je ne sais quoi

Thursday, December 28, 2006

where is my mind?


Been busy lately, obviously. Proud to say that the 24 hour week last week went off without a hitch, and even managed to take sunday off and watched the Broncs win after a botched extra point attempt by the bad...but good for Bronco fans (me). The cycling equivalent of crashing 50 meters from the line after a good long solo break.

First: A long overdue congrats to the alma mater, on winning the cyclocross collegiate division 1 title. Hot damn, good work. The most amazing part is that they did it without Brook Walters. Not that any of them would read this, but bang up job, kids. Bravissimo.

Back to the mundane "base training" boringness that this blog has deteriorated into. I'm midway through the penultimate week (28 hours). In an effort to stir up motivation on the long cold stupid rides (which is all it is at this point), i've turned to loading the ipod with scores of country music. Ahh, the downcast lyrics and contrasting upbeat melodies make the dead legs and shite weather much more bearable. somehow. George Strait in particular is tippp-top! I'm an addict. These country guys make it fun to be down. Thanks country guys.

Tangent story:
2 minutes ago:
My older brother (who shares the downstairs flat with me) said [as he was leaving]:

"hey, would you mind cleaning up around here while i'm gone?"

"clean what?"


"Hmmm...I can't really walk a whole lot, my legs hurt, so no...and besides, it isn't my mess"

He proceeded to look at me like I was deranged, and what can I do? Sit him down and explain the intricacies of proper recovery and periodization? No. I will not.

That's it. I desperately want to post a photo of the new bike, but i've got some dinky borrowed mismatched training wheels on it right now, and posting a photo now wouldn't do it justice. I have a little over 20 hours on it so far. Been making adjustments every day. It fits real swell. It's smoooth light stiff and pretttttttty. Sram: Everything you'd expect from a component group that's one letter away from being "Aram". I can't believe i'm going to race a $3028523 bike in crits and rose bowls and all that next year. First race of the year is in less than a month. With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.

where is my mind?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My Current Multivitamin/Recovery Drink

Nice Stats. Cheap. Loaded with .01% caffeine for some extra juice. The B6 Vitamin count falls a couple thousand percent short of most multivites, but hey, you make up for it with quantity...and taste! Mix it strong for recovery, weak for a pre ride snack. Good stuff, and it works. Seal of approval for broke bike racers worldwide.

Note: This is the powdered version. The chocolate syrup version has (you guessed it) high fructose corn syrup.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Carbon Fiber Bottle Cage Bolts

Hello. 'Bout time I posted a new entry. This past week was my rest week. 10 hours total, split into 3 total rides. Though I really didn't feel I needed it, I stuck to it and didn't ride much. The emptiness that comes with not riding hit, but only slightly, and not nearly at the level that I got to in October...that was all bad. In any case, I'm psyched to start the 2nd phase of base. 24 hours on the menu for this upcoming week. Then 28, 32 (i hope). A foto [photo credt: Claudio. Who's as close as i've come to racing Damiano Cunego with his heavy Italian accent and "euro-tendencies"] Nice shot huh? It's somewhere along the Angeles Forrest Highway.

Ok...don't really know where to start here. Next year's plans: I never did get into detail about the different prospects that came and went. The discourse between me and the various "team people" I've talked to is better left confidential, though there certainly are some people I want to punch in the face repeatedly.

I mentioned a couple entries ago that yeah, some great things looked so close to materializing, but then the doors got slammed shut. One after the other. All that was left was some spots on a couple local teams, which I was very thankful for. Thankful, but dejected, as I wanted nothing more than to ride professionally next season. When you get your hopes up as I did, the high is great, but the ensuing fall is painful. Rock bottom, in many ways, and my motivation reflected this. On a group ride about a month ago, while I was answering the requisite "so who will you ride for?" question for the 4th time that day, a guy, Lance (don't know your last name guy, sorry), overheard me. "Aram, let me get your telephone number, a friend of mine rides for [local pro team], maybe they've got room...". By now, I'd learned not to get my hopes too high...with that in mind, we exchanged numbers and I forgot about it. A week later, the phone rings, it's Lance. Hmmmmm. "Hey, here's my friend's number. I told him about you. Give him a call, and see what the situation is." not quite rock bottom anymore, but again, didn't get my hopes up. I called his friend, Daniel Ramsey (of, that same day. We talked for a couple minutes, then I heard what I'd heard so many times before: "yeah, i'm pretty sure the roster is full for this season." No problem, I expected those exact words, but what struck me is that the guy was willing to talk to me, even after the "we're full" words. Bang up guy, that Daniel. He then loosely told me about a team out of Santa Barbara that may be looking for riders. No real details, but hey, it's a lead. He forwarded my resume to the team, along with some contact information. After some brief phone-tag, I got in touch with the team owner: Doug Knox, head of Time USA. Awesome guy, his passion for the sport and professional demeanor was immediately evident. I was particularly taken that some pretty awesome local pros vouched for my ability when he asked them about me. We set up a meeting for Saturday (yesterday) morning, in Santa Barbara.

