Doing more good than evil

Is it ok to applaud a crook for saving someone’s life if the day before he stole a car? Seems like a simple question. Of course. It’s just a car. Compared to someone’s life it’s worthless.

Is it ok to applaud a famous athlete for giving “hope” and raising a lot of money to cancer patients and cancer research if that athlete got to the position they’re in by cheating? Now consider that it would be impossible to be in that position (7-time Tour de France winner) without cheating, and that every Tour winner that’s ever lived has cheated in one way or another. The original question seems pretty easy to answer. Yes, Lance Armstrong does more good for the world than evil by contributing to the cancer society than he did to hurt the world by taking drugs to win bike races. After all, it’s just a bike race.

Now go back to the first scenario, the one with the car thief. It was ok to praise them for their good deed even though they stole someone’s car. But what if a non-criminal saves someone’s life. They didn’t steel a car AND they saved a life. So therefore they’re doing more good for the world and they deserve more praise than the thief, obviously. But that doesn’t happen.

What isn’t obvious to most people is that Lance Armstrong is in the same situation. How many hundreds of thousands of people have contributed more than Lance (in terms of time spent, contributions made—financially, physically, mentally, effort put forth—to cure cancer)? How many of those people do you know by name? I know zero of those people’s names. I know Lance’s name. I know a crook’s name and I associate that dishonest person with a noble deed. I associate a cheating liar with something good. And so do you.

People aspire to be like the ones talked about in the media. We value a lying, cheating multi-millionaire more than a nameless nurse who ACTUALLY helps cure cancer. How can the world become a better place or even survive if this is how we think?

We have a president who we think is doing good for the world. What good is it that he’s doing? Answer: mainly he’s not doing some of the bad things that other recent world leaders have done. But he’s still dropping bombs on fucking huts. He’s still leading a country that’s raping the world for worthless gobs of black mucus– to make and transport worthless heaps of trash to be sold at Wal-Mart to a nation of ignorant uncaring fools. But let’s not fool ourselves though, he’s about as in control of things as any president has been—which is as much as a puppet is in control of its puppeteer. Who’s in control: people who have billions of dollars. There’s 1,000 of them in the world. How’d they get there? By being lying cheats.

Lets say one of those people owns a company that makes cancer treatment drugs. That same person also owns a company that drills for oil (they probably also own stock in Haliburton and support the Tea Party movement but we’ll forget about that for a second and just focus on the drugs and oil) . Oil is considered “bad” by some people. Cancer drugs are considered good by ALL people. Most people would say that this billionaire is doing more good for the world than bad. I don’t buy that for one second and neither should you. Dishonest, corrupt, immoral, self-interested people do not do more good for the world than good. They continue our species’ existence-long trend of allowing the lying cheat to thrive and rise up in the world while the honest person crumbles to the ground and dissolves into a dust so fine it might as well be nothingness.

There isn’t one billionaire alive who’s a decent person or that got to their position by “honest hard work” (whatever that means). Not one of them does more good for the world than bad. Not even close. Think about that: not one person who as any say in our world’s future has a drop of decent morality in them. How could a person with a billion dollars care about anybody or anything other than themselves? But I’m getting side-tracked. Back to my main pessimistic point: we’re all evil because at one point in each of our lives, we’ve done something bad.

There is no gray area for being a good human being. It’s like the movies. You’re either good or bad. After all, if I save two people from drowning, that doesn’t give me the right to go out and strangle someone.

Sanpete Road Race

I’ve been awarded three nicknames this season: Ferdinand (The Bull), Big’uns, and Catfish. Ferdinand was the first, given to me at our team training camp in Agoura Hills way back in March. I tend to break things quite frequently, like a bull in a china shop. Plus I say and accomplish somewhat questionable (dumb) things a lot. Affectionately, I’m sure, Joe Holmes chose the name Ferdinand The Bull for me as a combination dumb bull/bull in a china shop. The name was certainly deserved. The second nickname, Big’uns, was given to me by our host at Cascade. Lang made sure the name stuck. It, like Ferdinand, also has a double meaning: “big guns” and also just plain “big” (two things no cyclist is proud of—large arms and being heavy. Unfortunately it is also a well-deserved name. And finally my most recent nickname was earned at the Tour of Utah: Catfish—because I look like a catfish when I’m hurting (mouth gaping open like a fish struggling to breath while out of the water). There’s some pretty good pics of the Catfish in action at the Tour of Utah crit. Why am I going into all this detail for a race report? Because I put all three nicknames to good use today. Very good use.

Woke up at 6:15. About five or six hours earlier than I like. Got a ride with Todd Haggeman (the guy who helped us out with housing in Utah) and John (Northwave rep). I made a fool of myself by introducing myself to John this morning (I had forgotten that I met and talked with him a few days ago). FERDINAND.

We drove to the race and I kept getting whiffs of urine. Either the dogs here at my host house peed on my jacket, or I was wearing an un-washed pair of socks from the tour of Utah that may or may not have gotten doused with a bit of wee. FERDINAND.

We got to the race. I accidentally dropped my bike on the ground. FERDINAND. I also still hadn’t cleaned up the vomit all over my frame left over from that last stage of Utah—sugar cookie incident. FERDINAND. (Sorry Joe. Don’t worry, Velonews wasn’t there).

