Redlands race repor…ah whatever who cares anyways

First off, I’d like to acknowledge how happy I am that I’m not up in Seattle or Portland right now, because that weather must suck!  I just looked at the forecast to feel good of myself and it’s pure rain for as far as the eyes can see!  YES!!  I, on the other hand, am currently enjoying an early summer here in Boulder, with mid 70’s and plenty of sun.  For everyone training in the Northwest, I pity your decision to live in the Northwest.

On the third hand, there’s basically no racing here in Colorado compared to what there is in Oregon and Washington.  What few local races there are are few and far between.  I was planning on doing a crit just a few miles away this evening but my legs are way too tired from doing 2-3 hour easy rides the past couple days.  I’m just now getting over my cold, and yesterday was my first decent ride in quite some time.  Man does it feel good to be healthy and riding up hills again.

Redlands did not go okay.  It went extremely, enormously, ridiculously terrible.  I never got over the cold I had during San Dimas and couldn’t even finish one lap with the peloton during the second stage, the Beaumont road race.  The day before, I’d suffered more than I ever have during a time trial, coming in a crappy 111th.  I blew up on the climb, my lungs functioning at half capacity.  It took me five or six minutes after the finish line to get clipped back into my pedals and coast downhill, where I was still out of breath and throwing up.  Luckily it tasted sweet from lemon-lime Heed.  When you’re looking for the optimal vomit taste, always choose Hammer Nutrition products such as Heed and Recoverite.  Nothing else compares with Hammer’s patented “No-Bile-for-awhile” secret formula.  Truly, this vomit tasted just as good as the original product.  And I’m not even being sarcastic or anything, I really do like Heed and somehow the vomit really did taste good.  There are soooo many ways to enjoy Heed, Perpetuem, and other Hammer powders.  Joe prefers, “a quad scoop with a little water on top.  Just a little.”  Wise Guru coach Sam Jansin  likes to make his into pancakes.  John Hornbeck likes his mixed in with a hint of bro-melain (like from a Brocal pineapple since pineapples have bromelain–which is a mix of protein digesting enzymes that can be used to treat sore muscles and inflammation.  I felt like I had to explain this joke since probably no one knows what bromelain is.  Now it’s ruined.  Damn you and your fruit ignorance).

After I licked my lips clean of my delicious barf, I continued the 975 minute coast downhill back to the parking lot.  It only  takes 9-12 minutes to get up the hill, yet somehow it takes an hour or three to get back down.  My cough worsened throughout the day and into the night.  It was my second day on antibiotics, but whatever good they were doing me was thwarted by the effort of the prologue and I was completely useless in the road race the next day.

Two thirds of the way through the first lap of the five-lap race, as we fought for position coming into the KOM climb, I was actually in a really good spot near the front, so I decided to attack.  It was actually a bridge up to two riders who were just off the front by a hundred meters or so, and since the pack had momentarily sat up, I thought it was a good time to go.  Once I was off the front I immediately regretted the decision.  In fact I think I remember regretting it even before I got away, like maybe even right after I took my first hard pedal stroke.  I caught them and tried to regain my breath, since the hill was only a kilometer up the road now, but I wouldn’t regain it for another twenty five minutes, until I was seated in the parking lot next to the van, wondering why I had to get sick AGAIN right before SD and Redlands just like last year.

But the good thing about bike racing, as opposed to Triathlon or Baseball where you only have a few races/games a year, is that there’s always tomorrow, or next week, or next month.  With so many race days, getting sick for some of them is acceptable, though also unavoidable.

In terms of how the race went for the rest of the team:

Dan went home before it stated since he got sick during San Dimas.  Colin took his place but also got sick and didn’t finish the second stage so moped around with me for the rest of the weekend making singing cat jokes.  Jesse got sick at SD too and didn’t start so Steve took his place.  Steve, looking forward to a nice relaxing week of hard training at Agoura Hills during his spring break, was rudely yanked from his pool-house dream resort and its beautiful view of the coastal mountains beyond the edgeless pool at the Grosswendt’s house (the official housing sponsor of The Joe Holmes).

Danny and Ian sharing an intimate moment at the Grosswendt house.  We like to keep things bromantical here at HB.

Steve ended up having a great final day on the hardest course of the race–the Sunset loop– and hung with the leaders for most of the 12 laps until it finally blew to smithereens in a heavy, cold downpour.  He finished 61st overall.  Gabe, who got sick at San Dimas had an amazing recovery and got stronger with each stage, finishing 82nd overall.  Jon, racing his first NRC, had a terrific ride coming in 53rd overall.  Ian, David, and Danny are all part of the Tucson crit crew (so is Steve) and therefore likely believe they’re too ‘cool’ to be mentioned in my blog.  (Sidenote: I had a dream last night that I had a white G-Shock wrist watch–the kind that the crit crew have–and I was super excited about it until I realized it was a cheap fake version).  Okay I guess I’ll mention them, now that I’ve already mentioned them.  Danny had a great first two stages, finishing 59 the first day and 20th the second day, making the front group and eventually finishing 56th overall.  David finished 81st and Ian finished somewhere around 65th, though they somehow messed up the results and have him as DNF.  I don’t think the official results have ever been wrong before.  This is a first for them.

This is the one I want, except I want the version with more gadgets.

Despite half of us getting sick, the whole week of racing (San Dimas and Redlands) went very smoothly thanks to team president and sougnier Alan Schmitz, who drove the van everywhere, made food, fixed bikes, set up everything before and after the races, and generally had a great attitude the entire time, which is crucial for our mental well-being.  It was disappointing not having any particularly great result for the team to thank him with, but it will come sooner or later.

Here are some pictures from the CA trip from Winger’s Tumblr sight.  Click here to see all of them.  Winger wasn’t at Redlands so these are just from team camp and the day before San Dimas.  Basically, for me, before everything went “pear shaped” as JH would say.

Alan on a team camp training ride in Agoura Hills.  Danny appears to enjoy seeing Alan suffer.

There are muscles in Joe Holmes’ triceps that only exist in Joe Holmes’ triceps.

David just havin fun in the sun.  All day ‘er day.

Me having less of a good time.

But a shiny new bike=best of times!

“Oooooooo!!”

Stupid new way to make coffee that everyone’s creaming themselves over.

Gabe thinking about stuff that a Gabe would think about. No one knows what this is, but I imagine it has something to do with woodchucks.

Jesse and his good luck charm. Hey Jesse, if it’s such good luck why’d you get sick? Oh snap!!

This is moments after Jesse hurled a tennis ball at my nuts. Note Alan checking to see if the bike is okay.

Winger and Alan driving the van. Winger annoying Alan while Alan drives the van.

I think it was posing for this very picture that originally got me sick. One mustn’t disrespect the bike racing gods with such a show of self contentedness the eve before an uphill time trial.

San Dimas Race Report

There is little to report in terms of the racing I did last weekend, because I think I totaled about 41 minutes of actual race time.  I started getting “allergies” on Thursday, the day before the uphill time trial.  I don’t actually get allergies, which is why I put them in quotations, signifying that they weren’t actually allergies.  My teammate, Chris W, had been struggling with allergies all week, which we’re assuming was in fact a cold or at least allergies that turned into a cold.  If there’s anyone within a 100 mile radius of me that’s sick, I’m bound to pick up the bug.

So as my fake allergies worsened I drank more and more coffee and antihistamines to combat them.  By morning of the time trial I was feeling pretty bad, but after a hard warm up and a strong jolt of caffeine, I pumped out a decent time to earn 67th out of 150 starters, which wasn’t too bad and was actually an improvement on the last two times I’ve done this course, which for 2012 included even more uphill than in the past.

A torrential storm cleansed the nasty brown smog from the air for Saturday’s circuit race.  After a hearty breakfast of sausage, we dressed for a cold, rainy 12 laps of misery.  I pumped up my confidence as I sat safely cocooned in the warmth of the team’s new Sprinter van, marveling at how awesome I’d be that day and what I’d say for my post-race victory quotes.  I pictured the victory salute: Gorilla Chest Thumps.  I’d woken up that morning feeling worse than the day before, but still hadn’t admitted to myself that I was sick.  It was still just “allergies” from the smog or something.  The rain hammered down hard outside in reality.

Reving high from two liters of coffee, I was amped about the rain, the hard race, the terrible conditions that would crack everyone else (I do better in terrible weather conditions–just like everyone else does too).  I was going to smash this race to bits and there wasn’t a god damn thing that could stop me.  Once the gun went off I immediately felt like stopping.  I began losing positions within the first hundred meters.   Within one kilometer I knew I was in for a wake up call.  How had I been so capable of lying to myself and how I really felt?  My mind had completely ignored what my body had been telling it.  Win? HA!  I’d be lucky to finish.  I was off the back within one lap.  I did one more lap out of frustration then retreated back to the van with Chris, who had also been dropped.

Dan met us an hour later, also sick and also dropped.

Jesse was our top finisher, earning 19th.  He, along with Colin and Gabe, ended up getting sick over the next few days and it’s now the night before Redlands.  It’s looking fairly grim, though I am feeling better each day.  I’m hoping to survive each day and help my non-sick teammates do the best they can do.  Getting sick before big races sucks, but it always happens at some point in the year for me.  There’s nothing I can do to fix it this week.  Just a pile of shit luck.  That’s all I have to say about that and I’m not in the mood for any jokes right meow.

 

 

Agoura Hills Team Camp

The crisp, thin air of Colorado has been replaced with thick, warm, moist ocean breezes.  The snow-covered fields, barren, brown hills, and icy mountain roads are a thing of distant memory for me as we ride past palm tree-lined beaches and up steep winding roads melting with black tar.  Nestled in the coastal mountains between Malibu and Agoura Hills, our team camp has been filled with days of relentless sunshine and tear-inducing laughs, reacquainting ourselves with one another by riding bikes and making  inside jokes that no one else will ever find funny but will set the tone for the rest of the year.  There’s no better way to start out the season.

Our team camp, situated the week before Sand Dimes, the first USA crit series race in Tucson, and Redlands is half training camp and half get to know each other camp.  We’re staying at a Salvation Army summer camp– like the place kids would go for summer camp–not the place where they force laborers to produce mass amounts of pocket knives.  Out in the woods, deep set between steep, boulder-strewn cliffs, it’s sort of dissapointing to be here only for bike training purposes, considering there’s 100 miles of hiking trails right outside our door, the ocean is about five miles away with crystal blue water, good waves, and sunny beaches, and there’s a basketball court, ping pong table, AND a cappuccino machine within walking distance right outside!

Unlike a true training camp where the point is to tear one’s legs to pieces during a ten day suffer fest, we’re all slightly tentative to really dig deep this week, considering the important races coming up in the next two weeks.  Damn races always interfering with training!  But this hasn’t stopped us from going a few rounds in the ring and sorting out who’s top dog.   Everyone’s a winner on our team so there’s a contest and a blue ribbon for each participant:

The two KOMs have been won by none other than Jesse and Ian.  Jesse is like 190 kg and Ian’s calves are both pregnant with triplets, so to see them climbing so well is scary for what awaits their competition during flatter races where big power is key.

The crashing award goes to me.  I tasted pavement approximately 21 seconds on our second ride of the week in the parking lot and broke my bike over a particularly cruel speed bump.  I’m not complaining too much, since I ended up getting a brand new bike.  It’s bitter sweet since I’d spent a solid four hours cleaning  and fixing the old one up two nights before. *Edited* My old bike ended up not being that broken so I had to give the new one back :-(

The food consumption award goes to Wingfield.  Normally I would have won this category, but for some reason Winger has been packing his cheeks full like a squirrel readying for the winter.  He’s been eating like a starving child eats in their dreams.  He’s eating so much that his teeth have become visibly worn down in the last two days.  In fact I’d go so far to say that he’s eating like a caged, starved Spencer who’s just escaped his cage and has broken into a Carl’s Junior.  Winger, it DOES show.  Just kidding.  No but seriously, it really does show.  No but seriously, I actually won the eating category.

The pro award goes to Jon.  I mean the bro award.

Vein award: Danny.  If Danny’s veins were in the same room as Lang’s, they’d likely get in a fist fight, have a truce, not talk to each other for a week, get in another fight, come to another truce, then make vein babies once their rage was recognized as passion.

Rooming with Winger award: Gabe

Most sunscreen used award/not enough sunscreen used award: Marcel

Best youtube throwback quote award: Colin.  “I fuckin shower in that shit”.

Dan and David don’t get awards.

Colin.

There are many walk in fridges and freezers to raid here.

 

Just act natural guys.

Okay that’s better Colin.

Ian’s always happy to go for a ride.

Old bike.

New bike.

“Rebecca”

Jesse in a pair of podium legs.  He spent about 3 hours in them.

 

The Future Awaits!! (unlike before)

The last three weeks have gone by incredibly slowly. Primarily because I’ve been extremely excited about heading to California for our team camp and first two stage races of the year: San Dimas and Redlands. The last three weeks have also passed annoyingly snail-like because three weeks ago I thought that I only had two weeks until I left. That third week magically appeared out of thin air one day and has been the cause of much agony. But finally, after some killer training and killer rest, I’m on my way. I took a CBC blood test this morning to see what the result of four months at altitude has done to my red blood cell count, then I packed for the trip, ran to the bus stop since I realized I was about to be late, took the bus to the downtown bus station (the bus before the bus: Pro), and I’m currently on my second bus heading to the Denver airport. “Yo dog, I herd u like bus with yo bus so we put some annoying on yo annoying!”

Speaking of annoying, the other day when I was on my way to Performance Bicycles… The story could end here.

But it doesn’t: when I was on my way to Performance I had a not-very close call with a careless SUV driver. She started pulling out in front of me (in a parking lot intersection) looking the other direction. When she finally looked to her left, half way into the parking lot intersection by now, she stopped suddenly and I passed in front of her mouthing the words, “pay attention” and shaking my head. I forgot all about it one minute later as I entered Performance’s grand 50% off sale that they have every other day. My friend Will was working there that day, so I began talking to him about his new Euro Van that he’s currently retrofitting to live out of and travel with for climbing trips. Suddenly the woman who’d nearly, but not really, come close to hitting me in the parking lot came up from behind and furiously asked what I’d said to her in the parking lot. The next five minutes escalated into a one-sided yelling match (her) as I tried to rationally explain to her why she was A) wrong, B) irrational, C) asking for a knuckle sandwich, and, D) a raging lunatic. She kept stepping closer and closer to me as the rest of the store retreated in awe and stifled laughter. This lady was pure nuts. Her eyes were blood shot and yellow and she smelled of a not unpleasant dish of cooked vegetables. She ended every sentence with, “young man!” As in, “I’ve been riding a bicycle a lot longer than you have and I’ve never been that close to a car before or ridden that fast in a parking lot, young man!” She said I was going way too fast for her to even see me. In my defense I had been driving my hunk of junk mountain bike at about 15 miles an hour or less, which was still “way too fast” for a motorist to see. Yes this makes sense, because cars always drive 14 mph or less and when they do go over 15, they become invisible, just like bikes. Anyways, after the argument had finished, with me staying super calm since I could see there would be no reasoning with her (with my calmness angering her even more) she got in line to see the mechanic. Low and behold, she’d been on her way to Performance to pick up her bike. I bought a tire and all the employees came over to laugh in amazement and apologize about her. “Yeah, she’s crazy. She works for the government, so what do you expect?” said one of the Performance guys. I imagine her as some civil bureaucrat, working hard to make sure things never work properly.

The fact that she was a cyclist herself shows the true hopelessness of the corrupt human mind. You can’t argue with or reason with an irrational, angry, frightened, stupid, or naïve person, so the best thing you can hope for is that you have something in common with them for which to sew the bleeding wound shut and come to terms over a shared passion. If you can’t find one, then you might as well be yelling at a brick wall. In some cases, even if you do have something in common you still might as well be yelling at a brick wall.

I’ve barely touched the bike since Sunday. I did a few easy recovery spins on Monday and Tuesday, and ever since then all I’ve done is some light commuting each day. I trained so hard last week that by Monday I was right on the cusp of getting sick. It took me about three days to get over feeling heavily fatigued, achy, nauseous yet extremely hungry, hot, then cold, yes then no, I was in then I was out, I was up then I was down, wrong when it was right, black and then white. Katy Perry style obviously.

But my immune system prevailed with some COPIOUS, let me spell that one out for you: CO-PEE-US amounts of baked garlic, salmon, and asparagus. With these three miracle foods you can pretty much kiss any illness or injury goodbye. Your kiss may reek like an overused outhouse, but I digrest…garlic very poorly. (That word was spelled wrong on purpose, Grandma. It’s a combo of digest and digress).

I’ve taken to baking most of my food now. Just this past week I’ve discovered the simple ease of baking rather than stir-frying. Are you tired of constantly having to stir things while you fry them? Do you sometimes forget to check on your food every couple minutes, resulting in charcoal?


Pineapple, regular apple, tomato, ahi tuna, asparagus, sweet onion, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, brown Mexican squash, jalapenos, and red bell pepper.

After stopping by my favorite grocery store of all time, Sunflower Farmer’s Market, and buying $700 worth of good vegetables for grilling, Kim COMPLETELY burned everything within 15 minutes. I told her to not use the maximum heat setting, but she was too impatient.  I told her that we should check the food in five or ten minutes to see how it was doing instead of pounding cereal inside like there was no tomorrow, and that if she didn’t know how long pineapple or tuna needed to be on the grill, she should look it up, not just guess. But not everyone is as patient or grilling-astute as me, for this would never have happened had I been in charge.  Kim didn’t listen to me at all and burned all the food to an inedible crisp. Even the raccoons will get cancer if they consume even the slightest bit of the carcinogen-laden burnt bits of “food” we scraped off the grill into the lawn.

(Of note: famous pro triathlete Matt Reed eats the same cereal I do: Panda Puffs!)  Kim and I had the failed BBQ at his place since Kim is house sitting for him.  And because he’s away for the month and I knew he wouldn’t want a single Puff of peanut buttery Panda to go to waste, I helped lighten the load on his pantry by finishing a box or two).

But back to baking: are you a lazy slob who just wants to watch youtube clips of Paris Nice and forget about stirring things for hours on end and would prefer for your food to do its own damn cooking? Well I’ve got the solution for you! Baking!

It’s so simple. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it before, so let me explain. All you do is chop up everything and put it in a baking dish, cover with tin foil, and put it in the oven for 20-50 minutes. Why, right now I’ve got a luke-warm tub of baked veggies and canned salmon sitting in my knapsack just waiting to be opened on the airplane for everyone to vicariously enjoy. In it: 1 massive bunch of asparagus (87 cents/pound at my favorite grocery store of all time: Sunflower Farmer’s Market), mushrooms, tomatoes, eight cloves of hard neck garlic, one can of canned salmon, spices, salsa, and some chopped up ham I found in the back of the fridge. (Warning: extended periods of time spent consuming more than two cloves of hard neck garlic per day will result in garlic intolerance syndrome, a condition that results in terrible digestive issues occurring every time you consume more hard neck garlic).

