je ne sais quoi

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Not About The Bike

This is the first blog in ages, and it isn't about the's about Hockey.

Let's preface this by stating what most already know about me:  I'm an Edmonton Oilers fan.  My earliest memory of Oiler fandom is 3rd grade.  I distinctly remember a classmate and I lying to one another about "being at Mark Messier's house last night" or that we "played video games with Jari Kurri and Bill Ranford."  Brutally dishonest and weird claims by a pair of 8 year olds in 1990 -the year the Oilers won their last cup.  Odd stuff.  Comparatively, my earliest memory as a Laker fan was in 6th grade, and Denver Broncos recollections are early (around the time of Tecmo Super Bowl, NES) but without as solid a foundation as my adoration for the Oil.  How'd I come to be a fan?  Not sure exactly, have some theories, but I will say it had nothing to do with being blasted by LA Kings marketing -which is very simple when geared towards impressionable kids.  I somehow missed that boat, and became an Oiler fan.  Odd/hazy origin story, but one i'm proud of, and part of why it's so fun for me to be a fan of the team.

I write this to take a break from the social media shit-storm that's made it difficult to accurately express how it feels to watch this inexplicably successful Kings playoff run.  I never hated the Kings.  Dustin Brown I hate.  He is a piece of filth, who I wish was an Oiler, but everyone else?  They're solid guys.  Jon Quick is having a post-season for the ages, and the Kings are riding him and their anemic offense (until today, I guess) to a Stanley.  The Oilers were also an 8 seed, 2006, also riding a super-hot Conn Smythe lock in Duane Roloson...then this happened: So yes, I am a bit envious of how fortunate the Kings have been.  That, and Dustin Brown is a classless goon who I predict will ruin the Kings after signing a massive extension next season -but who cares? A decade of mediocrity is worth a Stanley, easily.

I salute the die-hard Kings fans.  Those who cheered the team emphatically through the NUMEROUS thin years -which up until @#^$#%!ing May, included 2012!  Pancaeks Penner was a healthy scratch for a month straight almost!  What's cemented my unwillingness to cheer for the Kings is a very special type of bandwagoner, whom i'll label "poser die-hard".  This distinct group has come out of the woodwork and proclaimed to be a "Life Long Super Die Hard ULTRA fan" of the team.  No, you are not.  You couldn't be begged to go to a Kings game for $0 for the last decade, easily, and suddenly you're putting yourselves above the cute and fresh bandwagoners?  Silly.  I will not stand with these people.  May the Kings burn in hell in 2012-13.  When the teams battle in the fall, I vow to cheer the Oil louder than ever, which will probably warrant getting kicked out of Staples Center (or at least my section).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


In February 2009, I had that unpleasant encounter with the vehicle. That moment would be significant in a lot of ways. Physically, the most significant injury i've ever sustained, first time i've been knocked unconscious, and first time I've been hospitalized. Emotionally: plenty of drainage. I got back on the bike and raced, but never with the same zeal or pleasure and with a newfound “awareness” of vehicles. The incident closed a chapter of my life. And regrettably, as a result of this incident, I received a crash course in how the legal system handles matters like this. Which in part is why I'm starting it off with this dull paragraph/disclaimer. And yeah, i'm not stoked about how the ongoing legal situation makes me apprehensive about writing this or anything like it in the first place.

ECMSR. The big bad East Coast Messenger Stage Race, put on by NYC messenger Austin Horse. It was one of those things that was proposed to us [Wolfpack Hustle] a few months ago, and when something is proposed that far in advance, you don't really nitpick, even if a stage race across the east coast can and will be a fierce logistical challenge, at best. So of course we said yes, work gave me the okay, and Jetblue kindly offered to fly us out there (in light of the #flightvsbike PR buzz I assume).

Fast forward to two days before what I thought was the departure date. Made some calls, dug through some emails, and nope, the following morning is in fact the departure date. I'm pretty good with travel procrastination (I write this while on my flight back to LA which I made with 1 minute left before the gate closed), so packed super-light, boxed the bike, and got to the airport in time.

Stage 1, Boston, MA to New Haven, CT [150 Miles]

"How many racers would show up?" There wasn't an "official" purse, it was a 5 day commitment, and it was not widely promoted. I really had no idea, 50? 500? Messengers? We made our way to the start, a bike shop in South Boston. Riders and racers trickled in. Swell! I hadn't done a stage race since France. Very excite. Numbers were provided, which added to the "unsanctioned, but yes, we're racing" feeling. The number of racers was capped at 30, I assume because of how difficult it would be to sort out housing for a larger group of racers. The peleton amassed on a small traffic island for a couple photos, and bam, we were off.

A couple details before I continue: this race was strictly grassroots old-skool racing. No road closures, no official course. Race from a location in city A to a location in city B. When you get to the second location there is no finish line, only a code written on a posterboard which needed to be texted to the race organizers to determine the finishing time. You follow that? So there is NO sprint...there is "git out your phone asap, and with calm fingers, text the code, verbatim, to end the stage." Fun stuff.

