Friday, August 30, 2013

Gimme Eat!

I ended last week's post by saying that I was going to pour my sixth bowl of Lucky Charms. If I must be completely honest, I haven't had a bowl of Lucky Charms in years. It's a dietary thing. You know, it's all about Wholesome Steel-Cut oats, now.

Still, I have my lapses. Recently, I had to stop for fast food. I say "had to" because there weren't many other options. Fast food is just gross. And I say "gross" in the kindest sense of the word. While waiting in line, I was amazed at the manner in which customers ordered their food: "gimme three Whoppers", or, "I need a bacon double cheeseburger."



Uhn excuse me, but did you recently get plunked from a life-raft adrift at sea or something? It may smell like it, but it certainly doesn't look like it. No. I dare say you don't need that revolting McRib sandwich any more than we need to see you lick its tangy sauce from your plump, sausage-like fingers.

Look, take a little pride in yourself. Finger-comb that greasy mop you call hair. Pull those damn shorts over your filthy underwear, and tuck in that pit-stained bro-tank. For goodness sake, pull yourself up by your shit-caked boot straps. And while you're at it, try saying please every now and then.This is 'Merica after all, dag gummit.

To be fair, I was once like that. Well, even then, it was extremely rare when I skipped showering (with soap) before going out in public. And though my clothes may have been wrinkled, at least they smelled reasonably fresh. What I'm trying to say is that while I took some measures to project an otherwise clean outward appearance, I used to pollute my body with fast food fairly regularly.

The beginning of the end of all that started years ago when I brought a sack of Wendy's back to work for lunch. As I tore open the paper wrapper surrounding a double cheeseburger, I caught my colleague, Seamus Walsh, staring at me with a certain look of disgust. Now, Seamus was somewhat of an an all-natural body builder/fitness freak. He was a purist, especially when it came to nutrition. Put it this way: he considered a can of Chicken of the Sea® Tuna, in water, as junk food. Anyway, just as I was about to mouw into that burger, Seamus puts down his Beefcake 2000 protein shake (2 scoops mixed in with organic non GMO soy milk, bananas, raspberries, kumquats, egg whites and wheat grass) and rhetorically asks, "You're going to put THAT in your body?"

Too late. I destroyed it in about 20 seconds. And it was delicious. Never mind how gross I felt afterward.

But Seamus' words that day had the effect of planting a seed in my brain. It took some time, and a lot of bacon double-cheeseburgers, but miraculously, that seed germinated and took root. I nurtured its early growth by replacing commercially-prepared foods with more raw ingredients, fresh fruits and produce. I began substituting frequently dining out with dining in. After awhile, I started giving up the really bad stuff altogether. Like donuts. Cheese. And, my gosh, even pork. I still abstain from pork today. Pork chops? Nope. Ham? Bacon?!? Nope-nope. At this point, everybody can wave goodbye to Rafal Doloto, for he just unfollowed this blog.

It took time, but I was finally able to go for long stretches without any fast food at all. For many years even.

Inevitably, I capitulated on the fast food thing. I'd like to say it was due to inconvenience. In a sense, it was. I found it too inconvenient to live life without french fries. The Irish love their potatoes. So now we make occasional visits to a few fast food joints. My wife's indulgence is KFC. She can have her nasty, finger-lickin' chicken so long as she doesn't give me the stink-eye when I shovel McDonalds French fries down my pie hole.

So that brings me to my typical lunch. Aside from the Thursday Taco truck ride, I pack my lunch most days of the week. And let me tell you, my packed lunch is so awesome that it borders on obnoxious. It's like the lunch scene from the Breakfast Club (1985) where the athlete, Andrew Clark, unpacks a grocery sack of about 12,000 Kcal worth of grub, the prissy Claire has sushi, and the geek, Brian Johnson, has PBJ with the crusts cut-off. Well my lunch is a smorgasbord of all three characters combined.

So here's my lunch today:

Without a doubt, the heaviest item each day in my messenger bag is not a laptop.

It's my lunch. It also occupies the most space.  Then, there's what's on the inside. Oh, my, just marvel with me what goodies awaits the lunch hour! Besides the sandwich and veggie-straws, there are:

In season-fruits and vegetables --  grapes, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries often make the list; 'cukes, red and yellow Zima tomatoes -- even an avocado made it on the menu today.

Now, having a lunch like this draws attention. In fact, I do believe that my colleagues both admire and hate me because of my fantastic lunches.

You'd think that the fresh fruit, or the sliced avocado would send them in a tizzy.

Wrong. It's the citrus-infused, Brita®-filtered water that drives them bananas.

My colleagues often tell me that my nutrition habits are inspirational. I don't know. I try not to think about what else is going into my water when I'm not around.

