Friday, December 25, 2015

A Very Shim Christmas

With Katherine working third shift Christmas Eve, I was on my own recognizance as a lone ranger. Fortunately, I had the privilege of accepting an invitation to meet Shim at his parents' home for a very Shim-Christmas.

Let me tell you, it was quite an honor. Truly, it meant a lot to me to meet Mr. and Mrs. Shim, their children, in-laws and grand children. Now, I have met Mrs Shim before, but not Mr Shim, nor the the rest of the clan. Wow! What a night.

In fact, it kinda felt like I was Richie Cunningham meeting Aurthur Fonzarelli's parents on a Happy Days Christmas special.

[Queue Happy Days theme song. As the opening credits fade out, Richie Cunningham rings the doorbell of Mr and Mrs Shim's house. Shim answers the door]

[Richie/Brady]: Gee Shim, it sure was nice of you to invite me over to your parents' home for Christmas.

[Shim]: Heeeey!

[Shim sways hips and gives thumbs up as the canned audience recording erupts into clapping]

[Shim]: Brady -- I mean, Richie --

Shim rolls his eyes and looks directly at the camera, invoking the fourth wall. 

[Shim]: This is stupid. Do I really have to participate in this charade for your blog?

I stand there silently, waiting patiently. After a pregnant pause Shim sighs, then composes himself once more. 

[Shim] -- Ahem, uh,  I'd like you to meet my parents, the Mr. and Mrs. Shim.

[Richie/Brady]. Merry Christmas Mr and Mrs Shim!

[Mr & Mrs. Shim]: Heeeey!

[Mr and Mrs S. sway hips in unison while giving the thumbs up. Queue canned clapping sounds...]

[And scene!]

Yes, there was plenty of good cheer, food, beer, and football on the tube. Best of all, I found this gem on Mrs Shim's fridge: a photo of the toddler Shim himself. I bet you can guess which one he is.

That's all I've got. Merry Christmas all!

Friday, December 18, 2015


Lately, I've been catching an early morning bus so I can join a conference call at work with an offshore team. Normally, catching the 5:58 AM bus is a straight forward affair without much ado. But this past Tuesday morning had some excitement.

Since I live only a few blocks from the stop, it means I can leave my house on my bike and roll up to the bus stop about 30 seconds later. It also means that I can see the bus approaching the stop from my driveway, and if necessary, I can put a few quick pedal strokes into the crank to ensure that I don't miss it.

That shouldn't have been the case this past Tuesday morning as I left my house five minutes before the bus was to arrive. But as I was rolling down the driveway, I saw my bus go barreling through the intersection at 52nd and NW Radial at about 40 mph.

I had to be on that bus. And if that was going to be so, I was going to have to chase it down and earn my seat the hard way. So, I quickly adjusted my shoulder strap, flicked on my Bontrager Flare tail light, and then jumped into a full on sprint down 52nd Street. Within a few moments, I had rounded the corner onto NW Radial Hwy and settled into a high cadence burn from the saddle. Fortunately, I had a bunch of angry adrenaline boiling in my veins. That, and a gradual descent on that part of NW Radial aided in my pursuit.  It took over a mile to do so, but I finally caught up to at Hamilton Street, where the bus was held up by the traffic signal.

Since the bus was hugging the outside curb lane, I opted to overtake it from the inside. It was a slightly risky move since it meant passing the bus on the left.  But since there were no cars in the middle lane, and the light was not about to change, it was fine.

"Now why would you pass the bus on the inside?" the bus driver asked me as I boarded.

My adrenaline spiked a second time. My brain failed to quell the angry words that were forming.

"YOU ARE FIVE MINUTES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE!" is what I started yelling at him, though I'm not sure if I used only those words. I do remember a big snot bubble popping and then frothing around my lips as I barked at him like a dog about having to chase him down in my dress clothes and stuff.

When I was done with my tirade, the bus driver looked at me patiently.

"Would you like a transfer ticket?" he said calmly before deducting my fare.

I grabbed my pass and headed to the back of the bus. I spent a good portion of the ride collecting myself. It took most of the next 20 minutes, but by the time we reached downtown, I was at peace again.

"Will you be coming from the south 52nd Street again tomorrow" the bus driver asked with a smile as I approached the exit. "Because I'll be looking out for you to make sure you don't miss it next time," he continued.

"Thanks, but probably not tomorrow. Maybe Thursday."

"I want you to know that I was pretty hot when I boarded the bus, " I continued. "But I've cooled off since. I am sorry for having yelled at you like I did." I meant it.

