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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Velo Gobbler

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend and beware the wild turkeys on your ride. Talk to you next week.
Gobble Gobble

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

This Article Contains Caffeine

Shoes, helmet, coffee. That’s my new pre-race checklist. That’s all I really need to race my bike. I would’ve listed a bike, but if you forget your bike you’re a doof. I prefer to think that I’m one step higher than doofs on the evolution ladder, which after Sunday, may not be the case. Since this is a pre-RACE checklist, I’ve added the helmet. Previously, my pre-RIDE checklist only consisted of one thing…shoes (for more on that initial list read Flip Flops are Not Shoes.) So, I’ve added coffee, since I discovered State Championship Sunday that without coffee I’m about as functional as a hundred-year-old in a convalescent home.

Against the advice of my wife who knows I can work myself into a nervous gagging twit before a race, I did think about this race all week long. I made sure I got my hard workouts in and gave myself time to recoup in between. I checked out the pre-reg list just after the deadline passed. I cleaned and lubed both bikes. The day before I got in an easy spin, packed my bag, made up a cooler bag with water bottles, GU’s and snacks. My tool box, bikes, work stand, pit kit and foldable chairs waited alongside my truck in the garage. I ate a good breakfast and was buttoned up top to bottom. However, I wasn’t nervous at all. Like an assembly line worker, I had a job to do. Unfortunately, I neglected to screw on one little nut that held the whole thing together: caffeine.

In the last three races only one guy from Ohio had finished in front of me, and just by maybe ten seconds. Aside from him, the always fast Garth Prosser who was listed on the pre-reg list, and the fact that the Kentucky guys would still win the race, I thought I had a reasonable shot at winning the Ohio State Cyclocross Masters Championships (being the first Masters 35+ rider who lives in Ohio to cross the finish line.) Yeah, I’m such a dork that I googled the riders on the pre-reg list to see who was from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky. Shut up. You do it too. At least I admit it. I only had to worry about masters aged Ohioans. I just had to hope that I was ten seconds faster than the Lake Effect guy who beat me in Yellow Springs and that maybe Garth would either get his dreadlocks caught in his derailleur or forget to drink coffee in the morning, come down with a debilitating headache which would be compounded by the bumpy frozen course, a case of the wishy- washies and be forced to withdraw from the race prior to the start and drive home a quivering wreck. Or, actually ride faster than him. I was hoping for the former.

Garth’s hair did not get caught in his derailleur. I forgot to drink coffee in the morning. Yada, yada, yada…with my entry refunded ten minutes before the start of the race, my teammates stood with a look of “where the f*** are you going" on their faces as I drove away body shivering, bones aching, head throbbing and swimming in dizzyness. It was so nasty I didn’t even give my buddies the courtesy stop to let them know what was going on. I just wanted to crawl under a warm blanket and sleep the day away with our warm and fuzzy kitties.

A few blocks from the Columbus venue, I pulled into Walgreens and snatched up a bottle of generic Advil and a rather colossal bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. When I swung into the driveway, two hours later in Cincinnati, the head and other aches were gone. For the most part the wishy-washyness had subsided and I thought about riding my bike for the first time since warming up for the race, before the headache set in. Then I got a case of the “you sucks” and “you blew its.” So, in an effort to cure my bruised ego, I set out on a road ride to find my wife who was out riding with friends.

I’ve got great friends. After stewing by myself for 45 minutes, I found ‘em riding along the river on Kentucky’s Route 8. Aside from the initial ribbing, they gave me what I came looking for: sympathy and reassurances that in-fact I don’t suck. Then, I added coffee and/or caffiene to my pre-race checklist.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crossgazi Scale of Demoralization

F1
Getting passed by some putz you beat last week

F2
And being forced to take the nearly hub-deep line through the ice-crusted mud puddle soaking your left foot to the bone on the first lap

F3
Then, as you drive it hard to make up lost ground you over cook a corner and someone else who you beat last week pips you on the inside and gaps you as you struggle to remain upright while removing the caution tape from your right-hand shift lever

F4
Now gassed with your head hung low and trying to get feeling back into your frozen foot and the ice out of your cleat by banging it against the pedal, you accidentally remain in the saddle through the section where the moles have turned the course into speed bumps causing you to appear as if you are riding a bull in front of the spectators and there are no rodeo clowns to save you.

