Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Civic Responsibility

Finally able to breath clearly after sinus hell. No rides for me since Sunday because of the snotty stuff compressing my brain against my skull. Anyone who suffers from sinus issues knows what I'm talking about.

Today I had jury duty. Get downtown by 8:30 and sit in a room until 12:00. Go get lunch, return at 1:30 and sit there until 4:30 and then go home. My panel didn't get picked to go up to a court room. Probably would not have been picked to sit on a jury since I am a lawyer, but I know some coworkers have served on a jury and found it interesting. Maybe, maybe not.

In any event, jury duty is a necessary part of living in a democracy. It is guaranteed by the Constitution in both criminal and civil cases. While it seems like a pain in the ass to sit in that room for a whole day, I think that is preferable to having a crotchety old judge decide your case. The whole reason the founding fathers gave us the right to a jury was because they didn't want a privileged few judging the unprivileged rest of us.

Tomorrow I'm going out to Palos to check out the race course. Reports are that the trails are dry and in great condition. I hope to the the loop 4 times and get some experience on the sections I don't know that well.

Monday, August 27, 2007


head cold, sinus infection- knocking me out.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

RATM- Taking the Power Back

Well, the Rage Against the Machine show last night was pretty damn good.

Venue: Alpine Valley. Pavillion seats are good lawn not so much I've seen many, many shows here- the Dead, Phish, The Who, RHCP, Pearl Jam Soundgarden etc. etc. The lawn is lame, you usually cannot see the stage unless you are close. Last night we were far away.

We left Chicago at 5:30, got to the exit for the venue at 7:20, parked in the venue at 9:30. That is not a typo, it took us over 2 hours to go 3 miles. Alpine is known for their shitty traffic control, but this was the suckiest suck that ever did suck. I asked one of the parking staff why they weren't more together because the show had been sold out for weeks and her response was that they didn't expect everyone to arrive at the same time. When I reminded her that it was a 7:00 start on a Friday night, she said "Oh yeah, maybe we should have had more people working"... Duh!

The crowd: Mostly white males in that all so important 18-34 age range drinking too much alcohol. When Zach went off on Bush and co. basically saying hat the whole administration should tried for war crimes and that the "people" are really what the powers that be fear, many in this crowd did not know how to respond to RATM's cry to "Wake Up!"

The show: Here's a (I think) complete setlist:

Bulls on Parade
People of the Sun
Bullet in the Head
Tire Me
Take the Power Back
Guerrilla Radio
Calm Like a Bomb
Sleep Now in the Fire
Wake Up
Encore: Freedom/Township Rebellion
Killing in the Name.

Pretty standard Rage setlist. Very similar to the last show I saw of theirs 7 years ago just before they split up. The whole band was tight. Morello was on fire. Felt like they just picked up where they left off. There was a lot of energy coming from that stage. I really wish this show had been indoors- even in a shed (i.e. big venue) we would have felt the power. Outdoors at a venue like Alpine, the energy just seemed to float up to the sky.

Total playing time with encore was 1:10. Short. But I'm used to jam band sets and am probably a little spoiled in that regard. I can only hope that this reunion spurs them to record some new stuff. The world could use a voice like Rage right now.

Got home at 1:30 a.m. Elora got up at 6:15. No ride for me today as it was wet when I woke up and I had to bea at work by noon.

Friday, August 24, 2007


The show is on. I am going into it without too many expectations. Seems kind of crazy to drive 90 minutes for a 90 minute set (at most) and then 90 minutes back, but my original plan was to take the day off, go up to the Kettle and mountain bike for the day and then go to the show.

Given that it has rained here, over 10" in some areas, no trail riding for me. Probably no riding at ll given what is on the radar right now.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The feel

MWC last night. Around 40 miles in 1:36.

The label "epic" is often applied to a group ride. Sometimes a ride is epic because of the speed or a muskrat. Sometimes because of the seemingly gallons of rain that get dumped upon us by mother nature.

Last night's ride was fast, I had our average at 24.2 mph. My average HR was 168 and my high 182. I knew we were in for it when Josh showed up on his TT bike. He is about the only person I would trust to ride behind while he was in aero position. And he was fast, coming to the front and pulling at 28 - 30, then pulling off to the left. The riders behind him would attack, keep the speed up. Then, Josh would move back to the front and pull, again steady 28-30.

