Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hypocrite

This article in Velonews talks about how the Eagle County (Colorado) District Attorney is trying to prevent the victim of a horrible car on bicycle hit and run incident from testifying at a hearing addressing a proposed plea bargain with the driver.

For those unfamiliar with the case, here is what supposedly happened:

Mercedes driving wealth fund manager hits and seriously injures doctor who was riding his bike. Driver then does a bunch of things that make it clear he knew he hit someone, yet later denies knowing he hit anyone. And then blames it on sleep apnea. And then blames it on "new car smell" (no joke). Doctor suffers serious head and spinal injuries (view photos at above link at your own risk).

After charging the driver with a felony and two misdemeanors, District Attorney Mark Hurlburt agreed to drop the felony charge in exchange for guilty pleas to the misdemeanors. Hulbert also observed that “felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger’s profession.”

Only the driver, Martin Erzinger, knows what his thought process was that day, and what really happened. I do not blame him, nor his attorney, for mounting a vigorous legal defense. That is how the system works.

Without knowing the admissible evidence involved in the case, I also can't comment on whether the plea agreement was a good idea. Prosecutors are faced with tough choices every day, and the often ignorant and fickle public has been known to hate plea deals, but they also hate it when prosecutors go "all the way" and lose due to lack of evidence or a boneheaded jury.

If D.A. Hurlburt weighed the strengths and weaknesses of the state's case and made an informed decision based on the risks of losing, then I would have no problem with the plea deal, as distasteful as it may be. The problem is, he did not. He instead admitted that the effect of a felony on Erzinger's record helped sway his decision.

What he was saying, of course, was that he is less inclined to charge a rich businessman with a felony when compared to a common criminal. The ignorance of this statement is mind boggling in light of the obvious fact that a felony makes virtually anyone unemployable in the minds of most employers, whether the employer is an investment bank or Burger King.

Maybe armed robbers in Vail should also not be charged with felonies because, you know, how will they support their families with that on their record? Or drug dealers. Or sexual predators.

I also find this excerpt from his bio to be quite offensive, given the fact that he is spending taxpayer money to deprive the victim of this crime the chance to speak at the plea deal hearing:

As an experienced prosecutor, Mark knows it is important not to simply secure convictions, but to seek justice. He makes victims a priority and is dedicated to providing victims a strong voice in the justice system.

This might be the most disturbing and embarrassing legal story I have read in a while.

Monday, December 13, 2010

He's back

It has now been five weeks since Reuben's emergency bloat surgery, and about six weeks since his Addison's diagnosis. Dr. Mike has lifted all restrictions for him. His coat is back to normal, and he no longer looks like a bag of bones.

I had been taking him on walks up to two miles until the weather recently turned sour. Now it will be basement agility sessions until the grass reappears in the backyard, whenever that may be.

Five weeks ago I was driving 85 mph on I-271 on a Sunday morning, not sure if he was going to even make it to the vet hospital. Now I am doing agility with him again.

As far as I am concerned, this is all gravy.

Pretty soon, we should be back doing this at trials:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

WLC2K11

I have officially entered the WLC2K11 (Weight Loss Challenge 2011), which is a gentleman's wager amongst a few of us bike riding types. The concept is simple: We all throw some cash into the pot, and the one of us with the highest percentage of starting body weight lost after a March 1, 2011 weigh-in wins the whole pot.

My goal seems modest compared to the goals being thrown around by the others, so I suspect that I am not a favorite to win the grand prize and its accompanying fame and fortune.

However, participating does improve winter motivation, especially when the weather is putrid and riding inside sounds less than appealing.

Time to scour the library website for more movies to request for these indoor sessions.

This is shaping to up to be a long winter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When we last left our hero...

...Reuben had just gotten his bark back after being diagnosed with Addison's.

Then, on Sunday morning, he started showing symptoms of bloat, or gastric torsion.

We immediately rushed him to the vet hospital where our good friend and vet Mike performed emergency surgery and saved a hound.

He is now recuperating from a very bad week.

our reuben

Friday, November 05, 2010

Come again, hound?



Ever since we adopted Reuben four years ago, he insists on barking like crazy the second he hears the dog food hit the metal dog dish.

Before every single meal.

For over four years.

No amount of dog training could break him of this habit. Maybe it has something to do with his inherent stubbornness, which likely stems from the fact that he is genetically hardwired to bark at raccoons up in trees for as long it takes until the hunter arrives.

Needless to say, the mealtime barking got old. Real old.

Until it stopped happening last Saturday.

At which point we knew something was wrong.

On Monday our vet diagnosed him with Addison's, an adrenal gland disease that can be fatal if not diagnosed properly, but is treatable once caught. He stayed the night at the vet hospital, and we picked him up Tuesday, expecting a marked improvement. Instead, he was weak, extremely lethargic and pathetic, and did not show the improvement we had hoped for.

And still no barking at dinnertime.

Early Wednesday morning seemed no better, and another trip to the vet was inevitable. I was worried, to say the least.

Then, within hours, he perked up. He started to seem like his normal self again. So I went to the pantry, grabbed the dog food, and started to fill the dish.

"Blarp....Blarp...............................Arf arf.........Barooooooooooo......Barooooooooooooooo!!!"

We now look forward to his mealtime barking.

Every single day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

GBV

Katie and I just got home from Oberlin where we saw Guided By Voices play on their "classic lineup" tour. Normally, when we see a show at Oberlin, the room is filled with students, about a quarter of which are young enough to theoretically be our children. Today, the crowd was filled with people who made us feel young, all there to see a band full of guys old enough to be our dad.

Nice.

