Thursday, December 17, 2015

The homy

This post is called "The Homy."  There's no way a post called "The Homy" can live up to its title.  Maybe someday, I'll write a post called "The Homy" that is actually about the legendary "Homy Inn."

But not tonight.  Tonight I just went to the Homy to meet up with a bunch of friends/teammates and drink some beer and champagne and stuff.

Well the whole thing went on a little late and then I had to go buy some scotch tape and Sharpies.

I was going to write/rant about something that's been bugging me, but I need to go to bed.  I don't want to rush the planned post.  I want to really get the point across.

I won't say what it's about, but I will say - It's something related to bikes and it's horrible.  No, it's not Fat Bikes.  Yes, they are completely stupid, but I've already talked about that.

So this new gripe is for next week.

This week.  Well this week I'm going to break a rule of mine.  I normally refuse to discuss politics.  It's boring and stupid.  But with the way the Republican race is heating up, I can no longer keep quiet.

Whether you're a Trump man or an apostle of "The Rube" please read carefully what I have to say.  I know that the chance of me changing anyone's opinion is next to nothing.  But this is important. I have to try.  Don't make me say anything about the "precipice" we're on.  Just read it with an open mind. Please.

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Thanks for reading and I hope you now understand just how passionate I am about this thing.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bob the car wash manager guy

Bob lives in Coralville Iowa.  Five months ago, he moved there from Maine.  He manages a Laser Wash Plus.  Laser Wash Plus is a place to wash your car.  It has 8 bays with power washers.

I met Bob last Saturday afternoon.  I was waiting for a bay to open up.  There was a line of cars waiting at each of the open bays.  I went to the sixth one from left to right and waited.  There was a guy washing his Mercedes in that one and a couple of cyclists waiting to wash Jingle cross off their bikes behind Mr Mercedes.  All the other bays already had at least 2 cars waiting.  Except for bay 4, which was "Out of Order"

Five of the Se7en working bays were being used to wash bikes.  Everybody washing the bikes was still in their muddy skinsuits.

I was also there to wash my bikes.  But I was in regular clothes.  I had gone to the hotel and showered before going to the car wash.

So Bob was walking around, marveling at the spectacle that was the aftermath of Jingle Cross Saturday.  He spotted me and said, "There's some sort of bike thing going on today."

I thought he was joking.

"Never seen anything like it.  I have to keep cleaning up all the grass. It clogs up the drain.  It's a real mess.  I don't mind though.  Pays the same."

"Yeah - it's some muddy races down yonder a speck," I said trying to blend in.  I had no idea what I was doing.

"Oh you know about it?" - Now I was sure he was goofing with me.

"Yeah I raced today."

Then Bob looked up to see my bikes on the rack behind my car.  The realization hit him.  Hard.

"But you're so ... clean."  He really said this.

"Yeah - unlike these guys, my bikes are a lower priority to me."

Bob seemed to think that was funny.  I knew he was a little bothered by "cleaning up the grass."  He said he wasn't. It was all in a day's work and so on, but I know I would be annoyed by it.  So I instinctively separated myself from the others, even though I was about to leave as much grass as the rest of them.

"Tell you what", he said, "Do you need soap?"

"No.  Just water."

"Bay 4 is closed off because there's no soap. Otherwise it works fine. Drive around over there and I'll get you in."

It always helps to know somebody.  Bob did me a solid and I won't forget it.

Maybe next time I'm in Coralville, I'll mow his lawn or something.  Then clean the mower at the car wash.  It could happen.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Little Yellow Christmas Light Who Lost his Way

So today is Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely dinner over at somebody's house.  It was nice.

Anymore, I'm beginning to think the traditional TG (as the kids will soon be calling it) dinner is falling out of favor.  It's such a huge pain to produce a dinner that is nobody's favorite.

Tacos.  Let's be real.  Tacos are really what everybody wants.  Tacos are tasty and easy to prepare.

Cheeseburgers (sorry KM) are also easy to prepare and so universally loved. Much more so than turkey.

Anyway - I had the day off from work today. The boys were out of school.  Jill was relatively unbusy so we spent all day before the TG dinner cleaning up the house.  It's needed it for a long time.

I went to the living room to start.  Jack was on the couch reading something on his iPad.  I asked him what he was doing. He told me he was done with the living room.  He was just waiting for Abe to vacuum.

Jack did not understand what it means to "clean the living room."  I think he thought it meant "Take that plate into the kitchen."

So Jack, Abe and I worked on the living room for a few hours.  It meant moving all of the furniture, throwing away any trash and cleaning and stuff.

The boys were not into it at first, but after finding a few lost treasures, they caught the fever.

After I moved the "Entertainment Center" and swept behind it, I found a single yellow Christmas tree light bulb.

It must have fallen behind there when we were taking the tree down last January.  I picked it up and showed it to Abe and Jack.  We considered its lonely existence for the last year.  It had been forgotten.  Abandoned.  Never to be reunited with its fellow bulbs on the glorious colorful bright strand.  It must have been a very sad and frightened little light bulb indeed.

If I hadn't pulled out that furniture, the little bulb may have been doomed to darkness forever.  But as luck would have it, the bulb was discovered on the last possible day.  One day before the Christmas tree goes up.  Finally to be reunited with all of his beautiful bright friends.

"What should we do with it?" I asked Abe.

"Just throw it away.  We've got plenty more." Said Abe.

And that's exactly what I did.  Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Because Science

I read an article the other day.  It was kind of a scientific journal sort of thing.  Normally, I get bored with these in a hurry.  They are usually too technical for me so I don't get anything out of them.

This one was different.  Much different.  Not only did I understand most of the words, there is a practical application to the scientifically proven facts in this baby.

The title of the article is 9 Scientific Ways to be Hotter.  Right away I can hear you saying "You? Hotter?"

Well I have recently applied some of the things I learned from this article and I am happy to report that I am getting lots of long, hard looks from people who never would have given me a glance before.

This is not surprising because, science.

Heck, I haven't even bothered to apply all 9.  Just the 4 or 5 convenient ones.  That's probably enough hotness for me anyway.

I linked the article above but I'll just write down the list here and mention the ones I'm going with.

1) Keep Your Chin Up

2) Keep your Eyes Open

3) Smile (Or Don't!)

4) Wear Red

5) Adrenaline

6) Androgyny

7) Don't Overdo the Scents

8) White Teeth

9) Eat Fruits and Vegetables

10) Red Lips Are Key

11) Ditch the Beard

12) Stick With a Group

13) Make Yourself Look V-Shaped

14) Get a Dog

15) Men Love Fertile Ladies

16) Average Can Be Better

17) Wear Some Shades

18) Collar Stays

So that is the scientific list of 9 ways you can make yourself hotter.

Number 3 clarifies that if you're a woman, you should smile.  But some scientific survey said women like brooding men more.

Number 9 "Eat Fruits and Vegetables" was obviously just stuck in there by the scientist's mother.  All the rest (after 9) are apparently bonus ways, so I stayed away from them.

For my new found attractiveness, I decided that from now on, I will keep my chin up and my eyes open.  I will brood and show off my white teeth.

That should be good enough.

The result?