The race started to the blasting of a Civil War canon. It was loud. I followed an attack or two in the first mile. We were all in our biggest gears, a heavy tail wind throwing us forward at 33 mph. After a slew of hard attacks and some short-term guttering, I launched a counter attack and got away with two other guys. We drilled it for about 20 miles while the peloton slowly but surely lost its 30-second grasp on us. We got out of sight and built up about four minutes on them. Only one of the guys was doing any considerable work with me. The other guy was just pulling through and immediately sliding off the front, just going through the motions. He may have been smart. After all, there were a lot of miles left to race. I was not thinking of this. I was drilling it. I was sucking air. CATFISH. (The tour of Utah took more out of me than any race I’ve ever done. That, combined with the four and a half hour ride I did two days before this race had me hurting before we even left the start line). So I was really sucking a lot of air.

The course was 98 miles of super heavy wind and small rolling hills. I was right at home. We took a wrong turn though (while I was on the front) and temporarily got lost. FERDINAND. It was all right though, don’t worry! We doubled back and got on track. Although, we did lose a few minutes and were caught by a bridging move ten minutes later at mile 46.

About ten guys bridged to us. We all messed around for a bit, attacking and sitting on and what not. I covered all the moves since there were really only two big teams in our move now, both with about three or four guys a piece that took turns trying to get away. There were a couple loners like myself in the break as well. Eventually five of us broke away in the cross/headwind. Two orange team guys and two Canyon Bicycle guys. The odds weren’t in my favor. After 20 more miles of riding in the wind I was sucking more and more air. CATFISH. Thoughts of sitting on occurred to me but I pushed those thoughts away, deciding to suck air like a catfish instead.

20 more miles in and the fresh guys I was riding with were starting to look more and more like catfish themselves (none had been off the front since mile two like I had, but some had been at the tour of Utah so they weren’t that fresh). In fact, we started to look like a typical Louisiana bayou fishing scene: a row of five catfish on the muddy bank, wide-eyed, sucking wind with gaping mouths, failing to process any oxygen with their water-loving gills, flopping aimlessly in a confused attempt to get back to the water. I dug through my pockets and plunged fist-fulls of nasty, sticky Swedish Fish and black liquorish down my gullet (which I had stupidly coated in sea salt the night before). FERDINAND.

20 more miles and we were crawling along in the headwind at 12 mph, the peloton behind us having given up at last, a significant number of them dropping out.

With seven miles to go we got to a very gradual hill. An orange guy attacked. A Canyon Bike guy closed the gap with me on his wheel. He countered the orange guy I think (I can’t really remember all the details). Anyways, I ended up on someone’s wheel going up this really un-steep hill in the crosswind with one guy on my wheel. I started breathing extra heavy, trying to trick the guy in front into thinking I was about to pop if he kept up the pace. He kept going hard (the fool!) He slowed a bit as he began to crack and I ATTACKED!! And I broke him and the guy on my wheel like my bike frame this year (airline’s fault not mine), broke them like my rear wheel which I broke a few weeks ago, like the 11 flats I’ve had in races this year, like the three times I’ve broken my power tap this year, like my ipod, like my laptop, like the five spatulas at host houses I’ve burnt on stoves, like the window(s) I broke this year, like all my lady-friend’s hearts (OK that may not be 100% accurate) but the point is I broke them like frail twigs, gave a Lance look-back, said goodbye and soloed the last six miles to the finish line…where I gave a one-armed flex as I crossed under the finish banner. BIG’UNS.

After the race I feasted on chicken at the free BBQ (yeah there was a bbq. Jealous?) I chugged a bunch of this really sweet canned nectar juice stuff, then threw up orange liquid all over the grass right in front of a long line of people waiting to serve themselves for the bbq. FERDINAND OUT.

Here’s some pictures, mainly of the drive out to the race. I stopped taking pictures part way through the drive so you don’t quite get the full experience of being there. It got a lot dryer and rocker as we went further south towards the race.

Park City.

Some runners or triathletes racing in the early morning. They must have had to get up way before us.

My Swedish Fish bag after the race. There’s some almonds in there too.

Mark Twight and I. Mark also won his race…HA as if Mark Twight would place anything OTHER than first.

Here’s a better picture.

No podium, but there was some sweet prize moola.

Todd, John, and I went out for pizza and to look at pretty girls after the race. I didn’t get any pictures of the pizza, this is just driving through an area that was close to the pizza. It has real nice lights.

Ode to Nachos

When the gods created the universe, they did so to make it possible to say, “Dude, nachos are like the best freakin food in the universe, man.”

