Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Distinguished Gentleman

Several years and a marriage ago, I was out to dinner with my ex. We were at a steak house in Phoenix that specialized in prime rib. For the locals, it was a clone of Crescent IA's Pink Poodle, right down to the outdated 70s atmosphere, plastic drinking cups, paper napkins and condiments (A1, Heinz, etc) right on the table. And like the 'Poodle, their prime rib was also outstanding.

The customer demographic was similar too: mostly seniors with a smattering of semi-vegetarian urban hipsters who couldn't part with a select cut of bloody meat from time to time.

My ex noticed an elderly couple sitting next to us. "Check them out," she says, pointing her knife somewhere beyond my shoulder. I pretend to drop a napkin and take a quick peek.

"Aren't they cute?" She says. "What a couple -- a distinguished gentleman with his lovely bride, still going out to dinner after all these years. That's going to be us one day," she says.

I slice into a thick slab of pink meat. Blood oozes out on the plate as I plunge my fork into it.

"Just look at them," she gushed. "How many years do you think they've been marr-- "


I jumped a little in my seat at the sudden harshness of the voice from the distinguished gentleman at six o'clock. A waiter in wrinkled, white button-down appears with a pitcher of water.


"Wow, he's quite the curmudgeon," my ex says. "I wonder if we'll ever be like that?"

The light focuses intensely on me as the restaurant scene dims in the background. I am now looking directly at you, my reader, 20 years into the future, or our present time. 

"She wondered if we'd be cranky old curmudgeons? Probably, if we had ever gotten there, together. The truth was that our marriage was already on the rocks. We were fighting a lot and were very unhappy. Fortunately, divorce spared us from that misery."

The background light comes back up as the noise of clinking dinnerware resumes.

"Well I don't know about you, but I can't wait till we get old. I wonder how we will look with wrinkles."

When dinner was over, and after paying our bill, we went outside to find that our car had been boxed in on the passenger side by an old Cadillac. At any given point, not more than an inch separated our car from the 'Caddy. It was truly a marvelous parking job, to get something that big so close without leaving a scratch. It was the work of a master.

The sight of the Cadillac's parking job made my ex livid. Against my wishes, she quickly scrawled a nasty note and went back inside to give it to the restaurant's manager. Meanwhile, I moved our car and waited outside. A couple minutes later, she came out of the restaurant, got into our car and began telling me what she wrote, and about her interaction with the manager. The manager told her that he knew the car's owner, and that he'd take care of the situation immediately.

As my ex was telling me this, the restaurant's door swung open violently. The curmudgeon who sat behind us emerged. He was red-faced and hollering madly while clutching the hand-written note in his meaty fingers. Boy, was he hot. He arms were flailing wildly as he made his way toward our car.

"Go Go Go!" my ex screams.

The pandemonium left me momentarily paralyzed. Before I could react, he's already at her window. With his fist clenched, he leans back and gathers to throw a heavy punch at the window.

"GO!!" She screams.

I snapped into action. In a fluid movement, I clutch and drop the stick into second, smash the accelerator to the floor and then pop the clutch. The tires squeal as we're carried forward. His hand grazes off the trunk hatch with a loud thump.

In the rear view mirror, I see the curmudgeon with both hands in the air: one still clutching my ex's hand written note, the with the middle finger raised.

Distinguished gentleman, my ass.



The power of male testosterone never ceases to amaze me. Certainly, male potency peaks around 18, but for some, aggressive behavior seemingly never ends.

Like this senior who sneak attacked me on Happy Hollow last week. 80 years old, all kitted up with apparently no where else to go, riding a top end Bianchi with deep dish carbon fiber wheels. You can read all about it in the description of my Strava segment here.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hey Rocky, Watch Me Pull A Rabbit Out of My

When I was a kid, I loved watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I still do. For you youngsters, the Rocky and Bullwinkle show was an animated classic. They don't make cartoons like they used to.

Bullwinkle the moose always tried to perform a second rate magic trick for his friend, Rocky the flying squirrel. The gag would inevitably backfire on Bullwinkle, but that never deterred him from trying again. It'd go something like this:

"Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat."

"Again?!" Rocky would say in a real smart-assey voice.

"See? Nothing up my sleeve," he'd continue, tearing off a sleeve.

"Presto!" A roaring bear would pop out of Bullwinkle's hat.

"Must be the wrong hat!" Bullwinkle would say.

I thought of Bullwinkle during this past Wednesday night's group ride, as we rolled through Boyer's Chute in 40°F temperatures and 30 MPH wind gusts. Moments before, Fred had asked me if I was going to perform a magic trick with the "Magic Gloves" that I had just purchased a couple miles back at the Ft. Calhoun gas station.

Magic Gloves, or so they're called, are those inexpensive stretchy-knit mitts you can get at Walmart for $0.99 a pair. Or, if you happen to be in a group ride that stays clear the hell away from a Walmart, you can get yourself a pair at the Ft Calhoun gas station at 200% markup. 

As an aside, retail is a beautiful thing. When the temperature plummets one degree every 8 minutes, like it did on our 2.5 hour ride this past Wednesday (a 20°F net drop), those magic gloves suddenly appreciated in value. In short, I would have gladly paid $5, perhaps even $10, for the comfort they brought over the next 90 minutes. At $2.99, they were a bargain.

At any rate, that was the best three bucks I had spent in a long time. The ROI was immediate: by the time Fred had inquired if I was going to perform a magic trick, my hands had already returned to life. So much so that I regretted not buying a second pair of magic gloves for the blocks of ice called my feet.

But as giddy as I was about my warm hands, I wasn't about to pull a Bullwinkle type magic trick on Freddy and the peloton. But if I did, I imagine it'd go something like this:

"Hey Freddy, watch me pull a rabbit out of my helmet."

"Again?!" Fred parrots along, somewhat irritated at how contrived the whole thing is.

"See? Nuthing up my sleeve" I continue, tearing off an arm warmer while pedaling no-handed on deep dish racing wheels in a 30 MPH crosswind. And let's not forget about those enormous expansion joints along Hwy 34, either. Oh no, I say my line and rip off my arm warmer while bunny hopping those cracks no-handed with such ease and grace that it would even make Mark Savery blush.

Ahem, as I was saying...

"... Nuthing up my sleeve"

"Presto!" and suddenly a bear Paul Webb pops out of my helmet.

"Hey you -- that's my helmet!" Lucas exclaims.

And scene!

Happy Friday everyone. Thanks for reading.

Bullwinkle pulls four animals from his hat here. Spoiler: none is Paul Webb.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Parts Unknown

I’ve never had any issues with alcohol. Professional Wrestling? That’s another thing entirely.

I owe my former troubles to my junior-year college roommate, Robert "Rockin' Robby-P" Pisco. He got me hooked on the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWF) long before they got in trouble with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and then they, the wrestlers, had to change their name to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). But that’s neither here nor there, for I was beyond step 12 of WWF-Anon by then.

Robert was from the south where professional wrestling is only eclipsed by NASCAR. But from his demeanor and appearance, you'd never guess that he was a rabid professional wrestling fan. 

For one, Robert was very particular about his name. Strict, uptight even. He was not Bob, nor Rob. And don't even think of calling him Bobby. It was simply, “Robert”. That’s it, unless his creole/cajun personality took over. When that happened, he preferred to be called Rockin’ Robby P

What else? Robert presented himself well. He came from good money. He was well educated, and he still had a full mouth of teeth. That last part, about having all his teeth, is all that’s really necessary to distinguish him from a typical WWF fan. 

I should also mention that Robert was studying pre-med. He would later go on to become a successful heart surgeon.

Anyway, this was the guy that got me hooked on the WWF in the fall semester of my junior year. One night, I came home from studying at the library around 10 PM to find Robert yelling at the TV. I could hear his voice as soon as I exited the elevator down the hall. When I got the apartment, I found him standing about three feet from the boob-tube, wearing a baseball cap (backwards), surfer-shorts and flip flops. His shirt was wadded up in a corner somewhere. He had a bucket of KFC in one hand and a beer in the other. 

“What’s going on?” I yelled at him over the noise.

“You just missed it. Warrior’s was getting his ass kicked by Jake da Snake - - Snake had him in a choke hold - - but Warrior escaped, rallied, and then gorilla-pressed the him over the top rope. They just called it a draw. It was incredible!”

What was incredible was that a pre-med student just assembled those words into sentences and fired them in my direction. I even told him so.

"Naw, iz good, you jis doan unnerstand, dats all," he said. 

In my previous two years of knowing him, I’d never heard him talk like that before. He had become red-necked incarnate in front of me.

“Set yerself down an lemme tell ya whas' goin' on rat here.” He continued, fully-rednecked.

“J’eat?” he interjected before I even could sit.


"J’eat?" he repeated, this time thrusting a drumstick in my face.

I looked into his eyes. Robert wasn't in there. In his place was Rockin’ Robby Pisco.

