Breaking up

Cascade race report to come. But in short, I got my ass handed to me. Not nearly as bad as I did last year, although I miraculously placed exactly the same on GC as I did last year, which was 96th. But anyways, on to more pressing news:

I’m here in Park City, Utah with teammates Lang and Spencer. The housing situation has been Craigslistesqu, meaning slightly confusing and unplanned. In the past, I’ve found one, maybe two houses to possibly stay at when moving to a new city, then I’ve driven to that city and hoped for the best. This has not been the case this time. This time I found roughly a dozen places to stay at, and I’ve kept five or six of them on hold, and another four or five believing they sealed the deal. The secret to Craigslist housing is options. Options to opt out in case one of the houses has 13 dogs 5 cats and a squirrel. A back up house in case your back up house is owned by a pedophile. And a plan D in case your landlord turns out to be a huge D. But when you finally do land the perfect house, the difficult job of breaking off your commitments with the other houses begins. Examples:

Herb’s story. (Who sounded like a raging douche on the phone and just had a bad attitude altogether. Plus he wanted us to bring him the rent in cash the night we arrived in Utah). I didn’t want to stay at his place at all, so we planned on him being a back up for the back up just in case our current destination turned out to be adjacent to the city dump or built over a pet graveyard. Herb called twice on our drive to Utah on Monday. I avoided his first call, letting it go the the answering machine. But I answered when he called a second time around 10:30pm, right as we were getting into Park City.
Herb: Hey, so where are you guys? Getting close?
Me: Uhh…we’re on our way, but I don’t think we’re gonna make it to park city tonight.
Herb: Where are you?
Me: Uhh, just a second. (I pretended to ask Spencer where we were.)
Me: I think we’re still in Idaho.
Herb: Oh, yeah it’s a long drive. blah blah blah. I ended the conversation quickly before I had to lie again. But by Tuesday the texts started pouring in. Along with the voice mails.

‘The Silent Treatment’

“Hey Kennett, this is Herb. Just uhhh wondering where uhh you guys are. Let me know. Bye.

“Hey Kennett this is Herb calling. It’s uhh mid day and I haven’t heard from you yet. Just wondering what’s up.”

“Hey Kennett, it’s Herb. Haven’t heard from you yet. You still coming or what? I’ll be out of the house for an hour, but you can just leave a message. Bye.”

“Kennett, you still haven’t called. You’re probably in the shower or something. I’ll call later. Bye. It’s Herb by the way.”

“Hey Kennett, I haven’t heard from you yet, but–oh wait, this might be you on the other line.”

“Hey Kennett, it wasn’t you on the other line. Looking forward to your call…Call me.”

“Hey Kennett, it’s Herb.  I thought I heard the phone ring.  Guess not.  Anyways, I’m just waiting to hear back from you.  Wish you’d call.  Byyyye.”

“What’s your deal? Why won’t you call back? You’re starting to piss me off God damnit! I’m sick of your shit. You can go F yourself because I’ve had enough of this.”

“Hey Kennett, it’s Herb again. Sorry about that last call. Your phone is probably just on silent or something. Haha. Anyways, I’m here at home. Call any time. Bye bye. Talk to you soon.”

Three actual texts I received from Herb yesterday. The first at 11pm or so, when it was clear we weren’t showing up anymore:

Herb: Hi what happened?
Me: We found another place.
Herb: Lame. You suck. Bad luck will be yours.
Herb (about an hour later without me replying): You wasted your trip. You don’t have a chance in the race.

The silent treatment is not the preferred method of breaking up with your Criagslist housing. It should be reserved for maniacs like Herb, although to avoid being hexed, continuing to lie may be a better solution than coming clean.

It’s not you, it’s me.  And…there’s someone else.

We got to Park City late Monday night, having decided to stay with a young family who wanted to rent us their basement, which has a bed, a couch, and a blow up mattress.  Plus we have a little hang out area with a TV and a kitchen and bathroom.  I thought it was a pretty sweet deal.  And it turned out to be real nice.  But, we’ve become altitude junkies and the idea of staying at 6,700 feet when we could be at 7,300 just wasn’t sitting right with us.  A condo was opening up on August 1st that we decided to stay at, which was the same price as our current basement.  Plus it wasn’t a basement, it was a nice condo with three beds.  And it was 500 feet higher up.  Anyways, we went up there the other day and looked at it with the current tenants and decided it would be great for us.  But later that night I got an email from a bike racer in town who owns some rentals in town that offered us an even better deal.  So began the process of breaking up with Belinda, a nice elderly lady with a crushed esophagus, which made understanding her on the phone a bit of a problem.  The phone conversation that ensued:

