Thursday, July 25, 2013


Last Friday, I went to Chicago to see Pearl Jam perform at Wrigley field.  I've been to maybe 30 concerts in my life.  I've never had such an incredible time (at a concert).
There were some mishaps.  Lightning bolts and a torrential downpour delayed the show for over 2 hours and people were sad.
See?  Sad.
But then, later on, the Pearl Jam Musical Band came back out and played for a long long long time and people were happy again.

See?  Happy.
They finished at 2AM with a delightful rendition of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the free world".

Then the people who worked there or something said we all had to leave Wrigley field.  At the same time.  And oh yeah - everything is closed.  So just go home.  All 40,000 of you.  Take the train.  There's one leaving every 30 minutes at this time of night.  They hold somewhat less than 40,000 people.

So one of the absolute entertainment highlights of my life was followed by 2 and a half hours of mind numbingly agonizing boredom as we made our way back to the hotel, standing on a packed train.  Train rides are overrated.

Last night there was some public pool city swim meet championship deal.  Jack and Abe competed in this.  I think Jack had 3 races and Abe had 2.  These 5 races were spread fairly evenly over about 5 hours.  It was mind numbingly boring.  And although waiting around at swim meets has a very low rating in the first place, it is still overrated.

Sunday morning I left the house for a bike ride.  After about 10 minutes of riding, I realized that RAGBRAI was going on.  I thought I'd head on down to the BK bridge and see if I could pick up a stream of cyclists and do some of the ride.  I didn't know anything about where it was other than it started in Council Bluffs.  At the foot of the Iowa side of the bridge, I saw a bunch of GSVs.  I stopped my bike without saying anything and struck a casually deliberate pose.  I saw Jonathan Neve and made him aware of my presence.  I was only interested in going about 50.  Jonathan said that's all he and Jolene were going to do so I decided to ride with them.  We'd go with the GSV group into a few of the first RAGBRAI towns and then turn off and go our own ride.

As we were going along, I started to wonder when we'd turn off.  I was having a difficult time with both the mind numbingly slow pace and the thousands upon thousands of rule infractions.  I won't go into detail here -  but it's more than a little ridiculous.  It's not so much the clowns with music blasting from the back of their BOB, or the families or the big crazy, fun loving people.  So what?  It's their vacation and they're having fun.  Who cares if they have no skill or understanding of safe riding?  That's kind of the point of RAGBRAI.

No, what is terribly annoying is the people who fly through the crowd, yelling "On your left."  Looking down their noses at all of these ridiculously slow RAGBRAI riders.  Usually, these "racers" do not have jersey sleeves.  Usually there is some sort of clip-on aerobar thing going on.  Also - helmet mirrors.  The rule book tells us that instead of mirrors - if we want to know what is behind us we are allowed to simply turn our heads.  These are bikes after all and not some sort of tractor/trailer configuration.

But these guys come flying by, annoyed at the GSV group for being on the left side of the road going at a relatively slow pace.  Of course, we'd then catch up to them on every hill and drop the shit out of them, but anyway.

Finally, we got to Underwood where we turned off and left RAGBRAI for the year.  It couldn't have come soon enough.  After about 90 minutes of agonizingly slow riding, my butt and hands were sore.  I think more weight is applied to the seat and bars when you are just sitting there.  But wait - Underwood?  This will make the ride more like 80 than 50 ... Oh, Jonathan was speaking in miles. That explains the confusion. Oh well, that's cool.  I've got time.

I've done the full RAGBRAI ride twice.  I think what bothers me about those guys that are breaking all the rules, are not fit, and are flying by everybody with something to prove is that I did both of my RAGBRAIs that way.  If you think I'm a tool now, you should have seen me then!  Whew!

When I finished my first RAGBRAI, I had no fitness.  I was in incredible pain.  Granted, it took heart to even finish with as out of shape as I was.  As I went down the last hill to the river/tire dip, I became emotional.  I had done it.  I had finished RAGBRAI!  Then I noticed all of the fat smoking drunk people on hybrid bikes who had beat me in and were obviously in less pain than I was.  Anybody could do RAGBRAI, I suddenly realized.  You just had to train a little for it.  I had discovered that RAGBRAI is possibly the most overrated bike ride there is.

