Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Original Singapore McRib

Recently, Katherine and I met up with our Singapore family at a traditional "Hawker Center" for dinner.

Hawker centers are covered outdoor venues that are very common throughout Singapore. Their charming authenticity and homemade food has been both cheap and accessible for generations of Singaporeans. While the food is also considered "fast", it is a far cry from Western fast food.

The most obvious difference is in the southeast Asian menu, where you can find all kinds of treasures for the palate including: Hainanese Chicken rice, fried intestines, sauced chicken feet and my personal favorite, roasted pig organs.
I doubt I'll ever see these items on a McDonalds menu board. Of course the actual ingredients of the McRib is unquestionably suspect, but I don't expect to hear "gimme a McPig Organ extra value meal" uttered in my lifetime.

Please don't get me wrong. I love these places. Indeed, the unique charm of these Hawker centers have won this expatriot over. The variety and quality of these meals have left me hungering for more.

Now let's see, I think that I'll have a rainbow Ice Kachang - the Singaporean corn-filled snowcone - for dessert. Ah, now that's life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Searching For Dr Strangelove

I'm here:
A one hour crew-change has turned into a seven hour delay in Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. Apparently, a small part is needed for the Boeing 777ER jet purchased last year. When it comes to parts, I say the wait is worth it.

It's OK though. Life is good. Singapore airlines has bumped me gratis into the Air Austria Lounge, which compared to the smoke filled corridors of this airport, is a piece of heaven.

Recap of my current adventure:
I left Omaha for Houston about 19 hours ago. After a one hour lag in Houston, I then then departed for Moscow at 6pm, arriving here 11 hours later. Singapore airlines has got to be the most wonderful experience. In fact, it's unbelieveably remarkable - even in economy class (there are apparently suites in the above first class but I wouldn't know). Like, are we going to heaven sort of thing. It doesn't translate well on blogger, but if you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Well, I think I'll go meander over for some wine and cheese in this fine lounge. I'm on vacation, you know, so I gotta live it for awhile.

God willing, I will prevail in cathing up with my Singapore girl Ms Katherine, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health, through the purity and essence of my natural... fluids. God bless you all!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Checking Out

This just in: I'm on vacation and won't be posting for a few days, which really isn't out of the ordinary - it's just that I have a legitimate reason this time.

In the meantime, I suggest reading a good book, like Catch-22. I hear that it's better than the movie anyway.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Corporate Cup 2008 Recap

I ran in the Omaha Corporate Cup 10K this past Sunday. It wasn't my best performance by the clock, but it was a memorable race nonetheless.
Here's my friend Gerald Kubiak flexing like SNL's "Hans". But look at the fella in the red circle above his manly bicep! Behind that blurry image is none other than steel-cut and he's waaaay back from a pack that also includes Kraig Vanderbeek, Craig "Old School" Christians and colleagues John McVay and Luke Christiansen (not pictured). Pictures courtesy of Gary "el D" Dougherty ndorfnz.com

Throughout the race, I had been steadily losing ground to this pack of runners so that by the fifth mile, there was a gap of at least 50 meters between us. Now 50 meters may not sound like a lot (especially if you're watching amateur racers from the sideline), but trust me...when you've be been running hard for thirty minutes, it can be quite a formidable challenge. Imagine doing anything for 30 minutes (but keep it within reason as this is a family-friendly blog) and then try doing it faster. Yeah. Motivation wanes and fatigue hampers performance. More likely: doing it doing (whatever you imaged) for about three minutes, capitulate and then raid the fridge for a *ahem* post-workout snack.

So - when all I really wanted was some cold pizza - I knew that with just over a mile left it was the time to close the gap.

Fortunately, at that moment another runner blasted by. I instinctively switched off the brain and went into full pursuit, allowing him to pull me along. Cyclists will know this as drafting and bridging a gap. Until then, I had never successfully pulled that maneuver off in a foot race. In fact, if it hadn't been for all of the *lovely* experiences of bridging gaps on punishing group rides this past year, I don't believe I'd have had the confidence to try. But after a minute of hanging on to the rabbit in front of me, I found myself tucked into the back of this pack and catching my breath.

The recovery period didn't last long. Sensing the race drawing to its close, the pack picked up the pace again. All of those interval sessions throughout the year paid off: active recovery between hard sets reinforced the ability to recover quickly and hammer it out over final quarter mile of the race. Here's how it played out:

Two racers dropped off the back as the pace quickened. As we began a slight incline I saw John begin to pull away. I jumped into a full sprint. Luke fell out of my periphery. In the final 200m, I managed to out-kick Craig Dye but just missed catching John. While the official results show the same clock time, John was just enough ahead of me that I could have only grabbed (yanked) his jersey if I stretched for it. I was tempted.

