Sunday, September 28, 2008

an update of updates

Racing is blurry. The brain is sloshing around in a sea of exhasution, coffee, sangria and seafood. Racing has ended, they sponsors have been smiled at, the promoters wined and dined us and generally, all is well.

Beginning from the beginning, the sprints started horribly.

Maybe that´s not the beginning.

The beginning is like this. A Euro Grand Prix is something else. Certainly bigger and cooler than anything I´ve ever done before. The racing featured riders from the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Russia, Spain, Catalunya (they don´t like to be called Spaniards), Switzerland, Germany and probably a few others I´m forgeting. Most riders were from their national "B" or "development" teams save for the Spanish who brought a few big guns for the home crowd. All in all it was a bit wild to be on the line for a keirin with all those national jerseys instead of the local club teams. But anyway. About those sprints.

With the perfect equipment and the perfect warmup, it just did not come together. Slapped on a 94, rolled up and did a perfect windup, but the legs would not fire. Rolled in with a time almost a second slower than I´ve been doing in the last few weeks. Pathetic really. Put me near the bottom of the seeding list, but at least I was in. First ride: Jose Escuredo. Olympic medalist and current world cup baddass Jose Escuredo. To my credit, I rode smart but was just overwhelmed in the drag race. This put me in the rep round which went almost as well. The whole time I think I´m riding fairly aggressive rounds and Des tells my I´m riding like a passive idiot. "Make a diversion" he says. "Hook someone, if the officials like you they won´t see anything." When all was said and done, I finished 10th, and on to the Keirin.

Keirin was considerably more fun. The first 2 rounds ran directly after the sprint rounds on Saturday. This was new. I'm already feeling beat from my sprint humiliation and I´m getting called up for another go. Damn. To compensate for my crappy legs I put on a bigger gear and put on some white gloves. Turned out to be the magic pill. First round felt like a rugby match. I heeded Des´ and Kacala´s advice and rode like the lanes were mere suggestions. Took me back to the days of Abers´ Grasstrack Gauntlet From Hell. Nothing but fur flying, wheels scraping and me managing to scrape across the line first. In the second round I ended up again with Escuredo, the top seeded Russian, Theo Bos´ brother Patrick, his sneaky-ass Dutch teammate Yondi, and the biggest Catalunyan the world has ever seen. As the motor came off, Bos tried to come around with what I assumed was Yondi on his wheel. I immediately right turned into Bos´s front wheel (shredding my right shoe cover and part of my shoe) then sharply left turned to put the charging russian on the apron. Meanwhile Escuredo wound up a supersonic jump, and flew around with the Catalunyan on his wheel. Coming onto the home straight I was a solid third, with three through to the gold medal final. Then (remeniscent of a pink flash I saw at AVC) an orange Dutch flash named Yondi pipped me at the line for 3rd. Aparently he had watched the whole thing from the back and afterward told me "I think I shit myself twice before I could get close enough to pass you."
Anyway. The 6-12 final was my favorite ride of the weekend. It was somewhere near our 11th hour of track time, I was dead tired but somehow managed to feel magical for 7 laps. The highlights: Kneed the Russian´s handlebar to get the wheel I wanted, flicked Bos so hard he squealed (we laughed about it later) and dropped everyone to get to the line first. Sure it was only for 6th, but for my first European Gran Prix, I´m happy.

Team sprint. Ouch. Rode third. Hurt-box. Rode with one of the Dutch, who tried to talk his way out of it when he saw Blatchy and I start in warmups. All ended well though. I don´t remember anything past the first lap. Think I woke up with the announcer telling the crowd (in rapid-fire spanish) that we were third. Great way to end the tourney: standing on a podium with a trophy and flowers. With a gingerheaded Dutchman showing his teammate the international symbol of the full moon. What a bunch of tweaks.


Friday, September 26, 2008

heaviness increased

The Groundup got the pro treatment today. Full shebang. Mavic iO in front and Comete disk, Conti Sonderclausse tires and ceramic bearings. Feels fast just rolling on the apron. Started the usual warmup with our group plus the Dutch, which meant the whole thing was 30mph faster than usual... "im not hurting yet, are you?" Ended starting with 12 and finishing with 3. Rolled onto the apron with Des giving us that WTF? look. Don't give me that. I wasn't about to get dropped by a skinny carrot-topped dutch guy on a sparkly white BT in a warm up paceline. I've got an ego to consider.

Flying 100's went well. Des timed everyone that was there, and Blatchy and I were going the fastest. Good sign so far, but the Brits and French are still yet to arrive tonight. Juniors just rolled around while Des and Howard kept saying "just have fun" "just have a good time." Meanwhile we're in the middle of a tightly controlled workout with each 50m timed, compared and critiqued, and at one point Blatchy says "What about us?" They both say simultaneously "Don't fuck up!"

Guess we're not in Kansas anymore...

Anyway. Off to the showers, the cafe and out yonder. Barcelona has an incredible subway system that was installed for the 92 games. Lets you get anywhere in the city for a few Euros, so I'll see how lost I can get. Just need to make it back in time for dinner and a solid night's sleep. Crunch time tommorow. Racing starts at 10am. Trofeo International 2008. Got maneuvers to make.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

dia numero dos

How is it possible that I'm the only one awake this morning? Even the juniors "sleeping" in the "beds" which are actually cupboards underneath my and Blatchford's beds are still asleep at the late late hour of 5:10 am. Which is actually 9pm at home. Amazing stuff, this Ambien. Kills jetlag faster than a Polar Bear standing next to Sarah Palin. Oh, it's only 11 o'clock in the morning where you live? Just take one of these and zzzzzzzzzzz...

13hrs later when I finally come to, I'm adjusted to the time zone and ready to get my food on. Couple things about the food here. Catalans (Catalonyans? Catalites?) eat rice with tomato sauce at every meal. Also on the menu every meal of the day is some variety of fish. For instance, last night at dinner I ate some squid that must've had tentacles 5 inches wide. Huge. Tasted a little like starburst which was weird, but strangely satisfying. I guess that's probably just part of life on the Mediterranean coast. Squid, sangria and siestas. The whole siesta thing is pretty cool too. Everything shuts down for an hour or two in the middle of every day. This used to be a glorified national nap time but now it seems to be an excuse for everyone to wander down to the corner cafe to get a little soused before going back and facing the rest of the work day. We ended up at the track during nap time, so no one was there except a haggard old caretaker who was probably cursing us for interrupting his afternoon hooch.

The track.
Is all kinds of cool. Outdoor, looks over a hillside covered in ancient buildings, tons of spectator seating and a soccer field on the infield. The boards are no more than an inch tall each but a couple feet wide, which gives the surface sort of a bizzarre look, like someone dropped about a billion chopsticks on a concrete track. It's immaculately maintained and smooth as ice. 250 meters, 43 degree banks, long straights and perfect transitions. Makes LA feel like Alpenrose. Talked to a bunch of racers today. Pretty big group from the Netherlands (including Theo Bos's brother) who are all tall and thin and speak perfect English.
Did some flying hundreds and a standing start.
More of the same tommorow, then I'm headed to the Sagrada Familia and the Museu DePicasso.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day one

A few notes from a short day.

People in barcelona are painfully fashionable. Walking around this city feels like strolling through the pages of GQ and Vogue at the same time.

If you're ever in this part of the world, visit the Parc D'Laberint de Horta. Like Forest Park, but with 17th century marble sculptures, an incredible hedge maze, something that looks like a dog house with a moat around it. Think Pans Labyrinth outdoor scenes, since this is where they filmed it.

Catalan might be the most beautiful language on the planet. Which is good, because these people are stuck in an endless loop of conversation.

The track is closed today for a national holiday of some sort, but you can tell it hosted an Olympics. That thing is sweet.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

rain, rain, don't make me punch you in the face

Can we get some of that magic Chinese silver nitrate anti-rain spray in the clouds above Barcelona? Can someone get that done?
If the 10 day forecast is correct and it rains the entire time I'm overseas I'm going to fight someone. Probably someone smaller than me, because I don't like to loose. In fact I might fly to Portland to punch that skinny cripple in the jaw. So you better hope it doesn't rain, Tuckerman.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blazin Apes.

I don't have anything particularly important or exciting today (not that I ever have anything important to say), but Tuckerman's bored at home with two broken heels and the shop hasn't had a customer walk through the doors in over 2 hours.
Two broken heels, you say? How can that be? Well, maybe you should ask the invalid himself for the full story, but the abridged version involves: 1 late night, 1 tall concrete ledge, the desire to scare some friends and an undetermined amount of alcohol. The end result being a pair of hideous black and pink casts and Tuckerman being incapable of leaving his apartment without someone else opening the elevator door. This gives me semi-hilarious visions of my friend sitting in a rolling desk chair, holding his heels off the ground, doodling on his iPhone, waiting for some good samaritan to open the door and maybe roll him down to the coffee shop. Anyway. This one's for you buddy.

Recently the US Collegiate National Track Championships rolled into town. This to many collegiate racers is the Rose Bowl of turning left over and over again in skinny pants. The non-cycling world regards it somewhere on the level of the World Championships of Short Haired Kitten Wrestling, and the bike shop world thinks of it as a rough storm that must be weathered. Ten days of confused collegiate racers wondering why we don't have square-tapered italian-threaded Campy bottom brackets or requesting things like 15 matching aero helmets (and immediately following with questions about our return policy). No, these helmets are not prom dresses.

So we stock up on chainrings, chains, tools, cogs, all that crap that Aaron and I will probably buy anyway and hope for the best. The racing goes by smoothly, and it becomes pretty clear from the stands that this race is many of these riders' first time on the track.

One rider who's been on the track more than once is Aaron Kacala, who is racing for University of Colorado, although you wouldn't know it by the blank grey t-shirt he raced in. Aaron is awarded the Ride of The Year by virtue of a 4-up match sprint which was the most entertaining of the night by far. Aaron has been overloaded with school and work lately, so his training has been less than stellar. Read: he's ridden his bike to work a few times. Knowing this, The Big Gorilla decides to try and win by virtue of intimidation and control. If a rider tried to go over the top, he quickly found himself heading toward the rail so fast a parachute would be the only thing to save him. If a rider tried to go underneath, he would be immediately sandwiched between a slab of concrete and a big hairy ape in a gray t-shirt. I've seen a lot of match sprints, but until this day I've never seen someone travel farther laterally than they did forward. The officials were so overwhelmed that they stopped all the riders with one lap to go, removed the offensive simian Kacala from the track and restarted without him. Hilarious. So funny. Made me shoot beer out of my nose.


Sunday, September 07, 2008


CC is buzzing with a new crop of privileged youth, UCCS is back in session and all the news can talk about is CSU Pueblo's new football team (and that ghastly Palin woman). Since Labor Day there's been about a 100% increase in popped collars and baseball hats at the local bar. I don't think it's a coincidence. Also not coincidentally I've lost yet another training partner. First Blatchy goes to Beijing and now the Gorrilla Goes To College (good movie name). The infamous Aaron Kacala is stuck in the icy grip of homework and study, therefore I'm by myself at the track. Just me and Des with a stopwatch. Scary. Not as scary as the coming weeks of traveling, but still...

The Ground Up is in the middle of the painting process (read: Eric Barr with a can of flat black Krylon), so I'll get some pictures up soon, then FixedGearFever will have a feature on its birth.

Collegiate Natz! Coming soon! This weekend! If you're in CSprings and you're not in school, let's heckle! Heckle the Gorrilla!

I've also been writing the shop blog lately, so check that out if you want to see some boring crap about what bikes we have in stock.