Friday, July 25, 2014


I would like to ask you to consider why you like racing, either as a passive spectator (eg horse racing),or as an active participant racing in the field. 

For the spectators, would you continue to tune if you were prevented from knowing who won? Let's say you're watching the Kentucky Derby on your big screen at home. The horses are galloping around Churchill Downs, and suddenly --  inexplicably -- the network switches to the Blimp view several thousands of feet away for the final stretch call. Would you feel slighted? Would you tune in again if that's how it's always done?

I wouldn't.

For the active participants, would you train for several months (and pay good money) to enter a competition where nobody would be declared the winner at the finish line?

Again, I wouldn't.

The dictionary defines a race as a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc.., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.

We are fascinated by racing because we want to see who is the fastest in covering a set course.

If I'm in the race but am not capable of being the fastest on that particular day, then I'll strive for a PR, or being faster than someone else in my class/category. Either way, winning the race does matter.

Racing is an honorable pursuit. To be an active participant in the race is something special. To vie for the victory, all the more so.

So I say, hail to the victors, and let us fĂȘte our champions for their achievements.

Otherwise, what's the purpose of racing?

Please don't say it's to receive a participation medal.

YPG. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lost and Found

My phone buzzed with another unknown local caller. I momentarily panicked, wondering if it was election season again. It wasn't. I let the call go to voicemail. Would it be a wrong number? Or would it be some seedy phishing scam, like the guy last week who identified himself as "Luis from Sprint," and proceeded to offer me warranty insurance on phone model I don't own, from a carrier I don't use.

It turns out I was wrong. The caller identified himself simply as Joe, and he wanted to return the bidon containing a small bicycle repair kit that I had lost, and he had subsequently found, on the Keystone trail a few weeks ago. I was astonished. No political survey? No scam? Just somebody wanting to return something I had lost? I nearly dropped the phone.

It may not sound like much to lose, but that bidon contained an 80mm stem inner tube ($8), a c02 pump ($20), a 17 use multi-tool ($20), and a couple tyre [sic] levers ($2). That's $50 of booty that I had already painfully accepted as gone for good.

And now it was coming back to me.

Joe found it on the footbridge crossing the creek just north of Dodge Street near 24hr Fitness. Apparently, the bidon was on the on the edge of the bridge, dangerously close to falling into the creek below when he found it. Although he's a cyclist, he was unfamiliar with a bidon tool kit, and was hesitant to open it at first. He said that the strip of electrical tape I used to seal the lid caused him to wonder if it was some sort of bomb.

As he was telling me this, I could almost picture the hazmat firetruck detonating the bidon, along with the Keystone footbridge splintering into thousands of shards as collateral damage.

Awe man, that bidon had an $8 inner tube in it.
But a cooler head prevailed. When he uncapped it, he found a trove of goods that he could have easily claimed under the finder-keepers clause. But he also saw my name and phone number on the inside of the cap, which ultimately prompted him to call me.

As an aside, this wasn't the first time that I've unknowingly ejected a bidon from my cage, only to have a random act of kindness return it to me later. The last time this happened was this past winter, while doing some hot laps on my cyclocross bike at Tranquility. I'm not sure when or how it happened, but after the ride, I noticed that it was missing. I re-rode the course backwards until I found the bidon (white) wedged in a tree branch. It was brilliant putting the bidon in the tree; I probably would have never found it in the white snow.

Perhaps Joe is a mountain biker, too?

Anyway, I arranged to meet Joe this past Tuesday morning. At the exchange, I pulled a crisp $20 out of my wallet to thank him for returning the stuff, but he resolutely refused the reward. Instead, he settled for a handshake and some good old fashioned small talk about the local cycling and running communities.

Thanks, Joe. A simple act like this does a lot to restore some lost faith in humanity.

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hot Wax and TT Bikes (This May/May Not Be What You Think)

My back isn't (wasn't) very hirsute. It's just that the hairs tend toward long and unsightly, especially when wet. Since I'm in the swimming pool year around, I decided to do something about it. So, I had it waxed. I did this for the sake of the others. That, and for when I flex and point in front of the mirror at home.

Anyway, I know that this material has been covered in movies/TV shows before, but still I would like to confirm to you that there is a price to pay for getting waxed. The price is pain, and the pain is for real. Now, the shoulders and upper back are not an issue. You can wax up there all day long, no problemo. But the patches above the kidneys? I just had a visceral reaction recalling it. And, how about the small of the back?


With surprisingly little resistance from my wife, I found myself getting prepped for the "treatment" at the Dundee Waxing Room. Small talk accompanied shop owner Lindsey as she began applying a warm, soothing balm to open the pores on my back. The room had a pleasant floral fragrance. The talk, and warm soothing goodness put me at ease.

"So, do you have any vacation plans this summer?" Lindsey asks.

She applies another swath of warm balm over my lower back. It smells delightfully of orchids. I could fall asleep it's so nice.

"Well, my wife and I just returned from Colorado, but nothing else planned this summer."

"Colorado? What did you there?"

Reassuringly, she places the palm of her hand gently on my back. It was starting to feel like a Swedish Massage. I'm enjoying every part of this very much. So much that I was regretting that the treatment would soon follow. I guessed I had at least five more minutes before the real fun began.

"We visited family and went for a hike in the mounta --"

-- Riiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaappppppppppp!!!!!

A searing flash of pain instantly electrifies my spinal column, seizing several muscles en route to exploding in an array of complicated emotions in my brain.

"Did that sting a little?" Lindsey asks, mostly out of courtesy.

 "Yah!" was the best I could muster.

"I'm sorry, but I've found that the element of surprise works best for my clients. Believe me, I've tried doing the countdown. But each time, the client says that anticipating only makes it --

-- Riiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaappppppppppp!!!!!

"... worse."

"Well, perhaps for me you could give the countdown another --"

-- Riiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaappppppppppp!!!!!

" -- try."

And so on and so forth until the agony was over. I will tell you this: I didn't cry. Well not very much at least.

In hindsight, I will agree with Lindsey's professional assessment that the countdown would never work. What did work was changing my perspective. Instead of anticipating pain some of the time, I switched gears to expecting pain all of the time. That way, when I did get the hair yanked out of my back, it was kind of like a mini-vacation from the other pain.

I accomplished this feat by imagining racing my TT bike while Jordan and Spence were my +/- 30 second men. It was beautiful. I was suddenly in complete agony 100% of the time. That made all the difference.


A big toothy grin transforms the agony to joy on my face. A moment later I'm back on my TT bike, HR red-lining, lactic acid boiling in my blood. My clenched teeth are being mashed to pulp. Fighting like hell to not let Spence catch me, sweat stinging my eyes as I'm pushing the big ring up a hill at over 500 watts ---


A big toothy grin transforms the agony to joy on my face. A moment later I'm back on my TT bike, repeat etc...


I'm glad we covered this on my blog today. You're welcome.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend Festivities

I had a terrific childhood. I loved summers best of all. Especially the festivities of a Fourth of July at the swimming pool.

At around 2:00 PM, our swimming team coach, Jim Wheeler, would close the pool for a special events swimming meet. The swimming races involved completing one length of the pool using a modified stroke and a special skill, like swimming one-armed backstroke while reading a newspaper aloud. Not only did the participant have to be heard reading the paper, but the winner had to also correctly answer a quiz afterward to collect a prize. I believe that my buddy, Brian Denby, won that event one year. His fish-wrap, a local grocery store insert, was neatly folded over and dry when he completed the race. And when asked how much bananas were selling for a pound, he proudly stepped up to the microphone and said, "11 cents." He was correct. Smart kid. He took home a 200g Whammo Frisbee for his efforts. That disc was the real deal.

After the individual events were completed, a greased watermelon water polo game ensued in the deep end. It was done no holds barred, bloody American style. The game usually ended when one of the 15 year old boys (already growing a full beard) would gorilla press the watermelon over everyone and onto the deck, where it cracked open and spilled its red guts all over the place. The game was then declared over, and its remains were carved up with a long butcher's knife for all to enjoy.

Yeah, pretty good times.

Thanks for reading, and keep all your fingers (attached) this weekend. Happy Independence Day.

Greenbriar Hills 4th of July Special Meet
06 and Under: 1,000 Penny dive in the shallow end. Most pennies wins.
08 and UN: 25m breaststroke, ping-pong ball on spoon, clenched in mouth.
10 and UN: 25m breaststroke, blowing ping pong ball entire length
12 and UN: 25m one-armed backstroke while reading newspaper aloud. Paper must remain dry and the participant must pass a quiz afterward.
13 and Over:  25m three-legged, three armed boy-girl race.

Watermelon Polo
Deep end Greased Watermelon Water Polo for 12 and Under
Deep end Greased Watermelon Water Polo for 13 and Over

Bonus Events
75m Family side-stroke relay (3 lengths of pool)
Stevie Robbin's 1M Belly flop contest
Don Ussleman's 3M Gainer Challenge

Wiffle ball and bat combo
Fat bat and ball
Whamo Frisbees
Water rockets
nerf footballs, basketballs, soccer balls