While 35:56 (5:29, 5:51, 5:52, 5:54, 5:48, 5:47, 1:14 - 5:47 mi avg) wasn't a PR, I'd say that I couldn't have run a smarter race than the one I put together on Sunday. And at 15th place overall, it's not much in terms of bragging rights. Heck, race winner Levi Ashley busted out a 31:38 and didn't get a lot of press; the fish wrap also only printed ten deep. 15th of +7,000? Hey Bryan, can you buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks tomorrow for this accomplishment?

Anyway, the tangible thrill of successfully bridging that gap and the kick to an exhilarating finish ranks right behind last year's Rodeo Run Omaha Mile race.

Congratulations to all who competed.

Now excuse me, I believe that there's some cold pizza with my name on it in the fridge.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nishiki Project - Phase 1

I have completed the "make road worthy" phase of my project bike. It's gone from this

To this:

The Commuter
It's a late '80s Nishiki Sebring 12 speed that I picked up off of Craigslist - Omaha. It's going to be my winter/bad weather commuter. I've already ridden it to work a few times and have found the delight in being able to wear simple clothes as opposed to kitting-up on Old Yeller. The bike is kind of a tank - 29 lbs of cro-moly (naked), but it takes bumps and vibrations noticeably smoother than 'Yeller.

The Original Specs
Serial #G0683 3684274. Decoded, this means that the Sebring was built by Giant in June, 1983. I'm not sure what the sequence 3,684,274 stands for.

cr-mo 4130 tubing
Suntour AR front and rear der
Sugino 170mm crank w 52x40 chain rings
Avaya rims
Suzue hubs
DIA Compe brakes
Avocet touring saddle
Seat tube mark: 73
headtube marks: 73 top and 59 bottom by fork

The Mechanicals and Mods
It will also be tinkered with a lot to raise my mechanical abilities. Expect to see future modifications.

Since acquisition, I've purchased and installed:
* Bar tape
* Freddy Fenders

I've swapped/spared parts in house:
* Shimano SPD Pedals
* Terry saddle and saddle bag
* Blackburn rack & panniers
* Front and rear lamps

Completed Minor Tune-up:
* Removed, cleaned and lubed the chain
* Cleaned and re-greased brakes
* Cleaned and adjusted stem
* Installed bar tape for the first time - not bad!

More to come!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The KOC Spin Test

Taking a segue from Obama's spin of putting lipstick on a pig, I'm going to discuss spin today, as in wheelset spin.

This thread actually started from Murphini's friend Kevin (KOC) many months ago. I like KOC because he's in the cycling lifestyle for many of the right reasons. One of those happens to be compulsive obsession. Apparently, KOC is OCD about how (in)efficient his wheelset is. For instance, after a ride of being dragged through the hills, he claimed that his (crappy) wheels put him at a competitive disadvantage to the alpha dogs of his pack. This condition festered to the point where he put on a impromptu wheelset spin test to compare his wheels.

The KOC Spin Test
As it happened, KOC flipped each of their bikes over and proceeded to hand crank the RPMs up faster than an organ grinder on crack. He then clocked the spinning time on his stop-watch.

While you could have seemingly grabbed a bite to eat as Murphini's Campy wheelset sustained its momentum, the rest of the results were clear: KOC's wheelset did indeed suck. At the moment it's still unclear whether he's looking for a grinder monkey to collect upgrade cash, but as the rest of the group's wheels spun freely for well over two minutes, KOC's rotated for less than 90 seconds.

Last night I decided to do a little testing of my own. I modified the KOC test by putting the Nishiki project bike and Old Yeller on the trainer for my own comparisons. I backed off the fly wheel for full tire clearance and then cranked it up. The Nishiki chattered noisily on its original equipment (Suzue hub and Araya 27" alum rim) and lasted a dismal 67 seconds. Dang, that blows worse than KOC's! Old Yeller's Bontrager Race Lite wheelset was silent and smooth, lasting for 2 minutes and 34 seconds. Not bad!

I'm calling for a peanut gallery poll. Here's your task: do the KOC Spin Test and reply with the wheel/hub type and time of rotation. Let's let our boy KOC know where he falls in the suck spectrum.

So does the wheelset make that much of a difference on a group ride? I dunno, but claiming that as the reason you were dropped is questionable at best. Then again, if you dress it up and apply a enough lipstick...