I met nearly the full team. Doug never said "okay, we're giving you a spot." We met, discussed some details, and next thing I know I was being fitted for a bike!! I guess that means I'm in? It's a small team, sorta, but with some pretty amazing talent, excellent support, and good direction. Super-Veterans Chris Walker (road race king of the world) and Jonathan Boyer (Multiple Tour De France participant, this year's RAAM winner, etcccc) highlight the team, along with a couple of quality Santa Barbara locals, and one bike bum from Hollywood. We're loosely affiliated with Erik Saunders' U23 team out in Charlotte...Same Kits, different management. I'm hoping to be able to mix it up with the U23 guys at some point as well. I'm the old-man @ 24 years old. In case it isn't clear enough.....Chris Walker!!! Jock Boyer!!! What?!? The glee is slowly and uncontrollably starting to seep out. I need to try to hold it in when i'm around these guys...for everyone's sake. If they find this blog, my cover's blown, but ah well.

The team will be riding Time VXRS Ulteam Bikes with SRAM components and Fulcrum Wheels. I picked up the frameset yesterday. I had to really reallllllly try to contain the excitement around Doug and the rest of the guys (they were all SO casual about it, like it isn't a big deal), and did so, with great difficulty...if you've seen what this frame looks like in person, you'd know what I mean. Geeeeezus. The stem! The bottle cages! The box the frame comes in! Merci, France!!! Allright...i'll devote a separate entry to the bike in time (ehh, pun i guess), as that's not what I want this entry to be about.

It's about letting people know that there actually are some swell people in this bike's just a matter of finding them. The jerk to good-guy ratio is heavily skewed in the jerk direction, sadly, but this shouldn't deter anyone from reaching for better things. Don't settle. The good guys are out there, as I've [finally] found. You just need to sift through the idiots first.

carbon fiber water bottle cage bolts?


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Base Overview

It's gone well so far. I've finished the first three weeks without a hitch, and now it's time for a 10 hour rest week, so I'll waste time with senseless blog entries like this one. ..

The last couple days have been interesting. Saturday I was able to wake up for and get to the Montrose Ride start. Swell times. It was the funnest outing i've had on that ride....probably because it was a smaller group than normal and I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen in ages. The weather was good, and I was able to finish off the week's hours by noon on saturday. So I got a rest day to start off the rest week. Here's a shot of me getting dropped by the montrose ride.
Shite photo, I realize. I've been pretty lax with the camera lately. But anyhow, the ride has an occasional hill in it, and I stick to the program, best I can...even if it means getting shelllllllllled by half the pasadena scene. I was able to claw back on the little descents, so no harm done.

Monday: A good day. Bike Bummers catch a break sometimes, and I did. I was offered a spot in a commercial shoot which featured about 5 seconds of cycling footage. There were a total of six of us. A big thank you to Michael Dansk for giving me word about the shoot. We got there [san pedro] at 10am. Sat around for 2.5 hours. Ate grrreat food, and then things started rolling. Did maybe 20 takes total of about 4-5 different types of shots. Really high production values. There must have been more than 100 people on set. And this whole movie-film-television industry game. It's wild. In that game, there's the union game, and then there are scores of different titles and responsibilities...and because of the complexities and divisions of power, there's so much room for gross [but legal] exploitation...and this is why the film industry does so well. Madness. I was "taft hartley" for the day, and got compensated nicely.

That's it. This week? I'm not going to do much riding. I've done 1 hour already. 9 to go. 6 days in which to do so, and I have a big ride planned for saturday. R-O. C-D. And I realize I said i'd have word on who i'm riding for next year on meeting was postponed 'till saturday, so i'll know 100% by then. Let me address your most dire concerns and assure you that I won't be riding professionally next year. The stars just didn't align...despite my extensive efforts to move them.

F. I really should change that photo in the top right. It's frightening

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mid Week Update

I really don't like putting up new posts when I don't have photos to fill the space between the lines -'cause lets face it, who reads this blog for the words? Ah well...

Okay. Week 3. 21 hours due. I did 6 on monday. 5 on tuesday. And the rest is a piece of cake. Comes out to an average of 2hrs/day for the remaining 5 days in the week. So I took today off. Will probably get 3 tomorrow, and finish the rest of it between friday and sunday.

Monday's ride was killer! A friend of mine, Ben, showed me a new route: The San Gabriel River Bicycle path. 30 miles of flat and unobstructed bike path from Irwindale [east pasadena] to Seal Beach [just south of Long Beach]. I told him i'm just riding at a base-pace (the main dilemma for me this time of year when i'm not riding solo). He was okay with it, but to be honest, the pace was a little hot for me at times...even while in his draft! Ah well, I felt swell, so went with it. Had coffee in Seal Beach and came back the same way. Time flew. I don't use/have a odometer, but I'm sure I got at least 110 that day. Oh, and one thing about the San Gabriel Path...there are some reallllllll gnarly underpass sections. The path is great, but when there's an overpass, there's a bit of a tunnel that the bike path takes. The ramps are steep, cracked, littered with debris, very unlit...I loved it. Keeps you awake. Though, as I told Ben, I'd surely be dead if there were an aggressive little group ride on that thing. You'd just be rolling the dice each time one of those dark caves comes along...and there are at least 15 of them each way. Swell times. The knees liked it.