F5
Then the uncontrollable drooling sets in: from your mouth, your nose and what’s this? “Oh my god,” you think, “how are my eyes drooling.”

F-Hors
Suddenly blinded with frozen snot that the wind whipped into your eye, an ice-pack for a left foot and an angel hair pasta spine you totally case-it on the barriers, flatting your rear wheel about as far away from the pit as you possible can be as that guy who’s always last and rides as fast as your mama on the bike path asks if you’re okay as he passes you for good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday Mornings

The sun is doing it’s best to burn the frost off my windshield and the fog from the Ohio River Valley. Like a human coco bean radiator, I take another sip off coffee and unzip my jacket. There’s always an interesting story Sunday morning’s on NPR. Today, I think it’s an interview with a producer from a TV cop drama, but I missed the beginning where they mentioned the show. He’s actually been to real murder scenes and I laugh when he reiterates the fact that saying “c’mon, shoot me” is about the dumbest thing you can say if someone in real life points a gun at you. I’m halfway through an Odwalla Bar and about a half hour from today’s cyclocross race venue.

Just this past Saturday, my wife and I were spinning and watching the “Pure Sweet Hell” video. Some CX nut from Portland was saying how cross is sort of masochistic. My wife quipped with a smart-assed raised eyebrow, “is that why you like it?!” Caught off guard by her subtle humor, I spurted out something like, “no, I like it because it’s short and really hard.” I chucked inside and we kept spinning. As the yuk wore off, I started to think of why I like cyclocross.

I do like it because it’s short and hard. While I do like racing bikes in general, I’ve never been completely fond of the all-day long endurance mountain bike races. I don’t get excited for the Mohican 100 and Pisgah Death March like I do for cyclocross. Every form of racing is hard in its own right, but for some reason I prefer the red-line racing over the “oh god I hope I can endure this beating for another 4 hours” variety.

But, cyclocross is more than that. It’s the little intricacies, most of the time nothing to do with the actual bike riding, all rolled up into one package that keeps me coming back every weekend. It’s trying to quietly stuff a cowbell in the pocket of my backpack without waking up my wife. It’s loading up the bikes on a chilly November morning and seeing my neighbor tip-toe out to grab his newspaper in his underwear and suddenly realize that someone spotted him in his boxers. It’s feeling compelled to make a sign of the cross midway through evening hill repeats in Mount Adams as I rest and take in the vista overlooking the Ohio River Valley from the gate of the Holy Cross-Immaculata Church.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

RUA SANDBAGGER: The Test

Are you racing in a category where there really isn’t a higher category?
Yes (you can’t be a sandbagger)
No (you could be a sandbagger)

Did you pack a podium jersey in your bag the morning before the race?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger)

Can you easily recall your user names and passwords for all the cycling forums and websites, but have trouble recalling the name of your local USA Cycling Rep, their email address and exactly how many points are required to an upgrade to the next category?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, but we’re starting to doubt it)

Have you won the last 4 or 5 races without wiping a single string cheese noodle of snot on your glove?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (if you still won, albeit a little booger-ish, or don't wear gloves because it wouldn't look pro at the finish line…you still could be a sandbagger)

When you won your last of those races, was there complete silence at the finish line, but roaring cheers for a slobbering soul who finished behind you?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, if the person cheering was someone who promised they’d buy lunch or kick in for gas on the way home)

When you won the last time, did you have time to change into your “podium jersey” before the person behind you crossed the finish line?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger, and so could the person who finished behind you or if you eased up mid-race so you wouldn’t lap someone who might call you out as a sandbagger)

After you won the 4th or 5th race this season, did your car develop a flat tire before you left the race venue again?
Yes (you might be getting a subtle message that you could be a sandbagger)
No (you might have run-flat tires, and could still be a sandbagger)