Monday, September 8, 2008


Congratulations are in order for Karen Melliar-Smith's top 10 finish, and to first time Kona World Championship qualifier Brendan Murphy, whose race time of 9:51.58 made the cut for the Ironman Hawaii.

Katherine and I drove out to Madison and joined brother Matt, Katy and family to watch them compete among 2500 others who did the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile marathon ultra-endurance event held this past Sunday, September 8th.

The cannon and the roar of the spectators at sunrise started the mass-wave in chilly (50F) air temperature. It was quite a spectacle seeing over 2000 swimmers churning through the lake from the same start. After 52 minutes, Karen was the second female out of the water. Amazing! Brendan followed a short time later, ranked 20th overall.

After a quick transition through the Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace, it was on to the bicycle course. At mile 40, Brendan met some adversity with a flat. There are no support vehicles in Ironman; if you flat, you're on your own. And as anyone who rides tubular tires knows, fixing this type of tire is tricky. Adding that to the stress of fixing it in the middle of a race can ruin a day's performance. But he handled the challenge well and was back on the attack within ten minutes. Even with the flat, he completed the 112 mile bike course in five hours and 21 minutes (21 mph pace).

From there, it was on to a run course that looked more like a medical chart's ventricular fibrillation than a marathon course. While it was punishing to the athletes already 114 miles into the Ironman, the double out and back through downtown Madison made for great spectating among the many cafes dotting State Street. While we spectators felt a slight twinge of guilt munching down pasta for lunch and Ben and Jerry's for dessert, Brendan and Karen held to their paces in the Marathon - Brendan running his second best Marathon ever in 3:28.12; Karen in an amazing 3:37:39.

I can only imagine the joy and relief in seeing the finish at such an event. I've heard that some people trudge through the 140 miles only to experience the final 1000 feet to the finish line. But let me be the first to tell you: they both not only finished it, but they finished the race well. Karen powered into a top ten finish; Brendan with a sprinter's kick and high-fives for the spectators. It was exhilarating. Seeing this accomplishment was a privilege and a memory I won't forget. And judging by how fresh they looked afterward, you'd never know what they just went through. They made it look easy.

Final Results here for Karen and Brendan.

Congratulations again, and see you in Kona on October 10th, 2009. You are an Ironman!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tour of Missouri Charity Ride

The following contribution is from my brother (and fellow cycling freak) Murphini, who's also afflicted with the so-called confused Murphy genome. What follows is an open invitation to join him in a KC TOM course ride this Sunday. As an added bonus, he's also provided a bio of each of the members of his cycling group joining him in the ride.

While this guest blogging is experimental at steel-cut, so were most of the '60s, which also happens to be the decade that was instrumental in Murphini's formative years. And just like that wacky decade, it's fly by the seat of your pants Friday here. So without much further ado, my hippie bro Murphini: --WSCG


As many of you have come to know, our gentle Steel-Cut author Brady is witty and urbane, soulful and introspective, pompous and arrogant, righteous and incendiary, prolix and verbose. He’s can also turn out a paragraph or two. But what he can’t do is come to Kansas City this weekend to ride the course for the Tour of Missouri.

Brady is being a good brother to our other Brother Brendan & his fiancĂ©e Karen, traveling to Madison Wisconsin to watch them compete in a full Ironman Distance triathlon. I on the other hand am choosing to spend Sunday here in Kansas City riding with several hundred people on the course that the Tour of Missouri will be held on Monday. Oh yeah, there is a lot of free beer afterwards on the Plaza courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Company. Here’s an open invite/shout out to join me and my pals on the ride.

Reading Steel-Cut blog, I know how bike gangs are. My gang is almost as dysfunctional as you all seem to be. Our crew consists of:

KOC (Kevin)
An Omaha Boy who worked for UP as a gandy/dancer during his years going to UMO. He is talkative, inattentive, prone to wandering in corners, surges early on hills only to be caught 2/3rd s the way up, and has a wheel fetish….he loves to turn your bike over to do the Gauge R&R test on how long your wheels spin. (He thinks his hubs are filled with glue & gravel, the rest of ours spin like perpetual motion machines….) He does bring good humor and cold beers to all our rides.

BT (Brian T)
Another Omaha-esque/KC transplant. BT grew up in Council Bluffs, his 83 year old father still lives up there, saw Brady’s name in the paper for winning the Black Squirrel Triathlon. BT is an attorney with an early 1990’s lugged carbon Trek that has been upgraded to STI’s with Mountain DX derailleur. He’s sneaky fast, single, so we live vicariously through tales of his serial monogamy. I don’t, but the other guys make him talk so I OCCASIONALLY listen.