Hello Ladies!
Science wins again.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

a quandary

I should just remain silent because I'm not posting tonight.  But I don't want my fans to worry.  I'll catch up with you soon.  Everything is fine.  Don't worry.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Thursday Night Extra: Mind your Camera

My wife is a real estate agent.  She helps people buy and sell their homes.  That's kind of the point.

What she's really good at though is making houses look good so they are ready to sell at the best price.  It is a ton of hard work to get a house ready.  But it is worth it.

The only problem is by the time you get your house all fixed up, it looks so good you wonder if you really want to move.

Jill's been working with this couple a lot lately to help them sell their house.  

The couple has done a lot of the work and after months or years, they're finally ready to sell.

The transformation is amazing.

I can't even believe it's the same house.  

Now that the house is going on the market, Jill went over to take a bunch of photos for the listing.

At some point she put her camera down.  It wasn't until later she found out why you should never ever leave your camera unattended.

Ready to Race!

Maybe, someday. Not this weekend, of course.

The title and first line of this blog is a tribute to (ripoff of) Steve Martin.  On one of his albums he tells the audience "You guys are gonna be on a record!"

They all cheer and he says, "Maybe.  Someday.  Not mine of course."

So yeah - I stole an idea from Steve Martin.

The thing is, I don't have any original thoughts. I've thought them all up. I'm spent, so I have to borrow from others.  I put a lot of hard work in to produce a mediocre product so if you don't like it ...

Well Excu-u-use Me!!!

Too obvious?

Anyway - For some reason, I'm really excited about this weekend's cross races.

I am not sure why.

Maybe it's because I haven't raced since Pioneers Park back like 3 weeks ago?  I think that's right.

I've certainly lost a little fitness since then.  I don't figure to do too well, but I'm going to try.

The weather looks all nice and mild.  Hooligan Hill is ready.  There is some horrible sand pit (I'm guessing) they are calling "Sandtooine"

Normally, I'd be pretty pissed off about a sand pit, but after the mud pit at Cunningham Cross, I'm willing to give it a go.

I think part of my excitement is that my cornering is better than ever right now.  My remounts are coming along nicely (will probably still stutter step in race conditions).  I have a goal for this race.  One remount without a stutter step.

I think I can do it.

You know, a lot of time when I'm on a ride, people ride up next to me and they say "Cube, how can you be so fucking funny?"

"Well I'll tell you.  Before I get on my bike, I put a slice of bologna in each shoe.  That way, when I clip in and start pedaling, I feel funny.

Sorry - another Steve Martin joke.

Ok - We're about out of time.  Blogging sucks.  If it doesn't start getting fun again, I'm going to quit.  I don't want to quit, but I never seem to want to do it either.  So there's that. Dick.

Ok - writing "Dick" was kind of fun.  I have to go away now and think about why.

Good night or morning or what have ya.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Reminiscing with Shim

Gara e 1935, bicikleta vintage por te shpejta!
Gara e 1935, bicikleta vintage por te shpejta!
Posted by Eco Bicycle on Thursday, 29 October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Swing Thought

Back in the early 2000's, I gave up cycling for golf.  I love golf.  But I don't do it anymore.  I like cycling almost as much as golf.  But it has way more physical and mental benefits.

So for the foreseeable future, I'm a cyclist. Again.

This round of cycling has been about diversity.  I used to ride exclusively road, but when I started back up a couple of years ago, I added single track "Mountain Biking" and Cross racing.

Actually, I started in the late fall of 2012.  I decided at that time to start riding in the winter.  That meant using my cross bike.  Yeah, my cross bike.  It was in sorry shape.  It had been hanging in the garage for years.  The chain was rusted stiff. Whenever I walked by it, it would squeak "Oil can" at me.

Getting it all dusted and cleaned off paved the way for the other cycling disciplines.  I rode tranquility and Swanson with the cross bike until I got the 29er.

The 29er made all the other trails more enjoyable.

So even though I think of myself as a road rider, I actually enjoy both mountain biking and especially cross more than road "racing."

I think a fun spirited road ride will always be my favorite, but I'm not much of a fan of races on a road bike.

Road racing is scary to me.  Well, just crits.  But that's most of the road races around here.

And time trials.  The worst.

I think Mountain bike (single track) races are kind of fun, mostly because of the ride itself.  Plus there's the whole "conquering your fear" thing.  I suppose I could apply that to crits, but crits have tremendous crashes at high speeds.  Mostly it's the handling skill I like learning while riding the 29er.

But Cross.  That's just a big sufferfest of fun.  It's always a party atmosphere.  The cheering, heckling, beer handups, stinging ass slaps.  That's as much fun as I've ever had on a bike.

And I'm getting better.  Slowly but surely.

My bike is heavy old steel.  It is not yet the main thing slowing me down.  Not yet ...

I can corner a little braver now.  I can pedal a little faster over bumpy, grassy land.  I can climb steep hills with better balance, etc.

But there's one thing I really struggle with.  It is the toughest thing about cross as far as I'm concerned.

Back when I was a golfer, when I was not practicing my swing, I was meditating on it. I took lessons. Everybody recommends lessons.  The pro can easily correct faults with your swing.  He gives you a new way to think about what you are doing.  He gives you drills to help.

When you are trying to learn the swing, you may have 5 or 6 things going through your mind about how to swing.

Eventually, you will hopefully get that down to one thought.  Then it's not a thought.  I believe it's a trigger at that point.

I learned some important things from golf that I apply to cycling. I have become a better cyclist in the last couple of years than I ever had been before.  The main thing I learned is relaxed muscles move faster than tensed ones.

Of course you have to use muscle to ride fast, but you need to learn to use as little as possible to get the job done.  To be efficient.

I saw a great demonstration of this principle once.  It was a golf video, but it applies.  The instructor showed what it looks like to run with all of your leg muscles clenched at once.  It was a comical, stiff legged hobble, but it illustrated the point.

When I'm climbing well, I'm thinking of relaxing my legs as much as possible.

In golf, my instructor wanted me to get all of my thinking done before I addressed the ball.  Once I set up, I was supposed to just swing.

Some thoughts seemed to help for a while - then they would get stale.  I'd pick another that would be good for a time then -- suck.

These days, I spend about as much time trying to remount my bike (cyclocross) as I used to spend trying to get my swing right.

Every once in a while, I would effortlessly hit that straight 250 yard drive.  No idea where it came from or how to repeat it.

A week ago, I was at Super Secret cross practice (Monday or Tuesday).  Lucas was the only other person there.  I mentioned that I was trying to figure out how to get back on the bike.

He gave me a fantastic swing thought.

About 90% of the time, I stutter step or land so hard on the seat, I'm afraid I'm going to pinch flat or break a spoke.  But sometimes I land so perfectly. So smooth.  Sometimes my feet just attach to the pedals immediately after the landing.  Sometimes.

I've been learning that smoothness in all of the motion helps.

Going only as fast as I can handle helps too.  If I try to go from anything more than a about 5 mph right now -- stutter step.

But I'm getting faster. Little by little.

The problem with swing thoughts in golf and remounting is that you are thinking about what to do.  Not doing.  The thought actually gets in the way once the correct feel is established.