The most interesting part of the night was the fact that the opening band (whose name I still don't know) played in Halloween costumes. Real costumes, not "look I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses at night" type costumes. Surprisingly, that made it more difficult than I care to admit in deciding whether I liked them. I'm pretty sure that, whether we like it or not, visuals play a large role in creating an opinion about a live band you know nothing about.

Is the keyboardist female? Does the singer look like a tool? Is the bassist a 15-year old burnout?

Today I learned that these questions are indeed important.

And I learned that you can move a lot of cans of Bud Light at a GBV show when they are $2 a pop.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The kids are alright

It was neat to see so many junior riders at this weekend's UCI3 Cyclocross festival in Cincinnati. Even the ones who kicked my ass.

It was also neat to see adults taking some very young racers around the course during warmup and showing them the ropes.

I do have to admit, though, that my initial reaction to some of this "coaching" was lukewarm when it appeared that the adults involved started getting a bit serious about matters. Then I saw some really young kids riding some really expensive wheels, a topic thoroughly discussed on some recent Facebook threads.

I then compared those scenes with the kid warming up behind me on Sunday (who looked to be about 10 years old) who was yelling and carrying on the whole time because he was having so much fun just riding his (non-$2000 wheeled) bike around the course. That, my friend, is what it is all about.

I am not sure why I have such a reactionary aversion to parents and role models who take their children's bike racing so seriously. Is it any different than a parent who really gets into their kid's little league and hits ground balls to the kid who plays shortstop? Or the parent who regularly practices shots at her soccer playing, goal tending daughter?

Maybe I am a bit sensitive to this topic because so many people take the fun out of their children's sports by taking it so seriously. Or maybe because I remember being told in 4th grade football by Coach Marconi that he was going to bash our heads into the brick wall if we didn't hit the sled harder during a 90 degree practice.

This sport is pretty great, and there are already enough barriers to entry for young riders, such as affording a safe and race worthy bike. Let's encourage the kids, but not scare them away.

And, for God's sake, a 12 year old probably does not need $2000 wheels. And a $3750 cross bike is not a mid-level cross bike. Nor is a $1999 frame.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Really?

I went to this lecture yesterday at Case's law school because it seemed interesting and, let's be honest, I needed the CLE credit.

Mr. Murray, a bioethicist, is also the Chair of the Ethical Issues Review Panel for the World Anti-Doping Agency ("WADA").

The most surprising part of the evening was nothing that he said, but the reactions of some of the audience members who seemed angered and mystified that athletes "cheat" when competing.

Of all of the mysteries surrounding doping in sports (how it is done, how often, how do they avoid detection, etc.), one thing is not (or should not be) a mystery: why they do it.

Large percentages of people in major metropolitan areas allow the outcome of a Sunday sports contest to dictate their mood on Monday. We revere our professional sports heroes. Outstanding high school athletes are treated like gods in communities large and small. Winning is everything. Don't you remember, it's you vs. second place.

Oh yea, and some of these people (many of whom are otherwise totally unemployable) end up making millions of dollars playing sports for a living.

I'm not sure what's more offensive, cheating athletes or the fact that people are still shocked when they find out people do this.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stark County Style

2010 NEOCX Series Race Three - KSU, Stark Campus. 9-25-10

Friday, September 24, 2010

Like it was 1999

A few weeks ago, I went to two (hard) rock shows in one week. And they were both on weeknights.

Not bad for a geezer.

Both shows drew a lot of the same people I would see at shows when I was in college. Same people, but with less head hair, more facial hair, and more kids.

First was Unsane and Craw at the Grog Shop. Here's a video from the Craw set that I found on Youtube. Note the band's bassist...he may look familiar to the bike racers reading this. (Hint: It's Zak):



A few days later was Shellac at the Beachland. The only video from that show is here:



Both bands have rhythm sections to die for.

And both shows reminded me why I got into music.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Plea

The driver whose vehicle struck and killed Sylvia Bingham last September pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide last Monday. Although sentencing happens in late October, her Foundation website states that the recommended sentencing will be four years. Also take a look at her parents' comments about the sentencing on that website.

I am still confused about how the positive marijuana test plays into this accident. Was he high while driving, or did he test positive for marijuana use at some point in the recent past? One would think that they had him for marijuana use during the accident, but the news stories never clarified that issue. Also, the news stories never mentioned witnesses. Were the charges (and the subsequent plea) based on witness testimony, or based on the fact that he was high? Does anyone know what really happened that day?

The answers to these questions won't bring back Ms. Bingham. But releasing this information could help us better understand this tragedy and raise public awareness of this important issue.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Racey Video of Wendy

The Wendy Park Cyclocross Race, that is:



It was fast. Then I took a beer handup from some hipster. Then I crashed spectacularly with like 250 meters left on the last lap. Then I flaked out on my teammates and failed to help them tear down the course because I went home to pout because I was scared I really hurt my leg.

Luckily, I didn't.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trial

According the Cuyahoga County Court's docket, the criminal trial of the person driving the truck in the accident that killed Sylvia Bingham begins on Monday. Links to the cases filed relating to this incident can be found here and here, along with a list of the charges. (I don't know why there are two separate cases going at once with the same charges relating to the same incident, both having the same trial date.)

Next week will also be one year since the accident happened.

I have yet to see any local media coverage on the upcoming trial. Maybe we're all just more concerned with other important matters, like whether some hateful lunatic is going to burn some books that may or may not cause some other hateful lunatics to kill people.

Either way, I'll keep an eye on the court docket. As of now, I have no idea what the prosecutor claims happened on that day, as well as the alleged level of impairment of the driver.

If the local media does cover the trial, I suppose it will bring out the worst in many people who will ignorantly claim that bikes don't belong on the roads, and that it was her fault for not wearing a helmet. And some bike advocates will call for Mr. Roberts' head without even knowing the whole story.

I hope I'm proven wrong, and I really hope the case draws a jury that will not rule based on misconceptions about cyclists riding on the road.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Races!!

Most reasonable people like to relax on Labor Day weekend, drink beer, and watch a bunch of war planes do fancy things over our fair city.

I decided to do two races within seventeen hours of each other, the first one being a 60 minute cyclocross race starting at 4:00 p.m., the second requiring a 5:45 a.m. alarm and a two-hour drive.

The cross race was (surprisingly) dry and fast and fun. I sucked considerably less than I did last year, which I must attribute to my new bicycle. That would really be the one way to justify the expense. My favorite observation from the cross race was a (short lived) verbal altercation between my teammate and another racer documented here, as well as a (short lived) verbal altercation between myself and someone who may actually suck worse than I do at riding singletrack. He decided he needed to pass me right before, of course, the singletrack. Both (short lived) verbal altercations ended in polite apologies and mutual understandings. It was like we were in Canada.

Sunday's Tour de Tamarck road race followed the script from last year...much attrition over the six hills, then teammate Zak and I trying (unsuccessfully) to get away on the last lap. It was fun, although I nearly got caught up in a wreck that occurred right behind me and was close enough that someone's handlebar jabbed my thigh.

Here is a photo of me trying to pretend that I can ride well in the sand on Saturday:


Question of the day: Does the fact that many cyclocross racers incessantly talk about how awesome cyclocross is add to or detract from the sport's awesomeness level, which is already quite high?



Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Getting old

A shiny, almost new Specialized 29er demo mountain bike has been sitting in my basement for the last week, screaming at me to ride it. So today, I complied, foregoing the Wednesday night road hammer fest and instead driving to West Branch State Park for 90 minutes of singletrack goodness.

As I was riding, some hardcore looking guy came screaming down a little hill in the other direction on a dandy looking Santa Cruz. Here's how our conversation went:

Guy: Hey man. You riding hard?

Me: Hey. Not really. I'm just trying out this demo bike and just riding along. You riding hard?

Guy: Yea. I'm looking for someone to ride fast with me today.

Me: Sorry man. I have some fitness, but no skills. I'd just hold you back.

Guy [looking mildly forlorn]: Ok. Have a good one.

Me: You too.

After this exchange, I began riding again and thought about how, years back, the young, fat and out of shape me would have been quite jazzed to take this guy up on his offer to ride "fast." I would have crashed five times trying to keep within sight of this guy, then given up and ridden my own pace, a bloody and embarrassed sorry excuse for a mountain biker.

Now I am just a sorry excuse for a mountain biker, minus the blood and unwarranted confidence of being able to ride "fast" with a guy like that.

But I must say that a 29er allows even people like me to look decent on singletrack.

If you can't beat 'em, just get better gear. Or something like that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Three Feet

Last month, The Ohio Bicycle Federation provided an update on the status of Senate Bill 174, which includes a three foot passing law:

Update on Senate Bill 174
The OBF testified before the Ohio Senate Highways and Transportation Committee on May 19 to support our Senate Bill 174, which would require Ohio motorists to pass bicyclists with at least three feet to spare. Senator Tom Patton of Strongville must now schedule a committee vote on our bill. Our sponsor, Senator Fedor, says that we have the votes to pass it out of committee to the full Senate. Senator Patton may be reached at:

Senator Tom Patton
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, 1st Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 466-8056
Email: SD24@senate.state.oh.us


If you have the time to read this blog, you probably have the time to send Senator Patton an e-mail or call his office.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

More on "negative" racing

A few weeks ago I talked about the frequently used term negative bike racing, and how it is a meaningless adjective.

Today I received an e-mail about that post, which stated in part:

Has anyone ever been accused of racing "positively?" As in, that guy gets my respect for racing so positively. And what would that be like? A guy who lets another guy get away and doesn't chase is racing positively?

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I now have a request for all of the bad ass dudes against whom I will be racing this weekend at the Tour of the Valley: Please race positively, at least when I attack.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fourth of July

There is a country club on our street that usually has fireworks, open to the public, on or around July 4. The temporary no parking signs that appeared on the street clued us in that they were happening today. Earlier in the evening, we walked over to see this place where we have never ventured in several years of living here.

It must have been "Kevin's" 50th birthday bash, because a bunch of beautiful people in sundresses and golf shirts with beautiful children were attending an outdoor party while a plane overhead flew a banner that read, "Happy 50th Birthday Kevin, we love you."

I am not kidding.

While we walked past the outdoor driving range (still unsure of whether someone was going to out us as an uninvited guest to this gig), some of the people who were driving golf balls (country club members, party guests??) noticed a baby deer about 100 yards from the tees.

Then, these same people (a mix of male adults and boys) all teed up, aimed their clubs at the baby deer, and took their best shots at trying to hit the animal.

Aaah, there is nothing that makes me feel more proud of my country than seeing a bunch of privileged assholes try to hit baby deer with golf balls.

So now, it sounds like Dresden circa February 1945 with a commercial grade fireworks display exploding over our house while the dogs (especially Alex) fret over the commotion.

Happy Fourth!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I hate tubular tires

I was entering the (uphill) sprint for second place with four other riders at the Raccoon Rally Cat 1/2 Road Race today when the wheel of the guy directly in front of me rolled off his tubulars, causing him to crash. I was forced to bail into the ditch on the side of the road, not a good place to be with less than 100m left of a 50 mile race.

Luckily, teammate Tom K. was behind me and still managed a fifth place money spot. Nice job Tom.

I raced my ass off today, so I have no regrets.

Meanwhile, I became "that guy" today at the start line. I usually rail against the silly and excessive consumerism involved in bike racing, yet somehow managed this year to acquire a fancy bike and wheels. Then, someone at the start line today commented to his friend about how "sweet" my bike is.

Crap.

I think that makes me a hypocrite.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Negative Racing

Disclaimer: really boring/nerdy bike racing discussion. Read at your own risk.

I always hear bike racers complain about "negative racing," and have decided that the word itself means nothing more than a type of racing that does not fit the particular agenda of the person calling it "negative" for that particular race.

I tested my theory by running a Google search for the phrase negative bike racing. Here are some excerpts from the articles that resulted, followed by my brief take on how the author defines "negative" bike racing:

Some less experienced riders may complain that "you're not doing your share". These are usually the same ones who pull the field up to every break never knowing why they can't seem to get away themselves. Pulling the pack rarely does anything to increase your chances of doing well. If you need the training great, go to the front and hammer, but don't ruin other rider's chances of successfully breaking away in the process. This "negative racing" is unproductive and makes racing less enjoyable.
http://www.roble.net/marquis/tactics


This person's definition: pulling the pack back to breakaways.


In a recent Training Race we had only had 3 guys in the peloton while one team had 10 riders, another team had 8 guys, and there were two more teams with at least a half dozen each. However, when 2 guys went off the front ½ way through Lap 1 of 4 no one in the pack showed any interest in racing for the win. My teammates and I were surfing the front waiting to help some of the bigger teams chase down the break, but none of them came up to work. It seemed like everyone just wanted to sit in and enjoy the ride and then race for a Top 10 place. So I attacked twice on Lap 3 to try and get away from the “freeloaders” and both times I had guys, from one particular team with no one up the road, sit on my wheel and refuse to come through. I thought, “Are you serious? This is a training race! We’re not even racing for money!” Looking back...no one in that race (other than the two that got away) can say they actually raced their bike that day.

Negative racing is not fun for anyone. We are not professionals and we race for the fun of it. Some of us are limited on the number of opportunities we have to get out and race...so please...don’t ruin it for everyone else. When you decide to show up and pin a number on don’t worry so much about whether you will finish 14th or 15th and just have fun and race your bike.
http://svmiccycling.com/negativeracing.aspx


This person's definition: Going with moves but not working in them.


Throughout the early parts of the race everyone was super jumpy in that negative-racing manner chasing down everything that moved but never really wanting to move much beyond 20mph when we were all together.
http://www.northeastbicycleclub.org/home/article/718/nebccycle-loftdevonshire-dental-mens-elite-team-news

This person's definition: Chasing moves but not wanting to pull the pack around at a fast pace.


Early in the race, a group of 15 riders quickly formed a lead pack, while Armstrong, starting from the fourth row, moved up quickly through the field and threatened to join the leading group until a hard crash caused him to lose time. Tim Johnson (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com), Jonathan Page (Planet bike), Geoff Kabush (Litespeed – Maxxis), Adam Craig (Giant), Todd Wells (GT) and Trebon all traded attacks, but in what Trebon would describe as “negative racing”, nobody was really willing to work together to make a gap stick.
http://www.cxmagazine.com/ryan-trebon-katie-compton-win-cross-vegas


Ryan Trebon's definition: Not wanting to work together to make a gap stick.


So, I think the general consensus is that a bike race is "negative" when the person calling it negative wishes to but fails to succeed in a breakaway.

People tend to forget that bike racing is like the free market on wheels: racers do what is best for them (or their team), and those tactics will vary from race to race, depending on the type of race, the team's objectives (set up for the team sprinter, try to get Guy A in the break, etc.), the caliber of riders, and a many other factors. It is up to each racer or team to read the race and use their ability to read the race to their advantage.

I guess the part that bothers me is condescending tone that usually accompanies the accusation of "negative" racing. It's as if that person raced better, or more worthily, than the rest of the "negative" field. It's also funny how the person who usually calls a race "negative" is rarely the person who wins the race, or even places well. Maybe if that person was such an enlightened bike racer he or she would be able to read the "negative" race better and use its negativity to his or her advantage instead of using it as a basis to complain.

Is this post too negative?

Monday, June 14, 2010

States

Sunday was the 90-mile Ohio State Road Race Championship. After waking up at an unholy hour and driving 3.5 hours to the race, I nearly ran over a small child in the parking lot who decided to dart in front of me while walking with her mom. A great start to the race, for sure.

After around 70 miles of racing and a three person breakaway full of non-mortals with about a week and a half on the field up the road, I managed to make the "chase" group with a lap and and a half to go. It eventually swelled to eight guys. We stayed away for the rest of the race, and then I attempted an ill-fated move with 1k to go. That didn't work out so well, and I managed 10th in the 1-2-3 race.

Thanks to all who promoted the race, and special thanks to the Bodell crew who handed us cold water on every lap.

That's me below, about to drink my 100th liter of water for the day.


photo courtesy of Jeffrey Jakucyk

Monday, May 17, 2010

Well that was fun

I just realized that I raced my bicycle every weekend for the last eight weeks, and three of those weekends involved back to back races.

I managed a respectable result at Battenkill, one solid local result, and a bunch of almosts but not really. And I upgraded to a Cat 2.

This weekend I will sit around and talk about how nice it is to not race while secretly envying the people who are driving to the Tour de Syracuse.

And I'll be planning next weekend's trip to Frankenmuth, MI to race and enjoy the faux Germanic ambiance that fine town.