TL (Tim)
Another attorney, friends with BT from Law School, lives in Lawrence KS. TL is a recent father so his riding time has been down, but can still kick it in. He did several days of Ragbrai with BT, came back much stronger. BT was disappointed that TL didn’t party enough in Iowa. He wears a Greatful Dead jersey & has many hidden stories about BT and the next guy on the list that someday I want to hear all for blackmailing purposes. He does like his Old Milwaukee Light.

BP/Zoolander (Brian P)
BPZ is auguably our strongest rider, (or at least looks he is) and is a MTB racer for the SKC team, recognizes Munson’s name from past races. He is dabbling in Road and we’re both going to do SS Cyclocross this fall. We generally ride from his house on Wednesday evenings where he hands out the Hamm’s award for most aggressive rider, or the Old Milwaukee for the King of Mountain. Then we break into the good stuff. BPZ loves to get kitted out, spends much of his time striking Zoolander-esque poses, and can’t resist chasing you down when you make a sneak attack from behind. (From the bike that is)

MD (Matt)
MD is a Team360 roadie that would win the King of the Mountain each time, but luckily he has to get home to his 19 (or 4) kids. Since he is on a time crunch, he pushes (punishes) the pace before he turns and rides home. To him, he’s JRA…..(Just Riding Around). BPZ likes to sit on his wheel and pose while I struggle to keep up.

RB (Ryan)
RB has been on injured reserve with knee surgery much of the year. He is our beer connoisseur/Star Wars expert. Think Mario Pantini, (had he lived) but after a few years of pizza, procrastination and sloth. He’s heart is there, his fred-tastic enthusiasm is firey, but the injury has kept him off the bike. As his knee heals, he will also be sneaky fast. Until then, the next guy on the list keeps asking him if he’s going to sell his bike since it isn’t being ridden….

WB (Wade)
WB (missing this weekend) is another SKC mountain biker, rides road on his 1994 GT Fury with the weird frame—sort of like Ole yeller. WB is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing, always lurking in the pack until the hills, where he air’s it out, modestly of course as he pulls away without looking back like Lance did to Jan Ulrich on the Alpe d’Huez. Ain’t never seen him breathe hard. I think he would be reincarnated as a well-behaved Border Collie.

If you are coming, respond with a comment and Brady can get you my phone number. I’ll be riding my Specialized Tarmac with the RacerX jersey. I look like Brady, just taller, heavier, balder, and more vindictively cunning.

Tour of Champions Charity Ride
benefiting WIN for KC and The Dream Factory
Sunday, September 7, 2008 @ 8:00 a.m.
Registration Fee: $30
Sign up by September 5 to receive a T-shirt!
FREE after party with breakfast burritos and beer provided by ReVerse Restaurant and Boulevard Brewery.

Route Options:
All beginning at ReVerse Restaurant on the Plaza (at the corner ofJefferson & Ward Parkway)
14 Miles (to Downtown)
36 Miles (to Parkville)
70 Miles (to Weston)

Bring your family, friends, and neighbors to ride the route of the Tour of Missouri champions! Rest stops will be available at each turnaround point to keep you fueled and hydrated!

Registration here

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So Long White Pants

Lo, what happened to the golden days of summer? The vibrant foliage wastes away into the muddled browns and grays of autumn right before our eyes! Oh Chronos, you commit larceny on a grand scale yet again! Lamentations are upon us!

Letting go is not one of my better traits. It's with acerbic regret that I record the passage of time as I packup flip flops and white pants, flaunted here by Remington "I'm not steel-cut" Steel. So kindly allow me to indulge in a few memorable moments of late:

  • IronmanKansas, CSG and Black Squirrel triathlons
  • Commuting to work by bike with colleagues
  • Getting licenses:Katherine (LPN); Brady's CAT-5!!
  • Tuesday night track workouts; Wednesday night club rides
  • Day trips to KC for Dim Sum & socializing w/Murphinis
  • Mayor Fahey & the Grim Reaper seeing me on Old Yeller
  • Joy-riding an unknown's bike!
Alas, as summer passes by quicker than Munson sprinting to the city limits during a club ride, I say that the season deserves an appropriate send-off. So ciao to the 16 hours a day of the fiery globe that pinkens noses & ears under the helmet. Auf viedershen to rashes and chafing that blister beneath supercharged lycra! Au revior to TT'ing in choking dust below the scorching sky. And before I break out the winter woolens, I make a final charge by calling out, "long live the pit stains and crusty salt rings earned on two wheels!"

Oh with great sadness and joy I so bid this summer a fond farewell.

Now prepare the way and brace, for autumn and winter is nigh!