As I've had a few more successful remounts lately, I've noticed they all feel pretty much the same. The more I do this, the more it's about feel and the less it's about thinking.

That's the big problem with trying to explain this to someone.  If you know how to do it, you probably never think about how you do it.  It's all feel.

That's what makes good instruction so valuable.  It's coming from someone who not only knows - but can put it into word form so the student can have a starting point.

When I told Lucas what I was doing, he said "Have you consulted the internet?"

"Not this year," I told him.

He kind of contemplated it for a while and went through the motions real slow, thinking to himself, doing sort of a remount from basically a standing position.

He came back and said to me, "I've heard if you think of sliding your thigh onto the saddle, that's a good place to start."

"I'l give it a try"

Then he went to do a lap or 10.

So far, his suggestion has been the best I've heard.  I've been practicing and it's coming along.  I have only landed on the back wheel twice!

I haven't racked myself at all this year!

Thanks Lucas.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Dead Lay in Pools of Maroon Below

Last night (Sunday) at about 7:30 the doorbell rang.

Since it was 7:30, I was wearing a bathrobe.  Since I'm 50, I was also wearing black socks.  Someday, you'll understand.

Since it's late October, it was completely dark outside.

I couldn't see who was out there so I turned on the porch light.  

It was a tall thin man with a thick dark beard.  He was wearing a fashionable snug fitting sport jacket and slacks.

I had never seen this man before.  He brought to mind a young Gundersen (Hell On Wheels) or that bad guy from "Something Wicked This Way Comes"

I just got into town

We have a problem.

I opened the door a little and leaned out to hear what the mysterious stranger had to say.  I felt vulnerable in my bathrobe and black socks.  I just looked at the man and waited for him to speak.

He looked around.  He was visibly shaken. "We have a problem," he started.

To the best of my recollection, this is the order of my thoughts:

1) Is this some kind of religious freak?

2) What horrible thing has happened to this person that he'd knock on a complete stranger's door for help?

3) He must be extremely desperate.

4) He's going to pull a gun out of his pocket and shoot me.

I realize the last one is kind of silly, but I was very confused.  Then the man said, "I just got into town."

Well that didn't help.  Here's how my theory at that moment went:

So this out of towner was looking for his grandma's house or something and he got lost.  He decided to ask for help - but he has a problem. He said so.  So maybe there's some sort of emergency and he needs to get somewhere and he doesn't know where it is.

So I repeated what he said.  It's something I do a lot when I don't quite know how to respond to something I've heard. It's a stall tactic.  

"You just got into town."


Then a short young woman ran from the driveway to the man's side.  She said to the man, "I'll explain it."

You know how women do that thing?  That "Let me handle it" thing when they think you are going to fuck it all up?  That thing where you've decided you're finally going to take a stand. You tell your woman all about how tough you're going to be.  What you're going to say. 

You think you sound pretty good.  You're pretty sure you're impressing the woman.  

You're not.  They know you.  You are actually just overreacting to some relatively minor incident. You think you can go in bullying and gun blazing because your target has on nothing but a bathrobe and black socks.  But then the woman comes to "explain."

Well - that's what this woman was doing.  It was the first thing from the time I opened the door that I understood.

Well that was emasculating, I thought.  Up until that point, I did not realize this guy had a bone to pick and it was with me.  

This whole time I'd been standing there, this guy had been "confronting" me and I had no idea.  Not until this short woman said "I'll explain" to her hero.

I chuckled inwardly.  We were now brothers, this stranger and I.  I've been put in my place a million times like that.  His journey is just beginning.

Anyway - I looked to the woman for this explanation, but she was just looking down at her Android, scrolling through photos. Oops.  Maybe she should have had the photo ready before she went after Jebediah's spotlight.  I guess she's also got something to learn. Amateurs!

While she was looking for the photo, I noticed the huge black GMC Pickup truck parked in my driveway. It was too dark to get the exact model, but I'm pretty sure it was the GMC Compensator.

That's when Jack walked up from behind me to see who was at the door.

I didn't know Jack was behind me but when the man saw Jack, he said to him, "You might as well stay right there.  You know what this is about, don't you?"

Then Jack started talking, "Well I think I might."

Back the truck up!  What the hell is going on?  So this guy knows Jack and Jack knows who this guy is.

The woman was still scrolling through photos.

Time to edit my confusion story with this new information.

Jack was doing something he shouldn't be doing in somebody's yard and the short woman got a photo of it. Presumably, she is much faster taking the photos than retrieving them.

The man continued to address Jack, "Maybe you should tell your dad what's going on.  Then we'll all know. I think he's pretty confused."

Hold on there, Abraham Lincoln, just because I'm standing here in my socks and bathrobe, my helmet hair all over the place like some kind of Doc Brown ...

What's going on Marty Jack?

"I work my ass off to have nice things," continued the guy on my porch who looked like he was missing out on a barn raising somewhere ...

Then the woman showed me the photo she had been looking for.  It was a couple of pieces of lime green gum stuck to the tailgate of a huge black GMC Compensator.

Jack doesn't chew gum.

"Also there was gum on my driveway!"  Said the tall dark man on the porch.  Really.  He did,  He complained to me about gum on his driveway.  He parked his big huge truck in my driveway to complain about gum on his.

"Oh yeah ... Where's the photographic evidence of the gum on the driveway?"  I thought to myself.

At this point, I was no longer concerned.  I knew jack had nothing to do with this guy's problem and even if he did, they had pictures of the gum on the truck. Not someone putting it there.

I'm still not sure why the gum on the driveway was mentioned.

"Jack," I said, "If you know anything about this, please tell us.  This is expensive."

I only said that because the guy was so upset.  It's gum on a truck.  I don't know.  I wouldn't like it if someone put gum on my car.  I wouldn't like it at all.

And if I knew who did it, I might let their parents know.  But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't take pictures of it. Oh yeah - or care too much.

But then my car is just a car. Not an extension of my manhood.  Nobody wants gum stuck to an extension of their manhood.  Period.

So when I said to Jack, "This is expensive," The NBA Hipster said, "That's an understatement."

First of all, no it isn't.  You park your truck that you wish was your penis in my driveway and correct my English?  Geez.  Now I want to put gum on your driveway.

Understatement.  Was I supposed to say "Really really expensive?"

So now I was irritated.  I had been listening to "we have a problem" for a few minutes and now he's going to correct me on how I talk to Jack?

Mad or not - I now realize I'm dealing with a douchebag.  There I go again. I mean "a really really douchebag."

All this drama about gum on a truck.  And a driveway.

That's when Jill walked up and said, "Jeremy!  The short woman's name! Come in! What's going on?"

"Oh, hi Jill."

Turns out the mystery man lives across the street from us and 4 or 5 houses to the North.  I didn't know that.  I never go that way.  All the cool people live to the south of us (obviously).

Errrrrt!  He lives just down the street there?  He just got into town?  

Hipsters are lazy (understatement).

I realize that Jeremy is not technically a hipster.  No self-respecting (is there any other kind) hipster would drive such a monstrosity as the GMC Compensator, but since I'm 50 and wearing a bathrobe and black socks, I can get away with the occasional generalization.  He had a beard.  Therefore: hipster.

