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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Heart Bobs

I’d rather be at a convention of lunatic evangelists, Brazilian soccer announcers and carpet pitchmen from Dalton, GA than have a Jillian as a personal trainer or fitness class instructor. So, ten seconds into the commercial break during The Biggest Loser, when asked the question of Bob or Jillian, I blurted an emphatic Bob.

I’m a Bob. For me exercise, particularly cycling, is an escape. Secondly, cycling is a sport where a cool head prevails. The last thing I need is a reverberating car dealership announcer screaming in my ear, playing make-believe dominatrix drill instructor and preaching the fire and brimstone of a sedentary lifestyle in my ear. Maybe that plays well on TV, but the last time I checked there weren’t camera people and a network producer in my gym. I’ll ride with a Bob, sign up for a personal training session with a Bob or take a spin class with a Bob any day over a Jillian. Having a Bob is more or less like paying a well respected athletic friend to promise to meet you for a ride and show you the way. That’s all I need. I can do the rest.

Jillians encompass the three personalities I dislike most: the smarmy salesperson, a preacher in disguise, and the blithering know-it-all expert. I want to put my ear buds in and crank up my I-pod volume just thinking about having a Jillian standing over my sit-ups, or in my team radio earpiece during a bike race. Types like Jillian are the reason I never go back to certain stores. Bob’s make me a loyal customer. So, I like Bob.

The more I think about it, The Biggest Loser cast the parts perfectly. For TV, Bob’s with their silent expectations and low-key demeanor aren’t too exciting to watch for two hours. Put a Bob in a room with a Jillian, tie them with a thread of common interest, and you’ve got drama. Thing is, I don’t need drama in my fitness. I can give myself a kick in the pants. I know how hard I have to work to do well in races. I know I looked a little chunky in that holiday photo. Seriously, I made my Aunt Take four photos. Moreover, I enjoy it. Like a tasty wave and a cool buzz, a good workout and good music and I am fine.

That’s why Bob’s are great. Bob’s get ya. They know you don’t need the hard-sell. You’re already in the store. Bob’s point you in the right direction and know there’s more to exercising than losing weight. Bob’s share your appreciation for the intricacies of the sport, and understand you’re there for peace of mind as much as the workout. Bob’s let you ask the questions, well knowing you did your research and likely know a lot already. He’s quietly confident you’ll make a good decision and make the sale. Like a used car salesman, Jillian’s think it was a miracle that you came to the store in the first place, she desperately can’t lose you and will stand in your way gushing about this and that till you just give in. Jillian’s think being louder, projecting a larger image and theoretically backing you into a corner is the only way to get through. It’s as if there were no difference between personal training at a gym and training a puppy. Jillian’s wish there were a human shocker collar. Zap! Harder! Zap! One more!

Bob’s know not to preach to the choir. It’s no secret, your here for fitness goals, all you need is a little tweak to get the most of out your workout. Keep your knees in. You’re going to have to hit this hill hard. Jillian’s give you the impression that the choir may be possessed. If Jillian pauses for a moment, you’ll be off your spin bike, eating pizza and downgrading your USAC license from a 3 to a 4. Therefore the gospel of exercise must be instilled upon thee at every possible moment. Dare a sheep stray from the flock. Ten more! C’mon! Don’t let that lunch turn into a spare tire! Puh-lease.

This just in. People who exercise and do sports aren’t necessarily interested in the latest JAMA study about the effect of stress on the effective metabolic rates of Portuguese lab monkeys. Spare me the doctorate dissertation. I get it Jillian. You’re a fitness expert. And, that’s why you’re on TV. However, it’s not what I’d like to have hoarsely shouted in my ear when my heart rate is at 85%. Bob’s understand that people exercise to relieve stress, not get stressed out by over zealous militant gym rats.

However, there is a place for Jillian’s. The reason is evident in her popularity on The Biggest Loser. While I’m somewhat of an athlete watching the show, there are millions more sedentary than I that need a minor explosion in their life to motivate them. The sad truth is most people need a Jillian. For those that have already seen the ways of exercise and sport, we don’t need our chamois set on fire, a perspiring pistol whipping, coupled with a reading of the holy fitness bible according to Saint Knowitall. We just need some good music and a Bob to tell us where we’re going today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tis The Season For Spreading Cheer, Junk Dusting, and Taint Drying

The parking lot at the gym and the spin class sign up sheets are starting to fill up. Here’s some helpful tips to get the most out of your membership.

Do use the convenient bench in the locker room to rest after your extremely vigorous steamy hot shower workout. A bench! How awesome! Who doesn’t wish the bathroom at home had a place to sit, rest and pull on your socks. It’s pure bliss. Don’t, however, put a towel down. It could be dangerous! Research shows slips and falls cause most injuries. Be safe. Your bare skin allows more grip on the over shellacked bench surface than a thick soft fuzzy gym towel. So, bare-bottom that bench. That way you won’t slide off when putting your man-powder all over your junk. And, if you have extra long old-man berries, just wrap them around the edge of the bench, like a third hand for that Robo-Grip effect.

Do wear bib shorts to spin class, they look pro. To look even more pro, like you’re preparing for the Tour time trial in front of the team bus next to Lance, don’t put the straps over your shoulders. Let them dangle. Bigger folks will appreciate giving that Thanksgiving spare tire room to breath in that hot spin room. If you are particularly hairy, match those oversized bibs with an equally undersized jersey. That way when you bend over to reach the handlebars, you can show off your personal old-growth Arenberg Forest and scenic valley to the lovely ladies behind you.

Do get everything you can out of your workout. Don’t hold anything back. Spin classes with jump intervals are perfect for working out that extra gas you have pent up inside from the double bacon cheeseburger you had for lunch. With the way spin bikes are lined up at the gym, there is no possible way that the person directly behind you will even know you farted. Who me?

Do shower after your workout, but don’t forget to dry EVERYTHING off. There’s nothing worse than walking out to your car in below freezing weather with water left to crystallize on your taint. That’s exactly the reason they put taint dryers in the gym locker room. Use the wall mounted one with the chrome rotating blower to get the general wetness off your lower trunk. Then use the hand held taint wetness eliminator to get those hard to reach places like between your cheeks and under your belly.

Do drink every chance you get. Don’t get dehydrated. Immediately after your 30 minute treadmill run, zip over to the drinking fountain and take a few gulps. You’ve earned it! Don’t worry about the sweat dripping off your forehead, off your arms, down your hands and onto the public bubbler. You seriously could die or go into shock if you take needless time to wipe the perspiration off your body before drinking. (Bubbler is Wisconsin speak for drinking fountain.)

Do stay in the zone. Don’t lose your focus, especially if you need to use the restroom mid-workout. Take care of business as quickly as possible and get back to yoga class or your free-weight session. Don’t take the chance of forgetting which pose or set number you were on. Everyone knows those drips pooling in front of the urinal are from condensation of locker room steam, not because you forgot to shake and dance. No one ever goes barefoot in a locker room anyway. Also know your heart rate could drop while washing your hands. So, get back out there asap! Grab a hold of that yoga block and five pound hand weight and focus-focus-focus.

Do ignore everything I said. Don’t spread your grossness.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dunkin' on Jordan, Driving with Jack

Guest Blogger Corey Green of Cincinnati reports from the 2009 Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, OR:

I felt like I was on the starting line of the NYC marathon. At Cyclocross Nationals, I was call up 140 in a field of 192. In NASCAR terms that's like having a starting grid of 88 cars, a Kentucky Derby with double the horses. When the gun went off there was a 10 second delay before I could move.

With riders shouting, twenty seconds later I heard the sound of carbon and aluminum colliding with asphalt and the scent of burning brake pads on carbon rims filled my nose. With 139 guys in front of me, I couldn't see the pile up. So like a NASCAR driver without a spotter I tried to keep going. Two seconds later I was filling the air with my own rubber burning against aluminum rim. The pile up was massive - Tour de France massive - with bodies and bikes everywhere. A few riders never crossed the start/finish line even once. There's no yellow flags in cross. I hoofed around it.

I got into a group and rode the treacherous and technical course as best I could. However, after the crash and with all the traffic, I was of the opinion that a fat K. Fed had more finesse that I did.

On the second lap I started having fun. I rode the best I had ridden this week and tried to grab a dollar from Sasquatch. Turns out Sasquatch was messin' with the racers. He'd dangle a dollar in front of the riders, but then wouldn't let go. I rode the runup and got big cheers from the crowd. Then I descended like a doof with all the grace of a toddler on a big wheel. If my tailbone isn't permanently bruised my ego may be.

