Friday, March 27, 2015

Harvest Race Team Tactics Revealed!

During last Friday's lunch ride, colleague Jonathan Wait (Flatwater) sidled up next to me and asked what the Harvest Race Team's plans were for the following weekend's Tour De Husker.

I told him that we were going to run the Statue of Liberty play, followed by a fumblerooski, and if necessary, toss a Hail Mary as the game clock expired.

Jonathan was quiet for a moment. Then, he told me he was going to attack early and hope not to get popped like he did last year.

We had race plans, but I wasn't going to reveal them to Jonathan the day before the race. But now that it's all over, I can tell you all about it.

The team got together for a race meeting at Mark Savery's house. Before everyone arrived, Mark, Jordan Ross, Paul Webb and I were playing Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. Mark (Mario), Jordan (Luigi), Paul (yellow Toad) and I (green Toad) had made it to Bowser's Castle. While we were playing, somebody mentioned that Bowser was like Chris Spence (Kaos). We all agreed on that point: Spence is Bowser.

While we were discussing the Bowser-Spence thing, I ran my little green Toad to the right side of Bowser's lair while the others stayed put on the left. Bowser turned and started spitting fireballs my way. With Bowser's back facing the others, Mario, Luigi and yellow Toad attacked mercilessly. I continued running interference until the attacks took Bowser down. 

We decided right then and there that that's how we'd do it at the road race.

The best of plans -- and that's a doozy -- never play out the way they're drawn up. Here's how the race went down:

Edit: before I go any further, may I suggest playing Super Mario Brothers' Over World Theme in another window while you read it?

The first two laps were a parade. During that time, Greg Hagele (Kaos) rolled away from the pack and soloed up the road. Midway through the third lap, things got spicy. I nearly missed my chance at the break, but caught Jonathan Wait's wheel just in time to chase down Spence as he was getting away. We sat up a few miles up the road to let Jonathan Nelson (SC Velo) bridge up to us. With Greg Hagele (Kaos) now several minutes up the road, Spence said that he wasn't going to pull his teammate back. That meant that the two Jonathans and I spent the next lap reeling Hagele back in. Once we pulled Hagele back, Spence lured us deep into his lair, the pain cave.

Hagele was the first to get popped, followed by Nelson. The attacks were as fierce as the were plenty; at least a dozen teeth grinding efforts.

I remember once yelling, "Spence! Would you stop that? It's really annoying!"

Spence looked at me, flashed a smile and said, "No". Then he punched it again.

When Spence wasn't crushing it on the flats, Wait was drilling it up the long climbs.

That continued for the next hour and 45 minutes. During that period, there were several times that I had wished my mother had never met my father.

The final two miles were a game of cat and mouse as we rolled up to the 200M mark at about 8 mph. Wait got the early jump, Spence and I were just off his lead. It finished in that order. After some 60 miles, only 0.7 seconds separated first from third.

Although the plan did not go as it was drawn up, I learned a lot about my competitors in this race. Even more, I learned a lot about myself.

One more thing. That bit about getting our game plan from Super Mario was all made up. I don't even know if Mark has a Wii.

Regardless, Spence is still Bowser.

♫ Bah -da-do-da, bah-bah ba da
Bah -da-do-da, bah-bah ba da ♫

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Harvest Toadie

By now, many of you have seen the Harvest Racing Team's new duds. Designed by our own Lucas Marshall, in a word, they're smashing.

It takes a lot to get a new team together. I wouldn't pretend to know how much because all the grunt work was done before I ever joined the team. 

Putting together a team kit is one such task. Designing it is only half of the battle. Getting team members to complete the order and getting it to the manufacturer with enough time to have for the first race takes some advanced planning.

Anyway, Kudos to Lucas and Paul for getting it done.

The only problem I have with our kits is our Bontrager Velocis helmets. Let me first qualify that there is nothing wrong with the helmet. At only 249g, it is very light. It is also airy with stylish vents. It fits my head well with plenty of cushy padding. In short: it's the most comfortable helmet I've ever worn. 

Yet I still have a problem with the helmet. Actually, the problem is all me. You see, I have a big ol' melon for head. So much so, that the first time I looked in the mirror while wearing my new helmet, I saw this:
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing more noble than Toad helping Mario and Luigi save Princess Peach from Bowser in Super Mario World. It's just not what I had in mind when I envisioned saddling up with my teammates to vie for cycling glory.

Speaking of that, our first race is this weekend's Tour De Husker. Hopefully by then, the Mario Theme Song will have run its course in my brain. But if not, then you count on me humming along in the peloton while I play the part of the Harvest Toadie :)

♫ Do do do, 
do DO dah-do, 
do do do DO,
dah do-do... ♫

That's all I've got for today. 