I made a decision that day to go the next year and actually train for it.  It seems silly now, but back then I never rode.  I bought a new bike, dropped my weight (mass, technically) by 8 Kilos, and had an absolute bore the next year on RAGBRAI.

Ride into small town, arriving about noon.  Sit around in the heat all day until tomorrow's ride into the next town at about noon.  And so on.

At least I wasn't in any pain.

I went on the GSV Tuesday night ride this week.  This is slowly becoming my favorite ride.  Mark Savery, Rafal and EOB were all there.  I was simply delighted by that.  I was a little sad when not one of them whistled at my shiny new legs, but oh well.  I was also sad when, early in the ride,  EOB had a mechanical that rendered his bike a useless heap such that he was unable to continue.  I hear hints and whispers of blame toward another rider, but I don't know what that's about.  Blame is overrated.

Strangely enough, about the only thing I saw this week that was not overrated was Pearl Jam.  Perhaps the most underrated band of all time.  Maybe they'll never get the recognition they deserve.  Oh well, I guess it will be my little secret.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Open Letter to You

I’ve now missed 4 Trek Store Wednesday night rides in a row.  I need to get back.  At first, I was concerned about losing fitness.  Would I get slower after missing several weeks of the most intense workout I ever do?  Probably.  But that is no longer my main concern.  No.  I need some humility back.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the weekly humiliation that is the Trek Store ride is good for my soul.  It’s good for your soul, too. 

I absolutely hate the weekly beating I take.  I hate myself for days after the ride, thinking about what I could have done differently to perform better.  So I work toward trying to achieve better results, the whole time reminding myself how much I suck.

Apparently, I need that.  Because in the absence of those rides, I have become the most egotistical asshole I’ve ever known myself to be (and that’s huge). 

But how is my normal self-loathing good for you?  When I’m busy hating myself, I’m not hating you. 

Maybe I should define who you are.  Because I don’t hate everybody.  I just hate you personally.

You are on the Keystone trail.


You are an adult on a bike (not a pedestrian/ not a child).


You are not a pet or some other animal.


You are not on a road bike.


You are on a road bike and I don’t know you (or at least who you are).


You have hairy legs.  2 weeks ago, I shaved my legs for the first time ever.  Now I’m like some annoying militant ex-smoker.  “You know those things’ll kill you.  Not the cigarettes.  The hairy legs.”


You are participating in or have been dropped from a paceline on the trail.  Seriously?  Dropped from a paceline on the trail?  Just please fucking give up right now, ok?


You have ever created a Strava segment on the Keystone or any other non- road. Go to hell.  Immediately.  Maybe there’s a segment called “Huge tool eats shit and dies.”  You’ll KOM for sure


You are not wearing a shirt.  I’m sure you looked awesome without a shirt in 1970, but something is different now.  I can’t quite put my finger on it because it’s jiggly, sweaty and gross.  What’s the matter?  Are you afraid your new suspect moles aren’t getting enough vitamin D?

So yeah – if you’re one of the people above, I will hate you at least until I get back on the wonderfully therapeutic Wednesday night ride and get my ass dropped as hard as some of you get dropped by your grey-haired, no shirt, morning-ride paceline buddies on the Keystone.

Funny thing is, I love the Keystone.  I’m thankful for it and the rest of the trails in the area.  They provide a generally safe place for people to go be healthy any number of ways.  These people should be allowed to do this without some asshole cyclist going by at 4024, scaring the shit out of little kids and dogs and things.

Cyclists should know better.  Cars buzz by us too close and too fast all the time.  You might think it’s cool to squeeze by a family of six while a group of bikes approaches, but it’s just stupid. 

I have no problem with hammering it down the trail.  Go as fast as you like.  But slow down for kids, animals and old people.  You can speed back up again when the coast is clear.  You’ll be ok.  And if you’re not willing to slow down because you’re pretty sure you’re going to KOT (King of Trail) whatever flat segment of the sidewalk you happen to be on (you’re probably on a few overlapping ones), then first of all, you are incredibly lame, but mostly, you should veer off of the path and straight into the creek to drown.  Who knows?  Maybe your friends will erect a memorial by the spot where you went down to Davy Jones’ freshwater locker.    Maybe on the arms of the cross, it could read simply, “On your leeeeeefffft.  Splash!”  Whatever happens, you can die safe in the knowledge that you’ve made the world a better place (you know – by leaving it).