Do you have a pit bike, pit wheels, pit wash kit, pit tools, pit mechanic, pit picnic basket and change bikes every lap because you have such a lead on the 2nd place rider that you thought you should get some practice on your other bike?
Yes (cough) Sandbagger. What?
No You still could be a sandbagger if the thought has crossed your mind

When you won, did you sort-of, you know, dial back the extension of the fist pump?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger and might also enjoy stealing candy from children at Christmas too)

While leading the last lap and you went through the particularly tough sand section of the course, could you have sworn you heard the word “sand” and thought for a second that spectators might not be discussing how deep the sand was?
Yes (you could be a sandbagger)
No (you still could be a sandbagger and your $300 helmet might be on too tight causing constriction of the ear canal)

When you won your races this year, have you pointed at your jersey, pumped your fist in the air, raised your hands, pulled out and kissed a picture of a family member, but the last time you won you realized you were fresh out of animated finish line celebrations?
Yes (you might consider getting an upgrade before your tires are flat again this weekend)
No You still could be a sandbagger, just not a creative one

Now that you’ve won four or five races this season, are you considering racing the next race say on platform pedals, without a saddle and with three cameras mounted on your bike to catch all the action of the extra challenge?
Yes (you might be a sandbagger and not even realize that it takes less time to email you results for an upgrade than it does to find the platform pedals in the bin on your home shop shelf)
No (you still could be a sandbagger with only two vanity cameras to record yourself riding your bike)

Did you feel that the above list of questions was not funny at all and hit a little too close to home?
Yes Get your upgrade
No Keep racing till you get enough good finishes to get the upgrade points. You don’t have to be winning races to be a sandbagger, because sandbaggers who take more than their share of wins breed sandbaggers who take more than their fair share of the lower steps of the podium. Seriously enjoy your few weeks at the front end of the lower category race. Feel pimp in your collection of free socks and swag. Then, get your upgrade, report to the next higher category for your beating and let someone else enjoy elation when they cross the finish line. Repeat until the answer to the first question is yes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

158 Yo!

Out of frustration for weighing 170, I wrote a blog entry titled “Don’t Stop Riding The Elevator” on Friday, January 25th of this year. We had spent the previous fall moving from KY to OH and the cycling had definitely suffered. That day, I set a goal to be 158, the lightest weight I can remember as a competitive cyclist, the weight where my Grandma says “Joseph, you’re too thin,” the weight where my wife says, “ooh baby you feel skinny,” by the Mohican 100 MTB race in May. Things didn’t go as planned.

Shortly after that entry, I tweaked my knee in a freak push broom incident and went in for meniscus surgery on my knee. As quick as my recovery went, the goal shifted to the beginning of CX training season in August. Again, a setback. I nearly bent my thumb back to my elbow when I clipped a tree in a mountain bike race in late June/early July, which made gripping a handlebar quite painful for 4-6 weeks. So, I started running and doing more old school core stuff including jumping jacks.

I recently had a birthday, got some good stuff like this adventure book "Roads To Quoz" and two new Yakima rails for the roof top bike rack. As it turns out, the best birthday gift, I gave to myself. Today, after my Monday morning ritual, I set down the copy of Outside Magazine, looked at my another-year-older carcass in the mirror and thought, “Huh, I look kind of skinny.” My bod had sort of a “V” shape, sort of, as if the bottom of the “V” was slightly melted. Setting myself up for disappointment, I told myself, “Uh, you look about 160-161.” I stepped on the scale and there it was…158.

If I had any left in me, I would’ve crapped my shorts.

There’s some entertaining, marginally motivational and possibly useful cycling oriented weight loss stuff in the previous articles from the old blog on AOL, “161st Street,” “Snackin’ With The Biggest Loser” and “Don’t Stop Riding The Elevator.” One thing is for sure, you won’t lose any weight sitting on your arse and reading it. Put down those Cheetos, go do something that makes you feel good about yourself, and come back to read ‘em later.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wezembeek-oppem Belgium Hello!

personalized greetings

It’s slightly 12-year-oldish to celebrate a one month anniversary, but after the switch from Joe Biker on AOL on October 8th, this blog has been up and running on blogger for just about a month and I am absolutely blown away over the numbers of new readers and returning readers. Moreover, it's pretty cool to have an insight into who and where you are. From the one person in Wezembeek-oppem Belgium to a handful in Dayton, Ohio USA, thanks for reading and thanks for moving with me. Happy Anniversary, I hope you enjoy your cake! (Video above) Cycling and writing certainly makes me a happy person and I hope reading this blog makes you happy to be a cyclist too. Thank you.