Tuesday went up to Mt Wilson. In nothing but shorts and a jersey. and some oil on the legs. It's crazy, it was 70 at the top. Though there were some cold pockets on the way up that were in the 50s. On the way down I extended the ride a bit by riding to Velo Pasadena , where I finally met the owner i'd heard so much about: Hrach. One of very few Armenian cycling scenesters in socal. Good guy. We talked it up, I looked through some photos, and while I didn't ask him outright, I deduced from what I heard that I am, in fact, still the world's best vegetarian Armenian cyclist. A huge honour....although my vegetarian status is in question, 'cause of the massive tuna intake of late.

Lastly....finally! Something nice along the team front has finally rolled through. I'll be going to Santa Barbara on sunday to meet and ride with what I hope will become my team for next season. I hope it's just a "ride" and not a hammer-fest, as that's obviously not on my current program. Can't get into details yet, and if there's one thing i've learned so far it's not to get my hopes up....the higher you get -the harder the fall. I'll announce something as soon as It's official. Hopefully as soon as Sunday.

And I'm just going to throw this out there: I Want To Coach

Note: I'm not a coach....but want to learn to be one. An effective one. I realize there are 500 million coaches in SoCal, each with 1000s of athletes and USCF certifications, but I want nothing to do with that. I want to find my own distinct approach. Old school. I'm just looking for a couple local guys who race. Preferably over 15 races a year, in any category (though it'd be weird to race against a guy I coach). I'd cap it at 4 riders total, and will try to meet with these guys individually for a ride about once a week. My rate? Zero. Just a burrito or two per month. More burritos if what I give you works. So if you or anyone you know might be interested, email me at with some general information about you and your racing ambitions. Again, you must be in the Socal area, must plan for at least 10 races next year, not be a "everyone is doped!" conspiracy theorist, and above all, no's free coaching!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

How do you play this game?

Like this:

Week 2's wrapped up. Finished a day early so I get a rest day tomorrow, which I'm really looking forward to. I plan on sleeping a bunch, then reading some 'till I fall asleep again. I'll definitely put away plenty of calories in between these activities. This week was 18 hours. So far it hasn't been a problem. But I really cannot imagine doing almost twice as many hours in the same amount of time. Eh. Next week is 21 hours, and the key to getting through these weeks, I've found, is to avoid procrastination at all costs. I usually knock off a bunch of hours on monday and wednesday, and from there on, it's usually manageable...especially if you put the remaining hours in terms of "average hours left per day". my camera back! NikonUSA=Great Warranty Service. I didn't have to pay for shipping or the repair, and they sent it back within a week. Good guys. I've been taking it with me on rides, and have seen some random things. The most random of which came today: A guy was setting up a full-on drumset about 1/4th of the way up Big T. Middle of nowhere, basically. Why? We won't ever know. Unfortunately, no photo of this discovery. Likely a hallucination. Some other things:

Free Tapes To Virgins? Dig it.

Riding Up Temescal. Pacific Palisades. SAECO

And another thing. I cook all the time. It's what I like to term "performance cooking". By that I mean my primary concern is nutrition -not taste, not appearance. So usually, what I put together might taste kinda bland, but it takes care of the body, and once in a while tastes pretty good. But...i'm on to something new. Tonight, for instance...for the first time in my cooking career, I licked a plate of my own making clean. The Dish?

Pad Thai! W/ chives, 2 eggs, beansprouts, chives, 1 boca patty, and some crushed thai peppers. Amaaazing. I've eaten this same thing after rides 3 days in a row. Hardly any fat, amazing taste, vegetable-based protein, and it's even nice to look at. If it's a long ride, I'll eat a nice and bland can of tuna a couple hours afterward. The tuna is reallllllll bland in contrast, gah...but bean sprouts don't win races. Tuna does. I've seen it. They're fast fish.

Lastly: I've really been loving my bike lately. It's the best. New cables, housings, shifters. The rear derailleur's Veloce....they say "oh, yeah bro, veloce and record are the same...the only difference is the weight". Nope. Not true. The linkages/pivots on the veloce get dirty faster, and it doesn't shift as well, and it sure as hell doesn't look as good. Ah well. My current SLR is perfectly broken in (real soft with lots of give)...which probably means it'll break soon. My rear wheel's at the shop, getting new bearings put in. Should be a daisy.

Note the sweet customization near the downtube/headtube junction...and the dip in the middle of the SLR. Yeahhh. Dig it. Gears. Lavender.