Sunday, May 29, 2005

I Hate Crashing...

...especially when it's not because of some insane last corner manuever or a big-time kamikaze hook. Oh no, the crashes I hate most are the ones that can get chalked up to dumb luck. Take the national qualifier scratch race for example: Early in the dog and pony show I was rolling along, minding my own business in the sprinters lane when WHAMMY some guy comes flying uptrack from the apron and nails my rear wheel as hard as he can. I go rolling across the track, my tire comes rolling off the rim, my skin rolls right off my legs and my bars roll right into my frame, leaving a nice golf-ball sized dent.

Fabulous. Just the thing to make my recent knee problems go away, a good crash.

Ok. Fine. I'll just attack, spend the rest of the race off the front with 2 other guys and get dropped rather suddenly with 5 to go. Sounds like a plan, eh?

Sure seemed smart at the time.

After than dismal performance, only a good ride in the sprints would make my day worthwhile. So naturally I got punted out of the gold medal round by Ryan Miller, a roadie, albiet a very fast and very smart roadie. That one mostly boils down to the fact that I had the chance to close the door on him in a big way, but I second-guessed it and let him walk all over me. Damn. Next race however was against my all-time nemesis. Big Mr. Muscles had also just been beat by a sneak-attack move when he also could have had the race won, so we were on equal levels, morale-wise. This guy can do 200s at Alpensrose like nobody's business, so I wasn't about to let him do one, instead I made him do about 4 and it worked. Barely. I was so depleted after that battle and all the scratch race shenanigans that I couldn't even bring myself to line up for the points race. Man I'm a weako, eh?

On the brightside, we smashed everybody at last week's PIR. With Walker leading me out at mach 10 - jumping the field before anybody was even thinking about sprinting - it was kinda hard not to win. Magic.

You know what else is magic? Bloc Party. Friday night we kicked it old school and rocked out to an amazing show put on by these British lads. There's a lot of talk about Vice, the magazine/fashion label/record lable/marketing machine that backs these guys. Local music snobs get thier panties in a twist when the words Bloc Party are uttered because of the sheer genius of Vice's advertising strategies. Vice is in a rare position in marketing (where thier target audience actually trusts them) and as a result, the bands and the fashions that they push tend to do really well. This case in particular is a great example of why people pay attention to them, and why they are so successful. They promote great bands. Bloc Party is awesome. We had a wicked time. Say what you want about the ruthlessness of the American advertising machine, but when it exposes me to great music like this, I'm not so pissed about it. I'd rather they get behind talented artists and use whatever "guerrilla marketing" techniques they have to get said artists into the open, instead of putting more money behind Jessica Simpson or Clay Aiken.

COMING SOON: MT HOOD, and the never-ending climbs of... Mt. HOOD.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"They Just Keep Beating On Each Other..."

The boys somehow made it back from the Great Middle American Adventure, and the real racing has finally started... That's right, criteriums and track racing, the true sport. Track has actually been a bit weak lately, out of 6 nights I've only made it out twice. One night I missed on account of my tendency to not pay attention to things, and the other 3 were rain, rain, rain. We have successfully completed a kilo night and a "sprint" night though, and what fun they were. Here's my thing with kilos. Kilos are a genuinely bad thing, and I can't imagine that anyone actually likes them, it just happens that certain people are naturally pretty good at them, therefore the event survives. Nothing hurts more than the last lap of said TT, except maybe the embarrasment of everyone watching how slow that last lap is. I went out so stupendously hard out of the blocks that in the last lap I was seriously considering sitting up and coasting in. I won, but it was with a pretty sad time for a track rider expecting to perform on a national level.

No matter, Friday night is sprint night! Yes! I'm a big fan of match sprints, it's one of the things that I've always been pretty good at, and it's fun to be the lone roadie in the top 3. HOWEVER. Instead of running match sprints, the organizers have decided to hold "sprint events" on every other Friday, this being one of them. "Okay" says I, "Kierins are cool, team sprints are cool, handicaps are cool, this'll be alright." But guess what, instead of actual sprint events, we're gonna do a 10 lap points race with 2 (count em') TWO sprints, a miss n'out, (which I can't complain about much) and an unknown distance, which turned out to be 3 laps.

Are you serious?
I mean, who does this?

Sure maybe I was a bit bitter about not winning the two races which rely on luck, but that's just the thing. There's a couple reasons why top-flight sprinters don't come out of Portland, and this is a big one. Riders improve by doing races that require skill, physical ability and brains, not just luck. A 3 lap unknown distance is like paying 10 bucks to play dice on wheels, it's not even that fun. I understand that the organizers want to make things fun so more people will show up, but why not run sprints on sprint night? Having a sprint night in the first place is a big step towards developing local talent, but running easy races doesn't attract top riders and doesn't do much more to develop that talent. Enough wining. On to the party.

It's a bummer when people tell a host they will show up at a party and never even bother to show up. The Godfreys put a lot of effort into preparing for a certain number of people that said they would attend, and the house was practically empty. Those who were there certainly made the most of the evening, the beer that was intended for about 30 people was consumed by about 6, and the hosts now have enough take 'n bake pizza to last a few years. Heads were shaved, cake was eaten, music was cranked and we had a wicked time anyway. So there.