I took the drumstick and sat down. Rocking Robby P began from the top, with Wrestlemania I. He began telling me the entire backstory of professional wrestling. The whole, unabridged version. Three minutes later, I knew everything there was to know about the WWF. And it wouldn’t have taken that long if he hadn't gotten up to take a piss half way through telling it. But when he had finished, I knew every major character in the WWF franchise: Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, Ted Diabase, Million Dollar Man, Nature Boy Rick Flair, Junk Yard Dog and some of the newer ones of the Golden Age: Macho Man Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, Jake The Snake Roberts, Honky Tonk Man and The Big Boss Man to name a few. As it turned out, Rockin' Robby P's all time favorite wrestler was The Ultimate Warrior. 

As an aside, the Warrior was my favorite too, but out of respect for Robert, I’d defer the Warrior to him and root on one of the lesser cards featuring somebody like Super Fly Jimmy Snuka.

Somehow, my addiction started that evening, when Robert was yelling like a rajun cajun at the TV. Later that week, I watched my first wrestling match on TV. I didn’t miss many broadcasts thereafter.

I applied what I learned from TV to a heavily pixiliated WWF Superstars arcade game. It turned out that I was a natural at the game, mastering all the button combinations of the Warrior and Hulk Hogan. I was so good, I could get to the title bout vs Andre the Giant and The Million Dollar man on one quarter. Now that was something. 

It was only a matter of time before our other two roommates, Scott and Tom, became hooked on it as well. We split the pay-per-view four ways for Wrestlemania that year. We dressed in WWF costumes for halloween parties or when the WWF came to the Civic. The real Bush-wackers once stopped their bout to acknowledge us (dressed as them) with their synchronized double-forearm salute. When that show at the Civic ended later that evening, Rocking Robby P momentarily disappeared. When I finally located him, he was running around (inside) the unattended wrestling ring, bouncing back and forth off the ropes before getting chased away by security.

Ah, those were good times. Granted, an utter waste of time, but still so good.

Fortunately, I was able to get out of WWF as easily as it was to get into it. The addiction simply went away as soon as I graduated and we went our separate ways.

This flood of memories came back with a rush and a twinge of sadness when I learned of the passing of the Ultimate Warrior this past Tuesday. I remember when Rockin' Robby P told me about the Warrior. He told me that nobody knew where the Warrior came from; that he came from parts unknown. Well, it appears that with his passing, the Warrior has returned to parts unknown. RIP, Ulimate Warrior. Sigh.

The lesson here is that life is short, people. Get out there and get living. Even if it means getting out there as your favorite WWF/WWE Wrestler, your fav Star Wars/Trek character, or even elite World Champion athlete. What are you waiting for? Go Go Go!

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, April 4, 2014


For those following along, you may recall that I mentioned that I purchased Joe Friel's Power-Based: Olympic Build-Peak-Race plan a month ago. The plan is carefully calculated, following periodic training pioneered successfully by the Soviet decades ago. How this translates to me is that I have a daily workout delivered by email or smartphone that progressively takes me from base training (volume) to race form (intensity) over four months.

There have been a few surprises along the way. BikeSnob once said a power meter is like paying an accountant to tell you how poor you are.

But as brother Murphini suggested, I've found that the felicitous use of the device is like paying an accountant to make the best of your available funds.

The other thing I've discovered is that that hardest week of training has not been the one with 15 hours of grueling workouts. Sure, that's exhausting work. But it's nothing compared to what I'm going through this week.

This week is called the rest week. And it's awful.

In periodization, rest weeks are built in to allow the body to recover. Rest weeks have light workouts with very low volume. So for five days, you're supposed to do almost nothing. For me, this includes 20 minute swims (hardly worth getting in), 20 minute "embarrassingly slow" runs, and a couple 45 minute sessions on the bike spinning easy in zone 1 HR.

That's pretty basic. Thankfully, today is the final day of rest week. I'm ready for it to be done. Of course Today's workout is another cupcake:

Resting drives me nuts. I'm surprised at how difficult it's been for me to sit on my hands and do practically nothing.

I've discovered that I need to be active. I need to blow off lots of steam. I don't need to do this so I can flex and point at the mirror and stuff. I mean, I do that too, but that's besides the point. I think I need/like working out because of the way my body feels when it's over. It must be the beta endorphins released in the process. Of course, I recognize that this means some amount of rest is necessary to repair the body. But one day, two tops, is all the recovery I care for.

But if I subscribe to this plan, I need to comply to what coach Joe says, even if that means five days off. So if you'll please excuse me now so I can attend to the cupcake with my name on it.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Which World Class Cyclist Are You?

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a professional, world class cyclist like Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara, or Cadel Evans? 

We all have, but which elite cyclist would truly best fit your personality?

1) Choose your favorite season:

2) Choose any two-letter combo that speaks to you:

3) Pick your favorite Sponsor:

4) Choose the word/phrase that pops out at you:

5) Choose your favorite dog breed: