Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Battenkill v.2

Battenkill seems a lot less epic than in the photos below when you're with a laughing group that got shelled from the leaders less than 15 miles into a 100K race.

So, with that in mind, I decided to give it another go in 2010. The team will now have five guys in the same race. Wouldn't it be nice to have a few of us left in the lead group during the run into town after that last mile-plus long dirt hill?

So I guess that means the blender we got for Christmas should not mass produce milkshakes from now until April 10th.

photos courtesy of Dave Kraus

Monday, December 28, 2009

The month in photos

Thanks to everyone who stayed up real late a few weeks ago to see Hastings Refrigerator Company play.

photos courtesy of D. Nash

A pre-Christmas trip to southern Ohio where they had more snow than in Cleveland.

A holiday photo, that way too many people believe was taken without irony.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That's nice, but can you buy some milk on the way home?

The other night, a few of us got to talking about the typical post bike race telephone conversation with our significant others. These conversations are very revealing. And funny. A few of them go as follows (names are withheld):

Racer #1 has a chance to win any race he enters. His post race conversation with his wife usually involves her asking him, "Did you win?" If he did not, she's mildly disappointed, because she's used to him winning, and she likes it when he takes home the 1st place prize money. We're pretty sure she doesn't realize how hard it is to actually win a bike race.

Racer #2 calls his wife to find her completely disinterested in his result, but rather curious about his estimated time of arrival back home. Her first words in the post race telephone call are something to the effect of, "When the hell are you going to be home so you can take care of the kids for the rest of the day...they're driving me crazy!" At least she's honest.

When I call Katie after a race*, her first words are usually, "Did you get dropped?"

Probably the most appropriate question for me.

*she used to go to more races, but now not so much. When she came to a race this year, someone in the race before mine was carted off in an ambulance. That really left a warm and fuzzy feeling in her belly about bike racing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The price of hobbies

photo by Petr Kratochvil

In 2009, I did about 37 races. Highlights included Battenkill, Frankenmuth, the team winning our Tour of the Valley race, doing the Chicago Criterium, and finishing off the season strong at Tamarack. From a results standpoint, the cyclocross seasons was a disaster, but fun was generally had at the races where the bike didn't break.

When I encountered Brian a few months ago on a late afternoon autumn ride, we talked about how the end of the road racing season means catching up on things put off for the last seven months. I guess doing all of this racing and riding forces you to compromise other aspects of your life.

Nothing illustrates this point better than a recent trip to Target with Katie (who has her own time consuming hobbies) when we bought some silverware and three steak knives which is, by itself, not all that noteworthy.

The noteworthy part about these purchases is the sheer absurdity of the state of our utensils for the last several years. To put it nicely, in many aspects of our lives, we live like people in abject poverty, not because we are poor, but because we are too lazy to buy stuff like knives. For many years, we used crooked forks, crappy spoons, and three knives, none of which matched and few of which worked.

We live like this not because we have to, but because we always have something better to do than shop for knives or do other things that responsible adults do. Going for a three hour ride, playing with our dogs, or making a new coat from old clothes are generally more appealing activities than driving to the store to buy kitchenware.

So now, we actually have silverware that is not a total embarrassment.

I wish I could say the same for our moderately operational gas range, which we are prepared to replace next time we have a chance.

But not today. I need to ride the trainer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Office + park

I used to work in a suburban office complex and tried to commute there by bike as much as I could. The building management and the company from which we sublet were reasonably accommodating and provided me with a free key to the garage where I could store my bike. In all honesty, the garage was the ideal place for my bike.

But, it was hilarious that these people also completely prohibited me from bringing my bike anywhere into the building or into my office. They were determined to maintain the professional decorum of the building. And by professional decorum I mean a lobby covered in fake marble with fake plants everywhere.


Now, even buildings with elaborate fake marble in New York City must allow bikes inside common areas and on freight elevators. This article talks about the recently passed law, and how employers there may still prohibit employees from bringing bikes into the actual offices they lease. So I guess the law is intended to prohibit building managers from prohibiting bikes and designed to leave the issue up to individual employers.

Some will argue that the law is an example of government over regulation, and that the market should sort out this issue. If enough people are in favor of riding bikes to work and keeping them at their offices, and if enough employers are on board, than bike-prohibiting office buildings will be forced to change policies.

I tend to think that the need to accelerate the campaign against an anti-bike mindset is too important to leave 100% to market forces. Crippling obesity, environmental decay, and a reliance on oil countries with sordid rulers are just a few things that come to mind to justify laws like these.

Even if the sight of a bike on fake marble makes some people cringe.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Coltrane at the Village Vanguard it won't be...

So I'm in a band, and we're playing at the Grog Shop in Coventry (Cleveland Heights) this Saturday night, 12-12. We're called Hastings Refrigerator Company and will probably be playing last of three bands, starting at 10:00pm.

Heckling is encouraged.

Friday, November 27, 2009

1st and 3rd

I did another agility trial with Reuben last week. We earned two qualifying scores out of four runs, which is pretty good considering that the venue for this trial is competitive. He took third place in the elite class on one run, and took first place in the novice class in the "gamblers" run.

In gamblers, we had 30 seconds to accumulate 15 points by successfully completing the course of our choice, with points assigned to each type of obstacle. Then, when the buzzer sounded, we had 15 seconds to complete the "gamble," a sequence of obstacles where the handler must direct the dog from a distance and stay behind the yellow line. Here's our gambler's run:

Monday, November 23, 2009

The race in their head

Bike racers have a reputation for being hyper competitive a-holes. The funny thing is that bike racers have nothing on many recreational cyclists who insist that every encounter with a fellow road rider is akin to a 19th Century duel on a dusty road.

A friend of mine told me that he recently witnessed a guy ride himself into a ditch (literally) while trying to maintain a gap on said friend while going up a hill out of the Chagrin River Valley. Friend was just riding his own mellow pace, while Ditch Guy thought he was doing battle up The Ventoux on stage 17 of the Tour. Then he crashed into the ditch on the side of the road because he was riding so hard.

Just last week I was riding easily in the valley when some guy in a gaudy jersey passed me with great fanfare and gusto, then nearly killed himself to maintain his small gap on me. I was content to let him have his fun, until he executed an unnecessarily dangerous maneuver in a country intersection while running a red light. Then I made a point to pass him on the hill while making casual conversation over his loud and uncontrolled breathing. Yes, I am a jerk, but he deserved it.

A few months ago, I passed a guy while riding moderately mellow uphill and said hello. He immediately started making a litany of excuses about his bike compared to mine, even though his bike was lighter and comparable in price. Um, sorry man, I didn't know we were racing.

These guys need to pin on a number and go do a few Citizen bike races this spring to let off some steam.

Just watch out for that ditch.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

These days

Weekends at the cabin...

Seem more appealing that weekends full of cyclocross.

(photo courtesy of's flickr)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Gay Games 2014 - Cleveland

To all of the bike racers who read this best plan on taking the week of 8-9 to 8-16, 2014 off.

Why? Because, assuming the cycling events are similar to the 2010 Cologne games, there will be a road race, crit, mountain bike race, time trial, and team time trial. All of which are open for the public to race.

Who can participate in the Gay Games?
Anyone can participate. The Gay Games welcomes all people without regard to their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political belief, physical ability, athletic/artistic ability, age or health status.

$50 to $80 million in estimated local economic impact and five races in a week.

I'm in.


The story of Sylvia Bingham sickens me. A Yale graduate who came to this area to make it better, work at a non profit, and get around by bike.

Now she is another tragic statistic.

From what I can piece together from the news articles, the truck that hit her made a right hand turn in front of her/into her. We will probably never know where she was in relation to the truck when it started turning right, and I don't really know enough about the incident right now to intelligently comment on the prosecutor's decision to file charges.

I do know that I am tired of reading about tragic statistics.

Be safe.
Sylvia Bingham – AmeriCorps Application, June 2009
Motivational Statement

My interest in social justice is deep-rooted and wide-ranging. In high school I organized students against the war in Iraq; in college I focused on sustainable food and vulnerable inner-city populations. My academic and extracurricular choices at Yale University reflect my dedication to imaging and creating a better world. As a sociology student, I have sought to understand the systemic causes, whether economic, political or social, of inequality. My senior thesis examined HOPE VI, the newest generation of public housing renewal, in light of the welfare reform zeitgeist, which I called the self-sufficiency doctrine. I conducted in-depth interviews with ten public housing residents, and came to conclusions about neighborly ties and public safety that contradicted mainstream academic and political discourse. Other field work has taken me to Mali, West Africa, where I interviewed food security experts about the 2008 World Food Crisis in light of the country’s past major famines; to Bordeaux, France, where I did participant observation at an urban garden program which trains the chronically unemployed.

In my extracurricular activities, too, I pursued my passion for social justice. I volunteered at National Student Partnerships (NSP) in New Haven, where students help vulnerable clients locate jobs, housing, government benefits and training. I translated and transcribed videos of Holocaust survivors, to ensure that such stories are permanently recorded and remembered. I worked as a volunteer and an employee for sustainable agriculture and ethical eating.

As a tutor for Yale Reading Corps, I tutored failing second-graders at a local school to bring them up to grade-level literacy. In the summer of 2007 I had the most formative work experience of my life, as an intern for New Haven nonprofit CitySeed. I received a summer fellowship from Yale Dwight Hall to support CitySeed’s efforts to make locally-grown food more affordable and accessible in the city of New Haven. I managed an independent project creating promotional materials for Food Stamp and WIC recipients across the state, while juggling various other responsibilities around the office, writing weekly newsletters, phone-banking to recruit partner farms and tabling at farmers’ markets. This internship with a growing grassroots organization reaffirmed my dedication to working in the nonprofit sector. It was inspiring to be surrounded by colleagues committed to environmental sustainability, economic justice, and health equality.

An AmeriCorps fellowship is an ideal opportunity for a college graduate to explore the non-profit sector and begin a career of public service. I hope to spend the next year amongst professionals dedicated to creating a better world. I would like to help improve individual lives, while also working towards systemic sustainability and justice.

Why Do I Volunteer

My most moving volunteer experience was working with underprivileged residents of New Haven through National Student Partnerships (NSP), which links college students to people in need. I helped people research jobs online, write resumes, and locate appropriate social services. NSP volunteers were always friendly, respectful and attentive, and clients often told us how much they appreciated our attitude. Although I had to give up NSP volunteering in order to take a work-study job, I always chose jobs that in some way served the community.

Originally posted on the Hard Hatted Women website

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Big dogs

Since tonight was the last Wednesday night Edgewater cyclocross ride of the year, we decided some post ride festivities were in order.

Happy Dog it was.

The place has new owners. Owners who must really like hot dogs. And fries.

I had a veggie sausage with lots o' fixins. And fries. And some Left Hand Milk Stout.

Then we rode home across town with all that nonsense in our bellies.

Totally worth it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Carbon pawprint

According to Fox, having a dog leaves more of a carbon footprint than having an SUV.

According to Katie, even if that study is true, it doesn't affect us because all of our dogs are rescues. We didn't contribute to their creation. If anything, we've reduced their carbon footprint by adopting and spaying/neutering them, preventing them from spawning even more resource hungry critters.

Take that, Fox.

By the way, here are some photos of our newest carbon footprinter, Sparrow:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hastings Refrigerator Company

That is the name of my newish band. I play bass, sing a bit, drum a bit, and generally pretend to know what I'm doing. Our songs are here, and are also over to the right on the blog panel.

Anyone care to guess where we got the name?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A weekend of firsts

When I crossed the finish line at the Tour De Tamarack this year in early September, I felt the yearly relief of making it through another season of road racing without any crashes.

Joke's on me, though, because I had a pretty intimate moment with pavement yesterday at the Cross My Heart and Hope to Die cyclocross race early in the first lap. After confirming that I did not break my hip (but confirming that I just put two holes in my fancy new knickers), I remounted and tried to salvage my race. That didn't work out so well. I had thought about quitting right there and then, but I figured it was bad form to quit the race put on by my team.

So now I finally know what road rash feels like. Great.

Today I rode for 60 miles, which was my longest ride in a really long time. It was great fun to just ride my bike again with some cool folks.

And I wish I had taken a photo of the milkshake, inside a styrofoam milkshake cup (with straw poking out of the top), that graced the bottle cage of Chris's road bike for the ride home.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The pits

Working the pits at a muddy elite UCI cyclocross race is pretty exhilarating.

Scott, John P., and I pitted for Matt and Steevo on Friday. We had a sad little bucket with a few rags and limited access to a communal hose. The big boys had crews with high power pressure hoses, brushes, and several bikes.

Paid support crews, significant others, and friends of racers lined the pits with focused concentration and attention to detail. As you wait for your rider to pass through for a bike change, you best watch out and not accidentally cause Trebon to crash or Powers to lose a step while blazing through the pits, never missing a beat.

The intensity is crazy, yet the racers remain calm and appreciative of their crew.

Except that one guy who was a complete ass to (what appeared to be) his girlfriend/wife. Maybe someone should remind him that he's playing in mud on a bicycle with other grown men in Lycra. Is it really necessary to be a jerk?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Leroy cx (vid)

I was able to grab a few videos of the "B" race and the women's race today.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

When a motor vehicle overtakes a bicycle, the safe passing distance shall be not less than three feet.

That is the language contained in the recently introduced Ohio Senate Bill 174. It's sponsors are Senators Fedor and Wagoner.

If you live in Ohio and agree with this bill, find your Senator and call or e-mail him/her to let them know that you support this bill. And don't tell me you don't have time. You have time to ride countless hours, glue on your new cross tubies, and/or drive 60 minutes to this week's race. You have time to do something that really matters.

State politicians truly listen to input from their constituents. Go be a proactive constituent.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is it now...

...or is it 1981?

I have just found a new timesuck.

(Original photo courtesy of C'est La Vie.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A completely unscientific observation

The other day I saw an Allstate insurance advertisement on the back of a magazine. It encouraged people to lobby their state legislature to further restrict teen driving. I really don't know what the research on this issue says, but the ad got me thinking about my experiences with teen drivers while cycling.

Then it occurred to me that I can't remember the last time I encountered a teen who purposely did something aggressive toward me while cycling. Sure, I'd say that teens are the most likely group of drivers to shout something harmless out of their window ("nice spandex," "hey Lance," etc.). But, in my experiences, they are not the ones who tailgate, purposely buzz, or shout profanities and tell me to "get the fuck off the road." Those acts are usually reserved for the more mature and responsible set of drivers between the ages of, I'd say, 25 and 65.

I'm curious if others have this same experience, or if I am an exception to the norm.

I would be encouraged if others feel the same way. That would mean a better world for cyclists in the future, which would not surprise me. There are all sorts of hateful and vile attitudes that decrease with every new generation -- racism, sexism, intolerance of gay people.

Let's hope that we can add road rage toward cyclists to this list.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A public policy question about the health care debate

At last week's cyclocross race, some guy handed me a free issue of Urban Velo magazine. Even at first glance, I knew I was out of my league with this publication. My skinny jean collection is pathetic, and I insist on wearing socks while riding. I was about to ask the guy if he knew of any magazines along the lines of Boring Inner Ring Suburb Velo, which would be more my speed.

The magazine is actually well done, and I love the Fear of a Bike Planet t-shirt they sell (if you don't get the Public Enemy reference, I guess I'll still let you read my blog).

It also has a long article about bike polo. Bike polo. I challenge you to name me a sport with a comparable risk factor that has a higher percentage of uninsured (or underinsured) participants.


And ATV "mudding" doesn't count.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday ritual

On Sunday afternoon, 80,000 people paid a lot of money to sit around at Browns Stadium and watch the Cleveland Browns painfully lose (again). At the same time, a few miles west along the lake, 147 people decided to race cyclocross at Wendy Park on Whiskey Island. They paid $20 each to race, and friends and family watched for free.

The participants in the race were everyday people who race for the love of it while maintaining busy "real" lives with jobs, kids, etc. The participants in the Browns game were athletes with salaries that are unfathomable to most Americans.

The Browns game existed for the sole sake of making obscene amounts of money for the team's owners, the vending companies, television sponsors, and networks.

The cyclocross race was put on by a bunch of generous people who, on a yearly basis, selflessly give up several weekends of their free time to organize, set up, and tear down these well-run events.

You can keep your remote controls, Brady Quinn jerseys, and luxury suites.

Just pass me my cowbell.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

This Monday. At the Beachland Tavern.

When three dudes with guitars and a bass and a drummer gets stale.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There are times when the first amendment doesn't seem so great

Like when your neighbor two doors down insists on blaring The Rush Limbaugh Show so loudly that the entire neighborhood is forced to hear every word of it.

Regardless of what type of political show you listen to, that is just rude and classless.

But then again, so is this neighbor.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sometimes commuting by bike is not a money saving enterprise

Not that saving money is the main reason to do it, but still. Today we rode across town to the Edgewater cyclocross training ride, and I burned through two tubes getting there due to a pesky stone that lodged in my tire and did not make itself known the first time I checked the tire after flatting. Since the spare I brought was also useless, I had to be "that guy" and bum two tubes from two separate people, and I still had to ride a flat for about six miles through downtown and to the park.

In other news, Katie has been predicting all year that I would buy a new cyclocross bike in 2009. My resolve to not cave in has been pretty steady, with a few perilous moments here and there. Those new Ridleys sure are nice though. On the other hand, I do enjoy giving the weight weenies who see my bike the creeps with its steel frame and steel fork. It is a guilty pleasure of mine with which I'm not sure I want to part.

Only time will tell.

Monday, September 07, 2009


Sunday was the last road race of the year. You know it's almost fall when Shawn shows up to a road race on a cyclocross bike.

40 miles, 6 hills, great weather, and a bunch of hill and sprint primes based on the honor system.

Having been on the wrong end of the field split in the past at this race, it was nice to hang on and contest the sprint with what was left of the shattered field.

Another crashless road racing season in the bag. Let's keep this streak alive.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Although I didn't stay for too long, it was neat to see all of the people relaxing and hanging out at WRUW's Studio-A-Rama on Saturday.

Old people, young people, kids, and dogs.

And loud music heard nowhere but on college radio.

And beer. Lots of it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Who would Jesus harass (WWJH)?

On the way to an enjoyable Thursday group ride tonight, some impatient motorist did not like the fact that I was riding a bike on the road, despite my being so far right I was hugging the curb. She got up real close and laid on her horn, then passed me, which allowed me to read her vanity license plate that said something about being Christian and how much she prayed.

Very Christian of her. Very Christian.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Life has gotten in the way of me doing this race over the weekend, so I will have to settle for this race, which is still quite fun, but just not in Vermont. Oh, how the life of a bike racer with enough time and disposable income to race nearly every week elicits great sympathy with his tales of woe and sorrow.

Really, life isn't that bad.

What is bad is the fact that Mission of Burma is playing the last slot of this year's Studio-A-Rama on Saturday, which is very incompatible with a pre-6 a.m. alarm clock on Sunday.

I hate it when being a bike racing nerd conflicts with being a college radio music nerd.

Speaking of college radio, I almost want to get back into college radio broadcasting so I can have a show that begins with this song every week:

The End of Radio, by Shellac (album version)

is this thing on?
can you hear me now?
are we going?
is this thing on?
test, test, test, test, test, test...
can you hear me now?

as we come to the close of our broadcast day
this is my farewell transmission
signing of
mr. and mrs. america, and all the ships at sea
anyone within the sound of my voice

i've got 50000 watts of power
i want to ionize the air
this microphone turns sound into electricity
can you hear me now?
out on route 128, the dark and lonely
i got my radio on

can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
it's the end of radio

and that snare drum
that drum roll
means we've got a winner
if you're the fifth caller
or any caller at all...

welcome to my top ten
i'd like to thank our sponsor
but... we haven't got a sponsor
not if you were the last man on earth
she was prepared to prove it
this one goes up to a special girl
but... there is no special girl

it's the end of radio
the last announcer plays the last record
the last watt leaves the transmitter
circles the globe in search of a listener
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?

is this really broadcasting if there is no one ever recieve?
it's the end of radio
as we come to the close of our broadcast day

i got my radio on
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?
can you hear me now?

this is the test
if this had been a real emergency...
hey, hey, this is real god damn emergency

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The guy from Hudson who hit and killed a cyclist on E.55th, fled the scene, then claimed that he didn't know he hit anyone received 3 years of probation, a $5,000 fine, and must perform 100 hours of community service. Story here.

I am in no position to judge anyone here. We'll never know the circumstances surrounding the accident.

If Mr. Biro is telling the truth, and he is the good person his friends say, I am sure he carries unimaginable guilt right now.

However, if this guy is lying, I hope the image of the poor victim terrorizes his soul every day for the rest of his life.

My sympathies go out one involed in this story

The August 10, 2009 edition of the New Yorker includes a wonderfully written article chronicling the live music industry over the last 40 years. It does so while intertwining the story of a New Jersey woman who tries desperately to score very close seats at a Bruce Springsteen show this past May at the Izod Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands. An abstract of the story can be found here.

The author does a great job presenting all sides of the issues, and briefly succeeds at vilifying the artists, Ticketmaster, Live Nation, ticket scalpers and agencies, and pretty much all parties involved in the concert business. He then pulls back and suggests that the live music industry is ailing and that the unscrupulous practices of all of these players may simply be necessary evils needed to keep the concert business afloat.

By the end of the article, I was practically cheering for the main character, who did in fact score her dream Springsteen seats through a convoluted series of events. Then I took a step back and realized that it's hard to characterize as "victims" people willing and able to pay $100 per seat to see a live music performance. I also realized that Senator Schumer from New York (who got involved in this issue after the Ticketmaster controversy relating to the Meadowlands Springsteen shows) will never lose for re-election due to his ability to identify issues that transcend party politics and matter to a lot of people who vote, regardless of how absurd the "issue" is when compared to other pressing matters of our day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Skype v1

I was required to take several computer related classes as a business school undergraduate in the late 90's. My teacher for one of these classes competed in ultimate fighting (no joke). One day, he was very excited to show us a new technology to which he had access. I forgot what he called it, but it was essentially an early version of video old school Skype.

He positioned the camera on the class and used the giant classroom projection screen as his computer's monitor. He then solicited some other random users of this program on the web and asked to chat with them. We eventually found a taker, which was apparently some guy from some country I don't even remember right now. As soon as his camera engaged, the entire class got a close up of of him removing his pants and starting to fondle himself.

Our professor went berserk, the entire class had a good chuckle, and I still marvel at how this pervert hit pay dirt that day....he had an entirely captive audience in the form of a class of American co-ed undergraduates all staring into the camera watching him begin to go to business with himself.

So now my new computer has a built in camera and a pre-installed version of Skype. And every time I look at it, I think of my professor yelling, "Holy s&*t, he's taking off his pants!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

But I can buy a new bike at Target for half that price...

This is a great article where the the author explores the relationship between the median price of used cars vs. used bikes on Craigslist in different cities. Unsurprisingly, cars cost more and bikes less in Phoenix compared to Seattle.

But is the author really surprised to find that people in the city of Portland are willing to drop more cash for a decently working 20 year old (or older) bike at a trendy urban bike shop than they are willing to spend at a suburban Costco for a brand new Schwinn? Here's the quote:

But you’ve got to love a city whose citizens put a set of moral/aesthetic principles — whether it’s riding a bike with proper disc brakes or refusing to support the Big Box stores — this far above their own financial well-being.

Street cred. The recycling concept. Supporting local businesses. I can think of 100+ more reasons. Unless you want to start getting really self-righteous and open yourself up to others nitpicking your own hypocrisies, there is no right or wrong answer to the questions of what type and from where should you buy your commuting bike. The real question is how is a NYT econ blogger truly surprised that people take into account things other than price when making purchasing decisions?

I know the article is a bit tongue in cheek, but his observations on this issue are about as insightful as me pointing out how curious it is that some people spend $450 on designer jeans...or that people spend weeks of their salary to buy a shiny rock mined from some hellhole on the other side of the world.

And by the way, who buys a commuter bike with disc brakes anyway?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Close call

Today at Westlake, my front tire exploded as I entered turn three (commonly referred to as the "cop turn") at around 30 mph sitting third or fourth wheel, somewhere around lap 5. Knowing that we were lined out and that the corner was covered by the police officer, I straightened the bars and headed directly for the (very high) curb on the other side of the road. I managed to clear the curb with both wheels and coast into the grass, unscathed.

Wow, that was close. I guess my 2009 cyclocross season officially began today.

It turns out that a giant piece of glass punctured the tire and tube just the right way to cause it to instantly explode.

After walking a mile back to the car, I changed my wheel and re-entered the race, but was relegated to sitting at the back of the field and watching all of the fun go down at the front.

Kind of lame, but at least I didn't die.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Car 7318 where are you?

The last time I was buzzed by a car was about 2 months ago. Some elderly guy passed me within inches of my handlebars. Today was another such incident. The thing that makes today's buzz special was that the it was by a police officer. In a squad car. I don't know if he/she did it maliciously on purpose, or if the cop was just reckless. Either way, the whole thing sure makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

To the driver of Valley View, Ohio squad car 7318 at 1:00p.m. on 8-8-09, you are a real treat. Keep up the good work keeping us safe.

Here's a nice photo from last week's Zoar race. By the way, the reason I never wear a cycling cap bearing my team sponsor's logo is because they don't fit my giant head.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Chilly and damp. Hot and humid. Drizzle. Chilly and torrential rains. Mild and humid.

All in a bit over two hours.

That was the weather cycle today during the Zoar road race.

In the 1-2-3 race, I found myself in the lead break of six riders at the base of the final climb, about 3 miles from the finish. The charging bridge group then caught us, and I was unable to hang with the fast guys to the top of the hill. Even the perfectly timed playful romp of the horses in the pasture near the top of the hill couldn't inspire me to turn the pedals fast enough to stay with those guys. So I settled for 16th, which could have been 15th, had I cared enough to contest the "sprint" with an ambulance coming through the finish line the other way en route to tend to the pileup that occurred at the end of the Cat 3/4 race.

Hopefully those guys are all ok.

Thanks again to the Stark crew for putting on this race, which has evolved from a bike race to an institution since I started racing around here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


While in Chicago last weekend, we met up with jR and saw Nina Nastasia play at the Hideout. She also happened to be recording a live album and video at the show. I would seriously consider going to Chicago for this show alone. The fact that it coincided with the bike race weekend was incredibly good luck. Above is a photo from the show that I found on the Internet.

Here's a video from an older show:

Between the opening act and Nina, these guys called about five games of Bingo, which was hilarious and amusing:

Did you know that four corner Bingo is called "Hippie Bingo?"

Neither did I.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Do I need to drive several hours to another race? No.

Do I even like crits? Not really.

So why do this race?

Because how often do you get to race in downtown Chicago?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kicking it Huck Finn Style

We went to the cabin in southern Ohio again this weekend. We regularly rent it from nice people who, much to my surprise, recently constructed a floating raft they use on the pond to fish. Of course, I had to take it out for a try.

I am easily amused.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More of the same

Last month, House of Representative Members John Boehner (from Ohio) and Eric Cantor sent the President a letter requesting the elimination of several federal programs in a supposed effort to save taxpayers money. The funny thing about Boehner is that he is always quick to vilify any spending or tax credit that promotes cycling, yet he has no problem with spending lots of federal money on highways and roads (from which his suburban/exurban Cincinnati district greatly benefits).

The letter is here.

Two money quotes from the letter:

Terminate Safe Routes To Schools Program
Created only in 2005, the Federal “Safe Routes to Schools Program” finances what have traditionally been viewed as local responsibilities, namely financing sidewalks and bike paths, crossing guards and other infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects to assist children who walk or bike to school. Returning these responsibilities to state and local officials would save taxpayers $183 million a year or $915 million over five years.

Sidewalks....the bane of every red blooded American.

Here is another one:

Terminate Federal Transportation Funding For “Non-Motorized” Transportation Projects
The Federal government is currently spending $25 million a year to fund four Non-motorized Transportation Pilot programs. This program is designed to fund a network of “non-motorized transportation infrastructure facilities” to encourage residents to walk or bike rather than using a car. Refocusing Federal resources on transportation projects with a federal nexus would save taxpayers $125 million over five years.

For comparison sake, $25 million, the cost of the entire program for one year, buys about 1/13 of one one single F-22 Raptor Fighter Jet.


Monday, July 13, 2009


The Tour of the Valley was my second multi-day stage race. There is something neat about immersing yourself in a three day, four stage orgy of bike racing. There is also something really grounding about arriving home Sunday night and realizing that the real world awaits you and that you are not, in fact, a professional bike racer, but one of many weekend warriors with way too much time and disposable income.

The race was incredibly well run, and Carbon Racing deserves a huge round of applause for pulling off such a great event.

ThomDom won the overall Cat 3 general classification, as well as Friday's criterium:

The team raced very well throughout and ensured that Thom got and kept the yellow jersey after Saturday's road race. I managed to take 3rd in Sunday's criterium after being away in a break for about 55 of the 60 minute race:

Back to the real world. For now.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Raccoon Rally Finish Line Photo

I torched those two other guys in the finishing sprint. Oh wait, it was for 18th place.

The guy in red in the background picking his butt really makes the photo.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Bike racing is hard"

A few miles into this year's Medina Twin Sizzler Expert 19-34 road race, I got into a two-person breakaway with Spin/Second Sole multisport stud Aussie Rob. Yes, he is from Australia. Yes, he is super fast. No, no one from the other teams knew who he was. Yes, I knew we could take it to the line.

We did manage to take it to the line, and I (barely) got him in the sprint. But the best part of the race was, about 4 miles into our break when we were going 26-27+ mph to establish a gap, he turned to me and said (in his Aussie accent) and in a totally deadpan way, "bike racing is hard." He then shared the fact that he had ridden 120 miles the day before.

Both of those things are not generally good to hear from a breakaway companion. Unless it's Aussie Rob.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

As ThomDom and I were riding home from Spin today and about to do a time trial workout, a pickup truck with a giant "Let Freedom Ring" sticker passed us. The woman in the passenger seat was hanging out of the window and yelling at us to "get off of the road." We just smiled and waved in typical passive aggressive fashion. She then flicked us off, while still hanging out of the truck. It was not your typical single finger salute....there was a whole lot of emotion behind it. She must have really put lots of energy behind hating the fact that cyclists were legally riding on the four-lane SOM Center Rd.

I doubt she appreciated the irony of her actions in the context of her vehicle's giant sticker.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Excuse me sir, but your son is a creep

I am a firm believer in going on a few bike racing trips every year, if not for the sake of bike racing, for the stuff that happens while on the trip. Last weekend's Raccoon Rally weekend was no different.

I learned that the Ellicottville Brewing Company has a 10% ABV beer called Pantius Droppus.

Also, while hanging out in Ellicottville on Saturday, we encountered a gaggle of fairly obnoxious young ladies who were presumably wasted and running around the town screaming and engaging in some sort of scavenger hunt. Word on the street was that they were celebrating graduation (from college, I suppose). At one point, they ran up to a police car stopped at a red light. All I could think of was, "public intoxication citation." That is most likely what I would receive if I drunkenly stumbled up to a cop car for no real reason and made a big scene. Five minutes later, however, we saw the police car parked in a lot around the corner, with its (young male) officer standing among the group of girls while they posed provocatively on the police car and took photographs.

At Sunday's mountain bike race, we parked next to a pickup truck with a couple and their three kids. As Scott was messing with his bike next to my car, the kid from the truck (who looked to be about 10 years old) stood up in the truck bed and purposely spit his gum at Scott, completely unprovoked. It landed right next to Scott, under his bike. This was done in front of the whole family, who said or did nothing in response to the actions of the young social deviant. Then the dad (who was the mountain bike racer of the family) promptly rode off in his camouflage bike helmet (that is not a joke) while the rest of the family walked off with their tiny beagle puppy that social deviant boy was previously manhandling and almost dropped out of the truck bed.

Then I raced my mountain bike over 30 miles for 2+ hours that felt like about 7 hours, after which we drove home and I ate everything in the house. Twice.

The end.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Critical Mass 1885

courtesy of

(No, I did not make up the title. It is by the author of the comic. I am not nearly that funny.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I could drive to Cincinnati and Columbus this weekend and race around in circles with a bunch of guys on Saturday and Sunday.

Or I could drive under three hours to do a 2 lap, 50 mile hilly road race Saturday and a hilly, 30 mile mountain bike race on Sunday.

That's not even really a decision. Raccoon Rally, here we come.

Because it makes total sense for a nearly 200 pound person to want to do a hilly road race instead of a flat crit.

(note that the elevation chart for each lap is in meters, not feet)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dirty Three

The coolest guys in the room. Always.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Katie likes to remind me how one difference between her hobbies and my main hobby is that her hobbies generally do not include an element of danger along the lines of falling off your bike at high speeds in a tight pack of riders.

Point taken:

State Road Race Mishap from ohio cycling on Vimeo.

It is with great excitement, however, that I can now say that she is becoming involved in a hobby with at least some element of danger: sheep herding.

We recently decided that we don't participate in enough fringe sports, so sheep herding became the obvious choice. And because we figured Spencer would really like it.

We tried it today with him, and he had a blast (we think). Katie just needs to watch out for fast moving sheep while walking in the middle of the herd and directing the dog. I hear you can get pretty messed up in a sheep collision accident while participating in this sport. Who knew?

Monday, June 15, 2009


Sunday was the state road race. Here are some stats from it:

1: suicidal cop who decided it would be a good idea to stand on the yellow line on the road onto which we turned while yelling at us (a field of 80 starters) to stay in the right lane on turn one.

2: number of times I was quite sure I was in the winning break. I wasn't.

6: number of times up that godforsaken hill, one of which was with my teammate making everyone's lives quite miserable.

3: number of times we went up the hill before I realized how sucky the last three times were going to be.

4: number of times I was at or very near the front on the sketchy descent. Did I mention that a guy yardsaled over the cable "guardrail" there on lap 1? Ouch.

9: number of seconds I had to soft pedal on the hill on lap six to allow the uncontrolled seizures in my right leg to stop.

13.5: number of hours I was gone from home to go race bikes clear on the other end of the state.

Bike racing is fun. Right?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

If only I had more time to ride, I'd probably go do something else

I often hear bike racers talk about how they wish they had more time to train. Count me as someone who does not share this feeling.

I'm pretty lucky with a flexible schedule and ample (in my opinion) time to ride. I probably average 10-14 hours a week on the bike during the spring and summer months, and that includes lots of road races. That usually amounts to 200 miles a week, give or take. I love riding, but honestly have no desire to do it any more than I already do.

Maybe it's because I have a number of other silly hobbies (can anyone say dog agility...playing in a trashy sounding band...reading way too many esoteric articles on politics and current events). Or maybe it's because I realize that I have drawn an average card in the gene pool and won't be dominating the local racing scene anytime soon, regardless of how much time I spend on my bike.

I have to admit, I'm pretty obsessed with riding, and the thought of decreasing my saddle time scares me. But so does the thought of increasing it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Get Phit

Some people are abuzz about the recently introduced Public Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2009 (HR 2105), which proposes a tax credit of up to $1,000 per year for some people's “qualified sports and fitness expenses.”

The bill seems like a well-intentioned step in the right direction. It also looks like it needs some tweaking.

I read it to allow the entire $1,000 deduction for a single membership to a "fitness facility," but it only allows for a $250 deduction for the purchase of "any item of sports equipment (other than exercise equipment)..."

So where does a bike stand under this law? (Or a kayak, or cross country skis, or climbing equipment, or anything else appealing to someone who finds gyms and fitness centers rather unappealing?) Well, according to the press secretary of the Congressperson who sponsored the bill, up to $250 of the purchase of a new bicycle would qualify for the deduction.

Apparently that means that a bike is an item of "sports equipment," but not "exercise equipment" under the law, therefore limiting the credit for that purchase to $250. Lame.

What about new wheels? Or handlebars? Or a saddle? Is that deductible "sports equipment" under the law also?

So then what constitutes "exercise equipment?" BowFlex? NordicCross? A set of weights?

It also looks like runners get hosed in this deal, as it excludes "apparel or footwear." What else do runners buy, anyway?

In all fairness, though, I can understand the apparel and footwear exclusion because it prevents people from going to the local mall and getting tax credits for the purchase of a bunch of trendy exercise outfits and shoes to wear while shopping or going to Applebee's.

We'll see where this law goes, and what the final version will look like. And we can take take bets on whether Rep. Boehner will publicly mock it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A word of thanks to our sponsors

There is a special place in the afterlife reserved for the kind folks who run businesses that support or sponsor local amateur bike race teams. Without these businesses, self important bike racers everywhere would be unable to feel entitled to things like free or heavily discounted bikes, parts, and/or clothing.

If you are on a bike race team, make sure you thank your sponsors next time you see them. Remind them that their sponsorship is greatly appreciated. And remind them that it could be worse....they could be sponsoring a kickball team.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


There were at least 13 of us from Northeast Ohio who made the 4+ hour trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan to do the Tour de Frankenmuth on Saturday. It was flat, windy (even though there seemed to be no wind at the start/finish), well attended, and well run. The Cleveland crew took 2nd and 8th in the Pro/1/2 race, 1st in the women's 1/2/3 race, and had 3 out of 8 money spots in the Cat 3 race, including 2nd place.

Oh yea, and staying at a hotel literally 100 meters from the start/finish is the way to go, especially when it is 48 degrees and raining 20 minutes before the start of the race. And when you can take a post race shower within minutes of crossing the line. So pro.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Last week, Katie and I met some friends at the Beachland Ballroom to see Bonnie Prince Billy. Here's a few videos from the show, courtesy of some nice person who looks to have recorded and posted almost every song from the set. I do love those two part harmonies.

The first song of the set, which was a cover. After messing around with their instruments for a while, they just started playing:

Another great duet:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I am rarely ambitious enough to drive over an hour to go mountain biking. Which means that I rarely go mountain biking. That may now change, however, now that I have experienced the 25 mile loop at Mohican State Park.

I am no mountain bike guru, and I'm actually really mediocre at it. I've probably ridden mountain bikes in five or so states, and I have never ridden a trail with such a good mix of flow, mildly technical sections, and climbing. Lots of climbing.

Now I am almost tempted to do something irrational. Like this.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What the cool kids did this past Friday night

Dog agility, of course.

Reuben and I had 2 of 3 qualifying runs and earned another title. Sylvia and Katie went 3 for 3, and some of the generous 4-H teens who volunteered to set jump bars had a pretty productive makeout session behind the building, in plain view of the parking lot, in between rounds of competition.

Overall, a success on many fronts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Never say never

When I was a young kid, I vacationed with my parents in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I vividly remember the faux-Bavarian buildings, the tourist traps, the world's largest Christmas store at which we shopped, and the sports cards store where I bought a good condition Donruss Kirby Puckett rookie card for $11. I also remember telling my dad that the baseball card purchase was a really good investment.

As I grew older, I figured that I would never have any reason to re-visit this town. That is, until I was convinced to race there next week.

So now I will return, about 20 years older, wiser, and the proud owner of a Kirby Puckett rookie card that is currently selling for $1.29 on e-bay.

At least this time I won't have to go to that stupid Christmas store.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Last night, Katie and I saw Thao Nguyen at the Beachland Tavern with her backing band, the Get Down Stay Down. Having forgotten the real camera, we still managed to get a few ok shots with Katie's phone.

Here's a video for one of her songs. Nice bikes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Race at the Lake #4

I prepared a race report for the team website, so I figured I'd post it here also.

On Saturday, May 9th, 40+ riders lined up for the final Cat 1-2-3 Race at the Lake this year. Thanks again to Summit Freewheelers for organizing this well run event. Tom K. and I represented Team Spin.

The first few laps were fast and full of action. I managed to go with several break attempts, but nothing stuck. After I blew up and had to settle back in the group, a move got away. A bit later, another move got away. Unfortunately, neither break included a Spin rider.

About halfway through the race, I looked around and realized that the main field was rather small, and that there were about 11 riders up the road . The high speeds and strong winds (that got stronger as the race progressed) must have taken their toll on many riders in the field.

With a bit over 3 laps remaining, Tom K. took a nice hard pull at the front. I grabbed his wheel for a bit, then attacked the field. I managed to stay away until the line and take 12th place in front of a charging field. Those 3 laps seemed like an eternity due to an error on the lap card which made me think I had 2 to go when, in fact, I had 3 laps left. They also seemed like eternity because the wind was absurd. Going through the start line/parking lot section each time, I felt as if my elderly mother with two knee replacements could run that section faster than I was riding it.

Tom K. finished strong in the field sprint and took 15th overall.

Not a bad day, but next time we need to make the break.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Yes, that's right.

My cat's photograph made it on "The Secret Life of Animals" television show on the New England Cable Network ("NECN"). Katie happens to know the animal trainer who appeared on this segment.

Benjamin is doing the "sunnyside up" pose, as it is called, which happens at the 1:40 mark. Katie says he looks like a loaf of bread with legs sticking out of it.

Katie's cat Patterson also appears at 1:05, doing the "princess and the pea" pose.

Yep folks, now we have really made it. It's all down hill from here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I've got your premium right here

I'm pretty sure that many of us are pre-programmed to make irrational decisions regarding health insurance. Specifically, healthy people tend to shy away from insurance plans with high deductibles and instead opt for higher monthly premiums. People often view this approach as "cautious." I view it as throwing money away.

For example, last week I received a love letter from my health insurance carrier informing me that my premium is rising by over 20% this year, despite the fact that I never even used my insurance last year. At all. (I guess all of that Ohio medical malpractice tort reform from a few years ago didn't really work in keeping our rates down. What a shock.)

In my particular case, the question comes down to whether I am willing to risk paying an extra $1500 if I get hurt in order to save about $750 in yearly premiums. Stated otherwise, am I willing to bet $750 that I won't need any major medical treatment this year. The answer: yes. I figure that I spend an obnoxious amount of time every year riding my bike and doing things that keep me healthy. I might as well enjoy a return on that investment.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Photos and Videos from Race at the Lake #2, 4-25-09

Early in the race:

The early break:

The winning break:

Racing for scraps:

Bell lap for field:

Field sprint:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Five Dollar Milkshake

I remember with clarity watching the "five dollar milkshake" scene from Pulp Fiction at the Parma (Ohio) cheapo movie theater while in high school back in the mid-90's.

(note how this clip appears to have been taped with a camcorder by someone watching the movie on a television screen...nice!)

Back then, the thought of a $5 milkshake seemed unfathomable.

However, while driving home from New York this weekend, Jason ordered a milkshake from the Edy's store at a New York rest stop and did in fact pay $5 for said milkshake.

Now I feel a grandpa who recalls the days when one could buy milk and a loaf of bread from the corner store for like fifteen cents.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Battenkill: race!

As expected, the race got super hard exactly where I thought it would get super hard. I didn't make the lead group over the first big steep gravel climb, and spent the next 30 miles burying myself to catch the next group up the road, which I did, then managed to promptly get dropped by the guys I just dragged around for 30 miles. That's ok though...once I'm fighting for scraps, final placement matters much less than riding hard and racing my bike. Mission accomplished.

And yes, that hill at mile 55 hurts. A lot.

Teammates Jason and Derek had great races in their fields (17th and 21st, respectively), and Zak finished in the field of his race.

The hills, dirt roads, and rain (for the last 15 or so miles) made this race quite an adventure.

Here's Derek at the start of the men's 50+ plus race:

And the women's Pro/1/2/3 race:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Battenkill: Day 2

After pre-riding most of the dirt sections and the hills, it's pretty clear that this race is going to be really hard. It is a 100k course that would be challenging to simply ride, let alone race.

Today I also supported the local economy here by purchasing a Battenkill cycling cap, a quart of local chocolate milk, and lunch at a small cafe run by some pretty serious hippies.

After buying the cap, I then wore it, which makes me one of those guys who wears event specific clothing to the actual event. Like wearing a brand new Slayer tour t-shirt to a Slayer show. The upside, of course, is that the cap will give me huge amounts of cred in 20 years. It will be like wearing a Coors Classic bike race cap in 2009.

Or a tattered Slayer t-shirt from the Reign in Blood tour in 1987.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Battenkill: Day 1

The drive:

The ride (aka course recon):

We pre-rode the dirt road sections in the last 20K today. Some of it is hard packed, some of it is heavy with loose stone. It will be interesting. Also, the last hill (which is also dirt/gravel and is about 10K from the finish), is a monster. It never ends, and would be a very good place to watch Sunday's pro race. I suspect the winning move will come from that hill. It is followed by a screaming downhill and then a flat run-in into town for the finish.

Tomorrow is a tour of the Serotta factory, pick up race numbers, and more pre-riding.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On the rivet

That pretty much describes a good portion of the 70 miles I raced on Saturday at the Deer Creek Road Race. The 1-2-3 field had about 50 riders and was pretty stacked.

At one point in the race, a few minutes after attempting a breakaway chase move with another rider, I looked down at my computer and it told me that we had only completed about 25 miles. I was sure that it was wasn't. After nearly weeping upon realizing that we had another 45 miles left, I got my act together and finished the race with the main group.

Photos are courtesy of Jeffery Jakucyk.

Results are here. Next up for me: Battenkill.