While last night's ride was lickety split, that was not made it epic for me. For me it was the "feel" of the ride. It's hard to explain. I knew that I could trust 25 of the 30 or so wheels out there. At all times I felt safe. Most everyone chased down the gaps and helped catch the attacks, thereby keeping the pace high.

The post ride beer toast was "To the best ride ever." And it may very well have been.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


So, with the Winter Park trip under my belt and feeling like I need a goal...

I registered for this:

This will be my first MTB race ever. Been mountain bike riding since 1989, but never raced. We'll see what happens.

iPod Heavy Rotation

Rage Against the Machine- all 4 albums, in anticipation of the show this weekend at Alpine.

Explosions in the Sky- All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Radiohead- OK Computer

I hate the airshow

The Chicago Airshow was this weekend. I hate the airshow. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Issue #1: It glorifies machines of war. Some of the planes are not warplanes, but 90% of them are. They are built for one purpose - war. Not to fly by for the oohs and ahs of the crowd. If they really want to show these things off I suggest that instead of just flying by, have them blow shit up. Then people would realize the real purpose of these planes.

Issue #2: The show is on Saturday and Sunday, but they practice most of the day on Thursday and Friday. Drives my dog crazy. He ends up cowering in the bath tub.

Issue #3: Scares my 2 year old daughter.

Issue #4: Leaves the lakefront in tatters. It seems like events like this bring out the worst people. Can't they find their way to the ga-billion trash cans the City puts out and put their garbage where it belongs instead of piled up all over the place.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Back to Work


The first day back to work after a vacation is the hardest. Everyone else seems to be moving so much faster than me as they go to work. I feel so slow.

As we travelled back east from CO, the speed limits got slower, the roads got worse and more crowded.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Old news, but I am still catching up...
We are not comfortable managing and running a team right now.

-Lance Armstrong on Tailwind's decision to disband Discovery.

In a word: lame.

LA is set up for life because of cycling. Some of their reasons were legit: doping, ASO v. UCI etc., but none of those are new. If T-Mobile can be "comfortable" to stay in with the revelations regarding their Tour teams, anyone can.

LA had the opportunity to come to the front of the peloton and lead, instead he took his pile of cash and folded. How sad.

Quote source

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The MidWeek, More Rain and Oh Yeah Another Muskrat

Wednesday night, the MidWeek. Some who said they'd be there, punked out without even a text. No matter, the ride goes.

Smaller group than usual. The rain starts just as the speed starts. Sheeeit. Well, the bike needed a good cleaning anyways.

The sweeping left turn after Tower Rd. claims two riders. I heard the slip of a front wheel, the corresponding "Oh, fuck..." and sliding bikes behind me. Both riders are up with elbow and hip scrapes, but bikes appear unscathed and both roll. If you're going to go down, a wet road is a preferable surface to a dry.

The group rolls again and now it pours. Through the rollers on Sheridan, still pouring and as we're coming up one of them I see some chaos directly in front of me. Louie swerves off his line, this guy hits and goes over something. I look down and there is a muskrat in our path. Sheeeeit again. I swerve and hop and looking down I see its buckteeth death face. All the more surreal in the pouring rain.

This one experience with the muskrat is even more disturbing because last season the MWC was disrupted by a muskrat in the fort, taking out two riders, resulting in trips to the ER and extended stays in hospital. Louie was one of those riders. I can only imagine the flashbacks he must have had when he saw the muskrat last night.

We get to the top of University and the roads are dry. The sun even peeks out a little. The ride home was fairly uneventful with everyone, for the most part, taking it easy on the wet turns.

Got home, made a salad for dinner and cleaned up the bike.
Note: The muskrat in the photo above was not from last night. Just a photo I found.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A year has passed...

... since I wrote my note
I should have know this rate from the start
only hope can keep me together
love can mend your life
but love can break your heart

Message in a Bottle,
The Police.

Go Faster Jim! is 1 year old today.

Last year, Time magazine picked "you" as its "Person of the Year." More specifically really, it was people who use the internet- to blog, to buy things, to put up video on You Tube etc. A person shoots some video puts it on YouTube and it becomes a national story- see for example Kramer's racial outburst.