When I first set up this blog, I signed up for a service that tracks readership. It’s that little counter at the bottom. No, I can’t tell your name or if you lube your chamois, but I do know the country/state/city where you have your computer hooked up. I can tell if you came over from the link on Two Johns Podcast, a cycling forum, Google, or in a round about way just have it bookmarked as a favorite. I know what you're wondering. This may seem unbelievable, but no click thrus have come from or went to naked websites. Bike porn on the other hand, well that's what you're all about. Since the internet is usually a very personal thing, I thought you might like to know who else is reading The Best Bike Blog Ever with you. Below are some stats and trends I’ve pulled from the data for roughly the first month of this blog, from October 8th through November 5th, 2008.

The Basics:
Page Views (number of times viewed by anybody or anything): 1481
Unique Views (actual people page views, including returns) 971
First Time Visitors (Real people) 685
Returning Visitors (People that actually came back for more) 286

What's the Big Deal?
Monday’s are the biggest days, followed by the days with new posts. Thanks for subscribing, becoming a “follower,” and making it a favorite in your browser. Like coming back to work from a weekend of “Fight Club,” you obviously have an appetite for race news, stories, pictures and videos the Monday after race weekends. October 13th was the day after the big Cincinnati UCI3 weekend and there were 162 page views and 97 unique views. Pretty cool!

Where Did You Come From?
Big thanks to the websites and blogs who have added a link. The Two Johns Podcast has provided the most click-thrus. I have it on my I-tunes and you should too. Thanks to those involved in the OVCX series. The biggest days have been the two Monday’s after the UCI race weekends where the race reports lived on The Best Bike Blog Ever with a click through from Cycling News, Daily Peloton, Velo News, Cyclocross World, CX Magazine, the OVCX main site and the Cincinnati UCI 3 blog.

Where Did You Go?
Most readers checked out the race photos at Jeff Jakucyk’s site. After that it’s the Two John’s Podcast, CX Magazine, Steve Tilford and Molly Cameron’s Blog, BioWheels website, Belgium Knee Warmers, and of course one of my favorites, Fat Cyclist. Links on the right.

Where Are You?
72% of readers are from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, which I reckon, means 28% of readers, roughly 300ish, ain’t from these parts.

From These Parts:
Cincinnati leads the pack, followed by Florence KY, Louisville KY, Newport KY, Mainville OH, Lawrenceburg IN, and Dayton OH

Readers Abroad:
Canada, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece

Larger Cities:
Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Montreal, Portland, Nashville, Pittsburg, Lexington, Madrid, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Austin, Kansas City, Athens, Oakland, St. Paul

Places That Sound Like I Should Visit With A Bike:
Mountain Lake MN, Sandy UT, Grand Junction CO, Wezembeek-oppem Belgium

I Know Where Some of You Work:
I can tell if you used your work computer based on the IP address. Don’t sweat it. Your secret’s safe with me. Thanks for taking your coffee break with The Best Bike Blog Ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Harry Met the Throttle Blaster

We have a saying when we go for rides in Kentucky. Usually my buddy Tony shouts out, “You know what’s wrong with this ride?!” The response is always a resounding, “Not a G-D thing!” Aside from the errant dog (our other saying is that it’s not a ride in Kentucky, till you get chased by a dog…and sometimes a 3-legger that can chase like he’s got six legs) and pickup truck with three polite young men who shout words of encouragement out the window, rides in Northern Kentucky are some of my all time favorites.