Hot damn we’re eating nachos tonight, bitches!
–Mother Teresa

The foundation:
It must be sturdy to hold the weight of a skyscraper.
Its roots must burrow deep and wide. Gravity is at play. And wind and quake.
This isn’t child’s play. A lot’s at stake.
So it goes for a plate of nachos.
It must have chips of concrete, cheese of rebar.
Melted together in an immovable mesh of golden crunch and yellow magma.
Heated together. And alone. Nothing else must interfere with the marriage of these two most important ingredients. Sogginess is for swamps and soup and Spencer’s mom.
Next comes the beans. Black, pinto, refried or whole. A combo of all will give your nachos soul.
Barbequed chicken on top, in strips torn with fingers. Then pile on the steak, because nachos aren’t for wieners.
Olives–an entire can? Damn.
The pile is growing but still needs more flavor. This aint no casserole, Ma, turn up the incinerator.
Fresh salsa comes to the rescue with tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, and onion. A start, but
more fire is crucial for bleeding of the gums and bum. Dice up two or eight jalapenos, and a habanero for fun.
“What more?” you ask. An avocado will do. Some sour cream, Tapatio, or corn or stew. But ‘woe’–goes my heart. I sadly have none. So I squeeze a bit of lemon and call it done.

Tour of Utah Prologue–Stage 5

I’m already forgetting what happened so I better get this down quick.  The prologue was a very short out and back up a hill and down a hill with a few turns and bumps.  I could have used a larger gear, but it didn’t matter.  I went out hard, a bit too hard maybe.  Or maybe not.  I got to the turn around and headed down hill (which was also in a slight tail wind)  The forest went by at 40 mph.  It was only false flat too, which made it feel like you were just an extreme beast, spun out in a 53×11 on seemingly flat ground.  Soon I was back in the start area sprinting towards the Utah state capitol building and in less than 7 minutes it was all over.  The first stage of the Tour of Utah was done and over with, three weeks of preparation and in 6 minutes and 45 seconds I was done with the first day.  It felt good to finally get this thing under way.  I spun down town and got a sandwich while the rest of the team finished up.  I was 85th.

Stage 1.  85 miles plus 10 miles of neutral.  I took a dunk in a fountain, grabbed my last bag of ice and stuffed it down my back, and lined up.  I snuck my way to the front and got a good spot next to George Hincappie.  He had a couple groupie girls trying to get pictures with him.  I poked my head around to get in the shot.  After way too many announcements and call ups and screaming from the crowd, we finally took off to the gun shot.  We rolled around town for five laps of a typical crit course length loop, then headed out to the mountains.  All of a sudden, the pace skyrocketed as we tour up through a canyon.

I attacked once I found myself near enough to the front to see the front.  I bridged up to Mike Friedman and some other guys and we worked pretty well for a few minutes until we were caught.  I immediately attacked again and got away with another few guys.  That move went away for a little longer I think, but was reeled in.  I took a look back, saw that we were caught, and immediately attacked again for the third time.  No one went with me so I got in the TT position and went on by myself.  Damn it I’m getting in the break today!!  That didn’t work.  I was caught one more time and this time I decided to rest a bit since there was a gigantic mountain coming up pretty soon.

The climb came a bit sooner than I was hoping for and I found myself struggling to hold my position as I slowly slipped back farther and farther on the climb.  The pace wasn’t brutal, but it was enough to pop me about a mile from the top.  I chased hard on the down hill, got into the caravan with a couple other guys, and we started going up hill again, a bit more gradual of a climb now.  I was in quite a bit of pain, but we were making up ground on the pack, just dangling off the back.  I shifted from my big ring to the little and my damn chain popped off.  I pulled an Andy Schleck and got off my bike, got the chain back on and started chasing again.  I was doomed now though.  I never made it back on, the guys I was with did.

The climb went on for another four or five or 20 miles, I don’t know.  I eventually got caught after the summit by a large group containing the race leader, Taylor Phinney, and my teammate Ian Crane.  I pulled hard off and on for a long time on the flat section in between the next major hill.  Highlights of this section of the race include getting a feed bag from Team Type 1 (which included a cream pie cookie), staring at the back of Ken Hanson’s calves, staring at the pavement, wondering when the next climb was going to start (my computer wasn’t working).

Finally the climb started.  I had previewed this climb so I knew what we were in for.  I decided to conserve all possible energy on the climb so I didn’t take a single pull.  I just sat on Taylor’s wheel and stared at his hub for a good 30 minutes while our group split in half.  The rest of the race: screaming fast decent, five minute climb, another screaming fast descent, finish line–no one sprinted.  We came in about 18 minutes after the leaders.  I was tired, but not enough to be satisfied with the race.  I really wanted to be in the break that day (the break never really formed for any large amount of time.  Sam was in it for a while after the first climb, but it got brought back and reformed like 8 times throughout the race).  Maybe I should have taken Joe’s advice and waited to attack after the first climb, to ensure that I had enough juice to get over the climb with the group.  But you never know when the break is going to go and I didn’t want to risk missing it.

Stage 2.  Ugghhh.  Stage 2 was much harder.  As a joke, Lang put an extra magnet on my wheel so my computer would read twice the speed and distance.  So I had no idea how far we had gone, when the sprint points were, when the feed zones were, how much longer I had to climb…etc.  I could have just divided by two, but that’s easier said than done when you’re in oxygen debt at 9,000 ft.  I was pissed at him and momentarily contemplated chopping his wheel in a corner.  I didn’t though.

Once the neutral section was over with, a Garmin guy attacked, beating me to the first attack of the day.  Damn it.  I chased his ass down though but was disappointed to see a long line of riders stretching out behind me.  We were both swept up.  I decided to rest for a mile or two and attack again.  Today’s stage was mainly flat until the last 4,500 ft climb up to Mt. Nebo, which topped out at an elevation of 9,300 ft.