Cathcing an event on film is not a recent phenomenon, though, look at Rodney King. If someone had not filmed that event, would it have gotten the attention that it did? I have heard people from LA say that the police have been beating non-whites there for years, but that it finally got caught on tape.

What is different now though, is the immediacy and the accessibility of the event or information. We truly live in an immediate world where as soon as an event occurs it can be spread across the internet. On top of that, people can then discuss it: blogs, forums etc.

This is certainly true for the sport of cycling where, even though we only get live coverage for a few selective races, we can get our fix through the internet at a variety of websites and blogs.

This blog is my medium for discussing not just my passion (bikes and cycling) but also anything else that comes to mind, but mostly cycling.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Winter Park Redux

It's 5:15 a.m. and it is raining, not just a little bit, but pouring. No ride for me.

The Winter Park trip was great. 100 miles over 5 days. Pictures don't do the trails justice just as words can't adequately describe the feeling of flying through Colorado singletrack. I love that mountain town.

Elora travelled well. 1200 miles in 2 days each way. We didn't even have to pull out the emergency stash of matchbox cars and puzzles marked "Use only in case of emergency."

The new Subaru with Thule rack also travelled well. Much much, much better gas mileage than the Xterra. I am so happy to have sold that car.

At one point on the drive to CO in flat as can be Nebraska, she saw some rolls of hay in the fields. She asked what they were:

E: What are those?
Me: Hay.
E: Hay?
Me: Yeah, big rolls of hay.
E: What are they for?
Me: Cows eat them.
E: Cows eat them.
Me: Yeah and horses.
E: Cows and horses eat hay?
Me: Yeah, cows and horses eat hay.

Almost at the same time we passed some cows.

Me: Elora see the cows.
E: Cows!
Me: Hey cows.
E: Hey cows. (She laughs)
E: Hey cows, want some hay.
E: Hey cows want some hay.

For the rest of the trip, whenever we saw some cows, she would say "Hey cows, wnt some hay."

Riding the road bike yesterday after almost 2 weeks off of it was a little weird, but not so much. The weirdest thing was how damn light it was compared to the MTB. My road bike comes in at just over 17 pds. with the Carbonnes. My MTB is just over 23 pds. That's a big 6 pds.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Winter Park Day 5

New chain in hand, the plan today was to finish what I started yesterday and then some. Plan accomplished. A beautiful day. Sun shining, blue sky.

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,
It don't worry 'bout where it's going, no, no.
Don't fly, mister blue bird, I'm just walking down the road,
Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know

You're my blue sky, you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way,
Turn your love my way, yeah.

Blue Sky, Allman Brothers

Left out at about 7:15 a.m. to get to Tipperary. Tammi would drop Elora off at daycare at 8 and meet me at the bottom of Spruce Creek.

So, 7 - 8 miles on forest roads to the trail head. There's a lot of logging/dead tree clearing going on in WP. The pines have been infested with a beetle that is devastating the forests in this area. This scenery will be drastically different next year.

The Tipperary trailhead.

Tipperary is about 3.2 miles up. I have used this climb to gauge my overall fitness year to year for about 7 years. My PR up this climb is about 30 minutes. To equal that I would have to average over 6 mph. The bottom 2 miles is the toughest: switchbacks, tight path, 2 creek crossings and much steeper than the top mile. I started up at an even pace. Had to walk the first creek crossing as the exit was too sketchy, passed the spot of the chain snap and dug in. Hit the first switchback, only averaging 5 mph. Need to go. Have to keep telling myself: pedal circles, pedal circles. Next switchback and the next and the next, I stop counting them and listen to the tires rolling on dirt.

Check my HR and I'm at 171. Check my breathing, slow it down. Some parts of the first 2 miles I can get into the middle chain ring, but have to drop it in the granny to keep the quick cadence that I am used to from so many road miles.

It is in these moments that I experience the most spiritual moments ever on the bike. Just me, my bike and the mountain. I channel the energy I feel from the mountain and into the bike. I hit 2 miles and I am at 24 minutes, too slow, but the 2 mile mark is the last creek crossing and now the switchbacks are over and the track widens. The slope also lessens and I can add some speed. I blast through the crossing. Middle chain ring now, 12 mph, click a gear, 15, click a gear, 17, 18. My HR is in the 180s, but I have to push. There is no more tomorrow, we leave Winter Park at dawn.

I start telling myself: Go Faster, Go Faster, damn it Jim, hardman the fuck up and GO FASTER. I hit the end of the climb and stop my watch: 32 minutes. Not a PR, but within range.

I take stock: I am strong and I feel good.

I roll down Spruce Creek. 2.5 miles down in 12 minutes. Tammi is at the bottom.
Spruce Creek to my left.
Spruce Creek to my right.

Now we search for Aiko. I got a little more info as to exactly where it starts yesterday.

We climbed up the forest road and after walking around a little. GOT IT!

Aiko entrance.

The mother lode! This is the holy grail of single track. To quote Tammi: tight and twisty! Shoulder width in many spots. I am giddy. So much damn fun that we climbed back up and did again!

Tight and Twisty, just enough room for the bars to fit.
28 miles in just under 4 hours. Capping off a great week of riding and my re-connection with my cycling roots on the kind of trails that make you drool.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Winter Park Day 4

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

My plan today was to ride Tipperary Creek and Spruce Creek both ways. These 2 trails intersect at the top of a ridge line, maybe 1,000 ft. from their starts Tipperary is about 3.5 miles long, several switchbacks and creek crossings. Spruce Creek is 2 miles down off of the same ridge as Tipperary, but no real switchbacks. So, I was going to ride up Spruce Creek, down Tipperary and then turn around and do the reverse.

The ride started out great. Headed out at about 7:45 a.m., legs felt great, sun was out, I couldn't ask for more. About 7.5 miles to the Spruce Creek trailhead on paved and dirt road, I downed a double espresso Clif shot and headed up. 2.5 miles in 29 minutes. Then I headed down Tipperary. Got to the bottom in under 15 minutes, turned around and started the climb back and SNAP!

Oh shit! Flipped over backwards and ended up on my back still clipped in. Tried to fix it, but my chain tool was also busted. Now what? Luckily, I was at the start of Tipperary so I headed out on County 50, walking. I texted Tammi with a "I'm a dumbass, please come get me" message and she did.

My saviors.

Back to town and went to Totally Wired Cyclery to get a new chain. I walked into the shop and talked to Doug, the shop manager. He hooked me up with a new chain and put it on my bike. I have cut chains before, but do it so infrequently that I'd rather have a pro do it. I met Doug last summer when we were here, discussing tattoos and of course trails and bikes.

Totally Wired is the only true bike shop in Winter Park/Fraser. There are several other shops, but most if not all of these started out as ski shops, adding bikes to get them through the dry summer months. This is not to say that the ski/bike shops do not provide excellent service, they do, in fact I spent some cash in a couple of them earlier in the trip. But it's not like walking into a bike shop. A bike shop has a feel to it, even a smell.

Totally Wired is about bikes. No skis, no boards, no 50% off sales on last seasons winter gear, just bikes. 99% mountain bikes and mostly full suspension at that.

One of the coolest things about Totally Wired is that it is connected with Rocky Mountain Roastery. I don't just mean owned by the same people, I mean literally connected. You go in one door to the bike shop, go through an archway and you are in the coffee shop.
The post-ride java in the coffee shop side.
Tonight we'll hear free bluegrass in downtown Winter Park. Tomorrow I'll ride what I intended to ride today and then some.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Winter Park 3.5

Tonight's reward...

and for the hot tub.

Winter Park Day 3

Trails were pretty damp after raining most of yesterday afternoon. Rode 20 miles, about 3 hours.

Stayed on trails that I was pretty sure would be dry: D4, D2, Chainsaw and Zoom. Zoom had some muddy spots, but overall tasty. It is aptly named as it is 1.5 miles long and basically goes straight down from a forest service road to Chainsaw. No switchbacks, only some slight bends. Going down it from the service road takes about 7 - 8 minutes. Going up takes about 25. So I rode it up and turned around and rode it down.
Dirty Bike
Dirty Wheel.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Winter Park Day 2

The day started dry and ended wet. Tammi took Elora to pre-school at 7:30 and I got the gear ready.