Speaking of being not around, Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. Ciao.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wrecks Racer

Against his father's wishes, young Rex Racer took the family owned race car and entered a local race. He was only 18 years old. Practically a boy, racing against veterans who knew every turn and chicane on the course. But the kid was a natural with uncoachable talent. He picked his lines through the turns with ease. He worked his way from the back of the field all the way to the front. Incredibly, without any previous experience, Rex was leading the race with only one lap to go. He could practically taste victory. Oh, sweet victory.

But it wasn't to be. On that final lap, Rex lost control of his car and plowed it into a wall.

After emerging from the car unhurt, Pops was furious at Rex. Furious for wrecking the car. Furious for disobeying his orders. Furious that a snot-nosed kid was talking back to him in front of his peers. Where was the respect? Kids, these days. GET OFF MY LAWN! -- That kind of stuff.

The argument resulted in Rex running away from home. From then on, he hid his identity from everyone, including his family. He took on the new persona of the mysterious Racer X.

And though his younger brother Speed and Pops both would eventually concede that Racer X was the most skilled racer around, Racer X would unselfishly sacrifice victories to protect and allow his younger brother Speed to win every race he entered.

I was probably five years old when Rex' crash was etched onto my retina. I'm quite sure that I was in front of the boobtube, wearing pajamas (with footsies), soggy Lucky Charms in a bowl of sugary milk, and eyes wide open while the drama unfolded before me. That single episode changed me. Forever. From that point forward, racing was in my blood. My lessons were the 52 episodes of syndicated Speed Racer anime, dubbed/voiced-over in hilarious fashion. The latter just added to the enjoyment. But the racing instruction was top notch. My coach was Pops. My teammate, Racer X. Speed Racer was my avatar. And my mechanic was Sparky. And I'm sorry, but no girlfriend could ever, ever compare to Trixie. I mean, she was all that and could pilot a helicopter, too? Hubabuba!

Don't even get me started about the fabulous Mach Five race car.

The late '60s Speed Racer cartoon was, in a word, AWESOME.

Oh snap. Hello there, audience. I have a point to make here. Really, I do. I am sorry, I get carried away sometimes.

Anyway, I was reminded of the legend of Racer X at this past weekend's Arrows to Aerospace Cat 1-2 Criterium in Bellevue, NE. The course was punchy and technical, causing a number of wrecks earlier in the evening. There was also a crash early on in the cat 1-2 race, too. But after about a half an hour of solid racing, a break was finally established that included Nicholas Coil (Trek Think Finance), Jordan Ross (Kaos) and Jonathan Wait (MWCC). The trio worked well together, keeping the chasers away at a 20+ second gap. There was lots of suffering and stuff shared among those three. But the real drama unfolded after the final lap's bell rang. Wait punched it through corner #1 and opened a small gap while climbing the ensuing hill. But Ross and Coil chased and quickly closed it down. Then, on the backside of the course, Ross countered with an attack of his own, opening up a three bike length lead. The three racers were flying through this stretch. As they entered the final two corners, Wait was closing the gap before they disappeared behind a row of trees obscuring the view. The grand stand's spectators stood in anticipation as to who would be leading into the final sprint.

Surprisingly, Coil was the first to emerge.

Then there was a lengthy and dramatic pause. Ross and Wait were nowhere to be seen. And Coil wasn't even standing to sprint. Race announcer John Lefler Jr's voice then crackled over the PA system: Ross and Wait were involved in a crash in the second to last corner. A few people started running down the sidelines to check on them. Meanwhile, the entire chase group came barreling around the corner at full gas for the sprint.

It was pandemonium.

A short while later the sprinters crossed the line. Then, Jordan popped out around the corner. He was evidently fine, slowly riding his bike towards the finish line. He was followed a few moments later by Jonathan, also relatively unscathed. Jonathan, however, was walking his bike: its handlebars were pointing sideways, and his chain wrapped up in places a chain shouldn't be. He walked the entire final stretch, crossed the finish line, racked it, and then headed over to where his wife stood, embracing her when he got there.

There was no yelling, no glaring nor any finger-pointing afterward. Certainly, nobody ran away to became a masked racer. Yet it was nonetheless quite dramatic. A victory so close, and yet so far away, a mysterious wreck, and some minor family melodramatics to cap it all off.

[video: 2013 Arrows to Aerospace Cat 1-2 Criterium finish]

Witnessing that finish took me back. Way back.

Now please excuse me while I pour my sixth bowl of Lucky Charms.

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Day of School

Instead of walking home from the bus stop at the end of my first day of kindergarten, I followed a classmate all the way to his house. I didn't walk with him, but hung back a few steps. I don't recall why I followed him. Kindergartners are curious little folk. I suppose I simply wanted to be his friend. So instead of heading north to my house, I followed him at an inconspicuous distance of about 10 feet. That's a nearly imperceptible span for a kindergartner.

At any rate, when he arrived at his house, his Mom opened the front door and asked, "Well, who's your new friend? Are you going to introduce me to him?"

The kid I was actively stalking spun around to see me standing at the foot of the stoop. With his jaw agape, he preceded to shrug his shoulders and say that he didn't know who I was.

We fixed that right then and there with proper introductions. Milk and cookies followed while Steve's Mom phoned my Mom. After dusting off the cookies, we moved on to teleporting Cpt. Kirk and Mr Spock on Steve's sweet turn-the-dial transporter/NCC-1701 Enterprise bridge playset. Cookies and milk and Star Trek? That sealed the deal for me.

The rest is history. Steve and I have been best friends ever since.

Happy new school year everyone.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Summer's gone by so fast, it appears that somebody has done snatched the water out from beneath me.


Happy Friday and back to school shopping everyone.

Friday, August 2, 2013

KOMs Are Worth Nothing and Everything

Strava King of the Mountains (KOMs) are worth nothing. And they're worth everything.

Allow me to explain. The following scene is taken from Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), where the terms of Jerusalem's surrender are being discussed by the Crusader Balian and the Muslim Sultan Saladin. Balian asks Saladin what Jerusalem is worth. Saladin dismissively says, "Nothing" and walks away.

But then the Sultan turns back around to exclaim, "Everything!" It was a dramatic scene. Ridley Scott has his moments.

I wish Ridley Scott could bring to the big screen the drama, the political back biting and raw savagery that a Strava King of the Mountain (KOM) segment brings out among us cyclists. I'd volunteer to write the screen play. I'd lift much of it from Ridley Scott's big hits, like Blackhawk Down (2001), Gladiator (2000), and Thelma and Louise (1991).  Wait, what? Thelma and Louise?! How'd that get in here? I meant Alien (1979) . I'd love to take a crack at re-imagining the alien scene*-- you could take it to the bank that the little alien feller'd be ripping out of MOD's guts and stuff before the credits rolled.

But really, I'd steal only one idea from Mr. Scott, and that's from the The Kingdom of Heaven. It's the notion that the Strava KOM is the new Jerusalem, worth nothing and everything simultaneously.

For those not in the know, Strava KOMs give anyone with a bicycle and a GPS-enabled device a chance to race by comparing performance on the same course, even if it's one solitary hill. Over time, a tough KOM becomes something every local cyclist knows about, as well as who owns the KOM. If you happen to be that top dog, then you're kinda special.

But not really. It's truly worth nothing.

But take one's hard-earned KOM away from them? Ah, now there's the rub. It does mean something after all. And not just something, it means everything. I've seen it. The taunting. The bullying. Even war mongering. Looky:

It took some time, but Fred's Hipster Cruise KOM was inevitably taken from him.

Though MOD waged war, the Hipster Cruise KOM was taken by none other than local legend and budding hipster, Jonathan Neve. Oh the irony, and lost by 10 seconds to rub it in. See? Bullying, I tell you.

Many times, those dethroned will reclaim their KOM within 24 hours of losing it. The only known exception to this rule is Jonathan Wait, and only when one of his KOMs is lost on a late Saturday afternoons. Why? Because Jonathan chooses not to ride on Sundays. Therefore, take his KOMs late Saturday and you can rest assured that it will stand for at least 24 hours, maybe even more. In fact, take one on Saturday that's at least 50 miles away from his home, and you're golden. He'll be forced to take a 1/2 day of vacation on Monday to reclaim it.

Because, though it is worth nothing, it is worth everything. Especially to Jonathan.

I typically give Kudos to those who capture a Strava KOM. I do so because I'm aware that they recently had snot bubbling out of their nose and lactic acid burning in their legs as they huffed and puffed their way to Strava glory. I know. I've been there. So why not share a virtual thumbs-up with them?

Because really, though it's worth nothing, it's worth everything.

So there you have it. In short, KOMs are worth nothing and everything. I think this subject has been covered sufficiently and I have nothing else to say about it.

Happy Friday Everyone.

*** Lifted Alien scene cut from Strava KOM screen play ***

MOD is huffing and puffing up Surfside KOM at 37 MPH. Snot's bubbling out of his nose and sweat is flying off his brows.  At this blistering pace, he'll claim another KOM to his list of palmares. Suddenly, his stomach doesn't feel so good. He wonders, was it the Total Stress Score (TSS) that was causing it, or the remnants of last night's wine skin enema gurgling and swishing around in his upper colon? He can't dwell on it, there's only 500 meters to go. He turns his pedals in fury. Screw Brady. This KOM is worth everything. A jolt of adrenalin sends a sharp pain to his gut. Though the crest of the hill is within sight, he looks down at his rainbow striped skinsuit to see a bulge beginning to protrude from his belly. Oh my, it can't be!  It.. can't... be... 


An alien with Shim's face has suddenly popped out from Mod's midsection. It jumps up onto the handlebars, throws his little alien arms over his head and hisses,"yesssssssssssssss" while capturing the Surfside KOM by a fully-extended set of inner pharyngeal jaws.

Roll credits.