Then they came on lap 4. The real cyclocross racers, guys from Oregon and Colorado and California. I was trying to ride well, but the leaders were absolutely flying. I was lapped last week in OVCX at Louisville while riding in the Masters Elite race, so I know what these guys look like when they lap me. McShane and Webb are no slouches when it comes to racing cyclocross, but these guys were humming. I knew I was in over my head when I started the race, but I had no idea how far underwater.

I started letting guys go by without being in their way. Discretion being the better part of valor, it would be unfair for me to impede them on this technical course. Then the announcer said words that lightened my day. I hadn't heard any of the announcer for a while, but he called a name that helped me understand where I was. "There's Don Myrah!" I just got lapped by an Olympian... "Bart Bowen...and Roger Ashpholm!" ...and two more champions.

No other sport would let someone like me participate in an event at the same time as these guys. Imagine your local high school team playing for the world basketball title against a team with Michael Jordan or playing golf with the Shark - ain't gonna happen.

Humility is the only reaction that makes sense.

All this left me with an enormous sense of excitement. Sure, I got trounced, was never really "in the race", and could have spent the $35 entry fee on bar tape or a full growler from Deschutes. But for $35 I now have a memory and story that I will never forget.

Now if somebody only snapped a photo of me while I was in front of them!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tough Juniors, Disc Wheels and Sasquatch: CX Nationals 2009

A Sasquatch Sighting, Juniors and more on CX Discs Guest Blogger Corey Green of Cincinnati reports from the 2009 Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, OR:

Either their bones are made of rubber or these juniors are tough. Cyclocross Nationals, solid ice course, temperatures around 15 degrees, kids falling all over the course, yet somehow they stick to it and get it done. I was supporting three kids this week - two in the juniors women 13-14 and one in the juniors men 10-12.

Mackenzie Green and Rachel Dobrozsi picked up 10th and 7th in their 8am race and Spencer Petrov picked up a podium spot in 3rd for the men 10-12. Two of these three didn't even know what a cyclocross bike was in August, all of them made some adults I know look like real wimps.

Give these kids a hand - they earned it today.

A day like today makes me wonder how many of us would really do it? Some Masters aged racers would seriously start thinking about hips and knees and "what if" scenarios. In 15 degrees, fully iced/snowy course? The wait at callups alone would be enough to make most of us reconsider our decision. Kids with 5% body fat and zero insulation racing at 8am, while Mr Husky with a painted-on skinsuit and enough insulation to stoke an average Alaskan heating stove for a month is racing at 2pm at the peak temperature. Something there doesn't seem right.

Is USA cycling trying to toughen up the youngest we have for racing in Belgium at a later age? Could it be that with the number of breweries in town (more than I have ever seen in a town of 80k) the only racers they could get at 8am are those too young to drink? Maybe the fact that the beer garden opens at 8am (and Deschutes is OH SO YUMMY) scared the organizers into adjusting the schedule to keep some away until later.

But then I saw Spencer with his medal. It wasn't gold, but he didn't care. He had won and got to stand on a podium at a national level race. All the kids forgot they were cold, forgot the pain that they had endured that morning. Those that were on the podium were flying sky high, those that were watching the podium were day dreaming about being on the podium. They were all hooked and my daughter said it best - "Dad, we will be back next year". She wasn't asking she was telling.

Lighter News - Cross Disk Update

The disk discovery by Joe when he read my draft was interesting. I hadn't read his editors note before today and I discovered that there is a WHOLE TEAM of people riding covered spoke wheels. For the life of me I can't really figure this one out. I am relatively sure that if I were to have used one of these it would look like a wheel of swiss cheese and make a lot of whistling noise as I rode around the track. My goal tomorrow is to find someone on one of these and get the scoop. I will write about it if I can find someone - stay tuned.

Messin' With Sasquatch

In a story that US Weekly would clamour for, it appears that Sasquatch has regained the trust of his mess of friends. He was photographed watching cyclocross, eating Bratwursts and sucking down Deschutes. The rare sasquatch was caught on camera heading to the wall of port-o-lets, walking eerily with the same gait as the guy next to him. Whether these two know each other or not I will never know, but look for them together in the next production of "A Chorus Line" at the local playhouse in Bend, OR.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Letting It All Hang Out (and then some) At CX Nationals

Skinsuit Sausages, Deli Slicers and Disc Wheels...Guest Blogger Corey Green of Cincinnati from the 2009 Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, OR:

Today was supposed to be my "B" race - a race to see the course, figure out the bike set up and make sure all was right for the "A" race on Saturday. However, my equipment only partially arrived, so instead I got to watch a lot of the racing today. Here are some observations from the day.