On a happier note, Rubicon threw down the big one two punch at the Swan Island crit. Everyone's favorite pan-flat cornerless circuit was drenched with rain for the start, which pissed me off so much I had to take my anger out on my legs, and began an ill-advised campaign to make myself hurl by attacking from the gun. The group I ended up in was caught, and the rest of the race turned out to be a great big Rubicon vs. Bike Gallery attack-a-palooza. Halfway through I was tired and not too convinced that a breakaway would work, so I sat back and watched Aaron, Scotty, Walker and Carl stick it to the field like Tina Turner. Here's how the last half-hour went:

Aaron attacks and drags someone with him.
Then he drops them.
So he rides by himself 50 feet in front of the field for the next 5 laps.
Aaron gets caught.
Gallery dudes counter-attack.
Walker counters the counter.
Gallery counters his counter.
Carl counters the counter of the counters and starts a group that Scotty gets into and promptly tears apart.
Aaron goes again.
Splinter The Announcer Guy is beside himself and keeps saying stuff like "Rubicon and Bike Gallery just keep beating on each other. It's like Tyson Vs. Holyfield vs. Ali vs. Tonya Harding"
These cats just keep going at each other, people are yelling, the sun comes out, I jump the field with a half lap to go with Todd Littlehales and Walker The Stalker on my wheel, Walker stalks Todd, throws down a mighty powerful last 5 pedal-strokes to take him down to Chinatown, we strut across the line for a neat one-two finish, I throw the hands up like a big time champ and everybody does a happy cha-cha.

COMING SOON: PIR, TRACK THURSDAY, TRACK FRIDAY, TRACK NATIONALS QUALIFIER and maybe another boring rant or a snazzy piece about how much school is not the coolest thing on the planet. DT

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

TST Is A Pile of Crap And I'm Never Going Back

This one's been held up in the proccess (namely, Norrene's missing laptop) for a few weeks, but I figured since I took 10 minutes out of my life to write it, you should have to take 10 minutes out of yours to read it...

Sending bike racers into a gas station mid road-trip is like letting a group of recovering alcoholics roam around in Liquor King. We can walk through the doors knowing that everything inside does terrible things to the human body – that we should all just use the restroom and leave – but we inevitably walk out with armloads of pop-tarts, hostess cakes, donuts, candy and energy drinks.

Oh the energy drinks. Those terrible 20 oz. cans of amphetamine cocktails with names like Rock Star, (‘party like a rock star!’) Red Bull, (‘red bull gives you WINGS!’) Monster, (‘unleash the monster inside’) Full Throttle, (‘120%’) and others like Kronic (don’t ask). 3 hours of the shakes and nervous energy followed by a massive sugar-induced insulin-crash that sends you searching for the nearest aggressively named can or a nice place to pass out. This is the drink of the athlete’s summer, a vice of otherwise healthy people that takes all winter to detox from. It was only a matter of time before we dove into that evil stuff, but I was hoping to at least make it until the first track night.

But here we are, walking out of an AM/PM in god knows where, central Washington, black spaz-juice in hand.

It’s going to be a long season.

Ever had that feeling that something’s wrong despite no signs to indicate anything other than smooth sailing?

Ever had that voice somewhere in the back of your head telling you that you’re not going to make it through the day?

I thought it was just Rock Star mid-level paranoia until we rolled up to the start of the Tahuya Seabeck Tahuya roadrace 8 minutes after our group had left. So if the rain, the early morning, the drive and the freezing temperatures aren’t enough, try a $25 training ride. After about half an hour of chasing it became apparent that we were making zero ground, and my cassette made it abundantly clear that it was loose and trying to wreck the hub on my carbon wheel, so back to the van I carefully rode.

Unrelated sidenote: There is a club in Seattle that rides in poo-brown uniforms. That’s right. Poo-brown with baby-blue and white stripes. I uderstand they are sponsored by a coffee shop, but whoever is responsible for those kits should be kicked in the shins anytime they are within 10 feet of any kind of design tools. And they should receive a flying head-butt from Scott Allen, I hear those solve practically anything.

Next in line for the Scott Allen flying WWF style head-butt: Team Rubicon. No not the orange ones that are all way cool and ridiculously good-looking, but the new club (also out of Seattle) that calls themselves Team Rubicon. Now come on, I know we’re in different cities and all, but Seattle and Portland are practically the same racing scene, we’re all at the same races and there’s only room for one TR. How about Whatever Velo presented by Rubicon Finance? How about ANYTHING other than Team Rubicon?

Instead of taking our anger out on organizers or competitors, this time we took our anger out on our stomachs: Dairy Queen style. Double western bacon quarter pounder, two corndogs, extra fries, large blizzard and a coke later I was pretty convinced that Scotty wasn't going to make it home without some catastrophic gastrointestinal event, and god knows we've had enough of those in the van lately...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Love And Death In the Time of Lactic Acid

If I don't find some Action soon, if I can't confront some great Evil and do battle like Xena, then I just might crack. This lifestyle of hanging out and going to school just isn't cutting it these days. Granted school has its place and I'm not ready to cancel all classes and career ambitions, but my cycling career ambitions have been pushing thier way to the front of my head lately. 20 and a half years in the history books and where do I go from here? A: Straight through school, putting racing on the three year backburner? B: Straight into racing, putting school on the indefinite backburner and hoping cycling will work out big time? Or C: Somewhere halfway, with 2 classes per term and twice the training time?

Short term goals are such: Rock the house at a few local crits and maybe a track race or two to ease the oncoming waves of ADD and maintain passing grades 'til summer, where it's all battle, all the time. SuperWeek and the AVC, Twillights and tours, BC and LA, love and death in the time of lactic acid. PIR and sprint nights at the track will have to do for now, but these dog and pony shows can only hold my attention span for so long.

Speaking of PIR, missed the first week, but still managed to get second overall. A few classy moves and a week with a 6-man killer leadout made for a quick recovery points-wise, but still not enough to get that first spot. Damn the man. Looks like this year's arch-enemy will be Nate Dills. That bastard beat me straight up last week and that means things are gonna get drastic. So untill then, DT