Goodbye.

Africa Night and Recent Stuff

I lost the beginning of this post somehow.  I’d saved it as a draft a few days ago and now it’s gone from WordPress.  It was a bad start, so I’m not too unhappy about the loss.  This, in my opinion, is a much better start: talking about a lost bad start.  Maybe not.

I’m just gonna go about this blog post with a structured day to day format in an effort to crack the facts and omit the shit so you guys don’t have to read 3,000 words.  You know, writing 3,000 words two or three times a week could have seen the completion of my novel by now, but my life is so much more interesting than fiction, at least I think so.  If it wasn’t, I’d probably watch a lot more tv than I do.  Though I’m not one to dispute the fact that I’m easily entertained, so maybe TV is actually too much thinking for me.

TV.  Good transition point.  I was going to stick to the day to day thing but time is irrelevant to thought and if I see a good transition for the taking, I takes it.  I moved to a new house the other day.  A house with a TV in my room facing the bed.  It has a DVD player and cable.  As you can imagine, the quality of my life has increased ten fold with these two devices.  I can lay in bed (I’m sleeping in a bed too now, not an old futon covered in dog hair) and watch TV and eat confiscated cereal from someone’s cabinet downstairs.  I hope they’re not reading this right now.  If you are, I’m just joking.  If you’re not, then I’m not joking.  The key is to eat a little from each box.

There’s something extremely soothing about coming home from a hard ride in the cold, confining yourself in a dark room, hiding under the blankets and letting your mind melt with a solid hour of South Park or a movie you’ve watched seven times before.  The thing about watching movies at home, for me, is that when I’m searching for a movie among a stack of DVDs, I only look for movies I’ve seen before and can recognize the title.  If I come across one that I don’t recognize, I usually don’t watch it unless I’m super desperate.  Instead, I go through the stack of DVDs like five times contemplating whether I’d be more bored watching Bad Boys II for a fifth time or Dances With Wolves for a sixth time.  Why don’t I try something new?  Why do I insist on re-watching the known when there’s a perfectly good unknown sitting there right in front of me in the form of Fried Green Tomatoes?  Maybe it’s because when I watch a movie at home all I really want to do is zone out and not think about anything too hard.  Unfortunately I’m not alone in this mindset, judging by the decreasing IQ of the general public.  The fact that they made a Bad Boys II is proof of this.

Are our lives too stressful for what our minds and bodies were designed for?  The hunter gatherer lifestyle was certainly more demanding physically, but mentally maybe not.  I for one perfer to deal with physical stress than mental anxiety like sitting in traffic or waiting in line at the post office, grocery store, or basically waiting in line for anything.  I hate waiting in line!  Can’t everyone see that I’m more important than them and have better things to be doing!  Why don’t they just get out of my way??!!

I assume most people’s lives are much more stressful than my own, since I don’t have a career or a family to look after.  When time for exercise is taken away and replaced with sitting in a car during rush hour, and time that was meant for socializing in a small group during a hunt is spent staring at a computer screen in a cubicle, damn it this sentence is too run on.  Anyways, when those important things we evolved to do are taken away and replaced with artificial stresses of the modern world, bad things happen to our brains.  The good chemicals are replaced with bad chemicals, as Kurt Vonnegut would say.  TV is a way to relax and escape the mundane and stressful situations of real life, unfortunately most people’s lives don’t have enough real stimulus as it is, and TV does not make up for stimulus.  And neither does stress.  The answer to all humanity’s problems? Reading my blog, which is both stimulating and relaxing at the same time.  Like a raspberry flavored popsicle on a hot summer evening, singing your tongue with tartly sweet cold shimmers after a long, hard day hiking in the wilderness, I mean at the cubicle.

Monday the 20th (I’m back on the day to day list format now because I know everyone wants to know the exact details of what I did every day this past week): I can’t remember what I did today.  I didn’t ride so therefore I have no recollection of the day’s events.  I’d just assume this day never existed since I can’t remember a single thing about it.  The only evidence of anything ever happening is if it’s inscribed on memory, which is why a tree falling in the woods is only heard if there’s a bear shitting there.

Tuesday the 21st: PANCAKE DAY.  You already know about this.  Get ready to re-live it with Waffle Day on March 25th.

Wednesday the 22nd: 2 hours on the trainer since it was so windy I couldn’t ride on the road.  The old oak tree beside me that I was riding the trainer next to was bending so badly I moved the trainer four times to try and find the safest spot in case the tree fell down.  Since the tree covered the entire back yard and there was no safe place to go, I ended up deciding that the tree probably wouldn’t blow over and if it did I’d just jump off the trainer real quick.  If no easy solution presents itself, just have faith.  The restaurant was busy tonight.

Thursday the 23rd: more easy trainer riding. (The first half of this week was a mini rest week).  The restaurant was busy again.  I’m guessing the wind is blowing people into our parking lot and they can’t leave, so they get hungry and have to come in and eat to build up their strength before attempting to ride away again.  Then I remember they’re in cars and the wind doesn’t affect their transportation plans.

Friday the 24th: Long intervals.  The first one went well.  The second one did not.  I finished it hard anyways.  I was wrecked the rest of the day.

Saturday the 25th: Gateway group ride!  AND Africa Night!  Finally!  I’d been salivating about this day for the past week.  It was going to be over 50 degrees, I was ready for some good suffering, and the Africa Night was going to be an awesome event filled with drumming, good food, and maybe–just maybe–I’d be allowed to try one of the Ethiopian beers I always describe in detail to the customers with phrases like, “The Bedele is a slightly sweater, fruiter lagger while the St. George is a bit heavier and definitely a lot more stout,” but then I have to follow it up with, “Well, actually I’ve never tried either of them so I don’t really know, but that’s what I’ve heard.  And I don’t really know anything about the wines either.  They all just taste like wine to me, and I don’t like wine unless I’m already drunk.”

On Saturday morning I woke up on time, ate breakfast on time, drank my coffee on time, pumped up my tires on time, put oil on my chain, got all my ride food ready (who am I kidding, this is the first thing I did after breakfast), got dressed, then sat around on the internet for half an hour until I realized I was going to be late.  But not to worry, for last week I’d shown up at 9:55 and had to wait around in the cold for 15 minutes before everyone was ready to go.  So today I’d done my waiting inside and would show up just before 10:10 with a few minutes to spare before we rolled out.

I got to the Gateway parking lot on the outskirts of town and no one was there.  I went into a terror.  I LIVED for this day.  This entire last week had solely been about waiting for the group ride to happen.  I started riding hard in the direction they went, hoping I’d catch them.  After a few minutes I thought that maybe they just hadn’t arrived yet.  After all, maybe they were all taking their time to get ready and ride over late like I did, not wanting to wait in the cold for all those idiots who show up late at 10:10.  I went back to the parking lot and waited for 10 minutes, slowly realizing that it was A) daylights savings or B) that I’d missed the ride.

Mad at myself a little, but mainly at them for leaving on time, I rode out to meet them at the half way point.  After an hour and a half of riding I saw the group coming towards me at last and finally convinced myself that it wasn’t daylights savings and that I’d just shown up late.  I did a U turn, joined the front and started taking pulls in the pace-line.  The group was smaller than the 150 starters they’d begun with, but it still needed some trimming to shed the fat.  Luckily the horsepower was there today to do just that, with four or five Optum KB guys, a handful of other pros, and some local cat 1 heroes.  Within a short amount of time we’d detonated the field.  The crosswinds had picked up and we were echeloning over into the yellow lines at times, yelling “car up” just in time to swerve over into the right lane.  It wasn’t safe or legal, though neither is having sex with a prostitute, but someone’s got to do it.

Mike Friedman was a beast.  He pretty much single-handedly soloed to the last sprint of the day with about 10k to go.  One guy was with him but it was basically just Mike pulling with the other dude hanging on for dear life.  Mike is going to win some races this year, and soon too.  Like in the next couple weeks.  The remaining group of us, around 8-10 guys at this point, rolled through the sprint sign 10 seconds after him and the hard part of the group ride concluded with Zirbel flatting a rear tire.  None of the other guys had a pump longer than 3 inches, so I got out the floor pump I strap to my top tube and pumped his tire, resulting in me getting a free cup of coffee half an hour later when we stopped at a cafe for re-charging.  This was the second day in a row I’d helped someone with a flat tire, significantly decreasing my own chances of flatting during races (flat tire karma).  Yesterday I stopped on my way up Sunshine after my intervals were done to help a guy who looked like he needed help.  He’d flatted, changed the flat, and then the valve on his spare tube had broken off.  No patch kit.  No one ever carries a patch kit for some reason.  Anyways, I gave him a tube and pumped his tire for him.  He was lawyer and I was hoping he’d offer me a job doing something at his law firm but I think I bragged too much about how good my team was and he must have assumed that I didn’t need a job doing lawyer stuff since he didn’t offer me one.

After the coffee break, Lachlan and the Optum guys and I headed to the mountains to do some “hard but not all out climbing.”  Turned out we were going a bit harder than that, and alhough the power meter didn’t say it was that hard, after four hours of ride time the two climbs we did were basically threshold efforts.  Since I was the only non-pro in the group, my ego couldn’t afford to be dropped and I made sure to go to the front to increase the pace just before we got to the top.  Pro…I mean amateur.

The second climb on Flagstaff hurt even more than the one on Sunshine.  I rode on my own after that and ended the day with a very solid five hours in my legs.  Time to go eat and lie in bed for the rest of the afternoon.  Except not.  I got home, rushed into my work clothes and rode to work, 10 minutes late with a tub of pre-made oats in my Shimano shoe string back pack calling my name as I sprinted through yellow lights on my way to Ras Kassa’s African Night.  I wouldn’t get home until 2:15 am.  Curse you Africa Night!!!

Rolling and cutting the still-warm fresh Injera.  One on the cutting board, one in my mouth.  One on the cutting board, two in my mouth…

I can’t remember her name since I’ve never worked with her before, but I think she’s one of Tsehay’s relatives.  Tsehay wasn’t here today.

Abesha and Malang getting ready.  Malang organized Africa Night, made the food, and performed on the drums.

Some of the stews we serve.  Yellow split peas, spicy red lentils, collard greens.

Trunkis.  Not sure if the spelling is correct on that one.

Abesha warming up the drums.

Malang.

Abesha making some goat cheese dip.  I’ve been temporarily banned from making it because I used way too many hot chilies last time.

Goat cheese dip is GOOD.

I made the hummus.  I got in trouble for adding too much chili last time I made this too.  (In actuality I’m the shit at making hummus and goat cheese dip.  I have the magic touch).

Malang about to make the BEST cabbage dish I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Seriously, this was amazing.  I took home a huge box of it when I went home.

Jason bar-tending.  The girls: “Why is he taking pictures of us?  Jason: “Oh don’t worry about him.”

Some break dancing broke out before everyone got up to dance for the rest of the night.

The drumming was amazing.  Loud, long, and trance-inducing.  Unfortunately I wasted all my camera’s space on video instead of pictures.  And my camera takes horrible video.

Sunday: I went out for a five hour ride but ended up only doing two since I was beat from the night before.  In replace of the long ride I went to Alfalfa’s grocery store to use the internet, drink decaf coffee, and start writing this blog post.  I decided to bring some of the leftovers I had from last night to one of the homeless people that populate the corner of Broadway and Baseline.  I found the skinniest-looking one of them, named Howard, and gave him the box of Ras Kassa’s.  He asked if it was warm, I said no but suggested he come with me to Alfalfa’s a block away and use their microwave.  I ended up getting him a coffee too and he began talking about some crazy things, thoroughly entertaining me for the next hour as people tripped over his backpack in the cafe area.  A girl told me that I was doing a really nice thing.  I thanked her, but I disagree.  I had already eaten one box of Ras Kassa’s leftovers earlier that day and didn’t need the extra calories of the second box.  And I didn’t want the food tempting me later that night, and throwing it away was not an option, since I hate seeing good food go to waste.  So it was really my own selfishness and dislike of food-wasting that brought dinner to Howard’s stomach, not kindness.  Helping someone out with the intent of feeling good about oneself is not philanthropic.  True kindness for strangers is a rare thing, for even Mother Teresa thought she was going to Heaven.

Monday: Intervals.

Tuesday: MORE intervals.  These ones might have been the most epic set of intervals I’ve ever done.  I started the ride feeling decent, but not great.  After a 50 minute warm up I headed up my designated 6-minute interval hill.  I hammered out the first one with legs of lead and lungs of laringitis.  Was I really going to be able to do five more of these?  Wise guru coach Sam Johnson was only allowing 2 to 2.5 minutes of rest.  This was going to hurt.  I summoned the courage for the second.  I did it but was now dying.  The third.  I was dead.  The fourth.  I was rudely awakened from the peaceful slumbers of death to be whipped in the eyeballs with barbed wire soaked in lemon juice and salt.  The fifth.  It began snowing, increasing the hard man points I was currently earning.  The added adversity and distraction of the snow gave me strength.  I reached the top of the hill and unclipped (it’s really steep and I’m always too out of it to look over my shoulder for cars and make a U turn in the middle of the road so I just stop and unclip for a second).  I headed down the hill and the snow turned into a blizzard.  I got to the bottom and turned around, my short rest was over, Rob Zombie was blaring, the snow was coming down so hard I couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of me.  The wind was forcing it sideways to the right, then suddenly it would change direction going to the left now.  I started the interval, going harder and harder, pumping out 30 more watts than any of the other intervals.  I went into a trance, the sideways snow, the cold wind, and the Vo2 effort forcing my eyes crossed.  With a minute to go I hammered all out in sprint, harder and harder as the road’s gradient increased and my imaginary finish line came into view.  I crushed Peter Sagan in a desperate, all out sprint and bike throw to the top of the hill at Big Bear during stage 6 of the Tour of California and I collapsed over my bars at the end with slobber and snow covering my face and a terrible side cramp that had been growing worse and worse since my third interval.  I was extremely pleased with my effort.  I took a picture when I got home:

Some people try to capture themselves in their best light and deceive us with a non-ugly picture of themselves.  I’m all about looking my worst in the pictures I take of myself (just as long as I don’t look fat).  That way, after seeing a bunch of ugly pictures of me, when someone sees me in person they’ll think I’m better looking than I really am and because of that, offer me food or other services (because that’s what inferior-looking people are supposed to do for better-looking people, or so the movies tells me.)

In this picture I’m sure you’ll note the excessive load of snot in my nose, which is not to be confused with the bits of soft boiled egg on my chin.  I made a bunch of soft boiled eggs the other day and the entire batch came out extremely hard to peal.  I did some interneting and found a way to peal hard boiled (not soft boiled) eggs without having to do any pealing at all! Imagine that!  World saved!!! I have my doubts if it works as well as they claim, but what you do is soak the already cooked eggs in cold water with baking soda, break off the two ends of the egg, then blow hard on one side and the egg pops right out of its shell.  It’s on youtube.  I only had patience to soak the eggs for 10 seconds since I’d just come home from a ride and was hungry, and then I tried the blowing trick with one of my soft boiled eggs.  I blew extra hard, to make up for the lack of time the egg soaked in the baking soda water.  Imagine someone having projectile diarrhea, except that their diarrhea is actually soft boiled egg.  It went everywhere, all over the wall, across the kitchen counter, on the stove…  So I ate the next two eggs with a spoon, which proved almost equally as messy since they were really soft, soft boiled eggs.  Like barely cooked.

After the egg eatings I moved out of the place I’ve been living in for the past four months because I didn’t want to pay rent while I was away in California during March, and I also didn’t like living with my former roommate since he is a slug.  I packed most of my belongings in two bike boxes, borrowed a car, and made two trips across town to unload my junk in a friend’s room (Kim) who will be away housesitting during March and therefor I’ll have the room to myself.  The room has a gigantic bed and what I believe to be memory foam pillows and bed cover.  Standing four feet high, the bed is situated at an altitude, unlike my futon, which does not requires crouching down to the ground to get into bed.  Even better, it doesn’t require doing a squat every time I get out of bed.  And sleeping up off the ground is a good 10 degrees warmer too.  I believe these are some of the reasons bed frames were invented: to reduce squats, to reduce crouching, to increase warmth, and to live above the fleas from house pets.  Here at the new house there are no footsteps above my room to wake me up early in the morning, no barking dogs, no roommate coughing loudly from emphysema, and no futon crease in the arch of my back all night.  I slept in till 11:44 this morning.  A solid night’s sleep indeed.

Wednesday: I rode 5 hours.  Six times up to the top of Flagstaff in celebration of the Tour of Colorado’s decision to end the Stage 5 Golden to Boulder route on Flagstaff.  Unfortunately they didn’t want the racers to have too tired of legs for the final day’s time trial in Denver so they ended Stage 5’s climb at the amphitheater, which, as all Boulderites know, is NOT the top of Flagstaff, just barely half way up.  And it skips the hardest part of Flagstaff which is at the top.  This final section of the climb would have been awesome for both the spectators and the racers to do battle on (literally: as in the racers weakly and comically punching the spectators out of the way as they ran drunkenly next to them, or more likely walked next to them–it’s really steep.  There’s nothing more annoying than seeing those stupid sumo wrestlers almost knock over the GC winner during an attack.  Actually, having herpes is probably more annoying.  I Rode With GPS’ed the Golden to Boulder route here: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/967916

100 miles and 11,300 ft of climbing aint bad.  Although, I did 13,000 ft today.

Thursday: Having a complete rest day meant that I completely forgot to go to work.  I’d been lazing around watching a movie when it dawned on me that it was Thursday, 5pm and I was supposed to be somewhere half an hour ago.  I ran downstairs, put my plans of making French toast on hold, pulled my pants of of the washing machine, and rode to work with them wet and freezing against my legs.

Friday: Finally up to date.  I rode easy today and ate an entire box of Panda Puffs peanut butter flavored corn cereal, part of the EnviroKidz line.  It’s gluten free so therefore it’s healthy and can be marketed as such to dumb parents who think that anything in the organic section is health food.

I finish up this final week of hard training with two more big rides on Saturday (the Gateway ride that I’ll be on time for tomorrow) and Sunday: a long sloberfest of intervals, sprints, and climbs.  Then it’s a bunch of rest days before team camp, where I’m going to “keep it holstered” in the hills.  Ha.  Whoops that was over 4,000 words.  Did anyone read all of this?