And the boston stage was underway. The team spent plenty of time planning the route (chapeau to Jon and Alex for this), and it was basically a massive drag on a couple major roads for the entire 150 miles of stage 1. Surprisingly, only a few of the other racers followed us, and it was pretty simple to drop the hangers-on after a few miles. It became a team time trial, which I'm a big fan of. A million rollers later, we got to New Haven 1-2-3, and we decided to have Fabian, our fresh 19 year old, text in the answer first for the win. I thought I was second, but i guess ATT lagged a bit, and I wound up 3rd. Great stuff, 1st overall team and individual for the Wolfpack A squad. We put more than an hour on 4th place. ;]

Stage 2, New Haven, CT to Brooklyn, NY [90 Miles]

The queen stage, in my opinion. NY is kinda a big deal on the east coast. We Awoke to pouring rain. Massage style. Before I make it sound emphatically miserable, I will say that it wasn't cold at all, which made it much more bearable. From the gun, people were much more aware that we were the team to follow. And so they followed, and so we attacked every hill from the gun. I intended for tactics to be basic...attack, and let the others chase and chase until they broke. Being the roadie snob that I am, I assumed my teammates knew the basic "attack, and sit in while other riders chase down your teammate", but I had to give a crash course in race strategy while out on the course. They picked it up eventually I think. With one of our riders up the road in the rain, and the peleton down to 6-7 people, I asked my other teammate to drift back so that I can have a chat about how we're going to isolate ourselves and get that TTT into brookyln...then I made the cat 5 move of getting on the shoulder while talking to him, and picking up a nice piece of glass on the front tire. Fabian of course stopped, had a really quick change, and we were back up, head down, full chase. We had a teammate up the road, which in most cases is perfect, because he can inhibit the chase, but i'm not sure that he understood that.

Fabian and I eventually bridged back to two guys (JT and Chris from NYC) who said that Jon was still up the road. We were riding along route 1, south, and at some point, john took a wrong turn, and we followed. A couple miles later, with Jon out of sight, Chris announced "hey, we're heading in the completely wrong direction." We went from adversaries to allies pretty quickly, Fabian sent Jon a text saying "hey, turn around!", flipped a U turn, and eventually were back on track. No games though, this time. We rode together and everyone pulled through. Given the 6 mile detour, a couple other riders caught us from behind as well. We got to brooklyn in ridiculous heavy rainforest-style rain, hub deep through rivers in the Bronx at times, madness. This really isn't my game, or my city. I literally hung on for dear life. Made it as far as 2nd Ave, which was completely packed with cars. I suspect that the NYC guys knew this, and took us this way because (A) we had to follow and (B) there was no way in hell we'd be faster than them through 2nd Ave at rush hour. They dropped us, and I caught on with a 3rd guy, Corey, who we used to get us over the williamsburg bridge, and home to Times Up! , the bike co-op where the stage finished. Me and fabian finished together, and we let Corey take the final podium spot in light of his assistance through the city. If it was just me and Fab, I don't know if we would have ever found this place. Our teammate Jon got to the spot about 30 minutes after we did. Everyone was completely soaked and spent. Fab let me have the first text, so I snuck into the leader's jersey for the time being. That chase effort after the flat was a really tough one for me.

Stage 3, Brooklyn, NY to Philadelphia, PA [100 Miles]

This was a bit of a transition stage. Certainly not the most exciting, and North Philly is an odd place with a great deal of unhappy motorists and road hazards throughout this land. One of the riders, Corey, was from Philly, and another one lived in the city, so we followed them, assuming they knew the route. Funny part about "making your own route", if you don't know the route well, you can't really ride aggressively, because there's a good chance you'll end up just riding in the wrong direction, so kept it conservative, while I tried to recover from the chase effort the previous day. It worked allright, and was able to go with the aggressive riding by the other towards the end. When we got to the finish, there was a massive scramble and sprint to the imaginary finish line. I didn't sprint at all. I casually rolled to the finish area, saw the code from about 5 meters away, and calmly sent the message. Victory! Nice pair of Oakley sunglasses as a prize, too.

Stage 4, Philadelphia, PA to Baltimore, MD [100 Miles?]

Again, pretty straightforward stage, but with much more scenic countryside, and relentless rolling hills. JT from NYC was along for the ride this time, and pulled through at the front and would be very difficult to drop, so we were allright with it. After some really beautiful country roads, we crossed the state line into Maryland, and were soon entering the city of Baltimore. 4 of us. 3 wolfpacks, 1 JT. We had to drop him, otherwise it'd be another chaotic text message battle at the end, which is too unpredictable. I decided on taking a sharp right turn as a team while on JT's wheel through the city. With that turn coming up, he actually attacked hard the wrong way, and Fabian went with him. That left me and Jon to get to the finish. Plenty of iphone help later, we hauled ass to the finish, but there was no banner in sight...hmmm...rode around and around, made some calls, checked maps, nothing. JT eventually rode in as well, without Fabian. After some more exploring, we saw a big industrial building across the river, which apparently used the address from the same street we were looking for. Jon started to sprint, and I said "hey! get your phone ready!", which is the ECMSR equivalent of a leadout I guess. I then sat up, hoping to get him our 3rd stage win. And yep, he got it. I finished third, and fabian rolled in about 5 minutes later, in 4th. I maintained the GC, and yep, geared up to win this thing, and it seemed like a formality with a 5 minute lead and only a 50 mile stage coming up.