As profiling as it may seem, usually a ride down route 10 in Kentucky goes like this: pickup truck full of nice young men shouting positive messages out the window, dog, tobacco, “man this road just flows on forever,” tobacco, dog, “ooh look at the pretty view from the top of this ridge,” Baptist Church, bar, “ooh you can see the Ohio River from up here.” Also, it’s a very rare day to see a local riding a $3000+ bike instead of being inside a $300 pickup truck. There are two that I know personally, one of whom is Harry Wicks (pictured left in photo). He’s Appalachian born and bred. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a good ride in Northern Kentucky this past Saturday, so bad he didn’t come to a party at my house because he thought the black cloud hanging over his head would fall on my house. Thanks for looking out for me Harry!

In his own words (with some of mine tossed in like this), this is the story of Harry’s bad day. It helps if you read the story with an Eastern Kentucky drawl.

Hey Gang, (He writes gang, but really mean’s Y’all)

I suppose (fancy Ohio talk for “I reckon”) we all have days where things just don't go as planned, but Saturday, it seemed as if the gremlins were after me. Saturday, being a beautiful fall day and perfect riding weather, I thought that I would ride one of my "easier" routes so not to be dead for the race Sunday. (Easier in Harry’s neighborhood simply means the hilly route with only one mean foaming at the mouth chasing dog)

Things started off badly as I crashed on a corner within sight of my house that I have ridden thousands of times. I guess that I hit a rock and didn't have my brain tuned on yet. Anyway, the slide was for about 20 feet down hill on the blacktop and into the neighbor’s yard. (I told ya. You can’t make stuff like this up. Howdy neighbor!) I went back home and doctored on the road rash and set out again. Pain and bleeding are not going to ruin my day. (Okay if that doesn’t prove he’s a tough-ass Appalachian, I don’t know what will)

The following things happened to me over a 2 1/2 hour ride:

Almost was ran into head on by someone rounding a curve in a car, on the wrong side of the road. (Note to non-locals: sometimes they do drive on the left side of the road in the hills of Kentucky)

Almost ran over by someone on a motorcycle passing me in a corner to hot. I could have elbowed him in the face. It was that close. (For those that are into it, the hills of Northern Kentucky are a killer place to ride your Kawasaki Ninja 3000x Supa Bike)

Some redneck in a diesel truck drove next to me, slowed down and romped on the throttle- blasting me with diesel exhaust. (This may sound bizarre to some of you, but this throttle-blasting has happened to me on occasion, like a redneck farting in your face)

I had a flat.

Then my pump fell apart. (And, this is where I feel he should’ve went home and counted his blessings) I had to reassemble it on the side of the road.

Was chased by 3 dogs. (Remember, this was supposed to be the easy ride)

A lady going to her mailbox and looking directly at me, walked into the road right in front of me. I managed to whop (combination of whip and whoop) around her while out-sprinting her dog chasing me. (That would make dog #4 I believe, the quota for a weeks worth of rides in Kentucky in just one day)

A car passed around me as I was climbing up a blind hill and almost went head on into an oncoming car. I figured that I was to be the expendable "thing" in the way during a quick lane change, but everyone was safe and I continued on watching for the next misfortune.

By this time I was beginning to watch the sky for meteors heading my way.

I did servive. (That is precisely how you write the word "survive" with a southern drawl, and one of the reason's Harry is so endearing) Tomorrow will be a better day. See y'all at the race.

Harry

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coo Coo For Cyclocross

About 30 seconds into this video of the OVCX Masters 1/2/3 Cyclocross Race at the Gunclub in Cincinnati, Blaine from Louisville eats crap, my teammate Mark becomes the meat in the sandwich, Morgan from Barbasol takes a swan dive trying to avoid the mayhem becoming the 2nd piece of bread, and I do a tippy toes ballet dance near the caution tape, gracefully avoiding stepping on my teammate with the one inch spikes screwed in the toes of my shoes. Note to self: not good to play follow the leader going 25mph into a sandpit.

Mark, my teammate got his bell rung pretty good. He's okay, which means it's okay to laugh now. You'll see the Louisville rider get up, dust himself off, check his bike and start running while Mark is standing in the middle of the sand making it look like he's checking his bike but really seeing pretty chirping Disney birdies fly in circles around his helmet.

Later in the video Morgan Webb puts on a barrier bunnyhopping clinic.