Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

hey you! say something!

There's no time like the present, and I'm no good at intros, so let's get right to it.

Pan Am Games was on balance a success. We were good enought to win, but came home with a silver medal in the team sprint. A bit dissapointing, but in the end the experience was invaluable. I'd rather not rehash it this far from the event, but if you'd like, you can read my "I'm an angry adolescent" rant at the
Project London site.

July is the worst month to work at a bike shop. Scratch that. I love the bike shop. July is the worst time to be employed by someone who wants you to do things other than bike racing and rabble-rousing. Too many events. You've got San Jose, Portland AVC, FSA GP, street sprints, roller races, weddings, patio seating at bars and BBQ's every sunny evening. I managed to get the weekends of AVC and FSA off, but once again the San Jose challenge is the good-natured but unfortunately red-headed stepchild that doesn't get picked for kickball. I'll make it to that race someday, but no dice this time.

I'm fighting off waves of panic every time I think about the future. I'm confident enough in my abilities to know that I can ride 4 world cups, the pan am games, the pan am championships, the world championships and a sixday this winter. Physically tough, but can be done. Mentally tough, but doable. Financially? Uhh. Bueller? Help?
I will sell my liver and auction off my cat (don't tell Jenny) to pay my rent this winter, but my cat's a hateful fiend and enough beer and whiskey has passed through my liver that it's probably only worth a five spot at best.

I can deadlift 400 pounds, but I can't walk through the park with my wife without waking up with sore legs the next day. My body is so finely tuned to do one specific movement that it has become hilariously ill-equipped for the rest of the real world.
I am not ready for the worst case scenario. I could not survive like Bear Grylls, but I can make a bike go pretty fast for a little while.


Monday, March 28, 2011

blind as a bat

37,000 feet over the Atlantic, ripping along at 630 miles per hour in an aluminum can with wings I had a strange thought. This thought was really just my brain confirming something I had suspected for a few weeks. A sort of weird reality sinking in.

I realized that this isn't a fluke. I'm on my way around the world to compete in the World Championships. To do a job. 12 months after I had effectively quit and given up my ambitions at top-level international competition. Last March my world was set to become a much more simple cruise of local races and bike shop routine. One email from an Olympic champion later, I took a hard right down a more difficult road.

All this, it's something I wanted since I was a teenager and it's not a dream anymore. And it is absolutely terrifying.

If you want to know what the World Championships is like from the rider's perspective, I don't know how much I can tell you. Consider a situation with more pressure than you've ever experienced. TV cameras everywhere and that red "record" light is staring you in the face. Millions of people are watching. You're wearing a wife beater and underwear in a room full of black-tie socialites, and your socks don't even match. You're standing under an anvil tied to a rope, and you have to throw a dart into a bullseye for the first time in your life, or the rope lets go. You're robbing a bank with a fake pistol, alarms ringing and cops on the way.

Keith Richards writes in his autobiography about recording Exile on Main Street and although I'd be a fool to consider myself a rock star, I can relate every word of this to the sensation of race day on the world stage:

"You'd be surprised when you're put right on the ball and you've got to do something and everybody's looking at you, going, OK, what's going to happen? You put yourself up there on the firing line - give me a blindfold and a cigarette and let's go. And you'd be surprised how much comes out before you die. Especially when you're fooling the rest of the band, who think you know exactly what you're gonna do, and you know you're blind as a bat and have no idea. But you're gonna trust yourself."

It's over in a flash. Sometimes, like in Manchester, everything comes together and you can feel success before the time flashes on the board. Other times, like in Apeldoorn, everything goes wrong at once, and the disappointment is total and ultimate. To be disappointed with 12th in the world seems out of touch, but success at this level depends on a slightly skewed reality and uncompromising vision. The "normal" world says that "shit happens" but the Swiss timing system and the organization spending thousands of dollars for you to ride a single lap doesn't always see it that way.

All you can do is think about what's next. For me that's Pan Am Championships in Medellin, Columbia. Just about 5 weeks from now. One more big blast to finish off the season. One last chance for Olympic points and hardware for the mantle. One more chance to close your eyes and see what comes out.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

A wold cup, a sixday, a beer or two.