Me: Hi Belinda, this is Kennett.
Belinda: Ohhhkis hihgs knnekdtt hwr you difso dchance to skjd condo?
Me: Yeah, we took a look at the condo and it was real nice. Very nice. But uhh, we just got an offer from someone else. Uhhh, someone who’s on, who’s, who knows our coach and uhhh, is offering a place for us to stay for free (not quite true but cheaper than Belinda’s). Ummm. But you’re condo was very nice though, and thank you so much for offering it to us at such a discounted rate.
Belinda: lkasdklfj alksdjfljasdjf ksdjfj, oh that’s alksd lkalrl.
Me: But I’m sure you can find someone else. It’s just that we’re on a real tight budget and this other place is uhh…I’m sure you’ll find someone else to rent your condo out to. It’s such a great place. Very good looking and a great location….It’s not you, it’s us. Your condo is just a bit too nice for us. It will be better off with someone else.
Belinda: kalsjdfj alskjdfkljasdlkjf
Me: Oh, of course. If I know of anyone else in Park City who’s looking for a place to rent, I’ll send them right your way. Of course. And thank you so much for offering your condo to us. It was really nice of you. Ok, goodbye. Good luck.

This strategy seemed to work pretty well. Although I couldn’t really understand most of what she was saying, Belinda seemed happy in the end for us and the the breakup went well.

Fading away.

Once we found out about the place we’re about to move to, we realized we’d have to break the news to our current hosts. They’re real easy going people and it seems that they don’t really mind whether we’re here or not. In fact, they just don’t care enough one way or the other. It’s kind of disheartening being a guest in someone’s home when they don’t miss you when you’re away. So considering that, combined with our new house we have lined up, has helped to drive us away. We want to be missed. We want to be needed. We haven’t broken up with them yet, but it seems like it will be pretty easy. They seem to have moved on without us already, so our absence likely won’t upset them anyways. Oh well…

The moral of the story is to have plenty of irons in the fire. Keep the craigslist homes waiting to hear from you. Wanting to hear from you. Don’t be too eager to commit to any one of them, and of course don’t let them know about each other. They may suspect something’s up. That’s fine. That keeps them trying to sweeten the deal.  Just don’t let them know for certain whether there’s another home.  And of course remember: when it comes to Craigslist homes, you can always do better.

High Desert Omnium

This is a late post. I did this race a few weeks ago and wrote about it then, but forgot to post it on here. Currently, I’m racing the Cascade Classic, where I’m getting my but kicked. I’m looking forward to that last stage though.

Crit: My plan for the weekend was to win the overall, which meant racing smart and conserving energy in the crit, which always ends in a bunch sprint on this course, which did not happen this time. Every previous year I’ve raced this course, it’s ended in a bunch sprint with not a single breakaway staying away to the finish. Sitting on seemed like a good idea if I wanted to win. So I sat at the back for 10 or 15 minutes, extremely bored for being in a bike race, and worried that one of the attacks up the road would stick. I moved up during a prime lap and the pace stayed relatively high for the next couple laps as things were brought back together. It settled down for a moment at last and I was sitting right on Eli’s wheel when he went. It was perfect. Eli sprinted for about 150 meters, then I came around him and pulled hard for a full lap without looking back. When I did shrug for him to come around, I was disappointed to see that about six guys had made it onto my wheel. We had a large gap, but there were too many lazy/wimpy guys to work smoothly together and we were brought back in four laps later. I went back to the rear of the field and waited there for the finish like I had planned. Somewhere between then and the end of the race, 10 guys went up the road and stayed away. And, being an omnium, that meant that all the points for the crit were suddenly gone.

TT: I didn’t place top 10 in the TT so no points. I think I was 11th but can’t remember. I needed a bigger gear on the downhill (which is half the race) and I had to coast for a lot of it. This is the same course as used for Cascade, so it was nice to find out about the gearing issue in this race rather than Cascade.

RR: I played it smart and waited near the back until the first climb, which was around 20 minutes into the 60-mile race. A break had gotten away with six or seven guys early on, which included my one teammate in the race, Sean. So I wasn’t able to attack, but I did follow a few attempts made by Boswell and Shepard when we did get to the climb. The final attack by Shepard worked, and the three of us, plus one other guy, successfully bridged up to the break before the top of the climb. We now had 11 guys up the road, but one was dropped at the top of the climb and another was dropped shortly after, so it was soon down to nine. Almost everyone pulled through for the first 15 minutes and it was obvious the field stood no chance of catching us since all the strongest guys made the break. I decided to do more than my fair share of the work anyways, since Sean and I were the only teammates in the break and I wanted to make sure it stuck, and hopefully give Sean a shot at getting top three overall in the omnium, since he got 2nd in the TT the day before.

About 25K left to the finish, Boswell and Shepard escaped on a climb. I should have gone with them, but had a moment of hesitation, along with the rest of the guys.

One more guy was dropped during the attack, so we were now down to six chasing two. At the top of the climb, they had maybe 20 seconds on us, which we should have easily closed on the long downhill. But only a few of us were willing to do anything about it, and it wasn’t organized well enough to even keep them at 20 seconds. The gap was soon up to over half a minute. Around about this time, I told Sean to sit on and save himself for the end, and I went to the front and stayed there for the rest of the race. I probably pulled about 2/3 of the way to the finish, giving it one last hard pull about 2k to go near the top of the gradual climb to the end. Unfortunately, Sean had nothing left and was dropped right afterwards. I was spent from all the work I had done, and was dropped a minute later with about a K to go and came across 7th, 30 seconds back. Too bad, because they ended up catching Shepard and I know I would have won the sprint and taken 2nd If I hadn’t slain myself over the past half hour, or even if I just hadn’t done that last pull I probably could have taken it. It would have been more frustrating if it had been for first place, but since it wasn’t I didn’t care that much. It was all good training, though, and I’m feeling great for Cascade.

I took a day easy on Monday and did the usual Auberry Butte circuit race course, which is about 2 hours if I go slow, and then on Tuesday I got some real training accomplished with those Secret Intervals I talked about earlier.

Never Mind

I think I’ve been reading too much Vonnegut, because all of my latest posts involve Vonnegutian ideas about helping people because they deserve it, which in turn improves the world. Why do they deserve it? Because they’re human. And that should be reason enough. This is hard for me to choke down, not because I don’t like the world, but because I don’t like most people. George Bush and Dick Cheney are human. Do they deserve anything good? No. Vonnegut would say that every human deserves to be loved (I don’t know if he truly believed that because he was a cranky old bastard), but I disagree.

I’ve had it with believing people are mostly good. I tried it out for half a week there, and you know what? I don’t really like being passed too closely by uncaring semi trucks and having a gush of wind hit and nearly knock me off the road. I don’t like the way cross walk signals take forever to turn white when all those damn cars get to keep going through the intersection without ever having to stop. I don’t like how the poorest people are the only ones out using the sidewalks and crosswalks while everyone else drives—and when a poor person trying to cross the street at a non-intersection has to J-walk because it would make no sense for them to walk all the way up another three blocks to use a cross walk—when that happens and some jerk driver blares their horn at him (THIS IS MY ROAD GOD DAMNIT DON’T MAKE ME BREAK!!)—I don’t like that either. I especially don’t like seeing people driving Hummers or jacked up monster trucks. I don’t like seeing people throw McDonalds trash out their window. I don’t like over-hearing high schoolers at the park calling a girl a whore and a fat slut (she wasn’t fat anyways). I don’t like the police patrolling around the park music festival as if the dangerous crowd of hippies and suburban parents and children are going to start raging against the machine to bluegrass and flood into downtown and riot the streets of Bend Oregon. I don’t like the fact that I found $3 on the road the other day and every time I go back on that section of road, I subconsciously start greedily scanning the ground for more cash. I don’t like seeing a million sprinklers in the desert watering sidewalks and driveways. I don’t like green eggs and ham, Sam I am. I DON’T LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM!!!!!

I don’t like having to deal with one of the idiotic women who lives here:

Her: “So are you entering a marathon soon?”
Me: “No, I’m not a runner.”
Her: “Well, a marathon for bikes?”
Me: “No, marathons are generally a run.”
Her: “Well, OK I know that. I mean, a long biking…long distance event?”
Me: “Yes, that’s what I’m here training for.”
Her: “My friend volunteered for that bike race a last week.”
Me: “Uh huh.”

I’ve told her a baker’s dozen times what I’m here for. I’ve explained the races. I’ve told her when the races are. I’ve told her how long the races are. And she has told me that her friend volunteered for the bike race last week about 30 times.

And it’s not just her.

Scene: Kennett is walking out into the garage wearing all his bike clothes and shoes and helmet and sunglasses and just filled up two water bottles in the sink. What might he be doing? Where is he going? I have no idea, I better ask.

“Kennett, are you going for a bike ride?”
“Yep.”

This question is asked by almost everyone in the house every time they see me going for a ride. I realize that they probably know that I’m going for a bike ride, and that they’re just making conversation. But when I see someone going to the bathroom I don’t ask if they’re going to take a shit. When I see someone looking in the fridge for something to eat, I don’t ask if they’re going to eat something. I was in the process of drinking a glass of water and someone asked me, “Are you thirsty?” with genuine sincerity. Please, use that thing above your shoulders for something other than spewing out idiotic questions.

And of course it’s not just people here at the house.

Outside a noodle shop downtown where I left my bike leaned up against some chairs:

Guy: (Asking about my bike) “What’s the base of that made out of?”
Me: ??
Guy: “Is it that sprayed on stuff?”
Me: ?? “Uh, you mean the frame? It’s made out of carbon fiber.”
Guy: “So is that a kind of aluminum?”
Me: “No, it’s like plastic.”
Guy: “Cool. So do they forge that. It looks forged.”
Me: “No, you can’t forge plastic. It would melt or burn. They do, uhhh (me looking for an easy explanation) molds of it.
Guy: “And it looks sprayed on. Is it?”
Me: “Uhh, they painted it if that’s what you’re talking about.”
Guy: “Yeah, it looks sprayed.”
Silence.
Guy: “Could I pick it up with my pinky?”
Me: “No.”

And it’s not just about bikes.

At the Fred Meyers meat department:

Butcher: “Can I help you?”
Me: Thinking—“No, I just like to come stand here and stare at the meat for 5 minutes until you finally come out of the back, after which I walk away, completely satisfied and full because that’s how I consume calories—by sight and imagination.” What I actually said: “Yeah I’ll have two pieces of this chicken breast.” Pointing at it.
Butcher: “Which chicken?”
Me: Pointing-“That stuff right there.” There was no other chicken around.
Butcher: “How many pieces did you say?”
Me: “Two.”
Butcher: “Which pieces did you want?”
Me: “Uh, I don’t care. They’re all the same. How about those two pieces in the front.”
Butcher: “Which two pieces?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Butcher: “Are these two OK?
Me: “Yes, it doesn’t matter.”
Butcher: “You said two right?”
Me: “Yep.”

The butcher, who must have been extremely stoned and extremely dull, then took five minutes to weigh and wrap, and then re-wrap the two tiny chicken breasts. Maybe this was his first day on the job. And his first day interacting with another human. And his first day learning how to use his hands to pick things up and punch buttons on a scale.

My point? People are cruel and stupid. Very stupid. I still think that a lot of people are nice. Maybe in general, more dumb people are nice than smart people. It’s hard to say. I’ll leave that undecided for today. I’m sure I’ll have quickly made up an answer in a day or two. But anyways, people are dumb and mean. We do mean things because we’re dumb. And we do dumb things because we’re mean. So why should I care about us? I don’t care about green eggs and ham, Sam I am. But I must since I’m writing about it. It must be my dumbness, not fully realizing all the contradictory things and ideas I’ve written so far.

I apologize to all the people vastly more intelligent than I. I apologize for being so dumb, and I feel your pain. I only ask that you humor me just a little, so that I don’t realize how dumb I really am and how much smarter you are. I try. That counts for something at least, right? I don’t squash spiders for no reason and I don’t drive a monster truck. But the people who do those things probably don’t know they’re doing anything wrong either. Just like I don’t know about all the dumb, cruel things I’m probably doing. I’m sure a vegan would look at me with disgust and contempt for how much meat I eat. A true animal lover would spit at me for smashing all those fleas I had on me the other day—yes I had fleas for a day somehow. A humanitarian would shake their head in dissaproval for all the middle fingers and “suck it” symbols I give to motorists. A true conservationist would avoid eye contact with me for all the energy I waste—fans, lights, stove, fridge, flushing the toilet when I pee, altitude generator, ridiculous amount of food consumed—most of which is shipped from Argentina, laptop, etc. In fact I’m so dumb I don’t even know what etc. really stands for. I’d have to look it up. But I won’t. I prefer to live in ignorance.

And now for something completely different:

This is to be rapped in the accent of a low-class Britt. Like Cavendish.

I found three dollas on the street today
They was layin’ in the road, GW on display
I stopped to pick ‘em up and me eyes was ablaze with hunga’
The bills were callin’ to me like the sound a thunda’
They said, “Hey Kennett why-doncha come out n’ play?”
“You’s needen a snack at a Circle K.”
And I say back to em’, “Yo dolla bills, you’s my honey.”
I’m gonna trade you in for for somethin’ sweet n’ yummy.”
But before I dun get to the next gas station
Me eyes is stuck scannin’ for another paper sensation
Every Starbucks cup on the side a da road
Is a 20-dolla bill starin’ at me cold
Every scrap a paper in the ditch to the right
Is disguised to me eyes as a big wad a bills, rolled real tight
A can a soda, an empty thing a Gu or Hamma’ gel
All I see is money, even though it’s hotter n’ hell
I don’t care bout no wata’
Don’t want no ice
I just keep scannin’ the ditch for somethin’ green n’ nice
I swerve along the street, not noticin’ where I go
Eyes locked on the ground, now I’m feelin’ kinda low
A car passes by, wondrin’ why I’m on the wrong side da road
I miss me turn, not carin’ a bit
What’s come ova’ me? Three dollas aint shit.
Who knows, who cares? I gotta find me next load.

Laziness doesn’t exist

The idea that socialism doesn’t work because people are inherently lazy is not true. In a bike race, you do as little work as possible to get to the finish so that you have a big kick left. But you still end up doing a lot of work. No bike race is easy, there are always moments of difficulty and unless it’s a completely downhill race, you feel the lactic acid in your legs at least once or twice. I don’t think people are lazy. Some work harder than others. Some work much harder than others, and do deserve to be compensated for it. But 99% of people, at least people I know, are not what I would consider lazy.

The story about the grasshopper and the ants holds a terrible moral for children. Here it is: The grasshopper is a lazy hippy who spends its entire summer playing music while neglecting to collect food for the winter. The ants are hard workers, collecting and hoarding food for themselves all spring and summer long, responsibly preparing for the “doomsday” when the first snows arrive. When winter finally comes, the grasshopper quickly begins starving and freezing to death. Fortunately for the lazy hippy grasshopper, the good-natured Christian ants feel pity for it and nourish it back to life (ant heaven exists in this story and they’ll be damned if they don’t get in!). The grasshopper learns a valuable lesson from this and next summer and spring, it knows to do its duty, hangs up its leg (violin) and collects its own food.

Grasshoppers don’t store food. They do die in the winter.

Ants don’t give a shit about grasshoppers. They would kill and eat one if they found one.

This story is also saying that music is worthless. The only things that matter in life are material resources. Who wrote this story, Reagan?

Now, think about the lowliest, most lazy person in society that you can think of. A homeless person possibly? They’re so lazy they don’t even have enough money for a pair of un-ripped shoelaces, right?

But even a homeless person is willing to work. Up to 12 hours a day! Sitting out in the hot sun or pouring rain with a cardboard sign all day. It’s not any different than holding a stop sign for construction work. It’s work. They’re not being lazy, they just can’t get hired or hold down a job—usually because of a mental illness, or circumstances they were brought up with such as abusive or drug addict parents. Who knows why they’re homeless. Cricumstances that were most likely out of their control. And they’re still not lazy. I can’t think of one lazy person I’ve met recently.

If people had more hope, more equality, an equal chance at making a decent living in the world, it seems to me they’d be even more likely to work harder at life. Should a doctor get paid as much as a garbage truck driver? Maybe not, since there needs to be some sort of motive for the more “intelligent” people in a society to be attracted to more difficult and “important” jobs. But will a plastic surgeon do less of a job if they make 200,000 a year instead of 700,000? Contrarily, would a janitor lead a more fulfilling life if they were paid 40,000 a year instead of 15,000? And they’d do a better job too. There is no shortage of work and no shortage of money or resources in this country for the amount of people who live here. The same cannot be said about the world as a whole. But for this country, at least, there is no reason why almost 50% of the working population makes a wage that classifies them as being in poverty (below 18,000 a year). In our current system of capitalism, where the cream supposedly rises to the top, the nation’s elite 1% must be extremely hard workers to own 80% of the nation’s wealth.

Here’s a story: In an anthill, everyone does the same amount of work. Some ants are better at collecting food. Some are better at guarding the hill. Some are better at caring for the young. Some are better at doing a jig; ants need entertainment too. But all the ants pull their fair share and they all get enough food and respect to live happily together without a military police force or gated communities keeping them in order. There is no slum village in an anthill.

Another story: I wolf pack. There are 12 wolves, a much smaller community than an anthill and much closer to a natural community for humans—hunter gatherer societies. There is an alpha male and a dominant female. Wolves need a little leadership apparently. But, like the ants, they all do their fair share and they all get enough to eat once the growling and bickering is over with.

Last story: Humans. The smartest species of them all. The ones born into good prosperity control the world and the rest are slaves. The end.

Creativity

Creativity. For most people, it dies out after middle school when kids start realizing it’s un-cool to be original. Un-cool. Meaning it’s cool to be average, normal, boring. As people reach adulthood, they fear creativity more and more. Have you ever seen an adult try to draw something? It’s usually stick figures. What do adults wear? Kahkis and bland-colored collared shirts. Do they have Mohawks or dreadlocks? No. Do adults build sand castles? No. Do they try to invent things in the garage? No. Have you heard adult conversations? Not “adult” conversations but adult’s conversations. They’re boring. They’re about the weather. Two people meeting each other at a dinner party for the first time after introductions are made:

Person 1: So, what do you do?
Person 2: Oh, I work at a bank, yeah…
Person 1: Oh ok cool, my friend’s neighbor’s daughter works at a bank. US bank. It’s a good job, she’s been there three years now I think.
Person 2: Yeah I like it. It pays the bills. So, what do you do?
Person 1: Oh, I’m a real estate agent. Not quite the business to be in right now if you know what I mean!
Person 2: Yeah, tell me about it. My sister just lost her house. This whole thing is such a mess.
Person 1: Well hopefully Obama can get things turned around.
Person 2: We’ll see, so far he hasn’t done much.
Person 1: Has there been a president who has? Hahahaha.
Person 2: Hahahahah.

*Awkward pause

Person 1: I’m going to go shoot myself in the face because I’ve had this conversation about 211,000 times already. Want to join me? My gun is fully loaded. You can go first so the barrel isn’t messy.
Person 2: Why not.

Social pressures squeeze creativity out of most people like the juice from an orange, leaving only a dry pulp and peel that gets tossed out in the trash (or hopefully compost bin). Except in this case, it’s the juice that gets tossed out and the pulp and peel remain. Most people are normal. It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t been juiced. Especially in pro cycling–a thank you!!! Pun intended.

After getting back from a dinner at a friend’s house tonight, where some of the people were cool and hadn’t been juiced, while some had been, I came home and the kid who lives here at the house showed me his notebook of drawings. The notebook had a bunch of colored pencil drawings of action-figure type characters for different books he was planning on making. They all had back-stories and special powers that he explained to me, and he wasn’t at all embarrassed or shy about showing them off. He hasn’t started middle school yet.

Why is it that we spend our free time watching something someone else has created?—poorly created and dumbed-down like most TV shows and movies are. And speaking of those, the weird person is usually the main character. What does that tell you? People don’t want to see a bunch of normal people on TV. Of course not, who would? They’re boring. But in real life, they don’t want to be that weird person. And they wouldn’t want that person as a friend either.

One thing I’ve always wondered, and I expect everyone else has wondered about too, is what other people spend their time thinking and daydreaming about. I think of the usual things you’d expect me to think about: fantasizing about bike races, how I’m going to train next week, next winter, what I’m going to eat when I get home…etc. But I also think about completely weird things all the time—I think everyone does. I might spend an entire day thinking about what it would be like to walk across the country, sleeping in farm fields, getting invited in once and a while to someone’s home, moving on and working at a coal mine or pig-farmer, basically being a traveling hobo—not the kind that stand at the street corner with a sign asking for help—but a romanticized bum (a hobo) who carries a stick with a red and white hanker chief bundle tied to it. A bum who travels the country finding out what it’s like to be a human in this country. Finding the true American experience. A hobo who then writes a best selling novel about his adventures and what he’s learned—that people are generally good, but evil when formed into a society. He then becomes rich and famous and goes on talk shows, but then gets depressed with his newfound wealth and the soul-less socialite lifestyle and decides to go live off the land in Canada. But he can’t re-create what he had before. He’s lonely and lost. Nothing seems to satisfy him and he becomes more and more depressed until he just gets fed up with it all and walks into the ocean and swims out as far as he can and drowns. I’ll spend a day thinking about what it might be like to be a smoke jumper—and I’ll think up a whole life story for myself if I happened to be a smokejumper. A day where I spend the entire day asking myself: “What am I thinking about now?” With the answer always being: “I’m trying to think about what I’m thinking about—so I’m not really thinking about anything.” These are usually frustrating days. Maybe I’ll spend an hour in a complete stupor, thinking about electricity or magnets or black holes or gravity or molecules and not understanding how anyone can understand any of those things. Or about suction cups on an octopus. How the hell did those evolve??? My question is, if we’re all thinking about super weird things, why is it that the world is so non-weird? I mean weird things happen, but weird people don’t exist in great numbers like you’d expect. Are we all just keeping it suppressed? Maybe we haven’t been juiced after all. Maybe it’s still inside us, just behind a lot of locked doors. A better metaphor than the orange juice would be…uhhhh…..actually, I can’t think of a good one. I guess I’m not creative enough.

Making a difference

I may have just recently made a difference in the world. No joke. For all the complaining I do on this blog about people not caring about the world, it’s hypocritical that I don’t actually DO anything about it, other than ride my bike and complain on a blog to 20 people. But, now…now I consider myself somewhat of a do-gooder. Somewhat of a philanthropist. Somewhat of the most influential human being ever to walk the earth–who deserves soooo much good karma in his next bike race that the imbalance of good luck in the universe causes a terrible chain of reactions to take place that end up creating some sort of weird mutant gopher-type of animal with large butterfly wings. This “gophly” will then develop a hunger for human toenail clippings and will haunt the basements of beauty shop salons world-wide, making loud chattering sounds with their large orange gopher teeth in angst for freshly-chopped bits of nail to come their way. Animal control personnel will set traps, but the gophlys won’t fall for it because the trappers use fingernail clippings as bait instead of toenail, not realizing that the gophlys don’t give a gopher’s ass about fingernails. Beauty shop salons will start going out of business and girls will become uglier and uglier over the years as makeup goes out of style and their finger and toenails start looking like guys’: jagged and misshapen with that dark brown gunk underneath them that’s basically impossible to get out and not even worth the time trying. Humans will no longer have the desire to reproduce and eventually the planet’s entire population of seven souls will end up getting swallowed in an unfortunate whale-sighting cruise boat accident. Thus solving all the world’s problems, which is the existence of humans.

Nahhh, that’s not true. But I actually did do some real good, possibly. It’s on a small scale, but every bit helps—which is what they want you to think, but in actuality only large scale events have any impact on the world. Which is why voting is pointless. And stopping at stop signs. And being alive in general.

The people I am staying with here in Bend (Craigslist-founded) are not healthy. They’re friendly people, but apparently don’t want to live past 50. I suspect alcoholism and possible drug use—all in the past of course since now they’re good Christians who have pictures of Jesus on the wall, listen to Christian rock, have miniature bibles laying around the house, and go to church sometimes.

The father figure smokes. They don’t exercise. And there’s a full on cake in the fridge—for no particular reason or event. I think it’s safe to say that if you stock cake in your fridge, you’ve got a bit of an eating disorder. Stocking cookies, candy, chips, soda—all of that’s acceptable in our society (for some reason). But cake? The line’s been crossed.

The mom is obese and blames it on a thyroid problem, which her Doctor doesn’t believe (stupid test results) and therefore won’t give her medication. They have a 10-12 year-old son who is on the way to an early heart failure himself if he keeps things up, but there’s still hope for him. A slim margin of hope (no pun intended), but with some good influence from his parents it’s possible.

He was eating a dinner of Red Vines, potato chips, and soda when I came into the kitchen tonight. Yes, DINNER. In the trashcan, there was an empty ice cream container and an apple with about four bite marks on it.

I started making a typical dinner/lunch/2nd dinner/ 3rd dinner/snack that I make all the time, which is a bunch of stir-fried vegetables with some sort of meat and some sort of Asian sauce, and quinoa if I’m needing some grains. During the time I’ve been staying here, since last Friday, I’ve made a variation of this meal about 17 times. Every time anyone is around, they comment on how good it smells. I offered some to the mom last night (no pun intended) and she ate a little bit of it and proclaimed how much she liked it. I told her how to make it (which is to chop up vegetables and meat and cook it in a pan) and explained how easy it was, and that she should try making it sometime. She agreed.

Anyways, tonight the kid was eating his dinner of corn syrup and corn oil while I made the stir-fry dish. The mom walked in and said, “There’s that good smell again.” To which I replied, “Yep.” The mom looked at what her son was snacking on and said, “OK, let’s put that away. You need to be eating a little healthier.” She got out some frozen vegetables from the freezer and made a real dinner. The first she’s made since I’ve been here.

And then a gophly flew in through the open window and bit my pinky toe off. To its disappointment, it found out that I basically have no toenail on my pinky toe due to some strange genetics passed down from my mom. It spat the toe out in disgust and Thomas T, who had been journeying over the Cascades from Sherwood, jumped into the air and grabbed the gophly in his mouth and shook it do death by snapping its neck. He went outside and pranced around the yard for half an hour with his kill in his mouth. Little did Thomas T know, that when you kill a gophly, you inherit its wings. During the next full moon, Thomas T let out a blood-curdling howl as two giant butterfly wings sprouted from his back. He took to the sky. And now no squirrel in the world is safe. And no pie is too high up on the countertop.

PS: After writing this I walked into the kitchen and it turns out that earlier when I was in the room, the mom had been reaching past the frozen vegetables to take out the frozen hamburger patties. They had hamburgers and potato salad for dinner, which is better than Red Vines, but this isn’t exactly the result I was looking for.

Alien’s point of view

I’m sitting in a bathtub of cold water after a 5-hour ride. The water was painful at first, but after a few seconds I no longer felt any discomfort. As a species, I believe we’ve grown numb to the painfully cruel and idiotic world that we’ve constructed. Those last two words are important. We constructed the world we now live in. It’s the way it is because we want it to be this way. Maybe want is the wrong word, but nonetheless, we’ve allowed it.

If an alien had ridden with me today, maybe perched on my handlebars—a very small alien the size of a potato bug—it would have had plenty of time to make a lot of important discoveries about our species. Most of its discoveries would have come from observing our transportation system—roads—so the alien is only seeing part of the picture. But what better way to get a feel for out culture than travel along a busy street filled with semi-trucks and fast food joints? Here are a few key points the alien would have jotted down, without bias of emotion. Just facts collected from a day of riding on Kennett’s handlebars before it’s had the chance to go blind like the rest of us. (Note—from it’s observations, the alien believes that machines have free will. And it cannot always see people driving the cars).

The observations:

Most humans are decently friendly and helpful during face-to-face conversations with each other.

Face-to-face conversations are rare for humans. Face-to-face conversations for machines are commonplace.

Exhaust-making machines use four lanes of road, while humans sometimes get a small raised strip of cement five feet wide. Exhaust-making machines must have more rights than human beings.

It takes a 4,000-pound machine to move a single human being. Humans must weigh at least 4,000 pounds.

Gas station soda fountain machines have 13 kinds of soda, but often no water.
Humans must not require water.

Large, 4×4 machines have rear view mirrors to check if the small, two-wheeled machines they pass get knocked off the road.

Machines are likely the decision-makers on this planet. Some of the things they say are posted on their backsides:

The nation called the United States of America is the best country in the world and is blessed by God.
It is the home of the free. Though, freedom is not free.
Sarah Palin is more qualified than Obama.
Some machines ask to end an endless war that is being fought somewhere.

Machines consume gasoline from gas stations (which also sell soda).
(Note to self—find out where gas comes from).

Some humans on the side of the road hold up signs to the passing machines, asking to work for food.

Most other humans avoid the outdoors. Horses and cows like the outdoors. Birds like the outdoors. Machines like the outdoors.

Humans on two-wheeled machines prefer to ride on the side of the road, over broken glass and gravel.

Based on the number of food establishments, humans must require great quantities of food every 12 minutes.

Seeing a human is rare on this planet; they must be in hiding. Possibly from the machines.

New workout

This year has been a learning year in many respects.  I’ve learned how to race with a team, learned how to position myself in a big pack leading up to a climb, learned how to race a crit finally, learned how to pee of the bike successfully, learned how to eat vegetables and meat, the list goes on.  Actually no it doesn’t, that’s about it.  Except for one other thing: I’ve learned that I STILL don’t know what the hell I’m doing when it comes to training.  You’d think I’d have learned by now, but no.  This winter I did a lot of base miles, but zero intervals.  This spring I did a lot of racing, but still zero intervals.  It’s summer now, and I’ve realized that I need to do intervals.  How have I realized this?  Because everyone on my team and everyone I race with has done them throughout the year, except me–and they’re all like, “What? You haven’t done any intervals?? That’s dumb.  You thought you’d do a big volume of base in the winter and then race yourself into shape?  What, are you a bike racer from the 70’s?”