We were going along at 35 mph when I slammed right into a nasty pot hole and my rear tire went flat.  I spent the next 15 minutes chasing as hard as I could, swerving in and out of the caravan as the peloton attacked and attacked itself, trying to let a break get away.  Road construction and a lot of little turns slowed the caravan down, sped it up to 40 mph, slowed it down to a stop, sped it up to 40 mph…It was impossible to just sit on a car and get pulled back up to the pack.  I feared my race was done and over with right there.  The whole Tour.  Luckily I did make it back to the pack, having burned about 7 of my 10 matches in the process.

I then sat in.  The break had gone without me.  I was not happy.  But there was nothing I could do.  Except get dropped about 20 miles later when the cross winds shredded the peloton into two large echelons, with a smaller one forming behind them–which included me.  I worked my ass off along with half of the other guys trying to get back on, but we never quite made it.  I think our group had about 15 guys, but we split apart on the Nebo climb.  After 70 miles of hard crosswinds, we had a HUGE climb to get over.  I ditched all of the guys that were still left in the break once we got to the bottom of the hill and went as hard as I could for an hour.  I was so out of breath during the last mile I thought I was going to cry.  Sometimes when you’re hyperventilating from going so hard, you get that feeling in your chest like you’re about to cry.  Fans on the side of the road encouraged me on, telling me I only had a mile left.  A few minutes later I was told I had “just a little OVER a mile to go!!”  Then I was told I had a quarter of a mile, no more.  Then I was told, “it’s just around the corner! GO GO GO”  Then, at last, I finally saw the 1K to go sign and I immediately lost 3 years of my life out of sheer disappointment.  I came in 24 minutes behind the race winner, Levi.  I couldn’t talk for a good 10 minutes after the race.  Less than 10 guys behind me made the time cut.  On the drive down we almost hit a cow.  Then we had mexican food.  Then Sean and I were dropped off at our host house, where our hosts had about 15 people and children over for tacos.  Sean and I got to explain bike racing for 3 hours straight, the whole time just wishing we could go stare at a wall.

Stage 3.  Stage 3 was a bit of a rest day, since it was only a 9.2 mile TT.  It was a very cool TT course since it was around a race car track.  Each team got a pit crew garage to hang out it.  And Cal Giant gave away a whole bunch of strawberries to everyone.  I went hard in the TT, but didn’t give it everything.  I finished 94th.

Stage 4.  75 minute crit at downtown Park City (at an elevation of 7,100 ft).  120 feet of climbing per lap up a long 10% drag on Main Street.  This was probably the hardest crit that has EVER taken place on US soil.  That’s not an exaggeration.  I lined up at the front, but after all the cutting and call ups were done, I was 6 rows back.  Despite the afternoon heat of 95 degrees, I was shivering and had goose bumps.  The gun was shot.  There was a big crowd and lot of screaming as we sprinted up the hill (race started on the hill).  I failed to clip in for a good 6 seconds as about 60 people went around me.  I got clipped in at last and se TORE up the hill at an all out sprint.  We blazed down the back side of the course and around five corners, then sprinted all out up the hill again.  The climb being around a 2 minute effort.  Already the pack was shedding riders off the back on the FIRST LAP.  It shed more on the second and third.  Soon I was at the very back, not having slipped back there, just that everyone behind me was gone.  I held on a bit longer and soon I was by myself.  I rode all out.  Most of my teammates had already been pulled from the race.  The first half of the race was the hardest effort I have done on the bike.  I continued to ride hard sometimes in a group, sometimes by myself.  I latched onto Jeff Louder temporarily as he lapped me, but decided that was a bad idea, not wanting to get DQed or something.  I went hard to the end and finished 64th.  Only 85 guys were left to race the next day.  Sam and I were the only two from our team.  We ate mexican afterwards.  I was a zombie.

Stage 5.  Cross winds and highway grade climbs marked the first 2 hours of the race.  Then a 2,500 ft climb up to an elevation of 8,500 ft.  I was dropped from the main pack on this climb.  I spent the next two hours riding hard with one other guy that was still motivated to ride hard.  I drank Coke after Coke after Coke from the team car.  I poured water, perpetuem, Heed, gatorade, Coke, and any other liquid down my back and on my legs.  I threw up a sugar cookie.  I threw up all over my bike and legs.  Too much Coke.  I continued to ride hard over another small 1,5000 ft climb.  We descended at 60 mph in a heavy cross wind, being blown all over the road.  At last we came to the final climb.  Just 40 minutes of climbing to go.  The other guy went up the road.  I struggled on my own, grabbing any form of liquid from the fans as they cheered me on from their lawn chairs.  I took a Twinkie feed.  I chewed it, spat it out.  Swallowed a tiny bit of it.  I had just about nothing left.  Still 2K to go.  Somehow I made it to the finish.  22 minutes behind Levi today.  Not bad considering I rode the last 50 miles of the race off the back.  I finished 59th.  I was delirious at the finish line.  I sat in a chair at our van, drank a Coke.  Started hacking up my lungs, threw up.  Drank some more sugar crap.  And slowly, I was able to function again.  I made the time cut.  I had just finished the Tour of Utah.  67th GC.  Somehow the best placed on GC for my team.  Sam and I sat in our chairs, brainless sloths, for a long time.  Sam had to go get drug tested.