I’ll be honest.  This new found loathing for the bike population of the Keystone really wouldn’t have come about at all if it weren’t for three separate incidents on 3 consecutive days.  It all started Monday afternoon …

Monday, during my commute home and before taking Abe (Jack was sick) to DEVO mountain bike training an odd thing happened.

Up near Seymour Smith Park, there’s a bridge on the north side of Harrison that crosses the creek that runs alongside the Keystone.  The bridge has a trail (sidewalk) that is narrow, but wide enough (barely) for 2 skilled cyclists riding in opposite directions simultaneously.  Normally though, if someone is on the bridge, people just wait. 

So Monday, I was about halfway across the bridge when I saw an old guy on a comfort bike riding merrily along up the ramp to the bridge.  He was not at the bridge yet.  He looked confused somehow.  I didn’t think anything of it, but I was watching him to see what he would do.  Then he turned away from the bridge and onto the grass.  Then he sort of did a loop and I thought he was going to get back on the trail and go back the way he came from.  Anyway, ok.  I got off the bridge and skillfully made the sharp turn onto the ramp and toward the trail.  At this point, I still didn’t hate you yet.  I was JRA and the world was calm and at peace.  Oh yeah – there was some fuckin’ bird chirping going on, I can tell you.

The old man was wearing shiny shorts like the type elite distance runners wear and tennis shoes.  He was not at all fit for his age.  He was not having an easy time handling his bike.  He was bald, helmetless and shirtless.

As I went by him, he said “Yeah buddy.  You’re welcome.  Shithead!”

The birds stopped chirping.

Ohhhhh!  That’s what you were doing.  You were somehow trying to get out of my way.  You were upset that I was on the bridge or something.  You were skillfully fumbling around in the grass to avoid a head-on collision on the bridge.

And when I rode by at a safe and conscientious speed, you felt you had earned some sort of “Thank you” for your confusing floundering around in the grass.  When I failed to acknowledge all your efforts, you became upset by my lack of gratitude.

First of all, I know I’m welcome.  I can do whatever the fuck I want. If I decide I want to ride back over to you and slap your silly sweating fat skull, I’m welcome.  What are you going to do?  Fall on me?  You uncoordinated dipshit.  Oh and tie your shoelaces before they get caught in your drive train and you fall over on someone.  “Why is my shoe getting so tighhhhhhhh … AAh! Pedal won’t turn!  Crash!”

I imagine you saw a skinny punk in his fancy getup and thought, “Look at this skinny punk in his fancy getup.  He looks ridiculous.”  And the truth is, maybe I do.  But you know what is without question, more ridiculous?  That’s right.  It’s your stupid fat ass and big bare flabby gut on a comfort bike trying to navigate the perilous grass just off the concrete of the trail.  Did I mention slapping your stupid fat skull?

I was taken by complete surprise by what this person said.  I considered confronting him about it, but had 2 obvious issues with that idea.  First, I was in a hurry.  And secondly, who gives a shit?  After a few moments, I had resigned to let it go.  It was just one of those things.  A crazy person on the trail.  Rare, right?  Right?

Then on Tuesday’s home commute …

So there’s a pretty decent tail wind.  I’m spinning at a cadence of about 115, working on the magnificent stroke, nice and easy like, going around 3724.  I’m approaching a mountain bike (this is on the keystone, remember).  I see that the hair of the rider is completely white.  It is obviously a fit rider.  He is going probably 25-30.

He has mirrors on his handlebars.  When I say “on your left”, I see him check his rear view mirror and here’s what I couldn’t believe.  As I got my front wheel about even with his back wheel, this fucking douchebag starts veering to the left to literally “block” me.  Also, he starts speeding up.