I need to get a life. Fast.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The real Cleveland

On Friday, I volunteered at the therapeutic riding center that provides lessons to children and adults with disabilities. The usual crew was there, giving their time (and money) to this place that provides the community with a great service and provides about 36 horses with incredible lives.

In the evening, I rode across town to the Don Frey Art Opening at Studio 11 in Tremont. I passed Coventry, with its local institutions such as Tommy's, Big Fun, Mac's Backs, the Grog Shop, Coventry Cats, etc. Then though downtown, and into Tremont with its legions of locally owned restaurants and galleries, including the gracious Studio 11 yoga studio who hosted the event.

On Saturday night, a bunch of us got together to celebrate the graduation of Dr. Scott at the Happy Dog, the wonderful, locally owned bar and hot dog joint on the near west side.

On Sunday, the good folks from Chagrin River Cycling and Mountain Road Cycles sponsored the recently resurrected Chippewa Creek road race, which, as in years past, pretty much rules. In case you were wondering, putting on a race like this is a thankless endeavor with lots of hassles. It also takes way more work than "worth it" from a financial standpoint.

The purpose of this post is not to bore you with my weekend activities, but to point out something that struck me when riding home from Studio 11 and passing the (publicly funded) Quicken Loans Arena.

It is the real people of this area....the volunteers, entrepreneurs, artists, small business owners, and people who generally give a shit who make this town what it is. It has nothing to do with multi-millionaire sports mercenaries who whore themselves out to the highest bidders and, with a few exceptions, will sell out this town (and any other town) for a buck.

If only the papers would focus on the actions of the real people...the true assets of this town, instead of trying to track the movement of Lebron James over the next two months with GPS-like accuracy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

World's worst hunter

Reuben is a Black and Tan Coonhound, which means that, somewhere in that little brain of his exists an instinct to bark at and chase raccoons up trees.


We figure that he wasn't so good at this exercise, which is probably why he ended up wandering Lorain county before he was picked up. Last week this was confirmed.

A young raccoon has taken residence near the area and enjoys watching the evening goings on in our yard from about 15 feet up in the neighbor's tree, right next to the fence on the property line. On one evening, Sylvia smelled the beast and got mildly riled up while running around the yard.

Katie thought it was a great opportunity to test out The Brave Sir Reuben's hunting prowess, so she brought him outside on a leash, and took him to the area where the Raccoon was. Then she took him right near the tree, close enough for the raccoon to hurl obscenities at him.

His reaction: nothing.

Gee, I wonder why his previous owner, most likely a hunter, "lost" him.

Luckily for Reuben, hunting ranks up there with going to casinos or going to Disney World on the list of things that I enjoy doing.

I think he's safe here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Joakim Noah would like Cleveland if he raced bicycles

Be sure to add copious amounts of bike racing to the list of things for which Cleveland is under appreciated, especially for a market its size. (in addition to its restaurants, good road biking, lots of independent film, great concert venues, great theater, great parks, and a low cost of living.)

Over the course of six weekends in April/May, there are nine USA Cycling sanctioned races around here, a weekly Tuesday night training race, and no shortage of bad ass people to race against, including a few former national champions. And consistent racing over the summer. And a killer fall cyclocross series that causes great jealousy in some people who live in supposed cycling "hotbeds."

Cycling aside, it's funny how riled up this town gets when some random sports figure insults it. I'm pretty sure other towns have different reactions to such comments. New Yorkers would tell him to f**k off. Portlanders would agree with him, just to keep him out of their nice city. Canadians would apologize and ask him how they could improve their town. (Canada is a town, right?)

We just become defensive.

Lame.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sea Change

On March 11, 2010, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed a document called United States Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations. A link to it is here.

Among several others, one of the document's "Recommended Actions" included:

Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes: The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design.

A recent AP article discusses reactions to this document, including that of Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette, who:

[s]uggested jokingly to a Transportation Department official that one explanation for the new policy is that the secretary's thinking has been clouded by drugs.

"Is that a typo?" LaTourette asked. "If it's not a typo, is there still mandatory drug testing at the department?"


I was going to blog about this when it happened last month, but excoriating a politician for an ignorant comment about bikes is so played out on this blog. Even when the Congressman accuses a Presidential Cabinet Member of being "on drugs," which is so lame it is offensive.

But, when I read the AP article from a few days ago, I decided to call LaTourette's office just to let them know how I felt about his comments. (You can too...his contact info is here). The staffer who answered the phone at his Washington office immediately got on the defensive, and re-assured me that the good Congressman is not against bikes, and that his comment was in response to LaHood suggesting that we spend more money on bike paths than on roads. I then pressed the BULLSHIT button and asked for a cite or link to this statement by LaHood (which of course does not exist). I was then put on hold for a while, then was told he couldn't find the quote. The staffer then admitted that LaTourette's "drugs" quote was in response to LaHood's recent policy statement referred to earlier in this post. Then he said something about bike paths around the area of I-271 and I-90 being dangerous. And that freeway projects provide for more jobs.

Isn't that, like, automobile welfare or something?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tour of the Battenkill 2010

We arrived at our hotel in Cambridge, NY late afternoon on Friday and managed to pre-ride some of the early dirt sections of the course. They were hard packed, a tad moist, and mostly free of loose gravel. Nice.

On Saturday, Jason, Scott, Zak, Derek, and myself lined up for Team Spin at the start of the 96 person Cat 3 Green field, which raced for 100k. The weather was sunny and in the 50's with stiff winds. The course looked like this:


The pace was fast, but inconsistent, for much of the race, with lots of fast on the hills. Then, after the last feed zone with about 20 miles to go, it picked up by a lot and hardly relented.

There were about 40 of the 96 riders left at the base of the last climb with 10K to go. Things went nuts, and Jason crested with the leaders, who took their gap into town. He finished second by a half wheel. Really nice.

I allowed some gaps to form at the steep bottom part, because my legs were in shutdown mode. I then picked people off as the grade lessened, and rode like mad into town with a small group, thinking they paid 20 deep. I won our "sprint," took 20th, and then realized they paid 10 deep. Oh well. I'm pretty sure I could not have ridden any harder/better than I did.

Scott, Zak, and Derek rode well and finished in the field.

Matt B. from Team Spin rode excellent and finished 18th in his Cat 4 race.

Results are here.

Other notable events from the weekend include:

-They had two wheel trucks in our race and asked some people giving wheels before the race whether they thought they would finish with the lead group or get dropped. Their response determined which truck their wheels went in. I think that situation is a gift to a graduate psychology student looking for a paper to write.

-The guy staying in the room above Jason and Matt was rudely barking at his wife before the race about not messing up his post-race recovery drink. I'm pretty sure he was a Cat 5 dude. Way to give cyclists a good name.

-Staying at a hotel about a quarter mile from the start/finish is the way to go.

In the meantime, back at the home front.....I disassembled the kitchen sink pipes on Thursday before leaving and failed to properly re-assemble them, leaving that task for Katie, the self proclaimed mistress of plumbing. I told her to send me photos of the finished product. She did:

I am an embarrassment to red blooded men everywhere.

Then, on the way home, this happened to my right front tire on I-90 about 30 miles east of Syracuse:



Now I'm home. And ready for some races that take less than 45 minutes to drive to.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mid-Ohio, aka is this Kansas Dorothy?

When we left Cleveland for the Mid-Ohio race car course, it was around 80 degrees. When we arrived 1:45 later, it was in the mid 50's with Armageddon like winds and threatening to rain.

Luckily, the sun eventually appeared and the winds died down to a level of insufferably difficult on a course that always feels windy.

I felt like quitting after about a half of a lap, and then felt worse from there. After making my way into a few moves that did not work, I missed the one that did (of course), and the main field spent the latter part of the race thinking that we were so close to catching them it was guaranteed to happen. It didn't.

Afterwards, we feasted at Pueblo Grande, a Mexican joint in Lexington with about 56 neon beer signs inside and outside of the restaurant. The irony was, of course, they didn't have their liquor license and served no alcohol.

I guess we were hungry, because we stayed.

Some good photos of the race are here, along with some Malabar Farm photos and photos of some fall and winter races.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

$43K

According to this article, some sixty six-year old Colorado guy broke his leg when a loose dog caused him to wreck his bike. This article amuses me for many reasons.
  • Next time you want to glorify the attitudes towards cyclists in other reputedly bike friendly cities, read the comments to this article which were (presumably) submitted mostly by citizens of the Boulder, CO area. They look like cleveland.com commenters.
  • Why do people think that $43K is a lot of money for a broken leg? Putting the issue of medical bills aside...if you were given the choice, would you rather have $43K and a broken leg that requires pins, or no broken leg? I'll take the unbroken leg.
  • I have no sympathy for irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to endanger other people's lives and the lives of the dogs.

I hope this guy prevails and is awarded more than $43K.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Malabar Farm Road Race, Pro-1-2 field, 3-27-10

The early break...

Was reeled in after about 10 miles (1 lap) of being out front.

Then this break formed, which stayed away for good:


Although the break gained a member and lost a member close to the finish...


He still easily rolled in for fouth:



Back in the field, these guys tried their hand with about a lap to go...


But were brought back by the field at the base of the final hill to the finish:



Any questions?

In the meantime, the cows were hanging out with a horse.


And Sparrow the border collie watched most of the race with great interest.

A good day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

May

Meet May.

She is our "horse buddy" at the therapeutic horse riding center where we volunteer.





Our job is to groom her regularly, look out for her, and treat her like the princess she is.

I don't think that will be too hard.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bowerbirds w/Horse Feathers, 3-11-10

At The 'Sco, Oberlin College, Oberlin Ohio.

Bowerbirds:



Horse Feathers:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My life is glamorous

Today I did this with some horses.

No joke.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Cleanse

We finally broke down and made a video for one of our songs.



Now we will surely catch on with the masses.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Nostalgia is fun

When I was in college and early law school, I was in a band called Simoom. We made music that I'm still pretty proud of, despite the fact that our fans could probably be counted on two hands.

Ten years later, we are now referred to as "90's heroes" and "Touch and Go-ish," a reference to the insanely wonderful Touch and Go label.

In another ten years, maybe we'll be held in even higher esteem. Or not.

Then again, who cares. We got to play with bands like The Frogs, Firewater, Poster Children, and Duvalby Brothers. And we got to play shows like the one in the condemned building in Kent in the dead of winter with a 60 year old space heater as the only heat source.

Beat that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Tom Zirbel's thoughts about his exit from pro bike racing:

“(W)hat am I truly after in this life? Asking myself this question today the answer was “to be extraordinary.” I want nothing to do with mediocrity. But on top of that (and what I’ve lost sight of in the last few years), I want to improve the world. Yes, I am a na├»ve, 30-something dreamer, but I want to help save the world … (but) cycling and racing so consume me that I have little time or energy for anything beyond myself … I’m ready to turn the page and start living a better, more fulfilling life. Whether or not bicycle racing is in that future is too foggy to tell. I hope you all can understand why I’ve chosen this road. It feels so good to be out of the holding pattern.”

Love him, hate him, believe him, don't believe him. Either way, this quote hits home.

I'm not sure what's more amusing, how self indulgent bike racers and other endurance athletes are (both pro and amateur), or how the vast majority of us lack the self awareness to even be conscious about how self focused our respective sport truly is.

But then again, it sure beats spending countless hours sitting on the couch watching nonsense on television, which is what I think most people do in their free time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

White Friday observations

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the likelihood of someone obsessively manicuring their perfect green lawn in the summer and the likelihood of that same person clearing their sidewalk in the winter. Why is that?

I have also invented a new word: snowtalk - noun - The useless and inane conversation with your neighbor, about how much snow we have gotten this year, in which you feel compelled to participate despite your desire for peace and silence while shoveling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

50 of your closest friends

A federal court in New York recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by cyclists who challenged a New York City law requiring groups of 50 or more cyclists to obtain a "parade" permit before legally taking to the roads. The city passed the law in response to critical mass rides, particularly the one that took place during the 2004 Republican National Convention. The law also presumably applies to any group ride that exceeds 50 riders, even if the riders are not on fixies and wearing skinny jeans.

The full opinion is here.

I'm not surprised that the judge found no reason to consider striking down the law under federal law. It's a pretty high standard.

What is ironic is the fact that the supposed apolitical nature of critical mass probably hurt the cyclists' case the most. Laws that interfere with protected speech under the First Amendment receive heightened judicial scrutiny. The judge in this case failed to really apply this scrutiny because the testimony did not support the fact that these rides are political.

But, for the most part, they are, and everyone knows it. But not for everyone who takes part. And those with a point to make often have different messages (right to the road, cycling safety, conservation, anti-car, etc.), even if these points are all variations of a common theme.

So, in an effort to welcome all by refusing to adopt some monolithic "message," critical mass has actually given itself less Constitutional protections than if it had classified itself as a weekly pro-bicycle political demonstration.

And now you also can't schedule a 50+ person group hammerfest starting at Times Square without a permit. If you do, don't bother arguing that the ride is a political statement. Unless you want to argue that you are celebrating your right to wear tacky lycra.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hours

Sometimes I think that I'm a pretty snazzy bike racer, and that I train "a lot." Then I read the training logs of people like Adam Myerson, and realize that most of us weekend warriors/amateurs are competing in a totally different sport than the pros.

Those people often downplay their dedication, saying that it's no bigger deal to ride 30-40 hours in a week than it is to work in front of a computer doing a "real" job for 40 hours a week.

I'm not so sure.

I love riding bikes. I like my job. Yet I'm not sure I'd want to swap gigs to become "pro."

I suspect I'm in the minority here, especially among those that read my blog.

Maybe I'm just a wimp.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Common courtesy

As I contemplate going to North Chagrin Reservation for a trail run this afternoon, I can't shake the fear of encountering those irresponsible people who walk their scary as hell German Shepherd off leash.

And that is bullshit.

I am a cyclist (both off and on road) and a wintertime trail runner. Katie and I own of several rescued dogs. I am a (non professional) dog trainer who competes in dog sports, regularly reads about dog training, and regularly travels to dog training seminars. In other words, I think I have a bit of insight when it comes to the rights and interests of those who use trails around here. I have thought about this issue a lot lately and have come to a number of conclusions:

  • Over 99% of people who walk their dogs off leash in public places have no business doing so for several reasons, most of which relate to the fact that they do not have a consistent recall with their dog(s). We never walk ours off leash.

  • Most people with aggressive dogs are totally misinformed about dog behavior and have no idea that their dog is aggressive. This explains why so many bites are "totally unexpected." See Steevo's story for a perfect example. A dog trainer I know characterizes this phenomenon as "near misses," which means that many dogs who have yet to bite are very close to biting very often. It's only a matter of time. If you are one of the millions of people with a dog who shows signs of unhappiness (or over eagerness) towards strangers, cyclists, other dogs, etc., it does not make your dog a "bad" dog or you a "bad" owner. It only makes you a bad owner if you fail to take the proper steps to prevent your dog from getting into a situation where it could possibly act out on these feelings.

  • Many people are afraid of dogs, whether they are friendly or unfriendly. That is a fact of life. When these people hike on a trail with mandatory leash laws, they should have the right to not be approached by off leash dogs, regardless of how friendly the dog is, and regardless of how rational or irrational that person's fear of dogs is.

  • Many dogs are not fans of strange dogs approaching them or getting into their space, regardless of how "friendly" the approaching dog is. People with these types of dogs, and their dogs, should have a right to enjoy trails without being accosted by a strange dog, friendly or not.

So now I will return to the trails, wondering whether I will have to face the icy stare of the German Shepherd whose clueless owners I'm sure think is harmless. You can be sure that I will be calling the park ranger next time I see these people with their dog off leash.

It's just not worth it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

First Race

Below are two photos from my first bicycle race ever. It was circa 1994. I was around 16 or 17. It was a mountain bike time trial in Lake County. There were a lot of guys in sweatpants at that race. Not that I had room to talk in my cut off shorts and tank top.


I remember going to Arby's immediately after the race with my sister and brother in law and wolfing down a bunch of roast beef sandwiches. I also remember getting some nasty poison ivy from the race.

I didn't really get "serious" about bike racing until around 2004, but I guess I dabbled in riding and racing for almost 10 years prior.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Driving while dumb

According to this article, a recent insurance industry study found that state laws banning the use of hand held mobile devices (for texting or calling) do not reduce crashes.

Let the arguments about the validity of this study begin. In the meantime, we will continue to ignore the elephant in the living room: In this country, we just about let anyone with a pulse get behind the wheel of a car, and we treat driving on public roads as a right, not a privilege.