That night we had a dinner party with all our host families.

It’s Wednesday now (the race finished on Sunday) and I’m still wrecked.

Tour of Utah Reflection

Up until this race, I would have considered my 2010 season to be pretty lackluster in terms of personal results.  I certainly feel as though I’ve had a crucial role in many of the team’s wins and successes this year, but I haven’t had a lot of my own glory.  It may sound selfish, but a season without a personal win is pretty shitty.  Luckily I avoided that bullet by winning the Tour of Park City, albiet a small race, but nonetheless a hard race, especially coming from near-sea level to fighting up mountain passes of 11,000 ft.  But it was still a small, unimportant race in terms of “real” results.

Probably the only good results of my year before Utah were my 9th at Nationals and my 37th GC at Joe Martin, which was achieved by surviving a very hard and dangerous crit (not unlike my survival of Utah’s crit).  But none of these results were even close to what I was hoping for and expecting out of this season.

Similar to this season’s timeline of ups and downs, my Tour of Utah wasn’t even going very well until the last couple days.  I had a mediocre prologue, a terrible first road race where I got dropped on the first major climb of the day, an even worse 2nd road race where a combination of bad luck and bad pack-positioning had me riding in the groupetto after only 30 miles.  I went through the motions at the time trial, going as hard as I could, but not really.  If that makes sense.  By the way, on my purchase list is a disc wheel and a front deep dish next year for time trialing.  I also need to get faster.

It wasn’t until the controversial downtown Park City crit that I felt like I had a good race.  Unfortunately, after the crit the only two of us Hagens Berman guys who made the cut were myself and Sam.  It was hard to see the disappointment on the faces of the other guys on the team that had been doing much better than myself and had a better chance of doing well on the last day than I did.  The 50% time cut off was harsh for that hard of a crit (which had something like 4,300 feet of climbing in 75 minutes at altitude).  It may not have been fair to cut that many people from the race (about 45 people were cut).  But on the other hand it helped me move up on GC (well after it was all said and done I was still at the back of the GC, just fewer people were between me and No. 1).  Anyways, I suck at long, 20-60 minute threshold climbs (too low of a threshold for my big guns).  But I’m good at super hard 1-4 minute climbs.  I need to get better at long climbs and the guys that didn’t make the time cut need to get better at the short stuff.  I doubt the race organizers knew exactly the outcome of their choosing such a selective crit course, but in their ignorance (?), their decision created a more well-rounded race that didn’t simply award the light guys that could go uphill for 30 minutes the hardest (well in terms of the real GC battle between the top 5 it didn’t really matter), but for the “little” guys like most of us, it did.

I made it through the crit placing 60 something I think (the correct results still aren’t up yet).  And I was lined up the next day with about 85 other guys at the start of the 6th and final stage.  The Queen stage: 100 miles, 100 degrees in the valley, 95 in park city, 11,000 feet of climbing, average wind speed of 19 mph with gusts of 64 mph (according to NOAA).  The race was hard from the beginning, got easier for a short while, then was hard as hell for a long long time.  I tortured myself for the last two and a half hours after having been dropped from the lead group on the first high mountain pass, and came in 22 minutes after Levi Leipheimer.  I finally stopped pedaling after I crossed the line, slouched over my handlebars trying to breath, was escorted to a chair by our van, coughed, drank something, threw up, wheezed and coughed for a long time, then finally looked up at the deep blue sky and grey mountain peaks looming above on all sides and asked, “where the hell are we?”  The same question Sam asked a moment earlier.  Both Sam and I had finished.  We were tired and delirious to the point of having a combined mental capacity equal to that of a very naive chimpanzee.  With a slight mental handicap.  On a bad day.  That had just been hit on the head with a heavy brick.

I finished 59th that day and 67th overall on GC.  Out of about 150 starters, there were only 71 finishers.  If you take out Mike Olheiser and the two Cole Sport guys that were pulled from the crit (but continued to ride and somehow were allowed to start the next day), there were only 9 amateurs that finished the race.

It may not have been a win, a podium, or even a top 10.  But 67th at Utah has been the best result of my cycling career, or at least the one I’m most proud of.  It’s two days after the race now and I’m still tired as hell.  I slept for 10 hours straight last night (actually that isn’t out of the ordinary).  I feel like I could eat an entire 30 pound turkey by myself.  With a large piece of artisan bread and gravy too (not that out of the ordinary either but you get my point).

My hopes for the last few races of the season are very high and I’m still motivated, especially for Univest.  All I need is a little bit of good luck and I KNOW there is no one who can beat me in that race with that short uphill sprint to the finish.  I can do 900 freakin watts for a full minute for F’s sake!!  BRING IT ON BITCHES!!!  YOU DON’T STAND A CHANCE!

But however this next month goes, I feel like I can end the season happy and content.  To have completed the country’s 2nd hardest race after Tour of California feels pretty damn good.

Real race report to follow.

The Ride Sponsor

Every good, long, hard ride needs to have at least one gas station stop for water, slurpies, Swedish Fish, gummy bears, Snickers, beef jerky, joe-joes, a deep fried burrito, or what have you.  Depending on how tired and hungry you are, this can really add up.  A Snickers at a gas station out in the country is a buck, at least.  A medium slurpy is $1.39, unless it’s at Circle K in Tucson where they’re 89 cents for any size.  Swedish Fish were a $1.50 today.  A bag of gummy bears or hot tamales is sometimes $2.  A doughnut is cheap, usually 50 or 75 cents.  Beef jerky can be a small fortune.  A hot dog is $1.19–sometimes (rarely) two for a buck if they’re having a sale.  You get the picture.  It’s dangerous to head into a gas station with an empty stomach, crossed-eyes, and a debit card.  But there is another way.

The Ride Sponsor can be anyone really.  They can’t be slow, but they don’t have to be super fast.  They need to just barely be able to keep up with you (and your teammates if you’re riding with them) on a non-interval/hammerfest day.  They might get dropped on some of the longer, steeper climbs, but you’re not in such a hurry you can’t wait three minutes for them to catch up at the top.  Look for one on your next ride.  He’s usually an older guy (40’s to early 50’s).  He’ll likely be on a Cervelo or decked out Cannondale/ Trek.  Maybe a Time.  He can either catch up to you after seeing you from a side street, or you can pass him and say ‘hello how’s it going?’– an easy invitation for him to sit on your wheel.  We’re not looking for leaches here, so if he isn’t friendly/talkative, give ’em the old heave-ho and drop his ass ASAP.  What we’re looking for is a rider with some dough (a job) and someone who wants some fast company to draft off of.  I personally wouldn’t want to spend three hours sucking air behind a stranger who’s nose-breathing, unless they’re on a moped, or it’s one of the Colavita chicks.  But lots of other people do, especially if you’re riding with a couple teammates and you’re all in matching kits/bikes and smell good from your new deodorant/embrocation sponsor.  Our appeal has been especially high here in Park City since everyone knows about the Tour of Utah, assumes we’re here for it, and wants a chance to talk shop about the race–and also to get the inside scoop on Levi/Hincappie/whoever (not that we know anything about any of them).  But of course you don’t need to be in Park City.  The Ride Sponsor can be found wherever bikes are ridden.

So now you’ve got your ride sponsor.  What’s next?  Only thing left to do is ride hard enough to make them come very close to bonking or cracking, then stop at a gas station and load up.  Don’t worry, it’s on them.  It always is.

Tour de Park City

Spencer, Lang, and I are here in Park City getting ready for the Tour of Utah.  The elevation of this tour is a major obstacle, especially for guys like us who live at sea level.  The importance of arriving early and getting acclimated to the altitude is huge.  Our house here is at 7,000 ft, which is already doing the trick.  Our first couple days here we all felt like crap–granted we had just come off the Cascade Classic, but the elevation made our legs even worse.

We’ve done a few big rides during this first week and previewed some of the major climbs that we’ll go over in the tour.  One of the climbs we’ve done was eight miles long, six of which were gravel/dirt that averaged 9%.  Lang didn’t stop crying for two days afterwards.

Being much more hard core than my wimpy teammates,I decided to get in some race miles while getting acclimated for Utah by entering the Tour of Park City–a 150 mile race.  Yeah, 150 miles.  I had never ridden that far in my life.  It only took us 6.5 hours, though, so it wasn’t too bad.

The race started ridiculously early at 6AM.  I only slept for four hours that night since the stench of Spencer’s dirty cycling kits in the room were keeping me awake.  I got to the race on time somehow after getting lost and trying to find my way back on course with a California road map, drank another water bottle of coffee, and lined up at the start line in the dark.

The first ten miles were raced pretty un-aggressively.  One guy got up the road by himself and gained about three minutes on us.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  Maybe he had a moment of dyslexia when hew was signing up for the race and read that the race was 15.0 miles long, not 150.

Anyways, I just sat in and made sure not to get gapped off on the climbs.  The only thing of significance that happened to me in the first 90 miles was that I broke a spoke in my rear wheel.  I rode it for about 10 miles while the un-true wheel rubbed a groove in my seat stay (the wheel car was up the road with a breakaway of six or seven guys).  I finally got a wheel change and chased back on.  But I realized that the replacement wheel was so un-dished that it also was rubbing my seat stay.  I stopped to see if I had just put it in crooked, had no luck, chased back on and rode it for another 10 miles or so (wheel car was gone again) before finally getting a new wheel that worked.

Then came the climb at mile 85.  I got gapped off during an attack about a mile from the first summit and I was at my limit so couldn’t quite close the gap.  There was a short downhill section before the road went up again and then another two miles before we hit the second and final summit at an elevation of 10,700 ft.  I was feeling the affects of the altitude pretty severely at this point in the race and I’m pretty sure I was turning over about 200 watts, though it felt like 500.

I chased back on pretty quickly during the descent and caught the group of six that had made it over the top together.  A couple more guys chased on after me and we had a group of 11.  Only 50 miles to go now.  Luckily a lot of it was down hill.  We all worked well together until the attacks started coming with 12 miles to go, but I could tell that everyone was close to their breaking point except for one or two other guys.  I marked them and countered one of their moves with 3K to go and stayed away to take the win.  The best part was that there were free massages and sandwiches at the finish line.