Started out the same as yesterday, but climbed up the forest service road instead of D4, then down D2 and Elk Meadow. Next, we rode up Chainsaw.

This also was an old logging road that has now changed into double track and single track. It starts with a nice size climb and then rolls up and down intersecting with 2 other trails: Zoom and Flume. We headed up Flume but it was pretty wet, so we didn't blaze through it.

25 miles and 3 hours. Only saw 3 other riders today, one of whom was a kid in a US Postal jersey with his dog. Can you imagine growing up in a place like this? "Hey Mom I'm going out to play" takes on a whole new meaning.

Plans for tomorrow may change as it rained most of the afternoon. I'll wait until the a.m. to make my plan.

As with anything local knowledge is key. If you strike up the right conversation with the right person at the right time, you might get lucky and get turned on to some trails that are not on any map... local knowledge... keep it on the DL. I got a cup of coffee this afternoon while Tammi and Elora napped and had just such a conversation at one of the local bike shops and got lucky. Tomorrow I am going to check out some of these trails. Apparently Aiko is one such trail, so forget I wrote about it yesterday.

They also told me that the area surrounding Chainsaw, Zoom and Flume are going to be logged this winter, basically clearing out dead trees. The authorities intend to keep the trails intact, but the character of those rides will be drastically changed. I am lucky to have ridden them dozens of times as this is my 10th or so year riding here.

Winter Park 1.5

The reward.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Winter Park Day 1

Trails were wet, but not too wet. Just enough to make everything tacky. Nothing too hard as we have 4 more days to ride and the altitude takes some time to adjust. I have found that my HR is about 20 beats higher than in Chicago at a comparable effort.

We rode up Vazquez Creek Rd. and then got on the single track- Blue Sky to Tunnel Hill, then back down Vazquez Creek Rd. to D4.

D4 is, as many of the trails here were, an old logging road that has gradually turned into rough double track. It winds up twisting and curving between 2 forest service roads.

From D4 we jumped on D2. Same type of trail, but D2 goes down.

Back on the forest service road and ended up on a new piece of single track called Aiko. Basically all up. We turned around as we're running late- had to pick Elora up from daycare by 1:00. Aiko was alot more fun on the way down.

Took us less time to get back to town than I thought, so we had time to enjoy a cup of Winter Park Roastery's finest.

18 miles total. Both bikes running great. Tomorrow, we'll add some distance. Great thing is there's 100s of miles of trails here. Wednesday I am going to do the King of the Rockies race course.

Us enjoying the java.

And the bikes enjoying the java.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Tour Abides

Turns out I have internet access here in the house we're renting.

So the Tour survives- I read that Vs. reported an increase in viewers over 2006 and even higher than in 2005 when LA won his 7th.

On the way out to Winter Park I heard a radio piece about the Tour on NPR. The mainstream reporter was referring to the race as the Tour De Scandal, but the cycling reporter disagreed saying that in order to get "clean sport" there will be alot of bumps in the road.

I like that attitude. If we want cycling to be clean, then we will have to have riders caught and kicked out of races, even when we have been pulling for them.

Start riding tomorrow. I have the first 2 days planned out. Light rain this afternoon, nothing heavy.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Vacation Has Started

I did the the Mid Week Classic last night. Thanks Lou for pushing me to attack.

Rode Palos today- mountain bikes are dialed in.

Leave Chicago at 4:30 a.m. on Friday.

Arrive in Winter park, CO on Saturday.

Acclimate on Sunday.

Then 5 days of dirt. No road bike. Only the mountain bike.

If I have internet access, I'll post, otherwise see you in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tired of... part 2

A reader suggested this as a response to my being tired of being asked about doing in the Tour. It's pretty good.

Support the REAL 2007 Tour Winner

It's true. Michael Rasmussen fancies himself the REAL 2007 Tour de France winner.

From his bike shop's webpage:

To receive the t-shirt that support the real winner of the TOUR DE FRANCE 2007 please send € 20 (delivery chargers included) with your data and the size too.

When he proves he was in Mexico, I'll buy his damn shirt. "El PRO" my ass.