Skinsuit Envy

As Joe has written previously there is a decision matrix that we all go through before painting the skinsuit onto our body for a race. Whether we are looking for sleekness for a crit race or a tight fit for a cyclocross race the goal is to remove the clothing as an opportunity for failure without appearing as though you are 10 lbs of flour in a 5 lb sack. The question is...does racing in a National Championship race change this decision matrix?

For spectators many factors should be considered before launching a verbal assault on Mr. Husky and questioning whether he should have poured himself into the multi-colored sausage casing known as a skinsuit. I am certainly not throwing stones at guys forcing ones self into a skinsuit. I did it all summer at time trials and I am sure snickers were bountiful from my competition, so let's just say I am just casting doubt.

The guy on the left here looks like a nice guy, appears to have a smile and a mighty nice crop growing on his face. Based on his bike choice and the Edge composite wheels, I don't think he is hurting for cash. From this information you can theorize that he wasn't forced to decide between the usual bibs and shorts -OR- skinsuit when he placed his kit order last fall. He could probably get both. What decision process went through his head to look like this in a national race?
But, I got to thinking...was it really that bad? Afterall, a size husky skinsuit affords sponsors a larger billboard. Let's give the guy some credit, it was 11 degrees at this point of time and he was out riding his bike. Where was I? Sipping coffee and taking pictures of a husky fella painted into his clothes. What if he didn't wear a skinsuit, what would that look like?

Luckily enough there was another husky fella riding his bicycle around the track with a similar build, so it gave me an opportunity to compare and constrast. If you notice there is very little difference, except for "bulbous" bottom part of the belly. The skinsuit appears to have reached the end of its ability to restrain the outward pressure and push back. The two piece approach appears to give the lower part of the torso area a bit of resistance against "The Hulk" exploding out of his clothes and going "all Hulk" on unsuspecting spectators.

Another consideration is that the resistance to outward pressure also makes rider #2 appear to be a bit more in shape than rider #1. If you took them both side by side in the YMCA shower I doubt you could tell one from the other, but rider #2 has the edge on looking ready to win Nationals. (editor agrees and the white bike makes him look even more svelte.)

Another question is whether to consider age in the mix. I was surprised at the number of guys riding in skinsuits in the 60+ categories. These guys are competing for a stars and stripes jersey and should be shown some respect. The question I have is whether a skinsuit striped like a popcorn box at the theater is really the best way to get that deserved respect. However, one highly respected celebrity has proven over decades that vertical stripes also make you look thinnner.

In the end it is Nationals. This is what you train for all year and your last race of the year - let it all hang out. Well, let it all exert outward pressure on yourr seams, you won't be wearing the skinsuit again this year.

Equipment Choice

Every cross race has its selection of equipment choices that make you wonder, and the B races today were no exception. It has been a long time since I had seen a set of Spynergy "deli-slicers" on a bike, but I spied some today. Immediately I wondered how those would actually ride in a cross race. They weigh more than any other wheel I have ever ridden, so they have to be painful to sprint out of corners. Studies have shown little to no advantage to deep dish wheels, so this one puzzles me. The only way this makes sense is if he is carrying a loaf of pimento loaf in the jersey pocket and uses the wheels to slice a sandwich halfway through the race.

Then I saw something that still makes me scratch my head. Yes, to the right is my first witness of the Cross Disk. A Cross Disk? Are there cyclocross time trials at nationals? Is Zipp trying to create a new wheel market? I am hopeful someone will give me some explanation that makes even an ounce of sense. I am completely speechless when trying to explain why someone would bring this wheel and race it at cyclocross nationals. Seriously, completely stumped. (editor: as it turns out that's the bike of 2009 55+ Nat'l CX Champion Paul Curley from Taundton, MA. With 23 Nat'l titles under his belt in multiple disciplines, there must be something to it. It appears as a disc wheel, but according to CX Magazine it's actually more of a plastic spoke cover than a solid disc.)