Collateral Damage Fairness Lottery

I think the current number of casualties in the Iraq/Afghanistan Genocide is around 2 million.  Who knows?  Who really cares?  Just about all of those are civilians.  If we really want to end collateral damage in war, I have a great proposition.  For every innocent bystander that’s killed overseas in any military conflict, one civilian should be killed in the killer’s country.  So if an American soldier happens to accidentally kill four Iraqi children, four American children should be killed.  Everyone in the country would be subject to the Collateral Damage Fairness Lottery.  The only criteria for the Fairness Executions would be age and sex.  If a 39 year-old Afghanistan male is killed, a 39 year-old American male would be chosen from random to be executed here in the states.  If 133 little girls and 82 little boys are killed in a bombing in Iraq, 133 little girls and 82 little boys would be taken out of school here in the States and executed within the day.  The only problem with this world-wide law would be enforcing it.  So to do that, we should create something like a Union of Nations to oversee all wars and make sure both sides are fighting fair and imposing the Collateral Damage Fairness Lottery.  Yeah, that should work.

A family walks into a burrito bar…

My family and I drove down from Park City to the Redstone Village Outlet Mall for a nice dinner and a movie at the cinema.  My husband, Bob, our two children, Ryan (12) and Patricia (9), and my mother, “Nanna” as the kids affectionately call her, were looking forward to a fun, relaxing night out.  We decided on the Cafe Rio burrito bar.  Standing from outside we could see that the line inside was long, but this is always the case at Cafe Rio.  The food is decently good and the affordable price brings in the masses.  We live up on the Hill in Park City, meaning price is no object for us.  But sometimes we like to dip into the chasms of the lower class for a sneak peak at the service people, just to get a feel for the carefree life of the common man.  My husband, Bob, who’s seen success in the stock market, insists that once a month we must go out into the world and mingle among the poor, observe their likes and dislikes, and  generally weave ourselves into the fabric of the average American.  Unfortunately, on this night we seemed to have woven ourselves into the disgustingly filthy T-shirts of two young men eating at the Cafe Rio, who, judging by their food-stained apparel, appeared to have no dignity, no sense of self-worth, no respect for themselves or for those that were forced to share this food establishment with them.

As we opened the door to the burrito restaurant and stepped in line, my eyes immediately fell upon these two vagabond young males.  Both were seated in the middle of the cafe with three massive plates full of food.  Each were digging into an immense pile of nachos with forks and fingers, slurping and sucking the food down like pigs of a trough.  Without a care of soiling their clothes, their faces, or their hair, the two gluttons belched and farted their way to the bottom of the mountain of chips and cheese within the very few minutes my disgusted family stood in line watching.  I barely stomached the sight as my bowls moved up into my throat.  I put my hand to my mouth as I felt an uprising of my unhappy intestines, revolting in the disgust as the two gluttons began shoveling their next plates of burritos into their greedy mouthes.  They paused only to pour horchata down their gullets, spilling the white beverage on their been and hot sauce-covered shirts, pants, arms, faces, and all over the table.  They seemed not to care about anything other than the speed of which they gorged themselves with the cheap mexican food.  They did not speak.  They did not look up from their plates.  They did not wipe their mouths with napkins.  They did not apologize for making bodily noises.  They were two primates eating with the speed one might associate with a starving canine, hurriedly and horridly lapping at the food as if it were about to be taken away from it.  Tongues smacked lips like those of bull frogs lashing out at fat black flies.  Fists were clenched around food and fork like those of dirty possums groping and grabbing at a dead fish.  They smelled of BO, sweat, flatulence and beans.  The snorting and drooling of wild hogs brought my face to a green flush.  I became dizzy and hot.  I felt my legs grow weak and the rising temperature of the room spun on account of the horrid slobs.  Bob grabbed me stiffly by the arm as he saw me start to faint, and quickly pulled me back outside to safety.  The kids and Nanna followed suite with looks of horror and nausea.  We doubled over, breathing in the cool, clean mountain air for many minutes as our heads cleared and our eyes lost their glaze.  Then we loaded back into the Mercedez and drove away from the wretched bowels of the Outlet Mall and back up the hill to our local five-star restaurant where we dined on lobster,  caviar, veal osso bucco, and truffles  like civilized human beings.

Cascade Classic round 2

Prologue: I should have loosened up my grip on the breaks going  around the corners.  It was a fast 2 mile course and every squeeze of the levers loses a couple seconds.  I felt good but didn’t have the best tactical race for this reason and ended up 92nd at 16 seconds down on the winner.  Fun race though.

Stage 1: Mckenzie Pass RR.  This was a surprisingly short road race, at just 75 miles.  The first 20 miles were mostly down hill and flat, with a few small rollers.  I got off the front a couple times, but nothing was sticking for long.  I should have just sat in and conserved energy for the 20 mile climb we were approaching, but I thought a break would go before it and I wanted to be part of it.  Plus attacking early was my job.  I lead the pack around the left hand turn as we pulled off of the highway and onto the smaller forest road, which quickly went up hill.  From there, I slowly lost position in the pack for the next 30 minutes until I finally got dropped as the pack shred to pieces.  The group I was in rode hard for another 10 or 20 minutes until we had a big pack of 25 or so riders.  Teammate Spencer was in there with me.  Then shouts of “groupetto” were called out as riders felt there was no chance for catching back on and their legs began dictating their now dwindling egos.

At last, we crested the mountain pass at 5,500 ft and tore down the other side and road hard into Sisters.  We could see the pack up ahead off in the distance and our pace-line was blisteringly fast.  A little too fast, and guys started missing turns on the front.

After we made our way through town, the chase lost all impotence and there were only three or four of us willing to spend time on the front.

When we got to the final climb of the day, I went to the front and held what I thought was a reasonable pace for a groupetto to do that’s making sure to not get time cut.  But as we came over the steep section, a few guys hammered it.  Spencer and I jumped on the train and partook in what I was sure was bad form, in ditching the other 20 guys in our group.  But within five minutes of hard effort, I could see why we were going so fast.  Another large group of 30 guys was up the road.  We caught them and started going straight by, but their yelling forced us to slow down and ride with them.  I was content.  My legs were pretty close to being done.  I came in mid pack of the large group, getting a time the same as the 96th guy.

Stage 2: The Skyliners TT.  Not much to say about the TT.  I was pretty spun out on the way down in my 53X11.  I needed a bigger gear, but didn’t care too much since I was out of GC contention by a lot.  I came into the race hoping for a top 25 on GC and a top 10 finish on a stage, but the GC goal was out the window by the first RR.

Stage 3: Mt. Bachelor RR.  I was determined to not get dropped on the first climb of the day again, like I did last year.  I even warmed up on the trainer for 20 minutes before the race.  Basically, the race starts out with a 10 mile climb, then goes down hill for a long time, then has rolling hills until finally another five mile climb to the finish.  Last year I got popped about half way up and rode in with a group, bonking hard, and finished dead last with only 2 minutes to spare to make the time cut.  This year I made it all the way until the final kicker up to the KOM, about 2.5kms from the top or less.  It was frustrating.  Much better than last year, but still very frustrating.

On the decent, I caught five guys and we started the rotation.  An hour later, we were caught by a much larger group of about 12 guys.  But only six or seven of us would do any consistent pulling.  Unlike last year at this race, I did a huge amount of work.  I was clearly the strongest in the groupetto, and I was paranoid about making the time cut, so I pulled too hard.  The guys behind yelled at me to slow down, move left, move right to keep them out of the wind, ease up on the climbs.  I told them I was trying to impress United Healthcare but they wouldn’t listen.  Anyways, long story short about six of us made it to the top of the climb together, I rode off the course in the last 100 meters accidentally  (damn confusing cones in the parking lot finish area).  And we all made the time cut.  I was tired.  My teammates did pretty well on the stage.  Sam got in some moves, and Lang and Chris finished in the top 50.  Sean and Spencer made it up the climb as well in good position.

Stage 4: the crit.  This was dumb.  I was lined up on the front, ready to get some revenge since my stomach was full of anger, and the stupid race officials made us take a lap.  When I got back around (after having taken a short cut through the center of the course) I found that I was now lined up near the back.  I cursed the officials many times but they were not struck down by lightning.  I was doomed to race at the back of the pack for the rest of the night, since this course is very stupid and is near impossible to move up when you’re 150 guys back from the front.  Unlike last year though, where I also raced near the back, this year was super easy and I spent most of the time breathing through my nose.  Just shows how taking the corners better and having a little extra power can save a lot of energy.  I tried moving up but could never really make any progress.  Afterwards, Chris, Spencer, my mom and my friend from Iceland, Einar, went out for dinner.  Even though it was a frustratingly boring race, big NRC crits like this are always exciting with all the fans and friends cheering you on.

Stage 5: Auberry Butte circuit race.  This was the only day of the entire stage race that REALLY mattered to me.  I knew from Nationals that I could have a good ride here.  My watts/kilos threshold is low for doing well on long climbs, but shorter climbs suit me much better.  And Aubbery Butte is all about that.  A super hard race (only 100 finished out of 150).  It was 100 degrees.  I had ridden the course 20 or 30 times this year and knew it better than probably anyone in the field except for Sean, who lives on the course.  My job was to get in the breakaway again, like at nationals.  I tried hard for the first two laps, and almost got popped the second time up the Feed Zone section/Archie Briggs climbs because I had been off the front right before and gotten caught on the feed zone climb.  I held on though, at the very back of the pack, and vowed to stop attacking.  Of course, that’s when the break went.  I was happy though, because that meant that at least the next lap was going to be easy.  It was not easy, but it was less hard.

This brings us to lap 4, which was also very hard.  I can’t remember much about it.  They blur together now.  Lap 5 was the worst.  I made it over the feed zone climb and the fast section afterwards.  But then broke down on the Archie Briggs climb.  The pack split into three groups.  I had a moment of mental weakness here.  I think I could have held onto the second group, but only made the third group.  I took second in our group sprint 5kms later, finishing one minute down on the lead group.  This was possibly the hardest race I have ever done.  I finished 54th.