 ♫ .. dah do do! ♫

Happy Friday and Thanks for Reading.

♫ ...dah dah dah,
dah-dah de dah-dah,
de dah! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

It Begins Again: Wednesday Night Worlds

I joined up with about six other riders to kick of the 2015 edition of Wednesday Night Worlds this past Wednesday evening.

Everything about this past Wednesday night was very similar to previous WNW group rides, including the pre-ride vapid stares into space. See for yourself, the side-by-side comparison to the first WNW of the 2010 season:

If I had a picture for the start of every single WNW, they'd all look like this.

As a veteran of this ride for several years now, I am quite familiar with the pre-ride space out ritual. It's at that time when we riders can savour our last moments where our heart rates are below 165 bpms. It's then when our glycogen levels are topped off, and lactic acid is merely potential in our legs. It's only at that moment, there's still enough breath for some small talk. And then, just before shoving off, we allow ourselves a moment to drift. Applying copious amounts of pressure to the pedals will have to wait until we roll down the road a short time later.

Come join in the fun. Yes, it's hard work. But oh golly, it's a good time.

Wednesday Night Worlds
Trek Store Midtown (Jones/NFM)
Wednedays, 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM *

*6:00PM -8:30 PM when daylight permits.

Come ready. Be prepared with food, hydration and tools. Although this is spirited (drop ride), we do regroup, and are trying out a B group for newcomers and Cat 4-5 riders.

Hope to see you there.

Happy Friday and thanks for reading.

Friday, March 6, 2015


This past week I attended Harvest Racing Team's meeting. It was a good. We covered typical stuff like team roles, race calendar, race tactics, budget, and Shim's favorite topic: having a social media presence.

For those who don't know, my buddy Shim does not have a Facebook account. The same goes for Instagram and Twitter, too. However, there is a "fakeshim" account on Twitter that is remarkably good at capturing the essence of Shim. So much so that even he buys into it.

But rest assured, Rafal will confirm for you that fakeshim is not Shim.

Some at the team meeting were actively encouraging Shim to open a Facebook or Instagram account. If you know my friend Shim, that's laughable. It's just not his style to be sharing pictures of his dog or cat. He doesn't have a dog or cat, so there's that, too.

Shim countered that in addition to fakeshim on Twitter, he is already saturated in social media by this blog. He may have a point. He gets more attention here than just about anyone else.

My personal opinion is that Shim should skip Facebook, but open an Instagram account. He'd be a laugh-a-minute. That is, if you understand his random sense of humor. Like, you'll be talking about one thing when he'll suddenly blurt out one of his random "funny" off-topic thoughts that bears almost no connection to the context of discussion.

Take the team meeting the other night. While Jordan was talking about the race calendar, Shim suddenly interjects, "Paul (Webb) looks like Opie."

The first thought that popped in my brain was: what the hell does that have to do with Snake Alley, or Tulsa Tough?

The next thought that popped into my brain was this:

The third thought was that Paul looks nothing like an '80s comic strip penguin wearing a fruit hat.

While I was thinking of that, Matt Tillinghast takes the bait and replies, "Opie was bludgeoned to death in prison."

Sidebar: I read Berkely Breathed's Bloom County comic strip every day when I was a kid, but like so many others, I failed on Outland. I think Outland was too political for me to latch on to. As a result, I couldn't tell you what Opus' fate was in Outland. Being bludgeoned in prison just didn't seem to make sense. Bill The Cat? Phtttt Aaacck!!! I could see that, Just not Opus.

Fortunately, Shim stuck his phone in my face to show me the Opie he was referring to:

Oh, Sons of Anarchy Opie. I don't watch that show, but I was able to make an educated guess since Shim has mentioned binging on Sons of Anarchy during every ride over the past two weeks.

I have to admit: Shim's spot-on. Opie/Paul do bear a resemblance to one another. Here's the side-by-side. You be the judge:

All I can say is, stay away from prison, Paul!

Anyway, I think Shim would do just fine on Instagram. He already sends me pictures and stuffs like animated .gif files on our internal instant messenger at work. Mostly, his photos are a go-to set of poor quality photo-shopped (MsPaint edited) images of me riding a some sort of trick bicycle. Like the one where Jens was riding a junior yellow bike:

...or this one of me on a unicorn bicycle with the phrase, "Haters gonna hate":

One of his favorites is an animated .gif file of Will Ferrell playing a cowbell. I get that one a lot.

I call those treasured instant messengers at work "Shimstagrams". They make me smile every time I receive one.

Unfortunately, the handle Shimstagram is already taken on Instagram. Rats. Perhaps he could be Shimstagran -- that's available. If he doesn't open an account, FakeShimstagram is there to be taken.

Well get on with it, Shim. The world awaits.

Happy Friday and thanks for reading.