Stupid people do stupid things. Irresponsible people do irresponsible things. Stupid and irresponsible choices lead to car crashes. If you outlaw texting, the person who was going to text his or her way into an accident will probably just find another way to cause a wreck while reading, applying makeup, combing hair, eating, drinking coffee, changing the radio channel, or doing countless other things that can lead to accidents.

In 2008, over 26,000 people died in this country in auto accidents. Instead of being outraged, most people view this figure as an acceptable risk of driving.

The only way to make roads safer is to make it more difficult to obtain a license. I bet that it's possible to devise a yearly test that accurately assesses a person's ability to safely drive. And maybe we need yearly driving maneuverability tests. And maybe we need to crack down on people who routinely cause accidents by revoking their licenses sooner than we already do.

Yes, it would be costly and annoying to have to take a yearly driving test. And I dare any state politician to support legislation that could potentially cause thousands of drivers (aka voters) to lose their driving privileges, especially senior citizens.

But, until that happens, all of the talk of safe driving, distracted driving, and the like is a bunch of hot air.

If 26,000 Americans died of terrorism in a single year, there would be a revolution.

When 26,000 Americans die every year in auto accidents, we shrug and blame texting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My own anti-bicycling screed

Well, not really. But even I have to call "bullshit" once in a while, even when it involves one of the country's most well respected cycling advocates.

Portland attorney Bob Mionske is a former pro, a former Olympian, and a widely published bicycling advocate. I've never met him, but he seems like a good guy, and I usually find myself screaming "Amen" in response to his writings.

Last week, the L.A. Times published an opinion piece authored by Mionske, which was written in response to the recent sentencing of the violent criminal Dr. Christopher T. Thomson, who attempted to kill cyclists (on more than one occasion) with his car.

I agree 100% with Mionske on his outrage over the fact that it took more than one assault by Thomson to land him in jail. And that the legal system is rigged in favor of motorists over cyclists. And that distracted driving is a menace to everyone.

I do, however, take issue with other points made in his article. For example, he states that:

"...The roads are common spaces, and their use is an ancient right for all -- except motorists.

Referring to the arcane common law doctrine that roads were built for pedestrians, carriages, and (later) bicyclists is not going to win the hearts and minds of most people. Yes, that it how it was back in the day. These days, most roads are built for cars and, in enlightened areas, they are built for mixed use (cars, bikes, and pedestrians). Our country's transportation priorities are severely flawed. Our car culture is unsustainable. But, arguing with a straight face about the bicycle's superior right to the road over cars in 2010 just makes you look out of touch and compromises your credibility with the readers you are trying to persuade.

He also says that:

"...Every cyclist you see on the road represents one less car contributing to congestion. Yes, you may occasionally have to slow down for a few seconds, but those few seconds are offset by the time you save for every car that is not on the road ahead of you. Cyclists also neither consume gasoline nor contribute to climate change, and they cause far less wear and tear on the road than cars. These are benefits that accrue directly to motorists in the form of less demand for limited resources, driving regulations and limited tax dollars."

So true, if only cycling was limited to utilitarian purposes.

This is an area where recreational cyclists and racers are routinely dishonest with themselves. I will freely admit that my involvement in cycling has done more harm than good for the environment. The environmental benefits of any commuting or errand running I do by bike are highly outweighed by my driving to races all over creation, driving to bike shops, driving to (some but not many) rides, and the stupid amount of resource intensive food I eat when doing high volume training. I'm pretty sure that the same can be said for the vast majority of cyclists who own cars. For example, the local bike paths around here are very crowded during the warmer months. And so are their parking lots.

The issues of safe cycling and bicycle advocacy are dear to my heart. Let's try to keep the movement going forward by only using honest arguments and refrain from the type of insincere rhetoric reserved for political campaigns and recent Congressional debates.

Monday, January 18, 2010

TRAA

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Beachland Tavern - sold out
Cleveland, Ohio 1-18-10





Saturday, January 16, 2010

At a loss

Now estimates are at around 200,000 casualties in Haiti.

All of the images of the utter destruction and tragedy are overwhelming. In fact, most images and news stories about Haiti, even before the earthquake, depicted unrest and dysfunction.

How about a change of pace, just for a few minutes?

Haiti, by the Arcade Fire. Shot in Haiti.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

"Dr. Thompson is not a criminal"

Tell that to the guy whose head went through Thompson's rear windshield.

The statement in the title of this post were the words of Michael Oana, an X-ray technologist at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Thankfully, over 270 people from around the world think differently than Mr. Oana, according to this article.

According to Dr. Robert Padgett, "He [Thomson] is a very wise man and caring physician."

Except for that little streak of murderous tendencies.

Dr. Thompson (well, actually, I don't think he's a doctor anymore) is the waste of human life who tried to murder those cyclists in that high profile California case.

Calling all California cyclists...wouldn't it be fun to organize a boycott of Dr. Padgett's practice? Or maybe let Mr. Oana's employer know that you don't appreciate its employee siding with a violent criminal and menace to society?

What if Dr. Thompson was a child rapist? Or a KKK member who attempted to kill someone? Are those actions any more excusable than what Thompson did? Would these people be standing up for their colleague? Of course not. Nor would the employers of these sympathizers tolerate it.

At the very least, every single cycling blog, website, and magazine should publish the comments of these medical "professionals" who sympathize with people who purposely try to murder human beings. Include their names, addresses, and their photos. In fact, any blogger, website, or magazine with a conscience (bicycling related or not) should do so. Just to shame them and humiliate them.

Kind of like how the cyclists were humiliated with a lacerated face, broken tooth, and separated shoulder.