At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on.  Much like Monday, here was some old guy who had some shit in his brain making him an idiot.  My initial momentum carried me even with “fucking demons to work out on the keystone” who was now giving me about 40 cm of road (trail) to get by him.  I accelerated a little to move on by, but he gunned it like he didn’t want me to.  Like we’re now in some sort of drag race/sprint finish thing.  Then I noticed the reason he was trying to push his bike into mine.  He had equipped his bike with blades like the bad guy’s chariot in Ben-Hur.  He was trying to tear out my spokes so he could win the tournament and earn his Roman citizenship and maybe one day, serve on the senate.  
Keystone Trail, Tuesday Afternoon

Ok that part isn’t true.  But this idiot acted like there was something similar on the line.
Later I realized I should have just stopped pedaling at that point and let him move on, but by the time it registered what was happening, I was already going past him.  I was going roughly 43 by the time he was behind me.  Then.  The guy swung behind me as if to draft.  Yes Gary Fisher, I’ll lead you out for the “Cyclists Announce your Presence” sprint.
This time I did say something.  “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”  I accelerated up to 52, not waiting for an answer.  I looked back and he was struggling all over the road (trail).  I hope he died of a heart attack and his family is sad.  Because he inconvenienced me.  In other words, fuck that guy. 

The bell ringers piss me off too.

Then on Wednesday (swim meet day) and  the reason I am temporarily out of the Furry Wall Ride.  I needed to be at Roanoke Pool by about 5:30.  I did not bike commute that day.  But I was able to ride to the meet and back.  The most convenient route took me back on my old pal the Keystone.  This time to the trailhead near 90th and Fort.  Just getting on the trail, I was a little nervous.  What extreme douchebaggery would I encounter?  It was unknown.  Especially because I am almost never on the trail north of Dodge Street. The sad thing was that after the last 2 days, I was actually expecting some unnecessary behavior.

Once I got to Democracy Park and onto Fort Street for the next “leg” of my commute to the swim meet, I had the shocking realization that there were no weird events.  Nobody tried to have some sort of misplaced pissing contest.  Nobody called me “shithead.”  I had to admit, it was kind of nice.  Ahhh, that's the old Keystone I know and love.  I rode to the pool, watched the meet and rode back without incident.  I was happy that it is possible (though unlikely) to ride the Keystone without witnessing some sort of asinine behavior.  End of story.  It's all Ok again.  I love everyone again.  I'm so very sorry and embarrassed for my outburst.  Maybe I'm just tired or something.  Is that some chirping of birds I hear ...

Then I uploaded my ride to Strava.

I had 5 accomplishments.  What?  Where?  I never went hard anywhere or anything.  What happened?  

Oh hey.  On the stretch of sidewalk (Keystone) from Dodge to Fort and back there are at least 5 "segments."  

I don’t know who is taking their GPS device, registering with Strava, and creating segments on the Keystone.  Actually, it doesn’t matter who it is.  If you are creating segments on any bike trail, you are a big fucking douche.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it was all these guys I see pacelining on the trail each morning.  Oh my god, I hate you guys so much.  You can forget about that apology a minute ago too.  I forgot that in the Strava world, you don't have to be on the keystone at the same time as someone to be a douche.  You can now extend it to 24-7-365.

24 - Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measured in kilometers.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tooer Day Fraunch

I am out of town.  This post was written on Wednesday July 10, 2013.

So I was looking over the stage profiles of each day, deciding which ones I'd probably be watching from here on out.  It goes like this:

Today's Stage:  Individual Time Trial.  Yawn.
Tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday:  2 flat stages.  Yawn.
Saturday:  a couple of cat 3s and several cat 4s.  Maybe.  If I'm really bored.
Sunday (Stage 15):  Mont Ventoux.  Definitely.

Tues and Wed:  a couple of 2s each day.  Probably not.

Thursday:     Oh Thursday.  You are sick.  To me, one of the funniest things Brady said on the bike was when we went out to Louisville one morning and rode up some steep hill.  I've written about it in the past so I'll just source it right here:

But today, I wanted to SHOW Brady that hill. So he thought (wrongly) it would be fun to ride up it. About 1/4 of the way up, he muttered something about getting off his bike and pushing. It was pretty funny. Then when we were coming down on the next block over, he said we should do it again. I said "oh yeah, we should."

I don't think Brady understands sarcasm.

So we went up again.

Afterwards I said "I thought you were joking about going up again."

He said, "C'mon fred, that hill is so preposterous, you can't just go up once." 

 Months and months ago, the tour route planner guys were having a little problem.  It was "Alpe D'huez" year , but the way that France works, this year, the summit finish would be after a ride of merely 122 Km.  At first they didn't think this was a problem.  It sounded plenty long enough.  Until someone reminded the French guys that it worked out to only about 75 miles or so.

"Mon Dieu!  Now what will we do?,"  Panicked French guy number one asked.

"We could make zem ride around in circles at zee top for a while or zomezing,"  stupid French assistant guy offered.

"Idiot," Panicked Frenchman one accompanied his scream with a hard slap to the back of assistant guy's head.

Just zen, a woman cleared her throat.  "How would you describe Alpe D'huez,"  she asked, interrupting the men trying to work.  They were so stunned by her brazenness, they stopped what they were doing to consider her question.

After no answer came from anyone, the woman continued, "Would you say it is ... Preposterous?"

Then they all instantly knew what they were going to do.  Nobody can understand why the French like what they like.  Jerry Lewis is a national hero.  And without exception, Fredcube is their favorite blog.  They can't get enough of that shit.  Many of them have whole passages memorized.  The episode referenced above is one of their favorites.  It is the bedtime story most requested among all the little boys and girls of France.

In France, "preposterous" has come to mean roughly "again"

When 2 riders are going up a hill and one rider says "preposterous,"  it means they are going up it again.

And that's the story of how the race organizers fixed tiny little Stage 18 of this year's tour.  They're going up Alpe D'huez.  Twice.  Sweet.

  So yeah, I will watch that one.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


This morning while I was on my way to work I saw one of those big trucks that has photos of big huge slices of cheesy (literally) pizza all over the back and side panels of the trailer.  There were also labels about the pizza.  I was looking at photos of DiGiorno Pizza.   Under the brand name was their well-known slogan: "It's not delivery, it's DiGiorno!"

They've gotten a ton of mileage out of this one.  They'll never touch the GEICO Caveman or Gecko and nobody will ever catch the Eveready bunny, but they haven't done too crappily.

The premise has been played out enough that it now needs no explanation.  Therefore, I will present one here:

On the TV or radio commercials, there's always some sort of heated argument about how one person, let's call her "Jane" explicitly demanded that under no circumstances should the other person, we'll say his name is "John" order pizza to be delivered.  John, aware of how psychotic Jane is about shit like this, obediently complies.  Unfortunately for him, he buys a DiGiorno pizza.

The idea behind the ad campaign is that store bought frozen pizza sucks ass.  In fact it is so bad, that even nasty old  Dominoes Pizza is a step up.  They've made their millions on the following idea: "Hey, we know our product sucks, but not any worse than Dominoes.  But oh - you have to go to the store and get it yourself.  And cook it.  Probably want to start preheating the oven before you go to the store.  Just Sayin'"

So back at the commercial, while John was wiping the bits of frozen shredded cheese from the kitchen counter, Jane went upstairs to take her crazy pills but once she had gotten there, forgot the reason, so just stared at the wall until the smell of the DiGiorno pizza registered in her twisted brain that that sonofabitch John ignored her admonition and ordered take-out anyway.  

Now she's seeing red, she'll tell you.  No frozen pizza smells that mediocre.  And you know what?  It's not just about the pizza, John.  It's everything.  The way you won't put the driver's seat back to her spot when you're done with the car.  The way you throw apple cores in the trash without wrapping them in tin foil.  Why the fuck can't you just do one simple thing the way she asks.  She doesn't really care if it's delivery or not, she just wants a little control in her life.  Looking down at her hand, she wonders how it came to be that she is holding a hairbrush.  She shrugs and drops the brush as her vision blurs to the point that she has to press her palms into her temples until the rage subsides enough for her to go give John a piece of her broken mind.

Jane stands at the bottom of the stairs facing the kitchen.  Now the scent of John's disregard for her feelings is so strong, she has to place a hand against the banister for support.  Her dingy grey sweat-stained housecoat is soaked around her neckline.  Her eyes are red with tears and fury.  "John," she calls out, barely more than a squeaky whisper.

"Almost done hon ...," John walks out of the kitchen wiping his hands on one of the
 good towels, causing Jane to sigh loudly and close her eyes. 