Stage 5, Baltimore, MD to Washington, DC [45 Miles]

The District. Love this place. After a very short and fast 40 miles, we got to the outskirts of the city. Surprised to find so many hills here, and it split up the group considerably. Fabian, my teammate and only GC threat, skitched (sp?) his way up the road very late in the stage, but he was in sight, and don't think the 5 minutes was in jeopardy. After finidng myself alone, and with Fabian in sight, I put the head down and started closing the gap. Awesome hills on that north end of town. I eventually lost sight of him when I assume he made a wrong turn somewhere. I got to the address specified, and was there ahead of anyone else...trouble is, no posterboard, no people, nothing. A very very frustrating moment. I tried to be rational, made some calls and calmly stated my situation, and was bummed but relieved when JT rolled up yet again in the same position we were in earlier. Eventually, we cut across a park, and sure enough, we'd all been guided 2 blocks in the wrong direction. We got to the finish, I saw fabian there, alone, and thought for sure I had lost. I was upset, anyone who wouldn' t be isn't a bike racer. Skitching is a bit of a grey-area in the messenger game, and it's an instant DQ in any sanctioned race, and to lose in that way was a bummer. [To Fab's credit, plenty of guys were doing it on this day. He was not the first.] Text sent, I was resigned, meh......and I made it with 1:30 to spare! Fffffahhh. I was still angry heat of the moment style, but the donated keg and finish atmosphere eventually mended the situation. 1st team classification, and 1st team GC.

Bam, good times, and I hope that i'm in a situation to do this race again sometime.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dominguez Hills Crit, 600th Time This Year


Time to update. Not the best day for it, as I banged my right knee pretty badly earlier today while lugging a barely carry-able coffee table through los feliz (table made it ok!). This report's a bit late, forgive me, but as I'm always quick to rationalize -better late than never...meh.

More preface....i've hardly been training this year, and same on the racing front. I don't even have a USCF license yet! It's June! I wasn't planning on racing at all this year, but the crew at Predator Bikes were kind enough to provide some support and motivation to get out and pin a number on once in a while. So I did...CBR. Been helping out at races, and it's been nothing but swell times. Happy (and sad, from a comedic point of view) to say that Chris Lotts is a lot kinder to the lower-cat dudes pinning up for the first time. The "speech" as we know it is pretty gentle now. I raced the DH course for about the 6th time (i think) this year. ZERO results thus far, even after lapping the field a month or so ago, but some really solid racing, and each race has developed differently. For this race, I was on my brand-new Predator team bike, with HD cameras mounted front and might have some video to show off when those come through. So pinned up, got rolling. Cameras on my bike? Front and rear? Of course i'm gonna attack the shite out of the race. Somehow, the fitness (at least for breakaways) is still there, so I rolled with it. First attack stayed off for a lap or two with another guy, but I was really just testing the waters (and the new marks...will do a proper review in another post). Came back, still fresh, ready to go with another move. Nate Deibler was off solo, chuggin along, and they called a $20 prime. $20 is a big-money prime in the CBR world. I attack hard at the start finish, and got a gap. Former team director (from Sixtufit PAA) Armin Rahm sneaked onto my wheel. Pull him along turns 1, 2, 3....I started to fade, and Nate was still a good 10 meters ahead. I put my hand back for a sling to get Armin the jump (and guaranteed $20)....but he didn't take it, and we both kinda sat up, exhausted, while Nate took the prime and kept going. Shortly thereafter, former Bearclaw superstar Mike Tettleton (kinda like the cigarettes in Idiocracy) bridged up and nudged me on. I said to go on and that I had nothing...which was true, except all the prime drama gave us a pretty nice gap on the field. Put the head down, and got up there....

Couple laps later, we had a nice little break. Two lagranges (jason bausch & armin), me, mike, that guy from the Time team that won the Long Beach GP, the guy with the massive hair that keeps winning the kom sprint at the end of mullholland from me on the Nichols ride, and a couple others. We rolled around, happy to say "guy with the hair" was popped, and so were a couple others, and we were down to 5 riders....or so I thought. After a good 30 minutes of suffering,a nd getting the gap up to nearly a minute, I pulled off and noticed that there was a 6th rider the whole time. FF. Rookie mistake by me to have let that go for that long, and was surprised no one else in the break cared. I said to the guy (Jas Bausch, LaGrange) "hey, I'm not towing you to the finish, guy." And he said "i'm not taking the Time guy to the finish...bad odds." So I gapped him off the back of the break, and said "fine, you're out of the break then", and i fully expected him to pull through once I did that, but nope. We just sat up, got a 1 minute rest, and were both reabsorbed by the field. He was thinking that his team (which had numbers, but not so much HP) would be able to bring the break back, and get a "better odds" break up the rode.

Never happened. Jason apologized for making the wrong call a bit later in the race, and that's it. game over. Shoulda had a top 5 at least, but ah well. Great to see Mike finish 2nd though. Kid's got alligator blood (i mean that far as I know, Bike Religion isn't yet equipped to handle alligator blood transfusions...).

Fun low-pressure racing. Hopefully I can pull a result at one of those super-late season races that no one cares about... Ciao!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


While at the tail end of a 2 hour ride, me and a friend were cruising down a clear 4 lane road. A kind gentleman on a loud Harley/Chopper/Compensator came up from behind, released his throttle as he rode up so we wouldn't hear him, and hit it at full throttle inches from my left calf. He of course proceeded to race it to a red light 200 meters away.

As is frequently the case, we coasted to the red light a few seconds later right alongside our new friend. Had a nice look at the guy at this point, too. Shaved head, handlebar moustache. A tribal tattoo on his right forearm left over from the 90s. A real gen-U-ine tough-guy!

"Hey, any reason why you buzzed me full throttle back there?"

"Maybe you should get the fuck out of my way. Did you flip me off?"

"It's an empty two lane road, we're going above the speed limit, and you're on a motorcycle with plenty of room to pass."

[what's that? rational thought? he's not a fan, nope] "You want to fucking go? Lets go."