I thought I’d be doing enough racing to cover my intensity needs.  I’ve done a lot more racing this year than any other, but it certainly doesn’t make up for doing intervals, especially in the winter months–since there is no racing.  For one thing, racing does not provide the same physiological changes that intervals do.  Racing is stressful, mentally and physically.  It takes a lot out of you just to travel to and from the race, not to mention the psychological tole the actual race takes on you before, during, and afterwards.  I think there’s a lot of fitness to be gained from going to a big NRC stage race, but it’s not like we’re doing those every weekend.  And even if we were, I think we’d all be overtrained by now.  Basically, racing is a lot to recover from without necessarily the correct amount of intensity and without necessarily being in the correct zones.  That’s a bad sentence.

As opposed to racing, intervals are low stress: there’s no travel, no sleeping somewhere other than your own bed, no extra time standing on your feet before and after (like at a race), and they don’t “stress you out” either.  Although, maybe just a little.

Anyways, I’ve seen the light.  When I first started racing, I did too many intervals.  This year I did too few.  Now it’s time to find the medium.  And what better way to start them out this year than with…BAM!!!!! THE MOST STRENUOUS SET OF INTERVALS POSSIBLE!!  8×1 minute to 1.5 minutes on a steep hill, all out.  It sounds less difficult than a similar workout I’ve described on here (Nectar Way), since there are only 8, not 20.  But they’re actually much more taxing on the body.  Because–these intervals include full rests.  Those Nectar Way intervals were a vo2 workout–they were about 45 minutes of slogging up a steep hill without a real break.  As a result, the power was pretty weak by the second one.  They were damn painful, that’s for sure, but only because your body has zero oxygen and infinite lactic acid.  Put that way, they sound pretty bad.  And they were.  But these new intervals, which I heard about from Quinn (who was told about them from an ex-grand tour rider during the 80’s), are a different kind of suffering.

The goal is to do every single one as hard as you possibly can.  AS HARD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!  Most intervals aren’t quite like that.  If you did every 5 minute interval as hard as possible, after the first one the next two or three you do would be pretty pitiful.  And you’d have to rest for about half an hour in between.  But with 1 minute on, though, this type of effort is just at the point of being possible.  So, like I said, 1 minute on, 10-15 minutes off.  Repeat 5-7 more times for a total of 6-8 intervals.  I was shattered by the third one.  My power dropped from 800+ to 700- and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it back up there.  Even at full rest.

Quinn’s theory on why these work so well to get you fit is that they adapt your muscles to being able to store more glycogen, since by the third or fourth one, the glycogen in your legs has been drastically reduced.  I thought it took a long time for muscle glycogen to be depleted, but I just read online that during fast-twitch trainings, it can be completely used up in 10 minutes.  Yeah, I said trainings with an S.  It’s time to either Euro-up or shut-up.

Not only do these efforts deplete glycogen, they also deplete ATP immediately during each effort in the first few seconds.  And they’re a huge stress on your muscles as well, unlike v02 or threshold intervals.  And as an added bonus they do stress the v02 system, although for only a short amount of time.  I don’t know.  I kind of just made all this up.   Well, whatever they do, they must work because some old pro from the 80’s said they do.  And everyone knows the most advanced cycling training philosophies and scientifically-proven workouts were produced during the 80’s.

Galen M. and Mike B., if you read this I’m sure you’ll find my reasoning un-flawed.  Galen likes long threshold work, Mike likes hammering for 4 hours up hills.  Kennett likes 1 minute intervals.  Kennett like eat pizza.  Kennett a good boy.  Kennett like drarwring dinosoares.  Everyone likes what they’re already good at.  We’ll see how they work, though Quinn also said the old pro said that it takes a long time for the body to make the adaptions to these kind of intervals, so it might take a while to see if they do work.  And by then, it could be something else that’s making me go faster.  So I guess we’ll never know.  As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s a bunch of things that could have made me go so well during last week’s national road race.  I present these different variables as things I normally have not included in any part of my pre-race routine:

-For breakfast I had a steak, egg, and mushrooms.  Usually I have no steak.

-I shaved my arms the night before to compensate for the heat

-Lang buzzed my head the morning of the race for the heat as well

-I didn’t wear a sweat head band because I couldn’t find one that morning

-I ate a lot more gels than I usually do, and fewer bars

-I used Race Day Boost for five days leading up to the race

-I used Fruit By The Foot for a week leading up to the race

-I played a lot of violent video games for four days leading up to the race

-I put sunscreen on my forehead that morning, not just on my lower face

-I peed my pants while I was in the breakaway (while I was at the back of course)

-Actually, I’ve done that before so that really isn’t a new variable

-I washed the pee off my legs with some water

-The list goes on.

-Actually, no it doesn’t.  That’s about it.