Tomorrow brings the Juniors races after a long night tonight. The equipment is to arrive at 6pm on the trailer that left Tuesday morning. We will be wrenching deep into the night and the kids will be freezing their bums off at 8am. Wish them luck.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lance Influencing Radio Shack Advertising?

I may just be a cog in Lance Armstrong's influence on Radio Shack marketing, but Jaden, one of our Facebook Followers, brought this to the attention of The Best Bike Blog Ever. On the Radio Shack website an MP3 player is advertised with a photo of a cyclocross racer on the screen. For $59.99, you can pick up the Mach Speed Zodiac 8GB Media Player and watch the replay of your performance on the CX course. It appears the cycling angle is working, the item is out of stock at the moment. I'm still waiting for the radio controlled team car and action figures to come out.


Monday, December 7, 2009

My Bike Bromance


Like the a bratwurst rolling out of the bun at the ball game, he fell to the ground in his skinsuit hooting and hollering, jiggling and wiggling. I love bratwurst and in a Scrubs guy-love kind of way, I love Tony. Despite the scruffy beard and thick glasses, I couldn’t resist. I pounced on him screaming. Woots all around. After years of disappointments, near misses and countless training rides in crappy weather and dank basements, my teammate and bud Tony Franklin won his first cyclocross race and the Kentucky State Cat 3 Master 35+ Championships. I wouldn’t doubt he crapped his chamois when he saw me roll in 2nd. It was also the first race ever that we went 1-2, an amateur cycling wet dream. You better get a hanky or some triple-ply toilet paper, because this two-wheeled bromance gets even juicer and could evoke a man tear.

I got a typical Tony call last Thursday, full of stress, self doubt and tragedy. He was asking how hard it was to get reimbursed for a race after already signing up on Truesport. “What? You’re not gonna race?” I enquired. He said something like, naw man. I just got too much going on. My shifter is totally busted making this awful nose and I don’t think I can get it fixed in time. Plus I gotta work late Saturday night. I’ll be up till two in the morning. It’s just gonna be too much. Being a helpful bro as possible, I gave him a line on the promoter’s email address and offered to pick up his reimbursement when I got to the Storm the Greens course in Louisville. In true guy fashion, the whole conversation took about 1 minute and 23 seconds.

Then it stewed in my head. I woke up Saturday morning thinking WTF. It’s the Kentucky State Championships and for the last 2-3 races only one or two guys from Kentucky have been as fast as my Kentucky bro. He practically had a lock on the podium. If he could hold his fitness and the cross gods would shine down upon him at the race, he had a pretty damn good chance at winning the State Championships. Shit Tony. What are you doing? Plus, I had figured out earlier in the week that if I won the race and my closest competition in the series finished 4th, I could win the series. I needed him in the race on the outside chance he could finish behind me but in front of the series leader to give me the finishing spread I needed. There was a chance I could win the race and the series and, since I am from Ohio, he could win the KY State Champs. I called him at 10am. Sure I had an ulterior motive, but I also have a big heart for Tony. He’s the type of guy that can get knocked down a hundred times and still come back for more. I didn’t want to see him to have nine months of regrets and give up on a big opportunity. I also had an ulterior motive not to hear him bitch on every single ride for the next nine months that he could’ve won that race.

I all but offered my own bike. “Dude, if you need a shifter, I’ll pull the one off my road bike for ya. Plus I got some Sram Force 10sp in a box that I was planning to upgrade my road bike with, but you can use it this weekend if you want. C’mon man. If you’re too busy, just drop your bike off and I’ll put it on there for ya.” As it turned out, Tony scavenged up a Tiagra shifter on Friday, but still wasn’t sure about having to work late and get up before dawn to drive to Louisville. I started to get mushy on him. “I was just thinking that it’s the KY State Championships. You’re riding really well bud. I think you got a shot at the podium…and…uh…I…I don’t want you to miss it.”

He said something like, “Aw man, I know ya love me. Thanks for thinking of me. Let me think about it.” I added, “by the way I’m about to head out for a little pre-race ride if ya want to join me.” He obliged and on the last of three leg opening sprints, he beat me. I’m pretty sure right then and there he made the decision to race. And, now you know…the rest…of the story. Good…………….day.

For more guy-love goodness check this out: