Monday, 24 March 2014

Not Dead Yet

Self portrait taken in a Hong Kong park. I have anger management issues

Blogging is dying out pretty quickly, so it would seem. To some degree, it's with good reason. How many times can you read about people patrolling the front, covering any dangerous/promising looking moves, hoping to unleash a monster sprint, getting a little boxed in, and still salvaging an eighth? Don't forget some mandatory sketchy riding thrown in there. Though it's been some number of years, I've written that post. But there are some good ones out there, Fatmarc (who will forever be FatBacon to me after a funny post of his last year) and Great Uncle Paps. Worth reading.

Life's been chucking it at me a bit, headed by a trip to China. My project management contract sent me to Qingyuan for the better part of two weeks recently. It's an interesting place. One might be tempted to say "good god, what a shit hole," and yes, it's very different from here and some stuff doesn't make any sense to us, but it makes sense to them. I think. They do have more bike shops per acre even than the greater DC metropolitan area, which is nuts. The tea is fantastic, never mind that it seems primarily motivated by the abiding need to boil water before you drink it. Anyhow, it's a super interesting place, I'm excited to go back but not too soon. If nothing else, the jet lag is a bitch on wheels. Hong Kong is a trip, though. That's worth seeing, for sure.

Apart from that, there's mad amounts of domestic traveling going on. This week I will be in NJ, PA, and NC visiting vendors and playing backup on sales calls. Training for pedaling bikes gets hard this way, so I've had to adapt to running. My hotel in China had spin bikes (actually it had the nicest gym I've ever been in) which I used a bit but generally with the time I had (not much) I chose to run a lot. After I broke my leg, I thought running was done, since I'd tried to do too much too fast, wound up in a ton of pain, and said "screw that." Knowing that a ton of traveling was on the come, I took another stab at it, did a slow build befitting the aged and infirm jackass that I am, and am getting along with it quite well. Shockingly, I'm not quite as slow as I'd feared - I snuck in a run on Friday night before having my family over for dinner and thought I was running (jogging, really) at like 9:15 pace or so. Nope, I was running (jogging, really) at 7:45 pace, which for me at this point, for 6 miles, is pretty good. I still have a lot of work to do to catch up to my 16 year old niece, though, who is proving to be an absolute asskicker at all things endurance related.

Being back in RI has some huge advantages for me. Let's face it, despite the fact that I deplore all Boston sports teams (which is in fact a subset of my deploring pretty much all pro sports except hockey), New England is my natural environment. So Saturday I windsurfed for the first time in like 4 years. It was pretty grisly conditions, pretty varsity in fact, but super fun. Thankfully I read the play when the breeze started to die and headed in. Then yesterday I went mountain biking and reacquainted myself with real rocks. My sight reading of the trail was poor (haven't been there but once in ten years), but when I re-did sections I nailed all of them. Pretty excited. And then in the hardest part, this drop section we called the dentist's chair (because if you fuck up you'll soon be in the dentist's chair), I just sailed through the A line on both laps, like it wasn't even there. Cool.

Maybe racing at this crit called Chris Hinds next Saturday, and then maybe a mountain bike tt on Sunday. The mtb thing is at Burlingame, where I haven't ridden since probably the 90s, so I'm set up for a major ass paddling, but whatever.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Little Rhody - More Lobsters Than Mobsters?

Well it's just now a month since my return to the Ocean State. You can go home again, but that doesn't mean that your parents won't have turned your bedroom into a geriatric approximation of the boom-boom room. Just kidding, I never had a childhood bedroom here. But when you do go home again (and RI, especially that my family is all here now, feels more home than the Long Island of my birth had for a long long long ass time), it may be that you've changed and home hasn't, and that's what feels strange?

My mother and I disagree on Anthony's. They've got great fish, and their stuffies are tremendous. She thinks they have too much bread and chourico, whereas I - too much chourico? Okay, as if. In any case, I've had more seafood in the last 10 days than I've had in the last 10 years. My veins run red with brine, it's who I am, no sense fighting it.

More good news on cheap eats at Tito's. It's just fucking awesome. Three taco Friday, 2 of either bbq pork or redfish soft tacos, and one of the other, done. Happy me.

The bad news: my index of how much you are overpaying for your current real estate situation hinges on your proximity to a Whole Foods. In MD, I was within easy walking distance of 3, which well I'm an idiot. On the other hand, if you are a person to whom food generally matters as I am, Whole Foods is not a bad thing. Get a little disciplined about what you do there, don't fall victim to the infamous $97 snack of Page Valley Trip ca 2010, and you do very well at WF, eating better for the same money. Lovely though Aquidneck Island is, the food stores suck. There are two natural food stores that have some of the stuff that the chain stores don't have but they cost wicked bank, and the Shaw's/Stop and Shop scene just sucks. So there's that.

Coffee here is better. Customs House Coffee has you all covered. And when I ride across the bridge, Coastal Roasters in Tiverton is at least as good (I plan to move to Tiverton or Little Compton, perhaps Westport - but I can't brace the thought of having to be a Masshole - soon).

The riding here is interesting. I think everyone just mountain bikes and waits until cross. Weather be damned I've done several hundred miles and you pass the occasional dude. Oddly, every time I've seen dudes in like legit local team kits I've been driving. I think I ride later in the day than others, but I have schedule latitude and it's warmer later. I am a QUEEN about being too cold.

There is some funny Strava stuff going on here too. I now have a KOM, and let me tell you, when you can get a KOM on a 90" "climb" by 15" with a 400w effort, on a road where people do actually ride, well it's not as thick a culture here as there. I'm willing to wait it out and see what comes, and there are some segments with some impressive stats. But there's also wind. Any I mean wind, like it's actually a legit training thing to learn to deal with wind noise kind of wind. Windsurfing kind of wind. It's awesome. Saturday it was blowing about a bazillion and six, and this road that I used to live on (Wapping Road) has a long segment on it. I was 50x12 the whole time on it, monster tailwind, barely broke 300w for the 6 or whatever minutes (I think my average was 311) and kicked the crap out of Scott Giles' time (yes, that Scott Giles - he of about 4 Brazilian watts on this particular segment). So of course I will be cherry hunting segments according to wind conditions. Race your strengths, right? (sort of humiliating to even be talking about Strava in this but but any port in a storm, eh?).

I hope my ski season is over with a total of 3 days on the hill this year, just because I WANT SPRING, DAMMIT. Next Friday I go to Hong Kong and China for 10 days. I'll learn what all the guys who bitch about working out in crappy hotel gyms are crabbing about.

Next up: the mysterious case of Free Range Coffee at America's Oldest General Store.

Monday, 17 February 2014

A Drinking Problem

Here is my little drinking problem. Skratch, wonderful stuff that works well for me, is made by Allen Lim's company. Allend Lim may have been in a difficult place given the prevalence of douchebaggery afoot in recent years, but it's hard to overlook that he knew everything about everything and was like "oh, yeah, ummm, rice cakes are delicious."

This was sort of an easy one to dodge since Osmo came onto the market with stuff that works indistinguishably, for me, from Skratch, comes in palatable flavors, and without the bitter after taste of just being involved with dopey dope stuff. Except that now Osmo is the official drink of CTS Training Systems. CTS might have some wonderful coaches and whatnot (I like to use whatnot as often as possible, because there is a broad stripe of people for whom use of the word "whatnot" is an absolutely unpardonable sin, and what fun is life without poking people like that in the eye whenever possible?), but let's face it Chris Carmichael is like the world's ultimate dick. Look it up. He doped kids without their knowledge, exposing them to a whole range of shit that apparently did come home to roost for them, and he's just a freaking beard for the whole Lance and Ferrari show. The guy was vested with so much authority by all of these quarters, but he's nothing other than the basic personification of everything that you wouldn't want your kid to be. Or be exposed to. He's a nightmare. Or, in his parlance, NightMare(tm). Douche.

Why would Osmo be stupid enough to partner with him? I don't get it. Totally fucked up. So now I've got Nuun, which I like but I don't really like the effervescence, but I guess I have to live with it because UHH. Fucking people.

Last weekend I abused the hospitality of friends and went up skiing. It was mint. I hadn't skied since March 14, 2003 - or so said the lift ticket that was on my snow pants. First day I boarded, and I was pretty bad at it. Not terrible, just not good. I mean I was keeping up with everyone but it wasn't always fun to do it, it was a little stressful at times. So Sunday I decided to ski, which was mint. I'd inherited (literally) a set of super dope Volkl skis that I'd never used, and having never skied on shaped skis (the skis I last used were 203cm long Rossignol full bore slalom skis from circa 1994 - I used to ski a whole whole lot but then started to do more snowboarding and just sort of never updated my skis - I have mint boots though), set out on these new things that were every bit of 15" shorter than my old skis. Holy fucking shit that was fun. And I was good at it, like right away pretty much almost as good as I'd ever been (right after college I skied a TON and I don't think I'll ever be that good again). Wow. So then said friends insisted that I come up again this weekend, and who am I to say no? I wound up leading the charge on building this ridiculous kicker so a bunch of kids under 10 could try to learn to do sweet jumps. About that I will just say that stoke is a very infectious thing.

So my life is still super fucked up but a lot is pretty locked down and rolling. When you're in New England, especially this winter, you have to roll with the punch and embrace winter. Sometimes that means skiing and not worrying about doing no bike training for a weekend. Sometimes it means swimming and lifting a few nights a week instead of burning one's self the hell out on rollers. I'll probably have an extra soupcon of suck in the beginning of this year (especially after an upcoming 10 day trip to China during which who knows what the hell I'll do for exercise), but that's really just fine. Just fine.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Tucson Days 4 and 5

This is Brendan climbing Gates from the east. Brendan is a pro triathlete, very cool, very fast, and an excellent host.
When B and I got to the top, I turned around and saw this.
Then we dropped down and rode McCain Loop. Pics don't do it justice.
Heading back to Gates, to climb it from the west. Love this picture.
This is George climbing Gates from the west. George is my hero.
Approaching Madeira yesterday
You don't quite go all the way to the top...
Because getting over this might be tough.
Moonrise Kingdom (actually moon set kingdom).

Tucson has just been ridiculous. One of the best riding weeks of my life.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tuscon Day 3

Yesterday was Lemmon. Wow, 2 hours of climbing. Holy shit. Even if you climb it parked within zone 2 as I did, eventually it grinds you down. Would love to have a poke at it with some aggression but I don't know if that's going to fit in this week. Unless you are in really quite good shape, going hard up this thing is either a) not going to happen or b) going to wreck you for a month. Also, you start out at about 2k above sea level, and wind up a good stretch over 8k. You feel that, for sure, especially when about 4k is the highest you've ever been on a bike.

The Cycling Houseis phenomenal. Don't go if you're absolutely convinced that tomorrow's ride determines whether you'll get that pro contract or not, but if you want to get some great riding in with nice guests and an awesome group of guides, while being very well taking care of and eating first rate grub, it's good. Also, sag wagon.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Tucson Day 2

Just about 60 miles today, not too hard. Got frisky for a while but mostly kept it in check for tomorrow's trip to Mt. Lemmon. I hope to do Lemmon again on Thursday, but for tomorrow's trip I get full sag support so I'll enjoy getting the pro treatment and being able to load the team car with whatever clothes I'll want for the descent.

Weather is perfect, hosts are perfect, it's really turning out to be a great week.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Tuscon Day 1

Let me tell you how nice it was to wake up and see bright sunshine. First it was a little cool, then it wasn't cool, then it was nice and warm. I was sweating at one point, in a short sleeve jersey and bibs. The weather we're having is supposedly extra good this week, but I will take that luck card for absolute sure.

Not much to say about the riding yet just a super mellow roll around for a couple of hours to shake out the snot in my head, get rid of airplane legs, and chat with the other people here. I was either gawking at scenery or talking to other people so I have no idea where we were, but it was a nice ride. Mostly flat, pretty wide open roads. The roads are arrow straight, which is strange. We went through one intersection and the road we crossed, I'd swear it was dead straight for the 10 miles that I could see.

The Cycling House is fantastic, the guys running it are super into it and do a great job, the food is mack, and the house is great. More to come on this.