"Oh no.  Jane, you're,"  John is shocked at Jane's sorry state.  He is confused for a moment.  Think John.  What could have brought about this current episode?  What did Jane say to him?  Nothing.  Just "Don't order delivery!"  Wait a minute.  John recalls the warning in the small print on the DiGiorno  box.  He had gotten a chuckle out of it, thinking it was a rather tasteless, but very funny joke.

Warning:  DiGiorno's Pizza is better than average.  It is in fact so much better, that it could easily be mistaken for delivery.  If you are anywhere near crazy people, forewarn them or we at DiGiorno cannot be held responsible for your murder.  Seriously.

"Wait, is this about the ..." John begins.

"Did you somehow think I wouldn't know?  Just tell me why John,"  Jane walks toward him, clenched fists.

John holds up his hands to block her, "Wait baby,  It's not delivery, it's DiG ... Ach,  Ach, achrno-o-o"

While John was trying to explain, Jane pulled a small paring knife from her housecoat and plunged it deep into the center of John's Larynx.  "How's that for delivery, asshole!"  Jane screams again and again as she hacks into John's throat for a full minute, jets of his warm sticky blood covering her face and housecoat.

Moments later, breathless and confused, Jane notes a different smell from the kitchen.  From her vantage point atop the lifeless body of her beloved is the unmistakable odor of burning pizza.

Jane is simultaneously relieved and a little distressed to learn that John really had obeyed her.  "Wake up, Johnny.  It's ok.  I know you truly do love me!"  She shakes at his shoulders, but only succeeds in prising out a little more blood from the torn flesh that was her only true love.

Then big bold friendly letters appear on the screen and a nice man's voice says, "It's not Delivery.  It's DiGiorno."

And what kind of a name is DiGiorno, anyway?  I mean, yeah, I get it. It sounds kind of Italian.  But I don't think gorditos or chalupas are real things even though they do sound kind of Mexican.

I don't know anybody named "DiGiorno."  That's not to say that I know all Italian names or anything.  In fact, If I met a Digiorno, I imagine it would go like this:

Anthony DiGiorno:  Anthony DiGiorno.  Nice to meet you.

Me: Fred Cube. Nice to meet you, Tony.

Anthony DiGiorno:  Anthony.

Me: Sorry. Anthony.  And did you say your last name is "DiGiorno?"  Like the ...

Anthony shoots me a look so horrifying, I change the subject.

Me:  So that is an actual I-talian name then.  I've always wondered.

Anthony DiGiorno: It's pronounced "Italian", not "I-talian." And it's Sicilian.

Me:  Check please.

Then in my head, I play the entire scene from 'True Romance' where Dennis Hopper explains  Sicilian Ancestry to Christopher Walken.  Then for some reason the phrases, "Sleeps with the fishes" and  "Colombian Necktie" pop into my brain.  And by the way - The Colombian Necktie always seemed like a lot of trouble to go through just to "send a message."

Boss:  We need to send them a message ...

Henchman: You want I should give him a Colombian necktie, boss?

Boss:  How about you just IM them.

Henchman:  Good idea, boss.

And Jane?  Well she's much better now.  In fact she's gotten a job.  Having the distraction of employment has helped keep the demons at bay.  She now drives a truck for DiGiorno.  In fact, it was her driving the one I saw this morning.  She was on her way to Hy-Vee.  When she got to the dock,  her new boyfriend and dock supervisor, Jason excitedly bounded over to greet her.  "Jane!  You're here already!?! Sweet.  You have got to be the best DiGiorno pizza delivery driver we've ever had!"

Jane could smell a burning she didn't understand as she reached into the side pocket of her denim jacket.  She gripped the handle of her old friend and thrust it at Jason's neck.  But Jason was quick.  He jumped back and her swipe went through the air harmlessly.  Jason and all the dock workers started laughing as Jane stood, disoriented.  Looking down, she understood.  She had just attempted to kill Jason with a hairbrush.

Then Shim, one of the dock workers said, "Man Jason.  Your girlfriend is literally one crazy bitch!"

Which made everybody, including Jane lose control laughing hysterically.  Jane reliving the absurdity of what she had just tried to do, waving the hairbrush around in mock threat to all the laughing dock workers.  "It works a helluva lot better with a paring knife.  I can tell you!"
More laughter.
Then a few feet away, leaning against a stack of palettes, a sad looking little ghost John slumped and turned away from the revelry to walk the earth alone forever.