head to the hot tub, we'll be guaranteed of setting it off. I'm no prude by any means, but I don't necessarily think being illuminated by a million candlepower spot light as I try to sneak into the hot tub while wearing a fuzzy white bathrobe is in the best interest of my dignity (or the neighbors retinas for that matter).

I am looking forward to the ride tonight. I haven't really had a chance to push myself on a hard ride for a while. I am a bit worried about my legs though as my shins are aching for some reason. As near as I can figure, I stressed my shins by sprinting to my truck during the downpour at the tri on Sunday morning. Amazing that my body is falling apart so quickly... I've never been much of a runner, but dang this sucks. Maybe I should look into a little jogging as a good cross training exercise. Hell, who am I kidding, I barely take/have the time to train on a bike, let alone do any weights or other training.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A surefire way to piss me off

Lucky readers, you get a twofer today. I'm sure you can guess by the title that something is amiss here in paradise. My wife called this morning with an odd question about the FM transmitter for the Ipod. Did I take it or had I seen it? Hmm, considering she's the only one with an Ipod and I hadn't used it since the Almanzo race, I was pretty sure I didn't have it. Ah well, I figured it would turn up sooner or later. Then there was the passing comment at the end of the conversation about some of the papers from her glovebox being askew. Odd, for sure.

Next, comes the part that pisses me off. Another call an hour or two later. Did you take the radar detector today? Now I was pissed. Obviously some douchebag had decided to pilfer our stuff. Considering there weren't any signs of forced entry to her car, I'm pretty sure one of us (probably me) left it unlocked after we came home last night. A quick check of the handle and they were off with several hundred bucks worth of stuff. Easy electronics and a scan of the glovebox and they were gone like a fart in the wind. Assholes!

We've been having some issues lately with what I'm sure amounts to a bunch of pissant kids roaming the neighborhood drinking and being miscreants in the middle of the night. Nothing too bad and unforgivable thus far. Some random beer cans and liquor bottles in the yard, our daughter's plastic playhouse disassembled in the drive, a suddenly hard to get my key into lock to the garage, and some neighbors with damaged mail boxes. OK so the mailboxes may have been a bit for and trying to jimmy open my garage isn't cool, but the other stuff is typical kids bullshit that I may or may not have been a part of during my own age of misguided intent. Now stealing stuff from me is cause for measures to be taken. The police will be called and a report filed. I doubt I'll turn in the loss to my insurance so we're just out the money. I'm going to put my new deadbolt on the garage tonight and soon enough there will be fencing around the rest of the yard.

I hate having to do this. I live in a pretty decent neighborhood. I have no doubt that it's a bunch of high school kids that aren't old enough to drive, but have managed to score themselves an alcohol supplier so they have to roam the neighborhood and wreak havoc. Stealing is such a petty thing too. Now I've got to hurry my butt up and do a bunch of stuff just to make sure they don't strike again. My wife, bless her heart, seems to think we'll see it hanging from the mirror in one of the passing kid's cars that are currently roving the neighborhood with school being out for summer. While I don't doubt that they're this stupid, these kids are stealing to get cash for stuff. It's sitting in a pawn shop somewhere as we speak. Should I catch someone with it in their car, I can't wait to call the cops.

Poppa's got a new pair of shoes

OK so these aren't really new shoes and for that matter, who calls themselves "Poppa" anymore? I'm actually wearing these shoes today because my other shoes are still a touch damp... Soaking wet really. You see, I, like hundreds of other volunteers arose at the butt crack of dawn to volunteer for the Copper Creek Triathlon. I swung through Altoona to pick up Matt from the Rassy tri squad who was in town from Fort Dodge. The skies looked pretty threatening and I'd run through several rain showers all ready. Optimistic, we got his gear loaded and headed for check in. I took off for the bike repair tent to rendezvous with Donny and find out my assignment for the day. As he wasn't around, I shot the breeze with Squirrel and geeked out on some of the tri-gear.

Then the rains came... And that was all she wrote folks. Around 7, Jenny made the announcement that the race would still be on and that we'd get final instructions at 7:30. 7:30 rolled around to wind whipped rain, whitecaps on the lake, and a veritable river flowing near curb deep in spots through the parking lot (and the reason my shoes are soaked). A few minutes later the race was cancelled. Now I'm sure that no race director wants to cancel their race so I can't help but wonder if there weren't some outside influence in this decision. The talk we'd heard all morning was that if we couldn't do the 8 start time, it would be pushed back hourly in attempt to make the event happen. Now, we're at 8 o'clock and headed home. I wonder if the safety crews from Pleasant Hill pulled the plug on the event. I know this winter, the Des Moines police caused the cancellation of a 10K run due to icy conditions and they wouldn't provide the necessary support. Seems to me that something very similar could have happened here. In any case, bravo to everyone for showing up mostly ready to rock and roll and hopefully they'll be able to reschedule for this year.

Saturday for the most part was a lot better day. I met up with Tom and Steve for an early morning ride. I anticipated heading south to Carlisle and then on to Summerset park before heading towards Martensdale and finally downtown for a stop at the farmer's market. Alas, if you check out the route here you'll see several reroutes before we even reached Carlisle along with a short stint on the Highway 5 bypass just to reach town. I guess that would make Kim proud for riding our bikes where we needed. All was for nought though as both the trail and roads were flooded a couple miles outside of Carlisle.

A decision to still shoot for our goal of 50 miles was upheld so I meandered us down through the south side of Des Moines and out to Pleasant Hill for a preview of what was supposed to be the bike leg of the triathlon on Sunday. The hill up to Doane's Park would have been fun to see some people suffer on. Probably would have been reminiscent of the Grand Hill at the Hy-Vee tri. We passed through the setup area at Copper Creek and shot our way down for a well deserved break with a farm boy's burrito at the market. FYI- for anyone familiar with these amazing burritos, they have a new stand at the north end of 4th Street past Java Joes. They're not at the corner of 3rd and Court any longer. One final 5 mile stretch back to my place and we finished the day with a shade over 50 miles on the clock.

Other than a few hours spent at work, I was pretty lazy this weekend. Time to start getting on top of things here soon.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Duathlon cone

Duathlon cone, originally uploaded by buckshot77xx.

I'm seeing if I can join the 21st century and blog from my new phone so please bear with me. This is a shot I took of the cone at my checkpoint for the PRC duathlon last Thursday. As you can see my night was filled with excitement...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Where it's at

As Beck would say, two turntables and a microphone is where it's at for him. In my case, there's a little less flash and glam. I think I've figured out where it's at for me. I like to help out with things that are bigger than me. I'm sure if I had money, I'd probably donate or sponsor certain things. As it is, I have no extra cash, so instead I volunteer. It gives me a sense of belonging as well as getting the chance to help out in things that interest me.

Last night was a perfect example. PRC held their rescheduled second installment of the training duathlon series. It was supposed to be last week, but as anyone in central Iowa knows, we have been getting dumped on with rain and last Thursday was no exception. As it turns out, last week I wasn't available to help out and I was a bit bummed, but this week I had the time and could lend a hand. 20+ brave souls didn't let the threatening skies or Sunday's Copper Creek Tri stop them from coming out to enjoy the pain.

Kent showed up to try his hand at a duathlon for the first time. He kicked some serious butt coming in 4th overall against some pretty good competition. Sweet Jane showed up looking especially racy in her full aero kit, just to announce that she was only there to do some training. I think she managed to ride up to the corner and back as her only training and was given the appropriate amount of shit to go along with her effort! Overall a great time and a few of us enjoyed a couple brews as we loaded the trailer back up.

Hopefully I'll see a few of you at the tri on Sunday. Actually, scratch that as if you're doing the tri, you probably don't want to see me. I'm supposed to be doing roving bike repair/help out on the course fixing flats and such. So here's to hoping all I see of you is a blur as you shoot by at ludicrous speed. Maybe you'll even be going straight to plaid. Bonus points if you can tell me the movie I'm referencing.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ritual reroute

With all the rain and flooding going on, the dirt ride was out this week and probably will be for several more. Instead, I hit up the Ritual ride last night. A few of my fellow dirt riders showed up for the ride as well.
(Images stolen from Kent Carlson)

Another change due to flooding was the routing of the ride. We headed straight up Fleur and cut over on Bell before heading up Park to the trail head. We were supposed to roll up Fleur as a group, but as I cruised along at a comfortable pace I quickly moved out to the front without realizing it. I slowed back down and got to the front of the group. I don't think I heard a single horn honk at us going down Fleur which was pretty amazing as we made sure to take a full lane for our group.

A few more people met us at the trail head and I realized the dirt guys had shown up as well. Kent riding fixed on the route was pretty impressive considering the speeds we tend to carry for the front group. Speaking of front groups, I managed to keep on further than I have before and due to a small stop by the few that broke away, I managed to hook back on and finish with the front group for the first time. Usually I'm a minute or two behind.

We rolled the loop pretty quickly and headed back to Ritual Cafe where they were just closing down for the night due to being a bit understaffed. That really wasn't a bad thing as the ride numbers were way down tonight. I think a combination of the threat of rain and a some alternative options for the tri-people to do some training kept a pretty good group of people away. We hung out for a few more minutes chatting and then with a lap of thunder resonating through the buildings, I figured it was time to head for the shed.

I have noticed that with the amount of riding I'm doing going down, my knees seem to ache more. Normally, I'd figure the opposite of this, but I guess with them being stressed less often, now they ache when I do put the pressure on. I still need to double check my saddle height and make sure it's where Donny set it for me at the fitting last summer. Carbon bikes are notorious for letting the seat posts slip. I will say that everything felt really good on the bike last night. I was just feeling it and didn't overwork myself on the first half of the ride. I did manage to get my heart rate to hit 190 going up the soccer hill and didn't completely die off once we were over the top. Of course I was chasing a couple of the tri guys who I think were mostly toying with the speeds they were running while I was wide open just to hang on.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

We've all lost it

Yesterday was a pretty bittersweet day around here. I had the opportunity to see some cousins and other family members that I hadn't visited with for several years. Considering it was in the middle of a Tuesday morning, that meant I was also at a funeral. It was for my great uncle. I hadn't seen him for a couple years either. Funny thing was, I had probably seen him more recently than some of my direct cousins, aunts, and uncles. In any case, I joined my mom and grandma for a drive up to Nevada for the funeral.

Funerals just get to me. I never used to be such a sentimental guy, but a big shake up a few years back seemed to open a direct link with my ability to empathize and find some link to whatever event is going on within my own personal life. Things like funerals hit home pretty hard now. The funeral was pretty much the same as most others I've been to, but I really enjoyed the eulogy that his 4 grand kids took turns giving. It showcased what a truly unique spirit and energy he had and how he lived his life.

That really brings me to the topic of the day. I've heard a lot of talk lately about the "greatest generation" and how their numbers are dwindling further and further. I never really considered what the term meant until yesterday. I think we're losing something special. My grandparents are part of this generation and I've been privileged to know a number of other people in this generation as well. There's just something that sets them apart. I think it's their outlook, resourcefulness, and ability to make the most out of any situation. This in turn makes them what we used to call "good people" down on the farm.

My great uncle was most certainly one of those people. While I only knew him in a very narrow sense, it was interesting to hear how his friendliness and wish to help others extended to pretty much everyone he met. Even talking with Squirrel this weekend and another time on the bike, it was mentioned that people just aren't friendly anymore. We're all too self absorbed and centered. Even our own families come second to what we want. Everyone is chasing the golden ring and those be damned that get in the way or are forgotten along the way. I think we're riding closer and closer as a culture to losing a lot of good things about humanity.

I was discussing this with my wonderful wife on our way home from an impromptu night out for coffee as my mom stopped by to watch the little one. The question we came up with is which is the cause versus the effect. Are we less friendly because we're afraid of all the weirdos and strangers out there or are there more weirdos and strangers because we're less friendly? Either way, it's a circular problem that spirals further down as we go along. That's my food for thought today.

I will say one additional comment though. I've been pretty damn lucky in the past year to meet some awesome new friends. It's refreshing to see there are still some people out there that family and friends are important to. Seriously, there are some kickass people in the cycling community and I can't wait to meet more of you and hopefully make a few more friendships along the way.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What a weekend

Don't you hate it when things like work get in the way of recapping something that's way more awesome? That's been my day in a nutshell. However, the bright spot that was this weekend definitely helps to ease the pain of getting back to the work week.

Friday night kicked off the festivities with some good family time. We ate a quick and early dinner and beat feet over to a special event at the zoo. They were having an after hours event for season pass holders. Corley loves the zoo and with my schedule, I really haven't taken the time to go with her to the zoo. She was bouncing everywhere like a typical 2 year old, but loving every second of it. The culmination was seeing the unveiling of the travelling elephant exhibit. The show area was packed, but it was well worth it. We spent a little more time doing some activities and listening to the music before it was time to head home for a snack and bedtime.

Saturday I was up before the crack of dawn to meet up with the DM Cycle Club for the annual ride out to watch the dam to dam runners. We had a nice group of people show up for it being 5:30 in the morning. I even experienced my first bout of fame... LOL, I actually met two separate people that read my blog. It was nice meeting both you guys. The ride out was nice as I kept a good steady pace without breaking too much of a sweat. Once we hit the top of the dam it was about a half hour wait for the start of the race. I met some new people and talked with a few others I knew.

The runners made their way by as we cheered and clapped. Cyclists clapping for you is a funny thing. Since the majority of us all had gloves on it was pretty muffled! After the runners had gone by a group of the Rassy guys that had been at the other end of the dam showed up along with Kelly from PRC. We headed back towards town at warp speed. I flew along trying to hang on to the back of the train running 25+ MPH for the majority of the trip downtown. I finally fell off just before the Euclid bridge, but they waited up at Birdland Marina so we caught back up and then rolled downtown to watch the finish. Man the lead runners were flying! A little coffee break and then I headed home as Miranda strained something in her back and needed all the help she could get with Corley. 40+ miles and I was still home before 10 including time spent languishing at the coffee shop. A good start to the weekend! The rest of Saturday was spent hanging around the house for the most part as Miranda's back was giving her fits.

Sunday morning we woke up with some home made chocolate chip pancakes. Corley was all about that and ended up wearing a good portion of the chocolate on her face! With the threat of rain all week I had to mow the yard lest I have to convert it to pasture by the time the rain lets up. For some reason we also decided it was time to spring clean and rearrange little one's room. She now has her very own toddler bed which is going good so far. By then it was nap time.

Sunday afternoon is what weekends should be made of. After she was up from her nap, Corley and I loaded the bike and trailer to meet up with Squirrel and Kent for a trailer road train to the local parks. I'm sure we made quite the site making our way along the bike trail. 3 guys with 3 trailers all hauling 2 year old girls. Needless to say, a great time was had by all. After sampling 2 different parks it was time to head back for some grub and refreshments. Hopefully this is the start to a great way to spend an afternoon. Miranda met up with us to share in the festivities and we spent the evening enjoying the conversation and laughing at the antics of a couple little girls. Awesome.

Just chillin'

Best paceline I've seen in awhile

We were swingin...

When you've got the bubbles and you rule the world