These past few months have been busy to say the least, so let's jump right into the fray with no protection and little concern for our own well-being. Let's pick up the action in the city of Cali, en route to the plush Four Points hotel in a bus filled with World Cup riders and surrounded by assault-rifle equipped Colombian soldiers.

I'm not convinced that this bus will survive this descent. Rolling over these hills in a broke down 80's tourist bus, two first-time world cup competitors are gripped with a kind of wild-eyed mania. This is Colombia. These hills are packed with danger and the city seems uncontrollable. A massive glittering city, that for all we know could be the largest place on the planet. Our bus driver isn't helping anyone's nerves, he's taking these curves at speeds few would attempt in a European sports car.

I was flown to Columbia at great expense to ride 250 meters from a dead stop as fast as possible. One lap of a purpose built track. That is my destiny. Density? That is a quarter of this year in the books for me, that one lap. My friend in the seat behind me, laughing hysterically at the dirty madness of Cali is an endurance rider of a different breed but at this point, we're practically indistinguishable. Jaws on the floor, eyes bigger than the moon. Drinking in this thing, this absurd experience, this incredible place. Everything all at once.

The Colombian people are incredible sports fans. Viciously nationalistic, but sports fans of the finest type. 5,000 Colombians are three times louder than 10,000 Europeans, and 5 minutes before our race I can hear every single one of them. Our third man is missing. The National Team coach is searching the catacombs of the velodrome's basement and I know that at the very least he will drag the poor bastard out by his hair and throw him on the track in a vomiting heap, somehow strapped to a bicycle. I remember a countdown, a false start and a reset. I remember a TV camera in my face and incredible fear. I remember the second half of my lap, but not the first. I remember disappointment seeing our final time.

2 Days after my return from Colombia I'm running a fever of 102.8. Locked on the couch in a sweating, hungry mess. I recover in time for my good friend Aaron Kacala to visit from Colorado for New Years. We show him and his wonderful ladyfriend Leilani our favorite parts of the greatest city on the planet and I finally start to feel better, which gives me enough time for one workout before I catch a direct flight to Amsterdam for the Sixday of Rotterdam.

Will he, Won't he?

Sweet mother it's cold here in Holland.

I feel simultaneously comfortable and waaay over my head. Being an American at a European sixday is a lonely thing. Without friends here I'd never be able to come back. There is a hierarchy, and I am very near the bottom.

Night 1.
Lots of noise about Kiesse tonight. Will he ride? Won't he? Will he be allowed? Who will Sercu pair him with at such a late hour? Iljo Kiesse's legal troubles after his positive test a few years ago are never-ending, but somehow in the 11th hour he's been cleared to ride here in Rotterdam. The riders are happy to see him, the crowds are nothing less than ecstatic. Kiesse rides with the flair that the public devours and he lives with the midnight hubris that the riders appreciate. The UCI will make trouble about this, but for now in the insular world of the Six, everything is good.

Night 2.
I am worried that I won't make it through this one. The overstimulation is already getting to me, with 4 nights to go after I survive this one. My two weeks suffering on the couch are not reflecting well on the legs. I'm covering it up well the only way I can here. Crowd-pleasing violence. Things I couldn't get away with at a race that's officiated by the books.

Night 3 and 4.

Blurs and flashes. The crowds roar, my legs are smashed and I can't remember anything but Cozy Shack and rough sprint rounds.

Night 5.

There is nothing more satisfying after another night of sixday shenanigans than an ice cold Amstel beer in a hot shower. Nothing in the world. It's like a delicious Icy Hot for your churning guts.

Tonight I profited from mass confusion in the kierin and ran away with a big win. I was so suprised I nearly forgot to celebrate.
As you can see here...

Night 6.

Everyone in the circus is tired. The soigneurs are tired of dealing with tired/hungover riders, the mechanics are spun out on tire glue vapors and too many Amstels, the runners are tired of indentured servitude and the riders feel exactly how you'd expect after 6 nights of nonstop everything. Bloodshot eyes above satisfied smiles. Gentlemen, we're done. The final laps are run, the confetti falls, envelopes full of Euros are exchanged, and we all say our goodbyes to what are becoming very familiar faces. Until next time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

a bit about october

I started my third professional sixday in a familiar way; with bike problems. After an expensive direct flight from Portland to Amsterdam to guarantee I wouldn't be stuck in Lost Luggage Limbo, I celebrated too soon when everything arrived in one piece, and promptly snapped my seat collar while building my bike in the hotel room. At this point, it's Saturday night, the sixday starts on Monday, I don't have a spare, and bike shops in Holland are closed on Sundays. And Mondays.

Long story short, sixday mechanics are incredible people, and fortunately one of the guys at the track on Monday had exactly the odd-size I needed. Day saved, on to the races.

The Sixday of Amsterdam may not have the prestige of Gent, or the mind-altering crowds of Rotterdam, but it makes up for all that with an amazing amount of energy. Every move you make in a kierin or jump you gamble on in a sprint is matched with cheers and roars that feel like a gusting tailwind, helping you get that little extra boost to make it to the line.

A coherent write-up of a sixday is a tough thing to achieve. It's not a single race, or even a stage race with different courses every day. For us it's the same races, run on the same schedule, the same track, the same bad Euro-techno, the same announcer hollering in Dutch, for six hours straight, every night for six nights. I can say that I felt better in the Kierins than I ever have before. Scored 2 second places to World Champions and reigning National Champions in arguably my worst event. The sprints were a whirlwind of narrow escapes and photo finishes.

The team sprints were the toughest part of the week. We were consistently outclassed by the Dutch, who were rotating 4 riders through thier 3 person team while we always had the same 3 tired Americans. We'd go a few tenths quicker than the previous night, and they'd go a half second quicker. We'd go a half second quicker the next night, and they'd best us again by nearly the same margin. In short, despite an improvement every single night (which I think is admirable itself), we were beaten every single time. I suppose a bit of home continent advantage never hurts...

At the end of the week I finished a new personal best 4th overall. It was a great time as always, I came back in one piece, and even more importantly it was good solid training for the upcoming World Cup season, which is my number one objective.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nothing goes quite right on the first day of the six. All in all, no crisis, no crashes, and many days to go. Enduros seem to be in he same boat. Theo Bos came down with some mystery illness a few nights before the start, so the major teams were shaken up a bit to give Peter Schep a proper partner. The crowds and over-eager singles expecting to be wowed by the patented Bos megawatt smile are surely dissapointed, but no one wants Malaria, or Tanzanian mud-flu, or whatever hideous bug he has.. At least there's still Marvulli.

A tip:
Never say that you are not all that tired when someone asks about your jet lag. As soon as you say "I feel fine," your body will decide it's actually 4 in the morning and you should go to sleep immediately. Coffee, coffee, drink some coffee and keep it on the level.

The three-wide track stand is not an easy one to pull off. At least this time it wasn't me that screwed it up, and we held it through the picture. Chalk it up to day one.

The news is ripping along in western Europe. The British Navy is mothballing billion dollar warships before they're completed, every other pro roadie is getting popped for something or other and the Frogs are rising. Much respect to the French right now. The government says "we're raising the retirement age for your parents and grandparents," so the French youth and middle class says "AAAAAAGGHH! OHNOYOUDIDNT!" and proceeds to collectively lose it's shit, shut down 12 of 12 fuel refineries in France and drag the entire country to a halt. Now THAT is a protest. Action. I like it. Still, glad my flights don't connect through DeGaulle. Or anywhere, for that matter.

BBC news is on most of the day in the background at the hotel. One of only 3 english channels, and the other two are CNN and MTV Berlin. Of the latter two, not sure which one's worse. Entertainment news hysterics or Katy Perry and endless German ringtone commercials. German isn't a terribly relaxing language to have on in the background if you don't speak it, but on the other hand Ms. Perry isn't so bad on mute...


Sunday, September 19, 2010

this one time, at sprint camp...

It's beyond difficult to watch the edited-for-TV version of Matrix Revolutions and still cobble together any coherent thoughts. Terrible dialogue, heavy religious undertones, flashing lights, those sunglasses! Can. Not. Look. Away.

These last two weeks on the track have been tough, but rewarding. Between flat tires, expensive tubulars self-destructing and wrong gears, it's been less than relaxing. Fortunately, this is not a vacation, and relaxation is not the name of the game.

It's a funny thing working with someone you've admired for many years. Monday I felt more nerves about meeting and being judged by Jamie than I've felt before any race in my career. Sat in the parking lot of the velodrome for a good 10 minutes trying to calm down. Fortunately, he's great. Very low-key, very down to earth. Stays mostly in the background with a clipboard and a stopwatch, only chiming in when neccessary. When he does speak up, everyone hears it. He has a voice that carries, and he uses almost exclusively for encouragement during efforts. Never a negative word. If you don't hear anything, that's your negative word. He's one of the few people I've ever heard in mid-start. In the span of two weeks, I've gone from being mildly terrified of Jamie Staff to feeling comfortable enough to sit down and chat about whatever.

Speaking of starts, mine haven't been quite what I wanted, but times are dropping every time I come out of the gate. Hearing Jamie say "those are fuckin' lightning, man!" was probably the best thing I've ever heard. Still one more start training session before the team sprint. Lots to do and lots to not do. In the end, I came out of the camp optimistic, and with a few new goals on the horizon.

No, I haven't been hanging out on the beach. Maybe I should be, I dont know. I tried. The beach in Los Angeles isn't really my scene. Guess I'd rather be completely ignored in some coffee house or quiet bar, instead of in an environment where everyone looks at each other and waits to be looked at.

While we've been turning circles in our Siberian pine wonderland, the news been tapping out the furious cadence of the election cycle. Another thing I cannot tear myself away from. You forget the hilarious drama of cable news when you live without it for so long. Some of these well-funded hacks are despicable people, but wonderful entertainment. If American politics didn't have so many real world consequences, it would be a lot more fun. And a lot more funny. Now I have nothing to do all day but flip between 24 hr news and movies we've all seen plenty of times. Took a break last weekend and read Chris Hoy's autobiography. Good stuff, good guy.

2 Hours to track time so it's time to strap on the feed bag, so to speak. From smogville, over and out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let 'er rip, kid

First let's get this part our of the way; It's been a while. Hi, how are you? Anyone still there?

If the answer is yes and anyone still checks this neglected corner of the internet, you're probably wondering what's been cooking since my weather and finance-related depression wore off somewhere in early summer.

A new focus on a job that suddenly pays more than teenager wages means I've raced less than ever over a Portland summer, which still adds up to ten times more than a Colorado summer. PIR's aplenty, some Thursday racing and the old Friday night standby have done me well this year. I've won some, I've lost plenty, and now the legs are starting to show a bit of form. Both Portland and Seattle AVC's were far less than stellar, but a good 3 months away from my season's goals, so I'm not worried. One nice thing about the Portland AVC was finally getting on the records board with mini-sprinter Andy Williams and Kevin Mansker in the team sprint. That felt good. Been plotting a way to get on that board ever since I started racing at Alpenrose 10 years ago.

I've been doing this for 10 years now? I haven't done anything for 10 years except breath in, breath out.

The fall/winter is hurtling around the corner too fast to stop it, and what a season it'll be. Aaron Tuckerman officially becomes my brother before the eyes of God and Hops two weeks from yesterday. Party we will, and Cassie will hang her head in shame if she realizes what she's doing. Shortly after the vows are swapped and the family pictures are snapped I'm climbing in a Land Rover and booming down to LA for a few weeks of training under the watchful eye of Jamie Staff and a week of National Championship racing. I'm not even close to being able to afford this, but I see it as something I can't afford to miss, so some great friends are throwing a sweet party that everyone on the continent should come to:

Come lift some kegs, throw some stuff around, drink some beer and donate some money if you can. It'll be great and I appreciate every little bit of help I can get to keep chasing this strange, adolescent dream.

After the Los Angeles excursion it's back to Amsterdam for more Six Days, more derney smoke, "stand up for the champions," "born in the USA," spotlights, stroopwafels, trackstands, too much coffee, long flights, lost bikes, long nights, high speed trains, a short break, then rinse and repeat for the Six of Rotterdam. Hey ho, let's go.

Monday, June 14, 2010

a light, grungy snack

I love grunge. I grew up with grunge. Even though it's re-hashed by guys now far removed from their 90's era lives, perspectives and income levels, I'm still waiting patiently for this:

Toadies were never my favorite, but they remind me of a time and place that that was pretty big for me. So if done right, this album will be an interesting addendum to a genre that served as the soundtrack to my early teenagerdom. If done poorly, I'll probably still listen to it. It'll be good trivia either way.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults

May is so far disappointing. Too many hands-jammed-in-pockets days. Too many desperate, last-minute grinds to work, splashed in the gutter by cars worth more than the houses I grew up in. These have not been fine weeks to be a time-stretched track sprinter. Exactly 1.5 track workouts in May have escaped the weather, work destroyed one sprint night and moisture the second, Thursday track has been nothing but pursuits, and PIR is the highlight of my month, but still only batting .500. A touch of stress to top things off and my Colorado life of predictable training routine is no more.

Go from 20 hours a week of sitting in a desk chair on youtube, waiting for customers to wander in to 40 a week on your feet and things change in a big way. Not ideal in the least, but necessity is the mother of retail jobs. It seems 2 years of delay, delay and deferrment makes Sallie Mae a heinous wench, and all that travel and groceries on credit cards have piled up quick. The bills are paid, but only just. No grand adventures in sight.

Bring on the benevolent sun! Open up! I need some flying efforts to wring the stress out of my bones. A few max speed burns to clear my head. I need to smell some sunscreen and forget to drink enough water. A day of sweat instead of mildew and tension.

Meanwhile. In a hollowed out volcano somewhere sits a gathering of white-haired has-been bureaucrats who fancy themselves wizards. The letters "UCI" were struck into a granite arch on the volcano many years ago. Seems these de-evolutionary masters have decided that track racing in 2012 is not worth a relevant Olympic program. First the pursuit and madison, now only one rider per nation for the sprints and kierin, and an 8 person sprint tourney.
Strategy: make track cycling unwatchable, claim low tv ratings in order to spend velodrome money on more swimming seats in RIO. Doom and gloom these days on the international side as attendance records are set every dry week at Alpenrose.

On the literal home front, the photo library on my computer has shifted quite a bit. A while since any sightseeing, hotel rooms or poorly lit track interior shots. These days it's friends, laughter, family. Illustrations of epic low-lit stories. Silver city lights and Jenny's smiling face. Who can complain.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"go back to those gold soundz"

The drive was great, thanks for asking. America by car is a funny thing. It's like an informative speech that goes on too long, punctuated by little comedy intermissions called truck stops. You're always trying not to fall asleep, and during the comedy intermissions the jokes are bad, but entertaining.

Headed west, at the speed of a bucking rental, plodding through the mountains.

Since we've been here we're comfortably installed in our apartment, but far from financially comfortable. I was fortunate enough to have full time work from day one of our return, but Jenny's search for a place in the Jenga tower of Portland's employment world is ongoing. For the time being, The Bike Gallery is stepping in and giving her hours on the front counter at the shop, but with the asterisk of temporary status hanging low. So we scratch on. Keep our costs down, eat cheap, thank our endlessly generous parents (that costco trip will keep us alive for many months), rest up for that interview tomorrow and hope for the best.

Low-quality cell-phone picture of a view to be reckoned with. Our roof is a wonderful place.

My place in the cycling world is hazy for now. While our finances are relatively grim, I'll keep working my current schedule, which leaves little time or energy for training or anything else. I forgot how easy I had it at the shop in Colorado, how draining it is to work 9 hour busy days at a bike shop in BikeTown USA. My paychecks reflect the extra work, thankfully, so the rent is paid and the lights are on. Things will come around, but for now my break from the athlete's lifestyle and focus will extend a little longer.

On my weekends, the morning starts like this and ends many miles later.

Cyclists in this city don't know how good they have it. On my days off, riding is much more a pleasure than it was in Colorado. Helps to not be constantly in fear of the tobacco-stained Billy-Bobs, ready to knock you into a ditch or worse. Granted the big city has its fair share of piss-poor drivers, but not many as malicious as the back-water boys of the Rocky Mountains.

Something about the twisty, abandoned lanes and forgotten roads in the west hills actually makes me want to climb. Crazyness. The descents don't hurt. Blasting through corner after perfect corner, down hundred-year-old roads built long before the traffic engineers and highwaymen clamped down on switchbacks and one-lane tarmac. Keep your arms loose, your eyes open and your brain quiet. Let the good times roll.

Five days of the week my training is limited to my commute and occasionally a few hours in the gym. Luckily, my commute does not suck. Bridges and boulevards, fixie on fire. Flying home in a private killer-copter.

Friday, January 29, 2010

SixDays and FouteenDays

The six days for me ended and era. They ended the era where cycling occupied a place in my mind of an unattainable goal. Now I live in an era where cycling is a rockstar sport, and I can be on that stage with enough work.

It is not all spotlights and loud music. Check that. It is all loud music. But for every stomach tightening 30 seconds of cheers and reptile-level thinking, there's an hour of staring at this as spastic lighting engineers have their day and DJs play the same 8 songs at eardrum-shattering decibel levels.

It's all worth it. The 6 hours of waiting are worth the moments like this. 10,000 people either willing you on or willing you to go down, and go down hard. Either way, that energy is palpable.

Hearing your name from the crowd in a foreign accent is something I'm not sure I'll ever get used to. Even if those encouragements are being drowned out by the cheers and shrieks for the champion behind you.

This is where thinking stops. The brain fights for control but the reptilian self has it now. You go, react, shift gears, shift tactics, change your position just enough, but never think about it.

When race A is done and race B is up after a madison, a derney and a concert from some rhinestone-encrusted human sneer, things are pretty loose and relaxed in the cabins. You're guaranteed to go home every night with total sensory overload, so the less serious things are, the more bits of sanity everyone gets to take home when it's als tal over. This photo was taken just after a kierin round which featured an elbow to the face of the guy next to me (the guy mugging for the camera on the right). I came down from the blue line and put him onto the apron, ears ringing, helmet cocked over one eye. I hit him harder than I intended to (brian abers and his headbutt-induced broken ribs can attest to the fact that this happens every now and then), but after it was over things were right back to normal. Just another day in the pits.

It's all for the show. By the end of the six, we were the most violent (towards each other, mostly) of all the sprinters. By no coincidence, the crowds loved us. If you don't have those rainbow stripes hanging in your closet or stretched across your barrel chest, you have to compensate. Give people a reason to cheer for or against you.

This last picture is both unfortunate/awesome. I got to know Bauge pretty well at the two sixes we both did this year, and I can say that he's a standup guy. Always the right dude at the right time, so to speak. This is in a kierin round at the Beijing World Cup, right after Rotterdam. Bauge is crashing downtrack from the rail while Denis Dmitriev from Russia pulls probably the coolest move ever actually caught on film. No, he didn't land, but who cares? No one got a photo of that part. Just the extra-gnar before impact.

The horror! The humanity! The EXTREME-NESS!

The Joy!
In fourteen days Jenny and I will pack our few meager belongings into a Uhaul van and point ourselves West. West to the promised land. Back to Portland. Away from the culture-void and strip-mall suburbia we've been in the last two years. Back to home base. We recently returned from a quick weekend trip to find an apartment (successful) and things became very clear on the plane, about 40 minutes from landing. I look up from from my book (George McGovern sounded like a cool cat) as the captains gives his "soon we'll be landing in Portland, the weather is a bla bla bla" bit, and I look around the cabin a bit. I see: Girl with pink hair. Guy with purple beard. Lady in business attire with tattoos down to her wrists, a grey-haired man in a sequined dress, not a single tan on the entire plane. An aircraft full of smiling, pasty people.

So soon I'll be back to teammates, friends, family, racing, a happy wife and the rhythm of the city. Soon, but not soon enough.


Monday, January 18, 2010

up to 11

The most important thing to remember as an American six-day rider is: This is not your normal life, so don't get used to it.

It's mind-bendingly strange to go from spectator numbers in the high tens to racing for paying fans that number 10,000 or more. So much about the sixdays are foreign to us, but so much about them could be a successful model for racing in the US, it's hard to wrap your head around it all at once.

As far as the racing goes, for me it was as good as it could have been. Racing with riders who have supportive federations (and tracks that stay open year round) is tough when you live in Colorado, in the land of the USOC and USAC. On days that the weather was clear and the roads were dry I was told there was "no way in hell" that I would be allowed on the track. So out on the road bike I'd go. The other 70% of the time the roads were covered in snow and ice, so onto the trainer or rollers I'd go. The result of all this was a slow first half, and a building second half to the six. I'd see my times drop a bit every day, and know that if it wasn't for the awesome beaurocratic bullshit that kept the gates to my home velodrome locked, I could've come here on much better form.

Complaints aside, I did my job. We all did. Sprints and Kierins at the sixdays are the ultimate test of a rider's skills with contact at speed. You have never given a real headbutt until you've done it to a man wearing World Champion's stripes at top speed in front of thousands of gasping fans. You've never ridden a rough sprint round until you've come blazing down the back-straight at the rail, elbows locked, leaning hard against your opponent, then pulling out of the tailspin at the final moment for the semi-controlled dive to the lane, drag racing elbow to elbow through the final corner and finishing it with a desperate bike throw.

A mother of a young American girl who was racing in the Women's Six was lamenting loudly to our cook about the sprinters. She said it was disgraceful how we ignored the rules, and that we'd never get away with such behavior in the US. He responded with something along the lines of "nobody wants to see those boys follow the rules." We put on a show, gave the paying spectators the thrills they were looking for, went home tired and toasted to our collective success.

Racing like this doesn't always end well. Compared to the madison riders, we were relatively safe, only 2 crashes in the entire Six. Both happened in the kierin (no suprise), and neither seriously injured the unfortunate board-surfer. This time it was Mulder. He's crashing downtrack here, right into the lane and into my path. You can see the imminent doom in my eyes, as I'm hoping the officials on the apron have enough sense to jump out of the way. They did. I rang the finish line bell with my shoulder, narrowly avoided splitting Mulder's head open with my front wheel and made it back onto the 50 degree track mid-corner from the apron at speed.

More later. For now it's coffee and long, slow miles.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

feeling huge, cookie style

This is definitely the year of christmas cookies/brownies/candy. I should never agree to do any racing in early January. The holidays are just to sickly sweet and calorie-rich. That coupled with my complete inability to ride outside has left me with the feeling that all my muscle mass has been replaced by chocolate and butter. Doesn't help that my self control is non-existent in this arena. I don't eat a cookie. I eat every single morsel in sight. At once.

This inspired me to ride to the gym yesterday instead of driving, which I probably shouldn't have:

That was fun.

There's a new Suberbike in town. Project '10 ("turning it up to 11"). Eric spent a few weeks with his machines and torches, trapped in a loop of ultra-heavy metal, and this is what crawled out of the bog when he finished.

Blacker than the blackest black. Times infinity.

Aaron wishes he could ride something so scary.

The Euro Sixes are an extremely flashy affair, so the bikes got a bit of sparkle to finish them off.

Actually they got a bucket of sparkle. Sparkle Motion.

And now for something non bike-related.
Found this gem a few days ago, the new video from Auckland/Portland's Mint Chicks. So strange I feel like a epileptic fit's coming on about halfway through, but can't turn away.

Don't Sell Your Brain Out, Baby (censored version) from Mint Chicks on Vimeo.

Sweet dreams.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Sooo. DMT? Nike? Any chance you guys could bring the heaviness in the form of SPD-soled wingtips? Like this?

And if you do decide to one-up those cheese-fiends from the big red B, I wear a 45.