So - Hipsters are lazy.

If the gum thing happened while you were out of town, then you didn't take your truck out of town.  

Why drive to my house from 4 houses down? Unless you want to show me the gum on your truck.  But no, shorty has photos.

You are just lazy.  You do not work your ass off.  You sir, are a liar!  I am now convinced that you actually put the gum on your truck yourself.  You were chewing but your mouth got tired.  You decided to throw the gum away, but the trash container was far, etc.

Lazy hipster.

So anyway Jill took over.  She went outside and talked to Jeremy and whatsername while I went downstairs to read the twitter or something.

Jeremy recounted the story to Jill.  Apparently he originally suspected the girls that live across the street from him. However, when he went over and asked them about it, they said the boys who did it went over to our house.  Case closed.

By case closed, I mean I figured out why Jeremy works his ass off.  He's a moron.  Work harder, not smarter, eh Jeremy?

So you asked the little feral children across the street from you about the gum.  I bet they were blowing lime green bubbles at you when they told you the boys down the street did it.

I later found out that one of the kids came to his house a couple of weeks back and told him she was collecting for a school fundraiser.  He gave her $20.

She wasn't.  She does that to all the new neighbors.


This whole thing happened about 24 hours ago so I've had time to consider better ways for Jeremy to open up a dialog with me.  Here's just one example.  Enjoy:

"Hi, I'm Jeremy.  I live in that house down there.  I know Jill real well.  May I come in ..."

To which, I'd cordially reply, "No way! Go back to hell you bloodsucking fiend!" as I produce a mallet and wooden stake from within my bathrobe and plunge the stake deep into the monster's black heart.

Readers of this blog will understand. I didn't get this far by inviting vampires (vampyres) into my home.

I gotta say - it's nice not getting all torn to bits at the end.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


It looks like tonight's post will not be published until tomorrow or Saturday.  For some reason, it is really loud and interrupty in here tonight.  Concentration is at an all time low.

The funny thing is I started writing it on Tuesday.  If it quiets down in here, I may yet publish tonight, but don't count on it ...

Thursday, October 15, 2015


This is my brother's story.  It is not his telling of it.  It is my telling of it.  So if I say "I" I'm talking about me.

I went to Saunders elementary school.  It was k-6.  On the first floor there was a plaque on the wall.  It was an honor roll.  The name "Henry Fonda" was on that plaque.  There were about 12 names total on the plaque - so either it was not kept up-to-date or it was really tough to get on that honor role.

So if that was the Henry Fonda, he went to at least 2 of the 3 schools I went to.  I found a yearbook photo of him at Central one time.

I don't think he went to Lewis and Clark.  They were probably still alive back then, though (not really).

Anyway when I went to Saunders, for some reason they split the fifth grade up between 2 teachers.  One of those teachers also had the fourth grade.  The other had the sixth grade.

Mrs Powers or maybe it was Showers took the fourth and half of fifth.  Mr. Laughlin took the other fifth half and the sixth.

I love the previous two sentences without context.  Completely confusing on their own.  I live for shit like that.

I had Mr. Laughlin for fifth and sixth grade.  My grade was roughly 50-50 male/female ratio.  We were a fairly good class.  Good students in general.  There were enough of us nerds that we were safe from the others.

I don't know how tall Mr. Laughlin was.  He seemed tall to me.  But I was 11.  He was also skinny.  Very skinny.  If I had to guess, I'd put him at 6'1" and 130.  I know that by cyclist standards, that's pretty enviable, but really it's kind of gross.

Anyway, his prominent laryngeal prominence gave him a decidedly Ichabod Crane like presence.

I see nothing wrong with that.  Rawr!

Oh - sorry. Not that Ichabod Crane.
At least my name's not Grafton

So Mr. Laughlin felt pretty comfortable with my class.  We were relatively well-behaved.  He could trust us.  He could tell us anything.

His first name, he let us know, was "Bud."

Ok, whatever.  We knew that.  But what we didn't know was his real first name.  He hated it.  He went by "Bud" because of it.

His real name was "Grafton."

I can hear you saying, "But cube.  Grafton is a fuckin' sweet name.  And Bud is fuckin' lame."

Hey.  It was the 70's.  

Anyway, he told us (the good children of 5th-6th grade 1975-1976) his terrible secret (His real name was Grafton).

At the time, I was thinking it was like Graph paper or something.  It didn't even sound like a name to me.  I understood why he was upset.  We swore to keep his secret.  He was relieved to have been able to unburden himself of his pain or some shit.

My brother is 2 years younger than me.

His class was kind of the "Bad News Bears" of the school.  2 girls.  The rest - rowdy, dirty boys.  Trouble, I tell ya.

No way Mr. Laughlin was going to share his intimate secrets with that class.  He was too busy handing out detentions and assigning chalkboard cleanings.

None of those kids would ever find out Bud's true identity - unless they found out from say, an older brother or something.

My brother had an incredible talent for drawing.  Mostly comic book type of stuff.  

After I told him about "Bud" Laughlin's real name, he realized a secret identity is worthless without a comic book dedicated to that person's adventures.

The comic book my brother made was hilarious.  The artwork was a perfect characterization of Mr. Laughlin.  Skinny.  Thick glasses.  Cape.  Tights slightly sagging at the knees.  Huge Adam's apple.  Flying through the air, etc.

The comic was called "Super Grafton."

As amazing as the cover was, the stories inside were even better.

Back in the 1970's, the prevailing teaching philosophy revolved mostly around cruelty.

The stories in the comic detailed actual classroom events that cast an ironic super-hero light on Mr. Laughlin.  

The thing was brilliant.  All of my brother's classmates couldn't wait to read it.  Especially in class.

When Mr. Laughlin finally got a glimpse of the comic, it was while Steve (my brother) was adding to it.  At first, Mr. Laughlin was impressed by the artwork and asked to see the book.

My brother, gladly handed the book to Mr. Laughlin.  This was his Wonkavator moment.

It took Mr. Laughlin a few seconds to understand what was going on (He hadn't seen the "Super Grafton" cover yet.)

When he realized it was about him, he took the comic to his desk and read the whole thing, sighing from time to time.

He didn't think it was funny.  At all.  He did not laugh once while reading it.

Finally he walked over to my brother and slapped the comic on his desk, "Do you know what your parents would do if I showed this to them?"

"They'd laugh.  I already showed them."

And that's my brother's story.  True story.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Race Report

One year ago tomorrow, I went to the Pearl Jam Concert in Lincoln Ne.  It was a Thursday.  I took the following day off.  It was the best day of the year for me.  A year that included a wonderful vacation with the family to Disney World!

The Tuesday that followed the PJ concert was the worst day I had so far had in seven years at the worst job I've ever had.

The following quote from "Office Space" suddenly became "not funny at all" to me:

 So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.

For many years, I had decided to live with it because the money was good.  That was a mistake.  It was a dead end.  There was nowhere to go.  There was no direction.  There was only darkness.  I had a manager, but I don't know what function he served.  Except maybe throwing his pen down in a rage from time to time for no perceptible reason.  What a dick.

I had tried for years to be assigned to something meaningful.  I like to work.  But nobody seemed to be able to tell me what I should be working on.  If I asked, the standard reply was an angry "You're a senior level person! You figure it out!"

Here's what's immediately ridiculous about that statement:  You're the manager of senior level people and you have no idea what you are supposed to be doing.

Immediately after the worst day I started looking for a new job.  It was late October so everything was basically on hold for a few months.  Then in February/March things started picking up and I got hired at the Mutual.

Five days after I turned in my notice, my Boss's boss acknowledged the fact.  My boss did not speak a word to me or look at me for the whole of my last 2 weeks.  FTG.

Eventually, my boss's boss asked me where I was going.  When I told him, he made a puzzled look.

"By your look, you seem puzzled," said I.

"I am," said he.

"And why might that be," I asked.

"Oh, we just get so many people trying to get jobs from there," He said.

"That must be why we have so many Ex-Mutual employees working here (roughly zero)."

So now I'm 7 months into this gig and I'm still convinced this is easily the best job I've ever had.

Admittedly, it has a lot with the team I'm on.

My manager is truly able to help me understand how to do my job better.  That's a good manager.

So a few weeks ago, I was down in the dome (under it, but the cool kids say "in it") having some lunch. An HR person was escorting a troop of new hires through the area.  I considered yelling "Over here, fish!" and throwing rubbish at them, but then I remembered I wasn't in prison anymore, so I refrained.

Then I saw someone I know in the group.

It was my old Boss's boss's younger brother.  "Hey David!" (not his real name.  His real name is "Matt") "What the hell, man?"

"Yeah I just got hired as a temp worker.  Hopefully it will become permanent."

I think it's permanent now.  Also, I'm happy for him.  He's a good guy.

He told me that his older brother was also trying to get a job at the Mutual.

"Make sure he puts me down as a referral,"  I advised.

Even if he doesn't, I immediately gave my referral to my boss.

"Would he be a good fit with our culture?"  My boss asked.

"Remind me again if our culture values honesty," I'm new.

Served cold.  So true.

The two events of a year ago (Pearl Jam/Worst day) were linked in my mind because they were best and worst so close together.

But without that worst day, I likely would still be there working for the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Instead I will be spending the rest of my days with my buttercup of a job.  I guarantee it.  Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Or could it?

To be continued ...

P.S. I'm just kidding. It's all good™

P.P.S.  Last weekend a bunch of people rode around in circles in the grass.  Some people were faster than others.  This is news to nobody, so there's my race report!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Streaming II

So last week I posted about something.  I don't remember what it was, but I remember not being in the mood to write at all.

Well this week, I'm kind of in the mood to write, so there's that.

Saturday - as I mentioned, Jack and I went to Des Moines for a cyclocross race. My result was just awful.  Depressing really, but understandable.

I'm not too good at cross.  It's the skill part.  I have fairly decent fitness, but I have a long way to go when it comes to learning to make a bike go in anything other than a straight line.

So even though I'm not good at it, If there are some fast straight parts, I can usually gain some ground over what I lose on the twisty parts.

Not last weekend.  There were a couple of straight parts, but seemingly hundreds of tight turns.

Here's the weird part.  This was easily the most fun I've ever had at a race.

Everything about it was just a good time.  Tons of spectators.  A live cover band (that was pretty good) that played all night long.  A bar and grill called "Mullet's" right on the course.

Plus, since I was forced to go slow for all of the turns, the race was not the sufferfest I'm accustomed to with cross races.

So that was fun.

This weekend, the races are at Lake 11 in Omaha.  Lake 11 is still trying to rebrand itself as "Cunningham Lake" #thanksobama, but I bet it's still where teenagers hang out and drink Budweiser, so "Lake 11" is a better name.  Actually, it's not even Lake 11.  It's "Dam Site 11"

If you're really cool, you'll call your buddies up and say, "Hey - we're headed down to dam site 11 to kick back with a brew.  Stop by."

I never got invited to those things.

But anyway - the Saturday and Sunday races are being put on by the new club I belong to.

I used to belong to the Husker Road Club but the GSV guys came in and ... well this is all chronicled somewhere on the fredcube so I won't go into that again.

I bring it up because we have a problem.

Ryan Feagan can't make it to the party.  Ryan Feagan is oftentimes the M.C. for bike races of all disciplines around the area.  And boy is he good at it.  I always enjoy listening to the way he announces races.  He's funny and knowledgeable.  He fills the air with interesting information about all things related to the race or the racers.

He's been doing it for quite some time and has really polished his style over the years.

So the team has been looking for somebody to talk into a microphone during the races.

There have been emails flying back and forth but so far - nothing.

Then last night, David Cleasby jokingly volunteered me.  Then Michelle Cleasby jokingly seconded the motion.

There are 2 things I hate more than most others in the world.

The first one is dancing.

I know there are about 2 or 3 people who read this blog.  If you are reading this, I am looking right at you.  This is your big chance.  You could be the next Ryan Feagan (not actually possible).

All you have to do is show up on Saturday and Sunday and whatever thought comes to your brain, speak it into the microphone.  Simple.

You're welcome.

P.S. I'm not fucking doing it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Free Streaming!

Well once again, I'm in no mood to write.  But unfortunately for you, I'm going to do it anyway.  I have nothing in particular I want to say.  I'll just blab on about whatever comes to mind.  Maybe that's the key to excellent writing.  Just kidding.  No, really.

So here's a short list of things I considered writing about tonight (if you are not on this list, it doesn't mean I don't love you as a topic, just that you are too important for me to screw over):

1) The story I alluded to last week that is actually my brother's.
2) Why highly intelligent technical people often have a hard time getting laid (Hint:  They are dicks).
3) Why they eventually land the hotties (Hint: they make lots of money and the hotties aren't getting any younger, ya know).
4) Some bike shit about me me me.
5) My lists always go to 5.
6) Well, usually.

The bike shit part would be about how I'm kind of excited to be going to Des Moines this weekend for the Oakley Nightcap cross races.  Jack and I will race Saturday night. We are not racing Sunday, but I think we'll stay overnight anyway and head back early in the morning.

Yeah - not much to talk about there.

Well hello there, memory.  Here's something I haven't thought about since it happened some 35 years ago. Just in time too.  Whew:

One time when I was about 14 or so, some old people came to visit us. I don't know who they were.  I think they may have somehow been related to us.  It seems to me that there were about 6 of them.  They were all deaf.  I think it might be rude to call people "deaf" now.  It's too bad.  I don't mean anything by it.  I just mean "you can't hear." It's not a judgment.  It's a word for the thing.

Maybe "deaf" isn't offensive.  I only think it might be because I hear people say "hearing impaired,"  which to me doesn't even describe deaf. It describes "mostly deaf."

Plus, the term (hearing impaired) has more than one word and isn't as precise as the word it supposedly replaces. But don't let a deaf person hear you say that.  I've made that mistake, boy.

"What did you say to me?  Look at me and say that!  C'mon.  Say it to my face," and so on.

So these 6 old deaf people came to our house.  While we all stood at the front room watching their arrival, we marveled that they could drive cars.  They used sign language to communicate, so we thought that the driver had to be an extra good "knee driver."

One thing I wondered was how the old "Who farted" thing worked in a carload of deaf people.

Begin digression: 
One time during that same year, this deaf girl started going to our school.  A classmate of mine, Harry Dinnel asked me, "Does she have to use that braille shit or something?"

I said, "No Harry.  That's for visually impaired people."

"Visua...?"  Harry questioned.

"Mostly blind," I explained.
End Digression.
So when the old deaf people came in, it was a combination of sign language, shouting and writing questions/answers down on a pad of paper.

One of the old women asked me (via note) what grade I was in.  I was in 8th grade, so I held up 8 fingers.  She kind of nodded and smiled.  Then she rose a hand and made a sign that looked like she was going to flick me on the forehead with her middle finger.

Back then, I was a huge boxing fan, so I did what boxers are always instructed to do.  "Protect yourself at all times."  This is an important rule.  Getting hit by a boxer's punch while you don't expect it is potentially lethal.  The instruction means you don't just drop your guard because the bell rings.

When I saw this old deaf woman threaten to thump me on the forehead, I let instinct take over.  I struck her on the chin with a mighty right cross that sent her reeling over the ottoman and onto the floor.  I then stood over her like Ali with Liston, daring her to get back up.

Before I knew it, everybody was on me, pulling me away and slapping at me.  My dad came into the room and started beating me.  I was just about to lose consciousness when a sweet old voice called out, "Leave that boy alone.  I can hear!"

Everyone turned their attention from my beating to the old woman recovering on the floor.  She was holding a tooth in her frail bloody old hand and smiling.  Tears of joy mingled with the issue of blood running from her mouth.  "I can hear!" she repeated all loud and everything.  "It's a miracle!"

There was lots of hugging and rejoicing.  You can probably guess what happened next.

The other 5 old people stood in a line while I was forced to punch them in the mouth as hard as possible.  Over and over again.  A lot of blood and teeth were lost.  My knuckles became raw and bloody.  Nobody else got healed, but I was made to punch them long into the night.

I guess it's the lesson so often taught to boys caught smoking.  Make them smoke until they never want it again.

Well I don't know if the smoking thing works, but I can tell you this:  I never want to hit an old deaf person again. So that's a step in the right direction.

P.S.  The first old lady had no intention of thumping me on the forehead.  She was merely trying to show me the ASL sign for "8."  You bend your middle finger and hold it with your thumb.  It kind of looks like your getting ready to thump a mother fucker on the forehead, so my reaction was completely understandable.  Plus, I healed her (because I rock), so ...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I'm not writing tonight

I'm just going to go sit over there and watch some tv before bed.  I'm tired.  I have a story to tell that I think is kind of funny. It is not my story.  It is my brother's.  I would tell it tonight but I think I'd rush it.  I'll write it before Monday.  Ok.  Goodnight.

Actually, I feel kind of guilty about this so I'll leave you with a knock knock joke.

Knock Knock

[ who's there]

A vampire.

A vampire wh... Aaah,  my throat! Even when I grab it with my hand to stop the gushing, the blood still seeps between my fingers because I'm dying.  Oh this is scary.  Sniff.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life is like a box of fruit flies

Last weekend, I was looking for something I had written a few years back.  I didn't find it, but I did have a good time "smelling my own brand" as it were.

I was all, "Damn - that's some funny writing.  And 'dem comments from Brady is pretty funny."

It wasn't like the stuff from the last couple of years.  Much of that is forced and boring.

So I decided, I need to read that old stuff more to try to see what makes it better.  Maybe I can start doing something like that or remember some lessons from the past or some shit.

One thing I noticed is the truthful and heavy use of analogies or metaphors or some shit.

Also, saying "or some shit" more.

Also, "also"

Anywho's - the analogies (or metaphors/similes)  were fresh and pretty, like a young girl from the '50s with lots of makeup on.

As she bounced down the stairs all cheery and stuff, I watched; enchanted by the energetic movement of her big ol' titties under her fuzzy white sweater thing.  Her father stood next to me, pipe clenched between his teeth as we both watched her perky descent.  I was suddenly reminded of my stint with the boy scouts and how each meeting would begin with a flag raising ceremony.  I tried to concentrate on something other than Betty Lou's appeal.  Then I saw the embroidered poodle on her big poofy skirt.  I had to close my eyes and gulp hard as I reminisced about camping in the boy scouts and the tent pitching ceremony.

"What a beautiful corsage!" she was looking at my only protection from unbearable  humiliation.  The boxed flower I had brought for our date and was now using to obscure my shame1

... Or some shit.

So I have decided to try to get back to that kind of "fun writing."  Hopefully it will come.

I don't have anything to talk about this week, though.  In the old days, when I wasn't on a schedule, but still wrote regularly, I would post as inspiration struck.

Today, all I have is fruit flies.  

They're everywhere. Well - they're near the fruit.

I never saw fruit flies much until about 3 or 4 years ago. Now we seem to get a lot of them every late summer.

I've seen regular garden variety house flies my whole life.  It seems like I've always been able snag a house fly out of the air.  My timing is perfect.

But if I think about it, I remember spending hours as a kid out on the front porch, trying to get the timing just right.  Once I figured out that they tend to take off opposite the direction they're facing, I became one lean, mean, fly murdering contraption.  

Then came the finesse to catch and not kill the fly.  That was when the real summer fun began.  A strand of hair made a nice leash for my new pet housefly, "Spot"2

But fruit flies are different.  You can't bag a fruit fly with your silly house fly technique.  

I started out just trying to slap the flies resting on the counter or cupboard or something.  I would smack at housefly speed. And miss. Always.

I bet in the first 2 or 3 years, I didn't kill a single fruit fly with my bare hands.  

The natural conclusion was that I was too slow for fruit flies.  So I sped it up.  Nope.  No matter how fast I went after them - sure that they could not have escaped, I'd move my hand away to find nothing but counter top and swelling, red palm.

Sometime a few weeks ago, I'd decided to try something different.  My fastest slap was not enough, so I slowed it down.  Way down.  A speed slow enough that a house fly would mostly likely be sitting on the back of your hand by the time you hit the counter.

Miraculously, it worked!  My first fair kill!  I realized that the fruit fly must have been using my power against me.  The diminutive fly was just hitching a ride on the air disturbance from my massive swats.

House flies are more massive and so must rely on their own power to get themselves out of the way.  

Once I learned the trick, I began snatching them out of the air.  When they do land on the counter, I typically take them out with just my index finger.

I'm that good.

What I've learned about fruit flies has taught me more about life.

You see,  sometimes the harder you fight, the further you get from your ... oh for Fuck Sake!! It's the gol dern doorbell.  Hang on.

Sound of footfalls recedes.  Front door creaks open.  Cube can be heard saying something like, "Hello?  Is there anyone there?  Ew!!"

Ok, I'm back. Sorry. It was just a bunch of slithering leeches writhing on the porch for some reason.  It was so gross.  But it teaches me about life.  You see ...  
The End.

1) boner.

2) This is a fairly direct ripoff of a Woody Allen joke from his stand-up comedy days in the late '60s.  His parents were poor so they got him an ant for a pet and told him it was a dog.  He called it "spot"

And to prove that everything is now on the internet, I found this thing from Woody Allen that I haven't heard since I listened to it on vinyl in the early '80s:


Thursday, September 03, 2015

A prediction

I've covered this material somewhere in the past, so I'll skim over it here.

In the early 80's I bought a Trek racing bike.  My friend Boomer bought a Bianchi.  

We went on a few rides together until he went to Lincoln for college.  Before he went, I was faster than him.  Afterwords he could drop me at will.

Maybe it was because he smoked Menthols and I smoked just regular non-flavored Winstons.

I hear the Menthols open up your lungs.

Anyway - on one of those rides, he suggested I give his bike a spin.  It was way too small for me but the bike was clearly superior to mine.  Smoother, quieter, Italianer.  

So I decided my next bike would be a Bianchi.  It was the pearly white 1986 Campione D'Italia (CDI, in the bike shop parlance).

I rode that bike off and on for about 15 years.  

Then I went on RAGBRAI with it; saw all the fancy new bikes and got an ultra modern 2002 LeMond Zurich.

Then I decided I wanted to give racing a try. I wanted to join a club.  I didn't really ride that much and I didn't know anybody.  I had no idea where to begin.

So I looked around on the internet thing.  

Online, you could join one of 2 teams. This way, you didn't have to actually talk to anybody.  You could just sign up. Your choices were "Athletic Junction" or "High Gear"

The requirement to be on the High Gear team was to buy a High Gear Jersey.  I don't remember what it was to join Athletic Junction.  Interestingly, Munson and Randell were members of Athletic Junction (L.K.A. Ahamo).  Once I got to know them, I wondered if they joined online.

This was my favorite joke from back then (after they became 'Ahamo').  I had photoshop and made a wonderful image for the team. I don't have the image or photoshop anymore.  But I used paint to make this, so you'd get the idea:

It got a pretty good laugh when I sent it to Munson and Randell. I don't know if they laughed.  But I did.  Pretty hard.

But I've gone off course.  

So I was on High Gear and I raced. Sort of.  I never really trained too much.  

Then I kind of stopped racing but remained on High Gear and it became Trek.  I maintained a membership.  It cost money to join by then.  You had to buy a coupon book or something.  In case you wanted 10% off of Bontrager and Trek stuff.

I suppose it would have been different if I was in shape and raced and things.  But no.

When I Started riding again (November 2012) I didn't want to be affiliated with a club too much.

I always took my bikes to Olympia for service.  It was close and they're good guys.  They always gave me great service and deals.

It was cool.

Andrew once said he'd like to get Husker Road Club going again.  I thought that sounded good, but I'm no recruiter/promoter.  I feel like I barely have time to ride/work/live.

But I didn't care so much.  I joined the Husker Road Club. I was on a team with roughly one member.

Now at the end of my second year as a rider for the Husker Road Club, things are changing.

The Gin Soaked Hoohas from downtown told me they wish to join the team.

I thought that was cool.  There's a certain nostalgia for me with the HRC.

My history with Olympia goes back nearly 30 years.

But no.  The truth is, these guys are bringing their team to Olympia and I'm joining them.

Which is actually better.

I am pretty excited about all they are doing.  I know nothing about this stuff and it's great to see.  I think it will be great for the shop.  I think it will motivate me to race.  I now have a bunch of teammates.  Guys I enjoy riding with.  Also, David Randleman.  

When I joined HRC, one problem was the jerseys.  Same old boring design as ever.

The new team (Omaha Velo) has already designed and ordered new kits.  They're pretty sweet.

Omaha Velo will be putting on a cross race the first weekend of October.  They plan to put on 4 races throughout the year.

Again.  I'm excited to be a part of it.  I will commit to help out as much as possible.  I will train with more purpose because there are other people involved.  People I enjoy being around.  And Randleman.

But ...

I have a concern.  This will be the team's fourth marriage.

Maybe it will be the last.  I hope so, but there seems to be a personality to the team.  It's fidgety.  Maybe the laid back nature of the old shop in North Omaha is the perfect match.  Maybe not.

But here's my prediction.  I'd make it a promise, but it's too early to tell:

No matter how much I enjoy being a part of this (and I think it will be  a lot), if they move on to greener streets some day, I'll just stay at Olympia as long as it's there.

In other words, FTGSVG.

... and sceeeeeeeeeeene!

Disclosure:  I get a kick out of Randleman.  I hate him way less than a lot of people do. So that's something.  Dude dishes it out, but he can take it.  I respect that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I was born to be a ...

I wrote this post two years ago.  I never finished or published it.  I'm not going to finish it now.  I'm just going to publish it for 2 reasons.  The first is I'm tired, it's late, and I'm kind of hooked on the hit Netflix original series "Bloodline"  (Thanks for that, jwait).

The second reason is that it is the words of an excited newbie to mountain bike riding.  The truth is that 2 years later, after a little more experience, the words are more true.  I am sure I believed everything I said at the time I wrote it. Reading it now though just feels like I couldn't have known it back then.  I've learned so much, but the sentiment is unchanged.

I believe everybody should mountain bike because it teaches you real courage. Oh - and it's a fucking blast.

I still have many irrational fears when I go out there.  Most of the time, if I would concentrate on what I'm doing instead of what might happen, things would go much better.

I rode Calvin Crest for the first time last night.  I didn't ride it well.  It was easily the most fun I've ever had riding a bike.  I plan to go out there as much as possible because it is a great gentle place to learn some skills I sorely lack.  It's smooth and flowy with a bunch of high berms and tight turns straight downhill.  It's a beauty.

Anyway - I left the title of the post from two years ago as:

I was born to be a ...
road cyclist, golfer, poker player
Mountain biker

In fact, I now believe everybody was.  Oh great – Cube has found his new thing.

There are so many things that you can do in life where if you could overcome any anxiety, you would perform much better.  With golf, once you've learned the basic swing, there's little else to know.  Becoming a better golfer is about learning to relax and trust your swing.  Of course, this is easier said than done, but it is the person who can abandon caution and anxiety that will golf better.  

Mountain biking is similar.  Once you've learned to ride a bike, you know what to do.  Hesitation or apprehension about what will happen if you fail to execute is about the only thing that causes the failure.

A good ride on the trail is about relaxing and doing what you know to do.  Don't force anything.  Let it all happen.  

Much Like golfing, I’ve put this off for years.  I knew I’d love it once I got into it.  I had seen too many good road cyclists go down what I had considered “The Dark Path” to think I’d be immune.  Also, I’ve known for many years that if I was to take up "off road" riding, I’d become a more capable road rider.  Better handing skills, they say.  Road riding is important for sheer fitness, but it really teaches you nothing in terms of how to really handle a bike. 

I rarely crash on the road, but when I do it is not trivial.

Some of my road crashes would have surely been avoided had I handled the bike differently.
I’ve been riding the “super easy” trails of Tranquility and Swanson lately and wow.  I’ve got a lot to learn.  I’ve gone over my handlebars 2 of the last 3 times out.  The nice thing though is that in both cases, I’ve been lucky enough to land on the nice soft dirt.  I know that sounds funny, but on the first one, as I tumbled onto my back and rolled to my feet, I was thinking I could literally feel the ground give just a little as I hit.  My first thought at the moment my back hit with the ground was, "Hey - that was like landing on a pillow!"  

The street doesn’t do that.  At least not to that extent. 

I’m taking it slow. 

I know that confidence is important.

It’s like with kids.  They might be afraid to try something you know they can do.  Then when they half-heartedly try and fail, they don’t believe they can.

I think of it like this.  Say you knew you could jump 8 feet from a standing start.  No problem.  Now jump 6 feet from one building to another 6 stories up.  The stakes are considerably higher, but you know you can do it if you can successfully put the whole “I might die” thing out of your mind.  
Most of you know this already.

I’m a slow learner.

Mountain Biking or off road riding or trail riding or whatever - is quite possibly the best thing there is in terms of learning to overcome obstacles.  Literally.

Fear does not help in anything you do.  Sure there can be an adrenaline rush that can temporarily increase awareness and strength.  But that is the rare except... "Ding Dong" Hang on.  It's that blasted doorbell and I'm expecting an important package from the FedEx.

"Why hello esteemed presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and The Donald.  Why don't you come right in  and ... OH NO!!! Not again! Ahhh!!! This is terrible.  I would have never guessed you were BOTH vampi... Crunch, snap, bleed, die, etc.

Ok - that last part I wrote just now.  Good times.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's Technical

My first Mountain bike race was last year at Tranquility.  It took me a while to decide what category to race.  I consulted some people and decided I might as well enter as beginner - AKA Category 3.  I came in third place overall about a minute behind the winner.

There were about 30 or so people in the race, so I was pretty happy about that.  My handling skills are getting better, but I have a long way to go.  Last year I was much worse.  My overall fitness was the key.  I was getting passed by everybody going downhill, only to pass them all going up.

Finally, came the longish climb at Tranquility on the south side.  It was long enough for me to get a good lead on everybody (except 2 guys) and stay away for good on any down hills.

When it came time for the podium stuff, I was pretty stoked.  Then I heard Feagan say something like "Third place for 19-29 ..."

Huh?  This is all broken out by age?  Oh dear.

So I "won" the race because I was racing in 50+.  There were 6 people in 50+

I told people (honestly) that I'd rather have the 3rd over the whole field than first over the old guys.  I didn't say this at the race. That might not have sounded too good.

Anyway - standing atop the podium after my first Mtn Bike Race, listening to EOB's jeers of "Sandbagger!" I was pretty happy.

Also, I figured I needed to race Cat 2.

Bike racing quiz:

Q: When is it time to upgrade?
A: When you win.

That was my only MTB race last year.  I raced Tranquility again this year as a Cat 2.  I figured I'd win. I knew there were plenty of people in cat 2 that were way faster than me, but thought not many would be 50+.  I didn't know that Mark Sullivan had recently gotten real fast.  I came in a distant second to him in that race.

Overall, I was somewhere in the middle of the pack.  Several minutes down after 100 minutes of racing.

There was nobody in the race that I couldn't keep up with on the road.  I would have figured to easily drop most of the top five that day (I have on many occasions).

I don't say that to boast.  It's true - but what's important is how far behind I am on skill.

It's disappointing to get your ass handed to you by a fat guy on a bike.  But it indicates that there's something I can do about it. My fitness is fine.  I just need to learn to ride.

The good news is - it's coming along.  As I spend more time on the 29er, I am relearning what a bike can just roll over without stopping.

All last week while I was practicing at Swanson, I was starting to see smoother lines and having fun.

After getting over my fear of "The root of all evil" with Roxzanne's help, I was excited to do the race.

For many years, I have been mostly just nervous about doing any kind of race.

I didn't used to always approach races with dread.  I don't know when that started happening, but it has been keeping me from racing for a long time.

I'm a roadie.  Mostly because that's what I've always done.  But off road riding has improved my road handling skills tremendously.  I am way more confident in turns and over rough patches.

In the whole of my road racing, I've won a couple of time trials and been on the podium two other times. I've never won.

I've "won" 2 of the 3 MTB races I've finished.  I came in 2nd in the other one.

When it's all divided by age like it is, I've got a better shot.

I'm not complaining though.  I just don't think my age is the limiting factor. I'm not slow because I'm old. I'm slow because I suck.  So far.

I'm coming for you, Mark Sullivan ...

Sullivan.  Come out to play-e-ay ...

Anyway - as I've already talked about, the Swanson race was rescheduled to last Sunday.  That coincided with the Fredorate Fredling Fredlenge (Corporate Cycling Challenge).  I was signed up for it by my company. For the first time since I left The U.P.  I didn't have to pay to be registered.

The Swanson MTB race was the State championship. There were 6 50+ cat 2 guys signed up.

Mark Sullivan was not.  He was at the CCC.

Only 3 50+ guys showed up.  I had done a 68 mile ride the day before, so my legs were starting a bit slow.  I passed one of my competitors about 5 minutes in and the other one a couple of minutes later.

Easy street, I figured.  Except there was one other guy who didn't raise his hand when Darrell Webb said, "50+ raise your hands.  This is your competition." The guy was completely grey and looked to be at least 50.  I was worried about him because I didn't see him.  He was somewhere in front of me.  And he might be 50!

Then I heard a loud snapping noise and flipped over my stopped bike.

All my competition went around me as I tried to figure out if there was any damage.

I got past one of them a few minutes later but was gaining very slowly on the other , if at all.

That's when I became an aggressive passer of people.  I'd come up on a guy and yell, "I'm not racing against you and I'm passing on your right" or something.

If they didn't get out of my way, I went around them anyway.  Fuck those guys.

Finally, I caught up to the guy I was looking for.  It was right at the end of the first lap.

The start/finish is a big wide open field.  My competition's name is "Guy German."

Bye Guy!  I used the wide open space to get around Guy and continued my aggressive passing.  I figured if Guy was a bit more sheepish, he'd lose time.

I couldn't tell if I was putting distance between myself and Guy until after the end of the second lap.

I started the third lap and listened.  Listened to hear Feagan announce the name of "Guy German."

I thought maybe I'd missed it, when after more than a minute, I heard it.  Yes!

Now if only ...

Oh looky there!  It's the guy who might be 50+ but didn't raise his hand (turns out he wasn't).

When I went by him, he said "Go get 'em brother!" which proves Mtn biking is way cooler than road biking.

So I was by everybody that mattered for me.

I just needed to ride hard, but within myself and I'd win.  There was just one other little problem.

Some guy in the 40-49 group had been sitting about 5 seconds behind me about for the last 2 laps.

With about a half mile to go, he came up to my back wheel and just sat there.

I know - he's not in my race.  But we're racing now aren't we, Mark (I looked up who finished near me)

He had a couple of shots to pass me but didn't take them.  Whew.  If he'd have gone around me when we were in the woods, I don't know if I'd have been able to keep up with him.

I think he decided to leave it for the wide open sprint finish.  Silly whipper-snapper.

In the end, I'm technically the Nebraska state champion category 2, 50+ mountain bike rider guy.

But yeah, I've got some work to do.