Funny how these things happen right as the light turns green. He emphatically headed off to wherever tough-guys go presumably to never be seen by us again. It bummed me out, really. Only yesterday, one of the nicest racers in town, Jorge Alvarado, was killed by a reckless high school kid drag racing his cronies on the streets. Even before this incident, I was overcome with grief, but also with anger, and all of it with an underlying sense of grave concern and awareness that it really could have been any of us out there, getting smashed up by one of these cancers of society. I don't intend for this to be a memorial for Jorge, may he rest peacefully. Nor do I intend for him to be a martyr for road rage awareness. I mention him here because regrettably the story continues...

We rode another mile down the road. Lo and behold, the same shiny compensator is parked in some car garage, and our man is chatting it up with his tough-guy associates. I'm a stubborn guy, and on reflex I approached our aggressor. This time with a compassionate request for sympathy because of what transpired the day before.

"A friend of ours died yesterday, man, because of a similar road-rage incident. I don't even want an apology, i'm just asking you to sympathize and understand where we're coming from. A guy died, yesterday, man."

"Do you want to die today?"

"What, are you gonna kill me?"

"Yeah, OK."

I'm not a tough guy. Certainly not whilst wearing cleats and spandex after a two hour ride. The most frightening thing about his delivery was that it wasn't sadistic or deranged in any way. He simply matter-of-factly stated, with a straight face, that he was ready to kill, and seamlessly turned his back to presumably get his weapon of choice. Did a good little sprint to get out of there, and my friend and I instinctively split up. He wound up at a fire station, and called the cops. I hauled ass out to an alley, and hid in between two walls, and hoped for the best. Fucking terrible feeling, not being able to "run for your life" but to sit and "wait for your life". I could hear his motorcycle putting around Montrose, and it made at least a couple passes before it was gone. Phone rang, and I went to the firestation to wait for the police officers.

ONE HOUR LATER...and still no one showed up. I set off to find my own cop, and sure enough I did. At the coffee shop. Officer Zakarian. Friendly, helpful, and sympathetic. Top marks. He chatted us up on what the options were, what to expect, etc. About 20 minutes later, and 80 minutes after the initial call, the original cops showed up. Four cars. What stellar efficiency! Regrettably, Officer Zakarian had to leave, and in his place we got officer dumb and dumberer, and WAY dumber than a box of rocks. I'm not kidding you, one of them, Officer Postajian, had a good 3 ounces of chewing tobacco spewing out from his lower lip. Glendale's finest, no doubt. This is the same guy that later came with "i don't tell you how to do your job. don't tell me how to do mine." Who said anything about a job? They tagged teamed us with some devil's advocate bullshit, and Postajian even said that WE could end up in jail, and that if we didn't drop this issue, we'd risk "ruining our weekend" with a jail sentence. These quotes are all verbatim, I swear it. This lasted a good hour, and the high point for me was when the least-dumb cop of the three (his name escapes me) asked me if it was wise to approach a guy who aggressively confronted me earlier. I paused, and emphatically came back at him with "Actually, YES. In hindsight it was wise. In the interest of NOT having this happen to someone in the future, it was ABSOLUTELY the correct decision." They continued with the apathetic spiel until we basically got sick of it and called it a day. Shortly before we were done, however, our man strut into the scene, happy as a clam, trying to engage me in a staring contest. Fun. He also flipped me off with the cops right there, which is ironic because the cops said that us flipping him off (which never happened) was how he rationalized his actions.

I've had weapons pulled on me, I've had glass bottles get thrown at me, i've been hit, and I have my life threatened about once an hour while riding in LA. Like I said, dime a dozen, and this certainly won't be the last. The difference with this one is that it's here, documented, and real. It's not in some bureaucrat's desk, decomposing away. I reached a boiling point ages ago. I'm beyond it, and I'm livid, and I want to take action. This is the action. If this is me being christened as a bicycle-rights activist, so be it. I can't kick these guys' asses or pull strings in Glendale City Hall to get something done, but I can write, I can inform, we can work our cycling and social networks and, cliche as it sounds, "raise awareness"...for something that actually needs to be brought to people's attention.


Now, let's take a less morose tone...

Despite the redundant and illogical questioning from GDPD's finest, I knew of course that nothing would come of this whole ordeal, but I had an itch to at least come away with something. Luckily, the guy paraded next to us after the "case was closed", and right in front of the GDPD, I snapped some photos of our friend. He might look familiar to some of you, as he's well known in that little nook in montrose. He's affectionately known as "Mighty Whitey" and "Hollywood" by neighboring businesses. He also has a cute vanity license plate on his moto that reads (i'll have it here shortly...). Here's a shot of his shop/domecile/hangout:

[via google street view]

And here are the ones I took of him off the moto, celebrating his tough-guyness.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blasting Bowie...

...and blogging. Good combo.

Mr. Bowie is on because it follows "Daryl Hall and John Oates" on my itunes library...and they're the band of the week, but this ain't about Hall & Oates. What is it about? Nothing in particular....but....I raced my bike a few weeks ago! Woo! CBR #1 Race Report:

I really had no intention of pinning on a number that morning. I hadn't shaved my legs in months, skipped out on "formal" base training for the first time in 5 years, and though I'd been riding, the form was a big question mark. But I had an underlying motivation: unclaimed prize money from last season. I finished 8th overall in the CBR "best all around rider" classification which paid 10-deep. If you'll recall, I only did 3-4 of these, but the time I finished 4th was double points, and I picked up a bunch of points primes as well. In any case, I never got that money, so I figured I might be able to race and buy a license with the cash from '09. Woke up, shaved my legs, threw on the tattered race wheels with the tread-separating but still-awesome veloflexes, and rode out to the race. It was my first ride in days, because it'd been raining all week. The hour and a half warmup was perfect. Lined up, Vera at registration was really kind and let the cash go toward a new license + entry. So great to see all the familiar faces on an unusually warm and sunny season opening race.

Pinned the number, lined up, with the prime objective being finishing out the 90 minutes. We roll. Same as always. The first couple laps were nervous because of the aforementioned tire issues, but they were fine. Been through that turn 2 at the dominguez hills course a billion times before, and it felt great to lean into it a couple more times. Also, after a couple laps, I was surprised that I felt fine. No lactic acids, no pain caves, nothing. Right on. Rather than maintain, I sought out the pains and acids, and put out an attack on the hill between 2 and 3. Really more of a joke than an attack, but I got a gap, and to my surprise/dismay, my old claw teammate Mike T bridged up. Cool. Couple other guys bridged up, and we spun around for a few laps, and I picked up the first prime of the season -"free race entry". A couple laps later we were brought back. More circles ensued, and I really felt fine. I hadn't even given it full gas in the breaks. Then they announced the BIG-money prime of the day. I attacked in the same place, this time taking my more-recent former teammate, Weylon with me along with a la grange guy that isn't a sprinter. Waylon was on, we had a gap. 3 or 4 times I yelled, "hey hey, we split? we split?" but never really got confirmation. I gave him a perfect leadout, and we got back to the bunch. Bam! $10 in the pocket, 'cause he did hear me apparently.

More of this, no one really cared to get off the front completely, and there were no really massive team tactics going on. 5 to go, and a big break of 10 got off. Fine by me, 5 to go means i'm going to finish. 4-3-2 -the jostling begins. :) I attacked again, same place, right before the bell. The break was at 15 seconds. The attack was more to try to steal the meaningless field sprint for 11th, than it was to catch the break. ding-ding-ding, bell sounds, I have a gap, and one guy came with me. We were well clear through turns 1 and 2. Then the guy pulled through.....and we lost 5mph....gah....I pulled through as soon as I realized it, and the guy exploded on my wheel. I still had a gap through the last corner, and the break was RIGHT there, but I realized i'd be caught at 200m to go. So I just pulled it way inside and got out of the way.

And that's the report. Hehe...definitely the most detailed report you'll ever find for a hapless local crit, but hey, it's my hapless local crit smashfest. I should probably continue by talking about the team situation for this season. I'm riding for Predator Cycling. It's a small team, three of us in fact, and one other p/1/2 guy besides me. I don't think we're going to take over the world, but it's a fun atmosphere. Regrettably, there is no sponsorship outside of kits and really good shop support, so coupled with my current unemployment, it means the scope of my races might only be the CBR stuff. It's rough, and I don't know if any of the local teams (westside exempted) can provide entries. I'm open to support offers, however! Would happily crank out the power in a support role in exchange for entries/sandwiches/pats on the back, whatever.

And let's see what photos I can scavenge from the race...

1,000,000,000th time in this corner

The Failed Bell Lap Move

A good look at the new kit and the camo
glasses and cracked helmet and haggard shoes

There it is. My theory is that because I haven't trained as much, I put out less power, thighs are smaller, so the lower drag coefficient balances out the power loss! Nice! Found the training loophole. There's another CBR in a couple weeks. Sigh. Wish I could do more, but...that's how it goes for now. And speaking of $ annoyance. It's the one year anniversary of that fateful day. I'm mostly healed up. The wrist still feels strange after a couple hours out. Might need to start using padded gloves. The shoulder is fine. I still have a massive ugly scar on my right shin that's as bright as the day it happened somehow. Lawyers are working on the case, and zero monies have come back to me. Again, I really don't recommend getting rear ended by 90 year old drivers in brand new SUVs. I especially don't recommend having opposing witness who say I somehow front-ended him. Lame.

and before we part, check out this photo shoot featuring my track bike!

and the mountain bike is going uber-v transformation....I need a 7.5" rear shock and a dremmel...and then I get 6" of travel in back + a disc mount!


Friday, January 01, 2010

Roundin' it out...

Happy New Year's Eve 2009

Promised myself i'd get another entry in before the new year. Gahhhhhhh. The blog feels so distant, but not detached. Plenty o' words coming out the fingertips. In riding news, I haven't done much of it. Well. It all starts with the Angeles Crest/San Gabriels Burning up. Tragic. The crest highway, where 80% of my training takes place burned to bits. More on that later. A bunch of guys switched to the mountain bike to get their dose of climbing in, in and around the Verdugo Mountain Range. I felt left out...then by craigslist miracle...this bad boy popped up, as you see it...

$440. Great deal, in any condition. The guy lived in palmdale, but worked in El Segundo. Took the train down to El Segundo, met the guy, tried to play down my shock at home clean the thing was, and took it home. The frame is an XL, and not an L as was listed, but eh. It's still shorter than my road bike, so it worked. My "serious" riding began on the MTB, so back to the roots in some ways. The Magic Motorcycle/CODA 900M crank are vintage early 90s nostalgia in huge doses, as is the 80mm rear wheel travel, and 50mm up front. What do I know? Lots has changed on the bike since, and though it weighed 27lbs when I bought it, it's now up to nearly 30. Here's what it looks like now:

Without getting too technical...the bike now has a cable-disc front brake and a more modern fork (another craigslist special). The tires are beasts. Twice as heavy and 3 times slower than the originals...but lots of fun coming down. The bike has 8 speed sram/XTR, and the final upgrade is to find a swingarm that I can mount a rear disc to. The most difficult part of the MTB game for me is the arm-fatigue during a long descent...and the front disc is terrific. So there it is. About 25% of my riding has been on that bike. There's a great loop that I can do from home that's almost all dirt road. The highlight of which is this little loop. Followed by the La Tuna Singletrack. Neither video is me, but gives you an idea. The crashing is the biggest downside to this game, but eh. Had a bad wrist sprain (opposite wrist from my accident), and finally cracked my caseless iphone after a low speed tumble. I've held up nicely otherwise.

Ok, done with the mountain bike bit. Actually, let me just close this entry down without getting too introspective on your asses. I've got a cute little team for 2010, possibly a new custom built bike, and a really loud new kit as well. I haven't shaved my legs in weeks. I'm sick, not super-motivated, unemployed, but i'm training and still sane. Will try to make it out to the New Year's Ride tomorrow morning. First crit of the year is on January 25th. Dios mio. Suerte.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Has been a dud.

At least as far as bike racing is concerned, and by association, this blog. Also the advent of twitters and facebooks and all kinds of other distractions really make it a bummer that I haven't written in this space for that long. It actually feels very foreign and strange to be typing up something this freely in this space. Weird, but enjoyable.

Usually after a lapse in writing I try to fill in the gap to make the racing stories more seamless. Well, the last race I did was.......[been a long while] was the CBR race in long beach. Might have been the first week of July, which would be my first July in Los Angeles since 2004. The story I've been telling people is this: I had good form going after a nice base and build period in the winter. February rolled around and I was flying. Finished 4th in that crit on February 8th. Then, two days later, that car smashed me up, off the bike for 6 weeks. Unlucky. Somehow though, I rode back into killer form and finished 17th ($450) at the Dana Point NRC. Swell. After that things got awry, at least in hindsight. I didn't know it at the time. The day before San Luis Rey was the Bario Logan Crit. I attacked and attacked, missed the break, tried and tried to bridge to the break, but failed. Money was 20 deep, and 8 were up the road. I was confident in getting 9th out of the group. Followed Chris Demarchi all through the final lap, and he gave me a picture-perfect leadout to easily get first out of the group. I finished 19th. In 200 meters, 10 people passed me. That's never happened to me in a sprint, in any category, in any race. No matter how spent I was. I chalked it up as an anomaly.

Next day was the San Luis Rey RR. Finished 13th I think. Felt swell. Wheel was broken, no sweat. After that it wasn't the same. Sprint legs were absent, even in group rides. Lost the will to ride. External factors contributed as well, but it felt like it was a physical thing. I skipped rose bowls, and morning group rides. Bleh. Raced though. Got my clock cleaned at long beach. Managed to get into one break with Ivan Dominguez and got dropped....out of the breakaway (never happened either)...and was pack fodder at the end. Ouch. Did another LB crit two weeks later, and same thing. Took a week off the bike. No motivation to return.

So that's the story. I really don't know what to pin it on. Too old? No motivation? Amazing girlfriend that I happily spend lots of time with? Did I try to regain form too quickly after the accident? There's really no way to know. For now, though, I'm enjoying the bike and have some semblance of form and might do that final CBR on the first week of September. I'll try to bring the A-game to that one. I did a 180k ride yesterday, felt like mush at the end, but I was happy to get out there. Also, I think I've lost weight since I've let off the training for a bit. Odd. Appetite has gone down considerably.

Ok, I realize this isn't much of an entry, but it'll hopefully get the ball rolling. To anyone who's still reading, thanks for checking up....and some blog-exclusive photos:

Glued up a dreamy Veloflex Criterium Tub. Dream Dream Dream. I won't race it, however.

Accidental Shot

Lots and Lots of Koi Babies

Health: I has it.


Beach day with beee!

Throwback to the Ardeche. Note the fig tree. :]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hi O

I've done four races since I last wrote. Four races, two weekends. Took a few races off. One was Ontario. I don't do Ontario, and the other reason I haven't been racing/training much lately is that I've finally undergone the pond construction/expansion. Quite a lot of work, and still plenty of work left ahead.

What compelled me to finally write? A really odd sequence of racing. Two days, two really bizarre and unnecessary last lap crashes in the P/1/2. Saturday we had the classic Barry Woolfe Grand Prix. Never done well at this course, never liked it, but it's local, so I'll always line up for it. Anyhow...nice field of 100 or on the start line. Felt okay. Got into one or two promising breaks, but with Tony Cruz and Bahati still in the field and without representation in the breaks, I knew we'd go never really went full gas. Still picked up a preem, though. Oh, and this race was a P/1/2/3....which I think changes the dynamic quite a bit. LaGrange fielded a billion riders, per usual. Anyhow, fast forward to the last lap. Field is together, I'm about 10th wheel coming through the bell. Bahati is just ahead. We rounded the first (of 4) corner cleanly, and about 20 meters later, I was ducking to avoid a rear wheel 10 feet in the air heading straight for my head. The epicenter of the crash was a good 5 meters to my left, but kept getting closer, faster, domino-style. Crashes happen...but at the front of a race? That's irregular. Can't even remember the last race in which that happened. I kept it upright, and put in a sprint. Saw Bahati was also in the wind just ahead of me. He had a bit of help, and managed to get back up to the unscathed portion of the peleton, about 10 guys. I put my head down, and assumed the race was over. Looked back and saw a second peleton sprinting like mad to this point I put the hammer down, and brought it in for 12th. $ went 15 deep, so a nice consolation, I guess. That's 5 $-placings in a row. Still without a nice result, however.

So with that irregularity out of the way, I lined up for the CBR Long Beach Crit. I actually love the course. Love that you can see the entire course, and gauge gaps just by sight. The pavement is not smooth, but is predictable, and the wind makes it interesting for sure. The 100k races we used to have here were classic, and definitely more up to my abilities. The shorter distance is still fun, however, and less frustrating if/when you miss the break. Same guys as yesterday, but instead of Bahati, we had Freddy Rodriguez. Giro Stage Winner. I'm not a fan of his (is anyone?), but it was a pretty nice field. Big thank you to CBR for comping my entry fee. Totally unexpected, but they were just getting me back for helping a bit at a race earlier this season. Thanks! So we lined up, nothing going. Calm first lap. Attack after relentless attack. I'd put out 600w jumps out for a minute, and see people chasing and getting the peleton back up to me. Sergio Hernandez put out lots more attacks, and eventually (after 80 minutes of attacking) got clear with Tony Cruz, game over. They would go 1-2 with Sergio getting a well deserved win. LaGrange, the classy bunch that they are, didn't put a SINGLE rider on the front to chase the break down. They had ten guys line up. Really fcking annoying. To compound that annoyance, some of my attacks would be brought back by bum racers who don't even have teammates instead of forcing LaGrange to chase. So annoying when people don't know how to race.

Well, thanks to LaGrange's failure, we were racing for 3rd. Last lap comes, and just like the previous day, i'm in decent position. perhaps 8th wheel. Turn 1, solid. Turn 2, okay. The pace was nice and high, and the jostling wasn't too bad. Turn three was a bit slower than I liked. Teammate Armin came to me after turn three and said, "GET ON, outside, GO." Instinctively, I said no. I had a good line on the inside, and a good wheel (Rudy from Liquid) to follow. Right after I turned him down, there was a bit of a swarm. I got out of it on the inside, and got a great entrance into the final turn. $#@%#%#$#. Bikes, bodies, brakes, and cuss words in large doses. I kept it upright, but had plenty of contact. I bunny hopped Rudy Napolitano, and ran over his bike. Thought i'd eat it for sure, but kept it upright. First time out of the top 20 all year. Annoying. An SC Velo rider who was unnecessarily fighting me for Sterling Magnell's wheel (who was wearing a Major Motion kit on the day) earlier, and had words ("it's my teammate", was on the ground and bloodied. I'm a total asshole, but at that instance I felt no pity. Karma comes 'round, I thought. I feel badly now, and hope the guy is doing well. But let's avoid stupidity in the future. I really hope some photog (there were plenty at both races) caught the crash sequence. I'd love to see it.

That's all I got. Will look for photos. Apologies for the tone, but it's really annoying to have races end this way. So much better to finish off the front...gah.

Here's a power file of the CBR Monday race. Flat four corner course. Check out the power (green line) variance!


Friday, May 01, 2009

Mark It, Dude

Hey Hey.

Took a little road trip down to south county this weekend. OC county. On the way down, I said "if there are no catastrophic crashes or mechanical mishaps, I should finish in the top 20." 20, you see, is the magic number for non-pro local scenesters like myself in NRC criteriums. Finishing inside 20th place gets you a piece of that NRC-mandated massive prize list. Finish outside it, and you've wasted a $50 entry for nothing...and on that note, I can't believe the time I broke my frame with 200m to go and still finished 17th at Manhattan Beach '05.

Check me out! Blue links and everything. This blog is going places, looks like. So. Dana Point. I did it last year and had a blast. It was the first race where I found some good legs and got the bike dialed in. This year's been very different. Every time I've pinned a number, the legs have been great. I didn't feel too well in the first race of the year, but squeezed out a top 20 just following wheels. Then the car smashed me up, and I think I actually lost weight during that 3 week vaccance. Got destroyed and demotivated by Lance that one day out, and now the good legs are back. Fun stuff.

Dana Point:

Big Purse, Big Field. And not the typical "2nd race for $10 extra" masters pack fill big field, either. Kelly Benefits came out. Bahati had a couple teammates. Floyd Landis and a couple of his guys (who aren't really crit riders), and the Colavita guys in force as well. The "team from the west side with a bottomless budget" fielded a ton of guys, perhaps 10? I was happy to find out that Waylon from my team is a cat 1. Swelllll. Cat 1 and pro-class mtb downhiller. Quite the combo. I sneaked up to the second line behind the call ups. It was a pretty quick start. No anthems, no sponsor speeches. Nice and concise. "Riders start at the whistle..."


A dull race, really. My only objective was to get in that top 20. No fireworks, no rosebowl-style attacks up the back side, no prime slanging, nothing. Just sit in the vacuum for 90 minutes, and take the good legs to the leadout trains once 5 to go sounds, and then follow the really fast and narrow vacuum to a $ spot. That's what happened. I finished 17th. Woo. Not really that stoked on it, but it obviously could have been much worse. The jockeying started before lap cards were even out! Madness. Lots of people were clipping the barrier, clipping out after going into a turn too hot, skidding, chopping, everything. Crit racing at its finest. I love this course for it. Floyd Landis actually opened up the sketch riding proceedings on about the 3rd lap when he took turn 2 too hot. Fun stuff. Anyhow, 5 to go, I took a long swig of what was left of my bottle, and started to strategize. Found that Paul Che was doing the same thing, and just rode near him 'till we were near Bahati and co. A futile break was off. Got caught with 3 to go. Into the bell lap, a Bissel rider smashed into the barrier with me on his wheel. He didn't go down, but...full brakes, followed by full gas (and a couple matches...[nice pun!]), and I was back in position. Tony Cruz chopped me pretty good into turn 5. "Ok, tony, go." No thanks was given, of course. Then I sprinted hard between 5 and 6 to try to get a nice spot into the final sprint. Got the nice spot, but there was no sprint. I sprinted around only a couple guys with dead legs for the finish. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have an SRM right now? Woulda been some hideous sprint data...but I am $400 closer now.



No photos of the race, but here's one of Wilson from yesterday's ride.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Post #216

I feel like I should have done a "200th post special" but that ship sailed several months ago, looks like. This blog's been around for a while now, and I keep writing in it, but the frequency is starting to dip. I guess it's a product of less racing, more distractions, and too many different communications channels (twitter, facebook, gmail). Ah well! Here's another entry.

This seasons results so far:

16th-CBR Crit #1 Long Beach
18th-Poor College Kids RR
4th-CBR Crit #2 Dominguez
13th-CBR Crit #5 Dominguez
14th-Devil's Punchbowl RR
7th-Chuck Pontius Crit

Not stellar, but definitely not bad. It's come to a point in crit racing where, regardless of form, I can put myself into the mix. It's almost May, and I've only done 6 races. I think I have to go back to cat 5 days to have that low a frequency, but yeah...getting rear ended does weird things. Anyhow, a few races to report on.

The 13th place at CBR #5 was pretty nice. I think it's times like these where all the base training pays off. 3 weeks off the bike, 3 weeks of suffering on the bike, and just like that: good form is back. The race was swell, put myself into a couple good moves. A huge break snuck off the front with 4 to go, and I took 2nd in the bunch (behind Demarchi) for 13th. Nice! If there was no break, top-5 was certainly a possibility.

Next we've got Devil's Punchbowl. The reason I found motivation for this one was my new (used) bike. No, I didn't get a cent from insurance yet, so I've been wheeling and dealing old bike stuff to try to get a new frame. I had the BB30 Cannondale cranks as a foundation, some Sram stuff, and most importantly, a sweet set of reynolds carbon tubulars waiting to go on a shimano/sram equipped bike. As luck would have it, I found a local guy selling an older Six13 in my size for an incredible deal. Fire-saled some stuff, scrounged up some cash, and picked it up.

In a word......DREAMY....and if you factor in the cost and condition and fit, well...there aren't any words. I've always been a light-bike junkie, but am well aware that dropping 50g off your bike isn't going to lead to any performance gain. However...going from 20lbs to 14 and change? That's a huge huge difference. Happy to say I destroyed the 40+ crew fromt the Barry Ride on it's maiden voyage on a Thursday morning a few weeks ago. I'm a jerk, I know. Still hurts not to have a powermeter. I still look down instinctively from time to time. I wish wish wish I could do a 20 minute test one of these days. Gah.

So. 6lbs off the bike and pretty decent form led me to take the start at Devil's Punchbowl. I think I DNF'd here my last two starts, and only really cracked the top 20 once in the lower cats. Tough course, espcially when it's cold and C-Walk sets pace on the first lap. It looked like it'd be more of the same this time, but with a twist. Most of the local only-come-out-to-hilly-road-races scenesters were out in force, but so was Monsieur Floyd Landis!!! Pretty cool to race with the guy, and even cooler because with a guy like that there, everyone waits for him to make a move...and he didn't. At least not at first. Walker attacked, and we sat. Conversation pace the whole way up the climb. Floyd drilled it the second time up, and I barely clung to the back of the peleton over the top of the climb. Hard stuff. 3rd time up I got shelled early, but had some pretty good company in Thurlow Rogers and Brandon Gritters. We caught up to the group right as the descent ended. 4th time was a breeze, with the break gone out of sight. Landis dropped out on this lap. 5th lap, I was shelled. In short, I was annoyed that our peleton/groupetto was moving slowly, yet the guy up front still put us all in the gutter at 8mph on the climb. Mixed some words, and set pace myself, only to pop off quickly and roll in for 14th. Saw Josh Webster get road rashed pretty good on the final corner. Unlucky. He was riding well up until that point. This was also the first race I ever used a compact gear. 34/50 up front, 11-21 in back. Perfect! But i'll never need that much gear (on the low end) for any race this year. I'm back on 53/39 again.

And...........the crit the next day. Chuck Pontius. The finest of the office park criteriums. Shady, a couple small rises, slight wind. Good stuff. I felt springy. Attacked off the gun, and surprise, I was actually marked. Let off a bit, then attacked again from turn 2 right into the gutter. I looked back and there was a solid gap. Put the head down, came through the start finish to the nice sound of a preme bell. Head down, I rolled through for the preme, and sat up. Lots of attacks, and two more premes later, I was back in the bunch. I broke a spoke on my front wheel at some point, and with the caliper QR, was able to roll it without much rub (pretty good considering it's a 16 spoke wheel). A serious break with some fast guys got up the road. I thought they'd be gone, but these guys in green jerseys were pretty motivated to bridge up. So after some driving...I looked back and it was about 10 of us with a solid gap, and the break in sight. We got to the break, 5 to go sounded, and we were already coming up on the back of the field. Weird. There were no games in the break, just solid pace setting. Last lap...saw a window to attack on the inside just before turn 3. Didn't. A guy did, and won. I kept it pretty timid with the broken spoke up front, and rolled in for 7th. Can't complain. But I've got a feeling a W ain't too far off.

Dana Point GP NRC sunday! $15,000! I'll see uz der.