"You know, what I said to you was only out of concern for your safety. It's just dangerous passing a  bus on the inside like that," the driver said.

"Yeah. Thanks for looking out for me. My wife appreciates it too," I replied.

In the end, we were all smiles and stuff.

In hindsight, I admire his ability to deescalate the situation. He had managed my frothy anger by not engaging in my barbs, by not raising his voice, nor by justifying himself. He allowed me to vent, he was polite, and he offered a solution. Only after all of that did he circle back to restate his original concern for my safety.

Deescalation is a valuable skill to have. I took note.

Happy Friday. Thanks for Reading.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mud and Patience

My cyclocross season ended on a good note. First and foremost, I managed to retain my current level health through the weekend. I still crashed, more so than usual due to the challenging conditions. However, aside from a few scrapes on the legs, I was otherwise unaffected. My bike remained healthy, too: no snapped derailleurs or worse throughout the weekend.

Having a good starting position in a big field helped a lot. This was especially true during Sunday's race, where I was able to line up behind Scott Daubert (Trek Cyclocross Collective), who had won the previous two day's races. I hit my Sunday start well and was able to find a window to tuck in behind him and Doug Graver (Mafia Racing). The front of our field overtook the stragglers of the M35+ quickly. Then a M35 rider's crash gapped me off from the Daubert and Graver. I panicked a little and probably pressed too much, resulting in washing out my front wheel during a greasy turn. This was to be my only mistake in the race, but it cost me as I was passed by Scott Moseley (360 Racing), who ultimately took the final spot on the podium. Still, I was satisfied with taking fourth. To date, this was my best showing at Jingle Cross.

I learned a lot while racing in the mud this weekend. A good portion of that will go towards equipment purchases for next year. However, the thing that I gained most about racing in the mud had less to do with equipment, and more about one's frame of mind. Mud requires patience. Mud slows things down a lot. The temptation to think that you're not going fast enough can lead to over exertion and elevated heart rates. When you really need it, like when shouldering your bike up Mt Krumpit, your heart rate can easily spike over the top. It took me until Sunday to figure this out. In fact, after my single crash on Sunday, I spoke the word "patience" in my mind almost as if a mantra. I think it helped. I don't recall feeling really horrible at any one point in the race.

It was great seeing so many friends at this race, many of whom I've met while racing. We also brought a big group from Omaha. Our own Midwest Cycling community had 14 racers make the trip. The camaraderie of sharing this experience in challenging conditions, as well as the group effort made to give the best possible chance of success, such as teammates helping in pits and tuning up bikes afterwards made this even more memorable. Thanks especially to Kent McNeill for providing the Trek Store Sprinter van and tents for this weekend.

So with that, my one month cyclocross season is done. I miss it already.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Trending Down?

I didn't have a very good weekend at Frosty Cross last week. A flubbed start on Saturday's M123 race had me fighting for position from mid pack right from the gun. The field was small, but top-heavy. I like these types of races. Without much congestion, it allows one to ride their race. Mostly.

The course conditions were shifting from wet, sticky mud to frozen. A set of mud tires would have helped my handling. I crashed several times. It was on one of the crashes with about three to go that drove my elbow deep into my ribs. That rib was already tender from going down the week before. My performance suffered over the last 15 minutes. I lost contact with the group I was with, and had to switch tactics to defend my position from Tyler Reynolds, a junior who was bringing back five seconds on me on each lap. I ended up seventh place, just seconds ahead of Tyler. Greg Shimonek was ahead of me, but I was nowhere near him.

After the race, I went back to the van to lick my wounds. I was in a lot of pain. Breathing was shallow and painful. I made a decision to call it quits for the weekend, and wasn't even sure if I'd be able to race at Jingle Cross this weekend.

Sunday and Monday were filled with more doubt. But my ribs felt less tender on Tuesday, and even better on Wednesday. And yesterday, I did a set of openers that elevated the HR and breathing. Thankfully, it felt fine. So with that, I have given myself the green light to roll my bike up to the starting line one last time this year.

Now, because some big races with podium spots near very strong riders have fallen off over the past few weeks, my ranking has been trending downwards lately. As a result, I have slipped nine spots from when I initially registered for Jingle cross three weeks ago. Still, I can hardly complain. I'm in a good spot in the third row. If I race into the top 16, then I can make call ups for the first two rows on the follow day's race. Anyway, I believe that I'm a stronger racer than my starting position suggests. So I suppose I have a chip on my shoulder -- if not on my ribs -- to kick start my motivation. I like that. It will help.

Anyway, wish me luck that I keep the rubber side down. If I can manage to do that, I like my chances for some good results this weekend.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.